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THERE are two parts of this chapter. The first concerneth the necessity and efficacy of the sacrifice of Christ; from the beginning unto Hebrews 10:18. The other is an improvement of the doctrine of it unto faith, obedience, and perseverance; from Hebrews 10:19 to the end of the chapter.
Of the first general proposition of the subject to be treated of there are two parts:
1. A demonstration of the insufficiency of legal sacrifices for the expiation of sin, Hebrews 10:1-4;
2. A declaration of the necessity and efficacy of the sacrifice of Christ unto that end, Hebrews 10:5-18. Of this declaration there are two parts:
(1.) The substitution of the sacrifice of Christ in the place and room of all legal sacrifices, because of its efficacy unto the end which they could not attain, and without which the church could not be saved, Hebrews 10:5-10.
(2.) A final comparison of his priesthood and sacrifice with those of the law, and their absolute preference above them, unto Hebrews 10:18.
In the first particular of the first general part, there are three things:
[1.] An assertion of the insufficiency of legal sacrifices unto the expiation of sin, wherein a reason of it also is included, Hebrews 10:1.
[2.] A confirmation of the truth of that assertion, from the consideration of the frequency of their repetition, which manifestly evidenceth that insufficiency, Hebrews 10:2-3.
[3.] A general reason taken from the nature of them, or the matter whereof they did consist, Hebrews 10:4. The first of these is contained in the first verse.
Σκιὰν γὰρ ἔχων ὁ νόμος τῶν μελλόντων ἀγαθῶν , οὐκ αὐτὴν τὴν εἰκόνα τῶν πραγμάτων , κατ᾿ ἐνιαυτὸν ταῖς αὐταῖς θυσίαις ἅς προσφέρουσιν εἰς τὸ διηνεκὲς , οὐδέποτε δὺναται τοὺς προσερχομένους τελειῶσαι .
There is no difficulty in the reading, nor much difference about the translation of the words. Syr., נָמוּסָא גֵיר טְלָנִיהָא אִית הֲוָא בֵה “for the law, a shadow was in it;” לָא הֲוָא קִנוּמָא , “not the substance itself.”
Προσερχομένους , דַּמְקַיְבִין לְהוּן , “that shall offer them.” Εἰς τὸ διηνεκές that translator omits, supposing it the same with κατ ᾿ ἐνιαυτόν . But it hath its own signification: “Continenter,” “in assiduum,” “in perpetuum.” “ ῎Εχων , “habens,” “obtinens,” “continens.” Αὐτὴν τὴν εἰκόνα , “ipsam expressam formam,” “ipsam imaginem.” Τελειῶσαι , “sanctificare,” “perfecte sanctificare,” “perfectos facere,” Vulg. Lat.; “make perfect;” “perficere,” “confirmare;” “to perfect,” “to confirm.”
Hebrews 10:1 . For the law having a shadow of good things to come, not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offer year by year continually, make the comers thereunto [ the worshippers ] perfect.
There are in these words,
1. A note of inference, giving a connection unto the preceding discourse; “for.”
2. The subject spoken of; “the law.”
3. An ascription made unto it; it had “a shadow of good things to come.”
4. A negation concerning it, derogatory unto its perfection; it had “not the very image of the things” themselves.
5. An inference or conclusion from both; “can never with those sacrifices,” etc.
First, The conjunctive particle γάρ , “for,” intimates that what follows or is introduced thereby is an inference from what he had before discoursed, or a conclusion made thereon. And this is the necessity of the sacrifice of Christ. For having declared that he had perfectly expiated sin thereby, and confirmed the new covenant, he concludes from thence and proves the necessity of it, because the legal sacrifices could not effect those ends which they seemed to be appointed for. Wherefore they must be taken away, to give place unto that whereby they were perfectly accomplished. This, therefore, he now proceeds to prove. God having designed the complete consummation or sanctification of the church, that which only made a representation of it, and of the way whereby it was to be done, but could not effect it, was to be removed. For there was an appointed time wherein he would perfectly fulfill the counsel of his infinite wisdom and grace towards the church herein. And at this time, which was now come, a full, clear understanding of the insufficiency of all legal sacrifices for that end was to be given unto it. For he requires not faith and obedience in any, beyond the means of light and understanding which he affords unto them. Therefore the full revelation and demonstration hereof were reserved for this season, wherein he required express faith in the way whereby these things were effected.
Secondly, The subject spoken of is ὁ νόμος , the law, תּוֹרָה . That which he immediately intends is the sacrifices of the law, especially those which were offered yearly by a perpetual statute, as the words immediately following do declare. But he refers what he speaks unto the law itself, as that whereby those sacrifices were instituted, and whereon all their virtue and efficacy did depend. They had no more of the one or other but what they had by and from the law. And “the law” here, is the covenant which God made with the people at Sinai, with all the institutions of worship thereunto belonging. It is not the moral law, which originally, and as absolutely considered, had no expiatory sacrifices belonging unto it; nor is it the ceremonial law alone, whereby all the sacrifices of old were either appointed or regulated: but it is the first testament, the first covenant, as it had all the ordinances of worship annexed unto it, as it was the spring and cause of all the privileges and advantages of the church of Israel; and whereunto the moral law as given on mount Sinai, and both the ceremonial law and the judicial also did belong. This he calls “the law,” Hebrews 7:19; and the “covenant” or “testament” completely, Hebrews 9:0.
Thirdly, Concerning this law or covenant the apostle declares two things:
1. Positively, and by way of concession, it had “a shadow of good things to come;” 2. Negatively, that it had “not the very image of the things” themselves: which we must consider together, because they contribute light unto one another.
These expressions are metaphorical, and have therefore given occasion unto various conjectures about the nature of the allusions in them, and their application unto the present subject-matter. I shall not trouble the reader with a repetition of them; they may be found in most commentators. I shall therefore only fix on that sense of the words which I conceive to be the mind of the Holy Ghost, giving the reasons why I conceive it so to be.
Both the expressions used and the things intended in them, a “shadow,” and “the very image,” have respect unto the “good things to come.” The relation of the law unto them is that which is declared . Wherefore the true notion of what these good things to come are, will determine what it is to have a shadow of them, and not the very image of the things themselves.
First, The “good things” intended may be said to be μέλλοντα , either with respect unto the law or with respect unto the gospel; and were so either when the law was given or when this epistle was written. If they were yet to come with respect unto the gospel, and were so when he wrote this epistle, they can be nothing but the good things of heaven and eternal glory. These things were then, are still, and will always be, unto the church militant on the earth, “good things to come;” and are the subject of divine promises concerning future times: “In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began,” Titus 1:2. But this cannot be the sense of the words. For,
1. The gospel itself hath not the very image of these things, and so should not herein differ from the law. For that “the very image” of these things is the things themselves shall be immediately declared.
2. The apostle in this whole discourse designs to prove that the law, with all the rites of worship annexed unto it, was a type of the good things that were really and actually exhibited in and by the gospel, or by the Lord Christ himself in the discharge of his office. Wherefore they are called “good things to come” with respect unto the time of the administration of the law. They were so whilst the law or first covenant was in force, and whilst the institutions of it were continued. They had, indeed, their original in the church, or were “good things to come,” from the first promise. They were more declared so to be, and the certainty of their coming more confirmed, by the promise made unto Abraham. After these promises, and their various confirmations, the law was given unto the people. Howbeit the law did not bring in, exhibit, or make present, the good things so promised, that they should no more yet be to come. They were still “good things to come” whilst the law was in force. Nor was this absolutely denied by the Jews; nor is yet so to this day. For though they place more in the law and covenant of Sinai than God ever placed in them, yet they acknowledge that there are good ,things to come promised and fore- signified in the law, which, as they suppose, are not yet enjoyed. Such is the coming of the Messiah; in which sense they must grant that “the law had a shadow of good things to come.”
Hence it is evident what are those “good things to come;” namely, Christ himself, with all the grace, and mercy, and privileges, which the church receiveth by his actual exhibition and coming in the flesh, upon the discharge of his office. For he himself firstly, principally, and evidently, was the subject of all promises; and whatever else is contained in them is but that whereof, in his person, office, and grace, he is the author and cause. Hence he was signally termed ὁ ὲρχόμενος , “he who was to come,” “he that should come:” “Art thou he who is to come?” And after his actual exhibition, the denying of him to be so come is to overthrow the gospel, 1 John 4:3.
And these things are called τὰ ἀγαθά , “these good things,”
1. Because they are absolutely so, without any alloy or mixture. All other things in this world, however in some respect, and as unto some peculiar end, they may be said to be good, yet are they not so absolutely. Wherefore,
2. These things only are good things: nothing is good, either in itself or unto us, without them, nor but by virtue of what it receives from them. There is nothing so but what is made so by Christ and his grace.
3. They are eminently “good things;” those good things which were promised unto the church from the foundation of the world, which the prophets and wise men of old desired to see; the means of our deliverance from all the evil things which we had brought upon ourselves by our apostasy from God. These being evidently “the good things” intended, the relation of the law unto them, namely, that it had the “shadow,” but “not the very image” of them, will also be apparent, The allusion, in my judgment, unto the art of painting, wherein a shadow is first drawn, and afterwards a picture to the life, or the very image itself, hath here no place, nor doth our apostle anywhere make use of such curious similitudes taken from things artificial, and known to very few; nor would he use this among the Hebrews, who of all people were least acquainted with the art of painting. But he declares his intention in another place, where, speaking of the same things, and using some of the same words, their sense is plain and determined: Colossians 2:17, “They are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.” “They are a shadow of things to come,” is the same with this, “The law hath a shadow of good things to come;” for it is the law with its ordinances and institutions of worship concerning which the apostle there discourseth, as he doth in this place. Now the “shadow” there intended by the apostle, from whence the allusion is taken, is the shadow of a body in the light or sunshine, as the antithesis declares, “But the body is of Christ.” Now such a shadow is,
1. A representation of the body. Any one who beholds it, knows that it is a thing which hath no subsistence in itself, which hath no use of its own; only it represents the body, follows it in all its variations, and is inseparable from it.
2. It is a just representation of the body, as unto its proportion and dimensions. The shadow of any body represents that certain individual body, and nothing else: it will add nothing unto it, nor take anything from it, but, without an accidental hinderance, is a just representation of it; much less will it give an appearance of a body of another form and shape, different from that whereof it is the shadow.
3. It is but an obscure representation of the body; so as that the principal concernments of it, especially the vigor and spirit of a living body, are not figured nor represented by it.
Thus is it with the law, or the covenant of Sinai, and all the ordinances of worship wherewith it was attended, with respect unto these “good things to come.” For it must be observed, that the opposition which the apostle makes in this place is not between the law and the gospel, any otherwise but as the gospel is a full declaration of the person, offices, and grace of Christ; but it is between the sacrifices of the law and the sacrifice of Christ himself. Want of this observation hath given us mistaken interpretations of the place.
This shadow of good things the law had: ἔχων , “having it.” It obtained it, it was in it, it was inlaid in it, it was of the substance and nature of it; it contained it in all that it prescribed or appointed, some of it in one part, some in another, the whole in the whole. It had the whole shadow, and the whole of it was this shadow. It was so,
1. Because, in the sanction, dedication, and confirmation of it, by the blood of sacrifices; in the tabernacle, with all its holy utensils; in its high priest, and all other sacred administrations; in its solemn sacrifices and services; it made a representation of good things to come. This hath been abundantly manifested and proved in the exposition of the foregoing chapter. And according unto the first property of such a shadow, without this use it had no bottom, no foundation, no excellency of its own. Take the significancy and representation of Christ, his offices and grace, out of the legal institutions, and you take from them all impressions of divine wisdom, and leave them useless things, which of themselves will vanish and disappear. And because they are no more now a shadow, they are absolutely dead and useless.
2. They were a just representation of Christ only, the second property of such a shadow. They did not signify any thing more or less but Christ himself, and what belongs unto him. He was the idea in the mind of God, when Moses was charged to make all things according to the pattern showed him in the mount. And it is a blessed view of divine wisdom, when we do see and understand aright how every thing in the law belonged unto that shadow which God gave in it of the substance of his counsel in and concerning Jesus Christ.
3. They were but an obscure representation of these things, which is the third property of a shadow. The glory and efficacy of these good things appeared not visible in them. God by these means designed no further revelation of them unto the church of the old testament but what was in types and figures; which gave a shadow of them, and no more.
Secondly, This being granted unto the law, there is added thereunto what is denied of it, wherein the argument of the apostle doth consist. It had “not the very image of the things.” The πράγματα are the same with the τὰ ἀγαθὰ μελλοντα before mentioned. The negation is of the same whereof the concession was made, the grant being in one sense, and the denial in another. It had not αὐτὴν τὴν εἰκόνα , “the very image” itself; that is, it had not the things themselves; for that is intended by this “image” of them. And the reasons why I so interpret the words are these:
1. Take “the image” only for a clear, express delineation and description of the things themselves, as is generally conceived, and we invalidate the argument of the apostle. For he proves that the law by all its sacrifices could not take away sin, nor perfect the church, because it had not this image. But suppose the law to have had this full and clear description and delineation of them, were it never so lively and complete, yet could it not by its sacrifices take away sin. Nothing could do it but the very substance of the things themselves, which the law had not, nor could have.
2. Where the same truth is declared, the same things are expressly called “the body,” and that “of Christ;” that is, the substance of the things themselves, and that in opposition unto “the shadow” which the law had of them, as it is here also: Colossians 2:17, “Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.” And we are not without cogent reasons to depart from the explication of the metaphor there given us; for these expressions are every way the same. They had not the body, which is Christ.
3. That is intended which doth completely expiate sin, which doth consummate and perfect the church; which is denied unto the law. Now this was not done by an express and clear declaration of these things, which we acknowledge to be contained in the gospel; but it was done by the things themselves, as the apostle hath proved in the foregoing chapter, and doth further confirm in this; that is, it was done by Christ alone, in the sacrifice of himself.
4. It is confessed by all that there is an εἰκὼν ἀρχέτυπος , a “substantial image;” so called, not because it is a representation of what it is not, but because it is that whereof somewhat else is an image and representation, as the law in its institutions and sacrifices was of these good things. And this the apostle directs us unto by his emphatical expression, αὐτὴν τὴν εἰκόνα , “ipsissimam rerum imaginem;” “the things themselves.” So it is rendered by the Syriac translation, ‘“ipsam rem,” or “ipsam substantiam;” the “substance itself.” And εἰκών is frequently used in the New Testament in this sense: Romans 1:23, ᾿Εν ὁμοιώματι εἰκόνος φθαρτοῦ ἀνθρώπου , “Into the likeness of the image of a corruptible man;” that is, into the likeness of a corruptible man. The image of the man is not something distinct from him, something to represent him, but the man himself. See Rom 8:29 ; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Colossians 1:15; Colossians 3:10.
This, therefore, is that which the apostle denies concerning the law: It had not the actual accomplishment of the promise of good things; it had not Christ exhibited in the flesh; it had not the true, real sacrifice of perfect expiation: it represented these things, it had a shadow of them, but enjoyed not, exhibited not the things themselves. Hence was its imperfection and weakness, so that by none of its sacrifices it could make the church perfect.
Obs. 1. Whatever there may be in any religious institutions, and the diligent observation of them, if they come short of exhibiting Christ himself unto believers, with the benefits of his mediation, they cannot make us perfect, nor give us acceptation with God. For,
1. It was he himself in his own person that was the principal subject of all the promises of old. Hence they who lived not to enjoy his exhibition in the flesh are said to “die in faith,” but “not to receive the promise,”
Hebrews 11:39. But it is through the promise that all good things are communicated unto us.
2. Nothing is good or useful unto the church but through its relation unto him. So was it with the duties of religious worship under the old testament. All their use and worth lay in this, that they were shadows of him and his mediation. And that of those in the new testament is, that they are more effcacious means of his exhibition and communication unto us.
3. He alone could perfectly expiate sin and consummate the state of the church by the sacrifice of himself.
Fourthly, This being the state of the law, or first covenant, the apostle makes an application of it unto the question under debate in the last words of the verse: “Can never with those sacrifices, which they offer year by year continually, make the comers thereunto perfect.” We must first speak unto the reading of the words, and then unto the sense and meaning.
Expositors generally take notice that in the original there is a trajection in the words, or that they are placed out of their proper order; which translators do rectify: Κατ᾿ ἐνιαυτὸν ταῖς θυσίαις , “Every year” (or “yearly”) “with the sacrifices which they offer;” for Ταῖς κατ᾿ ἐνιαυτὸν θυσίαις , “With those sacrifices which they offer year by year,” as we have rendered the words. But the apostle seems to place κατ᾿ ἐνιαυτόν in the entrance of the words to signalize the annual sacrifice, which he principally intended. But there is a great difficulty in the distinction and pointing of the words that follow: εἰς τὸ διηνεκές , “in perpetuum,” “continually,” or “for ever;” that is, say some, which they were so to do indispensably by the law whilst the tabernacle or temple was standing, or those ordinances of worship were in force.
But neither the signification of the word nor the use of it in this epistle will allow it in this place to belong unto the words and sentence going before; for it doth not anywhere signify a duration or continuance with a limitation. And the apostle is far from allowing an absolutely perpetual duration-unto the law and its sacrifices, were they of what use soever, especially in this place, where he is proving that they were not perpetual, nor had an efficacy to accomplish any thing perfectly; which is the other signification of the word. And it is used only in this epistle, Hebrews 7:3, in this place, and verses 12, 14, of this chapter. But in all these places it is applied only unto the office of Christ, and the efficacy of it in his personal ministry. It is of the same signification with εἰς τὸ παντελές , Hebrews 7:25, “for ever,” “to the uttermost,” “perfectly.” Wherefore that which is affirmed of Christ and his sacrifice, verses 12, 14, of the chapter, is here denied of the law. And the words should be joined with those that follow: “The law by its sacrifices could not perfect for ever” (or “unto the utmost’) “the comers thereunto.”
In the words thus read there are three things:
1. The impotency of the law; Οὐδέποτε δύναται , “It can never.”
2. That with respect whereunto this impotency is charged on it; that is, “the sacrifices which it offered.”
3. The effect itself denied with respect unto that impotency; which is, “to perfect for ever the comers thereunto.”
1. The impotency of the law as unto the end mentioned is emphatically expressed, Οὐδέποτε δύναται , “It can never do it:” ‘it can do it by no means, no way; it is impossible it should.’And it is thus expressed to obviate all thoughts in the minds of the Hebrews of all expectations of perfection by the law. For thus they were apt to think and hope, that, by one way and means or another, they might have acceptance with God by the law. Wherefore it was necessary thus to speak unto them who had an inveterate persuasion unto the contrary.
2. That with respect whereunto this impotency is ascribed unto the law is its “sacrifices” For from them was the perfect expiation of sin to be expected, or from nothing prescribed by the law. To deny this power unto them, is to deny it absolutely unto the whole law, and all its institutions. And these sacrifices are expressed with respect unto their nature, the time of their offering, and those by whom they were offered.
(1.) For their nature, he says, Ταῖς αὐταῖς θυσίαις : “Iisdem sacrificiis;” “iis ipsis hostiis” or “sacrificiis.” Our translation rendereth not the emphasis of the expression. “lis hostiis quas quotannis, “with the same sacrifices,” or “those sacrifices which were of the same kind and nature.” Αὐταῖς is omitted in our translation. Ταῖς θυσίαις , is “with those sacrifices;” the article being demonstrative. “The same;” not individually the same, for they were many, and offered often, or every year, when a sacrifice was offered again materially the same; but they were of the same kind. They could not by the law offer a sacrifice of one kind one year, and a sacrifice of another the next; but the same sacrifices in their substance and essence, in their matter and manner, were annually repeated, without variation or alteration. And this the apostle urgeth, to show that there was no more in any one of them than in another; and what one could not do, could not be done by its repetition, for it was still the same. Great things were effected by these sacrifices: by them was the first covenant consecrated and confirmed; by them was atonement and expiation of sin made, that is, typically and declaratively; by them were the priests themselves dedicated unto God; by them were the people made holy. Wherefore this impotency being ascribed unto them, it absolutely concludes unto the whole law, with all other privileges and duties of it.
(2.) He describes them from the time and season of their offering. It was κατ᾿ ἐνιαυτόν , “yearly, every year, year by year.” It is hence manifest what sacrifices he principally intends, namely, the anniversary sacrifices of expiation, when the high priest entered into the most holy place with blood, Leviticus 16:0. And he instanceth therein, not to exclude other sacrifices from the same censure, but as giving an instance for them all in that which was most solemn, had the most eminent effects, at once respecting the whole church, and that which the Jews principally trusted unto. Had he mentioned sacrifices in general, it might have been replied, that although the sacrifices which were daily offered, or those on especial occasions, might not perfect the worshippers, at least not the whole congregation, yet the church itself might be perfected by that great sacrifice which was offered yearly, with the blood whereof the high priest entered into the presence of God. Accordingly, the Jews have such a saying among them, “That on the day of expiation all Israel was made as righteous as in the day wherein man was first created.” But the apostle, applying his argument unto those sacrifices, and proving their insufficiency unto the end mentioned, leaves no reserve unto any thoughts that it might be attained by other sacrifices which were of another nature and efficacy. And besides, to give the greater cogency unto his argument, he fixeth on those sacrifices which had the least of what he proves their imperfection by. For these sacrifices were repeated only once a-year. And if this repetition of them once a-year proves them weak and imperfect, how much more were those so which were repeated every day, or week, or month!
(3.) He refers unto the offerers of those sacrifices: “Which they offer,” that is, the high priests, of whom he had treated in the foregoing chapter.
And he speaks of things in the present tense. “The law cannot,” and “which they offer:” not “The law could not,” and “which they offered.” The reason hereof hath been before declared. For he sets before the Hebrews a scheme and representation of all their worship at its first institution, that they might discern the original intention of God therein. And therefore he insists only on the tabernacle, making no mention of the temple. So he states what was done at the first giving of the law, and the institution of all its ordinances of worship, as if it were now present before their eyes. And if it had not the power mentioned at their first institution, when the law was in all its vigor and glory, no accession could be made unto it by any continuance of time, any otherwise but in the false imagination of the people.
3. That which remains of the words is an account of what the law could not do or effect by its sacrifices: “It could not make the comers thereunto perfect for ever.”
There are in the words,
(1.) The effect denied.
(2.) The persons with respect unto whom it is denied.
(3.) The limitation of that denial.
(1.) The effect denied; what it cannot do, is τελειῶσαι , “dedicate,” “consummate, “consecrate,” “perfect,” “sanctify.” Of the meaning of the word in this epistle I have spoken often before. As also, I have showed at large what that τελείωσις is which God designed unto the church in this world, wherein it did consist, and how the law could not effect it. See the exposition on Hebrews 7:11. Here it is the same with τελειῶσαι κατὰ συνείδησιν , Hebrews 9:9, “perfect as pertaining unto the conscience;” which is ascribed unto the sacrifice of Christ, verse 14. Wherefore the word principally in this place respects the expiation of sin, or the taking away the guilt of it by atonement; and so the apostle expounds it in the following verses, as shall be declared.
(2.) Those with respect unto whom this power is denied unto the law are προσερχόμενοι ; say we, “the comers thereunto; “accedentes.” The expression is every way the same with that of Hebrews 9:9, Τελειῶσαι κατὰ συνείδησιν τὸν λατρεύσντα . Οἱ λατρεύοντες and οἱ προσερχόμενοι , “the worshippers” and “the comers,” are the same, as is declared Hebrews 9:2-3; those who make use of the sacrifices of the law in the worship of God, who approach unto him by sacrifices. And they are thus expressed by Lord comers,” partly from the original direction given about the observation, and partly from the nature of the service itself. The first we have, Leviticus 1:2, אָדָם כִּיאּיַקִרִינ מִכֶּם קָרְבָּן .
The word signifies “to draw nigh,” “to come near with an oblation:’These are the “comers,” those who draw nigh with, and bring their oblations unto the altar. And such was the nature of the service itself.. It consisted in coming with their sacrifice unto the altar, with the priests approaching unto the sacrifice; in all which an access was made unto God. Howbeit the word here is of a larger signification, nor is it to be limited unto them who brought their own sacrifices, but extends unto all that came to attend unto the solemnity of them; whereby, according to God’s appointment, they had a participation in the benefit of them. For respect is had unto the anniversary sacrifice, which was not brought by any, but was provided for all. But as the priests were included in the foregoing words, “which they offer;” so by these “comers,” the people are intended, for whose benefit these sacrifices were offered. For, as was said, respect is had unto the great anniversary sacrifice, which was offered in the name and on the behalf of the whole congregation. And those, if any, might be made perfect by the sacrifices of the law, namely, those that came unto God by them, or through the use of them, according unto his institution.
(3.) That wherein the law failed, as unto the appearance it made of the expiation of sin, was that it could not effect it εἰς τὸ διηνεκές , “absolutely, completely,” and “for ever.” It made an expiation, but it was temporary only, not for ever. It did so both in respect unto the consciences of the worshippers and the outward effects of its sacrifices. Their effect on the consciences of the worshippers was temporary; for a sense of sin returned on them, which forced them unto a repetition of the same sacrifices again, as the apostle declares in the next verse. And as unto the outward effects of them, they consisted in the removal of temporal punishments and judgments, which God had threatened unto the transgressors of the old covenant. This they could reach unto, but no farther. To expiate sin fully, and that with respect unto eternal punishment, so as to take away the guilt of sin from the consciences, and all punishments from the persons of men, which is to “perfect them for ever,” which was done by the sacrifice of Christ, this they could not do, but only represent what was to be done afterwards.
If any shall think meet to retain the ordinary distinction of the words, and refer εἰς τὸ διηνεκές to what goes before, so taking the word adverbially, “they offer them year by year continually,” then the necessity of the annual repetition of those sacrifices is intended in it. This they did, and this they were to do always whilst the tabernacle was standing, or the worship of the law continued. And from the whole verse sundry things may be observed.
Obs. 2. Whatever hath the least representation of Christ, or relation unto him, the obscurest way of teaching the things concerning his person and grace, whilst it is in force, hath a glory in it. He alone in himself originally bears the whole glory of God in the worship and salvation of the church; and he gives glory unto all institutions of divine worship. The law had but a shadow of him and his office, yet was the ministration of it glorious. And much more is that of the gospel and its ordinances so, if we have faith to discern their relation unto him, and experience of his exhibition of himself and the benefits of his mediation unto us by them. Without this they have no glory, whatever order or pomp may be applied unto their outward administration.
Obs. 3. Christ and his grace were the only good things, that were absolutely so, from the foundation of the world, or the giving of the first promise. In and by them there is not only a deliverance from the curse, which made all things evil; and a restoration of all the good that was lost by sin, in a sanctified, blessed use of the creatures; but an increase and addition is made unto all that was good in the state of innocency, above what can be expressed. Those who put such a-valuation on the meaner, uncertain enjoyment of other things, as to judge them their “good things,” their “goods,” as they are commonly called, so as not to see that all which is absolutely good is to be found in him alone; much more they who seem to judge almost all things good besides, and Christ with his grace good for nothing; will be filled with the fruit of their own ways, when it is too late to change their minds.
Obs. 4. There is a great difference between the shadow of good things to come, and the good things themselves actually exhibited and granted unto the church. This is the fundamental difference between the two testaments, the law and the gospel, from whence all others do arise, and whereinto they are resolved. Some, when they hear that there was justification, sanctification, and eternal life, to be obtained under the old covenant and its administrations, by virtue of the promise which they all had respect unto, are ready to think that there was no material difference between the two covenants. I have spoken at large hereunto in the eighth chapter. I shall now only say, that he who sees not, who finds not a glory, excellency, and satisfaction, producing peace, rest, and joy in his soul, from the actual exhibition of these good things, as declared and tendered in the gospel, above what might be obtained from an obscure representation of them as future, is a stranger unto gospel light and grace.
Obs. 5. The principal interest and design of them that come to God, is to have assured evidence of the perfect expiation of sin. This of old they came unto God by the sacrifices of the law for; which could only represent the way whereby it was to be done. Until assurance be given hereof, no sinner can have the least encouragement to approach unto God. For no guilty person can stand before him. Where this foundation is not laid in the soul and conscience, all attempts of access unto God are presumptuous. This, therefore, is that which the gospel in the first place proposeth unto the faith of them that do receive it.
Obs. 6. What cannot be effected for the expiation of sin at once by any duty or sacrifice, cannot be effected by its reiteration or repetition. Those generally who seek for atonement and acceptation with God by their own duties, do quickly find that no one of them will effect their desire. Wherefore they place all their confidence in the repetition and multiplication of them; what is not done at one time, they hope may be done at another; what one will not do, many shall. But after all, they find themselves mistaken. For,
Obs. 7. The repetition of the same sacrifices doth of itself demonstrate their insufficiency unto the end sought after. Wherefore those of the Roman church who would give countenance unto the sacrifice of the mass, by affirming that it is not another sacrifice, but the very same that Christ himself offered, do prove, if the argument of the apostle here insisted on be good and cogent, an insufficiency in the sacrifice of Christ for the expiation of sin; for so he affirms it is with all sacrifices that are to be repeated, whereof he esteems the repetition itself a sufficient demonstration.
Obs. 8. God alone limiteth the ends and efficacy of his own institutions. It may be said, that if these sacrifices did not make perfect them that came unto God by them, then their so coming unto him was lost labor, and to no purpose. But there were other ends and other uses of this their coming unto God, as we have declared; and unto them all they were effectual. There never was, there never shall be, any loss in what is done according unto the command of God. Other things, however we may esteem them, are but hay and stubble, which have no power or efficacy unto any spiritual ends.
᾿Επεὶ ἅν ἐπαύσαντο προσφερόμεναι , διὰ τὸ μηδεμίαν ἔχειν ἔτι συνείδησιν ἁμαρτιῶν τοὺς λατρεύοντας , ἅπαξ κεκαθαρμένους , ἀλλ᾿ ἐν αὐταῖς ἀνάμνηοις ἁμαρτιῶν κατ ᾿ ἐνιαυτόν .
The Syriac translation refers that unto the persons which is affirmed of their offerings, אִלוּ גֵּיר גָּמְיִין חֲוָו “for if they had been perfect,” or” made perfect,” referring unto what went before, that they were not made perfect, מֵן קוּרְ בָנַיְהוּן כְּבַר דֵּין אֶתְנִּיחוּ , “they would have long since ceased” or “rested from their oblations” or “offerings.” “They would have offered them no more.” And although it doth not at all express τοὺς λατρεύοντας , which follows in the verse, yet it regulates the sense of the whole by that word, as it more plainly declares in rendering the following words, דַּחֲדָא זְבַן אֶתְדַכִּיו לְהוּן מֶטוּל דְּלָא מֵכִיל טָיְיָא הֲוָת לְהוּן תִארְתְּהוּן בַּחֲטָחֵא לְאִילֵין , “because their conscience would no more have tossed” or “disquieted them for their sins, who had at one time been purified;” which is a good exposition, though not an exact translation of the words. And so it renders the next verse, “but in these sacrifices their sins are remembered (called to mind) every year.” ᾿Επεὶ ἅν ἐπαύσαντο . Many ancient copies add the negative, οὐκ , ἐπεὶ οὐκ ἅν , whereof we shall speak immediately. ᾿Επεί . Vulg., “alioquin;” and so others generally. Of the word, see Hebrews 9:26. “For if so,” ἐπαύσαντο προςφερόμεναι , “cessassent (semel) oblata;” “they would have ceased, being once offered.” Most render the participle by the infinitive mood, “desiissent offerri,” “they would have ceased to be offered.” Τοὺς λατρεύοντας , “cultores,” “the worshippers:” “sacrificantes,” “the sacrificers,” say some, I think improperly, both as to the proper sense of the word and the things intended. The priests only properly were “sacrificantes,” but the people are here intended. Κεκαθαρμένους , (Mss., κακαθαρισμένους ,) “mundati,” “purificati,” “purgati;’ “cleansed,” “purified,” “purged.” Διὰ τὸ μηδεμίαν ἔχειν ἕτι συνείδησιν αμ᾿αρτιῶν . “Ideo quod nullam habent ultra conscientiam peecati.” Vulg. Lat., “ideo quod,” for “propterea;” “peccati,” for “peccatorum.” “Nullorum peccatorum amplius sibi essent conscii,” Beza; “they should no more be conscious unto themselves of any sin.” The sense is given in the Syriac before mentioned. Arab., “they would have made more mention of the commemoration of sins,” with respect unto the words following. ᾿Ανάμηνσις . Syr., “but in these they remembered their sins.” “Recommemoratio,” “repetita mentio;” a calling to remembrance by acknowledgment.
There is, as was observed, a different reading in the ancient copies of the first words in the second verse. The Syriac and the Vulgar Latin take no notice of the negative particle οὐκ , but read the words positively, “then would they have ceased.” Those who follow other copies take οὐκ for οὐχί , “non” for “nonne,” and render the words interrogatively, as doth our translation; “for then would they not have ceased?” that is, they would have done so. And then ἐπεί is to be rendered adversatively, by “alioquin,” as it is by most, “for otherwise.” But it may be rendered causally, by “for then,” if an interrogation be allowed. But the sense is the same in both readings, as we shall see. 
 VARIOUS READING. Though the textus receptus omits οὐκ , it is restored in most of the critical editions. Tischendorf in its favor appeals to all the uncial Mss., by far the most of the others, most of the versions, and many fathers. This passage is one in which the A.V. differs from the textus receptus. ED.
Hebrews 10:2 . For otherwise they would have ceased to be offered; because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins.
The words contain a confirmation, by a new argument, of what was affirmed in the verse foregoing. And it is taken from the frequent repetition of those sacrifices. The thing to be proved is the insufficiency of the law to perfect the worshippers by its sacrifices. This he proves in the foregoing verse, from the formal cause of that insufficiency; which is, that in them all it had but “a shadow of good things to come,” and so could not effect that which was to be done only by the good things themselves. Here the same truth is proved “ab effectu,” or “a signo,” from a demonstrative sign and evidence of it in their repetition.
The present argument, therefore, of the apostle is taken from a sign of the impotency and insufficiency which he had before asserted. There is, as was observed, a variety in the original copies, some having the negative particle οὐκ , others omitting it. If that note of negation be allowed, the words are to be read by way of interrogation, “Would they not have ceased to be offered?” that is, they would have done so, or, God would not have appointed the repetition of them. If it be omitted, the assertion is positive,
“They would have then ceased to be offered;” there was no reason for their continuance, nor would God have appointed it. And the notes of the inference, ἐπεὶ ἅν , are applicable unto either reading: ‘For then in that case, on this supposition that they could perfect the worshippers, would they not (or, they would) have ceased to be offered? There would have been rest given unto them, a stop put to their offering.’That is, God would have appointed them to have been offered once, and no more. So the apostle observes signally of the sacrifice of Christ, that he “once offered” himself, that he offered “once for all;” because by one offering, and that once offered, he did perfect them that were sanctified or dedicated unto God thereby.
That which the apostle designs to prove, is that they did not by their own force and efficacy for ever perfect the church, or bring it unto that state of justification, sanctification, and acceptance with God, which was designed unto it, with all the privileges and spiritual worship belonging unto that state. That this they did not do he declares in the words following, by a notable instance included in their repetition. For all means of any sort, as such, do cease when their end is attained. The continuance of their use is an evidence that the end proposed is not effected.
In opposition unto this argument in general it may be said, ‘That this reiteration or repetition of them was not because they did not perfectly expiate sins, the sins of the offerers, all that they had committed and were guilty of before their offering; but because those for whom they were offered did again contract the guilt of sin, and so stood in need of a renewed expiation hereof.’
In answer unto this objection, which may be laid against the foundation of the apostle’s argument, I say there are two things in the expiation of sin: first, The effects of the sacrifice towards God, in making atonement; secondly, The application of those effects unto our consciences. The apostle treats not of the latter, or the means of the application of the effects and benefits of the expiation of sin unto our consciences, which may be many, and frequently repeated. Of this nature are still all the ordinances of the gospel; and so also are our own faith and repentance. The principal end, in particular, of that great ordinance of the supper of the Lord, which by his own command is frequently to be repeated, and ever was so in the church, is to make application unto us of the virtue and efficacy of the sacrifice of Christ in his death unto our souls. For a renewed participation of the thing signified is the only use of the frequent repetition of the sign. So renewed acts of faith and repentance are continually necessary, upon the incursions of new acts of sin and defilement. But by none of these is there any atonement made for sin, or an expiation of it; only the one, the great sacrifice of atonement, is applied unto us, not to be repeated by us. But the apostle treats only of that we mentioned in the first place, the efficacy of sacrifices to make reconciliation and atonement for sin before God; which the Jews expected from them. And actings towards God need no repetition, to make application of them unto him. Wherefore God himself being the only object of sacrifices for the expiation of sin, what cannot be effected towards him and with him by one and at once, can never be done by repetition of the same.
Supposing, therefore, the end of sacrifices to be the making of atonement with God for sin, and the procurement of all the privileges wherewith it is accompanied, which was the faith of the Jews concerning them, and the repetition of them doth invincibly prove that they could not of themselves effect what they were applied unto or used for; especially considering that this repetition of them was enjoined to be perpetual, whilst the law continued in force. If they could at any time have perfected the worshippers, they would have ceased to be offered; for unto what end should that continuance serve? To abide in a show or pretense of doing that which is done already, doth no way answer the wisdom of divine institutions.
And we may see herein both the obstinacy and miserable state thereon of the present Jews. The law doth plainly declare, that without atonement by blood there is no remission of sins to be obtained. This they expect by the sacrifices of the law, and their frequent repetition; not by any thing which was more perfect, and which they did represent. But all these they have been utterly deprived of for many generations; and therefore must all of them, on their own principles, die in their sins and under the curse. The woful, superstitious follies whereby they endeavor to supply the want of those sacrifices, are nothing but so many evidences of their obstinate blindness.
And it is hence also evident, that the superstition of the church of Rome in their mass, wherein they pretend to offer, and every day to repeat, a propitiatory sacrifice for the sins of the living and the dead, doth evidently demonstrate that they disbelieve the efficacy of the one sacrifice of Christ, as once offered, for the expiation of sin. For if it be so, neither can it be repeated, nor any other used for that end, if we believe the apostle. The remaining words of this verse confirm the argument insisted on, namely, that those sacrifices would have ceased to be offered if they could have made the church perfect; for, saith he, “The worshippers being once purged, they should have had no more conscience of sins.” And we must inquire,
1. Who are intended by “the worshippers.”
2. What it is to be “ purged. ”
3. What is the effect of this purging, in “having no more conscience of sins.”
4. How the apostle proves his intention hereby.
1. The “worshippers,” οἱ λατρεύοντες , are the same with οἱ προσερχόμενοι , the “comers,” in the verse foregoing: and in neither place the priests who offered the sacrifices, but the people for whom they were offered, are intended. They it was who made use of those sacrifices for the expiation of sin.
2. Concerning these persons it is supposed, that if the sacrifices of the law could make them “perfect” then would they have been” purged; wherefore καθαρίζεσθαι is the effect of τελειῶσαι , to be “purged,” of being “made perfect.” For the apostle supposeth the negation of the latter from the negation of the former: ‘If the law did not make them perfect, then were they not purged.’
This sacred καθαρισμός respects either the guilt of sin or the filth of it. The one is removed by justification, the other by sanctification. The one is the effect of the sacerdotal actings of Christ towards God in making atonement for sin; the other of the application of the virtue and efficacy of that sacrifice unto our souls and consciences, whereby they are purged, cleansed, renewed, and changed. It is the purging of the first sort that is here intended; such a purging of sin as takes away the condemning power of sin from the conscience on the account of the guilt of it. ‘If they had been purged, (as they would have been had the law made the comers unto its sacrifices perfect);’that is, if there had been a complete expiation of sin made for them.
And the supposition denied hath its qualification and limitation in the word ἅπαξ , “once.” By this word he expresseth the efficacy of the sacrifice of Christ, which being one, at once effected what it was designed unto. And it doth not design only the doing of a thing at one time, but the so doing of it as that it should never more be done.
3. That these worshippers were not thus purged by any of the sacrifices which were offered for them the apostle proves from hence, because they had not the necessary effect and consequence of such a purification. For if they had been so purged, “they would have had no more conscience of sins;” but that they had so he proves in the next verse, from the legal recognition that was made of them every year. And if they had had no more conscience of sins, there would have been no need of offering sacrifices for their expiation any more.
(1.) The introduction of the assertion is by the particles “because that;” which direct unto the argument that is in the words,’” they would have ceased to be offered,” because their end would have been accomplished, and so themselves taken away.’
(2.) On the supposition made, there would have been an alteration made in the state of the worshippers. When they came unto the sacrifices, they came with conscience of sin. This is unavoidable unto a sinner before expiation and atonement be made for it. Afterwards, if they were purged, it should be so no more with them; they should no more have conscience of sin. “They should no more have conscience of sins;” or rather, “they should not any more” (or “further”) “have any conscience of sins; or, “they should have no conscience of sins any more.” The meaning of the word is singularly well expressed in the Syriac translation: “They should have no conscience agitating, tossing, disquieting, perplexing for sins;” no conscience judging and condemning their persons for the guilt of sin, so depriving them of solid peace with God. It is conscience with respect unto the guilt of sin, as it binds over the sinner unto punishment in the judgment of God. Now this is not to be measured by the apprehension of the sinner, but by the true causes and grounds of it. Now these lie herein alone, that sin was not perfectly expiated; for where this is not, there must be a conscience of sin, that is, disquieting, judging, condemning for sin.
4. The apostle speaks on the one side and the other of them, who were really interested in the sacrifices whereunto they might trust for the expiation of sin. The way hereof, as unto them of old, and the legal sacrifices, was the due attendance unto them, and performance of them according unto God’s institution. Hence are the persons so interested called the “comers” to them, and the “worshippers.” The way and means of our interest in the sacrifice of Christ are by faith only. In this state it often falls out that true believers have a conscience judging and condemning them for sin, no less than they had under the law; but this trouble and power of conscience doth not arise from hence, that sin is not perfectly expiated by the sacrifice of Christ, but only from an apprehension that they have not a due interest in that sacrifice and the benefits of it. Under the old testament they questioned not their due interest in their sacrifices, which depended on the performance of the rites and ordinances of service belonging unto them; but their consciences charged them with the guilt of sin, through an apprehension that their sacrifices could not perfectly expiate it. And this they found themselves led unto by God’s institution of their repetition; which had not been done if they could ever make the worshippers perfect.
It is quite otherwise as unto conscience for sin remaining in believers under the new testament; for they have not the least sense of fear concerning any insufficiency or imperfection in the sacrifice whereby it is expiated. God hath ordered all things concerning it so as to satisfy the consciences of all men in the perfect expiation of sin by it; only they who are really purged by it may be in the dark sometimes as unto their personal interest in it.
But it may be objected, ‘That if the sacrifices neither by their native efficacy, nor by the frequency of repetition, could take away sin, so as that they who came unto God by them could have peace of conscience, or be freed from the trouble of a continual condemnatory sentence in themselves, then was there no true, real peace with God under the old testament, for other way of attaining it there was none. But this is contrary unto innumerable testimonies of Scripture, and the promises of God made then unto the church.’In answer hereunto, I say, The apostle did not, nor doth in these words, declare what they did and could, or could not attain unto under the old testament; only what they could not attain by the means of their sacrifices (so he declares it in the next verse); for in them “remembrance is made of sins.” But in the use of them, and by their frequent repetition, they were taught to look continually unto the great expiatory sacrifice, whose virtue was laid up for them in the promise; whereby they had peace with God.
Obs. 1. The discharge of conscience from its condemning right and power, by virtue of the sacrifice of Christ, is the foundation of all other privileges we receive by the gospel. Where this is not, there is no real participation of any other of them.
Obs. 2. All peace with God is resolved into a purging atonement made for sin: “Being once purged.”
Obs. 3. It is by a principle of gospel light alone that conscience is directed to condemn all sin, and yet to acquit all sinners that are purged. Its own natural light can give it no guidance herein.
Hebrews 10:3 . But in those [ sacrifices there is ] a remembrance again [ made ] of sins every year.
It is the latter part of the foregoing assertion, namely, that the worshippers were not purged or perfected by them, in that they had still remaining a conscience for sins, which is proposed unto confirmation; for this being a matter of fact might be denied by the Hebrews. Wherefore the apostle proves the truth of his assertion from an inseparable adjunct, of the yearly repetition of these sacrifices, according unto divine institution.
There are four things to be opened in the words:
1. The introduction of the reason intended, by an adversative conjunction, ἀλλά , “but.”
2. The subject spoken of; “those sacrifices.”
3. What belonged unto them by divine institution; which is, a renewed remembrance of sin.
4. The seasons of it; it was to be made every year.
1. The note of introduction gives us the nature of the argument insisted on: ‘Had the worshippers been perfect, they would have had no more conscience for sins. But,’saith he, ‘it was not so with them; for God appoints nothing in vain, yet he had not only appointed the repetition of these sacrifices, but also that in every repetition of them there should be a remembrance made of sin, as of that which was yet to be expiated.’
2. The subject spoken of is expressed in these words, ἐν αὐταῖς , “in them.” But this relative is remote from the antecedent, which is in the first verse, by the interposition of the second, wherein it is repeated. We transfer it hither from the first verse in our translation, “but in those sacrifices; ” and we supply the defect of the verb substantive by “there is:” for there is no more in the original than “but in them a remembrance again of sins.” The sacrifices intended are principally those of the solemn day of expiation: for he speaks of them that were repeated yearly; that is, “ once every year.” Others were repeated every day, or as often as occasion did require; these only were so yearly. And these are peculiarly fixed on, because of the peculiar solemnity of their offering, and the interest of the whole people at once in them. By these, therefore, they looked for the perfect expiation of sin.
3. That which is affirmed of these sacrifices is, their inseparable adjunct, that in them there was a “remembrance of sins again;” that is, there was so by virtue of divine institution, whereon the force of the argument doth depend. For this remembrance of sin by God’s own institution was such as sufficiently evidenced that the offerers had yet a conscience condemning them for sins. Respect is had unto the command of God unto this purpose, Leviticus 16:21-22. ᾿Ανὰμνησις is an “express remembrance,” or a remembrance expressed by confession or acknowledgment. See Genesis 41:9; Genesis 42:21. For where it respects sin, it is a recalling of it unto the sentence of the law, and a sense of punishment. See Num 5:15 ; 1 Kings 17:18. And hereby the apostle proves effectually that these sacrifices did not make the worshippers perfect; for notwithstanding their offering of them, a sense of sin still returned upon their consciences, and God himself had appointed that every year they should make such an acknowledgment and confession of sin as should manifest that they stood in need of a further expiation than could be attained by them.
But a difficulty doth here arise of no small importance. For what the apostle denies unto these offerings of the law, that he ascribes unto the one only sacrifice of Christ. ‘Yet notwithstanding this sacrifice and its efficacy, it is certain that believers ought not only once a-year, but every day, to call sins to remembrance, and to make confession thereof; yea, our Lord Jesus Christ himself hath taught us to pray every day for the pardon of our sins, wherein there is a calling of them unto remembrance. It doth not, therefore, appear wherein the difference lies between the efficacy of their sacrifices and that of Christ, seeing after both of them there is equally a remembrance of sin again to be made.’
Ans. The difference is evident between these things. Their confession of sin was in order unto, and preparatory for, a new atonement and expiation of it; this sufficiently proves the insufficiency of those that were offered before; for they were to come unto the new offerings as if there had never been any before them: our remembrance of sin and confession of it respect only the application of the virtue and efficacy of the atonement once made, without the least desire or expectation of a new propitiation. In their remembrance of sin respect was had unto the curse of the law which was to be answered, and the wrath of God which was to be appeased; it belonged unto the sacrifice itself, whose object was God: ours respects only the application of the benefits of the sacrifice of Christ unto our own consciences, whereby we may have assured peace with God. The sentence or curse of the law was on them, until a new atonement was made; for the soul that did not join in the sacrifice was to be cut off: but the sentence and curse of the law was at once taken away, Ephesians 2:15-16. And we may observe,
Obs. 4. An obligation unto such ordinances of worship as could not expiate sin, nor testify that it was perfectly expiated, was part of the bondage of the church under the old testament.
Obs. 5. It belongs unto the light and wisdom of faith so to remember sin, and make confession of it, as not therein or thereby to seek after a new atonement for it, which is made “once for all.” Confession of sin is no less necessary under the new testament than it was under the old; but not for the same end. And it is an eminent difference between the spirit of bondage and that of liberty by Christ: the one so confesseth sin as to make that very confession a part of atonement for it; the other is encouraged unto confession because of the atonement already made, as a means of coming unto a participation of the benefits of it. Wherefore the causes and reasons of the confession of sin under the new testament are,
1. To affect our own minds and consciences with a sense of the guilt of sin in itself, so as to keep us humble and filled with self-abasement. He who hath no sense of sin but only what consists in dread of future judgment, knows little of the mystery of our walk before God, and obedience unto him, according unto the gospel.
2. To engage our souls unto watchfulness for the future against the sins we do confess; for in confession we make an abrenunciation of them.
3. To give unto God the glory of his righteousness, holiness, and aversation from sin. This is included in every confession we make of sin; for the reason why we acknowledge the evil of it, why we detest and abhor it, is its contrariety unto the nature, holy properties, and will of God.
4. To give unto him the glory of his infinite grace and mercy in the pardon of it.
5. We use it as an instituted means to let in a sense of the pardon of sin into our own souls and consciences, through a fresh application of the sacrifice of Christ and the benefits thereof, whereunto confession of sin is required.
6. To exalt Jesus Christ in our hearts, by the application of ourselves unto him, as the only procurer and purchaser of mercy and pardon; without which, confession of sin is neither acceptable unto God nor useful unto our own souls. But we do not make confession of sin as a part of a compensation for the guilt of it; nor as a means to give some present pacification unto conscience, that we may go on in sin, as the manner of some is.
᾿Αδύνατον γὰρ αἷμα ταύρων καὶ τράγων ἀφαιρεῖν ἁμαρτίας . There is no difficulty in the words, and very little difference in the translations of them. The Vulgar renders ἀφαιρεῖν by the passive: “Impossibile est enim sanguine taurorum et hircorum auferri peccata,” “It is impossible that sins should be taken away by the blood of bulls and goats.” The Syriac renders ἀφαιρεῖν by מַדֵךְ , which is to “purge” or “cleanse,” unto the same purpose.
Hebrews 10:4 . For it is impossible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.
This is the last determinate resolution of the apostle concerning the insufficiency of the law and its sacrifices for the expiation of sin, and the perfecting of them who come unto God, as unto their consciences. And there is in the argument used unto this end an inference from what was spoken before, and a new enforcement from the nature or subject-matter of these sacrifices.
Something must be observed concerning this assertion in general, and an objection that it is liable unto. For by “the blood of bulls and goats,” he intends all the sacrifices of the law. Now if it be impossible that they should take away sin, for what end then were they appointed? especially considering that, in the institution of them, God told the church that he had given the blood to make atonement on the altar, Leviticus 17:11. It may therefore be said, as the apostle doth in another place with respect unto the law itself, ‘If it could not by the works of it justify us before God, to what end then served the law?’ To what end served these sacrifices, if they could not take away sin?
The answer which the apostle gives with respect unto the law in general may be applied unto the sacrifices of it, with a small addition from a respect unto their special nature. For as unto the law, he answers two things:
1. That it was “added because of transgressions,” Galatians 3:19.
2. That it was “a schoolmaster to guide and direct us unto Christ,” because of the severities wherewith it was accompanied, like those of a schoolmaster; not in the spirit of a tender father. And thus it was as unto the end of these sacrifices.
1. They were added unto the promise because of transgressions. For God in them and by them did continually represent unto sinners the curse and sentence of the law; namely, that the soul that sinneth must die, or that death was the wages of sin. For although there was allowed in them a commutation, that the sinner himself should not die, but the beast that was sacrificed in his stead, which belonged unto their second end, of leading unto Christ, yet they all testified unto that sacred truth, that it is “the judgement of God that they who commit sin are worthy of death.” And this was, as the whole law, an ordinance of God to deter men from sin, and so put bounds unto transgressions. For when God passed by sin with a kind of connivance, winking at the ignorance of men in their iniquities, not giving them continual warnings of their guilt and the consequent thereof in death, the world was filled and covered with a deluge of impieties. Men saw not judgment speedily executed, nor any tokens or indications that so it would be; therefore was their heart wholly set in them to do evil. But God dealt not thus with the church. He let no sin pass without a representation of his displeasure against it, though mixed with mercy, in a direction unto the relief against it in the blood of the sacrifice. And therefore, he did not only appoint these sacrifices on all the especial occasions of such sins and uncleannesses as the consciences of particular sinners were pressed with a sense of, but also once a-year there was gathered up a remembrance of all the sins, iniquities, and transgressions of the whole congregation, Leviticus 16:0.
2. They were added as the teaching of a schoolmaster to lead unto Christ. By them was the church taught and directed to look continually unto and after that sacrifice which alone could really purge and take away all iniquity. For God appointed no sacrifices until after the promise of sending the Seed of the woman to break the head of the serpent. In his so doing was his own heel to be bruised, in the suffering of his human nature, which he offered in sacrifice unto God; which these sacrifices did represent.
Wherefore the church knowing that these sacrifices did call sin to remembrance, representing the displeasure of God against it, which was their first end; and that although there was an intimation of grace and mercy in them, by the commutation and substitution which they allowed, yet that they could not of themselves take away sin; it made them the more earnestly, and with longing desires, look after him and his sacrifice who should perfectly take away sin and make peace with God; wherein the principal exercise of grace under the old testament did consist.
3. As unto their especial nature, they were added as the great instruction in the way and manner whereby sin was to be taken away. For although this arose originally from God’s mere grace and mercy, yet was it not to be executed and accomplished by sovereign grace and power alone. Such a taking away of sin would have been inconsistent with his truth, holiness, and righteous government of mankind, as I have elsewhere at large demonstrated.  It must be done by the interposition of a ransom and atonement; by the substitution of one who was no sinner in the room of sinners, to make satisfaction unto the law and justice of God for sin. Hereby they became the principal direction of the faith of the saints under the old testament, and the means whereby they acted it on the original promise of their recovery from apostasy.
 Dissertation on Divine Justice, miscellaneous works, vol. 10 p. 481. ED.
These things do evidently express the wisdom of God in their institution, although of themselves they could not take away sin. And those by whom these ends of them are denied, as they are by the Jews and Socinians, can give no account of any end of them which should answer the wisdom, grace, and holiness of God.
This objection being removed, I shall proceed unto the exposition of the words in particular. And there are four things in them as a negative proposition:
1. The illative conjunction, declaring its respect unto what went before.
2. The subject-matter spoken of; “the blood of bulls and goats.”
3. What is denied concerning it; “it could not take away sins.”
4. The modification of this negative proposition; “it was impossible they should do so.”
1. The illative cojunction, “for,” declares what is spoken to be introduced in the proof and confirmation of what was before affirmed. And it is the closing argument against the imperfection and impotency of the old covenant, the law, priesthood, and sacrifices of it, which the apostle maketh use of. And indeed it is comprehensive of all that he had before insisted on; yea, it is the foundation of all his other reasonings unto this purpose. For if in the nature of the thing itself it was impossible that the sacrifices consisting of the blood of bulls and goats should take away sin, then however, whensoever, and by whomsoever they were offered, this effect could not be produced by them. Wherefore in these words the apostle puts a close unto his argument, and resumes it no more in this epistle, but only once or twice makes mention of it in the way of an illustration to set forth the excellency of the sacrifice of Christ; as verses 11, 12, of this chapter, and Hebrews 13:10-12.
2. The subject spoken of is “the blood of bulls and goats.” The reason why the apostle expresseth them by “bulls and goats,” which were calves and kids of the goats, hath been declared on Hebrews 9:11-12. And some things must be observed concerning this description of the old sacrifices:
(1.) That he makes mention of the “blood” of the sacrifices only, whereas in many of them the whole bodies were offered, and the fat of them all was burned on the altar. And this he doth for the ensuing reasons:
[1.] Because it was the blood alone whereby atonement was made for sin and sinners. The fat was burned with incense, only to show that it was accepted as a sweet savor with God.
[2.] Because he had respect principally unto the anniversary sacrifice, unto the consummation whereof, and atonement thereby, the carrying the blood into the holy place did belong.
[3.] Because life natural is in an especial manner in the blood, which signified that atonement was to be made by death, and that by the effusion of blood, as it was in the sacrifice of Christ. See Leviticus 17:11-12. And in the shedding of it there was an indication of the desert of sin in the offerer.
(2.) He recalls them, by this expression of their sacrifices, “the blood of bulls and goats,” unto a due consideration of what effect might be produced by them. They were accompanied with great solemnity and pomp of ceremony in their celebration. Hence arose a great esteem and veneration of them in the minds of the people. But when all was done, that which was offered was but “the blood of bulls and goats.” And there is a tacit opposition unto the matter of that sacrifice whereby sin was really to be expiated, which was “the precious blood of Christ,” as Hebrews 9:13-14.
3. That which is denied of these sacrifices, is ἀφαιρεῖν ἁμαρτίας , the “taking away of sins.” The thing intended is variously expressed by the apostle, as by ἱλάσκεσθαι τὰς ἁμαρτίας , Hebrews 2:17; καθαρισμὸν ποιῆσαι , Hebrews 1:3; καθαρίζεσθαι , Hebrews 9:14; ἀθέτησις ἁμαρτίας , Hebrews 9:26; ἀναφέρειν ἁμαρτίας , Hebrews 9:28; to “make reconciliation,” to “purge sin,” to “purge the conscience,” to “abolish sin,” to “bear it.” And that which he intendeth in all these expressions, which he denies to the law and its sacrifices, and ascribes unto that of Christ, is the whole entire effect thereof, so far as it immediately respected God and the law. For all these expressions respect the guilt of sin, and its removal, or the pardon of it, with righteousness before God, acceptance and peace with him. To “take away sin,” is to make atonement for it, to expiate it before God by a satisfaction given, or price paid, with the procurement of the pardon of it, according unto the terms of the new covenant.
The interpretation of these words by the Socinians is contrary unto the signification of the words themselves, and the whole design of the context:
“‘Impossibile est,’saith Schlichtingius, ‘ut sanguis taurorum et hircorum peccata tollat;’hoc est, efficiat ut homines in posterum a peccatis abstinerent, et sic nullam amplius habeant peccatorum conscientiam, sive ullas eorum poenas metuant; quam enim quaeso vim ad haec praestandum sanguis animalium habere potest? Itaque hoc dicit, taurorum et hircorum sanguinem earn vim nequaquam habere, et ut habeat, impossibile esse, ut homines a peccatis avocet, et ne in posterum peccent efficiat.”
And Grotius after him speaks to the same purpose:
“ Ἀφαιρεῖν ἁμαρτίας , quod supra ἀθετεῖν et ἀναφέρειν , est extinguere peccata, sive facere ne ultra peccetur. Id sanguis Christi facit, tum quia fidem in nobis parit, tum quia Christo jus dat nobis auxilia necessaria impetrandi. Pecudum sanguis nihil efficit tale.”
(1.) Nothing can be more alien from the design of the apostle and scope of the context. They are both of them to prove that the sacrifices of the law could not expiate sins, could not make atonement for them, could not make reconciliation with God, could not produce the effect which the sacrifice of Christ alone was appointed and ordained unto. They were only signs and figures of it. They could not effect that which the Hebrews looked for from them and by them. And that which they expected by them was, that by them they should make atonement with God for their sins. Wherefore the apostle denies that it was possible they should effect what they looked for from them, and nothing else. It was not that they should be arguments to turn them from sin unto newness of life, so as they should sin no more. By what way, and on what consideration they were means to deter men from sin, I have newly declared. But they can produce no one place in the whole law to give countenance unto such an apprehension that this was their end; so that the apostle had no need to declare their insufficiency with respect thereunto. Especially, the great anniversary sacrifice on the day of expiation was appointed so expressly to make atonement for sin, to procure its pardon, to take away its guilt in the sight of God, and from the conscience of the sinner, that he should not be punished according unto the sentence of the law, as that it cannot be denied. This is that which the apostle declares that of themselves they could not effect or perform, but only typically and by way of representation.
(2.) He declares directly and positively what he intends by this taking away of sin, and the ceasing of legal sacrifices thereon, verses 17, 18, “Their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.” The cessation of offerings for sin follows directly on the remission of sin, which is the effect of expiation and atonement; and not upon the turning away of men from sin for the future. It is therefore our justification, and not our sanctification, that the apostle discourseth of.
(3.) The words themselves will not bear this sense. For the object of ἀφαιρεῖν , that which it is exercised about, is ἁμαρτία . It is an act upon sin itself, and not immediately upon the sinner. Nor can it signify any thing but to take away the guilt of sin, that it should not bind over the sinner unto punishment; whereon conscience of sins is taken away. But to return.
4. The manner of the negation is, that “it was impossible” that it should be otherwise. And it was so,
(1.) From divine institution. Whatever the Jews apprehended, they were never designed of God unto that end; and therefore had no virtue or efficacy for it communicated unto them. And all the virtue of ordinances of worship depends on their designation unto their end. The blood of bulls and goats, as offered in sacrifice, and carried into the most holy place, was designed of God to represent the way of taking away sin, but not by itself to effect it; and it was therefore impossible that so it should do.
(2.) It was impossible from the nature of the things themselves, inasmuch as there was not a condecency unto the holy perfections of the divine nature that sin should be expiated and the church perfected by the blood of bulls and goats. For,
[1.] There would not have been so unto his infinite wisdom. For God having declared his severity against sin, with the necessity of its punishment unto the glory of his righteousness and sovereign rule over his creatures, what condecency could there have been herein unto infinite wisdom? what consistency between the severity of that declaration and the taking away of sin by such an inferior, beggarly means, as that of the blood of bulls and goats? A great appearance was made of infinite displeasure against sin, in the giving of the fiery law, in the curse of it, in the threatening of eternal death; but should all have ended in an outward show, there would have been no manner of proportion to be discerned between the demerit of sin and the means of its expiation. So that,
[2.] It had no condecency unto divine justice. For,
1st . As I have elsewhere proved at large,  sin could not be taken away without a price, a ransom, a compensation and satisfaction made unto justice for the injuries it received by sin. In satisfaction unto justice, by way of compensation for injuries or crimes, there must be a proportion between the injury and the reparation of it, that justice may be as much exalted and glorified in the one as it was depressed and debased in the ether. But there could be no such thing between the demerit of sin and the affront put on the righteousness of God on the one hand, and a reparation by the blood of bulls and goats on the other. No man living can apprehend wherein any such proportion should lie or consist. Nor was it possible that the conscience of any man could be freed from a sense of the guilt of sin, who had nothing to trust unto but this blood to make compensation or atonement for it.
2dly . The apprehension of it (namely, a suitableness unto divine justice in the expiation of sins by the blood of bulls and goats) must needs be a great incentive unto profane persons unto the commission of sin. For if there be no more in sin and the guilt of it but what may be expiated and taken away at so low a price, but what may have atonement made for it by the blood of beasts, why should they not give satisfaction unto their lusts by living in sin?
 Dissertation on Divine Justice, vol. 10 p. 481. ED.
3dly . It would have had no consistency with the sentence and sanction of the law of nature, “In the day thou eatest thou shalt die.” For although God reserved unto himself the liberty and right of substituting a surety in the room of a sinner, to die for him, namely, such an one as should by his suffering and dying bring more glory unto the righteousness, holiness, and law of God, than either was derogated from them by the sin of man, or could be restored unto them by his eternal ruin, yet was it not consistent with the veracity of God in that sanction of the law that this substitution should be of a nature no way cognate, but ineffably inferior unto the nature of him that was to be delivered. For these, and other reasons of the same kind, which I have handled at large elsewhere, “it was impossible,” as the apostle assures us, “that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.” And we may observe,
Obs. 1. It is possible that things may usefully represent what it is impossible that, in and by themselves, they should effect. This is the fundamental rule of all institutions of the old testament. Wherefore,
Obs. 2. There may be great and eminent uses of divine ordinances and institutions, although it be impossible that by themselves, in their most exact and diligent use, they should work out our acceptance with God. And it belongs unto the wisdom of faith to use them unto their proper end, not to trust unto them as unto what they cannot of themselves effect.
Obs. 3. It was utterly impossible that sin should be taken away before God, and from the conscience of the sinner, but by the blood of Christ. Other ways men are apt to betake themselves unto for this end, but in vain. It is the blood of Jesus Christ alone that cleanseth us from all our sins; for he alone was the propitiation for them.
Obs. 4. The declaration of the insufficiency of all other ways for the expiation of sin is an evidence of the holiness, righteousness, and severity of God against sin, with the unavoidable ruin of all unbelievers.
Obs. 5. Herein also consists the great demonstration of the love, grace, and mercy of God, with an encouragement unto faith, in that when the old sacrifices neither would nor could perfectly expiate sin, he would not suffer the work itself to fail, but provided a way that should be infallibly effective of it, as is declared in the following verses.
The provision that God made to supply the defect and insufficiency of legal sacrifices, as unto the expiation of sin, peace of conscience with himself, and the sanctification of the souls of the worshippers, is declared in this context; for the words contain the blessed undertaking of our Lord Jesus Christ to do, fulfill, perform, and suffer, all things required in the will, and by the wisdom, holiness, righteousness, and authority of God, unto the complete salvation of the church, with the reasons of the efficacy of what he so did and suffered unto that end. And we must consider both the words themselves, so far especially as they consist in a quotation out of the Old Testament, and the validity of his inferences from the testimony which he chooseth to insist on unto this purpose.
Hebrews 10:5-10 . Διὸ εἰσερχόμενος εἰς τὸν κόσμον , λέγει , Θυσίαν καὶ προσφοράν οὐκ ἠθέλησας , σῶμα δὲ κατηρτίσω μοι· ὁλοκαυτώματα καὶ περὶ ὑμαρτίας οὐκ εὐδόκησας . Τότε ει῏πον , ᾿Ιδοὺ ἥχω ( ἐν κεφαλίδι βιβλίου γέγραπται τερὶ ἐμοῦ ) τοῦ ποιῆσαι , ὁ Θεὸς , τὸ θέλημά σου . ᾿Ανώτερον λέγων , Οτι θυσίαν καὶ προσφορὰν καὶ ὁλοκαυτώματα καὶ περὶ ἁμαρτίας οὐκ ἠθέλησας , οὐδὲ εὐδόκησας· ( αἱτινεσ κατὰ τὸν νόμον προσφέρονται ) τότε εἴρηκεν , ᾿Ιδοὺ ἥκω τοῦ ποιῆσαι , ὁ Θεὸς , τὸ θέλημά σου· ἀναιρεῖ τὸ πρῶτον , ἵνα τὸ δεύτερον στήσῃ· ἐν ᾧ θελήματι ἡγιασμένοι ἐσμὲν διὰ τῆς προσφορᾶς τοῦ σώματος τοῦ ᾿Ιησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐφάπαξ .
Some few differences may be observed in the ancient and best translations.
Διὸ . Vulg. Lat., “ideo quapropter.” Syr., מֶטוּל הָנָא , “for this, for this cause.”
Θυσίαν καὶ προσφοράν , “hostiam et oblationem, ” “ sacrificium, victimam.” The Syriac renders the words in the plural number, “sacrifices and offerings.”
Σῶμα δὲ κατηρτίσω μοι , “aptasti,” “adaptasti mihi,” “praeparasti,” “perfecisti.” “A body hast thou prepared;” that is, ‘fitted for me, wherein I may do thy will.’Syr., פַגְיָא דֵּין אַלְבֶּשְׁתָּנִי , “but thou hast clothed me with a body;” very significantly, as unto the thing intended, which is the incarnation of the Son of God. The Ethiopic renders this verse somewhat strangely: “And when he entered into the world, he saith, Sacrifices and offerings! would not; thy body he hath purified unto me;” making them, as I suppose, the words of the Father.
Οὐκ εὐδόκησας . Vulg., “non tibi placuerant;” reading the preceding words in the nominative case, altering the person and number of the verb Syr., שֵׁאלְתְ לָא , “thou didst not require,” “non approbasti;” that is, “they were not well pleasing,” nor “accepted with God,” as unto the end of the expiation of sin.
᾿Ιὸοὺ ἥκω . “Ecce adsum,” “venio.”
Οὐκ ἠθέλησας , οὐδὲ εὐδόκησας . The Syriac omitteth the last word, which yet is emphatical in the discourse.
Τότε εἵρηκεν . Vulg., “tunc dixi,” “then I said;” that is, ει῏πον , for “he said” for the apostle doth not speak these words, but repeats the words of the psalmist.
The reading of the words out of the Hebrew by the apostle shall be considered in our passage. 
 EXPOSITION. Five views have been taken in regard to the difference between the Hebrew original and the LXX. rendering, as given in verse 5. 1. Even before the days of Kennicott some resolved the difficulty on the hypothesis of a corruption of the Hebrew text. Kennicott conjectured that אָזְנַיִם כָּיִיתָ was a corruption for אָז גֵוָה נָתַתָּ , “Then a body thou hast given.” Since אָז , however, is an adverb of time, it cannot be taken in the sense of “therefore.” Pierce adopts the emendation so far, but leaves the verb as it stands. Pye Smith inclines to this view, and holds that . כָיָה signifies “to prepare.” 2. Bleek supposes a corruption in the LXX., σῶμα , instead of ω῏τα , or ὤτια originally. 3. Rosenmuller, with Owen, a synecdoche, “Thou hast opened mine ears;” ‘given a capacity to hear, and therefore to obey thy commands.’4. Michaelis, Storr, Kuinoel, Hengstenberg, and Stuart, paraphrase it somewhat thus, “Thou hast opened, i.e., spoken closely and effectually into mine ears;” ‘I have ears to hear, and I understand the secret meaning of the laws concerning sacrifices. I know that that requires not oxen and goats, but a BETTER SACRIFICE; and for that purpose I present myself.’5. Olshausen and Ebrard adhere to the explanation derived from the boring of the servant’s ear, Exodus 21:6. All agree that the meaning is substantially conveyed by the LXX. ED.
Hebrews 10:5-10 . Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared [ fitted for ] me: in burnt-offerings and [ sacrifices ] for sin thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me) to do thy will, O God; [ that I should do thy will. ] Above when he said, Sacrifice, and offering, and burnt-offerings, and [ offerings ] for sin, thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure [ therein, ] which are offered by the law; then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified,, through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once [ for all. ]
A blessed and divine context this is, summarily representing unto us the love, grace, and wisdom of the Father; the love, obedience, and suffering of the Son; the federal agreement between the Father and the Son as unto the work of the redemption and salvation of the church; with the blessed harmony between the Old and New Testament in the declaration of these things. The divine authority and wisdom that evidence themselves herein are ineffable, and do cast contempt on all those by whom this epistle hath been called in question; as sundry other passages in it do in a peculiar manner. And it is our duty to inquire with diligence into the mind of the Holy Spirit herein.
As unto the general nature of the arguing of the apostle, it consists in two parts:
First, The introduction of a pregnant testimony out of the Old Testament unto his purpose, Hebrews 10:5-8, and part of the 9th.
Secondly, Inferences from that testimony, asserting and confirming all that he had pleaded for.
In the testimony he produceth we may consider,
1. The manner of its introduction, respecting the reason of what is asserted; “Wherefore.”
2. Who it was by whom the words insisted on were spoken; “He saith.”
3. When he spake them; “When he came into the world.”
4. The things spoken by him in general; which consist in a double antithesis:
(1.) Between the legal sacrifices and the obedience of Christ in his body, Hebrews 10:5;
(2.) Between God’s acceptance of the one and the other, with their efficacy unto the end treated of, which must be particularly spoken unto.
FIRST, The introduction of this testimony is by the word “wherefore,” “for which cause,” “for which end.” It doth not give an account why the words following were spoken, but why the things themselves were so ordered and disposed. And we are directed in this word unto the due consideration of what is designed to be proved: and this is, that there was such an insufficiency in all legal sacrifices, as unto the expiation of sin, that God would remove them and take them out of the way, to introduce that which was better, to do that which the law could not do. ‘Wherefore,’saith the apostle, ‘because it was so with the law, things are thus disposed of in the wisdom and counsel of God as is declared in this testimony.’
SECONDLY, Who spake the words contained in the testimony: “He saith.” The words may have a three-fold respect:
1. As they were given out by inspiration, and are recorded in the Scripture. So they were the words of the Holy Ghost, as the apostle expressly affirms of the like words, Hebrews 10:15-16, of this chapter.
2. As they were used by the penman of the psalm, who speaks by inspiration. So they were the words of David, by whom the psalm was composed. But although David spoke or wrote these words, yet is not he himself the person spoken of, nor can any passage in the whole context be applied unto him, as we shall see in particular afterwards. Or if they may be said to be spoken of him, it was only as he bare the person of another, or was a type of Christ. For although God himself doth frequently prefer moral obedience before the sacrifices of the law, when they were hypocritically performed, and trusted unto as a righteousness, unto the neglect of diligence in moral duties; yet David did not, would not, ought not, in his own name and person, to reject the worship of God, and present himself with his obedience in the room thereof, especially as unto the end of sacrifices in the expiation of sin. Wherefore,
3. The words are the words of our Lord Jesus Christ: “When he cometh into the world, he saith.” And it is a vain inquiry, when in particular he spake these words; unto whom or where any mention is made of them in the story of him. It is no way needful that they should be literally or verbally pronounced by him. But the Holy Ghost useth these words in his name, as his, because they declare, express, and represent his mind, design, and resolution, in His coming into the world; which is the sole end and use of words. On the consideration of the insufficiency of legal sacrifices (the only appearing means unto that purpose) for the expiation of sin and the making of reconciliation with God, that all mankind might not eternally perish under the guilt of sin, the Lord Christ represents his readiness and willingness to undertake that work, with the frame of his heart and mind therein.
The ascription of these words unto the Lord Christ on the reason mentioned, gives us a prospect into,
1. The love of his undertaking for us, when all other ways of our recovery failed, and were disallowed as insufficient;
2. Into the foundation of his undertaking for us, which was the declaration of the will of God concerning the insufficiency of these sacrifices;
3. Into his readiness to undertake the work of redemption, notwithstanding the difficulties that lay in the way of it, and what he was to undergo in the stead of the legal sacrifices.
Obs. 1. We have the solemn word of Christ, in the declaration he made of his readiness and willingness to undertake the work of the expiation of sin, proposed unto our faith, and engaged as a sure anchor of our souls.
THIRDLY, The season of his speaking these words in the manner declared, was on his coming into the world: “Wherefore, coming (or “when he cometh”) “into the world, he saith.” Εἱσερχόμενος , “veniens,” or “venturus;” when he was to enter into the world, when the design of his future coming into the world was declared. So ὁ ἐρχόμενος is, “he that is to come,” Matthew 11:3; and ἔρχεται , John 4:25. That, therefore, may be the sense of the words: upon the first prediction of the future coming of the Son of God into the world, the design, mind, and will wherewith he came, was declared.
Refer the words unto some actual coming of the person spoken of into the world, and various interpretations are given of them. “When he came in sacrifices, typically,” say some. But this seems not to be a word accompanying the first institution of sacrifices; namely, “Sacrifices thou wouldest not have.” “His coming into the world, was his appearance and public showing of himself unto the world, in the beginning of his ministry, as David came out of the wilderness and caves to show himself unto the people as king of Israel,” saith Grotius. But the respect unto David herein is frivolous; nor are those words used with respect unto the kingly office of Christ, but merely as unto the offering himself in sacrifice to God.
The Socinians contend earnestly, that this his coming into the world is his entrance into heaven after his resurrection. And they embrace this uncouth interpretation of the words to give countenance unto their pernicious error, that Christ offered not himself in sacrifice to God in his death, or whilst he was in this world. For his sacrifice they suppose to be metaphorically only so called, consisting in the representation of himself unto God in heaven, after his obedience and suffering. Wherefore they say, that by “the world” which he came into, “the world to come,” mentioned Hebrews 2:5, is intended. But there is nothing sound, nothing probable or specious in this wresting of the words and sense of the Scripture. For,
1. The words in the places compared are not the same. This is κόσμος only; those are οἰκουμένη , and are not absolutely to be taken in the same sense, though the same things may be intended in various respects.
2. Οἰκουμένη is the habitable part of the earth, and can on no pretense be applied unto heaven.
3. I have fully proved on that place, that the apostle in that expression intendeth only the days and times of the Messiah, or of the gospel, commonly called ,among the Jews, עולם העתיד , “the world to come;” that new heaven and earth wherein righteousness should dwell But they add, that κόσμος itself is used for heaven, Romans 4:13, Τὸ κληρονόμον , that “he should be the heir of the world;” ‘that is, of heaven, the world above.’But this imagination is vain also. For Abraham’s being “heir of the world” is no more but his being the “father of many nations;” nor was there ever any other promise which the apostle should refer unto of his being heir of the world, but only that of his being the father of many nations, not of the Jews on]y, but of the Gentiles also; as the apostle explains it, Romans 4:8-12. Respect also may be had unto the promised Seed proceeding from him, who was to be the “heir of all things.”
That which they intend by his coming into the world, is what himself constantly calleth his leaving of the world, and going out of it. See John 13:1; John 16:28; John 17:11; John 17:13: “I leave the world; I am no more in the world, but these are in the world.” This, therefore, cannot be his coming into the world. And this imagination is contrary, as unto the express words, so to the open design of the apostle; for as he declares his coming into the world to be the season wherein a body was fitted for him, so that which he had to do herein was what he had to do in this world, before his departure out of it, verse 12. Wherefore this figment is contrary unto common sense, the meaning of the words, the design of the place, and other express testimonies of Scripture; and is of no use, but to be an instance how men of corrupt minds can wrest the Scripture for their ends, unto their own destruction.
The general sense of the best expositors, ancient and modern, is, that by the coming of Christ into the world his incarnation is intended. SeeJohn 1:11John 1:11; John 3:16-17; John 3:19; John 6:14; John 9:4; John 9:39; John 11:27; John 12:46; John 16:28. The same with his “coming in the flesh,” his being “made flesh,” his being “manifest in the flesh;” for therein and thereby he came into the world.
Neither is there any weight in the objection of the Socinians unto this exposition of the words; namely, that the Lord Christ at his first coming in the flesh, and in his infancy, could not do the will of God, nor could these words be used of him. For,
1. His coming into the world, in the act of the assumption of our nature, was in obedience unto, and for the fulfilling of the word of God. For God sent him into the world, John 3:16. And “he came not to do his own will, but the will of him that sent him,” John 6:38.
2. His doing the will of God is not confined unto any one single act or duty, but extends itself unto all the degrees and whole progress of what he did and suffered in compliance with the will of God, the foundation of the whole being laid in his incarnation.
But as these words were not verbally and literally spoken by him, being only a real declaration of his design and intention; so this expression of his coming into the world is not to be confined unto any one single act or duty, so as to exclude all others from being concerned therein. It hath respect unto all the solemn acts of the susception and discharge of his mediatory office for the salvation of the church. But if any shall rather judge that in this expression some single season and act of Christ is intended, it can be no other but his incarnation, and his coming into the world thereby; for this was the foundation of all that he did afterwards, and that whereby he was fitted for his whole work of mediation, as is immediately declared. And we may observe,
Obs. 2. The Lord Christ had an infinite prospect of all that he yeas to do and suffer in the world, in the discharge of his office and undertaking. He declared from the beginning his willingness unto the whole of it. And an eternal evidence it is of his love, as also of the justice of God in laying all our sins on him, seeing it was done by his own will and consent.
FOURTHLY, The fourth thing in the words is, what he said. The substance of it is laid down, Hebrews 10:5. Unto which the further explication is added, Hebrews 10:6-7; and the application of it unto the intention of the apostle in those that follow. The words are recorded, Psalms 40:6-8, being indited by the Holy Ghost in the name of Christ, as declarative of his will.
Of the first thing proposed there are two parts:
First, What concerneth the sacrifices of the law.
Secondly, What concerneth himself.
1. The expression of the subject spoken of, that is, זֶבַח וּמִנְחָה ; which the apostle renders by θυσία , “sacrifice and offering.” In the next verse, the one of them, namely θυσία , is distributed into עוֹלָה וַחֲמָאָה ; which the apostle renders by ὁλοκαυτώματα καὶ περὶ ἁμαρτίας , “burnt- offerings,” or “whole burnt-offerings” and “sacrifices for sin.” It is evident that the Holy Ghost in this variety of expressions compriseth all the sacrifices of the law that had respect unto the expiation of sin. And as unto all of them, their order, especial nature, and use, I have treated at large in my exercitations before the first volume of this Exposition (Exerc. 24), whither the reader is referred.
2. Of these sacrifices it is affirmed, that “God would them not,” Hebrews 10:5; and that “he had no pleasure in them,” Hebrews 10:6. The first in the original is לֹא חָפַצְתָּ which the apostle renders by οὐκ ἐθέλησας , “thou wouldest not.” We render it in the psalm, “thou didst not desire.” חָפַצ is “to will,” but always with desire, complacency, and delight. Psalms 51:8, “Behold, חָפַצְתָּ ,” “thou desirest, thou wilt,” or “art delighted with truth in the hidden part.” Verse 18, לֹאאּתַחְפֹצ , “thou wouldest not,” “thou desirest not sacrifice.” Genesis 34:19, “He had delight in Jacob’s daughter.” Psalms 147:10. So חֵפֶצ , the noun, is “delight,” Psalms 1:2. The LXX. render it generally by ἐθέλω , and θέλω , “to will;” as also the noun by θέλημα . And they are of the same signification, “to will freely, voluntarily, and with delight.” But this sense the apostle doth transfer unto the other word, which he renders by εὐδόκησας , verse 6. In the psalm it is שָׁאָלְתָּ , “thou hast not required.” Εὐδοκέω is “to rest in,” “to approve, “to delight in,” “to be pleased with.” So is it always used in the New Testament, whether spoken of God or men. See Matthew 3:17; Matthew 12:18; Matthew 17:5; Luke 3:22; Luke 12:32; Romans 15:26-27; 1 Corinthians 1:21; 1Co 10:5 ; 2 Corinthians 5:8; Colossians 1:19, etc. Wherefore if we shall grant that the words used by the apostle be not exact versions of those used in the psalmist, as they are applied the one unto the other, yet it is evident that in both of them the full and exact meaning of both those used by the psalmist is declared; which is sufficient unto his purpose.
All the difficulty in the words may be reduced unto these two inquiries:
(1.) In what sense it is affirmed that “God would not have those sacrifices,” that he “had no pleasure in them,” that “he rested not in them.”
(2.) How was this made known, so as that it might be declared, as it is in this place.
(1.) As unto the first of these we may observe,
[1.] That this is not spoken of the will of God as unto the institution and appointment of these sacrifices; for the apostle affirms that they were “offered according unto the law,” verse 8; namely, which God gave unto the people. God says, indeed, by the prophet unto the people, that “he spake not unto their fathers, nor commanded them in the day that he brought them out. of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt-offerings and sacrifices,” Jeremiah 7:22. But he speaks not absolutely as unto the things themselves, but unto their manner of the observance of them.
[2.] It is not with respect unto the obedience of the people in their attendance unto them during the economy of the law; for God both required it strictly of them and approved of it in them, when duly performed. The whole law and prophets bear testimony hereunto. And it was the great injunction which he left with the people, when he ceased to grant any more immediate revelations of his will unto the church, Malachi 4:4. And the Lord Christ himself under the Judaical church did observe them.
[3.] God doth frequently reject or disallow them in the people, as they were attended unto and performed by them. But this he did only in the case of their gross hypocrisy, and the two great evils wherewith it was accompanied. The first was, that they did not only prefer the outward observation of them before internal moral obedience, but trusted unto them unto the total neglect of that obedience. See Isaiah 1:12-17. And theother was, that they put their trust in them for righteousness and acceptance with God; about which he deals, Jeremiah 7:0. Yet neither was this the case under consideration in the psalm; for there is no respect had unto any miscarriages of the people about these sacrifices, but unto the sacrifices themselves.
Wherefore some say that the words are prophetical, and declare what the will of God would be after the coming of Christ in the flesh, and the offering of his sacrifice once for all. Then God would no more require them nor accept them. But yet neither is this suited unto the mind of the Holy Ghost. For,
[1.] The apostle doth not prove by this testimony that they were to cease, but that they could not take away sin whilst they were in force.
[2.] The reason given by the Lord Christ of his undertaking, is their insufficiency during their continuance according to the law.
[3.] This revelation of the will of God made unto the church was actually true when it was made and given, or it was suited to lead them into a great mistake.
The mind of the Holy Ghost is plain enough, both in the testimony itself and in the improvement of it by the apostle. For the legal sacrifices are spoken of only with respect unto that end which the Lord Christ undertook to accomplish by his mediation. And this was the perfect, real expiation of sin, and the justification, sanctification, and eternal salvation of the church, with that perfect state of spiritual worship which was-ordained for it in this world. All these things these sacrifices were appointed to prefigure and represent. But the nature and design of this prefiguration being dark and obscure, and the things signified being utterly hid from them, as unto their especial nature and the manner of their efficacy, many in all ages of the church expected them from these sacrifices; and they had a great appearance of being divinely ordained unto that end and purpose. Wherefore this is that, and that alone, with respect whereunto they are here rejected. God never appointed them unto this end, he never took pleasure in them with reference hereunto; they were insufficient, in the wisdom, holiness, and righteousness of God, unto any such purpose. Wherefore the sense of God concerning them as unto this end, is, that they were not appointed, not approved, not accepted for it.
(2.) It may be inquired, how this mind and will of God concerning the refusal of these sacrifices unto this end might be known, so as that it should be here spoken of, as of a truth unquestionable in the church. For the words, “Thou wouldest not,” “Thou tookest no pleasure,’” do not express a mere internal act of the divine will, but a declaration also of what is not well-pleasing unto God. How then was this declaration made? how came it to be known? I answer,
[1.] The words are the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, considered as to be incarnate for the redemption of the church. As such, he was always in the bosom of the Father, participant of his counsels, especially of those which concerned the church, the children of men, Proverbs 8:22-24, etc. He was therefore always acquainted with all the thoughts and counsels of God concerning the ways and means of the expiation of sin, and so declared what he knew.
[2.] As unto the penman of the psalm, the words were dictated unto him by immediate revelation: which if nothing had been spoken of it or intimated before, had been sufficient for the declaration of the will of God therein; for all revelations of that nature have a beginning when they were first made. But,
[3.] In, by, and together with the institution of all these legal sacrifices, God had from the beginning intimated unto the church that they were not the absolute, ultimate way for the expiation of sin, that he designed or would approve of. And this he did partly in the nature of the sacrifices themselves, which were no way competent or suited in themselves unto this end, it being “impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sin;” partly in giving various intimations first, and then express declaration of his will, that they were only prescribed for a season, and that a time would come when their observance should utterly cease, which the apostle proves, chapters 7 and 8; and partly by evidencing that they were all but types and figures of good things to come, as we have at large declared. By these, and sundry other ways of the like kind, God had, in the institution and command of these sacrifices themselves, sufficiently manifested that he did neither design them, nor require them, nor approve of them, as unto this end of the expiation of sin. Wherefore there is in the words no new revelation absolutely, but only a more express declaration of that will and counsel of God which he had by various ways given intimation of before. And we may observe,
Obs. 3. No sacrifices of the law, not all of them together, were a means for the expiation of sin, suited unto the glory of God or necessities of the souls of men. From the first appointment of sacrifices, immediately after the entrance of sin and the giving of the promise, the observation of them in one kind or another spread itself over the whole earth. The Gentiles retained them by tradition, helped on by some conviction on a guilty conscience that by some way or other atonement must be made for sin. On the Jews they were imposed by law. There are no footsteps of light or testimony that those of the former sort, namely, the Gentiles, did ever retain any sense of the true reason and end of their original institution, and the practice of mankind thereon; which was only the confirmation of the first promise by a prefiguration of the means and way of its accomplishment. The church of Israel being carnal also, had very much lost the understanding and knowledge hereof. Hence both sorts looked for the real expiation of sin, the pardon of it, and the taking away of its punishment, by the offering of those sacrifices. As for the Gentiles, “God suffered them to walk in their own ways, and winked at the time of their ignorance.” But as unto the Jews, he had before variously intimated his mind concerning them, and at length by the mouth of David, in the person of Christ, absolutely declared their insufficiency, with his disapprobation of them, as unto the end which they in their minds applied them unto.
Obs. 4. Our utmost diligence, with the most sedulous improvement of the light and wisdom of faith, is necessary in our search into and inquiry after the mind and will of God, in the revelation he makes of them. The apostle in this epistle proves by all sorts of arguments, taken from the scriptures of the Old Testament, from many other things that God had done and spoken, and from the nature of these institutions themselves, as here also by the express words of the Holy Ghost, that these sacrifices of the law, which were of God’s own appointment, were never designed nor approved by him as the way and means of the eternal expiation of sin. And he doth not deal herein with these Hebrews on his apostolical authority, and by new evangelical revelation, as he did with the church of the Gentiles; but pleads the undeniable truth of what he asserts from those direct records and testimonies which themselves owned and embraced. Howbeit, although the books of Moses, the Psalms, and the Prophets, were read unto them and among them continually, as they are unto this day, they neither understood nor do yet understand the things that are so plainly revealed in them. And as the great reason hereof is the veil of blindness and darkness that is on their minds, 2 Corinthians 3:13-14; so in all their search into the Scripture they are indeed supinely slothful and negligent. For they cleave alone unto the outward husk or shell of the letter, utterly despising the mysteries of truth contained therein. And so it is at present with the most of men, whose search into the mind of God, especially as unto what concerns his worship, keeps them in ignorance and contempt of it all their days.
Obs. 5. The constant use of sacrifices to signify those things which they could not effect or really exhibit unto the worshippers, was a great part of the bondage that the church was kept in under the old testament. And hereon, as those who were carnal bowed down their backs unto the burden, and their necks unto the yoke, so those who had received the Spirit of adoption, did continually pant and groan after the coming of him in and by whom all was to be fulfilled. So was the law their schoolmaster unto Christ.
Obs. 6. God may in his wisdom appoint and accept of ordinances and duties unto one end, which he will refuse and reject when they are applied unto another. So he doth plainly in these words those sacrifices which in other places he most strictly enjoins. How express, how multiplied are his commands for good works, and our abounding in them! yet when they are made the matter of our righteousness before him, they are as unto that end, namely, of our justification, rejected and disapproved.
Secondly, The first part of verse 5 declares the will of God concerning the sacrifices of the law. The latter contains the supply that God in his wisdom and grace made of the defect and insufficiency of these sacrifices. And this is not any thing that should help, assist, or make them effectual, but somewhat brought in, in opposition unto them, and for their removal. This he expresseth in the last clause of this verse: “But a body hast thou prepared me.” The adversative δέ , “but,” declares that the way designed of God for this end was of another nature than those sacrifices were. But yet this way must be such as should not render those sacrifices utterly useless from their first institution; which would reflect on the wisdom of God by whom they were appointed. For if God did never approve of them, never delight in them, unto what end were they ordained? Wherefore, although the real way of the expiation of sin be in itself of another nature than those sacrifices were, yet was it such as those sacrifices were meet to prefigure and represent unto the faith of the church. The church was taught by them that without a sacrifice there could be no atonement made for sin; wherefore the way of our deliverance must be by a sacrifice. ‘It is so,’saith the Lord Christ; ‘and therefore the first thing God did in the preparation of this new way, was the preparation of a body for me, which was to be offered in sacrifice.’And in the antithesis, intimated in this adversative conjunction, respect is had unto the will of God. As sacrifices were that which he would not unto this end, so this preparation of the body of Christ was that which he would, which he delighted in and was well pleased withal. So the whole of the work of Christ and the effects of it are expressly referred unto this will of God, Hebrews 10:9-10.
And we must first speak unto the apostle’s rendering of these words out of the psalmist. They are in the original, אַזְנַיִם כָּרִיתָ לִּי , “mine ears hast thou digged,” “bored,” “prepared.” All sorts of critical writers and expositors have so labored in the resolution of this difficulty, that there is little to be added unto the industry of some, and it were endless to confute the mistakes of others. I shall therefore only speak briefly unto it, so as to manifest the oneness of the sense in both places. And some things must be premised thereunto:
1. That the reading of the words in the psalm is incorrupt, and they are the precise words of the Holy Ghost. Though of late years sundry persons have used an unwarrantable boldness in feigning various lections in the Hebrew text, yet none of any judgment has attempted to conjecture at any word that might be thought to be used in the room of any one of them. And as for those which some have thought the LXX. might possibly mistake, that signify “a body,” as נִדְנהֶ , which sometimes signifies “a body” in the Chaldee dialect, or גְּוִיָּה , there is in neither of them any the least analogy unto אַזְנַיִם , so that they are ridiculously suggested.
2. It doth not seem probable unto me that the LXX. did ever translate these words as they are now extant in all the copies of that translation, Σῶμα δὲ κατηρτίσω μοι . For,
(1.) It is not a translation of the original words, but an interpretation and exposition of the sense and meaning of them; which was no part of their design. (2.) If they made this exposition, they did so either by chance, as it were, or from a right understanding of the mystery contained in them. That they should be cast upon it by a mere conjecture, is altogether improbable; and that they understood the mystery couched in that metaphorical expression (without which no account can be given of the version of the words) will not be granted by them who know any thing of those translators or their translation.
(3.) There was of old a different reading in that translation. For instead of σῶμα , “a body,” some copies have ὠτία , “the ears;” which the Vulgar Latin follows: an evidence that a change had been made in that translation, to comply with the words used by the apostle.
8. The words, therefore, in this place are the words whereby the apostle expressed the sense and meaning of the Holy Ghost in those used in the psalmist, or that which was intended in them. He did not take them from the translation of the LXX., but used them himself, to express the sense of the Hebrew text. For although we should not adhere precisely unto the opinion that all the quotations out of the Old Testament in the-New, which agree in words with the present translation of the LXX., were by the scribes of that translation transferred out of the New Testament into it, which yet is far more probable than the contrary opinion, that the words of the translation are made use of in the New Testament, even when they differ from the original, yet sundry things herein are certain and acknowledged; as,
(1.) That the penmen of the New Testament do not oblige themselves unto that translation, but in many places do precisely render the words of the original text, where that translation differs from it.
(2.) That they do oftentimes express the sense of the testimony which they quote in words of their own, neither agreeing with that translation nor exactly answering the original Hebrew.
(3.) That sundry passages have been unquestionably taken out of the New Testament, and inserted into that translation; which I have elsewhere proved by undeniable instances. And I no way doubt but it hath so fallen out in this place, where no account can be given of the translation of the LXX. as the words now are in it. Wherefore, 4. This is certain, that the sense intended by the psalmist and that expressed by the apostle are the same, or unto the same purpose. And their agreement is both plain and evident. That which is spoken of is an act of God the Father towards the Son. The end of it is, that the Son might be fit and meet to do the will of God in the way of obedience. So it is expressed in the text, “Mine ears hast thou bored,” or, “A body hast thou prepared me ...... Then said I, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God.” This is the sole end why God so acted towards him. What this was, is so expressed in the psalmist, “Mine ears hast thou bored,” with a double figure:
(1.) A metaphor from the ear, wherewith we hear the commands we are to obey. Obedience being our compliance with the outward commands of God, and the ear being the only means of our receiving those commands, there is nothing more frequent in the Scripture than to express obedience by “hearing” and “hearkening,” as is known. Wherefore the ascription of ears unto the Lord Christ by an act of God, is the preparation of such a state and nature for him as wherein he should be meet to yield obedience unto him.
(2.) By a synecdoche, wherein the part is put for the whole. In his divine nature alone it was impossible that the Lord Christ should come to do the will of God in the way whereby he was to do it. Wherefore God prepared another nature for him, which is expressed synecdochically, by the ears for the whole body; and that significantly, because as it is impossible that any one should have ears of any use but by virtue of his having a body, so the ears are that part of the body by which alone instruction unto obedience, the thing aimed at, is received. This is that which is directly expressed of Isaiah 50:4-5, “He wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned. The Lord God hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious;” or, ‘I was obedient.’And so it is all one in what sense you take the word כָּרָה ; whether in the more common and usual, to “dig” or “bore, or in that whereunto it is sometimes applied, to “fit and perfect.” For I do not judge there is any allusion in the expression unto the law of boring the ear of the servant that refused to make use of his liberty at the year of release. Nor is the word used in that case כָּרָה , but רָצַע , Exodus 21:6. But it respects the framing of the organ of hearing, which is as it were bored; and the internal sense, in readiness unto obedience, is expressed by the framing of the outward instrument of hearing, that we may learn to obey thereby. Wherefore this is, and no other can be, the sense of the words in the psalmist, namely, that God the Father did so order things towards Jesus Christ, that he should have a nature wherein he might be free and able to yield obedience unto the will of God; with an intimation of the quality of it, in having ears to hear, which belong only unto a body.
This sense the apostle expresseth in more plain terms now, after the accomplishment of what before was only declared in prophecy; and thereby the veil which was upon divine revelations under the old testament is taken away.
There is therefore nothing remaining but that we give an exposition of these words of the apostle, as they contain the sense of the Holy Ghost in the psalm. And two things we must inquire into:
1. What is meant by this “body.”
2. How God “prepared” it.
1. A “body” is here a synecdochical expression of the human nature of Christ. So is the “flesh” taken, where he is said to be “made flesh;” and the “flesh and blood” whereof he was partaker. For the general end of his having this body was, that he might therein and thereby yield obedience, or do the will of God; and the especial end of it was, that he might have somewhat to offer in sacrifice unto God. But neither of these can be confined unto his body alone. For it is the soul, the other essential part of human nature, that is the principle of obedience. Nor was the body of Christ alone offered in sacrifice unto God. He “made his soul an offering for sin,” Isaiah 53:10; which was typified by the life that was in the blood of the sacrifice. Wherefore it is said that “he offered himself unto God,” Hebrews 9:14, Ephesians 5:2; that is, his whole entire human nature, soul and body, in their substance, in all their faculties and powers. But the apostle both here and verse 10 mentions only the body itself, for the reasons ensuing:
(1.) To manifest that this offering of Christ was to be by death, as was that of the sacrifices of old; and this the body alone was subject unto.
(2.) Because, as the covenant was to be confirmed by this offering, it was to be by blood, which is contained in the body alone, and the separation of it from the body carries the life along with it.
(3.) To testify that his sacrifice was visible and substantial; not an outward appearance of things, as some have fancied, but such as truly answered the real bloody sacrifices of the law.
(4.) To show the alliance and cognation between him that sanctifieth by his offering, and them that are sanctified thereby: or that because “the children are partakers of flesh and blood he also took part of the same,” that he might taste of death for them. For these and the like reasons doth the apostle mention the human nature of Christ under the name of a “body” only, as also to comply with the figurative expression of it in the psalm. And they do what lies in them to overthrow the principal foundation of the faith of the church, who would wrest these words unto a new ethereal body given him after his ascension, as do the Socinians.
2. Concerning this body, it is affirmed that God prepared it for him, “Thou hast prepared for me:” that is, God hath done it, even God the Father; for unto him are these words spoken, “I come to do thy will, O God; a body hast thou prepared me.” The coming of Christ, the Son of God, into the world, his coming in the flesh by the assuming of our nature, was the effect of the mutual counsel of the Father and the Son. The Father proposed to him what was his will, what was his design, what he would have done. This proposal is here repeated, as unto what was negative in it, which includes the opposite positive: “Sacrifices and burnt-offerings thou wouldest not have;” but that which he would, was the obedience of the Son unto his will. This proposal the Son closeth withal: “Lo,” saith he, “I come.” But all things being originally in the hand of the Father, the provision of things necessary unto the fulfilling of the will of God is left unto him. Among those the principal was, that the Son should have a body prepared for him, that so he might have somewhat of his own to offer.
Wherefore the preparation of it is in a peculiar manner assigned unto the Father: “A body hast thou prepared me.” And we may observe, that,
Obs. 7. The supreme contrivance of the salvation of the church is in a peculiar manner ascribed unto the person of the Father. His will, his grace, his wisdom, his good pleasure, the purpose that he purposed in himself, his love, his sending of his Son, are everywhere proposed as the eternal springs of all acts of power, grace and goodness, tending unto the salvation of the church. And therefore doth the Lord Christ on all occasions declare that he came to do his will, to seek his glory, to make known his name, that the praise of his grace might be exalted. And we through Christ do believe in God, even the Father, when we assign unto him the glory of all the holy properties of his nature, as acting originally in the contrivance and for the effecting of our salvation.
Obs. 8. The furniture of the Lord Christ (though he was the Son, and in his divine person the Lord of all) unto the discharge of his work of mediation was the peculiar act of the Father. He prepared him a body; he anointed him with the Spirit; it pleased him that all fullness should dwell in him. From him he received all grace, power, consolation. Although the human nature was the nature of the Son of God, not of the Father, (a body prepared for him, not for the Father,) yet was it the Father who prepared that nature, who filled it with grace, who strengthened, acted, and supported it in its whole course of obedience.
Obs. 9. Whatever God designs, appoints, and calls any unto, he will provide for them all that is needful unto the duties of obedience whereunto they are so appointed and called. As he prepared a body for Christ, so he will provide gifts, abilities, and faculties suitable unto their work, for those whom he calleth unto it. Others must provide as well as they can for themselves.
But we must yet inquire more particularly into the nature of this preparation of the body of Christ, here ascribed unto the Father. And it may he considered two ways:
(1.) In the designation and contrivance of it. So “preparation” is sometimes used for “predestination,” or the resolution for the effecting any thing that is future in its proper season, Isaiah 30:33Isaiah 30:33; Matthew 20:33; Rom 9:23 ; 1 Corinthians 2:9. In this sense of the word God had prepared a body for Christ; he had in the eternal counsel of his will determined that he should have it in the appointed time. So he was “foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for us,” 1 Peter 1:20.
(2.) In the actual effecting, ordering, and creating of it, that it might be fitted and suited unto the work that it was ordained unto.
In the former sense the body itself is alone the object of this preparation. “A body hast thou prepared me;” that is, ‘designed for me.’The latter sense compriseth the use of the body also; it is fitted for its work. This latter sense it is that is proper unto this place; only it is spoken of by the psalmist in a prophetical style, wherein things certainly future are expressed as already, performed. For the word signifies such a preparation as whereby it is made actually fit and meet for the end it is designed unto. And therefore it is variously rendered, “to fit, to adapt, to perfect, to adorn, to make meet,” with respect unto some especial end. ‘Thou hast adapted a body unto my work; fitted and suited a human nature unto that I have to perform in it and by it.’A body it must be; yet not every body, nay, not any body brought forth by carnal generation, according to the course of nature, could effect or was fit for the work designed unto it. But God prepared, provided such a body for Christ, as was fitted and adapted ‘unto all that he had to do in it. And this especial manner of its preparation was an act of infinite wisdom and grace. Some instances thereof may be mentioned; as,
[1.] He prepared him such a body, such a human nature, as might be of the same nature with ours, for whom he was to accomplish his work therein. For it was necessary that it should be cognate and allied unto ours, that he might be meet to act on our behalf, and to suffer in our stead. He did not form him a body out of the dust of the earth, as he did that of Adam, whereby he could not have been of the same race of mankind with us; nor merely out of nothing, as he created the angels, whom he was not to save. See Hebrews 2:14-16, and the exposition thereon. He took our flesh and blood, proceeding from the loins of Abraham.
[2.] He so prepared it as that it should be no way subject unto that depravation and pollution that came on our whole nature by sin. This could not have been done had his body been prepared by carnal generation, the way and means of conveying the taint of original sin which befell our nature, unto all individual persons; for this would have rendered him every way unmeet for his whole work of mediation. See Luke 1:35; Hebrews 7:26.
[3.] He prepared him a body consisting of flesh and blood, which might be offered as a real substantial sacrifice, and wherein he might suffer for sin, in his offering to make atonement for it. Nor could the sacrifices of old, which were real, bloody, and substantial, prefigure that which should be only metaphorical and in appearance. The whole evidence of the wisdom of God in the institution of the sacrifices of the law depends on this, that Christ was to have a body consisting of flesh and blood, wherein he might answer all that was prefigured by them.
[4.] It was such a body as was animated with a living, rational soul. Had it been only a body, it might have suffered as did the beasts under the law, from which no act of obedience was required, only they were to suffer what was done unto them. But in the sacrifice of the body of Christ, that which was principally respected, and whereon the whole efficacy of it did depend, was his obedience unto God. For he was not to be offered by others, but he was to offer himself, in obedience unto the will of God, Hebrews 9:14; Ephesians 5:2. And the principles of all obedience lie alone in the powers and faculties of the rational soul.
[5.] This body and soul were obnoxious unto all the sorrows and sufferings which our nature is liable unto, and we had deserved, as they were penal, tending unto death. Hence was he meet to suffer in our stead the same things which we should have done. Had they been exempted by special privilege from what our nature is liable unto, the whole work of our redemption by his blood had been frustrated.
[6.] This body or human nature, thus prepared for Christ, was exposed unto all sorts of temptations from outward causes. But yet it was so sanctified by the perfection of grace, and fortified by the fullness of the Spirit dwelling therein, as that it was not possible it should be touched with the least taint or guilt of sin. And this also was absolutely necessary unto the work whereunto it was designed, 1 Peter 2:22; Hebrews 7:26.
[7.] This body was liable unto death; which being the sentence and sanction of the law with respect unto the first and all following sins, (all and every one of them,) was to be undergone actually by him who was to be our deliverer, Hebrews 2:14-15. Had it not died, death would have borne rule over all unto eternity; but in the death thereof it was swallowed up in victory, 1 Corinthians 15:55-57.
[8.] As it was subject unto death, and died actually, so it was meet to be raised again from death. And herein consisted the great pledge and evidence that our dead bodies may be and shall be raised again unto a blessed immortality. So it became the foundation of all our faith, as unto things eternal, 1 Corinthians 15:17-23.
[9.] This body and soul being capable of a real separation, and being actually separated by death, though not for any long continuance, yet no less truly and really than they who have been dead a thousand years, a demonstration was given therein of an active subsistence of the soul in a state of separation from the body. As it was with the soul of Christ when he was dead, so shall it be with our souls in the same state. He was alive with God and unto God when his body was in the grave; and so shall our souls be.
[10.] This body was visibly taken up into heaven, and there resides; which, considering the ends thereof, is the great encouragement of faith, and the life of our hope.
These are but some of the many instances that may be given of the divine wisdom in so preparing a body for Christ as that it might be fitted and adapted unto the work which he had to do therein. And we may observe, that,
Obs. 10. Not only the love and grace of God in sending his Son are continually to be admired and glorified, but the acting of this infinite wisdom in fitting and preparing his human nature so as to render it every way meet unto the work which it was designed for, ought to be the especial object of our holy contemplation. But having treated hereof distinctly in a peculiar discourse unto that purpose, I shall not here again insist upon it.
The last thing observable in this verse is, that this preparation of the body of Christ is ascribed unto God, even the Father, unto whom he speaks these words, “A body hast thou prepared me.” As unto the operation in the production of the substance of it, and the forming its structure, it was the peculiar and immediate work of the Holy Ghost, Luke 1:35. This work I have at large elsewhere declared.  Wherefore it is an article of faith, that the formation of the human nature of Christ in the womb of the Virgin was the peculiar act of the Holy Ghost. The holy taking of this nature unto himself, the assumption of it to be his own nature by a subsistence in his person, the divine nature assuming the human in the person of the Son, was his own act alone. Yet was the preparation of this body the work of the Father in a peculiar manner; it was so in the infinitely wise, authoritative contrivance and ordering of it, his counsel and will therein being acted by the immediate power of the Holy Ghost. The Father prepared it in the authoritative disposition of all things; the Holy Ghost actually wrought it; and he himself assumed it. There was no distinction of time in these distinct actings of the holy persons of the Trinity in this matter, but only a disposition of order in their operation. For in the same instant of time, this body was prepared by the Father, wrought by the Holy Ghost, and assumed by himself to be his own. And the actings of the distinct persons being all the actings of the same divine nature, understanding, love, and power, they differ not fundamentally and radically, but only terminatively, with respect unto the work wrought and effected. And we may observe, that,
 On the Holy Spirit, miscellaneous works, vol. 3, b. 2, ch. 3,4. Ed.
Obs. 11. The ineffable but yet distinct operations of the Father, Son, and Spirit, in, about, and towards the human nature assumed by the Son, are, as an uncontrollable evidence of their distinct subsistence in the same individual divine essence, so a guidance unto faith as unto all their distinct actings towards us in the application of the work of redemption unto our souls. For their actings towards the members is in all things conform unto their actings towards the Head; and our faith is to be directed towards them according as they act their love and grace distinctly towards us.
Hebrews 10:6-7 . “In burnt-offerings and [ sacrifices ] for sin thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me) to do thy will, O God.”
1. The rejection of sacrifices for the end of the complete expiation of sin;
2. The provision of a new way or means for the accomplishment of that end. Both these things are spoken unto apart and more distinctly in these two verses; the former, verse 6; the latter, verse 7: which we must also open, that they may not appear a needless repetition of what was before spoken.
Hebrews 10:6 . He resumes and further declares what was in general before affirmed, verse 5, “Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not.” Hereof we have yet a further confirmation and explication; which it stood in need of. For notwithstanding that general assertion, two things may yet be inquired about:
1. What were those “sacrifices and offerings which God would not?” for they being of various sorts, some of them only may be intended, seeing they are only mentioned in general.
2. What is meant by that expression, that “God would them not,” seeing it is certain that they were appointed and commanded by him?
Wherefore our Lord Jesus Christ, whose words in the psalm these are, doth not only reassert what was spoken before in general, but also gives a more particular account of what sacrifices they were which he intended. And two things he declares concerning them:
1. That they were not such sacrifices as men had found out and appointed. Such the world was filled withal; which were offered unto devils, and which the people of Israel themselves were addicted unto. Such were their sacrifices unto Baal and Moloch, which God so often complaineth against and detesteth. But they were such sacrifices as were appointed and commanded by the law. Hence he expresseth them by their legal names, as the apostle immediately takes notice, they were “offered by the law,” verse 8.
2. He shows what were those sacrifices appointed by the law which in an especial manner he intended; and they were those which were appointed for the legal and typical expiation of sin. The general names of them in the original are זֶבַח וּמִנְחָה . The first was the general name of all victims or sacrifices by blood; the other of all offerings of the fruits of the earth, as flour, oil, wine, and the like. For herein respect is had unto the general design of the context, which is the removal of all legal sacrifices and offerings, of what sort soever, by the coming and office of Christ. In compliance therewith they are expressed under these two general names, which comprehend them all. But as unto the especial argument in hand, it concerns only the bloody sacrifices offered for the atonement of sin, which were of the first sort only, or זֶבָחִים . And this kind of sacrifices, whose incompetency to expiate sin he declares, is referred unto two heads:
(1.) “Burnt-offerings.” In the Hebrew it is עוֹלָה , in the singular number; which is usually rendered by ὁλοκαυτώματα , in the plural. And sacrifices of this kind were called עֹלוֹת , or “ascensions,” from their adjunct, the rising up or ascending of the smoke of the sacrifices in their burning on the altar; a pledge of that sweet savor which should arise unto God above from the sacrifice of Christ here below. And sometimes they are called אִשִּׁים , or “firings,” from the way and means of their consumption on the altar, which was by fire. And this respects both the תַּמִיד , or the continual sacrifice, morning and evening, for the whole congregation, which was a burnt- offering, and all those which on especial occasions were offered with respect unto the expiation of sin.
(2.) The other sort is expressed by חַטָּאת ; which the Greek renders by περὶ ἁμαρτίας , “for” or “concerning sin.” For חָטָא the verb in Kal, signifieth “to sin;” and in Piel, “to expiate sin.” Hence the substantive, חַטָאָה , is used in both these senses; and where it is to be taken in either of them, the circumstances of the text do openly declare. Where it is taken in the latter sense, the Greek renders it by περὶ ἁυαρτίας , “a sacrifice for sin;” which expression is retained by the apostle, Romans 8:3, and in this place. And the sacrifices of this kind were of two sorts, or this kind of sacrifices had a double use. For,
[1.] The great anniversary sacrifice of expiation for the sins of the whole congregation, Leviticus 16:0, was a חַטָּאָה , or περὶ ἁμαρτίας , “a sin offering.”
[2.] The same kind of offering was also appointed unto and for particular persons, who had contracted the guilt of particular sins, Leviticus 4:0. This sacrifice, therefore, was appointed both for the sins of the whole congregation, namely, all their sins, of what sort soever, Leviticus 16:21, and the especial sins of particular persons. The one offering of Christ was really to effect what by all of them was represented.
Concerning all these sacrifices it is added, Οὐκ εὐδόκησας , “Thou hadst no pleasure.” In opposition hereunto, God gives testimony from heaven concerning the Lord Christ and his undertaking, “This is my beloved Son, ἐν ᾧ εὐδόκησα ,” “in whom I am well pleased,” Matthew 3:17; Matthew 17:5. See Isaiah 42:1; Ephesians 1:6. This is the great antithesis between the law and the gospel: “Sacrifices and offerings for sin οὐκ εὐδόκησας :” “This is my beloved Son, ἐν ᾧ εὐδόκησα .” The word signifies “to approve of with delight,” “to rest in with satisfaction;” the exercise of εὐδοκία , the divine good-will. The original word in the psalm is שָׁאָלְתָּ which signifies “to ask, to seek, to inquire, to require.” Wherefore, as we observed before, although the apostle doth directly express the mind and sense of the Holy Ghost in the whole testimony, yet he doth not exactly render the words in their precise signification, word for word. Thus he renders חָפַצְתָּ by ἠθέλησας , and שָׁאָלְתָּ by εὐδόκησας , when an exact translation would have required the contrary application of the words But the meaning is the same, and the two words used by the psalmist are exactly represented in these used by the apostle.
There are two reasons of this seeming repetition, “Thou wouldest not,” “Thou hadst no pleasure:”
1. A repetition of the same words, or words almost of the same signification, about the same subject, signifies the determinate certainty of the removal of these sacrifices, with the disappointment and ruin of them who should continue to put their trust in them.
2. Whereas there were two things pretended unto in the behalf of these sacrifices and offerings; first, their institution by God himself; and, secondly, his acceptance of them, or being well pleased with them; one of these words is peculiarly applied unto the former, the other unto the latter. God did neither institute them, nor ever accepted of them, unto this end of the expiation of sin, and the salvation of the church thereby. And we may observe,
Obs. 12. It is the will of God that the church should take especial notice of this sacred truth, that nothing can expiate or take away sin but the blood of Christ alone. Hence is the vehemency of the rejection of all other means in the repetition of these words. And it is necessary for us so to apprehend his mind, considering how prone we are to look after other ways of the expiation of sin and justification before God. See Romans 10:3-4.
Obs. 13. Whatever may be the use or efficacy of any ordinances of worship, yet if they are employed or trusted unto for such ends as God hath not designed them unto, he accepts not of our persons in them, nor approves of the things themselves. Thus he declares himself concerning the most solemn institutions of the old testament. And those under the new have been no less abused in this way than those of old.
Hebrews 10:7 . “Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me) to do thy will, O God.”
This is the close of the testimony used by the apostle out of the psalmist, which in the next verses he interprets and makes application of unto his purpose. And it contains the second branch of the antithesis that he insists on. The Lord Christ having declared the will of God, and what God said unto him concerning legal sacrifices, and their insufficiency unto the expiation of sin and the salvation of the church, he expresseth his own mind, will, and design, unto God the Father thereon. For it was the will and grace of God that this great work should be wrought, however he disapproved of legal sacrifices as the means thereof. For there is herein represented unto us as it were a consultation between the Father and the Son with respect unto the way and means of the expiation of sin, and the salvation of the church.
In the words we may consider,
1. How the Son expressed his mind in this matter: “He saith,” “I said.”
2. When or on what consideration he so expressed himself; it was then: “Then I said.”
3. A remark put upon what he said, in the word “Behold.”
4. What he undertakes, or tenders himself to do in what he said; it was to do the will of God: “I come to do thy will,” as unto that work and end with respect whereunto sacrifices were rejected.
5. The warranty that he had for this undertaking; it was no more than what the Holy Ghost had before left on record in the Scripture: “In the volume of the book it is written of me;” for these words do represent the mind and will of Christ upon his actual undertaking of his work, or his coming into the world, when many prophecies and divine predictions had gone before concerning it.
1. The expression of his mind is in that word ει῏πον , “I said.” There is no necessity, as was before observed, that these very words should at any one season have been spoken by our Lord Jesus Christ. The meaning is, ‘This is my resolution, this is the frame of my mind and will.’The representation of our mind, will, and desires, unto God, is our speaking to him. He needs not our words unto that end; nor absolutely do we so ourselves, upon the account of his omniscience. However, this is the work that the Lord Christ engaged his truth and faithfulness to undertake. And in these words, “I said,” he engageth himself in the work now proposed unto him. Hereon, whatever difficulties afterwards arose, whatever he was to do or suffer, there was nothing in it but what he had before solemnly engaged unto God.
And we ought, in like manner, to be faithful in all the engagements that we make to him and for him. “Surely,” saith he, they are my people, children that will not lie.”
2. There is the season wherein he thus said: τότε , “then,” or “thereon.” For it may respect either the order of the time, or the stating of the case in hand. First, it may respect an order of time. He said, “Sacrifices and burnt- offerings thou wouldest not have. Then said I.” But it is, as I judge, better extended unto the whole case in hand. When things were come to this pass; when all the church of God’s elect were under the guilt of sin, and the curse of the law thereon; when there was no hope for them in themselves, nor in or by any divine institution; when all things were at a loss, as unto our recovery and salvation; then did Jesus Christ, the Son of God, in infinite wisdom, love, and grace, interpose himself in our behalf, in our stead, to do, answer, and perform, all that God, in infinite wisdom, holiness, and righteousness, required unto that end. And we may observe, that
Obs. 14. There is a signal glory put upon the undertaking of Christ to make reconciliation for the church by the sacrifice of himself.
3. This undertaking of Christ is signalized by the remark that is put on the declaration of it, ᾿Ιδού , “Behold.” A glorious spectacle it was, to God, to angels, and to men. To God, as it was filled with the highest effects of infinite goodness, wisdom, and grace; which all shone forth in their greatest elevation and were glorified therein. It was so unto angels, as that whereon their confirmation and establishment in glory did depend, Ephesians 1:10; which therefore they endeavored with fear and reverence to look into, 1 Peter 1:12. “And as unto men, that is, the church of the elect, nothing could be so glorious in their sight, nothing so desirable. By this call of Christ, “Behold, I come,” the eyes of all creatures in heaven and earth ought to be fixed on him, to behold the glorious work he had undertaken, and the accomplishment of it.
4. There is what he thus proposed himself for, saying, “Behold me.”
(1.) This in general is expressed by himself, “I come.” This coming of Christ, what it was and wherein it did consist, was declared before. It was by assuming the body that was prepared for him. This was the foundation of the whole work he had to do, wherein he came forth like the rising sun, with light in his wings, or as a giant rejoicing to run a race.
The faith of the old testament was, that he was thus to come: and this is the life of the new, that he is come. They by whom this is denied do overthrow the faith of the gospel. This is the spirit of antichrist, 1 John 4:1-3. And this may be done two ways:
[1.] Directly and expressly;
[2.] By just consequence.
Directly it is done by them who deny the reality of his human nature, as many did of old, affirming that he had only an ethereal, aerial, or phantastical body; for if he came not in the flesh, he is not come at all. So also it is by them who deny the divine person of Christ, and his pre- existence therein, before the assumption of the human nature; for they deny that these are the words of him when resolved, and spoken before his coming. He that did not exist before in the divine nature, could not promise to come in the human. And indirectly it is denied by all those who, either in doctrines or practices, deny the ends of his coming; and they are many, which I shall not now mention.
It may be objected against this fundamental truth, ‘That if the Son of God would undertake this work of reconciliation between God and man, why did he not do the will of God by his mighty power and grace, and not by this way of coming in the flesh, which was attended with all dishonor, reproaches, sufferings, and death itself.’But besides what I have at large elsewhere discoursed concerning the necessity and suitableness of this way of his coming unto the manifestation of all the glorious properties of the nature of God, I shall only say, that God, and he alone, knew what was necessary unto the accomplishment of his will; and if it might have been otherwise effected, he would have spared his only Son, and not have given him up unto death.
(2.) The end for which he thus promiseth to come, is to do the will of God: “Lo, I come to do thy will, O God.” The will of God is taken two ways: First, for his eternal purpose and design, called “the counsel of his will,” Ephesians 1:11; and most commonly his “will” itself, the will of God as unto what he will do, or cause to be done. Secondly, for the declaration of his will and pleasure as unto what he will have us to do in a way of duty and obedience; that is, the rule of our obedience. It is the will of God in the former sense that is here intended; as is evident from the next verse, where it is said that “by this will of God we are sanctified;” that is, our sins were expiated according to the will of God. But neither is the other sense absolutely excluded; for the Lord Christ came so to fulfill the will of God’s purpose, as that we may be enabled to fulfill the will of his command. Yea, and he himself had a command from God to lay down his life for the accomplishment of this work.
Wherefore this will of God, which Christ came to fulfill, is that which elsewhere is expressed by εὐδοκία , πρόθεσις , βουλὴ τοῦ θελήματος , Ephesians 1:5; Ephesians 1:11 etc.; his “good pleasure,” his” purpose, the “counsel of his will,” his “good pleasure which he purposed in himself;” that is, freely, without any cause or reason taken from us, to call, justify, sanctify, and save to the uttermost, or to bring them unto eternal glory. This he had purposed from eternity, to the praise of the glory of his grace. How this might be effected and accomplished, God had hid in his own bosom from the beginning of the world, Ephesians 3:8-9; so as that it was beyond the wisdom and indagation of all angels and men to make a discovery of. Howbeit, even from the beginning he declared that such a work he had graciously designed; and he gave in the first promise, and otherwise, some obscure intimations of the nature of it, for a foundation of the faith in them that were called. Afterwards God was pleased, in his sovereign authority over the church, for their good, and unto his own glory, to make a representation of this whole work in the institutions of the law, especially in the sacrifices thereof. But hereon the church began to think (at least many of them did so) that those sacrifices themselves were to be the only means of accomplishing this will of God, in the expiation of sin, with the salvation of the church. But God had now, by various ways and means, witnessed unto the church that indeed he never appointed them unto any such end, nor would rest in them; and the church itself found by experience that they would never pacify conscience, and that the strict performance of them was a yoke and burden. In this state of things, when the fullness of time was come, the glorious counsels of God, namely, of the Father, Son, and Spirit, brake forth with light, like the sun in its strength from under a cloud, in the tender made of himself by Jesus Christ unto the Father, “Lo, I come to do thy will, O God.” This, this is the way, the only way, whereby the will of God might be accomplished. Herein were all the riches of divine wisdom displayed, all the treasures of grace laid open, all shadows and clouds dispelled, and the open door of salvation evidenced unto all.
(3.) This will of God Christ came to do, τοῦ ποιῆσαι , to effect, “to establish and perfectly to fulfill it.” How he did so the apostle fully declareth in this epistle. He did it in the whole work of his mediation, from the susception of our nature in the womb, unto what he doth in his supreme agency in heaven at the right hand of God. He did all things to accomplish this eternal purpose of the will of God.
This seems to me the first sense of the place. Howbeit I would not, as I said before, exclude the former mentioned also; for our Lord in all that he did was the servant of the Father, and received especial command for all that he did. “This commandment,” saith he, “have I received of my Father.” Hence in this sense also he came to do the will of God. He fulfilled the will of his purpose, by obedience unto the will of his command. Hence it is added in the psalm, that he “delighted to do the will of God;” and that “his law was in the midst of his bowels.” His delight in the will of God, as unto the laying down of his life at the command of God, was necessary unto this doing of his will. And we may observe,
Obs. 15. The foundation of the whole glorious work of the salvation of the church was laid in the sovereign will, pleasure, and grace of God, even the Father. Christ came only to do his will.
Obs. 16. The coming of Christ in the flesh was, in the wisdom, righteousness, and holiness of God, necessary to fulfill his will, that we might be saved unto his glory.
Obs. 17. The fundamental motive unto the Lord Christ, in his undertaking the work of mediation, was the will and glory of God: “Lo, I come to do thy will.”
5. The last thing in this context is the ground and rule of this undertaking of the Lord Christ and this is the glory of the truth of God in his promises recorded in the Word: “In the volume of the book it is written of me, that I should fulfill thy will, O God.” There is a difficulty in these words, both as to the translation of the original text and as unto the application of them. And therefore critical observations have been multiplied about them; which it is not my way or work to repeat. Those that are learned know where to find them, and those that are not so will not be edified by them. What is the true meaning and intention of the Holy Spirit in them is what we are to inquire into.
The Socinian expositors have a peculiar conceit on this place. They suppose the apostle useth this expression, ἐν κεφαλίδι , to denote some especial chapter or place in the law. This they conjecture to be that of Deuteronomy 17:18-19: “And it shall be, when he” (the king to be chosen) “sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book, out of that which is before the priests the Levites: and it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life; that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them.” David, they say, spoke those words in the psalm; and it is nowhere said that he should come to do the will of God but in this place of Deuteronomy, as he was to be the king of that people. But there can be nothing more fond than this empty conjecture. For,
(1.) David is not at all intended in these words of the psalmist, any otherwise but as he was the penman of the Holy Ghost, and a type of Christ, on which account he speaks in his name. They are the words of Christ, which David was inspired by the Holy Ghost to declare and utter. Neither would David speak these words concerning himself; because he that speaks doth absolutely prefer his own obedience, as unto worth and efficacy, before all God’s holy institutions: he presents it unto God, as that which is more useful unto the church than all the sacrifices which God had ordained. This David could not do justly.
(2.) There is nothing spoken in this place of Deuteronomy concerning the sacerdotal office, but only of the regal. And in this place of the psalmist there is no respect unto the kingly office, but only unto the priesthood; for comparison is made with the sacrifices of the law. But the offering of these sacrifices was expressly forbidden unto the kings; as is manifest in the instance of king Uzziah, 2 Chronicles 26:18-20. Besides, there is in that place of Deuteronomy no more respect had unto David than unto Saul, or Jeroboam, or any other that was to be king of that people. There is nothing in it that belongs unto David in a peculiar manner.
(3.) The words there recorded contain a mere prescription of duty, no prediction of the event; which for the most part was contrary unto what is required. But the words of the psalmist are a prophecy, a divine prediction and promise, which must be actually accomplished. Nor doth our Lord Christ in them declare what was prescribed unto him, but what he did undertake to do, and the record that was made of that undertaking of his.
(4.) There is not one word in that place of Moses concerning the removal of sacrifices and burnt-offerings; which, as the apostle declares, is the principal thing intended in those of the psalmist. Yea, the contrary, as unto the season intended, is expressly asserted; for the king was to read in the book of the law continually, that he might observe and do all that is written therein, a great part whereof consists in the institution and observation of sacrifices.
(5.) This interpretation of the words utterly overthrows what they dispute for immediately before; that is, that the entrance mentioned of Christ into the world, was not indeed his coming into this world, but his going out of it, and entering into heaven. For it cannot be denied but that the obedience of reading the law continually, and doing of it, is to be attended unto in this world, and not in heaven; and this they seem to acknowledge, so as to recall their own exposition. Other absurdities, which are very many in this place, I shall not insist upon.
᾿Εν κεφαλίδι , we with many others render, in answer unto the Hebrew, “in the volume” or “roll.” Ribera contends that this translation of the word, “the volume” or “roll of the book,” is absurd ‘“Because,” saith he, “the book itself was a volume or a roll; and so it is as if he had said, in the roll of the roll.” But סֵפֶר , which we translate a “book,” doth not signify a book as written in a roll, but only an enunciation or declaration of any thing. We now call any book of greater quantity a volume. But מְגִלָּה is properly a “roll;” and the words used by the psalmist do signify that the declaration of the will of God made in this matter was written in a roll, the roll which contains all the revelations of his mind. And the word used by the apostle is not remote from this signification, as may be seen in sundry classic authors; κεφαλίς , “volumen;” because a roll is made round, after the fashion of the head of a man. As the book itself was one roll, so the head of it, the beginning of it, amongst the first things written in it, is this recorded concerning the coming of Christ to do the will of God. This includeth both senses of the word; in the head, in the beginning of the roll, namely, of that part of the Scripture which was written when David penned this psalm. Now this can be no other but the first promise, which is recorded, Genesis 3:15. Then it was first declared, then it was first written and enrolled, that the Lord Christ, the Son of God, should be made of the seed of the woman, and in our nature come to do the will of God, and to deliver the church from that woful estate whereinto it was brought by the craft of Satan. In this promise, and the writing of it in the head of the volume, lies the verification of the psalmist’s assertion, “In the volume of the book it is written.” Howbeit the following declarations of the will of God herein are not excluded, nor ought so to be. Hence are we herein directed unto the whole volume of the Law; for indeed it is nothing but a prediction of the coming, of Christ, and a presignification of what he had to do. ‘That book which God has given to the church as the only guide of its faith, the Bible; (that is, the book, all other books being of no consideration in comparison of it;) that book wherein all divine precepts and promises are enrolled or recorded: in this book, in the volume of it, this is the principal subject, especially in the head of the roll, or the beginning of it, namely, in the first promise, it is so written of me.’God commanded this great truth of the coming of Christ to be so enrolled, for the encouragement of the faith of them that should believe. And we may observe, that,
Obs. 18. God’s records in the roll of his book are the foundation and warranty of the faith of the church, in the Head and members.
Obs. 19. The Lord Christ, in all that he did and suffered, had continual respect unto what was written of him. See Matthew 26:24.
Obs. 20. In the record of these words,
(1.) God was glorified in his truth and faithfulness,
(2.) Christ was secured in his work, and the undertaking of it.
(3.) A testimony was given unto his person and office.
(4.) Direction is given unto the church, in all wherein they have to do with God, what they should attend unto, namely, what is written.
(5.) The things which concern Christ, the mediator, are the head of what is contained in the same records.
Hebrews 10:8-10 . “Above when he said, Sacrifice, and offering, and burnt-offerings, and [ offerings ] for sin, thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure [ therein ] ; (which are offered by the law;) then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified, through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once [ for all ].”
The use and signification of most of the words of these verses have already in our passage been spoken unto.
There are two things in these three verses:
1. The application of the testimony taken out of the psalmist unto the present argument of the apostle, Hebrews 10:8-9.
2. An inference from the whole, unto the proof of the only cause and means of the sanctification of the church, the argument he was now engaged in, Hebrews 10:10.
As to the first of these, or the application of the testimony of the psalmist, and his resuming it, we may consider,
1. What he designed to prove thereby: and this was, that by the introduction and establishment of the sacrifice of Christ in the church there was an end put to all legal sacrifices. And he adds thereunto, that the ground and reason of this great alteration of things in the church, by the will of God, was the utter insufficiency of those legal sacrifices in themselves for the expiation of sin and sanctification of the church. In verse 9 he gives us this sum of his design, “He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.”
2. The apostle doth not here directly argue from the matter or substance of the testimony itself, but from the order of the words, and the regard they have in their order unto one another. For there is in them a twofold proposition; one concerning the rejection of legal sacrifices, and the other an introduction and tender of Christ and his mediation. And he declares, from the order of the words in the psalmist, that these things are inseparable; namely, the taking away of legal sacrifices, and the establishment of that of Christ. 3. This order in the words of the apostle is declared in that distribution of ἀνώτερον and τότε , “above” and “then.” ᾿Ανώτερον , “above;” that is, in the first place, these his words or sayings, recorded in the first place.
4. There are in the words themselves these three things:
(1.) There is a distribution made of the legal sacrifices into their general heads, with respect unto the will of God concerning them all: “Sacrifices and offering, and whole burnt-offerings, and sacrifice for sin.” And in that distribution he adds another property of them, namely, they were required according to the law.
[1.] He had respect not only unto the removal of the sacrifices, but also of the law itself, whereby they were retained; so he enters on his present disputation with the imperfection of the law itself, verse 1.
[2.] Allowing these sacrifices and offerings all that they could pretend unto, namely, that they were established by the law, yet notwithstanding this, God rejects them as unto the expiation of sin and the salvation of the church. For he excludes the consideration of all other things which were not appointed by the law, as those which God abhorred in themselves, and so could have no place in this matter And we may observe, that,
Obs. 21. Whereas the apostle doth plainly distinguish and distribute all sacrifices and offerings into those on the one side which were offered by the law, and that one offering of the body of Christ on the other side, the pretended sacrifice of the mass is utterly rejected from any place in the worship of God.
Obs. 22. God, as the sovereign lawgiver, had always power and authority to make what alteration he pleased in the orders and institutions of his worship.
Obs. 23. That sovereign authority is that; alone which our faith and obedience respect in all ordinances of worship.
(2.) After this was stated and delivered, when the mind of God was expressly declared as unto his rejection of legal sacrifices and offerings, τότε , “then he said;” after that, in order thereon, upon the grounds before mentioned, “he said, Sacrifice,” etc. In the former words he declared the mind- of God, and in the latter his own intention and resolution to comply with his will, in order unto another way of atonement for sin: “Lo, I come to do thy will, O God;” which words have been opened before.
(3.) In the last place, he declares what was intimated and signified in this order, or in those things being thus spoken unto; sacrifices, on the one hand, which was the first; and the coming of Christ, which was the second, in this order and opposition. It is evident,
[1.] That these words, ᾿Αναιρεῖ τὸ πρῶτον , “He taketh away the first,” do intend sacrifices and offerings. But he did not so do it immediately at the speaking of these words, for they continued for the space of some hundreds of years afterwards; but he did so declaratively, as unto the indication of the time, namely, when the “second” should be introduced.
[2.] The end of this removal of the “first,” was “the establishment of the second.” This “second,” say some, is the will of God; but the opposition made before is not between the will of God and the legal sacrifices, but between those sacrifices and the coming of Christ to do the will of God. Wherefore it is the way of the expiation of sin, and of the complete sanctification of the church by the coming, and mediation, and sacrifice of Christ., that is this “second,” the thing spoken of in the second place; this God would “establish,” approve, confirm, and render unchangeable.
Obs. 24. As all things from the beginning made way for the coming of Christ in the minds of them that did believe, so every thing was to be removed out of the way that would hinder his coming, and the discharge of the work he had undertaken law, temple, sacrifices, must all be removed to give way unto his coming. So is it testified by his forerunner, Luke 3:4-6, “As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” So it must be in our own hearts; all things must give way unto him, or he will not come and make his habitation in them.
Hebrews 10:10 . “By the which will we are sanctified, through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once [ for all. ]” From the whole context the apostle makes an inference, which is comprehensive of the substance of the gospel, and the description of the grace of God which is established thereby.
Having affirmed, in Christ’s own words, that he came to do the will of God, he shows what was that will of God which he came to do, what was the design of God in it and the effect of it, and by what means it was accomplished; which things are to be inquired into: as,
1. What is the will of God which he intends; “By the which will.”
2. What was the design of it, what God aimed at in this act of his will, and what is accomplished thereby; “We are sanctified.”
3. The way and means whereby this effect proceedeth from the will of God; namely, “Through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ,” in opposition to legal sacrifices. 4. The manner of it, in opposition unto their repetition; it was “once for all.” But the sense of the whole will be more clear, if we consider,
1. The end aimed at in the first place, namely, the sanctification of the church. And sundry things must be observed concerning it:
(1.) That the apostle changeth his phrase of speech into the first person, “We are sanctified;” that is, all those believers whereof the gospel church- state was constituted, in opposition unto the church-state of the Hebrews and those that did adhere unto it: so he speaks before, as also Hebrews 4:3, “We who have believed do enter into rest.” For it might be asked of him, ‘You who thus overthrow the efficacy of legal sacrifices, what have you yourselves attained in your relinquishment of them?’‘We have,’saith he, ‘that sanctification, that dedication unto God, that peace with him, and that expiation of sin, that all those sacrifices could not effect.’And observe,
Obs. 25. Truth is never so effectually declared, as when it is confirmed by the experience of its power in them that believe it and make profession of it. This was that which gave them the confidence which the apostle exhorts them to hold fast and firm unto the end.
Obs. 26. It is a holy glorying in God, and no unlawful boasting, for men openly to profess what they are made partakers of by the grace of God and blood of Christ. Yea, it is a necessary duty for men so to do, when any thing is set up in competition with them or opposition unto them.
Obs. 27. It is the best security in differences in and about religion, (such as these wherein the apostle is engaged, the greatest and highest that ever were,) when men have an internal experience of the truth which they do profess.
(2.) The words he useth are in the preterperfect tense, ἡγιασμένοι ἐσμέν , and relate not only unto the things, but the time of the offering of the body of Christ. For although all that is intended herein did not immediately follow on the death of Christ, yet were they all in it, as the effects in their proper cause, to be produced by virtue of it in their times and seasons; and the principal effect intended was the immediate consequent thereof.
(3.) This end of God, through the offering of the body of Christ, was the sanctification of the church: “We are sanctified.” The principal notion of sanctification in the New Testament, is the effecting of real, internal holiness in the persons of them that do believe, by the change of their hearts and lives. But the word is not here so to be restrained, nor is it used in that sense by our apostle in this epistle, or very rarely. It is here plainly comprehensive of all that he hath denied unto the law, priesthood, and sacrifices of the old testament, with the whole church-state of the Hebrews under it, and the effects of their ordinances and services; as,
[1.] A complete dedication unto God, in opposition unto the typical one which the people were partakers of by the sprinkling of the blood of calves and goats upon them, Exodus 24:0.
[2.] A complete church-state for the celebration of the spiritual worship of God, by the administration of the Spirit, wherein the law could make nothing perfect.
[3.] Peace with God upon a full and perfect expiation of sin; which he denies unto the sacrifices of the law, verses
[4.] Real, internal purification or sanctification of our natures and persons from all inward filth and defilement of them; which he proves at large that the carnal ordinances of the law could not effect of themselves, reaching no farther than the purification of the flesh.
[5.] Hereunto also belong the privileges of the gospel, in liberty, boldness, immediate access unto God, the means of that access, by Christ our high priest, and confidence therein; in opposition unto that fear, bondage, distance, and exclusion from the holy place of the presence of God, which they of old were kept under. All these things are comprised in this expression of the apostle, “We are sanctified.”
The designation of such a state for the church, and the present introduction of it by the preaching of the gospel, is that whose confirmation the apostle principally designs in this whole discourse; the sum whereof he gives us, Hebrews 11:40, “God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.”
2. The whole fountain and principal cause of this state, this grace, is the will of God, even that will which our Savior tendered to accomplish, “By the which will we are sanctified.” In the original it is, “In which will;” “in” for “by,” which is usual. Wherefore we say properly, “by which will;” for it is the supreme efficient cause of our sanctification that is intended. And in that expression of our Savior, “Lo, I come to do thy will, O God,” it is evident,
(1.) That it was the will, that is, the counsel, the purpose, the decree of God, that the church should be sanctified.
(2.) That our Lord Christ knew that this was the will of God, the will of the Father, in whose bosom he was. And,
(3.) That God had determined (which he also knew and declared) that legal sacrifices could not accomplish and make effectual this his will, so as the church might be sanctified thereon. Wherefore the will of God here intended (as was intimated before) is nothing but the eternal, gracious, free act or purpose of his will, whereby he determined or purposed in himself to recover a church out of lost mankind, to sanctify them unto himself, and to bring them unto the enjoyment of himself hereafter, See Ephesians 1:4-9.
And this act of the will of God was,
(1.) Free and sovereign, without any meritorious cause, or any thing that should dispose him thereunto without himself: “He purposed in himself.” There are everywhere blessed effects ascribed to it, but no cause anywhere. All that is designed unto us in it, as unto the communication of it in its effects, were its effects, not its cause. See Ephesians 1:4, and this place. The whole mediation of Christ, especially his death and suffering, was the means of its accomplishment, and not the procuring cause of it.
(2.) It was accompanied with infinite wisdom, whereby provision was made for his own glory, and the means and way of the accomplishment of his will. He would not admit the legal sacrifices as the means and way of its accomplishment, because they could not provide for those ends; for “it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.”
(3.) It was immutable and irrevocable, it depended not upon any condition in any thing or person without himself: “He purposed in himself.” Nor was it capable of any change or alteration from oppositions or interveniencies.
(4.) It follows hereon that it must be infallibly effectual, in the actual accomplishment of what was designed in it, every thing in its order and season; it cannot in any thing be frustrated or disappointed. The whole church in every age shall be sanctified by it. This will of God some would have not to be any internal act of his will, but only the thing willed by him, name]y, the sacrifice of Christ; and that for this reason, because it is opposed to legal sacrifices, which the act of God’s will cannot be. But the mistake is evident; for the will of God here intended is not at all opposed unto the legal sacrifices, but only as to the means of the accomplishment of it, which they were not, nor could be.
Obs. 28. The sovereign will and pleasure of God, acting itself in infinite wisdom and grace, is the sole, supreme, original cause of the salvation of the church, Romans 9:10-11Romans 9:10-11.
3. The means of accomplishment and making effectual of this will of God, is the “offering of the body of Jesus Christ.” Some copies after ἡγιασμένοι ἐσμέν read οἱ , and then the sense must be supplied by the repetition of ἡγιασμένοι in the close of that verse, “who by the offering of the body of Jesus Christ were once sanctified.” But there is no color for this supply, for the word “once” doth directly respect the offering of Christ, as the following verses, wherein it is explained, and the dignity of this sacrifice thence demonstrated, do prove. Wherefore this article belongs not unto the text, for it is not in the best copies, nor is taken notice of in our translation. Why and in what sense the sacrifice of Christ is called the “offering of his body,” was before declared. And “by which,” διὰ τῆς , refers not to the cause of our sanctification, which is the will of God, but unto the effect itself. Our sanctification is wrought, effected, accomplished by the offering of the body of Christ,
(1.) In that the expiation of our sin and reconciliation with God were perfectly wrought thereby:
(2.) In that the whole church of the elect was thereby dedicated unto God; which privilege they are called into the actual participation of through faith in the blood of Christ:
(3.) In that thereby all the old legal sacrifices, and all that yoke, and burden, and bondage wherewith they were accompanied, are taken out of the way, Ephesians 2:15-16:
(4.) In that he redeemed us thereby from the whole curse of the law, as given originally in the law of nature, and also renewed in the covenant of Sinai:
(5.) In that thereby he ratified and confirmed the new covenant, and all the promises of it, and all the grace contained in them, to be effectually communicated unto us:
(6.) In that he thereby procured for us, and received into his own disposition, in the behalf of the church, effectually to communicate all grace and mercy unto our souls and consciences. In brief, whatever was prepared in the will of God for the good of the church, it is all communicated unto us through the offering of the body of Christ, in such a way as tendeth unto the glory of God and the assured salvation of the church.
This “offering of the body of Jesus Christ” is the glorious center of all the counsels of the wisdom of God, of all the purposes of his will for the sanctification of the church. For,
(1.) No other way or means could effect it:
(2.) This will do it infallibly; for Christ crucified is the wisdom of God and the power of God unto this end. This is the anchor of our faith, whereon alone it rests.
4. The last thing in the words gives us the manner of the offering of the body of Christ. It was done ἐφάπαξ : “once for all,” say we, once only; it was never before that one time, nor shall ever be afterwards, “there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins.” And this demonstrates both the dignity and efficacy of his sacrifice. Of such worth and dignity it was, that God absolutely acquiesced therein, and smelled a savor of eternal rest in it: and of such efficacy, that the sanctification of the church was perfected by it, so that it needed no repetition. It also made way for the following state of Christ himself, which was to be a state of glory, absolute and perfect, inconsistent with the repetition of the same sacrifice of himself. For, as the apostle shows, verses 12, 13, after this sacrifice offered, he had no more to do but to enter into glory. So absurd is that imagination of the Socinians, that he offered his expiatory sacrifice in heaven, that he did not, he could not enter into glory, until he had completely offered his sacrifice, the memorial whereof he carried into the holy place. And the apostle lays great weight on this consideration, as that which is the foundation of the faith of the church. He mentions it often, and argues from it as the principal argument to prove its excellency above the sacrifices of the law. And this very foundation is destroyed by those who fancy unto themselves a renewed offering of the body of Christ every day in the mass. Nothing can be more directly contrary unto this assertion of the apostle, whatever color they may put upon their practice, or whatever pretense they may give unto it.
Wherefore the apostle in the next verses argues from the dignity and efficacy of the sacrifice of Christ, by its difference from and opposition unto the legal sacrifices, which were often repeated.
Καὶ πᾶς μὲν ἰερεὺς ἔστηκε καθ᾿ ἡμέραν λειτουργῶν , καὶ τὰς αὐτὰς πολλάκις προσφέρων θυσίας , αἵτινες οὐδέποτε δύνανται περιελεῖν ἁμαρτίας· αὐτὸς δὲ μίαν ὑπὲρ ἁμαρτιῶν προσενέγκας θυσίαν , εἰς τὸ διηςεκὲς ἐκάθισεν ἐν δεξιᾷ τοῦ Θεοῦ , τὸ λοιπὸν ἐκδεχόμενος ἕως τεθῶσιν οἱ ἐχθροὶ αὐτοῦ ὑποπόδιον τῶν ποδῶν αὐτοῦ· μιᾷ γὰρ προσφορᾷ τετελείωκεν εἰς τὸ διηνεκὲς τοὺς ἁγιαζομένους . 
 VARIOUS READING. Scholz and Lachmann, and several other critics, prefer οὗτος , verse 12. Tischendorf retains αὐτός in his text. ED.
Hebrews 10:11-14 . And every priest standeth daily ministering, and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: but this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins, for ever sat down on the right hand of God; from henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.
These words are an entrance into the close of that long blessed discourse of the apostle concerning the priesthood and sacrifice of Christ, their dignity and efficacy, which he shuts up and finisheth in the following verses, confirming the whole with the testimony of the Holy Ghost before produced by him.
Four things doth he here instruct us in, by way of recapitulation of what he had declared and proved before:
1. The state of the legal priests and sacrifices, as unto the repetition of them; by which he had proved before their utter insufficiency to take away sin, Hebrews 10:11.
2. In that one offering of Christ, and that once offered, in opposition thereunto, Hebrews 10:12.
3. The consequence thereof on the part of Christ; whereof there are two parts:
(1.) His state and condition immediately ensuing thereon, Hebrews 10:12, manifesting the dignity, efficacy, and absolute perfection of his offering;
(2.) As unto the continuance of his state and condition afterwards, Hebrews 10:13.
4. The absolute effect of his sacrifice, which was the sanctification of the church, Hebrews 10:14.
In the first of these we have,
1. The note of its introduction, καί , “and.”
2. The subject of the proposition in it, “every priest.”
3. What is ascribed unto them in the discharge of their office; which is expressed,
(1.) Generally, they “stood ministering day by day;”
(2.) Particularly, as unto that part of their office which is now under consideration; “they often” (that is, every day) “offered the same sacrifices.”
4. The inefficacy of those sacrifices, though often offered; “they could not take away sin.” Besides this work of daily offering the same sacrifices, winch could not take away sin, there was nothing ensued on them of glory and dignity unto themselves, or benefit unto the church. This the apostle insinuates, although it be left out in the comparison, insisting especially on the contrary in the opposite sacrifice of Christ, both as unto his own glory and the eternal salvation of the church.
First, The introduction is by καί , mostly a copulative, sometimes redditive, as it is here taken by us and rendered. In this latter way it gives a further reason of what was before declared of the efficacy of the sacrifice of Christ, by a comparison of it with those of the priests, which were often repeated. In the other sense it denotes a progress in the same argument, by a repetition of the consideration of the old sacrifices, and a new comparison of them with that of Christ. Both come to the same, and either may be allowed.
Secondly, The subject spoken of, that is πᾶς ἱερεύς , “every priest.”
‘That is,’say some, ‘every high priest;’and so they interpret the words, “standeth daily,” by ‘a certain day once a-year,’referring the whole unto the anniversary sacrifice on the day of expiation. And it is not denied but that the apostle hath a special regard thereunto, and mentioneth it expressly, as we have showed on Hebrews 9:7; Hebrews 9:25. But it cannot be here so restrained: for he makes application herein of what he had spoken before of all the sacrifices of the law; and therein he reckons up all sorts of them, as we have seen, some of which, as the whole burnt-offerings, and all offerings in distinction from bloody sacrifices, were not offered by the high priest on that day, but by other priests on all occasions.
And the following expression, ἕστηκε καθ᾿ ἡμέραν λειτουργῶν , “standeth ministering every day,” declares the constant discharge of the priestly office in every daily ministration. This was the work that all the priests were designed unto in their courses. Wherefore the words, as they do not exclude the annual sacrifice of the high priest, so they include the daily and occasional sacrifices of all the other priests; for these offerings of blood were also types of the sacrifice and offering of Christ. For all sacrifices by blood were to make atonement for sin, Leviticus 17:11; and they were of no use but by virtue of their typical representation of the sacrifice of Christ. Therefore all the priests, and their whole office, as unto all that belonged unto the offering of sacrifices, are comprised in this assertion. And it was necessary to extend the comparison unto them all, that there might be no exception unto the argument from it. And the following words, which give a description of the general way of their ministration, do enforce this interpretation, which is the third thing in them.
Thirdly, “Standeth daily ministering,” ἕστηκε , “standeth,” or rather “stood.” They did so while their office was in force; it was their duty by the law so to do. For the apostle respecteth not what was their present acting as to matter of fact, but speaks of the whole service of the priests indistinctly, as past or present, with regard unto what was to be done by virtue of the first institution of them and the service which the tabernacle was erected for.
1. “Stood,” or “standeth,” ready for and employed in the work of their office, λειτουργῶν , “ministering;” a general name of employment about all sacred duties, services, and offices whatever, and therefore it compriseth all the service of the priests about the tabernacle and altar, wherein they ministered unto God according to his appointment. And this extends unto all that were partakers of the priesthood, and was not confined unto the high priest. See Hebrews 9:1. This they did καθ᾿ ἡμέραν , that is, “day by day,” as occasion did require, according to the appointment of the law. Not only the daily sacrifice morning and evening is intended, nor yet the doubling of them on the Sabbath and other festivals, but all the occasional offerings for the people, as their necessities did require. For any man might bring his sin-offering, and trespass-offering, his peace-offering, his vow, or free-will-offering, unto the priest at any time, to be offered on the altar. For this cause they came to be always in a readiness to stand ministering daily, and hereunto was their office confined. There was no end of their work, after which they should enter into another and better state, as the apostle shows it of the LORD Christ in the next verse. And this is a high argument for the imperfection of their sacrifices, they were never brought unto that state by them as that the high priest might cease from ministering, and enter into a condition of rest.
2. Their general ministry is described by the especial duty which is under present consideration, they “offered oftentimes the same sacrifices.” They were the same sacrifices that were offered, of the same general nature and kind. They were, indeed, distributed into several sorts, according unto their occasions and institutions, as, whole burnt-offerings, sin-offerings, trespass-offerings, and the like; but their general nature was one and the same, falling all under the same censure, that they could not take away sin. They had not any one peculiar service that could effect this end. And they offered them often, daily, monthly, occasionally, annually, according unto divine institution. In this defect as unto the efficacy and frequency in the repetition, is the sacrifice of Christ directly opposed unto them. Hence,
Fourthly, In the last place, the apostle passeth that sentence concerning them all, whose truth he had before sufficiently confirmed, “They cannot,” they never could, “take away sins.” They could not περιελεῖν , “take them out of the way;” that is, absolutely, perfectly, as the word denotes. They could not do it before God, the judge, by making a sufficient atonement for them, verse 4; they could not do it as unto the conscience of the sinner, giving him assured peace with God thereon. ‘It may be they could not do it at any one time, but in the constant continuance in the use and observation of them they might do it; if they were multiplied, if they were costly, if they were observed in an extraordinary manner, they might effect this end?’No, saith the apostle, “they could not do it,” οὐδέποτε δύνανται . The defect was in their own nature and lower, “ they cannot do it.” They could not do it by any means, nor at any time. The word is a vehement negation, respecting all the powers of those sacrifices, and all the times wherein they were used. And therefore, as unto those things which might seem to give them their efficacy, as their multiplication, their constancy, their cost, extraordinary care about them, God doth reject them in a peculiar manner, when trusted unto for the taking away of sin, Isaiah 1:11; Micah 6:6-7.
Obs. 1. If all those divine institutions, in the diligent observation of them, could not take away sin, how much less can any thing do so that we can betake ourselves unto for that end! There are innumerable things invented in the Papacy to take away sin and its guilt, especially of those sins which they are pleased to call venial. And all men, on the conviction of sin, are apt to entertain thoughts that by some endeavors of their own they may so take them away. To comply with this presumption are all the papal inventions of confession, absolution, indulgences, masses, penances, purgatory, and the like, accommodated. Others trust solely unto their own repentance and following duties, as do the Socinians, and all men in their unrenewed estate. But certainly if the apostle proveth this assertion beyond contradiction, that none of them could ever take away any sin, that their legal institutions of divine worship and their observations could not do it; how much less can the inventions of men effect that great end! This account he gives us of the inefficacy of the sacrifices of the priests, notwithstanding their diligent attendance on their offerings, Hebrews 10:11.
Hebrews 10:12-14 . In these verses the apostle opposeth that one sacrifice of Christ unto the legal offerings that the priests attended unto; and that in three things:
1. In the nature of it, and its perfection, Hebrews 10:12.
2. The consequence on the part of Christ, by whom it was offered, Hebrews 10:12-13.
3. In the effect of it towards the church, Hebrews 10:14.
Hebrews 10:12 . “But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins, for ever sat down on the right hand of God.”
First, There is a note of opposition, answering the καί , “and,” in the verse foregoing; δέ , “but.” It is not exceptive, but alternative.
Secondly, The person spoken of, αὐτός , “he;” that is, ‘he of whom we speak,’he whose body was offered once for all, Jesus Christ, the high priest of the new testament. “But this man,” say we.
Thirdly, What is ascribed unto him in these words, ἀμαρτιῶν προσενέγκας θυσίαν , “After he had offered one sacrifice for sins.” lie offered as the priests did; he offered for sin as they did also: so far there was an agreement. But,
1. He offered only one sacrifice, not many. And what is included therein? that this sacrifice was of himself, and not the blood of bulls and goats.
2. It was but once offered; and it is principally called:’one sacrifice” because it was but once offered. And the time when he offered this sacrifice is also proposed, not absolutely, but with respect unto what ensued: it was before he “sat down on the right hand of God;” that is, before his entrance into glory, after he had offered one sacrifice for sin. And the way of mentioning these things doth manifest that the principal intention of the apostle is to speak unto the different consequences of this offering of the priests of old and of Christ. And this observation, of his offering “one sacrifice” only for sin, is mentioned in opposition unto the frequent repetition of their sacrifices; but he mentioneth it only transiently, to make a way for the great ensuing differences in the consequents of them. Howbeit in these words, thus transiently mentioned, he judgeth and condemneth the two grand oppositions that at this day are made against that one sacrifice of Christ, and efficacy of it. The first is that of the Papists, who in the mass pretend to multiply the sacrifices of him every day, whereas he offered but “once;” so as that the repetition of it is destructive unto it. The other is that of the Socinians, who would have the offering and sacrifice of Christ to be only his appearance before God to receive power to keep us from the punishment of sin, upon his doing of the will of God in the world. But the words are express as unto the order of these things; namely, that he offered his sacrifice for sins before his exaltation in glory, or his sitting down on the right hand of God. And herein doth the apostle give glory unto that offering of Christ for sins, in that it perfectly accomplished what all legal sacrifices could not effect. This, therefore, is the only repose of troubled souls.
Fourthly, The consequent hereof on the part of Christ is twofold:
1. What immediately ensued on this offering of his body, Hebrews 10:12;
2. What continueth to be his state with respect thereunto, Hebrews 10:13: both of them evidencing God’s high approbation and acceptance of his person, and what he had done; as also the glory and efficacy of his office and sacrifice above those of the law, wherein no such privilege nor testimony was given unto them upon the discharge of their office.
1. The immediate consequent of his offering was, ἐκάθισεν ἐν δεξιᾷ τοῦ Θεοῦ , that “he sat down on the right hand of God.” This glorious exaltation of Christ hath been spoken unto and opened before, on Hebrews 1:3; Hebrews 8:1. Here it includes a double opposition unto and preference above the state of the legal priests upon their oblations. For although the high priest, in his anniversary sacrifice for the expiation of sin, did enter into the most holy place, where were the visible pledges of the presence of God, yet he stood in a posture of humble ministration; he sat not down with any appearance of dignity or honor. Again, his abode in the typical holy place was for a short season only; but Christ sat down at the right hand of God “for ever,” εἰς τὸ διηνεκές , “in perpetuum;” in an unalterable state and condition. Hw sat down, never to offer sacrifice any more. And this is the highest pledge, the highest assurance of these two things, which are the pillars and principal foundations of the faith of the church:
(1.) That God was absolutely pleased, satisfied, and highly glorified, in and by the offering of Christ; for had it not been so, the human nature of Christ had not been immediately exalted into the highest glory that it was capable of. SeeEphesians 5:1-2Ephesians 5:1-2; Philippians 2:7-9.
(2.) That he had by his offering perfectly expiated the sin of the world, so as that there is no need for ever of any other offering or sacrifice unto this end.
Obs. 2. Faith in Christ doth jointly respect both his oblation of himself by death and the glorious exaltation that ensued thereon. He so offered one sacrifice for sin, as that thereon he sat down on the right hand of God for ever. Neither of these separately is a full object for faith to find rest in; both in conjunction are a rock to fix it on. And,
Obs. 3. Christ in this order of things is the great exemplar of the church. He suffered, and then entered into glory. “If we suffer with him, we shall also reign with him.”
Hebrews 10:13 . “From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool.”
2. The state and condition of Christ after his sitting down at the right hand of God, not absolutely, but with respect unto his enemies, is declared in these words. The whole testimony is taken from Psalms 110:1, and here explained in these verses. It is produced in the confirmation of what the apostle asserts concerning the impossibility as well as the needlessness of the repetition of his sacrifice. For as it is no way necessary, as in the verses following he declares, so it is impossible in his present state and condition, which was ordained for him from the beginning: this was, that he should sit at the right hand of God, expecting his enemies to be made his footstool; that is, in a state of majesty and glory. But offer himself he could not, without suffering and dying, whereof in this state he is no way capable. And besides, as was before observed, it is an evidence both of the dignity and eternal efficacy of his one sacrifice, whereon at once his exaltation did ensue.
I acknowledge my thoughts are inclined unto a peculiar interpretation of this place, though I will not oppose absolutely that which is commonly received; though in my judgment I prefer this other before it. The assertion is introduced by τὸ λοιπόν : “henceforth,” say we: “as unto what remains;” that is, of the dispensation of the personal ministry of Christ. He was here below, he came unto his own, he dwelt amongst them; that is, in the church of the Hebrews. Some very few believed on him, but the generality of the people, the rulers, priests, guides of the church, engaged against him, persecuted him, falsely accused him, killed him, hanged him on a tree. Under the veil of their rage and cruelty he carried on his work of “making his soul an offering for sin,” or “taking away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” having fulfilled this work, and thereby wrought out the eternal salvation of the church, he sits down on the right hand of God. In the meantime those stubborn enemies of his, who hated, rejected, and slew him, continued raging in the fierceness of their implacable tumults against him and them that believed in him. They hated his person, his office, his work, his gospel; many of them expressly sinning against the Holy Ghost. Yet did they triumph that they had prevailed against him, and destroyed him; as some of their accursed posterity do to this day. It was the judgment of God, that those his obstinate enemies should by his power be utterly destroyed in this world, as a pledge of the eternal destruction of those who will not believe the gospel. That this was the end whereunto they were designed himself declares, Matthew 22:7; Luke 19:27, “Those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.”
After our Lord Christ left this world, there was a mighty contest between the dying apostate church of the Jews and the rising gospel church of believers. The Jews boasted of their success, in that by fraud and cruelty they had destroyed him as a malefactor; the apostles and the church with them gave testimony unto his resurrection and glory in heaven. Great expectation there was what would be the end of these things, which way the scale would turn. After a while, a visible and glorious determination was made of this controversy; God sent forth his armies and destroyed those murderers, burning up their city. Those enemies of the King, which would not have him to reign over them, were brought forth and slain before his face. So were all his enemies made his footstool. I do judge that these are the enemies of Christ, and the making of them his footstool, which are peculiarly here intended, namely, the destruction of the hardened, unbelieving Jews, who had obstinately rejected his ministry, and opposed it unto the end. Then were those his enemies who so refused him slain and destroyed thereon. For,
(1.) This description of his enemies, as his enemies peculiarly, directs us unto this sense, the enemies of his person, doctrine, and glory, with whom he had so many contests, whose blasphemies and contradictions he underwent. They were his enemies in a peculiar manner.
(2.) This the word ἐκδεχόμενος , “expecting,” better answers unto than unto the other sense. For the glorious visible propagation of the gospel and kingdom of Christ thereon, began and was carried on gloriously upon and after the destruction of Jerusalem, and the church of the Jews, his enemies. With reference hereunto, expectation may be no less distinctly ascribed unto him than if we extend the word unto the whole time unto the end of the world.
(3.) The act of vengeance on these his enemies is not said to be his own, but is peculiarly assigned unto God the Father, and those employed by him. In the original promise, the words of God the Father to him are, “I will make thine enemies thy footstool;” ‘I take it upon me (vengeance is mine) to revenge the injuries done unto thee, and the obstinacy of those unbelievers.’Here in this place respect is had unto the means that God used in the work of their destruction, which was the Roman army, by whom they were, as the footstool of Christ, absolutely trodden under his feet, with respect unto this special act of God the Father; who in the execution of it proclaims that “vengeance is his.” For in the following words the Lord Christ is said only to “expect” it, as that wherein his own cause was vindicated, and revenged, as it were, by another hand, while he pleaded it himself in the world by that mild and gentle means of sending his Spirit to convince them of sin, righteousness, and judgment.
(4.) This is that which the apostle constantly threatens the obstinate Hebrews and apostate professors of the gospel withal, throughout this epistle, the time of their destruction being now at hand. So he doth, Hebrews 6:5-8; and in this chapter, verses 26-31, where it must be spoken to.
(5.) This was that τὸ λοιπόν , or “what remained,” as unto the personal ministry of Christ in this world.
Obs. 4. The horrible destruction of the stubborn, obstinate enemies of the person and office of Christ, which befell the nation of the Jews, is a standing security of the endless destruction of all who remain his obstinate adversaries.
I leave this interpretation of the words unto the thoughts of them that are judicious, and shall open the mind of the Holy Ghost in them according unto the generally received opinion of their sense. And to this end,
(1.) The subject spoken of is the enemies of Christ, οἱ ἐχθροί , “his enemies.” He hath had many enemies ever since his exaltation; and so shall have unto the consummation of all things, when they shall all of them be triumphed over.
For his enemies are of two sorts: first, Such as are so immediately and directly unto his person; secondly, Such as are so to his office and work, with the benefits of the salvation of the church. Those of the first sort are either devils or men. All the devils are in a combination, as sworn enemies unto the person of Christ and his kingdom. And for men, the whole world of unbelieving Jews, Mohammedans, and Pagans, are all his enemies, and do put forth all their power in opposition unto him. The enemies unto his office, grace, and work, and the benefits of it, are either persons or things.
[1.] The head of this opposition and enmity unto his office is Antichrist, with all his adherents; and in a special manner, all worldly power, authority, and rule, acting themselves in subserviency unto the antichristian interest.
[2.] All pernicious heresies against his person and grace;
[3.] All others which make profession of the gospel, and live not as becomes the gospel, they are all enemies of Christ and his office.
The things which rise up in enmity and opposition to him and the work of his grace, are, sin, death, the grave, and hell. All these endeavor to obstruct and frustrate all the ends of Christ’s mediation, and are therein his enemies.
(2.) There is the disposal of this subject, of these enemies of Christ. They shall be made his footstool. ῞Εως τεθῶσιν “until they be put” and “placed” in this condition. It is a state which they would not be in; but they shall be made, put, and placed in it, whether they will or no, as the word signifies. ῾ψποπόδιον τῶν ποδῶν αὐτοῦ . A footstool is used in a threefold sense in the Scripture:
[1.] For the visible pledge of God’s presence and his worship. God’s throne, as we have showed, was represented by the ark, mercy-seat, and cherubim, in the most holy place; wherein the sanctuary itself was his footstool, 1 Chronicles 28:2; Psalms 99:5; Psalms 132:7. So it is applied unto God, and his presence in the church; as the ark was his throne, so the sanctuary was his footstool.
[2.] It is applied unto God and his presence in the world. So heaven above is called his throne, and this lower part of the creation is his footstool, Isaiah 66:1.
In neither of these senses are the enemies of Christ to be his footstool; therefore it is taken,
[3.] For a despised, conquered condition; a state of a mean, subjected people, deprived of all power and benefit, and brought into absolute subjection. In no other sense can it be applied unto the enemies of Christ, as here it is. Yet doth it not signify the same condition absolutely as unto all persons and things that are his enemies; for they are not of one nature, and their subjection to him is such as their natures are capable of. But these things are intended in it:
1st . The deprivation of all power, authority, and glory. They sat on thrones, but now are under the seat of him who is the only potentate.
2dly . An utter defeat of their design, in opposing either his person or the work of his grace in the eternal salvation of his church. They shall not hurt nor destroy any more in the mountain of the Lord.
3dly . Their eternal disposal by the will of Christ, according as his glory shall be manifested therein. Sin, death, the grave, and hell, as unto their opposition to the church, shall be utterly destroyed, 1 Corinthians 15:55-57; and “there shall be no more death.” Satan and Antichrist shall be destroyed two ways:
(1st.) Initially and gradually.
(2dly.) Absolutely and completely.
The first they are in all ages of the church, from the time of Christ’s glorious ascension into heaven. They were then immediately put in subjection to him, all of them, because that they should not defeat any one end of his mediation. And he maketh continual instances, as he pleases, of his power over them, in the visible destruction of some of his principal and most implacable enemies. And secondly, it will be complete at the last day, when all these enemies shall be utterly destroyed.
(3.) The word ἕως , “until,” here hath respect unto both these, the gradual and final destruction of all the enemies of Christ.
(4.) This Christ is said to expect; “henceforth expecting.” Expectation and waiting are improperly ascribed to Christ, as they are in the Scripture unto God himself, so far as they include hope or uncertainty of the event, or a desire of any thing, either as to matter, manner, or time, otherwise than as they are foreknown and determined. But it is the rest and complacency of Christ in the faithfulness of God’s promises, and his infinite wisdom as unto the season of their accomplishment, that is intended. He doth not so expect these things, as though there were any thing wanting to his own blessedness, glory, power, or authority, until it be actually and completely finished; but saith the apostle, ‘As to what remains to the Lord Christ in the discharge of his office, he henceforth is no more to offer, to suffer, no more to die, no more to do any thing for the expiation of sin or by way of sacrifice; all this being absolutely and completely perfected, he is for ever in the enjoyment of the glory that was set before him; satisfied in the promises, the power, and wisdom of God, for the complete effecting of his mediatory office, in the eternal salvation of the church, and by the conquest and destruction of all his and their enemies in the proper times and seasons for it.’And from this interpretation of the words we may take these observations:
Obs. 5. It was the entrance of sin which raised up all our enemies against us. From thence took they their rise and beginning; as death, the grave, and hell. Some that were friendly before became our enemies thereon; as the law: and some that had a radical enmity, got power thereby to execute it; as the devil. The state in which we were created was a state of universal peace; all the strife and contention rose from sin.
Obs. 6. The Lord Christ, in his ineffable love and grace, put himself between us and all our enemies; and took into his breast all their swords, wherewith they were armed against us: so they are his enemies.
Obs. 7. The Lord Christ, by the offering of himself, making peace with God, ruined all the enmity against the church, and all the enemies of it. For all their power arose from the just displeasure of God, and the curse of his law.
Obs. 8. It is the foundation of all consolation to the church, that the Lord Christ, even now in heaven, takes all our enemies to be his; in whose destruction he is infinitely more concerned than we are.
Obs. 9. Let us never esteem any thing, or any person, to be our enemy, but only so far and in what they are the enemies of Christ.
Obs. 10. It is our duty to conform ourselves to the Lord Christ, in a quiet expectancy of the ruin of all our spiritual adversaries.
Obs. 11. Envy not the condition of the most proud and cruel adversaries of the church; for they are absolutely in his power, and shall be cast under his footstool at the appointed season.
Hebrews 10:14 . “For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.”
1. Gives the great reason of this state of things with reference unto the Lord Christ in the discharge of his office, namely, that he did not repeat his offering, as the priests under the law did theirs, every year, and every day; and that he is set down at the right hand of God, expecting his enemies to be made his footstool, wherein they had no share after their oblations: and this is, because “by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.” This being done, there is no need of any daily sacrifice, nothing that should detain the Lord Jesus out of the possession of his glory. So the particle γάρ “for,” infers a reason in these words of all that was assigned before unto him, in opposition unto what was done by the priests of the law: it was “by one offering.”
2. What he did so effect, which rendered all future offerings and sacrifices impossible: “he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.”
1. for the first, what he did of the nature of the thing spoken of, was μιᾷ προσφορᾷ , “by one offering;” as what the priests of old did was also by offerings and sacrifices. The eminency of this offering the apostle had before declared, which here he refers unto. It was not of bulls or goats, but of himself, he “offered himself to God;” of his body, that is, his whole human nature. And this offering, as he had observed before, was only “once offered;” in the mention whereof the apostle includes all the opposition he had made before between the offering of Christ and those of the priests, as to its worth and dignity.
2. That which is effected hereby is, that “he perfected for ever them that are sanctified.” Those on whom his work is effected are thereby “sanctified.” They that are dedicated unto God, those who are sanctified or purged by virtue of this sacrifice, unto them all the other effects are confined. First to sanctify them, then to perfect them, was the design of Christ in offering of himself; which he purposed not for all men universally. So in the foundation of the church of Israel, they were first sanctified and dedicated unto God in and by the sacrifices wherewith the covenant was confirmed, Exodus 24:0; and afterwards were perfected, so far as their condition was capable thereof, in the prescription of laws and ordinances for their church-state and worship. The word here, τετελείωκεν , was used before.
He hath brought them into the most perfect and consummate church-state and relation unto God, as unto all his worship, that the church is capable of in this world. It is not an absolute, subjective, virtual, internal perfection of grace, that is intended; the word signifies not such a perfection, “made perfect,” nor is ever used to that purpose; nor is it the perfection of glory, for he treats of the present church-state of the gospel in this world: but it is a state and condition of that grace and those privileges which the law, priests, and sacrifices, could never bring them unto. He hath by his “one offering” wrought and procured for them the complete pardon of sin, and peace before God thereon, that they should have no more need of the repetition of sacrifices; he hath freed them from the yoke of carnal ordinances, and the bondage which they were kept in by them, prescribing unto them a holy worship, to be performed with boldness in the presence of God, by an entrance into the holy place; he hath brought them into the last and best church-state, the highest and nearest relation unto God that the church is capable of in this world, or the glory of his wisdom and grace hath assigned unto it. And this he hath done εἰς τὸ διηνεκές , “for ever,” so as that there shall never be any alteration in that estate whereunto he hath brought them, nor any addition of privilege or advantage be ever made unto it.
Obs. 12. There was a glorious efficacy in the one offering of Christ.
Obs. 13. The end of it must be effectually accomplished towards all for whom it was offered; or else it is inferior unto the legal sacrifices, for they attained their proper end.
Obs. 14. The sanctification and perfection of the church being the end designed in the death and sacrifice of Christ, all things necessary unto that end must be included therein, that it be not frustrated.
Μαρτυρεῖ δὲ ἡμῖν καὶ τὸ Πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον· μετὰ γὰρ τὸ προειρηκέναι· Αὕτη ἡ διαθήκη ἣν διαθήσομαι πρὸς αὐτοὺς μετὰ τὰς ἡμέρας ἐκείνας , λέγει Κύριος , διδοὺς νόμους μου ἐπὶ καρδίας αὐτῶν , καὶ ἐπὶ τῶν διανοιῶν αὐτῶν ἐπιγράψω αὐτούς· καὶ , Τῶν ἀμαρτιῶν αὐτῶν καὶ τῶν ἀνομιῶν αὐτῶν οὐ μὴ μνησθᾶ ἔτι . Οπου δὲ ἄφεσις τούτων , οὐκ ἔτι προσφορὰ περὶ ἀμαρτίας . 
 VARIOUS READING. Instead of μνησθῶ Lachmann and Tisehendorf read μνησθήσομαι . Ed.
Hebrews 10:15-18 . [ Whereof ] the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them: And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these [ is, there is ] no more offering for sin.
The foundation of the whole preceding discourse of the apostle, concerning the glory of the priesthood of Christ, and the efficacy of his sacrifice, was laid in the description of the new covenant, whereof he was the mediator; which was confirmed and ratified by his sacrifice, as the old covenant was by the blood of bulls and goats, Hebrews 8:10-13. Having now abundantly proved and demonstrated what he designed concerning them both, his priesthood and his sacrifice, he gives us a confirmation of the whole from the testimony of the Holy Ghost, in the description of that covenant which he had given before. And because the crisis which he had brought his argument and disputation unto was, that the Lord Christ, by reason of the dignity of his person and office, with the everlasting efficacy of his sacrifice, was to offer himself but “once,” which virtually includes all that he had before taught and declared, including in it an immediate demonstration of the insufficiency of all those sacrifices which were often repeated, and consequently their removal out of the church, he returns unto those words of the Holy Ghost, for the proof of this particular also. And he doth it from the order of the words used by the Holy Ghost, as he had argued before from the order of the words in the psalmist, Hebrews 10:8-9.
Wherefore there is an ellipsis in the words, which must have a supplement, to render the sense perfect. For unto that proposition, “After he had said before,” Hebrews 10:15, with what follows, Hebrews 10:16, there must be added in the beginning of the 17th verse, “he said;” after he had said or spoken of the internal grace of the covenant, he said this also, that “their sins and iniquities he would remember no more.” For from these words doth he make his conclusive inference, Hebrews 10:18, which is the sum of all that he designed to prove.
There is in the words, first, the introduction of the testimony insisted on, “The Holy Ghost also is a witness to us.” The Hebrews might object unto him, as they were ready enough to do it, that all those things were but his own conclusions and arguings; which they would not acquiesce in, unless they were confirmed by testimonies of the Scripture. And therefore I did observe, in my first discourses on this epistle, that the apostle dealt not with these Hebrews as with the churches of the Gentiles, namely, by his apostolical authority (for which cause he prefixed not his name and title unto it); but upon their own acknowledged principles and testimonies of the Old Testament; so manifesting that there was nothing now proposed unto them in the gospel but that which was foretold, promised, and represented in the Old Testament, and was therefore the object of the faith of their forefathers. The same way doth he here proceed in, and calls in the testimony of the Holy Ghost, bearing witness unto the things that he had taught and delivered. And there is in the words,
1. The author of this testimony; that is, “the Holy Ghost.” And it is ascribed unto him, as all that is written in the Scripture is so, not only because holy men of old wrote as they were acted by him, and so he was the author of the whole Scripture; but because also of his presence and authority in it and with it continually. Hence whatever is spoken in the Scripture is, and ought to be unto us, as the immediate word of the Holy Ghost. He continues therein to speak unto us; and this gives the reason of
2. The manner of his speaking in this testimony; μαρτυρεῖ , “he beareth witness to us.” He doth it actually and constantly in the Scriptures, by his authority therein. And he doth so unto us; that is, not unto us only who preach and teach those things, not unto the apostles and other Christian teachers of the gospel, but unto all of us of the church of Israel, who acknowledge the truth of the Scriptures, and own them as the rule of our faith and obedience. So doth he often join himself unto them to whom he wrote and spake of, by reason of the common alliance between them as Hebrews. See Hebrews 2:3, and the exposition of that place: ‘This is that which the Holy Ghost in the Scripture testifies unto us all; which should put an end unto all controversies about these things. Nothing else is taught you but what is testified beforehand by God himself.’
Obs. 1. It is the authority of the Holy Ghost alone, speaking unto us in the Scripture, whereinto all our faith is to be resolved.
Obs. 2. We are to propose nothing in the preaching and worship of the gospel but what is testified unto by the Holy Ghost: not traditions, not our own reasons and inventions.
Obs. 3. When an important truth consonant unto the Scripture is declared, it is useful and expedient to confirm it with some express testimony of Scripture.
3. Lastly, the manner of the expression is emphatical: Καὶ τὸ Πνεῦμα τὸ ἄγιον , “Even also the Holy Spirit himself.” For herein we are directed unto his holy divine person, and not to an external operation of divine power, as the Socinians dream. It is that Holy Spirit himself that continueth to speak to us in the Scripture.
This is the first thing, or the introduction of the testimony. Secondly, There are two things in this testimony of the Holy Ghost; the first is the matter or substance of it; the second, the order of the things contained in it, or spoken by him. The introduction of the former is in the words we have spoken unto; that of the latter, in the close of the verse, in these words, “For after he had spoken before.”
Of the testimony itself, which is declarative of the nature of the new covenant made with Christ and confirmed in him, there are two general parts: First, that which concerns the sanctification of the elect, by the communication of effectual grace unto them for their conversion and obedience. The second is concerning the complete pardon of their sins, and the casting them into everlasting oblivion.
The first of these the Holy Ghost witnesseth in the first place. But he stays not there; afterwards he adds the latter, concerning the pardon of sins and iniquities. This being that alone wherein at present the apostle is concerned, and from whence he confirms his present argument, he distinguisheth it from the other, as that which was of particular use in itself. And therefore verse 17 is to be supplied by, “he said,” or “thereon also, Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.” The words themselves have, in both parts of them, been explained at large on Hebrews 8:0, where they are first produced as the great foundation of the ensuing discourses of the apostle, so that they are not here again to be opened. We are only to consider the argument of the apostle from the latter part of them; and this is, that the covenant being confirmed and established, that is, in the blood and by the one sacrifice of Christ, there can be no more offering for sin. For God will never appoint nor accept of any thing that is needless and useless in his service, least of all in things of so great importance as is the offering for sin. Yea, the continuation of such sacrifices would overthrow the faith of the church, and all the grace of the new covenant. For, saith the apostle, in the new covenant, and by it, the Holy Ghost testifieth, that, as it was confirmed by the one sacrifice of Christ, perfect pardon and forgiveness of sin is prepared for and tendered unto the whole church, and every one that believes. To what purpose, then, should there be any more offerings for sin? Yea, they who look for and trust unto any other, they fall into that sin for which there is no remission provided in this covenant, nor shall any other offering be accepted for them for ever; for they despise both the wisdom and grace of God, the blood of Christ, and the witness of the Holy Ghost; whereof there is no remission: so he disputes, Hebrews 10:28-29, of this chapter.
And here we are come unto a full end of the dogmatical part of this epistle, a portion of Scripture filled with heavenly and glorious mysteries, the light of the church of the Gentiles, the glory of the people Israel, the foundation and bulwark of faith evangelical.
I do therefore here, with all humility, and sense of my own weakness and utter disability for so great a work, thankfully own the guidance and assistance which have been given me in the interpretation of it, so far as it is or may be of use unto the church, as a mere effect of sovereign and undeserved grace. From that alone it is, that, having many and many a time been at an utter loss as to the mind of the Holy Ghost, and finding no relief in the worthy labors of others, he hath graciously answered my poor weak supplications, in supplies of the light and evidence of truth.
῎Εχοντες ου῏ν , ἀδελφοί , παῤῥησίαν εἰς τὴν εἴ῞σοδον τῶν ἁγίων ἐν τῷ αἵματι ᾿Ιησοῦ , ἣν ἐνεκαίνισεν ἡμῖν ὁδὸν πρόσφατον καὶ ζῶσαν , διὰ τοῦ καταπετάσματος , τοῦτ᾿ ἔστι τὴς σαρκὸς αὐτοῦ , καὶ ἰερέα μέγαν ἐπὶ τὸν οι῏κον τοῦ Θεοῦ , προσερχώμεθα μετὰ ἀληθινῆ ; καρδίας ἐν πληροφορίᾳ πίστεως , ἐῤῥαντισμένοι τὰς καρδίας ἀπὸ συνειδήσεως πονηρᾶς· καὶ λελουμένοι τὸ σῶμα ὕδατι καθαρῷ , κατέχωμεν τὴν ὁμολογίαν τῆς ἐλπίδος ἀκλινῆ· ( πιστὸς γὰρ ὁ ἐπαγγειλάμενος .)
Hebrews 10:19-23 . Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; and [ having ] an high priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the profession of [ our ] faith without wavering: (for he [ is ] faithful that promised.)
In these words the apostle enters on the last part of the epistle, which is wholly parenetical, or hortatory. For though there be some occasional intermixtures of doctrines consonant unto them before insisted on, yet the professed design of the whole remainder of the epistle is to propose unto and press on the Hebrews such duties, of various sorts, as the truths he had insisted upon do direct unto and make necessary unto all that believe. And in all his exhortations there is a mixture of the ground of the duties exhorted unto, of their necessity, and of the privilege which we have in being admitted unto them and accepted with them; all taken from the priesthood and sacrifice of Christ, with the effects of them, and the benefits which we receive thereby.
In these words there are three things:
1. The ground and reason of the duty exhorted unto, with the foundation of it, as the special privilege of the gospel, Hebrews 10:19-21.
2. The way and manner of our using this privilege unto that end, Hebrews 10:22.
3. The special duty exhorted unto, which is, perseverance and constancy in believing, Hebrews 10:23.
In the first we have,
1. A note of inference, or deduction of the following exhortation from what was before discoursed; ου῏ν , “therefore.”
2. A friendly compellation of them to whom he spake, used formerly, but now repeated after a long interruption; ἀδελφοί , “brethren.”
3. The privilege itself, which is the foundation of the exhortation; ἔχοντες παῤῥησίαν εἰς τὴν εἴσοδον τῶν ἁίων , “having boldness to enter into the holiest.”
4. The means whereby we attain the privilege which fits us for this duty; ἐν τῷ αἵματι ᾿Ιησοῦ , “by the blood of Jesus,” Hebrews 10:19.
5. The means of using and exercising it as a privilege in a way of duty; “the way is consecrated for us,” Hebrews 10:20.
6. A further encouragement unto it, from the consideration of our high priest; “having an high priest,” Hebrews 10:21.
1. The apostle repeats his obliging compellation, “Brethren.” And herein he hath a peculiar respect unto those among the Hebrews who had received the gospel in sincerity. For although there was a natural brotherhood between him and the whole people of Israel, and they were always wont to call themselves, “brethren” in general, on the account of their original stock and separation from the rest of the world, as Acts 28:21, yet this word and name is used by the apostle on the account of that spiritual relation which was between them “which believe in God through Jesus Christ.” See Hebrews 3:1, and the exposition of it. And the apostle by the use of it here testifies unto two things:
(1.) That although they had not as yet a full understanding of the nature and use of all legal institutions and sacrifices, nor of their abolishing by the coming of Christ, and the discharge of his office, yet this had not forfeited their interest in the heavenly calling; on account whereof he dealt with them as with brethren.
(2.) That this difference, so far as it had yet continued, had no way alienated his mind and affections from them, though he knew how great their mistake was, and what danger, even of eternal ruin, it exposed them unto. Hereby were the minds of those Hebrews secured from prejudice against his person and his doctrine, and inclined unto a compliance with his exhortation. Had he called them heretics and schismatics, and I know not what other names of reproach, which are the terms in use upon the like occasions amongst us, he had, in all probability, turned that which was lame quite out of the way. But he had another Spirit, was under another conduct of wisdom and grace, than most men are now acquainted withal.
Obs. 1. It is not every mistake, every error, though it be in things of great importance, while it overthrows not the foundation, that can divest men of a fraternal interest with others in the heavenly calling.
2. There is a note of inference from the preceding discourse, declaring it the ground of the present exhortation; ου῏ν , “therefore:” ‘Seeing that these things are now made manifest unto you, seeing it is so evidently testified unto that the old covenant, sacrifices, and worship, could not make us perfect, nor give us an access unto God, whereon they are removed and taken away, which the Scripture fully testifies unto; and seeing all this is effected or accomplished in the office and by the sacrifice of Christ, which they could not effect, and privileges are thereon granted unto believers which they were not before made partakers of; let us make use of them unto the glory of God and our own salvation, in the duties which they necessarily require.’And we may observe, that the apostle applies this inference from his discourse unto the use and improvement of the liberty and privileges granted unto us in Christ, with the holy worship belonging thereunto, as we shall see in opening of the words, Howbeit there is another conclusion implied in the words, though not expressed by him; and this is, that they should cease and give over their attendance unto the legal worship and sacrifices, as those which now were altogether useless, being indeed abolished. This is the principal design of the apostle in the whole epistle, namely, to call off the believing Hebrews from all adherence unto and conjunction in Mosaical institutions; for he knew the danger, both spiritual and temporal, which would accompany and arise from such an adherence. For,
(1.) It would insensibly weaken their faith in Christ, and give them a disregard of evangelical worship; which did indeed prove unto many of them a cause of that apostasy and final destruction which he so frequently warns them against.
(2.) Whereas God had determined now speedily to put an utter end unto the city, temple, and all its worship, by a universal desolation, for the sins of the people, if they did obstinately adhere unto the observance of that worship, it was justly to be feared that they would perish in that destruction that was approaching; which probably many of them did. To instruct-them in that light and knowledge of the truth that might deliver them from these evils, was the first design of the apostle in the doctrinal part of this epistle: yet doth he not plainly and in terms express it anywhere in this epistle, not even in this place, where it was most properly and naturally to be introduced; yet he doth that which evidently includes it, namely, exhort them unto those duties which, on the principles he hath declared, are utterly inconsistent with Mosaical worship, and this is, our free entrance into the holiest by the blood of Jesus. For an entrance, in any sense, with our worship into the most holy place, is inconsistent with, and destructive of all Mosaical institutions. And this was an effect of the singular wisdom wherewith the apostle was furnished to write this epistle. For had he directly and in terms opposed their observation, no small tumult and outcry would have been made against it, and great provocation had been given unto the unbelieving Jews. But, notwithstanding, he doth the same thing no less effectually in these words, wherein there is scarce a word which that application of his discourse doth not follow upon. And his wisdom herein ought to be an instructive example unto all those that are called unto the instruction of others in the dispensation of the gospel, especially such as through any mistakes do oppose themselves unto the truth. Such things as will give exasperation unto the spirits, or advantage unto the temptations of men, ought to be avoided, or treated on with that wisdom, gentleness, and meekness, as may be no prejudice unto them. This way of procedure doth the same apostle expressly prescribe unto all ministers of the gospel, 2 Timothy 2:23-26.
3. There is in the words the privilege which is the foundation of the duty exhorted unto: “Having therefore boldness to enter into the holiest,” for a regular entrance into or of the most holy. The privilege intended is directly opposed unto the state of things under the law; and from the consideration of it is the nature of it to be learned. For the entrance into the holiest, in the tabernacle, belonged unto the worship of the church, it was the principal part thereof; but it had many imperfections attending it:
(1.) It was not into the special presence of God, but only into a place made with hands, filled with some representations of things that could not be seen.
(2.) None might ever enter into it but the high priest alone, and that only once a-year.
(3.) The body of the people, the whole congregation, were therefore jointly and severally utterly excluded from any entrance into it.
(4.) The prohibition of entrance into this holy place belonged unto that bondage wherein they were kept under the law, which hath been before declared.
The privilege here mentioned being opposed to this state of things among them, which respected their present worship, it is certain that it doth concern the present worship of God by Christ under the gospel. And they are therefore utterly mistaken who suppose the entrance into the most holy to be an entrance into heaven after this life for all believers; for the apostle doth not here oppose the glorious state of heaven unto the church of the Hebrews and their legal services, but the privileges of the gospel-state and worship only. Nor would it have been to his purpose so to have done; for the Hebrews might have said, that although the glory of heaven after this life doth exceed the glories of the services of the tabernacle, which none ever questioned, yet the benefit, use, and efficacy of their present ordinances and worship might be more excellent than any thing that they could obtain by the gospel. Neither were believers then also excluded from heaven after death, any more than now. Therefore the privilege mentioned is that which belongs unto the gospel church in its perfect state in this world. And the exercise and use of it doth consist in our drawing nigh unto God in holy services and worship through Christ, as the apostle declares, verse 22.
There is, then, a twofold opposition in these words unto the state of the people under the law:
(1.) As unto the spirit and frame of mind in the worshippers; and,
(2.) As unto the place of the worship, from whence they were excluded, and whereunto we are admitted.
(1.) The first is in the word παῤῥησίαν , “boldness.” There were two things with respect unto those worshippers in this matter:
[1.] A legal prohibition from entering into the holy place; whereon they had no liberty or freedom so to do, because they were forbidden on several penalties;
[2.] Dread and fear, which deprived them of all boldness or holy confidence in their approaches unto God: therefore the apostle expresseth the contrary frame of believers under the new testament by a word that signifieth both liberty, or freedom from any prohibition, and boldness with confidence in the exercise of that liberty. I have spoken before of the various use and signification of this word παῤῥησία , which the apostle both in this and other epistles useth frequently to express both the right, and liberty, and confidence, unto and in their access unto God, of believers under the new testament, in opposition to the state of them under the old. We have a right unto it, we have liberty without restraint by any prohibition, we have confidence and assurance without dread or fear.
(2.) This liberty we have εἰς τὴν εἴσοδον , προσαγωγή , “aditus,” “introitus,” τῶν ἁγίων , that is, the true sanctuary, the holy place not made with hands; the immediate gracious presence of God himself in Christ Jesus. See Hebrews 9:11-12. Whatever was typically represented in the most holy place of old, we have access unto; that is, unto God himself we have an access in one Spirit by Christ
Obs. 2. This is the great fundamental privilege of the gospel, that believers, in all their holy worship, have liberty, boldness, and confidence, to enter with it and by it into the gracious presence of God.
(1.) They are not hindered by any prohibition. God set bounds unto mount Sinai, that none should pass or break through into his presence in the giving of the law. He hath set none to mount Zion, but all believers have right, title, and liberty to approach unto him, even unto his throne. There is no such order now, that he who draws nigh shall be cut off; but on the contrary, that he that doth not so do shall be destroyed.
(2.) Hence there is no dread, fear, or terror in their minds, hearts, or consciences, when they make their approaches unto God. This was a consequent of the same interdict of the law, which is now taken away. They have not received the spirit of bondage unto fear, but the Spirit of the Son, whereby with holy boldness they cry, “Abba, Father;” for “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty,” they have freedom unto, and confidence in their duties: and therein consists the greatest evidence of our interest in the gospel and privileges thereof.
(3.) The nature of gospel worship consists in this, that it is an entrance with boldness into the presence of God. However men may multiply duties, of what sort or nature soever they be, if they design not in and by them to enter into the presence of God, if they have not some experience that so they do, if they are taken up with other thoughts, and rest in the outward performance of them, they belong not unto evangelical worship. The only exercise of faith in them is in an entrance into the presence of God.
(4.) Our approach unto God in gospel worship, is unto him as evidencing himself in a way of grace and mercy. Hence it is said to be an “entrance into the holiest;” for in the holy place were all the pledges and tokens of God’s grace and favor, as we have manifested upon the foregoing chapter. And as the taking off of the old prohibition gives us liberty, and the institution of the worship of the gospel gives us title unto this privilege, so the consideration of the nature of that presence of God whereunto we approach gives us boldness thereunto.
4. The procuring cause of this privilege is in the next place expressed; we have it ἐν τῷ αἵματι ᾿Ιησοῦ : “by the blood of Jesus,” say we. It is the procuring cause of this privilege that is intended, which is often so proposed. “The blood of Jesus Christ” is the same with his “sacrifice,” the “offering of himself,” or “the offering of his body once for all.” For he offered himself in and by the effusion of his blood, whereby he made atonement for sin; which could not be otherwise effected. And it is here opposed, as also in the whole preceding discourse, unto the blood of the legal sacrifices. They could not procure, they did not effect any such liberty of access unto God in the holy place. This was done by the blood of Jesus only; whereby he accomplished what the sacrifices of the law could not do. And it is a cause of this privilege on a twofold account:
(1.) In its respect unto God, in its oblation.
(2.) In respect unto the consciences of believers, in its application.
(1.) By its oblation it removed and took away all causes of distance between God and believers. It made atonement for them, answered the law, removed the curse, broke down the partition wall, or “the law of commandments contained in ordinances,” wherein were all the prohibitions of approaching unto God with boldness. Hereby also he rent the veil which interposed and hid the gracious presence of God from us. And these things being removed out of the way by the blood of the oblation or offering of Christ, peace being thereby made with God, he procured him to be reconciled unto us, inviting us to accept and make use of that reconciliation by receiving the atonement. Hence believers have boldness to appear before him, and approach unto his presence. See Rom 5:11 ; 2 Corinthians 5:18-21; Ephesians 2:13-18. Hereon was it the procuring, the purchasing cause of this privilege.
(2.) It is the cause of it with respect unto the consciences of believers, in the application of it unto their souls. There are not only all the hinderances mentioned, on the part of God, lying in the way of our access unto him, but also the consciences of men, from a sense of the guilt of sin, were filled with fear and dread of God, and durst not so much as desire an immediate access unto him. The efficacy of the blood of Christ being through believing communicated unto them, takes away all this dread and fear. And this is done principally by his bestowing on them the Holy Spirit, which is a Spirit of liberty, as our apostle shows at large, 2 Corinthians 3:0. Wherefore “we have boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,” on these three accounts:
[1.] In that atonement is made thereby for sin, and peace made with God, so as that he is reconciled unto us; all that anger being turned away that did deter us from any such approach.
[2.] Fear, dread, and bondage, are taken away, so that the acting of faith on God through the blood of Jesus doth expel them, and remove them out of our mind.
[3.] We receive the Holy Spirit therewithal; who is a Spirit of liberty, power, holy boldness, enabling us to cry, “Abba, Father.”
Obs. 3. Nothing but the blood of Jesus could have given this boldness; nothing that stood in the way of it could otherwise have been removed; nothing else could have set our souls at liberty from that bondage that was come upon them by sin.
Obs. 4. Rightly esteem and duly improve the blessed privilege which was purchased for us at so dear a rate. What shall we render unto him? How unspeakable are our obligations unto faith and love!
Obs. 5. Confidence in an access unto God not built on, not resolved into the blood of Christ, is but a daring presumption, which God abhors.
Hebrews 10:20 . Having told us that we have τὴν εἴσοδον , “an entrance” into the holiest, he now declares what the way is whereby we may do so. The way into the holiest under the tabernacle was a passage with blood through the sanctuary, and then a turning aside of the veil, as we have declared before. But the whole church was forbidden the use of this way; and it was appointed for no other end but to signify that in due time there should be a way opened unto believers into the presence of God, which was not yet prepared. And this the apostle describes,
1. From the preparation of it; “which he hath consecrated.”
2. From the properties of it; it was “a new and living way.”
3. From the tendency of it; which he expresseth,
(1.) Typically, or with respect unto the old way under the tabernacle, it was “through the veil;”
(2.) In an exposition of that type, “that is, his flesh.” In the whole, there is a description of the exercise of faith in our access unto God by Christ Jesus: “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh.”
1. The preparation of this way is by an ἐγχαίνισμος , by a “dedication.” The word hath a double signification, one in things natural, the other in things sacred; which yet are of no affinity unto one another. In things natural, it is to new make, so as to be ready for use; in things sacred, it is to dedicate or consecrate any thing, at the first erection or making of it, unto sacred services. The latter sense of the word, which we receive in our translation, is here to be embraced, yet so as it includes the former also. For it is spoken in opposition unto the dedication of the tabernacle, and way into the most holy place, by the blood of sacrifices, whereof we have treated in the ninth chapter. So was this way into the holy place consecrated, dedicated, and set apart sacredly for the use of believers, so as that there neither is, nor ever can be, any other way but by the blood of Jesus. Or there is this also in it, that the way itself was new prepared and made, not being extant before.
Obs. 6. The way of our entrance into the holiest is solemnly dedicated and consecrated for us, so as that with boldness we may make use of it. He hath done it “for us,” for our use, our benefit, and advantage.
2. The properties of this way are two:
(1.) That it is πρόσφατος , “new:”
[1.] Because it was but newly made and prepared;
[2.] Because it belongs unto the new covenant;
[3.] Because it admits of no decays, but is always new, as unto its efficacy and use, as in the day of its first preparation. Whereas that of the tabernacle waxed old, and so was prepared for a removal, this way shall never be altered nor changed, never decay, it is always new.
(2.) Ζῶσαν , it is “living.” This epithet is placed by apposition, without any note of distinction or conjunction. And it is said to be living,
[1.] In opposition unto the way into the holiest under the tabernacle, which was,
1 st. By death. Nothing could be done in it without the blood of the sacrifices.
2 dly . It was the cause of death unto any one that should make use of it, the high priest only excepted, and he but once a-year.
[2.] It is living as unto its efficacy; it is not a dead thing, it is that which hath a spiritual, vital efficacy in our access unto God.
[3.] It is living from its effects; it leads to life, and effectually brings us thereunto, and is the only way of entering into everlasting life.
Obs. 7. All the privileges we have by Christ are great, glorious, and efficacious; all tending and leading unto life. This new and living way of our approach unto God, is nothing but the exercise of faith for acceptance with God by the sacrifice of Christ, according unto the revelation made in the gospel
3. He shows which way it thus leads to the holiest, or what is the tendency of it: it is “through the veil.” The apostle shows here expressly what he alludeth unto in the declaration he makes of our entrance into the holiest. The veil here intended by him was that between the sanctuary and the most holy place, whose description we have given on Hebrews 9:0; for there was no possible entrance thereinto but through that veil, which was turned aside when the high priest entered. What this veil was unto the high priest in his entrance into that holy place, that is the flesh of Christ unto us in ours; as in the last place is described in exposition of this type, “that is, his flesh.”
For the opening of these words, and the vindication of the apostle’s application of this type, we may observe,
(1.) The flesh of Christ, the body of Christ, the blood of Christ, Christ himself, are all mentioned distinctly, as the matter of his sacrifice. See Hebrews 9:14; Hebrews 9:25; Hebrews 9:28; Hebrews 10:10.
(2.) This is done on various respects, to express either the dignity or the efficacy of the nature and manner of his offering.
(3.) In the sacrifice of Christ, the flesh was that which suffered peculiarly, as the great token and evidence of his real sufferings.
(4.) The whole efficacy of his sacrifice is ascribed unto every essential part of the human nature of Christ, in that which either acted or suffered therein; to his soul, Isaiah 53:10; his blood, Hebrews 9:14; his body, verse 10; his flesh, as in this place. For these things were not distinctly operative, one in one effect, another in another, but all of them concurred in his nature and person, which he offered once wholly to God. So that where any of them is mentioned, the whole human nature of Christ, as unto the efficacy of it in his sacrifice, is intended.
(5.) Yet were these things distinctly typified and foresignified in the sacrifices and service of old. So was the flesh of Christ by the veil, as his whole nature by the tabernacle, his soul by the scapegoat, his body and blood by the sin-offering on the day of expiation, when the sacrifice was burnt without the camp.
(6.) Herein in an especial manner was the whole a type of the flesh of Christ, in that there was no entrance to be laid open into the holy place but by the rending of the veil. The time when the high priest entered into it, it was indeed turned aside; whereon it immediately closed again, and forbade an entrance and a prospect unto others. Wherefore there could be no entrance into that holy place abiding, unless the veil was rent and torn in pieces, so that it could close no more. For it came to pans on the death of the Lord Jesus, that “the veil of the temple was rent from the top to the bottom.” And that which is signified hereby is only this, that by virtue of the sacrifice of Christ, wherein his flesh was torn and rent, we have a full entrance into the holy place, such as would have been of old upon the rending of the veil. This, therefore, is the genuine interpretation of this place, ‘We enter with boldness into the most holy place through the veil; that is to say, his flesh:’we do so by virtue of the sacrifice of himself, wherein his flesh was rent, and all hinderances thereby taken away from us; of all which hinderances the veil was an emblem, and principal instance, until it was rent and removed.
The sufficiency of the sacrifice of Christ unto all the ends of the perfection of the church, in all duties and privileges, is that which the apostle instructs us unto herein. And there is great instruction given us, in this comparison of the type and antitype, into the way and nature of our access unto God in all our solemn worship. It is God as he was represented in the holy place to whom we address ourselves peculiarly; that is, God the Father as on a throne of grace: the manner of our access is with holy confidence, grounded solely on the efficacy of the blood or sacrifice of Christ. The way is by faith, as to the removal of the obstacles, and the view of God as reconciled. This is given us by the suffering of Christ in the flesh, which laid open the entrance into the holy place. Wherefore the apostle says not, that the veil was the flesh of Christ, as some pretend who have hence cavilled at the authority of this epistle on no other ground but because they could not apprehend the spiritual light and wisdom that is therein; only he says, we have our entrance into the holy place by virtue of the flesh of Christ, which was rent in his sacrifice, as through the rending of the veil a way was laid open into the holiest.
This is the first encouragement unto the duty exhorted unto, from the benefit and privilege we have by the blood of Christ. Another to the same purpose follows.
Hebrews 10:21 . “And [ having ] a great high priest over the house of God.” “Having,” is understood from Hebrews 10:19; the word whereby the apostle expresseth our relation unto Christ, Hebrews 4:15. He is our priest, he exerciseth that office on our behalf; and our duty it is in all things to be such as becometh this great high priest to own in the discharge of his office. What became him that he might be our high priest, as it is expressed, Hebrews 7:26, shows what we ought to be in our measure that belong unto his care, and that we may say with boldness, “We have an high priest;” which is another encouragement unto the diligent attendance to the duties we are here exhorted unto. For it may be said, ‘That notwithstanding the provision of a new way into the holiest, and boldness given us to enter thereinto, yet in ourselves we know not how to do it, unless we are under the conduct of a priest, as the church of old was in their worship. All those priests being removed, how shall we do now to draw nigh unto God, without such a conduct, such a countenance?’The apostle removes this from them, and gives encouragement for what he had proved to be a duty before, namely, that “we have a great high priest.”
Three things are in the words:
1. That we have a priest;
2. That he is a great priest;
3. That part of his office wherein in this duty we are concerned, which is, that he is over the house of God.
The first hath been spoken unto on many occasions: only the apostle calls him not here, “our high priest,” which he doth most frequently; but “a priest,” with the addition of great, “a great priest,” which answers directly to the Hebrew expression, כֹּהֵן הַגָּדוֹל , as the high priest was called: yet the apostle hath a respect unto his eminency above all other priests whatsoever. He is great in his person, God and man, as he had described him, Hebrews 1:2-3; great in his glorious exaltation, Hebrews 8:1-2; great in his power and the efficacy of his office, Hebrews 7:25; great in honor, dignity, and authority; the consideration whereof leads both unto the confirmation of our faith and the ingenerating of a due reverence in our hearts towards him. For as he is so great as that he can save us unto the uttermost, or give us acceptance before God as unto our persons and our duties; so he is so glorious that we ought to apply ourselves to him with reverence and godly fear.
That which, unto the particular end designed in this place, we ought to consider in his office, is, that he is “over the house of God.” The apostle doth not herein consider the sacrifice of himself, which he proposed as the foundation of the privilege whence the ensuing duty is inferred, but what he is and doth after his sacrifice, now he is exalted in heaven; for this was the second part of the office of the high priest. The first was, to offer sacrifice for the people; the other was, to take the oversight of the house of God: for so it is particularly expressed with respect unto Joshua, who was an eminent type of Christ, Zechariah 3:6-7. The whole care of ordering all things in the house of God was committed to the high priest: so is it now in the hand of Christ; he is over the house of God, to order all things unto the glory of God and the salvation of the church. “The house of God;” that is, the whole house of God, the family of heaven and earth, that part of the church above and that here below, which make up but one house of God. The church here below is comprised in the first place; for unto them it is that this encouragement is given, unto whom this motive of drawing nigh is proposed, namely, as they have a high priest. And it is in the heavenly sanctuary wherein he administereth, or in the house of God above; into which also we do enter by our prayers and sacred worship; so is he for ever over his own house.
Obs. 8. The Lord Christ doth peculiarly preside over all the persons, duties, and worship of believers in the church of God:
1. In that all their worship is of his appointment, and what is not so belongs not to the house of God;
2. In that he assists the worshippers by his Spirit or the performance of this duty;
3. That he makes their services accepted with God;
4. In rendering their worship glorious by the administration of his Spirit, and effectual through the addition of the incense of his intercession. For other things that may be hence educed, see our exposition of Hebrews 4:14-16.
Hebrews 10:22 . “Let us draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.”
The duty is here expressed whereunto these encouragements and privileges do direct and lead. And this duty is described,
1. By the nature of it; “Let us draw near.”
2. The qualification of the persons by whom it is to be performed; “With a true heart.” 3. The manner of its performance; “In full assurance of faith.”
4. The preparation for it: which is twofold;
(1.) That “our hearts be sprinkled from an evil conscience;”
(2.) That “our bodies be washed with pure water.”
1. The duty itself is expressed by προσερχώμεθα , the word whereby the whole performance of all divine, solemn worship was constantly expressed.
For God having fixed the residence of the signs of his presence unto a certain place, namely, that of the tabernacle and altar, none could worship him but it was by an approach, an access, a drawing nigh unto that place, the means of their worship, and the pledges of God’s presence therein. So were they to bring their gifts, their offerings, their sacrifices; every thing wherewith they worshipped in it was an approximation unto God. Now all these things, tabernacle, temple, altar, as we have showed, were types of Christ and the gracious presence of God in him; and they were appointed only unto this end, to teach the church to look for an access to God in and by him alone. Wherefore the apostle tells the Hebrews, that as they had under the old testament an approach unto God, and were then οἱ προσερχόμενοι , “those that came and drew nigh unto him,” yet it was defective in three things:
(1.) That it was by carnal means, “the blood of bulls and goats”
(2.) That it was not unto God himself, but only some outward pledges of his presence.
(3.) That in this access they were always excluded from an entrance into the holiest. This way being now removed, there is that appointed in the room thereof which is liable to none of these defects For,
(1.) It is not by things carnal, but in a holy, spiritual way and manner, as the ensuing description of it doth manifest.
(2.) It is not unto any outward pledges of the divine presence, but immediately unto God himself, even the Father.
(3.) It is into the most holy place itself, the special residence of God, and of our high priest, Christ Jesus. Wherefore this drawing near containeth all the holy worship of the church, both public and private, all the ways of our access unto God by Christ. And the charge given for this duty is the first inference the apostle maketh from the consideration of the benefits we receive by the priesthood and sacrifice of Christ.
2. The principal qualification of the persons exhorted unto this duty, is “a true heart.” God in an especial manner requireth “truth in the inward parts” in all that come unto him, Psalms 51:6. Especially he doth so in his worship, John 4:24. Now truth respects either the mind, and is opposed unto falsehood; or respects the heart and affections, and is opposed to hypocrisy. In the first way all false worship is rejected, all means of the worship of God not of his own institution. But the truth of the heart here intended, is the sincerity of heart which is opposed unto all hypocrisy. Two things are therefore comprised in this qualification:
Obs. 9. That the heart is that which God principally respects in our access unto him. The Hebrews, in their degenerate condition, rested in the outward performance of duties: so as they made their access outwardly according to the institutions and directions of the law, they were regardless of themselves and of the inner man, and of the frame thereof. But it is the heart that God requires; and accordingly, that it be under the conduct of doctrinal truth in the light of the mind, and not only that it be true and free from hypocrisy in the acts of worship that it goes about, but also that in its habitual frame it be holy, and throughout leavened with sincerity. Thence it is denominated “a true heart.” If men be sincere in the acts of worship, but fail of it in point of walking and conversation, they will not be accepted in it.
Obs. 10. Universal, internal sincerity of heart is required of all those that draw nigh unto God in his holy worship. It is so,
(1.) From the nature of God;
(2.) From the nature of the worship itself;
(3.) From the conscience of the worshippers, which can have neither boldness nor confidence without it. What is required unto that sincerity, or “true heart,” without which we cannot freely draw nigh unto God in any duty of his worship, I cannot now declare.
3. There is the way and manner, together with the principle to be acted in all our accesses unto God: ᾿Εν πληροφορία τῆς πίστεως , “In the full assurance of faith.”
(1.) “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” Wherefore faith is required in this access on a twofold account:
[1.] Of the qualification of the person. He must be a true believer who hath this access, all others are utterly excluded from it:
[2.] Of its actual exercise in every particular duty of access. Abel by faith offered his sacrifice; and there is no duty acceptable unto God which is not quickened and enlivened by faith.
(2.) As unto this access unto God by Christ, the apostle requires that there be “a full assurance of faith.” Many have disputed wherein this assurance of faith doth consist, what it is that belongs thereunto. We must consider the design of the apostle and scope of the place, and what they do require. The word is used only in this place, though the verb, πληροφορέω , be used elsewhere, Romans 4:21; Romans 14:5, to signify a full satisfaction of mind in what we are persuaded of. Here two things seem to be included in it.
[1.] That which in other places the apostle expresseth by παῤῥησία which is the word constantly used to declare the frame of mind which is or ought to be in gospel worshippers, in opposition unto that of the law. And it hath two things in it:
1st . An open view of the spiritual glories, of the way and end of our approach unto God; which they had not.
2 dly . Liberty and confidence, liberty of speech, and confidence of being accepted; which in their bondage condition they had not.
Therefore the apostle thus expresseth the way and manner of our approaching to God by Christ, in opposition unto that under the law, and affirms it to be in the full assurance and spiritual boldness of faith. This is the “plerophory” of it; which frame of mind is plainly directed unto.
[2.] A firm and unmovable persuasion concerning the priesthood of Christ, whereby we have this access unto God, with the glory and efficacy of it; faith without wavering. For many of the Hebrews who had received in general the faith of the gospel, yet wavered up and down in their minds about this office of Christ, and the glorious things related of it by the apostle; supposing that there might some place be yet left for the administration of the legal high priest. This frame the apostle confutes; and shows that under it men could have no access to God, nor acceptance with him.
Wherefore the “full assurance of faith” here, respects not the assurance that any have of their own salvation, nor any degree of such an assurance; it is only the full satisfaction of our souls and consciences in the reality and efficacy of the priesthood of Christ to give us acceptance with God, in opposition unto all other ways and means thereof, that is intended. But withal this persuasion is accompanied with an assured trust of our own acceptance with God in and by him, with an acquiescence of our souls therein.
Obs. 11. The actual exercise of faith is required in all our approaches unto God, in every particular duty of his worship. Without this no outward solemnity of worship, no exercise of it will avail us.
Obs. 12. It is faith in Christ alone that gives us boldness of access unto God.
Obs. 13. The person and office of Christ are to be rested in with full assurance in all our accesses to the throne of grace.
4. There is a twofold preparation prescribed unto us for the right discharge of this duty:
(1.) That “our hearts be sprinkled from an evil conscience.”
(2.) That “our bodies be washed with pure water.”
It is plain that the apostle in these expressions alludeth unto the necessary preparations for divine service under the law. For whereas there were various ways whereby men were legally defiled, so there were means appointed for their legal purification, which we have declared on Hebrews 9:0. Without the use and application of those purifications, if any of them that were so defiled did draw nigh unto the worship of God, he was to die, or be “cut off.” These institutions the apostle doth not only allude unto, and make application of things outward and carnal unto things inward and spiritual, but withal declares what was their nature and typical administration. They were not appointed for their own sakes, but to typify and represent the spiritual grace, and its efficacy, which we receive by the sacrifice of Christ. The subject spoken of is twofold:
(1.) The heart;
(2.) The body; that is, the inward and outward man.
(1.) As unto the first, it is required that, with respect unto it, it be separated from an evil conscience. There is no doubt but in this place, as in many others, the “heart” is taken for all the faculties of our souls, with our affections; for it is that wherein conscience is seated, wherein it acts its power, which it doth especially in the practical understanding, as the affections are ruled and guided thereby.
This conscience is affirmed to be “evil,” antecedently unto the means proposed for the taking it away. Conscience, as conscience, is not to be separated from the heart; but as it is evil, it must be so.
Conscience may be said to be evil on two accounts:
[1.] As it disquieteth, perplexeth, judgeth, and condemneth for sin. In this sense the apostle speaks of conscience, verse 2, a conscience condemning us for sin, which the sacrifices of the law could not take away. So a heart with an evil conscience, is a heart terrified and condemning for sin.
[2.] On account of a vitiated principle in the conscience, not performing its duty, but secure when it is filled with all unclean, vicious habits. And hereon it signifies also all those secret, latent sins in the heart, which are known only to a man’s own conscience; opposed unto the “body,” or external, known sins, which he speaks of afterwards. I take it here in the latter sense:
1 st . Because it is said to be “evil,” which it cannot be with respect unto its former acts and power, for it doth therein but perform its duty, and is evil not in itself, but unto them in whom it is. And,
2 dly . The way of its removal is by, “sprinkling,” and not by an oblation or offering; now sprinkling is the efficacious application of the blood of atonement unto sanctification, or internal purification.
And this is the first thing in particular, namely, the way or means of the removal of this evil conscience; which is by sprinkling of our hearts. The expression is taken from the sprinkling of blood upon the offering of the sacrifices, Exodus 29:16; Exodus 29:21; Leviticus 4:17; Leviticus 14:7: the spiritual interpretation and application whereof is given us, Ezekiel 36:25. And whereas this sprinkling from sin, and cleansing thereby, is in Ezekiel ascribed unto pure water, and whereas it was in the type the blood of the sacrifice that was sprinkled, it gives us the sense of the whole. For as the blood of the sacrifice was a type of the blood and sacrifice of Christ as offered unto God, so it is the Holy Spirit and his efficacious work that are denoted by “pure water,” as is frequently promised. Wherefore, this sprinkling of our hearts is an act of the sanctifying power of the Holy Ghost, by virtue of the blood and sacrifice of Christ, in making of that application of them unto our souls wherein the blood of Christ, the Son of God, cleanseth us from all our sins. Hereby are “our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience;”
[1.] Originally, in the communication of regenerating, sanctifying grace;
[2.] Continually, in fresh applications of the virtue of the blood of Christ, for the taking away of the defilement by internal, actual sin.
Obs. 14. Although that worship whereby we draw nigh unto God be performed with respect to institution and rule, yet without internal sanctification of heart we are not accepted in it.
Obs. 15. Due preparation, by fresh applications of our souls unto the efficacy of the blood of Christ for the purification of our hearts, that we may be meet to draw nigh to God, is required of us. This the apostle hath especial respect unto; and the want of it is the bane of public worship. Where this is not, there is no due reverence of God, no sanctification of his name, nor any benefit to be expected unto our own souls.
Obs. 16. In all wherein we have to do with God, we are principally to regard those internal sins we are conscious of unto ourselves, but which are hidden from all others.
(2.) The last thing required of us in order to the duty exhorted unto, is, that “our bodies be washed with pure water.” This at first view would seem to refer unto the outward administration of the ordinance of baptism, required of all antecedently unto their orderly conjunction unto a church-state in the causes of it; and so it is carried by many expositors. But,
[1.] The apostle Peter tells us that saving baptism doth not consist in the washing away of the filth of the body, 1 Peter 3:21; therefore the expression here must be figurative, and not proper.
[2.] Although the sprinkling and washing spoken of do principally respect our habitual, internal qualification, by regenerating, sanctifying grace, yet they include also the actual, gracious, renewed preparation of our hearts and minds, with respect unto all our solemn approaches unto God; but baptism cannot be repeated.
[3.] Whereas the sprinkling of the heart from an evil conscience respects the internal and unknown sins of the mind; so this of washing the body doth the sins that are outwardly acted and perpetrated. And the body is said to be washed from them,
1st . Because they are outward, in opposition unto those that are only inherent, in the mind.
2dly . Because the body is the instrument of the perpetration of them; hence are they called “deeds of the body;” the “members of the body;” our “earthly members,” Romans 3:13-15; Romans 8:13, Colossians 3:3-5.
3 dly . Because the body is defiled by them, by some of them in an especial manner, 1 Corinthians 6:0.
Pure water, wherewith the body is to be washed, is that which is promised, Ezekiel 36:25-26; the assistance of the sanctifying Spirit, by virtue of the sacrifice of Christ. Hereby all those sins which cleave unto our outward conversation are removed and washed away; for we are sanctified thereby in our whole spirits, souls, and bodies. And that scripture respects the deeds of sin; as unto a continuation of their commission, he shall keep and preserve us. We are so by the grace of Christ, and thereby we keep and preserve ourselves from all outward and actual sins, that nothing may appear upon us, as the bodies of them who, having wallowed in the mire, are now washed with pure water; for the body is placed as the instrument of the defilement of the soul in such sins.
Obs. 17. Universal sanctification, upon our whole persons, and the mortification in an especial manner of outward sins, are required of us in our drawing nigh unto God.
Obs. 18. These are the ornaments wherewith we are to prepare our souls for it, and not the gaiety of outward apparel.
Obs. 19. It is a great work to draw nigh unto God, so as to “worship him in spirit and in truth.”
Hebrews 10:23 . “Let us hold fast the profession of [ our ] faith without wavering; (for he [ is ] faithful that promised.)”
This is the second exhortation which the apostle educeth by way of inference from the principles of truth which he had before declared and confirmed. And it is the substance or end of the whole parenetical or hortatory part of the epistle; that for the obtaining whereof the whole doctrinal part of it was written, which gives life and efficacy unto it. Wherefore he spends the whole remainder of the epistle in the pressing and confirming of this exhortation; on a compliance wherewith the eternal condition of our souls doth depend. And this he doth, partly by declaring the means whereby we may be helped in the discharge of this duty; partly by denouncing the eternal ruin and sure destruction that will follow the neglect of it; partly by encouragements from our own former experiences, and the strength of our faith; and partly by evidencing unto us in a multitude of examples, how we may overcome the difficulty that would occur unto us in this way, with other various cogent reasonings; as we. shall see, if God pleaseth, in our progress.
In these words there is a duty prescribed, and an encouragement added unto it.
First, As unto the duty itself, we must inquire,
1. What is meant by “the profession of our faith.”
2. What is meant by “holding it fast.”
3. What it is to “hold it fast without wavering.”
1. Some copies read τῆν ὁμολογίαν τῆς ἐλπίδος , the “profession of our hope;” which the Vulgar follows, “the profession of the hope that is in us:” and so it may have a respect unto the exhortation used by the apostle, Hebrews 3:6. And it will come unto the same with our reading of it; for on our faith our hope is built, and is an eminent fruit thereof. Wherefore holding fast our hope, includes in it the holding fast of our faith, as the cause is in the effect, and the building in the foundation. But I prefer the other reading, as that which is more suited unto the design of the apostle, and his following discourse; and which his following confirmations of this exhortation do directly require, and which is the proper subject of our ὁμολογία , or “profession.” See Hebrews 3:1.
“Faith” is here taken in both the principal acceptations of it, namely, that faith whereby we believe, and the faith or doctrine which we do believe. Of both which we make the same profession; of one as the inward principle, of the other as the outward rule. Of the meaning of the word itself, ὁμολογία , or joint profession, I have treated largely, Hebrews 3:1. This solemn profession of our faith is twofold:
(2.) By the way of continuation, in all the acts and duties required thereunto.
(1.) The first is a solemn giving up of ourselves unto Christ, in a professed subjection unto the gospel, and the ordinances of divine worship therein contained. This of old was done by all men, at their first accession unto God, in the assemblies of the church. The apostle calls it “the beginning of our confidence,” or subsistence in Christ and the church, Hebrews 3:14. And it was ordinarily, in the primitive times, accompanied with excellent graces and privileges. For,
[1.] God usually gave them hereon great joy and exultation, with peace in their own minds: 1 Peter 2:9, “Hath translated us out of darkness into his marvellous light.” The glorious, marvellous light whereinto they were newly translated out of darkness, the evidence which they had of the truth and reality of the things that they believed and professed, the value they had for the grace of God in their high and heavenly calling, the greatness and excellency of the things made known unto them, and believed by them, were the means whereby they were “filled with joy unspeakable and full of glory.” And respect is had unto this frame of heart in this exhortation. For it is apt on many accounts to decay and be lost; but when it is so we lose much of the glory of our profession.
[2.] They had hereon some such communication of the Spirit in gifts or graces, as was a seal unto them of the promised inheritance, Ephesians 1:13. And although what was extraordinary herein is ceased, and not to be looked after, yet if Christians, in their initial dedication of themselves unto Christ and the gospel, did attend unto their duty in a due manner, or were affected with their privileges as they ought, they would have experience of this grace, and advantage in ways suitable unto their own state and condition.
(2.) The continuation of their profession first solemnly made, in avowing the faith on all just occasions, in attendance on all duties of worship required in the gospel, in professing their faith in the promises of God by Christ, and thereon cheerfully undergoing afflictions, troubles, and persecutions, on the account thereof, is this “profession of our faith” that is exhorted unto.
2. What is it to “hold fast this profession?” The words we so render are κατέχω , κρατέω , and sometimes ἔχω singly, as 1 Thessalonians 5:21. Κατέχω and κρατέω are indefinitely used to this end, Hebrews 3:6, Revelation 2:25; Revelation 3:11. So that which is here κατέχωμεν τὴν ὁμολογίαν , is κρατῶμεν τῆς ὁμολογίας , Hebrews 4:14. And there is included in the sense of either of these words,
(1.) A supposition of great difficulty, with danger and opposition, against this holding the profession of our faith.
(2.) The putting forth of the utmost of our strength and endeavors in the defense of it.
(3.) A constant perseverance in it, denoted in the word keep; possess it with constancy.
3. This is to be done “without wavering;” that is, the profession must be immovable and constant. The frame of .mind which this is opposed unto is expressed, James 1:6, διακρινόμενος , “one that is always disputing,” and tossed up and down with various thoughts in his mind, not coming to a fixed resolution or determination. He is like a wave of the sea, which sometimes subsides and is quiet, and sometimes is tossed one way or another, as it receives impressions from the wind. There were many in those days who did hesitate in the profession of the doctrine of the gospel; sometimes they inclined unto it and embraced it; sometimes they returned again unto Judaism; and sometimes they would reconcile and compound the two covenants, the two religions, the two churches together, with which sort of men our apostle had great contention. As men’s minds waver in these things, so their profession wavers; which the apostle here condemneth, and opposeth unto that “full assurance of faith” which he requireth in us. ᾿Ακλινής is, “not to be bent one way or another,” by impressions made from any things or causes; but to abide firm, fixed, stable, in opposition to them. And it is opposed unto,
(1.) A halting between two opinions, God or Baal, Judaism or Christianity, truth or error. This is to waver doctrinally.
(2.) Unto a weakness or irresolution of mind as unto a continuance in the profession of faith against difficulties and oppositions.
(3.) To a yielding in the way of compliance, on any point of doctrine or worship contrary unto or inconsistent with the faith we have professed. In which sense the apostle would not give place, “no, not for an hour,” unto them that taught circumcision.
(4.) To final apostasy from the truth, which this wavering up and down, as the apostle intimates in his following discourse, brings unto.
Wherefore it includes positively,
(1.) A firm persuasion of mind as to the truth of the faith whereof we have made profession.
(2.) A constant resolution to abide therein and adhere thereunto, against all oppositions.
(3.) Constancy and diligence in the performance of all the duties which are required unto the continuation of this profession. This is the sum and substance of that duty which the apostle with all sorts of arguments presseth on the Hebrews in this epistle, as that which was indispensably necessary unto their salvation.
Obs. 20. There is an internal principle of saving faith required unto our profession of the doctrine of the gospel, without which it will not avail.
Obs. 21. All that believe ought solemnly to give themselves up unto Christ and his rule, in an express profession of the faith that is in them and required of them.
Obs. 22. There will great difficulties arise in, and opposition be made unto, a sincere profession of the faith.
Obs. 23. Firmness and constancy of mind, with our utmost diligent endeavors, are required unto an acceptable continuance in the profession of the faith.
Obs. 24. Uncertainty and wavering of mind as to the truth and doctrine we profess, or neglect of the duties wherein it doth consist, or compliance with errors for fear of persecution and sufferings, doth overthrow our profession, and render it useless.
Obs. 25. As we ought not on any account to decline our profession, so to abate of the degrees of fervency of spirit therein is dangerous unto our souls.
Secondly, Upon the proposal of this duty, the apostle in his passage interposeth an encouragement unto it, taken from the assured benefit and advantage that should be obtained thereby: “For,” saith he, “he is faithful that hath promised.” And we may observe, in the opening of these words, the nature of the encouragement given us in them.
1. It is God alone who promiseth. He alone is the author of all gospel promises; by him are they given unto us, 2 Peter 1:4, Titus 1:2. Hence in the sense of the gospel, this is a just periphrasis of God, “He who hath promised.”
2. The promises of God are of that nature in themselves, as are suited unto the encouragement of all believers unto constancy and final perseverance in the profession of the faith. They are so, whether we respect them as they contain and exhibit present grace, mercy, and consolation; or as those which propose unto us things eternal in the future glorious reward.
3. The efficacy of the promises unto this end depends upon the faithfulness of God who gives them. “With him is neither variableness nor shadow of turning.” “The Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent.” God’s faithfulness is the unchangeableness of his purpose and the counsel of his will, proceeding from the immutability of his nature, as accompanied with almighty power for their accomplishment, as declared in the word. See Hebrews 6:18; Titus 1:2.
This, therefore, is the sense of the apostle’s reason unto the end he aims at:
‘Consider,’saith he, ‘the promises of the gospel, their incomparable greatness and glory: in their enjoyment consists our eternal blessedness; and they will all of them be in all things accomplished towards those who hold fast their profession, seeing he who hath promised them is absolutely faithful and unchangeable.’
Obs. 26. The faithfulness of God in his promises is the great encouragement and supportment, under our continual profession of our faith against all oppositions.
Καὶ κατανοῶμεν ἀλλήλους εἰς παροξυσμὸν ἀγάπησ καὶ καλῶν ἔργων .
Hebrews 10:24 . And let us consider one another, to provoke unto love and good works.
Love and good works are the fruits, effects, and evidences, of the sincere profession of saving faith; wherefore a diligent attendance unto them is an effectual means of our constancy in our profession. This, therefore, the apostle in the next place exhorts unto, and thence declares the manner whereby we may be excited and enabled unto them. And there is in the words,
1. A profession of a duty, as a means unto another end.
2. The declaration of that end, namely, by and upon that consideration, to “provoke one another to love and good works.”
1. Κατανοῶμεν ἀλλήλους . The word hath been opened on Hebrews 3:1. A diligent inspection into, a heedful consideration of mind, intent ripen it, in opposition unto common, careless, transient thoughts about it, is intended. The object of it here is not things, but persons; “one another.” And herein the apostle supposeth,
(1.) That those unto whom he wrote had a deep concernment in one another, their present temporal and future eternal state. Without this, the mere consideration of one another would only be a fruitless effect of curiosity, and tend unto many evils.
(2.) That they had also communion together about those things without which this duty could not be rightly discharged. For it was not then in the world as it is now; but all Christians, who were joined in church societies, did meet together for mutual communion in those things wherein their edification was concerned, as is declared in the next verse.
(3.) That they judged themselves obliged to watch over one another as unto steadfastness in profession and fruitfulness in love and good works. Hence they knew it to be their duty to admonish, to exhort, to provoke, to encourage one another. Without this, the mere consideration of one another is of no use.
On these suppositions, this consideration respects the gifts, the graces, the temptations, the dangers, the seasons and opportunities for duty, the manner of the walking of one another in the church, and in the world. For this consideration is the foundation of all those mutual duties of warning, or admonition and exhorting, which tend to the encouragement and strengthening of one another. But these duties are now generally lost among us; and with them is the glory of the Christian religion departed.
2. The special kind of this duty, as here pressed by the apostle, is, that it is used εἰς παροξυσμὸν ἀγάπης καὶ καλῶν ἔργων , “unto the provocation of love and good works;” that is, as we have rendered the words, “to provoke” (that is, “one another”) “unto love and good works.” “Provocation” is commonly used in an ill sense, namely, for the imbittering of the spirit of another, moving anger, sorrow, and disquietment and impatience of mind. So 1 Samuel 1:6-7. To provoke one, is to imbitter his spirit, and to stir him up unto anger. And when any provocation is high, we render it “strife,” or “contention,” such as whereby the spirits of men are imbittered one towards another, Acts 15:39. Howbeit it is used sometimes for an earnest and diligent excitation of the minds or spirits of men unto that which is good. See Romans 11:14. So it is here used, And there is more in it than a bare mutual exhortation; there is an excitation of spirit, by exhortation, example, rebuke, until it be warmed unto a duty. This is the great end of the communion that is among Christians in the mutual consideration of one another: considering the circumstances, conditions, walkings, abilities for usefulness, of one another, they do excite one another unto love and good works; which is called the provocation of them, or the stirring up of the minds of men unto them. This was the way and practice of the Christians of old, but is now generally lost, with most of the principles of practical obedience, especially those which concern our mutual edification, as if they had never been prescribed in the gospel.
The duties themselves which they are thus mutually to provoke one another unto, are, “love and good works.” And they are placed by the apostle in their proper order; for love is the spring and fountain of all acceptable good works. Of mutual love among believers, which is that here intended, as unto the nature and causes of it, and motives unto it, I have treated at large, Hebrews 6:0. The “good works” intended are called here καλά ; usually they are ἀγαθά . Those which are most commendable and praiseworthy are intended, such as are most useful unto others, such as whereby the gospel is most exalted; works proceeding from the shining light of truth, wherein God is glorified.
Obs. 1. The mutual watch of Christians, in the particular societies whereof they are members, is a duty necessary unto the preservation of the profession of the faith.
Obs. 2. A due consideration of the circumstances, abilities, temptations, and opportunities for duties, in one another, is required hereunto.
Obs. 3. Diligence in mutual exhortation unto gospel duties, that men on all grounds of reason and example may be provoked unto them, is required of us, and is a most excellent duty, which in an especial manner we ought to attend unto.
Μὴ ἐγκαταλείποντες τὴν ἐπισυναγωγἡν ἑαυτῶν , καθὼς ἔθοσ τισὶν , ἀλλὰ παρακαλοῦντες , καὶ τοσούτῳ μᾶλλον ὅσῳ βλέπετε ἐγγίζουσαν τὴν ἡμέραν .
Hebrews 10:25 . Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some [is;] but exhorting [ one another: ] and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
The words contain an enforcement of the preceding exhortation, in a caution against what is contrary thereunto, or the neglect of the general duty, which is the principal means to further us in all the things that we are exhorted unto, and without which some of them cannot at all be performed. And there is in the words, 1. The neglect and evil which they are cautioned against; that is, “forsaking the assembling of ourselves.” 2. This is exemplified,
(1.) In an instance of some that were guilty of it; “As is the manner of some.”
(2.) By the contrary duty; “But exhorting one another.”
(3.) The degree of this duty; “So much the more.”
(4.) The motive unto that degree; “As ye see the day approaching.” In the FIRST there is,
1 . The thing spoken of, ἐπισυναγωγὴν ἑαυτῶν , well rendered by us, “the assembling of ourselves together;” for it is not the church-state absolutely, but the actual assemblies of believers, walking together in that state, which the apostle intends. For as the church itself is originally the seat and subject of all divine worship, so the actual assemblies of it are the only way and means for the exercise and performance of it. These assemblies were of two sorts:
(1.) Stated, on the Lord’s day, or first day of the week, 1 Corinthians 16:2; Acts 20:7.
(2.) Occasional, as the duties or occasions of the church did require, 1 Corinthians 5:4.
(1.) The due performance of all solemn stated, orderly, evangelical worship, in prayer, preaching of the word, singing of psalms, and the administration of the sacraments.
(2.) The exercise of discipline, or the watch of the church over its members, with respect unto their walking and conversation, that in all things it be such as becomes the gospel, and give no offense: so to admonish, exhort, and “provoke one another to love and good works;” to comfort, establish, and encourage them that were afflicted or persecuted; to relieve the poor, etc. Such assemblies were constantly observed in the first churches. How they came to be lost is not unknown, though how they may and ought to be revived is difficult.
Two things are evident herein:
(1.) That those assemblies, those comings together in one place, were the only way whereby the church, as a church, made its profession of subjection unto the authority of Christ in the performance of all those duties of sacred worship whereby God was to be glorified under the gospel. Wherefore a voluntary neglect and relinquishment of those assemblies destroys any church-state, if it be persisted in.
(2.) That those assemblies were the life, the food, the nourishment of their souls; without which they could neither attend unto the discipline of Christ, nor yield obedience unto his commands, nor make profession of his name as they ought, nor enjoy the benefit of evangelical institutions: whereas in a due observance of them consisted the trial of their faith in the sight of God and man. For as unto God, whatever reserves men may have in their minds, that they would still continue to believe in Christ though they attended not unto his discipline in these assemblies, he regards it not; because therein men do openly prefer their own temporal safety before his glory. And as unto men, it is not so much faith itself, as the profession of it in those assemblies that they hate, oppose, and persecute. Wherefore believers in all ages have constantly ventured their lives in the observance of them through a thousand difficulties and dangers, esteeming them always aliens from their communion by whom they were neglected.
2. Wherefore, secondly, the apostle’s charge concerning those assemblies is, that we should not forsake them. There is a twofold forsaking of these assemblies: (1.) That which is total, which is the fruit and evidence of absolute apostasy.
(2.) That which is so partially only, in want of diligence and conscientious care in a constant attendance unto them according as the rule and their institution do require. It is the latter that the apostle here intends, as the word in part signifies; and of the former he speaks in the following verses. And this is usually done on some of these accounts:
[1.] From fear of suffering. These assemblies were those which exposed them unto sufferings, as those whereby they made their profession visible, and evidenced their subjection unto the authority of Christ; whereby the unbelieving world is enraged. This in all ages hath prevailed on many, in the times of trial and persecution, to withdraw themselves from those assemblies; and those who have done so are those “fearful and unbelieving”
ones who in the first place are excluded from the new Jerusalem, Revelation 21:8. In such a season, all the arguings of flesh and blood will arise in the minds of men, and be promoted with many specious pretences: life, liberty, enjoyment in this world, will all put in to be heard; reserves concerning their state in this frame, with resolutions to return unto their duty when the storm is over; pleas and arguments that these assemblies are not so necessary, but that God will be merciful unto them in this thing. All which, and the like false reasonings, do carry them away to ruin. For notwithstanding all these vain pleas, the rule is peremptory against these persons. Those who, as to their houses, lands, possessions, relations, liberty, life, prefer them before Christ, and the duties which they owe to him, and his glory, have no interest in gospel promises. Whatever men pretend that they believe, if they confess him not before men, he will deny them before his Father which is in heaven.
[2.] Spiritual sloth, with the occasions of this life, is the cause in many of this sinful neglect. Other things will offer themselves in competition with the diligent attendance unto these assemblies, If men stir not up themselves, and shake off the weight that lies upon them, they will fall under a woful neglect as unto this and all other important duties. Such persons as are influenced by them will make use of many specious pleas, taken for the most part from their occasions and necessities. These things they will plead with men, and there is no contending with them. But let them go to Christ and plead them immediately unto himself, and then ask of themselves how they suppose they are accepted. He requires that we should attend unto these assemblies diligently, as the principal way and means of doing that and observing that which he commands us, the certain, indispensable rule of our obedience unto him. Will it be accepted with him, if, in a neglect of that, we should say unto him, we would have done so indeed, but that one thing or other, this business, this diversion, this or that attendance in our callings, would not suffer us so to do? This may, indeed, fall out sometimes where the heart is sincere; but then it will be troubled at it, and watch for the future against the like occasions. But where this is frequent, and every trivial diversion is embraced unto a neglect of this duty, the heart is not upright before God, the man draws back in the way unto perdition.
[3.] Unbelief working gradually towards the forsaking of all profession.
This is the first way, for the most part, whereby “an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God” doth evidence itself; which the apostle on this consideration warns the Hebrews of, Hebrews 3:0. I say, hereby usually it first evidenceth itself. It hath unquestionably put forth its power before, within, and in a neglect of private duties, but hereby it first evidenceth itself unto others And if this course, from this principle, be persisted in, total apostasy lies at the door; whereof we have multiplied instances.
Obs. 1. Great diligence is required of us in a due attendance unto the assemblies of the church for the ends of them, as they are instituted and appointed by Jesus Christ. The benefit we receive by them, the danger of their neglect, sense of the authority of Christ, concernment of his glory in them, with the vanity of the pretences for their neglect, call aloud for this diligence.
Obs. 2. The neglect of the authority and love of Christ in the appointment of the means of our edification, will always tend to great and ruinous evils.
3. The apostle exemplifies the sin which he warns them against, in an instance of those who are guilty of it: “As the manner of some is.” The church of the Hebrews, especially that at Jerusalem, had been exposed to great trials and persecutions, as the apostle declares verses 32, 33. During this state, some of the members of it, even in those early days, began so far to decline from their profession as not to frequent the assemblies of the church. They were afraid to be taken at a meeting, or that their known persecuting neighbors should take notice of them as they went unto or came from their assemblies. And it should seem they were not a few who were fallen into this sinful neglect; for the apostle speaks of it as a thing which was well known among themselves Again, there were among the Hebrews at that time great disputes about the continuance of the temple- worship, with the rites and ceremonies of it, which many were entangled withal; and as that error prevailed in their minds, so did they begin gradually to neglect and forsake the worship and duties of the gospel; which ended with many in fatal apostasy. To prevent the effects of these two evils was the principal design of the apostle in writing this epistle, which is filled with cogent arguments against them. This was the later cause of their declension, before intimated, namely, unbelief secretly inclining unto a-departure from the living God. And this is marked here as the ordinary beginning of an entrance into final apostasy, namely, that men do forsake the assemblies of the saints. Only observe, that it is not an occasional dereliction of them, but that which they accustomed themselves unto; it was ἔθος , their “manner,” it was an ordinary way and manner of walking, which they accustomed themselves unto.
Obs. 3. No church-order, no outward profession, can secure men from apostasy. Persons were guilty of this crime in the first, the best, the purest churches.
Obs. 4. Perfection, freedom from offense, scandal, and ruinous evils, is not to be expected in any church in this world.
Obs. 5. Men that begin to decline their duty in church relations ought to be marked, and their ways avoided.
Obs. 6. Forsaking of church assemblies is usually an entrance into apostasy.
SECONDLY, The apostle illustrates this great evil by the contrary duty: ᾿Αλλὰ παρακαλοῦντες . All the duties of these assemblies, especially those which are useful and needful to prevent backsliding and preserve from apostasy, are proposed under this one, which is the head and chief of them all.
The nature of this mutual exhortation among Christian believers in church societies hath been discoursed on Hebrews 3:0: Here it is opposed unto the evil dehorted from, “Forsake not, ...... but exhort one another.” Wherefore it is comprehensive of the general nature of all the duties of believers in church societies, and it hath a special respect unto constancy and perseverance in the profession of the faith, and diligent attendance unto the duties of gospel-worship, as is evident from the whole context This is the duty of all professors of the gospel, namely, to persuade, to encourage, to exhort one another unto constancy in profession, with resolution and fortitude of mind against difficulties, dangers, and oppositions; a duty which a state of persecution will teach them, who intend not to leave any thing of Christ’s. And it is never the more inconsiderable because the practice of it is almost lost out of the world, as we said before.
The motive unto these duties is, “the approach of the day.” Wherein we have,
1. A degree added unto the performance of these duties from this motive, Τοσούτῳ μᾶλλον , “So much the more.”
2. The motive itself, which is, “The approach of the day.”
3. The evidence they had of it, “Ye see.”
1. There is from this motive an especial degree to be added unto the performance of the duties before mentioned. ‘They are such as ought always to be attended unto, howbeit this is a season wherein it is our duty to double our diligence about them.’For this, “so much the rather,” refers distinctly unto all the duties before mentioned, being to be repeated, ἀπὸ τοῦ κοινοῦ . Wherefore, although the word of Christ, in his institutions and commands, doth make duties constantly in their performance necessary unto us, yet there are warnings and works of Christ whose consideration ought to excite us unto a peculiar diligence in attendance unto them. And,
(1.) Such warnings of Christ there are unto his church, both by his word and by his providence. For although he speaks not now immediately unto them by revelations, yet he speaks unto them mediately in his word. All the warnings he hath left on record in the Scripture, given unto his churches in the various conditions wherein they were, as, for instance, those in the second and third of the Revelation, are given likewise unto all the churches now that are in the same state or condition wherein they were. And he doth it by his providence, in threatenings, efficacious trials, and persecutions, 1 Corinthians 11:30-32.
(2.) The principal end of these warnings is, to stir us up unto more diligence in attendance unto the duties of his worship in the assemblies of the church; as is manifest in all his dealings with the seven churches, as types of all others. For,
[1.] Our neglect therein is the cause of that displeasure which he in his warnings and trials calls us unto: “For this cause many are weak and sickly, and many sleep.” “Because thou art lukewarm, I will do so and so.”
[2.] Because without a diligent care we cannot pass through trials of any nature, in persecution, in public calamities, unto his glory and our own safety; for by a neglect of these duties all graces will decay, carnal fears will prevail, counsel and help will be wanting, and the soul will be betrayed into innumerable dangers and perplexities.
[3.] Without it, it will not be to the glory of Christ to evidence his presence amongst them in their trials, or give deliverance to them.
Wherefore we may consider what belongs unto this, “and so much the rather,” what additions unto our performance of those duties is required from this motive:
(1.) A recovery of ourselves from outward neglects in attendance upon church-assemblies. Such there have been amongst us, on various pretences: which if, on renewed warnings, we recover not ourselves from, we are in danger of eternal ruin; for so the case is stated in this place.
(2.) A diligent inquiry into all the duties which belong to the assemblies of believers is comprised here by the apostle, under the general head of mutual consideration, provocation, and exhortation, that we be not found defective through our ignorance and unacquaintedness with what he doth require.
(3.) Spiritual diligence in stirring up our hearts and minds unto sincerity, zeal, and delight in the performance of them; in all laboring after a recovery from our decays and backslidings: which is the design of most of the epistles of Christ unto the seven churches. Wherefore,
Obs. 7. When especial warnings do not excite us unto renewed diligence in known duties, our condition is dangerous as unto the continuance of the presence of Christ amongst us.
2. The motive itself is, “the approach of the day.” Concerning which we must inquire,
(1.) What day it is that is intended.
(2.) How it did approach. And then, how it did evidence itself so to be, as they saw it.
(1.) The day, τὴν ἡμέραν , “an eminent day.” The rule whereby we may determine what day is intended is this: It was such a day as was a peculiar motive unto the Hebrews, in their present circumstances, to attend diligently unto the due performance of gospel duties. It is not such a day, such a motive, as is always common to all, but only unto those who are in some measure in the same circumstances with them. Wherefore it is neither the day of death personally unto them, nor the day of the future judgment absolutely that is intended: for these are common unto all equally, and at all times, and are a powerful motive in general unto the performance of gospel duties; but not an especial, peculiar motive at some time unto peculiar diligence. Wherefore this day was no other but that fearful and tremendous day, a season four the destruction of Jerusalem, the temple, city, and nation of the Jews, which our Savior had forewarned his disciples of, and which they had in continual expectation.
But it may be said, ‘How should the approach of this day, wherein all things seem to be dissolved, the church to be scattered, the whole nation to be consumed with blood and fire, be a motive unto redoubled diligence in attendance unto the duties of Christian assemblies? It should now seem rather to have been a time for every one to shift for himself and his family, than to leave all at uncertainties, and unto ruin, whilst they looked after those assemblies.’
Ans. [1.] Whatever desolations and destructions may be approaching, our best and wisest frame will be to trust unto God, in the discharge of our duty. All other contrivances will prove not only vain and foolish, but destructive unto our souls. The day here intended was coming on the city and nation for their neglect and contempt of the gospel; it was the revenge of their murder, unbelief, and obstinacy against Christ: wherefore if any that made profession of the gospel were now negligent and careless in the known duties of it, they could have no evidence or satisfaction in their own minds that they should not fall in the fire of that day. They who will in any degree partake of men’s sins, must in some degree or other par take of their plagues. [2.] It is impossible that men should go or be carried through a day of public calamity, a destructive day, comfortably and cheerfully, without a diligent attendance unto those known duties of the gospel.. For,
1 st . The guilt of this neglect will seize upon them when their trial shall come; and they will wish, when it is too late, that they had kept at a distance from it.
2 dly . Let men pretend what they will, this decay in those duties argues and evidenceth a decay in all graces, which they will find weak, and unfit to carry them through their trials; which will bring them unto an unspeakable loss in their own minds.
3dly . The Lord Christ requireth this from us in a way of testimony unto him, that we are found faithful in our adherence unto his institutions upon the approach of such a day; for hereby do we evidence both the subjection of our souls unto him, as also that we value and esteem the privilege of the gospel above all other things.
4 thly . Because the duties prescribed, in a right discharge of them, are the great means for the strengthening and supporting of our souls in that part of the trial which we are to undergo.
For such a day as that intended hath fire in it, to try every man’s work of what sort it is, and every man’s grace both as to its sincerity and power.
Therefore all ways and means whereby our works may be tried and our graces exercised are required of us in such a season. Wherefore,
Obs. 8. Approaching judgments ought to influence unto especial diligence in all evangelical duties.
(2.) How did this day approach? It was approaching, coming, drawing nigh, it was “in procinctu,” gradually coming upon them: warnings of it, dispositions towards it, intimations of its coming, were given them every day. This I have before given an account of, and how the drawings nigh of this day were upon them when this epistle was written, and how in a short time it brake forth upon them in all its severity.
3. And these things were so evident, as that, in the last place, the apostle takes it for granted that they themselves did see openly and evidently the approaching day. And it did so in these five things:
(1.) In the accomplishment of the signs of its coming foretold by our Savior. Compare Matthew 24:9, etc., with verses 32-34 of this chapter. And besides, all the other signs mentioned by our Savior were entering on their accomplishment.
(2.) In that things were at a great stand as unto the progress of the gospel among the Hebrews. At the first preaching of it “multitudes” were converted unto Christ, and the word continued in efficacy towards them for some season afterwards; but now, as our apostle plainly declares in this epistle, the case was changed among them. “The elect obtained, the rest were hardened,” Romans 11:7. The number of the elect among that people was now gathered in; few additions were made unto the church, not “daily,” nor in “multitudes,” as formerly. And believers knew full well that when their work was all accomplished, God would not leave the people in their obstinacy, but that “wrath should come upon them unto the uttermost.”
(3.) They saw it approaching in all the causes of it. For the body of the people, having now refused the gospel, were given up unto all wickedness, and hatred unto Christ; an account whereof is given at large by the historian of their own nation.
(4.) The time and season did manifest itself unto them. For whereas the body of that people were to be “cut off,” and “cast off,” as the apostle expressly declares, Romans 9-11, this could not be done until a sufficient tender of the gospel and of grace by Christ Jesus were first made unto them. Notwithstanding all their other wickednesses, God would not surprise them with an overturning destruction. He had before, as types of his dealing with them, warned the old world by Noah, and Sodom by Lot, before the one was destroyed by water and the other by fire. He would also give them their day, and make them a sufficient tender of mercy; which he had now done towards forty years. In this space, through the ministry of the apostles, and other faithful dispensers of the word, the gospel had been proposed unto all persons of that nation throughout the world, Romans 10:16-20. This being now accomplished, they might evidently see that the day was approaching.
(5.) In the preparations for it. For at this time all things began to be filled with confusions, disorders, tumults, seditions, and slaughters, in the whole nation, being all of them entrances of that woful day, whose coming was declared in them and by them. Obs. 9. If men will shut their eyes against evident signs and tokens of approaching judgments, they will never stir up themselves nor engage into the due performance of present duties.
Obs. 10. In the approach of great and final judgments, God by his word and providence gives such intimations of their coming as that wise men may discern them. “Whoso is wise, he will consider these things,” and “they shall understand the loving-kindness of the LORD .” “The prudent foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself.” “How is it that ye discern not the signs of the times?”
Obs. 11. To see evidently such a day approaching, and not to be sedulous and diligent in the duties of divine worship, is a token of a backsliding frame tending unto final apostasy.
῾εκουσίως γὰρ ἁμαρτανόντων ἡμῶν μετὰ τὸ λαβεῖν τὴν ἐπίγνωσιν τῆς ἀληθείας , οὐκ ἔτι περὶ ἁμαρτιῶν ἀπολείπεται θυσία , φοβερὰ δέ τις ἐκδοχὴ κρίσεως , καὶ πυρὸς ζῆλος ἐσθίειν μέλλοντος τοὺς ὑπεναντίους .
Hebrews 10:26-27 . For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment, and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.
In these rinses the apostle gives a vehement enforcement of his preceding exhortation, from the dreadful consequences of a total neglect of it, or uncompliance with it. And this he doth,
1. By expressing the nature of the sin which lies therein.
2. By an impossibility of deliverance from the guilt of it.
3. The punishment that would unavoidably follow upon it.
Interpreters have greatly perplexed themselves and others in the interpretation and exposition of these verses, and those that follow. Their conjectures in great variety have proceeded principally from a want of a due attendance unto the scope of the apostle, the argument he had in hand, the circumstances of the people unto whom he wrote, and the present state of God’s providence towards them. Shall not trouble the reader with their various conjectures, and censures of them; but I shall give such an evident sense of the words as themselves and the context do evince to be the mind of the Holy Ghost in them.
1. As unto the words wherein the sin and state of such men is expressed, “If we sin wilfully,” he puts himself among them, as is his manner in comminations: both to show that there is no respect of persons in this matter, but those who have equally sinned shall be equally punished; and to take off all appearance of severity towards them, seeing he speaks nothing of this nature but on such suppositions as wherein, if he himself were concerned, he pronounceth it against himself also. “We sinning,” or, “if we sin ἑκουσίως “wilfully,” say we: our former translations, “willingly;” which we have now avoided, lest we should give countenance unto a supposition that there is no recovery after any voluntary sin. “If we sin wilfully;” that is, obstinately, maliciously, and with despite; which is the nature of the sin itself, as is declared verse 29: but the word doth not require, nor will scarce bear any such sense. “ Willingly, ” is of choice, without surprisal, compulsion, or fear; and this is all that the word will bear.
The season and circumstance which state the sin intended is, “after we have received the knowledge of the truth.” There is no question but that by “the truth,” the apostle intends the doctrine of the gospel; and the “receiving” of it is, upon the conviction of its being truth, to take on us the outward profession of it. Only there is an emphasis in that word, τὴν ἐπίγνωσιν . This word is not used anywhere to express the mere conceptions or notions of the mind about truth, but such an acknowledgment of it as ariseth from some sense of its power and excellency. This, therefore, is the description of the persons concerning whom this sin is supposed: They were such as unto whom the gospel had been preached; who, upon conviction of its truth, and sense of its power, had taken upon them the public profession of it. And this is all that is required to the constitution of this state. And what is so required may be reduced to one of these two heads:
(1.) The solemn dedication of themselves unto Christ in and by their baptism.
(2.) Their solemn joining themselves unto the church, and continuance in the duties of its worship, Acts 2:41-42.
On this opening of the words, it is evident what sin it is that is intended, against which this heavy doom is denounced; and that on these two considerations:
(1.) That the head of the precedent exhortation is, that we should “hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering,” Hebrews 10:23; and the means of continuing in that profession, Hebrews 10:24-25. Wherefore the sin against this exhortation is, the relinquishment and renouncing of the profession of the faith, with all acts and duties thereunto belonging.
(2.) The state opposite unto this sin, that which is contrary unto it, is “receiving the knowledge of the truth;” which what is required thereunto we have now declared. Wherefore the sin here intended, is plainly a relinquishment and renunciation of the truth of the gospel and the promises thereof, with all duties thereunto belonging, after we have been convinced of its truth, and avowed its power and excellency. There is no more required but that this be done ἑκοσοίως , “willingly;” as,
(1.) Not upon a sudden surprisal and temptation, as Peter denied Christ;
(2.) Not on those compulsions and fears which may work a present dissimulation, without an internal rejection of the gospel;
(3.) Not through darkness, ignorance making an impression for a season on the minds and reasonings of men: which things, though exceedingly evil and dangerous, may befall them who yet contract not the guilt of this crime.
But it is required thereunto, that men who thus sin, do it,
(1.) By choice, and of their own accord, from the internal pravity of their own minds, and an evil heart of unbelief to depart from the living God.
(2.) That they do it by and with the preference of another way of religion, and a resting therein, before or above the gospel.
(3.) That whereas there were two things which were the foundation of the profession of the gospel;
[1.] The blood of the covenant, or the blood of the sacrifice of Christ, with the atonement made thereby; and
[2.] The dispensation of the Spirit of grace; these they did openly renounce, and declared that there was nothing of God in them, as we shall see on verse 29. Such were they who fell off from the gospel unto Judaism in’those days. Such are they whom the apostle here describeth, as is evident in the context. I will say no more unto the sin at present, because I must treat of it under its aggravations on verse 29.
Obs. 1. If a voluntary relinquishment of the profession of the gospel and the duties of it be the highest sin, and be attended with the height of wrath and punishment, we ought earnestly to watch against every thing that inclineth or disposeth us thereunto.
Obs. 2. Every declension in or from the profession of the gospel hath a proportion of the guilt of this great sin, according unto the proportion that it bears unto the sin itself. Hereof there may be various degrees.
Obs. 3. There are sins and times wherein God doth absolutely refuse to hear any more from men in order unto their salvation.
2. The first thing which the apostle chargeth as an aggravation of this sin is, that it cannot be expiated, “There remaineth no more sacrifice for sins;” words not unlike those of God concerning the house of Eli, 1 Samuel 3:14, “I have sworn unto the house of Eli, that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be purged with sacrifice nor offering for ever.” An allusion is had herein unto the sacrifices of the law. As there were certain sins which from their nature, as murder, adultery, blasphemy; or from the manner of their commission, with obstinacy and a high hand had no sacrifice allowed for them, but those that were so guilty were to be “cut off” from the people of God, and to “die without mercy,” as the apostle declares his own mind, verse 28: so is it with them that thus “sin willingly;” there is no relief appointed for them, no means for the expiation of their sin. But yet there is an especial reason of this severity under the gospel, which the apostle hath principal respect unto. And this is, that there is now no multiplication or repetition of sacrifices for sin. That of Christ, our high priest, was “offered once for all;” henceforth “he dieth no more,’” he is offered no more, nor can there be any other sacrifice offered for ever.
This the words express, Οὐκ ἔτι ἀπολείπεται , “There remaineth not;” there is not, in the counsel, purpose, or institution of God, any other sacrifice yet left, to be offered in this, or any other case. To suppose there is yet any such left, it must be on one of these two accounts:
(1.) That God would change the whole dispensation of himself and his grace by Christ, because of its weakness and insufficiency. But it may be said, ‘Whereas God did thus deal with the Mosaical law and all its sacrifices to bring in that of Christ, why may not therefore there be another way of expiation of sin yet remaining, whereby they may be purged and purified who are guilty of apostasy from the gospel?’
(2.) ‘Although men have justly forfeited all their interest and benefit by the one offering of Christ, why may he not appoint another for them, or cause himself to be offered again for their recovery?’But both these suppositions are not only false, but highly blasphemous; for it is certain “there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins.”
Θυσία περὶ ἁμαρτιῶν compriseth all sorts of offerings and sacrifices whereby sin might be expiated. Wherefore the apostle plainly expresseth, that as persons, by a voluntary relinquishment of the gospel, did forfeit all their interest in the sacrifice of Christ, as he further declares, verse 29, so there was no way appointed for the relief of them by the expiation of their sin for ever.
Further to clear the mind of the Holy Ghost herein, I should answer some inquiries that may arise on this interpretation of the words, but in this place I shall only propose them:
1. Whether this commination may be extended to all ages, times, and seasons? or whether it were confined unto the present state of the Hebrews, with the circumstances they were in? The reasons of the inquiry are,
(1.) Because their circumstances were eminently peculiar, and such as cannot befall others in any season.
(2.) Because there was a temporal destruction then impendent over them, ready to devour apostates; which cannot be applied unto them who fall into the same sin at other seasons.
2. Whether the sin intended may include great actual sins after the profession of the gospel, answering such as under the law were said to be committed “with an high hand?”
3. Whether there may be hopes for the persons here intended, though no express provision be made in the covenant for the expiation of this sin?
4. Whether there be any defect in the priesthood of Christ, that it hath but one sacrifice for sins, which if it be neglected and despised can never be repeated, nor can any other sacrifice be added unto it?
5. If a person who hath voluntarily forsaken and renounced the gospel, with a great appearance of all the circumstances that concur unto the state of the sin here mentioned, should make profession of repentance, what may be conceived concerning his eternal condition? what is the duty of the church concerning such an one?
These things shall be spoken unto elsewhere.
Obs. 4. The loss of an interest in the sacrifice of Christ, on what account or by what means soever it fall out, is absolutely ruinous unto the souls of men.
Hebrews 10:27 . “But a certain fearful looking for of judgment, and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.”
When a man under the law had contracted the guilt of any such sin as was indispensably capital in its punishment, for the legal expiation whereof no sacrifice was appointed or allowed, such as murder, adultery, blasphemy, he had nothing remaining but a fearful expectation of the execution of the sentence of the law against him. And it is evident that in this context the apostle argues from the less unto the greater: ‘If it was so, that this was the case of him who so sinned against Moses’law, how much more must it be so with them that sin against the gospel, whose sin is incomparably greater, and the punishment more severe?’
The connection of the words with those foregoing, by the adversative δέ for ἀλλά , includes or brings along with it the verb ἀπολείπεται , “there remaineth:” ‘No sacrifice for sin is left or remains; but there doth remain or abide for such persons a fearful expectation of judgment.’
There are two things in these words:
1. The punishment due unto the sins of apostates, which is three ways expressed:
(1.) By the general nature of it, it is “judgment;”
(2.) By the special nature of that judgment, it is “fiery indignation;”
(3.) By the efficacy of it unto its end, it “devours the adversaries.”
2. The certain approach of this judgment, “there remaineth a fearful expectation.”
1. This last lies first in the words. And,
(1.) That which we render “certain,” is in the original only τίς . It doth not denote an assured expectation, nor the certainty of the punishment; but only a certain kind of expectation, “a kind of fearful expectation.” Nor is this spoken in the way of diminution, but to intimate something that is inexpressible, such as no heart can conceive or tongue express. 1 Peter 4:17-18, “What shall be the end of them who obey not the gospel? … Where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?”
(2.) ᾿Εκδοχή , an “expectation,” is the frame of mind with respect, unto any thing that is future, good or bad, wherein we are concerned, that we are to look for, whatever it be, which we have reason and grounds to think will come unto us or befall us.
(3.) This expectation is said to be φοβερά “fearful,” tremendous, which men can neither conflict withal nor avoid, as we shall see further, Hebrews 10:31; that which fills the mind with dread and horror, depriving it of all comfort and relief. An expectation of this dreadful and terrible nature may be taken two ways:
[1.] For the certain relation that is between the sin and punishment spoken of; the punishment is unavoidable, as any thing is which upon the most certain grounds is looked for. So they are said only metaphorically to look for that which will certainly ensue.
[2.] As it expresseth the frame of the minds of them concerning it. And though the assertion may be used in the former sense, yet I doubt not but this latter also is included in it; and that also on two accounts:
1st . Because if they did set themselves unto the consideration of the event of their apostasy, nothing else could befall their minds, nothing could present itself unto them for their relief; their minds will not admit of other thoughts but what belongs to this dreadful expectation.
2ndly. On the account of that dread and terror that God sends at times into the minds and consciences of such persons.
They may bear it high, and with an ostentation of satisfaction in what they have done, yea, commonly they proclaim a self-justification, and prove desperate persecutors of them who sacredly adhere unto the truth; but as he said of old of tyrants, that if their breasts were opened, it would appear what tortures they have within, I am persuaded it is probable that God very seldom lets them pass in this world without tormenting fear and dread of approaching judgments, which is a broad entrance into hell.
Obs. 5. There is an inseparable concatenation between apostasy and eternal ruin.
Obs. 6. God oftentimes visits the minds of cursed apostates with dreadful expectations of approaching wrath.
Obs. 7. When men have hardened themselves in sin, no fear of punishment will either rouse or stir them up to seek after relief. Obs. 8. A dreadful expectation of future wrath, without hope of relief, is an open entrance into hell itself.
2. This dreadful punishment is described by the general nature of it.
(1.) It is κρίοις , “judgment.” It is not a thing that is dubious, that may fall out, or may not do so. It is not an unaccountable severity that they are threatened withal; but it is a just and righteous sentence, denouncing punishment proportionate unto their sin and crime. “Judgment” is taken sometimes for punishment itself, Psalms 9:16; James 2:13; 1 Peter 4:17; 2 Peter 2:3. But most commonly it is used for the sentence of judicial condemnation and trial, determining the offender unto punishment; and so it is most commonly used to express the general judgment that shall pass on all mankind at the last day, Matthew 10:15; Matthew 11:22; Matthew 11:24; Matthew 12:36; Mar 6:11 ; 2 Peter 2:9; 2Pe 3:7 ; 1 John 4:17. I doubt not but that in the word as here used both these are included, namely, the righteous sentence of God judging and determining on the guilt of this sin, and the punishment itself which ensues thereon, as it is immediately described. And although respect be had herein principally to the judgment of the great day, yet is it not exclusive of any previous judgments that are preparatory unto it and pledges of it; such was that dreadful judgment which was then coming on the apostate church of the Hebrews.
Obs. 9. The expectation of future judgment in guilty persons is, or will be at one time or another, dreadful and tremendous.
(2.) The punishment and destruction of those sinners is described by its particular nature; it is a “fiery indiguation,” πυρὸς ζῆλος . For these words do not relate unto ἐκδοχή , as κρίσεως doth, nor are regulated by it, (it is not the expectation of fiery indignation,) but refer immediately unto
ἀπολείπεται . As there remains an expectation of judgment, so there is a fiery indignation that remains. And so the words following, “which shall,” μέλλοντος , refer to “fire,” πυρός , and not to “indignation,” ζῆλος ; the indignation, the vehemency, the power of fire.
What is this fire? and what is this indignation of it?
God himself is in the Scripture said to be “a consuming fire,”
Deuteronomy 4:24; Deuteronomy 9:3; Isaiah 33:14; Hebrews 12:29. What is intended thereby is declared in a word, Deuteronomy 4:24, ζηλότυπος , as here ζῆλος πυρός . The essential holiness and righteousness of God, whereby he cannot bear with the iniquities and provocations of men who betake not themselves unto the only atonement, and that “he will by no means quit the guilty,” are intended in this metaphorical expression.
The judgment of God concerning the punishment of sin, as an effect of his will in a way consonant unto the holiness of his nature and the exigence of his righteousness, is called “fire,” 1 Corinthians 3:13. But that is not the fire that is here intended. It is devouring, consuming, destroying, such as answereth the severity of God’s justice unto the utmost, as Isaiah 9:5; Isaiah 30:33; Isaiah 66:15; Amos 7:4; Mat 18:8 ; 2 Thessalonians 1:8; Psalms 11:6; Deuteronomy 32:22. Therefore this “indignation,” or”
fervor of fire,” hath respect unto three things:
[1.] The holiness of the nature of God; from whence originally this judgment doth proceed, as that which is most suitable thereunto.
[2.] The righteous act of the will of God; sometimes called his wrath and anger from the effects of it, being suitable unto the holiness of his nature.
[3.] The dreadful severity of the judgment in itself, in its nature and effects, as it is declared in the next words.
I doubt not but respect is had unto the final judgment at the last day, and the eternal destruction of apostates. But yet also it evidently includeth that sore and fiery judgment which God was bringing on the obstinate, apostate Jews, in the total destruction of them and their church-state by fire and sword. For as such judgments are compared to and called “fire” in the Scripture, so this was so singular, so unparalleled in any people of the world, as that it might well be called “fiery indignation,” or “fervor of fire.” Besides, it was an eminent pledge and token of the future judgment, and the severity of God therein. Wherefore it is foretold in expressions that are applicable unto the last judgment. See Mat 24:29-31 ; 2 Peter 3:10-12.
(3.) This indignation, to be executed by fire, is described in the last place by its efficacy and effects. It is the fire that shall “devour” or eat up “the adversaries.” The expression is taken from Isaiah 26:11. For, “the fire of thine enemies,” is there, not that which the enemies burn with, but wherewith they shall be burned. Concerning the efficacy and effect of this fire we may consider,
[1.] The season of its application unto this effect, μέλλοντος .
[2.] The object of it, “the adversaries.”
[3.] The way of its operation, “it shall devour them.”
[1.] It “shall” do so; it is not yet come to the effect, it is future. Hence many of them despised it, as that which would never be, 2 Peter 3:3-6. But there are three things intimated in this word:
1st . That it is “in procinctu,” in readiness; not yet come, but ready to come: so is the word used to express that which is future, but ready to make its entrance.
2 dly . That it is certain, it shall and will be; whatever appearances there are of its turning aside, and men’s avoiding of it, it will come in its proper season: so speaks the prophet in a like case: Habakkuk 2:3.
3dly . The foundation of the certainty of the coming of this fiery indignation, is the irreversible decree of God, accompanied with righteousness, and the measures which infinite wisdom gave unto his patience. This was the unavoidable season that was approaching, when the adversaries had filled up the measure of their sin, and God’s providence had saved the elect from this wrath to come.
Obs. 10. There is a determinate time for the accomplishment of all divine threatenings, and the infliction of the severest judgments, which no man can abide or avoid. He hath “appointed a day wherein he will judge the world.” So at present there is a sort of men “whose damnation slumbereth not,” concerning whom he hath sworn that “time shall be no more;” which is the present state of the antichristian world.
Obs. 11. The certain determination of divine vengeance on the enemies of the gospel is a motive unto holiness, and a supportment under sufferings, in them that believe. “Lift up your heads, for your redemption draweth nigh.” “What manner of persons ought we to be?” See 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10.
[2.] There is a description of those on whom this fiery indignation shall have its effect, and it is “the adversaries,” τοὺς ὑπεναντίους . He doth not say, those that believe not, and obey not the gospel, as he doth elsewhere, when he treats absolutely of the day of judgment, as in that place, 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9, now mentioned; but it confines them unto those that are “adversaries,” who, from a contrary principle, set themselves against the Lord Christ and the gospel. This is the peculiar description of the unbelieving Jews at that time. They did not only refuse the gospel through unbelief, but were acted by a principle of opposition thereunto; not only as unto themselves, but as unto others, even the whole world. So is their state described, 1 Thessalonians 2:15-16, “Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary unto all men: forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles, that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them unto the uttermost.” They laid the foundation of this enmity in killing the Lord Jesus; but they rested not therein, they continued in their unbelief, adhering to their old Judaism, and their sins therein. Nor did they rest there, but persecuted the apostles, drove them out from amongst them, and all that preached the gospel; and this not only with respect unto themselves alone, and those of their own nation, but they set themselves with fury all the world over against the preaching of the gospel unto the Gentiles, and that of cursed malice, that they might not be saved. See instances of this rage, Acts 13:45; Acts 22:22-23. They were properly “the adversaries” whom the apostle intends; and therefore the judgment which was peculiar unto them and their sins, in that fearful temporal destruction which did then approach, is intended herein, as well as the equity of the sentence as extended to the general destruction of all unbelievers at the last day.
Obs. 12. The highest aggravation for the greatest sin, is, when men, out of a contrary principle of superstition and error, do set themselves maliciously to oppose the doctrine and truth of the gospel, with respect unto themselves and others.
Obs. 13. There is a time when God will make such demonstrations of his wrath and displeasure, against all adversaries of the gospel, as shall be pledges of his eternal indignation. He will one day deal so with the antichristian, persecuting world.
[3.] What is the effect of this fiery indignation against those adversaries? “It shall eat them up,” or “devour them.” The expression is metaphorical, taken from the nature and efficacious operation of fire; it eats, devours, swallows up and consumes, all combustible matter that it is applied unto, or is put into it. That intended is destruction, inevitable, unavoidable, and terrible in the manner of it. See Malachi 4:1, whence those expressions are taken. Only the similitude is not to be extended beyond the proper intention of it. For fire doth so consume and devour what is put into it, as that it destroys the substance and being thereof, that it shall be no more. It is not so with the “fiery indignation” that “shall consume” or “devour the adversaries” at the last day. It shall devour them as to all happiness, all blessedness, all hopes, comforts, and relief at once; but it shall not at once utterly consume their being. This is that which this fire shall eternally prey upon, and never utterly consume. But if we make the application of it unto the temporal destruction that came upon them, the similitude holds throughout, for it utterly consumed them, and devoured them, and all that belonged unto them in this world: they were devoured by it.
Obs. 14. The dread and terror of God’s final judgments against the enemies of the gospel is in itself inconceivable, and only shadowed out by things of the greatest dread and terror in the world. Whence it is so, I shall now declare.
᾿Αθετήσας τις νόμον Μωϋσέως , χωρὶς οἰκτιρμῶν ἐπὶ δυσὶν ἣ τρισὶ μάρτυσιν ἀποθνήσκει· πόσῳ , δοκεῖτε , χείρονος ἀξιωθήσεται τιμωρίας ὁ τὸν Υἱὸν τοῦ Θεοῦ καταπατήσας , καὶ τὸ αἷμα τῆς διαθήκης κοινὸν ἡγησάμενος ἐν ᾧ ἡγιάσθη , καὶ τὸ Πνεῦμα τῆς χάριτος ἐνυβρίσας;
Hebrews 10:28-29 . He that despised Moses’law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?
The apostle confirms what he had spoken of the sore and certain destruction of apostates from the gospel, by an argument “A comparatis,” and “a minori ad majus;” that is, by the consideration of the two states of the church, which he had all along compared and expressed. Wherefore, to convince the Hebrews not only of the certainty and severity of the judgment declared, but also of the equity and righteousness of it, he proposeth unto them the consideration of God’s constitution of punishment under the old testament with respect unto the law of Moses, which they could not deny to be just and equal.
In verse 28 he lays down the matter of fact as it was stated under the law; wherein there are three things:
1. The sin whereunto that of apostasy from the gospel is compared, “He that despised Moses’law.”
2. The punishment of that sin according to the law; he that was guilty of it “died without mercy.”
3. The way whereby according unto the law his sin was to be charged on him; it was “under two or three witnesses.”
FIRST, Unto the first, two things did concur:
1. It was such a sin as by the law was capital; as murder, adultery, incest, idolatry, blasphemy, and some others. Concerning them it was provided in the law that those who were guilty of them should be put to death. God alone, by virtue of his sovereignty, could dispense with the execution of this sentence of the law, as he did in the case of David, 2 Samuel 12:13; but as unto the people, they were prohibited on any account to dispense with it, or forbear the execution of it, Numbers 35:31.
2. It was required that he did it “ presumptuously, ” or with an high hand, Exodus 21:14; Numbers 15:30-31; Deuteronomy 17:12.
He that was thus guilty of sin, in sinning is said to “despise Moses’law;” ἀθετεῖν , to “abolish” it, to render it useless, that is, in himself; by contempt of the authority of it, or the authority of God in it. And it is called a contempt and abolishing of the law, as the word signifies,
1. Because of God’s indulgence unto them therein. For although the general sentence of the law was a curse, wherein death was contained, against every transgression thereof, Deuteronomy 27:0, yet God had ordained and appointed, that for all their sins of ignorance, infirmity, or surprisals by temptations, an atonement should be made by sacrifice; whereon the guilty were freed as unto the terms of the covenant, and restored to a right unto all the promises of it. Wherein they would not abide in those terms and conditions of the covenant, but transgress the bounds annexed to them, it was a contempt of the whole law, with the wisdom, goodness, and authority of God therein.
2. They rejected all the promises of it which were given exclusively unto such sins; nor was there any way appointed of God for their recovery unto an interest in them. Hereby they made themselves lawless persons, contemning the threatenings and despising the promises of the law; which God would not bear in any of them, Deuteronomy 29:18-21.
Obs. 1. It is the contempt of God and his authority in his law that is the gall and poison of sin. This may be said in some measure of all voluntary sins; and the more there is of it in any sin, the greater is their guilt and the higher is their aggravation who have contracted it. But there is a degree hereof which God will not bear with; namely, when this presumptuous contempt hath such an influence into any sin, as that no ignorance, no infirmity, no special temptation can be pleaded, unto the extenuation of it. “I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief,” 1 Timothy 1:13. And sundry things are required hereunto:
1. That it be known unto the sinner, both in point of right and fact, to be such a sin as whereunto the penalty of death without dispensation was annexed.
2. That therefore the sense of God in the law be suggested unto the soul in and by the ordinary means of it.
3. That the resolution of continuing in it, and the perpetration of it, doth prevail against all convictions and fear of punishment.
4. That motives unto the contrary, with reluctancies of conscience, be stifled or overcome. These things rendered a sinner “presumptuous,” or caused him to “sin with an high hand,” under the law; whereunto the apostle adds in the next verse the peculiar aggravations of sin against the gospel. This it is to despise the law of Moses, as it is explained, Numbers 15:30-31.
SECONDLY, The punishment of this sin, or of him that was guilty of it, was, that “he died without mercy.” He “died,” that is, he was put to death; not always, it may be, “de facto,” but such was the constitution of the law, he was to be put to death without mercy. There were several ways of inflicting capital punishments appointed by the law, as hanging on a tree, burning, and stoning. Of all which, and the application of them unto particular cases, I have given a description in the Exercitations unto the first volume of these commentaries. And it is said that he “died without mercy,” not only because there was no allowance for any such mercy as should save and deliver him, but God had expressly forbidden that either mercy or compassion should be showed in such cases, Deuteronomy 13:6-10; Deuteronomy 19:13.
This is expressly added unto the highest instance of despising the law, namely, the decalogue in the foundation of it, whereon all other precepts of the law were built; and that which comprised a total apostasy from the whole law. Wherefore I doubt not but the apostle had an especial respect unto that sin in its punishment, which had a complete parallel with that whose heinousness he would represent. However,
Obs. 2. When the God of mercies will have men show no mercy, as in temporal punishment, he can and will, upon repentance, show mercy as to eternal punishment; for we dare not condemn all unto hell which the law condemned as unto temporal punishment.
THIRDLY, The way of execution of this judgment: it was to be done “under two or three witnesses;” that is, that were so of the fact and crime. The law is express in this case, Deuteronomy 17:6; Deuteronomy 19:13; Numbers 35:30. Although God was very severe in the prescription of these judgments, yet he would give no advantage thereby unto wicked and malicious persons to take away the lives of innocent men. He rather chose that those who were guilty should, through our weakness, go free for want of evidence against them, than that innocence should be exposed unto the malice of one single testimony or witness. And such abhorrency God had of false witnesses in criminal causes, as that which is most contrary unto his righteousness in the government of the world, as that he established a “lex talionis” in this case alone; that a false witness should suffer the utmost of what he thought and contrived to bring on another. The equity of which law is still continued in force, as suitable to the law of nature, and ought to be more observed than it is, Deuteronomy 19:16-21.
On this proposition of the state of things under the law, by God’s appointment, as to sin and punishment, the apostle makes his inference unto the certainty and equity of the punishment he had declared with respect unto sins against the gospel, verse 29, “Of how much sorer punishment,” etc. And there is in these words three things:
1. The nature of the sin unto which the punishment is annexed.
2. The punishment itself, expressed comparatively with and unto that of the transgression of Moses’law.
3. The evidence of the inference which he makes; for this is such as he refers it unto themselves to judge upon, “Suppose ye shall he be thought worthy.”
The sin itself is described by a threefold aggravation of it, each instance having its especial aggravation:
1. From the object sinned against;
2. From the act of the minds of men in sinning against it.
1. The first aggravation of the sin intended is from the object of it, the person of Christ, “the Son of God;” and that included in it is the act of their minds towards him, “they trod,” or “trampled upon him.”
2. The second is against the office of Christ, especially his sacerdotal office, and the sacrifice of his blood which he offered therein, “the blood of the covenant wherewith he was sanctified;” and the aggravation included therein from the act of their minds towards it is, that “they accounted it an unholy thing.”
3. A third aggravation as unto the object, is the Spirit of Christ, or “the Spirit of grace;” and the aggravation included therein is, that “they do despite unto him.”
In general, the nature and aggravation of the sin intended may be reduced unto these heads:
1. The object of it, which is the sum and substance, a divine constellation of all the blessed effects of infinite wisdom, goodness, and grace, yea, the whole divine wisdom, goodness, and grace of God, in the most glorious manifestation of them. All these things are comprised in the person, office, and glory of the Son of God, as the Savior and Redeemer of the church.
2. The actings of the minds of men towards this object, which is in and by all the vilest affections that human nature is capable of. Contempt, scorn, and malice, are ascribed unto such sin; they “trample on,” they “despise,” and “do despite.” Wherefore, if it be possible that any thing, any sin of men, can provoke the heat of divine indignation; if any can contract such a guilt, as that the holiness, righteousness, truth, and faithfulness of God, shall be engaged unto its eternal punishment, the sin here intended must do it.
FIRST, We shall therefore consider it in its nature and distinct aggravations.
The sin in general is that which we have spoken to before, namely, sinning wilfully, after we have received the knowledge of the truth, and in an absolutely total relinquishment and rejection of the gospel.
1. In the description of the special object of this sin, that which is first expressed is the person of Christ, “the Son of God.” I have on sundry occasions before showed how the apostle doth vary in his expression of Christ. Here he calls him “the Son of God;” and he maketh use of this name to give a sense of the glorious greatness of the person with whom they had to do, against whom this sin was committed. For although he is a man also, who had blood to shed, and did shed it in the sacrifice of himself, and notwithstanding what cursed, blasphemous thoughts they might have of him, yet indeed he is and will appear to be, the eternal Son of the living God.
But how comes this “Son of God” to be concerned herein? what injury is done him by apostates from the gospel? I answer, that as the Lord Christ in his own person was the special author of the gospel; as his authority is the special object of our faith in it; as his office with all the fruits of it is the subject, sum, and substance of the gospel: so there is no reception of it in a due manner, unto salvation, no rejection of it unto final condemnation, but what is all of it originally, fundamentally, and virtually contained in the reception or rejection of the person of Christ. This is the life, the soul, and foundation of all gospel truth; without which it is of no power or efficacy unto the souls of men. But I have treated at large of these things elsewhere.  I cannot but observe, that, as whosoever rejects, refuses, forsakes the gospel, rejecteth and forsaketh the person of Christ; so on what account soever men take up the profession of it, and perform the duties of it, if the foundation be not laid in a reception of Christ himself, of the person of Christ, all their profession will be in vain.
 See on Person of Christ, vol. 1 of miscellaneous works. ED.
This is the first aggravation of this sin, it is committed immediately against the person of the Son of God, and therein his authority, goodness, and love.
But it may be thought, if the person of Christ be concerned herein, yet it is indirectly or consequently only, and in some small degree. ‘No,’saith the apostle; ‘but he that is guilty of this sin doth trample on the Son of God, or tread him under foot.’The word is rendered with great variety, but that of our translation is proper; and it is the highest expression of scorn, contempt, and malice amongst men. To “tread under foot,” is to despise and insult over, as is plain in the metaphor. And this contempt respects both the person of Christ and his authority. He is proposed in the gospel, was professed by this sort of sinners for a while to be the Son of God, the true Messiah, the Savior of the world. Hereon faith in him and all holy reverence unto him are required of us, as on him whom God had exalted above all principalities and powers; and whom therefore we ought to exalt and adore in our souls. But now by this sort of persons he was esteemed an evildoer, a seducer, one not at all sent of God, but one that justly suffered for his crimes. Herein they “trod under foot the Son of God” with all contempt and scorn. Again, it respects his authority. This the gospel declared; and those who had come unto any profession of it, as those had done whereof he speaks in this place, and all must have done who contract the guilt of this sin, did avow, and submit themselves unto. The profession they made was, to observe and do all that he had commanded them, because all power was given unto him in heaven and earth. This they now utterly rejected and despised; as unto the outward observance of his commands, ordinances, and institutions of divine worship, they openly rejected them, betaking themselves unto other modes and rites of divine service, in opposition and contradiction unto them, even those of the law. Neither did they retain any regard in their minds unto his authority.
Obs. 3. Though there may be sometimes an appearance of great severity in God’s judgments against sinners, yet when the nature of their sins and the aggravations of them shall be discovered, they will be manifest to have been righteous, and within due measure.
Obs. 4. Take we heed of every neglect of the person of Christ or of his authority, lest we enter into some degree or other of the guilt of this great offense.
Obs. 5. The sins of men can really reach neither the person nor authority of Christ; they only do that in desire which in effect they cannot accomplish. This doth not take off or extenuate their sin; the guilt of it is no less than if they did actually trample upon the Son of God.
2. The second aggravation of the sin spoken of, is its opposition to the office of Christ, especially his priestly office, and the sacrifice that he offered thereby, called here “the blood of the covenant.” And that included in it, is the frame of their minds in that opposition, “they counted it an unholy thing;” both which have a third aggravation from the use and efficacy of that blood, it is that “wherein he was sanctified.”
For the first, in what sense the blood of Christ was “the blood of the covenant,” hath been fully declared on Hebrews 9:0; that whereby the new covenant was ratified, confirmed, and made effectual as unto all the grace of it unto them that do believe; and it was the foundation of all the following actings of God towards him in his exaltation, and of his intercession. See Hebrews 13:20. The “blood of the covenant” was the great expression of the grace of God, and of the love of Christ himself, as well as the cause of all good unto us; the center of divine wisdom in all the mediatory actings of Christ, the life and soul of the gospel. Of this blood of the covenant it is said, that they who were guilty of the sin intended, “counted it an unholy thing;” they judged it so, and dealt with it accordingly. Both the judgment of the mind, and practice thereupon are intended.
Κοινόν is “common,” and opposed unto any thing that is dedicated and consecrated unto God, and made sacred. Hence it is used for “profane” and “unholy,” that which no way belongs unto divine worship. They did no longer esteem it as that blood wherewith the new covenant was sealed, confirmed, established; but as the blood of an ordinary man shed for his crimes, which is common and unholy, not sacred, not of so much use unto the glory of God as the blood of bulls and goats in legal sacrifices: which is the height of impiety. And there are many degrees of this sin, some doctrinal, some practical; which though they arise not unto the degree here intended, yet are they perilous unto the souls of men. Those by whom the efficacy of his blood unto the expiation of sin, by making satisfaction and atonement, is denied, as it is by the Socinians, will never be able to free themselves from making this blood in some sense a common thing. Yea, the contempt which hath been cast on the blood of Christ by that sort of men will not be expiated with any other sacrifices for ever. Others do manifest what slight thoughts they have of it, in that they place the whole of their religion within themselves, and value their own light as unto spiritual’advantages above the blood of Christ. And practically there are but few who trust unto it for their justification, for pardon, righteousness, and acceptance with God; which is in a great measure to account it a common thing, not absolutely, but in comparison of that life, excellency, and efficacy that are in it indeed. But as Christ is precious unto them that believe, 1 Peter 2:7, so is his blood also, wherewith they are redeemed, 1 Peter 1:19.
Obs. 6. Every thing that takes off from a high and glorious esteem of the blood of Christ as “the blood of the covenant,” is a dangerous entrance into apostasy: such is the pretended sacrifice of the mass, with all things of the like nature.
The last aggravation of this sin with respect unto the blood of Christ, is the nature, use, and efficacy of it; it is that “wherewith he was sanctified.” It is not real or internal sanctification that is here intended, but it is a separation and dedication unto God; in which sense the word is often used. And all the disputes concerning the total and final apostasy from the faith of them who have been really and internally sanctified, from this place, are altogether vain; though that may be said of a man, in aggravation of his sin, which he professeth concerning himself. But the difficulty of this text is, concerning whom these words are spoken: for they may be referred unto the person that is guilty of the sin insisted on; he counts the blood of the covenant, wherewith he himself was sanctified, an unholy thing. For as at the giving of the law, or the establishing of the covenant at Sinai, the people being sprinkled with the blood of the beasts that were offered in sacrifice, were sanctified, or dedicated unto Gel in a peculiar manner; so those who by baptism, and confession of faith in the church of Christ, were separated from all others, were peculiarly dedicated to God thereby. And therefore in this case apostates are said to “deny the Lord that bought them,” or vindicated them from their slavery unto the law by his word and truth for a season, 2 Peter 2:1. But the design of the apostle in the context leads plainly to another application of these words. It is Christ himself that is spoken of, who was sanctified and dedicated unto God to be an eternal high priest, by the blood of the covenant which he offered unto God, as I have showed before. The priests of old were dedicated and sanctified unto their office by another, and the sacrifices which he offered for them; they could not sanctify themselves: so were Aaron and his sons sanctified by Moses, antecedently unto their offering any sacrifice themselves. But no outward act of men or angels could unto this purpose pass on the Son of God. He was to be the priest himself, the sacrificer himself, to dedicate, consecrate, and sanctify himself, by his own sacrifice, in concurrence with the actings of God the Father in his suffering. See John 17:19; Hebrews 2:10; Hebrews 5:7; Hebrews 5:9; Hebrews 9:11-12. That precious blood of Christ, wherein or whereby he was sanctified, and dedicated unto God as the eternal high priest of the church, this they esteemed “an unholy thing;” that is, such as would have no such effect as to consecrate him unto God and his office.
Obs. 7. However men may esteem of any of the mediatory actings of Christ, yet are they in themselves glorious and excellent. So was the sacrifice of his own blood, even that whereby not only the church was sanctified, but himself also was dedicated as our high priest for ever.
3. The third aggravation of this sin is taken from its opposition unto the Spirit of Christ; they “do despite unto the Spirit of grace.” And as in the former instances, so it is here, there are two parts of this aggravation; the first taken from the object of their sin, “the Spirit of grace;” the second taken from the manner of their opposition unto him, “they do him despite.” The Holy Spirit of God, promised and communicated under the gospel by Jesus Christ from the Father, as the author and cause, actually communicating and applying of all grace unto the souls of them that believe, is this Spirit of grace. And this carries in it innumerable aggravations of this sin. This person, the Holy Spirit of God, God himself, his communication of grace and mercy, in the accomplishment of the most glorious promises of the Old Testament, was he whom these apostates renounced. But there is a peculiar notion or consideration of the Spirit, with respect whereunto he is sinned against; and that is this, that he was peculiarly sent, given, and bestowed to bear witness unto the person, doctrine, death, and sacrifice of Christ, with the glory that ensued thereon, John 16:14; 1 Peter 1:12. And this he did various ways. For by him the souls of multitudes were converted unto God, their eyes enlightened, their minds sanctified, their lives changed. By him did those who believe come to understand the Scriptures, which before were as a sealed book unto them; they were directed, encouraged, supported, and comforted, in all that they had to do and suffer for the name of Christ. By him were all those mighty works, wonders, signs, and miracles wrought, which accompanied the apostles and other preachers of the gospel at the beginning. Now all these things, and the like effects of his grace and power on all who made profession of the gospel, were owned, believed, and avowed to be the works of the Holy Spirit, as promised in the days of the Messiah; and they pleaded the evidence of them unto the confusion of all their adversaries. This, therefore, was done also by these apostates before their apostasy. But now, being fully fallen off from Christ and the gospel, they openly declared that there was no testimony in them unto the truth, but all these things were either diabolical delusions or fanatical misapprehensions; that indeed there was nothing of truth, reality, or power in them, and therefore no argument to be taken from them unto the confirmation of the truth of Christ in the gospel. Now this proceeding from them who had once themselves made the same profession with others of their truth and reality, gave the deepest wound that could be given unto the gospel. For all the adversaries of it, who were silenced with this public testimony of the Holy Spirit, and knew not what to say, considering the many miracles that were wrought, did now strengthen themselves by the confession of these apostates, ‘That there was nothing in it but pretense: and who should better know than those who had been of that society?’
Obs. 8. There are no such cursed, pernicious enemies unto religion as apostates.
Hence are they said to “do despite unto the Spirit of grace,” ἐνυβρίσας . They do injure him so far as they are able. The word includes wrong with contempt. And this they did upon a twofold account. For,
(1.) The works, many of them which he then wrought, were eminent and evident effects of divine power; and to ascribe such works unto another cause is to do despite unto him.
(2.) They did so principally, in that by all his works, and in the whole dispensation of him, he gave testimony unto Christ in the gospel; and what greater despite and wrong could be done unto him, than to question his truth and the veracity of his testimony? No greater despite can be done unto a man of any reputation, than to question his truth and credit in that wherein he engageth himself as a witness. And if lying unto the Holy Ghost is so great a sin, what is it to make the Holy Ghost a liar? Herein did such persons do him despite. For notwithstanding the public testimony he gave in, with, and by the preaching of the gospel, they rejected it as a fable, in despising his person and authority.
All these great and terrible aggravations are inseparable from this sin of apostasy from the gospel, above those of any sin against the law of Moses whatever. They were none of them in the vilest sin prohibited by the law under capital punishment.
SECONDLY, Hence, therefore, the apostle proposeth it unto the judgment of the Hebrews, “of how much sorer punishment” they suppose a sinner guilty of this sin shall be judged worthy, above what was inflicted on the wilful transgressor of the law. And there is included herein,
1. That such a sinner shall be punished. Apostates may flatter themselves with impunity, but in due time punishment will overtake them. How shall they escape who neglect so great salvation? Much less shall they not do so by whom it is thus despised in all the causes of it.
2. That this shall be a sore, a great, and an evil punishment; which is included in the note of comparison, “far greater punishment,” such as men shall be able neither to abide nor to avoid.
3. Comparatively, it shall be a sorer punishment than that which was appointed for wilful transgressors of the law, which was death without mercy.
4. That the degree of its exceeding that punishment is inexpressible: “Of how much sorer?”
None can declare it, as the Holy Ghost expresseth himself when he would intimate unto our minds that which we cannot absolutely conceive and apprehend, 1 Peter 4:17-18. ‘But whereas that punishment was death without mercy, wherein could this exceed it?’I answer, Because that was a temporal death only; for though such sinners under the law might and did many of them perish eternally, yet they did not so by virtue of the constitution of the law of Moses, which reached only unto temporal punishments: but this punishment is eternal (that is constantly proposed in the first place unto all impenitent unbelievers and despisers of the gospel, see 2 Thessalonians 1:6-9, Mark 16:16, etc.); yet so as not to exclude any other temporal judgments, in spirituals or naturals, that may precede it; such was that whereunto the temporal destruction that was ready to come on these despisers did belong.
THIRDLY, The way whereby they are made obnoxious unto it is, that they are “counted worthy of it,” ἀξιωθήσεται . They shall receive neither more nor less than their due. The judge in this case is God himself, as the apostle declares in the next verse. He alone knows, he alone can justly determine, what such apostates are worthy of. But in general, that this shall unspeakably exceed that annexed unto the transgression of the law is left unto themselves to judge, “Suppose ye.” ‘Ye know and take it for granted, that the punishments under the law to be inflicted on its transgressors, by the constitution and sanction of it, were all of them righteous, for God was the judge of this in them all. Consider now what aggravations this sin is accompanied withal above all sins whatever against the law, and be yourselves judges of what will follow hereon. What do you think in your own hearts will be the judgment of God concerning these sinners?’This argument the apostle doth frequently insist upon, as Hebrews 2:2-4; Hebrews 12:25; and it had a peculiar cogency towards the Hebrews, who had lived under the terror of those legal punishments all their days.
Obs. 9. The inevitable certainty of the eternal punishment of gospel-despisers depends on the essential holiness and righteousness of God, as the ruler and judge of all. It is nothing but what he in his just judgment, which is “according unto truth,” accounteth them worthy of, Romans 1:32.
Obs. 10. It is a righteous thing with God thus to deal with men. Wherefore all hopes of mercy, or the least relaxation of punishment unto all eternity, are vain and false unto apostates: “they shall have judgment without mercy.”
Obs. 11. God hath allotted different degrees of punishment unto the different degrees and aggravations of sin. “The wages,” indeed, of every “sin is death;” but there is unto such persons as these “a savor of death unto death,” and there shall he different degrees of eternal punishment.
Obs. 12. The apostasy from the gospel, here described, being the absolute height of all sin and impiety that the nature of man is capable of, it renders them unto eternity obnoxious unto all punishment that the same nature is capable of. The greatest sin must have the greatest judgment.
Obs. 13. It is our duty diligently to inquire into the nature of sin, lest we be overtaken in the great offense. Such persons as they in the text, it may be, little thought what it was that they should principally be charged withal, namely, for their apostasy; and how dreadful was it when it came upon them in an evident conviction!
Obs. 14. Sinning against the testimony given by the Holy Ghost unto the truth and power of the gospel, whereof men have had experience, is the most dangerous symptom of a perishing condition.
Obs. 15. Threatenings of future eternal judgments unto gospel- despisers belong unto the preaching and declaration of the gospel.
Obs. 16. The equity and righteousness of the most severe judgments of God, in eternal punishments against gospel-despisers, is so evident, that it may be referred to the judgment of men not obstinate in their blindness.
Obs. 17. It is our duty to justify and bear witness unto God in the righteousness of his judgments against gospel-despisers.
Οἴδαμεν γὰρ τὸν εἰπόντα , ᾿Εμοὶ ἐκδίκησις , ἐγὼ ἀνταποδώσω , λέγει Κύριος . Καὶ πάλιν , Κύριον κρινεῖ τὸς λαὸν αὑτοῦ . Φοβερὸν τὸ ἐμπεσεῖν εἰς χεῖρας Θεοῦ ζῶντος .
Hebrews 10:30-31 . For we know him that hath said, Vengeance [ belongeth ] unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people, [ It is ] a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
There is in these verses the confirmation of all that was spoken before, by the consideration of what God is in himself, with whom alone we have to do in this matter, and what he assumeth unto himself in this and the like cases; as if the apostle had said, ‘In the severe sentence which we have denounced against apostates, we have spoken nothing but what is suitable unto the holiness of God, and what, indeed, in such cases he hath declared that he will do.’
The conjunction γάρ denotes the introduction of a reason of what was spoken before; but this is not all which he had discoursed on, on this subject, but more particularly the reference he had made unto their own judgments of what sore punishment was due unto apostates: ‘Thus it will be with them, thus you must needs determine concerning them in your own minds; for we know him with whom we have to do in these things. Wherefore the apostle confirms the truth of his discourse, or rather illustrates the evidence of it, by a double consideration:
1. Of the person of him who is, and is to be the sole judge in this case, who is God alone: “For we know him.” And,
2. What he hath assumed unto himself, and affirmed concerning himself in the like cases; which he expresseth in a double testimony of Scripture. And then, lastly, there is the way whereby our minds are influenced from this person and what he hath said; which is, that “we know him.”
The first consideration confirming the evidence and certainty of the truth asserted, is the person of Him who is the only judge in this case. I confess the pronoun herein is not expressed in the original, but as it is included in the participle and article prefixed, τὸν εἰπόντα , “him that saith,” who expresseth himself in the words ensuing; but it is evident that the apostle directeth unto a special consideration of God himself, both in the manner of the expression and in the addition of these words, λέγει Κύριος , to the testimony which he writes immediately: ‘If you will be convinced of the righteousness and certainty of this dreadful destruction of apostates, consider in the first place the Author of this judgment, the only judge in the case: “We know him that hath said.”’
Obs. 1. There can be no right judgment made of the nature and demerit of sin, without a due consideration of the nature and holiness of God, against whom it is committed. “Fools make a mock of sin;” they have no sense of its guilt, nor dread of its punishment. Others have slight thoughts of it, measuring it only either by outward effects, or by presumptions which they have been accustomed unto. Some have general notions of its guilt, as it is prohibited by the divine law, but never search into the nature of that law with respect unto its author. Such false measures of sin ruin the souls of men. Nothing, therefore, will state our thoughts aright concerning the guilt and demerit of sin, but a deep consideration of the infinite greatness, holiness, righteousness, and power of God, against whom it is committed.
And hereunto this also is to be added, that God acts not in the effect of any of these properties of his nature, but on a preceding contempt of his goodness, bounty, grace, and mercy; as it is impossible that sin should come into the world but by the contempt of these things. Antecedently unto all possibility of sinning, God communicates the effects of his goodness and bounty unto the creation; and in those sins which are against the gospel, he doth so also of his grace and mercy. This is that which will give us a due measure of the guilt and demerit of sin: look upon it as a contempt of infinite goodness, bounty, grace, and mercy, and to rise up against infinite greatness, holiness, righteousness, and power, and we shall have a view of it as it is in itself.
Obs. 2. Under apprehensions of great severities of divine judgments, the consideration of God, the author of them, will both relieve our faith and quiet our hearts. Such instances are given in the eternal casting off of multitudes of angels, on their guilt in one sin; the woful sin of Adam, and the ruin of his posterity, even of those who had not sinned after the similitude of his transgression; the destruction of the old world by a universal flood; as in the fire and brimstone that God rained from heaven upon Sodom and Gomorrah; in the final rejection of the Jews, and the dreadful overthrow of the city and temple by fire; in the eternity of the torments of impenitent sinners. In all these things, and others that seem to have any thing of the same kind with them, we shall need nothing to give the most full satisfaction unto our souls, if “we know him who hath said, Vengeance is mine, I will repay.”
Secondly, This consideration is confirmed by a double testimony, wherein God assumeth unto himself that which will give assurance of the punishment of apostates. And we may consider, concerning these testimonies,
1. The apostle’s application of them unto his purpose;
2. The force that is in them unto that end.
1. They are both of them taken from Deuteronomy 32:35-36. ‘But in that place they seem absolutely to intend vengeance and judgment on the adversaries of his people, to make a way for their deliverance; but here they are applied unto the final destruction of that same people, namely, the Jews, without hope of deliverance.’ I answer,
(1.) That it is usual with the apostle in this epistle, and all other writers of the New Testament, to make use of testimonies out of the Old without respect unto the particular cases and designs which they were originally applied unto, but with regard unto the truth and equity contained in them; whereon they are equally applicable unto all cases of a like nature. ‘Thus,’ saith he, ‘God declares himself with respect unto his stubborn enemies; whence a rule is established, that he will deal so with all that are so, who are in the same circumstances with them of whom we speak.’
(2.) What God speaks concerning his enemies, and the enemies of his people in covenant with him, is applicable unto that people itself when they absolutely break and reject the covenant. So was it done by these apostates, who thereon came into the room and place of the most cursed enemies of God and his people. And therefore God will be unto them what he was unto the worst of those his adversaries.
(3.) That which God properly in that place assumeth this title unto himself upon, is the cruelty and rage of those adversaries in the persecution and destruction of his people: and shall he not act in like manner towards them who murdered the Lord Jesus, and persecuted all his followers?
Wherefore, whatever frame of mind in God is represented in the Scripture, as unto his indignation against the worst of sinners and his adversaries, is fully applicable unto these degenerate apostates.
2. The first testimony in the original is, לִי נָקָם וְשִׁלֵּם , “to me vengeance and recompence;” which the apostle renders” by ἔνδικος μισθαποδοσία , to the same purpose. Recompence is the actual exercise of vengeance. Δική , ἐκδίκησις , “vengeance,” is the actual execution of judgment on sinners according unto their desert, without mitigation or mercy. It is an act of judgment; and wherever mention is made of it, God is still proposed as a judge, it being a just retribution, on the consideration of the demerit of sin as sin.
(1.) This vengeance God appropriateth the right of unto himself in a peculiar manner, as that which no creature, in its full latitude, hath any interest in. See Psalms 94:1-2. For it respects only sin in its own formal nature, as sin against God.
[1.] Though men may inflict punishment on it, yet they do it principally on other accounts. Whatever is of vengeance in punishment is merely an emanation from divine constitution.
[2.] No creature can have the just measures of the desert of sin, so as to give it a just and due recompence.
[3.] The power of the creature cannot extend to the just execution of vengeance, sin deserving eternal punishment.
[4.] Pure vengeance, as vengeance, is not to be intrusted with our nature; nor would any man be able to manage it, but would fall into one excess or other, unto the ruin of his own soul. Wherefore God hath reserved and included all vengeance unto himself, and all just, final retribution for and unto sin. Although he hath allowed infliction of punishment on offenders, in order unto the government and peace of the world, in magistrates and public persons, yet as unto vengeance, as it denotes giving satisfaction to ourselves in the punishment of others, it is forbidden unto all persons, both private and public. God, in executing vengeance, gives satisfaction unto his own infinite holiness and righteousness; which makes it holy and just. Men cannot give satisfaction unto themselves in punishment but it is unto their evil affections; which makes it useless and unjust. Hence David blessed God that he had kept him from avenging himself on Nabal. For there is no vengeance but what is exerted by a man’s self, in his own case and cause: the judgment unto punishment is for others. Wherefore the formal reason of the appropriation of all vengeance unto God is, that God alone can judge and punish in his own case, and unto his own satisfaction. “He hath made all things for himself, and the wicked for the day of evil.”
(2.) In this appropriation of vengeance unto God, there is supposed and included that indeed there is vengeance with God, which in due time he will execute: “I will repay, saith the Lord.” He doth oftentimes exercise great patience and forbearance, even then when vengeance might justly be expected and is called for: “How long dost thou not avenge our blood?” This commonly adds unto the security of wicked men, and they learn to despise the threatening of all the judgments of God which they have deserved, 2 Peter 3:3-7; Ecclesiastes 8:11. They are ready to conclude that either vengeance doth not belong unto God; or that it shall be executed when and where they are not concerned. But in all these cases God hath fixed a determinate time and season for the execution of deserved vengeance. Hence he calls it “the year of vengeance,” and “the day of recompence;” so here, “I will repay it, saith the Lord.”
This being so, God having said that vengeance belongeth unto him, and that it is due unto provoking sins and sinners; that it is in his power, and his alone, to inflict it when and how he pleaseth, and that he will certainly do so, in the assurance whereof the apostle adds that word, “saith the Lord,” he will repay it; it evidently follows, that in his appointed season, the day and year of vengeance, such horrible provoking sinners as were those treated of must fall under the most severe punishment, and that for evermore.
The second testimony, taken from the same place, is of the same importance with this, “The Lord shall judge his people.” In Deuteronomy it is applied unto such a judgment of them as tends unto their deliverance. But the general truth of the words is, that God is the supreme judge, “he is judge himself,” Psalms 50:6. This the apostle makes use of, concluding that the righteousness of God, as the supreme judge of all, obligeth him unto this severe destruction of apostates: for “shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” shall not he who is judge in a peculiar manner of those that profess themselves to be his people, punish them for their iniquities, especially such as break off all covenant-relation between him and them.
Obs. 3. A due consideration of the nature of God, his office, that he is “the judge of all,” especially of his people, and that enclosure he hath made of vengeance unto himself, under an irrevocable purpose for its execution, gives indubitable assurance of the certain, unavoidable destruction of all wilful apostates. All their security, all their presumptions, all their hopes, will vanish before this consideration, as darkness before the light of the sun.
Obs. 4. Although those who are the peculiar people of God do stand in many relations unto him that are full of refreshment and comfort, yet is it their duty constantly to remember that he is the holy and righteous judge, even towards his own people.
Lastly, The ground of the application of these testimonies unto the present case, is that knowledge of God which they had unto whom he spoke: “For we know him.” ‘You have the same sense of God, his holiness and truth, as I have; and therefore it cannot be strange unto you that he will deal thus severely with apostates: you know who he is, how infinite in holiness, righteousness, and power; you know what he hath said in cases like unto this, namely, that “vengeance is his, and he will repay:” wherefore it must be evident unto you that these things will be as they are now declared.’
Obs. 5. The knowledge of God in some good measure, both what he is in himself and what he hath taken on himself to do, is necessary to render either his promises or threatenings effectual unto the minds of men.
Hebrews 10:31 . “[ It is ] a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
The apostle in these words winds up his whole argument against the wilful despisers of the gospel, taken from the nature and aggravations of that sin, with the severity of the punishment that will certainly befall them that are guilty thereof. And these words are, as an inference from them that go immediately before, so a recapitulation of all that he had spoken to this purpose. ‘Let men look to it, look to themselves, consider what they do; “for it is a fearful thing,” etc.’
There are three things in the words:
1. The description given of God with respect unto the present case; he is “the living God.”
2. The event of their sin with respect unto him; it is a “falling into his hands.”
3. The nature hereof in general, “it is a fearful thing.”
First, In what sense God is called the “living God,” and with respect unto what ends, have been declared on Hebrews 3:12; Hebrews 9:14. In brief, this title is ascribed unto God principally on two accounts:
1. By way of opposition unto all dead and dumb idols, those which the heathen worshipped; and which are graphically described by the psalmist, Psalms 115:4-8; as also by the prophet, Isaiah 44:9-11, etc. And,
2. This is to impress upon our minds a due sense of his glory and eternal power, according as we are called to trust in him or to fear him. Life is the foundation of power. He who hath life in himself, who is the cause of all life in all other things that are partakers of it, must be the only spring of infinite power. But God is here called “the living God” with respect unto his eternal power, whereby he is able to avenge the sins of men. Indeed, it calls to mind all the other holy properties of his nature, which are suited to impress dread or terror on the minds of presumptuous sinners; whose punishment is thence demonstrated to be unavoidable. He sees and knows all the evil and malice that are in their sin, and the circumstances of it. He is the “God that liveth and seeth,” Genesis 16:14. And as he seeth, so he judgeth, because he is the living God; which also is the ground of holy trust in him, 1 Timothy 4:10.
Obs. 6. This name, “the living God,” is full of terror or comfort unto the souls of men.
Secondly, The event of the sin spoken against, as unto its demerit, with respect unto God, is called “falling into his hands.” The assertion is general, but is particularly applied unto this case by the apostle. To “fall into the hands,” is a common expression with reference unto any one falling into and under the power of his enemies. None can be said to fall into the hands of God, as though they were not before in his power. But to fall into the hands of God absolutely, as it is here intended, is to be obnoxious to the power and judgment of God, when and where there is nothing in God himself, nothing in his word, promises, laws, institutions, that should oblige him to mercy or a mitigation of punishment. So when a man falls into the hands of his enemies, between whom and him there is no law, no love, he can expect nothing but death. Such is this falling into the hands of the living God; there is nothing in the law, nothing in the gospel, that can be pleaded for the least abatement of punishment. There is no property of God that can be implored. It is the destruction of the sinner alone whereby they will all be glorified.
There is a falling into the hands of God that respects temporal things only, and that is spoken of comparatively. When David knew that an affliction or temporal punishment was unavoidable, he chose rather to fall into the hands of God as unto the immediate infliction of it, than to have the wrath of men used as the instrument thereof, 2 Samuel 24:14. But this appertains not unto our present purpose.
Thirdly, Hereof the apostle affirms in general, that it is φοβερόν , a “fearful, dreadful thing;” that which no heart can conceive, nor tongue express. Men are apt to put off thoughts of it, to have slight thoughts about it; but it is, and will be, dreadful, terrible, and eternally destructive of every thing that is good, and inflictive of every thing that is evil, or that our nature is capable of.
Obs. 7. There is an apprehension of “the terror of the Lord “ in the final judgment, which is of great use unto the souls of men, 2 Corinthians 5:11. It is so to them who are not yet irrecoverably engaged into the effects of it.
Obs. 8. When there is nothing left but judgment, nothing remains but the expectation of it, its fore-apprehension will be filled with dread and terror.
Obs. 9. The dread of the final judgment, where there shall be no mixture of ease, is altogether inexpressible.
Obs. 10. That man is lost for ever who hath nothing in God that he can appeal unto, nothing in the law or gospel which he can plead for himself; which is the state of all wilful apostates. Obs. 11. Those properties of God which are the principal delight of believers, the chief object, of their faith, hope, and trust, are an eternal spring of dread and terror unto all impenitent sinners: “The living God.”
Obs. 12. The glory and horror of the future state of blessedness and misery are inconceivable either to believers or sinners.
Obs. 13. The fear and dread of God, in the description of his wrath, ought continually to be on the hearts of all who profess the gospel.
Herein, by this general assertion, the apostle sums up and closeth his blessed discourse concerning the greatest sin that men can make themselves guilty of, and the greatest punishment that the righteousness of God will inflict on any sinners. Nor is there any reaching of either part of this divine discourse unto the utmost. When he treats of this sin and its aggravations, no mind is able to search into, no heart is able truly to apprehend the evil and guilt which he chargeth it withal. No one can express or declare the least part of the evil which is comprised in every aggravation which he gives us of this sin. And in like manner concerning the punishment of it, he plainly intimates it shall be accompanied with an incomprehensible severity, dread, and terror. This, therefore, is a passage of holy writ which is much to be considered, especially in these days wherein we live, wherein men are apt to grow cold and careless in their profession, and to decline gradually from what they had attained unto. To be useful in such a season it was first written; and it belongs unto us no less than unto them unto whom it was originally sent. And we live in days wherein the security and contempt of God, the despite of the Lord Christ and his Spirit, are come to the full, so as to justify the truth that we have insisted on.
᾿Αναμιμνήσκεσθε δὲ τὰς πρότερον ἡμέρας , ἐν αἷς φωτισθέντες , πολλὴν ἄθλησιν ὑπεμείνατε παθημάτων , τοῦτο μὲν , ὀνειδισμοῖς τε καὶ θλίψεσι θεατριζόμενοι , τοῦτο δὲ , κοινωνοὶ τῶν οὕτως ἀναστρεφομένων γενηθέντες· Καὶ γὰρ τοῖς δεσμοῖς μου συνεπαθήσατε , καὶ τὴν ἁρπαγὴν τῶν ὑπαρχόντων ὑμῶν μετὰ χαρᾶς προσεδέξασθε , γινώσκοντες ἔχειν ἐν ἑαυτοῖς χρείττονα ὕπαρξιν ἐνμ οὐρανοῖς , καὶ μένουσαν . 
 VARIOUS READINGS. Griesbach, Scholz, Lachmann, and Tischendorf, agree in reading δεσμίοις , prisoners, instead of δεσμοὶς μον , my bonds. See Hebrews 13:3. ᾿Εν οὐρανοῖς , inserted in the textus receptus, and deemed a very probable omission by Griesbach, is rejected by Lachmann and Tisehendorf. The authority for it is D*** E J K, and both the Syriac versions. ED.
Hebrews 10:32-34 . But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions; partly whilst ye were made a gazing-stock, both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly whilst ye became companions of them that were so used. For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance.
The words in their coherence, intimated in the adversative δέ , “but,” have respect unto the exhortation laid down verse 25. All the verses interposed contain a dehortation from the evil which they are warned of. Hence the apostle returns unto his former exhortation unto the duties recommended unto them, and perseverance therein against all the difficulties which they might meet withal, wherewith others were turned unto destruction. And the present argument which he makes use of unto this purpose is this now mentioned. And there are in the words,
1. A direction unto a means useful unto the end of his exhortation: “Call to remembrance the former days.”
2. A description of those days which he would have them to call to mind:
(1.) From the season of them, and their state therein, “after they were enlightened;”
(2.) From what they suffered in them, “a great fight of afflictions,” which are enumerated in sundry instances, verse 33;
(3.) From what they did in them, verso 34, with respect unto themselves and others;
(4.) From the ground and reason whereon they were carried cheerfully through what they suffered and did, “knowing in yourselves.”
FIRST, There is first the prescription of the means of this duty, ἀναμιμνήσκεσθε , which we have well rendered, “call to remembrance.” It is not a bare remembrance he intends, for it is impossible men should absolutely forget such a season. Men are apt enough to remember the times of their sufferings, especially such as are here mentioned, accompanied with all sorts of injurious treatment from men. But the apostle would have them so call to mind, as to consider withal what supportment they had under their sufferings, what satisfaction in them, what deliverance from them, that they might not despond upon the approach of the like evils and trials on the same account. If we remember our sufferings only as unto what is evil and afflictive in them, what we lose, what we endure and undergo; such a remembrance will weaken and dispirit us, as unto our future trials. Hereon many cast about to deliver themselves for the future by undue means and sinful compliances, in a desertion of their profession; the thing the apostle was jealous of concerning these Hebrews But if withal we call to mind what was the cause for which we suffered, the honor that is in such sufferings outbalancing all the contempt and reproaches of the world; the presence of God enjoyed in them; and the reward proposed unto us: the calling them to mind will greatly strengthen us against future trials; provided we retain the same love unto and valuation of the things for which we suffered as we had in those former days. And these various events we find exemplified every day. Some who have endured trials, and come off from them, do grow immediately more wary, as they suppose, and more cold really as unto the causes of their sufferings. The remembrance of what was afflictive in their trials fills them with fear of the like exercise again. Hence they grow timorous and cautious as to all duties of religion and the worship of God, which may expose them unto new sufferings: and then some of them by degrees fall absolutely off from attendance unto them; as it was with some of these Hebrews. Such as these call to mind only that which is evil and afflictive in their sufferings; and taking the measure thereof in the counsel or representation made of it by flesh and blood, it proves unto their damage, and ofttimes unto their eternal ruin. Others who call to mind, with their sufferings, the causes of them, and the presence of God with them therein, are encouraged, emboldened, and strengthened unto duty with zeal and constancy.
Obs. 1. A wise management of former experiences is a great direction and encouragement unto future obedience.
Secondly, As to the object of this duty, the apostle so expresseth it, “Call to mind the former days.” It is uncertain what times or seasons the apostle doth peculiarly intend. Besides those continual hazards they were in from their adversaries, and the occasional sufferings that they were exposed unto, they seem to have had some special seasons of persecution before the writing of this epistle. The first was in the stoning of Stephen, when a great persecution rose against all the church, and extended itself unto all the churches of Christ in that nation; wherein our holy apostle himself was highly concerned, Acts 8:1; Acts 9:1; Acts 22:19; Acts 26:10-11. And the other was on the occasion of this apostle himself; for upon his last coming to Jerusalem, after his great successes in preaching the gospel among the Gentiles, the whole body of the people was filled with rage and madness against him and all the other disciples. There is no doubt, although express mention be not made of it, but that at that time the rage and cruelty of the priests and the multitude did put forth themselves unto a general persecution of the church. And this season he seems to reflect upon in particular, because he mentions his own bonds at that time, and their compassion on him. However, certain it is that all the churches of Judea had suffered those things here mentioned from their countrymen, as the apostle himself declares, 1 Thessalonians 2:14. At this present time they seem to have had some outward peace. The occasion whereof was the tumults and disorders which were then growing in their whole nation. Their own intestine discords, and the fear of outward enemies, by which they were shortly utterly destroyed, diverted them from prosecuting their rage for a season against the church. And it may be some began to grow careless and secure hereon; as we are generally apt to do, supposing that all will be serene when one or another storm is over. These, therefore, the apostle doth press unto such a remembrance of former trials as might prepare for those they were to expect; for, as he tells them, they had still “need of patience,” Hebrews 10:36.
SECONDLY, There is a description of those “former days,”
First, From their state and condition in them, “the days in which they were enlightened,” or rather, “in which having been enlightened” The mention of this their illumination being in a tense of the time past, manifests that their enlightening did precede those days of their sufferings. But yet the expression is such as argues a nearer conjunctionor concurrence between these two things, their illumination and these days of affliction; the one followed as it were immediately on the other? This enlightening was that work of God’s grace mentioned 1 Peter 2:9, their “translation out of darkness into his marvellous light.” They were naturally blind, as are all men; and peculiarly blinded with prejudices against the truth of the gospel. Therefore when God by his effectual call delivered them out of that state of darkness, by the renovation of their understandings, and the removal of their prejudices, the light of the knowledge of God shining into their hearts is this illumination, the saving, sanctifying light which they received at their first effectual call, and conversion to God. This spiritual change was presently followed with days of affliction, trouble, and persecution. In itself it is, for the most part, accompanied with joy, delight, zeal, and vigorous actings of faith and love, 1 Peter 1:8. For,
1. God did usually grant unto believers some secret pledge and sealing of his Spirit, which filled them with joy and zeal, Ephesians 1:13.
2. Their own hearts are exceedingly affected with the excellency, glory, and beauty of the things revealed unto them, of what they now see perfectly, whereunto they were before in darkness; that is, the love and grace of Christ Jesus in the revelation of himself unto them.
3. All graces are new and fresh, not yet burdened, Clogged, or wearied by temptations, but are active in their several places. Hence frequent mention is made of and commendation given unto the “first love” of persons and churches.
This was the state and condition of those Hebrews when the days of trial and affliction came upon them; it was immediately after their first conversion unto God. And it is usual with God thus to deal with his people in all ages. He no sooner calls persons to himself, but he leads them into the wilderness. He no sooner plants them, but he shakes them with storms, that they may be more firmly rooted. He doth it,
1. Utterly to take off their expectations from this world, or any thing therein. They shall find that they are so far from bettering their outward estate in this world by cleaving unto Christ and the church, as that the whole rage of it will be stirred up against them upon that account, and all the things enjoyed in it be exposed unto ruin. This the Lord Christ everywhere warned his disciples of, affirming that those who are not willing to renounce the world, and to take up the cross, do not belong unto him.
2. For the trial of their faith, 1 Peter 1:6-7,
3. For the glory and propagation of the gospel.
4. For the exercise of all graces.
5. To breed us up into the military discipline of Christ, as he is the captain of our salvation. They who pass through their first trials, are Christ’s veterans on new attempts.
Obs. 3. Saving illumination is the first-fruit of effectual vocation.
Obs. 4. Spiritual light in its first communication puts the soul on the diligent exercise of all graces.
Obs. 5. It is suited unto the wisdom and goodness of God, to suffer persons on their first conversion to fall into manifold trials and temptations.
This was the state of the Hebrews in those days which the apostle would have them “call to mind.” But the words have respect unto what follows immediately, “Which ye endured.” The description of their state and condition, namely, that they were enlightened, is interposed for the ends we have spoken unto. Wherefore the season he would have them call to remembrance is described,
Secondly, By what they suffered therein. This, as was observed, he expresseth two ways: first, In general; secondly, In particular instances.
The First is in these words, “Ye endured a great fight of afflictions.”
1. That which he would have them to mind is “affliction.”
2. The aggravation of it, it was “a great fight of afflictions.”
3. Their deportment under it, in that they “endured them.”
1. We render this word by “afflictions,” although, by the particulars mentioned afterwards, it appears it was “persecutions” from men that the apostle only intended.
And if we take “afflictions” in the ordinary sense of the word, for chastisements, corrections, and trials from God, it is true that men’s persecutions are also God’s afflictions, with the special end of them in our trials; we are “chastened of the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.” God used them as his furnace and fining pot, “for the trial of their faith; which is more precious than gold.” And under all persecutions we are to have a special regard unto the immediate hand of God in such afflictive trials. This will keep us humble, and in a constant subjection of our souls unto God, as the apostle declares, Hebrews 12:0. But the word in the original is παθήματα , which is properly “sufferings;” the same word that the apostle useth to express the sufferings of Christ, Hebrews 2:10; Hebrews 5:8. It is a general name for every thing that is hard and afflictive unto our nature, from what cause or occasion soever it doth arise. Even what wicked men undergo justly for their crimes is what they suffer, as well as what believers undergo for the truth and profession of the gospel. Materially they are the same, 1 Peter 4:14-16. It is therefore the general name of all the evils, troubles, hardships, distresses, that may befall men upon the account of their profession of the truth of the gospel. This is that which we are called unto, which we are not to think strange of. Our LORD Jesus requires of all his disciples that they “take up their cross;” to be in a continual readiness to bear it, and actually so to do as they are called. And there is no kind of suffering but is included in the cross. He calls us, indeed, unto his eternal glory; but we must suffer with him, if we desire to reign also with him.
2. Of these trials, afflictions, persecutions, they had πολλὴν ἄθλησιν . That labor and contention of spirit which they had in their profession, with sin and sufferings, is expressed by these words; which set forth the greatest, most earnest, vehement actings and endeavors of spirit that our nature can arise unto. It is expressed by ἄθλησις in this place, and by ἀγών , 2 Timothy 4:7, ᾿Αγωνίζομαι , ἀνταγωνίζομαι . See 2 Timothy 2:5; 1 Corinthians 9:25. The allusion is taken from their striving, wrestling, fighting, who contended publicly for a prize, victory, and reward, with the glory and honor attending it. The customs of the nations as then observed are frequently alluded unto in the New Testament. Now there was never any way of life wherein men voluntarily or of their own accord engaged themselves into such hardships, difficulties, and dangers, as that, when they contended in their games and strivings for mastery. Their preparation for it was a “universal temperance,” as the apostle declares, 1 Corinthians 9:25, and an abstinence from all sensual pleasures; wherein they offered no small violence unto their natural inclinations and lusts. In the conflicts themselves, in wrestling and fighting, with the like dangerous exercises in skill and strength, they endured all pains, sometimes death itself. And if they failed, or gave over through weariness, they lost the whole reward that lay before them. And with words which signify all this contest, doth the Holy Ghost express the fight or contention which believers have with sufferings. There is a reward proposed unto all such persons in the promises of the gospel, infinitely above all the crowns, honors, and rewards proposed unto them in the Olympic games. No man is compelled to enter into the way or course of obtaining it, but they must make it an act of their own wills and choice; but unto the obtaining of it they must undergo a great strife, contention, and dangerous conflict. In order hereunto three things are required:
(1.) That they prepare themselves for it, 1 Corinthians 9:25. Self-denial and readiness for the cross, contempt of the world and the enjoyments of it, are this preparation; without this we shall never be able to go through with this conflict.
(2.) A vigorous acting of all graces in the conflict itself, in opposition unto and destruction of our spiritual and worldly adversaries, Ephesians 6:10-18; Hebrews 12:3. He could never prevail nor overcome in the public contests of old who did not strive mightily, putting forth his strength and skill both to preserve himself and oppose his enemy. Nor is it possible that we should go successfully through with our conflict, unless we stir up all graces, as faith, hope, trust, unto their most vigorous exercise.
(3.) That we endure the hardship and the evils of the conflict with patience and perseverance; which is that the apostle here specially intends.
3. This is that which he commends in the Hebrews, with respect unto their first trials and sufferings, ὑπεμείνατε , ‘“ ye endured,” and bare patiently, so as not to faint or despond, or to turn away from your profession.’They came off conquerors, having failed in no point of their conflict. This is that which they were called unto, that which God by his grace enabled them to, and through which they had that success which the apostle would have them to “call to remembrance,” that they might be strengthened and encouraged unto what yet remained of the same kind. This hath been the lot and portion of sincere professors of the gospel in most ages. And we are not to think it a strange thing if it come to be ours in a higher degree than what as yet we have had experience of. How many ways God is glorified in the sufferings of his people, what advantages they receive thereby, the prevailing testimony that is given thereby unto the truth and honor of the gospel, are commonly spoken to, and therefore shall not be insisted on.
Hebrews 10:33 . “Partly whilst ye were made a gazing-stock, both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly whilst ye became companions of them that were so used.”
Secondly, Having mentioned their sufferings and their deportment under them in general, he distributes them into two heads in this verse. The first is what immediately concerned their own persons; and the second, their concernment in the sufferings of others, and their participations of them. This distribution is expressed by τοῦτο μέν and τοῦτο δέ , “on this hand, and on that.” The whole of their sufferings was made up of various parts, many things concurred thereunto; they did not consist in any one trouble or affliction, ‘but a confluence of many of various sorts did meet in them. And this, indeed, is for the most part the greatest difficulty in sufferings: many of them come at once upon us, so that we shall have no rest from their assaults. For it is the design of Satan and the world on these occasions to destroy both soul and body; and unto that end he will assault us inwardly by temptations and fears, outwardly in our names and reputations, and all that we are or have. But he that knows how to account all such things “but loss and dung, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus,” is prepared for them all.
1. What refers unto the first part is their suffering in their own persons; and herein he declares both what they suffered, and the manner how. That which they suffered was “reproaches and afflictions;” and for the manner of it, “they were made a gazing-stock” unto other men.
(1.) The first thing wherein they suffered was “reproaches,” ὀνειδισμοῖς , a great aggravation of sufferings unto ingenuous minds. The psalmist, in the person of the Lord Christ himself, complains that “reproach had broken his heart,” Psalms 69:20; and elsewhere frequently he complaineth of it as one of the greatest evils he had to conflict withal. It is that kind of reproach which proceeds from malicious hatred, and is accompanied with contempt and scorn, and vents itself in all manner of obloquies or hard speeches, such as those mentioned Jude 1:15. And the nature of it is fully declared by the prophet Jeremiah, Jeremiah 20:8-10. And there are two branches of reproaches:
[1.] False accusations, or charging of men with things vile and contemptible, such as will expose them unto public scorn and rage: “They shall say all manner of evil against you falsely;” “They speak evil of you, as of evil-doers.” So they reproached the person of Jesus Christ himself. They said he was “a malefactor, an evil-doer, a seditious person, a glutton, a wine-bibber, a seducer, one that had a devil;” and thereby stirred up the rage, hatred, and contempt of the people against him. So they reproached the primitive Christians among the Pagans, namely, that they were atheists, confederating themselves for adultery, incest, murder, and sedition; under which notion they slaughtered them as beasts of the field. And the like reproaches have been cast on the professors of the gospel in all ages.
[2.] Those reproaches consist in the contempt that is east upon what is true, and what in itself is holy, just, good, and praiseworthy. They reproached them with their faith in Christ, with their worship of him, in owning his authority. This in itself was their honor and their crown. But as it was managed with hatred and blasphemy, as it was confirmed by the common consent of all, as it received strength and countenance from their sufferings, wherein they esteemed them punished for their sins and impieties, it added unto their distress. For men thus to be traduced, aspersed, and charged, partly with things infamous, base, vile; partly by contempt and scorn cast on what they do own and profess; by their friends, neighbors, relations, and the multitude of the people; in order to their further hurt and ruin, that they may be looked on and judged as persons meet to be destroyed, not suffered to live on the face of the earth: it is a great suffering, and difficultly to be endured and undergone.
Therefore all those that make profession of the name of Christ and the gospel ought to look and provide for such things.
[1.] Take heed of so much softness and tenderness of nature, that may give too deep a sense of reproach, scorn, and shame, which may give too deep an entrance unto these things into your minds; being such as will weaken them in their duties. This ordinarily is a frame and disposition of mind that lies at the next door to virtue, to modesty, to humility, and the like; but in this case it lies at the next door to diffidence, despondency, and carnal fear. We are in this case to harden our countenances, and to set our faces as a flint and adamant, so as to despise all reproaches and scorns on the account of our profession.
[2.] It is required that we do not put too much value on our names and reputations in the world. “A good name is better than precious ointment,” it yields a good savor; but it is so only with these two limitations:
1 st . That it be obtained by things that are really good and praiseworthy; for some have made their names famous and acceptable to the multitude by ways and actions that have really nothing praiseworthy in them. And,
2 dly . That they be good men who esteem their name to be good. “Laudari volo , ” said one; “sod a viro laudato.” To have a good report amongst an evil multitude is of no advantage. Yet are some men very tender herein: they would be praised and spoken well of by the many; at least they would not be spoken evilly or contemptuously of. But if we have not an under- valuation of our names and reputations universally, in respect unto Christ and the gospel, if we are not contented to be made “as the filth and offscouring of all things,” it will greatly disadvantage us in the time of sufferings And therefore in the providence of God frequently it falls out, that if there be any thing that is unto us as the apple of our eye, of all we should be tender of our names and reputations in, this shall he peculiarly attempted and reproached.
[3.] That they do not think that any new thing befalls them when they are reproached; no, not when the reproaches are new, and such as never were cast on any that went before them; for the stores of reproaches and false accusations in the treasury of Satan and hearts of wicked men will never be exhausted.
[4.] Know that where reproach goes before, persecution will follow after, in the course of the world. It thunders in reproaches, and falls in a storm of persecution. These sufferings consisted in afflictions; these afflictions did partly ensue upon and partly accompany these reproaches. For those who endeavor to bring men under contempt by reproaches, will not fail to reproach them under their sufferings Therefore do we render the particle
δέ by “both,” referring both the “reproaches” and “afflictions” unto their being made “a gazing-stock.’And the word is o£ a large signification, denoting every thing that is evil and grievous to us in any kind. But as it is distinguished from “reproaches,” it denotes suffering in their persons or enjoyments; an instance whereof he gives in the next verse, in the “spoiling of their goods.”
(2.) The manner of their suffering of these things: it is said “they were made a gazing-stock,” θεατριζόμενοι . It is properly spoken of them who were brought on the public stage or theater in any city, and there exposed unto all sorts of evils and punishments And it was the way of the highest and most capital punishment. For when guilty persons were east unto beasts to be devoured, it was in the theater, where they were made a spectacle unto the people, or a “gazing-stock.” But the apostle limits the suffering of the Hebrews unto “reproaches and afflictions;’they had not yet “resisted unto blood.” So at Ephesus they drew Gaius and Aristarchus into the theater, with an intention to destroy them, Acts 19:29.
But yet neither doth it necessarily follow that those spoken of were actually or solemnly carried into any theater, there to be reproached, then destroyed. But because the theater was the place where persons were publicly exposed to be looked upon with scorn and contempt, the word θεατρίζομαι is used to signify men’s being so exposed and made a spectacle, in any place, on any occasion. And this is the meaning of the phrase used by the apostle, 1 Corinthians 4:9. No more is required hereunto but that they were publicly, and in the sight of all that had occasion or opportunity to behold them, exposed unto these things. So was it with them, when they haled men and women out of their meetings; who being dragged or driven in the streets, were committed some of them into prisons, Acts 8:3: then were they loaded with all manner of reproaches, and made a gazing-stock to all that were about them. This way and manner of their suffering was a great addition to it and an aggravation of it. It requireth excellent actings of faith and spiritual courage to carry ingenuous persons above this public contest. But their cause and their Example were sufficient to support them, and enable them unto this duty.
Obs. 6. All temporary sufferings, in all their aggravating circumstances, in their most dreadful preparation, dress, and appearance, are but light things in comparison of the gospel and the promises thereof.
Obs. 7. There is not any thing in the whole nature of temporary sufferings, or any circumstance of them, that we can claim an exemption from, after we have undertaken the profession of the gospel.
This was the first part of the contention with sufferings which those Hebrews had undergone.
2. The other part of their sufferings was, that “they became the companions of them that were so used.” They not only suffered in themselves, in what they gave occasion unto by their own profession of the gospel, and practice of its worship, but also came into a fellowship of sufferings with them that were so used as they were. And we may consider,
(1.) Who those were that were so used.
(2.) How they became their companions in that condition.
(1.) Τῶν οὕτως ἀναστρεφομένων . The word signifies the way, manner, and course of our conversation in the world. And in that sense the sufferings of these persons is included as the effect in the cause. They so walked in the world as to be exposed to sufferings, We take the word in a passive sense, and render it “so used,” ‘used after the same manner which you were.’It is also used for “to be tossed, overturned, oppressed;” which is the sense of it in this place. But the apostle writing unto the whole church of the Hebrews, we may inquire who they were who were used in this manner with them; for they seem to be distinguished from them unto whom he wrote. And,
[1.] It is not impossible but the apostle might have respect unto those that were sober and moderate amongst the Jews themselves. For things were now come unto that confusion in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, that all such persons were continually exposed unto the violence and rage of robbers, oppressors, and seditious villains. The Christians, being of the same conversation with them, were not known by the multitude, nor distinguished from them. It is not therefore unlikely that they might suffer with them in those public violences; which being not immediately for the profession of the gospel, they are said in what they so underwent, to be “made the companions” of others. Or,
[2.] Respect may be had unto the sufferings of Christians in other places up and down the world, which they heard of, and were in no small measure affected with. But this was not peculiar unto the church of the Hebrews, and so not likely to be peculiarly ascribed unto them. Or, [3.] It may be respect is had unto some that had suffered amongst themselves at Jerusalem, or in other places of Judea, who were their countrymen, yet belonged not unto the stated church of Christ in the place unto which he wrote at present. And this hath countenance given it from the next verse, where it seems to be given as an instance of their being made companions of them that suffered, in that they had compassion of the apostle himself in his bonds, and such was the condition of others.
But I am rather inclined unto a double distribution of things and persons in the text, both included in the τοῦτο μέν and the τοῦτο δέ . That of things is actual suffering, and a participation of the sufferings of others. That of persons is this, that all those unto whom he wrote did not actually in their own persons suffer the things which he speaks of, but some of them did so suffer, and the rest of them were companions with them that did so suffer. And for the most part it so falls out in the fiercest persecution of the gospel. All individual persons are not called forth unto the same actual sufferings; some in the providence of God, and through the rage of men, are singled out for trials; some are hid or do escape, at least for a season, and it may be are reserved for the same trials at another time. So it may be said of the whole church, that they “endured a great fight of afflictions,” while some of them were “a gazing-stock,” etc., and others of them “ were companions of them that were so used.”
Obs. 8. It is reserved unto the sovereign pleasure of God to measure out unto all professors of the gospel their especial lot and portion as unto trials and sufferings, so as that none ought to complain, none to envy one another.
(2.) Hence it appears in what sense those who suffered not in their own persons were made companions of them who did so, whereby the whole church partook of the same troubles. Κοινωνοὶ γενηθέντες :
[1.] They were made so by their common interest in the same cause for which they suffered;
[2.] By their apprehension that the same sufferings would reach unto themselves, seeing there was the same cause in them as in others;
[3.] By their sorrow, trouble, and compassion, for the suffering of the members of the same Head and body with them; [4.] By all duties of love and affection which they discharged in owning and visiting of them;
[5.] By the communication of their goods and outward enjoyments unto them, who had suffered the loss of their own: so were they made their companions.
Hebrews 10:34 . “For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance.”
Thirdly, Having distributed the παθήματα of believers into two heads; 1. What they underwent, some of them at least, in their own persons; and, 2. What befell them with respect unto others suffering in the same cause with themselves; in this verse the apostle gives an especial instance of each kind, only he inverts the order wherein he had before laid them down. For whereas he first mentioned what they suffered in themselves, and then what they accompanied others in, here he insisteth on the latter of them in the first place, “they had compassion of him in his bonds;” and of the former in the second place, “and took joyfully the spoiling of their goods.” But he adds unto both the frame of their minds in what they did and suffered: as unto others, they were their “companions” in sympathy and compassion; and as unto their own losses, “they them took joyfully.”
Of the First the apostle gives,
1. An instance in himself, “Ye had compassion of me in my bonds.” And this he affirms as a proof and confirmation of what he had spoken before concerning their being made companions of them that suffered. This is expressed in the introductive particles καὶ γάρ , ‘“for even you had,” as for example’s sake.’I have proved before the apostle Paul was the author of this epistle, and this very passage is sufficient to confirm it. For who else could there be whose bonds for the gospel were so known, so famous among the believers of the Jews, as his own? For the other persons whom some would needs fancy to be writers of this epistle, as Luke, Barnabas, and Clemens, there is nothing in the Scripture or ecclesiastical story of any of their bonds in Judea, whereof it is plain that he here speaketh. But the sufferings of our apostle in this kind of bonds and imprisonment were peculiar above any other apostle’s whatsoever. Hence he styles himself in particular, Philemon 1:1, the “bondman for Christ;” and gloried in his bonds as his peculiar honor, Acts 26:29. “An ambassador in bonds,” Ephesians 6:20. So Philippians 1:7; Philippians 1:12-16; Colossians 4:3, which he desired the church to remember him in, Colossians 4:18; 2 Timothy 2:9. Wherefore, his bonds being singularly and above all others so known, so famous, so useful, such a subject of the church’s prayers, and of their faith, having been begun and long continued among those Hebrews, and being spoken of by him as a matter known unto them all, it is unreasonable to suppose that any other is intended.
Obs. 9. Of what sort or kind the sufferings of any that God employs in the ministry of the gospel shall be, is in his sovereign disposal alone. And in this apostle, unto whom, as being the apostle of the Gentiles, God had designed more work, and travelling up and down the world, than unto any of the others, it may be unto them all; yet God was pleased that much of his time should be spent in bonds and imprisonments. But although the principal reason hereof must be left hid in the wisdom and sovereign good pleasure of God, yet we may see that two inestimable advantages did redound unto the church thereby. For,
(1.) His bonds being first at Jerusalem, and afterwards at Rome, as Acts 23:11, the two capital cities and seats of the Jews and Gentiles, and he being called out to plead the cause of the gospel openly and publicly, the report of it was carded all the world over, and occasion given unto all sorts of men to inquire what it was that a man remote from the suspicion of any crime did suffer such things for. I no way doubt but that multitudes by this means were brought to make inquiry after and into the doctrine of the gospel, which otherwise would have taken no notice of it. See Philippians 1:12-16. And,
(2.) During his confinement under those bonds, the Holy Ghost was pleased to make use of him in writing sundry of those blessed epistles which have been the light and glory of the gospel in all ages. Wherefore, let every one of us be content and rejoice in what way soever God shall be pleased to call us to suffer for the truth of the gospel For although it may seem outwardly to be of the greatest advantage thereunto, which is the only thing we would desire, that we might enjoy our liberty, yet God can and will make them subservient unto his own glory; wherein we ought to acquiesce.
2. He expresseth the concernment of these Hebrews in those bonds of his:
συνεπαθήσατε , they suffered together with him therein. They were not unconcerned in his sufferings, as being satisfied with their own freedom, as is the manner of some. Now, compassion consists in these things.
(1.) A real condolency, grief, and trouble of mind, for the bonds of others, as if we ourselves were bound.
(2.) Continual prayers for their relief, supportment, and deliverance; as it was with the church in the case of Peter in his bonds, Acts 12:0.
(3.) A ministration unto them, as unto the things that may be outwardly wanting; as many did to Paul, Acts 24:23.
(4.) The owning and avowing of them, as not being ashamed of their chains, bonds, or sufferings, 2 Timothy 1:16-17.
(5.) A readiness to undergo hazards, difficulties, and dangers, for them who are called thereunto, Romans 16:4. It is not a heartless, fruitless, ineffectual pity that the apostle intends, but such a frame of mind as hath a real concernment in the sufferings of others, and is operative in these and the like duties towards their good. These things are required in us towards all those who suffer for the gospel, according as we have opportunity for their exercise. Where this is wanting, we can have no solid evidence of our being one with them in the same mystical body. The remembrance of this frame, and the discharge of all those duties towards them who have suffered, are of singular use to prepare our minds for, and to confirm our hearts in our own sufferings, when they do approach.
Secondly, He minds them of their deportment under their own sufferings: “they took joyfully.”
1. That which they suffered in was their μ῾πάρχοντα , “their outward substance,” and present enjoyments It is extended unto houses, lands, possessions, whatever rightfully belongs unto men and is enjoyed by them. But it is especially applied unto things of present use, as the goods of a man’s house, his money, corn, or cattle, which are more subject to present rapine and spoil than other real possessions, lands or inheritances These are the things of men’s present supportment, without which ordinarily they cannot live nor subsist. And therefore, in persecutions, the enemies of the gospel do usually fall on these in the first place; as supposing that the loss of them will reduce their owners unto all sorts of extremity, especially when they have no pretense or warranty as yet to destroy their persona They will take from them the bread that they should eat, the clothes that they should wear, the beds whereon they should lie, whatever is of use unto them and their families And this must needs be a sore trial unto men, when not only themselves, but their relations also, their wives and children, some perhaps in their infant age, are reduced unto all extremities.
2. The way whereby they were deprived of their goods was ἁρπαγή , it was by “rapine and spoil.” What pretense of law or constitution of the rulers they who did it had for what they did, I know not, but the way of execution was with savage rapine and spoil, as the word signifies They violently tare away from them what they did enjoy: not aiming to take all the spoil merely unto their own advantage, wherewith yet the minds of some cursed enemies are influenced, but at the satisfaction of their rage and malice in the ruin of the saints of Christ. This, it seems, had been the state of things with these Hebrews, which had now passed over for that season, but in all probability would quickly again return, as the warning here given them by the apostle did plainly intimate. And it is the way of the world in such persecutions, after they have vented their rage and malice for a while, and satisfied themselves with their own cruelty, to give over until some new cause, pretense, or new instigation of the devil, sets them at work again.
3. The frame of mind in the Hebrews as unto this part of their suffering is, that they took their losses and spoils “with joy.” Nothing doth usually more affect the minds of men than the sudden spoiling of their goods, what they have labored for, what they have use for, what they have provided for themselves and their families. We see in ordinary cases what wailings and lamentations do accompany such occasions. But these Hebrews received and accepted of this rapine of their goods, not only patiently and cheerfully, but with a certain peculiar joy.
4. The ground hereof the apostle declares in the close of this verse, “Knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance.”
Some copies of the original, and some ancient translations, as the Vulgar Latin, read the words οὐρανοῖς . And I suppose the difference arose from the order of the words in the text, or the placing of ἐν ἑαυτοῖς not immediately after γινώσκοντες , but interposing ἔχειν between them. Hence the words may be rendered as we do, “knowing in yourselves that ye have a better substance;” or as they lie in the original, “knowing that ye have a better substance in yourselves.” In this latter way it is evident that there is no place for that addition, “in heaven,” which is necessary in the former. For it is not proper to say, “knowing that ye have in yourselves in heaven;” though it be most proper to say, “knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven.” I confess I should absolutely embrace the latter reading, “knowing that ye have in yourselves,” and so leave out that, “in heaven,” for evident reasons, did not the authority of the most ancient copies and translations of the best note require the retaining of it. However, I shall open the words according to both readings.
(1.) “Knowing that we have in ourselves.” The things which they had lost were their “goods,” or their “substance,” as they are called, Luke 15:13. Unto these he opposeth the “substance;” which of what nature it is he declares in comparison with those other goods. Those other “goods” were so theirs as that they were without them, things liable unto rapine and spoil, such as they might be, such as they were deprived of; men could and men did take them away. But this “substance” is “in themselves,” which none could take away from them, none could spoil them of. Such is the peace and joy that our Lord Jesus Christ gives unto his church here below, John 14:27; John 16:22. And if the “substance” here intended be that which was “in themselves,” in opposition unto those external “goods,” which they might be and were deprived of; then it is that subsistence in the soul and unto the experience of believers which faith gives unto the grace and love of God in Christ Jesus, with all the consequents of it here and for evermore. This is that which comforts believers under all their troubles; this fills them with “joy unspeakable and full of glory,” even in their sufferings. This will make them to “take joyfully the spoiling of their goods,” when they lay it in the balance against them. In this sense γιναώσκοντες expresseth an assurance arising from experience, as the word is often used. They knew they had it in themselves, from the powerful experience which faith gave them of it. So the whole of it is intended and at large explained by the apostle, Romans 5:1-5. Faith gives us justification before God, access unto him, and acceptance with him; and therewithal gives joy and rejoicing unto the soul And this it doth in an especial manner under tribulations and sufferings, enabling men to “take joyfully the spoiling of their goods;” for it stirreth up all graces in such a condition unto their due exercise, issuing in a blessed experience of the excellency of the love of God, and of his glory in Christ, with a firm and stable hope of future glory. Yea, and by these things doth the Holy Ghost shed abroad the love of God in our hearts; which will give joy in any condition. And this “substance” hath both the qualifications here assigned unto it.
[1.] It is κρείττων , “better,” “more excellent,” incomparably so, than the outward goods that are subject to rapine and spoil. And,
[2.] It is μένουσα , “abiding,” that which will not leave them in whom it is, can never be taken from them. “My joy shall no man take from you.”
Obs. 10. Faith giving an experience of the excellency of the love of God in Christ, and of the grace received thereby, with its incomparable preference above all outward, perishing things, will give joy and satisfaction in the loss of them all, upon the account of an interest in these better things.
(2.) If we follow the ordinary reading, and retain those words, “in heaven,”
the whole must be somewhat otherwise expounded; for it is not the grace of faith, but hope, that is expressed. And,
[1.] That expression, “knowing in yourselves,” declares the evidence they had of the grounds whereon they rejoiced in the spoiling of their goods It was manifest and evident unto themselves. The world looked on them under another notion. They took them and declared them to be persons who deserved all manner of evil in this world, and such as would perish for ever in that which is to come. So they did to Christ himself, when they reproached him with his trust in God when he was on the cross. In this case the apostle doth not direct them unto any outward defense of themselves, but only unto the uncontrollable evidence which they had in themselves of future glory. And this they had,
1st . From the promises of Christ;
2dly. From the testimony and witness of the Holy Ghost
3dly. From the experience which they had of the beginnings and first-fruits of this glory in themselves.
Faith in and by these means will give an infallible evidence of heavenly things, secure against all opposition; and in all these things it works by hope, because it respects things that are future.
[2.] This “substance” is said to be “in heaven.” It is there prepared, there laid up, there to be enjoyed. Wherefore it compriseth the whole of the future state of blessedness. And it is well called “substance,” as it is also “riches,” and an “inheritance,” and a “weight of glory;” for in comparison of it, all other things temporary have no substance in them.
[3.] They are said ἔχειν , to “have” this substance; not in present possession, but in right, title, and evidence. They knew in themselves that they had an undeniable title unto it, which none could deprive them of, but that they should certainly enjoy it in the appointed season. Wherefore they are said to “have” it,
1st . Because it is prepared for them in the will, pleasure, and grace of God. “It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”
2dly . Because it is purchased for them by the blood of Christ; he hath “purchased,” or “obtained eternal redemption.”
3dly . It is promised unto them in the gospel.
4thly . It is secured for them in the intercession of Christ.
5thly . Granted unto them in the first-fruits.
6thly . All this is confirmed unto them by the oath of God. The first-fruits they had in possession and use, the whole in right and title; and continual application of it was made unto their souls by the hope which will not make ashamed.
[4.] How this “substance” is “better” than outward enjoyments, and “abiding,” needs not to be explained, they are things in themselves so plain and evident.
This twofold interpretation of the words is so far coincident and agreeing in the same sense in general, that we may draw our observations from both or either of them; as,
Obs. 11. It is the glory of the gospel, that it will on a just account, from a sense of an interest in it, give satisfaction and joy unto the souls of men in the worst of sufferings for it.
Obs. 12. It is our duty to take care that we be not surprised with outward sufferings, when we are in the dark as unto our interest in these things. This may often fall out through our carelessness, negligence, and want of keeping our garments about us in our walk before God: they rejoiced, as knowing they had in themselves; which otherwise they could not have done.
Obs. 13. Internal evidences of the beginnings of glory in grace, a sense of God’s love, and assured pledges of our adoption, will give insuperable joy unto the minds of men under the greatest outward sufferings.
Obs. 14. It is our interest in this world, as well as with respect unto eternity, to preserve our evidences for heaven clear and unstained, so that we may “know in ourselves;” which is the ground of this great duty.
Obs. 15. There is a “substance” in spiritual and eternal things, whereunto faith gives a subsistence in the souls of believers. See Hebrews 11:1.
Obs. 16. There is no rule of proportion between eternal and temporal things. Hence the enjoyment of the one will give joy in the loss of the other.
Μὴ ἀποβάλητε ου῏ν τὴν παῤῥησίαν ὑμῶν , ἥτις ἔχει μισθυποδοσίαν μεγάλην ῾Υπομονῆς γὰρ ἔχετε χρείαν· ἵνα τὸ θέλημα τοῦ Θεοῦ ποιήσαντες , κομίσησθε τὴν ἐπαγγελίαν .
Hebrews 10:35-36 . Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward. For ye have need of patience, that after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.
In these two verses there is an inference from his former argument, and a confirmation of it from the necessity of what is required thereunto. The first is in verse 35, wherein the apostle gives us the peculiar design, use, and force of the preceding exhortation unto the consideration of what they had suffered in and for the profession of the gospel. And there are in the words,
1. A note of inference from the foregoing discourse, ου῏ν , “therefore.”
2. A grace and duty which in this inference he exhorts them to retain; and that is παῤῥησίαν .
3. The manner of their retaining it; “cast not away.”
4. The reason of the exhortation not to cast it away; because “it hath great recompence of reward.”
1. The inference is plain: ‘Seeing you have suffered so many things in your persons and goods, seeing God by the power of his grace bath carried you through with satisfaction and joy, do not now despond and faint upon the approach of the same difficulties, or those of a like nature.’The especial force of the inference the words themselves do declare.
2. That which he exhorts them thus unto by this argument, is the preservation and continuance of their “confidence.” This παῤῥησία , whatever it be, was that which engaged them in and carried them through their sufferings; which alone was praiseworthy in them. For merely to suffer is ἐκ τῶν μέσων , and may be good or evil, as its causes and occasions and circumstances are. Now, this was absolutely neither their faith nor profession; but, as we have had occasion to mention several times, it is a fruit and effect of faith, whereby the minds of believers are made prompt, ready, free unto all duties of profession, against all difficulties and discouragements. It is a boldness of mind, with freedom from bondage and fear, in the duties of religion towards God and man, from a prevailing persuasion of our acceptance with God therein. In this frame of spirit, by this fruit and effect of faith, these Hebrews were carried cheerfully through all their sufferings for the gospel And indeed without it, it is impossible that we should undergo any great sufferings unto the glory of God, or our own advantage. For if we are made diffident of our cause by unbelief; if the helps and succours tendered in the gospel and promises thereof be betrayed by fear; if the shame of outward sufferings and scorns do enfeeble the mind; if we have not an evidence of “better things” to lay in the balance against present evils; it is impossible to endure any “great fight of afflictions” in a clue manner. Unto all these evil habits of the mind is this “confidence” opposed. This was that grace, that exercise of faith, which was once admired in Peter and John, Acts 4:13. And there can be no better account given of it, than what is evident in the behavior of those two apostles in that season. Being in bonds, under the power of their enraged enemies, for preaching the gospel, yet without fear, tergiversation, or hesitation; without at, all questioning what would be the issue, and how they would deal with them whom they charged to have murdered the Lord Jesus; with all boldness and plainness of speech they gave an account of their faith, and testified unto the truth. Wherefore those things that I have mentioned are plainly included in this confidence, as to invincible constancy of mind and boldness in the profession of the gospel, in the face of all difficulties, through a trust in God and a valuation of the eternal reward, which are the foundation of it. This frame of spirit they ought to labor to confirm in themselves, who are or may be called unto sufferings for the gospel. If they are unprepared, they will be shaken and cast down from their stability.
3. This confidence, which had been of such use unto them, the apostle exhorts them now “not to cast away;” μή ἀποβάλητε . He doth not say, leave it not, forego it not; but, “cast it not away.” For where any graces have been stirred up unto their due exercise, and have had success, they will not fail not be lost without some positive act of the mind in rejecting of them, and the refusal of the succours which they tender unto us. And this rejection may be only as unto its actual exercise, not as unto its radical inbeing in the soul. For as I look on this confidence as a grace, so it is not the root, but a branch from it: faith is the root, and confidence is a branch springing out of it. Wherefore it may, at least for a season, be cast away, while faith abides firm. Sometimes failing in faith makes this confidence to fail; and sometimes failing in this confidence weakens and impairs faith. When faith on any occasion is impaired and ensnared, this confidence will not abide; and so soon as we begin to fail in our confidence, it will reflect weakness on faith itself. Now unto the casting away of this confidence these things do concur:
(1.) That it do, as it were, offer itself unto us for our assistance, as in former times. This it doth in the reasonings and arguings of faith for boldness and constancy in profession; which are great and many, and will arise in the minds of them that are spiritually enlightened.
(2.) Arguments against the use of it, especially at the present season when it is called for, are required in this case. And they are of two sorts:
[1.] Such as are suggested by carnal wisdom,, urging men unto this or that course, whereby they may spare themselves, save their lives, and keep their goods, by rejecting this confidence, although they continue firm in the faith;
[2.] From carnal fears, representing the greatness, difficulties, and dangers that lie in the way of an open profession with boldness and confidence.
(3.) A resolution to forego this confidence, upon the urgency of these arguings.
(4.) An application unto other ways and means inconsistent with the exercise of this grace in the discharge of this duty.
And hence it appears how great is the evil here dehorted from, and what a certain entrance it will prove into the apostasy itself so judged as before, if not timely prevented. And it is that which we ought continually to watch against; for he that was constant in this grace yet did once make a forfeiture of it unto his unutterable sorrow, namely, the apostle Peter. And it is not lost but upon the corrupt reasonings which we have now mentioned, that aggravate its guilt. He that casts away his confidence as unto his present profession, and the duties thereof, doth what lies in him cast away his interest in future salvation. Men in such cases have a thousand pretences to relieve themselves; but the present duty is as indispensably required as future happiness is faithfully promised. Wherefore the apostle adds,
4. The reason why they should be careful in the preservation of this confidence; which is, that it hath a “great recompence of reward.”
That which the apostle as unto the matter of it calls here “a recompence of reward,” in the end of the next verse, from the formal cause of it he calls “the promise,” and that promise which we receive “after we have done the will of God.” Wherefore the recompence of reward here intended is the glory of heaven, proposed as a “crown,” a reward in way of recompence unto them that overcome in their sufferings for the gospel. And the future glory, which, as unto its original cause, is the fruit of the good pleasure and sovereign grace of God, whose pleasure it is to give us the kingdom; and as unto its procuring cause, is the sole purchase of the blood of Christ, who obtained for us eternal redemption; and on both accounts a free gift of God, for “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ,” so as it can be no way merited nor procured by ourselves, by virtue of any proportion by the rules of justice between what we do or suffer and what is promised; is yet constantly promised unto suffering believers under the name of a “recompence” and “reward.” For it doth not become the greatness and goodness of God to call his own people unto sufferings for his name, and unto his glory, and therein the loss of their lives many times, with all enjoyments here below, and not propose unto them, nor provide for them, that which shall be infinitely better than all that they so undergo. See Hebrews 6:11-12, and the exposition of that place; Revelation 3:3. Wherefore it is added,
That this confidence hath this “recompence of reward,” that is, it gives a right and title unto the future reward of glory; it hath it in the promise and constitution of God. Whoever abides in its exercise shall be no loser in the issue. They are as sure in divine promises as in our own possession. And although they are yet future, faith gives them a present subsistence in the soul, as unto their power and efficacy.
Obs. 1. In the times of suffering, and in the approaches of them, it is the duty of believers to look on the glory of heaven under the notion of a refreshing, all-sufficient reward.
Hebrews 10:36 . “For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.” The apostle in these words confirms the necessity of the exhortation he had insisted on. He had pressed them unto nothing but what was needful for them. For whereas there were two things proposed unto them; one in the way of duty, namely, that they should do the will of God; the other in the way of reward, or what they should receive upon their so doing; things were so ordered in the sovereign pleasure and will of God that they could believe neither of them, not only without the duty which he exhorted them unto, but without a continuance therein. And indeed the exhortation not to cast away their confidence, that is, to abide in it, and to improve it against all difficulties and dangers, doth include in it that patience which he affirms that they stand in need of. Wherefore there are three things in the words:
1. The confirmation of the preceding exhortation by this reason, that “they had need of patience.”
2. The time and season wherein that patience was so needful as unto them; and that was whilst they were doing the will of God. 3. The end whereunto it was necessary; which is the receiving of the promise.
1. The rational enforcement is introduced by the redditive γάρ , “for.” ‘This is that which you must apply your minds unto, or you cannot attain your end.’
2. That which he asserts in this reason is, that “they had need of patience.” He doth not charge them with want of patience, but declares the necessity of it as unto its continual exercise. ῾Υπομονή , is “a bearing of evils with quietness and complacency of mind, without raging, fretting, despondency, or inclination unto compliance with undue ways of deliverance.” “In patience possess your souls.” Παῤῥησία , or “confidence,” will engage men into troubles and difficulties in a way of duty; but if patience take not up the work and carry it on, confidence will flag and fail See Hebrews 6:11-12, and our exposition thereon. Patience is the perfecting grace of suffering Christians, James 1:4-5; and that which all tribulations do excite in the first place unto its proper actings, whereon the exercise of other graces doth depend, Romans 5:4-5.
‘This,’saith the apostle, ‘you have need of.’He speaks not absolutely of the grace itself, as though they had it not; but of its continual exercise in the condition wherein they were, or whereinto they were entering. Men for the most part desire such a state wherein they may have as little need and use of this grace as possible; for it supposeth things hard and difficult, about which alone it is conversant. But this is seldom the estate of the professors of the gospel; for besides the troubles and afflictions which are common unto, and almost inseparable from this life, they are for the most part continually exposed unto all sorts of troubles and miseries, on the account of their profession. He that will be the disciple of Christ must take up his cross. The necessity here intimated of patience is grounded on these two suppositions:
(1.) That those who profess the gospel in sincerity shall ordinarily meet with trials, tribulations, and sufferings, upon the account of that profession. This the Scripture and the experience of all ages do abundantly testify; and in particular, it was the condition of these Hebrews, as it was of all the primitive churches.
(2.) That without the constant exercise of patience, none can pass through those tribulations unto the glory of God, and their own advantage, as unto the great end of the obtaining the promise of eternal life. For without it men will either faint and give way to temptations that shall turn them aside from their profession; or will misbehave themselves under their sufferings, unto the dishonor of God and the ruin of their own souls. Patience is not a mere endurance of trouble, but it is indeed the due exercise of all graces under sufferings; nor can any grace be acted in that condition where patience is wanting. The exercise of faith, love, and delight in God; the resignation of ourselves to his sovereign will and pleasure; the valuation of things eternal above all things of this present life; whereby the soul is kept quiet and composed, free from distractions, fortified against temptations, resolved for perseverance to the end: this is patience. It is therefore indispensably necessary unto this condition.
Obs. 2. He that would abide faithful in difficult seasons, must fortify his soul with an unconquerable patience.
(1.) Then pray for it.
(2.) Give it its due exercise in the approaches of troubles, that it be not pressed and overwhelmed by thoughts contrary unto it
(3.) Take care to keep faith vigorous and active; it will grow on no other root but that of faith.
(4.) Especially exercise faith unto a view of eternal things; which will engage the aid of hope, and administer the food that patience lives upon. Wherefore in this case,
[1.] That the want of it lays the soul open unto the power and efficacy of all sorts of temptations, for this is the only armor of proof against the assaults of Satan and the world in a suffering season.
[2.] It is that alone which will assuage the pain of sufferings, ease the burden of them, rebate their edge, and make them easy to be borne. All other things will fall before the sharpness of them, or give relief that shall end in ruin.
[3.] It is this alone whereby God is glorified in our sufferings, and honor given to Jesus Christ in the gospel.
3. The next thing in the words is the season of the necessity of the continuance of the exercise of this grace and obedience; until we have done the will of God. There is no dismission from the discharge of this duty until we have done the whole will of God. The will of God is twofold:
(1.) The will of his purpose and good pleasure, the eternal act of his counsel, which is accompanied with infinite wisdom, concerning all things that shall come to pass.
(2.) The will of his command, presenting unto us our duty, or what it is that he requireth of us. Respect may be, and I judge is had, unto the will of God in both these senses in this place. For respect is had unto the will of God disposing the state of the church and all believers therein into troubles, sufferings, and temptations, 1 Peter 3:17. He could, if it had seemed good unto him, have placed the church in such a condition in the world as that it should have been free from all outward troubles and distresses; but it is his will that it should be otherwise, and it is for the ends of his own glory, as also the good of the church in that state wherein they are to continue in this world. This, therefore, is that which we are to acquiesce in, as unto all the sufferings we may be exposed unto in this world: It is the will of God that it should be so. And he seldom leaves us destitute, without a prospect into those holy reasons and ends of it for which it is necessary that it should be so. But whereas this principally respects sufferings, it will be said, ‘How can we do this will of God, when nothing is required of us but patiently to endure what we do undergo?’I answer,
(1.) Though sufferings be principally intended in this place, yet they are not so only. The whole state and condition of our lives in this world depends on this will of God: the time of our doing and suffering, of living and dying, with all our circumstances, is resolved into his will concerning them. And it is weariness of the effects ,of this will of God that is ha the most the cause of their departure from their profession. Wherefore this sense is not to be excluded. See Acts 13:36. But,
(2.) The will of God is that whereby our whole duty is presented unto us, as unto our faith, obedience, and worship; as our Lord Christ “came to do the will of him that sent him,” according to the commandment he received of him. The whole of our duty is resolved into the will of God, that is, the will of his command; and so, to “do the will of God” in this sense, is to abide constant in all the duties of faith and obedience, worship and profession, which he requireth of us. And there is no release in this matter whilst we are .in this world. Wherefore says the apostle, ‘You have need of patience, during the whole course of obedience presented unto you, as that without which you cannot pass through it, so as thereon to inherit the promises.’
4. What is meant here by “the promise” is evident from the context. All the promises of grace and mercy in the covenant they had already received; God had not only given them the promises of all these things, but he had given them the good things themselves that were promised, as to the degrees and measures of their enjoyment in this world. And as unto the promise of eternal life and glory, they had received that also, and did mix it with faith; but the thing promised itself they had not received. This different notion of the promises the apostle declares Hebrews 11:0, as we shall see, God willing.
Obs. 3. The glory of heaven is an abundant recompence for all we shall undergo in our way towards it.
Obs. 4. Believers ought to sustain themselves in their sufferings with the promise of future glory.
Obs. 5. The future blessedness is given unto us by the promise, and is therefore free and undeserved.
Obs. 6. The consideration of eternal life as the free effect of the grace of God and Christ, and as proposed in a gracious promise, is a thousand times more full of spiritual refreshment unto a believer, than if he should conceive of it or look upon it merely as a reward proposed unto our own doings or merits.
῎Ετι γὰρ μικρόν ὅσον , ὁ ἐρχόμενος ἥξει , καὶ οὐ χρονιεῖ . ῾Ο δὲ δίκαιος ἐκ πίστεως ζήσεται· καὶ ἐὰν ὑποστείληται , οὐκ εὐδοκεῖ ἡ ψυχή μου ἐν αὐτῷ . ᾿Ημεῖς δὲ οὐκ ἐσμὲν ὑποστολῆς εἰς ἀπώλειαν , ἀλλὰ πίστεως εἰς περιποίησιν ψυχῆς . 
 VARIOUS READING. Lachmann and Tischendorf read δίκαιός μον ED.
Hebrews 10:37-39 . For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith: but if [ any man ] draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.
The substance of the apostolical exhortation) as hath been often observed, is the constancy of the Hebrews in their profession, against persecutions and temptations. Unto this end he commends unto them the necessary use of confidence and patience, as those graces which would carry them through their difficulties and support them under them. But these graces are not the root whereon constancy and perseverance do grow; they are all branches of it. They do not give strength unto the soul to do and suffer according to the mind of God; but they are the way whereby it doth exercise its strength, which it hath from another grace. It is faith from whence alone all these things do spring. This the apostle knowing, he reserves the declaration of its nature, efficacy, and power, unto the close of his argument. And such an enarration of the nature and efficacy of it he intends as will certainly effect the great work of carrying them through their difficulties, even all that they may be called unto, because it hath done the same in all true believers from the foundation of the world. Wherefore, as is usual with him, in these verses he makes a transition unto the consideration of faith itself, whereinto he resolves the whole exhortation unto constancy in profession.
And there are three things in these three verses:
1. A proposal of the object of faith; which is the coming of Christ, with the circumstances of it, Hebrews 10:37.
2. The necessity and efficacy of faith on that proposal, with the certain ruin of them that are strangers unto it, confirmed by prophetical testimony, Hebrews 10:38.
3. The judgment of the apostle concerning these Hebrews, as unto their faith, and the sincerity of it; from whence he proceeds to declare its nature, and confirm its efficacy, Hebrews 10:39.
Hebrews 10:37 . “For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.”
It might arise in the minds of these Hebrews, weakening and discouraging them from a compliance with this exhortation of the apostle, that it was a long time that they were to be exposed unto and exercised with these troubles, so as that they might justly fear that they should be worn out by them. And indeed there is nothing doth more press upon and try the minds of men in their sufferings, than that they can see no issue out of them; for we are all naturally inclined to desire some rest and peace, if it may stand with the will of God, whilst we are in this world. To encourage them against the influence of this temptation, the apostle accommodates a testimony out of the prophet Habakkuk, which leads him directly unto the consideration of the power and efficacy of faith, which he had designed: Hebrews 2:3-4, “For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; for it will surely come, it will not tarry. Behold, his soul which is lifted up, is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.” He speaks of a “vision;” that is, a prophetical vision of good things which God would effect in due time. And there is the same reason in genera] of all the promises of God: wherefore what is spoken of one, namely, of the deliverance of the people, may be accommodated unto another, namely, the coming of Christ, whereby that deliverance is to be wrought. There is in the prophet a supposition that it seems to be delayed, and the accomplishment of it to be retarded. “Though it tarry,” saith he; that is, ‘seem to you so to do.’For believers are apt to think long under their sufferings of the seeming delays of the accomplishment of God’s promises, and long for the time of it; as wicked men and scoffers harden themselves in their sins and impieties on the same account with respect to God’s threatenings, 2 Peter 3:1-4. But saith he, “It will not tarry;” that is, ‘although it seem to you so to do, and you are dejected thereon about it, yet there is an appointed time for it, and that in itself no long time, beyond which it shall not be deferred one moment,’ Isaiah 60:22; 2 Peter 3:0. This whole sense the apostle compriseth in this verse, though he doth not peculiarly render the words of the prophet.
1. He respects in this verse the season of the accomplishment of what he now proposeth unto them. And there are three things therein:
(1.) An acknowledgment that it is not immediately to be looked for. ,For it is a thing yet to be waited for, ‘Yet there remains some time for its accomplishment.’And this is that which renders their confidence and patience in sufferings so necessary, as he had before observed.
Obs. 1. The delay of the accomplishment of promises is a great exercise of faith and patience; whence are all the exhortations not to faint in our minds, nor to be weary.
(2.) There is a limitation of the time for the accomplishment of what seems so to be delayed; it is μικρόν , “a little space.” ‘Though it seem to tarry, wait for it; it will come, and that ere long,’or ‘after a short space of time.’
(3.) A further declaration of the nature of this season in these words, ὅσον ὅσον , “quantum quantum,” or “quantillum quantillum.” The reduplication of the word may yield a double sense:
[1.] A limitation of the time; ‘a very little,’a short space, not to be feared or reckoned on.
[2.] On the other side, a supposition of some duration; ‘how long soever it be, yet it is but a “little while.”’According unto either sense the design of the apostle is the same; which is, to satisfy the Hebrews that there shall be no such delay in what they looked after and expected as should be a just cause of despondency or weariness in them. As if he had said, ‘My brethren, faint not, be not wearied nor discouraged, keep up confidence and patience; you know what you wait for and expect, which will be an abundant recompence unto you for all your sufferings. And whatever appearances there may be of its tarrying or delay, whatever it may seem to you, yet if you have but a prospect into eternity, be it what it will, it is but a very little while; and so is to be esteemed by you.’
2. That which is proposed unto them under this limitation is this, that “he who shall come will come, and will not tarry.” What the prophet spake of the vision he saw, the apostle applies unto the person of Christ, for the reason before mentioned. ἐρχόμενος , “he that shall come,” is a periphrasis of Christ, frequently used and applied unto him. Once it is used to express his eternity, Revelation 1:8; but generally it hath respect unto the promise of him. The foundation of the church was laid in the promise that he should come; and he came in his Spirit unto them from the foundation of the world, 1 Peter 1:11; 1 Peter 3:18-20: yet this was he that should come, as is expressed John 1:0, this was his coming in the flesh. After his incarnation and ministry, he was now, with respect unto them, he that was come; yea, to deny him to be come in answer unto that promise, is anti- Christian, 1 John 4:3. Yet after this he was to come again, on a double account:
(1.) In the power of his Spirit and the exercise of his royal authority, for the setting up and settling his church in the world; whereof there are two parts:
[1.] The assistance of his Spirit, with his miraculous operations, unto the ministers of the gospel; which were “the powers of the world to come.”
John 16:7-8. This was an illustrious advent of Christ, not in his own person, but in that of his vicar and substitute, whom he promised to send in his stead. Hereby he was acquitted from all that dishonor, contempt, and reproach, that were cast on him in the world.
[2.] He was to come for the punishment and destruction of his stubborn and inveterate adversaries. And these also were of three sorts:
1st . Those that were so directly unto his own person, and by consequence unto his gospel
2 dly. Such as were directly enemies unto his gospel, and by consequence unto his person.
3 dly . Such as were declared enemies to them both.
1 st . Of the first sort were the Jews, who slew him, who murdered him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and thereon continued their hatred against the gospel and all that made profession thereof. He was to come to “destroy those murderers, and to burn their city;” which fell out not long after the writing of this epistle, and is properly intended in this place. See Matthew 24:3; Matthew 24:27; Matthew 24:30; 2 Peter 3:4; Jude 1:14; Revelation 1:7; Mark 14:62; James 5:7-8. For hereon ensued the deliverance of the church from the rage and persecution of the Jews, with the illustrious propagation of the gospel throughout the world.
2 dly. The Pagan Roman Empire was the second sort of his adversaries, who were immediate enemies unto his gospel, and consequently to his person. These, after the destruction of the former sort, raged with all blood and cruelty against the church for sundry ages. These, therefore, he promised he would come and destroy; and the faith of the church concerning this his coming was, that “he that should come would come, and would not tarry.” The description of this coming of Christ is given us, Revelation 6:7-10.
3 dly . After this arose a third sort of enemies, who in words owning his person and gospel, opposed all his offices, and persecuted all that Would yield obedience unto him in the exercise of them, and were thereby consequentially enemies both to his person and gospel. This was the apostate Christian Church of Rome, or the New Testament Babylon. And in respect of these enemies of his, Christ is still “he that is to come;” and as such is believed in, and his coming prayed for by all the saints. For he is to destroy the man of sin, the head of that apostasy, “by the brightness of his coming.” For as the opposition made unto him did not arise suddenly and at once, as those forementioned did, especially that of the Jews, whose destruction was therefore speedy and at once, but in a long tract of time grew up gradually unto its height; so he will destroy it in like manner.
And therefore, although he hath set his hand unto that work, and begun the execution of his judgments on the antichristian state in some degree, yet as to the utter destruction of it by those plagues which shall befall it “in one day;’he is still ὁ ἐρχόμενος , he that is looked for, “he that is to come.”
(2.) Christ is ὁ ἐρχόμενος with respect unto his coming at the last day unto judgment. This is known and confessed, and the business of his coming therein is the prayer of the whole church, Revelation 22:20. And it is an article of faith, whose nature we have described on Hebrews 6:2.
It may be now inquired, with respect unto whether of these comings it is said here “he shall come,” that he is ὁ ἐρχόμενος . It is generally referred by interpreters unto his last advent, at the day of judgment. I doubt not but that also is included, but I dare not exclude the other comings mentioned, as things which were principally suited unto the relief of the church under its distress. For unto every state of the church there is a coming of Christ suited and accommodated unto their condition, whereby their faith is kept in continual exercise of desires after it. This was the life of faith under the old testament, as to his coming in the flesh, until it was accomplished. This faith, after his resurrection, they lived on, though but for a short season, until he came in the power of his Spirit, and his miraculous operations, so to “convince the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment.” Nor do I understand how “the just can live by faith,” without a continual expectation of the coming of Christ in a way suited to the sufferings and deliverance of his church in that season. For instance, the state was such now with those Hebrews, that if an end were not put unto it, or the days were not shortened, no flesh among them could have been saved, as our Savior speaks, Matthew 24:22. In this state the church looked for such a coming of Christ as should work out their deliverance; and he came accordingly, as we have showed. Afterwards, the earth was filled with the blood of saints and martyrs, by the power of the Roman empire. In this state those that were slain, and those that were alive, appointed unto death, cried, “How long, O Lord , holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?” They exercised faith also in this word, that it was but “a little while, and he that shall come will come;” which he did accordingly. And the case is the same with those that suffer under the antichristian apostasy: they live, pray, and believe, in the expectation of the appearance of the brightness of that coming of Christ wherewith the man of sin shall be consumed; and although it seems to tarry, they wait for it. This is “the faith and patience of the saints.”
Wherefore, the end for which this coming of Christ is proposed unto the church being the supportment and encouragement of their souls unto faith and patience, a respect must be had unto such a coming as is suited to their relief in their present state and condition. And this unto these Hebrews was then ἔτι μικρὸν ὅσον in a literal sense. So it is to be accommodated unto all other states of the church. And therein the consideration of the coming of Christ at the last day, unto the final and eternal judgment, ought not to be omitted. This is that anchor and great reserve of believers in all their distresses and sufferings, when all appearance of deliverance in the world absolutely ceaseth, to betake themselves unto this, that there is a day approaching “wherein God will judge the world in righteousness by the man whom he hath ordained.” That the Lord Christ shall assuredly come unto that judgment is that which they principally resolve their satisfaction into. See 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10.
Obs. 2. It is essential unto faith to be acted on the promised coming of Christ, to all that look for his appearance.
Obs. 3. There is a promise of the coming of Christ suited unto the state and condition of the church in all ages.
Obs. 4. The appearing delay of the accomplishment of any of these promises requires an exercise of the faith and patience of the saints,
Obs. 5. Every such coming of Christ hath its appointed season, beyond which it shall not tarry.
Obs. 6. This divine disposition of things gives a necessity unto the continual exercise of faith, prayer, and patience, about the coming of Christ.
Obs. 7. Although we may not know the especial dispensations and moments of time that are passing over us, yet all believers may know the state in general of the church under which they are, and what coming of Christ they are to look for and expect. So is it with us who live under the antichristian state, which Christ in his appointed time will come and destroy.
Obs. 8. Faith in any church satisfies the souls of men with what is the good and deliverance of that state, although a man do know or is persuaded that personally he shall not see it himself, nor enjoy it. The faith of this kind is for the church, and not for men’s individual persons.
Obs. 9. Under despondencies as to particular appearances or comings of Christ, it is the duty of believers to fix and exercise their faith on his illustrious appearance at the last day.
Obs. 10. Every particular coming of Christ in a way suited unto the present deliverance of the church, is an infallible pledge of his coming at the last unto judgment,
Obs. 11. Every promised coming of Christ is certain, and shall not be delayed beyond its appointed season, when no difficulties shall be able to stand before it.
Hebrews 10:38-39 . “Now the just shall live by faith: but if [ any man ] them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.”
The apostle proceedeth in the allegation of the testimony taken out of the prophet, and the application of it unto his present purpose. And he observeth not herein the order of the words, but keeps unto the sense and meaning of them. And two things he designeth in these two verses: First, To declare the event of the proposal made unto them of the coming of Christ, whereby he confirmeth his exhortation unto faith and patience in their suffering condition, verse 38. Secondly, An application of the different events mentioned by the prophet unto these Hebrews, verse 39.
In the first there are two different events expressed of the proposal and exhortation before given and made, with the means of them; the one is, that “the just shall live by his faith;” and the other (which is built on the supposition, “if any man draw back”) is, then “my soul shall have no pleasure in him.”
1. In the first there are to be considered,
(1.) The note of connection, in the adversative particle δέ ;
(2.) There is the qualification of the person spoken of, he is “the just;”
(3.) The means of his being so, or of his obtaining the event mentioned, which is “by faith;”
(4.) What is the event itself, “he shall live.”
Three times doth the apostle in his epistles make use of this prophetical testimony, Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11, and in this place.
(1.) The note of inference in the exceptive particle καί , we render “now;” as afterwards we render δέ , “but.” The first, proper sense might as well have been retained; “but” in the first place, and “and” afterwards. But the difference is of no importance; δέ is here taken for ו in the prophet, which is ofttimes exceptive, וְצַדִּיק . And in the prophet the expression is plain, because it followeth the description of the contrary frame unto what is here asserted, “he whose heart is lifted up:” but δέ , in the transposition of the words used by the apostle (for he first repeats the last clause of the words, and then the former afterwards, which was more accommodate unto his purpose), doth not seem to have the force of an exceptive;, nor hath it so hath so unto the difficulties supposed in the case under consideration, which are the sufferings and temptations which professors of the gospel should in common meet withal, and in the appearance of a delay as unto their deliverance out of them, “But,” saith the apostle, ‘however, notwithstanding these things, “the just shall live by faith.”’
(2.) The person spoken of is ὁ δίκαιος , “a just person,” a man really made just, or justified by faith, every one that is realty and truly so. I doubt not but this is included in the word, and the state of justification is intended in it; to which purpose the words are elsewhere cited by the apostle. But yet that which is here principally intended, is that qualification of a righteous man which is opposed to pride and haste of spirit through unbelief, whereon men draw back from God in the profession of the gospel. The “just man,” he who is humble, meek, sincere, subdued unto the will of God, waiting for his pleasure, as all justified persons are in their several degrees, “he shall live;” for he is free from that principle of pride and unbelief which ruins the souls of men in times of trial.
Obs. 12. There are especial qualifications of grace required unto steadfastness in profession in times of persecution and long- continued trials.
(3.) “Shall live by faith;” so we. ᾿Εκ πίστεως may be joined with δίκαιος , and so express the instrumental cause, way, and means, whereby a man comes to be δίκαιος , “just,” that is, δικαιωθείς , “justified;” which is by faith. For it is by faith both that a man is justified, and also those gracious qualifications are wrought in him which enable him to persevere in his profession. It purifieth the heart of that leaven of pride which destroyeth all who are infected with it. Or it may denote the way and means whereby a just man doth abide and persevere in his profession unto life. And this sense I embrace, because it is the entrance of the apostle into his demonstration of the mighty things which faith will do, and which have been done and suffered through faith by believers, which he declares here in general, namely, whatever difficulties and oppositions a just man meets withal in the way to things eternal, faith will carry him through them with safety and success.
(4.) “He shall live.” Life in both the principal senses of it is here intended.
[1.] He shall not die in and from his profession; he shall not perish as trees plucked up by the roots, twice dead; he shall maintain a spiritual life, the life of God, as the psalmist speaks, “I shall not die, but live, and declare the loving-kindness of the LORD .”
[2.] He shall live, or attain the promise of eternal life; so is the word expounded in the close of the next verse, “Believe unto the saving of the soul.”
Obs. 13. Many things are required to secure the success of our profession in times of difficulties and trials: as,
(1.) That our persons be righteous, or justified by grace;
(2.) That we be furnished with those graces that are appointed unto that end;
Obs. 14. The continuance of the spiritual life and eternal salvation of true believers is secured from all oppositions whatever. As it is confessed there is in these words a prescription of the way and means whereby they may be so, so there is a faithful promise of God that so they shall be.
2. In the latter part of the verse there is a description of others, on a supposition of a contrary state, frame, and event. In the former, the person is righteous; the way of his acting in the present case is by faith; and the event is life, “he shall live.” On the other hand, there is a supposition made of a person not so qualified, not so acting, not so living, not having the same success, but contrary in all these things. Wherefore they do greatly deceive themselves and others who suppose it the same person who is thus spoken of, and countenance themselves by the defect of the pronoun τίς , which is naturally and necessarily supplied in our translation. For this reading and sense of the words, “The just shall live by faith, and if any draw back,” etc., is contrary to the order of the words both in the prophet and the apostle, and the express declaration of the mind of the apostle in the next verse. For as the words lie in the prophet, this of the just living by faith is a direct exception unto and removal of them whose souls are lifted up so as to depart from God. ‘But,’saith he, ‘the just, it shall not be so with him;’that is, “the just shall live by his faith;” which is a direct opposition unto the other sort of persons. And although the order of the words be changed by the apostle, yet the opposition between the two sorts of persons is evidently continued. Wherefore in the next verse the apostle makes an express distinction of those unto whom he spake, or concerning whom he speaks in the two states, the one ὑποστολῆς , the other πίστεως . Of the latter he had spoken in the first words, and of the former in those that are now to be spoken unto. I shall therefore retain the supplement in our translation, “if any man, or “ any one draw back,” if there be in any an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God.
There is an appearance of a great change in the words of the prophet, הִנֵּה עֻפְּלָה לֹאאּיָשְׁרָּה נַפְשׁוֹ For “his soul, which in the prophet is referred unto the person offending, is in the apostle referred unto God who is offended. For indeed the word נַפְשׁוֹ may be so referred in the original, if we suppose a change of speech, and that the prophet having spoken before in the name of God, doth here speak of God, and the .respect he had unto proud unbelievers. But the word יָשְׁרָה is scarce reconcilable unto this interpretation. Wherefore it is enough that the apostle gives us the plain general sense and meaning of the words, with an exposition of them, as he hath done, since he seldom keeps unto the proper words of the testimonies he quotes, but always gives the mind of the Holy Ghost in them.
There are two things in the words:
(1.) A crime supposed with reference unto the case under consideration, which is perseverance under trials and temptations;
(2.) A sentence pronounced upon that crime.
(1.) The first is expressed by ὑποστείληται . The word in the prophet denotes the cause of the sin intended; herein, its nature and effect. The original of all defection from the gospel is in the sinful elation of heart, not submitting unto, not acquiescing in the will of God, not satisfied with the condition of temporal sufferings on the account of the eternal reward. When men are under the power of this evil frame of heart, they will “draw back,” subduct themselves out of that state and condition wherein they are exposed to these inconveniencies. ᾿᾿Εὰν ὑποστείληται , ‘“ If any man” who hath made or doth make profession of faith in Christ and of the gospel, upon the invasion and long continuance of trials, temptations, and sufferings for them, do, through want of submission unto and acquiescence in the will of God, “withdraw” himself from that profession, and from communion therein with them who persist faithful in it, “my heart shall not,” etc.’This is the evil which the great design of the whole epistle is to obviate and prevent, which the apostle applies himself unto with all manner of arguments, motives, exhortations, and threatenings, to make effectual For this was that sin which, by reason of their sufferings and persecutions, professors were exposed unto, and which was absolutely ruinous unto the souls of them that fell under the power of it.
Obs. 15. No persons whatever ought to be, on any consideration, secure against those sins which present circumstances give an efficacy unto.
Obs. 16. It is an effect of spiritual wisdom, to discern what is the dangerous and prevailing temptation of any season, and vigorously to set ourselves in opposition unto it.
Obs. 17. It is much to be feared that in great trials some will draw back from that profession of the gospel wherein they are engaged.
Obs. 18. This defection is commonly durable, continued by various pretences. This is included in the word ὑποστείληται , gradually and covertly to subduct himself.
(2.) The sentence denounced against this sin is οὐκ εὐδοκεῖ ἡ ψυχή μου ἐν αὐτῷ . The “soul” of God, is God himself; but he so speaks of himself to affect us with a due apprehension of his concernment in what he so speaks, as we are with that which our souls, that is, our minds, with all our affections, are engaged in. So God promises to the church, that he will “rejoice over them with his whole heart, and with his whole soul.” So is it here. What God thus affirms of himself is, that he hath no delight in such a person, he is not pleased with him, he shall not live before him. There is a μείωσις in the words, “he shall have no delight in him;” that is, he will abhor him, despise him, and in the end utterly destroy him. But I suppose it may be thus expressed also to obviate a pretense of the Hebrews against the apostle at that season, namely, that by deserting the truth of the gospel, and returning unto their Judaism, they did that which was pleasing unto God, and wherein they should find acceptance with him. For, as they supposed, they returned again unto those institutions of worship which he had been pleased withal, and which were of his own appointment. So all apostates have some pretense for what they do, wherewith they justify themselves, until their iniquity be found out to be hateful. Wherefore, to deprive them of this pretense, the apostle declares that the soul of God takes no pleasure in them. And in this negation all positive evils are included. When God will not, doth not delight in any persons, the consequent is, that he will utterly destroy them. See Jeremiah 15:1.
Obs. 19. It is our great duty to look diligently that we are of that holy frame of mind, that due exercise of faith, as that the soul of God may take pleasure in us.
Obs. 20. Though there appear as yet no outward tokens or evidences of the anger and displeasure of God against our ways, yet if we are in that state wherein God hath no pleasure in us, we are entering into certain ruin.
Obs. 21. Backsliders from the gospel are in a peculiar manner the abhorrency of the soul of God.
Obs. 22. When the soul of God is not delighted in any, nothing can preserve them from utter destruction.
Hebrews 10:39 . “But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.”
An application is made in these words unto the state and condition of these Hebrews at present, at least unto them whom the apostle designs in an especial manner; as also, a transition is made unto that which now lay in his eye, namely, the full demonstration of the power and efficacy of faith to make us accepted with God, and to carry us through in the course of our greatest trials and temptations with success and victory. The application he makes unto the believing Hebrews, is of the same nature and kind with that which on the same occasion he had made unto them before, Hebrews 6:9. In both places, having treated of the danger of apostasy and the woful state of apostates, he relieves the minds of believers by letting them know, that although, for their awakening and instruction, as for other ends, he declared the dreadful judgments of God against unprofitable professors and apostates, yet was it not as though he apprehended that that was their condition, or that they were cast out of the favor of God, or cursed by the law, but he was “persuaded better things of them.” Such ministerial encouragements are needful in like cases, that persons be not exasperated through an apprehension that undue surmises are entertained against them, nor too much dejected with fears that their condition makes them obnoxious unto the threatening. Both which are diligently to be avoided.
The apostle’s reckoning himself, in his ministerial dealing with them, in their state and condition, as here, “We are not,” hath been spoken unto elsewhere, with the reasons of it. And whereas he says, “We are not,” it is frivolous to interpret it by” We ought not to be,” as is done by some; for so the words have nothing of comfort or supportment in them, which yet is the total design of them. Nor is it an absolutely infallible declaration of the state and condition of all individuals concerning whom he speaks; but he gives the interpretation of that persuasion, on what grounds it was built, and what it was resolved into; which was spoken of in the other place, whither the reader is referred, Hebrews 6:9.
In the words there is a double supposition, of a twofold opposite state and a twofold opposite event, whose foundation is laid in the verse foregoing. The states are ὑποστολῆς on the one hand, and πίστεως on the other. The events are perdition on the one hand, and saving the soul on the other. The first of these is denied, the latter affirmed, concerning these Hebrews.
1. “We are not ὑποστολῆς εἰς ἀπώλειαν .” Even among them that were called in those days this twofold state was found. No small number there were who were then falling into apostasy; but they were a certain determined number which that plague should prevail against, 2 Timothy 2:17-21. They were “appointed to stumble at the word,” being “of old ordained unto this condemnation;’ those of Israel unto whom the Lord Christ was “a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense;” the reprobates among them, which were called, but not to be saved. This whole band of rovers, though in profession they were harnessed like the children of Ephraim, yet turned their backs in the day of battle. The event of this defection was “destruction.” Gradual decays and declensions there may be among true believers, from which they may be recovered; but those here intended are such as fall into eternal ruin. For although some respect may be had unto that woful fiery destruction that was coming upon them, in the desolation of the city, land, and temple, yet it is eternal ruin and destruction that is principally intended, as is manifest in the antithesis, wherein it is opposed unto “the saving of the soul.”
Obs. 23. The Scripture everywhere testifieth, that in the visible church there is a certain number of false hypocrites, whose end and lot it is to be destroyed.
Obs. 24. It is our duty to evidence unto our own consciences, and give evidence unto others, that we are not of this sort or number.
Obs. 25. Nothing can free apostates from eternal ruin.
2. That which is asserted of these believing Hebrews is, that they belonged unto another state, that had another event. This state is, that they were of “the faith; so our apostle useth this expression, Galatians 3:7-8: that is, true believers, and heirs of the promises. He there declares, that they are not only such as make profession of the faith, but such as truly and really believe; a state of them unto whom all the promises as unto present preservation and eternal salvation are made in the word. ‘We are of that faith which is effectual unto the saving of the soul.’Both here and in the former clause, not only the event, but the actual influence of apostasy on the one hand unto destruction, and of faith on the other to the saving of the soul, are intended; so the preposition εἰς doth denote. ‘Faith that is effectual unto the acquisition of life;’that is, to the obtaining of it as by a due means for the saving of our souls from eternal ruin, and the obtaining of eternal life, Acts 26:18. For,
Obs. 26. Sincere faith will carry men through all difficulties, hazards, and troubles, unto the certain enjoyment of eternal blessedness.
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Owen, John. "Commentary on Hebrews 10". "John Owen Exposition of Hebrews". https://www.studylight.org/
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