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Bible Commentaries

The Biblical Illustrator

Hebrews 2

 

 

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Verses 1-4

Hebrews 2:1-4

Give the more earnest heed.
--This exhortation reveals the purpose of the foregoing comparison between Christ and the angels. It is to establish Christ’s superior claim to be heard when He speaks in God’s name to men. Law and gospel might have been compared on their own merits, as is done by Paul in
2 Corinthians 3:6 in a series of contrasts. But the power of appreciating the gospel being defective in the Hebrew Christians, it is the merit of the speakers that is insisted on, though the incomparable worth of the gospel is implicitly asserted in the phrase, “so great salvation.” Respecting as we do the word of angels, let us respect more His word. Why should there be any difficulty in acting on such reasonable counsel? Because the word of Christ is new, and the word of angels is old, and has the force of venerable custom on its side. This difference is hinted at in the words “lest at any time (or haply) we drift away.” The figure is a very significant one. It warns the Hebrews to beware lest they be carried away from the salvation preached by Christ, the blessings of the kingdom of God, as a boat is carried past the landing-place by the strong current of a river. The current by which the Hebrews were in danger of being carried headlong was that of established religious custom, which in transition times is specially perilous. By this current they were in danger of being carried away from the gospel and Christ and the eternal hope connected with faith in Him down to the Dead Sea of Judaism, and so of being involved in the calamities which were soon to overwhelm in ruin the unbelieving Jewish nation. The exhortation to give heed to Christ’s teaching is enforced by three reasons. It is the teaching of the Lord; the penalty of neglect is great; the teaching is well attested. The word of the great salvation began to be spoken “by the Lord.” The word spoken through angels may appear a very solemn matter. Yet after all it was a word at second-hand. The law was given by God to angels, then by angels to Moses, who in turn gave it to Israel. The gospel came from God immediately, for Jesus was God incarnate speaking to men in human form. The penalty of neglecting this last word of God is great. “How shall we escape?” The penalty is enhanced by the nature of the word. It is a word of grace, of salvation. The old word was a word of duty. But it is far more culpable to sin against love than against law, to despise God’s mercy than to break His commandments. If breaches of the law had penalties attached, what must be the consequence of despising the gospel? For those who scorn arguments drawn from fear of consequences a more genial inducement is added. The teaching of Christ is well attested. The writer means to say that he and those to whom he writes, though not enjoying the advantage of having heard Jesus Himself speak the words of salvation, arc put practically by this attestation in the same position as those who did hear Him. It is obvious that the claim thus made to he virtually in the position of personal hearers of Jesus implies a knowledge of His teaching such as we possess by means of the Synoptical Gospels. The impression created by a perusal of the Epistle bears out this view. The image of Christ presented therein rests on a solid basis of fact. The writer knows of the temptations of Jesus, of His life of faith, and the scope that His experience afforded for the exercise of faith, of His agony in the garden, of the contradictions He endured at the hands of ignorant, evil-minded men; of His compassionate bearing towards the erring; of the fact that He occupied Himself in preaching the gospel of the kingdom; and also of the fact that He was surrounded by a circle of friends and disciples, whose connection with Him was so close that they could be trusted to give a reliable account of His public ministry. Of course the man who knew so much had the means of knowing much more. (A. B. Bruce, D. D.)

Watchfulness

Every one who has made the least endeavour to live for God, will know by experience how many are the temptations which hinder his progress--temptations to acquiesce in some secondary end, to relax the strenuousness of labour, to follow the promptings of his own will to look earthwards. He will know, therefore, that the spirit of the Christian towards himself must be watchfulness--the most open-eyed and the most far-seeing.

I. HE WILL BE WATCHFUL OVER HIS AIM. There is, indeed, one aim for all men--to grow into the likeness of God; but this general aim becomes individualised for every man. The complete likeness, so to speak, belongs to humanity, and each man contributes his peculiar part to the whole. His resemblance to others lies in the completeness of his consecration; and his difference from others follows directly from it. Something he has, however insignificant it may seem, which belongs to himself alone; and this he brings to Christ in sine trust that it represents the fulfilment of his special office.

Few temptations are more subtle and perilous than that which leads us to a restless search for some task which is more fruitful, as we think, or more conspicuous, or more attractive than that which lies ready before us; and it may happen that a self-chosen path will bring us renown and gratitude. But no splendid labours in other fields can supply the defect which must henceforth remain for ever through our faithlessness, if we leave undone just that tittle thing which God has prepared for us to do.

II. THE CHRISTIAN WILL BE WATCHFUL ALSO OVER HIS EFFORTS. It is as true that God gives nothing, as it is that He gives all. He accords to man the privilege of making his own that which He bestows freely, and He requires man to use the privilege. Nothing avails us which we have not actually appropriated. Life, indeed, brings to us the rudiments of spiritual teaching; but these need to be carefully studied, and, above all, to be brought into the light of our faith, not once only or twice, but as often as we are called to act or to judge; for though every attainment which is conformed to our ideal partakes of its eternal nobility, no solution of yesterday can be used directly to-day. Life, with all its questions, is new every morning. At the same time, the solution of yesterday leaves us in a favourable position to deal with the novel data. The Christian, then, will ask himself again and again whether his work costs him serious exertion; whether it exercises the fulness of his powers; whether he faces fresh duties as they arise with more and more strenuous endeavour because he uses the experience of the past to assist his thought, and not to supersede it; whether at every point he has gained the highest within his reach, or has at least refused to rest on a lower level; and whether he has taken to heart day by day the words of the psalm which from time immemorial has given the keynote of public worship: “To-day, if ye will hear His voice”; for that Voice is not, as we are too ready to believe, a tradition only, a sweet memorial enshrined in sacred books, but a living voice sounding in our ears with messages of truth, which earlier generations could not hear, and calls to action which we first are able to obey. (Bp. Westcott)

The true attitude of the soul toward Christ

I. THE DUTY ON WHICH THE APOSTLE INSISTS. An attitude of indifference is not the true attitude of the soul to Christ; nor of mere curiosity; nor of a cold professionalism. It is only by earnest thought that we can understand, realise, and retain the gospel of Christ.

II. THE ARGUMENT BY WHICH THE EXHORTATION IS ENFORCED. The exhortation is based upon a twofold comparison; i.e., between the heralds of the two covenants, and the natures of the two covenants.

III. THE WARNING BY WHICH THE APOSTLE SEEKS TO AROUSE ATTENTION TO HIS EXHORTATION.

1. The possibility of losing our hold.

2. The occasions of losing our hold.

3. The manner of losing our hold.

The idea is not of a sudden and total renunciation of Christian doctrine--we are not in much danger of that; but of an unconscious giving up of that doctrine. (W. L. Watkinson.)

Diligent attention to the gospel

I. Diligent attention unto the word of the gospel IS INDISPENSABLY NECESSARY UNTO PERSEVERANCE IN THE PROFESSION OF IT. Such a profession I mean as is acceptable unto God, or will be useful unto our own souls.

1. A due valuation of the grace tendered in it, and of the word itself on that account.

2. Diligent study of it, and searching into the mind of God in it, that so we may grow wise in the mysteries thereof

3. Mixing the word with faith (see chap. 4:2). As good not hear as not believe.

4. Labouring to express the word received in a conformity of heart and life unto it.

5. Watchfulness against all opposition that is made either against the truth or power of the word in us.

II. THERE ARE SUNDRY TIMES AND SEASONS WHEREIN, AND SEVERAL WAYS AND MEANS WHEREBY, MEN ARE IN DANGER TO LOSE THE WORD THAT THEY HAVE HEARD, IF THEY ATTEND NOT DILIGENTLY UNTO ITS PRESERVATION.

1. Some lose it in a time of peace and prosperity. That is a season which slays the foolish. Jeshurun waxes fat and kicks. According to men’s pastures they are filled, and forget the Lord. They feed their lusts high, until they loathe the word.

2. Some lose it in a time of persecution. “When persecution ariseth,” saith our Saviour, “they fail away.” Many go on apace in profession until they come to see the cross; this sight puts them to a stand, and then turns them quite out of the way.

3. Some lose it in a time of trial by temptation. The means also whereby this wretched effect is produced are innumerable: some of them only I shall mention. As

III. The word heard IS NOT LOST WITHOUT THE GREAT SIN AS WELD AS THE INEVITABLE RUIN OF THE SOULS OF MEN. The word of its own nature is apt to abide, and to take root: but we pour it forth from us and they have a woeful account to make on whose soul the guilt thereof shall be found at the last day.

IV. It is in the nature of the word of the gospel TO ALTER BARREN HEARTS, AND TO MAKE THEM FRUITFUL UNTO GOD. Hence it is compared to water, dews, and rain. Where this word comes, it makes the “ parched ground a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water” (Isaiah 35:7). These are thewaters of the sanctuary, that “heal the barren places of the earth,” and make them fruitful (Ezekiel 47:1-23.). The river that “ makes glad the city of Psalms 46:7). With the dew thereof doth God “ water His Church every moment” (Isaiah 27:3). And then doth it “grow as a lily, and cast forth its roots as Lebanon” (Hosea 14:5-7).

V. The consideration of the revelation of the gospel by the Son of God is A POWERFUL MOTIVE UNTO THAT DILIGENT ATTENDANCE UNTO IT.

1. And this is most reasonable upon many accounts.

1. Because of the authority wherewith He spake the word.

2. Because of the love that is in it. There is in it the love of the Father in sending the Son, for the revealing of Himself and His mind unto the children of men. There is also in it the love of the Son Himself, condescending to instruct the sons of men, who by their own fault were cast into error and darkness.

3. The fulness of the revelation itself by Him made unto us is of the same importance. He came not to declare a parcel, but the whole will of Go,t, all that we are to know, to do, to believe: “ In Him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3).

4. Because it is final. No farther revelation of God is to be expected in this world but what is made by Jesus Christ. To this we must attend, or we are lost for ever.

VI. THE TRUE AND ONLY WAY OF HONOURING THE LORD CHRIST AS THE SON OF GOD IS BY DILIGENT ATTENDANCE AND OBEDIENCE UNTO HIS WORD. (J. Owen, D. D.)

Taking heed

In this exhortation, first the apostle setteth down his doctrine: then his reason by which he will persuade us unto it: his doctrine is this.

I. THAT IT BELOVETH US NOWMORE CAREFULLY TO HEARKEN TO THE WORDS OF CHRIST, THAN AFORETIME IT BEHOVED OUR FOREFATHERS TO HEARKEN TO THE LAW OF MOSES. And here we must consider why we ought to be more careful than they; not that they might omit any care to add nothing, to take away nothing, to change nothing, not to depart neither to the right hand nor yet to the left, but day and night, at home and abroad, to do always this, to study it continually, as appeareth in Deuteronomy 4:6; Deuteronomy 5:32; Deuteronomy 6:6; Deuteronomy 11:18; Deuteronomy 12:32; Deuteronomy 28:14; Joshua 1:8; Joshua 33:6, &c. Nor is it saidthat we be more bound than they, as though the authority of God were changed; but because now Christ hath spoken by Himself, then by angels; now plainly, then in figures: therefore we ought more carefully to hearken, but because our punishment shall be more than theirs, even as we be despisers of the greatest grace.

II. After this, the apostle added HIS REASON TO PERSUADE US TO THIS ESPECIAL CAREFULNESS ABOVE ALL OTHER PEOPLE, to hearken to the voice of Christ; and that is, of the peril that ensueth, lest, saith he, we run out. The apostle useth a metaphor, taken of old tubs, which run out at the joints, and can hold no liquor. (E. Deering, B. D.)

The gospel requires the more earliest attention

The duty here intended is a serious and fixed setting of the mind upon that which we hear: a bending of the will to yield unto it: an applying of the heart to it, a placing of the affections upon it, and bringing the whole man into a holy conformity thereunto. Thus it compriseth knowledge of the Word, faith therein, obedience thereto, and all other due respect that may any way concern it (2 Timothy 2:7; Matthew 15:10; Matthew 13:23; Acts 4:4; Acts 16:14). The comparative degree addeth much emphasis, and intendeth a greater care and endeavour about the matter in hand, than in any other thing; as if he had said, More heed is to be given to the gospel than to the law; more to the Son than to any servant; for he speaks of the gospel preached by Christ. It may be here put for the superlative degree, and imply the greatest heed that may possibly be given; and the best care and diligence that can be used. Thus it is said of the Scriptures, “We have a more sure word”; that is, a most sure word (2 Peter 2:19); thus this very word in my text is often put for the superlative degree. As where Paul saith of himself, "In labours more abundant, in prisons more frequent," that is, most abundant, most frequent (2 Corinthians 2:23). Hereby as he doth incite them for the future, to make the best use that possibly they can of the gospel that had been preached unto them, so he gives a secret and mild check to their former negligence, implying that they had not given formerly such heed, as they should have done, to so precious a word as had been preached unto them, but had been too careless thereabouts, which he would have them redress for the future. (W. Gouge.)

Earnest attention to salvation

To “give earnest heed to the things which we have heard,” comprehends several particulars.

1. There is the earnestness itself--that state of mind which is so graphically described (Proverbs 2:3-4). Such earnestness, from the nature of the case, has much to do with the attainment of the object; and the importance of that object requires such earnestness.

2. There must be the decided and vigorous application of the mind to the things propounded. They must be understood, if they are to be cordially embraced and practically applied. It is needful, accordingly, that the thinking powers should be attentively directed towards them.

3. By being believed and applied, they must be turned to practical account. Without this they will miss their end.

Subservient to the attainment of this threefold object, might be reckoned such rules and principles as these:

1. That the “new heart,” the” Divine nature,” which beats in sympathy with Christian truth, should be sought.

2. That men should watch against inward tendencies and outward influences, which are in danger of withholding them from earnest attention to the things of salvation.

3. That they should seriously ponder the relations of Divine truth to God, to their own souls, and to the destinies of the world to come.

4. That they should implore the Father-Spirit to teach and incline them to “give earnest heed” to these momentous truths, and to these high concerns. (A. S.Patterson.)

Fastening the impression

Physiologists say that the retina of the eye has a wash which, like the chemical used by the photographer, prepares the retina to receive the image and impress it for a moment, and then the image is gone. The mind must catch it instantly. So we must photograph the Word, and have our souls aroused to fasten the impression for ever. How many retain no impression, and let go their hold upon eternal things! (J. B. Thomas, D. D.)

To the things which we have heard

For the evening of the Lord’s Day

I. THE CAUSES OF FORGETFULNESS.

1. The indifferent manner in which we too often resort to the House of God.

2. The indifference which precedes is often carried into the House of God itself.

II. THE PRINCIPAL REASONS WHY THE GOSPEL ABOVE EVERYTHING SHOULD BE ATTENTIVELY REMEMBERED.

1. It is the message of heaven to mankind and therefore well deserves a place in the memory.

2. The peculiar character of the gospel. “The things” are of no common import, no temporary consequence, but of the highest possible moment.

3. The advantages which flow from this duty. Who enjoy the consolations of the gospel, and whose conduct is regulated by its influence? They, undoubtedly, who pay the greatest attention to it, and whose minds retain its instructions.

4. If we slight the message of truth, it will bear testimony against us, and aggravate our final condemnation. (Homilist.)

In attentive hearers

It is said of Demosthenes that, speaking to the Athenians on a very serious subject, and finding them to be inattentive, he paused, and told them that he had something of special importance to relate, which he was anxious that they should all hear. Silence being thus obtained, and everyone fixed upon him, he said that two men, having bargained for the hire of an ass, were travelling from Athens to Megara on a very hot day and both of them striving to enjoy the shadow of the ass, one of them said that he hired the ass and the shadow too; the other said that he hired the ass only and not the shadow. Having made His grave statement, Demosthenes retired; when the people pressed him with great eagerness to return and finish his tale. “O ye Athenians,” said he, “will ye attend to me when speaking about the shadow of an ass; and will ye not attend to me when I address you on the most important affairs?” This reproof does nut apply exclusively to the “men of Athens.” English people are deeply concerned in it; and the ministers of Christ who are accustomed to discourse upon subjects immensely more important than any that called forth the eloquence of the Athenian orator, have reason to urge the same complaint. Many persons have an ear for vanity, but none for the truth; they will listen to folly, but not to the words of wisdom. To the things of this world they will pay a fixed attention, bat to Christ and His salvation they are criminally indifferent. (J. Thornton.)

Redemptive truths

I. They are things COMMUNICATED. “We have heard” them from parents, teachers, ministers.

II. They are things TO BE RETAINED. Should be held, not merely in memory as facts, but in heart as forces.

III. They are things the retainment of which requires MOST DETERMINED EFFORT.

1. The loss of them would be the greatest calamity.

2. A possible calamity. Many things tend to relax the soul’s hold upon them remaining depravity within, seductive influences without. (Homilist.)

The gospel demands attention

I. By “the things which we have heard,” may be fairly presumed are meant, THE GRAND DOCTRINES AND PRINCIPLES OF THE GOSPEL.

II. From the text we may fairly conclude that it is the clear duty of all who have the dispensation of the gospel to give A SERIOUS AND FIXED ATTENTION to it.

III. From the text we may fairly conclude that THE CONSEQUENCES OF CONTINUING TO NEGLECT THE WORD OF GOD will he distressing and awful. (Essex Congregational Remembrancer.)

Art attentive hearing to be given to the gospel of Christ

Especially now in the time of the gospel: what attention is there in the Star Chamber when the Lords of the Privy Council speak? But if either the prince or the king himself make an oration, then there is wonderful attention. In the time of the Law the prophets spake, which indeed were of God’s counsel, by whom God revealed His will to the people: but now the Prince of peace, the Everlasting Counsellor, the King’s own Son, that lay in His own bosom, in whom all the treasures of wisdom are hid, speaketh to us. Therefore let us listen with all diligence to the things which He speaketh. And how doth Christ now speak? Not daily from heaven, as He did to Saul, but by the mouth of His ambassadors. “He that heareth you heareth Me.” Will ye have an experience of Christ that speaketh in me? Christ spake in Paul when he preached; and He speaks in us when we preach. The pearl is precious though it be an earthen vessel that brings it to you: therefore receive it with all reverence. (W. Jones, D. D.)

Lest at any time we should let them slip

Letting the truth slip

I. THE GREAT THINGS WE HAVE HEARD. There are no words of s profound moment as the truths of the gospel. They warn of hell, they welcome to heaven; they take from eternity its terror, and use it to measure their benefit.

II. THE EASY PERIL OF THEIR LOSS. NO better word for easy getting away than “ slip.” “He gave the officers the slip.” “His foot slipped, and he sustained a fatal fall.” “The whole company of travellers suddenly slipped into the deceptive, snow-filled precipice.” “The hour slipped away so rapidly in easy conversation, that I missed my train and lost the opportunity of a lifetime.” “While shipwrecked on a desert island, we saw a vessel. Supposing it was coming directly to us we went away after our treasure, and quickly returning, found it had slipped away far past the hearing of our wild outcries.” We read every day sentences like the above. How easily are the most valuable things in this world’s life lost by reason of neglect!

III. THE INTENSE ATTENTION DEMANDED. It is wonderful that we can see every day the utmost pains taken to keep earth’s valuables from slipping away, and can yet treat the pearl of great price so recklessly! We see the careful cooper tightening his casks; the miner watching his ores as they pass the smelting furnace; the farmer in his cultivation; the vigilant policeman; the anxious physician; the scholar strengthening his memory so as to keep knowledge from slipping away. And yet we “cram” for the great “examination” of eternity. (C. M. Jones.)

Drifting from Christ

I. MOORED TO JESUS CHRIST. It is a long while now since men began to represent their life as a running stream. It was inevitable the figure should suggest itself to them as soon as they began to think--we air feel its appropriateness as often as we reflect upon the ceaseless vicissitude that laps our own lives round, and that is bearing us so quickly away. How remorseless the current is that flows beneath us, sometimes so noiseless, sometimes rippling in laughter against the sides of our bark, sometimes rising in foam and wrath and threatening our destruction, yet always bearing us onward upon its bosom, steadily onward to the unknown! And, when we consider it, not only how remorseless but also how rapid the movement is! How many scenes we pass through on our way! How many new reaches of experience we discover, then leave behind! How many faces flit and fade around us! How fast we all live! Of course, it would be sinful to think of this ceaseless movement in which we are all involved as if it were a mere brute fate to which we must perforce submit. This constant chance to which we are all committed is, for one thing, the condition of progress. Without it life would not become the deeper, broader, larger thing which somehow it does become as our years go on. And, besides, how flat and stale it would otherwise he! And yet every one must feel that were there only ceaseless change in our earthly lot--no anchor sure and steadfast for us anywhere--life would be terrible indeed. It is only children that seek perpetual novelty--children, and those who, though they have become men, have not laid aside childish things. Wiser men begin to perceive ere long that life is not a pleasure ,all after all, that the currents are stronger than they think, and may carry them away. Only Christ abides! Christ--the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever! Christ--who outlives the seeming changeless heavens themselves. Christ the True, the Unalterable Love, the Immovable Friend.

II. DRIFTING FROM CHRIST.

1. A storm may have broken out in your life, and driven you away from Christ.

2. Or, again, it may be an influence less obvious that does it. I question very much whether we make a much allowance as we should for what you may call the ebb and flow of the tide of life in us all. Perhaps it is because we understand so little about it. The fact appears to be that it is with man as with Nature. We know how the heart of Nature beats time to a mysterious mighty rhythm, and how regularly recurring arc those deep respirations of her life which we name summer and winter, and night, and day. But we forget how our own tiny being seems to share in this hidden law. Our very body is attuned to it; there are periods in our life at which our vitality is greater; others at which it is less; nav,in every twenty-four hems a wave of life-force rises within us, then falls again--so that a doctor will tell you beforehand at what),our the sufferer’s strength will flicker up most brightly, when it will be spent and die. Now, on this physical basis I believe more of the moral phenomena of our lives depend than we are aware. Our temptations mix themselves up strangely with this ebb and flow that ceaselessly goes on within. Our animalism takes advantage of the flowing tide of lustihood in youth to come in upon us like a flood. With the ebb of manhood’s early vigour enthusiasm and the capacity of an ardent faith and love are apt to ebb also. And even at intervals much more frequent the same sort of thing occurs. If you will watch your temptations--especially the more notable of them--carefully you will find they almost obey a law of periodicity. As hunger and thirst assert themselves (roughly speaking) at regularly recurring intervals, so do our temptations. Our sins, like ourselves if they slumber for a time, awake with renewed energy.

3. If it has been neither of these, then it may have been something more slow and subtle and secret still. You have seen a vessel, owing to no sierra or the rise of any tide, but simply through the restlessness of the element in which it floats, gradually loosen from it- moorings, and little by little be borne out to sea. And even when lie more powerful currents are passing around us there is this infinite restlessness in all our lives which may of itself be fatal, Repose is an impossibility here. A thousand varying cares and moods and occupations agitate the surface of our lives. And with this there comes a chafing which may by slow degrees wear out the strands of loyalty that bind us to our Lord. Indeed, when Christians drift from Christ it is probably, in the vast majority of cases, due to this very cause.

III. REGAINING ONE’S MOORINGS. You will observe that the counsel the writer gives is with a view rather to prevent so sad a lapsing. It is the same prescription that apples here, whether the case be one of prevention or of cure. And certainly no prescription could well be simpler. It is by no violent efforts, no beating up against the adverse forces of his life, that any man will regain his old attachment to Jesus Christ, but just by giving “earnest heed--the more earnest, heed to things he has heat d about Him.” It is contemplation of the truth that brings him back again, and contemplation, not so much of any new discoveries he may make concerning Jesus Christ, but just of those familiar aspects of His person and His work that first won his trust. There is that in Jesus Christ which, if He is pondered humbly, has the power to draw the heart as with the force of gravity to centre and stay itself once more on Him. It is a great thing to keep near the old familiar fruit s--to keep near the old familiar Christi The stable Christian is always the simple Christian. Think of the staunchest believer you know, the least moved by any strums; how, you a-k, has this steadfastness come to him? Infallibly thus: through going much apart with God to muse and pray; through often saying within his heart, “Jesus, my Friend, is God”; through kneeling at the cross till the conviction has begun to stir within him, “He loved me, He gave Himself for me”; through pondering the vastness of forgiveness; through much looking in the Spirit towards that crown of righteousness which is laid up for him against that day. Such a believer has many an anchor to hold him. Neither things present not things to come will separate him from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Alex. Martin, M. A.)

Soul drifting

I. WHAT IS THIS DRIFT? It is the dying out of impression, the decay of faith, the gradual loss of force. The writer is not contemplating a change of attitude towards the gospel brought about by a preview as intellectual movement to which the man himself had been a party, but one which very slowly, but very certainly, reflects the silent action of unseen and unrecognised forces which are at work within and around him, and the ultimate effect of which may be an utter loss of all which once he most valued, and an abandonment to influences which once he regarded with mingled hatred and dread.

1. There is here clearly an anticipation of drift both in doctrine and practice. The two re regarded as so united that the one cannot suffer and the other be uninjured. The truth which holds a man rules his life, and the only way of getting rid of the effect, is to remove the cause.

2. The survival of Christian life after the loss of Christian faith is a contingency the sacred writer does not contemplate. The drift is a drift of the entire man--affections, aims, motives, as well as principles.

3. Drift is always to evil. It is by struggle that we advance heavenward; but there are countless influences inclining us to a retrograde course. Wit, out a strong force within, and without constant communications of Divine grace to maintain and strengthen it, we shall infallibly go back.

II. MARK THE SOURCES OF THIS EVIL.

1. It is not easy--if it be not impossible--for a Christian to live in the world without being exposed to influences unfriendly to his faith and loyalty.

2. It is in the tendencies o the age--tendencies which may have much in them that is beautiful and admirable--that this peril lies They assail us on the side where we least expect danger, and they have so fair and winning an aspect that it is hard to meet them with stern resistance.

3. These tendencies often, in their more exaggerated form, shape public sentiment, and the fear is lest we yield to the influence which they unconsciously exercise without sufficient discrimination between the good and the evil which may be in them. The spirit ,.f the age is against severity, whether in doctrine or practice; is easily moved by an appeal for Christian charity, and, with equal readiness, is excited to a righteous indignation against bigotry, and if it can itself be guilty of any approach to intolerance, is intolerant only of intolerance. The drift is to change; to greater breadth of thought, sympathy, and action; to creeds less elaborate and minute; to laws of conduct less exacting and severe, to enlarged freedom everywhere.

III. Is it necessary to point out THE POSSIBLE AND EVEN PROBABLE CONSEQUENCES. A little vessel which has been torn from its moorings, and is being carried far out to sea by the strong currents which are bearing it whithersoever they will, may be engulfed in some hidden quicksand, dashed to pieces on some rugged rock, carried thousands of miles away and stranded on a distant shore. The possibilities of evil are limitless to the ship which has lost helm and rudder, or has no one capable of using them wisely, and is at the mercy of wild winds and waves. There need be no truer picture of a soul that is drifting. It has elasped from the truths which once held it with a certain degree of force, which was a restraint from evil and a stimulus to good. Day by day they are receding into the distance, and becoming more dim and uncertain, while the soul, acted upon, by all varieties of influence, is borne hither and thither, uncertain in its aims, unstable in its course, unconscious of the fat to which it may be hastening. One thing only is sure about it--it is every day being carried further and further from all which once it loved and valued. Rocks of barren unbelief, or whirlpools of seductive pleasure and indulgence, may be in the path on which it is advancing, but there seems no power to arrest its course. The man has left himself to be the sport and plaything of outside circumstances or influences harmonising only too well with inclinations within, and now he is drifting before them to a miserable shipwreck of faith and of a good conscience. (J. G. Rogers, B. A.)

Drifting from Christ

I. THIS REPRESENTS A STATE WHICH IS FEARFULLY POSSIBLE (Ho 1 Timothy 5:15).

1. Tide is so in part because we are not always moored to Christ when we are brought to Him. A ship may be skilfully guided into the harbour, her crew may be able to leap ashore, and there she will remain till the tide turns; but then, unless her cables are thrown out and she is fastened there, she will drift to sea again. So we may be brought to Christ, a number of influences may lead us to Him, we may be so affected by religious emotion and reverence for Him and even a belief in our personal salvation as to be ready to endure “ reproaches and afflictions,” and we may seem to be Christians, yet we may not have joined ourselves to the Redeemer by an act of living faith. Whilst the tide runs that way (and that may be for years) our safety is unsuspected even by ourselves; but let a change come, and slowly we slip away, and at length on some distant coast others come across the fragment of a wreck that bears our name. We may be close to Christ for long without the cable of faith binding us to Him, and thus the soul may drift away even from Him and be lost.

2. Besides which there are powerful adverse currents which tend to carry us from the Saviour. Difficulties occur, the fear of man begins to tell, the winds of temptation blow, the current of worldly custom runs strong, the unseen force of old habits and depraved inclination increases, and then I well, however strong the came, it will creak and strut., and every fibre of it be needed to bold the ship. But what if there be no cable--no vital faith? Why, then the soul will inevitably part company with Christ.

3. And this drifting away is more likely, because our departure from Christ may be for some time inperceptible. How many Christians there are whose religion once a delightful reality has become poor, who think distressingly, “Oh, that, I were as in days that are past! “ who can see how tar they have drifted, but did not know they were drifting at the time, and who scourge themselves because of it!

II. TO DRIFT AWAY FROM CHRIST IS TO DRIFT TO RUIN.

1. To drift away from Christ is to forsake the only refuge for sinful men. The blessings we so sorely need are there alone, away from Him is but the wintry shoreless sea of doom.

2. To drift away from Christ is to disregard the supreme claims of Christ. For there is another aspect of drifting away from the Saviour; it isn’t simply how it affects us, but how it affects Him. Oh, could we have but a glimpse of Him and of His authority, great horror would seize us at the thought of departing from Him. But when we further see this glorious One for us men pour out His soul in the anguish of the cross, and still cleave to us notwithstanding our worthlessness and sin, we are self-condemned to the lowest perdition if we suffer anything to let us drift away from Him, and may well ask in awe, “How shall we escape?”

3. To drift away from Christ is to resist the grace that has brought us close to Him.

III. THIS, THEN, IS A LOUD CALL TO EARNEST HEED LAST WE DRIFT AWAY.

1. If we are moored to Christ our blessedness consists in the maintenance of close fellowship with Him.

2. Though we are close to Christ, we are in great peril till we are anchored here.

3. If we are drifting away from Christ, everything depend, on our returning before we get further off. (C. New.)

Drifting

I prefer the rendering given by the revisers: “least we should drift away from them”; it is a more exact translation of the Greek term, and brings into prominence a truth which is almost entirely concealed by the common version. The writer is anxious to warn his readers of something which might happen to them before they were aware. On my first tour through Switzerland I visit d the quaint old city of Thun, along with three intimate friends. We stay, d at a hotel built on the side of the lake, just at the place where the Aar runs rapidly out of it, and we went to amuse ourselves for a season by rowing about in a little boat. After awhile a difference of opinion sprang up among us as to the direction we should take. One said, “Let us go yonder”; another answered, “No; let us rather make for that other point”; a third had another suggestion, and we ceased rowing until we should make up our minds; but meanwhile the current was settling the question for us, and unless we had speedily bent to the oars with all our might, we should have been hurried along into a dangerous place, out of which we could only have been rescued, if rescued at all, by the assistance of others. The influences, therefore, against which we are warned by the text are these of currents which are flowing just where we are, and which may operate so insidiously that we may not know of their effect until perhaps it is too late to resist their power.

I. Take then, first, that which I may call THE AGE-CURRENT, or what a re-eat English essayist, borrowing from the German, has called the “Time-spirit.” A physical science which has taken up with the doctrine of development, and has insisted that what is at best an ingenious hypothesis shall be accepted as a demonstrated fact, has prepared the way for an agnostic philosophy which refuses to believe that anything can be known save that which can be perceived by the bodily senses, aided by the scalpel and the microscope, and that, in its turn, has given birth to a rank atheism, which has adopted as its creed the terrible negation, No God. If it be true that the standard of piety and morality is lower among Christians than it was formerly; if it be the case that the Church is less of an aggressive force in our large centres of population than it was a generation ago; if the numbers of those enrolling themselves in its ranks are smaller than they have bees in other days, may it not be owing to the fact that we have not been taking heed to guard against this age-drift which has been flowing beneath us? Let us get back to Christ, and anchor fast on Him.

II. The second current to which I would refer is that of THE PLACE IN WHICH WE DWELL. Every city bus its own peculiar influence. We must guard against the slightest backsliding; and to succeed in that we must constantly test ourselves by the things which we have heard from Jesus. The navigator is saved from danger from unknown currents by his daily observations. The tides of ocean do not affect the heavenly bodies; and by testing himself by these he knows precisely where he is. So the principles of the temper are not shifted by the tendencies of anyplace; and when we measure-ourselves by them, we may discover how it is with us. Let us not take it for granted that because we are making some effort in the right direction, therefore we must be going forward. For these efforts may not be enough to resist the force of the current, and we may be drifting backward after all. You remember the case of Sir Edward Parry’s crew in the Arctic regions. They set out one day to draw a boat over the ice, expecting thereby to get farther northward and in the open water, but after they had journeyed thus far, if I remember rightly, a day and a half or two days, they took an observation, which revealed to their surprise that they were farther south than they had been when they set out, because while they had been going toward the pole, the ice on which they were had been carried by the drift of an under-current in the opposite direction. I fear that in this great business mart, where we are so exclusively occupied in buying and selling, and getting gain, many Christians among us are like these northern voyagers: they make exertions, and they seem, too, to be making progress; but, alas I the drift that carries the whole place has carried them with it, and in reality they are not so far advanced as they were, it may be, years ago.

III. A third current, to the influence of which we are exposed I would call THE PERSONAL DRIFT, the drift in each of us individually. In making astronomical observations, one operator is never precisely the same as another. Some are quick, others are slow; some are exceedingly precise, and others not so perfectly exact; and these differences, of course, affect the results at which they arrive. Therefore, to neutralise, as far as possible, any error which may be thereby occasioned, there is what is known as a “personal equation” for each, and by that his conclusions are rectified before they are sent forth for general acceptance. Now, in a similar way, spiritually, each man has his individual tendencies, which easily carry him in one direction or another. This personal drift, as I have named it, is the same thing as the writer of the Epistle from which my text is taken calls in another place the “sin that doth most easily beset us,” and by yielding to that many are carried at last into perdition. How easy it in to acquire an evil habit! (W. M. Taylor, D. D.)

How to keep the Word from slipping from us

We must let the Word slip at no time, though we have never such weighty business: one thing is necessary. This one thing necessary is to be preferred before all others: never let a sermon slip from you without some profit. But how shall we keep them from slipping away? There be four things to hold the Word from slipping from us

1. A meditation in that which we have heard: blessed is the man that meditateth in the law of God. When thou hast heard a sermon, take some time to meditate on it, that thou mayest imprint it on thy memory. This is a common fault among us. The Word of God preached to us passeth away. When we are once out of the Church, we never think on it again, therefore no marvel though it slip away from us.

2. Conference with others. The disciples that travelled to Emmaus conferred together the Bereans that came from St. Paul’s sermon, took their Bibles and conferred together of the sermon. Many eyes see more than one; that which one hath forgotten, another may remember. Therefore let Christians recount the things they have heard, and that repetition will be as a nail to fasten the things they heard.

3. Prayer.

4. A care to practise that which we have heard. This is the digesting of our spiritual meat, and the converting of it into our substance. Many hear, but few care to practise that which they hear; it is never our own truly and indeed, till it be practised; that will make us grow up as perfect men in Christ Jesus. We hear swearing reproved, yet we swear still; drunkenness inveighed against, yet we are drunk still; envy and malice centre led, yet malicious still, yea, against the preachers, that are as God’s arm to pull us out of our sins: a manifest argument that we hold not that which we hear, but suffer it without fruit to slip from us. (W. Jones, D. D.)

Men ruined by drifting

Life’s ocean is full of currents, any one of which will sweep us past the harbour mouth even when we seem nearest to it, and carry us far out to sea. It is the drift that ruins men: the drift of the religious world; the drift of old habits and associations; the drift of one’s own evil nature; the drift of the pressure of temptation. The young man coming from a pious home does not distinctly and deliberately say, “I renounce my father’s God.” But he finds himself in a set of business associates who have no care for religion; and, after a brief struggle, he relaxes his efforts and begins to drift, until the coastline of heaven recedes so far into the dim distance that he is doubtful if he ever really saw it. The business man, who now shamelessly follows the lowest maxims of his trade, was once upright and high-minded. But he began by yielding in very trivial points to the strong pressure of competition; and when once he had allowed himself to be caught by the tide, it bore him far beyond his first intention. The professing Christian, who now scarcely pretends to open the Bible or pray, came to so terrible a position, not at a single leap, but by yielding to the pressure of the constant waywardness of the old nature, and thus drifted into an Arctic region, where he is likely to perish, benumbed and frozen, unless rescued, and launched on the warm Gulf Stream of the love of God. It is so easy, and so much pleasanter to drift. Just to lie back, and renounce effort, and let yourself go whither the waters will, as they break musically on the sides of the rocking boat. But, ah, how ineffable the remorse, how disastrous the result! Are you drifting? You can easily tell. Are you conscious of effort, of daily, hourly resistance to the stream around you, and within? Do the things of God and heaven loom more clearly on your vision? Do the waters foam angrily at your prow as you force your way through them? If so, rejoice; but remember that only Divine strength can suffice to maintain the conflict, and keep the boat’s head against the stream. If not, you are drifting. Hail the strong Son of God. Ask Him to come on board, and stay you, and bring you into port.(F. B. Meyer, B. A.)

The influences that cause men to drift frets Christ

The forces that with a continuous action tend to move men away from the faith of Christ, and were especially strong in the ease of the Hebrews, are--the many influences of life; the feeling of isolation in the world, or, the other side of this, sympathy with national sentiment and thought; the hardships and slights undergone at the hands of those without; and the monotonous uniformity of the world, where all things continue as they were and give no signs of the Lord’s coming: while the resistance offered to such forces is but feeble, owing to the sluggishness of the mind which permits it to take but a loose hold of truth, and the weakness of faith which makes it but dimly present to itself the hope of our calling. (A. B, Davidson, LL. D.)

Slipping back prevented

It would produce a wonderful change if men did all they knew they ought to do. There would then be a new encouragements to labour. The preaching of the Word would then make steady progress. I have seen the waggons of Pennsylvania armed with a stout, iron-shod stake trailing behind. Whenever in ascending a hill the horses stopped, the stake at once held the waggon fast and prevented it from slipping back. A device worthy of imitation in spiritual things! It is discouraging to press up the hill on the Sabbath-day and then keep slipping back through the week; to make large advance in a time of religious interest, and then slip downward through long succeeding months of deadness in the Church. Cannot this be prevented? Yes, by obedience to the suggestion before us we may hold ourselves firm. If each deed of life is faithfully performed according to our knowledge of duty, then are we going steadily on in spiritual blessing, losing no ground in our advance. We shall at last reach the summit of our hopes and stand in Christ’s presence “ complete in Him.”


Verses 1-18

Verse 2

Hebrews 2:2

The Word spoken by angels:

The ministry of angels

in the delivery of the law is directly asserted by St.
Galatians 3:19), and by Stephen (Acts 7:53), as well as here. It was an article of faith amongst the later Jews, but the mention of their agency is less distinct in the Pentateuch. The presence of the heavenly host is proclaimed in Deuteronomy 33:2, and Psalms 68:17, and an important function in the guidance and government of Israel was assigned to the angel of the covenant (Exodus 23:20; Exodus 23:23); but the Divine presence and heavenly voice manifested at Sinai are not identified with angelic agency, as they are by Stephen in the case of the burning bush and of Sinai (Acts 7:30; Acts 7:38). The Pentateuch is content to give the voice as an utterance of God, as does also this Epistle in Hebrews 12:26, without associating any angel with the utterance. And this mode of speaking agrees with the ordinary language of this Epistle, which attributes the words of the prophets to God speaking in them. But the simple language of Exodus was open to misinterpretation; men inferred from it a visible presence of God, and a strong protest against this idolatrous tendency was pronounced in Deuteronomy 4:12. Hence the expediency of explaining the material voice that spoke from heaven by the definite introduction of angelic mediators, m whom God made His revelation to man. (F. Rendall, M. A.)

The difference between transgression and disobedience

The verb from whence the first word in Greek is derived, properly signifieth “to pass over a thing”: metaphorically having reference to a law, or any other rule, it signifieth to swerve from that rule, or to violate and break that law Matthew 15:8). In this metaphorical sense this word is often used in relation to the law of God, and put for any breach thereof (Ro Galatians 3:19). It is put for the first sin of Adam (Romans 5:14), and for Eve’s special sin (l Timothy 2:14). The other word according to the notation of it in Greek, intimateth a turning of the ear from that which is spoken; and that with a kind of obstinacy and contumacy, as where Christ saith of an obstinate brother if he neglect to Matthew 18:7), or obstinately refuse to bear. I find the word here translated disobedience, twice opposed to a willing and ready obedience, namely, of true saints (2 Corinthians 10:6), and of Christ (Romans 5:19). This opposition importeth a wilful disobedience, or a contumacy as some here translate the word. Others under the former word “transgression,” comprise sins of commission, and under the latter word “disobedience,” sins of omission. For the verb from whence the latter word is derived signifieth to neglect or refuse to hear (Matthew 18:17). There is, beyond question, a difference betwixt these two words, either in the degrees or in the kinds of disobedience, in which respect the universal, or (as it is here used), distributive particle “every” is premised, to show that no transgression, great or mean, in one or other kind passed unpunished. Let not any think, by mincing his sin, to escape punishment. A prophet having reckoned up a catalogue of sins, some greater, some lighter, maketh this inference--“If a man do the like to any one of these things … he shall surely die” (Ezekiel 18:10; Ezekiel 18:13). Every particular branch of God’s law is as a distinct link of a chain; if any one link fail, the whole chain is broken. The will of the Law-maker is disobeyed in every transgression (James 2:10-11). Herein lieth a main difference betwixt a faithful servant of God and a formal professor: the former makes conscience of every sin, the latter of such only as are less agreeable to his own corrupt humour, or such as he conceiveth most damageable to himself. (W. Gouge.)

God’s retributive justice

If men trifle with the law of God, the law will not trifle with them; it has taken hold of the sinners of former ages, and will take hold of them in all ages. (M. Henry.)

The equity of retribution

The severest punishment God ever inflicted upon sinners is no more than what sin deserves; it is “just recompense of reward.” Punishments are as just, and as much due to sin as rewards are to obedience; yea, more due than rewards are to imperfect obedience. (M. Henry.)

Warnings

A very skilful bowman went to the mountains in search of game. All the beasts of the forest fled at his approach. The lion alone challenged him to combat. The bowman immediately let fly an arrow, and said to the lion, “I send thee my messenger, that from him thou mayst learn what I myself shall be when I assail thee.” The lion thus wounded rushed away in great fear, and on a fox exhorting him to be of good courage, and not to run away at the first attack: “You counsel me in vain, for if he sends so fearful a messenger, how shall I abide the attack of the man himself?” If the warning admonitions of God’s ministers fill the conscience with terror, what must it be to face the Lord Himself? (C. H. Spurgeon)


Verse 3

Hebrews 2:3

How shall we escape, if we neglect

The sinfulness and the danger of neglecting the gospel

The great salvation of which the apostle testifies is not the salvation which the gospel reveals, but the gospel itself, even the good news of the kingdom, which, by His Son, God in these last days hath spoken unto us (Hebrews 1:2).
The salvation which is in Christ Jesus may, with the most obvious propriety, be denominated great, if we compare it with the deliverance which was wrought for the house of Israel, when the Lord brought them out of the land of Egypt. The former was a temporal deliverance, the latter is a spiritual salvation, including deliverance from sin and wrath--from everlasting destruction; and not only deliverance from all evil, but also the enjoyment of eternal life. What is it to neglect so great salvation? “All things are ready, come unto the marriage,” is the intimation which the servants of the King, according to His commandment, gave to those who were bidden to the marriage of His Son. Did they regard this kind, this generous invitation as duty and interest required? No. “They made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise.” They who neglect so great salvation, make light of the gospel. They do not regard it as the way of eternal life; they do not give to it that cordial reception to which it is entitled. The great salvation is neglected by all who enjoy the means of religious knowledge, and yet remain ignorant of the faith once delivered to the saints; by all who do not with the heart believe unto righteousness, how much knowledge soever they may have attained; by all who continue in the love and practice of sin, who profess to know God, but in works deny Him--who do not give to the salvation of their souls the preference to every other object of pursuit.

I. To NEGLECT SO GREAT SALVATION IS A VERY HEINOUS SIN.

1. The dignity of Him by whom the great salvation has been made known to us, illustrates the wickedness of neglecting it.

2. The wickedness which is included in rejecting the gospel of the blessed God our Saviour, is illustrated by the clear and full revelation which it makes of the way of eternal life. The mystery of salvation by the obedience and the death of the Son of God, which was hid from ages and generations, is clearly revealed, and hath appear, d unto all men. The gospel proclaims tidings so good and so interesting, that, on the acknowledged principles of human nature, it seems at first view reasonable to conclude, that to a very faint discovery of them, all whom they concern must give the most earnest heed. How inexcusable, then, must be they who turn away from Him who now speaketh from heaven, proclaiming in the clearest manner, “Peace on earth, and good-will to men!”

3. The wickedness of neglecting so great salvation is illustrated by the infallible proofs of its Divine origin by which it is recommended to our acceptance. That the gospel is indeed the Word of the living God is established by the most abundant evidence. Do you require evidence to convince you that the gospel which the apostles preached, is, indeed, the great salvation which, at the first, began to be spoken by the Lord? What you require. ,he text supplies in rich abundance. “So, then, after the Lord had spoken unto them, He was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God; and they went forth and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the Word by signs following.” That the God who cannot lie will not attest what is false, is a self-evident truth. He cannot be deceived, and He will not, He cannot deceive. If, therefore, the God of heaven bears testimony to the doctrine which the apostles published, it must be the great salvation which, at, the first, began to be spoken by the Lord.

II. THE JUST RECOMPENSE OF REWARD WHICH AWAITS THOSE WHO REJECT THE COUNSEL OF GOD AGAINST THEMSELVES.

1. The righteousness of God renders it necessary that, on them who make light of that mercy which the gospel reveals, judgment shall be executed.

2. The condemnation of those who neglect so great salvation must be dreadful beyond conception.

3. The condemnation of those who neglect so great salvation is most certain. (W. Kidston, D. D.)

The inexcusableness of rejecting the gospel

1. Here is the intrinsic goodness and excellency of the thing itself, which wicked men reject; intimated as a just ground why they should not escape unpunished.

2. This further consideration, that the gospel is n express and positive revelation of the will of God, is a very high aggravation of the sin of neglecting so great a salvation.

3. The dignity and excellency of the Person, by and through whom this great salvation is proposed to us is a further aggravation of the sin of rejecting it.

4. The strength and clearness of the evidence, and the number and greatness of the proofs, made use of to assure us of the truth of the gospel, is the highest aggravation of the guilt of those who neglect or disobey it, and that which of all other things renders them the most absolutely inexcusable. (S. Clark. , D. D.)

The guilt of the unconverted in neglecting the offered salvation

I. THE GREATNESS OF THE SALVATION, which every unconverted person despises. It is a deliverance from the eternal ruin due to our sins; from the dominion of sin and Satan on earth, and from the doom of Satan after death; from present terror and from eternal remorse; from the wrath of an infinite Avenger; from a sorrow, which is near at hand, inevitable, intolerable, eternal; from all that thought shrinks to contemplate, and more than the imagination ever conceived. It is, on the other hand, an admission to blessings as vast. To adoption into the family of God; to all the privileges of His believing people; to be loved by Him, watched over, provided for, cheered, consoled, sustained, and guided to glory. It is an invitation to accept the blessings, given after the greatest provocation--a guilt which is incalculable. It is a salvation offered to those, who by the obduracy of their hearts and the ungodliness of their lives, persevered, d in through long years, have deserved that the Lord should exclude them from His favour for ever. It is a salvation provided for such rebellious transgressors at the cost of the death of Christ.

II. WHAT IS IT TO NEGLECT IT? It might seem that it was impossible to neglect a mercy such as this. The traveller, when he is dying of thirst in the desert, does not reject the gushing spring, which, bubbling at his feet, gives him refreshment and life. The prisoner does not hug his chain, and draw back from the sunshine and liberty offered him, to the damps and darkness of his dungeon. The sick man never scorns health. The poor dejected and homeless wanderer would never refuse proffered wealth. Yet it is not only possible to neglect this salvation, but it is too certain that it is very generally neglected--that while the road to perdition is crowded by multitudes, the road to glory is straight and narrow “and few there be that find it.” To neglect this great salvation is, evidently, not to obtain the blessings which it proposes; by whatever mode that neglect is manifested, in whatever way those blessings are lost, to lose them s to neglect this “great salvation.” God has offered them to sinners freely; He has set before you plainly the way in which they may be made yours; tie has offered them only in that one way; and therefore if either another way of obtaining them is preferred, or if they are not sought in this way, then is such a person chargeable with neglecting this great salvation.

III. THE GUILT OF NEGLECTING IT. That guilt is clearly implied in the expression in our text, “How shall we escape “ if we neglect it? “ How shall we escape?”--it evidently implies, that there is in it such a guilt as must provoke the severest punishment.

1. In the first place, you despise these blessings. Heaven, and the pardon of your sins, and the renewal of your hearts, and the indwelling Spirit the love of God, a holy and a blameless life, a glorious crown, an immortality of holiness and happiness--all this you despise, But I have a heavier charge to bring against you.

2. It is evil enough to disregard these mercies, but every unconverted person is also guilty of inconceivable ingratitude towards God. (B. W. Noel, M. A.)

The danger of neglecting Christ and salvation

I. THE GOSPEL SALVATION IS GREAT.

1. The deliverance of Noah from the general destruction brought upon the old world was wonderful; but the deliverance of our souls from the deluge of God’s wrath, by the gospel, is greater. The preservation of Lot from the destruction of Sodom was great; but the salvation we obtain by the gospel, from the vengeance of eternal fire, is greater.

2. The Author of this salvation (Isaiah 9:6), God manifest in the flesh 1 Timothy 3:16; Isaiah 59:16).

3. The means (Romans 8:3; Isaiah 53:8; Hebrews 9:22).

4. The salvation itself, or the benefits that accrue to believers through Jesus Christ.

(5) Believers are saved from the power of the grave (1Co Philippians 3:21).

II. WHO ARE THEY THAT NEGLECT IT?

1. Those who live in any known sin.

2. Those who trust in their own righteousness (Romans 10:3.)

3. Those who do not seek this salvation more than other objects.

III. THOSE WHO PERSIST IN THE NEGLECT OF THIS SALVATION CANNOT ESCAPE PUNISHMENT.

1. In this life conscience condemns them; therefore are they like the troubled sea (Isaiah 57:20-21). There is a curse on them, and on whatsoever they do.

2. At judgment justice will seize upon them (Revelation 6:15-16; Romans 14:12; Proverbs 2:22).

3. In hell the vengeance of God will still pursue them (Psalms 9:17, Revelation 21:8).

Application:

1. How glorious is the gospel-scheme of salvation, how far superior to all those wonderful deliverances which God wrought in old times! Christ is our only refuge (Isaiah 32:2).

2. It is easy to see how heinous a thing sin is in the sight of God; how infinite and inconceivable the love of God is towards sinners (John 3:16; 1 Peter 3:18).

3. Consider the great, the glorious salvation, which is offered to you by the gospel. Seek it while it may be found (Isaiah 55:7; Hebrews 3:7-8; 2 Corinthians 6:2).

4. Remember how it shall happen to all those who forget God (Romans 2:8-9; Psalms 50:22). Speedily give up all for Christ (Philippians 3:8).

5. Though you may have neglected this great salvation to the present moment, God is willing and ready to pardon. Great salvation for great sinners (1 Timothy 1:15; John 6:37).

6. Never rest till you lest in Christ. (J. Hannam.)

The certainty that punishment in eternity awaits the unconverted

I. THE WORD OF GOD EXPRESSLY DECLARES THAT GOD WILL PUNISH SINNERS.

II. THE ATTRIBUTES OF GOD, HIS REVEALED PERFECTIONS, NO LESS CERTAINLY SECURE THE PUNISHMENT OF THE SINNER HEREAFTER.

III. We have another and an independent proof that the impenitent sinner must look for a severe retribution when he comes before the judgment of his Maker, derived from THE PAST JUDGMENTS WHICH HE HAS INFLICTED ON ACCOUNT OF SIN.

1. Often have individuals been made to experience the instant vengeance that God takes upon iniquity. Under the Mosaic law the provisions were exceedingly severe, to mark to that people that God abhors transgression.

2. On many occasions God has manifested His anger against sin, towards multitudes at once.

3. Once agate; contemplate a more awful wreck, and a worse disaster yet. Think of those angelic beings, that once were in the presence of God, loving, holy, happy beyond fear, who seemed in their Maker’s favourite have a shield that would secure them to eternity. Those angels transgressed the wilt of God. And “keeping not their first estate” they ,re now visited by no mercy, reserved to an eternity of horror. What God has done, why, sinner I should He not do again? How can you plead an exemption from the curse that has rested upon so many?

IV. But there is another fact, still more awful than all--another argument still more potent than these. If every other proof that God will visit iniquity were lost, if His Word were silent, if we otherwise knew not His attributes, if there were no past judgments to point at, still in THE CROSS OF CHRIST YOU would read a manifestation of the wrath of God against iniquity, which must reduce to hopelessness every considerate person still living in sin, or must reduce to silence at the last day every sinner that will cling to delusive hope. For why did Christ die, Because God will manifest how He hates iniquity; because He must--because holiness, justice, truth, goodness, and mercy require that He must--show that He hates sin. (B. W. Noel, M. A.)

The danger of neglecting the great salvation.

I. THE ONLY WAY OF SALVATION FOR SINNERS IS REVEALED BY THE GOSPEL 2 Timothy 1:10).

1. They must needs be strangers to the great salvation, who slight the gospel that brings the good tidings of it.

2. If the gospel alone brings the tidings of salvation for lost sinners, how thankful should you be to God for this revelation.

3. If the gospel alone brings you the tidings of salvation for lost sinners--a salvation we all needed to hear of and be interested in--then how worthy is it of all acceptation.

II. WHAT THE SALVATION IS, WHICH THE GOSPEL ALONE REVEALS.

III. WHY THE SALVATION REVEALED BY THE GOSPEL IS CALLED “ GREAT.”

1. It is great salvation, as it is the product of infinite wisdom and unerring counsel.

2. From the dignity of the Person that wrought it out.

3. It is a fruit of a great price, even of the obedience and death of Jesus Christ.

4. It is applied by almighty power, against all the opposition, of Satan, of an evil world, and even of the very soul itself who is made partaker of it.

5. It delivers the soul from everything that is evil.

6. It brings the soul from darkness to light, from death to life, from the power of Satan unto God.

7. It is a fruit of great grace.

IV. SOME UNDER THE GOSPEL NEGLECT THE GREAT SALVATION.

1. Notice how the greatest and most dangerous sin under the gospel is described. “Neglect” not the only remedy, the true riches. It is an injury to Father, Son, and Spirit. It is a high affront offered to the wisdom of God, and to His goodness and grace in Christ.

2. Notice the misery of those that neglect the great salvation. They are condemned already (John 3:18).

3. Who are they, among all the hearers of the gospel, that neglect the great salvation?

4. Whence is it that some, who are placed by kind Providence under the gospel and ministry, neglect the great salvation?

V. THERE IS NO POSSIBLE WAY FOR THEIR ESCAPING ETERNAL MISERY WHO CONTINUE TO NEGLECT THE GREAT SALVATION.

1. Some impenitent sinners hope to escape the wrath of God, Though they neglect the great salvation.

2. Every one under the gospel should exercise their own judgment, reason, and conscience about their present behaviour, under their present trusts, and seriously think what will be the issue of their present carriage.

3. There is no mercy to be shown to impenitent sinners after this life, if they die in their sins.

4. Neglecting the great salvation is the only damning sin.

5. The punishment that shall be inflicted, at last, upon impenitent sinners, for their neglect of the great salvation, will be found to be just.

Uses: 1. Inferences.

2. Examination: Ask your own souls what entertainment the gospel and its salvation have with you. It has been brought to your door; has it been brought to your heart?

3. Exhortations:

(a) Give God the glory of what He has wrought.

(b) Take care to live agreeably to this great grace.

(c) Commend the Lord Jesus Christ and His salvation to others; endeavour to show them the necessity of it.

(d) Put this great salvation into the balance against all the great afflictions, losses, disappointments, and unkindnesses that you may meet with in the world (2 Corinthians 4:17; Romans 8:18). (W. Notcutt.)

The danger of neglect

I. OUR DANGEROUS CONDITION.

1. The inquiry, “How shall we escape?” implies it: bitten, depraved, dead, lest.

2. We need relief--salvation (Isaiah 53:6; Ezekiel 37:11).

3. We cannot relieve or save ourselves (Job 36:18-19;Psalms 49:7).

4. Christ brings salvation to us (John 3:16; Matthew 1:21; Luke 9:56; 1 Timothy 2:6).

II. IT IS A GREAT SALVATION.

1. God in Christ is its Author.

2. Jesus is its Finisher.

3. It is plenteous and full (Psalms 130:7).

4. It saves from great sins.

5. It saves from greatest dangers.

6. It is free.

7. It is the only salvation. “None other name.”

8. It is great in heaven. Infinite honours, eternal crown. “Kings and priests.”

9. It is everlasting (Isaiah 45:17).

III. THERE IS DANGER OF LOSING IT. Not great sinfulness alone, but simple neglect will destroy your soul. The man in business has but to neglect it to be ruined. The sick man neglects the means of recovery, and he dies. The man on Niagara neglects at the proper time to use the oar, and he plunges over the cataract. Ah, ruinous neglect! Let no one infer because he is moral and truthful, is not a drunkard, an adulterer, a murderer, or some redhanded, black-hearted criminal, that he is safe. Why, if your own morality and goodness were enough to save you, then Jesus need not have suffered and died. Salvation is n t forced upon us. We must make an effort to secure it. We may neglect to make that effort, and be lost. (B. F.Whittemore.)

Neglect of the great salvation

I. THE IMPORTANT SUBJECT COUCHED IN THE FEW BUT EXPRESSIVE WORDS, “SO GREAT SALVATION.”

1. Its heavenly origin.

2. The extraordinary means by which it is effected.

3. Its boundless fulness and freeness.

4. Its deliverances from evils

5. Its choice and extensive blessings.

II. THE NEGLECT SUPPOSED, AND VIRTUALLY CHARGED UPON US.

III. THE AWFUL CONSEQUENCES THAT MUST ENSUE TO ALL FOUND GUILTY

OF NEGLECTING SO GREAT SALVATION. (Essex Congregational Remembrancer.)

Do not neglect the great salvation

I. The word of the gospel which is preached to us, is THE WORD OF SALVATION.

1. It reveals and announces salvation. It tells us of God’s method of recovery for lost, guilty, sinful man. The gospel is the only revelation of saving mercy. Reason could never have discovered it. Philosophy never could have descried a scheme like this. Nature could never have given us any just conceptions of this subject. We see much of the goodness of God in the brightness of the sun, and in the descent of the shower; in the flowers which cover the earth; but not one word of salvation; not a syllable which relates to the restoration of man, and his deliverance from the deserved wrath which his apostasy has incurred.

2. Instrumentally it effects salvation. It brings salvation near, both to the understanding and to the heart.

3. It is the ordained means of perfecting and preparing the soul for the enjoyment of consummate bliss.

II. This salvation, announced and revealed and brought near in the gospel, is inconceivably GREAT. The apostle does not attempt to describe its greatness; but he wraps up the whole magnificence of his theme in this expression, “so great salvation.”

1. Think of the stupendous contrivance in which it originated; and it will be found a great salvation.

2. Look at the methods which have been adopted in order to render this salvation sure. Nothing less than the achievements of the eternal Son.

3. Think of the agency employed in securing the application and saving efficacy of this salvation--the Holy Spirit.

4. Think of the all-sufficient credentials and Divine attestations, by which the gospel is recommended to us; and you will easily perceive that it is, ill my text, most justly described.

5. Consider the richness and amplitude of its provisions.

6. I only refer, finally, to the ultimate end which it proposes to effect on behalf of all who are interested it, its benefits. That end is the resurrection of the body from the dust; the glorification of the entire Church; the subjugation of all evil; an eternity of unimaginable bliss.

III. I am to prove to you that THOSE who NEGLECT IT have not the remotest prospect of escape from the entire and hopeless ruin which such neglect inevitably involves.

1. Everything in the reason of the case forbids the hope of escape. Because God Himself has devised this method of recovery; He has revealed it; He has offered it; He has told us plainly, “Neither is there salvation in any other” than Christ. They who neglect this salvation, then, most perish, upon every principle of equity, and upon every principle of reason. There is a storm gathering. Divine mercy has provided a shelter. You neglect it; and the thunderbolt strikes you prostrate to the ground.

2. Everything in the character of God forbids the hope of an escape. He is a God of justice; and will never compromise the claims of equity in complaisance to the negligence and unbelief of His creatures.

3. There is, moreover, nothing in the Word of God which affords the slightest ground of expectation that this method of salvation discarded any other will be provided. (Hebrews 10:26.) Lessons:

1. Admire and adore the riches of Divine grace in having provided such a salvation for lost man.

2. How full of terror is this subject to you who are neglecting this salvation.

3. How happy are they who have reached the final end and ultimate enjoyment of that salvation of which we have been hearing; who have “believed to the salvation of the soul.” (G. Clayton.)

The superiority of Christianity as seen in its claims

I. THE NATURE OF CHRISTIANITY’S CLAMS.

1. Their imperativeness.

2. Their personal character.

II. THE IRRETRIEVABLE CONSEQUENCES OF NEGLECTING THE CLAIMS OF CHRISTIANITY.

1. These consequences are suggested analogically.

2. These consequences are based on the intrinsic excellence of Christianity.

3. The character of the sin on account of which these consequences will be inevitably inflicted.

4. That such a sin as neglect must inevitably be followed by serious consequences is very obvious from the laws of our nature.

5. That these consequences will follow this sin is seen from the veracity of God.

Lessons:

1. We learn that there are two sides to salvation.

2. We learn that, for all practical purposes, the human side is as important as the Divine.

3. We learn that, infinitely great and glorious as salvation is, there is no manifestation of the goodness of lied more easily sacrificed.

4. We learn the unspeakable importance of giving practical heed to the voice of God’s Spirit as He speaks in His Word.

(a) Birds which build their nests in a belfry become habituated to the loudest and longest clangour.

(b) Those who live ill the vicinity or Niagara and cataracts of the Nile become so habituated to the roar of their waters that they do not mind it at all.

(c) Alas! is not this the explanation of the heedlessness to the gospel of thousands in Christendom--they have become too familiar with its sound.

(a) If we die in a state of unbelief we cannot hope for another opportunity.

(b) As we are liable to die any hour, to neglect salvation is of all follies the greatest. (D. C. Hughes, M. A.)

The sin and danger of neglecting the great salvation of the gospel

Whether we look at the source from which salvation originates, or the objects to whom it is extended; at the depth of misery from which it delivers, or at the height of glory to which it exalts; at the long train of prophecies by which it was introduced, or at the stupendous display of miracles by which it was established, we cannot but be deeply impressed with its magnitude and importance. There is one circumstance, however, which wonderfully augments these impressions, the unparalleled excellence and dignity of the Person by whom this salvation was perfected.

I. The first argument which I shall adduce results from THE VERY NATURE AND CONSTITUTION OF THINGS. They who neglect the great salvation of the gospel must, from the necessary connection between causes and effects, he involved in everlasting destruction. For what is the salvation of the gospel? It is salvation from sin. Should the drowning man neglect to lay bold of the only hand stretched out to save him; should the sick man neglect to follow the only prescription which can administer a cure: what, in all these several instances, must be the inevitable consequence? Death. Neglecting to improve the only opportunity vouchsafed to them of procuring the removal of their guilt, they must sink down for ever under the curse and burden of unpardoned sin.

II. Another argument arises from THE PECULIAR AND AGGRAVATED GUILT OF NEGLECTING SO GREAT SALVATION. The gospel is a remedy which we are constrained by the most powerful obligations to apply: a remedy, the neglect of which argues not only the most daring folly, but the most malignant wickedness, and consequently involves a degree of criminality which exhibits in a still stronger light the impossibility of escaping. To neglect the salvation of the gospel is to violate a positive command of God. It is also to pour contempt on His most glorious perfections. The gospel is the richest display of mercy to fallen man, the consummation of the Divine wisdom and love. (E. Cooper, M. A.)

How shall we escape?

I. “SALVATION” is the grand thought.

1. Consider salvation in its origin. May it not be termed “so great salvation”? God is its Author. It was planned in the councils of eternity; it is the fruit of infinite wisdom. Great, we own, is creation; greater far is redemption. God creates by the word of His power; He redeems by the blood of His Son; new-creates by the power of His Spirit.

2. Salvation is so great: when we remember its nature. It saves from great sins. Christ is “able to save unto the uttermost.”

3. It saves from great dangers.

4. There is salvation from great enemies. But we have given only one side of salvation--deliverance. Positive blessings belong to it. Salvation might be termed “so great,” if it were only for the blessedness it brings to the heart now; in this life; Christ’s peace, Christ’s joy, Christ’s wondrous love. But man has a destiny reaching away into the great eternity. When we think of man as he is, what be deserves, what he well may fear, guilty, depraved, condemned--as he shall be, when purified, glorified--is not salvation rightly styled “so great “?

II. Think now of the word “NEGLECT.” Easy were it to show that such “ neglect” is a great calamity, and a great crime.

1. This neglect is common. Alas! how many ,how their neglect in their lives--by open sin, by contempt of God’s Word, God’s day, God’s house.

2. It is inexcusable. Vain and flimsy as a spider’s web are all excuses. The real reason why men neglect so great salvation is because they love this world more than God; time more than eternity; their sins more than their souls.

3. Neglect is foolish. What should we think of a prisoner who should bug the chains that bind him?

4. Neglect is easy. In one sense, it in hard for sinners to perish. God in mercy sets barriers in the way. In another sense, it is an easy thing. “Neglect!” The man in business does not need to gamble in order to go bankrupt; all he needs is to neglect his business.

5. When we add it is fatal, this brings us to the third word

III. “ESCAPE.” “How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?” (D. S.Brunton.)

The vital question

I. CONSIDER THE CHARACTER DESCRIBED. The man who, amidst the multitude of other anxieties, sets the invitation to a banquet aside, and altogether neglects it, is just as sure of being found absent as the man who distinctly rejects it. There are many who idle a whole lifetime away in a sort of passive indifference to the gospel, and go down to the grave utter strangers to its Saving power. The man who is not diligent in the prosecution of his worldly business is said to neglect it; and so, in like manner, if you do not esteem the salvation of the soul as the one thing needful, if you do not strive to enter in at the straight gate, and give diligence to make your calling and election sure, then know, of a truth, that you are found among those woo are guilty of neglecting it.

II. CONSIDER THE QUESTION HERE PUT. More evil is done, and more injury sustained, through neglect than from any other cause. Escape is utterly and altogether impossible.

1. From the very nature of the case; for the neglect of salvation is just the rejection of the remedy, and if the remedy be releced, what but ruin can await us?

2. From the history of the Divine denyings. If God brought in the flood upon the world of the ungodly, so that they escaped not, how shall we escape? Say not that God is too merciful to inflict the penalty He has threatened; for was God not merciful then, and yet He did not permit them to escape?

3. From the very means employed for our deliverance. If sin were trivial, if the law were flexible, if God were changeable, Christ would never have suffered, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us unto God.

III. CONSIDER THE GUILT OF NEGLECTING THIS GREAT SALVATION. The mariner who refuses to cast his anchor on the rock deserves to suffer shipwreck. The man who declines to accept the bread that is offered to him deserves to die of famine. God has not provided this great salvation at such a mighty expenditure, and left men to sport and trifle with it at their pleasure. (Thos. Mair, D. D.)

Neglect

I. THE MISERY ARISING FROM NEGLECT.

1. In the lower or material realm, e.g., industrial, sanitary, commercial.

2. In the higher or mental and moral realm, e.g., education, religion.

II. THE GUILT OF NEGLECT.

1. It is spiritual suicide.

2. It is ruinous in its influence on others. You say, “No danger,” when the peril is terrific.

3. It is practical atheism.

4. It is in gratitude to the Redeemer. (Homlist.)

The only plan

I. GOD HAS MADE ABUNDANT PROVISION FOR THE WELFARE OF THE WORLD. “So”--the descriptive word of a child when failing to set forth in detail an object beyond its ability.

1. Salvation is God’s highest achievement.

2. Supplies all the wants of mankind.

3. Is all-powerful in its influence.

4. Is destined to be universal in its success.

5. Is everlasting in its duration.

II. GOD’S ABUNDANT PROVISION FOR THE WELFARE OF THE WORLD MAY BE IGNORED. “If We neglect” implies

1. The freedom of the human will.

2. The deluding power of sin.

3. The futility of mere knowledge.

4. The evil of contempt.

5. The power of self-righteousness.

6. The actual prevalence of carelessness.

III. GOD’S ABUNDANT PROVISION FOR THE WELFARE OF THE WORLD, IF IGNORED, LEAVES MAN HOPELESS. “How shall we escape?”

1. Man bears in himself the elements of destruction. Born a sinner. Sin will never destroy itself. Powder train laid.

2. Salvation the only remedy. Ark, Brazen Serpent, Cities of Refuge. “No other name.” “Jesus only.”

3. Man’s effort to appropriate the appointed means is essentially necessary. Wrecked sailor must enter lifeboat; manslayer flee to city of refuge; patient take prescribed medicine.

4. Non-compliance on man’s part will result in endless misery. (B. D. Johns.)

The regret of lost souls

In the palace at Versailles as if by the irony of fate, is a famous statue of Napoleon in exile. His noble brow is lowered in thought, his mouth is compressed, his chin is resting upon his breast, and his grand eye gazes into space as if fixed on some distant scene. There is something inexpressibly sad in that strong, pale face. It is said that the sculptor represented Napoleon at St Helena, just before his death. He is looking back upon the field of Waterloo, and thinking how its fatal issue was the result of three hours’ delay. Those three short hours seem ever to write on the walls of his memory--“The summer is ended, the harvest is past!” Years rolled on, but the memory of that neglected opportunity follows the great emperor through his life, and haunts him through midnight hours in his sea-girt home. I have sometimes imagined that I could see on some remote and lonely shore of the Lake Avernus a soul haunted by its memories. The battle of lit e is long past, centuries have rolled away, but memory lives. Some lost soul wanders from the rest, where the waves of that gulf beat hopelessly on the far-off shore. The absent eye that gazes over the starless deep, is looking with longing unutterable to the precious time when those who are now in glory held up the blood-stained cross and pointed to the joys of heaven, then so near, now so tar. And a bitter sigh, and a sob as bitter as despairing love, fills the solitude; but it reaches no ear, touches no sympathy, awakes no echo. Such is the vengeance of neglected opportunity. (R. S. Barrett.)

How shall we escape?

By our wealth? Its currency is condemned at the judgment-seat. By our own good deeds? Those deeds have been weighed in the balance, and found wanting. Then how shall we escape? By concealing ourselves? God’s eye penetrates, with its burning glance, all space. Shall we escape in the crowd? Each individual shall be so insulated, as if there were no other creature besides at the judgment-seat. Then how shall we escape? There is but one way, and that escape is incompatible with neglecting the great salvation. Thus he says the gospel is the great salvation. “How shall we escape”--not, mark you, if we reject so great salvation, but if we neglect so great salvation? The sceptic rejects Christianity; the nominal believer neglects Christianity. Now, I very much question if it be not a greater insult to God to neglect religion than it is to reject it. I can understand that man who says, I have examined all the evidence, and I have come to the conclusion that the Bible is a fable, that Christianity is a romance; eternity, and death, and judgment the visions of a mere baseless dream. I pity him, I deplore his conclusion, but I can understand it; there is consistency about it. But the man that neglects such a religion, if it be true that God has spoken, if it be true that Christ has died for us, if it be true that we must stand at the judgment-seat, if it be true that by His righteousness alone we are justified, is guilty indeed. Such neglect is in the sight of God and man altogether inexcusable. (J. Cumming, D. D.)

The danger of neglect

During the terrible fire in the Ring Theatre at Vienna, a large crowd striving to reach one of the exits saw a sideway marked “Emergency Door, in case of Fire.” This was just what they needed. They turned aside from the main passages, and rushed to use this special way. But the bolts could not be drawn, the locks could not be turned, and the hinges were choked with rust; because the door had never been used, it could not now be suddenly put into requisition when urgently needed. A heap of dead soon lay before that gate. So, lips which never pray on earth will be speechless in the great day; the prayer for mercy will die unuttered, and the excuse which has been framed on earth will never be offered, when the King asks, “How art thou come in hither all unprepared?”

An unanswerable question

Many years ago a Welsh minister, a man of God, beginning his sermon, leaned over the pulpit, and said with a solemn air, “Friends, I have a question to ask. I cannot answer it. You cannot answer it. If an angel from heaven were here he could not answer it. If a devil from hell were here he could not answer it.” Death-like silence reigned. Every eye was fixed on the speaker. He proceeded, “The question is this, How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?

Folly of neglect

A certain man had a long journey before him, which must needs be made in one day, for it would be impossible for him to journey a mile in that country after nightfall, neither was there any place wherein he could lodge on the road. He knew right well that this journey was appointed him, and that it was his duty to perform it; and, moreover, he told his best friends that he was fully determined to set out thereon: but he thought the matter was easier than they seemed to imagine. In his stable there was a fine stud of strong and swift horses suitable for the road, and a carriage stood ready for his riding. The traveller did not set out in the early morning, for he said that there was time enough. Meanwhile, by a certain custom of the country, two of his best horses were taken for the king’s service, and this caused the traveller to look about him; but he soon quieted down, sat down to his dishes and his cups, and cried, “What’s the good of haste?” While thus engaged, more of his horses were lost, or stolen, or else they strayed, and had he then set out and kept well to his journey, he had scarce the means left to accomplish it. Still he waited with his boon companions till one way or another his horses were gone, and he had nothing left to ride upon but a single wretched jade. Then he made much ado about setting out, and meant to fly along the road at a great rate; only it so happened that while he was resolving the sun went down, and he never reached the place where he would have been rewarded with honour and profit. The explanation of the riddle is easy. A man in his early days, with his best years before him, is so foolish as to put off the concerns of his soul till he is older. Years follow years, and yet he delays--delays even when his last worn, and feeble age is all that remains to him, and death comes before it is welcome. Alas, that men should think to perform the most important business of all at a time when all their powers and faculties are failing! God’s service requires all our abilities in the prime of their strength, and it is wicked as well as foolish to put Him off with our leavings, and endeavour to reach heaven on a worn-out steed at the fagend of the day. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Neglect

A traveller always provided himself with a life-preserver, which he kept in constant readiness for use. On the Mississippi an accident occurred which led him to dream of the advantages of precaution. He dreamed that the vessel was disabled, and rushing upon a lee-shore. The passengers, in different moods, awaited the result. Those who had life preservers were composed; while those who had none rushed to and fro in terror and dismay. Some cursed themselves because they did not buy them before they started; others did not apprehend danger; others had them laid away in their trunks, but found them useless through long neglect; others found themselves cheated with a counterfeit article; others were uselessly trying to escape by resting on the life-preservers of others, which could barely support their owners. The scene is one only too common in life.

When the storms come, and the frail vessel is a wreck, how many have secured the true life-preserver, and wait the result in good confidence?

How many are dismayed because unready? (New Cyclopedia of Illustrations.)

Opportunity must be grasped

Some years ago a large river in America became greatly swollen, and a rapid current was thus produced which was very dangerous to venture on, as a terrible fall was only a few miles distant.

A man who had some valuable timber in the stream got into a boat to rescue it. He was, however, soon drawn into the rushing tide. He had not the slightest power to stop or turn the boat, but rapidly it floated down the stream, hurrying him on to a certain destruction. A friend saw his peril, and mounting a fleet horse started for a bridge a few miles below as the only chance to rescue him. Reaching the bridge before the skiff, which came like an arrow towards the arch, he dropped a rope over the surface of the stream and called to the imperilled man to seize it as his only chance of escape. The trembling hand was extended, and with the firmness of a death-grasp clutched the rope as the boat shot by, and soon he was in the arms of his deliverer. This was the arch of mercy to him, which, if once passed, it would have been certain death.

How shall we escape?

It is an appeal to universal reason, to the consciences of sinners themselves; it is a challenge to all their power and policy, to all their interest and alliances, whether they, or any of them, can find out, or can force out, a way of escape from the vindictive justice and wrath of God. It intimates that the neglecters of this great salvation will be left not only without power, but without plea and excuse at the judgment day. (M. Henry.)

Neglect leads to deterioration

Let a certain number of pigeons, of different colours and varieties, be collected and carried to a desert island.

Let them fly wild in the woods and found a colony there. After the lapse of many years let the collector return to the island, when he will find The pigeons all of one colour--a black and white dun, or a dark slaty hue. All the beautiful colours will have vanished. Why? Because they have been neglected. The variations and improvements had been the result of care, nurture, and domestication: neglect has simply had the effect of letting them drop into their original state. So with plants--a rose--a strawberry; it is a natural law. So with man. By neglect his body will lapse into a savage state; his mind to imbecility; his conscience to lawlessness and vice; his soul to atrophy, ruin, and decay. “Let him alone,” and all the rest will follow. (Proctor’s Gems of Thought)

Unconscious of peril

As the inhabitants of a little, narrow street in Paris looked out at their doors one morning, they were astonished to see a young woman pacing backward and forward on the top of a six-story house. Their astonishment was changed into alarm when it was discovered that she was unconscious of her peril, and was walking in her sleep! The young creature seemed to be dreaming of an approaching gala day, and was humming a lively air. Again and again she drew near to the very verge of the parapet, and again and again crossed over to the other side of the roof, always smiling, and unconscious of danger. Suddenly her eye was attracted by a light in the house opposite. She awoke instantly; there was a piercing cry, a heavy fall, and all was over. Alas! that this sad incident should have a counterpart in things spiritual still more appalling. The despisers of God’s mercy, who are now dreaming away the brief remaining portion of their existence, will be aroused suddenly from their guilty slumber by the light which bursts in upon them from the other world, but only to discover the fearful precipice on which they have so long been standing, and when escape from ruin will be impossible. (J. N. Norton, D. D.)

Neglect--not gathering up

Bear in mind the teaching that lies hid in the derivation of the word “neglect.” It signifies “not to gather up.” It paints to us the blind man walking through a valley of diamonds, and in his ignorance gathering up none. And when, in their ignorance, men do not avail themselves of “the riches of God’s grace,” placed within their reach, how can they “escape” the results of their folly?

Danger of delay

A lady had a very important lawsuit on hand for which she needed the services of an advocate. She was strongly urged to secure the help of a verse eminent and well-known lawyer, but she could not make up her mind to entrust her case to any one. Time passed on, and at last she was compelled to take steps to secure an advocate, and called upon the great lawyer who had been mentioned to her. He listened whilst she expressed her wish to engage his help, but in a few minutes he said with a grave face, “Madam, you are too late; had you come to me before, I would gladly have been your advocate, but now I have been called to the bench, and am a judge, and all I can do is to pass judgment upon your case.” Now is the day of grace, and the Lord Jesus Christ is our Advocate, ever pleading the merits of His precious blood (1 John 2:1-2), but the day will come when He will be the Judge of sinners, and must pass sentence upon them (2 Timothy 4:1).

Neglect

It is the neglected wheel that capsizes the vehicle, and maims for life the passengers. It is the neglected leak that sinks the ship. It is the neglected field that yields briers instead of bread. It is the neglected spark near the magazine whose tremendous explosion sends its hundreds of mangled wretches into eternity. The neglect of an officer to throw up a rocket on a certain night caused the fall of Antwerp, and postponed the deliverance of Holland for twenty or more years. The neglect of a sentinel to give an alarm hindered the fall of Sebastopol, and resulted in the loss of many thousand lives.

So great salvation

Great salvation--an appeal

I. AS SINNERS YOU ARE EXPOSED TO IMMENSE DANGER

1. Ever augmenting.

2. Self-created.

3. For ever unavoidable after death.

II. TO DELIVER YOU FROM. THIS DANGER HEAVEN HAS INTRODUCED A GLORIOUS EXPEDIENT. “Great,” because of

1. The great facts it involves.

2. The immense influence it exerts upon the universe.

3. The infinite blessings it secures to those who will accept it.

III. THE NEGLECT OF THIS GLORIOUS EXPEDIENT BENDERS SALVATION IMPOSSIBLE.

1. Because it is the only expedient now on earth that can effect your deliverance.

2. Because it is the only expedient that will ever be presented to you by Heaven for the purpose. (Homilist.)

The gospel and its Rejectors

I. THE ABSURDITY OF NEGLECTING THE GOSPEL SALVATION. This appears if we consider

1. Its gratuity.

2. Its greatness.

3. Its endurance.

4. Its relation to us.

5. Its singleness.

II. THE IMPOSSIBILITY FOR GOSPEL REJECTORS TO ESCAPE ETERNAL PUNISHMENT.

1. The inseparable connection between sin and punishment.

2. God’s veracity.

3. God’s almightiness.

4. God’s justice.

5. The nature of Heaven. (Homilist.)

Great salvation

1. It was a great thought in the heart of God.

2. It required a great preparation.

3. It exhibited great condescension.

4. It gives occasion to study a great mystery.

5. It exacted great sufferings.

6. It ensures a revenue of great glory. (H. T. Miller.)

The greatness of salvation

The word “salvation” occurs in the Bible under a variety of significations. When the children of Israel had just been delivered out of Egypt, and were brought to a stand-still before the Red Sea, Moses said to them--“Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord.” Now, in what did that salvation consist? It consisted in this--in a temporary delivering of them out of their trouble, by making a path through the depths of the sea. The Lord delivered them then with a great salvation. Further, you remember that our Lord, on His visit to Zacchaeus, seeing how he was escaping from the bonds of that passion for ill-gotten lucre, exclaims, “This day is salvation come unto this house.” That was a great salvation--a deliverance from the thraldom of sin, by the introduction of the freedom wherewith Christ makes His people free. And there remains another appropriate use of the term. We are kept by faith unto salvation: to be redeemed and brought into that glorious state, where the white-robed ones stand--that city, in which we shall not only be saved, as we are now, but in a perfect state of salvation. That, also, is meant at times in the Scripture, when the word salvation is employed. Now, it becomes us to inquire which of these three senses are here conveyed by the words of our text. It seems to me that it comprehends all three; that is to say, all that is needed for the first liberation of man from sin; all that is needed of temporal deliverance to keep him from failing, and to enable him to persevere unto the end; and all that is comprehended in the hereafter, and not-to-be-revealed glory that remaineth for the people of God. Each of the three are great salvation, and, combined, they make the so great salvation. “How shall we escape, if we neglect this so great salvation?” Now, I think there are several things which will plainly prove that this is a great salvation.

I. First of all--as A SCHEME, a plan, to work out a Divine purpose--as a Divine scheme and plan, I maintain it is a great salvation.

1. If I examine the wisdom of the scheme--the plan of the scheme--here I come in contact with a wisdom of no finite being: it is the wisdom of the Divine Being Himself; it is infinite wisdom; the mint-mark has Heaven’s royal stamp, and the image and superscription are more than Caesar’s; they are those of the King of kings Himself. Now this wisdom is displayed in a threefold manner.

2. But now, join that wisdom with love--think of the low, as well as the wisdom, and then you will have further heightened the thought.

II. Now, it is a great salvation, not only because of the scheme, but also because of THE AIM IN VIEW, and the objects which it purposes to perform. Christ came, not merely to save man from sin, and from Satan--not merely to save man from going down to the pit without ransom, though that would ha, e been a great salvation. Christ comes, we say, to destroy sin; but how? By bringing in a righteousness that shall far surpass the righteousness of men. He comes to destroy death; but how? By bringing life and immortality to light. He comes to destroy the works of the devil; and how? By doing the works of Him that sent Him, and the great salvation He brings in, has, for its end and aim, not merely the putting of man into the garden of Eden, where he was before the Fall but to put him in possession of life and immortality itself.

III. We exclaim again, “It is a great salvation,” from THE MEANS that have been used for the working-out of the scheme, and from the original end and aim proposed. And here I might begin at the beginning, but how can we go back to the countless ages of eternity? and time would certain, fail us, if I were to begin at the creation of the world, for it all has been but the theatre for the working-out of this great salvation. I would come down to the time of the Jews, and would see there all the wonders of the life of Abraham, and of Abraham’s descendants. All these things formed part of the working-out of the scheme, for the Jews were like the scaffolding which needed to be erected, that there might be raised, inside of it, a true and living structure, which is to abide for ever. The Jewish race, with its wondrous history, has but served as the pinnacle for the erection and for the display of the cross thereupon. But we must narrow our limits again. Let us now start from Bethlehem; and there, in the stable of a lowly inn, we see a babe; small it is, but yet great ; the Son of Mary, and the Son of the Highest. He whom even the heaven of heavens cannot contain, is there, wrapped in that veil of our inferior clay. As I look upon that deep mystery, and see there that Child of God, I see also and adore “the man my fellow”--Christ in the flesh--God incarnate. I see there a mighty deed thatstamps this salvation with a greatness of His own. I pass by all the after-wonders of His life, and come to the cloning scene, when He hangs upon the cross. I look at that bleeding man, and I exclaim, “How is it?--it is the blood of God”--for I find the Scripture saying, “The Church of God, which He has purchased with His blood.” How it is I cannot tell; but there is a Divine efficacy in the death and blood of Christ.

IV. Fourthly, let us look at these facts taken as a whole, and as LYING AT THE FOUNDATION OF OUR RELIGION. Now reason could never discover a religion; I say that reason does tell us this--it is the best religion the world ever has seen, or can see. There are three things that we must find in every religion to make it great. It must reveal a God, worthy of the highest honour ; it must give benefits to the worshippers ; and it must establish a connection between the two. If it does not reveal a God, it is worthless. If it reveals a God, but He is not worthy of the highest honour, I say it is a weak religion--away with it. Now our religion is this: “Glory to God in the highest”--glory in the scheme, glory in the working-out, glory in the end proposed. (C.H. Spurgeon.)

The great salvation

I. THE CHARACTER OF THIS SALVATION.

1. It is worthy of the character given to it, if you consider the method of its contrivance.

2. It is a great salvation in the manner of its execution. Amazing love!

3. It is a great salvation in the blessing it secures.

4. In the manner of its bestowment. It regards us as we really are, “poor and wretched”; and without insulting us in our poverty, it invites us--nay more, it commands us--to “come and take of the water of life freely.” Were the smallest good required of you in exchange for this blessing, we might then calculate on your neglecting this great salvation, on the plea that you were destitute of what you were required to give for it. But you are invited to receive it “without money and without price”

5. In the countless multitudes who shall be brought to participate in it.

II. CONSIDER ITS REFERENCE TO US.

1. It demands great attention.

2. It should be embraced with great thankfulness.

3. Its refection will be accompanied with great condemnation.

God could devise no method more safe, more honourable, more glorious for a sinner's salvation, than the method exhibited in the gospel. Grace in its richest character, mercy in its brightest form are here displayed. But the greater the grace, the richer the mercy, and the more free and generous the invitation, the greater will be the guilt of him who rejects it. (Essex Congregational Remembrancer,)

The great salvation

I. SALVATION. Now, suppose that I were on the bank of a river, and were to see some child or some fellow-man struggling in the stream; if I were to use my best endeavour to help that fellow-creature out of the water, and if I were successful in that attempt, it would be a salvation. Or, if I were to find some fellow-man suffering from a dreadful disease for which I had a specific, and I were to come and administer this specific to that man, and he were to recover from that disease, that would be a salvation. I am about to speak to you of a salvation of a different kind--not f a salvation from mere bodily death not of a salvation from bodily disease--but of a salvation from all the ills which soul, and spirit, and body are heirs to--a salvation from everything that blights and blasts our fallen human nature. 1. The salvation upon which I speak is the deliverance from ignorance of the true God. That ignorance, you know, is just like a dense darkness at a time when a man wants light, and in the place where a man wants light, and under circumstances where the shining of light is essential to a man. The man who is saved knows something of God, of our Father in heaven: t e knows enough of God for his present well-being, and for his present well-doing. That is one part of salvation. Now there is another.

2. I do not know how it is, but so it is, as we believe, that every one born into, this world is inclined to do wrong. God made such an arrangement when He created our first parents, that if they had done right, right dispositions would have been communicated. You sometimes see a very amiable mother and a very amiable daughter ; there is a disposition communicated the one from the other. Now, on account of that arrangement, when our first parents went wrong and they had children, the children received from them a wrong disposition--a disposition to do that which is had-that which is evil and it is within us all. Is there anything more common than to hear people say, “I shall do as I like; don't meddle with me, I shall do as I please”? Now that is the very essence of sin. Any creature who begins to say, “I will do as I like,” falls immediately. If the brightest and best of the angels from around God’s throne were at this moment to say, “I will do as I like,” and were to begin to turn to his own way and to carry out the desired devices of his own heart, he would be immediately a fallen angel, and heaven would be no paradise to that being. What is this salvation? It is a salvation from the “I’ll do as I like” principle,--from the “ I’ll do what I please” principle. It is deliverance from that. Itis the creation within us of another spirit, and of a new heart in that matter, and the question then is, “Saviour, what shall I do? Saviour, how shall I speak? Saviour, how shall I live? Saviour, what shall I work at? Saviour, where shall I abide? Where shall I travel? What will be my occupation? Saviour, in all things what shall I do?” That also is part of salvation. Some people, you know, especially some people with a profession of religion, think that their consciences always are right. You see such an one doing something that you think is very bad, something that the Bible condemns. You open the Bible and point to a text, and say to him, “There, that passage says you are wrong.” But he will probably really, “I cannot be very wrong, for I did such and such a thing conscientiously.” Now, suppose I were in the position of some of you who have places of business, and that I employed errand-boys to assist me in that business, and I required of a lad that he should always be at the shop at six o’clock in the morning; and suppose he had a miserable sort of time-piece that was always two hours behind the time of day. I chide the lad for being two hours behind time, and he brings forth to me his old wretched thing of a watch, and shows me that its hands point to the hour of six, but I tell him that, according to the position of the sun in the skies, it is eight o’clock. He argues with me, “But my watch says it is six!” Then, what I should say to him would he, “Unless you are mocking me I require that you get your watch regulated, and take care that on the face of that watch there is always a correct index of the true time.” Just so I say to people who do wrong, and justify their wrong-doing by reference to their conscience. Conscience is a thing amongst mankind which is as often wrong as a bad clock or as a bad watch, and consciences need mending--need rectifying. Now, salvation is to put a man’s conscience right, so That it answers to the will of God, and to the pleasure of God, and is an index of what is right and of what is wrong. That is another part of salvation. I need not say to you that we are all hurrying onward to the grave, and that after death comes the judgment. Now, we carry with us, unless we are saved the guilt of the first sin we committed when we begin to say “I will” and “I won’t,” and the guilt of all the sins committed throughout life. If we pass unsaved into the future state, we carry the guilt of all the transgressions with us to the bar of God. Now, you know that God must do one of two things: He must either forgive sin or punish it. He cannot pass it by. Oh, what must be the weight of His arm when it strikes the transgressor to punish! We cannot wonder that in the place of punishment there is “weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.”

3. Now, this salvation is deliverance from such punishment. A man who is saved not only knows God, not only obeys God, but is free from all danger of future misery. God has cast his transgressions into the depths of the sea. They are beyond the arm and beyond the sight of any creature. That is salvation. There are fifty other things that might be said about the salvation if we were professing to speak of it fully, but we only intend to give you two or three illustrations of what it is.

Now observe it is great. “Why?”

1. First, because it comes from a great God; because it comes from that great God’s great heart; because it comes from the great grace of the great heart of that great God. That is why it is great.

2. It is brought down to us from that great God’s great heart and from His great grace by a great and personal Saviour.

3. It is a great salvation because it compasses all our wants, all our woes, all our trials, all our temptations, all the ills to which we are heir.

II. NEGLECT. Suppose we were to-night in an excursion train instead of being here, and suppose a train were just behind us--an express train. And suppose that the man at the last station had forgotten to stop that train, to signal it, or to tell the driver that the excursion train was before him and that he must go gently. Suppose he forgot it--that he was occupied with other matters so entirely as to forget it. What would be the effect of that neglect? Into our train would come dashing the express train. And what would be the consequence? Terrific loss of life. Or say that I am suffering from high fever. My medical attendant sends me medicine which he requires to be taken to me immediately. Say that some person in my house neglects to give me that medicine and I remain being consumed by the fever through the night. That person might nut intend to injure me; it might be very far from his wish; but the neglect does the injury. My fever rages, burns, and consumes, and before morning light, I am upon the very brink of the grave. We see what mischievous consequences may flow from neglect. If a person acre to put a bar of iron across the metals of the line upon which we were travelling, and do it with the purpose of upsetting the train, that would involve the most serious consequences. But we have seen that neglect does it without any bad intention. If a person were to administer poison intentionally, that would destroy life; but we have seen that the neglect in not giving the medicine might be the means of terminating life quite as really and effectually as the administering poison itself. Now I want your attention to this, for the text says, “How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?”

III. Any day may bring forth such a change in your circumstances, as that you shall see no way of escape. To-day shows you AWAY OF ESCAPE, a place of repentance. To-day exhibits to you the great salvation: To-morrow may see you in such a position as that no way of escape can ever exist for you, and you may say in the agony of despair, “How can I escape, for I have neglected God’s great salvation?(S. Martin, D. D.)

Neglectful of salvation

I. Those persons may certainly be numbered among this class WHO ARE SLUMBERING OVER THEIR IMMORTAL INTERESTS, and who are satisfied to be indifferent to the claims of the gospel, so long as they can be accused of no outrageous offence against it. On every principle of equity, great benefits deserve great and anxious labours and struggles to possess ourselves of them. The man would be accounted guilty of egregious toll,, who, having the opportunity to send forward his goods to their destination on strong and fleet horses, should insist on engaging for the purpose such as were worn out and helpless; but not so foolish as those who are wasting the days of health and vigour in indecision and idleness, and who are expecting to work out their everlasting salvation in the season of sickness and decrepitude.

II. The charge of neglecting this “great salvation” must also be brought against those WHO ARE MERELY NEUTRALS in the cause of God.

III. All those living in Christian lands may be said to neglect salvation WHO FAIL TO MAKE IT THEIR FIRST AND GREATEST CONCERN.

IV. Those persons are neglecting this “great salvation” WHO DO NOT USE GOD’S OWN APPOINTED MEANS FOR SECURING IT. (J. N. Norton, D. D.)

The great salvation by Jesus, Christ

I. WHAT IS MEANT BY “THE WORD SPOKEN BY ANGELS “?

1. The law, unquestionably, as contradistinguished from the gospel.

2. When in this connection we speak of law as contradistinguished from gospel, we men that rule of moral conduct, of both heart and life, to which God exacts perfect obedience from all His intelligent creatures.

3. The law has not been abrogated by the introduction of the gospel; nor have its claims been alienated, or its sanctions abolish d.

4. To perceive the force of the apostle’s argument it is necessary to notice the prominence he gives to the penal character of the law. “Eve, y transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward.”

5. The “ just recompense of reward” is this penalty. “A recompense,” says Mr. Benson, “proportionable to the crime, according to the judgment of God, width is infinitely just and equal, and implies that they who commit sin ‘are worthy of death.’” Death is the penalty of the law: “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.”

II. WHAT IS MEANT BY THE EXPRESSION, “SO GREAT SALVATION”?

1. The whole system of Christianity.

2. The theme of the gospel is salvation by Jesus Christ. It is founded in Him. “Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” He is “the Author and Finisher of our faith”;--“the Author of eternal salvation to all them that obey Him.” Of the whole system of the gospel, he is “the Alpha and the Omega.” The gospel is a remedial system. It proposes satisfaction to the claims of justice by a propitiatory offering for sin. By this offering we were redeemed, bought back from the bondage of sin and the penal sentence of the law.

3. Eternal life, with all the means and provisions necessary to its attainment, is ascribed to the atonement.

4. To be thus saved, we must come to God through Christ. “Whosoever shall call upon the name,” &c. We must receive Him by faith: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ,” &c. All who slight these requirements, neglect this great salvation.

5. All this, remember, upon which eternal life is offered to sinful man, is through the atonement by Jesus Christ; and is the only remedy God has provided against the penalty of the law.

6. But the text asserts the possibility and danger of failing to receive this gracious gift of God, “everlasting life through Jesus Christ our Lord,” by neglecting the gospel. Eternal life is suspended upon terms and conditions set forth in the gospel; and, to insure it, intense application to these is necessary, lest anything essential to that end should be permitted to slip, and the soul be left under the power of eternal death. How tremendous the motive “to give the more earnest heed”! They neglect this great salvation who are indifferent to its terms and provisions, and slight the offer of pardon it makes to the guilty. Their indifference shows that they are not influenced by that sense of the guilt of sin, without which they cannot be fit subjects for pardon, in any way consistent with the purity and integrity of the moral government of God.

III. THE CONCLUSION DEDUCED FROM THE RELATION IN WHICH THE GOSPEL OF THE GRACE OF GOD STANDS TO THE LAW, which is steadfast in its claims of justice strikes us with all the force of moral demonstration.

1. From what has been said, it is evident that everlasting life, as the gift of God through our Lord Jesus Christ, is the only remedy against eternal death, which is the penalty of the law.

2. “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea we establish the law.” In the terms of both the law and the gospel, God deals with man as a moral agent. (S. Luckey. D. D.)

The elements of persuasion in the gospel salvation

The apostle does not attempt to tell us just how great salvation is. He probably felt respecting it much as he did in regard to the love of Christ, that it has a breadth and length and depth and height, which passeth knowledge. He could therefore express his views of it no better than by giving utterance to the words--so great salvation. Great it certainly is; so great, that we can conceive of none greater. I wish now to direct attention to some of the elements of impression and persuasion contained in it.

1. The salvation of the gospel commends itself, by the fact that it comes to you as a direct personal concern. You need this salvation, and your immortal all is involved in your acceptance of it in faith and love.

2. The salvation of the gospel embodies great and affecting truths; and this is another element of persuasion which it brings to bear on the mind and heart of man. First of all it unveits the character of God to your view in a new and most affecting light. It calls you to look to Him, not merely in the character of a righteous lawgiver, moral governor, and just judge, but of a kind and merciful father, calling you to His love, and proffering you pardon and everlasting happiness in Christ the Mediator. It holds up to your view the great truth that this Christ, the Son of God, has interposed in your behalf, has been in the world on your account, has by His sufferings and death made atonement for sin, and opened a way whereby God can justify and save you consistently with His holiness, His justice and His truth. And while thus the great salvation reminds you of the everlasting love of God, and of the infinite grace and kindness of the Saviour, it sets before you another truth in the most impressive light--I mean the truth of your own lost and utterly helpless condition as a sinner. In the very fact of offering you mercy it proclaims you condemned, and in seeking to raise you to life and heaven it shows you to be exposed to death and hell. It also presses on your attention another great truth--theft of the helping agency of the Holy Spirit, whose office it is to take of the things of Christ and show them unto men; who visits the heart and the conscience with His tender, awakening influence, and mercifully guides to peace and hope all who listen to His voice and yield to the drawings of His love.

3. It is another element of impression and persuasion in the salvation of the gospel that it is perfectly free and gratuitous. If you were continued in hopeless bondage in a strange land, with no hope of self-deliverance, and one unsolicited, a prince of royal blood, should, at a great expense of treasure and toil, procure your release and send you a document to that effect, the transaction would strike you as one of great kindness, and you could not fail, unless you had a heart of stone, to be deeply affected with a sense of indebtedness to so generous a benefactor. Now it is on tibia wise that the salvation of Christ comes to you. It is an unsolicited favour; it was procured at an infinite price; it offers you deliverance, complete and eternal, from the most terrible form of bondage--the bondage of sin and death--and all as a gratuity.

4. The salvation of the gospel has great power of appeal to the heart and mind of man.

5. Let us notice next the results at which the salvation of the gospel aims. Pardon, peace, joy in believing, reconciliation to God, adoption into His family, &c., in this present life. But who can speak of the results of salvation, as they will be developed in the kingdom of everlasting glory and blessedness? Salvation completed is everlasting happiness; happiness in the presence of God and the Lamb--pure, perfect, all satisfying; an exceeding and eternal weight of glory; fulness of joy and pleasures for evermore in the presence of the infinite Father, in the society of angels, and of just men made perfect.

6. Another element of impression and persuasion in this salvation lies in the fact that the offer of it is made to you only for a short time; and when withdrawn there is no more hope for eternity. (J. Hawes, D. D.)

The greatness of the gospel salvation

I. GOD HAS BY THE GOSPEL MADE SO EFFECTUAL PROVISION FOR OUR HAPPINESS, THAT NOTHING BUT OUR OWN NEGLECT CAN RENDER IT MISERABLE.

1. How great, how glorious a felicity, how adequate to the desires of a reasonable nature, is revealed to our hopes in the gospel.

2. What care and solicitude God has expressed for our attainment of it.

3. Upon how gracious reims of duty it is promised to us.

II. SINCE GOD HAS TAKEN SO GREAT CARE FOR OUR SALVATION, IT IS MOST REASONABLE THAT MEN SHOULD BE CAREFUL TO PERFORM THEIR PART OF THIS WORK, AND NOT NEGLECT IT THEMSELVES.

III. THEY WHO NEGLECT IT, HAVE NO EXCUSE FOR THE CRIME, BUT MUST EXPECT THE SEVEREST RESENTMENTS OF DIVINE JUSTICE. The direction, then, is sufficiently clear, and the duty required by it adjusted to the powers of our nature; neither ignorance, nor inability can be pretended; and what plea can we offer to Divine justice to prevent condemnation? (J. Rogers, D. D.)

Of the means of salvation

A sinner having heard that sin deserves God’s wrath and curse, the question that natively follows is, What way one may escape them? This is answered by the weighty question in the text, How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation? Which we may take up in these two things.

1. The danger sinners are in by their sin.

2. The way how they may escape; namely, by not neglecting, but falling in with the great salvation. The words intimate

I. THE NECESSITY OF FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST, in order to escape the wrath and curse of God due for sin.

1. There is no pleasing God without it (Hebrews 11:6).

2. It is the great duty of the gospel, whereby one is made partaker of the remedy provided, and without which neither your persons nor performances can be accepted.

3. It is that which enters one into the covenant of peace; unites him with Christ” and by which he comes to partake of all saving benefits.

4. Salvation and damnation turn upon this very point (Mark 16:16).

II. THE NECESSITY OF REPENTANCE.

1. The Word of God certifies us, that whosoever does not repent shall perish (Luke 13:5). Your souls then, lie at stake.

2. Heaven’s door is bolted against all impenitent sinners; it is not so wide as to let in a sinner with a burden of unrepented of guilt upon his back Revelation 21:27).

3. Repentance is the other duty of the gospel; thereby signifying that without repentance there is no possibility but we must perish under God’s wrath and curse. John Baptist preached repentance, so did Christ Himself, the apostles, &c. How can one think then to escape without it?

4. True faith does always bring along with it true repentance (Zechariah 12:10).

III. ARE FAITH AND REPENTANCE IN MEN’S POWER, SINCE GOD REQUIRES THEM OF THEM? They are not. For God’s demands of us are the measure of our duty, but not of our strength, which reaches not to these. For

1. They are the gifts of God, and the operations of His special grace Ephesians 1:19; Acts 5:31).

2. Sinners by nature, and in themselves, can do nothing which is good, and therefore cannot believe nor repent (John 15:5).

IV. THE CONNECTION BETWIXT FAITH AND REPENTANCE, AND ESCAPING THE WRATH AND CURSE OF GOD DUE TO US FOR SIN. Those who believe and repent shall certainly escape (John 5:24; Ezekiel 18:30; Romans 8:1). In the moment the sinner comes into Christ, he is no more liable to eternal wrath, nor to the curse; for he is not under the law, but under grace: and the utmost he is liable to, is fatherly chastisements (Psalms 89:30-33). Thus faith and repentance have the connection of appointed means prescribed by God Himself, which, by His blessing, are rendered subservient to this great end of obtaining salvation.

V. THE NECESSITY OF USING ALL THE OUTWARD MEANS WHEREBY CHRIST COMMUNICATETH TO HIS PEOPLE THE BENEFITS OF REDEMPTION.

1. God has peremptorily required this (Luke 13:24).

2. We hare no ground to expect grace or salvation but in the use of the Proverbs 8:34).

3. The neglect of the means is a contempt of the thing. If we would be healed, we would lie at the pool. If not, we say we care not for cure. And there is required here, not a careless or merely superficial use of the outward means, but a diligent one; that is an embracing of every opportunity that God in His providence gives us for attending upon them, a careful improvement of them, and a looking earnestly to Him for His blessing upon them. (T. Boston, D. D.)

God’s scheme of salvation as a great harbour

After a wild night, we have gone down to the harbour, over whose arms the angry waves have been dashing with boom of thunder and in clouds of spray. Outside the sea has been tossing and churning; cloudwrack driving hurriedly across the sky; the winds howling like the furies of olden fable. But within those glorious walls, the barks which had put in during the night were riding in safety; the sailors resting, or repairing rents in sail and tackle, whilst the waters were unstirred by the storm raging without. Such a refuge or harbour is a fit emblem of salvation, where tempest-driven souls find shelter and peace.

1. It is great in its sweep.

Sufficient to embrace a ruined world. Room in it for whole navies of souls to ride at anchor. Space enough for every ship of Adam’s race launched from the shores of time. “He is the propitiation for the whole world.” “Whosoever will.” Already it is becoming filled. There a vessel, once maimed by seven devils, a pirate ship, but captured by our Emmanuel, and at her stern the name, Mary of Magdala. And here one dismasted, and almost shattered, rescued from the fury of the Maelstrom at the last hour; on her stern the words, The Dying Thief. And there another, long employed in efforts to sap the very walls of the harbour, and now flying a pennon from the masthead, Chief of Sinners and Least of Saints.

2. It is great in its foundations. The chief requisite in constructing a sea-wall is to get a foundation a which can stand unmoved amid the heaviest seas. The shifting sand must be pierced down to the granite rock. But this harbour has foundations mighty enough to inspire strong consolation in those who have fled to it for refuge (Hebrews 6:18). The promise, and as if that were n t enough, the oath of God.

3. It was great in its cost. By the tabular bridge on the Menai Straits stands a column, which records the names of those who perished during the construction of that great triumph of engineering skill. Nothing is said of the money spent, only of the lives sacrificed. And so, beside the harbour of our salvation, near to its mouth, so as to be read by every ship entering its enclosure, rises another column, with this as its inscription: “ Sacred to the memory of the Son of God, who gave His life a sacrifice for the sin of the world.”

4. It has been great in its announcement. The announcement of the law was by angels. The announcement of the gospel was by the Son. If the one were august, what must not the other have been? If the one were made sure by the most tremendous sanctions, what should not be said of the other? Proclaimed by the Lord; confirmed by apostles and eye-witnesses; testified to by the Almighty Himself, in signs and wonders, and gifts of the Holy Ghost. How dare we treat it with contumely or neglect?

5. It will be great in its penalties.--The tendency of our age is to minimise God’s righteous judgment on sin. It seems to be prevalently thought that, because out dispensation is on, of love and mercy, therefore there is the less need to dread the results of sin. But the inspired writer here argues in precisely a contrary sense. Just because this age is one of such tender mercy, therefore sins against its King are more deadly, and the penalties heavier. In the old days no transgression, positive, and no disobedience, negative, escaped its just recompense of reward: and in these days there is even less likelihood. (F. B. Meyer, B. J.)

Confirmed unto us

Of confirming the Word

Though Christ’s own publishing of the gospel were sufficient to make it worthy of all acceptation, yet it is said to be confirmed. That is confirmed which is further proved, or fulfilled, or made more sure and certain. Thus Christ is said to confirm the word of His apostles with signs (Mark 16:20), and God by sending His Son to confirm the promises made to the fathers (Romans 15:8). That also which is kept from failing or from being altered, is said to be confirmed. So God doth confirm His unto the end (1 Corinthians 1:8), and establish 1 Corinthians 1:21), and we are called upon to be established with grace (Hebrews 13:3). But that which Christ spake needed not in any such respect to be confirmed. He is a faithful and true witness Revelation 3:14). He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6), that only true way that leadeth unto life. So there was no fear of any uncertainty, or of any failing in His Word. Christ’s Word, therefore, was con-fired for these and other like reasons.

1. Because He was not at all times, in all places present with His Church to urge and press His Word upon them. For this end He sent forth in His life time disciples to preach (Luke 9:2; Luke 10:1). And after His ascension He gave apostles and others for the perfecting of the saints (Ephesians 4:11-12).

2. Because of our weakness, Christ confirmed His Word, to support us, that we might have strong consolations. For this end God confirmed His promise by an oath (Hebrews 6:17-18).

3. Because of the commendable custom of men, who used to confirm their own words by the consent and testimony of others. Thus St. Paul in the inscriptions of his epistles joins with himself Sosthenes (1 Corinthians 1:1), Timothy (2 Corinthians 1:1), Silvanus and Timothy (1 Thessalonians 1:1), Timothy with the bishops and deacons (Philippians 1:1), all the brethren which were with him (Galatians 1:2).

4. Because by God’s law and man’s, at the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established (Deuteronomy 19:15). Thus Christ’s Word was confirmed:

A confirmed testimony

Confirmed is “made steadfast” (Hebrews 2:2), as the law was to Israel. The word confirmed does not mean, added their own testimony to the redemptive truth of what they heard and preached. This they no doubt did, and to men the testimony of other men founded on their own experience is very weighty and convincing; and of course we have it, not only in the faith of those around us, but in the unbroken life of the Church up to our time. The-point here, however, is rather the accuracy and trustworthiness with which the salvation has been handed on even unto us, by ear-witnesses of the Lord, combined perhaps with a certain authority which belonged to them as His personal healers, and the accompanying signs attesting their preaching. (A. B. Davidson,LL. D.)

Christ historical

It is of no use to say that Christ as exhibited in the Gospels, is not historical. Who among His disciples or among their proselytes was capable of inventing the sayings ascribed to Jesus, or imagining the lie and character revealed in the Gospels? Certainly not the fishermen of Galilee; as certainly not St. Paul, whose character and idiosyncrasies were of a totally different sort; still less the early Christian writers, in whom nothing is more evident than that the good which was in them was derived, as they always professed that, it was derived, from a higher source. (J. Stewart Mill.)

Value of testimony

Bishop Young says: “The conviction produced by testimony is capable of being carried much higher than the conviction produced by experience, and the reason is this, because there may be concurrent testimonies to the truth of one individual fact; whereas there can be no concurrent experiments with regard to an individual experiment.” (Smith’s “Dictionary of the Bible,” Art. “Resurrection.”)


Verse 4

Hebrews 2:4

With signs and wonders, and with divers miracles

Signs, wonders, and miracles

1.
Signs, according to the notation of the word, imply such external visible things as signify and declare some memorable matter which otherwise could not be so well discerned, nor would be believed. “We would see a sign from Thee” say the Pharisees to Christ (Matthew 12:38). And they desired Him that He would “show them a sign” (Matthew 16:1). These two words, “see,” “show,” imply that a sign is of some external visible thing that may be showed and seen. And extraordinary it must be, because it useth to be for confirmation of s me secret and Divine matter. Thus the Pharisees would have a sign from heaven (Matthew 16:1), which must needs be extraordinary. Thereupon signs and wonders arc oft joined together (John 4:48; Acts 2:43; Acts 4:30; Acts 7:36).

2. The word translated “wonder” is used by all sorts of authors for some strange thing, that may seem to foretell some other thing to come. “I will shew wonders in heaven,” saith the Lord (Acts 2:19). Those strange things which by the ministry of Moses were done in Egypt, in the Red Sea, and in the wilderness, are set out under this word “wonders” (Acts 7:36). Our English doth fitly translate the Greek word “wonders,” by reason of the effect, they cause wonder; and by reason of the strangeness of them, they are wonderful (Matthew 15:31; Mark 6:51; Acts 3:10). Our English word “miracle,” according to the notation of the Latin word, whence it is taken, signifieth a matter of wonder.

3. The Greek word here translated “miracles,” properly signifieth powers. It is derived from a verb that signifieth to be able. This word in the singular number is put for a man’s ability (Matthew 25:15); for his strength 2 Corinthians 1:8); and also for strength in the sun (Revelation 1:16); and in sin (1 Corinthians 15:56). It is also put for virtue in one Mark 5:30); and for the power or man (1 Corinthians 4:19); of a prophet (Luke 1:17); of the Spirit (Ephesians 3:16); of Christ 2 Corinthians 12:9); and of God (Matthew 22:29). In the plural number it is put, for angels (Romans 8:38; 1 Peter 3:22), which excel in strength(Psalms 103:20). And for the firm and stable things in heaven (Matthew 24:29); and for extraordinary works. Hereupon they are styled in our English, “mighty deeds” (2 Corinthians 12:12) “mighty works” (Matthew 11:20-21; Matthew 11:23); “wonderful works” (Matthew 7:21); and frequently, as here in this text “miracles” (Acts 2:22; Acts 19:11; 1 Corinthians 12:10; 1 Corinthians 12:28-29). For miracles cannot be wrought but by an extraordinary power, even the power of God Himself. Fitly, therefore, is this word “powers” used to set out miracles, and fitly is it here, and in other places, translated “miracles.” (W. Gouge.)

Of the miracles wrought in confirmation of Christianity

Miracles are a Divine testimony given to a person or doctrine.

I. WHAT A MIRACLE IS. The shortest and plainest description I can give of it is this: that it is a supernatural effect, evident and wonderful to sense.

1. That it be a supernatural effect. By a supernatural effect I mean such an effect as either in itself or in its own nature, or in the manner and circumstances of it, exceeds any natural power that we know of to produce it.

2. There is another condition also required to a miracle, that it be an effect evident and wonderful to sense; for if we do not see it, it is to us as if it were not, and can be no testimony or proof of anything, because itself stands in need of another miracle to give testimony to it, and to prove that it was wrought; and neither in Scripture, nor profane authors, nor in common use of speech, is anything called a miracle, but what falls under the notice of our senses; a miracle being nothing else but a thing wonderful to sense; and the very end and design of it is to be a sensible proof and conviction to us of something which we do not see.

II. IN WHAT CIRCUMSTANCES, AND WITH WHAT CAUTIONS AND LIMITATIONS, MIRACLES GIVE TESTIMONY TO THE TRUTH AND DIVINITY OF ANY DOCTRINE.

1. The entire proof of the Christian doctrine or religion, consisting of many considerations, when taken together, make up a full demonstration of the truth of it, when perhaps no one of them, taken singly and by itself, is a convincing and undeniable proof.

2. But yet miracles are the principal external proof and confirmation of the divinity of a doctrine.

3. Especially if miracles have all the circumstances of advantage given to them which they are capable of; if they be many and great, public and unquestionable, and universal and of long continuance.

4. It cannot be denied, but that God doth sometimes permit miracles to be wrought for the countenancing of a false doctrine. So our Saviour tells us that the elect, that is, the true and sincere Christians, should not be deceived by the” signs and wonders of the false Christs and false prophets.” And therefore He was not afraid of having the credit of His doctrine weakened by foretelling that false prophets should work miracles; because He knew when the devil had done his utmost, the difference would be apparent enough between the confirmation which He had given to the Christian doctrine, and what the devil should be able to give to his instruments. As

1. What hath been said may satisfy us of the truth and divinity of the Christian doctrine, which had so eminent a testimony given t, it from heaven, and did at first so strangely prevail in the world, contrary to all human probability, “not by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit of the Lord.”

2. From hence we may judge how groundless the pretences are, which men nowadays make to inspiration and infallibility, because this is not to be proved and made out any other way but by miracles. For either we must believe every pretence of this kind; and then we are at the mercy of every crafty and confident man, to be led by him into what delusions he pleases; or we must only believe those who give Borne testimony of their inspiration; but the evidence of inspiration was always miracles.

3. You see what an immediate testimony from heaven God was pleased to give to the first preachers of the Christian doctrine, to qualify them with any probability of success, to contest with violent and almost invincible prejudices of men educated in a contrary religion, and which had the secular authority and laws on its side. For having this Divine seal given to their commission, they did as it were carry the letters-patents of heaven in their hands, and an authority paramount to that of human laws.

4. The consideration of what has been said, doth justly upbraid us, that our religion, which hath such evident marks of divinity upon it, and comes down to us confirmed by so many miracles, should yet have so little efficacy upon the lives of the greatest part of those who call themselves Christians.

Secondly, that God gave testimony to the apostles and first publishers of Christianity, in a very eminent manner.

1. At this time the Holy Ghost descended upon the apostles in miraculous powers and gifts; when this new law was “to come forth out of Zion, and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” And among these gifts, the first we find mentioned was the gift of tongues, without which the gospel must of necessity have been very slowly propagated in the world.

2. The next miraculous gift I shall mention after the gift of tongues is the gift of prophecy, or foretelling things future, which was always looked upon as an evidence of inspiration.

3. The next gift is that of healing all manner of diseases.

4. The power of raising the dead, which hath always been esteemed one of the greatest and most unquestionable miracles of all other.

5. Another miraculous gift was that of discerning spirits, the principal use of which was to try and judge who were true prophets.

6. And, besides these which I have mentioned, there was likewise a power of inflicting corporal punishments and diseases upon scandalous and obstinate Christians, which in Scripture is called, “a delivering men up to

Satan, for the destroying or tormenting of their bodies, that their souls might be saved at last.” And of this kind were those diseases which befel the Christians for their disorderly and irregular carriage at the sacrament, of which the apostle speaks (1 Corinthians 11:30).

7. There was the power of casting out devils in the name of Christ, which was common to the meanest Christian, and continued in the Church a long time after most of the other gifts were ceased, as Tertullian, Minucius Felix, and Arnobius, do most expressly testify concerning their times.

III. THE REASON WHY THESE MIRACLES ARE NOW CEASED IN THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH, and have been for a long time, so that there have been no footsteps of this miraculous power for many ages.

I. THESE MIRACULOUS POWERS AND GIFTS HAVE CEASED IN THE CHURCH FOR SEVERAL AGES.

II. THERE IS NOT THE LIKE NECESSITY AND OCCASION FOR THEM THAT THERE WAS BEFORE. They were at first in a great degree necessary to introduce the gospel into the world, which was destitute of all other helps and advantages, to recommend it to the esteem and liking of mankind; to give credit to a new doctrine and religion, so contrary to the inveterate prejudices of men, bred up in another religion very different from this, and so opposite to the lusts and interests of men.

III. I come now TO ANSWER THAT OBJECTION from the innumerable miracles which have been, and still are pretended to be, wrought in the Church of Rome. And so indeed we find that, the Arians and other heretics in former times pretended to miracles, for the confirmation of their errors, a good while after miracles were generally ceased in the Christian Church, which shows that this is no new or strange thing.

1. The most learned and judicious writers of the Roman Church do acknowledge that there is no necessity of miracles, s now, and that Christianity is sufficiently established by the miracles which were wrought at first to give testimony to it; and therefore, not being necessary, without manifest evidence of fact, it, is not necessary to believe that they are continued.

2. The miracles pretended to by the Church of Rome are of very doubtful and suspected credit, even among the wisest persons of their own communion.

3. The miracles of the Church of Rome, supposing several of them to be true, have such marks and characters upon them, as render it very suspicious that they are not operations of God, or good spirits, but the working of Satan.

4. The miracles of the Church of Rome, taking them for true, are very impertinently and unseasonably wrought. When and where there is no need and occasion for them, they are very rife and frequent; but where there is greatest occasion for them and most reason to expect them, they are either not at all, or very rarely so much as pretended to.

5. Be from whom of all persons in that Church we might expect the most and greatest miracles, does not, so far as I can learn, pretend at all to that gift; I mean the head of their church, the Pope.

6. Most of the doctrines in difference between us and the Church of Rome, which they chiefly pretend to confirm by these miracles, are not capable of being confirmed by them. There are three sorts of doctrines, two of which are in their own nature incapable of being confirmed by a miracle, and a third upon supposition of its cent, artery to the Christian doctrine, which hath already had an unquestionable Divine confirmation.

7. The chief Prophecies of the New Testament, which are concerning false prophets, and concerning antichrist, have marked Him out by this character, that He should be a great worker of miracles and magnify Himself upon this pretence (Matthew 24:24). (Archbp. Tillotson.)

Miracles not needed now

Now that the use of miracles is performed unto us and we do believe the gospel, in token that our faith is accepted of God, now He hath taken signs from us which served us before when we were unbelieving. And surely our faith is never so honourable, nor God so well pleased with us, as when we have said both to heaven and earth, we seek no signs from them: when the Word of God hath such a persuasion in our hearts, that we have now taken hold of all the good promises of God and said unto miracles, get you hence. The Jews seek a sign, saith St. Paul surely we that be Christians seek for none; when they were offered of God, He showed His compassion upon our infirmity; now He hath taken them away, He showed greater mercy that He accepteth our faith, and let us hearken to the Word of Christ; by it we shall live; if we believe it not, we would not believe all miracles in the world, no, though dead men should rise to preach unto us. For great miracles have been already done, not only by the apostles, but by Christ Himself, to confirm His word. If We believe not them it is too much childishness to think we would believe other. Signs were when doctrine was more obscure; now it is so clear the signs are gone. The Son of God once revenged the transgression of His law with the earth opening, with waters, with fire, with whirlwinds, that the people might fear. He doth not so now, because His threatenings have been heard of all flesh: Go ye cursed into eternal fire--a voice that pierceth between the marrow and the bones, with greater fear than the rage of earth or water. And Christ once showed loving signs to make His people put their trust in Him, but now He hath spoken in our hearts: Come ye blessed of My Father into everlasting life--a voice that goeth deeper into the soul and spirit than the hearing of all the miracles, by which Israel was led into the land of Canaan. And we shall do injury to our Saviour Christ if now we will ask that to these words He should add miracles, for if we bring faith to that which is spoken, it will fill our hearts with all fulness, and will sell the sight of all the miracles in the world to buy but one grain of a constant faith in Christ; wherein whosoever shall stumble, let him accuse himself if God give him over to his own blindness, that because he had no love to believe the truth, therefore he should be led with lies and deceivable things. (E. Deering, B. D.)

Gifts of the Holy Ghost

The gifts of the Holy Ghost

Gifts of the Holy Ghost were extraordinary qualities and powers given to such as heard the apostles’ doctrine and believed it; as power to heal, to speak in strange languages, to prophecy, to do miracles. They are said to be gifts and effects of the Holy Ghost, because they had them not by nature, or industry, or instruction by man, but from the power of God-Redeemer, and the Spirit of Christ. They are called in the original, “distributions” or “divisions,” because they were

1. Communicated to divers persons.

2. Were many of different kinds.

3. Were given in several degrees. They were distributed according to His own will.

But all these worketh that one and the self-same Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will (Hebrews 2:11). The effect of these miracles and gifts was the confirmation of the doctrine of the apostles, which they did confirm by word and deed. For

1. They did most certainly affirm and assert this doctrine, as baying heard it immediately of Christ, and as having received the immediate knowledge thereof from Him.

2. They did these signs, wonders, and mighty deeds, and upon the imposition of their hands, believers received the extraordinary gifts of the Holy Ghost, yet they neither did these miracles, nor gave these gifts by their own power or holiness. But the works were done, and the graces given by them as instruments, in the name of Christ as risen and glorified and from God. So that the power of God, the merit of Christ, their ministration, did all concur to the production of these glorious effects. God was the principal cause, therefore is it said, that by these God did bear them witness and attest their doctrine to he true, and from Him; so that this confirmation was a giving credibility to the doctrine of the gospel, so far as it was new,. and delivered the positive truths concerning Jesus of Nazareth, dying for our sins, rising again, sitting at the right hand of God, and the dependence of justification before the tribunal of God, and eternal glory upon faith in Him making intercession in heaven. For there was no need thus to cut, firm the ceremonials of Moses, and the covenant of God with

Israel before Mount Sinai to the Jew; for these things He made no doubt of, nor was this confirmation needful for to persuade the Gentile of the equity and justice of the morals of the Scripture, for the natural light of reason did approve them. These miracles and gifts were proofs very strong and powerful, for they were no juggling impostures or delusions, but real demonstrations of the Divine will, and clear to the senses. (G. Lawson.)

According to His own will

Of God’s will in ordering works and gifts

The forementioned diversity of miracles and distribution of gifts, were ordered and disposed according to the will of God. This act of distributing is attributed to God (1 Corinthians 7:17); to His Son (Ephesians 4:7); and to His Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:11). And for kind, number, and measure of gifts, all are ordered by the will of this one God according to His own will, not another’s; the Greek word intends as much. The will of God is that rule whereby all things are ordered that He Himself doth, and whereby all things ought to be ordered that creatures do. Hereupon God’s will is distinguished into His secret and revealed will (Deuteronomy 29:29). The secret will of God is called His counsel (Isaiah 46:10); the counsel of His will (Ephesians 1:11); His purpose (Romans 13:23): His pleasure (Isaiah 46:10); His good pleasure (Ephesians 1:9); the good pleasure of His will (Ephesians 1:5). The other is commonly called God’s Word, and that after the manner of men, because the ordinary means whereby men make known their minds is the word of their mouth, therefore the revelation of God’s will is called God’s Word, whether it be by an audible voice from God Himself (Matthew 3:17), or by the ministry of angels (Hebrews 2:2), or by the ministry of men (Hosea 1:2). This is also called the good and acceptable and perfect will of God (Romans 12:2). This revealed will of God is that which is principally intended in the second petition of the Lord’s prayer. Here God’s secret will is meant. This is that supreme and absolute will of God, by which all things are, and without which nothing can be (Psalms 115:3; Ephesians 1:11; Romans 11:34). This is God’s only rule; He hath nothing else to regulate any purpose or act of His but His own will. As therefore He disposeth all things, so in special the gifts of the Holy Ghost according to His will. The grounds following do demonstrate the equity hereof.

1. God is the fountain whence all gifts flow (James 1:17). All are His; hereupon He thus presseth His right against such as were not contented with that portion which He gave them (Matthew 20:15).

2. God is the most supreme Sovereign over all. He is the Lord and Master of all; He therefore hath power to order the places and duties and parts of all as He pleaseth, according to His own will (1 Chronicles 28:4-5).

3. God is the wisest of all. He is wise in heart (Job 9:4); yea, mighty in wisdom (Job 36:5); His understanding is infinite (Psalms 147:5); He is only wise (Romans 16:27). He therefore best knoweth what is fittest for every one, and He is fittest to order it according to His will.

4. God’s will is the rule of righteousness. Whatsoever is ordered thereby and agreeable thereto is righteous, and whatsoever cometh from it is altogether righteous. The Lord is righteous in all His ways, His ordering therefore of matters must needs be according to right and equity.

5. The Lord fitteth gifts and functions one to another. Such gifts as are needful for such a function and such a function as is fittest for such gifts Matthew 25:15; Exodus 31:2; Exodus 31:8). This teacheth us every one to be content with our own measure which God hath proportioned to us, for we may be assured thereupon that it is the fittest and best Jot us. Hast thou a small measure? bear it patiently, that measure is fittest for thee. Hast thou a great measure? use it conscionably, that is fittest for thee. We are exhorted earnestly to covet the best gifts (1 Corinthians 12:31), and to seek to 1 Corinthians 14:12), and to grow up in all things (Ephesians 4:15). None of these, nor any such like exhortations are contrary to Christian contentedness.

For

1. Though a man covet a more excellent gift than God hath Ordained for him, yet when he seeth that God hath bestowed such and such a gift upon him less than his desire, he may quietly subject himself to God’s wise disposition and rest contented therewith. For the will of God being nosy made known unto him, he may persuade himself that the gift he hath is b,-st for him.

2. Seeking to excel is not ambitiously to strive for the highest places and greatest offices in the Church (as Diotrephes did, 3 John 1:9), but every one to strive in his one place to do most god in God’s Church. This, therefore, is the full exhortation: “ Seek that you may excel to the edifying of the Church” (1 Corinthians 14:12). So as this teacheth us how to make the bent use of the place wherein God hath set us, and of the parts which He hath given us.

3. A continual growth in grace is no more opposite to Christian contentedness than the growth of the little tinge, is to the place wherein it is set. Growth and contentedness may well stand together, yea, they always go together. Growth in grace received showeth our good liking thereof, and that we think it the fittest for us; and are thereupon stirred up to nourish and cherish it, to keep it from decay, and to increase it more and more. (W. Gouge.)


Verse 5

Hebrews 2:5

Put in subjection the world to come

The sovereignty of the future

I.
IF CHRIST IS THE SOVEREIGN OF THE FUTURE, WE SHOULD HOLD STRONG FAITH IN THE UNIVERSAL TRIUMPHS OF HIS SYSTEM.

1. He has plentitude of power for the accomplishment of His promises.

2. Plenty of time.

II. IF CHRIST IS THE SOVEREIGN OF THE FUTURE, WE MAY INFER THAT OUR FUTURE WELL-BEING IS EVER DEPENDENT UPON PRESENT WELL-DOING. Otherwise

1. The good would have no guarantee that present obedience would ensure future well-being.

2. And the evil might hope for approval hereafter.

III. IF CHRIST IS THE SOVEREIGN OF THE FUTURE, HIS LOYAL SUBJECTS SHOULD BE RECONCILED TO THE EVENTS OF THE PRESENT, AND CALMLY AWAIT THOSE OF THE FUTURE.

IV. IF CHRIST IS THE SOVEREIGN OF THE FUTURE, THE OBVIOUS INTEREST OF EVERY HUMAN BEING, IS TO CULTIVATE HIS FRIENDSHIP NOW.

1. Because, without this friendship, His control will run contrary to all the feelings, aspirations, and purposes of the soul.

2. Because without this friendship, His control in the future will be exercised with positive reference to punishment. (Homilist.)

The world to come

The greatest difficulty is to know what is meant by “the world to come,” which many think refers to the state of glory, and the word which follows the resurrection. Thus Lapide, and some of the ancients. Rivers understands the Church-Christian as opposed to the Church of former times, especially under the law. This is the more probable sense; for the apostle speaks of these last times, wherein God spake unto men by His Son; and it is opposed to the times wherein He spake by His prophets and angels. Yet we must not understand it of the Church exclusively, as though God had not subjected other things, even angels, for the good of the Church. That world and those times whereof the apostle speaks are here meant, but he speaks of the times of the gospel. The proposition is negative. God subjected not the world to come to angels. In former times God had used very much the ministry of angels in ordering the Church, and put much power in their hands to that end. Yet now in this last time He made Christ His Son (who by reason of His suffering was a little lower then the angels) to be the administrator-general of His kingdom, the universal Lord, and subjected the very angels unto Him. The expression seems to be taken from Isaiah 9:6, for whereas there, amongst other titles given to Christ, one is, everlasting Father; the Septuagint turn it, the Father or Governor of the world to come, which seems to be the genuine sense of the Hebrew words. The sum is, that God did not subject the Church in the times of the gospel, nor the world of those times to angels but to Christ. The words thus understood may inform us

1. That Christ is more excellent than the angels.

2. If the law and Word spoken by angels, when neglected and disobeyed, was so severely punished, much more severely shall they who neglect the gospel spoken by Christ be punished.

3. That if it was the duty of the fathers and those who lived in former times to hearken to the Word spoken by angels, which are but servants, then it is much more the duty of us, who live in these last times, to hearken unto the Word of so great salvation spoken by Christ, made Lord of all. From hence we may understand the scope of the words to be the same with that of the former, and that may be considered either as part of the former reason why we should hearken to Christ and not neglect the gospel; or they may, with the latter words following, contain another distinct reason, and in this manner, that seeing God hath not to the angels subjected the world to come, but to Christ, who, by His suffering and death, was for a little time made lower than the angels, and for that suffering, afterwards made Lord of all, even of angels, then we ought to give the more earnest heed to His doctrine. (G. Lawson.)

The world to come

The phrase “to come” does not seem here merely to express the antithesis between “this world” and the new order of things introduced through Christ; with this there is at least included the idea that this new order is still future: compare city to come (Hebrews 13:14; Hebrews 6:5). Throughout the Epistle the great antithesis is “this world” and the “world to come.” The former, visible, material, transient, to which belongs, as part of it, the first covenant; the other, real, heavenly, and eternal, access into which is through the new covenant. The first is subjected to angels, particularly as revealers of the law; but under their rule seems embraced the whole pre-Christian condition of things, embracing man in his earthly and mortal condition. Salvation is escape from this and possession of the heavenly world. In this world to come the angels have no more rule, all things without exception are put in subjection to man (Hebrews 2:8). From the Old Testament point of view, the world to come is the world from the coming of the Messiah, for the Old Testament drew no lines in the Messianic salvation, the Messianic world was perfect from the moment of Messiah’s coming. But in the view of this Christian writer, though powers from the world to come made themselves felt here (Hebrews 2:4; Hebrews 6:5), and though through hope (Hebrews 6:19) and faith believers might be said to be come to it (Hebrews 12:22), it was still no more than ready to be revealed. It belonged to a sphere transcending this earth, out of which it would be revealed and descend, and then all that was promised by God’s holy prophets would be fulfilled, when the meek should inherit the earth Psalms 37:11; Matthew 5:5; Romans 4:13), and the dominion under the whole heaven should be given to the people of the saints of the Most High (Daniel 7:27)--for then earth and heaven would be one. This “ world to come” is identical with the “ all things” of the Psalm (verse 8), being “ all things” in their final and eternal condition--whereof we speak means, which is the subject of my writing, rather than, which is the theme of hope and converse among us Christians. (A. B. Davidson, LL. D.)

Christ the Genius of the future

Strauss, in writing of the Emperor Julian’s attempt to restore the old paganism, and to put away the new Christianity, says: “ Every Julian, i.e.. every great and powerful man who would attempt to resuscitate a state of society which has died, will infallibly be vanquished by the Galilean, for the Galilean is nothing less than the genius of the future.” To say that “ the Galilean is nothing less than the genius of the future,” is to say of Him what it would be ridiculous to say of any one else. Strauss felt that the spirit of the Galilean was so great add good, so rich, as to give to the future its noblest inspirations. (T. Sherwood.)

The world to come

As a man plants his estate, and plants for far-off years, and gives to each tree the soil and situation it requires--so has the Lord planted this earth, and certainly with reference to a time not yet fulfilled. (Miss S. F. Smiley.)

The hope of a golden age

The hope of a future golden age, when the whole world should be renewed and evil banished, is very plainly expressed in the old German legends of the gods. Baldr, the good, the holy and the wise, the favourite of the gods and of men, is slain through the crafty stratagem of the wicked Loki. The gods and all creatures lament: men and beasts, trees and rocks weep. Evil times afterwards come upon the earth; strife and bloodshed increase; and in the fight between the giants and the gods, Odin and the Ases (the good gods) are subdued, and the world destroyed by fire. But Vidar the victorious will restore the golden age; a new world is to arise, clothed with perpetual spring and plenty; there will no longer be any Loki, and Baldr will return from the dead: while gods and men, recovering from their overthrow, will dwell peacefully together. Kindred traditions are familiar also, in Mexico and the South Sea Islands. In short, everywhere in the heathen world, the prediction and the hope are indigenous, that when evil shall have reached its climax, these iron times of sin and misery will come to an end, and even the gods who have ruled during this age of the world will be overthrown. For this purpose a royal hero, of heavenly descent, will appear to crush the head of the demon and to bring back the primitive age of happiness and innocence. (Prof. C. E. Luthardt.)


Verse 6

Hebrews 2:6

What is man?

What is man?

To answer this question with anything like completeness it would be necessary to discourse upon it in much detail. Reference would have to be made to various sciences--psychology, physiology, anthropology, sociology; and even then the answer would be inadequate, for all the scientists together are unable to take the full measure of man. It is possible, however, to ponder the question with reference to one or two of the more salient points that it suggests, in such a way as to arrive briefly at an answer that may suffice for a moral purpose. Naturally, the question at the outset throws us back on history and the records of the past. What has man been? what was his beginning? It is almost lost in the dimness of remote antiquity. All we can say is, that, like every other living thing, his course has been upward and onward from a lower form, that in strength, in beauty, in intellect, in moral power, he has progressed by a slow development. On any supposition there must have been a period when he first acquired personality, when, to his sensuous and instinctive impulses, there were superadded reason and will, and those higher emotions and faculties which we commonly speak of as pertaining to the soul. There must have been a time when man first knew what right and wrong were, and what sin was; and there must have been a time when man first committed sin and experienced the sense of shame. So that whether chaps,

2. or 3. of Genesis are historical or not, they are spiritually true. Theyfurnish an exact description of what man was, and what he did, in that early stage of his being, when he acquired the power of choosing between good and evil. They narrate that change in the evolution of the race which corresponds to the change in the evolution of the man when he arrives at years of discretion, and can be treated as a moral being, having a sense of moral responsibility. And it does not require the slightest remission of candour, or fancy of interpretation, to read the Biblical description of man’s origin in correspondence with the suggestions of science: “And the Lord God formed man of the dust … and man became a living soul.” Here we have a statement of the lowest possible origin of man, from “ the dust of the ground,” with the addition that there was infused into him afterwards by the Almighty that quality of his nature which made him like the Almighty, and capable of what the best men have attained. It existed only in the germ at first, this principle of the higher life; but it was a germ having a power of development which was almost inexhaustible--a germ that has gone on working marvellously ever since; so that, from the teaching of experience only, we do not know what limits to set to the possible development of man. There was once a wise king, as Jeremy Taylor tells us, who was raised to the throne from the position of a ploughman, and kept his country shoes always by him to remind him from whence he had sprung. It would be well if we would in like manner often think of what we were, and what, in many respects, we still are, with the traces of our lower birth still about us. We should be less disposed to think that all things exist for man, and that “ man is the measure of all things.” We should assume an attitude of more reverent and waiting humility towards Him from whom we and all things are sprung. Again, the recollection of our low beginning would tend to produce a salutary effect on our moral conduct. What more common pretext for their mode of life is offered by the sensual and intemperate than that they are following the dictates of their nature? Yes; but which nature? The lover? that which they share with the brute, and have perhaps inherited from the brute? Does ever humanity fall so low as when it makes such an appeal? Remember, then, from whence you have sprung, or at any rate what you have been, and you will not be forward to plead for liberty to do what “your nature” dictates. For man only became man, and deserved to be styled man, when he learnt bow to control his appetites. But further, for those even who are cognizant of the higher nature in man and who are striving to live according to that, nature, it is useful to remember the other side of their being. The higher nature has been evolved out of the lower. We are the products of evolution from various ancestors; we have inherited our several dispositions, whether good or bad; we are, to a large extent, the creatures of our circumstances; our higher life is governed by precisely the same laws which control the lives of plants and animals; we are subject in our higher nature to similar conditions of degeneration and mortification. We cannot, then, be what we like to be without regard to the environment in which we are placed. Though we boast of our free-will, we act on the greatest number of occasions simply on the impulse of the strongest motive. And therefore it is absolutely needful for our spiritual well-being that we place our-elves in a favourable environment, that we put ourselves in the way of being actuated by good motives, that we cultivate habits of prayer and watchfulness. Thus we are admonished by the laws of the animal life, which we share with the brutes. And, moreover, the higher nature of man is not only subject to the laws which govern the animal life, but it is inextricably interwoven with the animal nature in himself. His goodness from day to day depends on what use he makes of his lower nature. Bodily ill-health will weaken his self-control, and curtal(his spiritual powers: bodily indulgence will enervate his will, and expose him to special temptations. So that a great part of the activity of the higher nature depends on a proper treatment of the lower. Hence the necessity for exercising self-discipline, in order to keep the lower passions under proper control. It needs no asceticism, no going out rote the wilderness to feed on locusts and wild honey to accomplish this. It needs not that the lower feelings should be crushed, but rather that they should be made sublime by becoming the ready instruments of the higher self. And then the man becomes a harmonious, a dignified, a noble being, armed and fully equipped to do God’s bidding at all times. Then he can indeed lift up his head above the animal creation, and feel that he is a being of a different mould from them. Then he can find in himself the working of a spirit of life to whose continuance the destruction of the body is no impediment. Then he can even dare to claim kindred with God Himself Romans 8:13-14). (W. L. Paige Cox, M. A.)

What is man?

The question of all antiquity, and perhaps the question around which for years to come the greatest theological and scientific strife will take place, is this: What is man? The answer that the Christian Church will give will not of course accord in all points with the answer of the scientist who denies the revelation which comes from God. Yet, strange to say, though by different paths, and for every different purposes, we come in one sense to the same conclusion as the scientist: that there are possibilities in man which, if only they be evolved, will raise him to an infinite height, and bestow upon him a power that is possessed by no other creature in the universe. We hold that man is intended by God to be elevated step by step by the power of the gospel, until he becomes a partaker of the very glory of God. The scientist holds--if he denies revelation, I mean--that man is gradually, by a process of evolution, and by the development of the species, to be so elevated that at last all that is called God shall be found in him, and that man thus becomes a God to himself and to creation. But there is little question that the answer will be that “the earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof”; that man is but the deputy or vicegerent of his God; and that if man can be elevated to the position to which Almighty God intended him to attain, he shall be one with God in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ; he shall be elevated, step by step, by the gospel power, until he shall attain to the highest glory of God: “The glory that Thou gavest Me I have given them, that they may be one, even as We are one: I in them and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one.” I know no motive power that can touch man’s nature when it be elevated above the self-consciousness of self-seeking, so much as the inquiry what God meant man to be, what God made man for originally, what He considers him to be now, and what are the possibilities God has put before man in and through the glorious Saviour Jesus Christ our Lord. My purpose, therefore, is to inquire whether, if God’s revelation be the power by which mankind can be elevated to its highest possible destiny, we are prepared to carry out that purpose, and to glorify God as our Saviour in all things, by giving up ourselves to His service, to live the devoted live that the Church should live and to rise above the selfishness of mere personal salvation; remembering that there is a still more glorious aim than merely to be saved, and to enter personally into the glory of God, and it is this--that in her corporate, capacity, the Church should see that the individual life and personality is in one sense to be lost, and that when the individual soul forgets even its own personal salvation and its aspirations to everlasting happiness, then, and then only, does it really attain to the highest possible dignity of man; and that when the Church as a whole becomes, as she should be, greatly thoughtful on behalf of the individuals or units that one by one make up the perfection of the body of Christ which is His Church, then only will she fulfil her high destiny upon earth. Now let us proceed to the inquiry, taking our answer from God’s own Word. What is man? Can anything more magnificent be conceived than the dignity wherewith God originally endowed him? Whole step by step God evolved the glories and beauties of creation, one and one only purpose was in the Master-Maker, and that was to prepare the wonderful sphere in which man as the top stone of all should be happy and blessed, and should glorify his Maker. And when that wonderful series of preparations was completed, we find that even the Almighty Maker, the great Creator, has to pause as it were, in order that He may give greater dignity and greater glory to the creation of the creature which is to be possessor of all!--and instead of that mere fiat, “Let there be” and “there was,” we hear the Triune God saying, “Let Us make man in Our own image and after Our own likeness.” And then “God made man,” as the apostle Paul says, “the image and glory of God”! Surely from that moment we should expect the sphere of man to be great. But suddenly all the glory is swept away, and the creature for whom God had worked so long ceases to enjoy his original position; for by one act of folly he has severed himself from God, and, sin entering into the world, and death by sin, all the greatness of man would seem to be lost for ever. Nor from that time forward, as far as physical manifestation goes, has there ever been a recovery of the creature’s lost dignity; and if now (however much modern science rejects the doctrine of the fall) the inquiry rings through the vault of heaven “ What is man? “ the answer would appear to be that man has become a thing of naught. Yea, “ye, fly every man at his best state is altogether vanity.” Man is even “like a vapour that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” Yet, though this his fallen condition urges one to think with pain of the creature, let me invite you to pause before you condemn humanity after that modern fashion which is at the opposite extreme to that which speaks of man rising upwards and becoming God. Let me ask you to look at the fallen creature and see how, even after the fall, there are magnificent proofs in him of the original power of God, and that he is by no means to be condemned as a hopeless cripple. We gaze upon the ruins of a city and, from these ruins we gather is former magnificence and greatness; and it is by the style of these ruins that we judge of the city. So let me ask you to look at man for a moment, and as you see in this fallen creature powers that never were found in any other, you shall be compelled to give him your admiration, and honour him for the possibilities that lie buried beneath the surface, and which may elevate him into something almost Divine if only he can be delivered from the dominion of sin. Look, for instance, at the power or revenge as inherited in the vilest and worst of men. We find no other creature in the world who, for the mere sake of obtain-ink vengeance on its own behalf, will determine to sacrifice its own life. Look at the power of covetousness--that ambition and yearning after money and place, which the apostle describes as idolatry; and observe the wondrous powers there are in the creature who, for the mere sake of advancing himself, will slave and toil in order that he may be elevated above his fellows. Look again on that awful power of remorse, which comes over those who have fallen and sunk into despair. Can anything prove more clearly than the workings of remorse the very magnificence of the creature who is capable of such conditions and emotions? It would seem, if we watch a man in the activities of remorse, as if we were able to stand on a height within himself and so contemplate the utter misery of his own ruined, fallen slate. Surely there is no other creature in the world such as this. Therefore, as we look at man in his fall, again we are compelled to say, What is man? and to answer back, Man is not merely the wreck of his former self-though that we believe most solemnly--but a wonderful creature, a marvellous being, fitted, if only liberated from his fallen condition, to stand once more in the presence of God. At length, after four thousand years, during which God had from time to time been essaying to reveal Himself unto men, the oracle would seem to have become altogether dumb, when an angel appears to a virgin in Nazareth, and tells that a “holy thing shall be born of her which shall be called the Son of God”; and there bursts from the inspired lips of Zacharias the cry that “God hath visited and redeemed His people,” and that “the Dayspring from on high hath visited us”; and the Lord Jesus, as the true “Word made flesh,” appears among men. And now, what see we as the result of Jehovah deigning to appear in the flesh? First, the manifestation of what mall should be and could be if only the purpose of God was fulfilled; secondly, the manifestation of what God still determined to accomplish in man, because in Christ Jesus He would purchase humanity to Himself; and, thirdly, the manifestation of what may be done by those brought into personal contact and union with Him, being made one with the Son of God, by the faith which He requires us to exercise. We also see that in place of limitation, which had appeared to be working for so many centuries, expansion commenced, and has been wondrously proceeding from the day that the Lord Jesus returned to His Father in heaven. For when about to pass back to the glory of God, arid to be hidden from men’s eyes for a little while, we hear from His lips the blessed truth that “ Ye shall receive power” and “ Ye shall be witnesses unto Me,” and in ten days from that time a third great series of manifestations commences. No longer ,in men see the form of the Son of God, but the power of the Holy Ghost in the sons of God. Jehovah-Elohim had appeared unto man; Jehovah Jesus had appeared for man; and now, in the Church of God, and in the fulness of His power, the Jehovah Spirit would appear in man. From that day forward the work of expansion commences, and for eighteen hundred years the great power of the Lord, the Holy Ghost, has been exhibit d in this world working out the complete man (Ephesians 4:13; Ephesians 5:25, &e.). The Second Man, who is the Lord from heaven, will not be complete until His Bride be brought unto Him, His glorious Church, wit; out spot or wrinkle or any such thing; and so each sinner that is joined to Jesus Christ by His Spirit is made a member of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones, and we live in Him, we live by Him, and we may now live for Him, in order that hereafter we may live with Him in the manifested glory that awaits God’s Son. And now when we see “the Man Christ Jesus” made perfect through suffering, and then lifted up to the throne of God that by His Spirit He may draw men into absolute unity with Himself, say, oh say, “What is man?” What is man, as we see him in the person of God’s Son? What is man, as we see him in the purpose of God, which is to be carried out in soul after soul of those that are redeemed and united vitally unto the Lord Jesus Christ? And “ what is man” when we consider the triumphs of this gospel? What but this truth, as the truth is in Jesus, has made man such as he has occasionally been seen? What but this could have made a Paul, a Peter, or a John? What but this could have given us an Augustine, a Wycliffe, a Huss, a Savonarola, a Luther? What but this in these latter days could give us those blessed missionaries who have stood before the world as witnesses for the power of Christ? What but this, the purpose of God, to glorify man, the purpose of God that man should have dominion in and through the Lord Jesus Christ, and that all may bee-me workers together with Him, if only they he vitally united to the Man? (H. W.Webb Peploe, M. A.)

What is man?

We need not only a true philosophy of God but a true philosophy of man, in order to right,, thinking of the gospel. The idolater thinks man inferior to birds and beasts and creeping things, before which he prostrates himself. The materialist reckons him to be the chance product of natural forces which have evolved him, and before which he is therefore likely to pass away. The pseudoscience of the time makes him of one blood with ape and gorilla, and assigns him a common origin with the beasts. See what gigantic systems of error have developed from mistaken conceptions of the true nature and dignity of man!

I. MAN AS GOD MADE HIM

1. the Divine likeness (Genesis 1:27). Our mental and moral nature is made on the same plan as God’s: the Divine in miniature. Truth, love, and purity, like the principles of mathematics, are the same in us as in Him. If it were nut so, we could not know or understand Him. But since it is so, it has been possible for Him to take on Himself our nature, and that we should be one day transformed to the perfect image of His beauty.

2. Royal supremacy (Genesis 1:28). Man was intended to be God’s vicegerent and representative. King in a palace stored with all to plea-e him, monarch and sovereign of all the lower orders of creation. The sun to labour for him as a very Hercules; the moon to light his nights, or lead the waters round the earth in tides, cleansing his coasts; elements of nature to be his slaves and messengers; flowers to scent his path; fruits to please his taste; birds to sing for him; fish to feed him; beasts to toil for him and carry him. Not a cringing slave, but a king, crowned with the glory of rule, and with the honour of universal supremacy. Only a little lower than angels, because they are not, like him, entangled with flesh and blood. This is man as God made him to be.

II. MAN AS SIN HAS MADE HIM (Hebrews 2:8).

His crown is rolled in the dust, his honour tarnished. His sovereignty is strongly disputed by the lower orders of creation. If trees nourish him, it is after strenuous care, anal they often disappoint. If the earth supplies him with food, it is in tardy response to exhausting toil. If the beasts serve him, it is because they have been laboriously tamed and trained, whilst vast numbers roam the forest glades, setting him at defiance. If he catch the fish of the sea, or the bird of the air, he must wait long in cunning concealment. Some traces of the old lordship are still apparent in the terror which the sound of the human voice and the glance of the eye side inspire into the lower orders, in the feats of lion-tamer or snake-charmer. But for the most part anarchy and rebellion have laid waste his fair realm. So degraded has man become that he has bowed before the objects that he was to command, and has prostrated his royal form in shrines dedicated to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things.

III. MAN AS CHRIST CAN MAKE HIM (Hebrews 2:9).--“What help is that? “ cries an objector;” “of course He is crowned with glory and honour, since He is the Son of God.” But, notice, the glory and honour mentioned here are altogether different from the glory of Hebrews 1:3. That was the incommunicable glory of His Deity. This is is the acquired glory of His humanity.

1. “We behold Him.”--Behold Him, Christian. The wreaths of empire are on His brow. The keys of death and Hades swing at His girdle. The mysterious living creatures, representatives of creation, attest that He is worthy. All things in heaven, and earth, and under the earth, and in the seas worship Him; so do the bands of angels, beneath whom He stooped for a little season, on our behalf.

2. And as He is, we too shall be. He is there as the type and representative of redeemed men. We are linked with Him in indissoluble union. Through Him we shall get back our lost empire. We to, shall be crowned with glory and honour. The day is not far distant when we shall sit at His side; joint heirs in His empire; comrades in His glory, as we have been comrades in His sorrows; beneath our feet all things visible and invisible, thrones and principalities and powers; whilst above us shall be the unclouded empyrean of our Father’s love, for ever and for ever. Oh, destiny of surpassing bliss! Oh, rapture of saintly hearts! Oh, miracle of Divine Omnipotence! (F. B.Meyer, B. J.)

God’s special care of man

1. God’s special care of man, and His singular love towards him.

2. The same manifested in a most glorious manner, in the humiliation and exaltation of Christ.

3. The admiration, or rather amazement at such a stupendous manifestation of such stupendous love. All the works of God are in themselves excellent and wonderful, but the work of redemption by Christ is matter of greatest wonder and astonishment even to the angels. (G. Lawson.)

What is man?

He doth not speak of man in his first creation--he retained that estate but a while--therefore he would rather have deplored than admired it. He doth not speak of man as be is after his fall, for in that respect he is most miserable, not glorious; therefore he must needs speak of man as he is ingrafted into Christ, by whom he is advanced to wonderful and unspeakable glory. What is man? Not only considered in his first creation, but even in his renovation, what is the best man that ever was, that God should have any respect to him? By creation indeed he is the workmanship of God, the image of God Almighty; yet for all that., in respect of his original, he was taken out of the ground. He is but a piece of earth; since the Fall he is a mass of sin; though he be regenerate, and by faith ingrafted into Christ, yet still he hath sin in him and must die. Therefore what is this man, that Thou shouldest pour down so many blessings on him? that the sun, moon, and stars, should give him light? that the birds of the air, fishes of the sea, the casts of the field should be his meat? that be should walk as a king on earth? especially that Thou shouldest send Thy only Son to die for him, make him a member of His body, and provide an everlasting kingdom for him in the life to come? What is vile, wretched, sinful, corrupted man, that Thou shouldest be so far mindful of him? protect him with the shield of Thy favours from all dangers? That Thou shouldest vouchsafe him Thy Word and sacraments? That Thou shouldest give him Thy Holy Spirit to help him to pray, and to comfort him in all miseries? We should not be like the peacock spreading forth our golden feathers, and say within ourselves, What goodly men be we! We ought to think basely of ourselves--what are we that God should regard us? “What am I and my father’s house,” said that regal prophet, “that Thou hast brought me hitherto?” What are we miserable wretches, that God Almighty should do anything for us? we are less than the least of all His mercies. Yet we are wont to vaunt of ourselves, do ye not know who I am? Dost thou not consider to whom thou speakest? yes, very well. I speak to dust and ashes. Let no high conceit of ourselves enter into our minds, let us think basely of ourselves, What am I, O Lord, that Thou shouldest give me the least thing in the world? A drop of drink, a crust of bread, a hole to hide my head in, especially that Thou shouldest give me Thine only Son, and together with Him all things that be good? What is any man in the world? Art thou a rich man? God can puff away thy riches and make thee poor. Art thou a wise man? God can take away thy senses and make thee a fool. Art thou a beautiful man? God can send the pox and many diseases to take away thy beauty Art thou a strong man? God can send sickness and make thee weak. Art thou a gentleman, a knight, a lord? yet thy breath is in God’s hand. This night He can take away thy soul from thee, and what art thou then? Therefore let us all have an humble opinion of ourselves, let us cast down ourselves at God’s feet, and say, What are we, O Lord, that Thou art mindful of us, that Thou so graciously visitest us, especially with Thy everlasting mercies in Christ Jesus. (W. Jones, D. D.)

The littleness of man

The intense beauty of the Arctic firmament can hardly be imagined. It looked close above our heads, with its stars magnified in glory and the very planets twinkling so much as to baffle the observations of our astronomer. I am afraid to speak of some of these night-scenes. I have trodden the deck and its floes when the life of earth seemed suspended, its movements, its sounds, its colouring, its companionships; and as I looked on the radiant hemisphere circling above, as if rendering worship to the unseen Centre of light, I have ejaculated in humility of spirit, “Lord, what is man, that Thou art mindful of him? “ And then I have thought of the kindly world we bad left, with its revolving sunshine and shadow and the other stars that gladden it in their changes, and the hearts that warmed to us there, till I lost myself in memories of those who are not, and they bore me back to the stars again. (Dr. Kane’s Arctic Explorations.)


Verse 7

Hebrews 2:7

A little lower than the angels

Humiliation the way to exaltation

All the forementioned branches of Christ’s advancement, which are here and Isaiah 53:12; Eph Philippians 2:10, audio sundry other places inferred upon His humiliation, afford unto us sundry considerable observations, as

1.
That working and suffering are the way to glory and honour.

2. That works of service and suffering were requisite for man’s redemption and salvation (verse 10).

3. That God was mindful of His Son in His meanest and lowest estate, according to that which is written of the Son in relation to His Father,” Thou wilt not leave My soul in hell: neither wilt Thou suffer Thy Holy One to see corruption. Thou wilt show Me the path of life,” &c. (Psalms 16:10-11).

4. That all the members of Christ’s body have good ground to be confident, that after they have done and endured what God shall call them unto, they shall be recompensed with a crown of glory (1 Peter 5:4). Christ therefore is to be looked on, as well advanced as debased; in His exaltation and in His humiliation; in heaven at His Father’s right hand, as well as on the cross, or in the grave; crowned with glory, as well as with thorns (Hebrews 12:1). Thus will our faith be better settled and more strengthened, as Stephen’s was, when he “saw the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God” (Acts 7:56). Thus shall we with much patience, contentedness and cheerfulness, do and endure what God by His providence calleth us unto, knowing that if we suffer with Christ, we shall also reign with Him (2 Timothy 2:12). (W. Gouge.)

Christ for a little lime made lower than the angels

It is not material, whether we understand by little, a little measure of inferiority, or little time; for both are true. But the principal thing in these words is, wherein He was made lower than the angels; and that was in this, that He was man and mortal. Man is inferior to an angel as man; and much more as mortal, because the angels never die. Now Christ had the body of a man, and a soul separable from His body till the resurrection; and that was the little time here meant, the time of His mortality. Both might be joined in one divine axiom thus. We see, for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour, that Jesus who for a little time was made lower than the angels. (G. Lawson.)

Dignity of man

Science may prove the insignificance of this globe in the scale of creation, but it cannot prove the insignificance of man. (B. D’Israeli.)

Descent of man

The subject of a conversation at which Carlyle was present, but took no part, was the theory of evolution. At length a pause occurring, Carlyle emphatically and with solemnity observed, “Gentlemen, you are well pleased to trace your descent froth a tadpole and an ape but I would say with David, ‘Lord, Thou hast made me but a little lower than the angels.” (Leisure Hour.)

Greatness of man

But how is man “little”? He has competent knowledge of the character of God; he is only” a little lower than the angels,” and has dominion over all the works of God. He can comprehend the starry heavens; he is Godlike in his original nature; for “in the image of God made He him.” The sublime truths which God has revealed to man show what estimate God has of man’s capacity and responsibility. A finite creature can insult the majesty of heaven as deliberately and intelligently as the archangel; he can annihilate the authority of God in his own soul, and wherever he has influence; if all finite creatures should do this--and there are no creatures who are not finite--there would be no moral universe, no Divine government. (N. Adams.)

Man’s greatness

I cannot reach the stars with my hands but I pierce beyond them with my thoughts, and if things go on in the illimitable depths of the skies which would shrivel up the imagination like a dead leaf, I am greater than they, for I ask “Why,” and look before and after, and draw all things into the tumult of my personal life--the stars in their courses, and the whole past and future of the universe, all thing, as they move in their eternal paths, even as the tiniest pool reflects the sun and the everlasting hills. (Arnold Toynbee.)

Dignity of man

Man would not be the most distinguished being upon the earth if he were not too distinguished for it. (Goethe.)

Man’s superiority

Too much stress has been laid upon the proud upright position of man, and a great deal has been said and written concerning the sublime aspect of his countenance, and the Godlike dignity of his carriage. A moment’s consideration will be sufficient to show that though he looks upwards with ease and facility, he cannot, in this respect, claim any superiority. The eagle, which gazes on the sun with undazzled eye, and makes his pathway among the clouds, yields not in dignity of appearance or power of locomotion to man, who merely walks upon the ground. Can man measure his beauty with the antelope, his speed with the horse, or his strength with the-elephant? It is in virtue of his intellect, of his reason, and not of his bodily form that he ranks above his fellows. It was in mind, not in body, that “God made man in His own image.” (Scientific Illustrations and Symbols.)

Preparation for man

How in the household are garments quilted and wrought, and curiously embroidered, and the softest things laid aside, and the cradle prepared to greet the little pilgrim of love when it comes from distant regions we know not whence! Now, no cradle for an emperor’s child was ever prepared with such magnificence as this world has been for man. It is God’s cradle for the race, curiously carved and decorated, flower-strewn and star-curtained. (H. W. Beecher.)

All things in subjection

The rulership of man

I. GOD WAS MINDFUL, OF THE LIMITS IN WHICH MAN WOULD EXERCISE DOMINION. All God’s inanimate creatures serve Him and us by keeping within the limits prescribed for them. The planets have their orbits, the sea its boundary. The limits in which man was to exercise dominion over nature were love and obedience to God. So long as he could say: “ O Lord, how excellent is Thy name in all the earth” and render the service flowing from such a homage, so long could it be said of him: “Thou hast put all things under his feet.”

II. WHEN MAN STEPPED OUT OF THESE LIMITS, THE WORLD REFUSED TO BE LIMITED BY HIM. Truly, we see not yet, or “not now,” all things under him. The physician dies of the disease which he studies to cure; the seaman finds his grave in the ocean he has spent his life in learning to rule. Even the body of the Christian is subject to the laws of death and decay.

III. ONE MAN HAS KEPT WITHIN THE LIMITS OF LOVE AND OBEDIENCE TO THE FATHER AND GOD, AND NATURE THEREFORE OWNS HIM AS HER LORD, He could say: “ My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me,” and therefore He could move amongst disease without danger of contamination, navigate the sea as its Master, and suspend old laws, or create new ones, at His will. The grave could not hold Him; but, from dominion over this world, He ascended to the throne of the universe, even the “right hand of the Majesty on high.” How true of Him: “ Thou hast set Thy glory above the heavens.” Lessons:

1. If we would rule, we must be ruled.

2. All may find their way back to their lost limits by the generous love of Christ. “He tasted death for every man.”

3. Every Christian, in his glorified condition, will have dominion according to his ability to exercise it for his own good, and that of others Matthew 26:21). (W. Harris.)

Christ the chief Lord of the world

This agreeth to all men in general, to the faithful in special, whom God hath made kings and lords over all His creatures by Christ But principally it Is to be understood of our Saviour Christ, who is the chief Lord of the world, the King and the Mediator of the Church; He hath all power in heaven and earth. All things, yea, even the devils themselves, are put in subjection under His feet. God hath given Him a name above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should Philippians 2:9). We also by Him; because, we are members of His body and His brethren, we have an interest to all creatures: all things throughout the wide world are ours. The heaven, the earth, the birds, the beasts, the fishes, the trees, the flowers are ours; death is ours; the very devil himself is our slave and subject; God hath put him under our feet.

1. Here we may behold the dignity of Christians; all things by Jesus Christ are under our dominion. Oh, what a bountiful God is this, that hath given us so large a possession! Let us sound forth His praises lot it, and use His liberality to His glory. As God said to Peter, “Arise, kill, and eat”; when the sheet full of all kind of creatures was let down to him from heaven; so doth He say to us all, we may freely eat of all creatures whatsoever; but let us not abuse God’s creatures to His dishonour and our destruction. Let us use them soberly, religiously, to make us more cheerful in the service of our God.

2. Let us not stand in a slavish scare of any creature; of the stars, the winds, no, not of the devils themselves; for all are put in subjection under our feet by Jesus Christ that loved us, and hath given us a superiority over all; we shall be conquerors over them all; a singular comfort to the faithful! Satan may tempt and assault us, but God will tread him under our feet.

3. For this dominion let us thank the Lord Jesus Christ. Of ourselves we are worth nothing, stark beggars; in Christ and by Christ we have all that we have. Let us magnify Him for it. (W. Jones, D. D.)


Verse 9

Hebrews 2:9

But we see Jesus

The coming sovereignty of man

I.
“WE SEE NOT YET ALL THINGS IN SUBJECTION TO MAN.” “Not yet”; but we are to see it. It has to come, this sway of man over “things,” over all things--over the material forces of the world, the powers that largely affect, if they do not actually make, life and progress. The key of the energies of the universe hangs at his girdle, and he will one day “be so learned in love” as to know how to use it to open all the doors of all the mansions of nature, and make their treasures supplements to, and continuations of, the spiritual creation. It has to come, this rule of the Spirit over sense and sin and Satan, over all that touches the invisible essence that constitutes the true man, and therefore over Satan, who works through “things” to deceive the nations and destroy souls. This supremacy is the final goal of humanity.

II. “NOT UNTO ANGELS HAS GOD SUBJECTED THE COMING WORLD.” Angels filled and crowded Hebrew thought for a long time, as God’s “mighty ones,” the swift-winged messengers who delighted to do His will; agents of deliverance, as for the imprisoned Peter, and of punishment, as for Sennacherib. But not to these “men in lighter habit clad” had God subjected the coming world of manhood, the advancing goodness and perfecting character and service of the sons of God. Not to them, but to men like ourselves, who have to do with sheep and oxen and the beasts of the field, with cotton and calicoes, with science and art; whose life is as “fragile as the dewdrop on its perilous way from a tree’s summit.” and yet so strong that it destroys itself by sin; men “made a little lower than God, and crowned with the glory” of a present participation in His nature, and therefore by and by to be invested with the “honour” of sharing His rule.

III. BUT IF TO MAN, TO WHAT IS THIS SCEPTRE OF DOMINION FINALLY GRANTED? To all and sundry, and to them all alike, simply as men, or to particular races or one race of men? To whom is the ultimate leadership of the world to be given? God is no respecter of persons or of nations. Colour of skin is nothing to Him. Geography does not determine His choices. The conquering race is the godly race, of any colour, or country, or time. It is the “new man, which is being renewed unto knowledge after the image of Him that created him; where there cannot be”--it is ruled out for evermore” where there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian,” African, Hindoo, Chinaman, Briton; “ but Christ is all and in all.” It is the manhood of “kind hearts,” not-f “coronets,” of “simple faith,” and not of “Norman blood.”

IV. Though eighteen centuries have elapsed since that forecast of the destiny of man was quoted, endorsed, and explained by the writer to the Hebrews, amid the wreck and overthrow of Judaism, WE HAVE, ALAS! TO ADOPT THE WRITER’S LAMENT, AND SAY, AS WE LOOK ON MAN AND HIS WORLD TO-DAY, “NOT YET WE SEE ALL THINGS SUBJECTED UNTO HIM’.” Indeed, his mastery “of things,” though advanced and advancing, is woefully incomplete. He is only slowly learning that he is a spirit, and is for large breadths of his time and in wide areas of his life the slave of “ things.” The animal is in command. Prometheus is still bound. “The mystery of waste” and suffering and wrong confronts us day and night with its terrible menace, and the self-multiplying and intensifying power of sin drives us to carry our despair into our facts, until there is neither faith nor hope left in us, and, like the Hebrews, “we fall away from the living God,” and find it impossible “to hold fast the beginning of our confidence firm unto the end.”

V. But surely that is not all we see! There is more, much more. On this earth and amongst men--“WE SEE JESUS”; and though, in seeing Him, our first glimpse may only confirm the impression that man has not yet fully entered on his inheritance; yet the deeper look assures us that he is on his way to it, has already been anointed with the oil of joy above his predecessors and contemporaries, and, though suffering, is really ascending by suffering to the throne from which He shall rule for evermore. That sight explains the ages’ long delay; the dissolution and disappearance of the ancient and illustrious Jewish religion, and is the indefeasible pledge and guarantee that the sovereignty of man shall yet be realised, and all things be put under His feet. Seeing Jesus, we see these four paths to the sovereignty of the Christian race, and of the Christian religion through that race; the path of history, of Divine revelation, of saintly character, and of self-suppressing enthusiasm for the welfare of the world.

1. The past rules. It is alive; for many people more alive than the present. In Jesus that past is interpreted; its religious yearning and hope, effort and failure, explained; its programme in law and prophecy filled out; its long and painful discipline vindicated. Now, the case being so, I maintain that the experience the world has had of Christianity forms a piece of logic of irresistible cogency; an argument compact, four-square, fixed deep and for ever in the solid fastnesses of fact, in favour of the success of our present endeavour to save the world by the gospel of Christ; that indeed, as Christ in the conscience is the stronghold of missions, so Christ in the experience of men of like passions and hopes, faiths and fears with ourselves, all through the ages, is an unimpeachable voucher for the triumph of the missionary enterprise; a witness that cannot be denied that the movement is a living, saving, and conquering one, and destined to end in nothing short of the universal establishment of the kingdom of God on the earth.

2. Ideas rule. Thinkers make and mould the ages. Religious revolutions are effected by ideas. In Jesus we see the simplest and highest thought on the highest and most absorbingly vital themes: God and salvation, sin and forgiveness, duty and holiness. Great is the truth as it is in Jesus, and it shall prevail through and over Moses and Isaiah, over Buddha and Mahomet, and make all men free and good. We know the gospel to be the light and conquering message for India and the world. Judging man according to the spiritual necessities of his nature, we are sure this is the only message he can abidingly accept. Treating him, not simply as a keen intellectual thinker, eager to frame a definition of the Divine, and reduce his notions of the Godhead to the cramping boundaries of a four-page catechism--not as a clever and ingenious artist flinging the pictures of his fancy on the canvas, and creating things of perennial beauty and joy--not as a cleverly-constructed money-making machine, but as a man with a fevered restlessness born of sin, and an irrepressible aspiration for righteousness and goodness born of the God that is in him; taking him thus, I declare that no message can soothe him but Christ’s, no medicine heal but the great Physician’s, no good satisfy but that which make him a partaker of the Divine nature, and enables him to escape the corruption that is in the world by lust.

3. This is a moral world; and no rule lasts that is not based on holy character. It is not enough to have the right message; we need also the right method, the method that has conquered from the beginning. Jesus Christ wrote no books. He made men, filled them with His Spirit and trained them in His service, and trusted the founding of His kingdom to them. All the great epochs of revived life and extended power in the history of the Church have been introduced by men of signal goodness, of massive power, of radiant holiness, of unusual faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. When Dr. Judson went amongst the poor and benighted Karens, and passed through their villages and jungles, he was called by the natives “Jesus Christ’s man”! That is it. Nothing can resist that power. A Woolwich steam-hammer is not better adapted for making iron-plated ships than Christ in men as a living experience, and at work in the rescue of the perishing, is fitted for the regeneration of the world.

4. The earliest sovereignty we know is that of love. No monarchy is so sure as a mother’s, none so inward and lasting. “Love never fails.” It is the p-wet that keeps your Christian man fresh, earnest, eager, real, enthusiastic, and hopeful; sustains him at high-pressure in spite of defeat; gives him the power of content, and the victory of joy in his work through, instead of obtaining the common rewards of labour, he suffer the heaped-up scorns and bitter hates of men. David Hume is reported to have said, “Fifty years hence, where will your Christianity be?” Well, where is it? Contrast the dominion of Jesus at this hour, and in the days when the great sceptic spoke. Note our Lord’s conquest since that taunt was flung at His chariot! Where has He not gone? Into what province has He not penetrated? What evils has He not attacked? Assuredly our survey of the past warrants the largest hopefulness and the strongest faith. Now, “Fifty years hence,” we may ask, “where will Christianity not be?”

VI. Disraeli said, “THE YOUNG DO THE REAL WORK OF THE WORLD.” Ruskin writes, “The most beautiful works of all art were done in youth.” Rome was founded by Romulus before he was twenty. Lord Shaftesbury began his fight with social misery in the freshness of his young manhood. William Lloyd Garrison girt himself with the sword of freedom whilst the hot blood of youth was coursing through his veins. Moffat and Livingstone, Comber and Hannington, and an exceeding great army of missionaries said, like young Isaiah in response to God’s summons, “Here am I, send me.” The messenger of the Highest, John the Baptist, finished his work as a young man, and the Christ whom he pioneered was six months his junior. Wherefore, seeing that you are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, shirk no task, seize every opportunity of helping the needy, and run with patience the race of missionary service, “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of the faith.” Hear Carey’s wish, and help to realise it. “I hope,” said he, in 1793, “the Society will go on and increase, and that the multitudes of heathen in the world may hear the glorious words of truth. Africa is but a little way from India, Madagascar but a little way further; South America, and all the numerous and large islands in the Indian and China Seas, I hope will not be passed over. A large field opens on every side, millions of perishing heathens are pleading … with every heart that loves God, and with all the ,hutches of the living God.” Heed that prophetic message, and give to the work of saving the world a daily, d finite, and large place in the thought and prayer and work of your life! (J. Clifford, D. D.)

Manhood crowned in Jesus

One of our celebrated astronomers is said to have taught himself the rudiments of his starry science when lying on the hill-side, keeping his father’s sheep. Perhaps the grand psalm to which these words refer had a similar origin, and may have come from the early days of the shepherd king, when, like those others of a later day, he abode in the field of Bethlehem, keeping watch over his flock by night. The magnificence of the Eastern heaven,, with their “larger constellations burning,” filled his soul with two opposite thoughts--man’s smallness and man’s greatness. I suppose that in a mind apt to pensive reflections, alive to moral truths, and responsive to the impressions of God’s great universe, the unscientific contemplation of any of the grander forms of nature produces that double effect. Thus David felt man’s littleness. And yet--and yet, bigness is not greatness, and duration is not life, and the creature that knows God is highest. So the consciousness of man’s separation from, and superiority to, these silent stars, springs up strong and victorious over the other thought. These great lights are not rulers, but servants; we are more than they, because we have spirits which link us with God. The text, then, brings before us a threefold sight.

I. LOOK AT THE SIGHT AROUND US. “We see not yet all things put under man.” Where are the men of whom any portion of the Psalmist’s words is true? Look at them--are these the men of whom be sings? Visited by God! crowned with glory and honour! having dominion over the works of His hands! Is this irony in fact? Let consciousness speak. Look at ourselves. If that plan be God’s thought of man, the plan that He hangs up for us His workmen to build by, what a wretched thing my copy of it has turned out to bet Is this a picture of me? How seldom I am conscious of the visits of God; how full I am of weaknesses and imperfections--the solemn voice within me tells me at intervals when I listen to its tones. On my brow there gleams no diadem; from in life, alas! there shines at the best but a fitful splendour of purity, all striped with solid masses of blackness. And as for dominion over creatures, how superficial my rule over them, how real their rule over me! I can make machinery, and bid the lightning do my errands, and carry messages, the burden of which is mostly money, or power, or sorrow. But all these, and the whole set of things like thorn, are not ruling over God’s creation. That congests in using all for God, and for our own growth in wisdom, strength, and goodness; and be only is master of all things who is servant of God. If so what are most of us but servants, not lords, of earth and its goods? And so against all the theories of the desperate, school, and against all our own despondent thoughts, we have to oppose the sunny hopes which come from such words as those of our text. Looking around us, we have indeed to acknowledge with plaintive emphasis,” we see not yet all things put under Him”--but, looking up, we have to add with triumphant confidence that we speak of a fact which has a real bearing on our hopes for men--“we see Jesus.”

II. So, secondly, LOOK UPWARDS TO JESUS. Christ is the power to conform us to Himself, as well as the pattern of what we may be. He and none lower, He and none beside, is the pattern man. Not the great conqueror, nor the great statesman, nor the great thinker, but the great love, the perfectly good--is the man as God meant him to be. But turn now to the contemplation of Christ in the heavens, “crowned with glory and honour,” as the true type of man. What does Scripture teach us to see in the exalted Lord?

1. It sets before us, first, a perpetual manhood. Grasp firmly the essential, perpetual manhood of Jesus Christ, and then to see Him crowned with glory and honour gives the triumphant answer to the despairing question that rises often to the lips of every one who knows the facts of life, “Wherefore hast Thou make all men in vain? “

2. Again, we see in Jesus, exalted in the heavens, a corporeal manhood. Heaven is a place as well as a state; and, however, for the present, the souls that sleep in Jeans may have to “wait for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of the body,” and, being unclothed, may be wrapped about with Him, and rest in His bosom, yet the perfect men who shall one day stand before the Lord, shall have body, and soul, and spirit--like Him who is a man for ever, and for ever wears a human frame.

3. Further, we see in Jesus transfigured manhood. For Him, as for us, flesh here means weakness and dishonour. For us, though not for Him, flesh means corruption and death. For Him, as for us, that natural body, which was adequate to the needs and adapted to the material constitution of this earth, must be changed into the spiritual body correspondent to the conditions of that kingdom of God which flesh and blood cannot enter. For us, through Him, the body of humiliation shall be changed into likeness of the body of His glory. We see Jesus, and in Him manhood transfigured and perfected.

4. Finally, we see in Jesus sovereign manhood. He directs the history of the world, and presides among the nations. He is the prince of all the kings of the earth. He wields the forces of nature, He directs the march of providence, He is Lord of the unseen worlds, and holds the keys of death and the grave. “The government is upon His shoulders,” and upon Him hangs “all the glory of His Father’s house.”

III. Finally, LOOK FORWARD. Christ is the measure of man’s capacities. He is the true pattern of human nature. Christ Is the prophecy and pledge of man’s dominion. It were a poor consolation to point to Christ and say, “Look what man has become, and may become,” unless we could also say, “A real and living oneness exists between Him and all who cleave to Him, so that their characters are changed, their natures cleansed, their future altered, their immortal beauty secured.” He is more than pattern, He is power; more than specimen, He is source; more than example, He is redeemer. He has been made in the likeness of sinful flesh, that we may be in the likeness of His body of glory. He has been made “sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” The fact we know, the contents of the fact we wait to prove. “It doth not yet appear what we shall be.” Enough, that we shall reign with Him, and that in the kingdom of the heavens dominion means service, and the least is the greatest. Nearness to God, knowledge of His heart and will, likeness to Christ, determine superiority among pure and spiritual beings. (A. Maclaren, D. D.)

The vision of Jesus in the Church through all ages

Did you ever know the power of a picture, the portrait of some beloved friend, over the life and the heart? Did you ever hang the portrait of some cherished darling in the household room--a departed friend, a mother, a wife, a husband, or a child--some friend especially related to your sympathies and affections? And have you not noticed and felt what a character that portrait gives to the room? If the memory is especially prized, how the eye turns to it as it enters the room, and how the eye out of the portrait seems to follow you, not so much spectrally as spiritually, while in the room! That portrait will quiet the heart when it is in its state of fever, heat, and impulse. Mighty over the heart is the portrait, of the loved departed friend. But what is that compared with the power of the portrait of Jesus hung up in the human soul? For is not the soul, too, a mighty chamber--a room through which the powers and faculties wander and stray? There are some men whose souls are exchanges, money markets, or shops; but holy souls hang up within, the charmed and charming portrait of Jesus, and the, the spirit of the portrait turns the chamber into a palace--say rather into a dear household room. “We see Jesus.”

I. THE WHOLE OF THIS EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS IS A TRIBUTE OF HOMAGE TO THE DIVINISED HUMANITY OF OUR LORD. How richly it abounds in “strong consolations” to believing souls, founded on the sympathy of His nature and character! How it meets our human necessities! For, while it is true that we could not do without the strength of the eternal Divinity of our Lord, we feel it to be no less true that we could not do without the tenderness of His humanity; and this is the relation which, throughout the whole of this Epistle, is put by the apostle with such forcible beauty--“Seeing then that we have a great High Priest” (Hebrews 4:14-16; Hebrews 7:24-26 : again, in that magnificent peroration to the Hebrews 11:1-3).

II. AND THIS CONSOLATION PRESSED OUT OF THE SIGHT OF JESUS ARISES FROM THE VARIETIES OF HIS POWER, It is very beautiful to divide His character in His relation to us as it has been divided by Scripture, and by the experience of Christians of all ages into Jesus the Prophet, Jesus the Priest, and Jesus the King. And we receive Him in this order. We see Jesus the Prophet in all the actions of His life as He went about doing good. “Rabbi, I know Thou art a teacher sent from God.” “We see Jesus.” He is our Priest” Harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners.” At once Priest and Sacrifice. “On Him is laid the iniquity of us all.” I see Him standing vested in the beauties of His own holiness--nor have I any desire to own a righteousness which is nut His; it is not less happy than safe to hide in the foldings of His robe, and to feel that in His purity there is power--power to make “the scarlet crime whiter then snow.” “We see Jesus” as our King. It is our privilege and pride to see Him moving among and over the affairs of the world, “walking in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks,” and proclaiming, “I am He that liveth and was dead, and behold I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.” Thus everywhere, and in all ages, Jesus is power. Oh! what a chronicle is ,flat, the history of things and deeds wrought in “the name of Jesus.” All beings know Jesus. “Jesus we know, and Paul we know, hut who are ye?” There is power in the name of Jesus. There is power in the vision of Jesus. The value of all Christian service is there. The value of all worship rendered is in this: “We see Jesus.”

III. THE EVER-PRESENT POSSESSIVENESS OF THE TEXT, “We See JESUS”--“JESUS CHRIST, THE SAME YESTERDAY, TO-DAY, AND FOR EVER.” “We See Jesus,” says Paul, perhaps, in prison at Rome. There is something very striking in the contempt expressed by Festus on the trial of Paul: “one Jesus” I said he. Ah, how little a person to poor Festus seemed “one Jesus”; but this “one Festus” has quite passed away from the world’s knowledge, and his name would not be known, his shadow would not be seen if it were not for this “one Jesus” saving it from utter obscurity. Names are the signs of things, and the name of Jesus has survived all shocks; it has passed almost unchanged into all languages. All else seems to perish, it never; like a conservative element it leavens all languages without losing its own identity. (E. Paxton Hood.)

Seeing Jesus

I. WHY FAITH IS COMPARED TO THE SIGHT. IS not sight, in many respects, the noblest of all the senses? To be deprived of any of our senses is a great loss, but perhaps the greatest deprivation of all is the loss of sight. They who lose sight lose the noblest of human faculties.

1. For observe that sight is marvelously quick. How wondrously fast and far it travels! We know not where heaven may be, but faith takes us there in contemplation in a single moment. We cannot tell when the Lord may come; it may not be for centuries yet, but faith steps over the distance in a moment, and sees Him coming in the clouds of heaven, and hears the trump of resurrection. It would be very difficult, indeed it would be impossible for us to travel backward in any other chariot than that of faith, for it is faith which helps us to see the creation of the world, when the morning stars sang together, and the sons of God shouted for joy. Faith takes us to Calvary’s summit, and we stand and see our Saviour as plainly as did His mother when she stood sorrowfully at the cross-foot.

2. Is not faith like sight, too, for its largeness? What a faculty faith has for grasping everything, for it layeth hold upon the past, the present, and the future. It pierceth through most intricate things, and seeth God producing good out of all the tortuous circumstances of providence. And what is more, faith does what the eye cannot do--it sees the infinite; it beholds the invisible; it looks upon that which eve hath not seen, which ear hath not heard.

3. Is not faith wondrously like sight from its power to affect the mind and enable a man to realise a thing? If it is real faith, it makes the Christian man in dealing with God feel towards God as though he saw Him; it gives him the same awe, and yet the same joyous confidence which he would have if he were capable of actually beholding the Lord. Faith, when it takes a stand at the foot of the cross, makes us hate sin and love the Saviour just as much as though we had seen our sins placed to Christ’s account, and had seen the nails driven through His hands and feet, and seen the bloody scourges as they made the sacred drops of blood to fall.

II. FAITH, THE SIGHT OF THE SOUL, IS HERE SPOKEN OF AS A CONTINUOUS THING. “We see Jesus.” It does not say, “We can see Jesus”--that is true enough: the spiritual eye can see the Saviour; nor does it say, “We have seen Him”; that also is a delightful fact, we have seen the Lord, and we bays rejoiced in seeing Him; nor does the text say, “We shall see Him,” though this is our pride and our hope, that “when He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is”; but the text says, “We see Jesus”; we do see Him now and continually. This is the common habit of the Christian; it is the element of his spiritual life; it is his most delightful occupation; it is his constant practice. “We see Jesus.” I am afraid some of us forget this.

1. For instance, we see Jesus Christ as our Saviour, we being sinners still. And is it not a delightful thing always to feel one’s ,elf a sinner, and always to stand looking to Christ as one’s Saviour, thus beholding Him evermore?

2. Should not this, also, be the mode of our life in another respect? We are now disciples. Being saved from our former conversation, we are now become the disciples of the Lord Jesus; and ought we not, as disciples, to be constantly with our Master? Ought not this to be the motto of our life, “We see Jesus “? Let us carry Christ on our heart, still thinking of Jesus, seeing Him at all times.

3. Would it not also be very much for our comfort if we were ,o see Jesus always as our Friend in our sojourn here? We should never be alone if we could see Jesus; or at least, if we were it would be a blessed solitude. We should never feel deserted if we could see Jesus; we should have the best of helpers. I know not if we should feel weak if we always saw Him, for He would be our strength and our song, He would become our salvation.

4. Would it not be much better for us if we were to see Jesus as our Forerunner? If our faith could see Jesus as making our bed in our sickness, and then standing by our side in the last solemn article, to conduct us safely through the iron gates, should we not then look upon death in a very different light?

5. If we see Jesus, being always with us, from morn till eve, in life and in death, what noble Christians it will make us! Now we shall not get angry with each other so quickly. We shall see Jesus; and we cannot be angry when that dear loving face is in view. And when we have been affronted, we shall be very ready to forgive when we see Jesus. Who can hate his brother when he sees that face, that tender face, more marred than that of any man? When we see Jesus, do you think we shall get worldly?

III. SOMETIMES OUR FAITH, LIKE OUR SIGHT, IS NOT QUITE CLEAR. Everything that has life has variations. A block of wood is not affected by the weather, but a living man is. You may drive a stake into the ground, and it will feel no influence of spring, summer, autumn, or winter; but if the stake be alive, and you drive it into the soil where there is moisture, it will soon begin to sprout, and you will be able to tell when spring and winter are coming by the changes that take place in the living tree. Life is full of these changes; do not wonder, then, if you experience them.

IV. FAITH, LIKE SIGHT, HAS GREAT GROWTH. Our children, in a certain sense, see as truly when they are a day old as when they are grown up to be twenty years old; but we must not suppose that they see as accurately, for they do not. I think observations would teach us that little children see all things as on a level surface, and that distant objects seem to them to be near, for they have not yet received experience enough to judge of the relative position of things. That is an acquired knowledge, and no doubt very early acquired, but still it is learned as a matter of mental experience. And let me say, though you may not have noticed it, all our measures of distance by the eye are matters which have to be gained by habit and observation. When I first went to Switzerland, with a friend, from Lucerne we saw a mountain in the distance which we were going to climb. I pointed out a place where we should stop half-way up, and I said, “We shall be there in about four hours and a half.” “Four hours and a half!” my friend said, “I’d undertake to walk it in ten minutes.” “No, not you.” “Well, but half an hour!” He looked again and said, “Anybody could get there in half an hour!” It seemed no distance at all. And yet when we came to toil up, the four hours and a half turned into five or six before we reached the place. Our eyes were not accustomed to mountains, and we were not able to measure them; and it is only by considerable experience that you get to understand what a mountain is, and how a long distance appears. You are altogether deceived, and do not know the position of things till you become wiser. And it is just so with faith. Faith in the Christian when he first gets it, is true and saving; but it is not in proportion. Let us ask, then, of the Lord, that He will increase our faith till the mental eye shall become clear and bright, and we shall be made meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light, to be with Christ, and to see Him as He is. If you have but little faith, remember that that will save you. The little diamond is as much a diamond as the Koh-i-noor. So little faith is as truly the faith of God’s elect as the greatest faith. If you do but see Jesus, though it be but by the corner of your eye, yet if you see Him, you shall be saved; and though you may not see as much of Christ as advanced saints do, yet if you see enough of Him to trust Him, to rely on Him entirely, your sins which are many are forgiven, and you shall yet receive grace for grace, until you shall see Him in His glory.

V. IT IS AT ALL TIMES A VERY SIMPLE THING TO LOOK. If there be life in a look, glory be to God for such a provision, because it is available for each one of us! Sinner, if thou wouldst be saved, there is nothing for thee to think upon but Christ. Do thy sins trouble thee? Go to Him, and trust in Him, and the moment thou lookest to Him thou art saved. “Oh,” says one, “but I cannot do that; my faith is so weak.” Well, when I walk about and see a beautiful sight, very seldom do I think about my own sight; my mind is occupied with the sight, and so let it be with you. Never mind that eye; think more about the vision to be seen. Think of Christ. It would be a pitiful thing if, when there were some great procession in the streets, all you thought about was your own eye; you would see but very little. Think less about your faith, and more about Jesus. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

The best of all sights

I. Regard the glorious sight of Jesus as a COMPENSATION. We do not yet see Him acknowledged as King of kings by all mankind, and this causes us great sorrow. “But,” saith the apostle, “we see Jesus,” and this sight compensates for all others, for we see Him now, no longer made a little lower than the angels, and tasting the bitterness of death, but “ crowned with glory and honour.” We see Him no more after the flesh, in shame and anguish; far more ravishing is the sight, for we see His work accomplished, His victory complete, His empire secure. He sits as a priest upon the throne at the right hand of God, from hence forth expecting till His enemies are made His footstool.

1. This is a Divine compensation for the tarrying of His visible kingdom, because it is the major part of it. The main battle is won.

2. The compensation is all the greater because our Lord’s enthronement is the pledge of all the rest. The putting of all things under Him, which as yet we see not, is guaranteed to us by what we do see. This is the antidote to all depression of spirit, the stimulus to hopeful perseverance, the assurance of joy unspeakable.

II. Nor is this sight a mere compensation for others which as yet are denied us, it is in itself the cause of present EXULTATION. This is true in so many ways that time would rail us to attempt to enumerate them.

1. “We see Jesus,” and in Him we see our former unhappy condition for ever ended. We were fallen in Adam, but we see in Jesus our ruin retrieved by the second Adam. We weep as we confess our transgressions, but we see Jesus and sing for joy of heart, since He hath finished transgression, made an end of sin, and brought in everlasting righteousness.

2. The same is sweetly true of the present, for we see our present condition to be thrice blessed by virtue of our union with Him.

3. We see self, and blush and are ashamed and dismayed; “but we see Jesus,” and His joy is in us, and our joy is full. What a vision is this for you, when you see Jesus, and see yourself complete in Him, perfect in Christ Jesus?

4. Such a sight effectually clears our earthly future of all apprehension. It is true we may yet be sorely tempted, and the battle may go hard with us, but we see Jesus triumphant, and by this sign we grasp the victory.

III. “We see Jesus” with gladdest EXPECTATION.

1. His glorious person is to us the picture and the pledge of what we shall be; for “it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is.”

2. Nor may we alone derive comfort as to our future from His person, we may also be made glad by a hope as to His place. Where we see Jesus to be, there shall we also be. His heaven is our heaven. His prayer secures that we shall be with Him, where He is, that we may behold His glory.

3. The glory of Jesus strikes the eye at once, and thus we are made to exult in His position, for it, too, is ours. He will give to us to sit upon His throne, even as He sits upon the Father’s throne. He hath made us kings and priests unto God, and we shall reign for ever and ever. (C. H.Spurgeon.)

Of the title Jesus

The apostle had before called Christ the Son of God, the first begotten, God, Lord, which are titles proper to His Divine nature. But here he speaketh of His excellency as man, and thereupon giveth Him that title which setteth out the distinct reason why, being God, He assumed man’s nature: namely, that He might be a fit and able Saviour of man. Fit, as He was man; able, as He was God. Well may this title Jesus, in regard of the signification of it, be given unto Christ. For

1. He was a true Saviour (Hebrews 8:2), not a typical Saviour, as Joshua and other like saviours (Nehemiah 9:27).

2. He was a most free Saviour. According to His mercy He saved us Titus 3:5). Not for price (1 Peter 1:18).

3. He was an all-sufficient Saviour. He satisfieth Divine justice, endured the infinite curse of the law, overcame death, hell, and him that had the power of them (verse 14; Revelation 1:18).

4. He was an universal Saviour. The Saviour of all that ale or shall be 1 Timothy 4:10).

5. He was a total Saviour. He sayeth soul and body (1 Corinthians 15:20).

6. He was an everlasting Saviour. He brings all that believe in Him to everlasting life. As He is, so He was from the beginning, and ever will continue so (Hebrews 13:8; Revelation 13:8; Hebrews 7:24).

7. He was a perfect Saviour (Hebrews 7:25). He leaves nothing simply in the case of salvation for any other to do.

8. He is the only Saviour (Acts 4:12 : Isaiah 63:5).

On these grounds it becomes us

1. To consider the need that we have of a Saviour. This will make us inquire how we may be saved (Acts 16:30).

2. To fly to Christ for salvation. He invites all so to do (John 7:37). He casts away none that come unto Him (John 6:37).

3. To trust on Him (Acts 16:31; 1 Timothy 4:10).

4. To rejoice in Him (Luke 1:47).

5. To bless God for Him (Luke 1:68).

6. To serve Him who sayeth us (Luke 1:74-75).

7. To do all in His name (Colossians 3:17). (W. Gouge.)

Christ’s condescension

In the history of Moravion missions we read of a missionary who undertook to make known the unsearchable riches of Christ to the suffering, despised, and down-trodden slaves of the West Indies. So cruelly we, re they treated, so hard were they worked, so mercilessly were they flogged, that their spirits rankled with bitterest hostility to the more favoured race which doomed them to this hopeless condition. Under these unhappy circumstances the missionary could not get a hearing. It was a grave problem how to reach their hearts, win their sympathies, and thus fulfil the purposes of his mission. At last he saw a way to overcome the difficulty. How? By selling himself into servitude. He because a slave, he shared the same fare, and endured the same privations as his dusky brethren. Thus he won his way to their hearts. Even so, it was needful that God should show sympathy by stooping to our low estate, and making Himself one with us. So Christ the Eternal Word was born in helplessness like us, He hungered and thirsted like us, He toiled and suffered like us, He was tempted and tried like us, He wept and prayed like us. (F. Marts.)

Christ’s condescension

That He might be in a condition to suffer death, this Sun of Righteousness went ten degrees backward, not only below His Father (John 14:28), but below the angels; for man (as man) is inferiort,, the angels. (J. Trapp.)

For the suffering of death crowned

Jesus crowned for death

It is Jesus, Son of Mary, Child of man, whose appearance we hail; not now, as in chap. 1., the Son of God, resplendent in His Father’s glory with His holy angels, sustaining creation by His word. The writer is approaching the Redeemer’s person from the opposite side, and adopting quite a different line of reflection from that with which the Epistle commenced. He will afterwards unite both conceptions in his definition of “our great High Priest, Jesus the Son of God.” We must allow him to work out his argument in his own way. Here is a Man, then, in whom humanity is lifted from the dust, and once more grows conscious of its primal dignity. The advent of Jesus raises immeasurably our conception of the possibilities of human nature, and supplies a new and magnificent answer to the old question, “What is man?” Prophecy is outdone by what we see in Jesus of man’s greatness as the object of the Divine regard. And this Leader of our salvation is “forerunner” of His brethren’s exaltation, both in earth and heaven. On every ground we find ours, lees compelled to refer the predicate “crowned with glory and honour,” to the earthly life and human relationship of our Saviour. Surely it is in this environment that we see Jesus. We to-day “see Jesus” in the story of the Four, as the readers of Ibis letter saw Him in the living words of His eye-witnesses and ministers. And “we see Him for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honour.” No words could more fitly express the strange blending of glory and suffering visible throughout the earthly course of Jesus,--glory ever leading on to suffering, and finding in death its climax and hidden purpose. If man’s ideal greatness is the starting-point of the writer’s thought, the death of the cross is always its centre. The former, for sinful (Hebrews 1:3) and death-bound man, can only win its realisation through the latter. Jesus is crowned for death. Willingly would Israel have given Him in life the Messiah’s crown. They could not understand why One so high in the grace of God, so rich in kingly qualities and powers, did not take the last remaining step and mount to David’s throne. Their fury against Him at the last was in the breasts of many who cried, “Away with Him!” the rage of a bitter disappointment. They did not see that the higher He was raised in favour with God and men, the nearer and the more needful became His death. It is enough to refer to the scene of the transfiguration, and of the royal entry into Jerusalem, to show the profound connection which existed alike in the mind of Jesus, in the purpose of God, and in the sequence of history between Christ’s human glorification and His sacrificial death. (G. G. Findlay.)

Exaltation in humiliation

The plain meaning of the text seems to be that Jesus was crowned with glory and honour with reference to the suffering of death, in order that by the grace or favour of God He might taste death for men. This rendering makes the crowning antecedent to death, a fact occurring in the earthly life of Jesus, an exaltation in the humiliation, a higher even in the lower, a glory consummated in heaven b,t begun even on earth. If I am met with the sceptical question, With what glory and honour can the man Jesus be said to have been crowned on earth? I reply, With just such glory and honour as are spoken of in the third and fifth chapters of this same Epistle: with the glory of a Moses and the honour of an Aaron; the glory of being the leader of the people out of Egypt into the promised land, that is, of being the “Captain of Salvation”; the honour of being the High Priest of men, procuring for them, through the sacrifice of Himself, life and blessedness. The glory and honour spoken of as conferred by Jesus may thus quite well be those connected with His appointment to the honourable and glorious office of Apostle and High Priest of our profession. This, accordingly, is the thought I find in this text: Jesus, “crowned for death,” by being appointed to an office whereby His death, instead of being a mere personal experience of the common l-t, became a death for others, and a humiliation, was transmuted into a signal mark of Divine favour. This crowning had a twofold aspect and relation; a subjective and an objective side, a relation to the will of Christ and a relation to the will of God. It would not have been complete unless there had been both an act of self-devotion on the part of Christ and an act of sovereign appointment on the part of God. The subjective aspect is in abeyance here, though it is not forgotten in the Epistle; it receives full recognition in those places where it is taught that Christ’s priestly offering was Himself. Here it is the objective Godward aspect that is emphasised, as appears from the remarkable expression, “by the grace of God,” and from the line of thought contained in the following verse, to be hereafter considered. There was a subjective grace in Christ which made Him willing to sacrifice His individual life for the good of the whole, but there was also conferred on Him by His Father the signal favour that His life, freely given in self-sacrifice, had universal significance and value. Kindred to this famous text, understood as explained, is Christ’s beatitude pronouncing the persecuted for righteousness happy; Paul’s statement to the Philippian Church, “Unto you it is given as a favour ( ἐχαρίσθη) in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake”; and Peter’s declaration to the strangers scattered abroad, “If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye, for the Spirit of glory and of God resteth on you.” Kindred also in import are all the texts in which Christ speaks of His approaching passion as His glorification, a mode of viewing the Passion very common in the Johannine report of our Lord’s sayings. I only add to these citations a mere reference to the voices from heaven pronouncing Jesus God’s beloved Son when He manifested at the Jordan and on the Mount of Transfiguration His willingness to endure suffering in connection with His Messianic vocation, and in connection therewith to the reflection occurring in the Second Epistle of Peter relating to the latter event, “He received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to Him from the excellent glory, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” With these Divine voices stand in contrast the voices from hell uttered by Satan in the temptation. The God sent voices say in effect, “Thou art My beloved Son because Thou devotest Thyself to the arduous career of a Saviour, and I show My favour unto Thee by solemnly setting Thee apart to Thy high and holy office.” The Satanic voices say, “Thou art the Son of God, it seems; use Thy privilege, then, for Thine own advantage.” God shows His grace unto His Son by appointing Him to an office in which He will have an opportunity of doing a signal service to men at a great cost of suffering to Himself. Satan cannot conceive of Jesus being the Son of God at unless sonship carry along with it exemption from all arduous tasks and irksome hardships, provocations, and pains. God puts a stamp of Divinity on self-sacrifice, Satan associates Divinity with selfishness. There can be no doubt, therefore, that the crowning, as I conceive it, is an idea familiar to the New Testament writers. The only question that may legitimately be asked is, whether the thought I find in the text is relevant to the connection of thought in the passage, and serviceable to the purpose of the Epistle, that of instructing in Christian truth readers who needed to be again taught the merest elements of the Christian faith. To this question I can have little hesitation in giving an affirmative answer. Was it not desirable to show to men who stumbled at the humiliating circumstances of Christ’s earthly lot that there was not merely a glory coming after the humiliation, compensating for it, but a glory in the humiliation itself? This ethical instruction was much more urgently needed than a merely theological instruction as to the purpose and effect of Christ’s exaltation to heaven, viz., that it made His death already endured have universal significance and value. The exaltation needed no apology, it spoke for itself; what was needed was to remove the stigma from the state of humiliation, and such, I cannot but think, is one of the leading aims of the Epistle. The blinded Jew said, “How dishonourable and shameful that death of Jesus; how hard to believe that He who endured it could be Messiah and God’s well-beloved Son!” The writer replies, “Not disgrace, but grace, favour, honour, and glory do I see there; this career of suffering as one which it was honorable for Christ to pass through, and to which it well became the sovereign Lord to subject His Son. For while to taste death in itself was a humiliation to the Son of God, to taste it for others was indeed most glorious.” It is a recommendation of the interpretation here advocated, that under it the crowning is not subsequent to the being made lower than angels, but, as in the Psalm, contemporaneous with it. It scarcely requires to be added that the glory in the humiliation is not exclusive of the glory after it. The full thesis of the Epistle on this theme is: “First lower, then higher; nay, a higher in the lower.” (A. B. Bruce, D. D.)

Crowned with glory and honour

On the ascension of Christ

Who is it that, “for the suffering of death, is crowned with glory and honour”? Undoubtedly the Being in whom existed the wonderful union of the human and the Divine natures. It was not solely the Divinity of the Son returning to its pristine abode. That was never “made lower than the angels.” That being incapable of passion, never tasted “ he suffering of death.” Of the place and state, to which our Redeemer is exalted, we can form no adequate conceptions. Here let us pause and reflect; what glory to the fallen nature of man, that the Eternal Son should assume it, even to dwell in it on earth, and say of its humble offspring, “My brethren are these”! How immeasurably great, then, its honour and advancement when He is exalted in it to the right hand of the Father; “angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto Him”! While we perceive that it was in our nature our Saviour passed into His glory, our advancement hereby will be more impressive if we consider that in entering upon His joy He “opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers.” What surer pledge of our inheritance in heaven can we have than the exaltation of Him, in our nature, to the possession of “all power in heaven and in earth”? But of this interesting and stupendous event of the Ascension, where are the evidences? How shall we believe that this great thing hath been done for us; this thing so wonderful, and of such amazing consequences?

1. Behold, I bring to you the types which “at sundry times, and in divers manners,” God vouchsafed to give of what He would accomplish in the great Redeemer. See Enoch translated to heaven under the Patriarchal dispensation, and Elijah under the Mosaic. See the leaders of Israel, after the sojourning of the people in the wilderness, conducting them through the flood of Jordan to the Canaan of rest and felicity. See the high priest passing through the vail into the holy of holies, after baying made the great expiation with the blood of the sacrifice, there to appear in the presence of God in behalf of the people.

2. Again: I bring to you that venerable evidence which the Almighty hath so often employed in the service of truth--prophecy (see Daniel 7:13, Psalms 24:7; Psalms 68:18). What is this but prophecy on one side of the event, as history on the other, giving evidence to times past, present, and future, of the ascension of men’s Saviour into heaven?

3. This brings me to observe that we have the historical evidence of those who were eye-witnesses of the fact. These were not a few men; they were the whole company of the apostles; these were men worthy of all credit, for they were eminently honest, consistent, scrupulous, explicit, and unvarying.

The coronation of our King

It was long ago predicted that the Lord Jesus should reign in Zion. Of the greatness of His power, of the glory of His majesty, of the extension of His kingdom, of the perpetuity of His government, prophets spake and poets sang. They saw the days of the exalted Messiah afar off, and were glad.

I. THE REGAL CHARACTER OF OUR EXALTED LORD. Much of the happiness of a nation, especially if the authority of a monarch be absolute and his will is the law, depends upon his intellectual and moral character. Let this sentiment be applied with all reverence and humility to our exalted Redeemer, and we shall instantly exclaim, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord of the people, whom He hath chosen for His own inheritance.” To sway the sceptre of universal dominion, the King of Zion possesses every perfection in an eminent degree.

1. “In Him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” At one comprehensive glance He beholds every creature and every event, past, present, and to come, and can either permit or prevent, excite or restrain, according to the counsel of His unerring will.

2. He is also the Lord of all power and might, whose kingdom cannot be moved, and whose dominions are the unlimited expanse of universal nature.

3. His goodness is equal to His greatness, and forms a material part of it. How unnumbered are its manifestations, how numerous and various its recipients. “The Lord is good to all and His tender mercies are over all His works.”

4. And what shall we say of His grace and love? What king has ever been so ill-required by his ungrateful subjects? And yet, instead of laying righteousness to the line, and truth to the plummet, instead of exerting His authority, and putting forth the thunder of His power in the execution of His justice, and the fulfilment of His threatenings, He laid down His life for us.

5. Nor can we forget His mercy. What crimes it has pardoned, what insults it has endured.

6. And is He not the faithful, compassionate, and unchangeable friend of His people? How near are they to His heart! How tenderly does He pity their afflictions, and sympathise with their sorrows!

7. And who has not been impressed with the Lord’s condescension? Although He is “the high and lofty one that inhabiteth eternity,” He is nigh unto all that call upon Him in truth. “He dwells with the humble.”

II. THE KINGDOM OVER WHICH HE PRESIDES. In one sense the entire universe is His vast domain, comprehending the numerous worlds which shine in yonder firmament. But we speak now not of His essential government, but rather of His mediatorial authority, as our Redeemer and Saviour, who, having purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. This is a spiritual, not a temporal, jurisdiction, unless it be so far as the latter is subservient to the former. It is a religious dominion i, the soul and among the society of good men, which our Lord came from heaven to establish, and which appears when the enmity of the carnal mind is subdued, and when “grace reigns through righteousness unto eternal life” in the conversion of sinners, and in the establishment of the saints upon their holy faith. In this spiritual and restricted sense the regal authority of our Lord includes the church on earth, composed of all His devoted followers of every period of time, of every part of the world, of every name and denomination, of every age and condition--and the church in heaven, constituted of “the spirits of just men made perfect.” To govern this spiritual empire “our Lord hath established His throne in the heavens, and His kingdom ruleth over all.” Upon that throne He sits, receiving the homage of angels, archangels, and glorified spirits, accepting the prayers and praises of His saints on earth; supplying all our wants, guarding, guiding, and governing His people, both in their individual, domestic, and religious capacity; extending and upholding His cause in the world by the agency of His Spirit, His providence, and His servants; and overruling all the movements of nature, all the revolutions of nations, all the occurrences of individuals, families, and churches, for His own glory, for the welfare of the soul, for the success of His gospel, for the subjugation of sin and Satan, and for the accomplishment of His purposes which are all in verity and faithfulness.

III. HIS CORONATION.

1. The period selected for Jesus to be “crowned with glory and honour “ was the termination of His Messiahship upon earth and His ascension to haven.

2. But how shall we describe the diadem which He wears? It is not a wreath of laurels, it is not a garland of flowers which encircled the brow of the heroes of antiquity; nor does it resemble the crowns worn by the monarchs of modern times. These, though costly and splendid, are but corruptible and fading, composed only of burnished metal and polished stones extracted from the recesses of the earth which we tread beneath our feet, whereas the Redeemer’s crown is a beautiful circle of celestial light, a concentration of luminous beams above the brightness of the sun, a crown of glory which fadeth not away.

3. A part of the ceremony of coronation consists of anointing the monarch with holy oil. In concert with this ancient usage, we read prophetically of Jesus being “ anointed with the oil of gladness above His fellows”; in allusion to His mediatorial superiority, and to the unmeasured unction of the Holy Ghost, which descended upon Him, for “God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto Him.”

4. How exalted is His throne: the seat of happiness and glory (see Isaiah 6:1-3; Revelation 4:2-4).

5. How untarnished is His sceptre, emphatically called “a right sceptre,” rightly obtained and rightly employed, the rod of universal authority, the staff of mercy surmounted by the dove, and held forth to encourage our approach.

6. Much has been said of the attire of kings at their coronation, but Christ’s are not formed of the frail and lowly produce of the ermine and the silkworm, nor adorned with glittering stars of burnished metal; nor made by human art, nor assailable by the moth or the rust, nor likely to survive the wearer: no, Christ’s robes are vestments of unsullied purity and uncreated light.

7. The last particular to be noticed is the attendants--the spectators of His glory.

They are described as a number that no man can enumerate. In improving this subject

1. Let us join the hallelujahs of the heavenly best, and hail the exaltation and coronation of our Lord.

2. Let us recollect the peculiar privileges of His subjects. They are “fellow citizens of the saints and of the household of God.” As such they have a share in their Lord’s affection, they have constant access to His throne, to His house, to His table; He protects them, He communes with them, supplies their wants, and will make them happy.

3. Let us not forget the duty of His people. It is incumbent on us, if we sustain this honourable appellation, to be very observant of His commands, to be very zealous for His honour, and for the extension of His kingdom upon the earth, and to be very devoted to His fear.

4. What shall we say of the enemies of our Lord the King? What I has He enemies? Is it possible that the Son of God can have a foe? Can He be opposed who laid down His life for us? Yes, there are thousands of adversaries averse to the peaceful and holy reign of the Redeemer. Who are they? I see them, not merely the ranks of avowed infidels and scoffers, but in the character of drunkards, sabbath-breakers, swearers, liars, the lewd, lovers of pleasure more than of God, self-righteous Pharisees, and the like. Oh, throw aside the weapons of)our rebellion, come as penitents to His footstool. (W. B. Leach.)

Crowned with glory of saving life

This crown of Jesus is no glittering gilt rim; this glory is no glare and splendour of a palace, and the honour is no mere courtliness of courtiers and subordinates and pomp of a heavenly state. The great break into cries of praise to Him because He is greater; the grand, because He had done more grandly than they all. Now come with me and let us understand what is Divine glory and honour. Come with me to a great hall in London. It is the anniversary of Homes and Refuges for Boys. Sweeping circles of seats rise on the platform one above another, all full of boys. Before the platform is the hill crossed by multitudes of seats, all filled, crowded with people. In the centre, f the great circles of the boys wonder, and right in the front of the platform, is a little table, behind the table is a chair, and in it sits a peer of the realm. My story begins at the moment when the prizes are given. Now fancy the scene. The earl rises. The table is piled up with articles, and certain boys approach one by one. First comes the winner of the prize for punctuality. Then comes the prize for writing. Its winner advances to the front and receives it. Next came the thrift prize for the boy who had spent the least of his pocket money, and saved the most in his box. His thrift might have been the act of self-denial, but I fear it had in it some element of meanness, for the cheers hast a little of their swing. Others came, and as each carried off his prize hands and voices fell to clapping and shouting, and hearts seemed to bound and sing. Then the next boy came. Suddenly all the joy went out of the place as light goes when the gas is put out. And there was a dead silence. To everybody it seemed as if something was going to happen What was the matter? What we saw was a little figure standing at one end of the table, evidently timid, and screwing up his courage, for he was very pale, and had put out his fingers on to the edge of the table, as it would seem to steady himself. The earl said, “I have now the honour--“and he paused, and drew himself up as if making room for a great swell of feeling, at the same time lifting something up from the table almost reverently (it was a little box). He opened it, and took into his hand a small round medal. The earl continued in a subdued tone, “This boy has saved life!” That boy? A something went right through the place. The audience could restrain itself no longer, and broke out in tumultuous cheers again and again, hands and feet and voice. Handkerchiefs were waved, and hundreds of strong men were in tears. Meanwhile the earl was pinning a medal on the child’s jacket, and the child himself was lifting the hand he had put out to the table, and drawing the backer it across his eyes. He could save life, it seemed, but he could not stand praise, and he quietly sidled away. But his comrades behind thee chair would not allow that. They gave great cries of ,”hurrahs,” which quivered with feelings that had been in no shouts before, standing on the seats, and looking over one another’s heads. And the boys who had won the writing-desks and accordions, as he went by, put them down and clapped him on the back. He had undoubtedly done better than they all. Now those lads felt something of the grand sacred feeling with which all heaven casts down its crowns, and shouts the supreme triumphant glory of Jesus; for that boy had in him some of the glory sacred with the sanctity of God, and which all creatures were made to do homage to, the glory which is the especial glory of the Saviour of the world. (B. Waugh.)

Crowning Jesus

The ancient story runs that when Roman ambassadors paid a visit of ceremony to Ptolemy, king of Egypt, he presented each of his visitors with a crown of gold. But on the morrow the crowns were found on the beads of the various statues of the king which adorned the royal city. The ambassadors thus at once refused personal reward and did honour to the monarch. The dearest joy we have is to put the crown of our ministry on the head of Jesus. The best event that can befall heaven’s promised crown will be that it be accepted of Him. (W. B. Haynes.)

Taste death for every man

Christ tasted death for all

I. Let us consider that the Lord TASTED death. A man may die in a moment, and then he does not taste death. Men may die in a moment of excitement, and, as extremes meet, almost m unconsciousness, or with calmness and intrepidity, with lion-like courage, as many a warrior; but that is not tasting death. The death of our Lord Jesus Christ was a slow and painful death; He was “roasted with fire,” as was prefigured by the Paschal Lamb. Moreover He came, as no other finite creature can come into contact with death. He tasted death; all that was in death was concentrated in that cup which the Lord Jesus Christ emptied on the Cross. Daring His lifetime He felt a burden, sorrow, grief; He saw the sins and sorrows of the people; He had compassion, and wept. There is no substitution and expiation in the garden--the anticipation of the substitution was the cause of His agony; but on the Cross He paid the penalty for the sins of men in His own death. But what was it that He tasted in death? Death is the curse which sin brings, the penalty of the broken law, the manifestation of the power of the devil, the expression of the wrath of God; and in all these aspects the Lord Jesus Christ came into contact with death, and tasted it to the very last.

II. And notice, He tasted death by the grace of God FOR EVERY ONE. We speak about the pardon of sins. We are pardoned, but all our sins have been punished. All our sins were laid upon Jesus, every one was punished. “God condemned sin in the flesh.” He executed judgment upon air our sins, for every one of us, for all the children of God. For each of them Jesus tasted death. Here there is not merely the forgiveness of sin, but there is the actual putting away of all our sins; and the apostle explains to us that this great and marvellous mystery of the death of Jesus as our substitute, bearing our sins, bearing our curse, enduring the penalty of our sins, and overcoming all our enemies (that is the law, and Satan, and death), that this is in order manifest unto us the fulness of the perfection of God. (A. Saphir.)

The humiliation and subsequent glory of Christ

I. THE HUMILIATION OF JESUS CHRIST

1. Presupposes that, in one respect, He was higher then the angels. He is so, as the Son of God (Hebrews 1:5-6).

2. He was made a little lower than the angels as to His condition: a man, a servant (Isaiah 42:1); possessed a true body and a reasonable soul: was the child born (Isaiah 9:6; John 1:14; Galatians 4:4); and but for a little while, living thirty-three years in the form of a servant: and was three days subject to the power of the grave.

3. And this “for the suffering of death.” The Godhead could not suffer, hence “made lower than the angels”; made man, in both parts, body and soul, that He might suffer in both for man. This He has done, and His sufferings were great; for

(a) The wrath of God, which was awfully impressed on His soul.

(b) It was pure wrath, not any contrary mixture to allay it: no comfort from heaven or earth. “He spared Him not” (Romans 8:32; Isaiah 63:8).

(i) Violent, not natural, through old age, but in the prime of life. He was “cut off” (Isaiah 53:8). He is said to “suffer death,” and to be“put to death” (1 Peter 3:18).

(ii) Painful. It was many deaths contrived in one. The Cross was a rack as well as a gibbet. He was “poured out as water, and His bones were out of joint” (Psalms 22:14-18).

(iii) Shameful. Inflicted only on the basest and vilest of men; upon slaves; and thus He was numbered with transgressors (Isaiah 53:12).

(iv) Cursed. Hence He is said to be a curse for us; “cursed is every one,” &c. (Galatians 3:18, referring to Deuteronomy 21:23).

(v) Lingering. Not despatched at once, or after a few minutes’ Suffering; but endured hours of the most excruciating agony all the time He hung upon the Cross (Luke 23:33).

(vi) And all this suffering for “every man”; He being the propitiation for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:1).

II. THE REWARD OF HIS MERIT AS IT RESPECTS HIMSELF. “Crowned,” &c.

1. This was done in His resurrection from the dead, in which He was declared to be the Son of God, &c. (Romans 1:3-4).

2. In His ascension: this was glorious and honourable (Psalms 47:5-6; Ephesians 4:8).

3. In His being set down on the right hand of the Majesty on high Hebrews 1:3): has obtained a name above every name (Philippians 2:9); all power in heaven and earth is committed to Him (Mt Isaiah 9:6; John 5:22-23).

III. THE GRAND SOURCE AND SPRING OF THE WHOLE the “grace of God.” Our salvation is wholly owing to the free mercy and grace of God in Christ Jesus: not to any deserving of ours. It is altogether the effect of Divine love John 3:16; 1 John 4:9-10). It is in the way of mere grace and favour

1. That Jesus humbled Himself to death for us (2 Corinthians 8:9).

2. That we are caned to repentance, faith, holiness, and usefulness in the world, and in the Church (Galatians 1:15).

3. That we are enabled to believe, in order to our salvation (Acts 18:27).

4. That we are pardoned and justified according to the “riches of His grace” (Romans 3:24; Ephesians 1:7).

5. That we are finally saved, and put into possession of the heavenly inheritance (Ephesians 2:5; Zechariah 4:7).

To conclude:

1. Let us cherish humbling and contrite views of ourselves, on account of our sins, which led Jesus to endure such dreadful sufferings on our account Zechariah 12:10).

2. While we entertain the most adoring thoughts of His love to us, let us yield to Him the most entire obedience and love (1 John 4:19). (J. Hannam.)

Our franchise

God, in Christ, forgives sin, and restores the prodigal. In our country at the present time, it is the lot of a favoured few to possess the franchise, or in ether words, the freedom of being recognised citizens of our empire: but Jesus Christ tasted death to give the franchise of heaven’s freedom to every man. He tasted death to make every man a citizen of the Heavenly Jerusalem.

1. Jesus Christ tasted death to give every man THE FRANCHISE OF PARDON. It is the pardon of all sin--full pardon. A young man in an office stole his master’s money, and injured his business very considerably; and the youth, being convicted, was brought before his employer, when he said, “Oh, sir, do forgive me’” The master replied, “Well, I will forgive you as much as I can.” But our good Father has no need to say He forgives us as much as He can. He has power of love to forgive us fully, and blots out our sin from His memory as if it had never happened.

II. Jesus Christ by the grace of God tasted death to extend to every man THE FRANCHISE OF NOBILITY. We say of the ancient aristocracy of our land that they possess the blue blood of nobility. The blood of Christ, when spoken of in the New Testament, often means the life power of our Saviour. He tasted death that every man might receive His life-force. What a splendid position, what a glorious inheritance! And “for every man”! You, perhaps, may say, “It is impossible for every man to become noble!” An ignorant person may tell a gardener that it is impossible to make a red rose grow on that white rose bush; but in two years afterwards, when the gardener has grafted a slip into it, the red rose appears. People may say that it is impossible to make a red rose grow upon a white rose bush. The gardener replies, “Impossible it is done; it is there! “ If you wish to prove whether Christ’s words be true or not, try them by the test of yourself. Believe, and do, what Christ tells you; and if you do not become noble if you do not possess the spirit of godliness, then believe, but not till then, that true nobility is impossible.

III. Jesus also tasted death to give every man THE FRANCHISE OF PRIESTHOOD. Jesus has given every man the right of a free access unto God. Jesus Christ has tasted death in order that the sun of our Father’s love might shine direct upon the heart of every man.

IV. Jesus Christ has tasted death to give us THE FRANCHISE OF ROYALTY. We are joint-heirs with Christ of the Kingdom of God. It is a common saying when we see anybody very cheerful, “He is as happy as a king.” Jesus has tasted death that every man might be happy as only kings unto God can be. He has given us all that is necessary for our enjoyment. Christ has given us power to act kingly. (W. Birch.)

Tasting death for every man

Have you ever remarked how the greatest efforts of the world’s genius seem to bare been called out by the recognition of this tasting death for every man? Shall I speak of poetry? There are times--I do not know whether it is an: improper thing to say--but there are times, it seems to me, that the exquisite music of Miltontouches the deeper springs of my spiritual life. I turn to “ Paradise Regained “ again and again. It puts me into a meditative mood as I see the features of the life of the Redeemer steadily unfolding; they seem, too, by their exquisite simplicity of utterance, to put me to a quiet and calm mood. True, the poet does not hold the views that I hold about Jesus. True, he seems to mar much that he has to say by his Unitarian conception. Nevertheless, as I come under the spell of his words it seems to me that the very noblest and best that was ever called forth even from Milton was called forth as he stands before this Cross of the Redeemer. I would turn to the one that might be called the German Milton, I mean Klopstotk As I have read his “Messias” I have seen how the best he could write has been invoked from him as he comes face to face with the Cross where Jesus is tasting death for every man. He represents for us those three crosses on the hillside. We see the soldier as he rises forth with his spear to pierce the side; we hear the clank of the armour as the soldiers go away after their deed is done; our eyes fall upon the circle of the weeping women, and then for a season one is left alone with the three crosses; and then as I read these words of Klopstock’s again, there is in them the highest poetry; and I am perfectly sure of this, that the highest and best thing that Klopstock did, he did as his eye fell upon this Cross of the Redeemer. And of painting is not the same thing true? Will not great picture after great picture rise before your minds? Perhaps some of you may have heard that touching story in the plains of Lombardy. You step a little out of the ordinary track to a common monastery by the roadside, and there you find it has its little portion of history. You turn within, and you are shown a somewhat faded picture of the crucifixion, and its story is more interesting than the picture. A monk, towards the close of his life, had come to feel that he had a gift of painting, and an order comes to him from his Superior, that after baying embellished cell after cell of his brethren, he should paint a crucifixion for the altar. “No,” he says, “it is beyond my faculty.” However, the order is supreme, and he obeys. He feels it impossible to get the sort of face that he requires, and he finishes the altar-picture--finishes it in unusual form, leaving the face out. In the interval the man becomes seized with epilepsy; so terrible is the thought upon him that one night he was found in the chapel with the picture unfinished, and in the morning he lay dead, and the face looks out there from the canvas. Do you not see how, by the very presence of this great thought of the death of Jesus, man is laid under a tremendous spell? Should I speak of music? You know Bach’s Passion music, decidedly the grandest thing that Bach himself ever wrote. I shall never forget hearing Handel’s “Messiah” for the first time. And to-day is not the same fact true that the one thing that, exercises a spell over humanity in connection with our preaching is this tasting death for every man? For a little season it may be that the great truth of the Atonement has been receding from public view. But I am perfectly sure that in the heart of men there is nothing that it finds so effective about this gospel as this truth of tasting death for every man. It must come to the front, we shall see a further coronation of Jesus as the world recognises that He tasted death for every man. The ground of His kingship is His tasting of death. (A. Cave, D. D.)

Christ tasting death

Thus the tasting of death was no dishonour, but an honour to Christ. By it He brought many to eternal life: for all that He is above the angels and all other creatures whatsoever. Christ hath tasted of death before us, therefore let not us that be Christians be too much afraid of death. There is a potion brought to a sick patient which the eye loathes and the mouth distastes. The poor sick man is loath to drink of it, the physician takes it into his hand, tastes of it before his eyes; by that he is encouraged to receive it; so is it with us, death is a sour cup which nature abhorreth; we are all unwilling naturally to drink of it; but for so much as Christ our loving and heavenly Physician hath tasted of it beforehand, let us not be afraid of it. The godliest men in the world cannot but in some measure fear death; Christ feared it: yet let this be as sugar to sweeten this bitter cup to us; Christ tasted of it and overcame it, so shall we do by His virtue and power. Oh, the wonderful and unspeakable love of Christ I as if a company of traitors were going to the scaffold to be executed; the king’s son should step forth to die for them; what an admirable thing were that! We, by nature, are enemies to God, traitors to His majesty: the S,,n of the King of kings comes from heaven and dies for us. Is not this to be admired of us all? scarce will any die for a righteous man; we were unholy, unrighteous, defiled with the scab of sin in soul and body, yet the Lord Jesus died for us. Life is sweet: who will die for his friend; but will any die for his enemy? (W. Jones, D. D.)

Christ died for every man

1. It is said, He tasted of death; we need not play the critic in the explication of the word “taste”; for the plain meaning is, that He suffered death; and by this is signified all His sufferings, which were many and bitter; the principle and consummation whereof was death, wherein they all ended, and without which there had been no expiation.

2. He suffered death for every man; not that every man should absolutely enjoy the ultimate benefit thereof, for every one doth not: yet every man, as a sinner, hath some benefit by it, because the immediate effect of this death was, that every man’s sin in respect of this death is remissable, and every man savable, because Christ by it made God propitious and placable, in that He had punished man’s sin in Him, and laid on Him the iniquities of us all. And the reason why every man is not actually justified and saved, is not for want of sufficient propitiation, but upon another account.

3. That which moved God to transfer the punishment due to our sins upon Christ, His only begotten Son, was His grace and free love. The end, therefore, why Christ was made lower than the angels was, that He being man and mortal, yet holy and innocent without sin, might suffer death, that our sins might be expiated, Divine justice satisfied, and a way made for mercy to save us. (G. Lawson.)

The Saviour tasting death for sinner

Tasting death! A bitter draught indeed! When Socrates, the wise and good, dwelling amidst the immoralities of Athens, was cruelly condemned to death, he conversed cheerfully with his weeping friends; during the gray and misty hours of morn, concerning the glorious hopes which even he, a poor benighted pagan, had of the soul’s long life, and of coming bliss; and then, with untrembling hand, he took the cup of poisonous hemlock, and drank, and died. The figurative language of the text is borrowed from this common mode of execution in an, lent times. But we read of another who “tasted death,” in comparison with whose simple grandeur, Socrates, and all the philosophers and sages who have ever lived, must hide their diminished heads--the incarnate Son of God, who, out of pity and compassion for our condemned and suffering race, of His own free-will and goodness, “tasted death for every man.” How can any sinner remain unmoved at the contemplation of such a spectacle? “Who tasted death for every man!” Will all, then, be saved? A benevolent individual builds a large and comfortable abode for the poor, and the sick, and the helpless, and freely invites everybody who needs to go in at the open gate. The offer of assistance is quite as extensive as the wants of the suffering. But, suppose that some should be too proud to accept of this free mercy, and others should express a doubt whether the physician in the hospital could do any more than might be accomplished by their own silly quackeries at home, will the benefits of the good man’s liberality be enjoyed by the proud and the unbelieving? No more will those be saved who do not go to Christ, even though He has died for all. We must love Him for His goodness, and gladly obey His commandments, if we hope for a share in the blessings purchased by His precious death. (J. N. Norton, D. D.)

Christ’s title to kingship

The supreme thought in these chapters is the superiority of Jesus Christ. Jesus the Mediator is greater than any angel of the old covenant who had acted as mediator, The angels serve, and serve Jesus. They worship, and worship Jesus Jesus is the King of the new age; the angels are only ministering servants in the age.

I. WHAT IS MEANT BY THE WORDS “ THEY TASTED DEATH FOR EVERY MAN”? The more we think of the Atonement, the more we see its greatness. We are only spelling out the A B C of its meaning. But the thinking man finds out, in every region besides that of religion, his incapacity of thought. Yet incapacity is no plea or reason for giving up thinking. Though the ocean be infinite in depth, yet I will dredge. One thought of Christ stands out prominently in this generation: that He is to us a new life. There may be a danger of accentuating this thought to the exclusion of the “tasting of death.”

1. Death is the penalty of human sin.

2. The penalty of death is pronounced by the pre-existent Christ. The whole Trinity assure us that death is the penalty of sin.

3. Death is more than decease--more than shuffling off this mortal coil. The Biblical idea of death is an evolution of penalty. It begins when the soul turns away from God; it intensifies as the tragic life unfolds, till we come to decease; then it follows on where we cannot interpret--face to face with the second death.

4. The real cause of the penalty--the centre of it--is the withdrawal from man of the Spirit of God. Man chooses to sin, and He whose ermine must not be sullied removes far from him. This eternal withdrawal of God is the second death. In the light of this truth think of Jesus’ death. He tasted to the full the bitterness of the penalty--withdrawal of His Father’s face. For a time there is a chasm between God the Father and God the Son: “Why hast Thou forsaken Me?”

II. THIS TASTING OF DEATH HAS BECOME CHRIST’S TITLE TO KINGSHIP. “Crowned with glory and honour.” The coronation of Jesus is a royal progress--not a clime nor a century but brings its tribute to Him whose claim is that He tasted death for every man. Literature, music, painting, all crown Him. It is a march of victory. If we would see His coming in power before He comes in glory, this truth must be brought to the front--that He tasted death--and thus we shall see Him crowned with glory and honour. In these days we see the coronation of Jesus going on apace. I rejoice in the spirit of the times. What if we lose our hold on a creed here and there, we need neither star nor moon when the Sun is up. Better anything than stagnation; and on all sides this question raises itself: “What think ye of Christ?” Let us rejoice that God is calling out from this age a new reverence for Jesus, and by and by we shall hear from it the verdict, “I find no fault in this man,” until it advances to “My Lord and my God.” (Principal Cave.)

Extent of the Atonement

It is not like a banquet, accommodated to the tastes and wants of so many and no more. Like a masterpiece of music, its virtues are independent of numbers. (D. Thomas, D. D.)

Human thought contracted

We are limited by our creeds; like a beetle crawling on a cabbage leaf and thinking it is the whole world. (Proctor’s Gems of Thought.)

Extent of the Atonement

The apostles understood their commissions to be general and indiscriminate for “every creature”: so they received it from

Him who laid the foundation of such an extensive ministration by tasting death for every man. Accordingly, they went forth on their commission, to preach the gospel to “all the world.” They did not square their message by any human system of theology, nor measure their language to the lines of

Procrustean creeds. They employed a dialect that traverses the length and breadth of the world. They did not tremble for such an unreserved exhibition of the ark and the mercy-seat. They could not bring themselves to stint the remedy which was prepared and intended to restore a dying world; nor would they cramp the bow which God had lighted up in the storm that threatened all mankind. (Dr. T. W. Jenkyn.)

God’s abundant grace

So 1 Timothy 1:14 : The grace of God not simply abundant, but “exceedingly abundant.” If sin flowed like a bottomless pit, an abyss never satisfied, then grace--a stronger and a fuller current, exceeding it in measure--prevailing like the waters of the Flood until the very tops of the highest mountains were covered; it fills a greater sea than the sea of iniquity; more than enough to pardon the sins of the world or of other worlds. This is the salvation which God’s free grace hath brought unto all men. (Proctor’s Gems of Thought.)

The sufferings of Christ should inspire Christians with fortitude

He “endured the Cross,” it is written, “despising the shame”; and can we do less? Nay, can we complain in the midst of our troubles? When Guatimozin, the Mexican emperor, was tortured by the Spaniards, he bore the torment with more than human fortitude. One of his fellow-sufferers of weaker constitution turned his eyes upon the prince and uttered a cry of anguish. “Thinkest thou,” said Guatimozin, “that I am laid upon a bed of roses?” “Silenced by this reproof,” says the historian, “the sufferer stifled his complaints, and expired in an act of obedience to his sovereign.”

The universality of the Atonement

“He tasted death for every man.” “He gave Himself a ransom for all.” “He is a propitiation for the sins of the whole world.” That all are not saved is no objection. It is suggested by a popular expositor that in material nature much goodness seems wasted. Rain and dew descend upon flinty rocks and sterile sands; floods of genial light come tiding down every morning from the sun on scenes where no human foot has trod; flowers bloom in beauty and emit their fragrance, trees rise in majesty and throw away their clustering fruit, on spots where as yet there has never been a man. Wealth sufficient to enrich whole nations is buried beneath the mountains and the seas, while millions are in want. Medicine for half the ills of life is shut up in minerals and plants, whole generations die without knowing of the remedy which nature has provided. It is no objection, therefore, to the universality of the Atonement, that all are not benefited by it. Its benefits one day will be universally enjoyed. There are men coming after us who shall live in those solitary wastes, enjoy the beauty and the light which now seem wasted, appropriate the fruits, the wealth, and the medicine, which for ages have been of no avail. It will be even so with the death of Christ. There ,re men coming after us that shall participate of the blessings of that Atonement, which generations have either ignorantly rejected or wickedly despised. (D. Thomas, D. D.)

Hebrews 2:10

For it became Him.
--

The scheme of redemption by a suffering Saviour, worthy of God

I. IT IS PROPOSED TO ILLUSTRATE THE CHARACTER OF JESUS CHRIST AS THE CAPTAIN OF SALIVATION. This word in the sacred language signifies Prince, Captain, or Chief Leader, and is highly expressive of that distinguishing character which our Redeemer sustains, and of His gracious and powerful agency in the scheme of salvation.

1. He was chosen and appointed to be the Captain of salvation, and to be the head and chief conductor of this glorious scheme.

2. As the Captain of salvation, He purchased salvation for His people, and overcame their spiritual enemies.

3. Christ is the Captain of salvation, as He heads His people in the spiritual warfare, and conducts them to victory and triumph. He possesses infinite skill to devise the most advantageous plans, to discern all the strategems of His enemies, and infinite power to defeat them, and make them recoil with redoubled vengeance upon their heads. He knows the weakness and timidity of those who fight under his banner and conduct, and will afford them strength and courage. He knows their doubts, and can dispel them. He knows their dangers, and can deliver from them, and can enable them to resist the attacks of an host of adversaries. He furnishes them with the various pieces of the spiritual armour--the shield of faith, the helmet of hope, the breast-plate of righteousness, prayer, watchfulness, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. When thus clad in the whole armour of God, He enables them to manage it with spiritual dexterity, so as most effectually to wound their enemies, and defend themselves from their attacks.

II. THAT THE CAPTAIN OF SALVATION WAS MADE PERFECT THROUGH SUFFERINGS. In treating this part of the subject it will be proper first to speak a little concerning the sufferings of Christ, and then show how He was made perfect through His sufferings.

1. Concerning His sufferings, the following observations may be useful.

2. We shall now show how the Captain of salvation was made perfect through sufferings.

Lessons:

1. Here is a glorious person presented to our view, a Saviour made perfect through sufferings; to whom both saints and sinners may commit their salvation, with the fullest assurance that they shall not be disappointed.

2. Believers may be inspired with courage to persevere in the spiritual warfare, because they fight under the conduct of the Captain of salvation. He possesses every possible accomplishment as a Leader and Commander of His people.

3. Let us study m become more perfect in holiness, under all those sufferings and tribulations appointed for us in the adorable providence of God. The Captain of salvation was made perfect through His sufferings. In this He has furnished us with a noble and excellent pattern for our imitation. (P. Hutchison, M. A.)

Bringing many sons unto glory

I. A FEW OBSERVATIONS CONCERNING THE MANY SONS THAT ARE TO BE BROUGHT TO GLORY, THROUGH THE SUFFERINGS AND DEATH OF JESUS CHRIST.

1. They are sons who obtain this great privilege. The relation here mentioned is not that natural relation in which men stand to God as their Creator, for that is common to the human race, as they are all His offspring. Neither is it a mere external relation to God, as the members of the visible Church, for thin exterior and visible adoption belongs to all baptized and professing Christians, and equally belonged to the Jewish Church, as a visible body, or nation of men professing the true religion. But the character of sons specified in the text is expressive of a spiritual and saving relation which is peculiar to true believers. This great privilege, like the other blessings of the glorious gospel, lays a foundation for humility and gratitude in all on whom it is bestowed. They can never be too grateful to God for such an honour and blessing, or sufficiently humble under a deep conviction that they do not deserve it.

2. In connection with the privilege they possess the Spirit of adoption. By His saving operations upon them they are endowed with all the graces and tempers which become the children of God, and correspond to their privilege of adoption. They are habitually prepared for all gracious exercises and the acceptable performance of all holy duties.

3. The sons of God to be brought to glory form a vast number. This is a great and consolatory truth; and it should be the concern of all me,, to have this glorious truth realised in their own persons.

4. All the adopted and regenerated sons of God shall be brought to glory. The various griefs and afflictions of believers in the present state of discipline and mortality shall terminate in the felicity of the heavenly state. There the redeemed shall not only be entirely freed from all those sins and temptations, griefs and afflictions, to which they are subjected in this life, but they shall attain perfection in knowledge, holiness, glory, and immortality, together with the full and eternal enjoyment of God.

II. The bringing of many sons to glory, through the sufferings of Christ, Is WORTHY OF GOD, AND BECOMING HIS CHARACTER.

1. The redemption of sinners of mankind, through Jesus Christ, is worthy of Jehovah, as it illustrates, in the highest degree, the glory of His moral perfections. How brightly shines the Divine wisdom in the plan of redemption! In devising this g, eat plan, in connecting and harmonising all its parts, Divine wisdom excels in glory. Here the holiness and justice of God shine forth in the most resplendent glory. His hatred of sin, and the punishment of it in the Cross of Christ, are a far more glorious display of the justice and holiness of His nature than could have been given if mankind had never sinned, or, having sinned, had never been redeemed. Here the love of God is displayed in a manner the most amiable and engaging, in the gift of His only-begotten Son, and in subjecting a person so dear to Him to unparalleled grief, ignomony, and affliction. Here is displayed the Divine goodness in supplying the natural and spiritual wants of good men. Here is exhibited the Divine mercy in the full, free, and everlasting remission of sins.

2. The scheme of redemption, through the sufferings of Christ, is worthy of God, and becoming His character as the moral governor of the world. The Redeemer, in His whole mediation, acted in, a subserviency to the holy law of God; He magnified and made it honourable by rendering to it perfect obedience, as a covenant of works, and by enduring its awful penalty. He furnished His disciples with an amiable and perfect example of that obedience which the Jaw requires of them. He hath also procured and promised the aid and energies of the Holy Spirit, to qualify them for every part of Christian obedience.

3. It was worthy of God, and becoming His character, not to suffer Himself to be deprived of worship and obedience from the whole human race; nor them to be cut off from a participation of His goodness and the enjoyment of Him as their portion.

4. The scheme of redemption is worthy of God because it reflects the highest honour on His adored Son Jesus Christ. He has the honour of repairing the breach which sin had made between God and men, and hath reconciled them to Him by the blood of His Cross. He has the honour of performing the condition of the covenant of grace, whereby all the blessings of it were purchased, and the promises of it ratified and made sure to the heirs of promise. He has the honour of being the grand repository of the covenant-blessings, the administrator of them, and of sending down the Holy Spirit to apply them. He has the honour of being the Head of the Church, and of administering the whole affairs of Divine providence for the good of the Church. He has the honour of beholding a numerous seed as the fruit of His unparalleled labours and sufferings. He will have the honour of presiding in the final judgment, and of awarding the retributions of that solemn and eventful day, both to the righteous and the wicked. And He will be the honoured medium through which all the blessedness of the heavenly state will be communicated to the redeemed for evermore.

5. The method of redemption, by the death of Christ, is worthy of God, because it is, in a variety of respects, more excellent than the constitution established with the first Adam for obtaining life to himself and his posterity. The perfections of God are more glorified by the gospel-method of salvation, and particularly His mercy, for which there was no place under the first covenant. According to that constitution the goodness of God might have free egress towards men while innocent and obedient; but no provision was made in it for the remission of sin or for purification from it, when he became guilty and polluted. By the constitution of grace His law is more magnified; for Adam could only obey it as a mere man, but Christ obeyed it as the Lord from heaven. The sinner’s tide to life by the gospel stands upon a more glorious foundation. Though the covenant of works had been kept, man’s title to life would only have been founded upon a perfect human obedience; but according to the gospel-scheme it rests upon the divinely perfect righteousness of the Son of God. Gospel-holiness is also conveyed into the souls of men in a more excellent channel Adam received the principles of holiness in the channel of creating goodness; but gospel-holiness is communicated as the fruit of the Redeemer’s purchase, in the channel of redeeming love. The worship of the redeemed has something in it more excellent. In the state of innocence man could adore God as his creator, preserver, benefactor, and governor; but the redeemed can worship the adorable Trinity, not only in the above respects, but also in their economical character, in the plan of redemption, as a reconciled Father, a Saviour from guilt and misery, and a Spirit of sanctification and comfort, whose office it is to apply the blessings of redemption and put the chosen of God in possession of them. To all these ideas add that the future happiness of the redeemed will be greater than man’s happiness could have been by the original covenant. For not only will it be conveyed to them through the mediation of Jesus Christ, as purchased by His blood, but they will have more enlarged and endearing discoveries of the perfections of the Godhead as displayed in the scheme of redemption, which will prove an inexhaustible and everlasting source of enjoyment; while they will have the additional felicity of reflecting, that though once they were sinners and sunk in perdition and misery, yet they were rescued from the jaws of destruction by the power and grace of the great Redeemer, and raised to unmerited and undecaying honours and enjoyments. This consideration will sweeten and accent the song of the redeemed, and fill them with joy unutterable, and full of glory.

Lessons:

1. Since the method of salvation, through the sufferings of Jesus Christ, is so worthy of God, it must be worthy of us to embrace it as all our salvation and all our desire.

2. Our hearts should be deeply impressed with this important truth, that the only way of salvation for sinners is through the mediation and sufferings of Jesus Christ.

3. If sinners of mankind can be saved only by the death of Christ, how aggravated is the guilt and how deplorable is the condition of our modern infidels, who with profane mockery and insolent contempt reject the gospel-method of salvation, together with the inspired oracles by which it is revealed and proposed to the acceptance of men?

4. This subject shows us that in subordination to the glory of God it is the great end of the gospel and of the death of Christ to perfect the state, character, and felicity of good men.

5. Let sinners and saints be careful to improve the method of salvation set before them in the gospel.

6. To conclude: Let me call you who are the children of the Most High to adore and admire that unsearchable wisdom which devised a scheme of salvation so worthy of God in all the possible attitudes in which it can be viewed, and so happily adapted to your character and circumstances. (P. Hutchison, M. A.)

Christ appointed Captain of salvation

I. A reason is rendered in the words of what he had asserted in the foregoing verse, namely, that Jesus the Messiah was to suffer death, and by the grace of God to taste of death for all. WHY HE SHOULD DO THUS, ON WHAT ACCOUNT, WHAT GROUND, NECESSITY, AND REASON THERE WAS FOR IT IS HERE DECLARED--it was so to be, “For it became Him,” &c.

II. THE DESIGN OF GOD IS EXPRESSED IN THIS WHOLE MATTER, AND THAT WAS--TO BRING MANY SONS UNTO GLORY.

1. The eternal designation of them to that glory where unto they are to be brought is peculiarly assigned to Him. “He predestinates them to be conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:28-30).

2. He was the spring and fountain of that covenant (as in other operations of the Deity) that was of old between Himself and His Son, about the salvation and glory of the elect (see Zechariah 6:13; Isaiah 42:1;Proverbs 8:20-30; Isaiah 50:4; Isaiah 53:11-12; Psalms 16:10; Psalms 110:1; Psalms 011:6).

3. He signally gave out the first promise, that great foundation of the covenant of grace, and afterwards declared, confirmed, and ratified by His oath, that covenant wherein all the means of bringing the elect to glory are contained (Genesis 3:15; Jeremiah 31:32-34; Hebrews 8:8).

4. He gave and sent His Son to be a Saviour and Redeemer for them and to them; so that in His whole work, in all that He did and suffered, He obeyed the command and fulfilled the will of the Father.

5. He draws His elect, and enables them to come to the Son, to believe in Him, and so to obtain life, salvation and glory by Him.

6. Bring “reconciled to them by the blood of His Son,” He reconciles them to Himself by giving them pardon and forgiveness of sins in and by the promises of the gospel, without which they cannot come to glory (2 Corinthians 5:18-21).

7. He quickens them and sanctifies them by His Spirit, to “ make them meet for the inheritance of the saints in light,” that is f r the enjoyment of glory.

8. As the great Father of the family He adopts them, and makes them His sons, that so He may bring them to glory. He gives them the power or privilege to become the sons of God (John 1:12), making them heirs and co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:14-17), sending withal “into their hearts the Spirit of adoption, enabling them to cry Abba Father” Galatians 4:6).

9. He confirms them in faith, establisheth them in obedience, preserveth them from dangers and oppositions of all sorts, and in manifold wisdom keeps them through His power to the glory prepared for them (2 Corinthians 1:21-22; Ephesians 3:20-21; 1 Peter 1:5; John 17:11.

10. He gives them the Holy Ghost as their Comforter, with all those blessed and unspeakable benefits which attend that gift of His Matthew 7:11; Luke 11:13; John 14:16-17; Galatians 4:6).

III. THERE IS IN THESE WORDS INTIMATED THE PRINCIPAL MEANS THAT GOD FIXED ON FOR THE ACCOMPLISHMENT OF THIS DESIGN OF HIS, FOR THE BRINGING OF MANY SONS TO GLORY IT WAS BY APPOINTING A CAPTAIN OF THEIR SALVATION. All the sons of God are put under His conduct and guidance, as the people of old were under the rule of Joshua, to bring them into the glory designed for them, and promised to them in the covenant made with Abraham. And He is called their αρχηγος, “Prince, Ruler, and Captain, or Author of their salvation,” on several accounts.

1. Of His authority and right to rule over them in order to their salvation.

2. Of His actual leading and conduct of them by His example, spirit, and grace, through all the difficulties of their warfare.

3. As He is to them “ the Author or cause of eternal salvation,” He procured and purchased it for them.

IV. There is expressed in the words, THE ESPECIAL WAY WHERE BY GOD FITTED OR DESIGNED THE LORD CHRIST UNTO THIS OFFICE, OF BEING A CAPTAIN OF SALVATION UNTO THE SONS TO BE BROUGHT TO GLORY. To understand this aright we must observe that the apostle speaks not here of the redemption of the elect absolutely, but of the bringing them to glory, when they are made sons in an especial manner. And therefore he treats not absolutely of the designation, consecration, or fitting of the Lord Christ unto His office of Mediator in general, but as unto that part, and the execution of it, which especially concerns the leading of the sons unto glory, as Joshua led the Israelites into Canaan. By all the sufferings of the Lord Christ in His life and death, by which sufferings He wrought out the salvation of the elect, did God cons crate and dedicate Him to be a Prince, a Leader, and Captain of salvation unto His people, as Peter declares the whole matter (Acts 5:30-31; Acts 2:36).

1. The whole work of saving the sons of God from first to last, their guidance and conduct through sins and sufferings unto glory, is committed unto the Lord Jesus; whence He is constantly to be eyed by believers in all the concernments of their faith, obedience, and consolation.

2. As the manner how, so the acts wherein and whereby this Antecessor and Captain of salvation leads on the sons of God, may be considered; and He doth it variously.

(a) To betake ourselves unto Him, and to rely upon Him in the whole course of our obedience, and all the passages thereof.

(b) To look for direction and guidance from Him. (John Owen, D. D.)

And all this should teach us

The expediency and propriety of appointing a suffering Captain of our salvation

When Christianity was first published to the world, the earliest objection that was raised against it arose from the low and suffering state in which its Author appeared. It is then a subject worthy of our contemplation to inquire into the reasons that might move Almighty God thus, in &reef opposition to the prejudices and expectations of both Jews and Greeks, to appoint the Captain of our salvation to be made perfect by a state of sufferings.

I. If we consider our Saviour as THE AUTHOR OF A NEW RELIGION, His appearance in a suffering state frees His religion from an objection which applies with full force to every other religion in the world. Had our Saviour appeared in the pomp of a temporal prince, as the Jews expected Him; had He appeared in the character of a great philosopher, as the Greeks would have wished Him, often had we heard of His power and of His policy, and been told that our religion was more nearly allied to this world than to the other. But when we bear the Author of our faith declaring from the beginning that He must suffer many things in His life, and be put to an ignominious and tormenting death, these suspicions must for ever vanish from our mind. Thus our religion stands clear of an objection, from which nothing, perhaps, could have purged it but the blood of its Divine Author.

II. If we consider our Saviour as A PATTERN OF VIRTUE AND ALL PERFECTION, the expediency of His appearing in a suffering state will further be evident. One great end of our Saviour’s coming into the world was to set us an example, that we might follow His steps. But, unless His life had been diversified with sufferings, the utility of His example had been in a great measure defeated. It is observed by an historian, in relating the life of Cyrus the Great, that there was one circumstance wanting to the glory of that illustrious prince; and that was, the having his virtue tried by some sudden reverse of fortune, and struggling for a time under some grievous calamity. The observation is just. Men are made for sufferings as well as for action. Many faculties of our frame, the most respectable attributes of the mind, as well as the most amiable qualities of the heart, carry a manifest reference to a state of adversity, to the dangers which we are destined to combat, and the distresses we are appointed to bear. Who are the personages in history that we admire the most? Those who ha, e suffered some signal distress, and from a host of evils have come forth conquerors.

III. If we consider our Saviour as A PRIEST, who was to make an atonement for the sins of men, the expediency of His making this atonement by sufferings and death will be manifest. It is one of the doctrines revealed in the New Testament that the Son of God was the Creator of the world. As therefore He was our immediate Creator, and as His design in our creation was defeated by sin, there was an evident propriety that He Himself should interpose in our behalf, and retrieve the affairs of a world which He had created with His own hands. In the work of redemption, therefore, it was expedient that there should be a brighter display of the Divine perfections, and a greater exertion of benevolence than was exhibited in the work of creation.

IV. If we consider our Saviour IN THAT STATE OF GLORY to which He is now ascended, the propriety of His being made perfect by sufferings will more fully appear. Because He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, therefore hath God highly exalted Him, hath given Him a name above every name, and committed to Him all power in heaven and in earth. (John Logan.)

The expediency of Christ’s sufferings

I. TO LEAVE NO ROOM FOR SUSPECTING THE TRUTH OF HIS MISSION.

1. Had the Messiah appeared as a powerful and illustrious prince, the bulk of mankind could not have had an opportunity of freely examining His credentials. Almost none, but the great and the mighty, would have dared to come into His presence; or if they did venture to approach Him, they would undoubtedly have been filled with dread and perturbation. Dazzled with His splendour and His glory, they could not have maintained that calm dispassionate state of mind which is necessary for judging of the pretensions of a messenger from heaven.

2. And had the gospel been ushered into the world in this splendid manner, what a ground of exultation would it have afforded to the infidel and profane! Would they not have long since triumphantly said the Christian faith was not a rational homage to the truth, but a blind submission to earthly influence and authority.

3. But besides, while the mean, afflicted condition of our Lord thus strongly evidences the truth of His religion, it also renders that evidence more palpable and striking by the glory and success with which the religion was afterwards attended.

II. TO EXHIBIT HIM AS A PERFECT PATTERN OF VIRTUE TO HIS FOLLOWERS.

1. When we behold the Saviour of men placed in like circumstances with ourselves, subject to all our sinless infirmities, submitting to the most unmerited indignities, exposed to the most bitter and unrelenting persecution, and even patiently enduring the Cross, despising the shame, acquitting Himself so gloriously, We dwell with delight upon the at once lovely and admirable character, and feel ourselves naturally prompted to give all diligence to make it the pattern of our conduct.

2. And as the sufferings of Christ were thus necessary to make the virtues of His life appear tilted for our imitation, so without, these sufferings there would have been many Divine and heavenly graces, which His life could not have exhibited. Those which are commonly denominated the passive virtues, and which we account the most hard to practise, could then have had no place in His character.

3. But not only were the sufferings of the Messiah requisite to make His example both of sufficient influence and extent, they were requisite also to render that example more exalted and illustrious than it could otherwise have been. They ennobled and perfected the graces of His character; they called forth to public view, in a substantial and living form, that consummate and unshaken integrity which, never before nor since, appeared among men.

III. TO MAKE HIM A PROPER PROPITIATION FOR OUR SINS. Had not Christ suffered and died, we could never have reasonably hoped for the remission of sins. For had pardon been dispensed by the Almighty to His offending creatures, without exacting the penalty due to their crimes, how would the glory of the Divine perfections have been displayed, and the majesty of the Divine government maintained? Who would have regarded its authority, or feared to violate its commands? Sinners would have been emboldened to multiply their transgressions, and tempted to suppose that the God of unspotted purity--the God of unchangeable veracity, was altogether such a one as themselves.

IV. TO MAKE ROOM FOR HIS BRINGING MORE FULLY TO LIGHT A FUTURE STATE OF IMMORTALITY AND GLORY.

1. Let us consider their expediency, in order to prepare the way for a fuller demonstration of its existence. What so proper to convince us that the promises of eternal life are true, as to behold Him, who delivered them, Himself coming forth triumphant from the grave, and visibly ascending into heaven before us? Were the most stubborn infidel left to choose for himself a proof of his future existence, would it be possible for him to desire a plainer and a more perfect demonstration? But it is evident, that had not Jesus suffered and expired, this visible, striking demonstration could not have been afforded. For without first dying, how could He have risen from the dead? And had He not risen from the dead, what indubitable security could we have had of life and immortality?

2. But the sufferings and death of Christ were not only expedient to prepare the way for a full demonstration of the existence of a future state of glory, they were expedient also to point out in a more striking manner the way by which that glory is obtained. The object of the Deity seems to be not merely to communicate happiness, but to form His creatures to moral excellence. He hath designed them for a state of immortal felicity; but before they enter upon that state, He hath made it necessary that they shall have acquired virtuous habits; and to acquire again their virtuous habits, He hath ordained them to pass through a painful course of discipline. And the more painful and difficult this course becomes, the purer will be their virtue and the richer their reward.

V. TO GIVE US FULL ASSURANCE HE KNOWS AND SYMPATHISES WITH OUR FRAILTIES AND OUR” SORROWS, AND WILL THEREFORE MERCIFULLY INTERCEDE WITH THE FATHER IN OUR BEHALF. To whom do we in the day of affliction look up for such mercy and compassion, as from those who have been afflicted themselves? From His experience of our trials, we are assured He hath not only the power, hut the inclination to succour us. He knows well where our weakness lies, where our burden presses, and what will prove most proper for supporting and relieving us. Lessons:

1. From the doctrine which we have now illustrated, what reason have we to admire the wisdom of God! We see that it is admirably adapted to confirm our faith, to improve our nature, to comfort our souls, and, in a consistency with the honour of Thy perfections, to bring many returning sinners unto glory.

2. But this subject, while it leads us to admire the wisdom of God, demonstrates to us also in a most striking manner, the deep malignity of sin. For if such a remedy as the sufferings and death of Christ was, in the councils of heaven, deemed necessary to be employed against it, how evil and pernicious must its nature be!--how odious in the sight of God, and how destructive of the order and happiness of the whole creation! Let us then hate sin with a perfect hatred.

3. Did it behove Jesus to be made perfect through sufferings, then let us who are His disciples learn to submit to our sufferings with patience, and consider them as a requisite part of our education for heaven. (A. Savile, M. A.)

The refuting power of truth

I. IT REFUTES THE ERROR THAT THE UNIVERSE IS EITHER ETERNAL OR THE WORK OF CHANCE. The text speaks of One who is the Cause and End of all things.

II. IT REFUTES THE ERROR THAT CHRIST’S SUFFERINGS ARE INCOMPATIBLE WITH THE DIVINE CHARACTER.

III. IT REFUTES THE ERROR THAT GREAT SUFFERINGS, IN THE CASE OF INDIVIDUALS, IMPLY GREAT SINS.

IV. IT REFUTES THE ERROR THAT GREAT HONOURS CAN BE OBTAINED WITHOUT GREAT TRIAL. There is no kingdom for man worth having that is not reached “through much tribulation.”

V. IT REFUTES THE ERROR THAT THE GRAND END OF CHRISTIANITY IS TO CONNECT MAN WITH DOGMATIC SYSTEMS OF ECCLESIASTICAL CONSTITUTIONS. The end is higher; to bring men not to creeds or churches, but to “glory”--a glory spiritual, divine, ever progressive.

VI. IT REFUTES THE ERROR THAT THERE ARE BUT FEW THAT SHALL BE SAVED. (Homilist.)

The discipline Of suffering

When we ponder these words we shall all come to feel, I think, that they have a message for us on which we have not yet dwelt with the patient thought that it requires, though we greatly need its teaching. The currents of theological speculation have led us to consider the sufferings of Christ in relation to God as a propitiation for sin, rather than in relation to man as a discipline, a consummation of humanity. The two lines of reflection may be indeed, as I believe they are, more closely connected than we have at present been brought to acknowledge I do not however wise now to discuss the propitratory aspect of the sacrifice of Christ’s life. It is enough for us to remember with devout thankfulness that Christ is the propitiation not for our sins only, but for the whole world, without further attempting to define how His sacrifice was efficacious. And we move on surer ground, when we endeavour to regard that perfect sacrifice from the other side, as the hallowing of every power of man under the circumstances of a sin-stained world, as the revelation of the mystery of sorrow and pain. Yes, Christ, though He was Son, and therefore endowed with right of access for Himself to the Father, being of one essence with the Father, for man’s sake, as man, won the right of access to the throne of God for perfected humanity. He learnt obedience, not as if the lesson were forced upon Him by stern necessity, but by choosing, through insight into the Father’s will, that self-surrender even to the death upon the Cross which was required for the complete reconciliation of man wit, God. And the absolute union of human nature, in its fullest maturity, with the Divine in the one Person of our Creator and Redeemer, was wrought out in the very school of life in which we are trained. When once we grasp this truth the records of the Evangelists are filled with a new light. Every work of Christ is seen to be a sacrifice and a victory. Dimly, feebly, imperfectly, we can see in this way how it became God to make the Author of our salvation perfect through sufferings; how every pain which answered to the Father’s will, became to Him the occasion of a triumph, the disciplining of some human power which needed to be brought into God’s service, the advance one degree farther towards the Divine likeness to gain which man was made; how, in the actual condition of the world, His love and His righteousness were displayed in tenderer grace and grander authority through the gab-saying of enemies; how in this sense, even within the range of our imagination, He saw of the travail of His soul and was satisfied. Dimly, feebly, imperfectly we can see how also Christ, Himself perfected through suffering, has made known to us once for all the meaning and the value of suffering; how He has interpreted it as a Divine discipline, the provision of a Father’s love; how He has enabled us to perceive that at each step in the progress of life it is an opportunity’; bow He has left to us to realise “in Him” little by little the virtue of His work; to fill up on our part that which is lacking of the afflictions of Christ in our sufferings, not as if His work were incomplete or our efforts meritorious, but as being living members of His Body through which He is pleased to manifest that which He has wrought for men. For we shall observe that it was because He brought many sons to glory, that it became God to make perfect through sufferings the Author of their salvation. The fitness lay in the correspondence between the outward circumstances of His life and of their lives. The way of the Lord is the way of His servants. He inlightened the path which they must tread, and showed its end. And so it is that whenever the example of Christ is offered to us in Scripture for our imitation, it is His example in suffering. So far, in His strength, we can follow Him, learning obedience as He learned it, bringing our wills into conformity with the Father’s will, and thereby attaining to a wider view of His counsel in which we can find rest and joy. (Bp. Westcott.)

The Godworthiness of salvation

It might be presumptuous to say that God was bound to become a Saviour, but it may confidently be asserted that to save becomes Him. The work He undertook was congruous to His position and character. It was worthy of God the Creator, by whom all things were made at the first, that He should not allow His workmanship in man to be utterly marred and frustrated by sin. The irretrievable ruin of man would have seriously compromised the Creator’s honour and glory. It would have made it possible to charge the Divine Being with failure, to represent Him as overreached by the tempter of man, to suspect Him of want of power or of will to remedy the mischief done by the fall. On this subject Athanasius, in his discourse on the Incarnation of the Word, well remarks: “It would have been an indecency if those who had been once created rational had been allowed to perish through corruption. For that would have been unworthy of the goodness of God, if the beings He had Himself created had been allowed to perish through the fraud of the devil against man. Nay, it would have been most indecent that the skill of God displayed in man should be destroyed either through their carelessness or through the devil’s craftiness. The God-worthiness of the end becomes still more apparent when the subjects of the Divine operation are thought of as, what they are here called, sons. What more worthy of God than to lead His own sons to the glory for which man was originally fitted and destined, when be was made in God’s image, and set at the head of the creation? The title “sons” was possibly suggested by the creation story, but it arises immediately out of the nature of salvation as indicated in the quotation from the eighth Psalm--lordship in the world to be. This high destiny places man alongside of the Son whom God “appointed heir of all things.” “If sons, then heirs,” reasoned Paul; “if heirs, then sons,” argues inversely the author of our epistle. Both reason legitimately, for sonship and heirship imply each other. Those who are appointed to lordship in the new world of redemption are sons of God, for what higher privilege or glory can God bestow upon His sons? And on those who stand in a filial relation to God He may worthily bestow so great a boon. To lead His sons to their glorious inheritance is the appropriate thing for God to do. (A. B. Bruce, D. D.)

God’s glory in giving His Son to die

If we take a view of God’s special properties, we shall find the glory of them so set forth in Christ’s Incarnation and Passion, and the redemption of man thereby, as in nothing more. I will exemplify this in five of them.

1. The power of God hath been manifested by many wonderful works of His since the beginning of the world. The book of Job and book of Psalms do reckon up catalogues of God’s powerful and mighty works; but they are all inferior to those works which were done by the Son of God becoming man and dying; for hereby was the curse of the law removed, the bonds of death broken, the devil and his whole host vanquished. The Son of God did this, and much more, not by arraying Himself with majesty and power, but by putting on Him weak and frail flesh, and by subjecting Himself to death. Herein was strength made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).

2. The wisdom of God was greatly set forth in the first creation or all things in their excellent order and beauty, and in the wise government of them; but after that by sin they were put out of order, to bring them into a comely frame again was an argument of much more wisdom, especially if we duly weigh how, by the creature’s transgression, the just Creator was provoked to wrath. To find out a means, in this case, of atonement betwixt God and man must needs imply much mow e wisdom. For who should make this atonement? Not man, because he was the transgressor; not God, because He was offended and incensed: yet God, by taking man’s nature upon Him, God-man, by suffering, did this deed; He made the atonement. God having revealed this mystery unto His Church, every one that is instructed in the Christian faith can say, Thus, and thus it is done: But had not God by His infinite wisdom found out and made known this means of reconciliation, though all the heads of all creatures had consulted thereabout, their counsels would have been altogether in vain. We have, therefore, just cause with an holy admiration to break out and say, “Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!” Romans 11:33).

3. The justice of God hath been made known in all ages by judgments executed on wicked sinners, as the punishment of our first parents, the drowning of the old world, the destroying of Sodom and Gomorrah with fire and brimstone, the casting off the Jews, the casting of wicked angels and reprobate men into heft fire; but to exact the uttermost of the Son of God, who became a surety for man, and so to exact it as in our nature He most bear the infinite wrath of His Father and satisfy His justice to the full, is an instance of more exact justice than ever was manifested.

4. The truth of God is exceedingly cleared by God’s giving His Son to die, and that in accomplishment of His threatening and promises.

5. God’s mercy is most magnified by sending His Son into the world to die for man. “The mercies of God are over all His works” (Psalms 145:9). But the glass wherein they are most perspicuously seen is Jesus Christ made man, and made a sacrifice for man’s sin. (W. Gouge.)

“Just like Him”

A missionary, addressing a pious negro woman, said, “Mary, is not the love of God wonderful?” and then, enlarging on its manifestation in the atonement of Christ, he made the appeal, “Is it nut wonderful?Mary simply, but we may add sublimely, replied, “Massa, massa, me no rink it so wonderful, ‘cause it is just like Him.” In bringing many sons to glory

The test of sonship

I. A DEFINITION OF GOD. We are told that for Him, and by Him, are all things; for Him--on His account--to manifest His glory--to display His perfections. God hath created all things for Himself. “Well, does not that look selfish? Is that worthy of God?” If we do anything for ourselves, and to show forth ourselves, we do it to show forth something that is finite and imperfect; and in attempting to show forth ourselves, and seek our own ends, we are overlooking the interests of other people. Therefore it is most improper for a creature to do anything chiefly to promote his own glory. But it is otherwise with God, for He is perfect, and the manifestation of Himself is the manifestation of perfection. Would you wish anything else? Shall creation be for any lower end than the exhibition of the Creator? Nor is the manifestation of Himself apart from the highest hope of the universe, for God is love; the manifestation of love and beneficence is, therefore, the diffusion of happiness. There is no greater, more benevolent purpose than the creation of all things for Himself. All things in the universe, however great, are subservient to an end infinitely greater than themselves. However small, they are not so insignificant as not to be employed for the greatest of all ends--for the manifestation of God the infinite.

II. THE GRACIOUS DESIGN OF THIS GLORIOUS, THIS INFINITE BEING. It is to bring many sons unto glory. These many sons are to be brought unto glory from among a rebellious and condemned race.

1. The first step towards this is to make them sons--to convert, to change them from foes to children; for by nature and by practice we are enemies to God, and not subject to the will of God. We are thus constituted sons through an act of God’s free, sovereign, unmerited favour. He pardons all our sins. He puts the spirit of adoption into Us, and as He manifests Himself to us as our loving Father, He enables us to feel to Him as loving and trusting children. We seek Him whom we avoided; we trust Him whom we dreaded; we serve Him against whom we rebelled; we are sons.

2. And, having made us sons, He then brings us to glory. God does not form children for Himself and then forsake them.

III. But what is HIS METHOD? By a Mediator, called in the text the Captain of Salvation. The same word is translated in other passages, the Prince of Life--in others, “the Author and Finisher of faith.” Here it is translated “Captain.” He is our Captain. He goes in advance. He acts as our Champion. He fights our great adversary the devil for us--defeats him--“destroys him that had the power of death, even the devil.” We can do all things through our Captain strengthening us. But we go on to observe that this Captain of Salvation was to be qualified for His office by suffering. He was to be made perfect by suffering. Emphatically He was a man of sorrows. By those sorrows He was made perfect, not as to His Divinity, for that could not be made more perfect, nor as to his moral purity, for that was perfect necessarily; but made perfect--that is, qualified for His office. The suffering was sacrificial. He had to atone for our sins. He had not merely to go before us as our Captain, but to bear the cross. So He was made a sacrifice for us. And He was to be made an example as well as a sacrifice. Men suffer. This is a world of trouble, and He could not have been an adequate example if He had not been an example in that which we are called to endure. He was to be a sympathising friend on whom we could look as understanding our case, as able to feel with us and for us, awed this would be impossible except by suffering. And, therefore, He was fitted to be the Captain and Leader of our Salvation by suffering.

IV. THE GREAT PROPOSITION. It was befitting in Him for whom and by whom are all things, in thus bringing many sons into glory through the mediation of the Captain of Salvation, to make the Captain of Salvation fitted for His work through suffering. It was befitting the Eternal God that His designs should be accomplished; and as suffering was essential to the end He had in view, was it not befitting that God should not spare even His own Son in order that He might be qualified for the work of bringing many sons to glory? (Newman Hall, LL. B.)

The bringing of many sons to glory

I. THE OBJECT TO BE ACCOMPLISHED WAS THE BRINGING OF MANY SONS TO GLORY, A parent deals not with his children on selfish and mercenary principles. He does not, like a lawgiver, merely protect them, and dispense to them according to their merits; or, like a master, merely remunerate their work. He deals with them in love. “Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine,” is the language of parental affection. The riches of Divine all-sufficiency are not, like the possessions of an earthly parent, diminished by being shared, affording the less for each that many partake. No; like the light of the sun, each receives the full enjoyment. “He that overcometh shall inherit all things, and 1 will be his God and he shall be My son.” The abode destined to receive them is the heaven of glory, where every object and scene is resplendent with the glory of God and of the Lamb; their inheritance, the kingdom of glory; their portion the God of glory; their associates, His glorious family; their employments and enjoyments are all glorious: and, what is essential to their enjoyment of all is, that they are for ever perfected in personal glory--the glory not merely of celestial splendour, but the moral glory of unsullied holiness--the noblest glory in the eyes of God and of all holy intelligences.

II. THE PLAN ADOPTED FOR THIS END. A leader to glory is appointed, and He is made “perfect through sufferings.” We have a country to possess, a journey and a warfare to accomplish, an enemy to conquer, and a victory to win. Christ is the breaker-up of the way, the leader and commander of the people. In order that the Son of God might fulfil the offices of our Redeemer--in order that He might have a banner to lift up in this character, and a willing hast ranged under it--it was necessary that He Himself should pass through the last extremity of conflict and death, and be thus made perfect through suffering. Let us inquire in what respects, and for what ends, this was necessary.

1. To make an atonement for our sins, and redeem our souls.

2. His sufferings were requisite in order to His perfect adaptation as our pattern and example.

3. His sufferings were endured also in order to His more perfectly identifying Himself by sympathy with His people, and engaging their absolute confidence. (Alex McNaughton.)

Eternal redemption

There is, perhaps, nothing we understand better, in the conduct of others, than what is becoming or unbecoming in their spirit and deportment. We are almost eagle-eyed to discover whatever is worthy or unworthy of a man’s rank and character. This almost instinctive sense of propriety in human conduct might, if wisely employed, enable us to judge wisely of what is becoming m the Divine conduct. For, if we expect wise, good, and great, men to act up to their character and avowed principles, we may well expect that the infinitely wise, great, and good God will do nothing unbecoming His character and supremacy. When, therefore, it is said that it “became” Him to save sinners, only by the blood of the Lamb, it surely becomes us to search in His character and salvation, not for reasons why redemption could not, or should not, be by atonement, but for reasons why it is so. Now, upon the very surface of the case, it is self-evident that an infinitely wise God would neither do too much nor too little for the salvation of man. Less than enough would not become His love; more than enough would not become His wisdom.

I. BRINGING MANY SONS TO GLORY IS GOD’S CHIEF AND FINAL OBJECT, IN ALL THE MERCY AND GRACE WHICH HE EXERCISES TOWARDS MAN.

1. NOW glory, as a place, is the heaven where God Himself dwells and reigns, visibly and eternally. It is His own special temple, resplendent with His presence, and vocal with His worship. It is His own central throne, from which He surveys and rules the universe.

2. Again, glory, as a state of character, is likeness to the God of heaven;--it is to bear the image of His spotless holiness, and to breathe the spirit of His perfect love. This is the glory to which God proposes to bring many sons. Now this heaven is so unlike our earth--where. God is altogether so invisible, and man so unholy and unloving-that, to say the least, a very great change for the better must take place in men before they can be fit for such glory. There are some things in this heaven which are not very agreeable to the natural mind of man, such as universal and eve lasting spirituality and harmony. Such being the sober facts of the case, it surely “ becomes” God to take care that this heaven, which is to be His own eternal temple and throne, shall not be disgraced nor disturbed by the presence of unholy or alienated inhabitants.

II. THE SUFFERINGS OF CHRIST ARE DECLARED TO BE THE WAY IN WHICH IT BECAME GOD TO BRING MAN TO GLORY.

III. It is declared that, in saving man by the suffering of Christ, GOD HAD A REGARD TO THE RELATION IN WHICH ALL THINGS IN THE UNIVERSE STOOD TO HIMSELF. What He did in making Christ a sacrifice for our sins was what “because” Him to do as the author and end of all things visible and invisible. Now

1. It certainly became God to save man in a way that should not endanger the safety of angels. But this could not have been done by penitential salvation. That would have been to tell all the unfallen universe that tears would repair any injury they might ever do to the honour of God or their own interests. A fine lesson in a universe where even innocence is no safeguard from temptation!

2. It certainly became God to save man in a way which should not impeach His character for not saving fallen angels. But could they have felt thus if the next race of sinners had been pardoned on mere repentance? Eternal happiness offered to one race of sinners, and eternal misery inflicted on another race of sinners, would be an eternal anomaly in the moral government of God but for the atonement made by Christ on our behalf. But now no holy nor wise being can wonder that grace reigns by the blood of the Lamb of God. Nor can they wonder that Satan and his angels are not redeemed, seeing it was by opposing this scheme of redemption they sinned and fell.

3. It became God to redeem man, and confirm angels, in such a way as to leave no possibility of imagining that any higher happiness could be found out than the voluntary gift of God conferred.

4. It became God to redeem man, and to confirm angels, in such a way as to render the impartiality of His love to both for ever unquestionable. Accordingly, it is as sons that He will bring men to glory--the very rank which all the unfallen spirits in all worlds hold. (R: Philip.)

The road to glory

The text seems to represent Almighty God as looking down upon His sinful and rebellious creatures, and taking counsel for their instruction, as we might imagine some father, like him in the parable, made acquainted with the wretchedness of his prodigal son, and devising within himself a way in which he might recover him to goodness and to happiness. Do you observe what is here implied?

1. They who were to be brought to glory were not yet in a fit state for glory. It was a work to be done; something for which provision was to be made--something which was intended, planned, and gradually to be perfected. Alas t it is too true man in his natural state is not prepared for a world of which the description is, that “therein dwelleth righteousness.”

2. Yet are they capable of becoming so. Like the ore not yet cleansed from the worthless earth with which it is miracled, or like the precious stone covered with rust or clay, but of which the skilful eye perceives that it may be purified, and refined, and polished, and “fitted for the master’s use,” even hereafter to fear a place among his treasures. Such was the being for whom God had a design of mercy.

3. But how to accomplish it?

4. Here we perceive a reason why “the Captain of our salvation” was “made perfect through suffering.” Man, who was to be hereafter glorified, was now lying under the penalty of sin; he was in a state of condemnation, as a transgressor of the laws which God has appointed for His creatures. Like the heir of a vast estate, but found guilty of some crime, by which that estate is forfeited, his condemnation lies between him and the inheritance assigned to him. “Why,” perhaps you ask, “might not the Lord freely pardon these His guilty creatures, these His offending sons? “Verily, “the secret things belong unto the Lord our God”; but this we know--the judge here on earth, the magistrate, cannot freely pardon the offender against human laws; they cannot set him free without endangering the whole fabric of society. Therefore was “the Captain of our salvation m ,de perfect through suffering”; therefore through suffering did He accomplish our salvation. Christ died, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God.

5. Now, then consider man in this stage of his progress towards glory. Much has been done but much remains to do. The slave may be emancipated from chains, but he is not emancipated from base and servile ways, and is altogether unfit for the glories of a throne or the presence of a king. God, therefore, in “bringing many sons to glory,” has other plans of mercy beyond the atonement made. Their corruptions must be purified; the evil of their nature cured. How, then, is this to be effected in a way consistent with that Being with whom we have to do? What must be clone if a benefactor were to approach the slave and show him how a price was paid for his redemption, and that the moment he claims freedom an estate is prepared for him to enjoy, if lie were once fitted for the inheritance. He must be first persuaded of his present wretchedness, willing to be released from it, and to receive the benefit proposed. And in the case of earthly bondage there is no difficulty; the evils of such a state are felt and acknowledged. Not so in the case of Satan’s bondmen; they are too often willing slaves. And this He does for the sons whom He leads to glory. He “convinces them of sin,” that it is their guilt--“of righteousness,” that it is to be found in Christ--“of judgment, the prince of this world is judged”--that this world must be overcome, or they must share its doom. WhenGod was leading the Israelites into the land of Canaan He did not rid the laud at once of its inhabitants, but put them out little by little. And so no doubt He has a merciful purpose in all the difficulties which His people meet with in their progress towards the heavenly Canaan. Here, too, we see--here at least we believe we see--the reason of those troubles which many of God’s faithful people pass through. Is the Christian harassed by the remainder of sin, so that “ when he world do good evil is present with him”? Or is it the straitness of poverty which weighs him down? In all those secret trials which the world sees not, as well as all those which are evident to all, there is one intent which we cannot but see: God is weaning the heart from the present world, and drawing it to Himself. (Archbp. Sumner.)

Bringing many sons to glory

God is here represented as executing a great work--that of “ bringing many sons unto glory.” “Glory” is a grand word--one of the grandest in the vocabulary of human speech; and it is habitually employed in Scripture to denote the “great recompence of reward” which awaits the righteous in the world to come. In the Old Testament it is said: “The Lord will give grace and glory” (Psalms 84:11); Thou shall guide me with Thy counsel, and afterwards receive me to glory” (Psalms 73:24); and in the New: “I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18); “Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” (2 Corinthians 4:17); “Christ in you, the hope of glory” Colossians 1:27); “The salvation which is in” Christ, with eternal glory,” (2 Timothy 2:10). Well does heaven realise the brilliant and impressive name of glory. The place--the pursuits--the pleasures--the inhabitants--all are glorious.

1. The place is glorious. Paradise--to which the departing spirits of the righteous pass--is certainly a locality. As the residence of Christ that region of the universe must needs be glorious, having objects adapted to the organisation, and aptitudes, and tastes of his fine humanity. And who can fall but, even when a pure spirit is dissevered from its sister-frame, these objects let in their glory on the soul? But at last, in admirable and exquisite adaptation to the complete humanity of believers, the “new heavens and new earth” will come. It may seem sentimentalism, but it is sober sense, to say: If earth be so fair, how beautiful must heaven be! if the azure skies be so resplendent, holy majestic must be that sublimer world!

2. The pursuits are glorious. The inhabitants of heaven shall “see God.” His Divine Essence, indeed, can never be beheld by human eye (1 Timothy 6:16). But there will probably be an outburst of visible glory from His eternal throne, significant of His presence and His majesty. At any rate, the soul will realise His infinite wisdom, and might, and purity, and love, with such clearness, and vividness, and power, as, in a sublime sense, to behold the invisible God. In heaven they will literally behold His glorious person--they will have Him for their associate and friend--they will gaze intothe deep recesses of His love.

3. The pleasures are glorious. Deep and strong, no doubt, they are, like the mighty and majestic sea--yet, probably, calm and placid, as the b sore of the lake in the sunshine of the summer-sky.

4. The inhabitants themselves are glorious. What an expressive phrase--“the spirits of just men made perfect!” To the scenes, the pursuits, and the pleasures, of the heavenly world, the constitutions and characters of its inhabitants will completely correspond. Such is the glory of heaven. It is summarily denoted by St. Paul in the expression--an “exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17). There is a glory of the flowers--there is a glory of the stars-there is a glory of the sun. But each, and all, is far exceeded and outshone b v the glory of the heavens. And what is so bright, and beautiful, and precious, is “eternal;” it shall last for ever--it shall never pass away.

And whom does Jehovah bring to this celestial glory? “Sons” “many sons.”

1. The filial relation of believers to God is often set forth in Scripture. There are two ways in which one person may become another person’s child--birth and adoption. In the writings of St. John and St. Peter, the former--in those of St. Paul, the latter is propounded as the fundamental idea of the believer’s sonship. Starting from either of the two conceptions, we are free to carry out the figure into the collateral and kindred ideas of protection, guidance, instruction, discipline, comfort, pity, and tenderest love, as bestowed by God on His believing people. It is as children that they are brought to glory.

2. The statement that “many sons” are brought to glory is quite consistent with the passages which indicate that comparatively few of the inhabitants of earth are in a state of salvation. Already, a mighty multitude of souls have been ransomed and renewed. In future times foretold in prophecy, “a nation shall be born in a day,” and tribes and tongues shall shout, “Come and let us go up to Jehovah’s house.’,

3. These “many sons “ God is “bringing to glory.” He chose them to this bright inheritance in the depths of the past eternity (Ephesians 1:4-6; 2 Thessalonians 2:13). He sent His Son to win and work out “an eternal redemption” for them (John 3:16; Romans 5:8; Romans 8:32). He arrests them, by His Spirit, amidst the wildness of their wanderings, and adopts them into His cherished family (Romans 5:17; Romans 8:29-30; 2 Corinthians 5:18; Ephesians 2:1-10. Colossians 1:12). He “guides them by His counsel” (Psalms 73:24). He “will never leave them nor forsake them” (Hebrews 13:5). He “keeps them by His power, through faith, unto salvation” (1 Peter 1:5). At last, He receives them to glory Psalms 73:24). He introduces, and bids them welcome, to their paternal home.

4. The “many sons” whom the Father brings to glory are here represented as standing in a rely intimate relation to Jesus Christ. He is “the Captain of their salvation.” Glorious Captain! who would not follow Thee? Yet this Captain had “His sufferings.” From His cradle to His grave, He was “a man of sorrows.” In body, in soul, in circumstances, He suffered grievously Isaiah 53:2-6; Isaiah 53:10; Zechariah 13:7; Matthew 4:1; Matthew 8:20; Matthew 11:19,

26:36--27:50; Luke 19:41; John 4:6; Galatians 3:13; 1 Peter 2:21; 1 Peter 3:18; 1 Peter 4:1).

5. But He is also represented as “made perfect through sufferings.” (A. S.Patterson, M. A.)

Make the Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings

The Captain of salvation

He might conceivably have saved men by a direct act of sovereign power and mercy. But He chose to save by mediation. And this method, if not the only possible one, is at least fitting. It became Him for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, to bring His sons to glory in this way.

1. Because He was thereby following the analogy of providence, doing this work of deliverance in the manner in which we see Him performing all works of deliverance recorded in history: e.g. the deliverance of Israel out of Egypt. God led His ancient people from Egypt to Canaan, like a flock, “by the hand of Moses and Aaron.”

2. The method involves that salvation is a gradual process. It is a march under the guidance of a Leader to the promised land. The sons of God arc led to glory step by step. The new heavens and the new earth are not brought in per saitum, but as the result of a development during which the word and history and passion of Christ work as a leaven. Redemption has a history alike in the Leader and in the led. Redemption after this fashion became Him for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, better than an instantaneous deliverance. The latter might reveal Divine omnipotence, but the former affords scope for the display of all Divine attributes: power, wisdom, patience, faithfulness, unwearied loving care.

The method of salvation by a Leader involves certain things with reference to the Leader Himself.

1. He must, of course, be a Man visible to men, whom He has to lead; so that they can look unto Him as the Leader and Perfecter of faith, and, inspired by His example, follow Him on the path which leads to glory.

2. Out of this primary requirement naturally springs another. He who in person is to lead the people out of the house of bondage into ,h, promised land must, in the discharge of his duty, encounter hardship and suffering, lie must share the lot of those whom he has to deliver. Neither Moses nor Joshua had an easy time of it. The leadership of Israel was for neither a dilettante business, but a sore, perilous, often thankless toil and warfare. And there never was any real leader or captain of men whose life was anything else than a yoke of care, and a burden of toil and sorrow. They have all had to suffer with those they led, and more than any of the led. What wonder then if the Captain or Leader of the great salvation was acquainted with suffering? Must He be the solitary exception to the rule which connects leadership with suffering? If out of regard to His dignity as the Son He must be exempted from suffering, then for the same reason He must forfeit the position of leader. To exempt from suffering is to disable for leadership. Companionship in suffering is one of the links that connect a leader with those he leads and gaves him power over them. This brings us to a third implicate of the method of salvation by a captain for the Captain Himself.

3. It is, that experience of suffering is not merely inseparable from His office as the Captain of salvation, but useful to Him in that capacity. It perfects Him as Captain. Here at length we reach the climax of the apologetic argument; the final truth in which, when understood, the mind finds perfect rest. If this be indeed true, then beyond all doubt it became God to subject His Son to a varied experience of suffering. To proclaim its truth is the real aim of the writer. For though his direct affirmation is that it became God to perfect His Son by suffering, the really important thing is the indirect affirmation that the Son was perfected by suffering. The writer means to say that Christ was perfected by suffering, in the sense that He was thereby made a perfect leader. The perfecting of Christ was a process resulting in His becoming a consummate Captain of salvation. It was a process carried on through sufferings, taking place contemporanously with these. It was a process begun on earth, carried on throughout Christ’s whole earthly life, reaching its goal in heaven; just as the crowning with glory and honour began on earth and was completed in heaven. The crowning was the appointment of Jesus to the vocation of Saviour, the perfecting was the process through which he became skilled in the art of saving. The theatre or school of His training was His human history, and the training consisted in His acquiring, or having opportunity of exercising, the qualities and virtues which go to make a good leader of salvation. Foremost among these are sympathy, patience, obedience, faith, all of which are mentioned in the course of the epistle. The official perfecting of every ordinary man includes an ethical element. An apprentice during the course of his apprenticeship not only goes through all the departments of his craft and acquires gradually skill in each branch, but all along undergoes a discipline of character, which tends to make him a better man as well as a good tradesman. The supreme qualification for a leader of salvation is the possession and exercise of high heroic virtues, such as those already enumerated. He leads by inspiring admiration and trust; that is, by being a moral hero. But a moral hero means one whose life is hard, tragic. Heroes are produced by passing through a severe, protracted curriculum of trial. They are perfected by sufferings--sufferings of all sorts, the more numerous, varied, and severe the better; the more complete the training, the more perfect the result, when the discipline has been successfully passed through. Hence the fitness, nay, the necessity, that one having Christ’s vocation should live such a life as the gospels depict; full of temptations, privations, contradictions of unbelief, ending with death on the cross; calling into play to the uttermost the virtue of fortitude, affording ample scope for the display at all costs of fidelity to duty and obedience to God, and in the most desperate situations of implicit filial trust in a heavenly Father; and through all these combined furnishing most satisfactory guarantees for the possession of unlimited capacity to sympathise with all exposed to the temptations and tribulations of this world. How can any son of God who m being led through fire and blood to his inheritance doubt the value of a Leader so trained and equipped? (A. B. Bruce, D. D.)

A captain worth a whole brigade

Our Leader inspires confidence. He has never been defeated. Mark you I how He conquered the weaknesses of humanity, pride, self-seeking, avarice, and resentment--how he conquered the Tempter on the Mount; how He conquered death and the powers of hell! We know whom we trust, and that He will lead us to victory. In one of the Napoleonic battles on the Peninsula, a corps of British troops were sorely pressed and began to waver. Just then the Duke of Wellington rode in among them. A veteran soldier cried out: “ Here comes the Duke, God bless him! the sight of him is worth a whole brigade!” So to the equipped warrior under the ensign of the cross, a sight of Jesus, our leader, is a new respiration. He who is for us is mightier than all that be against us. Jesus is able to assure the victory to every redeemed soul who is loyal to Him. (T. L. Cuyler, D. D.)

Christ perfect through sufferings

I. THE LORD JESUS IS A PERFECT SAVIOUR.

1. For, first, He is perfectly adapted for the work of saving.

2. Furthermore, as Christ is thus perfectly adapted, so He is perfectly able to be a Saviour. He is a perfect Saviour by reason of ability.

3. Once more, let me remind you that Christ is a perfectly successful Saviour.

II. CHRIST WAS MADE A PERFECT SAVIOUR THROUGH SUFFERING.

1. By His sufferings He became perfect as a Saviour from having offered a complete expiation for sin. Sin could not have been put away by holiness. The best performance of an unsuffering being could not have removed the guilt of man. Suffering was absolutely necessary, for suffering was the penalty of sin.

2. Again, if Christ had not suffered He could not have been perfect as a Saviour, because He could not have brought in a perfect righteousness. It is not enough to expiate sin. God requires of man perfect obedience. If man would be in heaven he must be perfectly obedient. Christ, as He took away our guilt, has supplied us with a matchless righteousness.

3. Yet, thirdly, it was necessary that Christ should suffer to make Him a perfect Saviour so far as His sympathy goes.

4. Finally, upon this point; He thus became perfect as our exemplar.

III. CHRIST’S HAVING BEEN MADE PERFECT THROUGH SUFFERING WILL ENNOBLE THE WHOLE WORK OF GRACE. “It became Him for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory”--that is the great work “to make the captain of their salvation perfect through suffering.” The whole thing will work for His glory. Oh, how this will glorify God at the last, that Christ, the man, should have been perfect through suffering!

1. How this will glorify Him in the eyes of devils! It was in man that they defeated God; in man God destroys them.

2. How greatly will God be exalted that day in the eyes of lost spirits. You will not be able to say, “My damnation lies at God’s door,” for you will see in Christ a suitable Saviour.

3. Oh, what delight and transport will seize the minds of those who are redeemed! How will God be glorified then! Why, every wound of Christ will cause an everlasting song. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Perfection through suffering

The presence of evil in this earth, and of all the sorrow and suffering that flows from evil, naturally appears to be the one great imperfection that mars the economy of the world. Here, however, the sacred writer boldly faces the mystery, and dares to speak of this great and all-pervading imperfection as the necessary condition of a higher perfection--a perfection so high and glorious as to justify all that has seemed inexplicable in bringing it about. We cannot for a moment doubt that God, being omnipotent, could if He willed bring evil to a summary end. But if He could crush out all evil, and yet does not do so, it is clear that some purpose of benevolence and love higher than would be answered by this procedure must actuate Him to adopt the course that He does. Now we ourselves are in a position to notice that the presence and operation of evil in one form or another calls forth, or perhaps we should say contributes to form, qualities and characteristics such as are not within our own observation and experience otherwise produced. If a man’s temper should never be tried, we cannot see how he can learn self-control; unless a man be exposed to danger or to opposition, how shall he develop courage? If he never has a trial or a pain, how can he become patient? Or we might illustrate the subject thus: Mere exclusion from the conditions of trial and temptation will not transform human character, although it may change human conduct. Suppose that an habitual drunkard migrated to locality where intoxicants could not be obtained, he would become outwardly sober certainly, but would he be a sober man in the moral sense of the work? Supposing that a quarrelsome man were banished to a Juan Fernandez, he would certainly live in peace because he had no one to quarrel with; but are you sure he would not pick a quarrel with the captain of the ship that carried him back to England? No; our observation shows us that something more is needed than mere seclusion from evil to make us truly good. Indeed, it teaches us more than this. It would lead us to conclude that contact with evil in some form or another would seem to be necessary in order to develop the highest form of character. Are any of us disposed to ask, Why cannot the highest form of good be otherwise produced? It is enough to answer that God, so far as we know, invariably works through means. Further, we observe in Nature that each end is the product of certain particular means, or specific combinations of means, and of no other, and reverence and piety lead to the conclusion that in each case the means are the best that could be chosen. But if this be so in the physical world, why should it not be so in the moral? And there rises up before the Divine consideration the vision of the One absolutely perfect Man, who was, in the Father’s foreknowledge, the Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world. And this highest type is the product of the triumph of militant good over opposing evil; the ideal Man is perfected by suffering. Here, at any rate, the means have produced the end. Hence our text, we observe, speaks of something that we might almost call a Divine necessity; at any rate, it contains a distinct reference to the eternal fitness of things, to the fixed operation of the laws of causation in the spiritual as in the natural world. And yet, lest this should be taken to imply the existence of some superior necessity to which even God Himself is subject--lest we should fall into the old Pagan notion that fate is stronger thanDeity, and that God is the creature rather than the Creator of universal law, the writer attaches to this very reference to the eternal fitness of things one of the most sublime declarations in all literature of the place that God holds in the universe He has made. “It became Him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through suffering.” Let us dwell upon these two revelations of the Divine. All things are for God. He is the great final cause of all that is. “Thou hast created all things,” cry the blessed spirits in the Land of Vision, “and for Thy pleasure they are and were created.” It is manifest that if God Himself existed antecedently to all creation, all creation must exist for Him. And this implies that the potentialities, as well as the original actualities, of life were for Him. He must surely have known what He was calling into existence, and what possibilities would be involved for good or evil when He said, “Let us make man.” And we ourselves are for Him. The prime object of our existence is not to obtain gratification for ourselves, but to answer His purpose concerning us. I am persuaded that one great secret of holiness lies in the recognition of this truth, and of all that is implied in it--I exist for God. In this new view of life, and in the acceptance of God instead of self as our centre of reference, lies the very essence of self-denial. We deny ourselves when, instead of asking, What do I like, we inquire, “Lord, what wouldest Thou have me to do?” And the second revelation is scarcely less important. “By Him are all things.” He is the efficient as well as the final cause in His great universe of all that He designs to be eternal, and of all that contributes to what is eternal. This suggests to our minds the thought, that not only are the ages bound together by one great purpose, but more than this, God must be the best judge of the means by which that great purpose is to be subserved. And if He employs suffering as a means towards this end (and no doubt He is most reluctant to employ such a means), it must be because He sees this to be the means most suited to the end aimed at, indeed the only means that can bring about the specific results desired. Now it is obviously of the greatest practical moment that we should bear in mind that “of Him are all things” in our own personal experience. It is not the devil that is allowed to shape the features of the Christian’s lot. Though he may be the agent in inflicting such sufferings, there is a deeper love underneath that permits them all for the promotion of a higher good. But if all things are for God, and we ourselves are for Him--if He is to derive a special gratification and satisfaction from ourperfection--Then may we not boldly affirm that all things are for us? and may we not confidently trust Him with the selection of means towards the great end that He has in view? It is this thought that will arm us to face trials without apprehension, and keep us from forfeiting the blessings of suffering by yielding to a murmuring spirit. Stoics might teach us to endure tribulation, and Epicureans might advise us to do our best to escape tribulation; but who had ever before thought of the possibility of glorying in tribulation? But the true Christian glories in it. He glories in it because it is a means towards an end. It is one of the “all things” that are of God, and that contribute to what God designs. We glory in that triumphant power of Divine grace which renders even evil the minister of good, and converts what we most shrink from rote the means of inducing what we most desire. But the most surprising part of the text certainly is that in which Christ is represented as being submitted to the same means of development as ourselves in this respect. And our text affirms that it was in accordance with the eternal fitness of things that He should be perfected by suffering like the rest. If God’s method of operation is this, that He produces ends by definite and appropriate means, why should we expect Him to depart from it in a particular ease? If the very highest form of human perfection could be induced, without any employment of means--and painful and unpleasant means--such as we are subjected to, would there not have been ground for the conclusion that these means were in themselves unnecessary? Surely with such premises, it would be difficult for us to draw any other conclusion than that the infliction of all this suffering was gratuitous, and therefore unkind. But Christ came to vindicate the Father’s character and ways. Above all He came to deepen our sense of the Father’s love and benevolence, and therefore it behoved Him to submit to the established law, and to make the highest use of the means which a Father’s love has appointed for the training and perfecting of man. Jesus Christ is not any grander, any more glorious, in the moral sense of the word, even when He sits ca the throne, than He was when He hung in anguish, faint and dying, on a felon’s cross. We can guess at His perfection up yonder in the glory; we can see it on the cross. And it is just the sort of perfection that sanctified sorrow and suffering amongst ourselves is known, in some degree at any rate, to produce. Self-control in its highest form; self-effacement that seems wonderful in its completeness, even in Him of whom we have learnt to expect whatever is highest and noblest; courage that took measure beforehand of all that was to come, and yet never flinched; obedience that would not, that did not, fail when the consequence was torture and death; patience that continued to endure when relief at any moment was within His reach; faith that would not doubt the Father’s love, though all that He was suffering seemed to contradict it; hope that looked on through the horrors of the present to the joy that was set before Him; magnanimity that despised the shame; benignant pity that pleaded for His very murderers; and, above all, changeless and unconquerable love that many waters could not quench nor floods drown--these were amongst the characteristic perfections that have shone upon the world from Calvary, and are shining still. And these are all of them such as sorrow and suffering contribute to form; indeed, it is easy to see that some of these characteristics could not have existed, otherwise than potentially, even in the perfect Man, had He not been exposed to suffering. But it may be asked, How could Jesus Christ be perfected when He was never imperfect? Perfection may be regarded as either relative or absolute. Absolute perfection is the attribute of God, and belonged to Christ in His eternal Godhead from all eternity. But, again, there is such a thing as relative perfection--a perfection, that is to say, that is relative not only to the object and its ideal, but to the conditions to which it is for the time being submitted. There never was a time, then, when Jesus Christ was relatively imperfect. As a mere child no doubt He was all that a child could be; and as a young man I question not, though we know actually nothing of His youth, He presented to His contemporaries a perfect model of youthful manhood. But, as we have seen, there are certain forms of manly and, perhaps I should say, Godlike virtue that are only brought forth to perfection, so far as we know, by trial and suffering; and Jesus Christ could not be the absolutely Perfect Man until these characteristics had been by suffering acquired. For example, we are taught that He learned obedience by the things that He suffered. Now there never was a time when Jesus Christ was disobedient; but obedience, to be perfect, must be submitted to test. You cannot call a child obedient if his obedience has never cost him anything, nor do you know that he will obey when the trial comes unless he has been already put to the test. In this sense, and in this sense only, Christ learnt obedience by the things that He suffered. Alas! the words apply very differently to many of us! We disobey, and we suffer for it, and perhaps suffer severely, and then we begin to think that perhaps obedience is the truer wisdom. But He, on the other hand, learned the habit of obedience without ever tasting the bitter fruits of disobedience. His sufferings came in the path of obedience, and instead of deflecting Him from it confirmed Him in it. His own brethren did not believe on Him. Here were trials at home harder to bear than poverty and want. But from this form of suffering He learned to stand alone, to be the less dependent on man, and the more in the society of His Father; while instead of His affections and sympathies being shrivelled and blighted by this unfavourable atmosphere they seem to have flowed forth all the more freely towards all who felt their value and responded to their advances. Yet another sorrow sprang from the attitude assumed towards Him by the religious world. It is never pleasant to be regarded as a heretic by those who represent a dominant and intolerant orthodoxy. I have known cases in which men have become embittered against and estranged from their fellow-Christians for life because of what they have suffered through practical excommunication. But where we may miss the lesson, Christ learned it. On the one hand, He learnt from all this how little trust was to be reposed in the theories and systems of men. But look again, and observe how all through His ministry He suffered from the contradiction of sinners against Himself, and this suffering contributed to His perfection in two ways. It seems to have deepened and strengthened the intensity of His hatred against sin, and to have taught Him the necessity of using great plainness, and even in some cases severity of speech in convicting sinners, while it also produced in Him a wonderful patience in dealing with sinners. Did He, could He, suffer from temptation, and was He perfected by this also? The writer of this Epistle says so in so many words. We know how much of severe pain temptation often causes; how it sometimes seems as if we were so circumstanced that it must needs lie pain to resist, and probably not less but greater pain to yield. He never had, it is true, a fallen nature, and a bias towards evil such as we have; and many feel as if that must needs have rendered it impossible for Him to be tempted as we are. But are we able to judge how much this advantage may have been compensated by the special trials that belonged to the unique position that He occupied? Who shall alarm that the urgent demands of such an appetite as hunger, aggravated to a scarcely conceivable intensity by the pains of a forty days’ fast, were more easy to deny than the cravings of abnormally-developed lust in the manhood of a confirmed sensualist? And this is only one example out of many that should suffice to prove the reality of the sufferings to which He was exposed by temptation. Where is there another in human history whose temptation was so severe as to wring blood-drops from the agonising body? Never say that Jesus’s temptations were no thing to yours, because He was innocent when you are impure, unless you have passed through such an agony and bloody sweat as fell to His lot in Gethsemane. But here as elsewhere suffering perfected the Man. He learnt how Divine power--the power of the Eternal Spirit--can master and triumph over the strongest claims of nature; and thus through suffering He rose to the very culminating-point of true self-mastery, and was able to lay Himself upon the altar a whole burnt sacrifice. Yes, the self-control of Jesus Christ differs from all other instances of it in these particulars: First, He seems to have been able to take the measure of His sufferings before they occurred--an experience which is happily impossible to us; and, second, all the while that He was enduring them He knew perfectly well that He had only to express a wish and His sufferings would have been at an end. Thus His obedience was made perfect, and with His obedience His h man character. The means produced the end with Him that it might produce the self-same end with us; and from the moment of His perfection by suffering He consecrated suffering as a minister of the Divine purpose, so that His followers might no longer shrink from it and tremble at it, but rather glory in it as a conquered foe that has become our friend. (W. H. M. H. Aitken, M. A.)

Perfect through suffering

I. JESUS WAS MADE PERFECT THROUGH SUFFERING.

1. Not

2. But in His Saviourhood.

II. THE FOLLOWER OF JESUS IS MADE PERFECT THROUGH SUFFERING.

1. It deepens his humility.

2. It increases his power of endurance.

3. It stimulates his sympathy toward those who suffer.

4. It awakens within his stronger yearnings after a better world. (J. K. Jackson.)

Christ’s perfecting by suffering

I. THE GREAT SWEEP OF THE DIVINE ACTION IN THE GIFT OF CHRIST AS IT IS SET FORTH HERE. It is “bringing many sons unto glory,” wherein there lies, of course, a metaphor of a great filial procession, being led on through all changes of this lower life, steadily upwards into the possession of what is here called “glory.” The same metaphor colours the other expression of our text, “the Captain of our salvation.” This great procession of sons up into glory, which is the object and aim of God’s work, is all under the leadership of Him who is she Captain, the foremost, the Originator, and, in a profound sense, the Cause of their salvation. So, then, we have before us the thought that God brings, and yet Chris, leads, and God’s bringing is effected through Christ’s leadership. Look at the extent of the Divine act. “Many” is used not in contrast to “all,” as if there was proclaimed here a restricted application of Christ’s work in the Divine idea; but “many” is in opposition to “few,” or, perhaps in opposition to the One. There is One Leader, and there is an indefinite number of followers. Then, note, the relationship which the members of that great company possess. The many are being brought as “sons”; under the leadership of the one Son. Then note further, the end of the march. This great company stretching numberless away beyond the range of vision, and, all exalted into the dignity of sons, is steadfastly pressing onwards to the aim of fulfilling that Divine ideal of humanity, long since spoken in the psalm which, in its exuberant promises, sounds like irony than hope. “Thou crownest Him with glory and honour.” They are not only steadily marching onwards to the realisation of that Divine ideal, but also to the participation of the glory of the Captain who is the brightness of the Father’s glory,” as well as “the express image of His person.” So again, the underlying thought is the identity, as in fate here, so in destiny hereafter, of the army with its Leader. He is the Son, and the Divine purpose is to make the “ many” partakers of His Sonship. He is the realisation of the Divine ideal. We see not yet all things put under man, but we see Jesus, and so we know that the ancient hope is not the baseless fabric of a vision, nor a dream which will pass when we awake to the realities, but is to be fulfilled in every one, down to the humblest private in that great army, all of whom shall partake in their measure and degree, in the glory of the Lord. This, then, being the purpose--the leading up out of the world into the glory, of a great company ofsons who are conformed to the image of the Son--we attain the point from which we may judge of the adaptation of the means to the end. The Cross is surplusage if Christ be a prophet only; it is surplusage and an incongruity if Christ be simply the foremost of the pure natures that have walked the earth, and shown the beauty of goodness. But if Christ have come to make men sons of God, by participation of His Sonship, and to blanch and irradiate their blackness by the reflection and impartation of His own flashing glory, then it “ became Him, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.”

II. THE PARADOX OF THE METHOD ADOPTED TO CARRYOUT THIS DIVINE PURPOSE. The leader must have no exemption from the hardships of the company. If He is to be a leader, He and we must go by the same road. He must tramp along all the weary path that we have to tread. He must experience all the conflicts and difficulties that we have to experience. He cannot lift us up into a share of His glory unless He stoops to the companionship of our grief. Again, we learn the necessity of His suffering in order to His sympathy. Before Be suffers, He has the pity of a God; after He suffers, He has learnt the compassion of a man. Then we learn, further, the necessity of the Captain’s suffering in order to emancipate us from the dominion of the evil that He bears. No Christ is enough for me a sinner except a Christ whose Cross takes away the burden and the penalty of my transgression. And thus “it became Him to make the Captain of salvation perfect through suffering,” else the design of making men His sons and sharers of His glory could never come to pass.

III. THE HARMONY BETWEEN THE LOFTIEST CONCEPTION OF THE DIVINE CHARACTER AND NATURE AND THESE SUFFERINGS OF JESUS, The writer dwells upon two aspects of God’s relation to the universe. “It became Him for whom are all things, and by or through whom are all things.” That is to say, the sufferings and death of the Christ, in whom is God manifest in the flesh, are worthy of that lofty nature to the praise and glory of which all things contribute. The Cross is the highest manifestation of the Divine nature. Another aspect, closely connected with this, lies in that other clause. Christ’s sufferings and death are congruous with that Almighty power by which the universe has sprung into being and is sustained. His creative agency is not the highest exhibition of His power. Creation is effected by a word. The bare utterance of the Divine will is all that is needed to make the heavens and the earth, and to “preserve the stars from wrong.” The work needs the humiliation, the suffering, the death, resurrection, ascension, and session at the right hand of God, of the Captain of our salvation and the Prince of our life. So, though by Him are all things, if we would know the full sweep and omnipotence of His power, He points us away from creation, and its ineffectual fires that pale before this brighter Light in which His whole self is embodied, and says, “There, that is the arm of the Lord made bare in the sight of all the nations.” Omnipotence has made the world, the Cross has redeemed it. (A. Maclaren, D. D.)

Perfect through sufferings

1. The first qualification for such a commander is that he be one we can wholly trust. In order to this he must not only have knowledge but experience. To win our faith our Captain had to fight our battle.

2. But more than this: He has to change our whole characters: to wean us from all evil and win us to all good, to change our hearts so that we should seek to be holy. He could not do so without suffering. I have known a mother, tender and pure, with a son once her joy but now her heartbreak, a prodigal, wilful, scornful, and seemingly to all good reprobate. On a certain night she knew he was in an evil place and company. She went forth with the biting sleet and snow drifting upon her. With prayer she closed her ears to foul and ribald speech, with prayer she closed her eyes to shameless sights, with prayer through insult and blasphemy and blows she made her way and stood before her son, torn and bleeding, to plead with his better heart, if any better heart remained in him. A sorrowful and yet a noble sight! As he looked on her, bitter, remorseful thoughts and tender memories of good filled his heart. Never had he seen his sins as he saw them now written on her crushed, broken heart, and it touched and startled him into a new feeling of glory and virtue. That mother’s love became her, and her sorrow perfected her for the work of redeeming her son from the evil of his ways. Even so the Lord Jesus yearned to save His lost ones, and came forth in His purity into the haunts of our sin and degradation, and walked among us, despised and rejected and blasphemed and crucified. If the human heart is not fretted out, if there is truth or truth left in us, the thought of that sorrowful love should fill us with contrition and touch us with a feeling of Divine things again. He was perfected by suffering to make this last appeal to us. If there is anything that will reach and touch and change and melt our hearts, it is the sight of that sorrowing love, wounded for our iniquities, and bruised for our transgressions. (W. C. Smith, D. D.)

Perfect through sufferings

How was it that the discipline of suffering improved the unimprovable Saviour? Not in the way of pruning off tendencies to anything bad: for in Him there never were any. There was no self-conceit there to be purged out: no arrogance to be taken down: no hardness to be softened by experience of pain. No higher degree was possible, in the scale of moral excellence--of purity, kindness, unselfishness, truthfulness. But round this central core of unimprovable perfection, there might gather special qualifications fitting for the fulfilment of His great atoning work, such as not even He could have without passing through that baptism of suffering which was implied by His life and death. Christ was “made perfect through sufferings,” in the sense that He was made more completely equipped and prepared for the work He came to do, by the sufferings He underwent.

I. By His sufferings, HE ATONED FOR SIN, AND TOOK IT AWAY.

II. Another respect in which Christ became through sufferings the Saviour we know Him for--Is IN THE MATTER OF HIS BEING AN EXAMPLE FOR US IN OUR DAYS OF SORROW.

III. Then, again, sufferings perfected our blessed Saviour and made Him what we know Him for, In THE MATTER OF SYMPATHY WITH US. “He has felt the same “: how that brings the Divine Redeemer close to us; as nothing else could!

IV. Now, does the text mean more? Is there an uncomfortable feeling in any mind, that in all this we have been evading a plain statement of God’s Word, because it seems as though it would not fit in with our theology? Does any one think that if we really read the text honestly, IT WOULD CONVEY THAT SUFFERING IMPROVED CHRIST MORALLY, made Him better, just in the same sense in which suffering improves us, and makes us better? The idea is startling. Yet good men and wise men have held it and delighted in it. One such (Archer Butler), a firm believer in our Lord’s Divinity, has maintained that all those long nights of prayer, all that endurance of contradiction, the agony in the Garden, the final struggle on the Cross, had power(I quote his words) “to raise and refine the human element of His Being beyond the simple purity of its original innocence; so that, though ever and equally without sin, the dying Christ was something more consummate still than the Christ baptized in Jordan.” I confess at once, I cannot venture to say so. The Best could never grow better. One cannot bear to exalt even the dying Redeemer by saying what seems to cast a slight on Him who preached the Sermon on the Mount. And yell it as you may in more skilful phrases, it comes to that, when you speak of sorrow as working “a refining and exalting change” upon Christ! Yet perhaps without irreverence it may be said that the human in Him must have learnt, daily, intellectually: and (so joined are they together) in some sense, thus learning, have morally grown. And true it is, doubtless, that “Virtue tried and triumphant ranks above untried innocence.” (A. K. H. Boyd, D. D.)

Christ made perfect through suffering

I. A DESCRIPTION OF THE DIVINE MAJESTY.

1. His absolute superiority and authority.

2. His infinite power and skill. By Him the world was planned, constructed, and is sustained.

II. THE BLESSED WORK WHICH THE DIVINE BEING HAS UNDERTAKEN TO PERFORM.

1. The object: “glory.”

2. The means: “being made sons.”

3. The number: “many.”

III. THE METHOD BY WHICH THE DIVINE BEING WILL ACCOMPLISH THIS WORK.

1. “He has appointed Jesus “the Captain of their salvation.”

2. For this work Christ was prepared. “Perfect through suffering.”

IV. THE APPROPRIATENESS OF BOTH THE WORK AND THE METHOD UNDERTAKEN BY THE DIVINE BEING.

1. It became His truth and faithfulness.

2. It became His holiness and justice.

3. It became His wisdom. (J. Burns, D. D.)

The ministry of suffering

There are few things less understood, or more misrepresented, than human suffering. In too many cases it is regarded as the penal scourge, rather than as the kindly rod that chastens and corrects. Let us inquire

I. HOW THE MINISTRY OF SUFFERING CONTRIBUTED TO THE PERFECTION OF CHRIST. The Scriptures teach us that in Christ there was no moral or spiritual deficiency. How then could a Being so holy be made “ perfect through sufferings “?

1. The perfection of sacrifice. The work of human redemption required not only a sinless, but a suffering agent. The victim must not only be unspotted, but laid on the altar and subjected to the fire of suffering, in order to become a valid offering.

2. The perfection of moral development. The perfection of Christ’s character in later life must have been of a higher description than that of His younger days: the one was the perfection of innocence, the other the perfection of a tested and experienced virtue. His character was always like a piece of pure, unalloyed gold, but it shone with a brighter lustre at the last, because it had been submitted to the friction of pain and sorrow.

3. The perfection of sympathy. One thing necessary to the exercise of true sympathy is the power to forget self. Selfishness must sink before sympathy can rise. Another thing necessary is the personal knowledge of sorrow.

II. THE MINISTRY OF SUFFERING, AS IT CONTRIBUTES TO THE PERFECTION OF BELIEVERS.

1. Suffering to be a blessing, must be rightly borne. In the temper in which we submit to it depends whether it is to be the angel that sweetens or the demon that sours us.

2. There is much unreality often about the best of men. In speech and action we are not always true. There is often a smattering of half-unconscious, half-wilful misrepresentation about our conduct. We sometimes deceive ourselves, and sometimes half-unwittingly try to deceive our God. The ministry of suffering strips us of all this. (The Lay Preacher.)

Fulfilling the pleasure of the Lord

I. A WORK INTENDED.

1. A relationship was to be established: “sons.”

2. A leadership is undertaken: “bringing.”

3. A goal is assigned: “glory.” God’s revelations to His people will be in everlasting crescendo.

II. A METHOD ADOPTED.

1. It was the Divine appointment that those led to “glory “ should have a captain or prince over them.

2. This great Forerunner was perfected as a Captain of salvation through suffering.

III. THE REASON ASSIGNED. “For it became Him,” &c.

i.e., it was suitable for Him, becoming to Him.

1. This plan accords with the yearnings of Infinite Love.

2. This plan accords with God’s righteousness. For thereby He has condemned sin that He might conquer it.

3. God magnifies His wisdom. The Leader adequate to all emergencies.

4. This plan will disclose God’s faithfulness.

5. And manifest His power. (C. Clemance, D. D.)

Perfect through suffering

“Unaccountable this!” said the Wax, as from the flame it dropped melting upon the Paper beneath. “Do not grieve,” said the Paper; “I am sure it is all right.” “I was never in such agony! “ exclaimed the Wax, still dropping. “It is not without a good design, and will end well,” replied the Paper. The Wax was unable to reply at once, owing to a strong pressure; and when it again looked up it bore a beautiful impression, the counterpart of the seal which had been applied to it. “Ah! I comprehend now,” said the Wax, no longer in suffering. “I was softened in order to receive this lovely durable impress. Yes; I see now it was all right, because it has given to me the beautiful likeness which I could not otherwise have obtained.”

Adversity a discipline

James Douglas, son of the banished Earl of Angus, afterwards well known by the title of Earl of Morton, lurked during the exile of his family in the north of Scotland, under the assumed name of James Innes, otherwise “ James the Grieve” (i.e., Reve or Bailiff)
. “And as he bore the name,” says Godscroft, “so did he also execute the office of a grieve or overseer of the lands and rents, the corn and cattle, of him with whom he lived.” From the habits of frugality and observation which he acquired in his humble situation, the historian traces that intimate acquaintance with popular character which enabled him to rise so high in the State, and that honourable economy by which he repaired and established the shattered estates of Angus and Morton
. (Sir Walter Scott.)

Perfect through suffering

The people of Verona, when they saw Dante in the streets, used to say, “See, there is the man that was in hell! “ Ah, yes, he had been in hell;--in hell enough, in long severe sorrow and struggle; as the like of him is pretty sure to have been. Commedias that come out divine, are not accomplished otherwise. Thought, true labour of any kind, highest virtue itself, is it not the daughter of Pain ? Born as out of the black whirlwind;-true effort, in fact, as of a captive struggling to free himself: that is Thought. In all ways we are “to become perfect through suffering.” (T. Carlyle.)


Verses 11-13

Hebrews 2:11-13

He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one.

The unity of Christ and His people

1. A description of the work which Christ has come to accomplish for His people. He is described as “He that sanctifieth,” and His people as “they who are sanctified.” Jesus sanctifies both Himself and His people with His own blood, expiating and purging away their sins, and fitting them, and Himself as their Surety, for coming with acceptance into the presence of the holy God. This is the great end of the Saviour’s mighty undertaking, to bring His people near to God. To a creature with a moral nature like man, distance from God is misery--it is death. Thus He is in our text most comprehensively, as well as appropriately, described as “He that sanctifieth.” We say, most comprehensively; for this is the sum of all that He accomplishes as the Saviour of His people--most appropriately, for the word as here used carries us back to the shedding of blood needful for sanctification under the law, and suggests the necessity of the fact which the apostle is expounding, that Jesus, in sanctifying Himself and His people, should in common with them both suffer and die.

2. The declaration of the reason why the Son of God, in sanctifying His people, must Himself of necessity be a sufferer. The ordinance of consecration for the priesthood under the law suggests this necessity; yet the question remains, whence the necessity of the shedding of blood? Our text answers this question--“He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one.” Here is the essence of the Divine scheme for sinners’ redemption.

I. WHATSOEVER IS THEIRS IS MADE HIS.

1. Their sin. One man may spontaneously make himself liable for his neighbour’s debt but a husband is necessarily liable for the debts of his wife, because they are “all of one.” This is only a shadow of Christ’s hability for the sin of His people. Like the husband, Christ may be regarded as having spontaneously assumed the relation of unity with His spouse, but having become one flesh with her, He is, voluntarily indeed, yet necessarily, liable for her debts.

2. Jesus having thus become chargeable with the guilt of His people’s sin, became subject to its penal effects. With their sin their suffering also is made His.

3. With their sin their death also is made His. Death was from the beginning the appointed penalty of sin.

II. WHAT IS CHRIST’S IS TRANSFERRED TO HIS PEOPLE.

1. His righteousness is made theirs (2 Corinthians 5:21). Thus the holy God can look with complacency on “the ungodly” believing in Jesus. Not that He esteems less hateful their sin. Not that He esteems less honourable His own law, but He accepts them “in the beloved,” and He is “the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.”

2. His death is made theirs. He had obeyed as His people’s surety and head. In the same capacity He died. Thus, when He died on the Cross, His people died in Him. “If one died for all, then were all dead,” or “then have all died.” This is the glorious security of His people, that having died in their surety, their salvation, in the most important some of the word, is already accomplished.

3. Christ’s resurrection, as well as His death, is made theirs. In the person of their Head they have already risen and taken possession of their inheritance. (Alex. Anderson.)

Sanctification

I. SANCTIFICATION CONSISTS OF TWO ACTIONS.

1. Separation.

2. Renovation.

II. SANCTIFICATION IS CARRIED ON BY TWO AGENTS.

1. “He that sanctifieth.” The Holy Spirit works in man to will and to do.

2. “They who are sanctified.” There must be acquiescence on our part. The Spirit influences: we act. He teaches: we believe. (Homilist.)

Man’s Redeemer--His humanity, function, and fraternalness

I. THE HUMANITY OF CHRIST. “All of one”--one nature. His humanity serves to

1. Enlist our sympathies.

2. Encourage our hopes.

II. THE FUNCTION OF CHRIST. TO make man holy. “He that sanctifieth.” This work of His

1. He has undertaken in sovereign love.

2. Is indispensable to our well-being.

III. THE FRATERNALNESS OF CHRIST. “Not ashamed to call us brethren.” Then

1. Let us not be afraid to approach Him.

2. Let us not be ashamed of His followers, however humble. (Homilist.)

Christ and His brethren

This word “for” noteth a cause of that which was said before; and he had said this. He that leadeth other into the glory of God by the same way he must enter also himself. He addeth now the cause and ground of that saying, because they must be of one nature, both He that leadeth and they that are led into this salvation. A proof and declaration that it is so is added by the apostle in the residue of the verse, “And for this cause He is not ashamed to call us brethren”: whereunto is straight addled the testimony of Psalms 22:1-31., out of which he proveth it, “I will show forth Thy name unto My brethren: in the midst of the congregation I will praise Thee.” Now where it is said here, “He that sanctifieth and they that are sanctified are all of one,” we have to consider that even in the manhood of our Saviour Christ is virtue and grace, in which He doth sanctify us. For not only as He is God He sanctifieth us, but also in His human nature He hath this virtue and power to make us holy; not taking His nature such from the Virgin Mary, but making it such by pouring into it the fulness of His Spirit. The holiness which the apostles had in their calling they had it from Jesus Christ, made man, and walking in that vacation before them. Even so it is with us. All that is good in us, and all the righteousness that can be in us, we have it neither out of the east, nor west, but from the body of Jesus Christ, neither is there in the world any other sanctification. Even as our hands and arms and other members are not nourished but only by the meat received of the head, so our spiritual meat of righteousness and life is not given us but from our Head, Jesus Christ. And as the veins are moans by which nourishment is conveyed to every part, so faith is the means by which we receive from Christ all that is healthful unto us. And as by joints and sinews our members are really knit and made a body unto the head, so really, by one Spirit we be knit unto Christ as perfectly one with Him as our members are one with our head. And where it is said here, He that doth sanctify, showing the present time and the work still doing, it teacheth us that our sanctification hath a daily increase, and when it is fully accomplished, then God calleth and our days are at an end. And let us note this well, if we be Christians we are still sanctified by the Spirit of Christ, for so it was in Him. He grew still in grace before God and men. If thou be grafted into His body thou hast His Spirit, and it will have His work in thee. Thou shalt not be weary of well-doing, nor cease to rejoice in God thy Saviour, but still increase in spiritual grace till thou come to the age of the fulness of Christ. It followeth, “For this cause He is not ashamed to call us brethren.” Upon good cause the apostle saith, “He is not ashamed,” for if He humbled not Himself in great love of us, how justly might He account it shame to be as we are? He that made heaven and earth, He that is the immortal and glorious God, one with His Father, before whom all angels do obey and all princes ate earth and ashes; ought we not to say, seeing it pleaseth Him to acknowledge us, that are but poor ,creatures, that He is not ashamed of us? And if His highness abased itself to our low estate, and was not ashamed, let us learn to be wise and know what the Lord requireth of us for all the good which He hath done unto us. He saith in the gospel, “He that is ashamed of Me and My words before men, I will be ashamed of him before My Father which is in heaven. Pride, or flattery, or covetousness, or vanity, or fear, or what you will, may make us now ashamed to confess him, or to dissemble that ever we know Him; but when all this corruption is taken from us, and the grave and death shall take their own, our former foolishness will make us so afraid that we will pray unto the hills to hide us, but vows and wishes shall be but foolish thoughts. It followeth, “I will declare Thy name unto My brethren.” We are called the brethren of Christ, not in society of flesh and blood, for that the wicked have with Him as well as we, who are yet no brethren, but strangers even from the womb. But as they are natural brethren, which are born of the same parents, so we are brethren with Christ, that are burn of God, through the same Spirit, by which we cry, “Abba, Father,” the fruit whereof is in glorifying His name, even as our Saviour Christ saith, “He that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven, he is My brother” (Matthew 12:48). And when it is further said, “In the midst of the congregation I will praise Thee.” First, here we must needs confess what duty is among men, even that they edify one another; for as many as are of Christ are called in this covenant: “ I will declare Thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the congregation I will praise Thee.” The graces of God are not such that they can be looked up in our hearts or kept secret, but they will burn within like fire, and make us speak with our tongues, that we may make, many brethren partakers of our joy. And tell me, I beseech you, what man excelleth in anything, and hath not a delight to speak of his cunning? Doth not the shipman talk of the winds, the ploughman of his oxen? Will not the soldier be reckoning up his wounds, and the shepherd telling of his sheep? So it is with us if we be the brethren of Christ. The covenant of our kindred is, “I will declare Thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the congregation I will praise Thee.” Let them know this, all to whom it is spoken, and let them discern between hypocrites and true Christians. Some think it a praise to be close men, secret to themselves, that by their words you shall never know them, of what religion they be. Those men, where they think they hide themselves most, there they lay widest open their shame, and while they think to keep it secret of what religion they are, this their dissimulation proclaimeth it louder than the blast of a trumpet that they be of no religion at all; at all, I say, touching any religion of God; for if it were of Him it would show forth His praise, and what their heart believed their mouth would confess it. We are ashamed to exhort men to do well; we are not ashamed to provoke them to sin. We are ashamed to minister talk of faith and religion; we are not ashamed of rotten and unclean works of wantonness. We are ashamed to speak to the praise of God; we are not ashamed to blaspheme His name. We are ashamed of Christ; we are not ashamed of the devil. The prophet David was a good scholar in this doctrine. When he opened his mouth unto God and vowed, “I will speak of Thy name before kings, and will not be ashamed” (Psalms 145:21; Psalms 119:46). Pray, dearly beloved, that we may be partakers of the same grace. It followeth now in the 13th verse, “And again, I will put my trust in Him.” This psalm the prophet made when he was delivered from the layings of wait of Saul and from all his enemies; wherein, as he was a figure of Christ, so it is most properly and truly verified in Christ that he said of himself. Now, because the apostle allegeth this to prove our Saviour Christ to be man like unto us, mark how the argument followeth. Christ saith, “I will put My trust in God”; but it were a very improper speech, and such as the Scripture never useth to say, God will trust in God. Therefore there must be a nature in our Saviour Christ inferior to His Godhead, in which he speaketh thus: “I will trust in Him,” and that was His perfect humanity like unto ours, in which we saw Him subject to peril, and how, according to His trust, God His Father delivered Him. And here the apostle allegeth such Scripture for proof of the manhood of Christ, as also proveth that He is our King; for where he saith, “I will trust in Him,” it noteth that Christ was not weak in faith, but assuredly trusted in the power of God His Father, that He should overcome the devil. And let us here learn for our instruction when we have had experience of God’s benefits, as the prophet had, let us vow as he did--we will pat our trust in Him. When David remembered how God had delivered him from a lion and a bear, he was not afraid of the uncircumcised Philistine. When St. Paul had reckoned so many calamities out of which God had delivered him, he boasted of a holy hope, and said he was sure that ever God would deliver him. Another testimony yet followeth to prove the humanity of our Saviour Christ, and it is this: “Behold Me, and the children which Thou hast given Me.” This is written in the eighth of Isaiah, in which chapter the prophet foretelleth the captivity of the Israelites by the king of Ashur, how it is determined of God that the people, for all their rebellions, should surely perish; but yet so that God, for His Church’s sake, would bridle their rage, and save some who might praise His name. These threatenings and promises both, while the people contemptuously reject, the Lord biddeth the prophet cease, and bind up these promises for another people that should believe; and then the prophet answering again to God, in acknowledging all His truth and goodness, saith thus: “Behold, I and the children that God hath given me.” Now, here we must learn as the apostle teacheth. Was the prophet Isaiah a man like unto his children, that is, like unto those which obeyed his word? Then was our Saviour Christ perfect man, like unto us, whom He hath delivered from sin and death. And if He have saved us He hath saved those whom God hath given Him, flesh of His flesh, and bone of His bone; for this is His intercession unto His Father, “Behold Me and My children” One other thing we must learn in this. There was an apostasy of all men, so that they which believed were made as signs and wonders; yet howsoever the world was the prophet saith, “Behold me and my children.” Such shall be the days of Christ, many shall fall away, religion and faith shall be persecuted, iniquity shall abound. What, then? Our Saviour Christ saith, “Lo, I and My children.” If the whole world fall away, we would not regard their multitude to follow them to do evil, but we would alone stand with the Lord our God. We must further mark in these words that the prophet saith, “Behold the children which Thou hast given me.” In that it is said, God hath given us to His Son Christ, it teacheth us to acknowledge His free gift and grace; and let none of us think there was any wisdom in ourselves why we would choose Him, nor any constancy in us, by which we could cleave unto Him; but God in His grace drew us, that we might come unto Him, and with His power He strengthened us, that we should abide with Him. (E. Deering, B. D.)

Unity of Sanctifier and sanctified

The assertion that the Sanctifier and the sanctified are all of one may be conceived of as answering two questions naturally arising out of Hebrews 2:10, to which it furnishes no explicit answer. First, Christ is called the Captain or Loader of salvation: how does He contribute to salvation? Is He simply the first of a series who pass through suffering to glory? or does He influence all the sons whom God brings to glory so as to contribute very materially to the great end in view, their reaching the promised land? Second, what is the condition of His influence? what is the nexus between Him and them, the Leader and the led, that enables Him to exert over them this power? The answer to the former question is, Christ saves by sanctifying; the answer to the latter, that He and the sanctified are one. The answer in the first case is given indirectly by the substitution of one title for another, the “Leader of salvation” being replaced by the “Sanctifier”; the answer in the second ease is given directly, and forms the doctrine of the text: the Sanctifier and the sanctified are all of one. This statement I regard as the enunciation of a principle; by which is meant that the unity asserted is involved in the relation of Sanctifier to sanctified. Whether there be only one or many exemplifications of the relation is immaterial. Though only one Sanctifier were in view or possible, the proposition would still continue to be of the nature of a principle. The point is, that Christ, as Sanctifier, must be one with those whom e sanctifies, could not otherwise perform for them that function. The Sanctifier is holy, the sanctified when He takes them in hand are unholy. That being so, it needs to be said that, notwithstanding the separation between the parties, there is a unity between them surmounting the difference. And that can be said with truth, for otherwise the two parties could not stand in the relation of Sanctifier to sanctified; they could only stand permanently apart as holy and unholy. Unity is involved in the nature of the case. That is precisely what the writer means to say. He states the truth as an axiom, which he expects even his dull-minded readers to accept immediately as true; and he means to use it as a key to the cardinal facts of Christ’s human experience. Unity to some extent or in some sense is involved, that is clear. But in what sense, to what extent? This is not plainly indicated. The style at this point becomes noticeably laconic; the sentence lacks a verb, and is worn down to the fewest words possible, after the manner of a proverb, “For the Sanctifier and the sanctified of one all.” Does it not look as if his purpose were to lay stress, not on descent from one God, one Divine Father, bat rather on the result, the brotherhood or comradeship existing between the two parties? Is not his idea that Sanctifier and sanctified are all “of one piece, one whole,” two parties welded into one, having everything in common except character? From whatever point of view, the ritual or the ethical, we regard the Sanctifier’s function, this becomes apparent on reflection. Conceive Christ first as Sanctifier in the ethical sense, as Captain or Leader of salvation; it is evident that in that capacity it behoved Him to be in all possible respects one with those He took in hand to sanctify. For in this case the sanctifying power of Jesus lies in His example, His character, His history as a man. Be makes men beloving in Him holy by reproducing in His own life the lost ideal of human character, and bringing that ideal to bear on their minds; by living a true, godly life amid the same conditions of trial as those by which they are surrounded, and helping them to be faithful by inspiration and sympathy. The more genuinely human He is, and the more closely the conditions of His human life resemble ours, the greater His influence over us. His power to sanctify depends on likeness in nature, position, and experience. Conceive Christ next as Sanctifier in the ritual sense, as a Priest, consecrating us for the service of God by the sacrifice of Himself; and the same need for a pervading, many-sided unity is apparent. The Priest must be one with His clients in God’s sight, their accepted representative; so that what He does is done in their name and avails for their benefit. He must be one with them in death, for it is by His death in sacrifice that He makes propitiation for their sins. He must be one with them in the possession of humanity, for unless He become partaker of human nature He cannot die. Finally, He must be one with them in experience of trial and temptation, for thereby is demonstrated the sympathy which wins trust, and unless the Priest be trusted it is in vain that He transacts. (A. B. Bruce, D. D.)

All men are brethren in Christ

If Christ and we are all of one, much more are we among ourselves. A king and a beggar are of one; a rich man and a poor man are of one; a fair and beautiful man or woman and they that want beauty are of one. We descended all of Adam, and were taken out of the dust of the ground; therefore let us not insult one over another. The wax that hath the print of the king’s seal on it is the same in substance with the wax that hath the point of the seal of a mean man; yet it is honoured in that the king’s seal is set on it. So we are all of one weak and waxy nature, save that it pleaseth God to set a more honourable print upon one than on another. Therefore, let us not think highly of ourselves, and condemn our brethren, but submit to them of low degree, using the greatness that God hath given us, to the glory of the Giver. (W. Jones, D. D.)

Christ not ashamed to call us brethren

1. As Christ is not ashamed to call us brethren, so let us do nothing so near as we can that may shame this our Brother. Is it not a shame that the king’s brother should be a common drunkard, whoremaster, or such like? Doth not the king take himself disgraced by it? And shall we that are brethren to the King of kings take such courses as that great ignominy should redound to Christ by it? As He is not ashamed to call us brethren, so let us do nothing that may pull a shame on Him and His gospel.

2. Can a brother that is a wealthy man, of fair revenues, and ample possessions, see any of his brethren go begging? Will he not rather receive him to his own house, and set him at his table? Christ, which is the Lord of heaven and earth, is our brother; therefore let us fear no want so long as we fear Him. This may be a comfort to us in all our calamities, that Christ and we are brethren. (W. Jones, D. D.)

Christ the Restorer of the Divine ideal of humanity

As some noble ruin can be best restored by one who possesses the original model or some other key to the builder’s design, so the Saviour’s fitness for His office is partly found in the fact that He has in Himself the perfect type of regenerated humanity. The presentation of His life at once shows men what they ought to become, and summons and incites them to its attainment. (W. Landels, D. D.)

Not ashamed to call them brethren

Christ not ashamed to call us brethren

I. CHRIST OUR BROTHER. “In all things it behoved Him to be made like unto His brethren.” Human nature was divided by the ancients into body, soul, and spirit. Take this tripartite nature of man and see how like He is to us in all things.

1. The body. “He was an hungered.” All the pains and anguish of intense hunger were felt by Him--Brother then to all the poor and hungry! He thirsted. On the Cross He said, “I thirst”--Brother then to all who in any way thirst! He knew what the pleasures of life were. He was a guest at feasts--Brother then of these who know the dangers of plenty! He was weary. He was asleep in the boat after His long toil. He sat weary with travel and heat by the well--Brother then to all who are weary! He suffered bodily pain--Brother then of every sufferer! He died--Brother then to each of us in that He died!

2. The soul. He was our Brother in experiencing a shrinking from death in manifesting human benevolence, compassion, and sympathy; in associating with humanity; in displaying love for children; in having private and special friendship for a few; in knowing the anguish of unrequited affection; and in manifesting human self-respect.

3. The spirit. There was that wonderful depression that came upon Him at different times. We have the agony of spirit in Gethsemane and on the

Cross. He felt what it is to seem to be forsaken of God and all we can comprehend by being apprehensive of spiritual gloom, and the fear of being deserted by God. Again, He was tempted, and He had all the faculties and capacities to which temptations are applied and adapted. Once more, He “was made perfect through sufferings.” “For both He that sanctifieth”--Jesus--“and they who are sanctified”--the followers of Jesus--“are all of one.” He was a sharer with us in discipline by the salve Father, and in sanctification by the same Spirit, journeying to the same heavenly glory. Thus “ in all points He was made like unto His brethren.”

II. CHRIST IS NOT ASHAMED OF THE RELATIONSHIP.

Two brothers may be born in the same cottage, fed from the same breast and trencher, trained at the same school, and one of them may rise in social position, but with seeming greatness unite real littleness and be ashamed of his brother who continues a humble cottager. Or one may live a life of sensuality and bring disgrace on the family name, and the other be distinguished for virtue and benevolence, and the virtuous man may be ashamed of his brother. Or, one may have shown kindness continually to his brother and the other have repelled it by constant hostility and ingratitude, so that at last the other may be ashamed of him. Judging after the manner of men might not Christ be ashamed of us? But He is not.

1. Because of His mighty disinterested love. He loved us when we were unlovely and had no love to Him. Human love, when deep and true, is never ashamed of the lowliness of its object. A truly noble nature recognises a friend the more he needs help

2. Because He knows us thoroughly. Nothing is hidden from Him. He knows all our imperfections, and is not ashamed of us.

3. Because He knows what good is in us, for He put it there. He knows that at the bottom of our hearts, in spite of infirmities and shortcomings, we do love Him. Beneath the faded exterior and withered blossom and leaf He sees the living germ that shall bud and blossom and bear fruit. He sees the first homeward step of the prodigal, the first fear, and hears the first stammering prayer. And is this the Jesus that some of you are rejecting? Is this the Christ that some of you are ashamed to own? Surely you do not know who it is you thus treat with neglect. He is man’s best friend, our true Brother. Accept His salvation and rejoice in His love. What an honour it is to have such a Brother! We may be obscure in the world, but we may look up and say,” The King of kings upon the throne of the heavenly Majesty is one who is not ashamed of me; He calls me His brother. How safe we are! What harm can come to us when He who rules the universe is our Brother?” (Newman Hall, LL. B.)

Christians joint-heirs with Christ

Jesus, the elder Brother, gets nothing apart from those whom He is not ashamed to call His brethren. “The law of primogeniture does not appear in the statute-book of heaven.” We, the rightful heirs of wrath, are made heirs in common with Jesus. He will have nothing that He will not share with us. We are even now highly exalted with Him, “far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come”; for we are “the Church, which is His body.” (T. W. Medhust.)

The Brother born for adversity

One main work of the gospel is to give men the right to claim the sympathy, the care, and the help of God. A right. God has brought Himself by His own act within the region of rights and obligations. The relation of Creator and creature is superseded; that of Father and child, Saviour and saved, is substituted in its room. And into these relations new obligations enter, based upon purposes, promises, and hopes which God has announced or inspired. It now becomes Him to do that which, under no conception of His rectoral duty as Creator, could be claimed from Him. God has set forth Christ as the Man with whom He treats; the perfect Man, who explains the manward thoughts and hopes of God. It is the Son of His love who is concerned in the fulfilment of our hope. The Son of His love has interests profounder even than our own in our forgiveness, renewal, and growth to perfection. Realising what we are in Christ, we dare to use great boldness of access, we dare to plead rights and claims, which yet are not ours, save through a love which humbles while it exalts us, and chastens while it inspires.

I. THE RELATION OF A BROTHER. There is a oneness which precludes the idea of separate interests.

II. IT IS PRECISELY THIS RELATIONSHIP WHICH BY HIS INCARNATION AND PASSION THE SAVIOUR CLAIMS. He seeks to give us a relation that we can rest upon; which will draw us by the bands of fraternal sympathy to His strength when we are weak, to His bosom when we are weary and long for rest.

III. It is said in a passage of the Book of Proverbs that “A BROTHER IS BORN FOR ADVERSITIES.” That He might know our souls in adversities surely, the elder Brother of the great human family was born in the human home, tasted all pure human experiences, and made Himself familiar with all forms of human pain. God is born unto us, a Saviour. We are of His kindred, the brethren of His Christ. It is no pity that moves Him to us; it is pure and perfect love. God is pleading His own cause in pleading against our sins; He is striving against His own enemies in striving against our tempters and lusts. (T. B. Brown, B. A.)

Brotherhood with Christ

I. There are three particulars which require to be stated; the first of which is, THAT THEY WHO ARE BRETHREN PARTAKE OF ONE NATURE. Thus then, it is said of Christ. “Forasmuch, then, as the children”--that is, God’s children, the family in heaven and earth--“are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same; that through death”--or through dying--“He might destroy him that had the power of death,” &c. It is also said of Christ, that “ He was made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross.” And further: “What the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh,” &c. Thus, then, we have the fact clearly revealed to us, that Christ laid the foundation of brotherhood by actually assuming the nature of those whom He now condescends to call brethren. The next particular to be mentioned is, that they who are brethren are so by natural birth, or they become so by adoption into a family. Now, no sinful descendant of Adam can, by virtue of his birth in the flesh, become a member of God’s family; it is utterly impossible. Nor can he be adopted into God’s family unless born again--born of water and of the Spirit. He partakes of the spirituality of Christ, as Christ possesses his human flesh. The next particular is, that between those who are brethren in heart, as well as in fact, there is a family likeness and sympathy. Hence believers are enjoined to “let this mind be in them which was also in Christ Jesus”; and are said also to have put on the “new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him who created him.” Thus, also, Christ is revealed to us as One who “can have compassion on us,” and as One “ touched with the feeling of our infirmities.”

II. From these three particulars we may infer that Christ, becoming our Brother, by taking on Him our nature, and linking that nature on to His deity, HAD POWER OVER TREAT NATURE, first, to redeem, and then, by His Spirit, to infuse life--His own spiritual life--into it. Next, that, as the Elder Brother, He had the disposition, as well as the power, to put aside every obstacle in the way of our full and tree adoption into His Father’s family; so that, knowing Him as their Brother, they might exercise the spirit of adoption when received, and at once look up and call God Father. And lastly that, as a sympathising Brother, communicating His likeness to all the members of the household of faith, He must be the great object of our faith and the foundation of all our hopes as members of the family of God. Thus, then, is Christ set before us, under this symbol, in that very aspect which is most attractive; but when we see all His offices proceeding out of this central fact of brotherhood--when we spiritually know that the great Prophet of the Church is our Brother, that the great “High Priest of our profession “ is our Brother, that the King of an unspeakably glorious kingdom is our Brother--when we are assured that the teaching of the Prophet is the teaching of our Brother, that the sacrifice offered by the Priest was the Brother Himself, that the blood which is shed for us was the blood of our Brother, that the grave wherein death became powerless, and from which emerged life and immorality, was the grave of our Brother; oh I what a ground do we then stand on for the realisation and enjoyment of the blessings of salvation, and for looking forward to the coming of the glorious King, who, with all the tenderness of a brother’s faithful love, shall gather together the whole family of heaven in manifested union with Himself. (G. Fisk, LL. B.)

Some reasons why the Word because flesh

“Ashamed to call them brethren.” Why should He be? It is no condescension to acknowledge the fact of brotherhood with humanity, any more than it is humiliation to be born. But there was a Man who emptied, and humbled Himself by being “found in fashion as a man,” and for whom it was infinite condescension to call us His brethren. We can say of a prince that he is not ashamed to call his subjects friends, and to sit down to eat with them; but it would be absurd to say so of one of the subjects in reference to his fellows. The full, lofty truth of Hebrews 1:1-14. underlies that word “ashamed,” which is meaningless unless Jesus was “the effulgence of the Father’s glory, and the very image of His substance.” The writer quotes three Old Testament passages which he regards as prophetic of our Lord’s identifying Himself with humanity. These three cited sayings deal with three different aspects of Christ’s manhood and of the purpose of His incarnation; and they unitedly give, if not a complete, yet a comprehensive answer to the question, Why did God become Man?

I. JESUS IS MAN, THAT HE MAY DECLARE GOD TO MEN. All other sources of knowledge of God fail in certainty. They yield only assertions which may or may not be true. At the best, we are relegated to peradventures and theories if we turn away from Jesus Christ. Men said that there was land away across the Atlantic for centuries before Columbus went and brought back its products. He discovers who proves. Christ has not merely spoken to us beautiful and sacred things about God, as saint, philosopher, or poet might do, but He has shown us God; and henceforward, to those who receive Him, the Unknown Root of all being is not a hypothesis, a great Perhaps, a dread or a hope, as the case may be, but the most certain of all facts, of whom and of whose love we may be surer than we can be of aught besides but our own being.

II. JESUS IS MAN, THAT HE MAY SHOW TO MEN THE LIFE OF DEVOUT TRUST. Perfect manhood is dependent manhood. A reasonable creature who does not live by faith is a monster arrogating the prerogative of God. Christ’s perfect manhood did not release Him from, but bound Him to, the exercise of faith. Nor did His true deity make faith impossible to His manhood. Christ’s perfect manhood perfected His faith, and in some aspects modified it. His trust had no relation to the consciousness of sin, and no element either of repentance or of longing for pardon. But it had relation to the consciousness of need, and was in Him, as in us, the condition of continual derivation of life and power from the Father. Christ’s perfect faith brought forth perfect fruits in His life, issuing, as it did, in obedience which was perfect in purity of motive, in gladness of submission, and in completeness of the resulting deeds as well as in its continuity through His life. Out of His example we may take both shame and encouragement: shame, when we measure our poor, purblind, feeble, and interrupted faith against His; and encouragement when we raise our hopes to the height of the revelation in it of what ours may become.

III. JESUS IS MAN, THAT HE MAY BITING MEN INTO THE FAMILY OF SONS OF GOD.

1. That through Him men may receive a new life which is His own. He can only impart His life on condition of His death. The alabaster box must be broken, though so precious, and though the light of the pure spirit within shone lustrous and softened through it, in order that the house may be filled with the odour of the ointment.

2. That men may, by the communication of His life, become sons of God. They are God’s children, being Christ’s brethren. They are brought into a new unity, and, being members of one family, are one by a sacreder oneness than the possession of a common humanity.

3. That men may become sharers in His prerogatives and offices. He becomes like us in our lowliness and flesh of sin, that we may become like Him in His glory and perfection.

4. That He may present His family at last to God. If we love and trust Him, He will hold us in His strong and tender grasp, and never part from us till He presents us at last, faultless and joyful, before the presence of His and our Father. (A. Maclaren, D. D.)

The graciousness of Christ

In the verses immediately preceding, the writer had set forth the incarnation, suffering, and death of Christ Jesus, as an indispensable condition of the great work of lifting the race of man into the Divine nature. Then he identifies and unites the two parties. Those for whom Christ suffered, for whom he became perfect through suffering, are lifted into His household, and are become one with Him. This idea runs through the whole New Testament. Men are adopted, we are told. They are of God’s household. And that meant more in those days than it now means, by a difference of social arrangements in life. They are sons; they are heirs; they are Christ’s brethren; they are united to Him as the branch to the vine. Now, the absolute inferiority of the human soul and mind to the Divine would lead one, in his meditations, to suppose that God could not well other than be ashamed. Adult companionship does not demand equality. It demands, however, some moral proportion. The Divine nature is illustrated here in this--that the feeling of God toward men, in their inferiority, is apparently feeling without regard to the coming character. God sustains toward the whole human race, we may believe, just the feeling which a true parent sustains toward a new-born child, while it is as yet neither good or bad, but is certainly feeble, weak, infinitely out of proportion to the parent. The feeble, the ignorant, the low--God loves them, and has infinite compassion for them, and is not ashamed of them.

But quite beyond and different from this, are presumptive reasons why God should be ashamed--namely, in moral delinquency. The child, when it knows it has done unworthily, imputes to the parent a sense of shame in its behalf. And every Christian has times of despondency, not only, but of sober conviction that he has dishonoured himself, and that he has brought scandal upon the name of his Master. And in these hours one goes to Christ with the feeling that He must be ashamed too. We are ashamed to pray, and afraid to commune. And yet it is of just such that Christ says He is not ashamed. He is not ashamed to call them brethren, as we shall see. The shame spoken of is not simply a generous feeling. It is to be interpreted by its relation to the idea of personal communion. Christ is not ashamed to call men even brethren. Conceive of the most advanced and noble Christians that ever have lived in this world--of Martyn and Brainerd, as missionary martyrs; of Fenelon and Pascal, as contemplative Christians--and compare these, not with their own kind, but with the character and condition of the just made perfect. Compare the most peerless saint that walks among men with your ideal of the just and the perfect before God. “Hardly,” one would say, “would God be willing to identify Himself with any human being--with even the highest and best.” Yet so it is. He is not ashamed to call them brethren. If you consider, now, how far below these ordinary Christians live; how little there is that enters into the Christian experience; how the Divine life is, as it were, but in the germ; if you reflect how far from that ideal which Christ set before us the ordinary, average Christian experience is, men might well express surprise that Christ should be willing to call such Christians brethren. And yet He points to those that stand in the ordinary lot of life, the ordinary Christian experience, and says, “I am not ashamed to call them brethren.” Far below this level there is a throng who can scarcely be thought to have even a beginning; and yet there is a single spark. There are occasional impulses as if their souls would turn toward God. Bold are they for the world, but timid for righteousness, and hardly daring to say to their fellow-men, “I am a Christian.” Ah! can it be that Christ is not ashamed to call them brethren? He is not. He has been made in the likeness of men, and has entered into the full temptation of men, that He might know to the uttermost, and to the very bottom, what man suffers. The lowest, poorest, meanest of Christian attainments find in Christ Jesus a spirit that is not ashamed. Banish from your minds an oriental monarchy. Banish the conception of such glory as lies in external appearances and external adjuncts. Consider what it is for God to be glorious. It is the glory of pity unfathomable. He considers glory to lie in long-suffering love. It is because He knows how to work for men that are ungrateful, that His heart swells with consciousness of its power. Look, then, upon the work to be done in this world. We can understand, if we consider it in its entirety, that this world is a school; that it is a healing hospital; that it is a training ground; that the Divine problem is, how to take the germ of life and bring it steadily up through all its transmutations, from age to age, until it becomes Divine; and to do it through suffering, through long-suffering, and through patience; to do it by inspiration; to do it by pain and by joy, by sorrow and by gladness, by all means. So to teach the human soul, and lit t upon it time light of Divine glory, that it shall become like God--that is the work to he done in this world. Christ is not ashamed of this work. He is not ashamed of His scholars, neither of those in the lowest, the intermediate, or the highest form. He is not ashamed to call them brethren. Not because there is not much that is repulsive to a pure and high nature; but for His own reasons (Ephesians 5:25-27). Without further unfolding this great, this wonderful truth, I ask whether any one need fear to begin a new Christian life with such a Saviour. If, when his prayers go up, they go into the hands of such an One; if all the invitations to a Christian life are those that come from a Brother’s lips--from the lips of One who is not ashamed of our poorness, our vileness, our dullness, or our remissness--then any man can be a Christian. Need any one be discouraged who has begun to live a Christian life, because so often he has failed and fallen into backsliding? Is a true pupil discouraged because so many of his lessons are imperfect? There is encouragement, since we have One that is not ashamed of us, in spite of our many defections and inferiorities. Why should we not, therefore, gird up our loins, and take a fresh hold, with new consecration, on the Christian life? Will not every day’s experience give reason and argument for gratitude to such a Lord as this? I think I have learned more of the nature of my Master from my bad than from my good. We learn both ways. But it is the sense of God’s graciousness that impresses me. (H. W. Beecher.)

In the midst of the Church win I sing praise

Christ singing

We have the record of Christ’s use of some words of this psalm on the Cross; the author of this Epistle affirms that these words were also adapted by the Saviour. They illustrate

I. CHRIST’S ENGAGEMENT IN GOD’S SERVICE. In all ages, Christ is serving God in the midst of the Church, by His precepts, example, spirit.

II. CHRIST’S SOCIAL ENGAGEMENT IN GOD’S SERVICE. In fellowship with the whole assembly of the good, whom He is not ashamed to call brethren, Christ serves God. But if their brother, He is their Leader in this praise.

III. CHRIST’S VOLUNTARY ENGAGEMENT IN GOD’S SERVICE. Singing is no slavish act; real singing is not even perfunctory; probably, ideal song is spontaneous. Such is Christ’s service.

IV. CHRIST’S JOYOUS ENGAGEMENT IN GOD’S SERVICE. AS soon as ever we can sing of our sadness, even the sadness is sweetened, and song is the very symbol of joy. Lessons:

1. The highest engagement of our life is serving God.

2. The true method of serving God is socially, willingly, joyfully. (U. R. Thomas.)

The children which God hath given Me

Children to be brought to heaven

There was a mother lay dying some time ago, and she requested her children to be brought to her bedside. The eldest one came in first, and putting her loving bands on his head, she gave him a mother’s parting message. Then came another, and then another. To all of them she gave her parting message, until the last--the seventh one, an inlay,--was brought in. She was so young she could not understand the message of love; so the weather gave it to her husband for her; and then she took the child to her bosom, and kissed it, and caressed it, until her time was almost up. Then, turning to her husband, she said: “I charge you to bring all these children home to heaven with you.” (D. L. Moody.)

Children a life.work

I was in the company of a talented Christian lady, when a friend said to her, “Why have you never written a book?” “I am writing two,” was the quiet reply. “Have been engaged on one for ten years, the other five.” “You surprise me,” cried the friend; “what profound works they must be!” “It doth not appear yet what we shall be,” was her reply; “ but when He makes up His jewels, my great ambition is to find them there.” “Your children?” I said. “Yes, my two children; they are my life work.” (Christian Age.)


Verse 14

Hebrews 2:14

Himself likewise took part of the same

The mystery of godliness

Our Saviour’s birth in the flesh is an earnest, and, as it were, beginning of our birth in the Spirit.
It is a figure, promise, or pledge of our new birth, and it effects what it promises. As He was born, so are we born also; and since He was born, therefore we too are born. As He is the Son of God by nature, so are we sons of God by grace; and it is He who has made us such.

1. This is the wonderful economy of grace, or mystery of godliness, which should be before our minds at all times, but especially at this season, when the Most Holy took upon Him our flesh of “a pure Virgin,”” by the operation of the Holy Ghost, without spot of sin, to make us clean from all sin.” He it was who created the worlds; He it was who interposed of old time in the affairs of the world, and showed Himself to be a living and observant God, whether men thought of him or not. Yet this great God condescended to come down on earth from His heavenly throne, and to be born into His own world; showing Himself as the Son of God in a new and second sense, in a created nature, as well as in His eternal substance.

2. And next, observe, that since He was the All-holy Son of God, though He condescended to be born into the world, He necessarily came into it in a way suitable to the All-holy, and different from that of other men. He took our nature upon Him, but not our sin; taking our nature in a way above nature. It was ordained, indeed, that the Eternal Word should come into the world by the ministration of a woman; but born in the way of the flesh He could not be. How could He have atoned for our sins, who Himself had guilt? or cleansed our hearts, who was impure Himself? or raised up our heads, who was Himself the son of shame? Priests among men are they who have to offer “first for their own sins, and then for the people’s”; but He, coming as the immaculate Lamb of God, and the all-prevailing Priest, could not come in the way which those fond persons anticipated. He came by a new and living way, by which He alone has come, and which alone became Him. Because He was “incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary,” therefore He was “Jesus,” a “Saviour from sin.” Because God the Holy Ghost wrought miraculously, therefore was her Son a “Holy Thing,” “the Son of God,” and “Jesus,” and the heir of an everlasting kingdom.

3. This is the great mystery which we are now celebrating, of which mercy is the beginning, and sanctity the end: according to the Psalm, “Righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” He who is all purity came to an impure race to raise them to His purity. He, the brightness of God’s glory, came in a body of flesh, which was pure and holy as Himself,

“without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, but holy and without blemish”; and this He did for our sake, “that we might be partakers of His holiness.” He who “hath made of one blood all nations of men,” so tat in the sin of one all sinned, and in the death of one all died, He came in that very nature of Adam, in order to communicate to us that nature as it is in His person, that “our sinful bodies might be made clean by His body, and our souls washed through His most precious blood”; to make us partakers of the Divine nature; to sow the seed of eternal life in our hearts; and to raise us from “the corruption that is in the world through lust,” to that immaculate purity and that fulness of grace which is in Him.

4. And when He came into the world, He was a pattern of sanctity in the circumstances of His life, as well as in His birth. He did not implicate and contaminate Himself with sinners. He came into the world, and He speedily left the world; as if to teach us how little He Himself, how little we His followers, have to do with the world. And while He was here, since He could not acquiesce or pleasure Himself in the earth, so He would none of its vaunted goods. He would not accept lodging or entertainment, acknowledgment, or blandishment, from the kingdom of darkness. He would not be made a king; He would not be called Good Master; He would not accept where He might lay His head. His life lay not in man’s breath, or man’s smile; it was hid in Him from whom He came and to whom He returned. Now all this is quite independent of the special objects of mercy which brought Him upon earth. Though He had still submitted Himself by an incomprehensible condescension to the death on the Cross at length, yet why did He from the first so spurn this world, when tie was not atoning for its sins? He might at least have had the blessedness of brethren who believed in Him; He might have been happy and revered at home; He might have had the honour in His own country; He might have submitted but at last to what He chose from the first; He might have delayed His voluntary sufferings till that hour when His Father’s and His own will made Him the sacrifice for sin. But He did otherwise; and thus He becomes a lesson to us who are His disciples. He, who was so separate from the world, so present with the Father even in the days of His flesh, calls upon us, His brethren, as we are in Him and He in the Father, to show that we really are what we have been made, by renouncing the world while in the world, and living as in the presence of God. (J. H. Newman, D. D.)

The moral significance of Christ’s humanity

I. THE HUMANITY OF CHRIST WAS SELF-ASSUMED.

1. His antecedent existence.

2. His power over existence.

3. His interest in human existence.

II. IT WAS SELF-ASSUMED IN ORDER TO DIE.

1. This fact is as wonderful as the former.

2. This fact can only be justified by the former.

III. HE DIED IN ORDER TO DESTROY THE TERROR OF DEATH IN HUMANITY.

1. The terror of death is an idea.

2. Christ’s death is suited to remove all painful ideas.

God translated

He “took”--he did not inherit, or receive--a body. It is not the language that describes the ordinary birth of a common man. How strange it would sound if we were to speak of our children as if they had a thought or volition respecting their nature, and as if they were pleased to take on them such and such a body, when they were born! It describes voluntary action. It was an act contemplated beforehand. It implies not only pre-existence, but power, dignity, and condescension. But the language clearly indicates a choice of one raised higher than all merely created beings. “He took not on Him the nature of angels, but He took on Him the seed of Abraham.” That is, He is more than man. He is more than angel. He refused, when turning in His mind the course He should pursue, to take on Him the nature of angels, but concluded, for a good and sufficient reason, to assume even a lower place, and become a man. Is He less than God, that is more than man and more than angel? Did He create, and does He sustain, the world in which we dwell? The first chapter of John’s Gospel unequivocally declares that fact. It is also unequivocally declared in the Hebrews. The practical result, then, of this exposition is this: Christ is presented to us as the comprehensible form of God. He is God translated. They that worship God as a mere spirit worship under the most difficult circumstances in which it is possible for the human mind to worship. It is the Scriptural remedy to worship the Father through Christ. And they that worship Christ as very God are enabled to worship under circumstances which make it very easy. For Christ is God present to us in such a way that our senses, our reason, and our affections, are able to take a personal hold upon Him. It is just the difference between a God afar off and a God near at hand; between a God that the heart can reach, and by its common sympathies understand and interpret, and a God which only the bead and imagination can at all reach or descry--and even these only as astronomers’ glasses descry nebulous worlds at so vast a distance that the highest powers cannot resolve them, or make them less than mere luminous mist. Why, then, did Christ come into the world, and take the form of man? Because men were His children, because He loved them, and because the way to take hold of them was to bring Himself down into their condition, so that they should be able to see Him and feel Him, and that by the power of sympathy God might have access to every human soul. That is the reason of the incarnation of Christ. He did the same as we do, in faint analogies. A Moravian missionary once went to the West Indies to preach to the slaves, lie found it in possible for him to carry out his design so long as he bore to them the relation of a mere missionary. They were driven into the field very early in the morning, and returned late at night, with scarcely strength to roll themselves into their cabins, and in no condition to be profited by instruction. They were savage towards all of the race and rank of their masters. He determined to reach the slaves by becoming himself a slave. He was sold, that he might have the privilege of working by their side, and preaching to them as he worked with them. Do you suppose the master or the pastor could have touched the hearts of those miserable slaves as did that man who placed himself in their condition? This missionary was but following the example of the Lord Jesus Christ, who took on Him the nature of men, and came among them, and lived as they lived, that He might save them from their sins. Do any think that this view of God is degrading? If your God were Jupiter, it would be; but if He is the Father of the universe, it is ennobling and full of grandeur. The grandest deeds in his world are the loving condescensions of great natures to the help of weak ones. No crown so becomes a king as the service of low and suffering natures by these that are high and happy.

1. In view of this, I remark that, as it is by the personal power of the Lord Jesus Christ, upon the hearts of His children, that He works all goodness in them, so all attempts to live a religious life which leave out this living, personal, present sympathy of the Christ-heart with our human heart, will be relatively imperfect. Men’s lives will be imperfect enough, at any rate; but when they neglect this vital inspiration, it seems scarcely possible to live at all with religious comfort. Our religious joy never springs from the conception of what we are, but of what God is. No man’s life, attainments, purposes, or virtues can yield him full peace. It is the conviction that we are loved of God, personally by name and nature, with a full Divine insight of our real weakness, wickedness, and inferiority that brings peace. Nor will this become settled and immovable until men know and feel that God loves them from a nature in Himself, from a Divine tendency to love the poor and sinful, that He may rescue and heal them. God is called a sun. His heart, always warm, brings summer to the most barren places. He is inexhaustible in goodness, and His patience beyond all human conception.

2. All those views of God which lead you to go to Him for help and strength are presumptively true views, and all those views of God which tend to repress and drive you away from Him are presumptively false views. Any view which presents God as a being whose justice shall make sinners, who wish to return to Him, unable to do so, is a false View. If we have done wrong, in Him is the remedy. He is the Sun that shows us, when we are in darkness, where to go; He is the bright and morning Star that makes our dawn and twilight come to us; He is our Way; He is our Staff; He is our Shepherd; he is our sceptred King, to defend us, from our adversaries: He is all in all, to all!

3. Those states of mind, then, in us, which bring us nearest to God, and which bring us to Him most confidingly, are such as honour Him most and please Him most. There are a great many who wish they could please God, and would give anything if they could only be prepared to please Him. Most will you please Him when you confide in Him! If earthly parents can lift themselves up into feelings of holy sympathy for a repentant child, what must be the feelings of God when His children come to Him for help to break away from sin, and to lead lives of rectitude? Read the fifteenth chapter of Luke, and find out what God’s feelings are; and then say, “I will arise and go to my Father.” (H. W. Beecher.)

Christ’s assumption of human nature

I. AN IMPORTANT FACT IN REFERENCE TO THE SAVIOUR.

1. He assumed true human nature.

2. He did this for the welfare of mankind.

II. THE GREAT OBJECT AND DESIGN CONNECTED WITH THIS FACT,

1. Death is that to which all mankind are subject.

2. Death is placed in the power of the great adversary of man.

3. The prospect of death exposes men to a fear amounting to mental bondage.

4. Christ delivers mankind from this bondage.

Because Christ has made an atonement, Satan has no longer power over men to keep them in bondage. It only remains that we make an application of this atonement by faith, and then over us death has no more power. (J. Parsons, M. A.)

The Christian’s protector

In a sermon from this text the Rev. Evan Harris, of Merthyr, makes the following divisions.

1. “The children.”

2. “He also.”

3. “The devil.”

I hear some timid disciple say, “Ah, I see the devil lurks in that text.” Yes, he does; but remember that “He also” is there too. Fear not, timid one, for it cannot fare badly with “the children” if “He also” Himself is between them and the devil. The secret of safety is in being near Him.

Destroy him that had the power of death

The devil’s possession of the power of death

Sundry are the respects wherein the devil may be said to have the power of death.

1. As he is the executioner of God’s just judgment. He is in this regard as an hangman, who may be said to have the power of the gallows because he hangeth men thereon.

2. As he is like an hunter, fisher, fowler or falconer. He hunteth, fisheth, and fowleth for the life, not of unreasonable creatures only, but also of reasonable men.

3. As he is a thief and continually layeth wait for blood, and seeks the precious life of man’s body and soul.

4. As a continual tempter to allure or drive men into sin, and thereby to death. Herein he spared not Christ Himself (Matthew 4:1, &c.).

5. As he is an accuser of men and as an adversary to press God’s just law against men, and to call for judgment against them.

6. As he is a tormentor: for when he hath drawn men to sin he affirighteth them with the terror of death and damnation. In general nothing is more terrible than death. In this respect death is called the king of terrors Job 18:14). This kind of power, namely of death, attributed to the devil

(1) Showeth wherein his strength especially lieth: even in doing mischief and bringing men to destruction. His power is to hurt men. In this respect he hath names of destruction given unto him--as in Hebrew Abaddon, and in Greek Apollyon (Revelation 9:11), and he is styled a murderer John 8:44).

The death of death

We fear death with a double fear. There is, first, the instinctive fear, shared also by the animal creation, for the very brutes tremble as the moment of death draws near. Surely this fear is not wrong. It is often congenital and involuntary, and afflicts some of God’s noblest saints; though doubtless these will some day confess that it was most unwarrantable, and that the moment of dissolution was calm, and sweet, and blessed. The child whose eyes feast upon a glowing vista of flower and fruit, beckoning it through the garden gate, hardly notices the rough woodwork of the gate itself as it bounds through; and probably the soul, becoming aware of the beauty of the King and the glories of its home, is too absorbed to notice the act of death, till it suddenly finds itself free to mount, and soar, and revel in the dawning light. But there is another fear of death, which is spiritual.

1. We dread its mystery. What is it? Whither does it lead? Why does it come just now? What is the nature of the life beyond?

2. We dread its leave-taking. The heathen poet sang sadly of leaving earth, and home, and family. Long habit endears the homeliest lot, and the roughest comrades; how much more the truehearted and congenial; and it is hard to part from them.

3. Men dread the afterdeath. “The sting of death is sin.” How can mortal man be just with God? How can he escape hell, and find his place amid the happy, festal throngs of the Golden City? All these fears were known to Christ. And He knew that they would be felt by many who were to be closely related to Him as brethren. If, then, He was prompted by ordinary feelings of compassion to the great masses of mankind, He would be especially moved to relieve those with whom He had so close an affinity, as these marvellous verses unfold. But in order to do it, He must die. He could not be the death of death, unless He had personally tasted death. He needed to fulfil the law of death, by dying, before He could abolish death. But He could only have died by becoming man. Perhaps there is no race in the universe that can die but our own. Others die because they are born; Christ was born that He might die.

I. BY DEATH CHRIST DESTROYED THE POWER OF DEATH. Scripture has no doubt as to the existence of the devil. And those who know much of their own inner life, and of the sudden assaults of evil to which we are liable, cannot but realise his terrible power. And from this passage we infer that that power was even greater before Jesus died. “He had the power of death.” It was a chief weapon in his infernal armoury. The dread of it was so great as to drive men to yield to any demands made by the priests of false religions, with their dark impurities and hideous rites. Thus timid sheep are scared by horrid shouts and blows into the butchers shambles. But since Jesus died, the devil and his power are destroyed. Destroyed! Certainly. Not in the sense of being extinct. Still he assails the Christian warrior, though armed from head to foot; and goes about seeking whom he may devour, and deceives men to ruin. Yet he is destroyed. Are we not all familiar with objects which are destroyed without being actually ended. Destroyed as objects of dread, though they linger in an attenuated and impotent existence. Satan exists as a strong man; he is no longer armed, and is the attenuated shadow of his former self.

II. BY DEATH CHRIST DELIVERS FROM THE FEAR OF DEATH. A. child was in the habit of playing in a large and beautiful garden, with sunny lawns; but there was one part of it, a long and winding path, down which he never ventured; indeed he dreaded to go near it, because some silly nurse had told him that ogres and goblins dwelt within its darksome gloom. At last his eldest brother heard of his fear, and after playing one day with him, went with him to the embowered entrance of the grove, and, leaving him there terror-stricken, went singing through its length, and returned and reasoned with the child, proving his fears were groundless. At last he took the lad’s hand, and they went through it together, and from that moment the fear which had haunted the place fled. And the memory of that brother’s presence took its place. So has Jesus done for us. (F. B.Meyer, B. A.)

The destroyer destroyed

In God’s original empire everything was happiness, and joy, and peace. If there be any evil, any suffering and pain, that is not God’s work. God may permit it, overrule it, and out of it educe much good; but the evil cometh not of God. The devil’s reign, on the contrary, containeth nought of good; “ the devil sinneth from the beginning,” and his dominion has been one uniform course of temptation to evil and infliction of misery. Death is a part of Satan’s dominion, he brought sin into the world when he tempted our mother Eve to eat of the forbidden fruit, and with sin he brought also death into the world, with all its train of woes. Since that time Satan hath ever gloated over the death of the human race, and he hath had some cause of glory, for that death has been universal. There is something fearful in death. It is frightful even to him that hath the most of faith. It is only the gildings of death, the afterwards, the heaven, the glory, that maketh death bearable even to the Christian. Death in itself must ever be an unutterably fearful thing to the sons of men. And oh I what ruin doth it work! Now, this is Satan’s delight. He conceives death to be his masterpiece, because of its terror, and because of the ruin which it works. The greater the evil, the better doth he delight in it. And death is very lovely to the devil for another reason--not only because it is his chief work on earth, but because it gives him the finest opportunity in the world for the display of his malice and his craft. Usually with many of the saints, if not in the last article of death, yet some little time before it, there is a ferocious onslaught made by the great enemy of souls. And then he loves death, because death weakens the mind. The approach of death destroys some of the mental power, and takes away from us for a season some of those spirits by which we have been cheered in better days. It makes us lie there, languid and faint and weary. “Now is my opportunity,” says the evil one; and he steals in upon us. Hence I believe for this reason he is said to have the power of death; for I cannot conceive that the devil hath the power of death in any other sense but this, that it was originated by him, and that he at such time generally displays the most of his malice and of his power.

I. BY THE DEATH OF CHRIST THE DEVIL’S POWER OVER DEATH IS TO THE CHRISTIAN UTTERLY DESTROYED. The devil’s power over death lies in three places, and we must look at it in three aspects.

1. Sometimes the devil hath power in death over the Christian, by tempting him to doubt his resurrection, and leading him to look into the black future with the dread of annihilation. But by the death of Christ all this is taken away. If I lie a-dying, and Satan comes to me and says, “Thou art to be annihilated, thou art now sinking beneath the waves of time, and thou shalt lie in the caverns of nothingness for ever; thy living spirit is to cease for ever and be not,” I reply to him, “No, not so; I have no fear of that; O Satan, thy power to tempt me here faileth utterly and entirely. See there my Saviour! He died, for His heart was pierced; He was buried; but, O devil, He was not annihilated, for He rose again from the tomb. And now, O Satan, I tell thee, thou canst not put an end to my existence, for thou couldst not put an end to the existence of my Lord. But now for a more common temptation--another phase of the devil’s power in death.

2. Full often the devil comes to us in our life-time, and he tempts us by telling us that our guilt will certainly prevail against us, that the sins of our youth and our former transgressions are still in our bones, and that when we sleep in the grave our sins shall rise up against us. Thou pretendest that thou art one of the Lord’s beloved: now look back upon thy sins: remember on such a day how thy rebellious lusts arose, and thou wast led if not quite to indulge in a transgression, yet to long after it. Recollect how often thou hast provoked Him in the wilderness, how frequently thou hast made His anger wax hot against thee.” But now see how through death Christ has taken away the devil’s power. We reply, “In truth, O Satan, thou art right; I have rebelled, I will not belie my conscience and my memory; I own I have transgressed. O Satan, turn to the blackest page of my history, I confess all. But O fiend, let me tell thee my sins were numbered on the scape-goat’s head of old. Go thou, O Satan, to Calvary’s Cross, and see my Substitute bleeding there. Behold, my sins are not mine; they are laid on His eternal shoulders, and He has cast them from His own shoulders into the depths of the sea.” Once more, you may suppose a Christian who has firm confidence in a future state. The evil one has another temptation for him.

3. “It may be very true,” saith he, “that you are to live for ever and that your sins have been pardoned; but you have hitherto found it very hard work to persevere, and now you are about to die you will be sure to fail.” “O fiend, thou temptest us to think that thou wilt conquer us; remember, Satan, that the strength that has preserved us against thee has not been our own: the arm that has delivered us has not been the arm of flesh and blood, else we had long since been overcome. Look thou there, fiend, at Him that is Omnipotent. His Almightiness is the power that preserves us to the end; and therefore, be we never so weak, when we are weak then we are strong, and in our last hour of peril we shall yet overcome thee.”

II. But now I want to show you that not only has Christ by His death taken away the devil’s power in death, but HE HAS TAKEN AWAY THE DEVIL’S POWER EVERYWHERE ELSE OVER A CHRISTIAN. “He hath destroyed,” or overcome, “him that had the power of death, that is, the devil.” Death was the devil’s chief intrenchment: Christ bearded the lion in his den, and fought him in his own territory; and when He took death from him, and dismantled that once impregnable fortress, He took away from him not only that, but every other advantage that he had over the saint. And now Satan is a conquered foe, not only in the hour of death, but in every other hour and in every other place. He is an enemy, both cruel and mighty; but he is a foe who quakes and quails when a Christian gets into the lists with him; for he knows that though the fight may waver for a little while in the scale, the balance of victory must fall on the side of the saint, because Christ by His death destroyed the devil’s power. (C. H.Spurgeon.)

Christ, the destroyer of the devil

We take as the works of the devil those which this malignant spirit hath performed in order to the overthrow of the holiness and the happiness of mankind; and we must endeavour to consider or to ascertain how the effects of the atonement so counterbalanced the effects of the apostacy, that our Redeemer, in dying, may actually be said to have “destroyed the devil and him works.” Now, the effects of the apostacy may justly be considered under two divisions; physical and moral effects: those whose subject is matter, and those whose subject is spirit; and if the Son of God destroyed the works of the devil, He must, in some way or other, have nullified both these effects, so that, physically and morally, He provided a fall remedy for a disorganised creation.

I. LOOK FIRST AT THE PHYSICAL EFFECTS OF ADAM’S SIN. Every pain to which flesh is heir, every sickness--the decay, and the dissolution of the body, are to be referred to sin as their first origin; and the temptation to sin having been of Satan, they are to be classed among the works of the devil. And above these consequences existing in ourselves, there are others to be observed in creation around us, whether inanimate or animate. We admit that death is not yet destroyed in the sense of having ceased to possess power; but death no longer reigns by right; it reigns only by sufferance. It is allowed to remain as an instrument for the advancement of certain purposes of the Almighty; but not as a tyrant in whom is vested an undisputed authority. Nay, death succeeded by a resurrection, is not in truth to be designated death. We can gaze on that spectacle of the grave--not the proprietor, not the consumer, not the destroyer, but just simply the guardian of the dust, of human kind, and confess that the resurrection will give overwhelming attestation to the annihilation of death. And if this resurrection is referred to the energies of the atonement it will demostrate to the conviction of all orders of being that the Son of God effected in dying what the text announces as the great end proposed--“that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil.” We go on to observe, that similar statements may be applied to all those other effects which we designate the physical effects of rebellion. It is quite true that pain and sorrow are allowed to continue. But it is true that evil is at length to be wholly extirpated from the earth; and that not in consequence of any fresh interposition of God, or any new mediation of Christ, but simply through the effects of that expiatory sacrifice which was offered ages back upon Calvary. Then, when righteousness shall clothe every province of the globe, and happiness, the purest and most elevated, shall circulate through the hearts and homes of all the world’s families, and the lustre of an untarnished loveliness shall gild the face of every landscape, then shall our text be accomplished; then shall it be put beyond doubt that there was a virtue in the atonement to counteract all the physical effects of apostacy.

II. We have now to consider what we term THE MORAY. CONSEQUENCES OF APOSTACY, and we own it more difficult to prove their destruction than that of the physical. We shall fasten at once on the hard point of the question. Beyond all doubt the grand work of the devil is the everlasting destruction of the human soul. If it were the work of the devil to bring mankind to share his own heritage of woe; and if, in spite of the interposition of Christ, a vast multitude of our race shall be actually his companions in anguish, can it fairly be contended that there has been any direct counteraction of the works of the devil, or that the effects of redemption are at all commensurate with the effects of apostacy? May we not exclaim in the language of the prophet--“Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there? Why, then, is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?” We desire to meet this question fairly. We observe, then, that it is quite possible to charge too much on the devil, and to make excuses for men by throwing blame on the tempter. You say, if a man perish, his perdition is the work of the devil; but we are at issue with you here. The man is a redeemed man, and can be destroyed only through destroying himself. The devil does not destroy him. The devil, indeed, may put engines of destruction in his way; it is the man himself who makes use of those engines, and when he dies it is by suicide, and not by the blow of another. After all, it was not the devil that destroyed Adam. The devil tempted him; he could do nothing more. He did as much to Christ; and the destruction lay not in the being tempted, but in the yielding to temptation. And though Satan tempts, it is man who yields. Unless men perish through their own act, they are punished for what was unavoidable, and then their punishment is unjust. We contend, therefore, that it is far from essential to the complete destruction of the devil and all his works that all men should be saved. We will take this case first. We will call a fallen man Satan’s work, and we think to show you, by a few brief remarks, that this work is far more than destroyed by the redemption, without the salvation of all. Satan’s work is twofold--he has fastened on me death for original sin, and corrupt propensities which are sure to issue in actual sin. Hence, the devil’s work is destroyed, if arrangements have been made by which I may escape the death, and resist the propensities. But as interested in the obedience and sacrifice of Christ “The Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world”--life, eternal life, is within my reach; and this destroys the first part of the work. The Holy Spirit is given me for overcoming evil, and this destroys the second part of the work. Satan’s work made death inevitable, and rendered me at one and the same time certain to sin and hopeless of pardon. Christ’s work, on the contrary, made death avoidable, and rendered me, though not proof against sin, yet sure through repentance and faith of forgiveness. Does not then the one work actually destroy the other? What has Satan done in procuring my fall which has not been balanced by what Christ did in effecting my redemption? (H. Melvill, B. D.)

Christ overcoming the devil by death

This God ordered

1. To accomplish that ancient promise to the seed of the woman, which was Christ; and threatening against the serpent, which was the devil Genesis 3:15). “It shall bruise thy head,” that is, Christ should utterly vanquish the devil.

2. To deliver man by satisfying justice. Had the devil been by an almighty power vanquished, justice had not thereby been satisfied.

3. To magnify the power of the conquest the more; for Divine power is made perfect in weakness (1 Corinthians 12:9).

4. To bring the greater shame upon the devil; for what greater ignominy than for an enemy to be vanquished in his own kingdom, and that with his own weapon. The strongest and sharpest weapon that Satan had was death, and by it he did most hurt. Christ dealt in this case as Benaiah did with an Egyptian; he plucked the spear out of his hand, and slew him with his own spear (2 Samuel 23:21).

5. To take away the ignominy of the Cross of Christ, Jews, Pagans, and all infidels scoff at our crucified God, but this glorious victory which Christ by His death obtained, showeth that it is a matter of much glory and much rejoicing. The apostle apprehended so much hereof, as comparatively he would glory in nothing saving the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ Galatians 6:14).

6. To put a difference betwixt Christ’s death and the dearth of all others, even of the best of men. The death of others is only a freedom from troubles of soul and body, and an attaining unto rest and glory, which is by virtue of Christ’s death. Christ’s death is a conquering death, a death that tends to the advantage of all that believe in Christ.

7. To take the old wily serpent in his own craft, Satan laboured at nothing more than to bring Christ to death: he used Scribes, Pharisees, priests, rulers, and people of the Jews, yea, Judas, Pilate and his soldiers, as his instruments herein. They thought all sure if Christ might be put to death; but Christ’s death proved Satan’s destruction. (W. Gouge.)

Power of death--not of life

When Coecilia was brought before the judge Almachius, he said, “Knowest thou not that I have power of life and death?” “Not of life,” she said, “but thou canst indeed be a minister of death.”

The power of death destroyed

Archbishop Land on the scaffold thus addressed his Saviour: “Lord, I am coming as fast as I can. I know I must pass through the shadow of death before I can see Thee. But it is but umbra morris, a shadow of death, a little darkness upon nature; but Thou, Lord, by Thy goodness, hast broken the jaws and the power of death.” As Dr. Neale remarks on this, “Yes, our Lord passed through the valley of death; we through the valley of the shadow of death. He tasted of death that we might never taste it; He died that we might fall asleep.”

Through fear of death … subject to bondage

The only effectual antidote to the dread of dissolution

Of all the passions that have place in the human mind, there is not one that takes a stronger hold of it than fear; and of all the objects that operate on that passion, there is not one that does so more strikingly and more impressively than death. Nor is this to be wondered at. For what is death? That from which there is no escape. That which not unfrequently comes when least expected. That which terminates every earthly relationship, acquisition, anticipation, enjoyment. Not only does it do what it does with all the eagerness of willinghood, but also with all the callousness of insensibility. Dwellings it disinhabits, families it scatters, and ties the most endearing it dissolves, without any compunction or regret. But much though death be the object of natural fear, the fear of it is in no slight measure increased when that which is natural has superadded to it that which is slavish. For though, like others, sinners fear death on account of what death is in itself, yet their fear of death, arising as it does from a consciousness of ill-desert, is rendered trebly fearful by the inward bitings of remorse, and by a sense of merited wrath. Is there no remedy for their dismay? The text answers the question. It were a mistake to infer that the power of the devil in reference to death is absolute. Such power, whether in reference to death or in reference to anything else, is not possessed by any finite being. It is the exclusive, the incommunicable prerogative-of Him, and of Him alone, who is infinite; of Him who, as occupying in His own right the throne of the universe, has the “keys of death.” The power of the devil in reference to death is simply permitted power. But though the power of the devil in reference to death be simply permitted power, it is not limited to temporal death. It extends to, and, as here spoken of by the apostle, embraces more particularly, eternal death; in other words, the state of misery to which the term is applicable in its most aggravated signification. It is awful to think that there is in the universe a being possessed of such power, as. “the power of death”; of power not only to tempt to sin, “the wages of which is death,” but to render the sinner the instrument of his own exposure to misery through all everlasting! It would be still more awful were that being invincible, indestructible. And how by His death has Jesus done this, in order that His death might be an antidote to the fear of death?

I. BECAUSE BY HIS DEATH HE TRIUMPHED OVER HIM WHO HAD THE POWER OF DEATH. For this He became incarnate; for had He not become incarnate, He could not have been the surety of the guilty, nor as their surety could He have died. By it the violated law was magnified and made honourable; for the obedience of which it was the consequence was the obedience not only of a Divine Person, but of a Person absolutely faultless. Such was the result of the death of Jesus, because by His death sin was substitutionally expiated, by the expiation of which the devil lost his power of death, the loss of which was his own destruction. What a triumph I Never was triumph like it; for though He who conquered fell, by His fall He conquered. What, then, have they to fear from death who trust in Jesus, the destroyer by death of the destroyer?

II. BECAUSE BY HIS DEATH HE DIVESTED DEATH ITSELF OF ITS STING. Death has been represented as coming in the order of nature; and hence it has been called the debt of nature, as if our original destiny could not have been carried into effect without its payment. For what is the fact, and therefore the teaching on this subject, that is credible? Is it that death is the work of nature? On the contrary, is it not that death is not the work of nature, but the work of sin? While he was sinless, was not man deathless? And is sin merely the procuring cause of death--that to which death owes its existence and prevalence? Were this all, it would be evidential in no slight degree of the deadly tendency of sin. But this is not all. Not only in having originated it does sin lead to death as its moral consequence; but it is that from which death derives all its painfulness, all its hatefulness. Well, then, may sin be denominated not only the cause, but the sting of death. If this, then, be what sin really is; if it be that which renders death indescribably deadly, can language too strong be employed to express our sense of obligation to Him who died for sin? His death being sacrificial and propitiatory, by the stroke which slew Him, death lost its sting. The last arrow in the quiver of death was spent. The very dregs of the cup of trembling were wrung out. The malignant fury of the curse of the broken law was exhausted. So that now death may be a blessing, but can never be a curse, to those who trust in Him who died for sin. What, then, have they to fear from death? “The waters of Jordan” have applied to them a misnomer when they are called by the name Marah, for the bitterness of the curse is removed. There is “ no lion” in the dark valley, neither does “any ravenous beast “ walk therein. The “dart” of death is pointless, its wound must be harmless.

III. BECAUSE BY HIS DEATH HE PURCHASED THE RIGHT TO REDEEM FROM DEATH THOSE TO WHOM DEATH WOULD OTHERWISE HAVE BEEN THE PATHWAY TO ETERNAL MISERY. It is much that Jesus should have stooped to combat with him who had the power of death, it is still more that He should have submitted to the endurance of the sting of death itself; but His experience of the one, and His triumphing over the other, would have failed to accomplish the object He had in view, were the bestowment of the good problematical or uncertain, which He thus sought and gained for those whom He represented. Their enjoyment, however, of that good depends not on a peradventure; their being put into possession of it is exposed to no jeopardy, and can be hindered by no casualty. As indicative of the high authority with which as their successful surety He is invested, He says, “I will redeem them from death.” Having been the originator of the life that has been taken away, is there anything incredible in His being its restorer? If not, then, instead of having uncertainty attached to it, the future resurrection of the body is considered aright, when it is considered not as questionable, but as positively certain. What, then, have they to fear from death who trust in Jesus? To them, death is not to be the entire extinction of their corporeal, any more than it is to be a cessation of their spiritual being. What, then, have they to fear from death? Trusting in Jesus, they trust in Him who is the resurrection and the life. In short, trusting in Jesus, they trust in Him who died that they might live, and who lives that they may never die, but live. Where? Where there shall be “no death,” where the darkness of the tomb shall be for ever excluded by the light of life, where the night of the grave shall be for ever lost in the day of immortality. (Alex. Jack, D. D.)

The fear of death

Of a sentiment so powerful and so general, it is natural to inquire the use and object. Of a terror so painful it is desirable to know the origin and the remedy.

I. One beneficial effect, which the fear of death extensively produces, IS INDUSTRY IN OUR RESPECTIVE OCCUPATIONS.

II. Another beneficial effect of the fear of death is TEMPERANCE.

III. Another beneficial effect of the fear of death is THE PREVENTION OF MURDER.

IV. If the love of life restrain us from doing violence to others, it must restrain us still more forcibly FROM DOING VIOLENCE TO OURSELVES and the prevention of self-murder will be another beneficial effect of the fear of death.

V. The fear of death produces its beneficial effects still more extensively, AS IT RESTRAINS THE VICIOUS PROPENSITIES OF THE HEART IN GENERAL, AND PROMOTES THE SENTIMENTS AND THE INFLUENCE OF RELIGION.

VI. The fear of death, however, produces the most important of its beneficial effects, and indeed, lays the foundation of all the rest, BY

SUGGESTING ON VARIOUS OCCASIONS THE MOST INTERESTING AND USEFUL REFLECTIONS TO THE MIND. (W. Sparrow, LL. D.)

Why men fear death

I. It is one reason why we are so much afraid of death, that WE EXPECT IT WILL BE PAINFUL. We see the dissolution of our fellow creatures attended with paroxysms of pain. But these torments it is in a great measure, in our own power to prevent. The common parent of disease is intemperance.

II. Death, again, is rendered awful BY THE GLOOMY CEREMONIES THAT ATTEND IT. Take away the pomp of death, and you take away half its terrors.

III. Death might be considered As THE MEANS OF GRATIFYING THAT INCESSANT DESIRE OF NEW INFORMATION, which nature implanted in the human mind; which is always innocent and laudable, while directed by prudence and moderation; and which, in the present instance, ought to be united with humility and reverence, in proportion to the solemnity of the subject.

IV. It is another obvious reason why we are so much affected by the scenes of death, THAT WE DO NOT FREQUENTLY BEHOLD THEM. Were we daily to witness the dissolution of a neighbour, we should soon lose those powerful emotions of fear.

V. Upon the same principle we may be assured that DEATH WOULD LOSE A LARGE PROPORTION OF ITS TERRORS, DID WE MAKE IT, AS WE OUGHT, THE FREQUENT SUBJECT OF OUR MEDITATIONS. Not only every instance of mortality, but every appearance of nature, might suggest the subject to our thoughts. Scarcely a day passes over us, but an animal or a vegetable perishes before our eyes.

VI. Lastly, and above all, DEATH WOULD BE NO LONGER FEARED, WERE IT CONSIDERED ONLY AS THE END OF OUR LABOURS. The grave would appear no longer gloomy, could we but look upon it as our passage to eternal glory. Jesus Christ is the basis on which we must build our virtues and our courage. The shield that must defend us against all the terrors that death can assume. (W. Sparrow, LL. D.)

How Christ takes away fear of death

I. CHRIST TEACHES US THAT DEATH IS NOT THE END OF OUR BEING.

II. CHRIST TEACHES US THAT THE SOUL DOES NOT WAIT IN THE GRAVE FOR THE RESURRECTION OF THE BODY.

III. CHRIST TAKES AWAY OUR FEAR OF DEATH, BY TEACHING US, IF WE ARE WILLING TO BE TAUGHT OF HIM, HOW WE MAY MEET OUR MAKER WITHOUT FEAR, IN THE GREAT DAY WHEN HE WILL JUDGE THE WORLD.

IV. CHRIST REVEALS TO THOSE WHO ARE WILLING TO BE TAUGHT OF HIM, THE REST AND THE BLESSEDNESS OF HEAVEN, AND GIVES TO EACH SOUL AN INWARD ASSURANCE THAT IT SHALL ETERNALLY SHARE IN THEM. (R. S. S. Dickinson)

Deliverance by Christ from the fear of death

I. WHAT OF DEATH IT IS, BY WHICH THE PERSONS SPOKEN OF IN THE TEXT ARE KEPT IN FEAR AND BONDAGE.

1. Sin, the cause of death, operates in producing this effect.

2. The law which threatens death.

3. Afflictions, the harbingers of death.

4. Satan, who had the power of death.

5. Death itself. He knows not how rudely the last enemy may handle him, when he arrives. He is well aware that he is a merciless tyrant, that he knows not how to show pity.

II. HOW DOES CHRIST DELIVER THEM FROM THIS FEAR AND BONDAGE?

1. By assuring them that He has made satisfaction for their sin, and will preserve them from its guilt and power.

2. By making known to them their deliverance from the law as a covenant.

3. By giving them to understand that their afflictions are all, to their souls, blessings in disguise.

4. By reminding them of the glorious victories which He hath obtained over Satan, their great enemy.

5. By promising them His presence at the hour of death.

III. A FEW THOUGHTS CALCULATED TO GUIDE AND ENCOURAGE BELIEVERS WHEN SUFFERING AND DYING.

1. Keep a steady eye on the rod with which God corrects you, and you will see that He never gives it wholly out of His own hand.

2. Rest assured that all the afflictions measured out to you are the fruits of your heavenly Father’s love.

3. Remember, that in being visited with affliction you are not singular. This is the discipline of your heavenly Father’s house.

4. Live under the firm persuasion that your trials shall all issue well. They may, indeed, be numerous and horrific; but so soon as they cease to be necessary, they shall cease to be administered.

5. Submit to the will of God in all things. Sharp may be the stroke of His hand, but the way of duty is plain and obvious. Endeavour, in His strength, and spirit, and grace, to exercise patient resignation, and quiet submission. (John Jardine.)

Deliverance from the fear of death

I. CONSIDER THE FEAR OF DEATH, which is mentioned as one great evil from which we are delivered by Christ.

1. What is that fear of death from which Christ delivers? Fear in the general is a flight from evil, or the aversion of the mind from what we apprehend hurtful. The fear of death may be distinguished into two sorts

2. What is that bondage to which the fear of death does subject? It is a servile spirit, under the constant awes of displeasure and dread of punishment; when the natural fear prevails, and the rational fear is heightened, and both concur in all their circumstances to give a dread to the mind, and fix it in a state of slavish bondage. Now here it will be proper to consider the evil of this temper of mind, which the apostle represents by bondage, to be the more sensible of our deliverance from it by Christ.

II. CONSIDER OUR DELIVERANCE BY CHRIST FROM. THE FEAR OF DEATH, How far, and by what means, we are delivered from it. There is a fundamental deliverance, when the foundation of it is laid, and the just ground of our fear is removed, so that if we are not actually delivered, yet there is a sufficient foundation laid for it in due time, and in a proper way. And our actual deliverance is begun in this world, and commences with our faith, or hearty subjection to the gospel of Christ. The dominion of fear is broken at the same time with the dominion of sin, and it is no longer a governing principle or prevailing temper.

1. He lays the foundation of our deliverance in His own person, and by what He has done Himself for us.

2. He actually delivers from the fear of death by the influence of His grace, or the assistance and reliefs of the gospel dispensation. When we are sanctified by His spirit, we are justified by His blood, and there is “no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus.” If we are reconciled to God, and in a state of favour, we are delivered from the curse of the law, and have nothing to fear from the power of death. Besides, it is by subduing the inordinate love of life, and of all present and sensible good. So we are “crucified to the world by the Cross of Christ,” and” the world is crucified unto us.” It loses the charms and influence it had before; and no more affects us than two dead bodies lying together affect one another. Further, it is by working suitable dispositions of mind to the heavenly state; or making us spiritually and heavenly minded. A prevailing love to God and heaven will expel the torment of fear; for “perfect love casteth out fear,” and so in a proportionable degree to the measure of our love. The love of Christ will make us willing to die that we may be with Him, and inspire a noble confidence of mind under the greatest dangers and terrors of death. To conclude this matter, it is by clearer prospects, and present foretastes of the future blessedness. Lessons:

1. How unreasonable are the fears of good men. Art thou afraid of the dissolution of nature? It argues great weakness of mind, and involves great absurdity to fear that which we know beforehand cannot be avoided, which is the condition of our nature, and settled by a Divine decree. Or art thou afraid of changing worlds? But why, if it be to a better world, and to a state of blessedness, should we fear a change to so great advantage? or leaving a state of guilt and imperfection.

2. How great are our obligations to Christ! How admirable was the love of our Redeemer to “partake of our flesh and blood,” and submit to die for us, that He might deliver us from the fear of death! How should this endear

Him to us, and recommend the gospel to our value and esteem? (W. Harris, D. D.)

Deliverance from the fear of death

I. FROM WHAT FEAR OF DEATH ARE THE CHILDREN OF GOD DELIVERED BY JESUS CHRIST.

1. Not from the natural fear of death, which in itself is a sinless infirmity, like sickness or weariness. Our Lord Himself sometimes expressed an aversion to death (John 12:27; Matthew 14:35).

2. From a slavish fear of death, which “hath torment” in it (1 John 4:18), and unfits them for the duties of their particular callings, and disables them from prosecuting the things that belong to their peace and welfare.

II. BY WHAT MEANS AND METHODS ARE THE CHILDREN OF GOD DELIVERED BY CHRIST FROM THE FEAR OF DEATH?

1. I shall show you what Christ hath already done to deliver or free the children of God from the fear of death. The death of Christ hath made death to look with another face than formerly it had. The death of Christ must needs sweeten the forethoughts of death to the chosen of God, because that He died in their stead: He did not only die in their nature, but in their room; not only for their good, but also in their stead.

2. Let me proceed to show you what He continues still to do, in order to the freeing and delivering the children of God from the fear of death, and the bondage that ensues thereon.

(a) It consists in a freedom from all evil. Which is subdivided into the evil of sorrow, and the evil of sin.

(b) It consists in the fruition of all good. Believers, when they die, they enjoy God Himself, who is the chiefest good.

1. You must be earnest with God, that He would apply to you this benefit of His Son’s death by His blessed Spirit.

2. You must give all diligence to the attaining of a greater measure of faith, love, and hope.

3. You must “resist the devil,” and withstand His temptations, not only to other sins, but to the sin of despondency in particular. (R. Mayo, M. A.)

Deliverance from the fear of death

I. THOSE WHOM CHRIST CAME TO DELIVER ARE REPRESENTED IN THE TEXT AS PARTAKERS OF FLESH AND BLOOD, AS OBNOXIOUS TO DEATH AND IN BONDAGE THROUGH FEAR OF IT ALL THEIR LIVES. Let us contemplate the feelings of a man approaching death with no well grounded hope of salvation through Christ.

1. In the first place, he experiences great losses, and finds no alleviations under them. Death comes to him in the character of an unmixed evil; to take from him all his earthly enjoyments, and to send him destitute into the invisible world.

2. This man approaching death with no hope in Christ is surrounded with fearful darkness, and sees no light before him. The ocean spreads before him vast and dark, but he knows not to what shore it is bearing him.

3. The man approaching death with no hope in Christ anticipates terrible evils, and sees no way of escape.

II. THE DELIVERANCE WROUGHT OUT BY CHRIST FOR THOSE WHO ARE HELD IN THIS FEARFUL BONDAGE. This is of a nature exactly adapted to the condition of those whom Christ came to deliver, and is comprised in three particulars.

1. Christ the Redeemer, mighty to save, furnishes for the children of His grace the most abundant alleviations under the losses of death. The Saviour is with them, their light and their salvation.

2. Christ having Himself risen from the dead, has poured the light of immortality over the darkness of the grave, and given assurance--that all who die in Him shall also rise to eternal life and blessedness.

3. Christ delivers His people from all the anticipated evils of death in the future world.

III. THE MEANS BY WHICH THIS DELIVERANCE IS EFFECTED. The text declares that it is by death. In conclusion, I am led to remark

1. That infidelity is not more to be rejected on account of its falseness, than abhorred on account of its hostility to the dearest hopes of man. What does it do for its disciples in that hour when the soul most needs support?

2. Believers in Christ ought to enter more experimentally and practically into the design of His mediation and death.

3. In view of this subject let all be persuaded to take refuge in Him who alone can deliver them from the fear of death and the bondage of condemnation. (J. Hawes, D.D.)

Deliverance from the slavish fear of death

I. WHAT THERE IS IN DEATH TO EXCITE SUCH FEAR AS MAY JUSTLY BE TERMED A BONDAGE.

1. Death is an object of fear, from the bodily pains with which it is preceded and attended.

2. Death is an object of fear, because of the consequences which it visibly produces.

3. Death is an object of fear, because it is an event, the precise nature of which is unknown to us.

4. Death is a change which we undergo alone; that is, without the company of earthly friends.

5. Death is an object of fear, inasmuch as it separates the worldly man from all the present sources of his happiness.

6. Death is an object of fear, chiefly because we are Blinkers, and because by it we are introduced into the more immediate presence of the God whom we have offended.

II. THE DELIVERANCE WHICH CHRIST HAS ACCOMPLISHED FOR HIS PEOPLE. (James Clason.)

The fear of death removed

This text represents unto us two things:

I. THE SAD CONDITION OF SUCH AS ARE UNDER THE POWER OF SATAN. The sad condition is an estate of perpetual slavery and fear of death.

1. And this is a grievous slavery and bondage, not only because it is perpetual, but because of the great danger. For by fear of death may, by a metonymy, be meant the danger of death. For the proper cause of fear is danger once apprehended; for it is true that man may be in danger, and yet without fear, because the danger is not seen.

2. And the bondage of perpetual fear is woful, if not intolerable.

II. Though this be a sad condition, YET THERE IS DELIVERANCE FROM THIS CONTINUAL DANGER, THIS PERPETUAL FEAR WHICH IS THE GREATEST SLAVERY OF ALL OTHER.

1. The beginning of comfort is to know that there is a possibility of freedom, and that the danger is avoidable or removable. The first degree of this deliverance is in Christ’s death, whereby Divine justice was satisfied and freedom merited.

2. That the power of the devil was destroyed; for whilst it continued, the fear could not be removed.

3. This freedom and liberty is more complete, when upon faith in Christ’s death sin is pardoned, and the cause of this fear is taken away. Then this slavery is changed into a blessed liberty, fear into hope, and the sorrow of death into the joy of life. (G. Lawson.)

Bondage through fear of death

It is not meant by the inspired writer, that when men are not thinking of death, they are still pressed down by its yoke. Death as yet is only in the future, and to oppress and harass it must of course occupy the thoughts. Those are no exception to the remark who fear not death because they do not allow themselves to dwell upon it: such persons it does not contemplate. And yet after all, perhaps, on closer examination the persons thus denied to be exceptions to the sentiment of the text may be fairly considered not exceptions to it, but examples of it. How comes it, it is reasonable to ask, that these men do not think of death? Are there not mementoes enough all around them? With these aids to reflection, if they still think little about the subject, is it not natural to infer that the subject has been so long avoided that the habit “is complete, and the mind turns from it with an acquired as well as natural instinct? But supposing this the case, how forcibly does it prove the doctrine of the text? Does the mind fear death so much, that it dare not look it in the face, and hold free communion with it? Beyond all doubt, that mind is in bondage. Without running into the extravagances of Stoicism, others have made representations of death, which might lead us to suppose that they did not regard it as an evil. With a kind of poetical philosophy, they would represent it as the glorious sunset of life, as needed repose after sublunary toils, as the retiring of the satisfied guest from the banquet! Now in answer to this it is freely admitted that all the circumstances of our dissolution are not unfavourable. Death does not wear, always or even generally, the most fearful aspect that it might put on. Nature in many respects makes a way for us, and smooths our passage to the other world. But after all allowances, the truth returns again with a force which nothing can resist, that death is the greatest of all evils. Instinct, reason, observation, all tell us this; and we are aware also that it is the Scripture representation. In Scripture it is called “ the wages of sin,” the “curse,” “the king of terrors”; and because it is the most dread calamity which man here witnesses, it is put by a common figure of speech for all the misery which he inherits, or bring upon himself in this world or the next. To this decisive authority may be added, if not for confirmation, yet for the impression which it is calculated to make, the acknowledgment of Rochefoucault. This man, who might not unaptly be called the priest of godlessness, freely admits that death and the sun are not to be looked at steadily.” “The glory of dying resolute y,” he remarks, the hopes of being regretted, the desire of leaving a fair reputation, the assurance of being delivered from present miseries and freed from the caprice of fortune, are alleviating reflections, but by no means infallible. All,” adds he, which reason can do for us is to teach us to avert our eyes and fix them on some other object.” But let us come home to our own selves. On what principle can we justify attention to any thing, if not to this? Of all the interests of man the highest are involved in death, and the most reasonable self-love requires us to weigh it well. The question therefore recurs again, why is it that we think of it so seldom and so slightly? I know of no satisfactory answer, but that furnished by the text. It is the fear of death which banishes it from our thoughts. The subject is obvious, meeting us at every turn. It is important, for eternity hangs upon it. It is personal, for it is appointed unto all men once to die. It is interesting--full of thrilling interest, of tragic interest, in its circumstances, nature and consequences. Now, whether this is a correct representation we all can determine for ourselves. If I mistake not we shall find on examination, treat our minds recoil from death because it is a subject associated with no good to us, on the contrary connected with much evil. But it is vain, as already intimated, merely to avert the eyes. The wise man will seek relief some other way. Do we desire peace at the last? Would we count it a privilege to be able to take a near view of death, looking fully at all its horrors without dismay? Do we covet the feelings of St. Paul, when, after a survey of death, he cried out, “Oh, grave, where is thy victory?” There is no way of reaching them, but by the faith of the Son of God. Present thoughtlessness and folly will not do it: they will only aggravate the evil when at last it comes. And, as to philosophy, alas! it may answer some of the lighter purposes of life but can never pillow the soul in death. Most truly has it been said, that “the necessity of dying constitutes the whole of philosophic fortitude.” It is a sullen, dogged silence, which utters no sorrow but feels much. It knows nothing of cheerful resignation, of lively hope. Oh, how far beyond its reach the spirit of the apostle on the eve of martyrdom: “I am now ready to be offered.” This is exclusively Christian privilege. None can bestow it but He who gives the Christian his name, his character, his all. (W. Sparrow, LL. D.)

Fear of death

That king of terrors, as Job calls death; that terrible of all terribles, as Aristotle. Nature will have a bout with the best when they come to die. But I wonder (says a grave divine)how the souls of wicked men go not out of their bodies, as the devils did out of the demoniacs, rending, raging, tearing, foaming. I wonder how any can die in their wits, that die not in the faith of Jesus Christ. Appius Claudius loved not the Greek Zeta, because when pronounced, it represents the gnashing teeth of a dying man. Sigismund, the emperor, being ready to die, commanded his servants not to name death in his hearing. (John Trapp.)

Death near

Let us not stand in an immoderate fear of death. Death is a serpent without a sting. Though he grip us, yet he cannot hurt us. Dame, lee the Parasite extolled the magnificence of Dionysius, affirming that there was not an happier man in the world than he; wilt thou have a taste of my happiness? He caused him to be set in a chair of state, the table furnished with all delicacies, singing-men and women making melody with voices and instruments, noble attendants to wait on him; but therewithal he commanded a sharp naked sword to be hung over his head by a slender horse-hair; the which he espying, took no pleasure in that paradise, but besought him earnestly to take him out of his happiness again. So though we have the world at will, though we be gentlemen, &c., yet the sword of death hanging over our heads continually must needs quail the courage of the greatest gallant. (W. Jones, D. D.)

How did Christ through death free from the fear of death?

We, steeped in theology, would naturally reply, By offering Himself an atoning sacrifice for sin. But that is certainly not the writer’s thought here. He reserves the great thought of Christ’s priestly self-sacrifice for a more advanced stage in the development of his doctrine. What then is his thought? Simply this. Christ delivers from the fear of death by dying as a sinless one. Death and sin are connected very intimately in our minds, hence fear. But lo, here is one who knows no sin dying. The bare fact breaks the association between sin and death. But more than that: He who dies is our brother, has entered into our mortal state in a fraternal spirit for the very purpose of lending us a helping hand. We may not fully know how His death avails to help us. But we know that the Sanctifier in a spirit of brotherhood became one with us, even in death; and the knowledge enables us to realise our unity with Him in death, and so emancipates us from fear. “Sinners may die, for the Sinless has died.” The benefit thus derived from the death of the sinless One is but the other side of the great principle, Sanctifier and sanctified all one. For it has two sides, it applies both ways. The Sanctifier becomes one with the sanctified in brotherly love; the sanctified become one with the Sanctifier in privilege. They are mutually one in both directions in God’s sight; they are mutually one in both directions for the spiritual instincts of the believer, even before he knows what the twofold validity for God me us. In proportion as we realise the one aspect of the principle, the Sanctifier one with us, we are enabled to realise and get benefit from the other. While the Holy One stands apart from us in the isolation of His sinlessness, we, sinners, fear to die; when we see Him by our side, even in death, which we have been accustomed to regard as the penalty of sin, death ceases to appear as penalty, and becomes the gate of heaven. (A. B. Bruce, D. D.)

Delivered from the fear of death

The following testimony was delivered by the Rev. Edward Deering, B.D. (author of some excellent lectures on this Epistle), shortly before his death in 1576. “There is but one sun that giveth light to the world; there is but one righteousness; there is but one communion of saints. If I were the most excellent creature in the world; if I were as righteous as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (for they were excellent men in the world), yet we must all confess that we are great sinners, and that there is no salvation but in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. And we have all need of the grace of God. And for my part, as concerning death, I feel such joy of spirit, that if I should have the sentence of life on the one side, and the sentence of death on the other side, I had rather choose a thousand times (seeing God hath appointed the separation) the sentence of death than the sentence of life.”

The joy of death to the Christian

Concerning death, to them that be God’s dear children, what other thing is it than the despatcher of all displeasure, the end of all travail, the door of desires, the gate of gladness, the port of paradise, the haven of heaven, the rail of rest and quietness, the entrance to felicity, the beginning of all blissfulness? It is the very bed of down (and, therefore, well compared to a sleep) for the doleful bodies of God’s people to rest in, out of the which they shall rise and awake, most fresh and lusty, to life everlasting. It is a passage to the Father, a chariot to heaven the Lord’s messenger, a leader unto Christ, a going to our home, a deliverance from bondage and prison, a dismission from war, a security from all sorrows, and a manumission from all misery. So that the very heathen did in some places cause the day of their death to be celebrated with mirth, melody, and minstrelsy. And should we be dismayed at it, should we be afraid of it, should we tremble to hear of it? Should such a friend as it is be unwelcomed? Should the foulness of his face scare us from his good conditions? Should the hardness of his husk hinder us from his sweet kernel? Should the roughness of the tide tie us to the bank and shore, there to be drowned, rather than the desire of our home drive us to go aboard? Should the hardness of the saddle set us on our feet to perish by the way, rather than to leap up and endure the same a little, and so to be where we would be? (John Bradford.)

Fear of death prophetic

Do not the wicked themselves prophesy by their fear of death a worse condition of some dreadful judgment after this life, prepared for sinners, when none but they stand in such fear of death? Why doth one wish for it, and another tremble to hear of it? If it were but a sleep, no man would fear it at all; for who feareth to take his rest when the night approacheth? If it did take away sense and feeling, and make men trees or stones, no man would fear it at all; for who would fear strokes, if he could feel no more than a stone? Or who would care for anything, if he had not sense of anything? Therefore this fear of death which you see in all but the faithful, doth presage some strange torment to those men which they begin to taste already before they die; like the spirit which persecuted Saul before his end. They desire not to be dissolved, but they fear to be dissolved; they go not to Christ, but their departure is an everlasting departure from Christ, to the devils, to hell, without either end or ease, or any patience to endure it. (Henry Smith.)

Jesus the conqueror of Death

He did not vanquish Death from afar, like some god of the ancient Olympus; He did not strike down the foe by arrows shot from heights of the empyrean. No; He Himself came down, Himself wrestled with Death; for a moment its cold hand was laid upon His heart, and then He arose, felled it to the ground by His glance; and walked our earth, as He had done before. (Madame de Gasparin.)

Christ’s victory

I have often asked myself what was the effect in hell when Christ gained the victory over sin and death. There is a striking picture in the “Apocryphal Gospels “ of what it might have been. At the moment Christ died the tidings reached Beelzebub, “Jesus hath died, and hath overthrown thy kingdom on earth.” Then David with his harp of gold, and Isaiah, the prophet, are heard singing and shouting with joy, “Lift up your heads, oh ye gates, and be ye lift up ye everlasting doors, and the King of Glory shall come in” (Psalms 24:1-10.). Beelzebub replies with the haughty question, “Who is this King of Glory?” And the answer comes: “The Lord strong and mighty: the Lord mighty in battle.” Again in trembling tones Beelzebub asks: “Who is the King of Glory?” And again rings out the paean of triumph, “The Lord of Hosts, He is the King of Glory.” Then just as the Philistines fled before David, so all the devils flee when they hear what Christ has done. That is figure, but this is fact, that through death Christ overcame him that had the power of death, that is, the devil. (H. W. Webb-Peploe, M. A.)

“He also Himself”

“Have you ever noticed,” wrote a beloved friend who was near death, “the glorious redundancy of the apostle’s words, ‘He also--Himself--likewise took part of the same?’” This friend had death before him for many months, and he found in these words the richest Divine comforts. We want a Christ that can live like us, and when we come to die we shall want a Christ that could die like us. (C. Clemance, D. D.)

Jewish conception of death

How strongly this argument would appeal to the Hebrew readers of the Epistle is clear from the Rabbinical theology, which often speaks of the fear of death and the accuser as a constant companion of man’s life. In every dangerous crisis of life, on a lonely journey, or on the high seas, the Jew seemed to see the accuser pleading for his death. “In this life,” says the “Madrash Punchuma,” “death never suffers man to be glad.” (W. Robertson Smith, M. A.)

Fear of death

Mr. B mentioning to Dr. Johnson that he had seen the execution of several convicts at Tyburn, two days before, and that none of them seemed to be under any concern, “Most of them, sir,” said Johnson, “have never thought at all.” “But is not the fear of death natural to man?” said B “So much so, sir,” said Johnson, “that the whole of life is but keeping away the thoughts of it.” (Baxendale’s Anecdotes.)

Fear of death the means of conversion

The fear of death seldom leads to conversion, but it did in the case of Henry Townley, afterwards minister of Union Chapel, Calcutta. As a young man he was threatened with pulmonary consumption, and thought not to have long to live. Dissatisfaction with his own life and opinions led him to a thorough investigation of the evidences of Christianity, and then came not only intellectual belief, but the consecration of his entire nature to God. His distress of mind was great, and he had not in the circle of his acquaintance a single religious person to assist him towards right. After much mental conflict it came thus. He was looking on Blackfriars Bridge at the setting sun, on a bright, calm evening, and prayed that the Sun of Righteousness might shine on his dark, perplexed state, and immediately the answer came in the melting of his soul towards God and the possession of unspeakable peace. (Baxendale’s Anecdotes.)

Deliverance from the fear of death

As far as my experience has gone, I have found that young Christians and timorous Christians really die more triumphantly. There are exceptions, however. I will tell you how this is. It is the Lord’s kindness. He does not let the devil have a shot at them at the last, because they could not bear it. Do you remember how John Bunyan describes this? He says that when Mr. Fearing went to cross the river of death, “the water was lower than ever it was known.” So it is with those who are like Mr. Fearing; but when you see that there is a fight when old people come to die, you may conclude that they are getting their last victory. They are getting the serpent’s head under their heel; and they will take their last leap from the serpent’s head to the throne. (S. Coley.)

Death like going into another room

In the quiet watches of the night Dr. Bushnell’s wife asked him how death looked to him. “Very much like going into another room,” was the answer. (Dr. Bushnell’s Life.)

Why fear death

When Sir Henry Vane was condemned and awaiting execution, a friend spoke of prayer that for the present the cup of death might be averted. “Why should we fear death?” answered Vane. “I find it rather shrinks from me than I from it.” (Little’s Historical Lights.)

Fear of death

There are some that are like what is fabled of the swan. The ancients said the swan never sang in his lifetime, but always sang just when he died. Now, there are many of God’s desponding children, who seem to go all their life under a cloud; but they get a swan’s song before they die. Tile river of their life comes running down, perhaps black and miry with troubles; and, when it beans to touch the white foam of the sea, there comes a little glistening in its waters. So, though we may have been very much dispirited by reason of the burden of the way, when we get to the end, we shall have sweet songs. Are you afraid of dying? Oh i never be afraid of that: be afraid of living. Living is the only thing which can do any mischief; dying can never hurt a Christian. Afraid of the grave? It is like the bath of Esther, in which she lay for a time to purify herself with spices, that she might be fit for her lord. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

No fear in death

Among the few remains of Sir John Franklin that were found far up in the Polar regions there was a leaf of the “Student’s Manual,” by Dr. John Todd--the only relic of a book. From the way in which the leaf was turned down, the following portion of a dialogue was prominent:--“Are you not afraid to die?” “No.” “No! Why does the uncertainty of another state give you no concern?” “Because God has said to me, ‘ Fear not. When thou passest through the waters I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee.’” This leaf is preserved in the Museum of Greenwich Hospital, among the relics of Sir John Franklin: (Baxendale’s Anecdotes.)

Death of a believer

Old Mr. Lyford being desired, a little before his death, to let his friends know in what condition his soul was, and what his thoughts were about that eternity to which he seemed very near, he answered with a cheerfulness suitable to a believer and a minister, “I will let you know how it is with me”; and then, stretching out a hand that was withered and consumed with age and sickness--“Here is,” said he, “the grave, the wrath of God, and devouring flames, the just punishment of sin, on the one side; and here am I, a poor sinful soul, on the other side; but this is my comfort, the covenant of grace which is established on so many sure promises, has saved me from all. There is an act of oblivion passed in heaven. I will forgive their iniquities, and their sins will I remember no more. This is the blessed privilege of all within the covenant, among whom I am one.” (T. Rogers.)

Peace in death

The late Mr. Young, of Jedburgh, was once visiting the death-bed of an aged member of his congregation, who was hourly looking for his last change. “Well, my friend,” said the minister, “how do you feel yourself to-day?” “Very weel, sir,” was the calm and solemn answer, “very weel, but just a wee confused wi’ the flittin.” (Children’s Missionary Record.)

No death for the Christian

Shall we ever quite fully realise the mighty and joyful truth that there is no death for the Christian? In his beautiful tribute to the quaint old town of Nuremburg. Mr. Longfellow makes this mention of its peerless artist:

“Emigravit” is the inscription on the tombstone where he lies:

Dead he is not, but departed--for the artist never dies.”

But how much grander the thought that “Emigravit” may most fittingly be the inscription on every Christian’s tombstone I--not dead, but only gone before to that blessed land of peerless beauty, where blossom unfading flowers, and everlasting fountains flow. Why should we not give up the use of the word death as applied to the Christian?--for death is the alienation of the soul from God, not the quitting of earth for heaven.

No danger in death for the good

“I want to talk to you about heaven,” said a dying parent to a member of his family; “we may not be spared to each other long; may we meet around the throne of glory, one family in heaven!” Overpowered at the thought, his beloved daughter exclaimed, “Surely you do not think there is any danger?” Calmly and beautifully he replied, “Danger! my darling. Oh! do not use that word. There can be no danger to the Christian, whatever may happen. All is right. All is well. God is love. All is well--everlastingly well--everlastingly well.” (J. Stevenson.)

Which death

Are you afraid of death?” said a friend to a German pastor. “Which death do you mean? “ replied the dying man. “Jesus my Saviour saith, ‘He that believeth in Me hath eternal life. He that believeth in Me shall not see death.’ Why should I be afraid of what I shall not even see? The real death is past. Outward death, separation of body and soul, we have to endure, and God gives us grace and strength in this last trial; but the sting of death has been taken away.” (A. Saphir.)

A death scene

The late Rev. Mr. Innes, of Gifford, after a life prolonged beyond the days of most men, literally fell asleep; through life a truly peaceful man, his latter end was peculiarly so; without the suffering of disease or any acute pain, the pins of his tabernacle seem to have been gently loosed. Some days before, one of his parishioners, a farmer, called, and seeing him cheerful, said he was glad to see him so well, and that, as mild weather was at hand, he would soon get better, and be visiting them again. He replied, “No; I wish no such flattery. You see here a poor old man on his death-bed, but without alarm: I tell you that. Hear, and tell all your neighbours, my parishioners, that my comfort now, and hope for eternity, is just the gospel of Christ I have preached to them sixty years, and there is no other.” He was wonderfully composed at all times. But a week before his death one called, and, seeing a book of small type before him, asked him if he saw to read without his glasses. He said, “Oh, no; I cannot read even my Bible without glasses: but,” strengthening his voice, “I am thankful that I have a Bible that I have read; and I can mind some texts that I can see and feel now as I never did before. Oh, it is a precious book!”


Verse 16

Hebrews 2:16

The nature of angels

Angels

It must be a spiritual one,--for “He maketh His angels spirits.
” It must be very pure,--for they are “the holy ones.” Very lofty,--for they “stand before the throne, and always behold God’s face.” Very powerful, too, they must be,--for “they excel in strength.” And very busy they must be, and very humble,--for “each has six wings, and with twain he covers his face, with twain he covers his feet, and with twain he does fly.” And very accurate they must be,--for they bear their messages so faithfully. And very unselfish,--for they always give all the glory to God alone. They are not entirely spotless,--for “He chargeth His angels with folly”; and some did once fall. And they never seem to originate anything-they go where they are sent, they say what they are instructed, they do whatever they are told. Neither does their love appear to be so much their own love, as a love with which they are commissioned. And their office is not, for the most part, so much with the souls of men, to convert, or to influence, Or to comfort them, as with the outer circumstances of men--to minister to them in their dangers, in their wants, in their difficulties. And how does “the nature of angels” stand related to our own? Is it higher or lower? Originally, in Eden, I do not know; but I should say the angelic nature was then the lower, because that is said of man which is never said of angels, that he was “made in the likeness of God,” and because to man was given what was never given to angels--supremacy and sovereignty over all the works of God. The fallen nature of man is, on the whole, lower. But only a little--“a little lower than the angels.” But how is it with man’s redeemed and renewed nature? Beyond a doubt, it is above angels; for such as Christ’s present glorified nature is, such is that. The angels never sing our song’--theirs is jubilant, but ours is triumphant, their theme is creation, ours is grace; they praise God in His works, we adore and love Him in His Son. And do not you know that we shall “judge angels,” and that we shall reign with Christ for ever and ever. We bless God for His holy angels! We bless Him that there is anything so pure and beautiful in His creation for us to think of and to love. We bless Him that we have such presences, so stilling, so assuring, so restful. We bless Him for that incentive to all propriety in our solitary hours--an angel’s ear, and an angel’s eye. We bless Him for the debts we owe to those ethereal beings, of which we are yet but dimly conscious. We bless Him that they take charge of our daily walk, and our midnight slumbers, live bless Him that He commits it to creatures so lovely to exercise His merciful providences. We bless Him that they ministered so tenderly to their and our dear Lord in the days of His sojourn here, and that now they do all they do for us for that Jesus’s sake. We bless Him that they take such pious interest in our spiritual welfare, and rejoice in the tears of which they know that the sadness is joy. We bless Him that those who look on us so kindly do also behold His face. We bless Him that when we come to die, it is they, those heavenly watchers, who shall waft our spirits on their wings to heaven. We bless Him that we with them, and they with us, we shall mingle our songs and our services, and encircle the throne together with our common praise.

We bless Him that when Christ, and we with Christ, shall come back again to this earth, we shall be attended by The glory of the holy angels. (J. Vaughan, M. A.)

He took on Him the seed of Abraham

Christian sympathy

We are all of one nature, because we are sons of Adam; we are all of one nature, because we are brethren of Christ. All those common feelings, which we have by birth, are far more intimately common to us, now that we have obtained the second birth. Our hopes and fears, likes and dislikes, pleasures and pains, have been moulded upon one model, have been wrought into one image blended and combined unto “the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” Yes, and one thing needful; one narrow way; one business on earth; one and the same enemy; the same dangers; the same temptations; the same afflictions; the same course of life; the same death; the same resurrection; the same judgment. All these things being the same, and the new nature being the same, and from the same, no wonder that Christians can sympathise with each other, even as by the power of Christ’s sympathising in and with each of them. Nay, and further, they sympathise together in those respects too, in which Christ has not, could not have, gone before them; I mean in their common sins. This is the difference between Christ’s temptation and ours: His temptations were without sin, but ours with sin. Temptation with us almost certainly involves sin. We have still earthly principles in our souls, though we have heavenly ones, and these so sympathise with temptation, that, as a mirror reflects promptly and of necessity what is presented to it, so the body of death which infects us, when the temptations of this world assail it--when honour, pomp, glory, the world’s praise, power, ease, indulgence,sensual pleasure, revenge are offered to it--involuntarily responds to them, and sins--sins because it is sin; sins before the better mind can control it, because it exists, because its life is sin; sins till it is utterly subdued and expelled from the soul by the gradual growth of holiness and the power of the Spirit. Of all this, Christ had nothing. He was “born of a pure Virgin,” the immaculate Lamb of God; and though He was tempted, yet it was by what was good in the world’s offers, though unseasonable and unsuitable, and not by what was evil in them. He overcame what it had been unbecoming to yield to, while He felt the temptation. He overcame also what was sinful, but He felt no temptation to it. And yet it stands to reason, that though His temptations differed from ours in this main respect, yet His presence in us makes us sympathise one with another, even in our sins and faults, in a way which is impossible without it; because, whereas the grace in us is common to us all, the sins against that grace are common to us all also. We have the same gifts to sin against, and therefore the same powers, the same responsibilities, the same fears, the same struggles, the same guilt, the same repentance, and such as none can have but we. I do not of course mean to say that we are one and all at the same point in our Christian course, or have one and all had the same religious history in times past; but that, even taking a man who has never fallen from grace, and one who has fallen most grievously and repented, even they will be found to be very much like each other in their view of themselves, in their temptations, and feelings upon those temptations, than they might fancy beforehand. This we see most strikingly instanced when holy men set about to describe their real state. Even bad men at once cry out, “This is just our case,” and argue from it that there is no difference between bad and good. They impute all their own sins to the holiest of men, as making their own lives a sort of comment upon the text which his words furnish, and appealing to the appositeness of their own interpretation in proof of its correctness. And I suppose it cannot be denied, concerning all of us, that we are generally surprised to hear the strong language which good men use of themselves, as if such confessions showed them to be more like ourselves, and much less holy than we had fancied them to be. And on the other hand, I suppose, any man of tolerably correct life, whatever his positive advancement m grace, will seldom read accounts of notoriously bad men, in which their ways and feelings are described, without being shocked to find that these more or less cast a meaning upon his own heart, and bring out into light and colour lines and shapes of thought within him, which, till then, were almost in visible. Now this does not show that bad and good men are on a level, but it shows this, that they are of the same nature. They have common ground; and as they have one faith and hope, and one Spirit, so also they have one and the same circle of temptations, and one and the same confession. (J. H. Newman, D. D.)

On the Incarnation of Christ

I. WHAT IS NATURALLY INFERRED from Christ’s “ taking on Him the seed of Abraham.”

1. The Divine nature of Christ.

2. The reality of Christ’s human nature.

3. The truth of His office, and the divinity of His mission.

4. His voluntary choice and design, to assume a condition here upon earth low and contemptible.

II. WHY CHRIST TOOK UPON HIM THE NATURE OF MAN, AND NOT OF ANGELS.

1. The transcendent greatness and malignity of the sin of the angels above that of men.

2. The next, and perhaps the grand cause, that induced Christ to take upon Him the nature and mediation of men, and not of angels, might be this; that without such a Redeemer, the whole race and species of mankind had perished, as being all involved in the sin of their representative; whereas, though many of the angels sinned, yet as many, if not more, persisted in their innocence; so that the whole kind was not cashiered by a universal ruin, nor made unserviceable to their Creator, in the nobler instances of active obedience. (R. South, D. D.)

The Incarnation

I. The general scope of this passage you will all apprehend to be this, that the children of Adam, being now all children of wrath, ALL NEEDED A SAVIOUR and the Saviour they needed must not be in the form of God, or of an angel; He must be in the likeness of sinful flesh; whatever else He is, HE MUST BE MAN. Accordingly, Jesus Christ, the Mediator, who was God from eternity, became man, in the fulness of time. Concerning God, even the Father, we know something from other sources than Revelation. Nature and Providence declare His eternal power and Godhead; whereas our acquaintance with the Son of God is derived from Revelation alone. But the Bible assures us that Jesus Christ is God--and it assures us also that He is man; and the assertion of His Godhead is equally positive as that of His manhood. As we are told, the Word was made flesh--that the Divine, and not any angelic nature, was incarnate; so, we may confidently infer, that the assumption of manhood by any inferior, or created spirit, would not have answered the mighty purposes of God’s mercy in our redemption. For the Divine wisdom will never employ a mightier agency than the occasion demands. Having thus stated the necessity, as this is evidently asserted in the Word of God, that our Saviour should unite in His person the nature of God and the nurture of man, I would proceed

II. To inquire, WHEREIN THAT NECESSITY CONSISTED?

1. I do not propose to inquire into the propriety of this dispensation, as it regards the Divine nature or the Divine government. We are, indeed, assured of the fact, that the incarnation of the divinity, and the atonement made by the God-man, were requisite, in order that the expression of mercy to sinners might not be inconsistent with the glorious character, which unites perfect holiness and rectitude with boundless love and compassion. God reveals these things to us only as far as our present necessities require; and further, with certainty of truth, we cannot go.

2. But, as regards ourselves, and their bearing on our interests, our Father in heaven is as liberal in His communications, as He is reserved in the other case. And I propose to suggest a few of the reasons which make it apparent, that, in order to perform the part of a Saviour to us, it behoved Christ, the Son of God, to take on Him the nature of man. That are our wants, our miseries, as sinners? We have broken the Divine law; and of course we are condemned. We need therefore, pardon or justification. This can be obtained only by a sacrifice. Therefore, we need a priest who may offer the sacrifice and reconcile us. Then, we are very weak; we need support. We are very stubborn; and therefore we need to have our hard hearts broken. We cannot regulate our actions; therefore, we need a law and a lawgiver: and we are exposed to powerful enemies, from whom, unless protected, we perish; and for all these reasons, it is manifest we need One who has the authority and power of a King. And yet further, we are most ignorant of that which we are infinitely concerned to know, which we are most unwilling to learn, and most ready to forget; which needs to be demonstrated to us, and impressed upon us with the most striking evidence; and so Christ is our Prophet. What is necessary to be shown is, that our Redeemer must be both Divine and human, otherwise He could not discharge any one of these three offices.

2. But, secondly, because we are weak and wayward, and exposed to many foes, and powerful, therefore, we need a King. And none can be such a King as we need, but One who is both God and man. Almighty is His power, infinite His knowledge and wisdom, immeasurable His love, unfailing His rectitude; and He is “bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh.” In all your frailties and ignorances and temptations manifold, remember that He your Divine Sovereign is man, and has suffered being tempted, and is qualified to succour you when ye are tempted. Let the almightiness and infinite love of your most gracious King, God’s Son, your Brother, assure your hearts that following Him, ye shall be conquerors, yea, more than conquerors.

3. It was necessary that our Prophet, He who should effectually teach us, should be not simply God, or mere man, but both: and none could so teach us who was not both God and man. It is a gross mistake to suppose that what mankind needed most was knowledge of good and evil; or that the possession of this knowledge, in even the highest perfection, is sufficient of itself to subdue the heart to the obedience and love of God. The Jews possessed this knowledge as much as we do. Even regarding the heathens themselves, I will make bold to affirm, there is scarcely a duty or rule of morality, laid down in the New Testament, but may be found expressed, with more or less clearness, in the writings of some one or more of their poets or philosophers. It was not necessary, therefore, that another temple of God should be reared of stones, or that, from that dead temple, the same dead law, the mere letter of outward and verbal instruction, should be promulgated. But when righteousness had grown a stranger upon earth, then God sent that Teacher, His Son, who should found a new, a living temple, of which He was the Foundation; and should be Himself a Living Law, not only informing men, but showing them, in His own life, what they should be; and overturning the notion that what He enjoined was impossible, by the undeniable performance of it by Himself in their own nature. He is an effectual Teacher, for He has power not only Himself to work the works of God, but to communicate that to others whereby they also may work them. His instruction is quickening and saving: He is the true light, for it is light which is the life of men. A perfect teacher of righteousness could neither be mere man, nor in the form of God. A mere man could not, as is evident from two plain reasons. He could not exemplify His own precepts--He could not prove that obedience was possible, and He could not give the Spirit, for the Spirit is God, and how could a man, a creature, communicate God the Creator? And yet, without the Spirit of God, no man can be taught of God. And now, let us suppose that Christ, the Prophet of the Church, had delivered His teaching to us in the form of God, that He taught us without being incarnate: might not the human heart have raised these plausible objections? “Thou commandest me to keep Thy law, but Thou art God, and I am dust and ashes. Thou dost promise me the aid of Thy Spirit; but I have not seen or heard of any one in whom, by that aid, this end was accomplished.” To prevent this murmur, and the reasons on which it might have rested, God became man, and, as man spoke to men from the same level on which they stood. We saw Him in humiliation, in sorrow, in the struggles of temptation, in the fears and agonies of death, “ever in the battle, but ever aloft”; and then finally victorious, when He seemed for ever vanquished, for, by yielding to death He conquered him and his ruler, in the irresistible might of weakness quelling all the powers of hell. This is our Redeemer, this our Saviour. This is He announced from of old, the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. How wonderful, how glorious His person; uniting the majesty of the eternal God with the meanness of mortal man; qualified to do whatever was necessary to be done, to suffer whatever needed to be endured for the honour of God and the salvation of man! How mysterious is His condescension, how sublime His humility--the pure streams of His mercy overflowing the world, while the flames of His zeal consumed Himself. (R. Lee, D. D.)

On passing by angels to redeem wen

If He who made all things took upon Him man’s nature, we may feel sure that there is in that nature some intrinsic excellence and greatness, one proof of which is that it is capable of being united with the Person of the Word who was in the beginning with God, and was God. But so, unquestionably, was the angels’ nature; for man is a little lower than the angels. Here were two fallen races before the eye of the Redeemer, and we cannot doubt that it was optional with Him to redeem either of them, or both. Why He did not redeem both must be left to sovereign wisdom.

I. FALLEN ANGELS, IF REDEEMED, WOULD NO DOUBT BECOME AS GREAT AND GLORIOUS AS BEFORE. We see in this world enough of degradation made by sin to keep us from doubting the power or sin to degrade fallen angels into devils, and devils into alliance with swine. But the memory of innocence and of bliss in heaven no doubt remains in them. What a good work it would have been to redeem that memory and restore that angel. How sad, one might say, to think that Christ would not redeem him, but went after South Sea Islanders and the aborigines of the British Isles, than whom none was ever more lost to shame, or more distant from God. And what a wicked world this, which He redeemed, has proved. Thus far the few are saved; the many hate God.

II. But in reply it may be said, HIS SUCCESS MIGHT HAVE BEEN NO BETTER HAD CHRIST MADE REDEMPTION FOR ANGELS INSTEAD OF FOR MEN. Angels might have invented objections to Him as men did; some might go so far as to deny His Godhead and incarnation, and ask whether a good God would let His innocent Son visit such an abode, to suffer and die for devils; and what virtue there could be in the sufferings of one for the sins of others; and whether it is just to substitute an innocent being for the guilty? It is the great mystery of wisdom that while God does His pleasure, it is in such a way that every man exercises his free choice.

III. THOSE WHOM DO NOT ACCEPT REDEMPTION PROVIDED FOR THEM BY THE SON OF GOD ARE TO BE ASSOCIATED HEREAFTER WITH A RACE OF SINNERS WHOM CHRIST DID NOT REDEEM. Nothing surely is better adapted to make us accept the offers of the gospel; for if Christ passed them by and came to save us, no fancy can picture what it must be to receive from His lips a consignment to their abode and to their society.

IV. THE SUBJECT OPENS TO US A VIEW OF HUMAN HAPPINESS FOR ALL WHO ACCEPT OF SALVATION. If the Redeemer sought the greater amount of happiness in those for whom He decided to make atonement, He surely will find it in us who enter heaven, not as a recovered seat from which we were ignominiously expelled, but a world new, untried, awakening in us sensations of wonder and joy which now it doth not enter into the heart of man to conceive. There will be a quality in our joy which could never be known to those who fell from heaven. And shall we lose it? Are we looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God? (N. Adams, D. D.)

Fallen humanity elected to redemption in preference to fallen angels

I. THERE ARE STRONG REASONS WHICH BLIGHT NAVE LED US TO SUPPOSE THAT GOD WOULD HAVE GIVEN THE PREFERENCE TO FALLEN ANGELS.

1. The superiority of angelic natures.

2. The probability of their greater misery.

3. Their greater competency of appreciating the redemptive act.

II. ALTHOUGH THERE RIGHT APPEAR STRONG REASONS FOR THE CHOICE OF FALLEN ANGELS, WE CAN DISCOVER MOST SATISFACTORY REASONS FOR THE ELECTION OF FALLEN MEN.

1. The election of men in preference to fallen angels furnishes a more striking manifestation of Divine justice.

2. A more striking manifestation of Divine independence.

3. A more striking manifestation of Divine condescension.

Lessons:

1. How cautious should we be in pronouncing judgment upon the conduct of God.

2. How devoutly earnest should man’s acceptance of this redemption be.

3. How zealously should those who have become participaters of this redemption seek to extend it to others. (Homilist.)

Men chosen--fallen angels rejected

I. In the first place, the translation of our authorised version runs thus: “HE TOOK NOT ON HIM THE NATURE OF ANGELS.” Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ did not take upon Himself the nature of angels, this condescension dictated to Him, that if He did stoop, He would descend to the very lowest degree; that if He did become a creature, He would become, not the noblest creature, but one of the most ignoble of rational beings, that is to say, man, therefore, He did not stoop to the intermediate step of angelship, but He stooped right down and became a man. Let us notice the wisdom and the love of this, and I think there will be something to cause us to glorify God for so doing.

1. If Christ had taken upon Himself the nature of angels, He could never have made an atonement for man.

2. Had our Saviour become an angel, He would never have been a fitting example for us. I cannot imitate an angelic example. If you would give me something to imitate, give me a man like myself, then I may attempt to follow him.

3. Sweetly, also, let us remember that if Christ had been an angel, He could not have sympathised with us. In order to sympathise with our fellow creatures we must be something like them. Suppose a man made of iron, or of brass, could he sympathise with our wearied lungs, or with our aching bones?

4. Once more, Christ became a man, and not an angel, because He desired to be one with His dear Church.

5. Again, if Christ had not taken upon Him the nature of man, then manhood would not have been so honourable or so comfortable as it is.

II. The literal translation, according to the marginal reading, is, “HE TOOK NOT UP ANGELS, BUT HE TOOK UP THE SEED OF ABRAHAM,” by which is meant, that Christ did not die to save angels, though many of them needed salvation, but He died to save fallen man.

1. I do not think it is because of any difference in the sin. When two criminals are brought before a judge, if one of them is to be saved, and the other punished, very likely the judge will say, “Let the greatest offender die, and let the less offender be saved.” Now, I do not know that Satan was a greater offender than man; I am not sure that the fallen angels sinned more than man did. “Why, sir,” you say, “man’s sin was a very little one; he only stole some of his Master’s fruit.” Aye, but if it was such a little thing to do, what a little thing it would have been not to do it! If it were so little a thing, how easily he might have avoided it I and, therefore, because he did it, it became all the greater sin.

2. But suppose there is not much difference in their sin, the next question is, which of those two beings is the most worth saving? Which would serve his Maker most, if his Maker should spare him? And I defy any of you to hold that a sinful man is a more valuable creature than an angel.

3. Sometimes the government will say, “Well, here are two persons to be executed; we desire to save one; which of the two would be the most dangerous character to allow to continue an enemy?” Now, which could hurt God the most, speaking as man would speak, a fallen angel, or a man? I answer, that fallen man can do but little injury to Divine government, compared to a fallen angel.

4. Perhaps it would be said, if one is to be saved, let that one be saved who would take the least trouble to save. Now, which could be saved with the greatest ease, should you suppose a fallen angel, or a fallen man? For my part, I can see no difference; but if there be any it strikes me that a restoration does not put things one-half so much out of order as a revolution; and to have restored the angels to the place from which they had fallen, speaking as a man must speak, would not have been so hard as to have taken fallen man out of the place from which he had fallen, and placed him where fallen angels bad once stood.

5. But, you may say, God saved man because He pitied him. But then why did not He pity the devils? I know two men living on three or four shillings a week. I pity one of them very much, indeed; but the other, who is no better off, I pity him the most, for he once knew better times. Man, it is true, fell out of Eden; but Satan fell out of heaven, and is the more to be pitied on account of the greatness of his fall; and, therefore, if pity had ruled the day, God would have decided for the fallen angels, and not for fallen men. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Kindred aids rescue

There is no sympathy like that of those who are bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh. Let some stranger see a child fall into yonder river, and his irresistible impulse is to plunge in and rescue that child. But his zeal to do so is mere indifference compared with the heartrending agony that tears the soul of the child’s mother. Some years since, in a wild valley of Dauphine, in France, an eagle, we are told, swooped down from its lofty eyrie, clutched a helpless infant in its sharp talons, and soared aloft with it to the peak of an almost inaccessible mountain. The peasants, looking on with horror at the sight, in confusion and excitement, knew not what to do. But not so the mother. Hearing of the disaster, love gave wings to her feet, and so she leaped, nay, flew almost, from crag to crag, until, mounting higher and higher, she reached the summit and clasped the uninjured captive to her bosom. Kinship intensifies sympathy. It is just of that the apostle would have us to gather a clear and strong idea. Christ is bone of our bone, flesh of our flesh, one of ourselves; bound up with us in the bundle of life, bound to us by ten thousand close and tender ties, along which there thrill and throb the vibrations of a strength--a Divine, a supernatural strength, that flows down indeed to the heart of even the feeblest and lowliest of His sufferers upon earth. (Bp. of Algoma.)

Humiliation of Jesus

The founder of the Russian empire left his palace and capital, the seductive pleasures and all the pomp and royalty, to acquire the art of ship-building in the dockyard of a Dutch sea-port. He learned it that he might teach it to his subjects; he became a servant, that he might be the better master, and lay in Russia the foundations of a great naval power. Nor has his country been ungrateful; her capital, which bears his name, is adorned with a monument to his memory, massive as his mind; and she has embalmed his deathless name in her heart and in her victories. Yet, little as men think of Jesus, lightly as they esteem Him, a far greater sight is here. There, in a king becoming a subject that his subjects might find in him a king, there was much for men; but here there is much both for men and angels to wonder at, and praise through all eternity. The Son of God stoops to toil. What an amazing scene! (T. Guthrie. D. D.)

The secret of true philanthropy

Great philanthropic programmes must begin at Bethlehem, and comprehend the mysteries of Golgotha, if ever they would ascend from Bethany into the heavens. He who would make life redemptive mission must go to the very base of society, and begin his work there. Men invariably fail when they begin at the high twig rather than the buried root. To serve man, Christ became man. So in serving others we must identify ourselves with them. Christ was in the darkness, but the darkness was not in Him. This identification of Himself with the human race made Christ accessible to all classes. Man needed for a season--only for a season, as one summer in the year is enough--a visible manifestation of God. So by coming to us, and being like us, trod humbling Himself to the death of the Cross, He saved us. We, too, in our philanthropic work must go down. Kings are only the blossomings of the great communal tree. “Down to the roots” is the cry of the true philanthropy. (J. Parker, D. D.)

Christ’s close contact with humanity

You remember that happy story of the wild negro child who could never be won till the little lady sat down by her, and laid her hand upon her. Eva won poor Topsy by that tender touch. The tongue failed, but the hand achieved the victory. So was it with our adorable Lord. He showed us that He was bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh; He brought Himself into contact with us, and made us perceive the reality of His love to us, and then He became more than a conqueror over us. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

“He was one of its”

On the centenary of the birth of Robert Stephenson there was a very large demonstration at Newcastle. The town was paraded by a vast precession who carried banners in honour of the distinguished engineer. ]n the procession there was a band of peasants, who carried a little banner of very ordinary appearance, but bearing the words, “He was one of us.” They were inhabitants of the small village in which Robert Stephenson had been born, and had come to do him honour. They had a right to a prominent position in that day’s proceedings, because he to whom so many thousands did honour was one of them. Even so, whatever praise the thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers can ascribe to Christ in that grand celebration when men shall be no more, we from earth can wave our banners with the words written upon it, “He was one of us.”


Verse 17

Hebrews 2:17

Made like unto His brethren

A sermon preached on Christmas Day

This high feast of the nativity of our blessed Saviour is called by St.
Chrysostom “the great metropolitan feast.” For, as to the chief city the whole country resorts (
Psalms 122:4); so all the feast-days of the whole year meet and are concentred in the joy of this feast. If we will draw them into a perfect circle, we must set the foot of the compass upon this, “God was made like unto man.” My text is laid down unto us in the form of a model proposition; which consists of two parts, the dictum and the modus. Here is, first, the proposition, “Christ is made like us.” Secondly, the modification or qualification of it, “It behoved Him so to be.” First, in the proposition, our meditations are directed to Christ and to His brethren. And we consider “what Christ is, and what we were.” God He was from all eternity, but in the fulness of time “made like unto as.” But we were miserable sinners, enemies to God. But now, by Christ’s assimilation to us, we are made like unto God. Secondly, the modification carries out thoughts to those two common heads--the convenience, and the necessity of it. Now this again looks, equally on both--on Christ, and on His brethren. If “ in all things it behoved Christ to be like unto His brethren,” which is the benefit, heaven and earth will conclude, men and angels will infer, that it behoveth us to be made like unto Christ, which is the duty. My text, ye see, is divided equally between these two terms, “Christ,” and “His brethren.” That which our devotion must contemplate in Christ is, first, His divine; secondly, His human, nature; thirdly, the union of them both. First, His divine nature; for we cannot but make a stand, and inquire who He was who ought to do this. Secondly, His human nature; for we find Him here “flesh of our flesh, and bone of our bones,” made like unto us in our flesh, in our souls. “What can we say more?” Our apostle tells us, “in all things.” And then, thirdly, will follow the union, expressed in the passive “ to be made.” in His assimilation, and the assumption of our nature. All these fill us with admiration; but the last raiseth it yet higher. Fourthly, the end of all is the end of all--our salvation; the end of our creation, of our redemption, of this assimilation; and the last end of all, the glory of God. Then “His brethren “ and He will “ dwell together in unity.”

I. In the first place, in an holy ecstasy we cry out with the prophet,” Who is He that cometh?” (Isaiah 63:1). “Who is He that must be made likeunto us?” What is done? and, Who did it? “ are of so near relation that we can hardly abstract one from the other. We, who are children of time, have need of a captain who must be born in time. We were sick of a bold and foolish ambition to be gods. And this disease became epidemical: we all would be independent, our own lawgivers, our own God. Pride threw us down; and nothing but humility, the exinanition of the Son of God, could raise us.

II. Therefore, in the next place, as Christ is “God of His Father,” so He is “man of His mother”; the Son of God, and the Son of Mary. That He appeareth in the likeness of our flesh, that He appeareth and speaketh and suffereth in our flesh, is the high prerogative of the gospel. And here He publisheth Himself in every way of representation.

1. “In our image or likeness,”--“In the form” of a servant, our very picture, a living picture, such a picture as one man is of another.

2. “By way of comparison.” For how hath He dilated Himself by a world of comparisons! He is a “Shepherd,” to guide and feed us; a “Captain,” to lead us; a “Prophet,” to teach us. He is a “Priest,” and He is “the Sacrifice” for us. He is “Bread,” to strengthen us; a “Vine,” to refresh us; a “Lamb,” that we may be meek; a “Lion,” that we may be valiant; a “Door,” to let us in; and “the Way,” through which we pass into life. He is anything that will make us like Him. Sin and error and the devil have not appeared in more shapes to deceive and destroy us than Christ hath to save us.3. By His “ exemplary” virtues; and those raised to such a high pitch of perfection, that neither the heretic, nor the Turk, nor the devil himself could leach and blemish it.

III.

We must now, with a reverent and fearful hand, but touch at the passive “to be made,” which pointeth out the union of both the natures in one person.

The apostle telleth us that “it behoved Him to be made like unto His brethren.

” And “to the apprehension of this union” (as to the knowledge of God), as Ambrose saith, “we arc led by weak and faint representations drawn from sensible things,” and by negations.

“Not after this manner.

” He was made like unto us, it is true: but not so as flesh and blood may imagine, or a wanton and busy wit conceive.

His glory did not take from Him the form of a servant, nor did this assimilation lessen or alter Him in that by which He was equal to His Father. This is “a great mystery” (1 Timothy 3:16); and mysteries cannot be searched nor sounded to the depth. It fareth with us in the pursuit of profound mysteries as with those who labour in rich mines. When we dig too deep, we meet with poisonous fogs and damps instead of treasure; when we labour above, we find less metal, but more safety. Humility and purity of soul are the best convoys in the ways of knowledge. Be not then too inquisitive to find out the manner of this union. That Christ “was made like unto us,” is the joy of this feast; but that He ought to be so, is the wonder and ecstasy of our joy. That He would descend, is mercy; but that He must descend, is our astonishment. Had the apostle said, “It behoved us that He should be made like unto us” it had found an easy belief; the “it behoved” had been placed “in its proper place” on the face of a captive. All will say, “It behoved us much.” But to put a aebet upon the Son of God, and make it a beseemming thing for Him to become flesh, “to be made like unto us,” is as if one should set a ruby in clay, a diamond in brass, a chrysolite in baser metal, and say they are placed well there. To give a gift, and call it a debt, is not our usual language. On earth it is not; but in heaven it is the proper dialect, fixed in capital letters on the mercy-seat. It is the joy of this feast, the angels’ anthem, “A Saviour is born! “ And if He will be a Saviour, an Undertaker, a Surety, such is the nature of fidejussion and suretyship, debet, “He must,” “it behoveth Him”; He is as deeply engaged as the party whoso Surety He is.

1. Let us look on the aptness of the means, and we shall soon find that this “foolishness of God” (1 Corinthians 1:25), as the apostle calls it, “is wiser than man, and this weakness of God is stronger than men”; and that the debt, it is right set. For “if you will have extremes meet, you must have a middle line to draw them together”: and, behold, here they meet, and are made one! The properties of either nature being entire, yet meet and concentre as it were in one person. Majesty putteth on humility; Power, infirmity; Eternity, mortality. By the one our Saviour dieth for us, by the other He riseth again; by the one He suffereth as man, by the other He conquereth as God; by both He perfecteth and consummateth the great work of our redemption.

2. So then here is an aptness and conveniency: but the words, “It behoved Him,” imply also a kind of necessity. That God could be made like mortal man, is a strange contemplation; that He would, is a rise and exaltation of that; that He ought, super-exalteth, and sets it at a higher pitch; but that He must be so, that necessity in a manner should bring Him down, were not His love infinite as well as His power, would stagger and amaze the strongest faith. It is true, this condescension of His, this assimilation, was free and voluntary, with more cheerfulness and earnestness undertaken by Him titan received now by us. But if we look back upon the precontract which passed between His Father and Him, we shall then see a debuit, “a kind of necessity,” laid upon Him. Our Saviour Himself speaketh it to His blessed mother, “I must go about My Father’s business” (Luke 2:49). We may measure His love by the decree; that is, we cannot measure it: for the decree is eternal.

Application:

1. If Christ be like unto us, then we also ought to be like unto Him, and to have our assimilation, our nativity, by analogy and rules of proportion answerable unto His. To be like unto Him! Why, who would not be like unto Him? “Like Him” we all would be in His glory. But to be like Him in the wilderness, like Him in His daily converse with men, like Him in the high-priest’s hall, like Him in the garden, like Him on the Cross: this we like not; hero we start back, and are afraid of His countenance. But if we will be His brethren, this is the copy we must take out, these be our postures, these our colours: bathed in His blood, it is true; but, withal, bathed in the waters of affliction, bathed in our tears, bathed in our own blood.

2. As He was made like unto us, so are we made like unto Him. We are not born so, nor so by chance. This resemblance is not drawn out with a thought or a word. How many be there who bear Christ’s name, yet are not like unto Him, because they will not be made so!

3. As there was a debuit upon Christ, so there is upon us. As “it behoved Him” to be made like unto us, so it behoveth us to be made like unto Him. A humble Christ, and a proud Christian; a meek Christ, and a bloody Christian; an obedient Christ, and a traitorous Christian; Christ in an agony, and a Christian in pleasure; Christ fasting, and a Christian rioting; Christ on the Cross, and a Christian in a Mahometical Paradise, there is no decorum in it, nothing but solecism and absurdity.

4. This duty is not only becoming, but necessary. For if a kind of necessity lay upon Christ, by His contract with His Father, “to be made like unto us”; a great necessity will lie upon us, by our covenant with Him, to be like unto Him; and woe unto us, if we be not! It is “that one thing necessary”: there is nothing necessary for us but it. (R. Farindon, J. D.)

Like to His brethren

I. THE DETAILS OF THIS CONFORMITY.

1. Similarity of natures.

2. Similarity of circumstances. He took His place as one item in the great mass of humanity, and assumed no position inconsistent with manhood.

II. THE EXPEDIENCY OF THIS CONFORMITY. “It behoved Him.” Even sovereignty is bound by law.

1. We must not deny or dispute the fact because we cannot understand the reasons on which it is founded.

2. Can we, who are less than God, complain if we also are under restraints of law?

III. THE OBJECT OF THIS URGENT AND IMPORTANT PURPOSE OF GOD,

1. “Merciful” sympathy can only flow from experience.

2. “Faithful.”

What behoved Christ

I. Note, first of all, THE EMPHASIS OF THAT EXPRESSION “IT BEHOVED HIM TO BE MADE IN ALL THINGS LIKE UNTO HIS BRETHREN.” And observe that the “all things” here, concerning which our Lord’s likeness to mankind is predicated, are not the ordinary properties of human nature, but emphatically and specifically man’s sorrows. That will appear, I think, if you notice that my text is regarded am being a consequence of our Lord’s incarnation for the help of His fellows. “He laid not hold upon ante)s, blot He laid hold upon the seed of Abraham.” Wherefore, “in all things it behoved Him to be made like unto His brethren.” Now, if the likeness here be the possession of true manhood, then my text is mere tantology, and it would simply be saying, “He became a man, wherefore it behoved Him to become a man.” The same conclusion is, I think, fairly to be deduced from the last words of our chapter, where the fact of His suffering being tempted, is stated as His preparation to help, and as His qualification as a merciful and faithful High Priest. That is to say, the “ all things” of which our Lord became partaker like us His brethren, are here the whole mass--in all its variety of pressure and diversity of nauseousness and bitterness--the whole mass of human sorrow which ham ever made men’s hearts bleed and men’s eyes run. Christ, in His single Manhood, says the writer, gathered unto Himself every form of pain. All the miseries of all men forced themselves into, and filled His heart. You and I have but a drop given to us; He drank the whole cup. Our natures are not capable of sorrow as varied, as deep, as the sorrow of Jesus Christ; but for each of us surely the assurance comes with some subtle power of consolation and strength.

II. So that brings me to the next point suggested here, viz., OUR LORD’S VARIED, ALL-COMPREHENSIVE SORROW WAS A NECESSITY IMPOSED UPON HIM BY THE PURPOSE WHICH HE HAD IN VIEW. “He taketh hold, not of angels, but of the seed of Abraham”; and therefore He must have a hand like theirs, that can grasp theirs, and which theirs can grasp. Unless the Master had Himself been standing on the heaving surges, and Himself been subjected to the beating of the storm, He could not revive and hold up the sinking disciple. And so our Lord’s bitter suffering, diffused through life and concentrated on the Cross, was no mere necessary result of His humanity; was not simply borne because, being a Teacher, He must stand to His principles whatever befell Him because of them; but it was a direct result of the purpose He had in view, that purpose being our redemption. Therefore to say, “It behoved Him to be made in all things like unto His brethren,” is but to declare that Christ’s sufferings were no matter of physical necessity, but a matter of moral obligation. We know not by what mysterious process the Son learned obedience by the things which He suffered, nor can we understand how it was that the High Priest who would never have become the High Priest had He not been merciful, became yet more merciful by His own experience of human sorrow. But this we know, that somehow the pity, the sympathy of Christ, was deepened by His own life; and we can feel that it is easier for men to lay hold of His sympathy when they think of His sufferings, and to be sure that because in all points He was tempted like as we are “He is able to succour them that are tempted.” Comfort drops but coldly from lips that have never uttered a sigh or a groan; and for our poor human hearts it is not enough to have a merciful God far off in the heavens. We need a Christ that can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities ere we can come boldly to the Throne of Grace, assured of finding there grace in time of need.

III. Lastly, we have here THE SPECIFICATION OF THE MAIN PURPOSE OF OUR LORD’S SORROWS--“that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest.” Christ’s help is not merely the help of a wise Teacher. Men do not want only teaching. Their need goes far deeper than that. Christ is not the Helper whose help goes down to the depths and the roots of men’s necessity, unless He is Priest as well as Prophet and King. He comes to do something as well as to say something; comes to alter our relations to God, as well as to declare God’s heart to us. And then, notice again how here we have Christ’s priestly office extended over His whole life of suffering. The popular representations of the gospel, and the superficial grasp of it, which many good people have, are accustomed to draw broad line of demarcation between Christ’s life and Christ’s death, and to concentrate the whole of the sacrificial and expiatory character of His work in His death only. My text goes in the other direction. It says that all that long-drawn sorrow which ran through the whole life of Jesus Christ, whilst it culminated in His death, was His sacrifice for the sins of the world. For all sorrow, according to Scriptural teaching, is the fruit of sin; and the sinless Christ, who bore the sorrows which He had not earned, in bearing them bore them away. (A. Maclaren, D. D.)

Christ s likeness unto His brethren

Likeness is asserted without qualification, and yet there are limits arising out of the nature of the case. One limit of course is that there can be no likeness in moral character. This limit is implied in the very titles applied to the two parties, Sanctifier and sanctified, and it is expressly stated in the place where Christ is represented as “tempted in all respects similarly, apart from sin” (Hebrews 4:15). Another limit, nowhere referred to in words, but tacitly assumed is, that the likeness is in those respects only in which our life on earth is affected by the curse pronounced on man for sin. Overlooking this principle, we might fail to be impressed with the likeness of Jesus to other men in His experience; we might even be impressed with a sense of unlikeness. There are respects in which Christ’s life was unlike the common life of men. He was a celibate; He died young, and had no experience of the temptations of middle life, or the infirmities of old age; in outward lot He was the brother of the poor, and was well acquainted with their griefs, but of the joys and temptations of wealth He had no experience. But these features of difference do not fall under the category of the curse. Family ties date from before the fall. The doom pronounced on man was death immediate, and prolonged life is a mitigation of the curse. Wealth too is a mitigating feature, another evidence that the curse has not been executed in rigour, but has remained to a considerable extent an unrealised ideal, because counteracted by an underlying redemptive economy. It will be found that Christ’s likeness to His brethren is closest just where the traces of the curse are most apparent: in so far as this life is

Advantages of Christ’s manifestation in the flesh

Let us consider the design of our Saviour’s mission, that Be came into the world to save sinners by turning us away from our iniquities, and thereby purifying to Himself a people zealous of good works; and we shall find that the manifestation of Christ in the flesh did more effectually answer this end than any other means could.

1. The first advantage that occurs is the simplicity of the character which the Deity assumed from whom the precepts of eternal life might issue with all the sanction of the Godhead, without the terror of its majesty.

2. As the end of Christ’s coming was to turn us to the Lord, and as no obedience to His laws can be truly acceptable, but that which springs from love, so no scheme could possibly engage so strongly our gratitude as that which so manifestly declared His abundant love to us in sending His Son to take our nature upon Him. (H. Usher, D. D.)

Christ like His brethren

I. IT IS AN ACT OF DIVINE CONDESCENSION TO HUMAN WEAKNESS. Our thoughts of God are imperfect and obscure, because He is invisible and cannot be perceived by any of the senses. The incarnation of Christ conducts man to the knowledge of God and to communion with Him. Let it awaken our gratitude, that the new and living way is open to us; that we are not assembled before a lifeless image, practising vain impure and cruel rites; that the purpose of our solemn assembly is to celebrate the love of our Creator.

II. Christ’s being made in all things like His brethren renders Him A FIT EXAMPLE FOR THEM TO IMITATE. It is by beholding the glory of the Lord that we are changed into the same image, and this is agreeable to the principles of human nature. Imitation is one of our first and strongest principles. The example of Christ is every way fitted for our instruction.

From His humility we learn that pride was not made for man. From His meekness towards those who injured Him we learn to repress anger and revenge. The young may learn from Him subjection to their parents; the wise may learn to employ their wisdom in instructing the ignorant; the great may learn to be good; the poor may learn contentment, and the afflicted resignation. In imitating His devout retirement we perceive that man is made for devotion, and that in the exercise of it our souls return unto their rest.

III. Christ was made in all things like His brethren THAT HE MIGHT SYMPATHISE WITH THEM. He took not upon Him the nature of angels, for then He could not have sympathised with men. As in circumstances of distress and danger we most need the sympathy of a friend, so Christ became “a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” (S. Charters.)

The Father’s pity and the Son’s sympathy

(in conjunction with Psalms 103:13):--The thought which I desire, by the comparison of these texts, to suggest is this--How the compassion of God for men, disclosed in the Old Testament, has grown in the New into the fellow-feeling of Christ. We have not lost our Father’s pity; we have gained a brother’s sympathy.

1. Both halves of revelation agree in giving impartial prominence to two aspects of God’s moral attitude towards us--to His aspect of displeasure towards the sinner as identified with his sin, and His aspect of grace towards the sinner as separable from his sin. Whatever the Old Testament discloses of Divine kindness to men, of gentle forbearance, and enduring watchful care, and abundant forgiveness, and healing helpfulness, seems all of it to be the condescension of One who is too great to be anything else than nobly pitiful.

2. There is no doubt whatever that some souls, fed on such views of God as these, did grow up to a spiritual stature quite heroical Long and close meditation on the greatness and on the pity of Jehovah produced very noble men of God. Abraham, Moses, Samuel, David, Elijah, Daniel, were men in whom was united rare spiritual strength with rare spiritual tenderness. To grow familiar with the vastness and unmaginableness of the Divine nature through the habit of laying one’s soul alongside the lofty One who inhabiteth eternity makes the soul wax great. For true greatness of soul is near of kin to a manly lowliness of soul; and he who frankly and profoundly worships Him who is alone noble enough for worship will find himself ennobled.

3. At the same time, the characteristic tendency of Old Testament saints to look at the Divine goodness as coloured by His pity and as having a constant reference to His distance above His creatures implied an imperfect appreciation of His love. Compassion is not the perfection of love. Love, when it is perfect, vanquishes what it cannot obliterate, the distinctions of high and low, of great and small. It refuses to be separated from its loved one. It can no longer be at ease while he suffers, or rich while he is poor, but bridges the gulf of difference, identifies itself with its object, and forgets to pity that it may learn to sympathise. By doing this new thing, which no Old Testament believer had dared to credit Him with doing, God disclosed a manner of love for men for which the name of pity is too weak. The Creator has become also a creature; and with us He has henceforth in Jesus Christ one nature, common; a common history; one life, one death. In brief, to the paternity of God has been added the fraternal tie.

4. Now, what is the worth to us of this new relation which God has acquired to man? There are three directions at least in which actual experience must be held to modify even the compassions of the Must Merciful.

Human nature of Christ

Suppose a number of prisoners confined in one of our old gaols, and there is a person desirous to do them good; imagine that he cannot be admitted unless his name is put down in the calendar. Well, out of his abundant love to these prisoners he consents to it, and when he enters to talk with them they perhaps think that he will come in with cold dignity; but he says, “Now, let me say to you first of all that I am one of yourselves.” “Well,” they say, “but have you done aught that is wrong?” “I will not answer you that,” saith he; “but if you will just refer to the calendar, you will find my name there. I am written down there among you as a criminal.” Oh, how they open their hearts newt They opened their eyes with wonder first, but now they open their hearts, and they say, “Art thou become like one of us? Then we will talk with thee.” And he begins to plead with them. Sinner, dost thou see this? Christ put Himself as near on a level with thee as He could. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

A merciful and faithful High Priest

Christ’s priestly office

Christ as God could have been merciful unto us, although He had not been made like unto us; but not as our High Priest. There is an ability of sufficiency, and of power; and so Christ as God was able to succour those that are tempted, although Himself had never been tempted. But there is an ability of idoneity or fitness, or aptness and disposition; and so the apostle says here, “For in that Himself bath suffered being tempted, He is able to succour them that are tempted.” The priestly office of Christ is the great storehouse of all that grace and comfort which we have on this side heaven: it is that whereby we are reconciled to God the Father and relieved against temptation.

I. WHEN THE LEND JESUS CHRIST DIED UPON THE CROSS, HE DID OFFER UP HIMSELF A SACRIFICE UNTO GOD THE FATHER. Yea, as if all sacrifices were met in Him; all those titles that are given unto other sacrifices, they are given unto Him. There are three sorts of sacrifices: some were living; others were not living, and those were either solid, as bread and the like; or else they were liquid, as wine and oil. There was always a destroying of the thing offered.

II. WHEN THIS SACRIFICE WAS UPON THE ALTAR, THEN THE SINS OF ALL BELIEVERS, PAST, PRESENT, AND TO COME, WERE ALL LAID UPON JESUS CHRIST (Isaiah 53:6).

III. WHEN THESE SINS WERE THUS LAID UPON CHRIST, HE DID THEREBY GIVE FULL SATISFACTION UNTO GOD THE FATHER, UNTO DIVINE JUSTICE.

IV. ALL THIS HE DID AS OUR GREAT HIGH PRIEST, AND IN A MORE TRANSCENDENT AND EMINENT MANNER THAN EVER ANY HIGH PRIEST DID BEFORE HIM.

V. HOW DOES ALL THIS CONDUCE TO OUR COMFORT OR HOLINESS?

1. Is it not a comfortable thing in the ears of a poor sinner that there is a storehouse of mercy set up? that the Lord hath erected an office of love, and of mere compassion for poor sinners? Is it not a comfortable thing that God the Father is satisfied, and so your sins pardoned?

2. But you will say, “Does it not much conduce to our grace or holiness too?” Yes, this truth does conduce much to our holiness too. The new covenant of grace is founded upon the satisfaction of Jesus Christ upon the cross, upon that oblation (see Hebrews 9:13-15). But again, that we may see how this doth conduce to our holiness: strengthen faith, and we strengthen all. If faith be weakened, all grace is weakened: strengthen)our faith, and you strengthen all your holiness and all your graces.

3. The more a man does deny his own righteousness, the more holy he is with gospel holiness. (W. Bridge, M. A.)

The work of our High Priest

If we now inquire further what the work of the high priest was and is, that accordingly we may address ourselves unto Jesus Christ for succour, we shall find that it is also to pray and intercede for the people.

I. WHEREIN CONSISTETH THIS INTERCESSION OF JESUS CHRIST?

1. It consists in this: His appearing for us in heaven, His owning of our cause and of our souls to God the Father (Hebrews 9:24).

2. He doth not only appear for us, but by virtue of His priestly office he does carry the power, merit, and virtue of His blood into the presence of God the Father in heaven, and sprinkles the mercy-seat with it seven times.

Seven is a note of perfection. Those that Christ suffered for He does intercede for. He takes all their bonds, and He carries them in unto God the Father, and He says, “Father, I have paid these bonds, I have satisfied Thy justice for these poor sinners, and now My desire is that they may be acquitted from these debts” (Hebrews 9:11-12).

3. He doth not only carry the power and virtue of His blood and present it to God the Father for our discharge, but He does also plead our cause in heaven, answering unto all those accusations that are brought against us Romans 8:33).

4. He doth not only plead our cause and take off accusations that are brought against us, but He does also call for absolution and pardon of poor sinners at the hand of God the Father in a way of justice and equity; and therefore He is called our Advocate (1 John 2:1).

II. THE PREVALENCY OF CHRIST’S INTERCESSION WITH THE FATHER will appear if we consider the inclination and disposition that God the Father hath unto the same things that Christ intercedeth for If a child should come and intreat his father in a matter that the father hath no mind to, or that the father is set against, possibly he might not prevail; but if a beloved child shall come and pray the father in a business that the father likes as well as the child, surely then the child is very like to speed. We have a notable expression to this end in John 10:17 : “Therefore doth My Father love Me, because I lay down My life, that I may take it again.” “I lay down My life”: here is His suffering and His satisfaction. “That I may take it again”: go up to heaven and take it again and intercede. The Father loves the world in giving Christ; the Son loves the world in dying for us; and the Father loves Christ again for loving us.

III. DOSE THE LORD JESUS CHRIST INTERCEDE FOR US IN HEAVEN AS OUR GREAT HIGH PRIEST? Yes, and He does do this in a more eminent way than ever any high priest did before Him.

1. He hath gone through more temptations than ever any high priest did.

2. In sympathy and compassion He goes beyond all the high priests that ever were before Him.

3. He is more faithful in His office and place than ever any high priest was.

IV. HOW DOTH ALL THIS CONDUCE NOW TO OUR COMFORT OR OUR HOLINESS, TO OUR GRACE OR PEACE?

1. To our comfort. Is it not a comfort to a poor man to have a Friend above, near the King that may be able to do him kindness? A man sometimes says, “I had a friend indeed in the court, but now he is dead.” Aye, but here is a Friend that never dies: He ever lives to make intercession. Friends may alter and turn enemies; but He changeth not, But you will say unto me, “This is exceeding good, and very comfortable in itself; but what is this to me? for I am afraid that the Lord Christ does not intercede for me.”

2. This intercession of Jesus Christ; this work of the priestly office of Christ, and the consideration thereof, it does conduce exceedingly unto our grace and holiness. For

Our High Priest’s offering

Now if we inquire further, we shall find also that the work of the High Priest was and now is to offer up the gifts of the people unto God; to present our prayers, praises, duties, services, and all spiritual performances unto God the Father, and to procure acceptance of Him.

I. WHAT DOTH OUR LORD AND SAVIOUR CHRIST, OUR GREAT HIGH PRIEST, WHEN HE OFFERS UP OUR GIFTS UNTO GOD THE FATHER?

1. He doth take our persons, and carries them in unto God the Father in a most unperceivable way to us. He knows that if our persons be not first accepted our duty cannot be accepted: Love me, and love my duty; love me, and love my service: hate me, and hate my service.

2. As He doth take our persons, and lead and carry us into the presence of God the Father, so, when we perform any duty, He doth observe what evil or failing there is in that duty, and draws it out, takes it away before He presents the duty to God the Father.

3. As He takes away the iniquity of our holy things, so He observes what good there is in any of our duties or performances; and with that He mingles his own prayers and intercessions, His own incense, and presents all as one work mingled together unto God the Father.

II. WHAT ABUNDANCE OF FAVOUR AND ACCEPTANCE THIS OUR GREAT HIGH PRIEST HIMSELF HATH IN HEAVEN.

1. It was an agreement between God the Father and Christ, the second Person, before the world was, that in due time He should come into the world, take flesh upon Him, and die for sinners: and He did so. But before Christ came into the world there were thousands of souls saved; how came they to be saved? They came to be saved by the blood of Christ, and before Christ died. So then, God the Father saved them upon Christ’s bare word, that He would come into the world and die for them. What a mighty trust was here!

2. Again, the trust appears in this: that He was made, when Be came into the world, the great Lord Treasurer of all the grace and comfort that should be given out unto the children of men.

3. But yet further, when our Lord and Saviour Christ died, and ascended unto God the Father to heaven, as soon as ever He came into heaven, saith the Father to Him, Thou hast now suffered, “Ask of Me, and I will give Thee the heathen for Thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession”; all the world at one word. It was a mighty and a great trust that the Father did put upon Him.

4. Yea, as if all this were not enough, the Father did put the keys of heaven and of hell into His hand: the keys of heaven and hell into the hand of Christ (Revelation 1:18).

III. HE DOTH IMPROVE ALL THAT HIS OWN ACCEPTANCE, FOR OUR ACCEPTANCE PLANTING ALL OUR DUTIES UPON HIS OWN ACCEPTANCE, UPON THAT ACCEPTANCE THAT HE HATH WITH THE FATHER. The favour and acceptance which the high priest had, in the time of Moses, was not for himself: he did improve it all for the people: he was to lay it out all for the people, and not for himself. Our High Priest goes beyond all other high priests in this particular also: for now, as for other high priests, though they went in with their incense, and covered the mercy-seat with a cloud, yet it was but once in the year; but our High Priest is always in the holy of holiest, and never goes out of it, ever covering the mercy-seat with His intercessions. Take their high priest, and though he was very holy as Aaron was, yet sometimes he made the people naked unacceptable; but our great High Priest never makes His people naked, but always clothes them with His own righteousness. Take their high priest, and though he did go into the holy of holiest for the people, yet he never led the people into the holy of holiest, they stood without; but our great High Priest is not only gone into the holy of holiest Himself but doth also lead every poor believer into the holy of holiest (Hebrews 10:19).

IV. WHAT ABUNDANCE OF ACCEPTANCE THEREFORE WE HAVE IN ALL OUR DUTIES BY HIM. Yes, we know that the pair of turtles were accepted in the time of the law by those that could offer no more. Surely much more now will a poor turtle be accepted in the time of the gospel, and those that could but bring goats-hair towards the making of the Tabernacle, they were welcome: and shall it not be so now much more in the times of the gospel? That which is little in regard to quantity, it may be great in regard of proportion; as the widow’s mite was. Christ takes that lovingly that comes from love, whatever it be, though it be never so weak. Well, but suppose that a man’s duty or service be performed with many failings, infirmities, hardness of heart, straitness of spirit, distracting thoughts; this is my case: Oh I is there any acceptance for such a duty as this is? We know how it was with Nicodemus, and the woman that came trembling and touched the hem of Christ’s garment. And we must know that in every duty that we do perform there are two things: there is the sacrifice, and there is the obedience in offering the sacrifice. Though the sacrifice may be imperfect, yet your obedience in offering the sacrifice may be perfect, with gospel-perfection.

V. BUT HOW DOTH ALL THIS MAKE FOR OUR COMFORT, OR FOR OUR GRACE?

1. Surely, we cannot but see already how it doth make for our comfort. Is it not a comfortable thing for a man to know that his duties are not lost? that his prayer is not lost? that his hearing the Word is not lost? that his searching the Scriptures is not lost? that his communion is not lost? A man is unwilling to lose anything: and the more precious it is the more unwilling to lose it. Further, is it not a comfort for a man to have liberty to go unto the mercy-seat and there for to meet with God? Besides, is it not a great comfort to a man for to know how it shall go with him at the day of judgment? Once more; is it not a comfort for a poor beggar to be relieved at a rich man’s door?

2. But how doth this make unto our holiness, unto holiness of life?

Much every way:

1. In case I be ungodly, here is that that may for ever keep me from opposition to the good ways of God. I have said sometimes (may a wicked man say) concerning godly men’s duties, that it was their hypocrisy; and I have said concerning such and such professors, this is your pride, and this is your singularity; and I have opposed, with all earnestness, the prayings of some of God’s people; but is this true, that the Lord Jesus Christ takes every prayer of the meanest of God’s children and carries it into the bosom of God the Father? and shall I dare to oppose that that the Lord Jesus Christ presents unto His Father? The Lord in mercy pardon me. I will never speak one word against the persons, meetings, or supplications of the godly again.

2. In case a man be a wicked man, here is mighty encouragement for to come unto Jesus Christ; aye, and to come presently. For is Jesus Christ the ladder that Jacob saw, by whom we go up to heaven? Then, till I do come to Christ, all is nothing, all is lost.

3. In case a man be godly, this truth doth conduce to our further holiness and growth in grace. If I be godly, then here I see infinite reason why I should be much in duty; not only pray, but be much in prayer. Why? for the Lord Christ taketh all, and carries all into the bosom of the Father, mingles His own odours, intercessions with it, although it be but a sigh and a groan. Further, the more evangelical you are in your obedience, the more holy ye are in your lives. I conclude all with this, if that the Lord Jesus Christ, our great High Priest, offers up all our gifts unto God the Father, whereby we have acceptance, what infinite cause have we all to be thankful to God for Christ, and to love Jesus Christ for ever! (W. Bridge, M. A.)

Our High Priest’s blessing

I shall speak of one work more of our great High Priest, and that is, to bless the people.

I. WHAT THE BLESSING OF CHRIST OUR HIGH PRIEST IS, WHEREIN IT CONSISTS, AND WHAT CHRIST DOTH WHEN HE DOTH BLESS THE PEOPLE. I answer in the general, that the blessing of the gospel, and of Christ, consisteth in spiritual things especially, and not in temporal (Ephesians 1:3). But more particularly, if ye ask me wherein this consisteth, I shall name but two things:

1. First, This blessing of the gospel, or of Christ, it consists in a supernatural and spiritual enjoyment of God in Christ: the love and favour of God in Christ. Again, it consists also in the inhabitation of the Holy Ghost in our hearts: the giving out of the Holy Ghost unto the hearts of men. And therefore it is added: “And the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.”

II. DOES THIS BLESSING PROPERLY OR SPECIALLY BELONG UNTO JESUS CHRIST? Yes, for He and none else was made a curse for sin; and therefore it belongs unto Him above all the world for to bless.

III. IS THE LORD JESUS CHRIST WILLING FOR TO BLESS POOR SINNERS AND INCLINED UNTO IT? Yes, He is very willing: this blessing of the people, it is a work whereunto He is most delighted. Ye shall observe, therefore, what abundance of blessings Christ scattered among the people when He was here upon the earth.

IV. BUT DOTH HE DO IT? Yes, He doth do it, and doth it fully. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.” Not only meritoriously but by the hand of Christ. And, saith he, He hath done it with all spiritual blessings, and He hath done it by Jesus Christ.

1. When Christ our High Priest doth see that a man is weak in grace or weak in gifts, and hath some work or service for him to do, then the Lord doth bless him. Oh, soul, increase and multiply, increase in thy gifts and graces.

2. As the Lord doth bless weak gifts and graces when He intends to use them, so also when as He hath made use of a man, when a man hath done the work of God, then the Lord blesses that man.

3. As He does bless at this time, when a man hath done His work, so also when a man is willing for to leave all His relations and natural engagements for to follow Him, to cleave close unto Him, and to His ways and ordinances.

4. The Lord Christ, our High Priest, does bless when the would curses; a special time of Christ’s blessing is when the world curses.

5. In the fifth place, the Lord Christ does also bless when His people do graciously enjoy the ordinances purely and evangelically administered.

V. HOW DOES ALL THIS CONDUCE UNTO OUR COMFORT AND UNTO OUR HOLINESS?

1. First for comfort: is it not a comfortable thing to be blessed by Jesus Christ? Is it not a comfortable thing for a man to have all his cursers to be blessers?

2. How does this make unto our holiness? Very much: this holds forth great encouragement unto all poor sinners for to come to Christ without delay. But yet further, as there is an encouragement for to come unto Christ, so this argument does also encourage us to go on in the good ways of Christ, notwithstanding all opposition that we meet. Times of opposition are Christ’s blessing time.

3. Again, this argument does not only speak encouragement against all opposition, but it does also encourage us to go on in the good ways of God when we are called unto it, though we have but little strength and weak parts. Though there be but little oil in the cruse, though there be but little meal in the barrel, if Christ call to the work He will bless a man in it: and when Christ blesses, He does multiply and increase a man’s parts in the using of them.

4. And yet further, if all this be true, why should not a man be contented with his condition, though he be never so mean? Truly he is too covetous, whom the blessing of Christ will not satisfy. Well, whatever my condition be, yet I may be blessed by Jesus Christ; and hath the Lord blessed me? then will I be contented with my condition, though it be never so mean, I have all, as Jacob once said, I have all.

5. Yea, in the fifth and last place: Here is that, which if well studied and considered, will provoke us all for to bless the Lord, and continually to bless the Lord! What is the life of a Christian here but a continual blessing of God? (W. Bridge, M. A)

Our High Priest

The strong point in the Hebrew economy was the high priest. His whole office and function was mercy, compassion. He stood between weakness, or sinfulness, or want, and the remedy; and mercy was the appointed channel through which to the imagination and the affection of the people God’s grace flowed down to them; so that all their associations with him were those of lenity, of compassion, of mercy. He was the one great benefactor. He was an emancipator. He was, in the Jewish system, a central point out of which came light, and never scowls nor darkness. No other name, therefore, whether of king or of prophet, would be likely to strike the Israelite with such a feeling of religiousness, with such an elevating influence, or with such welcomeness, as that of high priest; and that is the reason why it was planted on the Saviour. It was a heart reason. How different was this mode of presenting the function of Christ Jesus from that which came up in after times! The view of an executive God; the view of a law-giving and law-executing God, that repels men by fear more than it draws them by love; the view of an abstract God, epitomised in philosophy--how few there are that can accept such views! It was a historical person, a personal person, a national person, that the Jews were prepared to accept; and when Jesus Christ was presented to them as really their Redeemer, under the figure of the high priest, it brought round about Him all those romantic, enthusiastic, and national feelings for which they were so famous. The whole function of the Saviour was founded upon the ignorance, the sinfulness, and the helplessness of men; and no revelation was needed to make these known. There is not a man who is not satisfied that he sins with every part of his being; and there is a concatenation of sinfulness running through his whole life. There is not a man who, when he undertakes to do anything in the direction of purity, is not conscious of his helplessness. There is not a man who, when he strives to be true and noble in his better nature, is not conscious that everything goes against him. And it was on this consciousness that high priest-ship was founded. Sin, then, is a matter of universal consciousness; and the only question is, is there any belief, any remedy for mankind who are subject to it? By way of preface, I may say first, that the human race has come to its ideal of God through growth. In the earlier period men came in conflict, first with the natural law of the globe; and fate and force were the more useful interpretations of that great law. When men developed near the animal line, the qualities of nature transcendently filled the heavens to their conception. The earlier thought of God as something separable from nature was that He was a Being that thundered and smote; that He was a Being possessed of great power; that He was a Being of tremendous avenging ability and force. Such were the elements that were earliest appreciable to the human race in their conception of the Divine Being. But as men grew civilised, and enlarged their experience, their capacities and their civic life, there grew up in them what I might almost call physical qualities of the Divine Being--namely, the moral elements. The warrior, more nearly than the brute giant, began to take on qualities which attracted admiration. Out of the warrior grew the king; and he represented the sense of public justice and of restraint for the benefit of his kingdom. Then came in the notion of the judge. Joined closely, also, with the idea of the executive, was the idea of the executioner to carry out his edicts. And all these elements were tinged somewhat with the conception of a king. It was not until we came down to as late a time as the earlier periods of the Old Testament history that the disclosures of the Divine nature began to be more ample. There was a state of receptivity, at last, in the human race by which you could bring to the conception of men, though very imperfectly, a larger notion of God. Then came the revelation of God as a universal Father. But when we come to the latest disclosure, even the fatherhood of God stood aside, as it were, that it might be represented to men by an intermediate conception. Christ came to give to the word “Father” its true and full meaning. Christ took on the human body, and He took it on with all its relations to matter. He came into the world to represent the Divine humility, the Divine helpfulness, the Divine sympathy with infirmity and sin. He came into life at the very lowest point; and He understood from the standpoint of compassion every conceivable human experience. There was not a thought or a feeling possible to human nature, that our Saviour did not have a knowledge of it, so that He is able to succour those who are tempted in those respects. There is not a single passion, a single inclination, a single hunger, a single fear, a single bitterness, a single experience of the human mind, in which He has not been schooled. He so gave Himself to human nature that it might be said that from the crown to the lowest dungeon, from the rich man’s mansion to the ditch of the beggar, there is not a faculty with whose workings He was not familiar. In order to be a good artist I do not need to play every tune: I simply need to know each string, and what its possible combinations are, and how to make them; and although our Saviour did not go through all the various phases of experience which men go through, His education in the knowledge of humanity was perfect. Now, this very conception is itself Divine. Divinity stands not in the red right-hand of power; it is not omnipotence and omniscience: it is goodness; and goodness centres in love. So, then, we are to find the Divine nature manifested in goodness, which is the very highest conception of Divinity. I do not want any man to explain to me how Christ is equal to the Father: all I want is to know that His character is a disclosure of character of God. We should bear in mind that, according to the teaching of the New Testament, Christ is the High Priest that has ascended into heaven. He is close to every one. The man who is murmuring his last prayer in a dungeon can think himself rote the very presence of the High Priest in heaven. He who is wounded on the battle-field thinks, as the army thunders away, and his companions leave him, “The High Priest is close at hand.” The poor miserable creature of degraded conditions “can, by thinking, bring himself into Christ’s presence. He is accessible to all; and there is no need of any one’s saying, “Who shall ascend up into the heavens and bring the Saviour down?” He is near to each man. The central force of the universe, then, according to this representation, is compassion; it is helpfulness, and over those who have run through the whole range of wrong-doing, and who are seeking to rise out of cruelty, and lust, and pride, and selfishness, and every sort of degradation, there broods--what? Wrath? No. There broods over them the High-Priesthood of Christ Jesus--the compassion of One who knows how to feel for those that are out of the way; the enriching power of Christ’s heart. That is the tractive power of the universe. If it be in your power, conceive of Christ as such a High Priest as He was to the Jewish imagination, as a being set apart from among mankind because He had compassion on those who were out of the way, who was tried and condemned, and who suffered like His fellow-men so that He could have compassion on them. He descended from heaven and took upon Himself the nature of man, and was made in the likeness of man. He came into life at the bottom and partook of the experiences of men, and passed through every conceivable state of the human mind in order that He might stand and say, “Oh, fallen, weak, sinful, guilty, wretched creatures, I am your brother; and I am clothed with God’s nature; I am in the Father and He is in Me; and I bring to you the tidings of summer on your winter. The God whose I am, and whom I represent, who abides in Me and in whom I abide, is a God of tender love, who would not that any should perish, but would that all should live.” That is the message which the Lord Jesus Christ brings to men. If there be men who are afraid to worship Christ, I have two things to say. In the first place, when you worship the Father you worship exactly the same being that I do when I worship Christ. Men had no knowledge of what to put into the fatherhood of God until it was proclaimed in the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, really what you call “Father” and what I call “Jesus” are just the same thing. In the next place, if there were a difference, do you suppose God would be angry if you made a little mistake and worshipped the Son instead of the Father? If a postman handed to my wife a letter which was directed to me, do you suppose there would be a scene? Would we scold him because he handed it to the wrong person when he thought he was handing it to the right one? Where two are united in perfect love a mistake like that does not make any difference. Another thing. When you say that you cannot worship Christ as you do the Father, what do you mean by worship? What is it but giving to another all the enthusiasm which you are capable of feeling? You cannot love supremely without worshipping; for love is the highest worship; and all this riddle about dynastic notions vanishes into space. When you worship Christ and pray to Him, you worship and pray to the Father; and when you worship the Father and pray to Him, you worship and pray to Christ. Then, there are those whom a consciousness of guilt and imperfection keeps back from venturing upon one who is set forth in the Scriptures as their God. Many persons feel, “Oh, if I were not living in the way that I am, I would be willing to pray to God”; but as represented by the High Priest Christ Jesus, God stands before you and recognises you; and the foundation of His recognition of you is that you are weak, guilty, out of the way, and continually sinning. He came to call sinners. There were none so wicked that He was not willing to minister to them. The worse a man is the more he needs a Saviour, and the more the heart of Christ yearns towards him. Not only so, but He is gentle and tender in His dealings toward those who are out of the way. He says, “A bruised reed I will not break, and the smoking flax I will not quench, until I bring forth judgment unto victory.” You know that when you first kindle a lamp there is just a little bit of a blue flame; that it quivers on the wick as if to see whether it can expand into a full flame; and that it is not safe for you even to breathe upon it, so that you must turn your face aside lest you blow it out; but Christ says that when a man has fallen so low that the spiritual life in him is as feeble as the flame of a newly-lighted lamp, He will not put it out. The all-merciful love of Jesus Christ, who is the atonement of the world, and who reveals in Himself the nature of the Divine Father, is curative by its very moral character. It represents the love of Him who is for ever giving His life to make life in those whom He has created. (H. W.Beecher.)

Christ a merciful and faithful High Priest

1. He must be merciful; for He must deal with God for sinful and miserable man, for to relieve him. And He is then merciful, when He doth not only know man’s misery, but is inwardly sensible of it, so as to be moved and that effectually to succour him. This mercifulness is opposed not only to ignorance of others’ misery, and senselessness, but also to harshness, severity, cruelty. And Christ was more merciful than ever any man or angel was, and there was great need He should be so; for if every offence, nay, if many and great offences, should move Him to passion, and enrage Him so as to reject them and their cause, or proceed to plead against them, or condemn them, how many thousands should perish everlastingly?

2. As He is merciful, so He must be faithful, and such as poor sinners may safely trust unto, and depend upon, when they commit their cause concerning their eternal estate into His hands. Christ may be said to be faithful, either to God, who hath given the office of high priest, and a command to discharge it, or unto man, who, according to the rules of God’s Word, believes in Him, and commits Himself and all that he hath unto Him. And then He is actually faithful, when He performs all things belonging to His sacerdotal office, and goes through with His work until He hath perfectly finished, and sinful man attains that for which he trusted Him. Man may be merciful and not faithful; Christ is both, and will be sensible of our case and cause, will mind it, and do it as His own. In this respect our hope is firm and our comfort is unspeakable. Blessed are all they that trust Him. This is His qualification, the best that ever was or can be in any priest.

3. The work, the principal work is, to make reconciliation for the sins of His people.

The generosity of our kinsman

The chief of the Koreish were prostrate at his (Mahomet’s) feet (after the conquest of Mecca). “What mercy can you expect from the man whom you have wronged?” “We confide in the generosity of our kinsman.” “And you shall not confide in vain begone! you are safe, you are free.” (Gibbon.)

Christ’s intercession compassionate

How a tender-hearted mother would plead with a judge for her child read to be condemned! Oh, how would her bowels work; how would her tears trickle down; what weeping rhetoric would she use to the judge for mercy! Thus the Lord Jesus is full of sympathy and tenderness that He might be a merciful High Priest. Though He hath left His passion, yet not His compassion. An ordinary lawyer is not affected with the cause he pleads, nor doth he care which way it goes; profit makes him plead, not affection. But Christ intercedes feelingly, and that which makes Him intercede with affection is, it is His own cause which He pleads in the cause of His people. (Thomas Watson.)

To make reconciliation for the sins of the people

The reconciliation of sinners by the death of Christ

I. IT IS SAID HERE, IT BECAME OUR SAVIOUR, OR HE MADE HIMSELF A DEBTOR, TO NO WHAT HE DID.

1. Though He acted willingly, and laid down His life freely, yet this became Him in respect of His compassion and great good-will to men.

2. It became Him in respect of His Father’s will, and the pursuit of that business in which He was engaged.

3. It behoved Him in all things to be made like unto us. What, sin and all? No; God forbid; that is excepted (Hebrews 4:5). Our Saviour was made like unto us.

II. In the next place it follows that He was LIKE UNTO US, THAT HE MIGHT BE A MERCIFUL AND FAITHFUL HIGH PRIEST. This was done with respect to us; in a way of compassion and pure good-will. Two things evidence this unto us. That the state which our Saviour submitted to, the principle that moved Him, was pure goodwill.

III. In the next place it follows THAT OUR INFIRMITIES ARE COMPASSIONABLE. These three things put together, do something lessen the sins of man, and procure him pity with God.

1. That he is liable to fail and be mistaken.

2. That in his constitution he doth consist of body and spirit.

3. That he is exposed to all sorts of temptations from without in this dangerous world. So that through the grace of God it is not so much what sin is as what the demeanour of a person is after sin. The same goodness that doth pardon penitents cloth punish obstinacy.

Inferences:

1. Though we are under guilt, yet let us not despair: for if we do submit, and turn to God, it is a case of mercy, and God will forgive.

2. Let us have no hard thoughts of God upon occasion of His present judgments, or future denunciations. Let us consider the temper that is in obstinate sinners. God may give repentance to the sinner, but He cannot give pardon to the impenitent.

3. Take notice, that to be tempted, and to sin, are two things. None can hinder an offer to be made; but it lies in our power to resist it. Satan may tempt, but he cannot force. Neither are we alone; for God will assist us, and wilt not be wanting to those that are willing to make use of His strength.

4. Let us counterwork the Evil One, by frequent proposals of good. If there be evil thoughts suggested, put yourselves upon good thoughts and motions. Live not carelessly in the world, since the world is a place of so much danger.

5. Do not run away with every report, nor bite at every bait; since we live among our enemies in a place of danger, difficulty, ill representations. (B. Whichcote, D. D.)

Christ our High Priest, merciful and faithful

1. The high priest was in the Jewish Church an eminent instrument of God, the most visible and eminent type of Christ that was. And truly, were not the high priest in the Jewish state transcendently supplied, he would be greatly missed. But, thanks be to God, whereas they had the shadow, we have the substance. The high priest was always a middle person between God and the people, to be in readiness to make approaches to God, whatsoever the necessity was.

2. And then He was merciful, viz., to make the best of our cave; to compassionate us in misery, and to help us out.

3. Not only merciful but faithful; true to our cause, will make the best of oar case. One that is trusted by God for us.

4. Next, in things pertaining to God. Where I observe that the business of Christ is wholly spiritual. Christ’s government is in the mind, understanding and conscience. Christ did not come into the world for worldly ends and purposes; these are things far below His intentions. The notion of Christ’s government is for mental illumination, delivery from sin, moral refinement, sanctification here, and glorification hereafter. They do act in the spirit of Christ, who are preachers of righteousness by words and by practice; what is not spiritual is wholly foreign to Christ’s kingdom, and to His government. And then again, Christianity lays a foundation of no enmity, but only to unrighteousness and to wickedness. For if we be in a true Christian spirit, we will endeavour to reconcile, and we must be in reconciliation with everything that holds of God and that God doth uphold.

5. Whatsoever is declared concerning Christ; whatsoever the excellency of His person: this is the advantage that we have by it; that He makes use of all His power and interest for our benefit; and He was appointed of God to this end, that He might make reconciliation for the sins of the people. I am now from these words to give you an account of the business of reconciliation, which is the great undertaking of our Saviour; which is the product of infinite wisdom and goodness, and which is our greatest concernment, as being fundamentally necessary to happiness. For it is not possible we should be made happy by God Himself, if not reconciled to Him; we are eternally undone if this be not done.

1. This Reconciler goes in a way of moral motion.

2. He treats with both parties at variance.

3. He doth equally consider the right of both sides.

4. Reconciliation must be mutual.

5. It is acceptable every way to each party: the work of reconciliation is acceptable to God and man.

To God, because God’s honour is maintained, and because infinite wisdom and goodness have therein exercised themselves. And to man, because man is put upon nothing but what is best in itself; that a man if he did but consider, he would not be saved in another way. And man now is out of danger, and looks upon God as his Friend. And God delights in this His product, infinite wisdom and goodness together. This is the representation I make you concerning the matter of reconciliation. I will now speak of the manner of reconciliation, and show you what our Saviour in our behalf did undertake, that was highly satisfactory to the mind of God, and according to His will; and therefore it was the true manner of reconciliation.

1. Concerning the quality of sin. Here is a declaration of its unworthiness, its odiousness in the sight of God, its ill demerit, its hurtfulness to the creature; for it destroys the subject, and is a pernicious example. Now it is fit that the person to be restored be made sensible of his condition, and what the physician hath done for him.

2. In respect of the law, four things were done by Christ’s undertaking.

3. An open condemnation of sin is requisite and fitting in this case of the creatures wilful practice upon God; and to be for ever hereafter a check upon all lusts. And this is remarkably done by our Saviour, since He died for sin. This arrogant practice of the creature is sufficiently witnessed against; since an innocent person hath died for it. And doth not this look backward, and condemn what man hath done; and look forward, and restrain lust and sin, for all time to come? So that this being in itself worthy, is satisfactory to God, and the pardon of sin is thereby facilitated.

4. Owning God as supreme and sovereign, and owning the rule of right, is done in the very nature that had transgressed.

5. There is demonstration of God’s veracity and holiness. He had given out prohibition under the penalty of death. “In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt die the death.” And this is fulfilled in the very letter. God’s holiness and impartiality is declared, and this is according to the mind and will of God; and a matter that is acceptable is always matter of satisfaction.

6. He brings things to rights again. That is done by our Saviour’s undertaking. The curse was taken off, and God returns to blessing, and He hath blessed man ever since. The passage is open to our free communication with God. (B. Whichcote, D. D.)

Reconciliation with God

To effect this, all that is necessary is to persuade the sinner to Cease his rebellion and submit to Him. In Christ God is reconciled to the sinner, and there is no need to persuade Him. He is love, the sinner is enmity. He is light, the sinner is darkness. He is nigh unto the sinner, but the sinner is afar off from Him. The great object then to be accomplished is, to destroy the sinner’s enmity, that he may have Divine love; bring him from his darkness into Divine light; bring him from his evil works nigh unto God, and reconciliation is the result. (John Bate.)


Verse 18

Hebrews 2:18

Himself hath suffered, being tempted

A tempted Saviour, our best succour

I.
MANY SOULS ARE TEMPTED--CHRIST WAS TEMPTED.

1. They are tempted from all quarters.

2. They are tempted in all positions.

3. Every age has its temptations.

II. AS THE TEMPTED OFTEN SUFFER, CHRIST ALSO SUFFERED. Temptation, even when overcome, brings with it to the true child of God a great degree of suffering. The suffering consists in two or three things.

1. It lies, mainly, in the shock which sin gives to the sensitive, regenerate nature. A man who is clothed in armour may walk through the midst of tearing thorns and brambles without being hurt; but let the man be stripped of his garments, and how sadly will he be torn. Sin, to the man who is used to it, is no suffering; if he be tempted, it is no pain to him; in fact, frequently temptation yields pleasure to the sinner. To look at the bait is sweet to the fish which means to swallow it by and by. But to the child of God, who is new-made and quickened, the very thought of sin makes him shudder; he cannot look at it without detestation. Now, in this case, Christ indeed has fellowship, and far outruns us.

2. Suffering, too, arises to the people of God from a dread of the temptation when its shadow falls upon us ere it conies. At times there is more dread in the prospect of a trial than there is in the trial itself. We feel a thousand temptations in fearing one. Christ knew this. What an awful dread was that which came over Him in the black night of Gethsemane!

3. The suffering of temptation also lies often in the source of it. Have you not often felt that you would not mind the temptation if it had not come from where it did? “Oh!” say you, “to think that my own friend, my dearly beloved friend, should try me!” Ah! but the Man of Sorrows knew all this, since it was one of the chosen twelve who betrayed Him. And, besides, “it pleased the Father to bruise Him.”

4. I have no doubt, too, that a portion of the sorrow and suffering of temptation may also lie in the fact that God’s name and honour are often involved in our temptation.

III. THEY THAT ARE TEMPTED HAVE GREAT NEED OF SUCCOUR, AND CHRIST IS ABLE, HAVING HIMSELF BEEN TEMPTED, TO SUCCOUR THEM THAT ARE TEMPTED. Of course this is true of Christ as God. The Christos, the anointed One, the High Priest of our profession, is in His complex character able to succour them that are tempted. How?

1. Why, first, the very fact that He was tempted has some succour in it to us. If we had to walk through the darkness alone, we should know the very extremity of misery; but having a companion, we have comfort; having such a companion, we have joy.

2. But, further, the fact that He has suffered without being destroyed is inestimably comforting to us. If you could see a block of ore just ready to be put into the furnace, if that block of ore could look into the flames, and could mark the blast as it blows the coals to a vehement heat, if it could speak it would say, “Ah! woe is me that ever I should be put into such a blazing furnace as that! I shall be burnt up; I shall be melted with the slag; I shall be utterly consumed!” But suppose another lump, all bright and glistening, could lie by its side, and say, “No, no, you are just like I was, but I went through the fire and I lost nothing thereby; see how bright I am; how I have survived all the flames.” Why, then, that piece of ore would rather anticipate than dread the season when it too should be exposed to the purifying heat, and come out, all bright and lustrous, like its companion.

3. And you will remember, too, that Christ, in going through the suffering of temptation, was not simply no loser, but He was a great gainer; for it is written, it pleased God “to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” It was through His suffering that He obtained the mediatorial glory which now crowns His head.

4. But more, in that Christ hath suffered, being tempted, He is able to succour us who are tempted by sending His grace to help us. He was always able to send grace, but now as God and man He is able to send just the right grace at the right time, and in the right place. You know a doctor may have all the drugs that can be gathered, but an abundance of medicine does not make him a qualified practitioner; if, however, he has been himself and seen the case, then he knows just at what crisis of the disease such and such a medicine is wanted. The stores are good, but the wisdom to use the stones--this is even more precious. Now it pleased the Father that in Christ should all fulness dwell; but where should the Son of Man earn His diploma and gain the skill with which to use the fulness aright? Beloved, He won it by experience, b. Having suffered Himself, being tempted, Christ knows how to succour us by His prayers for us. There are some people whose prayers are of no use to us, because they do not know what to ask for us. Christ is the Intercessor for His people; He has prevalence in His intercession, but how shall He learn what to ask for? How can He know this better than by His own trials? He hath suffered, being tempted. (C. H.Spurgeon.)

Christ’s temptability

We could not have a more unmistakable declaration than that respecting the reality of our Lord’s temptations on earth. His conflict in the wilderness, and His agony in the garden, were not dramas acted on the stage of life by one who assumed our role, but facts in the real experience of One who was true to the core. His life was our life in its surroundings and in its conflicts, and therefore, when He ascended to heaven victorious over death, He appeared there for us as our representative, as a Man in whom, once and for ever, God’s ideal of human nature was absolutely realised and fulfilled. Hence, in this passage, He is spoken of as our High Priest, who was taken from among the people; although being without sin, He was able to stand on their behalf as the holiest of all, nearer to God than they. From the wilderness to the Cross--nay, from the cradle to the Cross--Jesus suffered, being tempted.

I. Now the use we may make of that FOR OUR ENCOURAGEMENT appears in many forms.

1. For example, a tempted yet triumphant leader implies future victory for those who follow Him. It is not always easy to believe in the coming triumph of good over evil. There is a sort of backwater of temptation which some of us have experienced, which is more dangerous than the direct current of evil which we breasted so bravely at first. We seem to get the better of some sin; but then, when the strain of vigilance relaxes, a stream of evil tendency comes from another direction and takes us unawares. Thus some of our best moments have appeared afterwards to be the precursors of our worst; and it is at such a time that we lose heart and think of giving up the struggle, till we learn to look beyond ourselves to Him, who Himself suffered being tempted--who was content to fight with our weapons, and with them won the victory. Then the hope is aroused that even yet we shall come off more than conquerors, through Him that loved us.

2. Besides this, another difficulty of ours is swept away by the inflowing of our thought about this temptable yet victorious Saviour--namely, the difficulty that arises from the notion that the higher the life the freer it must be from assault. If that were true, Christ Jesus would never have been tempted at all. The wind blows strongest on the hill-tops. Our Lord was on loftier heights than we ever reach, yet from the beginning to the end of His career on earth “ He Himself suffered, being tempted.”

3. There is yet another message of comfort from this verse to tempted Christians--namely, that they may be quite sure of their Lord’s sympathy. It is this which is specially insisted upon in the passage before us, and it was partly with a view to make Divine sympathy manifest and appreciable to us that “the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.” I remember reading somewhere of a little child whose dead body was washed up on the shore during a gale. It was taken by loving, reverent hands, and buried amid the tears of strangers in the village churchyard. There was no clue to the birth, or to the name, or to the parentage of that little waif--it was just “somebody’s darling,” that was all; and when they put up a tombstone, they did not know what inscription to choose, till at last they thought of two words, which were carved on the marble slab--“God knows.” Aye, and there is no wreck of your hopes, no struggle amid the blasts of temptation, about which you may not say to yourself “God knows,” and the assurance of His sympathy will be to you as life from the dead.

II. Turning now from the encouragements which we may hope to gain from the truth here enunciated, let us try to look more closely into THE NATURE OF THESE TEMPTATIONS. About many of them we probably know nothing. They are out of our range, as in some respect Jesus Himself was. A sensualist cannot understand the more subtle suggestions of the Evil One, and ordinary Christians have no conception of Paul’s consciousness of sin when he cried, “Of sinners I am the chief.” Still more unsearchable are certain temptations which came to the Saviour of sinners--for they were too keen and subtle for us--just as there are sounds in the world which our gross hearing cannot catch, and sights our dull eyes cannot see. But though temptations are the more subtle in proportion to the holiness of the one who is tempted, and vary in form according to his circumstances and conditions, it may be taken as approximately true that the three avenues by which evil approaches human nature are summed up in these words: “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.” This summary, indeed, is the revelation of the Holy Spirit, who leads us into all truth; and it is complete in itself.

1. Take an example or two of His own inward struggles to illustrate the first of these. No doubt Jesus was free from some of the baser and more animal suggestions of the adversary, but His physical frame laid Him open to others.

2. There is a second set of temptations which our Lord well understands--I allude to those which come through the distastefulness of our surroundings. The patience of our Lord appears the more marvellous when we think of the absolute repulsiveness to His holy nature of much that He was in contact with every day.

3. Now, we are taught by our Lord’s example that it is not always God’s will that we should seek to escape uncongenial surroundings. Jesus could have done so at any moment; but although He sighed deeply in spirit and said, “O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you, how long shall I suffer you,” yet He did not leave the world, and would not leave it till His mission was fulfilled. It may be that you have to bear witness for Christ just where you are; that if you retreat from your post, no voice will there be uplifted for Him, and no life will silently check the growth and spread of evil.

4. We have not time now to speak at any length of other temptations which came to our Lord through His energies and capacities. Whenever you forego the opportunity you have to take a thing wrongly when it is easy to take it, you are in fellowship with Christ, who resisted that temptation victoriously over and over ,gain. (A. Rowland, LL. B.)

The trials of Christ the trials of the serious

I. We learn from these words ONE IMPORTANT END OF THE TEMPTATION OF OUR DIVINE REDEEMER. It was to give us an assurance of sympathy and aid under the pressure of such trials as we must all of us expect.

1. Now I am speaking only to those who believe in the Divinity of the Saviour, and that what He took upon Him was “human nature.” Now, the nature which our Divine Redeemer took upon Him was not that nature which Adam had after his fall. It was not a nature in which the higher principles were in bondage, and from which the light of the Divine presence was withdrawn, but the original human nature which Adam had in the early days before his fatal disobedience.

2. The trials He underwent were the trials incident to such a nature. There are, you know, some circumstances which we cannot imagine to present temptation to any but a very badly constituted being. There are other circumstances which cause trial quite independently of such considerations, and others, again, which can be afflicting only in proportion to the completeness of the subordination of the rest of the principles to the conscience, and of the whole to Divine influence. For instance, to say that a man was severely tried by being placed in circumstances in which he would have to abstain from theft, would be to express a low opinion of him. But to say that he was severely tried by being placed in a position where he should do without food, would imply no such estimate of his character. Why not? Because it would be natural to him to desire food.

II. From what has been said, it will appear THAT OUR TRIALS RESEMBLE CHRIST’S, JUST IN THE SAME DEGREE THAT OUR NATURE RESEMBLES HIS. Our Divine Redeemer came to do very much more than save us from the punishment of sin. He came to save us from its power. He came to renew our nature by restoring to it what it had lost. We Christians are spoken of as “renewed in the spirit of our mind”--as “having put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” St. Paul exhorts the Colossians to the abandonment of certain sins on this distinct ground--“seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds,” &c. Now, it is just in proportion to our progress towards this ideal of a Christian that our trials will resemble those of our Lord and Master. In a word, the trials of the serious are those which resemble Christ’s. These trials are principally of two kinds. One kind is that which consists in the patient endurance of afflictions, which must, from the nature of the case, cause pain and sorrow--afflictions which no degree of holiness could prevent us from feeling while they last. In cases of this kind the Saviour’s example certainly teaches us the power of endurance with which man is endowed. The other class of trials peculiar to the serious are those which address themselves to their zeal for the service of the Most High. In trials of this kind, where serious men fear, that they may be hindering, the spread, of God’s dominion” among men--by not going with the times (as men say) in religious matters of doctrine or worship--the history of our Redeemer’s temptation is peculiarly instructive. Every one of the proposals of Satan seemed for the glory of God and the furtherance of the ends the Redeemer had in view. To work a miracle was not merely to appease the pangs of hunger, but to prove Himself the Son of God. To cast Himself from a pinnacle of the temple was at once to give evidence of His reliance upon the Most High and to impress the assembled Jews with the belief that their Messiah had appeared among them, as they expected, from heaven, and had “suddenly,” as was predicted, “come to His Temple.” To secure the kingdoms of the world was an end which might for a moment seem to justify the use of almost any means. And yet it was in this proposal--the proposal to secure the greatest ends by the adoption of unlawful means--that the tempter was unmasked. In a word, we are supported by the remembrance of the Redeemer’s trials in all cases where we have declined to” make the end sanctify the means?--where we have declined to “do evil that good may come.” We are taught that when God has appointed means to an end, we cannot gain that end--His end--by other means; that when He has ordained a time, we must not--while acting in accordance with His regular appointments--be impatient of delay. We are taught to endure the constant taunts--the utterances of zeal without knowledge, or of thoughtlessness without either--to endure being called indifferent to our Master’s cause! We are taught to hope on, and to be firm, amid all the clamorous calls to encourage disorder, ecclesiastical lawlessness, heresy, schism, to promote what we think wrong--or else, forsooth, see “sin triumphant and Jehovah conquered!” We are taught, I say, to reject the temptation, as we hear the voice of our Divine Redeemer saying to us through the record of His trials, “Be still, then, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the heathen; and I will be exalted in the earth.” (J. C. Coghlan, D. D.)

The higher the life, the more open to assault

The wind blows strongest on the hilltops. As you climb some mountain you may find that for a time you lose the breeze which hindered you lower down, because you are sheltered by the mountain itself; but when you have climbed higher, and peered over the jagged edge, you can hardly keep your feet or gain your breath, for the awful wind howls and screams across the ravine below to buffet you remorselessly. Our Lord was on loftier heights than we ever reach; yet from the beginning to the end of His career on earth “He Himself suffered, being tempted.” (A. Rowland, LL. B.)

Able to succour them that are tempted

The efficient sympathy of Christ

I. THE SUFFERING.

1. It was personal suffering.

2. It was positive and most painful suffering.

3. In all its reality, variety, and extent, it bore the special character of temptation.

II. THE SUCCOUR.

1. This succour is accompanied with the truest sympathy. “If ever I fall into a surgeon’s hands with broken bones,” is a remark which has become almost proverbial, “give me one whose own bones have been broken.” How can those who have never known what illness is enter with the tenderness of a perfect fellowship into the chambers of the sick? or how can those who have never known a want understand with a matter-of-fact experience the anxieties of the poor and needy?

2. This succour is imparted with the utmost promptitude.

3. This succour is conveyed in the form of actual deliverance or effective relief, or at least adequate support. (E. A. Thomson.)

The suffering Saviour’s sympathy

I. JESUS SUFFERING.

1. The feeling. It was a trying thing to Him even to dwell here among men. He suffered in being placed where He could be tempted.

2. The fact that He was tempted--tempted up to the suffering point.

3. The fruit. He was made perfect through His sufferings, and fitted for His solemn office of High Priest to His people.

II. JESUS SUCCOURING. “He is able to succour them that are tempted.”

1. In this we note His pity, that He should give Himself up to this business of succouring them that are tempted. He lays Himself out to succour them that are tempted, and therefore He does not hide Himself from them, nor pass them by on the other side. What an example is this for us! He devotes Himself to this Divine business of comforting all such as mourn. He is Lord of all, yet makes Himself the servant of the weakest. Whatever He may do with the strongest, He succours “ them that are tempted.” He does not throw up the business in disgust; He does not grow cross or angry with them because they are so foolish as to give way to idle fears.

2. The text treats of His fitness also.

284 lived a life of suffering, understands the condition of a sufferer so well that He knows how to make a bed for him (Psalms 41:3).

3. His methods of succouring them that are tempted.

III. JESUS SOUGHT AFTER.

1. Where else can you go?

2. Where better can you got (C. H. Spurgeon.)

The suffering Succourer

1. His sufferings were many and cruel, and such as never any did endure; yet His greatest sufferings were reserved to the last. And though He never sinned, yet He knew and felt the woeful consequences of sin, and the punishments it deserves.

2. He was tempted; for no sooner was He baptized, and publicly initiated and declared in the sight of heaven and earth to be the Son of God, but Satan, the great enemy, set upon Him, and attempted His ruin; yea, all His sufferings, as from Satan, were temptations; and it is very likely he did assault Him most violently in the end. By both these He knew what a sad and woeful thing suffering for sin is and how hard a thing it is to be tempted and not to sin, and how much such as being violently tempted do sin are to be pitied. For if He, who had the greatest power that ever was to overcome temptations, was hardly put to it, He could not be ignorant how dangerous man’s condition is, and how easily a frail sinner may be foiled.

3. This suffering and temptation made Him more merciful and faithful, and able to succour. To succour is to do all things for the procuring the reconciliation of His people: and His ability to succour is His mercifulness and fidelity, whereby He is every way fitted, powerfully inclined, and effectually moved to succour them. To be able sometimes is to be fit, as Varinus observeth; and so it may be here taken. And the more fit, the more able. The saying is, “None so merciful as those who have been miserable”; and they who have not only known misery, bat felt it, are most powerfully inclined, not only to inward compassion, but to the real relieving of others miserable. And this was a contrivance of the profound wisdom of that God, who is infinitely knowing and merciful, to find a way how to feel misery and be merciful another way. This was by His Word assuming flesh, that in that flesh He might be tempted violently and suffer most grievously; and all this that He might be more merciful and effectually succour sinful man. (G. Lawson.)

The Lord Jesus Christ a succouring Christ to tempted souls

I. JESUS CHRIST IS ABLE TO SUCCOUR TEMPTED SOULS. I will say nothing of the great power that He hath with the Father, or in His own hands. He is able by conquest for to succour you that are tempted; He is able by conquest for to raise the siege that is laid against our souls; He hath beaten through the enemy--as now, if a town be besieged by an enemy, and the enemy abroad in the field, having an army in the field, if any one will come to raise the siege, they must fight through the army, they must beat through the army before they can raise the siege. Never a tempted soul but is thus besieged with temptation, closely begirt, and the devils were abroad in the field, were masters of the field till Christ came, and no man nor angel was able to beat through; but Jesus Christ beat up the quarters all along, beat through the enemy, cast out devils all along, overcame.

II. But you will say, We will grant Christ is able to succour tempted souls; but Is HE WILLING? Yes, He is infinitely willing to succour poor tempted souls. Our great succour lies in reconciliation with God the Father, as by comparing these two verses together doth appear. God the Father hath set Him forth to be a propitiation; it was the will of God the Father that Jesus Christ should come and make propitiation; it was His will. Now, look into the fortieth Psalm, and see what Christ saith concerning the will of the Father (Psalms 40:7). Again, it argues that He is very willing to succour poor tempted souls, because He was so willing to cure diseased bodies; when He was upon the earth He was willing to cure them, so willing, as though it did cost a miracle, yet He would do it.

III. But though He be able and willing, yet IT MAY BE HE IS NOT FAITHFUL. Yes, saith the former verse, faithful; merciful and faithful High Priest. Faithful in all His house as Moses was. What honest man will break his word, go contrary to his oath? He is sworn into this office of the High Priest. Yea, we have not only His promise and His oath, but the Father’s bond for the Son’s performance: “The seed of the woman shall break the serpent’s head”; it shall bruise his heel; she shall break his head. The pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand. This is the work that is in His hand, to succour tempted ones: it shall prosper in His hand.

IV. But suppose He is faithful, HOW DOTH HE SUCCOUR those that are tempted in the day and time of their temptation?

1. Christ succours tempted souls before the temptation comes sometimes, by a special manifestation of Himself, His love and fulness, to them. Again, He succours before the temptation by filling the heart with the Holy Ghost. When the vessel is filled with one liquor, it keeps out another.

2. He succours also under temptation by opening the eyes of him that is tempted to see that it is but a temptation. A temptation is half-cured when a man knows that it is but a temptation: when a man’s eyes are open to see the tempter and the temptation. Therefore men are so hardly cured, because they are hardly persuaded that it is a temptation. When they see that, then they say, “Get thee behind me, Satan.” Christ opens their eyes. Again, He succours under temptation, by letting fall some glimpse of His love, some love-look upon a tempted soul. And so, when Peter was in the high priest’s hall, Christ looks upon him, and he went out and wept bitterly.

3. After temptation He succours: by filling the heart with joy unspeakable and full of glory; by sending the angels to minister: as when the devil left Christ, had tempted Him and left Him, then came the angels and ministered to Him. Every way--before temptation, and in temptation, and after temptation--the Lord Jesus Christ is a succouring Christ to tempted souls. He was a Man of Sorrows that He might be a God of succours; His heart is full of succours.

V. APPLICATION.

1. Whilst I stand upon this truth, methinks I hear a solemn and gracious invitation to all poor tempted souls to come unto Jesus Christ, to come for succour.

2. If this doctrine be true, what ground of strong consolation is here unto all the saints?

3. If Jesus Christ be a succouring Christ, then let us be succouring Christians. Shall the Lord Jesus Christ carry a poor tempted soul upon His shoulder, by way of succour, and shall I carry him upon my shoulder as a burden?

4. If the Lord Jesus Christ be a succouring Christ, then why should we yield unto our sins and to our temptations?

5. If there be a truth in this--Christ is a succouring Christ--let us all labour to answer Christ. It is the duty and the property of the people of God to observe what God is doing upon their hearts, and to help on that work. If Jesus Christ be succouring of any of your souls against your temptations, oh! help on the work; it is your duty to help it on, and to answer Him. (W. Bridge, M. A.)

Of experience of suffering causing succour to others that suffer

This effect following upon Christ’s suffering, being tempted, namely, that He is fit and ready to succour others that are tempted, giveth evidence of an especial benefit of God’s providence in suffering His only-begotten Son and also His adopted children to be so far tempted as to suffer thereby. By this means they are brought to afford mutual succour one to another in like case. Thus saith the apostle, “God comforteth us in all our tribulations, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God” (2 Corinthians 1:4). The Lord, to stir up the Israelites to succour strangers, rendereth this reason, “Ye know the heart of a stranger, seeing ye were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Exodus 23:9) A like reason is rendered of showing mercy to servants (Deuteronomy 5:15). It is found by experience that childbearing women are more pitiful to others in their travails than such women as are barren. The like may be said of such as are afflicted with any painful malady. Much more humanity used to be shown in the city to such as are visited with the plague than in the country, because in the city more used to be infected therewith.

1. From hence it appears that it is expedient that ministers of God’s Word be men of like passions with others (as the apostles say of themselves, Acts 14:15), that so they may more commiserate others. If ministers themselves had never been in a natural state, but always entire, they could not so pity others as now they do. The like may be said of magistrates, and of all that have power and authority over others.

2. God’s wisdom is herein manifested, in that He suffers flesh to remain in the best, that thereby they may be moved the more to bear with others. Christ suffered Satan to sift Peter, that when he was converted he might strengthen his brethren (Luke 22:31-32). This is a good use which saints may make of their slips.

3. Oh! how great is the inhumanity of such as, having tasted misery, and being delivered from the same, are hard-hearted to those that fall into the like misery and refuse to succour them; yea rather deal hardly with them, and add to their affliction. This was it which Nehemiah upbraided to the Jews after their return from captivity (Nehemiah 5:7, &c). The like doth Jeremiah while the Jews were besieged (Jeremiah 34:18, &c.). The like may be upbraided to such as have power among us, in commonwealth, Church, or family.

4. For our parts, as God by His providence hath made us able and fit to succour others, let us herein show ourselves like unto Christ. Let us open our bowels to such as are in distress (note Galatians 6:1; Titus 3:3). Let all of all sorts--magistrates, ministers, masters, rich men, old men, men in health, and such as have been tempted or afflicted--learn to succour others. (W. Gouge.)

The Succourer of the tempted

I. THE HOLY SUFFERER HIMSELF. Who is He? It is the co-equal, co-eternal Son of the Father, assuming the nature of His brethren upon earth; a human nature in the covenant line, on purpose to bear our sins, and bring in everlasting salvation for our rejoicing. Our text holds forth His being “tempted,” as a peculiar feature of His sufferings: “He suffered, being tempted”; and it may not be unprofitable if I advert to the temptations that He endured. Temptation, you know, was addressed to Him in a threefold form; and in all these we are called to tread in His steps. The first was care, the second was covetousness, and the third was presumption. Now, before I go to other parts of the subject, I think the prominent point of Christ’s sufferings in consequence of temptation was its contrast to the holiness of His nature. The nearer a Christian lives to God, the more his soul thus aspires after spiritual and holy things, the more hateful and distressing is every temptation. And this, I think, is the only fair way of answering all objection upon the point: that the suffering in consequence of temptation arose from the contrast of temptation with holiness--the hatefulness of sin to the mind that is bent on the holiness of God. “He suffered, being tempted,” because temptation was the very antipodes to the holiness of His nature. But we pass on to remark yet further upon His unparalleled sufferings; and whether we glance at the sufferings of His body or the sufferings of His soul, or unite them in one contemplation, we may utter the exclamation of the prophet, personating Christ, “Behold and see, all ye that pass by, if there be any sorrow like unto My sorrow, which is done unto Me, wherewith the Lord hath afflicted Me in the day of His fierce anger.” Unparalleled sorrows were sustained by Christ. And oh! how did He suffer? We do not hear one word of complaint while He is suffering only from creatures; the malice of Pharisees He braves silently; the temptations of the devil He vanquishes with “Get thee hence”; but when He at length feels the curse of a broken law entering His very soul, then He opens His mouth: “O My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me.” “He suffered, being tempted.” And all this as covenant Head, as the Representative of His Church; all this in His Suretyship character.

II. His EXERCISED FOLLOWERS. And really I am quite ashamed that you and I should make any complaints about it at all. It is true His people have to endure the malice of the same enemies now; but then they have an indemnity; they have a holy security that they cannot perish, that they shall none of them “be tempted above that they are able,” and that “with the temptation also He will make a way of escape.” Why, I wonder what they are to do without temptations, without trials. They are expressly designed for the purpose of calling out the graces of the Holy Spirit, and giving occasion for the triumphs of Christian experience, to the consummation of time. But look we, further, to the position of the real child of God when the tempter aims at the very same point that he did all along with Christ. “If Thou be the Son of God”: if thy Christianity be real. I like, if he brings me an if, to meet him with one of God s shalls” and” wills” and they are always more powerful and impressive than “ifs.” There are no “its” in Scripture respecting the children of God, except they be “ifs” of demonstration; they are all “shalls” and “ wills” there. “I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” If Jehovah has put a cry in your heart for mercy and pardon and peace wholly in Christ, under a consciousness of your need, be assured of this, that He will never abandon the work of His own hands. He will go on to be gracious. Now shall I tell you how our Lord “is able to succour” you? It is just simply by revealing Himself. “I am thy salvation”; “It is I be not afraid.” It comforts, it cheers, it upholds. Just observe what encouragement here is for faith to the followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. Having Himself “suffered, being tempted, He is able to succour them that are tempted.” He has the fulness of grace; “all power is given to Him in heaven and in earth”; it is in His own hands, and he is “full of grace and truth.” “He is able to succour them that are tempted.” “Well,” say you,” is He willing?” Suppose I reverse the question: Are you willing that He should? or are you looking somewhere else for succour? Are you willing that He should do it in His own way? (J. Irons.)

Christ’s succour to the tempted

I. HAVING SUFFERED UNDER TEMPTATION, CHRIST KNOWS THE FORCE OF TEMPTATION, AND CAN SYMPATHISE WITH OUR ENDURANCE OF IT. He knows by experience the most thorough, realistic kind of knowledge.

1. He has seen the nature of the evil.

2. He has suffered from the assaults of temptation.

II. KNOWING THE FORCE OF TEMPTATION, AND SYMPATHISING WITH THE SUFFERING IT CAUSES, CHRIST IS ABLE TO SUCCOUR THE TEMPTED.

1. His sympathy is itself succour.

2. By His knowledge and sympathy He can give just such grace as is needed. Pathology must precede therapeutics. The diagnosis of disease is the first duty of the physician, and it is the most difficult; when that is successfully accomplished, the prescription follows almost as a matter of course.

3. His knowledge and sympathy encourage our trust.

III. BEING THUS ABLE TO SUCCOUR THE TEMPTED, CHRIST IS A FIT MEDIATOR BETWEEN GOD AND MAN. This is not stated in the text, but it is the inference towards which the writer is leading us. And the connection of thought is apparent. The Mediator has a twofold relationship. He represents God to man and man to God as “Apostle” and as “High Priest” Hebrews 3:1).

1. The ability to succour is, of course, of primary importance in the representative of God to man; for He comes not merely as an ambassador to declare the mind of God, but as a Saviour to redeem the world to God and preserve the redeemed from falling into further sin.

2. It is also important in the representative of man to God. (W. F.Adeney, M. A.)

Succour in Christ for the tempted

The Divine Son of God, before His incarnation in our flesh, was, in His own personal being, separate from the sons of men. He knew, He felt, as a Creator, all that we suffer. But one link was wanting to bind Him to us; in fact, a gulf of vast extent lay yet between us. He had not undergone these things--we had undergone them. No cry of suffering had ever arisen from Him; from man, every hour since the Fall had sent up its utterance of woe. This distinction no Divine knowledge can overstep; this gulf no tender love of the Creator for His creature can ever bridge over. Personal experience is the prerogative of personal being, with which none can intermeddle, and which God Himself infringes not. Ever since the dawn of thought its exercise has been enriching each one of us. Its fruits are our own, in a manner in which nought else is our own. Ask the poor victim of suffering and pain where lies the charm in that one face, pale and wan, and with no outward charm, which above all others he loves to see bending over his bed and ministering to him? Others bring gifts; she, it may be, can bring none: others speak many words of studied kindness; she, perhaps, speaks but little and seldom, but there is that in the calm usual face, the ordinary casual word, the help better and more precious, and more powerful, and more beloved than all on earth besides. Yes; because that face has known sorrow--that sympathy, flowing so still, comes from the deep fountains of personal suffering; because that one, having suffered, knows how to succour them that suffer. Thus, then, Christ’s temptation was His training; and we have now to consider how it may be our help. The question for us is, How may we dwelling in the midst of temptation day by day, make use of our Lord’s temptation, as an element in His course for our redemption, to help us in our conflict? I would say, then, to the tempted, first--Strive to understand Christ; not in the self-sufficient, lower sense of the word “ understand,” but in its higher and humbler sense--to take in a living idea of the length and depth and breath and height of that marvellous sympathising humanity which Christ bears about Him How, as He did then. Watch it growing broader and deeper by sorrow and suffering and temptation; watch it taking into itself, as a great world-wide stream, all those lesser drops, those tributary rills, of thy sorrows and mine, thy surf-rings and mine, thy temptations and mine. Nay, more; follow in the wonderful gospel record day by day the onward course of the Son of God. Bear in mind who He was and whence He came. See the calm surface of the ocean of Divine love and Divine wisdom becoming ruffled by the disturbing forces of our troubled humanity, till at length His whole being is torn into the fierce waves of the tempest, and He cries, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death,” and claims the sympathy of those who were so unequal to console Him: “ Tarry ye here and watch with Me.” And all this for the very purpose that He might be touched with a feeling of thine infirmities--all this that He might in His present ascended state bear every temptation and suffering of every man on earth in His heart. (Dean Alford.)

On temptation

1. There is a vexing, corroding, afflictive disposition in every temptation, when it takes least, though it do not prevail. These fire-balls, fire-darts of Satan have a danger with them; though they do not burn down our spiritual building to the ground, there is somewhat of a suffering with them. Paul calls his buffetings a thorn, or a prick in the flesh, and therefore afflictive (see also Luke 22:31). Satan comes to meet us, and though we do not consent to him, yet a gracious heart cannot but look upon it as an affliction to be thus followed and hunted with a temptation. And the Holy Ghost alludes to ibis practice when He saith here in the text, Jesus Christ is able to succour. The word succour signifies such a succouring as brings in help unto those that cry out.

2. Doth God suffer His own children thus to suffer? Yes, and many times the best are most tempted; those that are most eminently godly are most foully assaulted. David, Job, Peter, Paul, and Christ Himself was. Yes, God doth not only suffer Satan to come and present evil objects before His servants, but suffers him to go so far as to solicit, to follow on his temptation. Yea, God doth not only suffer this, but at that very time when the saints have had most of God then they have suffered by the hand of temptation. When Paul had been taken up into the third heaven, then a messenger (Satan) was sent to buffet him. And would you know the reason? Good authors say that God suffers His own dear children to be tempted that they may be more enlightened. Temptation enlightens the tempted; thereby they are more experienced. God suffers His children thus to be tempted that they may be cleansed. These are God’s scullions to make His golden pots of the sanctuary the brighter. God suffers His own children to be tempted that they may be conserved or kept: He preserves them from one sin by being tempted to another. And Paul says that he received that messenger of Satan twice, that he might not be exalted. God suffers His children to be tempted that their graces may be increased. As the fire is blown up by the wind of the bellows, and the strength of an argument draws out the strength of the answerer, so do these temptations draw out the strength of the tempted. God suffers His children to be tempted that they may be discovered to themselves and o, hers, what their sins and graces are. You do not know what the liquor is until the vessel be bored; then you know it. And the word that is here used for temptation originally signifies to bore, as a vessel is bored. God suffers His children to be tempted that occasionally they may be made more fit to receive the fulness of Christ as a Saviour. A man not tempted may receive the fulness of Christ as the head; but unless a man be tempted he is not fit to receive the fulness of Christ as a Saviour. Hereby they are made like unto Jesus Christ. Christ was made like to us, that He might be tempted: and we are tempted that we may be made like to Him.

3. But you will say, “If God’s own people, His children, be sorely tempted, how is that true which you have in 1 John 5:18 : “Whosoever is born of God sins not: he that is begotten of God keeps himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not”? The devil toucheth him not; and if the devil does not so much as touch him, how can this be true that he suffers thus by the hand of his temptation? For answer hereunto ye must know that this word touching, in Scripture phrase, besides the literal sense, sometimes notes an hurting or harming of one. So in Psalms 105:15 : “Touch not Mine anointed”; which is explained in the following words: “and do My prophets no harm.” Again this same word touching, in Scripture phrase, sometimes notes communion; and so when the apostle forbids the Corinthians fellowship and communion with idolaters, saith he, “Be ye separate, and touch no unclean thing”; touching there noting communion and fellowship with them in their worship: do not in the least measure have any communion with them. So now, although it pleases God to suffer Satan thus to vex His children with temptation, yet notwithstanding they have not fellowship or communion with him. (W. Bridge, M. A.)

Sympathy the fruit of suffering

Leopold, Grand Duke of Baden, in the midst of the suffering caused by his complaint, said to his physician, “Tell me, doctor, are there any who suffer as much as I do?” “Yes, your highness,” replied the doctor; “I have a patient afflicted with the same disease, and lying on a bed of straw.” “On straw!” cried Leopold. With a trembling hand he rang the bell, and ordered his servants to have the best bed in the castle taken to the sick man, as well as all other necessaries.

 


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Bibliography Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Hebrews 2:4". The Biblical Illustrator. http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/hebrews-2.html. 1905-1909. New York.


Lectionary Calendar
Friday, July 21st, 2017
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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