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Hebrews 4

Owen's Exposition of HebrewsOwen on Hebrews

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THIS chapter is of the same nature and carrieth on the same design with that foregoing. That contained an exhortation unto faith, obedience, and perseverance, enforced by an instance in the pernicious event or punishment which befell them who were guilty of sin contrary unto those duties. And this was done by the exposition and application of a prophetical testimony, suggesting an example of God’s dealing with unbelievers formerly. Now, whereas in the words of the psalmist there is not only a moral example proposed unto us, but a prophecy also is interwoven therein concerning the rest of God in Christ by the gospel, and our duty thereon, the apostle proceeds to expound, improve, and confirm his exhortation from the scope, design, and words of that prophecy. Wherefore, in the beginning of this chapter he resumes his exhortation, in an immediate coherence with and dependence upon what he had before discoursed. Hence some think that the first verse of this chapter is unduly cut off and separated from that foregoing, whereunto it doth belong; yea, some, as we intimated before, that this discourse of the apostle doth immediately succeed unto the 14th verse (Hebrews 3:14) of the preceding chapter, that which ensueth being a digression to be included in a parenthesis. But, as was said, the words of the psalmist containing a representation of a moral example from things past in the church, and a prophetical description of the future state and condition of the church, the apostle having made use of the former or moral example, in the preceding discourses, arguings, expostulations, and exhortations, here entereth upon the exposition and improvement of the latter, or the words of the psalmist, with reference unto their prophetical prospect towards the times of the gospel, and the instruction which was laid up for the use of those times in the example that he had insisted on. Herein,

1. He proposeth the duty which he aimeth to press upon those Hebrews, as that which is required in the words of the psalmist, from the example represented in them; with an especial enforce-merit of it, from the consideration of the sin and punishment of them whose example is proposed, which followeth thereon, Hebrews 4:1-2.

2. He vindicates the foundation of his exhortation, by showing that the “rest” which the psalmist speaks of, and which he persuades them to endeavor an entrance into, and to take heed that they fail not, or come not short of, was yet remaining to be enjoyed, Hebrews 4:3; as being neither the rest of God from the works of creation, with the sabbatical rest which ensued thereon, Hebrews 4:4-6; nor yet the rest of Canaan, which Joshua brought the people into, Hebrews 4:7-8; but a spiritual rest, which remained for believers to enjoy, Hebrews 4:8-10.

3. Hence he resumes his exhortation with respect unto his explication and vindication of the prophetical testimony by him produced, Hebrews 4:11.

4. This he again strengtheneth by a double argument or consideration:

(1.) In a way of caution, by proposing unto them the nature of the word of God wherein they were concerned, Hebrews 4:12-13.

(2.) In a way of encouragement from the priesthood of Christ, whereby this rest was procured for believers; and therein makes a transition to the declaration and exposition of that priesthood, with the effects and consequents of it, in the six ensuing chapters.

Verses 1-2

Φοβηθῶμεν ου῏ν , μή ποτε , καταλειπομένης ἐπαγγελίας εἰσελθεῖν εἰς τὴν κατάπαυσιν αὐτοῦ , δοκῇ τις ἐξ ὑμῶν ὑστερηκέναι . Καὶ γάρ ἐσμεν εὐγγελισμένοι , καθάπερ κάκεῖνοι· ἀλλ ᾿οὐκ ὠφέλησεν ὁ λόγος τῆς ἀκοῆς ἐκείνους , μή συγκεκραμένος τῇ πίστε τοῖς ἀκούσασιν .

Hebrews 4:1 . Φοβηθῶμεν ου῏ν , “timeamus ergo,” “metuamus igitar,” more properly, “let us fear, therefore.”

Καταλειπομένης ἐπαγγελίας . Vulg. Lat., “ne forte.” Rhem., “lest; perhaps,” as though it in. tended the uncertainty of the event;. Beza and Eras., “ne quando,” “lest at any time.” Ours omit the force of ποτέ , “lest.” If it have an especial signification, it respects the several seasons or occasions which in the “fear” enjoined we ought to have regard unto.

Καταλειπομένης ἐπαγγελίας . Vulg. Lat.,” relicta pollicitatione:” “pollicitatio” being an improper word in this matter, all modern translators have changed it into “promissio.” Rhem., “forsaking the promise.” But the words in the V. L. are capable of another sense, namely, “a promise being left.” Beza and Eras., “derelicts promissione;” which determines the sense, “the promise being left,” “forsaken,” “neglected:” accordingly the Ethiopic, “let us not reject his command.” The Syriac otherwise, with respect to the continuance of a promise, דַּלְמָא כָּד קַיָּם מוּלְכָנָא “ne forte stante promissione,” “ne forte dum star promissio,” “lest whilst the promise standeth,” “continueth,” or” is firm,” namely, of entering into rest. This is followed by the Arabic, “whereas a certain promise remaineth.” Of this difference in sense we must treat in our exposition of the words. Εἰσελθεῖν εἰς τὴν κατάπαυσιν αὐτοῦ . See Hebrews 3:11; Hebrews 3:18.

Δοκῇ τις ἐξ ὑμῶν ὑστερηκε . ναι . Vulg. Lat., “existimetur aliquis e vobis deessc.” Rhem., “some of you be thought to be wanting.” “Deesse” neither expresseth the meaning of the original word nor hath any proper sense in this place, as both Erasmus and Beza observe. Arias, “defici,” “fail.” Δοκῇ : Eras., Bee., “videatur,” “should seem” or “appear;” more properly than “existimetur;’it referring to the persons spoken unto, and their deportment, not the opinion or judgment of others concerning them.

῾Υστερηκέναι : Eras., “frustratus fuisse,” “to have been frustrated;” that is, in his hopes, expectations, profession, or of entering. Men wilt be deceived, if they hope to enter into God’s rest and yet neglect his promise; which is the sense he takes the words in. Bees, “fuisse per tarditatem exclusus;” endeavoring to express the precise signification of the word he somewhat obscures the sense, “to have been excluded from it by keeping behind,” by slowness, in not going forward. Δοκῇ τις ἐξ ὑμῶν : The Syriac, אֶנֶשׁ מְנכוּן נֶשְׁתְּכַּח , “a man should be found amongst you;” omitting that sense of the word δοκῇ which many expositors insist on, as we shall see. Arab., “any one of you should think.” Υστερηκέναι : Syr. fills up the sense, דְפָאֵשׁ מֵן דַּלְמֵעַל , “that should cease from entering,” or “fail of entering.” Ours, “seem to come short of it,” properly.

Hebrews 4:2 . Καὶ γάρ ἐσμεν εὐγγελισμένοι . Vulg. Lat., “etenim et nobis nunciatum est.” Erasmus,” annunciatum est.” Rhem., “for unto us it was denounced.” Improperly all of them, nor is” denounce” any way significant in this matter. Beza, “etenim nobis evangelizatum est.” Ours, “for unto us was the gospel preached,” and so the word signifies: “etenim sumus evangelizati,” “for we are evangelized;” of which construction afterwards. Syr., “nunciature eat;” more properly, “evangelizatum est,”” the gospel is,” or “was preached.”

῾Ο λόγος τῆς ἀκοῆς . Vulg. Lat., “sermo auditus.” Rhem., “the word of hearing;” taking “auditus” for a substantive and not a participle, which also the original requireth. Eras., “non profuit illis audisse sermonem,” “it profited them not to have heard the word.” Ours, “the word preached.” Syr., דּשְׁמַעוּ מֵלְתָא , “the word which they heard.” Of the meaning of the phrase of speech used in the original we shall treat afterwards.

Μή συγκεκραμένος . The Complutensian copy, which is followed by sundry vulgar editions, reads συγκεκραμένους , making this word agree with “those that heard,” and not with λόγος , “the word” that was heard. And this reading is followed by the Arabic and Ethiopic translations. Συγκεκραμένος : Vulg. Lat., “admistus;” Eras., “cure fide conjunctus;” Beza, “contemperatus;” ali to the same purpose, “mixed,” “joined,” “tempered,” with faith.

Τῇ πίστει . “Fide,” “cure fide,” “fidei,” “with faith,” “unto the faith.” Τοῖς ἀκούσασιν . Vulg. Lat., “fidei exiis quae audiverant.” Rhem., “with faith of those things which they heard;” referring τοῖς to the things heard, and not to the persons hearing; but that ἀκούσασιν will not bear. [1]

[1] VARIOUS READINGS. Συγκεκραμέν . Instead of the Attic form, some codices have συγκεκερασμένος , which Ebrard deems the true reading is the reading of codices A B C D, as also of several important versions. Recent commentators, with the exception of Ebrard, prefer the latter; in which ease the sense would be, “because they were not united in the faith with those who obeyed.” TRANSLATIONS. Καταλ . ἐπαγγ . The promise being contemned. Erasmus, Luther, Calvin, Gerhard. That no one appear to remain behind the promise which is still left. Cramer, Ernesti. That no one show himself as too late, theft a promise is still with us. Bleek, Olshausen, Stuart. Lest while thee promise to be.fulfilled, any of you imagine that he has come too late. Schottgen, Baumgarten, Schulz, Wahl, Bretschneider, Ebrard. ED.

Hebrews 4:1-2 . Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left of entering into his rest, any of you should seem at any time to come short [ to fail ]. For unto us was the gospel preached, even as unto them [ we were evangelized even as they ]; but the word of hearing did not profit them, being not mixed with faith in them that heard.

These two verses, as they may and do contain an improvement of the example and inferences made from it, as expressed in the preceding chapter, so withal and principally the apostle gives the Hebrews a further demonstration that what he had insisted on was of near concernment unto them, and that their condition was therein represented. For they might be apt to say, ‘What have we to do with the people in the wilderness, with the promise of entering into Canaan, or with what the psalmist from thence exhorted our fathers unto of old, who were still held under the same dispensation?’ But saith the apostle, ‘These things belong unto you in an especial manner; for besides that you may in the example proposed see evidently what you are to look for and expect from God, if you fall into the same sin which he therein expresseth his severity against, so the things treated of in the psalm are a prophetical direction designed for your especial use in your present condition.’

The way in particular which the apostle insists on to press these things upon them is,

1. By exhorting them to that duty and those considerations which are the just consequents of the things by him proposed unto them;

2. By manifesting that their concernment in those things did afford him a just foundation of his exhortation. The exhortation is contained in the first verse, and the confirmation of it in the second.

Hebrews 4:1 . And there is, Hebrews 4:1,

1. The frame of spirit expressed which the apostle exhorts the Hebrews unto, on the consideration of what he had minded them of, and of their interest therein,-” Let us therefore fear.”

2. A supposition on which the exhortation to this duty and frame is founded, “A promise being left of entering into rest.”

3. The evil to be prevented by attendance unto the duty proposed, “Lest any of you should seem to come short of it,” Whether this be an evil of sin or of punishment shall be afterwards inquired into.

Hebrews 4:2 . There ensues in the second verse a confirmation of what is in the first proposed, and that,

1. On the account of a parity in condition between us and those from whom the example is taken, “Unto us was the gospel preached, even as unto them.”

2. On the account of the evil success of them in that condition, with the reason thereof, “But the word preached did not profit them, because it was not mixed with faith in them that heard.”

Our way being thus prepared, we may open the words in particular as they lie in the context.

Φοβηθῶμεν ου῏ν . Ου῏ν , “therefore.” An illative, manifesting the deduction of the present exhortation from the preceding discourse and example. We have now several times observed that the apostle is constant unto this method, namely, of educing new exhortations immediately out of arguments doctrinally proposed and confirmed. This makes his discourse nervous, and his exhortation efficacious; shutting up the minds of them with whom he deals, leaving them no place unto evasion or tergiversation. And herein, unto the weight and authority of his words, he adds the reasonableness of his inferences, and from both concludes the necessity of the duty which he proposeth.

Φοβηθῶμεν , “Let us fear.” The noun φόβος , and the verb φοβέομαι , are used in the New Testament to express all sorts of “fears” and “fearing;” such are natural, civil, sinful, and religious fear. They are therefore of a larger extent, and more various use, than any one radical word in the Old Testament.

The fear here intended is religious, relating to God, his worship, and our obedience. And this is fourfold: First, Of terror. Secondly, Of diffidence. Thirdly, Of reverence. Fourthly, Of care, solicitousness, and watchfulness. And concerning these, I shall first show what they are, or wherein they consist, and then inquire which of them it is that is here intended:

First, There is a fear of dread and terror; and this respecteth either,

1. God; or,

2. Other things, wherein we may be concerned in his worship:

1. Of God. And this is either expressive of,

(1.) The object, the thing feared, or God himself; or,

(2.) The subject, or person fearing, the frame of heart in him that feareth:

(1.) Fear respects the object of fear, that which we do fear: “Knowing therefore τὸν φόβον τοῦ Κυρίου ,” 2 Corinthians 5:11, “the fear of the Lord,” or the “terror,” as we render it; that is, how great, dreadful, holy, and terrible he is. Hence Jacob calls God, פחַד יִצְחַק , Genesis 31:42; Genesis 31:53, the “Fear of Isaac,” or him whom Isaac served, worshipped, feared. And פחַד , when it respects the subject, denotes that kind of fear which hath greatness, dread, and terror for an object; whereas they express a reverential fear by יִרְאָה . This fear the apostle hath respect unto, Hebrews 12:28-29: “Let us serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear; for our God is a consuming fire.” The fear of dread and terror in God, requires the fear of reverence in us, in all that we have to do with him. A respect hereunto is expressed by sinners, Isaiah 33:14, and Micah 6:6-7.

(2.) Fear expresseth that frame of heart and spirit which is in men towards an object apprehended dreadful and fearful. And this also is twofold:

[1.] A consternation and dread of spirit, on the apprehension of God as an enemy, as one that will punish and avenge sin. This is רָעַד , which is joined with פלָּצוּת , Psalms 60:6, “a trembling horror.” This befell Adam upon his sin, and that inquisition that God made about it, Genesis 3:10; and Cain, Genesis 4:13. Such a consideration of God as would beget this frame in him Job often deprecates, Job 9:34; Job 23:6. And the same is intended in the places above cited, Isaiah 33:14; Micah 6:6-7. Something hereof befell them of old who, upon the apprehension that they had seen God, concluded that they should die. They had a dread which fell on them from an apprehension of his excellency and holiness, and terrified them with thoughts that they should be consumed. And this fear, in its latitude, is a consternation of spirit, on an apprehension of God’s greatness and majesty, with respect unto present or future judgments, when the mind is not relieved by faith in the reconciliation made by Jesus Christ, weakening, disheartening, and alienating the heart from God.

[2.] An awful fear of God’s greatness and holiness, with respect unto deserved and impendent judgments in this world. This fear may befall believers, and be at some seasons their especial duty. This David expresseth, Psalms 119:120, “My flesh trembleth for fear of thee; and I am afraid of thy judgment.” And elsewhere on the same account he declares that “fearfulness and trembling laid hold on him,” Psalms 55:5. So Habakkuk expresseth his condition under the like apprehension, Habakkuk 3:16, “When I heard, my belly trembled; my lips quivered at the voice: rottenness entered into my bones, and I trembled in myself.” And this fear of dread and terror, thus qualified, is both good and useful in its kind. And this is that which Joshua labors to ingenerate in the minds of the people, Joshua 24:19-20. And of great use it is to the souls of men, both before and after their conversion unto God. Of a fear of awe and reverence in general, with respect unto the greatness and holiness of God, we shall treat afterwards.

2. There may be a fear of dread and terror in our way of obedience, which may respect other things. Such are the oppositions and difficulties which we do or may meet withal, either from within or without, in our course, which may incline us to despondency and despair. This in particular befell David, when, notwithstanding the promise of God to the contrary, he concluded that “he should one day perish by the hand of Saul,” 1 Samuel 27:1. This the Scripture expresseth by חָתַת , which we render “to be dismayed,” Joshua 1:9, “Be not terrified, nor be thou dismayed.” The word signifies “to be broken;” and when applied unto the mind, it denotes “to be sore terrified, so as to sink in courage and resolution;” which we well press by being “dismayed,” to be broken and weakened in mind, through a terror arising from the apprehension of oppositions, difficulties, and dangers. It is ascribed unto men when God strikes a terror into them, or when they are terrified with their own fears, Isaiah 30:31, Jeremiah 10:2, a consternation and horror of mind; and עָרַצ , a word of the same signification, is often joined with it. This fear, therefore, arising from a discouraging, terrifying apprehension of dangers and oppositions, weakening and disenabling the soul to make use of due means vigorously in the discharge of its duty, can have no place here; yea, it is directly contrary to and inconsistent with the end aimed at by the apostle. And this is the first sort of fear that any way respects our religious obedience unto God. See Isaiah 8:12-13; Isaiah 51:12-13; Matthew 10:28.

Secondly, There is a fear of distrust and diffidence, or a fear arising from or accompanied with a distrust of the accomplishment of God’s promises, at least as to our interest in them. This is a defect in faith, and opposite unto it. This was the fear which ruined the Israelites in the wilderness. Being discouraged through their difficulties, “They believed not in God, and trusted not in his salvation,” Psalms 78:22. And this cannot be here charged on us as our duty. A fluctuation and hesitation of mind about the promises’of God, or the event of our condition in a course of sincere obedience, is not required of us, nor accepted from us. For no duty is acceptable with God but what is not only consistent with faith, but also proceedeth from it. The same faith that works by love, works also by delight; and it casts out this fear of distrust and diffidence. And no fear can be our duty but what is a fruit and effect of it. Believers do not receive “the spirit of bondage again to fear,” Romans 8:15; nay, it is that which Christ died to deliver us from, Hebrews 2:14-15. But it may be considered two ways;

1. As it partakes of the nature of diffidence, in opposition to faith and liberty, and so it is utterly to be rejected;

2. As it partakes of the nature of godly jealousy, and is opposed to security, and so it may be cherished, though it be not here intended.

Thirdly, There is a fear of reverence, a reverential fear of God. This is that which most commonly is intended by the name of the “fear of God,” both in the Old Testament and the New. And it is not an especial duty, suited unto some seasons and occasions, but that which concerns us in our whole course, in all our ways and actings. Sometimes it is taken subjectively, for the internal reverential frame of our hearts in all wherein we have to do with God; and sometimes objectively, for the worship of God itself. So is the nature of it expressed, Deuteronomy 28:58,

“Observe the words of this law, that are written in this book, that thou mayest fear this glorious and fearful name, THE LORD THY GOD.”

The glorious and dreadful majesty of God is the object of it and motive unto it, which gives it the nature of reverence. And the way whereby it is exercised and expressed is a due observation of the worship of God according to the law. But neither is this that which is peculiarly intended, as not being more incumbent on us in one season than another, on one account than another.

Fourthly, There is a fear of circumspection, care, and diligence, with respect unto the due use of the means, that we may attain the end proposed unto us. This some would confound with a fear of diffidence, dread, and terror, with respect unto the uncertainty of the end; but it is quite of another nature. And as that is everywhere condemned in us, so this is no less frequently commended unto us: Romans 11:20, “Be not high- minded, but fear.” Philippians 2:12, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” 1 Peter 1:17, “Pass the time of your sojourning here in fear.” Proverbs 28:14, “Happy is the man that feareth alway;” that is, with this fear of watchfulness, diligence, and spiritual care. But as to the other it is affirmed, that” God hath not given us the spirit of fear,” 2 Timothy 1:7, or of bondage, through diffidence and uncertainty of the event of our obedience. Now, the acting of the soul in and about the use of means is ascribed unto fear, when the mind is influenced by a due apprehension of the threatenings and severity of God against sin, they being the way whereby we are delivered from being obnoxious unto them. Thus Noah, when God had denounced his judgments against the old world, although they were not yet seen, did not appear in any preparation made for them, yet believing that they would be inflicted accordingly, εὐλαβηθείς , “being moved with fear, he prepared an ark,” Hebrews 11:7. Apprehending the severity of God, believing his threatening, his mind was influenced into that fear which put him with diligence on the use of those means’whereby he and his family might be saved and preserved.

It will, from these considerations, be plainly evidenced what that fear is which is here enjoined and prescribed unto us, An instance and example of God’s severity against unbelievers is laid down and proposed unto our consideration by the apostle in his preceding discourse. In this example of God’s dealing with them of old, he declares also that there is included a commination of dealing with all others in the same manner, who shall fall into the same sin of unbelief with them. None may flatter themselves with vain hopes of any privilege or exemption in this matter. Unbelievers shall never enter into the rest of God. This he further confirms in these two verses, though his present exhortation be an immediate inference from what went before: “Wherefore let us fear.” How must we do this? with what kind of fear? Not with a fear of diffidence, of doubting, of wavering, of uncertainty as to the event of our obedience. This indeed may, this doth, befall many, but it is enjoined unto none; it is a fruit of unbelief, and so cannot be our duty. Neither can it be that which was intimated in the second place under the first head, namely, a dread and dismayedness of mind upon a prospect of difficulties, oppositions, and dangers in the way. This is the sluggard’s fear, who cries, “There is a lion without, I shall be slain in the streets.” To expel and cast out this fear, as that which weakens and disheartens men in their profession, is one of the especial designs of the apostle in this epistle. Nor is it that general fear of reverence which ought to accompany us, in all wherein we have to do with God. For this is not particularly influenced by threatenings and the severity of God, seeing we are bound always so to “fear the LORD and his goodness;” nor is this fear required of us, as was said, more at one season than another. It remains, therefore, that the fear here intended is mixed of the first and the last of those before mentioned. And so two things are included in it: First, An awful apprehension of the holiness and greatness of God, with his severity against sin, balancing the soul against temptation. Secondly, A careful diligence in the use of means, to avoid the evil threatened unto unbelief and disobedience And the right stating of these things being of great moment in our practice, it must be further cleared in the ensuing observations. As,

Obs. 1. The gospel, in the dispensation thereof, is not only attended with promises and rewards, but also with threatenings and punishments. This, for the substance of it, hath been already spoken unto, on Hebrews 2:2-3.

Obs. 2. Gospel comminations ought to be managed towards all sorts of professors promiscuously, be they true believers, temporary, or hypocrites. So they are here proposed by the apostle unto the Hebrews without exception or limitation, and amongst them were persons of all the sorts mentioned. But this also will be comprised under the third proposition; namely, that,

Obs. 3. Fear is the proper object of gospel comminations, which ought to be answerable to our several conditions and grounds of obnoxiousness unto those threatenings. This is that which the apostle presseth us unto, on the consideration of the severity of God against unbelievers, peremptorily excluding them out of his rest, after they had rejected the promise. “Let us,” saith he, “therefore fear.” What fear it is that in respect unto believers is here intended hath been declared. We shall now inquire how far and wherein the minds of men ought to be influenced with fear from gospel threatenings, and of what use that is in our walking with God. For there is, as was said, a threatening included in the example of God’s severity towards unbelievers, before insisted on. And unto that the apostle hath a retrospect in this exhortation; as well as he hath also a regard to the present promise, whose consideration ought to have the same influence on the minds of men, as shall be declared.

Gospel threatenings are distinguished first with respect to their objects, or those against whom they are denounced or to whom they are declared, and also with respect to their own nature or the subject-matter of them. Of the persons intended in them there are three sorts:

1. Such as are yet open or professed unbelievers.

2. Such as make profession of the faith, profess themselves to believe, but indeed do not so in a due and saving manner; who also admit of many respective considerations.

3. True believers.

For the subject-matter of them, they may be referred unto these two general heads:

1. Such as express displeasure to be exercised in temporary things.

2. Such as denounce everlasting wrath and punishment. According to this distribution we may consider what is or ought to be their influence on the minds of men with respect unto the fear which we inquire about.

1. Some gospel comminations respect, firstly, properly, and directly, professed unbelievers, as such, and so continuing. As the sum of all promises is enwrapped in those words, “He that believeth shall be saved,”

Mark 16:16, so that of all these threatenings is [enwrapped] in those that follow, “He that believeth not shall be damned.” An alike summary of gospel promises and threatenings we have, John 3:36,

“He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”

And threatenings of this nature are frequently scattered up and down in the New Testament. See Rom 2:8-9 ; 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10; 1 Peter 4:17-18. And these threatenings may be so far called evangelical, inasmuch as they are proper to the gospel, and distinct from all the threatenings of the law. The law knows no more of gospel threatenings than of gospel promises. The threatenings of the law lie against sinners for sins committed; the threatenings of the gospel are against sinners for refusing the remedy provided and tendered unto them. They are superadded unto those of the law; and in them doth the gospel, when rejected, become “death unto death,” 2 Corinthians 2:16, by the addition of that punishment contained in its threatenings unto that which is contained in the threatenings of the law. Now the end of these threatenings,

(1.) On the part of Christ, the author of the gospel, is the manifestation of his power and authority over all flesh, with his holiness, majesty, and glory, 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10.

(2.) On the part of the gospel itself,

[1.] A declaration of the necessity of believing;

[2.] Of the worth and excellency of the things proposed to be believed;

[3.] Of the price and esteem which God puts upon their acceptance or refusal, and in all, the certain and infallible connection that is between unbelief and eternal destruction;

[4.] The vindication of it from contempt, 2 Corinthians 10:6.

(3.) On the part of unbelievers, to whom they are denounced, the end and design of them is to ingenerate fear in them:

[1.] A fear of dread and terror, with respect unto the authority and majesty of Christ, their author;

[2.] A fear of anxiety, with respect unto their present state and condition;

[3.] A fear of the punishment itself to be inflicted on them. And these things do well deserve a more full handling, but that they are not here directly intended.

2. Gospel threatenings may be considered with respect unto all sorts of unsound and temporary believers. For, besides that this sort of persons, continuing such, do and will finally fall under the general threatenings against unbelief and unbelievers, there are peculiarly two sorts of threatenings in the gospel that lie against them:

(1.) Such as respect their present, and,

(2.) Such as respect their future condition.

(3.) Of the first sort are those severe intimations of anger and displeasure which our Lord Jesus Christ gave out unto sundry members of the churches in the Revelation, notwithstanding the profession that they made. He discovers their hypocrisy and falseness under all their pretences, and threatens to cut them off if they repent not, Revelation 2:14-16; Revelation 2:20-23; Revelation 3:1-3; Revelation 3:15-18. And this duty is always incumbent on them to whom the dispensation of the gospel is committed, namely, to declare these threatenings unto all that may be found in their condition. For not only may they justly suppose that such there are, and always will be, in all churches, but also many do continually declare and evidence themselves to be in no better state. And the discovery hereof unto them by the word is a great part of our ministerial duty.

(2.) There are such as respect their future condition, or threatenings of eternal wrath and indignation with especial regard unto that apostasy whereunto they are liable. It is manifest that there are such comminations denounced against deserters, apostates, such as forsake the profession which they have made; which we shall have occasion to speak unto in our progress, for they abound in this epistle. Now these, in the first place, respect these unsound professors of whom we speak. And this for two ends:

[1.] To deter them from a desortion of that profession wherein they are engaged, and of that light whereunto they have attained; for although that light and profession would not by and of themselves eternally save them, yet,

1 st. They lie in order thereunto, and engage them into the use of those means which may ingenerate that faith and grace which will produce that effect;

2dly . The deserting of them casts them both meritoriously and irrecoverably into destruction.

[2.] To stir them up unto a consideration of the true state and condition wherein at present they are. Men may as well fail in their profession, or come short of that grace which they own, Hebrews 12:15, as fall from that profession which they have made. And these threatenings are denounced against the one miscarriage as well as the other.

The general end of these gospel comminations, with respect unto these unsound professors, is fear. Because of them they ought to fear. And that,

(1.) With a fear of jealousy as to their present condition. The consideration of the terror of the Lord declared in them ought to put them on a trembling disquisition into their state, and what their expectations may be.

(2.) A fear of dread as to the punishment itself threatened, so far as they fall under conviction of their being obnoxious thereunto.

3. Gospel threatenings may be considered as they respect believers themselves; and in that sense we may consider what respect they have unto God, and what unto believers, with what is the proper effect of them designed of God to be accomplished in their spirits.

There is a difference between the promises and threatenings of the gospel; for the promises of God are declarative of his purposes unto all believers that are “called according to his purpose,” Romans 8:28-31. The threatenings are not so to all unbelievers, much less to believers; but they are means to work the one sort from their unbelief, and to confirm the other in their faith. Only, they are declarative of God’s purposes towards them who have contracted the guilt of the unpardonable sin, and declare the event as to all finally impenitent sinners.

(1.) They have a respect unto the nature of God, and are declarative of his condemning, hating, forbidding of that sin which the threatening is denounced against. It is an effectual way to manifest God’s detestation of any sin, to declare the punishment that it doth deserve, and which the law doth appoint unto it, Romans 1:32.

(2.) They have respect unto the will of God, and declare the connection that is, by God’s institution, between the sin prohibited and the punishment threatened; as in that word, “He that believeth not shall be damned.” God by it declares the infallible connection that there is, by virtue of his constitution, between infidelity and damnation. Wherever the one is final the other shall be inevitable. And in this sense they belong properly to believers; that is, they are to be declared and preached unto them, or pressed upon their consciences; for,

[1.] They are annexed to the dispensation of the covenant of grace, as an instituted means to reader it effectual, and to accomplish the ends of it. The covenant of works was given out or declared in a threatening: “The day that thou eatest, thou shalt die;” but in that threatening a promise was included of life upon obedience. And the covenant of grace is principally revealed in a word of promise; but in that promise a threatening is included, in the sense and to the purposes before mentioned. And, as we have showed before, these threatenings are variously expressed in the gospel. And they are of two sorts:

1st. Such as whose matter in the event hath no absolute inconsistency with the nature and grace of the covenant. Such are all the intimations of God’s severity to be exercised towards his own children, in afflictions, chastisements, trials, and desertions. For although these things and the like, in respect of their principle and end, belong unto love and grace, and so may be promised also, yet in respect of their matter, being grievous, and not joyous, afflictive to the inward and outward man, such as we may and ought to pray to be kept or delivered from, they are proposed in the threatenings annexed to the dispensation of the covenant. See Psalms 89:30-33; Revelation 2:3. And this sort of threatenings is universally and absolutely annexed to the dispensation of the covenant of grace, both as to the manner of their giving and the matter or event of them. And that because they are every way consistent with the grace, love, and kindness of that covenant, and do in the appointment of God tend to the furtherance of the obedience required therein.

2dly . Such as, in respect of the event, are inconsistent with the covenant, or the faithfulness of God therein; as the comminations of eternal rejection upon unbelief or apostasy, which are many. Now these also belong to the dispensation of the covenant of grace, so far as they are declarative of the displeasure of God against sin, and of his annexing punishment unto it; which declaration is designed of God and sanctified for one means of our avoiding both the one and the other. And whatever is sanctified of God for a means of delivery from sin and punishment, belongs to the dispensation of the covenant of grace.

[2.] This denouncing of threatenings unto believers is suited unto their good and advantage in the state and condition wherein they are in this world; for believers are subject to sloth and security, to wax dead, dull, cold, and formal in their course. These and many other evils are they liable and obnoxious unto whilst they are in the flesh. To awake them, warn them, and excite them unto a renewal of their obedience, doth God set before them the threatenings mentioned. See Revelation 2:3.

[3.] The proper effect of these threatenings in the souls of believers, whereby the end aimed at in them is attained and produced, is fear, “Let us therefore fear.”

Now, what that fear is, and therein what is the especial duty that we are exhorted unto, may briefly be manifested from what hath been already laid down:

1. It is not an anxious, doubting, solicitous fear about the punishment threatened, grounded on a supposition that the person fearing shall be overtaken with it; that is, it is not an abiding, perplexing fear of hell-fire that is intended. We are commanded, indeed, to fear him who can cast both body and soul into hell, Luke 12:4-5; but the object assigned unto our fear is God himself, his severity, his holiness, his power, and not the punishment of hell itself It is granted that this fear, with a bondage frame of spirit thereon, doth and will often befall believers. Some deserve, by their negligence, slothfulness, unfruitful walking, and sinful ways, that it should be no better with them. And others also walking in their sincerity, yet by mason of the weakness of their faith, and on many other accounts, are ofttimes detained in such a bondage state and condition, as to fear with dread and terror all the day long. This, therefore, is ofttimes a consequent of some of God’s dispensations towards us, or of our own sins; but it is not anywhere prescribed unto us as our duty, nor is the ingenerating of it in us the design of any of the threatenings of God; for,

(1.) This is contrary unto the end of all other ordinances of God; which are appointed to enlighten, strengthen, and comfort the souls of believers, rote bring them to constant, solid, abiding peace and consolation, It cannot be, therefore, that at the same time God should require that as a duty at their hands which stands in a full contrariety and opposition to the end assigned by himself unto all his ordinances whereby he communicates of himself and his mind unto us. See Romans 8:15; 2 Timothy 1:7.

(2.) This fear is no effect or fruit of that Spirit of life and holiness which is the author of all our duties, and all acceptable obedience unto God. That this is the principle of all new-covenant obedience, of all the duties which, according unto the rule and tenor thereof, we do or ought to perform unto God, is evidently manifest in all the promises thereof. Now this fear of hell, that is, as that punishment lies in the curse of the law, neither is nor can be a fruit of that Spirit, given and dispensed in and by the gospel; for “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty,” 2 Corinthians 3:17.

(3.) This kind of fear is not useful unto the confessed end of God’s threatenings, namely, to excite and encourage men unto diligence and watchfulness in obedience. For if this were its nature and tendency, the more it is heightened as to its degrees, the more effectual would it be unto its proper end. But we see, on the contrary, that in those in whom it hath been most prevalent it hath produced effects utterly of another nature. So it did in Cain and Judas, and so it doth constantly, where it is absolutely prevalent. It appears, then, that its own proper effect is to drive them in whom it is from God; and when it befalls any believers in any degree, it is the efficacy of the Spirit of grace in other fruits of it which prevents its dangerous effects. We may add unto what hath been spoken, that this fear is directly opposite to the life of faith, being indeed that bondage for fear of death which the Lord Christ died to deliver believers from, Hebrews 2:15; this is that fear which perfect love casts out, 1 John 4:18.

2. There is a watchful, careful fear, with respect unto the use of means; and this is that which is here intended, and which is Our duty, on the consideration of the threatenings of God and instances of his severity against sinners. And this will appear by the consideration of what is required unto this fear, which are the things that follow:

(1.) There is required hereunto a serious consideration of the due debt of sin and the necessary vindication of God’s glory. This is that which is directly in the first place presented unto us in the threatenings of the gospel, and ought in the first place to be the object of our faith and consideration. This we have evinced to be the nature of divine comminations namely, to declare that it is the “judgment of God, that they which commit such sin are worthy of death;” that “the wages of sin is death;” and that this depends on the holiness of God’s nature, as well as on the constitution and sanction of his law, Romans 1:32; Romans 6:23. Here may we see and know the desert of sin, and the concernment of the glory and honor of God in its punishment, the end why God originally gave the law with fire, and thunderings, and terror. An instance hereof we have in Noah, when he was warned of God concerning the deluge that he was bringing on the world for sin, “ being moved with fear he prepared an ark,” Hebrews 11:7. A due apprehension of the approaching judgment due unto sin, and threatened by God, made him wary, εὐλαβηθείς , he was moved from hence, by this careful fear, to use the means for his own deliverance and safety. This, therefore, is the first ingredient in this fear.

(2.) There belongs unto it a due con s ideration of terror, and majesty of God, who is the author of these comminations, and who in them and by them doth express unto us those glorious properties of his nature. So our apostle adviseth us to “serve God with reverence sad godly fear,” bemuse he is “a consuming fire,” Hebrews 12:28-29. The consideration of his infinitely pure and holy nature ought to influence our hearts unto fear, especially when expressed in a way meet to put a peculiar impression thereof upon us. Threatenings are the beamings of the rays of the holiness of God in them. And this the same apostle intends, when he gives an account of that “terror of the Lord” which he had regard unto in dealing with the souls of men, 2 Corinthians 5:11; that is, “how dreadful a thing it is to fall into the hands of the living God.” This also influenceth the fear required of us.

(3.) A conviction and acknowledgment that in the justice and righteousness of God the punishments threatened might befall us. So was it with the psalmist: Saith he,

“If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?” Psalms 130:3;

and again,

“Enter not into judgment with thy servant: for in thy sight shall no man living be justified,” Psalms 143:2.

Without a due consideration hereof, the mind will not be subdued into that contrite and humble frame which in this matter is required.

(4.) An abhorrency of sin, as on other reasons, so also with respect unto its proper end and tendency, represented in the threatenings of God. There are many other reasons whereon sin is and ought to be everlastingly abhorred; but this is one, and that such a one as ought never to be neglected. God hath, as we have showed, declared in his threatenings what is the desert of sin, and what will be its event in the sinner, if continued in. This ought always to be believed and weighed, so that the mind may be constantly influenced unto an abhorrency of sin on that account, namely, that it ends in death, in hell, in the eternal indignation of God.

(5.) The nature of this fear, as discovering itself in its effects, consists principally in a sedulous watchfulness against all sin, by a diligent use of the means appointed of God for that purpose. This is the direct design of God in his comminations, namely, to stir up believers unto a diligent use of the means for the avoidance of the sin declared against; and to this purpose are they sanctified and blessed, as a part of the holy, sanctifying word of God. This, therefore, is that which the fear prescribed unto us is directly and properly to be exercised in and about. What is the mind, aim, and intention of God, in any of his comminations, either as recorded in his word, or as declared and preached unto us by his appointment

It is this and no other, that considering the “terror of the Lord,” and the desert of sin, we should apply ourselves unto that constancy in obedience which we are guided unto under the conduct of his good Spirit, whereby we may avoid it. And hence followeth,

(6.) A constant watchfulness against all carnal confidence and security.

“Thou standest by faith,” saith the apostle; “be not high-minded, but fear,” Romans 11:20.

And whence doth he derive this caution? From the severity of God in dealing with other professors, and the virtual threat contained therein: “For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee,” verse 21. This fear is the great preventive of carnal security; it stands upon its watch to obviate all influencing of the mind by the sloth, or negligence, or other lusts of the flesh; or by pride, presumption, elation of heart, or other lusts of the spirit. And therefore this fear is not such a dread as may take a sudden impression on believers by a surprisal, or under some especial guilt contracted by them, but that which ought to accompany us in our whole course, as the apostle Peter adviseth us. “See,” saith he, “that ye pass the time of your sojourning here in fear,” 1 Peter 1:17.

And it being undoubtedly of great importance unto us, I have the longer insisted on it; and shall now proceed with the remaining words.

Μή ποτε καταλειπομένης ἐπαγγελίας . The intention of these words is variously apprehended by interpreters; neither will they of themselves, absolutely considered, give us a precise and determinate sense. By some it is reported to this purpose: ‘Seeing God hath left a promise unto us now under the gospel.’And this sense is followed by our translators, who, to make it plain, supply “to us” into the text. This way, the caution intended in the words, expressed in μή ποτε , “lest,” or “lest at any time,” is transferred to the end of the sentence, with respect unto the evil of the sin that we are cautioned against. And this must be supposed to be the natural order of the words: “Seeing there is a promise left unto us of entering into the rest of God, let us fear lest any of us seem to come short.” And this sense is embraced by sundry expositors. Others take the words to express the evil of the sin that we are cautioned against, whereof the following clause expresseth the punishment, or what will befall men on a supposition thereof; as if the apostle had said, ‘We ought to fear, lest, the promise being left (or forsaken), we should seem to come short of entering into the rest of God.’For this was the punishment that befell them of old who rejected the promise; and this way the sense is carried by most expositors. The difference comes to this, whether by καταλειπομένης , the act of God in giving the promise, or the neglect of men in refusing of it, be intended.

Καταλείπω is of an ambiguous signification.. Sometimes it is used for “desero,” “negligo,” to “desert,” “neglect,” or “forsake” in culpable manner. Frequent instances of this sense occur in all authors. And if that sense be here admitted, it confines the meaning of the words unto the latter interpretation; “Lest the promise being forsaken” or “neglected.” And the sin intended is the same with that, Hebrews 2:3, Τηλικαὺτης ἀμελήσαντες σωτηρίας , “Neglecting so great salvation.” Sometimes it is no more than “relinquo;” which is a word ἐκ τῶν μέσων , of a middle or indifferent signification, and is ofttimes used in a good sense. To leave glory, riches, or honor to others that come after us, is expressed by this word. Καταλείπειν τὴν δόξαν , is to leave glory unto posterity. So Demosthen. contra Mid., Εἰσφέρων ἀπὸ δόξης ὧν ὁ πατήρ μοι κατέλειπε· “The glory of the things which my father left unto me.” And Budaeus observes, that καταλείπειν absolutely is sometimes as much as “haeredem instituere,” “to make” or “leave an heir;” opposed to παραλείπειν , for παραλείπειν ἐν ταῖς διαθήκαις is “to pass any one by in a testament” without a legacy or share in the inheritance. Hence καταλεὶμμα is “residuum,” “quod reliquum est,” “reliquiae,” Romans 9:27. So is “a remnant,” Romans 11:5. Thus the apostle renders הִשְׁאַרְתִּי , 1 Kings 19:18, which is “to leave a remnant,” “to leave some remaining,” by κατέλιπον , Romans 11:4. See Acts 15:17. In this sense the word may here well denote the act of God in leaving or proposing the promise unto us; a promise remaining for us to mix with faith.

I see not any reason so cogent as should absolutely determine my judgment to either of these senses with a rejection of the other; for whether soever of them you embrace, the main design of the apostle in the whole verse is kept entire, and either way the result of the whole is the same. Each of them, therefore, gives a sense that is true and proper to the matter treated of, though it be not evident which of them expresseth the peculiar meaning of the words. I shall therefore represent the intention of the apostle according to each of them.

In the first way, this is the sum of the apostle’s exhortation:

‘The promise that was made unto the people of old as to their entrance into the rest of God, did not belong absolutely and universally unto them alone, as is manifest from the psalm where it is called over, and as will afterwards be made to appear. This promise, for their parts, and as to their concern in it, they disbelieved, and thereby came short of entering into the promised REST. The same promise, or rather a promise of the same nature, of entering into the rest of God, remaining, continuing, and being proposed unto us, the same duties of faith and obedience are required of us as were of them. Seeing, therefore, that they miscarried through contumacy and unbelief, let us fear lest we fall into the same sins also, and so come short of entering into the rest now proposed unto us.’

In the second way, what is said in the former exposition to be expressed in the words is taken to be granted, supposed, and included in them; namely, that a promise of entering into the rest of God is given unto us no less than it was to them of old, which is further also confirmed in the next verse. On this supposition, caution is given to the present Hebrews, lest neglecting, rejecting, despising that promise, through unbelief, they fall short of the rest of God, under his righteous indignation and judgments; as if the apostle had only said, ‘Take heed, lest, by your unbelief rejecting the promise, you fall short of the rest of God.’

I shall not absolutely determine upon either sense, but do incline to embrace the former, upon a threefold account:

1. Because the apostle seems in these words to lay down the foundation of all his ensuing arguments and exhortations in this chapter; and this is, That a promise of entering into the rest of God is left unto us now under the gospel. On this supposition he proceeds in all his following discourses, which therefore seems here to be asserted.

2. The last clause of the words, “Lest any of you should seem to come short of it,” doth primarily and directly express the sin, and not the punishment of unbelievers, as we shall see afterwards; the promise, and not the rest of God, is therefore the object in them considered.

3. The apostle, after sundry arguments, gathers up all into a conclusion, Hebrews 4:9, “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God;” where the word ἀπολείπεται (of the same root with this) is used in the sense contended for in the first interpretation.

This, therefore, I shall lay down as the import of these words, ‘There is yet on the part of God a promise left unto believers of entering into his rest.’ “Of entering into his rest.” What is this rest, this rest of God, the promise whereof is said to “be left unto us,” that is, unto them to whom the gospel is preached, is nextly to be inquired into.

Expositors generally grant that it is the rest of glory which is here intended. This is the ultimate rest which is promised unto believers under the gospel. So they who are in glory are said to “rest from their labors,” Revelation 14:13, and to have “rest,” 2 Thessalonians 1:7, the rest of believers in heaven, after they have passed through their course of trials, sufferings, faith, and obedience, in this world. This rest they take it for granted that the apostle insists on throughout this chapter, and they make a supposition thereof the ground of their exposition of the several parts of it, regulating the whole thereby. But I must take the liberty to dissent from this supposition, and that upon the reasons following:

First, The “rest” here proposed is p eculiar to the gospel and the times thereof, and contradistinct unto that which was proposed unto the people under the economy of Moses; for whereas it is said that the people in the wilderness failed and came short of entering into rest, the rest promised unto them, the apostle proves from the psalmist that there is another rest, contradistinct unto that, proposed under the gospel. And this cannot be the eternal rest of glory, because those under the old testament had the promise thereof no less than we have under the gospel; for with respect thereunto doth our apostle in the next verse affirm that “the gospel was preached unto them, as it is unto us,” no less truly, though less clearly and evidently. And this rest multitudes of them entered into. For they were both “justified by faith,” Romans 4:3; Romans 4:7-8, and had the “adoption of children,” Romans 9:4; and when they died they entered into eternal rest with God. They did, I say, enter into the rest of God; that is, at their death they went unto a place of refreshment under the favor of God: for whatever may be thought of any circumstances of their condition, as that their souls were only in “loco refrigerii,” in a place of refreshment, and not of the enjoyment of the immediate presence of God, yet it cannot be denied but that they entered into peace, and rested, Isaiah 57:2. This, therefore, cannot be that other rest which is provided under the gospel, in opposition to that proposed under the law, or to the people in the wilderness.

Secondly, The apostle plainly carrieth on in his whole discourse an antithesis consisting of many parts. The principal subject of it is the two people, that in the wilderness, and those Hebrews to whom the gospel was now preached. Concerning them he manageth his opposition as to the promises made unto them, the things promised, and the means or persons whereby they were to be made partakers of them, namely, Moses and Joshua on the one hand, and Jesus Christ on the other. Look, then, what was the rest of God which they of old entered not into, and that which is now proposed must bear its part in the antithesis against it, and hold proportion with it. Now that rest, as we have proved, whereinto they entered not, was the quiet, settled state of God’s solemn worship in the land of Canaan, or a peaceable church-state for the worship of God in the land and place chosen out for that purpose. Now, it is not the rest of heaven that, in this antithesis between the law and the gospel, is opposed hereunto, but the rest that believers have in Christ, with that church-state and worship which by him, as the great prophet of the church, in answer unto Moses, was erected, and into the possession whereof he powerfully leads them, as did Joshua the people of old into the rest of Canaan.

Thirdly, The apostle plainly affirms this to be his intention, for, Hebrews 4:3, he saith, “For we which have believed do enter into rest.” It is such a rest, it is that rest which true believers do enter into in this world; and this is the rest which we have by Christ in the grace and worship of the gospel, and no other. And thus the rest which was proposed of old for the people to enter into, which some obtained, and others came short of by unbelief, was a rest in this world, wherein the effects of their faith and unbelief were visible; and therefore so also must that be wherewith it is compared. And this consideration we shall strengthen from sundry other passages in the context, as we go through with them in our way.

Fourthly, Christ and the gospel were promised of old to the people as a means and state of rest; and in answer unto those promises they are here actually proposed unto their enjoyment. See Isaiah 11:1-10; Isaiah 28:12; Psalms 72:7-8, etc.; Isaiah 9:6-7; Isaiah 2:2-4; Genesis 5:29; Matthew 11:28; Isaiah 66:0; Luke 1:70-75. This was the principal notion which the church had from the foundation of the world concerning the kingdom of the Messiah, or the state of the gospel, namely, that it was a state of spiritual rest and deliverance from every thing that was grievous or burdensome unto the souls and consciences of believers. This is that which the people of God in all ages looked for, and which in the preaching of the gospel was proposed unto them.

Fifthly, The true nature of this rest may be discovered from the promise of it; for a promise is said to remain of entering into this rest. Now, this promise is no other but the gospel itself as preached unto us. This the apostle expressly declares in the next verse. The want of a due consideration hereof is that which hath led expositors into their mistake in this matter; for they eye only the promise of eternal life given in the gospel, which is but a part of it, and that consequential unto sundry other promises. That promise concerns only them who do actually believe; but the apostle principally intends them which are proposed unto men as the prime object of their faith, and encouragement unto believing. And of these the principal are the promise of Christ himself, and of the benefits of his mediation. These sinners must be interested in before they can lay claim to the promise of eternal life and salvation.

Sixthly, The whole design of the apostle is not to prefer heaven, immortality, and glow, above the law and that rest in God’s worship which the people had in the land of Canaan, for none ever doubted thereof, no, not of the Hebrews themselves; nay, this is far more excellent than the gospel state itself: but it is to set out the excellency of the gospel, with the worship of it and the church-state whereunto therein we are called by Jesus Christ, above all those privileges and advantages which the people of old were made partakers of by the law of Moses, This we have already abundantly demonstrated; and if it be not always duly considered, no part of the epistle can be rightly understood. The rest, therefore, here intended is that rest which believers have an entrance into by Jesus Christ in this world.

This being the rest here proposed, as promised in the gospel, our next inquiry is into the nature of it, or wherein it doth consist. And we shall find the concernments of it reduced into these five heads:

First, In peace with God, in the free and full justification of the persons of believers from all their sins by the blood of Christ: Romans 5:1, “Being justified by faith, we have peace with God;” Ephesians 1:7, “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins.” This is fully expressed, Acts 13:32-33; Acts 13:38-39,

“We declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again... Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: and by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.”

The whole of what we contend for is expressed in these words, The promise given unto the fathers, but not accomplished unto them, is no other but the promise of rest insisted on. This now is enjoyed by believers, and it consists in that justification from sin which by the law of Moses could not be attained. This, with its proper evangelical consequents, is the foundation of this rest. Nor is it of force to except, that this was enjoyed also under the old testament; for although it was so in the substance of it, yet it was not so as a complete rest. Neither was it at all attained by virtue of their present promises, their worship, their sacrifices, or whatever other advantage they had by the law of Moses; but by that respect which those things had to the gospel Justification, and peace with God thereon, are properly and directly ours; they were theirs by a participation in our privileges, “God having ordained some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect,” Hebrews 11:0 ult. Neither had they it clearly or fully, as an absolutely satisfactory spiritual rest. God revealed it unto them in and by such means as never made them perfect in this matter, but left them under a renewed sense of sin, Hebrews 10:1-4; but under the gospel, life and immortality being brought to light, 2 Timothy 1:10, and the eternal life which was with the Father being manifested unto us, 1 John 1:2, the veil being removed both from the face of Moses and the hearts of believers by the Spirit, 2 Corinthians 3:13-18, they have now a plerophory, a full assured persuasion of it, at least in its causes and concomitants.

Secondly, In our freedom from a servile, bondage frame of spirit in the worship of God. This they had under the old testament; they had the spirits of servants, though they were sons. “For the heir as long as he is νήπιος ,” “an infant,” unable to guide himself, “differeth nothing from a servant, but is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father.” So were these children in their legal state in bondage, ὑπο τὰ στοιχεῖα τοῦ κόσμου , under the very first rudiments of instruction which God was pleased to make use of towards his children in this world, Galatians 4:1-3. And this had particular respect unto that “spirit of bondage unto fear,” Romans 8:15, which they were under in the worship of God; for it is opposed unto that liberty, freedom, and filial boldness, which under the gospel believers are made partakers of, by the “Spirit of adoption” enabling them to cry, “Abba, Father,” Galatians 4:6, Romans 8:15-16. And this kept them from that full and complete rest which now is to be entered into. For this cannot be, namely, a rest in the worship of God, but where there is liberty; and this is only where is the Spirit of Christ and the gospel, as our apostle discourseth at large, 2 Corinthians 3:14-18. The Son making of us free, we are free indeed; and do, by the Spirit of that Son, receive spiritual liberty, boldness, enlargedness of mind, and plainness of speech, in crying, “Abba, Father.”

Thirdly, Evangelical rest consists in a delivery from the yoke and bondage of Mosaical institutions. For as the people of old had a spirit of bondage within them, so they had without upon them ζύγον , “a yoke;” and that not only in itself δυσβάστακτον , “heavy and grievous to be borne,” but such as eventually they could not bear, Acts 15:10. They could never so bear or carry it as to make comfortable work under it. ῾Ο νόμος τῶν ἐντολῶν ἐν δόγμασι , “the law of commands,” that principally consisted in commandments, and those greatly multiplied, as we have showed elsewhere, being also positive, absolute, severe, or dogmatical, was burdensome unto them, Ephesians 2:15. This yoke is now taken away, this law is abrogated, and peace, with rest in Christ, in whom we are “complete,” Colossians 2:10, and who “is the end of the law for righteousness,” are come in the room of them. And this rest in the consciences of men from an obligation unto an anxious, scrupulous observation of a multitude of carnal ordinances, and that under most severe revenging penalties, is no small part of that rest which our Savior makes that great encouragement unto sinners to come unto him, Matthew 11:28-30.

Fourthly, This rest consists in that gospel-worship whereunto we are called. This is a blessed rest on manifold accounts:

1. Of that freedom and liberty of spirit which believers have in the obedience of it. They obey God therein, not in the “oldness of the letter,” ἐν παλαισvτητι γράμματος , in that old condition of bondage wherein we were when the law was our husband, that rigorously ruled over us, but ἐν καινότητι Πνεύματος , in the “newness of the Spirit,” or the strength of that renewing Spirit which we have received in Christ Jesus, Romans 7:6, as was before declared.

2. Of the strength and assistance which the worshippers have for the performance of the worship itself in a due and acceptable manner. The law prescribed many duties, but it gave no strength to perform them spiritually. Constant supplies of the Spirit accompany the administration of the gospel in them that believe. There is an ἐπιχορηγία τοῦ Πνεύματος , Philippians 1:19, “a supply of the Spirit,” continually given out to believers from Christ, their head, Ephesians 4:15-16. Χορηγία , or χορήγημα , is a sufficient provision administered unto a person for his work or business; and ἐπιχορηγία is a continual addition unto that provision, for every particular act or duty of that work or business; “prioris suppeditationis corollarium,” a complemental addition unto a former supply or provision. This believers have in their observance of gospel-worship. They do not only receive the Spirit of Christ, fitting and enabling their persons for this work in general, but they have continual additions of spiritual strength, or supplies of the Spirit, for and unto every special duty. Hence have they great peace, ease, and rest, in the whole course of it. 3. The worship itself, and the obedience required therein, is not grievous, but easy, gentle, rational, suited unto the principles of the new nature of the worshippers. Hence they never more fully partake of spiritual rest, nor have clearer evidences of their interest and entrance into eternal rest, than in and by the performance of the duties of it.

Fifthly, This is also God’s rest; and by entering into it believers enter into the rest of God. For,

1. God resteth ultimately and absolutely, as to all the ends of his glory, in Christ, as exhibited in the gospel, that is, he in whom his “soul delighteth,” Isaiah 42:1, and “in whom he is well pleased,” Matthew 17:5. In him his wisdom, righteousness, holiness, and grace, do rest, as being exalted and glorified according to his purpose.

2. Through him he rests in his love towards believers also. As of old, in the sacrifices which were types of him, it is said that he “smelled a savor of rest,” Genesis 7:21, so that on his account he would not destroy men, though sinners; so in him he is expressly said to “rest in his love” towards them, Zephaniah 3:17.

3. This is that worship which he ultimately and unchangeably requires in this world. He always gave out rules and commands for his outward worship, from the foundation of the world; but he still did so with a declaration of this reserve, to add what he pleased unto former institutions, and did accordingly, as we have declared on the first verse of this epistle. Moreover, he gave intimation that’a time of reformation was to come, when all those institutions should expire and be changed. Wherefore in them the rest of God could not absolutely consist, and which on all occasions he did declare. But now things are quite otherwise with respect unto gospel-worship; for neither will God ever make any additions unto what is already instituted and appointed by Christ, nor is it liable unto any alteration or change unto the consummation of all things, This, therefore, is God’s rest and ours.

Obs. 4. It is a matter of great and tremendous consequence, to have the promises of God left and proposed unto us.

From the consideration hereof, with that of the threatening included in the severity of God towards unbelievers before insisted on, doth the apostle educe his monitory exhortation, “Let us fear, therefore.” He knew the concernment of the souls of men in such a condition, and the danger of their miscarriages therein. When Moses had of old declared the law unto the people, he assured them that he had set life and death before them, one whereof would be the unquestionable consequent of that proposal Much more may this be said of the promises of the gospel. They are a “savor of life unto life,” or of “death unto death,” unto all to whom they are revealed and proposed. In what sense the promise is or may be left unto any hath been declared before in general: That there is a promise of entering into the rest of God yet remaining; that this promise be made known and proposed unto us in the dispensation of the word; that a day, time, or season of patience and grace be left unto us, are required hereunto. When these things are so, it is a trembling concern unto us to consider the issue; for,

1. The matter of the promise is about the eternal concernments of the glory of God and the good or evil state of the souls of men. The matter of the promise of old was in part typical, and related immediately to things temporal and carnal, a rest from bondage in the land of Canaan. But even this being neglected by them to whom it was left and proposed, exposed them to the high displeasure and indignation of God. And what will be the event of the neglect of such a promise, whose matter is high above the other as heaven is above the earth, excelling it as things spiritual and eternal do things temporal and carnal? God will have a strict account or’the entertainment that is given unto gospel promises amongst the sons of men. This is no slight matter, nor to be slighted over, as is the manner of the most that are dealt withal about it. An eternity in blessedness or misery depends singly on this treaty that God hath with us in the promises Hence are those frequent intimations of eternal severity which are recorded in the Scripture against those who reject the promise that is left unto them; as Hebrews 2:3, “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?” 1 Peter 4:17, “What shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” and the like everywhere.

2. The whole love, goodness, and grace of God towards mankind, the infinite wisdom of the counsel of his will about their salvation, are contained and exhibited unto us in the promise. This is the way that God from the beginning fixed on to propose and communicate the effects of these things unto us. Hence the gospel, which is an explication of the promise in all the causes and effects of it, is termed ἐπιφάνεια τῆς χάριτος τῆς σωτηρίου τοῦ Θεοῦ , Titus 2:11, the “illustrious appearance of the saving grace of God;” and ἐπιφάνεια τῆς χρηστότητος καὶ τῆς φιλανθρωπίας τοῦ Σωτῆρος ἡμῶν Θεοῦ , Titus 3:4, the “glorious manifestation of the goodness” (kindness, benignity) “and love of God our Savior;” and εὐαγγέλιον τῆς δὀξης τοῦ μακαρι . ου Θεοῦ , 1 Timothy 1:11; as also εὐαγγέλιον τῆς δόξης τοῦ Χριστοῦ , 2 Corinthians 4:4; that is, either, by a Hebraism, εὐαγγέλιον ἔνδοξον , the “glorious gospel,” so called from the nature and effects of it; or the gospel which reveals, declares, makes known, the great and signal glory of God, that whereby he will be exalted upon the account of his goodness, grace, love, and kindness.

Now, even amongst men it is a thing of some hazard and consequence for any to have an offer made them of the favor, love, and kindness of potentates or princes. For they do not take anything more unkindly, nor usually revenge more severely, than the neglect of their favors. They take themselves therein, in all that they esteem themselves for, to be neglected and despised; and this they do though their favor be of little worth or use, and not at all to be confided in, as Psalms 146:3-4. And what shall we think of this tender of all that grace, love, and kindness of God? Surely we ought well to bethink ourselves of the event, when it is made unto us. When our Savior sent his disciples to tender the promise unto the inhabitants of any city or house, he ordered them that upon its refusal they should “shake off the dust of their feet,” Matthew 10:14, “for a testimony against them,” Mark 6:11. [They were to] shake off the dust of their feet, as a token of God’s dereliction and indignation, a natural symbol to that purpose. So Nehemiah shook his lap against them that would not keep the oath of God, saying,

“So God shake out every man from his house, and from his labor, that performeth not this promise,” Nehemiah 5:13.

And it was the custom of the Romans, when they denounced war and desolation on any country, to throw a stone into their land. So Paul and Barnabas literally practiced this order: Acts 13:51, “They shook off the dust of their feet against them.” And what they intended thereby they declared in their words unto them that refused the promise, verse 46, “Seeing ye put the word from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles;” that is, ‘we leave you to perish everlastingly in your sins’And this they did “for a testimony against them,” a sign and witness, to be called over at the last day, that the promise had been tendered unto them, and was rejected by them. And that this is the meaning of that symbol, and not a mere declaration that they would accept of nothing from them, nor carry away aught of them, not so much as the dust of their feet, as some suppose, is evident from the interpretation of it, in the following words of our Savior, Matthew 10:15,

“Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city;”

that is, ‘By so doing you shall give them an infallible sign of that certain and sore destruction which shall befall them for their fins.’Severe, therefore, will be the issue of so much love and kindness despised as is exhibited in the promise. See more hereof on Hebrews 2:2-3.

3. This proposal of the promise of the gospel unto men is decretory and premptory, as to God’s dealings with them about their salvation. “He that believeth not shall be damned,” Mark 16:16. There is no other way for us to escape “the wrath to come.” God hath indispensably bound up mankind to this rule and law: here they must close, or perish for-ever. From all which it appears what thoughts men ought to have of themselves and their condition, when the gospel in the providence of God is preached unto them. The event, one way or other, will be very great. Everlasting blessedness or everlasting woe will be the issue of it, one way or the other. “Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left unto us,” etc. Again,

Obs. 5. The failing of men through their unbelief doth no way cause the promises of God to fail or cease.

Those to whom the promise mentioned in this place was first proposed came short of it, believed it not, and so had no benefit by it. What then became of the promise itself did that fail also, and become of none effect? God forbid; it remained still, and was left for others. This our apostle more fully declares, Romans 9:4-5; for having showed that the promises of God were given unto the Israelites, the posterity of Abraham, he foresaw an objection that might be taken from thence against the truth and efficacy of the promises themselves. This he anticipates and answers, verse 6, “Not as though the word of God” (that is, the word of promise) “hath taken none effect;” and so proceedeth to show, that whosoever and how many soever reject the promise, yet they do it only to their own ruin; the promise shall have its effects in others, in those whom God hath graciously ordained unto a participation of it. And so also Romans 3:3,

“For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? God forbid.”

The “faith of God” (that is, his glory in his veracity, as the apostle shows in the next words, “Yea, let God be true, and every man a liar”) is engaged for the stability and accomplishment of his promises. Men by their unbelief may disappoint themselves of their expectation, but cannot bereave God of his faithfulness. And the reason on the one hand is, that God doth not give his promises unto all men, to have their gracious effect upon them, whether they will or no, whether they believe them or reject them; and on the other, he can and will raise up them who shall, through his grace, “mix his promises with faith,” and enjoy the benefit of it. If the natural seed of Abraham prove obstinate, he can out of stones raise up children unto him, who shall be his heirs and inherit the promises. And therefore, when the gospel is preached unto any nation, or city, or assembly, the glory and success of it do not depend upon the wills of them unto whom it is preached; neither is it frustrated by their unbelief. The salvation that is contained in it shall be disposed of unto others, but they and their house shall be destroyed. This our Savior often threatened unto the obstinate Jews; and accordingly it came to pass. And God hath blessed ends in granting the outward dispensation of the promises even unto them by whom they are rejected, not here to be insisted on. Hence our apostle tells us that those who preach the gospel are a sweet savor of Christ unto God, as well in them that perish as in them that are saved, 2 Corinthians 2:15. Christ is glorified, and God in and by him, in the dispensation of it, whether men receive it or no. Again it follows from these words, that,

Obs. 6. The gospel state of believers is a state of assured rest and peace.

It is the rest of God. But this will more properly fall under our consideration on Hebrews 4:3, as to what is needful to be added to the preceding discourse.

The caution enforcing the exhortation insisted on remains to be opened, in the last words of the first verse, “Lest any of you should seem to come short of it.” Τὶς ἐξ ὑμῶν , “Any one of you,” “Any one from amongst you.” This expression the apostle used before, Hebrews 3:12, ἔν τινι ὑμῶν , “in any of you.” He respected them all so in general, as that he had a regard to every one of them in particular. Some here read ἡμῶν , “of us.” And this seems more proper, for it both answers the preceding caution, “Let us fear,” namely, “lest any one of us,” and continues the same tenor of speech unto what ensues, “for unto us was the gospel preached.” If we read ἡμῶν , the sense of the caution is that every one of us should take heed to ourselves;’if we retain ὑμῶν , with the most copies and translations, the intendment is that we all ought to take care of one another, or fear the dangers and temptations of one another, laboring to prevent their efficacy by mutual brotherly care and assistance. And this is most answerable unto the apostle’s treating of them in sundry other places of this epistle, as Hebrews 3:12-13; Hebrews 10:23-24; Hebrews 12:15.

Δοκῇ , “should seem.” It refers unto μή ποτε , “lest at any time.” There is a threefold probable sense of this word or expression:

1. Some suppose it to be added merely to give an emphasis to the caution. And so there is no more intended but that “none of you come short of its” And this manner of speech is not unusual, “Lest any seem to come short;” that is, lest any do so indeed. See 1Co 11:16 ; 1 Corinthians 12:22; 2 Corinthians 10:9.

2. Some suppose that by this word the apostle mitigates the severity of the intimation given them of their danger, by a kind and gentle expression,

‘Lest any of you should seem to incur so great a penalty, fall under so great a destruction, or fall into so great a sin as that intimated;’without this the admonition seems to have some harshness in it. And it is a good rule, that all such warnings as have threatenings for their motive, or any way included in them, ought to be expressed with gentleness and tenderness, that the persons warned take no occasion of being provoked or irritated. “A soft answer” (and so a soft admonition) “turneth away wrath; but grievous words stir up anger,” Proverbs 15:1. See the proceeding of our apostle in this case, Hebrews 6:7-10, with what wisdom he alleviates the appearing sharpness of a severe admonition. But,

3. The apostle rather intends to warn them against all appearance of any such failing or falling as he cautioneth them against. He desires them to take heed that none of them do, by foregoing their former zeal and diligence, give any umbrage or appearance of a declension from or desertion of their profession. This is his intention: ‘Let there be no semblance or appearance of any such thing found amongst you.’

῾Υστερηκέναι , “To come short;” “To be left behind;” “To have been left behind;” that is, in the work of first receiving the promise when proposed. If men fail in the beginning, probably they will quite give over in their progress is “posterior sum,” “to be behind,” in time, in place, in progress. Vulg. Lat., “deesse,” “to be wanting;” which renders not the word, nor gives any direct sense. Syr., דְּפָאֵשׁ , “qui cesset,” “qui frustretur,” “qui deficeret,” so is it variously rendered, any one that should “cease,” “fail,” “be frustrated,” “give over” whereunto it adds, מֵן דַּלְמֵעַל , “ab ingressu,” “from entering in;” that is, into the rest contained in the promise; making that, and not the promise itself, to be intended; and so the dehortation to be taken from the punishment of unbelief, and not the nature of the sin itself. also signifies “frustrari,” “non assequi,” “to be disappointed,” and not to attain the thing aimed at. So Thucydid. lib. in., ᾿Επειδὴ τῆς Μιτυλήνης ὑστερήκει , “ After that he missed of Mitylene,” or was disappointed in his design of putting in there. And in Isocrates, ῾Υστεπεῖν τῶν καιρῶν , καὶ πράγματων , is “to be disappointed,” or to fail of occasions for the management of affairs. The word also signifies “to want,” or “to be wanting.” Τῷ ὑστεροῦντι περισσοτέραν δοὺς τιμήν , 1 Corinthians 12:24, “Giving honor to that which wanteth,” “is wanting.” ῾Υστερήσαντος οἴνου , John 2:3, “When wine failed,” was wanting, “when they lacked wine.” So also to be “inferior,” Υστερηκέναι τῶν ὑπὲρ λίαν ἀποστόλων , 2 Corinthians 11:5, “To come behind the chiefest apostles;” that is, be inferior unto them in anything.

Generally, expositors think there is an allusion unto them who run in a race. Those who are not speedy therein, who stir not up themselves, and put out their utmost ability and diligence, do fail, come behind, and so fall short of the prize. So ὑστερεῖν is “ultimus esse,” “deficere in cursu,” “à tergo remanere,” “to be cast,” “to faint or fail in the race,” “to be cast behind the backs of others,” And this is a thing which our apostle more than once alludes unto, and explains, 1 Corinthians 9:24-25.

But the allusion is taken from the people in the wilderness, and their passing into the land of Canaan. Most of them were heavy through unbelief, lagged in their progress, and were, as it were, left behind in the wilderness, where they perished and came short of entering into the promised land. These words, therefore, “Lest any of you should come short of it,” are as if he had said, ‘Lest it fall out with you in reference unto the promise left unto you, as it did with the people in the wilderness with respect unto the promise as proposed and preached unto them. For by reason of their unbelief they fell short, and enjoyed not the promise, nor did enter into the land promised unto them, or the rest of God. And take you heed, lest by the same means you fall short of the promise now preached unto you, and of entering into the rest of God in the gospel.’The word, therefore, directly respects the promise, “fall short of the promise,” consequentially the things promised, or the rest of God in the gospel. The scope and intention of this latter part of the verse may be summed up in the ensuing observations.

Obs. 7. Many to whom the promise of the gospel is proposed and preached do, or may, through their own sins, come short of the enjoyment of the things promised.

The caution here given unto the Hebrews, with the foundation of it in the example of those who did so miscarry, not only warrants, but makes necessary this observation from the words. And I wish it were a matter of difficulty to confirm the truth of what is here observed. But what is affirmed is but expressive of the state and condition of most of those in the world to whom the gospel is preached. They come short of all benefit or advantage by it. It ever was so, and it may be, for the most part, ever will be so in this world. That sentence of our Savior contains the lot and state of men under the dispensation of the gospel: “Many are called, but few am chosen.” It is true, “faith cometh by hearing,” but bare hearing will denominate no man a believer; more is required thereunto, Men, indeed, would probably much esteem the gospel, if it would save them merely at the cost and pains of others in preaching it. But God hath otherwise disposed of things; their own faith and obedience are also indispensably required hereunto. Without these, the promise considered in itself will not profit them; and as it proposed unto them it will condemn them. What are the ways and means whereby men are kept off from enjoying the promise, and entering by faith into the rest of God, hath been declared on Hebrews 3:12. Again,

Obs. 8. Not only backsliding through unbelief, but all appearances of tergiversation in profession and occasions of them, in times of difficulty and trials, ought to be carefully avoided by professors: “Lest any of you. should seem.” Not only a profession, but the beauty and glory of it is required of us.

We have often observed that it was now a time of great difficulty and of many trials unto these Hebrews. Such seasons are of great concernment to the glory of God, the honor of the gospel, the edification of the church, and the welfare of the souls of men. For is them all the things of God, and the interests of men in them, have a public, and as it were a visible transaction in the world. Now, therefore, the apostle would not have the least appearance of tergiversation, or drawing back, in them that make profession of the truth So he gives us caution elsewhere with the same respect, Ephesians 5:15-16, “Walking circumspectly, redeem the time, because the days are evil.” The reason of both the duties enjoined is taken from the consideration of the evil of the days, filled with temptations, persecutions, and dangers. Then in all things professors are to walk ἀκριβῶς , “exactly,” “circumspectly,” “accurately.” And there are two heads of circumspect walking in profession during such a season. The first is, to “adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things,” Titus 2:10; κοσμοῦντες τὴν διδασκαλίαν , rendering beautiful, lovely, comely, the doctrine of truth which we profess. Κοσμέω is so “to adorn” anything, as a bride decketh or adorneth herself with her jewels, to appear lovely and desirable, an allusion which the Scripture elsewhere maketh use of, Isaiah 61:10, and by which Solomon sets out the spiritual glory and beauty of the church in his mystical song. This is a season wherein, by all accurate circumspection in their walking and profession, believers ought to render what they believe and profess glorious and amiable in the eyes of all. And this for two ends:

1. That those who are of “the contrary part,” those that trouble and persecute them, may have μηδὲν φαῦλον , to say of them, Titus 2:8, “nihil improbum nut stultum,” no wicked, no foolish matter to lay to their charge. And though the conviction that falls upon ungodly men may have no effect upon them, but a secret shame that they should pursue them with wrath and hatred against whom they have no evil or foolish matter to say, but are forced openly to fall upon them in things only “concerning the law of their God,” as Daniel 6:5, yet God makes use of it to check and restrain that wrath, which if it brake forth would not turn to his praise, 1 Peter 3:16.

2. That others, who by their trials may be occasioned to a more diligent consideration of them than at other times, may, by the ornaments put upon the truth, be brought over to a liking, approbation, and profession of it. In such a season believers are set upon a theater and made a spectacle to all the world, 1 Corinthians 4:9-13; all eyes are upon them, to see how they will acquit themselves. And this is one reason whence times of trouble and persecution have usually been the seasons of the church’s growth and increase. All men are awakened to serious thoughts of the contest which they see in the world. And if thereon they find the ways of the gospel rendered glorious and amiable by the conversation and walking of them that do profess it, it greatly disposeth their minds to the acceptance of it. At such a season, therefore, above all others, there ought to be no appearances of tergiversation or decays. The next head of circumspect walking in such a condition, that no semblance of “coming short” may be given, is, a diligent endeavor to avoid “all appearance of evil,” 1 Thessalonians 5:22, every thing that may give occasion unto any to judge that we are fainting in our profession. Things that, it may be, are lawful or indifferent at another time, things that we can produce probable and pleadable reasons for, yet if, through the circumstances that we are attended with, they may be looked on by persons of integrity, though either weak or prejudiced, to have an eye or show of evil in them, are carefully to be avoided.

Now, there are two parts of our profession that we are to heed, lest we should seem to fail when times of difficulty do attend us. The first is personal holiness, righteousness, and upright universal obedience. The other is the due observance of all the commands, ordinances, and institutions of Christ in the gospel The apostle Peter joins them together, with respect unto our accurate attendance unto them in such seasons, 2 Peter 3:11, “Seeing that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be, ἐν ἁγίαις ἀναστροφαῖς , καὶ εὐσεβείαις ,” “in holy conversations;” that is, in every instance of our converse or walking before God in this world. Herein we meet with many changes, many temptations, many occasions, duties, and trials, in all which there ought a thread of holiness to run through in our spirits and actings. Hence it is expressed by “holy conversations,” which we have rendered by supplying “all” into the text, καὶ εὐσεβείαις ; and “godlinesses.” The word principally respects the godliness that is in religious worship, which constitutes the second part of our profession. And although the worship of God in Christ be one in general, and no other worship are Christians to touch upon, yet because there are many duties to be attended unto in that worship, many ordinances to be observed, and our diligent care is required about each particular instance, he expresseth it in the plural number, “godlinesses” or” worships;” or, as we, “all godliness.” About both these parts of profession is our utmost endeavor required, that we seem not to fail in them. Men may do so, and yet retain so much integrity in their hearts as may at last give them an entrance, as it were through fire, into the rest of God; but yet manifold evils do ensue upon the appearance of their failings, to the gospel, the church of God, and to their own souls. To assist us, therefore, in our duty in this matter, we may carry along with us the ensuing directions:

Have an equal respect always to both the parts of profession mentioned, lest failing in one of them we be found at length to fail in the whole. And the danger is great in a neglect hereof. For example, it is so, lest whilst we are sedulous about the due and strict observance of the duties of instituted worship, a neglect or decay should grow upon us as to holiness, moral righteousness, and obedience. For,

(1.) Whilst the mind is deeply engaged and exercised about those duties, either out of a peculiar bent of spirit towards them, or from the opposition that is made unto them, the whole man is oftentimes so taken up therewith as that it is regardless of personal holiness and righteousness. Besides the innumerable instances we have hereof in the Scripture, wherein God chargeth men with their wickedness, and rejects them for it, whilst they pretended highly to a strict observance of oblations and sacrifices, we have seen it manifoldly exemplified in the days wherein we live. Whilst men have contended about ordinances and institutions, forms and ways of religion, they have grown careless and regardless as unto personal holy conversation, to their ruin. They have seemed like keepers of a vineyard, but their own vineyard they have not kept many have we seen withering away into a dry, sapless frame, under a hot, contending, disputing spirit about ways and differences of worship! Whilst they have been intent on one part of profession, the other of more importance hath been neglected.

(2.) Corrupt nature is apt to compensate in the conscience the neglect of one duty with diligence in another. If men engage into a present duty, a duty as they judge exceeding acceptable with God, and attended with difficulty in the world, they are apt enough to think that they may give themselves a dispensation in some other things; that they need not attend unto universal holiness and obedience with that strictness, circumspection, and accuracy, as seems to be required. Yea, this is the ruin of most hypocrites and false professors in the world.

Let it therefore be always our care, especially in difficult seasons, in the first place to secure the first part of profession, by a diligent attendance unto all manner of holiness, in our persons, families, and all our whole conversation in this world. Let faith, love, humility, patience, purity, charity, self-denial, weanedness from the world, readiness to do good to all, forgiving of one another, and our enemies, be made bright in us, and shine in such a season, if we would not seem to come short. And this,

(1.) Because the difficulties in, and oppositions that lie against, the other part of our profession, with the excellency of the duties of it in such a season, are apt to surprise men into an approbation of themselves in a neglect of those important duties, as was before observed. It is a sad thing to see men suffer for gospel truths with worldly, carnal hearts and corrupt conversations. If we give our bodies to be burned, and have not charity, or are defective in grace, it will not profit us; we shall be but “as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal,” 1 Corinthians 13:1-3.

(2.) God hath no regard to the observance of ordinances, where duties of holiness, righteousness, and love are neglected, Isaiah 1:13-17. And in this state, whatever use we may be of in the world or unto others, all will be lost as to ourselves, Matthew 7:21-23.

(3.) We can have no expectation of strength or assistance from God, in cleaving to the truth and purity of worship against oppositions, if we fail in our diligent attendance unto universal holiness. Here hath been the original of most men’s apostasy. They have thought they could abide in the profession of the truths whereof they have been convinced; but growing cold and negligent in personal obedience, they have found their locks cut, and they have become weak and unstable as water. God, for their sins, justly withholding the assistances of his Spirit, they have become a prey to every temptation.

(4.) What is it that we intend and aim at in our profession and our constancy in it? is it not that therein and thereby we may give glory unto God, and honor to the Lord Jesus Christ and his gospel? If this be not our aim, all our religion is in vain. If it be so, we may easily see that without personal universal holiness we do on many accounts dishonor God, Christ, and the gospel by our profession, be it what it will. Here, therefore, let us fix our principal diligence, that there be no appearance of any failure, lest we should seem to come short of the promise.

Secondly, The other part of our profession consists in our adher ence unto a due observation of all gospel institutions and commands, according to the charge of our Lord Jesus Christ, Matthew 28:20. The necessity hereof depends on the importance of it, the danger of its omission unto our own souls, the dependence of the visible kingdom of Christ in this world upon it; which things may not here be insisted on.

Obs. 9. They who mix not the promises of the gospel with faith shall utterly come short of entering into the rest of God. And this the apostle further demonstrates in the next verse which follows:

Hebrews 4:2 . “For unto us was the gospel preached, even as unto them [ we were evangelized, even as they ]: but the word of hearing [ the word which they heard ] did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard.”

The signification of the original words, as rendered by translators, hath been already considered.

In this verse the apostle confirms the reasonableness of the exhortation drawn from the instance before insisted on. And this he doth on two grounds or principles:

First, The parity of condition that was between them of old, represented in the example, as to privilege and duty, and those to whom now he wrote, in the first words of the verse, “For we were evangelized, even as they.”

Secondly, The event of that privilege and call to duty which befell them of old, which he would dehort the present Hebrews from, “The word which they heard profited them not, because,” etc.

His first ground must in the first place be opened and improved.

Καὶ γάρ , “etenim.” The conjunction of these particles manifests a relation unto what went before, and the introduction of a new reason for its confirmation. And καὶ in this place is not so much a copulative (as usually it is), as an illative particle. So it is used Mark 10:26, Καὶ τίς δύναται σωθῆναι ; “And who can be saved?” which we render rightly, “Who then can be saved?” for an inference is intended from the former words, expressed by way of interrogation. And the same particle is some- times causal; not respecting a conjunction with what went before, nor an inference from it, but is introductory of an ensuing reason. See Luke 1:42, and John 6:54. Here, as having γάρ , “for” or “because,” joined unto it, it signifies the induction of a reason for the confirmation of what was spoken before.

᾿Εσμέν εὐηγγελισμένοι . Εὐαγγελίζομαι is of a various construction in the New Testament. It is mostly used in an active sense, and when spoken with respect unto persons it hath a dative case, signifying “them,” annexed unto it. Luke 4:18, Εὐαγγελίζεσθαι πτωχοῖς , To preach the gospel to the poor;” Romans 1:15, Τοῖς ἐν ῾Ρώμῃ εὐαγγελίσασθαι , “To preach the gospel to them at Rome;” so frequently. Sometimes it hath the subject of it joined unto it in the accusative case: Acts 5:42, They ceasednot teaching from house to house, καὶ εὐαγγελιζόμενοι ῾Ιησοῦν τὸν Χριστόν , “and preaching Jesus to be the Christ.” So also Acts 8:4; Ephesians 2:17. And sometimes the object is expressed by the samecase. Εὐηγγελίζετο τὸν λαόν , “He evangelized the people,” “preached unto them :” so Luke 3:18. And commonly it is used neutrally or absolutely, “to preach the gospel,” without the addition either of subject or object. Sometimes it is used passively; and that either absolutely, as 1 Peter 4:6, or with the nominative case of those that are the object of it, Matthew 11:5, Πτωχοὶ εὐαγγελίζονται , “The poor are evangelized,” or “have the gospel preached unto them.” And in this sense and construction is it here used. For the nominative case, ἡμεῖς , is included in the verb substantive, ἐσμέν , “We are evangelized,” “we have the gospel preached unto us.” And in what way or sense soever the word is used, it doth nowhere denote the receiving of the gospel in the power of it by them who are evangelized; that is, it includes not the faith of the hearers, but only expresseth the act of preaching, and the outward enjoyment of it. The gospel, and therein the promise of entering into the rest of God, is preached unto us.

Καθάπερ κάκεῆοι , “even as they.” It is plain from the context who are those whom this relative, κἀκεῖνοι directs unto, namely, the fathers in the wilderness, who were before treated of those who had, those who disbelieved and rejected, the promise of God, and came short of entering into his rest. And three things are to be inquired into for the opening of these words:

1. Wherein consists the comparison expressed in the word καθάπερ , “even as.”

2. How was the gospel preached unto them.

3. How unto us.

1. The comparison is not between the subject of the preaching mentioned, as though they had one gospel preached unto them and we another; as if he had said, ‘We have a gospel preached unto us, as they had one before us.’For the gospel is one and the same unto all, and ever was so from the giving out of the first promise, Nor, secondly, is the comparison between two several ways, modes, or manners of preaching the gospel: for if so, the preaching of the gospel unto them hath the pre-eminence above the preaching of it unto us, inasmuch as in the comparison it should be made the rule and pattern of ours, “The gospel was preached unto us as unto them;” but the preaching of the gospel by the Lord Jesus Christ and his apostles, which the Hebrews now enjoyed (if that be here understood) was far more excellent, as to the manner of it, than that which their forefathers were made partakers o£ The comparison intended, therefore, is merely between the persons, they and we. ‘As they enjoyed the gospel, so do we; as it was preached to them, so to us:’that it is in a far more excellent and eminent manner declared unto us than unto them he further declares afterwards; yet, as I shall show, though this be true, it is probably not the sense of this place.

2. It is supposed and granted that the gospel was preached unto the people in the wilderness. The apostle doth not here directly assert it; it is not his intention to prove it; it was not the design or subject-matter that he had in hand; nor would the confirmation of it have been subservient unto his present purpose. It is our privilege and duty, and not theirs, which he is in the immediate consideration of. But the matter being so indeed, a supposition of it, namely, that the gospel was preached unto them, was necessary to his purpose. How this was done we must now inquire; and concerning it we observe,

(1.) That the promise made unto Abraham did contain the substance of the gospel It had in it the covenant of God in Christ, and was the confirmation of it, as our apostle disputes expressly, Galatians 3:16-17. He says that the promise unto Abraham and his seed did principally intend Christ, the promised seed, and that therein the covenant was confirmed of God in Christ. And thence it was attended with blessedness and justification in the pardon of sin, Romans 4:0; Galatians 3:14-15. So that it had in it the substance of the gospel, as hath been proved elsewhere.

(2.) This covenant, or promise made unto Abraham, was confirmed and established unto his seed, his posterity, as the Scripture everywhere testifieth. And hereby had they the substance of the gospel communicated unto them; therein were they “evangelized.”

(3.) All the typical institutions of the law that were afterwards introduced had in themselves no other end but to instruct the people in the nature, meaning, and manner of the accomplishment of the promise. To this purpose they served until the time of reformation. They were, indeed, by the unbelief of some, abused unto a contrary end; for men cleaving to them as in themselves the means of righteousness, life, and salvation, were thereby in their minds diverted from the promise and the gospel therein contained, Romans 9:31-32; Romans 10:3. But this was but an accidental abuse of them; properly and directly they had no other end but that expressed. Nor had the whole law itself, in its Mosaical administration, any other end but to instruct the people in the nature, meaning, and manner of the accomplishment of the promise, and to lead them to the enjoyment of it, Romans 10:4, and to compel them to betake themselves unto it for life and rest, Galatians 3:18-20.

(4.) With the spiritual part of the promise made unto Abraham there was mixed, or annexed unto it, a promise of the inheritance of the land of Canaan, Genesis 12:3; Genesis 12:7; and this,

[1.] That it might instruct him and his seed in the nature of faith, to live in the expectation of that which is not theirs in possession, Hebrews 11:8-9.

[2.] That it might be a visible pledge of the love, power, and faithfulness of God in performing and accomplishing the spiritual and invisible part of the promise, or the gospel, in sending the blessing and blessed Seed to save and deliver from sin and death, and to give rest to the souls of them that do believe, Luke 1:72-75.

[3.] That it might be a place of rest for the church, wherein it might attend solemnly unto the observance of all those institutions of worship which were granted unto it or imposed upon it, to direct them unto the promise. Hence,

(5.) The declaration of the promise of entering into Canaan, and the rest of God therein, became in an especial manner the preaching of the gospel unto them, name]y,

[1.] Because it was appointed to be the great visible pledge of the performance of the whole promise or covenant made with Abraham. The land itself and their possession of it was sacramental; for

[2.] It had in itself also a representation of that blessed spiritual rest which, in the accomplishment of the promise, was to be asserted.

[3.] Because by the land of Canaan, and the rest of God therein, not so much the place, country, or soil, was intended or considered, as the worship of God in his ordinances and institutions therein solemnly to be observed. And by these ordinances, or through faith in the use of them, they were led unto a participation of the benefits of the promise of the gospel.

From what hath been spoken it appears how the gospel was preached unto the fathers in the wilderness, or how they were evangelized. It is not a typical gospel, as some speak, that the apostle intends, nor yet a mere institution of types; but the gospel of Jesus Christ, as it was in the substance of it proposed unto them in the promise; the entering into the land of Canaan being the especial instance wherein their faith was to be tried.

3. We may inquire how the gospel is said to be “preached unto us,” which is the thing that is directly asserted. And,

(1.) By us, in the first place, the Hebrews of that time were principally intended. But this, by due analogy, may in the application and use of it be extended unto all others who hear the word.

(2.) The apostle had before declared that the gospel, in the full, free, open, and clear dispensation of it, had been preached unto them, and confirmed with signs and wonders amongst them; so that no doubt can be made of the gospel’s being preached unto them. And with respect unto this sense and interpretation of the words were the cautious given, at the entrance, about the terms of comparison which seem to be in them. Notwithstanding this, I do at least doubt whether that were the preaching intended by the apostle. The same declaration of it to them of old, and these present Hebrews, their posterity, seems rather to be intended. The words, “For unto us was the gospel preached, even as unto them,” seem to be of this importance, that we are no less concerned in the declaration of the gospel made to them, and the promise proposed unto them, than they were. Otherwise the apostle would have rather said, ‘The gospel was preached to them, even as to us;’seeing of its preaching unto the present Hebrews there could be no doubt or question: and as we have now often declared, he is pressing upon these Hebrews the example of their progenitors. Therein he minds them that they had a promise given unto them of entering into the rest of God, which because of unbelief they came short of, and perished under his displeasure. Now, whereas they might reply,’What is that unto us, wherein are we concerned in it, can we reject that promise which doth not belong unto us?’the apostle seems in these words to obviate or remove that objection. To this purpose he lets them know, that even unto us, that is, to themselves, to all the posterity of Abraham in all generations, the gospel was preached in the promise of entering into the rest of God, and may no less be sinned against at any time by unbelief than it was by them unto whom it was at first granted. This sense the words, as was said, seem to require, “To us was the gospel preached, even as unto them;” that is, wherein and when it was preached unto them, therein and then it was preached unto us also. But it may be said, that these Hebrews could not be concerned in the promise of entering into the land of Canaan, whereof they had been now possessed for so many generations. I answer, They could not do so, indeed, had no more been intended in that promise but merely the possession of that land; but I have showed before that the covenant-rest of God in Christ was in that promise. Again, it might concern them as much as it did those in the time of David, who were exhorted and pressed, as he manifests out of the psalm, to close with that promise, and to enter into the rest of God, when they were in a most full and quiet enjoyment of the whole land. And if it be said that the promise might belong unto those in the days of David, because that worship of God which had respect unto the land of Canaan was in all its vigor, but now, as unto these Hebrews, that whole worship was vanishing and ready to expire, I answer, That whatever alterations in outward ordinances and institutions of worship God was pleased to make at any time, the promise of the gospel was still one and the same; and therein “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today, and for ever,” Hebrews 13:8. This, then, I take to be the sense of the words, namely, that as the first preaching of the gospel unto their forefathers belonged in the privilege of it unto these Hebrews, by virtue of the covenant of God with them, so the obligation to faith and obedience thereon was no less on them than on those to whom it was first preached. And the present dispensation of the gospel was but the carrying on of the same revelation of the mind and will of God towards them- And we may now take some observations from the words.

Obs. 1. It is a signal privilege to have the gospel preached unto us, to be “evangelized.”

As such it is here proposed by the apostle, and it is made a foundation of inferring a necessity of all sorts of duties. This the prophet emphatically expresseth, Isaiah 9:1-2,

“Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun, and the land of Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations. The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.”

The connection of this prophetical discourse is judged by many obscure and difficult; but the general design of it, as applied by the evangelist, Matthew 4:15-16, is not so. For reckoning the various afflictions and distresses that God at several times brought upon the Galilean parts of the land, which lay exposed in the first place to the incursion of their enemies, and whose people were first carried away into captivity, whereby outward darkness and sorrow came upon them, he subjoins that consideration which, though future, and for many ages to be expected, should recompense and out-balance all the evil that had in an especial manner befallen them. And this consisted in that great privilege, that these people were the first that had the gospel preached unto them, as the evangelist manifests in his application of this prophecy.

Hereunto he adds the nature of this privilege, and showeth wherein it doth consist, in a description of their condition before they were partakers of it, and in the relief which they had thereby. Their state was, that they “walked in darkness,” and “dwelt in the land of the shadow of death;” than which there can be no higher description of a condition of misery and disconsolation. When the psalmist would express the utmost distress that could befall him in this world, he doth it by this supposition,

“Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,” Psalms 23:4.

And these persons are said to “dwell” in that land which he thought it so dreadful and horrible to “walk through.” And it denotes the utmost of temporal and spiritual misery. And these people are but occasionally singled out as an instance of the condition of all men without the light of the gospel. They are in hideous darkness, under the shades of death, which in its whole power is ready, every moment to seize upon them. Unto these the gospel comes as אוֹר נַּדוֹל , “a great light;” as the light of the sun, called המָּאוֹר הַנָּדֹל , “the great light,” in its first creation, Genesis 1:16.

In allusion whereunto the Lord Christ in the preaching of the gospel is called שֶׁמֶשׁ צְדָקָה , Malachi 4:2, “the Sun of righteousness,” as he who brings righteousness, “life, and immortality to light by the gospel.” Now, what greater privilege can such as have been kept all their days in a dungeon of darkness, under the sentence of death, be made partakers of, than to be brought out into the light of the sun, and to have therewith a tender of life, peace, and liberty made unto them? And this is so much more in this matter, as spiritual darkness, in an inevitable tendency to eternal darkness, is more miserable than any outward, temporal darkness whatever; and as spiritual light, “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ,” excelleth this outward light directing the body in the things of this world. Hence Peter expresseth the effect of the gospel by this, that God by it “calleth us out of darkness into his marvelous light,” 1 Peter 2:9; and this is but one instance of the greatness of this privilege for men to be evangelized. It is the gospel alone that brings the light of God, or life and blessedness unto men, who without it are under the power of darkness here, and reserved for everlasting darkness and misery hereafter. And more I shall not add; let them consider this by whom it is not prized, not valued; by whom it is neglected, or not improved.

Obs. 2. Barely to be evangelized, to have the gospel preached unto any, is a privilege of a dubious issue and event. All privileges depend, as to their issue and advantage, on their usage and improvement. If herein we fail, that which should have been for our good will be for our snare. But this hath in part been spoken to before.

Obs. 3. The gospel is no new doctrine, no new law; it was preached unto the people of old.

The great prejudice against the gospel at its first preaching was, that it was generally esteemed to be καινὴ διδαχή , a “new doctrine,” Acts 17:19, a matter never known before in the world. And so was the preaching of Christ himself charged to be, Mark 1:27. But we may say of the whole gospel what John says of the commandment of love. It is “a new commandment,” and it is “an old commandment which was from the beginning,” 1 John 2:7-8. In the preaching of the gospel by the Lord Jesus himself and his apostles, it was new in respect of the manner of its administration, with sundry circumstances of light, evidence, and power, wherewith it was accompanied. So it is in all ages, in respect of any fresh discovery of truth from the word, formerly hidden or eclipsed.

But as to the substance of it, the gospel is “that which was from the beginning,” 1 John 1:1. It is the first great original transaction of God with sinners, from the foundation of the world. Hence the Lord Christ is said to be a “Lamb slain ἀπὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου ,” Revelation 13:8, “from the foundation of the world.” It is not of the counsel and purpose of God concerning him that the words are spoken, for that is said to be πρὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου , Ephesians 1:4, “before the foundation of the world;” that is, from eternity. And, 1 Peter 1:20, he is said expressly to be “fore-ordained πρὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου ” “before the foundation of the world;” that is, eternally in the counsel of God. But this ἀπὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου is as much as “presently after” or “from the foundation of the world.” Now, how was the Lord Christ a lamb slain presently upon the foundation of the world? Why, this καταβολὴ κόσμου , the “foundation of the world,” contains not only the beginning, but also the completing and finishing of the whole structure. So is the whole creation expressed, Psalms 102:25-26; Hebrews 1:10; Genesis 2:2-3. Now, upon the day of the finishing the world, or of completing the fabric of it, upon the entrance of sin, the promise of Christ was given, namely, “That the seed of the woman should break the serpent’s head,” Genesis 3:15. In this promise the Lord Christ was a “lamb slain,” though not actually, yet as to the virtue of his incarnation whereby he became a lamb, the “Lamb of God,” and of his death, wherein he was slain to take away the sins of the world. Now, the declaration of the Lord Christ as the Lamb of God slain to take away the sins of the world, is the sum and substance of the gospel.

This, then, having been given out and established ἀπὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου , “from the very beginning of the world,” this was the rise of the gospel, which ever since hath been the ground, rule, and men-sure of all God’s transactions with the children of men. Whatever new declarations have been made of it, whatever means have been used to instruct men in it, yet the gospel was still the same throughout all times and ages. The Gentiles, therefore, had no true ground to object against the doctrine of it that it was new: for though, by the sin and unbelief of themselves and their forefathers, who had lost, despised, and totally rejected, the first revelation of it, it was new to them; yea, and God, in his just and righteous judgments, had hid it from them, and rendered it at length μυστήριον χρόνοις αἰωνίοις σεσιγημένον , Romans 16:25, “a mystery,” the declaration whereof was “silenced from the past ages of the world,” or all the secula that had passed from the beginning; yet in itself it was not new, but the same that was revealed from the foundation of the world by God himself. And this is for the honor of the gospel; for it is a certain rule, “Quod antiquissimum, id verissimum,” “That which is most ancient is most true.” Falsehood endeavors by all means to countenance itself from antiquity, and thereby gives testimony to this rule, that truth is most ancient. And this discovers the lewdness of that imagination, that there have been several ways, in several seasons, whereby men came to the knowledge and enjoyment of God. Some, they say, did so by the law, some by the light of nature, or the light within them, or by philosophy, which is the improvement of it. For God having from the “beginning,” from the “foundation of the world,” declared the gospel in the manner before proved, as the means whereby sinners might know him, live unto him, and be made partakers of him, shall we think that when this way of his was despised and rejected by men, he himself would do so also, and follow them in their ways, indeed their delusions, which they had chosen, in opposition to his truth and holiness? It is fond and blasphemous once so to imagine.

The Jews, with whom our apostle had to do peculiarly, derived their privileges from the giving of the law, and concluded that because the law was given unto them of God, according to the law they were to worship him, and by the law they were to be saved. How doth he convince them of their error and mistake in this matter? He doth it by letting them know that the covenant, or the promise of the gospel, was given unto them long before the law, so that whatever the end and use of the law were (which what they were he here declares), it did not, nor could disannul the promise; that is, take its work away, or erect a new way of justification and salvation. Galatians 3:17, “And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ” (that is, the promise given unto Abraham, verse 16), “the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.” As if he had said, ‘God made a promise to Abraham, or made a covenant with him, whereby he was evangelized, and the way of life and salvation by Christ made known unto him. Now, if the end of the law was to justify sinners, to give them life and salvation, then the way of the promise and covenant instituted by God four hundred and thirty years before must be disannulled. But this the faithfulness and unchangeableness of God will not admit.’And the apostle insists only on the precedency mentioned, and not that priority which it had of the law of Moses, in that it was preached from the foundation of the worlds because dealing with the Jews, it was sufficient for him to evince that even in their relation unto God, and God’s especial dealings with them, the gospel had the precedency of the law. What, then, John the Baptist said of the Lord Christ and himself,

“He that cometh after me is preferred before me, for he was before me,” John 1:15

though he came after him in his ministry, yet he was above him in dignity, because he had a pre-existence in his divine nature unto him, the like in another sense may be said of the law and gospel as preached by Christ and his apostles Though it came after the law, yet it was preferred above it or before it, because it was before it. It was, in the substance and efficacy of it, revealed and declared long before the giving of the law, and therefore in all things was to be preferred before it.

It appears, then, that from first to last the gospel is, and ever was, the only way of coming unto God; and to think of any other way or means for that end, is both highly vain and exceedingly derogatory to the glory of God’s wisdom, faithfulness, and holiness.

And these things have we observed from the first part of the confirmation of the preceding exhortation, taken from the parity of state and condition between the present Hebrews and those of old, inasmuch as they had both the same gospel preached unto them. The latter part of it is taken from the especial event of giving the promise unto the fathers. And hereof also are two parts:

1. An absolute assertion that the word that was preached unto them “did not profit them.”

2. That there might be no semblance of reflecting disrespect on the promise of God, as though it could not profit them that heard it, to whom it was preached, the reason of this event and miscarriage is subjoined in these words, “not being mixed with faith in them that heard.”

The subject spoken of in the first proposition is, ὁ λόγος τῆς ἀκοῆς , “the word of hearing;” which expression being general, is limited by ἐπαγγελία , the “promise,” in the verse foregoing. Some would have the report of the spies, especially of Joshua and Caleb, to be intended in this expression. The people believed not the report which they made, and the account which they gave of the land that they had searched. But, as was said, it is plainly the same with the ἐπαγγελία , or the “promise,” in the other verse, as the coherence of the words doth undeniably evince: “The word of hearing.” Hearing is the only way and means whereby the benefits contained in any word may be conveyed unto us. The intendment, then, of this expression is that which is declared, Romans 10:17, ῎Αρα ἡ πίστις ἐξ ἀκοῆς· ἡ δὲ ἀκοὴ διὰ ῥήματος Θεοῦ , “Wherefore faith is from hearing, and hearing is by the word of God.” This is the series of these things. The end of the word of God is to ingenerate faith in the hearts of men: this it doth not immediately and absolutely, but by the means of hearing; men must hear what they are to believe, that they may believe. Hence, although the term of hearing be in itself indifferent, yet in the Scripture it is used sometimes for the effect of it in faith and obedience, as was observed on the last chapter; and sometimes for the proper cause of that effect whereof itself is the means; that is, the word itself. So ἀκοή expresseth שְׁמוּעָה . So Jeremiah 10:22, קוֹל שְׁמוּעָה , “vox auditus,” the “voice of hearing;” that is, of the word to be heard. And Isaiah 53:1, מִי הֶאַמִין לִֵשְמֻעָתֵנוּ , “Who hath believed our hearing?” that is, ‘the word which we propose to them to be heard and believed.’Neither doth ἀκοή barely signify “auditus,” the “hearing,” or the sense of it, which is all that properly is denoted by that Latin word; but it is used sometimes for the reports of words themselves which are heard: Matthew 24:6, Μελλήσετε ἀκούειν πολέμους , καὶ ἀκοὰς πολέμων ,” Ye shall hear of wars, and” (not hearings but) “reports and rumors of wars.’And our translators have made use of a good word in this matter, namely, report; which may denote either what is spoken by men, or what is spoken of them.

And so these words may be distingished; ὁ λόγος is the word materially, that is here the word of promise, namely, of entering into the rest of God; and ἡ ἀκοή expresseth the manner of its declaration unto men according to the appointment of God; namely, by preaching, so as that it may be heard. And hereon depends our concernment in it. “The word,” ὁ λόγος may be ἐπαγγελία , a “promise’’in itself, but if it be not ὁ λόγος τῆς ἀκοῆς , “the word of hearing,” that is, so managed by the appointment of God as that we may hear it, we could have no advantage thereby. In sum, ὁ λόγος τῆς ἀκοῆς , is ἐπαγγελία εὐαγγελιζομένη , “the promise preached,” and as preached.

Of this word it is said, Οὐκ ὠφέλησεν ἐκείνους , “ It profited them not,” they had no advantage by it. For we find that notwithstanding the promise given of entering into the rest of God, they entered not in. And there seems to be a μείωσις , in the words also. It was so far from benefiting of them, that occasionally it became their ruin. As if he had said, ‘Consider what befell them, how they perished in the wilderness under the indignation of God, and you will see how far they were from having any advantage by the word which they heard. And such will be the issue with all that shall neglect the word in like manner.’

The account of this event closeth the words: Μὴ συγκεκραμένος τῇ πίστει τοῖς ἀκούσασι . I observed before that there is some difference, though only in one letter, in some copies, about these words. The Complutensian, with the editions that follow it, reads συγκεκραμένους , the most συγκεκραμένος , which is followed by our translation. And this now translators and expositors do generally embrace, though Chrysostom, Theophylact, and OEcumenius are on the other side.

The Vulgar Latin renders the last words, “Fidei ex iis quas audi-verunt,” as though its author had read τοῖς ἀκουσθείσιν , “the things that were heard.” ‘It did not profit them, because they believed not the things which were heard.’This, though it much changes the words, yet it makes no great alteration in the sense. I shall consider what proper sense the words will bear, take them either way, according to the difference of the reading, and then show that which is most proper, according to the mind of the Holy Ghost.

If we read συγκεκραμένους , it refers to ἐκείνους , and is regulated thereby: “Those who were not mixed with the faith of them that heard.” And this seems to exclude the interpretation of Chrysostom, which Theophylact, who not only follows him almost constantly, but also transcribes from him, professeth that he could not understand. For he would have “those who were not mixed” (for he refers it to the persons of men, and not the word preached) to be Caleb and Joshua; who, saith he, mixed not themselves with the company of the rebellious and disobedient upon the return of the spies. And this, he saith, “they did by faith;” they kept themselves from the company of them who heard the word and were disobedient. But this interpretation overthrows itself; because if συγκεκραμένους be regulated by ἐκείνους , it is evident that those who did not so mix themselves had no profit by the word. For the word preached did not profit them who were not mixed; which could not be spoken of Joshua and Caleb. But it may not be amiss to consider the words themselves of these authors, which yet I do not usually. Thus, therefore, treats Chrysostom on the place:

Ηκουσαν κἀκεῖνοι , φησὶν , ὥσπερ ἡμεῖς ἀκούομεν , ἀλλ ᾿ οὐδὲν ὄφελος αὐτοῖς γέγονε· μὴ τοίνυν νομίσατε ὅτι ἀπὸ τοῦ ἀκούειν τοῦ κηρύγματος ὠφελήσεσθε· ἐπεὶ κἀκεῖνοι ἤκουσαν

ἀλλ᾿ οὐδὲν ἀπώναντο , ἐπειδὴ μὴ ἐπίστευσαν· οἱ ου῏ν περὶ Χάλεβ καὶ ᾿Ιησοῦν ἐπειδὴ μὴ συνεκράθησαν τοῖς ἀπιστήvσασι , τουτέστιν , οὐ συνεφώνησαν , διέφυγον τὴν κατ ᾿ἐκείνων ἐνεγχθεῖσαν τιμωρίαν· καὶ ὅρα τι θαυμαστόν· οὐκ ει῏πεν οὐ συνεφώνησαν ἀλλ᾿ , οὐ συνεκράθησαν· τουτέστιν ἀστασιάστως δίεστησαν ἐκείνων πάντων μίαν καὶ τὴν αὐτὴν γνώμην ἐσχηκότων

“They also heard, even as we hear; but it profited them not. Donot therefore suppose that you shall have any benefit from a mere heating of preaching; for they also heard, but it profited them not, because they believed not. But Caleb and Joshua, bemuse they consented not unto them who believed not, escaped the punishment which was inflicted on them. And this is admirable: he says not they did not consent, but they were not mixed; that is, without sedition they separated themselves from them who were of one and the same mind.”

It is evident that he refers “mixed” to persons, not things, and so seems to have read συγκεκραμένους . But those who were not so mixed he makes to be Caleb and Joshua, when it is plain that the word profited not them who were not so mixed, if that term be to be applied to persons. Hence was the modest censure of Theophylact upon this passage; for having reputed it, he adds,

Τοῦτο δὲ , κατὰ τὴν μεγάλην αὐτοῦ καὶ βαθεῖαν σοφίαν , ὁ ἅγιος οὗτος ει῏πεν· ἐμοὶ γοῦν ἀναξίῳ οὐκ ἔδωκε νοῆσαι πῶς αὐτὸ ει῏πεν

Thus speaks that holy man, according to his great and deep wisdom; but to me unworthy, it is not given to understand in what sense he spake it.”

His own sense he otherwise expresseth; saith he,

Μή συγκεκραμένους τῇ πίστε τοῖς ἀκούσασι , τοῦτ᾿ ἔστι μὴ ἐνωθέντας , μὴ συμφρονή σαντεας περὶ τῆς πίστεως τοῖς ἀκούσασιν , ἀλλ᾿ ἀποῤῥαγέντας αὐτων

that is,

“They were not united, they agreed not in faith with them which heard, but were divided from them.”

Sundry others follow this interpretation. And according to it τοῖς ἀκούσασι denotes the “obedient hearers,” who so heard the word of promise as to believe it, and to yield obedience unto God on that account. According to which this must be the importance of the words: ‘The word preached profited them not, bemuse they did not associate, or join themselves to, or mix themselves with, those who, hearing the word, believed and obeyed the voice of God.’

If this be the sense of the words, the whole congregation is blamed for a wicked separation from two single persons, who abode in the faith of the promise of God. They sinned in that they would not join themselves unto them, nor unite with them in that profession of faith and obedience which they made. Neither their number nor their agreement among themselves could flee them from schism, sin, and punishment. They would not unite unto those two persons who abode in the truth, and so perched under the indignation of God thereon.

And these things are true; but I judge them not to be directly intended in this place. For the reading before mentioned, of συγκεκραμένος , which must refer to ὁ λόγος τῆς ἀκοῆς , “the word preached,” and not to any person or persons, is confirmed by most copies, and followed by most ancient translations. Besides, the sense of the words, which in the other way is dark and involved, in this is full, clear, and proper; for,

1. The other sense binds up the intention of the words unto that particular time, season, and action, when the people murmured upon the return of the spies that went to search the land. This, indeed, was a signal instance of their unbelief, yet the whole of it in refusing the promise is not to be restrained unto that instance. For our apostle is declaring that in their whole course they did totally and finally reject the promise.

2. If the persons spoken of be to be understood, the text doth not say they were not mixed with them that believed, were not united unto them, or conjoined with them, but not mixed τῇ πίστει , “to the faith.” Now, there are two difficulties not easily removable that do attend this sense and construction of the words:

(1.) How men can be said to be mixed with the faith of others. Cameron answers, that it may be understood to be “joined with them in the communion of the same faith.” I acknowledge this is a good and fair sense, but such as plainly makes the persons, and not their faith, to be the immediate object of this conjunction, which the words will not allow.

(2.) How harsh is this construction, Συγκεκραμένους τῇ πίστει , τοῖς ἀκούσασι , two dative cases joined in apposition without the intervention of any preposition, the one denoting the act, the other the persons: “Joined to the faith to them that heard it!” But as we shall see in the other more usual and approved reading, referring the word “mixed” to the principal subject of the whole proposition, or “the word preached,” the sense will appear full and satisfactory.

Μὴ συγκεκραμένος , “the word not being mixed.” Συγκεράννυμι is sometimes taken in a natural sense for to “mix” or “mingle” one thing with another, as water and wine; or to mix compositions in cordials or in poisons: Herodian, lib. 1:cap. liv., ᾿Εμβαλοῦσα εἰς κύλικα τοῦ φαρμάκου , οἴνῳ τε κεράσασα εὐώδει δίδωσι , “Gave him poison mixed with most savory wine.” So Plutarch, Sympos. lib. 4. quaest. 1: ῎Ομου μεταλλικὰ καὶ βοτανικὰ ,..... εἰς τὸ αὐτὸ συγκεραννύντας . This mixture, which was properly of a cup to drink, was sometimes so made to give it strength and efficacy, to inebriate or give it any pernicious event. Hence “a cup of mixture” is expressed as an aggravation: Psalms 75:8, “For in the hand of the LORD them is a cup, and the wine is red, מָלֵא מֶסֶךְ ,” “full of mixture.” A “cup” sometimes signifies divine vengeance, as Jeremiah 51:7; and “wine” often. The vengeance here threatened being to arise unto the utmost severity, it is called a “cup,” and that of” wine,” of “red wine,” and that “full of mixtures,” with all ingredients of wrath and indignation. Sometimes the mixture was made to temperate and alleviate, as water mixed with strong inebriating wine. Hence a “cup without mixture” is an expression of great indignation, Revelation 14:10; nothing being added to the “wine of fury and astonishment” to take off its fierceness. Amongst physicians σὐγκραμα is a “mixed potion.” The word therefore signifies to mix two or more things together, so as they may inseparably incorporate, for some certain ends, acts, or operations; as wine and water to drink; several ingredients to make a useful cordial.

This being the importance of the word, expositors illustrate the whole sense by various allusions, whence they suppose the expression to arise. Some to the mixture of things to be eaten and drunk, that they may be made suitable and useful to the nourishment of the body; for so are the promises made by faith to the nourishment of the soul. Some to the mixture of the natural ferment of the stomach with meat and drink, causing digestion and nourishment thereby. And this latter allusion seems well to represent the nature of faith in this matter. The word of God, especially the word of promise, is the food of the souls of men: so is it often called, and thereunto frequently compared. Our apostle distributes the whole word, with respect unto them that hear it, or receive it, into “strong meat” and “milk,” Hebrews 5:13-14.

The whole is food, and in the whole is suited to the various conditions of believers in this world, whether strong and increased in spiritual light and experience, or whether young and weak. And so the same word is by Peter called “sincere milk;” which those who are born again ought to desire and make use of as their principal food, 1 Peter 2:1-2. And with respect hereunto is faith sometimes expressed by tasting, which is the sense exercised about our food; which manifests, it may be, that more of experience is included in it than some will allow: 1 Peter 2:3, “If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.” And wherein do we taste of the grace of God? In his word, as the psalmist declares, Psalms 119:103, “How sweet are thy words unto my taste!” And in pursuit of the same metaphor, the word is said to be sweet, “sweeter than honey and the honey-comb,” Psalms 19:10; Psalms 119:103.

And frequently it is expressed by eating, wherein consists the life of the sacramental notion of eating the flesh and drinking the blood of Christ, whereby the especial actings of faith on that peculiar subject of the promise, Christ crucified for us, is expressed. The sum is, spiritual truths, being savingly believed, are united with that faith which receives them, so incorporated with it as that they come to be realized in the soul, and to be turned into the principle of that new nature whereby we live to God. Want hereof is charged on the people to whom the gospel was declared in the wilderness. The word which they heard was not so really and savingly received by faith as to be incorporated therewith, and to become in them a living principle enabling and strengthening them unto obedience. It is not the intention of the words to declare barely and nakedly that they did not believe in any sort or sense, but that these hearers did not receive and improve the word of promise in such a way and manner as to obtain the full benefit and advantage of it. They had, as we find, an apprehension of the truth of the promise, which did so far prevail upon them that sometimes they professed that they would place their confidence in it, and regulate their obedience accordingly. But they were not steadfast herein, because, notwithstanding all their profession, their faith and the word of God were never solidly united, mixed, and incorporated in their souls. They tasted sometimes a little sweetness in it, but took it not down to digest it, that it might have a subsistence, power, and efficacy in there. This caused the word to fail of its end towards them, it did not profit them; and them to fail of their end by it, they entered not into the rest of God. And with the consideration hereof doth the apostle press the Hebrews, and us with them. And it is of great weight. The same promise being left unto us as to them, and this being the way whereby they came short of it, we have reason to be watchful against the like miscarriages in ourselves. And the truths doctrinally declared in this latter part of the verse may be comprised in the ensuing observations:

Obs. 4. God hath graciously ordered that the word of the gospel shall be preached unto men; whereon depends their welfare or their ruin.

To them and to us was the word preached; and this as a great effect of the love, care, grace, and goodness of God towards them and us. The word is like the sun in the firmament. Thereunto is it compared at large, Psalms 19:0. It hath virtually in it all spiritual light and heat. But the preaching of the word is as the motion and beams of the sun, which actually and effectually communicate that light and heat unto all creatures which are virtually in the sun itself.

The explanation of this similitude is expressly insisted on by our apostle, Romans 10:18. And because of this application doth the apostle make that alteration in the expression. For whereas in the psalm it is said קוָּם , “their line is gone forth into all the earth,” with respect in the first place and literally to the line or orderly course of the sun and other celestial bodies, he renders that word by φθόγγος , “their sound,” “voice,” or “speaking,” respecting the mystical sense of the place, and application of the words to the preaching of the gospel, which was principally intended in them. And this is the true reason of that variety which many critics have troubled themselves and others about to little purpose. What, then, the motion and beams of the sun are to the natural world, that is the preaching of the gospel to the spiritual world, to all who intend to live unto God here, or to enjoy him hereafter. Of old the preaching of the gospel was by many wise men, or those that thought or boasted themselves so to be, esteemed folly, 1 Corinthians 1:0, that is, a thing needless and useless; and the wiser any one would have himself esteemed to be, the more vehemently would he condemn preaching as folly. But notwithstanding all their pride, scorn, and opposition, it proved the “foolishness of God,” which was wiser than all their wisdom; that is, what God chose to compass his end by, which seemed unto them “foolishness,” but was indeed the “wisdom and power of God.” And it is that which the eternal welfare or ruin of men depends upon: as the apostle in this place declares, and as the Scriptures testify everywhere. And this may direct us to make a right judgment both of that contempt and neglect of it which are found amongst many who ought to have other thoughts about it. The whole work is by some despised and decried; and few there are who labor in it with diligence as they ought. But they shall all bear their own judgment.

Obs. 5. The sole cause of the promise being ineffectual unto salvation in and towards them to whom it is preached, is in themselves and their own unbelief.

This the apostle expressly asserts. It is granted that “the word did not profit them.” But what was the reason of it? Was it weak or insufficient in itself? Was it like the law, that made nothing perfect? that could not take away sin, nor justify the souls of men? No; but the sole cause hereof was that it was “not mixed with faith.” God hath not appointed to save men whether they will or no; nor is the word of promise a means suited unto any such end or purpose. It is enough that it is every way sufficient unto the end whereunto of God it is designed. If men believe it not, if they refuse the application of it to themselves, no wonder if they perish in their sins.

Obs. 6. There is a failing, temporary faith with respect to the promises of God, which will not advantage them in whom it is.

It is known how often the people of old professed that they did believe, and that they would obey accordingly; but, saith the apostle, notwithstanding all their pretensions and professions, notwithstanding all the convictions they had of the truth of the word, and the resolutions, they had of yielding obedience, wherein their temporary faith did consist, yet they perished in their sins, because “the word was not mixed with faith in them;” that is, truly and really believed.

Obs. 7. The great mystery of useful and profitable believing consists in the mixing or incorporating of truth and faith in the souls or minds of believers.

This being a truth of much importance, I shall a little insist on the explanation and improvement of it, and that in the ensuing observations:

1. There is a great respect, relation, and union, between the faculties of the soul and their proper objects, as they act themselves. Thus truth, as truth, is the proper object of the understanding. Hence, as it can assent unto nothing but under the notion and apprehension of truth, so what is so indeed, being duly proposed unto it, it embraceth and cleaveth unto necessarily and unavoidably. For truth and the understanding are, as it were, of the same nature, and being orderly brought together do absolutely incorporate. Truth being received into the understanding doth no way affect it nor alter it, but only strengthen, improve, enlarge, direct, and confirm it, in its proper actings. Only it implants a type and figure of itself upon the mind; and hence those things or adjuncts that belong unto one of these are often ascribed unto the other. So we say such a doctrine or proposition is certain, from that certainty which is an affection of the mind; and our apprehension of any thing to be true, from the truth of that which we do apprehend. This is that which we call knowledge; which is the relation, or rather the union, that is between the mind and truth, or the things that the mind apprehends as true. And where this is not, when men have only fluctuating conceptions about things, their minds are filled with opinions, they have no true knowledge of anything.

2. The truth of the gospel, of the promise now under especial consideration, is peculiar, divine, supernatural; and therefore for the receiving of it God requireth in us, and bestoweth upon us, a peculiar, divine, supernatural habit, by which our minds may be enabled to receive it This is faith, which is “not of ourselves, it is the gift of God.” As the mind acts naturally by its reason to receive truths that are natural and suited to its capacity, so it acts spiritually and supernaturally by faith to receive truths spiritual and supernatural. Herewith are these truths to be mixed and incorporated. Believing doth not consist in a mere assent to the truth of the things proposed to be believed, but in such a reception of them as gives them a real subsistence and inbeing in the soul by faith. We shall make things more fully to appear, and the better explain them, if we show,

(1.) How this is expressed in the Scripture, with respect to the nature, acts, and effects of faith;

(2.) By what means it comes to pass that faith and the promise do so incorporate.

(1.) [1.] For faith itself; it is by our apostle said to be ἐλπιζομένων ὑοόστασις , Hebrews 11:1, “the substance of things hoped for. “Now the ἐλπιζόμενα here, “the things hoped for,” are so termed with respect unto their goodness and their futurition, in which respects they are the objects of hope. But they am proposed unto faith, and respected by it, as true and real. And as such it is the ὑπόστασις , or “substance” of them; not absolutely and physically, but morally and in respect of use. It brings them into, makes them present with, and gives them a subsistence, as to their use, efficacy, and comfort, in the soul. This effect of faith is so far of the nature of it, that the apostle makes use of it principally in that description which he gives us of it. Now, this giving a subsistence in the mind unto the things believed, that they shall really operate and produce their immediate effects therein, of love, joy, and obedience, is that spiritual mixture and incorporation whereof we speak. And here lies the main difference between saving faith and the temporary persuasion of convinced persons. This latter gives no such subsistence unto the things believed in the minds of men, as that they should produce their proper effects therein. Those in whom it is believe the promise, yet not so as that thereby the things promised should have such an existence in their minds as to produce in them and upon them their proper effects. It may be said of them, as it is of the law in another sense, “They have the shadow of good things to come, but not the very image of the things.” There is not a real reflection of the things they profess to believe made upon their minds. For instance, the death of Christ, or “Christ crucified,” is proposed unto our faith in the gospel. The genuine proper effect hereof is to destroy, to crucify, or mortify sin in us. But where this is apprehended by a temporary faith only, this effect will not at all be produced in the soul. Sin will not be mortified, but rather secretly encouraged; for it is natural unto men of corrupt minds to conclude that they may continue in sin, because grace doth abound. On the other side, where faith gives the subsistence mentioned unto the death of Christ in the soul, it will undoubtedly be the death of sin, Romans 6:3-14.

[2.] Faith in its acting towards and on the promise is also said to receive it. By it we receive the word; that is, it takes it into the soul and incorporates it with itself. There is more herein than a mere assent to the truth of what is proposed and apprehended. And sometimes we are said by it to receive the word itself, and sometimes to receive the things themselves which are the subject-matter of it. So are we in the first way said to” receive with meekness the ingrafted word,” James 1:21; to “receive the promises,” Hebrews 11:13; “having received the word,” 1Th 1:6 ; 1 Thessalonians 2:13. In the latter way to “receive Christ” himself, John 1:12, and “the atonement” made by him, Romans 5:11; which are the principal subjects of the gospel. And herein lies the life of faith; so that it is the proper description of an unbeliever, that “he doth not receive the things of the Spirit of God,” 1 Corinthians 2:14. And unbelief is the not receiving of Christ, John 1:11. There may be a tender made of a thing which is not received. A man may think well of that which is tendered unto him, and yet not receive it. But what a man doth receive duly and for himself, it becomes properly his own. This work of faith, then, in receiving the word of promise, with Christ and the atonement made by him therein, consists in its giving unto them a real admittance into the soul, to abide there as in their proper place; which is the mixture here intended by the apostle.

[3.] Hence and hereon the word becomes an ingrafted word, James 1:21,

“Wherefore, lay apart all filthiness, and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the ingrafted word, which is able to save your souls.”

The exhortation is unto reality and growth in believing. To this end the word is proposed, as that which is to be brought into the soul. And to that purpose room is to be made for it, by the casting out of such things as are apt to possess the mind and leave no admittance for the word. Now the ῤυπαρία and περισσεία κακίας , “filth” and “superfluity of evil,” here intended, are those corrupt, carnal lusts which by nature possess the minds of men, and render them “enmity against God,” Romans 8:7. These are so fixed in the mind, so incorporated with it, that from them it is denominated “fleshly” and “carnal.” And they are to be put away, cast out, separated from the mind, uprooted and rejected, that the word may be brought in and received. And how is that to be received? As a word that is to be ἔμφυτος , “implanted” or “ingrafted” into the mind. Now, we all know that by ingrafting there comes an incorporation, a mixture of the natures of the stock and graft into one common principle of fruit-bearing. So is the word received by faith, that being mixed with itself, both of them become one common principle of our obedience. And on this account doth our Savior compare the word of the gospel unto seed, Matthew 13:0. Now seed brings forth no fruit or increase unless falling into the earth, it incorporate with the fructifying virtue thereof. And with respect hereunto it is said that God writes his law in our hearts, Jeremiah 31:33. As our apostle expounds it, 2 Corinthians 3:3: “The word of the gospel is by the Spirit of the living God written, not in tables of stone, but in the fleshy tables of the heart.” So is it ingrafted, when it is as really, by the help of faith, communicated unto and implanted on the heart, as written words are in their engravement on tables of stone.

[4.] The effect of this ingrafting of the word, which belongs also to this spiritual incorporation, is the casting of the soul into the mould, type, image, or figure of the doctrine of it, as our apostle expresseth it, Romans 6:17: “Ye have obeyed from the heart εἰς ὅν παρεδόθητε τύπον διδαχῆς ,” “that form of doctrine that ye have been delivered up unto,” that ye have been cast into. This is that transformation of mind which we are exhorted to look after in the renovation that it receives by believing, Romans 12:2. As the scion, being grafted or inoculated into the stock, turns and changes the natural juice of the stock into another kind of fructifying nutriment than it had before, so the word being by its mixture with faith ingrafted into the soul, it changeth the natural operation of it to the production of spiritual effects, which before it had no virtue for. And it transforms also the whole mind, according to the allusion, Romans 6:17, into a new shape, as wax is changed by the impression of a seal into the likeness of it.

[5.] The expression of faith by eating and drinking, which is frequent in Scripture, as before intimated, gives further light into the spiritual incorporation that we inquire after. Thus the word is said to be “food,” “strong meat,” and “milk,” suited to the respective ages and constitutions of believers. And the Lord Christ, the principal subject of the word of the gospel, says of himself, that he is “the bread that came down from heaven,” that “his flesh is meat indeed, and his blood drink indeed.” Faith is the eating of this food, this milk, this meat, this flesh. Now in eating, when food is prepared, it is received, and by a due digestion turned into the very substance of the body of him that eats, Supplies proceed from thence unto the flesh, blood, and spirits of the eater, according as the principles of nature require and direct. So also must it be in this matter spiritually. This the Capernaites not understanding of old, but taking the words of our Savior in a carnal manner, thinking he would have them eat his flesh with their teeth, and pour his blood down their throats, were offended at him, and perished in their unbelief, John 6:52; John 6:59. But he lets his disciples know that the whole mistake lay in the carnal imagination of those wretches. He understood no more but the spiritual union of himself unto the souls of believers by faith, which is no less real and sure than the union that is between the body and the meat it receives when duly digested, verse 56; that “the flesh,” in the carnal sense, was of no use or profit, but that his words were “spirit and life,” verse 63. From an ignorance also of this spiritual incorporation of Christ in the promise and faith is it that the church of Rome hath feigned their monstrous carnal eating with their teeth of the flesh or body of Christ, though he had foretold them that it should profit them nothing. Wherefore, the word being prepared as spiritual food for the soul, faith receives it, and by a spiritual eating and digestion of it, turns it into an increase and strengthening of the vital principles of spiritual obedience. And then doth the word profit them that hear it.

Hence is the word of Christ said to dwell or inhabit in us: Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom.” This inhabitation of the word, whereby it makes its residence and abode in the souls of men, is from this spiritual incorporation or mixing with faith. Without this it may have various effects upon the mind and conscience, but it comes to no abiding habitation. With some it casts its beams and rays for a season into their minds, φαίνει , but is not “received” nor “comprehended,” John 1:5; and therefore οὐκ αὐγάζει , it “doth not enlighten them,” though it shines unto them, 2 Corinthians 4:4. It comes and departs almost like lightning, which rather amazeth than guideth. With some it makes a transient impression upon the affections; so that they hear it and admit of its dispensation with joy and some present satisfaction, Matthew 13:20. But it is but like the stroke of a skillful hand upon the strings of a musical instrument, that makes a pleasant sound for the present, which insensibly sinks and decays until a new stroke be given; it hath no abode or residence in itself or the strings. No more hath the word that strikes on the affections only, and, causing a various motion and sound in joy, or sorrow, or delight, vanisheth and departeth. With some it lays hold on their consciences, and presseth them unto a reformation of their conversation, or course in this world, until they do many things gladly, Mark 6:20; but this is by an efficacious impression from without. The word doth not abide, inhabit, or dwell in any, but where it hath a subsistence given unto it in the soul by its incorporation with faith, in the manner described.

This, then, is savingly and profitably to believe. And thus is it with very few of the many that make profession so to do. It is but in one sort of ground where the seed incorporates so with the earth as to take root and to bring forth fruit. Many pretend to believe, few believe indeed, few mix the word preached with faith; which should give us all a godly jealousy over our hearts in this matter, that we be not deceived.

(2.) It is therefore worth our inquiry how, or by what means, faith is assisted and strengthened in this work of mixing the word with itself, that it may be useful and profitable unto them that hear it. For although it is in and of the nature of faith thus to do, yet of itself it doth but begin this work, or lay the foundation of it, there are certain ways and means whereby it is carried on and increased. And among these,

[1.] Constant meditation, wherein itself is exercised, and its acts multiplied. Constant fixing the mind by spiritual meditation on its proper object, is a principal means whereby faith mixeth it with itself. This is κατοπτρίζεσθαι , to behold steadfastly the glory of God in Jesus Christ, expressed in the gospel as in a glass, 2 Corinthians 3:18; for the meditation of faith is an intuition into the things that are believed, which works the assimilation mentioned, or our being “changed into the same image,” which is but another expression of the incorporation insisted on. As when a man hath an idea or projection of anything in his mind that he will produce or effect, he casteth the image framed in his mind upon his work, that it shall exactly answer it in all things; so, on the other side, when a man doth diligently contemplate on that which is without him, it begets an idea of it in his mind, or casts it into the same image. And this meditation which faith worketh by, for to complete the mixture or composition intended, is to be fixed, intuitive, constant, looking into the nature of the things believed. James tells us, that “he who is a mere hearer of the word is like a man considering his natural face in a glass, who goeth away, and immediately forgetteth what manner of re, an he was,” James 1:23-24. It is so with a man that takes but a slight view of himself; so is it with men that use a slight and perfunctory consideration of the word. But saith he, ῾Ο παρακύψας εἰς νόμον τέλειον , “ He that diligently bows down, and inquires into the law of liberty,” or the word (that is, by the meditation and inquiry mentioned), “that man is blessed in all his ways.” So doth that word signify, 1 Peter 1:12, where alone again it is used in this moral sense, of diligent inquiry, it signifying properly “to bow down.” This is that which we aim at. The soul by faith meditating on the word of promise, and the subject-matter of Christ and his righteousness, Christ is thereby formed in it, Galatians 4:19, and the word itself is inseparably mixed with faith, so as to subsist with it in the soul, and to produce therein its proper effects This is to be “spiritually minded;” and φρονεῖν τά ἄνω , Colossians 3:2, to “mind the things that are above,” as those which yield the best relish and savor to the soul; which being constant will assert a mixture, incorporation, and mutual conformity between the mind and the object of it.

[2.] Faith sets love at work upon the objects proposed to be believed. There is in the gospel, and the promises of it, not only the truth to be considered which we are to believe and assent unto, but also the goodness, excellency, desirableness, and suitableness unto our condition, of the things themselves which are comprised in them. Under this consideration of them, they are proper objects for love to fix on, and to be exercised about. And “faith worketh by love,” not only in acts and duties of mercy, righteousness, and charity towards men, but also in adhesion unto and delight in the things of God which are revealed to be lovely. Faith makes the soul in love with spiritual things. Love engages all other affections into their proper exercise about them, and fills the mind continually with thoughtfulness about them and desires after them; and this mightily helps on the spiritual mixture of faith and the word. It is known that love is greatly effectual to work an assimilation between the mind and its proper object. It will introduce its idea into the mind, which will never depart from it. So will carnal love, or the impetuous working of men’s lusts by that affection. Hence Peter tells us that some men have ὀφθαλμοὺς μεστοὺς μοιχαλίδος καὶ ἀκαταπαὺστους ἀμαρτίας , 2 Peter 2:14, “eyes full of an adulteress.” Their lust hath so wrought by their imagination as to introduce a constant idea of the object into their minds, as if there were an image of a thing in their eye, which continually represented itself unto them as seen, whatever they looked on: therefore are they constantly unquiet, and “cannot cede to sin.” There is such a mixture of lust and its object in their minds, that they continually commit lewdness in themselves. Spiritual love, set on work by faith, will produce the like effect. It will bring in that idea of the beloved object into the mind, until the eye be full of it, and the soul is continually conversant with it. Our apostle, expressing his great love unto Christ, above himself and all the world, as a fruit of his faith in him, Philippians 3:8-9, professeth that this was that which he aimed at, namely, that he “might know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death,” verse 10. The resurrection, with the sufferings and death of Christ which preceded it, he knew before and believed: but he aims at more, he would have a further inward experience of “the power of his resurrection;” that is, he would so mix it with faith working by love to Christ, as that it might produce in him its proper effects, in an increase of his spiritual life, and the quickening of him unto all holiness and obedience. He would also be yet further acquainted with “the fellowship of his sufferings,” or obtain communion with him in them; that the sufferings of Christ subsisting in his spirit by faith, might cause sin to suffer in him, and crucify the world unto him, and him unto the world. By all which he aimed to be made completely “conformable unto his death;” that is, that whole Christ, with his life, sufferings, and death, might so abide in him that his whole soul might be cast into his image and likeness. I shall add no more concerning this truth, but only that it is best manifested, declared, and confirmed, in the minds and consciences of them who know what it is really to believe and to walk with God thereon.

Verse 3

Many have variously reasoned and conjectured about the coherence of this part of the apostle’s discourse with that which immediately goeth before. It is not my way to propose the interpretations or analyses of others, much less to contend about them, unless necessity for the vindication of some important truth do require it of me. That, therefore, which in the words and design of the apostle seems to be most natural and genuine, as to the coherence of his discourse, I shall alone explain and confirm.

The work here engaged in is evidently to explain and improve the testimony cited out of David in the foregoing chapter. His purpose, also, is to draw out of it whatever was enwrapped in it by the wisdom of the Holy Ghost for the instruction of these Hebrews; which could not be clearly understood by them under the old testament, as designed for their peculiar use and direction now under the dispensation of the gospel Having, therefore, declared unto them the danger of unbelief, by laying down graphically before them the sin and punishment of others, in and from the words of the psalm, he proceeds from the same words and example to give them encouragements unto faith and obedience; but withal foreseeing that an objection might be raised against the very foundation of his arguments and exhortations, he diverts to the removal of it, and therein wonderfully strengthens, carrieth on, and confirmeth his whole purpose and design.

The foundation of the whole ensuing discourse lies in this, that there is a promise left unto us of entering into the rest of God, verse 1. This, therefore, we ought to take heed that we come not short of by unbelief. Hereunto the Hebrews might object (as was before observed) that they were not now any way concerned in that promise; for consider whatever is said of the rest of God in the Scripture, and it will appear that it doth not belong unto us, especially not what is said of it in the psalm insisted on. The rest of the land of Canaan, and the rest of the Sabbath, are so called; but these are already past, or we are in the present enjoyment of them, so that it is to no purpose to press us to enter into rest. The removal of this objection the apostle here designs from the words of David, and therein the establishment of his present exhortation. He manifests, therefore, that besides those mentioned there was yet another rest remaining for the people of God, and that directed unto in the words of the psalmist. This he proves and evinceth at large, namely, that there was a spiritual rest yet abiding for believers, which we are called and obliged to seek an entrance into. This, in general, is the design and method of the apostle’s discourse in this place.

In this third verse three things are laid down:

First, An assertion comprising the whole intendment of the apostle, in these words, “For we which have believed do enter into rest.”

Secondly, A proof of that assertion from the words of the psalmist,” As he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest.”

Thirdly, An elliptical entrance into a full confirmation of his assertion, and the due application of his proof produced unto what he had designed it: “Although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.”

Hebrews 4:3 . Εἰσερχόμεθα γὰρ εἰς τὴν κατάπαυσιν οἱ πιστεύσαντες , καθὼς εἴρηκεν· ῾Ως ὤμοσα ἐν τῇ ὀργῇ μου· Εἰ εἰσελεύσονται εἰς τὴν κατάπαυσίν μου· καίτοι τῶν ἔργων ἀπὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου γενηέντων .

The words need little explication. Εἰσερχο . μεθα γάρ . One old manuscript reads εἰσερχώμεθα ου῏ν , of which afterwards. Vulg. Lat., At., “ingrediemur;” Rhemists, “shall enter;” Eras., Beza, Syr., “ingredimur,” “introimus,” “do enter.” The word is in the present tense; and though in that form it may sometimes be tendered by the future, yet here is no necessity why it should so be. “Do enter.”

Οἱ πιστεύσαντες . Vulg. Lat., “qui credidimus;” Arias, “credentes;” Syr., “qui credimus;” “who do believe,” “who have believed.”

Of the following words, see Hebrews 3:11; Hebrews 3:18.

Καίτοι , “et quidem,” “and truly;” Beza, “quamvis,” “although;” Eras., “quanquam;” so the Syriac.

Απὸ καταβολῆς κο . σμου . Ar., “a fundatione mundi,” “from the foundation of the world;” Syr., “from the beginning of the world;” Beza, “a jacto mundi fundamento,” properly; which we can no way render but by “from the foundation of the world.”

Γενηθέντων , “genitis,” “factis,” “perfectis,” “made,” “finished,” “perfected.” [2]

[2] EXPOSITION. Ebrard takes a peculiar view of the last clause of this verse: “It is self-evident that the works here are antithetically opposed to faith. It is surprising how all critics should have supposed that the works of God are here meant, and especially hisworks of God are here meant, and especially his works of creation.” ED.

Hebrews 4:3 . For we do enter into rest who have believed; as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.

The assertion laid down in the entrance of the verse is FIRST to be considered; and therein,

First, The causal connection, γάρ , “for.” Now this, as we have showed, doth not refer precisely to any particular passage foregoing. Only it makes way to the further improvement of the whole design of the apostle; which use of that particle we have before observed: ‘The promise, threatening, example, duty, treated of, belong unto us; and this appears from hence, that we are entered into rest who have believed.’

Secondly, The subject of the proposition, or persons spoken of, are οἱ πιστεύσαντες , “who have believed.” The persons included in the verb εἰσερχόμεθα , regulating also this participle, are transferred over unto it in the translation, “we who have believed.” Believing in general is only mentioned; the object of it, or what we believe, is implied, and it is to be taken from the subject-matter treated of. Now this is the gospel, or Christ in the gospel. This is that which he proposeth unto them, and which he encourageth them in from his own example. With respect hereunto men in the New Testament are everywhere termed πιστεύοντες , πίστοι , or ἄπιστοι , believers,” or “unbelievers:” ‘We who have believed in Jesus Christ through the preaching of the gospel.’ Εἰσερχόμεθα . We observed before that one old manuscript reads Εἰσερχώμεθα ου῏ν , “Let us therefore enter;” making it answer unto Φοβηθῶμεν ου῏ν , Hebrews 4:1, “Let us fear, therefore;” and Σπουδάσωμεν ου῏ν , Hebrews 4:11, “Let us therefore labor.” But the sense in this place will not admit of this reading, because of the addition of οἱ πιστεύσαντες , “who have believed.” The Vulgar Latin renders it “ingrediemur,” in the future tense; which sense is allowed by most expositors. But that which induced them to embrace it was a mistake of the rest here intended. The word expresseth a present act, as a fruit, effect, or consequent of believing. That it is which in a spiritual way answers unto the Israelites entering into the land of Canaan under the conduct of Joshua. Wherefore this entering, this going in, is an allusion taken both in general from the entrance that a man makes into his land or house to take possession of it, and in particular, unto the entrance of the Israelites which were not rebellious or disobedient into the land of Canaan.

Εἰς τὴν κατάπαυσιν , “into that rest,” the promised rest. What the rest here intended is hath been declared on the first verse of this chapter; but because the right stating hereof is the basis on which the whole ensuing exposition of the apostle’s discourse is founded, and the hinge on which it turns, I shall further confirm the interpretation of it before laid down, principally with such reasons as the present text doth suggest. This rest, then, we say, firstly and principally, is that spiritual rest of God, which believers obtain an entrance into by Jesus Christ, in the faith and worship of the gospel, and is not to be restrained unto their eternal rest in heaven. Suppling, then, what hath been argued on the first verse, I add,

First, That the express words here used do assign a present entrance into rest unto them that do believe, or have believed: Εἰσερχόμεθα , “We do enter in.” It may be said, and it is confessed that the present tense doth sometimes express that which is instantly future; as some think it may be proved from Luke 22:20, “This cup is the new testament in my blood, τὸ ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν ἐκχυνόμενον ,” “which is shed for you.” So also is the same word used, Matthew 26:28. The Vulgar Latin renders the word in each place “effundetur,” “shall be shed” (or “poured out”) “for you,” with respect unto the death of Christ, which was shortly to ensue. I will not deny, as was said, but that the present tense is sometimes put for the future, when the thing intended is immediately to ensue; but yet it is not proved from this place. For our Savior speaks of the virtue of his blood, and not of the time of shedding it. It was unto them, in the participation of that ordinance, as if it had been then shed, as to the virtue and efficacy of it. But ἔρχεται , seems to be put for ἐλεύσεται , John 4:21, “is come,” for “shall come” speedily; and ὁ ἐρχόμενος is sometimes “he that is to come.” But whenever there is such an enallage of tenses, the instant accomplishment of the thing supposed future is intended; which cannot be said with respect unto eternal rest in heaven. So this change is not to be supposed or allowed, but where the nature of the thing spoken of doth necessarily require it. This tense is not to be imposed on the places where the proper signification of a word so timed is natural and genuine, as it is in this place. It is here, then, plainly affirmed that believers do here, in this world, enter into rest in their gospel-state.

Secondly, The apostle is not primarily in this place exhorting sincere believers unto perseverance, that so at last they may be saved, or enter into eternal rest; but professors, and all to whom the word did come, that they would be sincere and sound in believing. He considers them in the same state with the people in the wilderness when the promise was proposed unto them. Their faith then in it, when they were tried, would have given them an immediate entrance into the land of Canaan. Together with the promise, there was a rest to be instantly enjoyed on their believing. Accordingly, considering the Hebrews in the like condition, he exhorts them to close with the promise, whereby they may enter into the rest that it proposed unto them. And unto perseverance he exhorts them, as an evidence of that faith which will give them an. assured entrance into this rest of God; as Hebrews 3:14, “We are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end.”

Thirdly, The rest here intended is that whereof the land of Canaan was a type. But there were no types of heaven absolutely as a future state of glory. But both the land and all the institutions to be observed in it were types of Christ, with the rest and worship of believers in and by him. They were “shadows of things to come, the body whereof was Christ,” Colossians 2:17. The whole substance of what was intended in them and represented by them was in Christ mystical, and that in this world, before his giving up the kingdom unto the Father at the end, that God may be all in all. Our apostle, indeed, declares that the most holy place in the tabernacle and temple did represent and figure out heaven itself, or the “holy place not made with hands;” as we shall see at large afterwards, Hebrews 9:6-12. But there heaven is not considered as the place of eternal rest and glory to them that die in the Lord, but as the place wherein the gospel-worship of believers is celebrated and accepted, under the conduct and ministration of our high priest, the Lord Jesus Christ; which office ceaseth when his saints are brought into glory. The rest, therefore, here intended being that which was typed out and represented by the land of Canaan, is not the rest of heaven, but of that gospel-state whereinto we are admitted by Jesus Christ. Hereof, and not of heaven itself, was the whole Mosaical economy typical, as shall elsewhere be at large demonstrated.

This, therefore, is the sense and importance of the apostle’s assertion in this verse, ‘We who have believed in Jesus Christ, through the gospel, have thereby an admittance and entrance given unto us into that blessed state of rest in the worship of God which of old was promised,’ Luke 1:69-73. It remains only that we inquire into the nature of this rest, what it is and wherein it doth consist. Now this we have done also already on the first verse; but the whole matter may be further explained, especially with respect unto the principal consideration of it. And this is, on what account this gospel-state is called God’s rest, for so it is in this verse, “If they shall enter into my rest.”

First, It is the rest of God upon the account of the author of it, in whom his soul doth rest. This is Jesus Christ, his Son. Isaiah 42:1, “Behold,” saith God the Father of him, “my servant, whom I uphold; רִצְתָה נַפְשִׁי בְּחִירִי ,” “mine elect; my soul delighteth (resteth) in him.” Matthew 3:17, “This is my beloved Son, ἐν ᾧ εὐδόκησα ,” אֲשֶׁראּחֶפְצִי בוֹ . Both the words contain more than we can well express in our language. The full satisfaction of the mind of God, with that delight and rest which answer the propensity of the affections towards a most suitable object, is intended in them. The same with that of Proverbs 8:30, “I was by him, as one brought up with him, and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him.” In which words the infinite, intimate affection and mutual satisfaction between the Father and the Son are expressed. Now God is said to rest in Christ on a twofold account.

1. Because in him, in the glorious mystery of his person as God and man, he hath satisfied and glorified all the holy properties of his nature, in the exercise and manifestation of them. For all the effects of his wisdom, righteousness, holiness, grace, and goodness, do center in him, and are in him fully expressed. This is termed by our apostle, ῾Η δόξη τοῦ Θεοῦ ἐν προσώτῳ ᾿Ιησοῦ Χριστοῦ , 2 Corinthians 4:6; “The glory of God, in the face” (or “person”) “of Jesus Christ;” that is, a glorious representation of the holy properties of the nature of God is made in him unto angels and men. For so “it pleased the Father that in him all fullness should dwell,” Colossians 1:19; that he might have “the pre-eminence in all things,” verse 18, especially in the perfect representation of God unto the creation. Yea, the “fullness of the Godhead dwelt in him bodily,” Colossians 2:9, in the union of his person, the highest and most mysterious effect of divine wisdom and grace, 1Ti 3:16 ; 1 Peter 1:11-12. In this sense is he said to be “the image of the invisible God,” Colossians 1:15; which though it principally respects his divine nature, yet doth not so absolutely, but as he was incarnate. For an image must be in a sort a spectacle, and represent that which in itself is not seen, which the divine nature of the Son, essentially the same with the Father’s, doth not do. God doth, maketh, worketh all things for himself, Proverbs 16:4; that is, for the satisfaction of the holy perfections of his nature in acts suitable unto them, and the manifestation of his glory thereon. Hence in them all God in some sense doth rest. So when he had finished his works in the creation of the world, he saw that they were “good,” that is, that they answered his greatness, wisdom, and power; and he rested from them, Genesis 2:2. Which rest, as it doth not include an antecedent lassitude or weariness, as it doth in poor finite creatures, so it doth more than a mere cessation from operation, namely, complacency and satisfaction in the works themselves. So it is said, Exodus 31:17, that “on the seventh day God rested, and was refreshed;” which expresseth the complacency he had in his works. But this rest was but partial, not absolute and complete; for God in the works of nature had but partially acted and manifested his divine properties, and some of them, as his grace, patience, and love, not at all But now, in the person of Christ, the author of the gospel, who is “the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person,” God doth absolutely and ultimately rest, and that in the manifestation of all his glorious properties, as hath been declared. Hence, in the sacrifices that were typical of him it is said יְהָֹוה אֶתאּרֵיחַ הַנִּוחֹחַ ויָּרַח , Genesis 8:21, “God smelled a savor of rest,” as prefiguring that and foregoing it, wherein he would always rest; for,

2. As in the person, so also in the work of Christ, doth God perfectly rest, namely, in the work of his mediation. He so rests in it, that as it needeth not, so he will never admit of any addition to be made unto it, any help or assistance to be joined with it, for any ends of his glory. This is the design of our apostle to prove, Hebrews 10:5-7. God designed the sacrifices of the law for the great ends of his glory in the typical expiation of sin; but he manifested by various means that he did never absolutely rest in them. Ofttimes he preferred his moral worship before them; ofttimes he rebuked the people for their carnal trust in them, and declared that he had appointed a time when he would utterly take them away, Hebrews 9:10. But as to the mediation and sacrifice of Christ things are absolutely otherwise. Nothing is once named in competition with it; nay, the adding of any thing unto it, the using of any thing with it to the same end and purpose,’is, or would be, ruinous to the souls of men. And as for those who will not take up their rest herein, that accept not of the work that he hath wrought, and the atonement that he hath made, by faith, there remains no more sacrifice for their sin, but perish they must, and that for ever. Two ways there are whereby God manifesteth his absolute rest in the person and mediation of Christ:

(1.) By giving unto him “all power in heaven and in earth” upon his exaltation. This power, and the collation of it, we have discoursed of on the first chapter. It was as if God had said unto him, ‘My work is done, my will perfectly accomplished, my name fully manifested, I have no more to do in the world: take now, then, possession of all my glory, sit at my right hand; for in thee is my soul well pleased.’

(2.) In the command that he hath given unto angels and men, to worship, honor, and adore him, even as they honor the Father; whereof we have elsewhere treated. By these ways, I say, doth God declare his plenary rest and soul-satisfaction in Jesus Christ, the author of this gospel rest, and as he is so.

Secondly, It is God’s rest, because he will never institute any new kind or sort of worship amongst men, but only what is already ordained and appointed by him in the gospel. God dwells among men in and by his solemn worship: Exodus 25:8, “Let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.” God dwells in the place of his worship, by it. Hence, when he fixed his worship amongst the people for a season in the land of Canaan, he called it his rest. Thence was that prayer on the motions of the ark, “Arise, O LORD, into thy rest, thou, and the ark of thy strength,” Psalms 132:8; Psalms 132:8; 2 Chronicles 6:41: which was the principal thing aimed at in all God’s dealings with that people, the end of all his mighty works, Exodus 15:17; Exodus 15:17. And in this worship of the gospel, the tabernacle which he hath made for himself to dwell in, the sanctuary which his hands have established, is again with men, Revelation 21:3. He hath in it set up again the tabernacle of David, so that it shall fall no more, Acts 15:16. This worship he will neither add to, nor alter, nor take from; but this is his rest and his habitation amongst men for ever. He is pleased and satisfied with it by Christ.

Thirdly, God also is at peace with the worshipers, and rests in them. He sets up his tabernacle amongst men, that he may “dwell amongst them, and be their God, and that they may be his people,” Revelation 21:3; and herein “he rejoiceth over them with joy, and resteth in his love,” Zephaniah 3:17. Thus the whole work of God’s grace in Christ being accomplished, he ceaseth from his labor, and entereth into his rest.

I have added these things to show that it is God’s rest which believers do enter into, as it is here declared. For the nature of the rest itself, as it is by them enjoyed, it hath fully been opened on the first verse, and need not here be again insisted on. And this is that rest which is principally intended both here and in the whole chapter. It is not, indeed, absolutely intended, or exclusively unto all other spiritual rests, or to an increase and progress in the same kind; but it is principally so: for this rest itself is not absolute, ultimate, and complete, but it is initial, and suited to the state of believers in this world. And because it hath its fullness and perfection in eternal rest, in the immediate enjoyment of God, that also may seem to be included therein, but consequentially only.

There remains, for the full explication of this assertion of the apostle, only that we show what it is to enter into this rest. And these two things may be observed to that purpose:

1. That it is an entrance which is asserted.

2. That it is but an entrance.

1. It is an entrance, which denotes a right executed. There was a right proposed in the promise, and served therein for believers indefinitely. But it is not executed, nor is possession given but by believing. “A rest remaineth for the people of God,” that is, in the promise; and “we who have believed do enter into it.” It is faith which gives us “jus in re,” a right in possession, an actual, personal interest, both in the promises and in the rest contained in them, with all the privileges wherewith it is attended.

2. It is but an entrance into rest,

(1.) Because the rest itself is not absolute and complete, as we have declared. Look to what is past, what we are delivered and secured from, and it is a glorious rest. Look unto what is to come, and it is itself but a passage into a more glorious rest. It is an “abundant ministration of an entrance into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” 2 Peter 1:11.

(2.) Because we meet with contests and oppositions in this state: as the Israelites after they had passed over Jordan, and, according to the promise, were entered into the rest of God, yet had great work to do in securing and preserving the possession which they had taken by faith; yea, they had great enemies to contend withal and to subdue. Much diligence and wisdom were yet to be used for their settlement And it is not otherwise with us as to our entrance into the rest of God in this world. We have yet spiritual adversaries to conflict withal; and the utmost of our spiritual endeavors are required to secure our possession, and to carry us on to perfection.

Obs. 1. The state of believers under the gospel is a state of blessed rest; it is God’s rest and theirs.

So much was necessary to be spoken concerning the nature of this rest in the opening of the words, that I shall treat but briefly on this observation, though the matter of it be of great importance. God created man in a state of present rest. This belonged unto that goodness and perfection of all the works of his hands which God saw in them, and blessed them thereon. And as a token of this rest did God institute the rest of the seventh day; that man, by his example and command, might use and improve the state of rest wherein he was made, as we shall see afterwards. Now, this rest consisted in three things:

1. Peace with God;

2. Satisfaction and acquiescency in God;

3. Means of communion with God.

All these were lost by the entrance of sin, and all mankind were brought thereby into an estate of trouble and disquietment. In the restoration of these, and that in a better and more secure way and manner, doth this gospel-state of believers consist.

First, Without it our moral state, in respect of God, is an estate of enmity and trouble. There is no peace between God and sinners. They exercise an “enmity against God” by sin, Romans 8:7; and God executeth an enmity against them by the curse of the law, John 3:36. Hence nothing ensues but trouble, fear, disquietment, and anguish of mind. The relief that any find, or seem to find, or pretend to find, in darkness, ignorance, superstition, security, self-righteousness, false hopes, will prove a refuge of lies, a covering too short and narrow to hide them from the wrath of God, which is the principal cause of all trouble to the souls of men. All this is removed by the gospel; for, “being justified by faith, we have peace with God,” Romans 5:1. Jesus Christ therein is

“our peace, who hath reconciled us unto God by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby,” Ephesians 2:14; Ephesians 2:16.

And as for the law, which is the means and instrument whereby God gives in trouble to the souls of men, the power and curse whereof constitute them in a state of unrest and trouble, he hath undergone the curse of it, Galatians 3:13, and fulfilled the righteousness of it, Romans 8:3; whence the covenant of it is abolished, Hebrews 8:13, and the condemning power of it is taken away, 1 Corinthians 15:56-57. The benefit of all which grace being communicated to believers in and by the gospel, they are instated in peace with God; which is the foundation and first part of our rest, or our interest in this rest of God.

Secondly, There is in all men, before the coming of the gospel, a want of an acquiescency and satisfaction in God. This is produced by the corrupt principle and power of sin, which having turned off the soul from God, causeth it to wander in endless vanities, and to pursue various lusts and pleasures, seeking after rest which always flies from it. This is the great, real, active principle of unrest or disquietment unto the souls of men. This makes them “like a troubled sea, which cannot rest.” The “ignorance that is in them alienates them from the life of God,” Ephesians 4:18. And their fleshliness or sensuality fills them with a dislike and hatred of God; for “the carnal mind is enmity against God,” Romans 8:7-8. And the “vanity of their minds” leads them up and down the world after “divers lusts and pleasures,” Ephesians 4:17. And is there, can there be, any peace, any rest in such a condition? But this also is moved by the gospel; for its work is to destroy and ruin that power of sin which hath thus turned off the soul from God, and so again to renew the image of God in it, that it may make him its rest. This is the effect of the gospel, to take men off from their principle of alienation from God, and to turn their minds and affections unto him as their rest, satisfaction, and reward; and other way for these ends under heaven there is none.

Thirdly, Unto peace with God, and acquiescency in him, a way of intercourse and communion with him is required, to complete a state of spiritual rest. And this also, as it was lost by sin, so it is restored unto us in and by the gospel. This our apostle discourseth of at large in the ninth and tenth chapters of this epistle, whither we refer the consideration of it.

But yet I must acknowledge that the truth insisted on is liable to some important objections, which seem to have strength communicated unto them both from the Scriptures and from the experience of them that do believe. Some of the principal, therefore, of them, as instances of the rest, must be removed out of the way. And it will be said,

1. ‘That the description given us of the state of believers in this world lies in direct contradiction to our assertion; for doth not our Savior himself foretell all his disciples that “in this world they shall have trouble;” that they should be “hated,” and “persecuted,” and “slain?” See John 15:19 -

16:2, 33. And did not the apostles assure their hearers that

“through much tribulation they must enter into the kingdom of God?” Acts 14:22.

Hence it is the notation of believers, “them that are troubled,” to whom future rest is promised, 2 Thessalonians 1:7. And when they come to heaven, they are said to “come out of great tribulation,” Revelation 7:14; yea, they are warned not to think strange of “fiery trials,” the greatest, the highest imaginable, as that which is the common lot and portion of all that believe in Jesus, 1 Peter 4:12. And do not, have not believers in all ages found this in their own experience to be their state and condition? And is it not the very first lesson of the gospel, for men to “take up the cross,” and to “deny themselves” in all their desires and enjoyments? And how can this be esteemed to be an estate of rest, which, being denominated from the greater part of its concernments and occurrences, may be called a state of trouble or tribulation, which is directly contrary to a state of rest?

(1.) It is not difficult to remove this objection. Our Lord Jesus Christ hath done it for us, in these words of his to his disciples,

“In the world ye shall have trouble; but in me ye shall have peace,” John 16:32.

The rest we treat of is spiritual; God’s rest, and our rest in God. Now spiritual, inward rest, in and with God, is not inconsistent with outward, temporal trouble in the world. We might go over all those things wherein we have manifested this gospel-rest to consist, and easily evince that no one of them can be impeached by all the troubles that may befall us in this world; but our apostle hath summarily gone through with this work for us:

Romans 8:35-39, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?..... Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors, through him that loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

The sum of all is this, that no outward thing, no possible opposition, shall prevail to cast us out of that rest which we have obtained an entrance into, or impede our future entrance into eternal rest with God.

(2.) Moreover, one part of this rest whereinto we are entered consists in that persuasion and assurance which it gives us of eternal rest, wherewith believers may support their souls under their troubles, and balance all the persecutions and afflictions that they meet withal in this world. And this also our apostle directs us unto, 2 Corinthians 4:16-18:

“For which cause,” saith he,” we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

That persuasion which we have in this gospel-state of an assured enjoyment of eternal, invisible things, an “eternal weight of glory,” casts out of consideration all the momentary sufferings which in this world we may be exposed unto. As our peace with God by Christ, our interest in him, our communion with him, and acceptance in our worship through the blood of Jesus, the spiritual freedom and liberty of spirit which we have through the Holy Ghost in all that we have to do with him, and the like spiritual mercies, wherein this rest doth consist, can neither be weakened nor impaired by outward troubles; so it supplies us with such present joy, and infallible future expectation, as enable us both to glory in them and triumph over them, Romans 5:3-5. Yea,

(3.) Further, God is pleased so to order and dispose of things, that this rest is never more assured, more glorious and conspicuous, than when those who are entered into it are under reproach, trouble, and sufferings, upon the account of their profession of it. So saith the apostle, 1 Peter 4:14,

“If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the Spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you.”

Whatever may befall us of evil and trouble upon the account of the gospel, it adds unto that blessed state of rest whereinto we are entered; for therein “the Spirit of glory and of God resteth on us.” There is more in the words than that one expression should serve merely to explain the other, as if he had said, ‘The Spirit of glory, that is, of God;’nor is it a mere Hebraism for the glorious Spirit of God; but the especial work of the Spirit of God in and upon believers in such a season is intended. ‘He shall work gloriously in them, and by them; supporting, comforting, and powerfully enabling them to maintain and preserve their souls in that rest whereinto they are called.’This state of rest, therefore, cannot be impeached by any outward troubles.

2. ‘But it seems not inwardly and spiritually to answer the description that hath been given of it; for,

(1.) There are many true believers who all their days never come to any abiding sense of peace with God, but are filled with trouble, and exercised with fears and perplexities, so that they go mourning and heavily all their days. These find it not a place of rest.

(2.) There are no believers but are exercised with continual troubles from the remainders of sin yet abiding in them. These keep them in a continual conflict, and make their lives a warfare, causing them to cry out and complain because of their trouble, Romans 7:24. And it may be said, How can these things consist with a state of rest?

Some few distinctions will clear our way also from the cumbrance of this objection. As,

(1.) It is one thing to be in a state of rest, another to know that a man is so. Believers are by faith instated in rest, and have every one of them “peace with God,” being “reconciled unto him by the blood of the cross;” but as to what shall be the measure of their own understanding of their interest therein, this is left to the sovereign grace and pleasure of God. (2.) There is a difference between a state of rest in general and actual rest in all particulars. A state of rest, denominated from all the principal concernments of it, may admit of much actual disquietment, whereby the state itself is not overthrown or changed, nor the interests of any in it disannulled. And the contests of indwelling sin against our spiritual rest are no other.

(3.) There is a difference between a state itself and men’s participation of that state. This gospel-state in and of itself is an estate of complete peace and rest; but our participation of it is various and gradual. Rest in it is provided, prepared, and exhibited; this we receive according to our several measures and attainments.

(4.) Let it be remembered that our whole interest in this rest is called our entrance; we do enter, and we do but enter: we are so possessed as that we are continually entering into it; and this will admit of the difficulties before insisted on without the least impeachment of this state of rest.

Obs. 2. It is faith alone which is the only way and means of entering into this blessed state of rest. “We who have believed do enter.”

This is that which all along the apostle both asserteth and proveth. His whole design, indeed, is to manifest, by testimonies and examples, that unbelief cuts off from, and faith gives an entrance into, the rest of God. Only, whereas it is evident that the unbelief which cut them off of old, did produce and was attended with disobedience, whence, as we observed, the apostle expresseth their sin by a word that may signify either the one or the other, the cause or the effect, unbelief or disobedience, so the faith which gives us this admission into the rest of God, is such as produceth and is accompanied with the obedience that the gospel requireth. But yet neither doth this obedience belong to the formal nature of faith, nor is it the condition of our entrance, but only the due manner of our behavior in our entering. The entrance itself depends on faith alone; and that both negatively, so that without it no entrance is to be obtained, whatever else men may plead to obtain it by; and positively, in that it alone effects it, without a contribution of aid or strength in its so doing from any other grace or duty whatever. This is not a purchase for silver or gold to prevail for, as men may buy a rest from purgatory: works of the law, or of supererogation, if they might be found, will not open this way unto us; it is faith alone that gives this entrance: “We which have believed do enter into rest;” which is the apostle’s assertion in this place. The SECOND thing in these words is the proof produced by the apostle in the confirmation of the foregoing assertion. And this lies in the next part of the verse: “As he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest.” The exposition of these words, absolutely considered, we have passed through on the former chapter. Our present inquiry is only into their use in this place. And it is evident that they are intended by the apostle for a confirmation of what he had before affirmed. But yet it is certain, that this at the first view they do not seem to do. For how is it proved that “we who believe do enter into rest,” because God sware concerning others, that “they should not so do?” This difficulty we must remove by a due application of these words unto the apostle’s purpose.

The words may be considered two ways.

1. Logically, merely as to the rational and artificial form of the argument in them

2. Theologically, as to their force and intention according to the analogy of faith. And both ways we shall find the apostle’s intention and assertion evinced by them.

For the First, the apostle’s argument depends upon a known rule, namely, that unto immediate contraries, or things immediately contrary one to another, contrary attributes may be certainly ascribed: so that he who affirms the one at the same time denies the other; and on the contrary, he that denies the one affirms the other. He that says, ‘It is day,’doth as really say it is not night as if he had used these formal words. Now, the proposition laid down by the apostle in proof of his assertion is this, ‘They who believed not did not enter into God’s rest; for God sware that they should not, and that because they believed not. Hence it follows inevitably, in a just ratiocination, that they who do believe do enter into that rest.’ Supposing what he hath already proved, and intends further to confirm, namely, that the promise belongs unto us as well as unto them, the promise is the same, only the rest is changed; and supposing also what he hath already fully proved, namely, that the enjoying of the promise, or entering into rest, depends on the mixing of it with faith, or believing; and his proof that those who do believe do enter into rest, because God hath sworn that those who believe not shall not enter, is plain and manifest. For, the promise being the same, if unbelief exclude, faith gives entrance; for what is denied of the one is therein affirmed of the other. Some expositors of the Roman church do greatly perplex themselves and their readers in answering an objection which they raise to themselves on this place. For say they, ‘By the rule and reason of contraries, if unbelief alone exclude from the rest of God, that is, the glory of God in heaven, then faith alone gives admission into glory.’This they cannot bear, for fear they should lose the advantage of their own merits. And they are incompetent to salve their own objection. For the rule they respect will inevitably carry it, that in what sense soever unbelief excludes, faith gives admission. But the truth is, that both their objections and their answers are in this place importune and unseasonable; for it is not the rest of glory that is here intended, and that faith alone gives us admission into a gospel-state of rest, they will not deny.

And here by the way we may take notice of the use of reason, or logical deductions, in the proposing, handling, and confirming of sacred, supernatural truths, or articles of faith. For the validity of the apostle’s proof in this place depends on the certainty of the logical maxim before mentioned, whose consideration removes its whole difficulty. And to deny this liberty of deducing consequences, or one thing from another, according to the just rules of due ratiocination, is quite to take away the use of the Scripture, and to banish reason from those things whereto it ought to be principally employed.

Secondly, The words may be considered theologically; that is, by other rules of Scripture, according to the analogy of faith. And thus the force of the apostle’s proof springs out of another root, or there lies a reason in the testimony used by him taken from another consideration. And this is from the nature of God’s covenant with us, and the end thereof. For whereas the covenant of God is administered unto us in promises and threatenings, they have all of them the same end allotted to them, and the same grace to make them effectual. Hence every threatening includes a promise in it, and every promise hath also the nature of a threatening in its proposal. There is a mutual inbeing of promises and threatenings in reference unto the ends of the covenant. God expressing his mind in various ways, hath still the same end in them all. The first covenant was given out in a mere word of threatening: “The day thou eatest thou shalt die.” But yet none doubteth but that there was a promise of life upon obedience included in that threatening, yea, and principally intended. So there is a threatening in every promise of the gospel. Whereas, therefore, there is a great threatening, confirmed with the oath of God, in these words, that those who believe not should not enter into his rest; there is a promise included in the same words, no less solemnly confirmed, that those who do believe should enter into rest: and thence doth the apostle confirm the truth of his assertion. From what hath been discoursed we may observe, that,

Obs. 3. There is a mutual inbeing of the promises and threatenings of the covenant, so that in our faith and consideration of them they ought not utterly to be separated.

Wherever there is a promise, there a threatening in reference unto the same matter is tacitly understood. And wherever there is a threatening, that is no more than so, be it never so severe, there is a gracious promise included in it; yea, sometimes God gives out an express threatening for no other end but that men may lay hold on the promise tacitly included. The threatening that Nineveh should perish was given out that it might not perish. And John Baptist’s preaching that the axe was laid to the root of the trees was a call to repentance, that none might be cut down and cast into the fire. And the reasons hereof are,

1. Because they have both of them the same rise and spring. Both promises and threatenings do flow from, and are expressive of the holy, gracious nature of God, with respect unto his actings towards men in covenant with himself. Now, though there are distinct properties in the nature of God, which operate, act, and express themselves distinctly, yet they are all of them essential properties of one and the same nature; and what proceeds from them hath the same fountain. So declaring his nature by his name, he ascribes that unto his one being which will produce contrary effects, Exodus 34:6-7. That he is “gracious, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin,” he expresseth in and by his promises; that he “will by no means clear the guilty,” but “visit iniquity,” he presseth by his threatenings. They do both of them but declare the actings of the one holy God, according to the distinct properties of his nature, upon distinct objects. This is the foundation of that mutual inbeing of promises and threatenings whereof we discourse.

2. Both of them, as annexed to the covenant, or as the covenant is administered by them, have the same end. God doth not design one end by a promise, and another by a threatening, but only different ways of compassing or effecting the same end. The end of both is, to increase in us faith and obedience. Now, this is variously effected, according to the variety of those faculties and affections of our souls which are affected by them, and according to the great variety of occasions that we are to pass through in the world. Faith and obedience are principally in our minds and wills; but they are excited to act by our affections. Now, these are differently wrought upon by promises and threatenings, yet all directing to the same end. The use of divine threatenings is, to make such a representation of divine holiness and righteousness to men, as that, being moved by that, an affection suited to be wrought upon by the effects of them, they may be stirred up unto faith and obedience. So Noah, upon God’s warning, that is, his threatening the world with destruction, being “moved with fear, prepared an ark,” Hebrews 11:7; which our apostle instanceth in as an effect of his faith and evidence of his obedience. The threatenings of God, then, are not assigned unto any other end but what the promises are assigned unto, only they work and operate another way. Hereon faith coming unto the consideration of them, finds the same love and grace in them as in the promises, because they lead to the same end.

3. Again, threatenings are conditional; and the nature of such conditions is, not only somewhat is affirmed upon their supposal, and denied upon their denial, but the contrary unto it is affirmed upon their denial; and that because the denial of them doth assert a contrary condition. For instance, the threatening is, that he who believeth not shall not enter into the rest of God. Upon a supposition of unbelief, it is affirmed herein that there shall be no entrance into rest. Upon the denial of that supposal, not only it is not averred that there shall be no such entrance, but it is also affirmed that men shall enter into it. And this because the denial of unbelief doth include and assert faith itself, which plainly gives the threatening the nature of a promise, and as such may it be used and improved.

4. The same grace is administered in the covenant to make the one and the other effectual. Men are apt to think that the promises of the gospel are accompanied towards the elect with a supply of effectual grace to render them useful, to enable them to believe and obey. This makes them hear them willingly, and attend unto them gladly. They think they can never enough consider or meditate upon them. But as for the threatenings of the gospel, they suppose that they have no other end but to make them afraid; and so they may be freed from the evil which they portend, they care not how little they converse with them. As for any assistance in their obedience to be communicated by them, they do not expect it. But this is a great mistake. Threatenings are no less sanctified of God for the end mentioned than promises are; nor are they, when duly used and improved, less effectual to that purpose. God leaves no part of his word, in its proper place, unaccompanied with his Spirit and grace; especially not that which is of so near a concernment unto his glory. Hence many have had grace administered unto them by threatenings, on whom the promises have made no impression: and this not only persons before conversion, for their conviction and humiliation, but even believers themselves, for their awakening, recovery from backsliding, awe and reverence of God in secret duties, encouragement in sufferings, and the like. Now, from what hath been spoken, it follows that faith, being duly exercised about and towards gospel threatenings, yea, the most severe of them, may find the sane love and the same grace in them as in the most sweet and gracious promises. And there can be no reason why men should dislike the preaching and consideration of them, but because they too well like the sins and evils that are the condition of their execution.

We shall now proceed to the opening of the last clause of this verse, wherein the apostle illustrates and confirms the truth of the proof he had produced, by evincing that he had made a right application of the testimony used to that purpose. For proving that those who believe under the gospel do enter into rest, from these words of the psalmist, “If they shall enter into my rest,” it was incumbent on him to manifest that the rest intended in these words had respect unto the rest of the gospel, which was now preached unto all the Hebrews, and entered into by all that believed. Whereas, therefore, a rest of God is mentioned in that testimony, he proceeds to consider the various rests that, on several accounts, are so called in the Scripture, “the rests of God.” From the consideration of them he concludes, that after all other rests formerly enjoyed by the people of God were past, there yet remained a rest for them under the Messiah, which was principally intended in the prophetical words of David. This is the design of his ensuing discourse, which here he makes an entrance into with some seeming abruptness, or at least with an elliptical phrase of speech, in these words, “Although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.”

Καίτοι . Some render it “et quidem,” “and truly;” some “quamvis,” and “quanquam,” “although;” some “seal,” “but;” the Syriac, דְּלַא , “quia ecce,” or “et ecce, “and behold.” The addition of the particle τοι to the conjunction causeth this variety. And καίτοι , is variously used and variously rendered out of other authors; which I should not mention, as seeming too light a matter here to be insisted on, but that various interpretations do often depend on the different acceptation of these particles. The common use of it is “quamvis:” so is it here rendered by Erasmus and Beza, who are followed by ours, “although.” So Demosthenes, Καίτοι τόγε αἰσχρὸν ὁμοίως ,”Quam vis et id similiter turpe, Although that be dishonest in like manner.” What this exception intends shall be afterwards declared.

Τῶν ἔργων , “the works;” that is, of God’s creation: the works of the creation. So the Syriac, עֲבָדַוְהִי דַּאלָהָא “the works of God himself;” that is כָּל מְלַאכְתּוֹ אֲשֶׁר בָּרָא אַלֹתִים לַעֲשִׂוֹת , “all his work that God created and made,” or that he designed to make in that first creation.

Γενηθέντων , “perfectis,” “ were perfected,” or “finished.” Syr, הֲוַו , “fuerunt,” or “facts sunt,” “ were,” or “were made.” “Genitis,” “being born,” from אֵלֶּה תוֹלְדוֹת , Genesis 2:4; or “created,” “finished,” “perfected,” from ויְכֻלוּ , Genesis 2:1, “were finished.” The end of עָשָׂה , “he made.” There was, in the creation, God’s design, לעֲשׂוֹת , to “make all things;” according thereunto, בָּרָא or עָשָׂה , he “created” or “made;” the end whereof was יְכֻלוּ , they “were finished.” For the apostle in these words applies the first throe verses of the second chapter of Genesis to his own purpose.

The season of the whole is added, ἀπὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου , “a jacto mundi fundamento,” “a jactis mundi fundamentis,” “ab institutione mundi,” “a constitutione mundi,” “from the foundation of the world.” Syr., דֵעָלְמָא מֵן שׁוּרָיֵה , from the beginning of the world.” Καταβολή is properly “jactus ex loco superiore,” a casting of any thing from above, thither where it may abide. Hence Chrysostom on Ephesians 1:3, on thesame word: ῾Ως ἀπό τινος ὕψους καταβεβλημένον μεγάλου αὐτὸν δεικνὺς· the founding of the word comes from above, from the power of God over all. The word is but once in the New Testament applied unto any other purpose, Hebrews 11:11; but frequently in that construction here used, καταβολὴ κόσμου . See Matthew 13:35, Luke 11:50; John 17:24; Ephesians 1:4; Heb 9:26 ; 1 Peter 1:20; Revelation 13:8; Revelation 17:8. Twice with πρό , that is, “before,” Ephesians 1:4; 1 Peter 1:20, “Before the foundation of the world;” else with ἀπό , “from” it, denoting the beginning of time, as the other doth eternity. “Although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.” I do acknowledge that these words, as they relate to the preceding and ensuing discourses of the apostle, are attended with great difficulties; for the manner of the ratiocination or arguing here used seems to be exceedingly perplexed. But we have a relief against the consideration of the obscurity of this and the like passages of holy writ; for the things delivered obscurely in them, as far as they are needful for us to know or practice, are more fully and clearly explained in other places. Nor is there the least semblance that any thing contained in this place should have an inconsistency with what is elsewhere declared. The principal difficulties lie in the discovery of the especial design of the apostle, with the force of the arguments, reasons, and testimonies, whereby he confirmeth his purpose; that is, that we may clearly discern both what it is which he intends to prove and how he proves it; for the sense of the words is obvious. These are the things that we are to inquire into, with what spiritual skill and diligence God is pleased to impart. And here, because the words under consideration do give an entrance into the whole ensuing discourse, I shall on them lay down the general principles of it, which I would desire the reader a little to attend unto, and afterwards to consider how they are severally educed from the particular passages of it:

First, It is evident that the apostle here engageth into the confirmation of what he had laid down and positively asserted in the foregoing verses. Now this is, ‘That there is yet, under the gospel, a promise of entering into the rest of God left or remaining unto believers; and that they do enter into that rest by mixing the promise of it with faith.’This he declares, and the declaration of it was useful unto and necessary for these Hebrews. For he lets them know, as hath been showed, that, notwithstanding their enjoyment of the rest of Canaan, with the worship and rest of God therein, which their forefathers fell short of by their unbelief, they were now under a new trial, a new rest being proposed unto them in the promise. This he proves by a testimony out of the 95th psalm. But the application of that testimony unto his purpose is obnoxious unto a great objection. For the rest mentioned in that psalm seems to be a rest long since past and enjoyed, either by themselves or others; so that they could have no concernment in it, nor be in any danger of coming short of it. And if this were so, all the arguments and exhortations of the apostle in this place might be rejected as groundless and incogent, as drawn from a mistaken and misapplied testimony. To remove this objection, and thereby confirm his former assertion and exhortation, is the present design of the apostle.

Secondly, To the end mentioned, he proceeds unto the exposition and vindication of the testimony which he had cited out of the psalm. And herein he shows, from the proper signification of the words, from the time when they were spoken, and persons to whom, that no other rest is intended in them but what was now proposed unto them, or the rest of God and of his people in the gospel. This he proves by various arguments, laying singular weight upon this matter; for if there was a new rest promised, and now proposed unto them, if they mixed not the promise of it with faith during the time of their day, or continuance of God’s patience towards them they must perish, and that eternally.

Thirdly, The general argument to his purpose which he insists on, consists in an enumeration of all the several rests of God and his people which are mentioned in the Scripture; for from the consideration of them all he proves that no other rest could be principally intended in the words of David but only the rest of the gospel, whereinto they enter who do believe.

Fourthly, From that respect which the words of the psalmist have unto the other foregoing rests, he manifests that those also were representations of that spiritual rest which was now brought in and established. These things comprise the design of the apostle in general.

In pursuit hereof he declares in particular,

1. That the rest mentioned in the psalm is not that which ensued immediately on the creation. This he evinceth because it is spoken of afterwards, a long time after, and that to another purpose, Hebrews 4:4-5.

2. That it is not the rest of the land of Canaan, because that was not entered into by them unto whom it was promised, for they came short of it by their unbelief, and perished in the wilderness; but now this rest is offered afresh, Hebrews 4:6-7.

3. Whereas it may be objected, that although the wilderness-generation entered not in, yet their posterity did, under the conduct of Joshua, Hebrews 4:8; he answers, that this rest in the psalm being promised and proposed by David so long a time (above four hundred years) after the people had quietly possessed the land whereinto they were conducted by Joshua, it must needs be that another rest, yet to come, was intended in those words of the psalmist, verse 9. And,

4. To conclude his argument, he declareth that this new rest hath a new, peculiar foundation, that the other had no interest or concernment in, namely, his ceasing from his own work and entering into his rest who is the author of it, Hebrews 4:10. This is the way and manner of the apostle’s arguing, for the proof of what he had said before in the beginning of the chapter, and which he issueth in the conclusion expressed, Hebrews 4:9.

But we are yet further to inquire into the nature of the several rests here discoursed of by the apostle, with their relation one to another, and the especial concernments of that rest which he exhorts them to enter into, wherein the principal difficulties of the place do lie. And some light into the whole may be given in the ensuing propositions:

1. The rest of God is the foundation and principal cause of our rest. So it is still called God’s rest: “If they shall enter into my rest.” It is, on some account or other, God’s rest before it is ours.

2. God’s rest is not spoken of absolutely with respect unto himself only, but with reference to the rest that ensued thereon for the church to rest with him in. Hence it follows that the rests here mentioned are as it were double, namely, the rest of God, and the rest that ensued thereon for us to enter into. For instance, at the finishing of the works of creation, which is first proposed, “God ceased from his work, and rested;” this was his own rest. He “rested on the seventh day.” But that was not all; be “blessed it” for the rest of man, a rest for us ensuing on his rest: that is, an expressive representation of it, and a figure or means of our entering into, or being taken into a participation of the rest of God; for the sum of all that is proposed unto us, is an entrance into the rest of God.

3. The apostle proposeth the threefold state of the church of God unto consideration:

(1.) The state of it under the law of nature or creation;

(2.) The state of it under the law of institutions and carnal ordinances;

(3.) That now introducing under the gospel.

To each of these he assigns a distinct rest of God, a rest of the church entering into God’s rest, and a day of rest as a means and pledge thereof. And withal he manifests that the former two were ordered to be previous representations of the latter, though not equally nor on the same account.

(1.) He considers the church and the state of it under the law of nature, before the entrance of sin. And herein he shows, first, that there was a rest of God; for “the works,” saith he, “were finished from the foundation of the world, and God did rest from all his works,” verses 3,4. This was God’s own rest, and was the foundation of the church’s rest. For,

[1.] It was the duty of man hereon to enter into the rest of God, that is, to make God his rest, here in faith and obedience, and hereafter in immediate fruition; for which end also he was made.

[2.] A day of rest, namely, the seventh day, was blessed and sanctified, for the present means of entering into that rest of God, in the performance of his worship, and a pledge of the eternal fullness and continuance thereof, verses 3,4. So that in this state of the church there were three things considerable:

[1.] God’s rest;

[2.] Men’s entering into God’s rest by faith and obedience;

[3.] A day of rest, or a remembrance of the one and a pledge of the other. And in all this there was a type of our rest under the gospel (for which end it is mentioned), wherein he who is God did cease from his work, and therein lay the foundation of the rest that ensued, as we shall see.

(2.) He considers the church under the law of institutions. And herein he representeth the rest of Canaan, wherein also the three distinct rests before mentioned do occur.

[1.] There was in it a rest of God. This gives denomination to the whole, for he still calls it “my rest;” for God wrought about it works great and mighty, and ceased from them only when they were finished. And this work of his answered in its greatness unto the work of creation, whereunto it is compared by himself, Isaiah 51:15-16,

“I am the LORD thy God, that divided the sea, whose waves roared; The LORD Of hosts is his name. And I have put my words in thy mouth, and I have covered thee in the shadow of mine hand, that I may plant the heavens, and lay the foundations of the earth, and say unto Zion, Thou art my people.”

The “dividing of the sea, whose waves roared,” is put by a synecdoche for the whole work of God preparing a way for the church-state of the people in the land of Canaan, the whole being expressed in one signal instance: and this he compares unto the works of creation, in “planting the heavens, and laying the foundations of the earth;” for although those words are but a metaphorical expression of the church and political state of the people, yet there is an evident allusion in them unto the original creation of all things. This was the work of God, upon the finishing whereof he entered into his rest; for after the erection of his worship in the land of Canaan, he said of it, “This is my rest, and here will I dwell.”

[2.] God being thus entered into his rest, in like manner as formerly, two things ensued thereon:

1 st. That the people are invited and encouraged to enter into his rest. And this their entrance into rest was their coming by faith and obedience into a participation of his worship, wherein he rested; which though some came short of by unbelief, yet others entered into under the conduct of Joshua

2 dly. Both these God expressed by appointing a day of rest; for he did so, both that it might be a token, sign, and pledge of his own rest in his instituted worship, and be a means, in the solemn observation of that worship, to further their entrance into the rest of God. These were the ends of God’s instituting a day of rest among his people, whereby it became a peculiar sign or token that he was their God, and that they were his people. It is true, this day was the same in order of the days with that before observed from the foundation of the world, namely, the seventh day from the foundation of the creation; but yet it was now re-established, upon new considerations and unto new ends and purposes. The time of the change and alteration of the day itself was not yet come; for this work was but preparatory for a greater. And so, whereas both these rests, that of old, from the foundation of the world, and this newly instituted in the land of Canaan, were designed to represent the rest of the gospel, it was meet they should agree in the common pledge and token of them. Besides, the covenant whereunto the seventh day was originally annexed was not yet abolished, nor yet to be abolished; and so that day was not yet to be changed. Hence the seventh day came to fall under a double consideration:

(1st.) As it was such a proportion of time as was requisite for the worship of God, and appointed as a pledge of his rest under the law of creation, wherein it had respect unto God’s rest from the works of creation alone;

(2dly.) As it received a new institution, with superadded ends and significations, as a token and pledge of God’s rest under the law of institutions; but materially the day was to be the same until that work was done, and that rest was brought in, which both of them did signify. Thus both these states of the church had these three things distinctly in them: a rest of God for their foundation; a rest in obedience and worship for the people to enter into; and a day of rest, as a pledge and token of both the others.

(3.) The apostle proves, from the words of the psalmist, that yet there was to be a third state of the church, an especial state under the Messiah, or of the gospel, whereof the others were appointed to be types and shadows. And thence he likewise manifests that there is yet remaining also another state of rest, belonging unto it, which is yet to be entered into. Now, to the constitution of this rest, as before, three things are required:

[1.] That there be some signal work of God which he must have completed and finished, and thereon entered into his rest. This must be the foundation of the whole new church-state to be introduced, and of the rest to be obtained therein.

[2.] That there be a spiritual rest ensuing thereon, and arising thence, for them that believe to enter into.

[3.] That there be a new or a renewed day of rest, to express the rest of God unto us, and to be a means and pledge of our entering into it.

And that all these do concur in this new state of the church it is the apostle’s design to demonstrate, which also he doth; for he showeth,

[1.] That there is a great work of God, and that finished, for the foundation of the whole. This he had made way for, Hebrews 3:3-4, where he both expressly asserts Christ to be God who made all things, and shows the analogy and correspondency that is between the creation of all things and the building of the church. As God, then, wrought in the creation of all, so Christ, who is God, wrought in the setting up of this new church-state; and upon his finishing of it he entered into his rest, ceasing from his works, as God also did upon the creation from his, Hebrews 4:10 for that the words of that verse contain the foundation of the gospel church-state, in the work of Christ and rest that ensued thereon, shall be declared in its proper place.

[2.] That there is hence arising “a rest for the people of God,” or believers, to enter into. This is the main of his design to prove, and he doth it invincibly from the testimony of the psalmist.

[3.] It remains that there must be a new day of rest, suited and accommodated to this new church-state. And this new day must arise from the rest that the Lord Christ entered into, when he had finished the work whereby that new church-state was founded. This is the “sabbath-keeping” which the apostle concludes that he had evinced from his former discourse, verse 9.

And concerning this day we may observe,

1st. That it hath this in common with the former days, that it is a sabbatism, or one day in seven; for this portion of time to be dedicated unto rest, having its foundation in the light and law of nature, was equally to pass through all estates of the church.

2 dly. That although both the former states of the church had one and the same day, though varied as to some ends of it in the latter institution, now the day itself is changed; because it now respects a work quite of another nature as its foundation than that day did which went before. And therefore is the day now changed, which before could not be so.

3dly. That the observation of it is suited unto the spiritual state of the church under the gospel, delivered from the bondage frame of spirit wherewith it was observed under the law.

These are the rests the apostle here discourseth of, or a threefold rest, under a threefold state of the church; and if any of these be left out of our consideration, the whole structure of the discourse is loosened and dissolved.

The involvedness of this context, with the importance of the matter treated of in it, with the consideration of the very little light which hath been given unto it by any expositors whom I could as yet attain to the sight of, hath caused me to insist thus long in the investigation of the true analysis of it. And if the reader obtain any guidance by it into an understanding of the mind of the Holy Ghost, he will not think it tedious; nor yet the repetition of sundry things which must necessarily be called over again in the exposition of the several passages of the context, whereby the whole will be further opened and confirmed.

Having taken a prospect into the whole design of this place, I shall now return to the consideration of those particular passages and testimonies by which the whole of what we have observed from the context is cleared and established. And first we must view again the preface, or entrance into the discourse, as it is expressed in the close of the third verse:

“Although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.”

In these words the apostle begins his answer unto such objections as his former assertion, concerning the entrance of believers into God’s rest now under the gospel, seems to be liable unto. And therein he clears it by a further exposition of the testimony produced out of the psalmist unto that purpose, compared with other places of Scripture wherein mention is made of the rest of God in like manner. Now, all rest supposeth work and labor. The first notion of it is a cessation from labor, with the trouble or weariness thereof. Wherefore every rest of God must have some work of God preceding it. That labor and rest are not properly ascribed unto God is evident. They include that lassitude or weariness upon pains in labor, that ease and quiet upon a cessation from labor, whereof the divine nature is not capable. But the effect of God’s power in the operation of outward works, and an end of temporary operations, with the satisfaction of his wisdom in them, are the things that are intended in God’s working and resting. Here the first is mentioned, τὰ ἔρηα , “the works;” מעֲשֶׂה , “the work,” that is, of God. So he calls the effect of his creating power, his “work,” yea, “the work of his hands” and “fingers,” Psalms 8:3; Psalms 8:6; in allusion to the way and manner whereby we effect our works. And the works here intended are expressed summarily, Genesis 2:1, “The heavens and the earth, and all the host of them;” that is, the whole creation, distributed into its various kinds, with reference unto the season or distinct days of their production, as Genesis 1:0.

Of these works it is said they were “finished.” “The works were finished;” that is, so effected and perfected as that God would work no more in the same kind. The continuation of things made belongs unto God’s effective providence; from the making more things, kinds of things, new things, “in rerum nature,” God now ceased. So are the words usually interpreted, namely, that God now so finished and perfected all kinds of things, as that he would never more create any new kind, race, or species of them, but only continue and increase those now made, by an ordinary work upon them and concurrence with them in his providence. It may be this is so; it may be no instance can be given of any absolutely new kind of creature made by God since the finishing of his work at the foundation of the world: but it cannot be proved from these words; for no more is expressed or intended in them, but that, at the end of the sixth day, God finished and put an end unto that whole work of creating heaven and earth, and all the host of them, which he then designed, made, and blessed. These works, therefore, the works of the first creation, were finished, completed, perfected; and this,

“From the foundation of the world.” The words are a periphrasis of those six original days wherein time and all things measured by it and extant with it had their beginning. It is sometimes absolutely called “the beginning,”

Genesis 1:1, John 1:1; that is, when a beginning was given unto all creatures by Him who is without beginning. And both these expressions are put together, Hebrews 1:10, κατ᾿ ἀρχάς . So the apostle renders לְפָנִים , Psalms 102:25, “In the beginning thou hast laid the foundation.”

By “the foundation,” then, is not intended absolutely the first beginning or foundation of the work, as we call that the foundation of a house or building which is first laid, and on which the fabric is raised. But the word is to be taken ἐν πλάτει , for the whole building itself; or formally for the building, which extends itself to the whole equally, and not materially to any part of it, first or last. For it is said that from this laying of the foundation “the works were finished.” Καταβολὴ κόσμου is the erecting of the whole building of the creation on the stable foundation of the power of God put forth therein.

This is the first thing that the apostle fixeth as a foundation unto his ensuing discourse, namely, that in the first erection of the church in the state of nature, or under the law of creation, the beginning of it was in the work of God, which he first finished, and then entered into his rest; as he proves in the next verse. But we may here rest, and interpose some doctrinal observations; as first,

Obs. 4. God hath showed us in his own example that work and labor is to precede our rest.

The first appearance of God to any of his rational creatures was working, or upon his works. Had any of them been awakened out of their nothing, and no representation of God been made unto them but of his essence and being in his own eternal rest and self-satisfaction, they could have had no such apprehensions of him as might prepare them for that subjection and obedience which he required of them. But now, in the very first instant of their existence, they found God gloriously displaying the properties of his nature, his wisdom, goodness and power, in the works of his hands, This instructed them into faith, fear, and subjection of soul. When the angels were first created, those creatures of light, they found God as it were laying the foundations of the heavens and earth; whereon all those “sons of God shouted for joy,” Job 38:7. They rejoiced in the manifestation that was made of the power and wisdom of God in the works which they beheld. Hence it is justly supposed that they were made on the first day, when only the foundations of this glorious fabric were laid, Genesis 1:2; wherein they were able to discern the impressions of his wisdom and power. Man was not created until more express representations were made of them in all other creatures, suited unto his institution. After God had done that which might satisfy them and men, in the contemplation of his works, he enters into his rest, returns as it were into his own eternal rest, and directs them to seek rest in himself.

And herein the design of God was to set us an example of that course which, “according to the counsel of his will,” he intended by his command to guide us unto; namely, that a course of work and labor might precede our full enjoyment of rest. This he plainly declares in the fourth commandment, where the reason he gives why we ought, in a returning course, to attend unto six days of labor before we sanctify a day of rest, is, because he wrought himself six days, and then entered into his rest, Exodus 20:8-11. The command instructs us in, and gives us the force and use of the example he sets us. Thus he dealt with Adam; he set him to work so soon as he was made: “He took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden, to dress it and to keep it,” Genesis 2:15. And this he was to do antecedently unto the day of rest which was given him; for it was upon the sixth day, yea, before the creation of the woman, that he was designed unto and put into his employment, and the rest was not sanctified for him until the day following. And this day of rest was given unto him as a pledge of eternal rest with God. So both the whole course of his obedience and his final rest after it were represented by his days of work and rest.

But here now there is an alteration under the gospel. The day of rest under the law, as a pledge of final rest with God, was the last day of the seven, the seventh day; but under the gospel it is the first day of the seven. Then the week of labor went before, now it follows after. And the reason hereof seems to be taken from the different state of the church. For of old, under the covenant of works, men were absolutely to labor and work, without any alteration or improvement of their condition, before they entered into rest. They should have had only a continuance of their state wherein they first set out, but no rest until they had wrought for it. The six days of labor went before, and the day of rest, the seventh day, followed them. But now it is otherwise. The first thing that belongs unto our present state is an entering into rest initially; for we enter in by faith. And then our working doth ensue; that is, “the obedience of faith.” Rest is given us to set us on work; and our works are such as, for the manner of their performance, are consistent with a state of rest. Hence our day of rest goes before our days of labor: it is now the first of the week, of the seven, which before was the last. And those who contend now for the observation of the seventh day do endeavor to bring us again under the covenant of works, that we should do all our work before we enter into any rest at all. But it will be objected, that this is contrary to our observation before laid down, namely, that, after the example of God, we must work before we enter into rest; for now it is said that we enter into rest antecedently unto our works of obedience.

Ans. 1. The rest intended in the proposition is absolute, complete, and perfect, the rest which is to be enjoyed with God for ever. Now, antecedent unto the enjoyment hereof all our works performed in a state of initial rest must be wrought.

2. There are works also which must precede our entering into this initial or gospel rest, though they belong not to our state, and so go before that sabbatical rest which precedes our course of working. Neither are these works such as are absolutely sinful in themselves and their own nature; which sort of works must be necessarily excluded from this whole discourse. Thus, our Savior calling sinners unto him, with this encouragement, that in him they should find rest and enter into it, as hath been declared, he calls them that “labor and are heavy laden,” Matthew 11:28-29. It is required that men labor under a sense of their sins, that they be burdened by them and made weary, before they enter into this initial rest. So that in every condition, both from the example of God and the nature of the thing itself, work and labor is to precede rest. And although we are now here in a state of rest, in comparison of what went before, yet this also is a state of working and labor with respect unto that fullness of everlasting rest which shall ensue thereon. This is the condition, that, from the example and command of God himself, all are to accept of. Our works and labors are to precede our rest. And whereas the divine nature is no way capable of lassitude, weariness, sense of pain or trouble in operation, it is otherwise with us, all these things are in us attended with trouble, weariness, and manifold perplexities. We are not only to do, but to suffer also. This way is marked out for us, let us pursue it patiently, that we may answer the example, and be like unto our heavenly Father. Again,

Obs. 5. All the works of God are perfect.

He “finished” them, and said that they were “good.” “He is the Rock, and his work is perfect,” Deuteronomy 32:4. His infinite wisdom and power require that it should be so, and make it impossible that it should be otherwise. The conception of them is perfect, in the infinite counsel of his will; and the operation of them is perfect, through his infinite power. Nothing can proceed from him but what is so in its own kind and measure, and the whole of his works is so absolutely. See Isaiah 40:28. As when he undertook the work of creation, he finished it, or perfected it, so that it was in his own eyes “exceeding good;” so the works of grace and providence, which are yet upon the wheels, shall in like manner be accomplished. And this may teach us at all times to trust him with his own works, and all our concerns in them, whether they be the works of his grace in our hearts, or the works of his providence in the world. He will “perfect that which concerneth us,” because “his mercy endureth for ever,” and will “not forsake the work of his own hands,” Psalms 138:8.

Obs. 6. All the works of God in the creation were wrought and ordered in a subserviency unto his worship and glory thereby. This we have cleared in our passage.

Verse 4

The next verse gives the reason of the preceding mention of the works of God and the finishing of them. blow this was not for their own sakes, but because of a rest that ensued thereon, the rest of God, and a day of rest as a token of it, and a pledge of our interest therein, or entrance into it. That such a rest did ensue he proves by a testimony taken from Genesis 2:2-3, “And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it; because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.” The rest of God himself is intended solely neither in this place of Genesis nor by our apostle, although he repeats only these words, “And God did rest the seventh day from all his works.” But the blessing and sanctifying of the seventh day, that is, the institution of it to be a day of rest unto man, and a pledge or means of his entering into the rest of God, is that which is also aimed at in both places. For this is that wherein the apostle is at present concerned.

Hebrews 4:4 . Εἴρηκε γάρ που περὶ τῆς ἑβδόμης οὕτω· Καὶ κατέπαυσεν ὁ Θεὸς ἐν τῆς ἡμέρᾳ τῇ ἐβδὸμῃ ἀπὸ πάντων τῶν ἔργων αὐτοῦ .

Εἴρηκε , “dixit,” “said;” the nominative case is not expressed: ‘The Scripture hath said.’This is a usual form of speech in the New Testament: John 7:38, Καθὼς ει῏πεν ἡ γραφή , John 7:42. But most frequently the speaking of the Scripture is expressed by λέγει , John 19:37, Romans 4:3; Romans 9:17; Romans 10:11; Romans 11:2, Galatians 4:3, James 4:5: sometimes by λαλεῖ , Romans 3:19; here by εἴρηκε : all the words used in the New Testament to express sp eaking by. For it is not dead and mute, but living and vocal, even the voice of God to them who have ears to hear. And speaking is applied unto it both in the preterperfect tense, “hath said,” “hath spoken,” John 7:38; John 7:42, to denote its original record; and in the present tense, to signify its continuing authority. Or, it may be that τίς should be here supplied, “A certain man said;” for our apostle hath already used that form of speech in his quotation, Hebrews 2:6, Διεμαρτύρατο δὲ που τίς , “One testifieth in a certain place.” Or, “He hath said;” that is, God himself, the Holy Ghost, whose authority in the Scripture in all this discourse and debate we rely upon. Or it is taken impersonally, for “dicitur,” “It is said.” Που , “alicubi,” “in quondam loco,” “somewhere,” “in a certain place.” The Syriac omits this που . Arab., “in a certain section.” Περὶ τῆς εβδόμης . Translators generally, “de die septimo,” “of the seventh day.” The Syriac, עַל שַׁבָּתָא “concerning the Sabbath. Οὕτω or οὕτως , “so,” “after this manner.” But there is little of difficulty in or difference about the translation of these words.

Hebrews 4:4 . For he spake in a certain place [ somewhere ] of the seventh day on this manner, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works.

The verse hath two parts: the one expressing the m anner of the introduction of an intended testimony; the other containing the testimony itself. The first is in these words: “For he spake in a certain place concerning the seventh day.”

Γάρ , “for,” a note of illation, showing that in the ensuing words the apostle designed the proof of what he had elliptically expressed in the verse foregoing; the importance whereof we have before declared. The sum is, that there was a rest of God and his people, and a day of rest, from the foundation of the world; which was not the rest here mentioned by the psalmist. “For he saith.”

Εἴρηκε . “he spake,” or “said.” Who or what this refers unto hath been showed already.

Που , “somewhere,” “in a certain place.” As he allegeth not’his author expressly, no more doth he the particular place where the words are recorded. He only refers the Hebrews to the Scripture, which was the common acknowledged principle of truth between them, which he and they would acquiesce in, and wherein they were expert. Especially were they so in the books of Moses; and particularly in the history of the creation of the world, whence these words are taken. For this was their glory, that from thence they were in the clear light of the original of the universe, which was hidden in darkness from all the world besides.

Περὶ τῆς ἑβδόμης . This is the subject concerning which the ensuing testimony is produced. Generally the words are rendered, “de die septima,” or “de septima;” “of the seventh day.” Only the Syriac, as was observed, renders it “of the Sabbath day;” and this not unduly, as expressing the intention of the place. For ἑβδόμη , “the seventh,” may be used either naturally and absolutely for the seventh day, ἡ ἡμέρα ἡ ἑβδόμη , as it is expressed in the words following, “the seventh day,” that is from the beginning of the creation, wherein the first complete returning course of time was finished, after which a return is made to the first day again; or, it may be used τεχνικῶς , “artificially,” as a notation of a certain day peculiarly so called; or as the name of one day, as most nations have given names to the weekly course of days, For at that time ἡ ἑβδόμη , “the seventh,” was the name whereby the Hellenists called the Sabbath day. So it is always termed by Philo, as others have observed; which also gives evidence unto the writing of this epistle originally in the Greek tongue. So in the gospel, μία σαββάτων , “one,” or “the first of the week,” is the notation of the Lord’s day; and it is the Sabbath which the apostle is speaking of. And this respects both the rest of God, and the rest appointed for us thereon. For the proof hereof is that which he now and in these words designs. He proves that, under the law of creation, God did rest when he had finished his work, made way for his creatures to enter into his rest, and gave them a day as a pledge thereof.

Οὕτω , “on this wise,” or “to this purpose;” so it may be rendered, either as precisely denoting the words reported, or as respecting the substance and design of them, “thus,” or “to this purpose.”

Secondly, The testimony itself ensues: “And God rested the seventh day from all his works.” The words, as was observed, are taken from Genesis 2:2. But the apostle intends not only to use the words by him cited, but in them he directs us to the whole passage whereof they are a part. For it would not answer his purpose to show merely that God rested from his works, which these words affirm; but his aim is to manifest, as hath been now often observed, that thereon there was a rest provided for us to enter into, and a day of rest appointed as a pledge thereof. And this is fully expressed in the place directed unto; for God upon his own rest “blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it.” We shall open the words as far as is needful, and then consider what is confirmed by them.

Κατέπαυσεν ὁ Θεός , “God rested.” The apostle adds ὁ Θεός , “God, from the beginning of the verse, אַלֹהִים וַיְכַל , “and God finished;” for afterwards it is only, “he rested,” ויִשְׁבֹּת , “et requievit.” A cessation from work, and not a refreshment upon weariness, is intended. God is not weary: he was no more so in the works of creation than he is in the works of providence. Isaiah 40:20, “The Creator of the ends of the earth fainteth not, neither is weary.” He laboreth not in working; and therefore nothing is intended in this word but a cessation from operation. And this fully satisfies the sense of the word. But yet, Exodus 20:11, it is said, ויָּנַח ; which signifies such a rest or resting as brings refreshment with it unto one that is weary. There may, therefore, an anthropopathy be allowed in the word, and rest here be spoken of God with allusion unto what we find in ourselves as to our refreshment after labor. This is thus expressed for our instruction and example; though in God nothing be intended but the cessation from exerting his creating power to the production of more creatures, with his satisfaction in what he had already done. And in this word, ויִּשְׁבֹּת , l ies the foundation of the “Sabbath,” both name and thing. For as the name שׁבָּת , is from this יִשְׁבֹּת , here first used, so herein also lie both the occasion and foundation of the thing itself. So in the command, “Remember the Sabbath day, to sanctify it: six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work;” the reason of the command ensues, וְיוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי שַׁבָּת לַיהָֹוה אַלֹהֶיךָ , for the seventh day is the sabbath to the Lord thy God:” that is, “his rest” was on that day, on the account whereof he commands us to keep a day of rest. Hence our apostle in this place expresseth our rest., or day of rest under the gospel, by σαββατισμός , “a sabbatism;” of which afterwards.

God rested ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ εβδόμῃ , “on that seventh day,” הַשְּׁבִיעִי בּיּוֹם . The translation of the LXX. hath a notable corruption in it about the beginning of t h is verse in Genesis; for whereas it is said that God finished his work “on the seventh day,” it saith that God did so “on the sixth day:” and the mistake is ancient, and general in all copies, as also followed by some ancient translations, as the Samaritan and the Syriac. The occasion of this corruption was to avoid a pretended difficulty in the text, seeming to assert that God rested on the seventh day, and yet that he finished his work on that day. Besides, the story of the creation doth confine it to six days, and so more. But this expression, “He finished his work on the seventh day,” seems to denote the continuance of his operation on that day; and indeed the Jews have many odd evasions, from an apprehension of a difficulty in this place. And Jerome thinks, though very unduly, that from this expression in the original they may be pressed with an argument against their sabbatical rest. But there is a double resolution of this difficulty, either of them sufficient for its removal, and both consistent with each other. The first is, that the Hebrew word, by the conversive prefix having a sense of what is past given unto it, may well be rendered by the preterpluperfect tense. And so it is by Junius: “Cure autem perfecisset Deus die septimo opus suum quod fecerat, quievit;” “And when God had perfected his work, on the seventh day he rested.” Thus the seventh day is not expressed as a time wherein any work was done, but as the time immediately present after it was finished. And “finis operis non est ipsum opus;” “the term, end, or complement of a work, is not the work itself.” Again, the word here used, כָלָה , doth not properly signify “to work” or “effect,” but “to complete,” “perfect or accomplish” מְלַאכְתּוֹ אֲשֵׁר עָשָׁה ויְכַל ; “Had perfected his work that he had made.” So that on the seventh day there was no more work to do.

By this discourse the apostle seems only to have proved that the works were finished, and that God rested, or ceased from his work, on the seventh day. But this seemeth not to answer his intention, for he treats not absolutely about the rest of God (for that would not have been to his present purpose), but such a rest as his obedient creatures might enter into, whereof that rest of God was the foundation, such as the rests were which he afterwards mentions in the land of Canaan, and under the gospel. Wherefore in this quotation he includes the sense of the whole words before laid down, namely, that upon and because of the rest of God on the seventh day, he sanctified and blessed that day to be a day of rest unto them that worship him, and a pledge of their entering into rest with him. Here, therefore, the command and appointment of the seventh day to be a Sabbath, or a day of rest unto men, from the foundation of the world, is asserted, as hath been proved elsewhere.

This, then, is the sum of what is here laid down, namely, that from the beginning, “from the foundation of the world,” there was a work of God, and a rest ensuing thereon, and an entrance proposed unto men into that rest, and a day of rest as a pledge thereof, given unto them; which yet was not the rest intended by the psalmist, which is mentioned afterwards, as in the next verse.

Before we proceed, according to our designed method, we may take notice of the ensuing observations:

Obs. 1. Whatever the Scripture saith in any place, being rightly understood and applied, is a firm foundation for faith to rest upon, and for arguments or proofs in the matter of God’s worship to be deduced from.

Thus the apostle here confirms his own purpose and intention. His aim is to settle the judgment of these Hebrews in things pertaining to the worship of God; and to supply them with a sufficient authority which their faith might be resolved into. This he doth by referring them to a certain place of Scripture, where the truth he urgeth is confirmed. For, as I have showed before, he designed to deal with these Hebrews, not merely upon his apostolical autho rity, and the revelations that he had received from Jesus Christ, as he dealt with the churches of the Gentiles, but on the common principles of the Scriptures of the Old Testament, which were mutually acknowledged by him and them. And a great work it was that he had undertaken, namely, to prove the abolishing of the worship of the Old Testament, and the introduction of a new kind of worship in the room of it, from testimonies of the Old Testament itself; a matter, as of great appearing difficulties in itself, so exceedingly suited to the conviction of the Jews, as utterly depriving them of all pretences for the continuance in their Judaism. And this, through the especial wisdom given unto him and skill in holy writ, he hath so performed as to leave a blessed warranty unto the church of Christ for the relinquishment of the whole system of Mosaical worship, and a rock for the obstinate Jews to break themselves upon in all ages. And this should encourage us,

1. To be diligent in searching of the Scriptures, whereby we may have in readiness wherewith at all times to confirm the truth and to stop the mouths of gainsayers; and without which we shall be easily tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine.

2. Not to fear any kind of opposition unto what we profess in the ways and worship of God, if we have a word of truth to secure us, namely, such a word of prophecy as is more firm than a voice from heaven. It is utterly impossible that, in things concerning religion and the worship of God, we can ever be engaged in a cause attended with more difficulties, and liable to more specious opposition, than that was which our apostle was now in the management of. He had the practice and profession of the church, continued from the first foundation of it, resolved into the authority of God himself as to its institution, and attended with his acceptation of the worshippers in all ages, with other seeming disadvantages, and prejudices innumerable, to contend withal; yet this he undertakes on the sole authority of the Scriptures, and testimonies to his purpose thence taken, and gloriously accomplisheth his design. Certainly whilst we have the same warranty of the word for what we avow and profess, we need not despond for those mean artifices and pretences wherewith we are opposed, which bear no proportion to those difficulties which by the same word of truth have been conquered and removed. For instance, what force is there in the pretense of the Roman church, in their profession of things found out, appointed, and commanded by themselves, in comparison of that of the Hebrews for theirs, begun and continued by the authority of God himself? And if this hath been removed and taken away by the light and authority of the Scriptures, how can the other, “hay and stubble,” stand before it?

Obs. 2. It is to no purpose to press any thing in the worship of God, without producing the authority of God for it in his word.

Our apostle takes no such course, but still minds the Hebrews what is spoken in this and that place to his purpose. And to what end serves any thing else in this matter? is there any thing else that we can resolve our faith into, or that can influence our consciences into a religious obedience? and are not these things the life and soul of all worship, without which it is but a dead carcass and an abomination to God and them that are his?

Obs. 3. What the Scripture puts an especial remark upon is especially by us to be regarded and inquired into.

Here the apostle refers to what was in a peculiar manner spoken concerning the seventh day; and what blessed mysteries he thence seduceth we shall endeavor to manifest in our exposition of that part of his discourse wherein it is handled.

These things being thus fixed, we may with much brevity pass through the remaining verses wherein the apostle treats of the same subject. Unto what, therefore, he had affirmed of God’s entering into his rest upon the finishing of the works from the foundation of the world, he adds,

Verse 5

Καὶ ἐν τούτῳ πάλιν· Εἰ εἰσελεύσονται εἰς τὴν κατάπαυσίν μου .

Καὶ ἐν τούτῳ , “and in this,” or “here,” ἐν τούτῳ/ τῷ ψαλμῷ , “in this psalm:” or τόπῳ , “in this place;” that is, in the place of Scripture under consideration and exposition, namely the 95th Psalm, or the words of the Holy Ghost by David therein. The expression is elliptical, and the sense is to be supplied from the beginning of the fourth verse: “For he spake in a certain place; and again he speaks in this place.”

Πάλιν , “again;” that is, after he had said before that upon the finishing of his works God rested the seventh day, and blessed it for a day of rest unto his creatures, he (that is, the same Holy Ghost) says yet again, upon another occasion, “If they shall enter into my rest.”

Hebrews 4:5 . And in this again, If they shall enter into my rest.

“If they shall enter into my rest.” We have showed before that from these words, not absolutely considered, but as used and applied in the discourse of the psalmist, he proveth that there is yet a promise of entering into rest remaining to the people of God. This is included in them, as they are taken from the historical record in Moses and prophetically applied in David. And this he takes here for granted, namely, that an entrance into the rest of God for some is intended in those very words whereby others were excluded. His present argument is from the time and place when and where these words were spoken, which include a rest of God to be entered into. Now this was in the time of Moses, and in the wilderness; so that they cannot intend the sabbatical rest from the foundation of the world. ‘For the works,’saith he, ‘were finished in six days, and the seventh day was blessed and sanctified for a day of rest,’as Moses testifieth, Genesis 2:1-3. This rest was tendered unto and entered into by some from the foundation of the world. It must, therefore, of necessity, be “another rest” that is spoken of by the psalmist, and which the people were afresh invited to enter into, as afterwards he more clearly asserts and proves. And they who deny a sabbatical rest from the beginning, do leave no foundation for nor occasion unto the apostle’s arguments and discourse; for if there were no such rest from the foundation of the world, what need he prove that this in David was not that which, on this supposition, was not at all? This, therefore, is his purpose in the repetition of this testimony, namely, to show that the rest mentioned therein was not that which was appointed from the beginning of the world, but another, whose proposal yet remained. So then there was another rest of God besides that upon the creation of all, as is evident from this place, which he further confirms in the next verse. And we may hence learn, that,

Obs . Many important truths are not clearly delivered in any one singular testimony or proposition in the Scripture, but the mind of God concerning them is to be gathered and learned by comparing of several scriptures, their order and respect unto one another.

Considering, as the apostle here doth, what is said τοὺ , and what again ἐν τούτῳ , what in one place, and what in another, then comparing them together with their mutual respect, with the due use of other means, we shall, under the conduct of God’s Spirit and grace, come to an acquaintance with his mind and will. The heathens saw and acknowledged that all truth lies deep. And the wise man adviseth us to dig and search after it as after gold and silver and precious atones. Now, the deep mine of all spiritual truth is in the word of God: here must we search for it if we intend to find it. And one principal way and means of our search is, the comparing together of divers places treating concerning the same matter or truth. This by some is despised, by the most neglected; which causeth them to know little and mistake much in the holy things of God.

Verse 6

Having thus removed an objection that might arise against the new proposal of a rest of God distinct from the sabbatical rest, which was appointed from the foundation of the world, and manifested that although there was in the state of nature, or under the law of our creation, a working and rest of God, and a rest for men to enter into, and a day set apart as a pledge of that rest, yet this was not the rest which he now inquired after, the apostle in this and the following verses proceedeth to improve his testimonies already produced to a further end, namely, to prove that although after the original rest now mentioned there was a second rest promised and proposed unto the people of God, yet neither was that it which is proposed in this place of the psalm, but a third, that yet remained for them, and was now proposed unto them, and that under the same promises and threatenings with the former; whence the carriage and issue of things with that people with respect thereunto is greatly by us to be considered.

Hebrews 4:6 . ᾿Επεὶ ου῏ν ἀπολείπεταί τινας εἰσελθεῖν εἰς αὐτὴν , καὶ οἱ πρόΤερον εὐαγγελισθέντες οὐκ εἰσῆλθον δι ᾿ ἀπείθεια·

᾿Επεὶ ου῏ν , “quoniam igitur,” “seeing therefore,” “whereas therefore;” or as Beza,” quia, igitur,” “therefore,” “because.” The words are the notes or signs of an inference to be made from what was spoken before, or a conclusion to be evinced from what follows after.

᾿Απολείπεται , “superest,” “reliquum est;” impersonally, “it remaineth.” The word may have respect unto the form of the argument, or to the matter of it. In the first way, it denoteth what he hath evinced by his former reasonings and testimonies, namely this, “that some must enter into rest;” which way the words look as expressed in our translation: in the latter, it intendeth no more but that there are some yet to enter into rest, or this work of entering into the rest of God yet remaineth. Neither is this difference so great as that we need precisely to determine the sense either way.

Τινας εἰσελθεῖν εἰς αὐτὴν , “quosdam introire in earn,” “ut aliqui introeant in eam;” “that some enter into it.” The Syriac changeth both the words and sense in this place: מֶטוּל הָכִיל דִּאית חֲוָא אַתְרָא דֵּאנָשׁ אַנָשׁ נְעוּל לֵהּ ; “seeing therefore there was a place into which any man might enter,” or “every man,” “a man,” “man.” It seemeth precisely to respect the land of Canaan, as that rest whereinto some may, do, or must enter; whereas the apostle is proving that it was not that, but another. Arab., “seeing some remain that must enter into it.”

Καὶ οἱ πρότερον εὐαγγελισθέντες . Vulg. Lat., “quibus prioribus annunciatum est;” that is, πρώτοις : it refers the word to the persons, and not to the thing or the preaching itself. Rhem., “and they to whom first it was preached,” instead of “they to whom it was first preached.” Πρότερον , “prius,” “first;” not absolutely, but with respect unto what follows.

The remainder of the words have been opened before.

Hebrews 4:6 . Whereas, therefore, it remaineth that some enter into it, and those to whom it was first preached [ who were first evangelized ] entered not in, because of unbelief, [or disobedience.]

The words contain an assertion, and a particular assumption from it, The assertion is, that “some must” (or “shall”) “enter into the rest of God.” This he concludes as evinced and proved by his former arguments and testimonies. And this is not the rest of God and the Sabbath from the foundation of the world; for express mention is made afterwards, and on another occasion, of another rest of God, whereinto an entrance was to be obtained. This he proves from those words of the psalmist, as cited out of Moses, “If they shall enter into my rest.” For although he cites the words immediately out of the psalm, yet he argues from them as first recorded in Moses; for he proves in the next verse that David intends another rest than that which was before spoken of, although typically included in the former. So the words prove that there is yet a remaining entrance into a rest of God. Not as if these particles, אִם and εἰ , used here, had in the same place a contrary signification, and might be interpreted negatively or affirmatively, “If they shall,” that is, ‘they shall not,’ for that was the intention of the words towards them concerning whom they were first spoken, and, “They shall enter,” ‘some shall,’as the apostle applies them; but that a promise is included in every conditional threatening, as we have before declared. The sense of these words, then, is, ‘That from what hath been spoken, it is evident that some must yet enter into another rest of God besides that which was in the Sabbath appointed from the foundation of the world.’

Secondly, He assumes that those to whom that rest was first preached “entered not in, because of their disobedience.” It is manifest whom the apostle intends in these words, namely, those who came out of Egypt under the conduct of Moses, whose sin and punishment he had so fully expressed in the foregoing chapter. Now to these was the rest of God first declared, they were first evangelized with it And hereby the apostle shows what rest it is that he intends, namely, not absolutely the spiritual rest of the promise, for this was preached and declared unto believers from the foundation of the world; but it was the church rest of the land of Canaan, that was first preached unto them; that is, the accomplishment of the promise, upon their faith and obedience, was first proposed unto them; for otherwise the promise itself was first given to Abraham, but the actual accomplishment of it was never proposed unto him, on any condition. Into this rest they entered not, by reason of their unbelief and disobedience, as hath been at large declared on the third chapter, which the apostle here refers unto.

This, therefore, is the substance of this verse: Besides the rest of God from the foundation of the world, and the institution of the seventh-day Sabbath as a pledge thereof, there was another rest for men to enter into, namely, the rest of God and his worship in the land of Canaan. This being proposed unto the people of old, they entered not into it, by reason of their unbelief.

And in proportion unto what was declared before, concerning the rest of God after the finishing of his works from the foundation of the world, we may briefly consider what this rest was, which those to whom it was first proposed entered not into. For it is not observed that they entered not into it to manifest that the same rest which they entered not into did still remain for those that now would enter into it by faith; for the apostle plainly proves afterwards that it is another rest that he treats of, and that although some did enter into that rest under the conduct of Joshua, yet there was still another rest besides that prophesied of in the psalm: but this is called over in the pursuit of his former exhortation, that we should take heed lest we come short of the rest proposed unto us, as they came short of that which was then proposed unto them. We may therefore here consider what was that rest which God calls “his rest;” and which he invited them to enter into, and what did concur in the constitution of it. And these things, although they have been mentioned before, must here be laid down in their proper place.

First, This being a rest of God, there must be some work of God preceding it, with respect whereunto it is so called. Now this was the mighty work of God in erecting the church-state of the Israelites, compared unto his work in the creation of heaven and earth, whereby he made way for the first state of rest before mentioned, Isaiah 51:15-16; and this it everyway answered unto. And this work of God had two parts; or two sorts of works concurred thereunto:

1. Such as were preparatory unto it, namely, the works that he wrought for the delivery of the people out of Egypt. These were effected “by temptations, by signs, and by wonders, and by war, and by a mighty hand, and by a stretched-out arm, and by great terrors,” Deuteronomy 4:34. These things of dread and terror answer the creation of the first matter, which was “void, and without form.”

2. Perfective of it, in the giving of the law with all its statutes and ordinances, and the whole worship of God to be observed among that people. This was the especial and particular forming of the church into such a state as wherein God might rest, Ezekiel 16:8-13, answering the six days’work, wherein God made and formed all kind of creatures out of the first created, informed [that is, formless] mass. For as on their finishing God looked on them, and saw that they were “good,” and declared them so to be, Genesis 1:0.; so upon the erection of this church-state and disposition of the people, he saw that it was good, and declared it so to be: Ezekiel 16:14,

“Thy renown went forth among the heathen for thy beauty; for it was perfect, through my honor that I put upon thee.”

So was the work of the creation of that church-state, the generation of these heavens and earth, and all the host of them, finished.

Secondly, This thing done, God rests or enters into his own rest: “He and the ark of his strength arose, and entered into his rest,” in answer to his rest after his finishing of the works of the first creation, Psalms 132:8. The settlement of his worship, and the typical representation of his presence among the people therein, shadowing out his glorious presence in Him in whom the fullness of the Godhead was to dwell bodily, he calls it “his rest,” and “his own rest.” And hereon ensued a double rest proposed to the people:

1. A spiritual rest in God, as having entered into a special covenant with them. Upon God’s rest on the creation, men were invited to enter into God’s rest as the God of nature, upon the terms and according unto the law of creation; but by sin this rest was rendered useless and unprofitable unto all mankind, and the covenant itself lost all its power of bringing men unto God. But now, in this erection of a new church-state among the posterity of Abraham, the foundation of it was the promise made unto Abraham, which contained in it the substance of another covenant, whereinto God through Jesus Christ would enter and rest therein; whereon he invites them by faith and obedience to enter into it also, into the rest of God.

2. There was a pledge of this spiritual rest proposed unto the people; and this was the land of Canaan, and the quiet possession thereof, and exercise of the worship of God therein. By this and their respect unto it God tried their faith and obedience as to that spiritual rest which, as it were, lay hid under it. And herein it was that they failed, whose example is proposed and considered in this chapter.

Thirdly, God’s rest after the creation of the world at first was on the first seventh day; which he therefore “blessed and sanctified,” that it might be a pledge and token both of his own acquiescency in his works and in the law of obedience that he had assigned unto them all; as also unto men of that eternal rest which was in himself prepared for them, upon the observance of that law whose institution he himself rested in, and also that they might have an especial time and season solemnly to express their faith and obedience. And this day he again, for the same ends, renewed unto the people of Israel, and that without any change of it, both because the time was not yet come wherein the great reformation of all things was to be wrought, and because the first covenant, whereunto that day’s rest was annexed, was materially revived and represented anew unto that people. And this day of rest, or the institution of the seventh-day Sabbath in the church of the Jews, is necessarily included in this verse: for without the consideration of it this rest doth not answer the rest of God before insisted on, and which is the rule and measure of all that follow; for therein there was a day of rest, which is mentioned synecdochically for the whole rest of God, in these words, “For one speaking of the seventh day;” and therefore our apostle, in his next review of this testimony, doth not say there was another rest, but only that “another day” was determined, which extends both to the general season wherein the rest of God is proposed to any, as also to the especial day, which was the visible pledge of the rest of God, and whereby the people might enter into it, as in the ensuing words will be made manifest.

This, then, is that which the apostle hath proved, or entered upon the proof of, towards his main design in these verses, namely, that there being a rest of God for men to enter into, and this not the rest of the land of Canaan, seeing they who had it proposed and offered first unto them did not enter into it, there must be yet that other rest remaining which he provokes the Hebrews to labor for an entrance into. And the ground of his argument ties herein, in that the rest of Canaan, although it was a distinct rest of itself, yet it was typical of that other rest which he is inquiring after, and the good things of this new rest were obscurely represented unto the people therein; so that by rejecting that rest they rejected the virtue and benefits of this also. And we may hence observe, that,

Obs. 1. The faithfulness of God in his promises is not to be measured by the faith or obedience of men at any one season, in any one generation, or their sins whereby they come short of them, nor by any providential dispensations towards them.

The people in the wilderness having a promise proposed unto them of entering into the rest of God, when they all failed and came short of it, there was an appearance of the failure of the promise itself. So they seem themselves to have tacitly charged God, when he denounced the irrevocable sentence against their entering into the land of promise: for after the declaration of it he adds, “And ye shall know my breach of promise,” Numbers 14:34; which is a severe and ironical reproof of them. They seem to have argued, that if they entered not, God failed in his promise, and so reflected on his truth and veracity. ‘That,’saith God, ‘shall be known when you are utterly destroyed;’(for then it was that it should be accomplished.)

‘Ye shall know that it is your sin, unbelief, and rebellion, and not any failure on my part.’

Our apostle manageth a great argument on this subject in another place. Upon the preaching of the gospel, it was seen that, the Gentiles being called, the generality of the Jews were rejected, and not taken into a participation of the benefits thereof. Hence there was an appearance that the promise of God unto the seed of Abraham, and the faithfulness of God therein, were failed. This objection he proposeth to himself by way of anticipation, Romans 9:6, “Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect.” The “word of God” intended is the word of promise, as is declared, verse 8. This seemed to fail, in that the seed of Abraham were not universally, or at least generally, made partakers of it. ‘It is not so,’saith he; ‘the promise is firm and stable, and hath its effect, notwithstanding this appearing failure.’Thereon he proceeds at large in the removal of that objection, by manifesting that in the fleshly seed of Abraham the promise was effectual, according to the eternal counsel of God and his purpose of election.

And thus it frequently falls out among the people of God. Having, it may be, made some undue applications of promises unto themselves; it may be, misinterpreted or misunderstood them; or, it may be, supposed that they were in a greater forwardness towards their accomplishment than indeed they were; upon their own personal trouble, or calamities of the whole church, they have been ready at least to expostulate with God about the truth and stability of his promises. See Psalms 116:11; 1 Samuel 27:1; Jeremiah 12:1; Habakkuk 1:2-4; Habakkuk 1:13. The greatness of their troubles, and the urgency of their temptations, cast them art such expressions, The psalmist gives one corrective to all such Failings, Psalms 77:10,

“I said, This is my infirmity; but I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High;”

‘All my troublesome apprehensions of God’s dispensations, and the accomplishment of his promises, are fruits and effects of my own weakness. To relieve me against them for the future, I will consider the eternity, and power, and sovereignty of God; which will secure me from such weak apprehensions.’And to help us in the discharge of our duty herein, we may take the help of the ensuing observations and rules:

Obs. 2. 1. The promises of God are such as belong only to the grace of the covenant, or such as respect also the outward administration of it in this world. Those of the first sort are always, at all times, actually fulfilled and made good unto all believers, by virtue of their union unto Christ, whether themselves have the sense and comfort of that accomplishment in their own souls at all times or no; but of this sort of promises we do not now treat peculiarly. Besides these, there are promises which respect the outward administration of the covenant, under the providence of God in this world. Such are all those which concern the peace and prosperity of the church, in its deliverance out of trouble, the increase of light and truth in the world, the joy and comfort of believers therein, with others innumerable of the like importance; and it is those of this kind concerning which we speak.

Obs. 3. 2. Some, yea, many promises of God, may have a full accomplishment when very few know or take notice that so they are, it may be none at all.

And this falls out on sundry reasons; for,

(1.) Such things may, in the providence of God, fall out in and with the accomplishment of them, as may keep men from discerning and acknowledging of it. Great wisdom and understanding were ever required to apprehend aright the accomplishment of such promises as are mixed with God’s dispensations in the affairs of this world, Revelation 13:18; nor was this wisdom ever attained in any age by the generality of professors. Thus, when God came to fulfill his promise in the deliverance of his people from Egypt, he suffered at the same time their bondage and misery to be so increased that they could not believe it, Exodus 5:21-23. See Exodus 4:31, compared with Exodus 6:9. Believers, according to their duty, pray for the accomplishment of the promise of God, it may be in their great distress. God answers their desires, But how? “By terrible things in righteousness,” Psalms 65:5. It is “in righteousness” that he answers them; that is, the righteousness of fidelity and veracity in the accomplishment of his promises. But withal he sees it necessary, in his holiness and wisdom, to mix it with such “terrible things” in the works of his providence as make their hearts to tremble; so that at the present they take little notice of the love, grace, and mercy of the promise. There are many wonderful promises and predictions in the Revelation that are unquestionably fulfilled. Such are those which concern the destruction of the Pagan-Roman empire, under the opening of the six seals, Revelation 6:0. Yet the accomplishment thereof was accompanied with such terrible things, in the ruin of nations and families, that very few, if any one individual person, took notice of them, at the time when they were under their completion.

(2.) It so falls out from the prejudicate opinions that men may and oftentimes do conceive concerning the sense and meaning of the promises, or the nature of the things promised. They apprehend them to be one thing, and in the event they prove another; which makes them either utterly reject them, or not to see their accomplishment. So was it in the exhibition or coming of the Lord Christ in the flesh, according to the promise. The Jews looked for it, and longed after it continually, Malachi 3:1-2. But they had framed a notion of the promise and the thing promised unto themselves which was no way answered thereby. They expected he should come in worldly honor, power, and glory, to satisfy them with peace, dominion, wealth, and prosperity; but he comes quite in another manner, and for other ends: hence they received him not, nor would at all believe the promise to be fulfilled when it had its exact and complete accomplishment. It may be so with others. They may misunderstand the promises, and look for such things by them as are not indeed intended in them. So many men miscarry, when they overlook the true spiritual importance and intention of prophetical promises, to take up with the carnal things which in the letter they are shadowed out by.

(3.) Unbelief itself hides the accomplishment of promises from the eyes of men. So our Lord Christ, speaking of his coming to avenge his elect, adds unto it, “Nevertheless, when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:8. Men will not apprehend nor understand his work through unbelief.

And this one consideration should teach us great moderation in our judgments concerning the application of promises, prophecies, and predictions, unto their seasons. I am persuaded that many have contended (thereby troubling themselves and others) about the seasons and time wherein some prophecies are to be fulfilled, which have long since received their principal accomplishment, in such a way as those who now contend about them think not of. Such are many of those which are by some applied unto a future estate of the kingdom of Christ in this world, which were fulfilled in his coming and erection of his church. And whereas many of that nature do yet doubtless remain upon record, which shall be accomplished in their proper season, yet when that is come, it may possibly very little answer the notions which some have conceived of their sense and importance. Experience also hath sufficiently taught us that those computations and conjectures at the times of fulfilling some promises which seem to have been most sedate and sober, have hitherto constantly disappointed men in their expectations. That God is faithful in all his promises and predictions; that they shall every one of them be accomplished in their proper season; that the things contained in them and intended by them are all of them fruits of his love and care towards his church; that they all tend unto the advancement of that glory which he hath designed unto himself by Jesus Christ; are things that ought to be certain and fixed with us. Beyond these we ought to be careful,

(1.) That we affix no sense unto any promise which we conceive as yet unaccomplished, that is,

[1.] In any thing unsuited to the analogy of faith, like these who dreamed of old of such a promised kingdom of Christ as wherein all the Mosaical worship and rites should be restored;

[2.] That debaseth spiritual promises unto carnal lusts and interests, like them who, in the foregoing age, under a pretense of filling up Christ’s promised kingdom, gave countenance thereby unto their own violence, rapine, and filthiness:

(2.) That we be not peremptory, troubling our own faith and that of others about the future accomplishment of such promises as probably are fulfilled already, and that in a sense suited to the analogy of faith and tenor of the new covenant:

(3.) That in such as wherein we have a well-grounded assurance that they are yet to be fulfilled, we wait quietly and patiently for the salvation of God; not making our understanding of them the rule of any actions for which we have not a plain warranty in the prescription of our duty in other places of Scripture.

Obs. 4. 3. Some promises of God, as to their full accomplishment, maybe confined unto some certain time and season, although they may have, and have, their use and benefit in all seasons; and until this is come there can be no failure charged, though they be not fulfilled.

Thus was it with the great promise of the coming of Christ before mentioned. It was given out from the foundation of the world, Genesis 3:15, and in the counsel of God confined to a certain period of time, determined afterwards in the prophecies of Jacob, Daniel, Haggai, and otherwise. This all the saints of God were in expectation of from the first giving of the promise itself. Some think that Eve, upon the birth of Cain, concerning whom she used these words, “I have obtained a man from the LORD,” which they contend should be rendered, “the man the LORD,” did suppose and hope that the promise of the exhibiting of the blessing Seed was accomplished. And if they looked for him on the nativity of the first man that was born in the world, it is very probable that their hearts were frequently made sick, when their hopes were deferred for four thousand years. See Genesis 5:29; Genesis 49:18, compared with Luke 2:30, Exodus 4:13. And many a time, no doubt, they were ready to call the truth of the promise, and therein the faithfulness of God, into question. Great desires they had, and great expectations, which were frustrated. Hence our Savior tells his disciples, that “many prophets and righteous men desired to see the things which they saw, and saw them not,” Matthew 13:17. They desired, hoped, prayed, that the promise might be fulfilled in their days; which yet it was not. Hence our apostle tells us that “these all died in faith, not having received the promise,” Hebrews 11:13; that is, not the accomplishment of it. Yet this their disappointment did not in the least shake the stability of the promise; for although it was not yet actually fulfilled, yet they had benefit from it, yea, life and salvation by it. And this God hath provided, in reference unto those promises whose actual accomplishment is confined unto a certain season, which a present generation shall not be made partakers of: there is that grace and consolation in them, for and unto them that do believe, that they have the full benefit of the merciful and spiritual part of them, when they are utterly useless to them who have only a carnal expectation of their outward accomplishment. Thus, that other promise made unto Abraham, for the delivery of his posterity out of thraldom, was limited to the space of four hundred years, Genesis 15:13-14. Very probable it is that the Israelites, during their bondage in Egypt, were utterly unacquainted with the computation of this time, although they knew that there was a promise of deliverance; for, as it is most likely they had lost the tradition of the revelation itself, or at least knew not how to state and compute the time, so did God order things that they should depend on his absolute sovereignty, and neither make haste nor despond. And yet, doubtless, through the delay they apprehended in the accomplishment of the promise, some of them fell into one of these extremes, and some of them into the other; the first way the children of Ephraim seem to have offended, “whom the men of Gath who were born in the land slew,” when “they came down to take away their cattle,” 1 Chronicles 7:21. Probably these sons of Ephraim would have been entering upon Canaan, and spoiling of the Amorites before the appointed and full time came; and they perished in their undertaking. Others again, no doubt, in their great distresses and anguish of soul, were exercised with many fears lest the promise had utterly failed. But there was no alteration in God or his word all this while. This made the holy men afterwards have a great respect unto the set time of the fulfilling of promises, when by any means it was infallibly discovered, and then to fix themselves to such duties as might be meet for their season. So the psalmist prays that “God would arise and have mercy upon Zion, because the time to favor her, yea, the set time,” the time fore-designed and appointed, “was come,” Psalms 102:13. And when Daniel understood, by the books of Jeremiah the prophet, that the time of the fulfilling of the promise for returning the captivity of Judah was at hand, he set himself to prayer, that it might he done accordingly, Daniel 9:2-3; Daniel 9:17. But what shall men do inreference unto such promises, when they know not by any means the set time of their accomplishment?

Ans. Believe, and pray; and then take the encouragement given, Isaiah 60:22, “I the LORD will hasten it in its time.” It hath its appointed time, which cannot be changed; but if you will consider the oppositions that lie against it, the unlikelihood and improbability of its accomplishment, the want of all outward means for it, upon faith and prayer it shall be hastened. Thus in the days of the gospel there are signal promises remaining concerning the calling of the Jews, the destruction of Antichrist, the peace and glory of the churches of Christ. We know how men have miscarried in these things: some have precipitately antedated them, some unwarrantably stated the times of them; whose disappointment and their own unbelief and carnal wisdom have brought the generality of men to look no more after them, and either to think that the promises of them are failed, or that indeed such promises were never made, wherein unbelief hath found very learned advocates. But it is certain that there are periods of time affixed unto these things. “The vision of them is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie; though it tarry,” and be delayed beyond the computation of some, and the expectation of all, yet “wait for it, because it will surely come.” It will not tarry one moment beyond the time of old prefixed unto it, as Habakkuk 2:3. In the meantime God hath given us certain directions, in general computations of the times to come; from whence yet the most diligent inquirers have been able to learn nothing stable and certain, but that the time must needs be long from the first prediction, and that it is certainly stated for its accomplishment in the counsel of God. The rule, therefore, confirmed by these instances, duly considered, may evidence the stability of God’s promises, notwithstanding the intervening of cross providential dispensations.

Obs. 5. 4. There are many promises whose signal accomplishment God hath not limited unto any especial season, but keeps it in his own will to act according to them towards his church as is best suited to his wisdom and love. Only there is no such promise made but God will at one time or other verify his word in it, by acting according to it, or fulfilling of it. And God hath thus disposed of things,

(1.) That he may always have in a readiness wherewith to manifest his displeasure against the sins of his own people;

(2.) That he may have wherewith to exercise their faith; and,

(3.) To encourage them to prayer, expectation, and crying unto him in their distresses.

Thus setting aside the promises that are limited unto a certain period of time, there are enough of these promises at all times to satisfy the desires and prayers of the church. When God hath limited his promises to a certain season and time, let the men of that age, time, and season, be what they will, “the decree will bring forth,” and the faithfulness of God requires the exact accomplishment of such determinate promises. Thus the promise of the coming of Christ being limited and determined, he was to come, and he did come accordingly, whatever was the state with the church, which was as bad as almost it could be in this world; so that one of themselves confessed not long after, that if the Romans had not destroyed them, he thought “God would have sent fire upon them from heaven, as he did on Sodom and Gomorrah.” But then was Christ to come, according to the time fore-appointed, and then he did come amongst those murderers. So God had limited the time of the bondage of Abraham’s posterity unto four hundred and thirty years. When that time was expired, the people were wicked, unbelieving, murmuring, and no way prepared for such a mercy; yet in the “very same night” whereunto the promise was limited they were delivered. But now as to their entrance into Canaan, God left the promise at a greater latitude. Hence they are brought to the very door and turned back again, by reason of their sins and unbelief; and yet the promise of God failed not, as it would have done had they not been delivered from the Egyptians at the end of four hundred and thirty years, whatever their sins or unbelief were. And of this sort, as was said, there are promises recorded in the Scripture innumerable; and there is not one of them but shall at one time or other be accomplished. For although, as to their accomplishment at this or that season, they depend much upon the faith, repentance, and obedience of the church, yet they have not absolutely a respect unto that condition that shall or may never be performed, that so they should come to be utterly frustrated. God, therefore, doth by them try and exercise the faith of his people in this or that age, as he did those in the wilderness by the promise of entering into rest; but yet he will take care, in the administrations of his grace, that his church at one season or another shall be made partaker of them, that his word do not fall to the ground.

Obs. 6 . 5. Some concerns of the glory of God in the world may suspend the full and outward accomplishment of some promises for a season.

Thus there are many promises made to the church of deliverance out of afflictions and persecutions, and of the destruction of its adversaries. When such occasions do befall the church, it may and ought to plead these promises of God, for they are given and left unto it for that purpose. But yet it often falls out that the fulfilling of them is for a tong time suspended. God hath other ends to accomplish by their sufferings than are yet brought about or effected. It is needful, it may be, that his grace should be glorified in their patience, and the truth of the gospel be confirmed by their sufferings, and a testimony be given to and against the world. It may be, also, that God hath so ordered things, that the straits and persecutions of the church shall tend more to the furtherance of the gospel and the interest of Christ than its peace and tranquillity would do. And in such a season God hath furnished his people with other promises, which they ought to “mix with faith,” and which shall be accomplished. Such are those of his presence with them, abiding by them, owning and supporting of them, comforting them in their distresses, and of ordering all things to their good and satisfaction. Besides, they have relief and consolation in the goodness, faithfulness, and tenderness of God, in those other promises whose fulfilling and performance he hath reserved unto his own sovereignty. Herein in all their tribulation do they rejoice, as Abraham did in his foresight of the day of Christ, then so many generations distant. And the consideration of these rules will evidence that neither the sons of men, nor any other troubling intervenings of providence, can any way shake the truth and stability of the promises of God. And we may hence learn,

(1.) In any condition wherein we judge ourselves to be called to plead any promises of God, and to have an expectation of their accomplishment, not to make haste. This is the great rule given the church in reference unto the greatest promise that ever was given unto it, “He that believeth shall not make haste,” Isaiah 28:16. A promise of the sending of Christ is given in the words foregoing: “Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner-stone, a sure foundation.” This might well raise up a great expectation in the hearts of the people in their distressed and troublous condition. But, alas! this was not actually fulfilled until many generations after. Here patience is required. “He that believeth shall not make haste;” that is, impatiently press after the future accomplishment of the promise, unto the neglect of present duties. So are we all apt to do. When our condition is grievous and burdensome, and there are promises on record of better things for them that fear God, we are apt to give place to impatient desires after them, unto the neglect of present duties. The same advice is given us in reference unto any providences of God wherein his church is concerned that fall under any promises. Such are those before mentioned about Antichrist and his destruction; with respect unto them also we are to wait, and not make haste, Habakkuk 2:3. We see how many occasions there may be of retarding the actual accomplishment of promises. Our wisdom and duty therefore is, to leave that unto his sovereign pleasure, and to live upon his truth, goodness, and faithfulness in them. They shall all be “hastened in their appointed time.” I could easily instance in evils great and fatal that would ensue on our miscarriage in this thing. I shall name that which is the greatest amongst them. This is that which puts men upon irregular ways to partake of the promise; which when they fail in, as God will blast such ways, they begin to question, yea, to disbelieve the promise itself.

(2.) Again; when the accomplishment of promises seemeth to be deferred, we are not to faint in our duty. The benefit and advantage which we have in and by the accomplishment of promises is not the sole end why they are given unto us of God; but he intends in and by their proposal unto us to try and exercise all our graces, our faith, patience, obedience, and submission unto him. So he dealt with those Israelites in the wilderness, proposing unto them the promise of entering into rest, he tried them how they would trust him, and cleave unto him, and fully follow after him. Failing herein, they came short of the promise. So God deals with us; he will exercise and prove us, whilst we are waiting for the actual performance of the promise. Now, if we find this deferred beyond our hopes, and it may be our fears, and we do begin to faint, as though the promise itself did fail, it is the readiest way to cause us to come short of it, Something of this nature befell the father of the faithful himself. He had received the great promise, that “in his seed all the nations of the earth should be blessed.” Many years after this he was childless, until his own body was in a manner dead, and so was Sarah’s womb also. The hope that he had remaining was above hope, or all rational appearing grounds of it, This once put him so to it as that he cried, “Lord GOD, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless?” All this while God was bringing him to his foot, training him up to obedience, submission, and dependence upon himself. When, therefore, we consider of any promises of God, and do not find that we are actually possessed of the things promised, nor do know when we shall be so, our duty is to apply ourselves unto what in our present station is required of us. We may see and learn the love and goodness that is in every promise, what grace and kindness it proceeds from, what faithfulness it is accompanied withal; which is the sum of what the saints under the old testament had respect unto in the promise of the Messiah. Moreover, what God requires at our hands, what patience, waiting, submission, we must be searching into. These, I say, and the like, are our duties in this case; and not to faint, or charge the Lord unjustly, all whose ways are mercy and truth, and all whose promises are firm and steadfast.

Verse 7

Πάλιν τινὰ ὁρίλει ἡμέραν , Σήμερον , ἐν Δαβὶδ λέγων , μετὰ τοσοῦτον χρόνον , καθὼς εἴρηται , σήμερον ¸ ἐὰν τῆς φωνῆς αὐτοῦ ἀκούσητε , μὴ σκληρύνητε τὰς καρδίας ὑμῶν .

Some MSS. for εἴρηται , “said,” or “spoken,” read προείρηται , “forespoken,” or “foretold.” Μετὰ τοσοῦτον χρόνον , “post tantum tempus,” or “temporis,” as the Vulg. Lat.; that is, “tantum temporis spatium elapsum,” “aider so great a space of time past.” Syr., “from after so much time;” and adds, “as it is said above that David said.”

Πάλιν , “again.” It may denote either the repetition of an old act, or the introduction of a new testimony. Our apostle often useth this word on this latter occasion. So he doth several times, Hebrews 1:0. And here it may seem to be so applied: ‘“Again,” to confirm further what hath been spoken.’But it doth rather express in this place the repetition of the thing spoken of, and is to be joined in construction with “he limiteth:” ‘After the determination, limiting, or appointing the day before mentioned, the day of rest, that is, the rest itself, and a “certain day” for the representation of it and entering into it, with all that concerned is and fell out about it, both at the beginning of the world, and also at the entrance of the people into Canaan, “again he limiteth,” or “he limiteth again.”’

῾Ορίζει , “he limiteth;” that is, absolutely God doth so, whose authority alone in these things is the rule of our faith and obedience; particularly the Holy Ghost, this limitation being made in the Scriptures, which were given by his immediate and peculiar inspiration, 2 Peter 1:21. “Limiteth;” that is, either describes or defineth it in a prophetical prediction, or determineth and appoints it by an authoritative institution. He describes it in itself, and appoints it unto us. The word may comprise both, and we have no ground to exclude either.

Τινὰ ἡμέραν , “a certain day;” that is, another determinate day, in answer to the days forementioned, and whose season was now elapsed and past. It is certain that the apostle doth principally intend to evince the new rest of God under the gospel, and to persuade the Hebrews to secure their entrance into it, and possession of it. But he here changeth his terms, and calls it not a “rest,” but proposeth it from the psalmist under the notion of a “day.” And this he doth because he had before proved and illustrated the rest of God, from the day that was set apart as a pledge and means of it, as also because he designs to manifest that there is another day determined, as a pledge and representation of this new rest, or as an especial season for the enjoyment of the privileges thereof.

Σήμερον . The day he intends is that which in the psalmist is called חיּוֹם , o r σήμερον , “ to-day.” The former day he called ἐβδόμην , “the seventh day.” This was the day of rest from the foundation off the world unto the giving of the law, as also under the law itself; but now there is to be “another day,” expressive of the other rest promised. The seventh day from the beginning of the creation was separated to this purpose, with respect unto the rest proposed to man in the state of innocency, and the typical rest promised to the People under the law; but this new, spiritual rest in Christ by the gospel, is to have “another day” to express and declare it. Thus is σήμερον , “to-day,” in the psalmist, left at liberty to be any day in the prophecy, but limited to the first by the resurrection of Christ. “Again, he limiteth a certain day,” called σήμερον , “today.”

Λέγων ἐν Δαβίδ , “speaking in David,” who was the person by whom this matter was revealed to the church, in a psalm that he composed by divine inspiration for that purpose. And “David” may be here taken properly for the person of David himself; and so this expression declares the way and manner whereby he came to reveal this thing. It was from the speaking of the Holy Ghost in him, whereby he was ὑπὸ Πνεύματος ἁγίου φερόμενος , 2 Peter 1:21, acted by him to receive and deliver hisinspirations. So the apostle by ἐν renders the intention of the Hebrew ב .

He spake in them; as David of himself, רוּחַ יְחָֹוה דִּבֶּראּבִּי , 2 Samuel 23:2, “The Spirit of the LORD spake in me.” And so our apostle, in the beginning of this epistle, “God spake ἐν τοῖς προφήταις , and ἐν Υἱῷ ,” “in the prophets, and in the Son.” So, as was said, the words not only express the revelation itself, but the manner of it also. The Holy Ghost spake in them whom he employed as his instruments; using their minds, tongues, and pens, for the receiving and declaring his sense and words, without leaving any thing unto their own inventions and memories. So David adds in the foregoing place, וּמִלָּתוֹ עַלאּלְשׁוֹנִי , “He spake in me, and his word was upon my tongue.” Or, secondly, the name “David” may be taken by a metonymy for the psalm itself, whereof he was the penman: “Speaks in the psalm which David wrote.” Thus not his inspiration of David is intended, or his speaking in his person, but the continued speaking of the Holy Ghost unto the church in that psalm, as in and by all other Scriptures: for the Scripture is the voice of God, and he always speaks unto us thereby; and itself is said to speak, because of God’s speaking in it.

Μετὰ τοσοῦτον χρόνον , “after so long a time,” namely, spent and bygone. The date of this time is to be taken from the coming of the Israelites out of Egypt, or from the second year after, when the spies were sent to search the land, and all that ensued thereon, which our apostle hath so considered and improve. From thence to the time of David was about five hundred years: so that our apostle might well call it τοσοῦτον χρόνον , “so long a time,” or so great a space of time.

The remaining words of this verse have been opened before. [3]

[3] VARIOUS READING. Lachmann and Tisehendorf insert προείρηται in the text, as undoubtedly the true reading; Griesbach marks it as a reading of great value. EXPOSITION. The words καθὼς προείρηται connect grammatically with λέγων , and indicate that the words had already been cited, Hebrews 3:7; Hebrews 3:15. Others take the first σήμερον as the object of λέγων , “inasmuch as in David he calls it (the day), a to-day.” Others, as Calvin, Beza, Grotius, Bleek, take σήμερον , as apposition to ἡμέραν τινά , “he defines again a day, a to-day.” This entire treatment of σήμερον is modern. Ebrard. ED .

Hebrews 4:7 . He limiteth a certain day again, saying in David, To- day, after so long a time; as it is said, To-day, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

The design of the apostle in these words, is to confirm what he hal before asserted about a new rest, and new day of rest, now remaining for the people of God to enter into and to possess. And there are three things considerable in them:

1. The proposition of his argument, wherein its strength lies;

2. An enforcement of it from a considerable circumstance;

3. The confirmation of it, by an introduction of the divine testimony from whence it is taken:

1. His argument lies in this, that after the constitution of the sabbatical rest from the beginning of the world, and the proposition of the rest of Canaan to the people in the wilderness, God, besides them, hath “limited,” determined, designed another “certain day,” which was neither of the former. This must needs, therefore, be “another day;” and that can be no other but the day of the gospel. And, as we observed before, he calls it not merely a “rest,” but a “day;” that it may fully and in all particulars answer the rests before insisted on, that were types and shadows of it.

2. His enforcement of this argument is taken from the circumstance of time, when this day was limited and determined. Had the words here recorded been spoken at or near the time when the people’s entering into the other typical rest of Canaan was under consideration, they might have been thought to have pertained thereunto, and to have contained an exhortation unto them to make use of their season. But now, whereas God speaks these words, wherein a day of rest is limited, so long a space of time after, namely, five hundred years or thereabouts, it cannot be but that another day of rest must be intended in them; and therefore there is still a promise remaining of entering into the rest of God, which we must take heed that we come not short of by unbelief and disobedience.

3. He confirms his proposition by repeating the divine testimony which it is built upon, “As it is said, To-day, if ye will hear his voice.” Much use hath the apostle made of these words in these chapters It is only one word of them that he now builds on, namely, “to-day,” whence he educeth the great mysteries of a gospel rest, and the answering of it both to the rest under the old testament and the day whereby it was expressed. Sundry doctrinal observations may be hence taken, namely, from the manner of the expressions here used; the matter hath been spoken unto already.

Obs. 1. In reading and hearing the Scripture, we ought to consider God speaking in it and by it unto us.

“He saith;” that is, God saith, or more especially the Holy Ghost. He both spake “in David,” in the inspiration of that psalm; and “by David,” or in the psalm, he speaks unto us. This alone will give us that reverence and subjection of soul and conscience unto the word of God which are required of us, and which are necessary that we may have benefit and advantage thereby. In that kind of careless and “way-side” deportment whereby men enjoy or hear the word and immediately lose it, this is not the least evil, that they do not sufficiently consider whose word it is, and who speaks immediately unto them. Our apostle commends the Thessalonians, that they “received the word, not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God,” 1 Thessalonians 2:13. They considered whose word it was, and whilst the apostle spake to their outward ears, they attended unto God speaking to their hearts; which made them receive it in a due manner, with faith and obedience. So God promiseth to look graciously unto him that “trembleth at his word,” Isaiah 66:2; which flame of heart proceedeth atone from a due consideration of its being his. Customariness, negligence, and sloth, are apt to spoil us of this frame, of this grace, and so to deprive us of the benefit of the word. And to prevent this, God doth not only preface what he speaks with “Thus saith the LORD,” but ofttimes adjoins such of his attributes and excellencies as are suited to beget an awe and reverence in our hearts, both of him that speaketh and of that which is spoken. See Isaiah 30:15; Isaiah 57:15. Let a man but consider that it is God, the great and holy one, that speaketh unto him in his word, and it cannot but excite in him faith, attention, and readiness unto obedience; as also work in him that awe, reverence, and trembling, which God delighteth in, and which brings the mind into a profiting frame.

And this concerns the word preached as well as read. Provided,

1. That those that preach it are sent of God;

2. That what is preached be according to the analogy of faith;

3. That it be drawn from the written word;

4. That it be delivered in the name and authority of God.

Obs. 2. Divine inspiration, or the authority of God speaking in and by the penmen of the Scripture, is the ground and foundation of our faith, that which gives them authority over our consciences and efficacy in them. This hath been argued elsewhere.

Obs. 3. The holy Scripture is an inexhaustible treasury or repository of spiritual mysteries and sacred truths. And,

Obs. 4. Many important truths lie deep and secret in the Scripture, and stand in need of a very diligent search and hard digging in their investigation and for their finding out.

These two propositions are nearly related, and do both arise from the same consideration of the text. How many deep and mysterious truths, and those of great importance and of signal use, hath our apostle found out in the words of the psalm produced by him! and how doth he here, by stating aright the true intention of one single word or expression, and that gathered from the consideration of all its circumstances, as by whom it was spoken, when it was spoken, and to what purpose, make the eminent conclusion we have insisted on! And these things are for our instruction.

First, it is hence collected, That the holy Scripture is an inexhaustible treasury or repository of spiritual mysteries and sacred truths. We had never known what had been in the Old Testament had it not been for the New, and the Spirit of it, Luke 24:45; and we should never know fully what is in the New Testament, were it not for heaven and glory, where “we shall know even as we are known,” 1 Corinthians 13:12. It may be some will say, they can see none of these stores, can find little or nothing of the riches pretended here to be laid up. It may be so; for this treasure is such as men can see little of it, if they have not a guide and a light. Let a treasury that is made deep, or closely immured, be filled never so full with gold and precious things, yet if you turn a man into it in the dark, he can see nothing that is desirable, but rather feel a horror and a fear come upon him. The Jews have at this day the Old Testament, wherein a great part of this treasure is contained, and they have a general faith that it is full of mysteries and truths; but being utterly destitute of the Spirit and all heavenly light, they see nothing of it, but search for I know not what ridiculous fancies, rather than sacred mysteries, in the words and letters of the book. This account our apostle gives, 2 Corinthians 3:14-15,

“Their minds are blinded, for until this day remaineth the veil untaken away in the reading of the Old Testament; which veil is done away in Christ But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart.”

Poor creatures! they put a veil when they read the Scripture upon their hats or their heads, but there is one indeed upon their hearts; whence their minds are blinded, that they can discern no part of the mysterious treasures that are laid up therein. It is by the Spirit of Christ and light of the gospel that this veil of darkness and blindness is taken away. Wherefore, to make the truth of what we have asserted the more evident, we may consider that the whole counsel of God, concerning all his ways and works that are outwardly of him, is contained in this book, Acts 20:27. If a wise man, and of great experience in the world, should commit, if Solomon had committed all his counsels, all the effects of his wisdom unto writing, it would be, it would have been justly valued, and much inquired into. But here we have all the counsel of the infinitely wise God himself concerning his ways and works. To give some instances hereof:

1. Here is expressed and contained the mystery of his love, grace, wisdom, righteousness, and holiness, in Christ Jesus. Now what heart can search into the bottom of these things, what mind can fully receive or comprehend them, what tongue can express them, the things which God himself delighteth in, and which the angels desire to bow down and look into? This he calls the “riches of his grace, wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence,” Ephesians 1:7-8; the “mystery of his will,” Ephesians 1:9; the “riches of glory,” verse 18; the “exceeding riches of his grace,” Ephesians 2:7; the “mystery which from the beginning of the world was hid in him,” but by the gospel is manifested unto “principalities and powers in heavenly places,” even “the manifold wisdom of God,” Ephesians 3:9-10. These riches, these treasures, these mysterious truths, are rather by us to be admired and adored than fully comprehended in this life; yet here are they deposited, revealed, declared, and laid up safe, for the use, instruction, and edification of the church in all ages. Some men pass by the door of this treasury, and scarce deign to look aside towards it. There is nothing that they do more despise. Some look into it superficially and cursorily, and see nothing in it that they can much delight in or desire to know more of. But humble, believing souls, whom God by his Spirit leads into the secret stores of divine truth, they behold the riches of God, admire his bounty, and take out for their own use continually. Whilst the mystery of this love and grace is contained in the Scripture, it may well be esteemed a treasure rich and absolutely inexhaustible; and our beholding of it, our acquaintance with it, make us partakers of it, 2 Corinthians 3:18.

2. There is in it the whole counsel of God concerning his own worship, and the whole of that obedience which he requires of us that we may come to be accepted with him here, and to the eternal enjoyment of him in glory. For

“all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works,” 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

‘Here is all,’say some; ‘Here is enough,’say most: and I am sure that whoever walketh according to this rule, mercy and peace shall be on him, as on the whole Israel of God. This increaseth the riches of this treasury. Here we may find all that God would have us do that we may please him, all that he requires of us in this world, our whole duty with reference unto eternity. Here is our guide, our rule, ready to direct us in all stated duties, on all occasions and emergencies; so that nothing can befall us, nothing can be required of us in the worship of God, in the course, ways, and actions of our lives, but what we may have here light, guidance, and direction for. It is the word of his wisdom, will, and grace, who made us these souls, and who foreknew every thought that would be in them to eternity, and hath secretly laid up in his word that which shall suit and answer unto every occasion of all that believe in him. Whence one cried out of old, “Adoro plenitudinem Scripturarum,” “I adore the fullness of the Scripture;” in which posture of holy admiration I desire my mind may be found whilst I am in this world.

3. There is in it a glorious discovery of the eternal being or nature of God, with its glorious essential excellencies, so far as we are capable of an encouraging contemplation of them in this world. It is true, that the being, nature, and properties of God, may be known by the light of nature, and from the consideration of those works which are the certain product of his power and goodness. But how dark, weak, obscure, and imperfect, is that discovery, in comparison of that which is made unto us in the word! Of many things indispensably necessary to be known of God, it knows nothing at all, as of the eternal existence of the one individual nature of God in three persons; and what it doth teach, it doth so marvellous unevenly, unsteadily, and darkly. Consult the writings of them who have most improved the light of nature in their disquisitions after the being and nature of God, who have most industriously and curiously traced the footsteps of nature towards its eternal spring and fountain. Men they were, wise, learned, sagacious, contemplative almost to a miracle, and wonderfully skillful to express the conceptions of their minds in words suited to intimate their senses, and to affect the readers. But when and where they are in the highest improvement of their reason, their fancies most raised, their expressions most reaching, generous, and noble, bring it all to one leaf of divine revelation, expressed by a poor illiterate shepherd or a fisherman, and you shall quickly find their candle before this sun first to lose its rays and lustre, then its light, and lastly utterly to expire as useless. Hence our apostle fears not to declare, that even in their disquisitions after God, “they waxed vain in their imaginations,” and that “their foolish hearts were darkened,” Romans 1:0. But in his word it is that God hath made that revelation of himself wherein the souls of men may fully acquiesce; upon it hath he left an impression of all his excellencies, that we might learn to “glorify him as God.” And what stores of truth are needful to this purpose, who can express?

4. The souls of them that believe are carried by it out of this world, and have future eternal glories presented unto them. Here are they instructed in the hidden things of immortality; which is darkness itself unto them who are destitute of this guide. It is true, we have but a very low and obscure comprehension of the things of the other world; but this is from our weakness and imperfection, and not out of any defect in their scriptural revelation. There we are told that “we shall be ever with the Lord,” “like him, seeing him as he is,” “beholding his glory,” in “mansions” of rest and blessedness, receiving a reward in “a crown of glory that fadeth not.” If we know but little of what is in these things, as we do but very little; if we cannot comprehend them, nor fill our minds steadfastly with them, it is, as was said, from our own weakness and imperfection; the truth and excellency of them are stored in this sacred treasury. Now, how large, how extensive and unsearchable, must that repository of mysterious truths be, wherein all these things, with all the particulars whereinto they branch themselves, all the whole intercourse between God and man in all ages, and always, are laid up and stored! O heavenly, O blessed depositum of divine grace and goodness!

I confess, some think it strange that this one book, and that whereof so great a part is taken up in genealogies, histories, and laws, antiquated as to their original use, should contain all sacred spiritual truth; and therefore they have endeavored to help it with a supply of their own traditions and inventions. But they do not consider the hand whereby these things are stored. They are laid up in God’s method, wrapped up in his words, which, in infinite wisdom, he hath given a capacity unto to receive and contain them all. Those “secrets of wisdom are double unto what can be comprehended,” Job 11:6; Job 11:6. Hence, although every humble soul may learn and receive from it what is absolutely sufficient for itself on all occasions, with respect to its own duty and eternal welfare, yet the whole church of God, neither jointly nor severally, from the beginning to the end of the world, have been, are, or shall be, able to examine these stores to the bottom, and to find out perfectly all the truths, in all their dimensions, concerns, and extent, that are contained herein.

From hence the truth of our second proposition is evident, namely, That many important truths lie deep and secret in the Scripture, standing in need of very diligent search in their investigation and for their finding out. And the reason why in this place I insist on these things, is not so much to explain the sense of it as to vindicate the way of our apostle’s arguing and citing of testimonies out of the Scripture, with his exposition and explication of them; which some in our days are not afraid nor ashamed to charge with obscurity and perplexity, not understanding what the nature of these things doth require. And thus shall we find it in this place. And many instances of the like nature may we meet withal in this epistle; wherein the obscurity of the apostle is not to be blamed, but his wisdom admired. Hence is the direction and command of our Savior, John 5:39, ᾿Ερευνᾶτε τὰς γραφάς , “Search the Scriptures;” dig into them, accomplish a diligent search, as 1 Peter 1:11, Acts 17:11, as men seek after rubies, silver, and gold, as the wise man expresseth it, Proverbs 2:3-5; Proverbs 3:14-15. The sum of these words is, Without humility, industry, prayer, and diligence, proceeding from desires, it is in vain to think of obtaining divine wisdom. They that search for silver and hid treasures go about it with inflamed desires, pursue it with unconquerable and unwearied industry, and rejoice in them when they are found, Matthew 13:44. And David describeth his blessed man to be one that “delighteth in the law of the LORD, and meditateth in it day and night,” Psalms 1:2. So God expressly commanded Joshua:

“This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth, but thou shalt meditate therein day and night,” Hebrews 1:8,

that is, constantly and diligently; making it manifest that great and sedulous inquiry is to be made after the mind and will of God therein. And this carried David to pray that God would

“open his eyes, that he might behold wondrous things out of his law,” Psalms 119:18.

It must be when men take a transient view of the Scripture, in their own light and strength, that they can see no great nor excellent thing in it, Hosea 8:12; but he who in the light of God, his eyes being opened thereby, searcheth deeply and attentively into it, shall find “wondrous” or marvelous “things in it,” excellent and glorious things, that others are not acquainted withal, and be made wiser than others thereby.

That which we are therefore to inquire into, for our own advantage, is the ways and means whereby a due search may be made into the Scriptures, and what is necessarily required thereunto, so that we may not fail of light and instruction. And they are, amongst others, these that follow:

1. A peculiarly humble frame of spirit, which is teachable. As there is no grace that is either more useful unto our own souls or more acceptable with God than humility, 1 Peter 3:4, so it is in an especial manner required asa qualification in them who would be instructed in the mind of God out of his word. So the promise is, Psalms 25:9, “The meek will he guide in judgment; and the meek will he teach his way;” עֲנָויִם , that is, the humble and contrite ones. And it is the same that is twice expressed in that psalm by “fear” Psalms 25:12,

“What man is he that feareth the LORD? him shall he teach in the way that he shall choose;”

Psalms 25:14,

“The secret of the LORD is with them that fear him; and he will shew them his covenant.”

Now, these promises of instruction in “judgment,” or the ordinances of God, in his “way,” his “covenant,” and of the communication of his “secret counsel” (that is, סוֹד יְהָֹוה , “the secret counsel of the LORD”), are not given merely unto such as are personally “meek” and “humble,” but unto such as bring meekness and humility, self-diffidence and submission of soul, unto the word in their studying of it, Isaiah 28:9, Psalms 131:2. In Job 28:0, there is a great inquiry made after wisdom; it is sought for amongst men “in the land of the living,” by mutual converse and instruction, Job 28:13; and in the “depths of the sea,” Job 28:14, among the secret works of nature; but “it is hid close from all living.” What then shall a man do? lie down and utterly despair? No; saith he, Job 28:28, “Unto man he said, Behold the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom.” This is the only way to attain it, for such only God will teach. Hence are we enjoined to “receive with meekness the ingrafted word,” James 1:21. When men come to the reading and studying of the Scriptures in the confidence of their own skill, wisdom, parts, learning, and understanding, God scorneth to teach them, he “beholds them afar off.” The fruits and effects of this state of things, in the pride of men, and the severity of God in giving them up to darkness and blindness, we may behold every day. Hence that came to pass of old which is yet observable, mentioned by our apostle, 1 Corinthians 1:26-27. And sometimes none presume more in this kind than those who have as little reason as any to trust to themselves. Many an illiterate person hath an arrogance proportionable unto his ignorance, 2 Peter 3:16. And hence sundry from whom it was expected, on the account of their condition, that they should be very humble and lowly in mind in their reading of the word, have been discovered in the issue, by their being given up to foolish and corrupt errors, to have had their minds filled with pride and self-conceit; without which they would not have been so.

This is the great preparation for the soul’s admittance into the treasury of sacred truths: Go to the reading, hearing, studying of the Scripture, with hearts sensible of your own unworthiness to be taught, of your disability to learn, ready to receive, embrace, and submit unto what shall be made known unto you, this is the way to be taught of God. And in this way if you learn not so much as others, yet that which you do learn shall be of as much use, benefit, and advantage unto you, as theirs shall be who attain unto the greatest degrees of spiritual light and knowledge. The word, thus inquired into, will be as manna to them that gathered it, Exodus 16:18.

2 . Earnest prayer for the guidance, direction, assistance, and illumination of the Holy Ghost, to enable us to find out, discern, and understand, “the deep things of God.” Where this is neglected, whatever we know, we know it not as we ought. David’s prayer was, as we observed before,

“Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law,” Psalms 119:18.

This opening of our eyes is the immediate work of the Holy Ghost. Without this we shall never be able to discern the wondrous, mysterious things that are in the word of God, 2Co 3:18 ; 2 Corinthians 4:6. The Lord Christ promiseth that “the Comforter shall teach us all things,” John 14:26; and, as “the Spirit of truth, guide us into all truth,” Hebrews 11:13. And although there may be somewhat peculiar in these promises unto the apostles, namely, to guide them by extraordinary inspiration and revelation, yet also there is grace promised in them to all his disciples, that they also shall be guided into the truth by the word through his instruction; for, as he tells all believers that “his Father will give the Holy Spirit unto them that ask him of him,” so John tells them that “they have an unction from the Holy One,” 1 John 2:20, “which abideth in them, and teacheth them all things,” 1 John 2:27, that is, which God would have them know in their stations, and which are needful for them. That this is the only way whereby we may come to know the things of God, the great and wondrous things of God laid up in the word, our apostle discourseth at large, 1 Corinthians 2:0. The “natural man,” he tells us, that is, such an one as hath not the help and assistance of the Spirit of God, cannot receive the things that are of God, 1 Corinthians 2:14. He can neither find them out himself, nor own them when they are discovered by others. But “the Spirit searcheth the deep things of God,” 1 Corinthians 2:10. Many of the things of God in the Scripture are “very deep,” so that they cannot be discovered but by the help of the Spirit of God; as he shows they are to believers, 1 Corinthians 2:11-12; 1 Corinthians 2:15-16. And to this purpose are we directed to pray by the example of our apostle, Ephesians 1:16-20; Ephesians 3:16-19; Colossians 2:2. Near what is the work of the Holy Spirit in this matter, by what way and means he leads us to the knowledge and acknowledgment of sacred truths, how he guides and directs us into the discovery of the sense and meaning of God in his word, shall, if God will and I live, be handled apart in another discourse, [4] and shall not therefore be now insisted on. But this is the great and principal rule, which is to be given unto those who would find out the mind of God in the Scripture, who would search out the mysterious truths that are contained in it, and would be kept from errors in their so doing, and that both to understand things aright for their own advantage, and interpret the word aright for the advantage and edification of others: Let them be earnest, diligent, constant, fervent in their supplications and prayers, that God, according to his promise, would graciously send his Holy Spirit, to guide, lead, instruct, and teach them, to open their understandings, that they may understand the Scriptures, as our Lord Jesus did for the disciples by the way, and to preserve them from mistakes and errors. Unless we have this guidance we shall labor to little purpose in this matter; yea, woe be to him who leans to his own understanding herein! [5] And these prayers ought to be,

[4] See “Causes, Ways, and Means of Understanding the Word of God,” in volume 4 of the author’s works. ED.

[5] In his edition of this work, Dr. Wright very properly transfers the three lines which follow, from their place, in the original edition, at the close of the fifth particular under the next division. We adopt his emendation, as obviously required by the subject of these lines, which have evidently a connection with the paragraph above. ED.

(1.) A constant part of our daily supplications;

(2.) Brief elevations of soul unto God, whenever occasionally or statedly we read the word, or hear it;

(3.) Solemn or appointed seasons.

3. Endeavor, in all inquirings into the word, to mind and aim at the same ends which God hath in the giving and granting of it unto us. Then do we comply with the will of God in what we do, and may comfortably expect his gracious assistance. Now, in general God had a fivefold end in granting this inestimable privilege of the Scripture unto the church:

(1.) That it might be such a revelation of himself, his mind and will unto us, as that we might so know him as to believe in him, fear him, love him, trust in him, and obey him in all things. This is the great and principal end of the Scripture, Deuteronomy 29:29. Without this, all things concerning God and our duty, since the entrance of sin, are wrapped up in darkness and confusion, as is manifest at this day in all nations and places left destitute of it. And this, therefore, is to be our principal aim in our study of the Scripture. That we may know God as he hath revealed and declared himself; that we may come to an acquaintance with him by a rule and light infallible, given us by himself for that purpose, that so in all things we may glorify him as God, and live unto him, is the first thing which in this matter we ought to aim at. And a due consideration hereof will be exceeding useful and effectual to curb the vanity and curiosity of our minds, which are apt to turn us aside towards corrupt, unprofitable, and sinister ends.

(2.) Another end of God was, that we might have a safe rule and infallible guide for the due performance of all the duties, towards himself and one another, which he requires of us in the whole course of our obedience, 2 Timothy 3:15-17. God hath, in infinite wisdom, treasured up in this book every thing that, either for the matter or manner of its performance, is any way necessary for us to know or do, that we may be wise unto salvation, and thoroughly furnished for every duty that he requireth at our hands. And here lies our next end. We come to the Scripture to learn these things; and nowhere else can we so learn them as to attain either assurance and peace in our souls, or so perform them as that they should be acceptable unto God. This mind, therefore, ought to be in us, in all wherein we have to do with the Scriptures. We go to them, or ought so to do, to learn our own duty, to be instructed in the whole course of our obedience, in what God requires of us in particular. With this design we may go on and prosper.

(3.) God hath given us his word to guide and direct us in our ways under all dispensations of his providence, that we sin not against him, nor hurt or damage ourselves, Psalms 119:24. The providences of God towards us, as to our course in this world, do oftentimes bring us into great straits and difficulties, so that we know not well how to steer our course, so as neither to sin against God, nor to prejudice or ruin ourselves without just and cogent reasons. God hath given us his word to counsel us in this matter; and by a diligent attendance unto it we shall not fail of blessed guidance and directions, Here we ought to seek it; and here we may find it, if we seek in a due manner.

(4.) The Scriptures are given us of God to administer unto us consolations and hope in all our distresses and tribulations, Romans 15:4; Psalms 119:92. In them hath God graciously treasured up whatever is useful or needful to this purpose. Whatever be our distresses, fears, disconsolations, as to what hath, doth, or may befall us in this world, God hath designed a relief under it and against it in his word. That we may be always furnished with this blessed and precious provision, ought to be one end also that we aim at in our considerations of it.

(5.) God hath done this, that he might give us infallible assurance of eternal life when we shall be here no more, with some prospect into the glories of it and foretastes of its sweetness, 2 Timothy 1:10. This as we stand in need of, so the constant fixing of our eye upon it as our utmost end, will be a safe and blessed guidance unto us in our whole course. These are the ends of God in giving us his word, and these ought to be ours continually in our search into it; and the want hereof, whilst some have indulged their fancies in the pursuit of unuseful notions and speculations, hath caused them to err from the truth.

4. They that would search the Scriptures to find out the sacred truths that lie hid in them, ought to take care that they entertain no corrupt lusts in their hearts or minds; which will certainly refuse to give admittance unto spiritual truth when it is tendered unto them. Hence is that advice of the apostle James 1:21. They that will “receive the word” so as to have it an “ingrafted word,” to effect in them the work and end whereunto it is designed, must “cast out all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness.”

Fleshly and corrupt lusts indulged unto in the hearts and minds of men Will make their most industrious search into the Scripture of no advantage to themselves Love of sin will make all study of the Scripture to be mere lost labor. Hearts pure and undefiled, minds serene and heavenly, so far as by the grace of God we can attain to them, are required to this work. And it ought to be one great motive unto an endeavor after them, that we may be the more able to discern the mind of God in his word.

5 . Sedulity and constancy in this duty are great helps to a profitable discharge of it. When men read the word but seldom, so that the things of it are strange to them, or not familiar with them, they will be continually at a loss in what they are about. This is that which the wise man directs us unto, Proverbs 7:1-4. Constant reading and meditation on the word will create a familiarity between our minds and it, when occasional diversions only unto it will make an estrangedness between them. Hence our apostle commends it in his Timothy, that “from a child he had known the holy Scriptures,” 2 Timothy 3:15; whereby being made familiar unto him, he was much assisted in the right understanding and use of them. And there is not any thing in our walking before God that is more acceptable unto him. For this expresseth somewhat of that reverence which we ought to have of the greatness and holiness of Him with whom we have to do. The Jews’ frontispiece to their great Bible is that saying of Jacob upon the vision of God that he had at Bethel, “How dreadful is this place! This is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” So ought we to look upon the word, with a holy awe and reverence of the presence of God in it. Our faith and dependence on him, with our valuation of the knowledge of his mind and will, are hereby expressed; and hereby also do we give glory to him.

6. In our search after truth our minds are greatly to be influenced and guided by the analogy of faith. He that “prophesieth,” that is, interpreteth Scripture, must do it κατὰ τὴν ἀναλογίαν τῆς πίστεως , Romans 12:6; according,” say we, “to the proportion of faith.”

There is a harmony, an answerableness, and a proportion, in the whole system of faith, or things to be believed. Particular places are so to be interpreted as that they do not break or disturb this order, or fall in upon their due relation to one another. This our apostle calls ὑποτύπωσιν ὑγιαινόντων λόγων , 2 Timothy 1:13, a fixed, and as it were an “engraved form of sound, wholesome, or healing words or doctrines,” or a summary of fundamental truths; ὑγιαινούσα διδασκαλία , “the sound doctrine of the gospel,” Hebrews 4:3. And this, probably, is that which he intends by his μόρφωσις εὐσεβείvας , Hebrews 3:5, a “form” or “delineation of godliness,” in the doctrines of it; which many may have, who, as we say, are orthodox and sound in the faith, who yet in their hearts and lives deny the power of it. This “proportion of faith,” this “form of sound words,” is continually to be remembered in our inquiry after the mind of God in any particular place of the Scripture; for all the Scripture is from the same spring of divine inspiration, and is in all things perfectly consistent with itself. And the things that are of greatest importance are delivered in it plainly, clearly, and frequently. Unto these the sense of every particular place is to be reduced; none is to be assigned unto it, none to be pretended from it, that falls in upon any of the truths elsewhere clearly and fully confirmed. For men to come to a place of Scripture, it may be dark and obscure in itself, and, through I know not what pretences, draw a sense from it which is inconsistent with other doctrines of faith elsewhere plainly revealed, is openly to corrupt the word of God. And as indeed there is no place which doth not afford a sense fairly reconcilable unto the analogy of faith, so, if it do not appear unto us, we must sit down in the acknowledgment of our own darkness and ignorance, and not admit of any such sense as riseth up in contradiction thereunto. Want of a due attendance unto this rule is that which hath produced the most pestilent heresies in the church. Thus the Papists, taking up these words, “This is my body,” without a due consideration of the analogy of faith about the human nature of Christ, the spirituality of the union and communion of believers with him, the nature of sacramental expressions and actions, which are elsewhere evidently declared, by which the interpretation, according to the apostle’s rule, is to be regulated and squared, have from them fancied the monstrous figment of their transubstantiation, absolutely destructive of them all. It is the known way of the Quakers amongst ourselves, if they can get any one single text of Scripture which, in the sound of the words, or on any other account, seems to favor some fancy they have a mind unto, instantly they take it up, not once considering whether it do not dissolve the whole proportion of faith, and overthrow the most fundamental articles of Christianity: so from the outward sound of that one text, John 1:9, “That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world,” they fear not to take up a pretended sense of them, destructive to what is taught about the nature of Christ, the work of the Holy Spirit, of faith, grace, conversion to God, plainly and evidently in a thousand other places. Our apostle doth not so; for although he deduces great and mysterious truths out of the Scriptures of the Old Testament, yet they are such as answer the whole system of divine revelation, and have a due place and order in the “form of sound words.”

7 . A due consideration of the nature of the discourse wherein any [ dark? ] words are used, tends much to give light into their sense and importance. And the discourses in the Scripture may be referred materially to four general heads; for they are either historical, or prophetical, or dogmatical, or hortatory. And for the way or form of writing used in them, it is in general either proper and literal, or figurative and allegorical, as is the whole book of Canticles, and many other parts or passages in the Scripture. Now these things are duly to be weighed by them who intend to dig deep into this mine of sacred truth. But particular directions in reference unto them are too many here to be insisted on.

8. The proper grammatical sense of the words themselves is duly to be inquired into and pondered. This principally respects them who are able to pursue this search after truth in the original languages. Others also may have much help by comparing parallel places, even in translations; whence the proper sense or usual acceptation of any words may be learned. And of this nature many other particular rules might be added, which are by others commonly insisted on, and therefore may be here omitted.

This that hath been spoken may serve, as for the reproof of some, so for the direction of others. Whence is it that some receive so little benefit by their studying of the Scripture, at least in their pretending so to do? Alas ! their manifold miscarriages are manifest unto all. Without diligence, without humility, without watching unto prayer, they go in the confidence of their own strength and abilities to search and expound it; which is to attempt the opening of brazen doors without a key, and the digging of mines for hid treasures with men’s nails and fingers. It is true there are sundry things that are common to the Scripture, as it is a writing consisting of propositions and reasonings, with all other writings; an apprehension and understanding of many of these lieth obvious to every superficiary reader: but to come to a clear understanding of the secrets of the mind of God, and mysteries of his will, this is not to be attained without the sedulous, diligent use of the means before mentioned. And what guidance lies in them, and other particular rules to the same purpose, is, though in great weakness, looked after in this Exposition.

Verse 8

In this verse the apostle gives a further confirmation unto his argument by a particular application of it unto the especial matter in hand. Herewithal he removeth or preventeth an objection that might probably be raised against one part of his discourse. And the preventing of such objections as whereunto what we affirm and teach is at first view liable, is as needful as the raising of objections which possibly would never come to the minds of our hearers or readers is needless and foolish.

Εἰ γάρ , “for if;” αὐτούς , that is, the people of old, those of whom he hath treated, particularly the new generation that entered Canaan.

Κατέπαυσεν . The apostle in this chapter useth this word both in a neutral and active signification. Hebrews 4:4, Κατέπαυσεν ὁ Θεός , “God rested;” here, “caused them to rest,” “given them rest.” Beza, “in requiem collocasset;” Arias, “requiem praestitisset.” The word properly, and usually in other authors, signifies “finem imponere,” “cessare facere;” “to put an end,” or “to make to cease,” as rest puts an end to labor. So the word is used, Hebrews 4:10, Κατέπαυσεν ἀπὸ τῶν ἔργων , “Hath ceased from his works.” ᾿Ιησοῦς , “Jesus,” that is, Joshua; and by so calling him, the apostle also declares what was the true Hebrew name of Jesus Christ, which the Greeks express by “Jesus.” His name was originally הוֹשֵׁעַ , “Hoshea;” the same with that of Hosea the prophet, Hosea 1:1. Then when he went to espy out the land his name was changed by Moses into יְהוֹשֻׁעַ “Jehoshuah,” Numbers 13:16. It is true, in the writing over the story of those times he is called Jehoshua before, as Exodus 17:9; but it is most probable that Moses now, by divine direction, changed his name, when he went to view that land whither he was to conduct the people, and writing the story of these things afterwards, he used the name whereby he was then called. Some of those who had most imbibed the Chaldee dialect or tongue during the captivity changed this name into יֵשׁוּעַ , “Jeshua,” Ezra 2:2, Nehemiah 3:19; though the prophets Haggai and Zechariah retain the name of Jehoshua, Haggai 1:1; Haggai 2:2; Haggai 2:4, Zechariah 3:1. Now all these names are from the same root, and of the same signification. From הוֹשִׁיעַ in Hiphil (for in Kal the verb is not found), is יֵשֵׁע , “Jesha,” “salus,” ”health,” “help,” “salvation.” Thence are הוֹשֶׁעַ , “Hoshea;” יְחוֹשֻׁעַ , “Jehoshua;” and יֵשׁוּעַ , “Jeshua;” “that is, σωτήρ , “salvator,” “sospitator,” “liberator;” though Cicero affirms that the Greek word cannot be expressed by any one proper Latin word. “Salvator” is coined for that purpose, “a savior.” Now, as persons on great occasions had their names as to their signification wholly changed, as when in the Old Testament Jacob was called Israel, and Solomon, Jedidiah; and in the New Testament Simon was called Peter, and Saul was called Paul; and divers had double names occasionally given them, as Esther and Hadassah, Daniel and Belteshazzar: so God was pleased sometimes to change one letter in a name (not without a mystical signification): so the name of Abram was changed into Abraham, by the interposition of one letter of the name of God; and that of Sarai into Sarah, by an addition of the same, Genesis 17:5; Genesis 17:15: so here the name of Hoshea is changed into Jehoshua, by the addition of one of the letters of the name of God, increasing the signification; and this name was given him as he was a type of Christ, and the typical savior or deliverer of the people.

The name of יֵשׁוּעַ , “Jeshua,” from the Chaldee dialect, prevailed at length in common use, being of the same signification with the other, namely, “a savior,” “one that sayeth.” Hence, when they came to converse with the Greeks, came the name of ᾿Ιησοῦς , or “Jesus.” For the Greeks called Hoshea, Ausis, and Nun his father, Naue, greatly corrupting the original names. But Hoshea and Jehoshua and Jeshua they called Jesus. In יֵשׁוּעַ , “Jeshua,” they rejected the guttural ע as not knowing its right pronunciation, whereon יֵשׁוּ , “Jesu,” remained; and then in their accustomed way they added the terminative sigma, and so framed ᾿Ιησοῦς , as of מָשִּׂיחַ , “Messiach,” by the rejection of ח and the supplement of ς , they made Μεσσίας , “Messias.” Hence the name Jeshua being in common use for and of the same signification with Jehoshua, and that in the Greek pronunciation being turned into Jesus, that was the name whereby the Lord Christ was called: Matthew 1:21, Καλέσεις τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ ᾿Ιησοῦν αὐτὸς γὰρ σώσει τὸν λαὸν αὐτοῦ ἀπὸ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν αὐτῶν· “Thou shalt call his name Jesus; for he shall save his people from their sins.” It is plain that the reason of the name is taken from its signification of saving, “he shall save,” be their savior; so that all the attempts that some have made to derive it from other words are vain and frivolous. And so also are theirs who would deduce the Greek name ᾿Ιησοῦς from ἰάω , ἰάσω , “to heal:” for ᾿Ιησοῦς is of no signification at all in the Greek tongue, it being only their man. ner of pronunciation of יֵשׁוּעַ , “Jeshua,” which is “a savior;” which name was given to the Lord Christ because of the work he had to do. So also was it to this Jesus the son of Nun. The wickedness of the perfidious Jews in writing his name יֵשׁוּ , and the horrible abuse they make thereof, are known to the learned, and there is no need to acquaint others with them.

Οὐκ ἃν περὶ ἄλλης ἡμέρας , “concerning another day.” The apostle having described the rest he discourseth of by the especial day of rest that was in the several estates of the church peculiarly to be observed, now by a synecdoche expresseth the whole rest itself and all the concernments of it by the name of a “day.”

᾿Ελάλει , “he would not have spoken;” that is, either God absolutely, or the Holy Ghost, whose immediate work the inspiration of the psalmist was, whose words these are.

Μετὰ ταῦτα , “after these things;” the things which befell the people in the wilderness, and what they afterwards attained under the conduct of Joshua.

Hebrews 4:8 . For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not after these things have spoken concerning another day.

The confirmation of his principal assertion from the words of David, concerning the rest prepared and proposed in the gospel unto believers, is that which our apostle still insists on, as was declared. Hereon was his whole exhortation of the Hebrews founded, and hereinto was it resolved. And on the same truth depended all the reasonings and motives whereby he enforced his exhortation. This, therefore, was fully to be established and clearly vindicated. And that which, last of all, remained to his purpose was the removal of an objection which, among the Jews, it was evidently liable and obnoxious unto. And this he doth by the due stating of the time when those words were spoken which he had pleaded in evidence of his assertion. The objection laid down by way of anticipation is plain in the words; and it is this: ‘Although the people which came out of Egypt entered not into the rest of God that was promised, by reason of their unbelief and disobedience, as you have proved, yet the next generation, under the conduct of Joshua, went into and enjoyed the rest which they were excluded from. This, therefore, was the rest intended; which we being in the enjoyment of, what ground have you to propose another rest unto us?’This is the force of the objection. And two things are comprised in the apostle’s answer unto it: First, A denial of the supposition on which the objection is founded. This is done virtually in the manner of the proposal of the objection itself: “For if Jesus had given them rest;” that is, whatever be pretended and pleaded, he did not do so; that is, not that full and ultimate rest which in all these things God aimed at. Secondly, He gives the reason of this his denial; which is this, that five hundred years after, God in David, and by him, proposeth another rest, or another day of rest, and invites the people unto an entrance, after they were so long fully possessed of all that Joshua conducted them into; and whereas there was no new rest for the people to enter into in the days of David, and the psalm wherein these words are recorded is acknowledged to be prophetical of the days of the Messiah, it unavoidably follows that there is yet a rest and a day of rest remaining for the people of God, which he lays down as his conclusion in the verse ensuing.

This interpretation of the words perfectly satisfieth the argument in hand; but yet I judge there is more in them than a mere answer unto the objection mentioned, though expositors look no farther. And this is, that the apostle also designs to teach the Hebrews that all those things which were spoken about the rest of God in the land of Canaan, and in Mosaical institutions, had not the reality or substance of the things themselves in them, Hebrews 10:1; so that absolutely neither did God rest nor were the people to look for rest in them. They had no other end nor use, but only to teach them to look out after and to prepare for that rest which was promised from of old; so that Joshua did not give them real rest, but only that which was a typical instruction for that season in what was to come. And therefore in David the same matter is carried still on, and direction is still given to look out after the rest to come. And we may learn hence, principally, that,

Obs. 1. There is no true rest for the souls of men but only in Jesus Christ by the gospel.

Notwithstanding all that was done to and for the Israelites by Joshua, yet he gave them not rest, he brought them not into the full and complete rest of God; “God having provided some better things for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.” And the reasons hereof are:

First, because God himself resteth not in any thing else, and in his rest alone it is that we can find rest. It is in vain for us to seek for rest in that wherein God resteth not. We have seen that at the beginning, when he had created man, he entered into his rest, in that satisfaction which he took in the effects of his own power, wisdom, and goodness, Exodus 31:17. He provided likewise rest in himself for man, and gave him a day as a pledge of his entrance into it, Genesis 2:2. In this condition trouble and disquietment entered into the whole creation, by the sin and apostasy of Adam. God no more rested in the works of his hands, but cursed the earth, Genesis 3:17-18, made the whole creation subject to vanity, Romans 8:20, and revealed his wrath from heaven against the ungodliness of men, Romans 1:18. And hereof he hath in all ages since given signal instances; as in the flood of waters wherewith he drowned the old world, and the fire from heaven wherewith he consumed Sodom and Gomorrah. And of the same kind are those severe judgments by pestilences, famines, earthquakes, inundations, eruptions of subterraneous vapours, conflagrations, and the like; all testifying the indignation of God against the works of his own hands, because of the sin of man, to whom he had given them for a possession, and put them in subjection. For God had decreed from eternity to permit a disturbance by sin in the first order of things, that he might gather all things unto a head, with durable rest and peace, in Jesus Christ, Isaiah 42:1; Ephesians 1:10. Man hath also utterly lost his rest in that first rest of God; and though he several ways seeks after it, yet, like the unclean spirit cast out of his habitation, he can find none. Some seek it in the world, the pleasures and profits of it; some in the satisfaction of their sensual lusts; some in themselves, their own goodness and righteousness; some in superstition and vain ways of religious worship, invented by themselves, some of them horrid and dreadful, Micah 6:6-7: all in vain. Man hath lost his rest by falling off from God; and nothing will afford him the least quietness but what brings him to him again, which none of these ways will do. It is in and by Christ alone that our lost rest may be recovered. For,

Secondly, Other things will not give rest to the souls of men. A higher instance hereof we cannot have than in these Israelites. They had been for sundry ages in bondage unto cruel oppressors, who ruled over them with unparalleled severity and rage. Such, besides their hard and continual labor in the furnace, was that of their having their tender infants, the comfort of their lives and hope of the continuance of their name and race on the earth, taken from the womb and cruelly murdered. This they were now delivered from, and all their enemies subdued under them, until they set their feet upon the necks of kings. Who would not now think that this would give them rest? And so it did, outward rest and peace, until it was said that God gave them “rest on every hand.” And many yet in the like condition of bondage with themselves, shut up in the hands of hard and cruel rulers, are apt to think that a deliverance from that condition would give them perfect rest and satisfaction. But yet the Holy Ghost tells us that this did not give them rest; not that rest wherein they might ultimately acquiesce. Besides, whereas neither they nor their forefathers, for four hundred and thirty years, had ever had either house, or land, or possession, but wandered up and down in those places wherein they were strangers, and had not one loot’s breadth that they might call their own, but only a cave or two to bury them in when they were dead, they had now a whole plentiful country given unto them to inhabit and possess, a fruitful country, “a land flowing with milk and honey;” and therein cities which they had not walled, houses which they had not built, vineyards which they did not plant, with all sorts of riches and substance unspeakable. This might add unto their former satisfaction, especially being suddenly given, and flowing in upon them. And where there is wealth in abundance, and absolute liberty, what can be desired more, to give men rest? But yet it did not so. Yet further; whereas before they lived in a loose, scattered condition, without law or rule of their own, or amongst them, God had now gathered them into a firm, well- compacted political body, and given them a great and righteous law for the rule and instrument of their government, which all nations did admire, Deuteronomy 4:5-6. This, as it gave them glory and honor in the world, so it was a means of securing that wealth and liberty which they enjoyed. And where these three things are, there a people may be supposed to be at perfect rest; for liberty, wealth, and rule make up a state of rest in this world. But it was not so with them. Joshua gave them not rest. More than all this; God had established his glorious worship amongst them, intrusted them with his oracles and ordinances, and that whole system of religious honor which he would then accept in the world, Romans 9:4, All these things, with other mercies innumerable, they were made partakers of by and under the conduct of Joshua. And yet it is here plainly affirmed and proved that he did not give them rest; that is, the ultimate and chiefest rest which God had provided for his church and people in this world. Why, what was wanting hereunto? what was yet behind? That the apostle declares in this place. The promise was not yet fulfilled, the Messiah was not yet come, nor had finished his work, nor were the glorious liberty and rest of the gospel as yet exhibited and given unto them. It were easy to demon-strafe how all these things singly and jointly do come short of true rest; for notwithstanding all these, and in particular the highest of them, namely, the law and ordinances of worship, they had not spiritual liberty, rest, and peace, but were kept in a bondage frame of spirit, and laid up all their hopes and expectations in that which was not yet granted to them. So our apostle tells us that “the law made nothing perfect,” and that their sacrifices could never completely pacify their consciences, and therefore were continually renewed, with a remembrance of sin. It is Christ, then, alone, as declared in the gospel, in whom God doth rest, and in whom our souls may find rest. The reasons hereof may be taken from that description which we have given before of this gospel rest which the apostle insisteth on.

It is surely, therefore, our wisdom, in our inquest after rest, which, whether we take notice of it or no, is the main design of our lives, in all that we project or execute, not to take up in any thing beneath him or without him. All those things, the enjoyments of the world, the righteousness of the law, the outward ordinances of divine worship, say openly and plainly unto us, that rest is not in them. If all these in conjunction had been satisfactory to that end, then had Joshua given the people rest, and there had been no mention of another day. Yea, whatever, lawfully used, they may have of rest in them, it is no rest in comparison of that which is to be obtained in Christ Jesus. Hence he invites us unto him under this very notion, of giving “rest unto our souls,” Matthew 11:28. And here, in him, there is no want, no defect, no disappointment, no fadingness, nothing that hinders those other things from giving complete rest unto men. He that rests in the world, or rests in himself, or rests in his own righteousness, or rests even in God’s ordinances, will never come to rest until he be deprived of all expectation from them and confidence in them. Obs. 2. The gospel church-state is a state of spiritual rest in Christ. This, for the substance of it, hath been handled at large before. I mention it now only for two ends: first, to show what we ought to look after in this gospel church-state, and under the enjoyment of gospel privileges; and then, secondly, to discover a little how men deceive themselves in this matter.

First, This is that which distinguisheth our present church-state from that of theirs under the old testament: Joshua gave them all other things, only he gave them not rest, the rest of God; this is now the portion of them that believe; this all the children of the church are to look after. What is it, then, that men do seek after, or join themselves to the church of Christ upon the account of? What do they look for in, the worship, in the ordinances, in the ways of the church? If it be any thing but only to enter into the rest of God through Christ, they do but deceive themselves; whatever they take up in short hereof, they frustrate the whole counsel of God towards themselves in the gospel.

Secondly, How many pretend to an interest in this gospel church-state, who plainly, openly, and visibly seek after their rest in other things,

many in their own duties, most in their lusts and the pleasures of the world! Where is the privilege of such persons as these above that of the Israelites under the conduct of Joshua? Can they say, that although in and under all the enjoyments before mentioned they obtained not rest, yet the Lord Christ hath given rest unto their souls in the gospel? Alas! they have no rest at all; and that which they do pursue is such as the gospel hath no concernment in. Did Christ come, think you, to give you rest in your lusts, in your sins, in your pleasures? God forbid; he came to give you rest from these firings in himself; which alone is the rest preached unto you.

Obs. 3. It is a great mercy and privilege to have a day of and worship given unto us.

The apostle doth not say here, that ‘after these things he speaks of another rest,’but of “ another day; ” for from the foundation of the world we were taught our rest in God by a day of rest given unto us. When by sin we forfeited our interest in that rest of God, he might justly have deprived all the world of the knowledge of the day of rest first appointed. And indeed, whilst he left his law standing, as a testimony of his holiness and a rule of his future judgment, but did not by any outward means press it on the consciences and practices of men, all knowledge of a day of rest was lost from amongst mankind, some few excepted, whom God took into his especial care. For to what purpose should they look after a day of rest, who had utterly lost all desires after and all interest in the rest of God itself? But when God would revive in men a hope and expectation of returning unto rest in and with himself, he recalls to their remembrance the day of rest which was at first appointed; but as he then led men into rest only typically, and in order to the representation of a future rest to be brought in, so he renewed unto them the remembrance of the day of rest typically also, that it might be a sign between him and them. But now, the rest of God being again established, he hath appointed unto us “another day,” as it is in the text, a day of rest for the ends which have been often mentioned. And this is a great mercy and privilege; for,

1. It is a pledge of our rest in God, which is the life, happiness, and blessedness of our souls. It is given us to this end and purpose that so it might be; which was the end of a day of rest from the foundation of the world, as hath been declared.

2. It is a pledge of the recovery of this rest for us, and that it is not absolutely the same rest in God whereunto we were made, but another rest, a better and more sure. And therefore it is “another day” that is given unto us, and not the same day as of old. God kept the people under the law in an intermediate estate, between the duties of the old covenant and the promises of the new. This kept them to the precise day of the old covenant; for although virtually they were made partakers of that rest of God which is in Jesus Christ, yet the foundation and cause of it being not as yet laid and wrought, they were to content themselves with pledges of it as a thing to come, such as were their sacrifices and ordinances of worship, with the old day typically renewed. But to have another day, which could not be established but with respect to the works of Christ already wrought, and so to be a pledge of what was done before, this they could not have. This God hath reserved for us; and the day we now have being another day, is a pledge of rest already wrought out, and actually prepared.

3. It is given us as a means of entering into the rest of God. For hereon hath God ordained that the solemn declaration of his mind and will concerning his rest, and our entrance into it, should be made unto us. Hereon do we celebrate all that solemn worship of God whereby we express our faith concerning our rest in him, and by which, as means appointed for that end, we are admitted into that rest, and carried on gradually towards its full and eternal enjoyment. And these things the apostle further confirms.

Verse 9

Having passed through his testimonies and arguments, the apostle in this and the following verse lays down both what he hath evinced in his whole disputation, as also the general foundation of it, in answer to the principles of his preceding discourse.

Hebrews 4:9 . ῎Αρα ἀπολείτεται σαββατισμὸς τῷ λαῷ τοῦ Θεοῦ .

῎Αρα , “itaque,” “igitur;” the common note of inferring a conclusion from any argument, whether inartificial or artificial, of both which sorts the apostle makes use in this place. Hereby, therefore, he would mind the Hebrews to attend both to what he was about to assert, and to the dependence of it on the former testimonies and arguments that he had pleaded and vindicated.

᾿Απολείπεται , “relinquitur,” “superest,” “it is left,” “it remains,” “it is evinced.” For this word may refer unto ἄρα , “therefore,” and be a part of the induction of the conclusion following. So the verb is to be taken impersonally, “it remaineth therefore,” or ‘this is that which we have proved.’In this sense ἀπολείπεται is the modification of the conclusion, and is not of the substance of it, or one of the terms of the proposition. And this exposition the Syriac version follows, reading the whole words, מָדֵין קַּיָם הוּ לְמַשְׁבָּתוּ לְעַמֵהּ דּאלָחָא ; “Wherefore it is certain that the people of God ought to sabbatize,” or “keep a sabbath,” ‘This is certain, a truth that is proved and vindicated; so that the people of God may know their privilege and their duty.’The Ethiopic version renders the words somewhat strangely: “Is the priesthood of the people of God abrogated?” that is, it is not; so that standing still in the same peculiar relation to God as they did of old, when they were a royal priesthood, they ought still to attend unto his worship, and celebrate his ordinances, the great work of the day of their rest. Or ἀπολείπεται may refer unto σαββατισμός following, and be of a neutral signification: “A sabbatism” or “rest remaineth,” ‘There is yet another rest remaining and abiding for the people of God to enter into, besides those before mentioned and discoursed of.’ “It remaineth;” that is, God hath prepared it, promised it, and invites us to enter into it. Σαββατισμός . This word is framed by our apostle from a Hebrew original, by the addition of a Greek termination; and so becomes comprehensive of the whole sense to be expressed, which no other single word in either would do. The original of it is the Hebrew שָׁבַת , which signifies “to rest;” and it is first used to express the rest of God after his works of the creation: Genesis 2:2, השְּׁבִיעִי וַיּשְׁבֹּת בַּיּוֹם ; “And he rested” (or “sabbatized”) “on the seventh day.” And this being so of old, the word is used by our apostle to show that the rest which he now asserts for the people of God is founded in the rest of God himself. If this it had not been, it might have been ἀνάπαυσις , “a rest” in general; it could not have been σαββατισμός , “a sabbatism,” a “sabbatizing rest,” for there is no foundation for any such name or thing but in the rest of God. From the rest of God, this word came to give name unto the day of rest appointed for men, Exodus 20:10-12. Because God שָׁבַת , “shabbath,” rested from his works, he blessed יוֹם חַשַּׁבָּת , “iom hashshabbath,” “the day of rest,” the sabbath; which he would have us remember to keep. Now, our apostle having proved that the consideration of that original rest of God, as to its first ends and purposes, is removed, and consequently the day itself founded thereon, and another rest introduced, to be expressed in and by another day, he calls it a “sabbatism,” to express both the rest itself and the observation of another day likewise, as a pledge and token of that other rest of God, and of our spiritual interest therein. The word, then, doth not precisely intend either a day of rest or a spiritual rest, but the whole of our rest in God with respect unto his, and that day that is the token thereof comprised therein. [6]

[6] TRANSLATIONS. Σαζ . The celebration of a Sabbath. Ebrard. A Sabbath-rest. Boothroyd, De Wette, Tholuck, Craik. A Sabbath-rest, or, in extenso, a keeping of sabbatical rest. Conybeare and Howson. A Sabbath-keeping. Scholefield. ED.

Hebrews 4:9 . There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.

And hereby the apostle completes the due analogy that is between the several rests of God and his people, which he hath discoursed of in this chapter. For as at the beginning of the world there was first the work of God and his rest thereon; which made way for a rest for his people in himself, and in his worship, by the contemplation of his works which he had made, and on whose finishing he rested; and a day designed, determined, blessed, and sanctified, to express that rest of God, whence mention is made of those works in the command for the observation of that day, seeing the worship of God in and on that day consisted principally in the glorifying of God by and for those works of his, as also to be a means to further men in their entrance into his eternal rest, whereunto all these things do tend; and this was the σαββατισμός of the people of God from the foundation of the world: and as at the giving of the law there was a great work of God, and his rest thereon, in the finishing of his work and the establishing of his worship in the land of Canaan; which made way for the people’s entering into his rest in that worship and country, and had a day assigned them to express the one and the other, and to help them to enter finally into the rest of God, all which were types and shadows of the rest mentioned by David; and this was their σαββατισμός , or sabbatizing rest: so now, under the gospel, there is a sabbatism comprehensive of all these; for there was, as we shall see, a great work of God, and a rest of his own that ensued thereon; on this is founded the promise of rest, spiritual and eternal, unto them that do believe; and the determination of a new day, expressive of the one and the other, that is, the rest of God, and our rest in him; which is the sabbatism that our apostle here affirms to remain for the people of God. And what day this is hath been declared, namely, the first day of the week.

Now, besides the evidence that ariseth from the consideration of the whole context, there are two things which make it undeniably manifest that the apostle here proves and asserts the granting of an evangelical Sabbath, or day of rest, for the worship of God to be constantly observed. This, I say, he doth, though he doth not this only, nor separately: which whilst some have aimed to prove, they have failed of their aim, not being able to maintain a Sabbath rest exclusively, in opposition either to a spiritual or eternal rest; for so it is not here considered, but only in the manner and order before laid down.

Now these are,

First, the introduction of the seventh day’s rest into this discourse, and the mentioning of our gospel rest by the name of a “day.” Unless the apostle had designed the declaration of a day of rest now under the gospel, as well as a real spiritual rest by believing, there is no tolerable reason to be given of his mentioning the works of God and his rest, and his appointment of the old Sabbath; which, without respect unto another day, doth greatly obscure and involve his whole discourse. Again; his use of this word, framed and as it were coined to this purpose, that it might both comprise the spiritual rest aimed at, and also express a Sabbath-keeping or observation. When he speaks of our rest in general, he still doth it by κατάπαυσις ; adding there was an especial day for its enjoyment. Here he introduceth σαββατισμός , which his way of arguing would not have allowed, had he not designed to express the Christian Sabbath.

Secondly, He shows who they are to whom this sabbatism doth belong, who are to enter into this rest, to enjoy it, with all the privileges that do attend it; and these are ὁ λαὸς τοῦ Θεοῦ , “the people of God.” Those of old to whom the rest of Canaan was proposed were the people of God, and God hath a people still; and wherever he hath so, rest is promised to them and prepared for them. These he had before described by their own grace and obedience, verse 3, “We who have believed do enter into rest.” Here he doth it by their relation unto God, and the privilege that depended thereon; they are the “people of God” that are interested in this sabbatism. And the apostle makes use of this description of them upon a double account:

1. Because their being of “the people of God,” that is, in covenant (for where a people is God’s people, he is their God, Hosea 2:23), was the greatest and most comprehensive privilege that the Hebrews had to boast of or to trust in. This was their glory, and that which exalted them above all nations in the world. So their church pleads with respect unto all others, Isaiah 63:19, “We are thine: thou never barest rule over them; thy name was not called on them;” that is, they were never called the people of Jehovah, because never taken into covenant with him. This privilege whereunto they trusted, the apostle lets them know belongs as well to them that believe under the new testament as it did to them under the old. Abram was now become Abraham, “a father of many nations.” And as those who were his carnal seed of old were the people of God, so God had now a people in and of all those who were his children according to the faith. They may see, therefore, that they shall lose nothing, no privilege, by coming over to the gospel state by faith in Christ Jesus. Upon a new account they become “the people of God;” which interests them and their children in the covenant, with the seals and all the ordinances of it, even as formerly. For this name, “people,” doth not firstly respect individuals, but a collective body of men, with and in all their relations. Believers, not singly considered, but they and their seed, or their children, are this people; and where they are excluded from the initial ordinance of the covenant, I know not how believers can be called “the people of God.”

2. He proceeds further, and shows them that indeed this privilege is now transferred over from the old estate and Canaan rest unto them that shall and do enter into this rest of God under the gospel. Hence, instead of losing the privilege of being “the people of God” by faith in Christ, he lets them know that they could no longer retain it without it. If they failed herein, they would be no longer “the people of God;” and as a signification thereof, they would become “no people” at all. And so hath it fallen out with them. For ever since they ceased to be God’s people they have been “no people,” or enjoy no political rule and society in the world. Thus, then, “there remaineth a rest” (or “Sabbath-keeping”) “for the people of God.” But yet there is a considerable difficulty that ariseth against the whole design of the apostle: and this is, that this sabbatism of the people of God wanteth a due foundation in an especial work and rest of God. For as, if God had not done a new work, and rested in it, at the giving of the law and establishment of his worship, whereby a new world as it were was erected, there could have been no new rest for his people to enter into, but all must have regarded the rest that was from the foundation of the world; so, if there be not a new work and rest of God now wrought and entered into by him, there cannot be a new rest and a new day of rest for the people of God. This objection, therefore, the apostle removes, and manifests that there is a new blessed foundation of that rest which he now proposeth to the Hebrews, verse 10, as we shall see. For the present we may observe, that,

Obs. 1. Believers under the new testament have lost nothing, no privilege that was enjoyed by them under the old.

Many things they have gained, and those of unspeakable excellency, but they have lost nothing at all. Whatever they had of privilege in any ordinance, that is continued; and whatever was of burden or bondage, that is taken away. All that they had of old was on this account, that they were the people of God. To them as such did all their advantages and privileges belong. But they were yet so the people of God as to be kept like servants, under the severe discipline of the law, Galatians 4:1. Into this great fountain-privilege believers under the gospel are now succeeded. And what was of servitude in reference unto the law is removed and taken away; but whatever was of advantage is continued unto them, as the people of God. This, I suppose, is unquestionable, that God making them to be “his people who were not a people,” would not cut them short of any privilege which belonged before to his people as such, Romans 9:25-26. Besides, the state of the gospel is an estate of more grace and favor from God than that under the law, John 1:17. The whole gospel is an ampliation of divine spiritual grace and favor to God’s people. So is it a better estate than that which went before, accompanied with “better promises,” more liberty, grace, and privileges, than it. Nothing, then, of this nature can be lost therein or thereby to believers, but all privileges at any time granted unto the people of God are made over to them that under the gospel are so. Let men but give one instance to this purpose, and not beg the matter in question, and it shall suffice. Moreover, God hath so ordered all things in the dispensation of his grace and institution of his worship, that Jesus Christ should have the pre-eminence in all. All things are gathered up unto a head in him. And is it possible that any man should be a loser by the coming of Christ, or by his own coming unto Christ? It is against the whole gospel once to imagine it in the least instance. Let it now be inquired whether it were not a great privilege of the people of God of old, that their infant seed were taken into covenant with them, and were made partakers of the initial seal thereof? Doubtless it was the greatest they enjoyed, next to the grace they received for the saving of their own souls. That it was so granted them, so esteemed by them, may be easily proved. And without this, whatever they were, they were not a people. Believers under the gospel are, as we have spoken, the people of God; and that with all sorts of advantages annexed unto that condition, above what were enjoyed by them who of old were so. How is it, then, that this people of God, made so by Jesus Christ in the gospel, should have their charter, upon its renewal, razed with a deprivation of one of their choicest rights and privileges? Assuredly it is not so. And therefore if believers are now, as the apostle says they are, “the people of God,” their children have a right to the initial seal of the covenant. Again,

Obs. 2. It is the people of God alone who have a right unto all the privileges of the gospel, and who in a due manner can perform all the duties of it.

The rest of the gospel and all that is comprised in it, is for them, and for them only. All others who lay hand on them, or use them are “agri alieni invasores,” wrongful invaders of the rights and enclosures of others; and” malae fidei possessores,” or do but unjustly possess what they have injuriously seized on. And the reason hereof is, because all gospel privileges are but adjuncts of and annexed unto the covenant of grace, and the administration of it. Without an interest in that covenant, none can attain the least right unto them; and this they alone have who are the people of God, for by that interest they become so. There is, therefore, great rapine and spoil committed upon the gospel and its ordinances in the world. Every one thinks he is born with a right to the chiefest of them, and cannot be excluded from them without the highest injustice. But ask some whether they are the people of God or no, and they will be ready to deride both name and thing. Custom, and an opinion received by tradition, hath put an esteem and valuation upon the enjoyment of the ordinances of the gospel. These, therefore, or their pretended right unto them, men will by no means forego, nor suffer themselves to be divested of them; but for the true, real, spiritual foundation and use of them, they are generally despised. But all may know that this is the method of the gospel, first become the people of God, by entering into covenant with him in Jesus Christ, and all other spiritual mercies will be added unto you.

Obs. 3. The people of God, as such, have work to do, and labor incumbent on them. Rest and labor are correlates; the one supposeth the other.

Affirming, therefore, that there is a rest for them, it includes in like manner that they have work to do. What this is cannot here be declared in particular: none that knows in any measure what is their condition in themselves, what their station in the world, what enemies they have to conflict withal, what duties are continually incumbent on them, but knows there is work and labor required of them. Thus our Savior expresseth his approbation of his churches by, “I know thy works, and thy labor,”

Revelation 2:2. The people of God dwell not as Laish, in security; nor are Sybarites, spending their time in sloth, luxury, and riot: but they are an industrious, working people; and I wish that those who profess themselves to be so were less industrious in earthly things, and more in heavenly; although I must say that those who are industrious heavenwards will not be altogether negligent or slothful in their stations in this world. But Christ calls men to work, sad that our portion in this world is intermixed withal.

Obs . 4. God hath graciously given his people an entrance into rest during their state of work and labor, to sweeten it unto them, and to enable them for it.

The state of sin under the law is a state of all labor, and no rest; for “there is no peace,” or rest, “to the wicked,” saith God, Isaiah 57:21. The future state of glory is all of rest, all rest. The present state of believing and obedience is a mixed state, partly of labor, partly of rest: of labor in ourselves, in the world, against sin, under affliction and persecution; of rest in Christ, in his love, in his worship, and grace. And these things have a great mutual respect unto one another. Our labor makes our rest sweet, and our rest makes our labor easy. So is God pleased to fill us, and exercise us; all to prepare us duly for eternal rest with himself.

Obs. 5. Believers may and do find assured rest in a due attendance unto and performance of the duties of the gospel This is that which the apostle asserts and proves.

Obs. 6. There is a weekly sacred day of rest appointed for believers under the gospel, as will appear from the next verse.

Verse 10

῾Ο γὰρ εἰσελθὼν εἰς τὴν κατάπαυσιν αὐτοῦ , καὶ αὐτὸς κατέπαυσεν ἀπὸ τῶν ἔργων αὐτοῦ , ὥσπερ ἀπὸ τῶν ἰδίων ὁ Θεός .

There is no difficulty in these words, nor difference in the translation of them.

Hebrews 4:10 . For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his works, as God from his own.

So are the words to be read. Speaking of the works of God, he calls them his ἳδια , “his own,” ἀπὸ τῶν ἰδίων , “from his own;” and of the other compared with him, he says only τὰ ἔργα αὐτοῦ , “his works:” somewhat otherwise than they are rendered in our version.

Expositors generally apply these words unto believers, and their entering into the rest of God; whether satisfactorily to themselves or others, either as to their design, coherence, scope, or signification of particular expressions, I know not. Nor is it my way to oppose or confute the expositions of others, unless they are of such as wrest the Scripture to the confirmation of errors and heresies, or pervert the testimonies which in any texts or places are given unto important and fundamental truths of the gospel; such as we have met with many in our passage. But where things spoken or delivered are true with respect unto the analogy of faith, though they may not Be rightly or regularly deduced from this or that text in particular, yet they may have their use unto edification, through their conformity unto what is taught in other places; in such cases I shall not contend with any, but with all humility propose my own thoughts and reasons to the consideration of them who are wise, learned, and godly. I am not, then, satisfied with the exposition mentioned of this place, but look upon it as that which neither suits the design of the apostle, nor can bear a tolerable sense in its particular application. For, first, supposing believers to be here intended, what are the works they are said to rest from? Their sins, say some; their labors, sorrows, and sufferings, say others; from these they rest in heaven. But how can they be said to rest from these works as God rested from his own? for God so rested from his as to take the greatest delight and satisfaction in them, to be refreshed by them: “In six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed,” Exodus 31:17. He so rested from them as that he rested in them, and blessed them, and blessed and sanctified the time wherein they were finished. Indeed God’s rest from and upon his works, besides a mere cessation of working, consisted principally in the satisfaction and complacency that he had in them. But now, if those mentioned be the works here intended, men cannot so rest from them as God did from his; but they cease from them with a detestation of them as far as they are sinful, and joy for their deliverance from them as far as they are sorrowful. Now, this is not to rest as God rested. Again, when are men supposed to rest from these works? It cannot be in this world, for here we rest not at all from temptations, sufferings, and sorrows; and for that mortification of sin which we attain unto, we are to fight continually, “resisting even unto blood.” It must therefore be in heaven that they so rest; and this is affirmed accordingly. But this utterly excludes the rest in and of the gospel from the apostle’s discourse, and enervates it, so as that his whole present argument is nothing to his purpose, as we have showed before.

It appears, therefore, that it is the rest of another that is here intended, even the rest of Christ from his works, which is compared with the rest of God from his at the foundation of the world; for,

First, The conjunction γάρ , “for,” which introduceth this assertion, manifests that the apostle in these words gives an account whence it is that there is a new sabbatism remaining for the people of God. He had proved before that there could be no such rest but what was founded in the works of God, and his rest that ensued thereon. Such a foundation therefore, he saith, this new rest must have; and it hath it. Now this is, and must be, in the works and rest of him by whom the church was built, that is Christ, who is God, as it is expressly argued, Hebrews 3:3-4. For as that rest which all the world was to observe was founded in his works and rest who built or made the world and all things in it; so the rest of the church of the gospel is to be founded in his works and rest by whom the church itself was built, that is Jesus Christ; for he, on the account of his works and rest, is also Lord of the Sabbath, to abrogate one day of rest and to institute another.

Secondly, The apostle here changeth the manner of his expression; from the plural absolutely, “We who believe,” or virtually in the name of a multitude, “the people of God,” into that which is absolutely singular: ῾Ο εἰσελθών “He that is entered.” A single person is here expressed; one on whose account the things mentioned are asserted. And of this change of phrase there can no reason be given, but only to signify the introduction of a singular person.

Thirdly, The rest which he is said to enter into is called “his rest,” absolutely. As God, speaking of the former rest, calls it “my rest,” so this is the “my rest” of another, “his rest,” namely, the rest of Christ. When the entering of believers into rest is mentioned, it is called either “God’s rest,” “They shall enter into my rest;” or “rest” absolutely, “We that believe do enter into rest:” but not ‘their rest,’or ‘our rest;’for it is not our own, but God’s rest whereinto we enter, and wherein we rest. The rest here is the rest of him whose it is, who is the author of it; that is, of Christ.

Fourthly, There is a direct parallel in the whole verse between the works of the old creation and those of the new, which the apostle is openly comparing together.

1. For the authors of them: Of the one it is said to be God, “As God did from his; that is, the Creator: of the other, “He,” αὐτός ; ‘who is that He of whom we speak,’saith our apostle, ‘ Hebrews 4:13,’ for in these words he makes also a transition to the person of Christ, allowing only the interposition of an applicatory exhortation, Hebrews 4:11.

2. The works of the one and the other are expressed. The works of the Creator are ἴδια ἔργα , “his proper works,” “his own works,” the works of the old creation. And there are the works of him of whom he speaks, τὰ ἔρηα αὐτοῦ , “his works;” those which he wrought in like manner as God did his own at the beginning, that is, the work of building the church. For these works must answer each other, and have the same respect unto their authors or workers. They must be good and complete in their kind, and such as rest and refreshment may be taken in as well as upon. To compare the sins or the sufferings of men with the works of God, our apostle did not intend.

3. There is the rest of the one and the other. And these must also have their proportion to one another. Now God rested from his own works of creation,

(1.) By ceasing from creating, only continuing all things by his power in their order, and propagating them to his glory.

(2.) By his respect unto them or refreshment in them, as those which set forth his praise and satisfied his glorious design. And so also must he rest who is here spoken of.

(1.) He must cease from working in the like kind. He must suffer no more, die no more, but only continue the work of his grace, in the preservation of the new creature, and orderly increase and propagation of it by the Spirit.

(2.) In his delight and satisfaction which he taketh in his works, which Jesus Christ hath to the utmost. “He sees of the travail of his soul, and is satisfied,” and is in possession of that “glory which was set before him” whilst he was at his work.

From what hath been spoken, I suppose it will appear plainly, to unprejudiced and impartial minds, that it is the person of Jesus Christ that is the subject here spoken of; and we shall confidently allow a supposition thereof to regulate our exposition of this verse. And there is considerable in it,

First, The person spoken of, ὁ εἰσελθών , “He that is entered into his rest;” that is, the Lord Jesus Christ, the builder of the church, the author of the new creation. And this gives an account of the causal connection, “for:” “There remaineth a sabbatism now for the people of God, for Christ is entered into his rest.”

Secondly, There are the works that this rest of his respects, which it is said he hath “ceased” or “rested from.” These words have been fully opened and declared on the third and fourth verses of the third chapter, whither we refer the reader. All that he did and suffered, from his incarnation to his resurrection, as the mediator of the new covenant, with all the fruits, effects, and consequents of what he so did and suffered, belong to these works.

Thirdly, There is the rest that he entered into to be considered. Hereof we have seen before in general that there are two parts:

1. A cessation from his works; he hungered no more, was tempted no more, in a word, died no more.

2. A satisfaction in his works and the product of them. This Christ had in his; whence he says, upon a view of their effects,

“The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage,” Psalms 16:6.

Fourthly, His entrance into his rest is in like manner proposed unto us. Now this was not his lying down in the grave. His body, indeed, there rested for a while; but that was no part of his mediatory rest, as the founder and builder of the church. For,

1. It was a part of his humiliation; not only his death, but his abode or continuance in the state of death was so, and that a principal part of it. For after the whole human nature was personally united unto the Son of God, to have it brought into a state of dissolution, to have the body and soul separated from each other, was a great humiliation. And every thing of this sort belonged to his works, not his rest.

2. This separation of body and soul under the power of death was penal, part of the sentence of the law which he underwent. And therefore Peter declares that the pains of death were not loosed but in his resurrection, Acts 2:24:

“Whom God,” saith he, “hath raised up, loosing the pains of death; because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.”

Whilst he was held of it, he was under it penally. This therefore could not be his rest, nor any part of it; nor did he in it enter into his rest, but continued his work. Nor, secondly, did he first enter into his rest at his ascension. Then, indeed, he took actual possession of his glory, as to the full public manifestation of it. But to enter into rest is one thing, and to take possession of glory another. And it is placed by our apostle as a remote consequent of the Lord Christ’s being “justified in the Spirit,” when he entered into his rest, 1 Timothy 3:16. But this his entrance into rest was in, by, and at his resurrection from the dead. For,

1. Therein and then was he freed from the sentence, power, and stroke of the law, and discharged of all the debt of our sin, which he had undertaken to make satisfaction for, Acts 2:24.

2. Then and therein were all types, all prophecies and predictions fulfilled, that concerned the work of our redemption.

3. Then indeed his work was done; I mean that which answered God’s creating work, though he still continueth that which answers his work of preservation. Then was the law fully satisfied, Satan absolutely subdued, peace with God made, the price of our redemption paid, and the whole foundation of the church gloriously laid in and upon his own person. Then “the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy.”

4. Then and therein was he “declared to be the Son of God with power,” Romans 1:4; God manifesting to all that this was he concerning and to whom he said, “Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee,” Acts 13:33. This might be further confirmed, but that, as I know, it is not much questioned. Therefore did the Lord Christ enter into his rest, after he had finished and ceased from his works, “on the morning of the first day of the week,” when he arose from the dead, the foundation of the new creation being laid and perfected.

Here lieth the foundation of our sabbatizing, of the sabbatism that remains for the people of God. This reason doth the apostle give of it. He had before asserted it; and there remained no more for him to do but to manifest that as those other rests which were past, the one at the beginning of the world, the other at the giving of the law, had their foundation in the works and rests of God, whence a day of rest was given out to the church; so had this new rest a foundation in the works and rest of Christ, who built all these things and is God, determining a day for our use, in and by that whereon himself entered into his rest, that is, the first day of the week. See hence, that,

Obs. 1. The whole church, all the duties, worship, and privileges of it, are founded in the person, authority, and actions of Jesus Christ.

Obs. 2. The first day of the week, the day of the resurrection of Christ, when he rested from his works, is appointed and determined for a day of rest or Sabbath unto the church, to be constantly observed in the room of the seventh day, appointed and observed from the foundation of the world and under the old testament.

This proposition, containing a truth of great importance, and greatly opposed by many on various accounts, that the full discussion of it may not too much interrupt the course of our exposition, is handled apart and at large, in exercitations to that purpose, whereunto the reader in this place is remitted. [7]

[7] See volume 19, p. 261.

Verse 11

In this verse we have a return made unto, and an improvement of the principal exhortation which the apostle had before proposed. In the first verse he laid it down in these words, “Let us fear, lest, a promise being left of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.” Here he declares how that fear there recommended is to act itself, or how it is to be improved and exercised. It appears, therefore, hence, what we observed before, namely, that it was not a fear of dread, terror, or doubting, that might weaken, discourage, or dishearten them, which he enjoined them; but such a reverential respect unto the promises and threatenings of God as might quicken and stir them up unto all diligence in seeking to inherit the one and avoid the other. Here, therefore, the same exhortation is resumed and carried on, and that on sundry suppositions, which he had laid down, explained, and confirmed in his preceding discourse, being all of them effectual enforcements of it. Now these are,

1. That there is a rest promised unto us, and yet remaining for us, which is foretold and described in the 95th Psalm; for he hath showed that the rest mentioned therein was not a rest that was past, or enjoyed by any that went before us in any state of the church from the foundation of the world, but it is that which is now declared and proposed in the gospel.

2. That others had a rest typical hereof proposed unto them, seeing God never ordained his church in any state without a rest, and a day of rest as a token thereof.

3. That some by sin, or unbelief and disobedience, fell short of the rest proposed to them, and did not enter into it, but were destroyed in the just indignation of God against them.

4. That in their sin and God’s displeasure, with the event of the one and effects of the other, there was an example set forth of what would be the event with them, and God’s dealings towards them, who through unbelief should neglect the rest now declared and proposed unto them. Unto all these propositions he subjoins a description of this new rest, in the cause, original, and nature of it, with that day of rest wherein it is expressed. Having, therefore, proved and confirmed these things in his expositions and discourses upon the 95th Psalm, he lays them down as the foundation of his exhorting the Hebrews to faith and perseverance, keeping himself unto the notion of a rest, and of entering into it, which the testimony he had chosen to insist upon led him unto.

Hebrews 4:11 . Σπουδάσωμεν ου῏ν εισελθεῖν εἰς ἐκείνην τὴν κατάπαυσιν· ἵνα μὴ ἐν τῷ αὐτῷ τις ὑποδείγματι πέσῃ τῆς ἀπειθείας .

Σπουδάσωμεν . Vulg. Lat., “festinemus;” and the Rhemists, “let us hasten,” that is, σπεύδωμεν . The words are both from the same original; but σπουδάζω is never used for” to hasten;” nor is σπεύδω , for a rash, precipitate haste, such as is condemned by the prophet in the things of God: Isaiah 28:16, “He that believeth shall not make haste;” that is,with such a kind of haste as causeth men to miscarry in what they undertake, and gives them disappointment and shame. Hence the apostle renders these words, המַּאֲמִין לֹא יָחִישׁ , “He that believeth shall not make haste,” by ῾Ο πιστεύων ἐπ᾿ αὐτῷ οὐ καταισχυνθήσεται , Romans 9:33, “Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed,” expressing the cause by the effect. Syr., נֶתְחַפַט , “enitamur, operam demus,” “let us endeavor it” “do our endeavor.” Ours, “let us labor;” Bez., “studeamus,” properly, “let us study,” or “studiously endeavor,” “sedulously apply our minds.”

Εἰσελθεῖν εἰς ἐκείνην τὴν κατάπαυσιν . These words have been all opened before; nor do translators vary in the rendering of them.

῝Ινα μὴ ἐν τῷ αὐτῷ τίς ὑποδείγματι πέσῃ τῆς ἀπειθείας . Vulg. Lat., “ut ne in id ipsum quis incidat incredulitatis exemplum.” Rhem., “that no man fall into the same example of incredulity;” somewhat ambiguously· Beza, “ne quis in idem incidat contumacies exemplum;” “that no man fall into the same example of stubborn disobedience,” that is, into the like sin. Erasm., “ne quis concidat eodem incredulitatis exemplo;” to the same purpose: as ours also, “lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.” Syr., “that we fall not after the manner of them who believed not, בדִמוּתָא , “ad similitudinem,” “like unto them.” And in all these translations it is left somewhat ambiguous whether it be the sin of the people or their punishment that is proposed to consideration. Μή τις πέσῃ or μὴ τις , “lest any;” and of what is therein included we have spoken before. Πέσῃ , “cadat,” that is, into sin; “incidat,” into punishment; “concidat,” “do fall.”

Τῷ αὐτῷ ὑποδείγματι . ῾Υπόδειγμα is sometimes as much as παράδειγμα , an “exemplary punishment;” or an example instructive by the evil which befalls others. Of the sense of the words afterwards.

Hebrews 4:11 . Let us labor therefore [or, diligently endeavor ] to enter into that rest; lest any should fall in the same example of unbelief.

In the words three things may be observed: First, The illative particle ου῏ν , “therefore;” denoting an inference from and dependence upon what was before discoursed. The things he now introduceth arise from the consideration of what was before alleged and proved, with an especial respect unto that part of the example insisted on which consisted in the sin and punishment of the people of old; “therefore.” Secondly, An exhortation unto duty ensues. Thirdly, A motive thereunto is proposed. In the exhortation there is the duty itself exhorted unto, which is, to “enter into that rest;” and the manner of its performance, it is to be done with labor and diligence, “Let us labor to enter into that rest.”

First, The duty exhorted unto is expressed in terms whose use is taken from the example before insisted on, “entering into rest,” The things intended may be considered two ways, as to the act of the duty, or the duty itself and the effect of it, both included in the words. The duty itself intended is faith and obedience unto the gospel; these were represented of old by the people’s applying themselves to enter into the promised land of Canaan. Here, therefore, he exhorts them unto their present duty under these terms. And the effect of this duty, which is a participation of the rest of God, is also included.

And indeed glorious advantages are comprised in all gospel duties. To know God in Christ is “life eternal,” John 17:3; to believe, is to enter into the rest of God. Again, for the further explication of these words, we may observe that the apostle changeth his expression from what it was in the preceding verse. He tells us, verse 9, that “there remaineth σαββατισμός ” (a “sabbatism”) “for the people of God;” but here he doth not exhort them to enter εἰς ἐκείνον τὸν σαββατισμόν , (“into that sabbatism,”) but changeth it into κατάπαυσιν , that is, מְנוּחָה , as the other is שָׁבַּתוֹן . And the reason is, because by that word, “sabbatism,” he intended to express the rest of the gospel not absolutely, but with respect unto the pledge of it in the day of rest, which is given and determined unto them that believe, for the worship of God and other ends before recounted: but the apostle here returns to exhort the Hebrews to endeavor after an interest in and participation of the whole rest of God in the gospel, with all the privileges and advantages contained in it; and therefore resumes the word whereby he had before expressed the rest of God in general.

Secondly, For the manner of the performance of this duty, the word σπουδάσωμεν doth declare it. Let us “diligently study,” “endeavor,” or “labor” to this purpose. If we suppose “labor” in our language to be the most proper word (though I had rather use “endeavor”), such a laboring is to be understood as wherein the mind and whole soul is very intently exercised, and that upon the account of the difficulties which in the performance of this duty we shall meet withal. For the apostle, expressing our faith and gospel obedience, with the end of them, by “entering into the rest of God,” a phrase of speech taken from the people’s entering into the land of Canaan of old, he minds us of the great opposition which in and unto them we shall be sure to meet withal It is known what difficulties, storms, and contrary winds, the people met with in their wilderness peregrinations. So great were they, that the discouragements which arose from them were the principal occasions of their acting that unbelief which proved their ruin. Sometimes their want of water and food, sometimes the weariness and tediousness of the way, sometimes the reports they had of giants and walled towns, stirred up their unbelief to murmurings, and hastened their destruction. That we shall meet with the like opposition in our faith and profession the apostle instructs us, by his using this phrase of speech with respect unto the occasion of it, “entering into the rest of God.” And we may observe hence,

Obs. 1. That great oppositions will and do arise against men in the work of entering into God’s rest; that is, as unto gospel faith and obedience.

First, The very first lessons of the gospel discourage many from looking any farther. So when our Savior entertained the young man that came to him for instruction with the lesson of self-denial, he had no mind to hear any more, but “went away sorrowful,” Matthew 19:22. And the reasons hereof may be taken partly from the nature of the gospel itself, and partly from our own natures to whom the gospel is proposed. I shall but instance in that general consideration, which alone would bear the weight of this assertion; and this is, that in the gospel there is proposed unto us a “new way” of entering into the rest of God, of acceptation with him, of righteousness and salvation, which is contrary to our natural principle of self-righteousness, and seeking after it “as it were by the works of the law;” for this fills our hearts naturally with an enmity unto it and contempt of it, making us esteem it “foolish” and “weak,” no way able to effect what it proposeth and promiseth. But this would be too large a field to enter into at present, and I shall therefore insist only on some particular instances, giving evidence to the proposition as laid down These I shall take from among the precepts of the gospel, some whereof are very difficult unto our nature as it is weak, and all of them contrary unto it as it is corrupt.

1. Some gospel precepts are exceeding difficult unto our nature as it is weak. This our Savior takes notice of when exhorting his disciples to watchfulness and prayer in an hour of temptation; he tells them that “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak,” Matthew 26:41; where by “the flesh” he intendeth not that corrupt principle which is in us, that is often called by that name, but our nature in its whole composition with respect unto that weakness whence it is apt to succumb and sink under difficult duties. To fix on one instance among many, of this nature is self-denial, so indispensably required of all in the gospel. The denial of our lusts and corrupt inclinations falls under another consideration, and must on other accounts have violence offered unto them, as afterwards; but in the first place we may weigh this precept as it extends itself unto things in themselves lawful, and which have an exceeding suitableness unto our natures as weak and infirm. We are but dust, and God knows that we are but dust, Psalms 103:14. And he hath in his providence provided many things, and allowed us the use of them, which are fitted and suited to our refreshment and relief in our pilgrimage. Such are houses, lands, possessions, the comfort of relations and friends, which he hath given us a right unto and an interest in. And as we are persuaded that, through the weakness and frailty of our natures, we do greatly stand in need of these things, so it is known how our hearts are apt to cleave unto them. But here this gospel precept of self-denial interposeth itself, and requireth two things of us:

(1.) It requires an undervaluation of them, or at least introduceth a new affection over them and above them, which shall put the heart into a continual readiness and preparedness to part with them at the call and upon the occasions of the gospel, Matthew 10:37. Our acceptance of Christ on gospel terms is like a man’s entrance into a marriage relation. It introduceth a new affection, that goes above and regulates all former affections; for “a man must forsake both father and mother, and cleave unto his wife.” All others are to be steered and regulated hereby. And he that by his acceptance of Christ would enter into rest, must subordinate all former affections to lawful things unto this new one, which will not abide in any heart but where it is supreme.

(2.) On sundry occasions which the profession of the gospel will present us withal, actually to relinquish and forego them, and to trust our persons, with all their weaknesses and frailties, to the provision that Christ will make for them, Mark 8:34-37. This is difficult unto our nature, because of its weakness. It is apt to say, ‘Let me be spared in this or that,’ to make an intercession for a Zoar. ‘What shall become of me when all is lost and gone? What shall I do for rest, for ease, for liberty, for society, yea for food and raiment?’Yet are all these to be conquered by faith, if we intend to enter into the rest of God. We condemn them of old who were afraid of giants and walled towns, which made them murmur and withdraw from their duty. These are our giants and fenced cities; and, alas! how many are hindered by them from inheriting the promise! The like may be said of that particular branch of the great duty of self-denial, in “taking up the cross,” or willingness to undergo all sorts of persecutions for the sake of Jesus Christ. Many of these are exceeding dreadful and terrible to our nature as mortal weak, and infirm. Peter knew how it is with us in all our natural principles, when he advised his Lord and Master to spare himself, as he was foretelling of his own sufferings. Here the weakness of our nature would betake itself to a thousand pretences to be spared; but the gospel requires severely that they be all discarded, and the cross cheerfully taken up, whenever by the rule of it we are called thereunto. And they do but deceive themselves who engage into a profession of it without a readiness and preparation for these things. It is true, God may spare whom he pleaseth and when he pleaseth, as to the bitterness of them; and some, in his tenderness and compassion, are little, it may be, exercised with them all their days; but this is by especial dispensation and extraordinary indulgence. The rule is plain, we must be all ready in the school of Christ to say this lesson, and he may call forth whom he pleaseth unto its repetition. We are, it may be, loath to come forth, loath to be brought to the trial; but we must stand to it, or expect to be turned out of doors, and to be denied by the great Master at the last day. We are, for the most part, grown tender and delicate, and unwilling to come (so much as in our minds) to a resolved conversation with these things. Various hopes and contrivances shall relieve our thoughts from them. But the precept is universal, absolute, indispensable, and such as our entrance into the rest of God doth depend on its due observance. By the dread hereof are multitudes kept in the wilderness of the world, wandering up and down between Egypt and Canaan, and at length fall finally under the power of unbelief. These and the like things are very difficult unto our nature as it is weak.

2. All the commands of the gospel are opposite and contrary to our nature as it is corrupt. And this hath so large an interest in all men, as to make those things very difficult unto them which are wholly opposite thereunto. A sense hereof hath made some endeavor a composition between the gospel and their lusts, so “turning the grace of God into lasciviousness,” by seeking countenance from thence unto their sins, which have no design but to destroy them. From the corruption of our nature it is that the things which the gospel in its precepts requires us severely to cast off and destroy have a treble interest in us, that it is not easy to overcome, an interest of love, an interest of usefulness, and an interest of power.

(1.) An interest of love. Hence we are commanded to pull out right eyes, if they offend us, Matthew 5:29, things that are as dear unto us as our eye, as our right eye. And it is a proverbial expression to set out the high valuation and dear esteem we have of any thing, to say that it is unto us as our eye; as God himself, to express his tender care over his people, says, “he that toucheth them toucheth the apple of his eye,” Deuteronomy 32:10, Zechariah 2:8. And such are the lusts of the flesh naturally to men; whence the precept of the gospel, “If thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee,” immediately subjoined to that doctrine of purity and chastity, “Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart,” Matthew 5:28. Now there cannot but be great difficulty in cutting off and casting away from us such things as have so great an interest of love in us, as these lusts have in corrupted nature. Every one is unwilling to part with what he loves; and the more he loves it the less willing is he to part With it, the longer and the more earnestly will he hold it. And there is nothing that men naturally love more than their carnal lusts. They will part with their names, their estates, and venture their lives, all to satisfy them.

(2.) An interest of usefulness. Nature, as corrupt, would persuade a man that he cannot live nor subsist in this world without the help and advantage of some of those things which the gospel forbids to all them that will enter into the rest of God. Hence is the command to cut off the right hand, if it offend, Matthew 5:30; that is, things apprehended as useful unto us as a right hand is to the common services of life. Of this kind is that inordinate love of the world, and all the ways whereby it is pursued, which the gospel doth so condemn. These things are to many what Micah’s gods were unto him, who cried out upon the loss of them, when they were stolen by the Danites, “Ye have taken away my gods, and what have I more?” Take away from men their love of this world, and the inordinate pursuit of it, and they think they have no more; they will scarce think it worth while to live in the world any longer. And this interest also is to be overcome, which it cannot be without great difficulty; and a cleaving unto it is that which hinders multitudes from entering into the rest of God.

(3.) An interest of power. Hence sin is said to have “strongholds” in us, which are not easily cast down. But hereof I have treated in a peculiar discourse.

Secondly, Another reason of the difficulty of this work ariseth from the combined opposition that is made unto it; for as the Egyptians, the Canaanites, and the Amorites, did all of them their utmost to hinder the Israelites from entering into Canaan, and what they could not effect really by their opposition, they did morally, by occasioning the people’s unbelief through their fighting against them, which proved their ruin, so do our spiritual adversaries deal in this matter. If the work of the gospel go on, if men endeavor by it to enter into God’s rest, Satan must lose his subjects, and the world its friends, and sin its life. And there is not one instance wherein they will not try their utmost to retain their interest. All these endeavor to hinder us from entering into the rest of God; which renders it a great and difficult work.

It will be said, ‘That if there be all these difficulties lying before us, they must needs be so many discouragements, and turn men aside from attempting of it.’I answer,

1. Of old, indeed, they did so. The difficulties and discouragements that lay in the way of the people quite took off their hearts and minds from endeavoring an entrance into the promised land. But what was the event? The apostle declares at large that on this account the indignation of God came upon them, and “their carcasses fell in the wilderness.” And no otherwise will it be with them who are afraid to engage in those spiritual difficulties we have now to conflict withal. They will die and perish under the wrath of God, and that unto eternity. He that shall tell men that their entering into the rest of Christ is plain, easy, suited to nature as it is weak or corrupt, will but delude and deceive them. To mortify sin, subdue our bodies, and keep them in subjection, to deny ourselves, not only in the crucifying of lusts that have the secretest tendency unto things unlawful, but also in the use of things lawful, and our affections to them, pulling out right eyes, cutting off right hands, taking up the cross in all sorts of afflictions and persecutions, are required of us in this matter: and they are not at present joyous, but grievous; not easy and pleasant, but difficult, and attended with many hardships, To lull men asleep with hopes of a rest in Christ, and in their lusts, in the world, in their earthly accommodations, is to deceive them and ruin them We must not represent the duties of gospel faith and obedience as the Jesuits preached Christ to the Indians, never letting them know that he was crucified, lest they should be offended at it. But we must tell men the plain truth as it is, and let them know what they are to expect from within and from without, if they intend to enter into rest.

2. Notwithstanding all these difficulties, the promise of God, being mixed with faith, will carry us safely through them all. After the unbelieving generation was destroyed in the wilderness the hardships and difficulties still remained; yet their children, believing the promise, passed through them and entered into rest. The power of God, and his faithfulness amongst them and unto them, conquered them all. And it will be so with them infallibly that shall mix the promise with faith in reference unto this spiritual rest. God will both supply them with strength and subdue their enemies, so as that they shall not fail of rest. Whatever, therefore, may be pretended, it is nothing but unbelief that can cause us to come short of rest; and this will do it effectually. Faith in the promise will engage the power of Christ unto our assistance; and where he will work none shall let him. To this end we might consider the various ways whereby he will make mountains become plains, dry up rivers, yea, seas of opposition, and make all those things light and easy unto us which seem so grievous and insupportable unto our nature, either as weak and frail, or as corrupt and sinful. But we must not too far digress into these things, And I say, thirdly, which is a second observation from the words,

Obs. 2. That as the utmost of our labors and endeavors are required to our obtaining an entrance into the rest of Christ, so it doth very well deserve that they should be laid out therein.

‘Let us,’saith the apostle, ‘endeavor this matter with all diligence,’as the word imports. Men are content to lay out themselves unto the utmost for other things, and to spend their strength for “the bread that perisheth,” yea, “for that which is not bread.” Every one may see how busy and industrious the world is in the pursuit of perishing things; and men are so foolish as to think that they deserve their whole time and strength; and more they would expend in the same way, if they were intrusted with it. “This their way is their folly.” But how easy a thing were it to demonstrate, from the nature of it, its procurement and end, with our eternal concernment in it, that this rest deserves the utmost of our diligence and endeavors. To convince men hereof is one of the chief ends of the preaching of the gospel in general, and so needs not here to be insisted on.

Obs. 3. Again, there is a present excellency in and a present reward attending gospel faith and obedience.

They are an entrance into the rest of Christ, or they give us a present interest therein. They are not only a present means of entering into future eternal rest with God, but they give us a present participation of the rest of Christ; which wherein it doth consist hath been before declared.

Thirdly, The latter part of this verse yet remaineth to be explained and applied. Therein unto the precedent exhortation a motive is subjoined: “Lest any fall after the same example of unbelief.” These words, as was in part before intimated, do express either the sin to be avoided, or the punishment whereby we should be deterred from it.

The word, “to fall,” is ambiguous, and may be applied to either sense; for men may fall into sin, and they may fall into the punishment due to their sin, when that word is used in a moral sense. Matthew 15:14, “The blind lead the blind, ἀμφότεροι εἰς βόθυνον πεσοῦνται ,” “both shall fall into the ditch,” of sin or trouble. See Romans 11:22, James 5:12. For the prime use of the word is in things natural, and is only metaphorically translated to express things moral. And ὑπόδειγμα is most commonly “a teaching example.” So ὑποδείκνυμι is “to teach,” or “to instruct” by showing: Matthew 3:7, “O generation of vipers, τίς ὑπέδειζεν ὑμῖν ,” “who hath warned” (taught, instructed) “you.” Thence ὑπόδειγμα is “documentum.” Ταῦτα ὑποδείγματα ἔσται τῷ Πολυδάμνῃ ὧν δεῖ ἐπιμεληθῆναι· “These are instructions for Polydamnes, about the things that are to be provided for.” But it is also often used as παράδειγμα , “an exemplary punishment;” as ῾Υπόδειγμα τῷ πλήθει ποιῶν αὐτόν· “Making him an example to the multitude;” that is, in his punishment. And so among the Latins, “exemplum” is often put absolutely for “punishment,” and that of the highest nature. Now, if ὑπόδειγμα in this place be taken merely for a “document” or “instruction,” which is undoubtedly the most proper and usual signification of the word, then the sense may be, ‘Lest any of you should fall into that unbelief whereof, and of its pernicious consequents, you have an instructive example in them that went before, proposed on purpose unto you, that you might be stirred tap to avoid it.’If it be taken for παράδειγμα , as sometimes it is, and so include in its signification “an exemplary punishment,” then the meaning of the word is, ‘Lest any of you, through your unbelief, fall into that punishment, which hath been made exemplary in the ruin of those other unbelievers who went before you.’ And this I take to be the meaning of the words: ‘You have the gospel, and the rest of Christ therein, preached and proposed unto you. Some of you have already taken upon you the profession of it, as the people did of old at mount Sinai, when they said, “All that the LORD our God shall command, that we will do.” Your condition is now like unto theirs, and was represented therein. Consider, therefore, how things fell out with them, and what was the event of their sin and God’s dealing with them. They believed not, they made not good their engagement, they persisted not in their profession, but were disobedient and stubborn; and God destroyed them. They “fell in the wilderness,” and perished, not entering into God’s rest, as hath been declared. If now you, or any amongst you, shall be found guilty of their sin, or the like answering unto it, do not think or hope that you shall avoid the like punishment. An example of God’s severity is set before you in their destruction. If you would not fall into it, or fall under it, labor by faith and obedience to enter into the rest of Christ.’And this I take to be the true sense and importance of the words, answering in their coherence and relation unto them that go before; for these words, “Let us labor to enter into that rest,” are no more but, ‘Let us sincerely believe and obey; wherein we shall find, through Jesus Christ, rest to our souls.’Hereunto this clause of the verse is a motive: “Lest any of you fall in the same example of unbelief.” Now, if their sense should be, ‘Lest any of you, after their example, should fall into unbelief;’then that of the whole must be,

‘Let us labor to believe, that we fall not into unbelief,’ which is a mere battology, and remote from our divine author. Hence observe,

Obs. 4. Precedent judgments on others are monitory ordinances unto us.

They are so in general in all things that fall out in the providence of God in that kind, whereof we may judge by a certain rule. This is the use that we are to make of God’s judgments, without a censorious reflection on them in particular who fall under them; as our Savior teacheth us in the instances of the Galileans, whose blood Pilate mingled with their sacrifices, and those men on whom the tower in Siloam fell But there are many things peculiar in the examples of this kind given us in the Scripture; for,

1. We have an infallible rule therein to judge both of the sins of men and the respect that the judgments of God had unto them; besides,

2. They are designed instances of the love and care of God towards us, as our apostle declares, 1 Corinthians 10:11.

God suffered their sins to fall out, and recorded his own judgments against them in his word, on purpose for our instruction; so that as he declared his severity in them towards others, he makes known by them his love and care towards us. This gives them the nature of ordinances, which all proceed from love. To this end, and with a sense hereof, are we to undertake the consideration of them. So are they exceedingly instructive; to which purpose we have treated somewhat on the third chapter, whither we refer the reader. Again,

Obs. 5. It is better to have an example than to be made an example of divine displeasure; yet this will befall us if we neglect the former: for,

Obs. 6. We ought to have no expectation of escaping vengeance under the guilt of those sins which others, in a like manner guilty of, have not escaped.

We are apt to flatter ourselves, that however it fared with others, it will go well with us; like him who blesseth himself, and says he shall have peace, when he hears the words of the curse. This self-pleasing and security variously insinuates itself into our minds, and tenaciously cleaves unto us; but as we have any care of our eternal welfare, we are to look upon it as our greatest enemy. There is no more certain rule for us to judge of our own condition, than the examples of God’s dealings with others in the same. They are all effects of eternal and invariable righteousness; and “with God there is no respect of persons.” I might here insist on the ways and means whereby this self-flattery imposeth false hopes and expectations on men; as also on the duties required of us for to obviate and prevent its actings, but must not too often digress from our main purpose and design.

Verses 12-13

These next verses contain as new enforcement of the precedent exhortation, taken from the consideration of the means of the event threatened in case of unbelief. Two things are apt to arise in the minds of men for their relief against the fear of such comminations as are proposed unto them:

1. That their failing in point of duty may not be discerned or taken notice of. For they will resolve against such transgressions as are open, gross, and visible to all; as for what is partial and secret, in a defect of exactness and accuracy, that may be overlooked or not be obeyed.

2. That threatenings are proposed “in terrorem” only, to terrify and awe men, but with a mind or will of putting them into execution. Both those vain pretences and deceiving reliefs our apostle in these verses obviates the way of, or deprives men of them where they have been admitted. For he lets them know that they are to be tried by that, or have to do with Him, who both actually discovers all the secret frames of our hearts, and will deal with all men accordingly. Moreover, herein he informs them how and in what manner it is necessary for them to attend unto his exhortation in the performance of their duty; namely, not in or by a mere outward observance of what is required of them with respect unto profession only, but with a holy jealousy and watchfulness over their hearts, and all the intimate recesses of their souls, the most secret actings of their spirits and thoughts of their minds; seeing all these things are open unto cognizance, and subject unto trial.

Hebrews 4:12-13 . Ζῶν γὰρ ὁ λόγος τοῦ Θεοῦ , καὶ ἐνεργὴς , καὶ τομώτερος ὑπὲρ πᾶσαν μάχαιραν δίστομον , καὶ διϊκνούμενος ἄχρι μερισμοῦ ψυχῆς τε καὶ πνεὺματος , ἁρμῶν τε καὶ μυελῶν , καὶ κριτικὸς ἐνθυμήσεων καὶ ἐννοιῶν καρδίας· καὶ οὐκ ἔστι κτίσις ἀφανὴς ἐνώπιον αὐτοῦ· πάντα δὲ γυμνὰ καὶ τετραχηλισμένα τοῖς ὀφθαλμοῖς αὐτοῦ , πρὸς ὅν ἡμῖν ὁ λόγος .

Ζῶν γάρ , “vivus enim.” Syr. חיָּא הִי , “vivus es;” it supplies הִי , “est,” as all other translations, though there be an emphasis ofttimes in sundry in the omission of the verb substantive. Ours, “quick,” improperly; for that word doth more ordinarily signify “speedy,” than “living:” and I doubt not many are deceived in this place through the ambiguity of that word.

᾿῾Ο λόγος , “sermo,” “verbum;” so is that word promiscuously rendered by translators, though the first using of “sermo” in John 1:1 causedsome stir amongst them who had been long used to “verbum.” But these words are promiscuously used, both by the ancients and learned men of latter days Ours,” The word.” Syr., מֶלְּתֵתּ the same word that it useth John 1:1, where the person of the Son of God is spoken of.

Καὶ ἐνεργής , “et efficax;” so all the Latin translators; “efficacious,” “effectual in operation,” “powerful:” but that denotes the habit, this word intends the act, “effectually operative.” Syr. וְכֻל סָעֲרָא “et omnino,” or “ad omnia efficax,” altogether efficacious;” for ἐνεργής denotes a very intimate, active, powerful operation or efficacy. Rhem. “forcible.”

Καὶ τομώτερος . Vulg. Lat., Ari. Mon., “penetrabilior.” Scarce properly, for participles in “bilis,” are mostly passive; and in our language, “penetrable” is the description of a thing that may be pierced, or is easy so to be. Hence the Rhem. render it “more piercing,” properly. Beza, “penetrantior,” as Erasmus. Valla, and from him Erasmus, say they would render it “incidentior,” were that a proper Latin word. Ours, “sharper;” not so properly, “ more cutting,” or “more piercing.” Syr., וְחַרִיפָא טָב , “et longe penetrantior;” “and much more cutting,” “sharp,” or “piercing.” It adds “cal” and “tab,” to express the form of the comparative degree used in the original.

῾Υπὲρ πᾶσαν μάχαιραν δίστομον , “super omnem gladium ancipitem,” “above any two-edged sword.” ῾Υπέρ being added to the preceding comparative τομώτερος , eminently exalts one of the comparates above the other. Syr. פוְמִיהָ דַּתְרֵין , “before a sword with two mouths.” Both the Hebrews and the Greeks call the edge of the sword its mouth, στόμα τῆς μαχαίρας , “the mouth of the sword,” it being that wherewith it devours. Beza, “quovis gladio ancipiti.” Eras., “utrinque incidente.” Arab., “and in cutting sharper than a sword of two edges.” Ethiopic, “than a razor.” Ours, “than any two-edged sword.”

Καὶ διϊκνούμενος , “et pertingens,” “et pertinget.” Syr., וְעָאֲלָא , “et ingreditur,” “and entereth,” “reacheth unto,” “cometh into,” “pierceth into.” ῎Αχρι μερισμοῦ ψυχῆς τε καὶ πνεύματος , “usque ad divisionem animae et spiritus.” Beza, “animee simul ac spiritus,” “both of soul and spirit;” expressing the particle τε , which yet in some copies is wanting.

῾αρμῶν τε καὶ μυελῶν , “compagumque et medullarum,” “of the joints and marrow.” The Syriac adds וְגַרְמֵא , “and of the bones.” Ethiopic, “et discernit aniroam ab anima, et quod noctescit a nocte; “discerneth one soul from another, and that which is dark from night,” that is, the most secret things.

Καὶ χριτικός , “et discretor.” Vulg. Lat., “et judicat,” “et dijudicat;” “judgeth,... discerneth.” “Judex,” “criticus,” “and is a discerner;” that is, one that discerneth by making a right judgment of things.

᾿Ενθυμήσεων , “cogitationum.” Ethiopic, “cogitationum desiderabilium,” “desirable thoughts;” not without reason, as we shall see.

Καὶ ἐννοιῶν καρδίας . Vulg. Lat., Ari., Eras., “intentionum cordis,” “of the intentions of the heart.” Beza, “conceptuum,” “conceptions.” Ours, “intents,” a word of a deeper sense. There may be “conceptus” where there is not “intentio” or “propositum.” Syr., “the will of the heart.” See Ephesians 2:3.

Καὶ οὐκ ἔστι κτίσις , “et non est creatura,” “and there is not a creature.” Beza, “et nulls est res crests,” “and there is no created thing;” more proper in Latin, but a “creature” is common with us.

᾿Αφανής . Beza, “non manifests.” Ours, “that is not manifest.” Vulg. Lat., “invisibilis.” And the Rhem., “invisible,” not properly: “not manifestly apparent.” Syr., “that is hid.”

Πάντα δὲ γυμνά . Beza, “imo omnia nuda,” “yea, all things axe naked.” Ours, “but all things are naked.”

Καὶ τετραχηλισμένα . Vulg. Lat., “aperta,” “open.” Beza, “intime patentia,” “inwardly open.” Erasm., “resupinata,” “laid on their backs,” “open.” Syr., וגְלֵא , “and manifest,” or “revealed.” Πρὸς ὅν ἡμῖν ὁ λόγος . Beza, “quo cure nobis est negotium;” which ours render, “with whom we have to do.” Vulg. Lat., “ad quem nobis sermo.” Rhem., “to whom our speech is.” Syr., “to whom they give account.” And the Arabic to the same purpose, “before whom our trial or excuse must be.” What help we may have in the understanding of the words from these various translations of them, we shall see in our consideration of the particulars of the text. The difficulty of the place hath caused me to inquire the more diligently into the sense of translators upon the words themselves. [8]

[8] Exposition. Three questions are raised by the use of the term λόγος in this passage: l. Does it refer to the personal or written Word? That the former is the correct exegesis is the opinion of Clericus, Seb. Schmid, Spener, Heinsius, Cramer, Alting, Olshausen, and Tholuek; while the latter view is held by Bengel, M’Knight, M’Lean, Bloomfield, Stuart, Scholefield, Turner, and Ebrard. 2. Do both the 12th and 13th verses apply to the written word? Most of those who hold by the latter of the two views just mentioned, with some exceptions, such as Ebrard, conceive that there is a transition in the 13th verse to God himself, the pronoun αὐτοῦ referring to the same person to whom our account is to be rendered. 3. Opposed to the view that the personal Word is meant, three opinions are held:

(1.) Some writers conceiving “the word” to mean Old Testament threatenings, such as Stuart;

(2.) Others, such as Ebrard, New Testament revelation; while

(3.) Conybeare and Howson understand by it the revelation of God’s judgment to the conscience. ED.

Hebrews 4:12-13 . For the word of God is living and powerful [or effectual, ] and sharper [ more cutting, or cutting more ] than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner [ a discerning judge ] of the thoughts and intents [ conceptions ] of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not [ apparently ] manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do, [or to whom we must give an account. ]

The whole exposition of these words depends on the subject spoken of, Hebrews 4:12; that, therefore, we must diligently inquire into. This being rightly stated, the things spoken must be duly accommodated unto it; and in these two things doth the due exposition of these words consist. Now this subject is ὁ λόγος τοῦ Θεοῦ , “the word of God.” It is known that this name sometimes in the Scripture denotes the essential Word of God, sometimes the word spoken by him: or, λόγος Θεοῦ is either οὐσιωδής , that is, the eternal Son of God; or προφορικός , his enunciative word, the word of his will, his declared, written word. And the confounding of these is that which so entangleth the Quakers amongst us; or rather, is that whereby they endeavor to entangle others, and seduce “unlearned and unstable souls” But all sorts of expositors are divided in judgment about which of these it is that is here intended. Amongst the ancients, Ambrose, with many others, contends that it is the essential and eternal Word of God which is spoken of. Chrysostom seems rather to incline to the written word. The expositors of the Roman church are here also divided. Lyra, Cajetan, Carthusianus, a Lapide, Ribera, with sundry others, pleaded for the essential Word. Gatenus, Adamus, Hessetius, Estius, for the word written. So do the Rhemists in their annotations, and particularly for the word of threatening. Amongst the Protestants, few judge the essential Word, or Son of God, Jesus Christ, to be intended. Jacobus Cappellus and Gomarus I have only met withal that are positively of that mind. Among the rest, some take it for the word of God preached in general, as Calvin; some for the threatenings of God, with the Rhemists; and some peculiarly for the gospel. Crellius waives all these, and contends that it is the decree of God which is designed; which when he comes to the explanation of, he makes it the same with his threatenings. I shall inquire with what diligence I can into the true and direct meaning of the Holy Ghost herein.

First, I grant that the name here used, ὁ λόγος τοῦ Θεοῦ , “the word of God,” is ascribed sometimes to the essential Word of God, and sometimes to the enunciative word, or the Scripture, as inspired and written. That the Son of God is so called we shall show afterwards; and that the declaration of the will of God by the penmen of the Scripture is so termed, is obvious and acknowledged by all but only our Quakers. But testimonies are full, many, and pregnant to this purpose: Luke 5:1, “The multitude pressed on him to hear τὸν λόγον τοῦ Θεοῦ ,” “the word of God;” where the word of God is directly distinguished from him that spake it, which was Jesus Christ. Luke 8:11, “The seed is ὁ λόγος τοῦ Θεοῦ ,” the word of God;” that is, the word preached by Jesus Christ, the good sower of that seed, as the whole chapter declares. Luke 11:28, “Blessed are those that hear τὸν λόγον τοῦ Θεοῦ , καὶ φυλάσσοντες αὐτόν ,” “ the word of God, and keep it;” that is, preserve it in their hearts, and obey it being heard. Mark 7:13, “Making void τὸν λόγον τοῦ Θεοῦ ,” “the word of God by your traditions.” The word of God, that is, in his institutions and commands, is directly opposed to the traditions and commands of men, and so is of the same general nature. Acts 4:31, “They were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and spake out τὸν λόγον τοῦ Θεοῦ ,” “the word of God,” the word which they preached, declaring Jesus Christ to be the Son of God. When Philip had preached the gospel at Samaria and many believed, it is said, Acts 8:14, that “the apostles heard that Samaria had received τὸν λόγον τοῦ Θεοῦ ,” “the word of God,” or believed the doctrine of the gospel preached unto them. Acts 12:24, ῾Ο δὲ λόγος τοῦ Θεοῦ ηὔξανε καὶ ἐπληθύνετο ,” “But the word of God grew and multiplied;” that is, upon the death of Herod it was more and more preached and received. 1 Corinthians 14:36, “Did the word of God go out from you, or came it to you alone?” In like manner is it used in many other places. I have instanced in these to obviate the vain clamors of those men who will not allow the Scripture, or gospel as preached, to be called the word of God. So ὁ λόγος absolutely, “the word,” and “the word of the gospel,” “the word preached,” “the word of Christ,” are common notations of this declared word of God.

Secondly, It is granted that the attributes and effects that are there ascribed unto the word of God may, in several senses, be applied to the one and the other of the things mentioned. That they are properly ascribed unto the eternal Son of God shall be afterwards declared. That in some sense also they may be applied unto the written word, other places of the Scripture, where things of the same nature are ascribed unto it, do manifest. Isaiah 49:2; Psalms 45:5; Psalms 105:19; Psalms 107:20; Psalms 147:15; Psalms 147:18; Isaiah 40:8; Isaiah 45:11, are cited by Grotius to this purpose, whereof yet more do clearly confirm the assertion. For though the word of God be mentioned in them, yet in some of the places the essential Word of God, in most of them his providential word, the word of his power, is unquestionably intended. But see Hosea 6:5; 1 Corinthians 14:24-25.

Thirdly, It must be acknowledged, that if the things here mentioned be ascribed unto the written word, yet they do not primarily and absolutely belong unto it upon its own account, but by virtue of its relation unto Jesus Christ, whose word it is, and by reason of the power and efficacy that is by him communicated unto it. And on the other hand, if it be the Son, or the eternal Word of God, that is here intended, it will be granted that the things here ascribed unto him are such as for the most part he effects by his word in and upon the hearts and consciences of men. Hence the difference that is between the various interpretations mentioned in the issue concurs in the same things, though the subject primarily spoken of be variously apprehended. Now that this is the word of God’s will, his enunciative word, his word written, spoken, preached, is by very many contended and pleaded on the ensuing reasons:

1. From the subject; ‘Because the Son of God, or Christ, is nowhere in the Scripture called ὁ Λόγος τοῦ Θεοῦ , “the Word,” or “Word of God,” but only in the writings of John the apostle, as in his Gospel and the Revelation. By Paul he is everywhere, and in an especial manner in this epistle, called the Son, the Son of God, Jesus Christ; and nowhere is he termed by him the Word, or the Word of God.’This argument is made use of by all that are of this mind; but that it is not available to evince the conclusion intended shall immediately be made manifest.

2. From its attributes. They say, ‘The things here spoken of, and attributed unto the word of God, as that it is “powerful, sharper than a two-edged sword, piercing to the dividing asunder of the soul and spirit,” are not personal properties, or such things as may properly be ascribed unto a person, as the eternal Word of God is, but rather belong unto things, or a thing, such as is the word preached.’Now this must be particularly examined in our exposition of the words; wherein it will be made to appear, that the things here ascribed unto the word of God, taken together in their order and series, with respect unto the end designed, are such as cannot firstly and properly belong to any thing but a person, or an intelligent subsistence, though not merely as a person, but as a person acting for a certain end and purpose, such as the Son of God is; and this will also be evinced in our exposition of the words.

3. From the context. It is objected by Estius,

‘That the mentioning or bringing in of Christ, the Son of God, in this place is abrupt, and such as hath no occasion given unto it; for the apostle in the precedent verses is professedly treating about the gospel, and the danger they were in that should neglect it, or fall away from the profession of it. Hence it naturally follows, that he should confirm his exhortation by acquainting them with the power and efficacy of that word which they did despise.’

But neither is there any force in this consideration: for,

(1.) We shall see that there is a very just occasion to introduce here the mention of the Lord Christ, and that the series of the apostle’s discourse and arguing did require it.

(2.) It is the way and manner of the apostle, in this epistle, to issue his arguings and exhortations in considerations of the person of Christ, and the respect of what he had insisted on thereunto. This we have already manifested in several instances.

(3.) Thus, in particular, when he had treated of the word of the law and of the gospel, he closeth his discourse by minding them of the punishment that should and would befall them by whom they were neglected. Now punishing is the act of a person, and not of the word, Hebrews 2:1-3. And there is the same reason for the introduction of the person of Christ in this place.

(4.) Estius himself doth, and all must confess, that it is either God or Christ that is intended, Hebrews 2:13, “with whom we have to do,” and “before whose eyes all things are opened and naked.” And if the order of the discourse admit of the introduction of the person of Christ in Hebrews 2:13, no reason can be assigned why it may not do so in Hebrews 2:12. Yea, it will be found very difficult, if possible, to preserve any tolerable connection of speech, and so to separate those verses that what is spoken of in the one should not be the subject of the other also.

4. Cameron argues, from the connection of the words, to prove the preaching of the word, and not the person of Christ, to be intended. For saith he,

‘The conjunction, καὶ , noteth the reason of the thing spoken of before; but that which precedes is a dehortation from the contempt of the gospel. And the reason hereof the apostle gives in these verses, in that those, who forsake the gospel which they have once embraced are wont to be vexed in their consciences, as those who have denied the known truth. And although they seem to be quiet for a season, yet it is stupidness, and not peace, that they are possessed with. Now this judgment is often ascribed unto the word of God.’

Ans. These things are somewhat obscurely proposed. The meaning seems to be, that the apostle threatens the Hebrews with the judging and disquieting power of the word when it is by any rejected. But this is inconsistent with the true design of the words, which we before laid down. Having exhorted them to perseverance, and to take heed that they neglected not the promise of entering into the rest of God through unbelief, he presseth them further to care, diligence, sincerity, and constancy, in the performance of the duty that he had exhorted them unto. And this he doth from the consideration of the person of Christ, the author of the gospel; as his manner is in all his arguings, to bring all to that point and center. And as to his present purpose, suitably unto his exhortation and the duty which he enjoined them, he insists upon his ability to discern and discover all the secret frames and actings of their spirits, with all the ways and means whereby a declension in them might be begun or carried on.

I do judge, therefore, that it is the eternal Word of God, or the person of Christ, which is the subject here spoken of, and that upon the ensuing reasons:

First, ὁ λόγος and ὁ Λόγος τοῦ Θεοῦ , “the Word,” and “the Word of God,” is the proper name of Christ in respect of his divine nature, as the eternal Son of God. So is he called expressly, John 1:1-2; Revelation 19:13, Καλεῖται τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ , ὁ λόγος τοῦ Θεοῦ , “His name is called” (or, “this is his name,”) “the Word of God.” This, therefore, being the name of Christ, where all things that are spoken of it do agree unto him, and there be no cogent reasons in the context to the contrary, be is presumed to be spoken of, nor will any rule of interpretation give countenance to the embracing of another sense.

It is, as we heard before, excepted against this first reason, that Christ is called ὁ λόγος , “the Word,” only in the writings of John the evangelist, and nowhere else in the New Testament, particularly not by our apostle in any of his epistles.

Ans. 1. This observation can scarcely be made good; I am sure not convincingly. Luke the evangelist tells us that some were ἀπ᾿ ἀρχῆς αὐτόπται καὶ ὑπηρέται τοῦ Λόγου , Luke 1:2, from the beginning eye-witnesses and ministers of the Word:” that is, of the person of Christ; for these words are expounded, 1 John 1:1, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled of the Word of life.” They were αὐτόπται τοῦ Λόγοῦ , “ eye-witnesses of the Word.” How they could be said to be eye-witnesses of the word preached is not evident. Jerome renders the words,

“Sicut tradiderunt nobis, qui ab initio viderunt Sermonem et ministraverunt el,” Praefat. in Evangel;

“As they delivered unto us, who from the beginning themselves saw the Word, and ministered unto him.”

And ὑπηρέται must respect a person to whom those so called do minister, and not ,the word that is administered. In the same sense the word is used again most probably, Acts 20:32:

Παρατίθεμαι ὑμᾶς , ἀδελφοὶ , τῷ Θεῷ , καὶ τῷ Λόγῳ τῆς χάριτος αὐτοῦ , τῷ δυναμένῳ ἐποικοδομῆσαι καὶ δοῦναι ὑμῖν κληρονομίαν·

“I commend you, brethren, to God, and to the Word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and give you an inheritance.” To be able to build us up, and give us an inheritance, is the property of a person; nor can they be ascribed to the word preached, without forced prosopopoeia, and such as is unusual in Scripture. Therefore this Λόγος τῆς χάριτος τοῦ Θεοῦ is the Son of God. God he is called “the Word of his grace,” either because he was given unto us of his mere grace, as he is elsewhere called “the Son of his love;” or τῆς χάριτος may be “genitivus effecti,” the Word that is the author and cause of grace; as God himself is called “the God of peace and love,” 2 Corinthians 13:11. To him therefore, are believers committed and commended by the apostle, as a recommendation is made of one man unto another in or by an epistle. See its sense in Acts 14:23; 1Ti 1:18 ; 1 Peter 4:19. Now, the word of the gospel is said to be committed or commended unto us, 2 Timothy 2:2; so as we cannot, unless it be exceeding abusively, [9] be said to be committed and commended thereunto. And if any will not admit the person of Christ to be here intended by “the Word of God’s grace,” I would supply an ellipsis, and read the text, “I commend you to God, and the Word of his grace, even to him that is able;” which I acknowledge the manner of the expression by the article τῷ δυναμένῳ will bear.

[9] That is, in a sense remote from the proper use of the word. Ed.

2. But whatever may be spoken concerning this phraseology in other places and in other epistles of this apostle, there is peculiar reason for the use of it here. I have observed often before, that in writing this epistle to the Hebrews, our apostle accommodates himself to the apprehensions and expressions that were then in use among the Hebrews, so far as they were agreeable unto the truth, rectifying them when under mistakes, and arguing with them from their own concessions and persuasions. Now at this time there was nothing more common or usual, among the Hebrews, than to denote the second subsistence in the Deity by the name of “The Word of God.” They were now divided into two great parts; first, the inhabitants of Canaan, with the regions adjoining, and many old remnants in the east, who used the Syro-chaldean language, being but one dialect of the Hebrew; and, secondly, the dispersions under the Greek empire, who are commonly called Hellenists, who used the Greek tongue. And both these sorts at that time did usually, in their several languages, describe the second person in the Trinity by the name of “The Word of God.” For the former sort, or those who used the Syro-chaldean dialect, we have an eminent proof of it in the translation of the Scripture which, at least some part of it, was made about this time amongst them, commonly called the Chaldee Paraphrase; in the whole whereof the second person is mentioned under the name of מימרא דיי , “Memra da-Iova,” or the “Word of God.” Hereunto are all personal properties and all divine works assigned in that translation; which is an illustrious testimony to the faith of the old church concerning the distinct subsistence of a plurality of persons in the divine nature. And for the Hellenists, who wrote and expressed themselves in the Greek tongue, they used the name of ὁ Λόγος τοῦ Θεοῦ , the “Word of God,” to the same purpose; as I have elsewhere manifested out of the writings of Philo, who lived about this time, between the death of our Savior and the destruction of Jerusalem. And this one consideration is to me absolutely satisfactory as to the intention of the apostle in the using of this expression, especially seeing that all the things mentioned may far more properly and regularly be ascribed unto the person of the Son than unto the word as written or preached. And whosoever will take the pains to consider what occurs in the Targums concerning their מימרא דיי , the “Word of God,” and compare it with what the apostle here speaks, and the manner of its introduction, will, if I greatly mistake not, be of the same mind with myself. But I shall add yet some further considerations.

3. The introduction of ὁ Λόγος , or “the Word,” here, is with respect unto a commination or an admonition; for the design of it is to beget a reverence or fear in the minds of men about their deportment in the profession of the gospel, because of the consequents of disobedience in punishment and revenge, Now the Lord Christ is particularly termed the “Word of God” with respect unto the judgments that he exerciseth with regard unto his church and his gospel, Revelation 19:13. That administration, therefore, being here respected, gives occasion unto a peculiar ascription of that name unto him, the “Word of God,” who will destroy all the opposers and forsakers of the gospel.

4. It cannot be denied, nor is it by any, but that it is the person of the Son, or of the Father, that is intended, Hebrews 4:13. Indeed it is directly of the Son, as we shall manifest from the close of the words; but all confess God to be intended. Nor can these expressions, of “all things manifest in his sight,” and Being “opened and naked unto his eyes,” be applied unto any other, or intend any other but God; and that it is the Son who is especially intended the close of the verse doth evince, πρὸς ὅν ἡμῖν ὁ Λόγος . He speaks of “him with whom we have to do.” Some take πρὸς ὅν here for περὶ οὗ , “concerning whom;” ἡμῖν ὁ λόγος , “nostra oratio est,” “our discourse is:” which must needs denote the Son, concerning whom in this whole epistle he treats with the Hebrews. Ours, “with whom we have to do;” that is, in this matter, who hath a concernment in us and our steadfastness or declension in profession. And this also properly and immediately designs the person of the Son. The precise sense of the words is, “cui a nobis reddenda ratio est,” “ to whom we must give an account,” both here and hereafter.

So Chrysostom and the Syriac translation expressly. Principally this respects the last day’s account, called our λόγος , or “ratiocinium:” Hebrews 13:17, “They watch for your souls, ὡς λόγον ἀποδώσοντες ,” “as those that must give an account.” Luke 16:2, ᾿Απόδος τὸν λόγον , “Give an account of thy stewardship.” Romans 14:12, “Every one of us λόγον δώσει ,” “shall give an account of himself unto God.” 1 Peter 4:5, Οἱ ἀποδώσουσι λόγον , “Who shall give an account unto him who is ready to judge the quick and the dead.” And this account is certainly to be given up immediately to Jesus Christ, Acts 17:31, Romans 14:9-10. Nor is it any way obstructive to the embracing of this sense, that ὁ λόγος should be taken so diversely in the beginning of the 12th (Hebrews 4:12) and end of the 13th verse (Hebrews 4:13) , during the continuation of the same discourse. For such an antanaclasis is not only very frequent but very elegant: ῾Ο Λόγος τοῦ Θεοῦ , πρὸς ὅν ἡμῖν ὁ λόγος . See Matthew 8:22, 2 Corinthians 5:21, John 1:11. It is therefore the person of Christ which is undeniably intended in the 13th verse (Hebrews 4:13) , even he to whom we must give an account of our profession, of our faith and obedience. And the relative, αὐτοῦ , in the first clause of that verse, in “his sight,” can refer to nothing properly but ὁ Λόγος or “Word of God,” Hebrews 4:12. And its dependence is dear thereon: “Is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart; neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight..” So a reason is assigned in the beginning of the 13th verse (Hebrews 4:13) of what was affirmed in the dose of the 12th (Hebrews 4:12): he is “a discerner of the thoughts of the heart,” because “all things are manifest unto him.”

5. The attributes here ascribed to the word, Hebrews 4:12, do all of them properly belong unto the person of Christ, and cannot firstly and directly be ascribed to the gospel. This shall be manifested in the ensuing explication of the words:

(1.) It is said to be ζῶν , “virus,” “vivens,” “living;” which, as was observed, we have translated ambiguously, “quick.” Ζῶν is applied to God himself, as expressing a property of his nature, Matthew 16:16, 1 Timothy 4:10, Hebrews 3:12. And it is also peculiarly ascribed unto Christ the mediator, Revelation 1:18. And he is ὁ ζῶν , “the living one.” And two things are intended in it:

[1.] That he who is so “hath life in himself”

[2.] That he is the “Lord of life” unto others. Both which are emphatically spoken of the Son.

[1.] He “hath life in himself,” John 5:26; and,

[2.] He is the “Prince of life,” Acts 3:15, or the author of it.

He hath the disposal of the life of all, whereunto all our concernments temporal and eternal do belong. See John 1:4. And it is evident how suitable unto the purpose of the apostle the mention hereof at this time is. He minds the Hebrews that he with whom they have to do in this matter is “the living one.” As in like manner he had before exhorted them to “take heed of departing from the living God,” and afterwards warns them how “fearful a thing it is to fall into the hands of the living God,” Hebrews 10:31; so here, to dissuade them from the one and to awe them with the other, he minds them that “the Word of God,” with whom in an especial manner they have to do, is “living.” What is contained in this consideration hath been declared on John 3:13. Slow this cannot properly be ascribed unto the word of the gospel. It is, indeed, the instrumental means of quickening the souls of men with spiritual life, or it is the instrument that the Lord Christ maketh use of to that purpose; but in itself it is not absolutely “living,” it hath not life in itself, nor in its power. But Christ hath so; for “in him is life, and the life is the light of men,” John 1:4. And this one property of him with whom we have to do contains the two great motives unto obedience; namely, that on the one side he is able to support us in it, and reward us eternally for it; on the other, that he is able to avenge all disobedience. The one will not be unrewarded, nor the other unrevenged; for he is “the living one” with whom in these things we have to do.

(2.) It is ἐνεργής , “powerful.” Power for operation is an act of life; and such as is the life of any thing, such is its power for operation. These things, life, power, and operation, answer one another. And this power signifies actual power, power acted or exerted, actuated power, or power effectual in actual operation. Having therefore first assigned life to the Word of God, that is the principle of all power, life in himself, as being “the living one,” our apostle adds that he exerts that power of life in actual operation, when, where, and how he pleaseth. He is ἐνεργής . ᾿Ενεργέω , I confess, is a common word, signifying the efficacy of any thing in operation according to its principle of power; but it is that also whereby our apostle most frequently expresseth the almighty, effectual, operating power of God in and about spiritual things, 1Co 12:6 ; 1 Corinthians 12:11, Galatians 2:8; Galatians 3:5, Ephesians 1:11, Php 2:13 , 1 Thessalonians 2:13, Ephesians 1:19, Colossians 2:12, and elsewhere. And this was necessary to be added to the property of life, to manifest that the Lord Christ, the Word of God, would effectually put forth his power in dealing with professors according to their deportment; which afterwards is expressed in sundry instances. And herein the apostle lets both the Hebrews and us know that the power that is in Christ lies not idle, is not useless, but is continually exercising itself towards us as the matter doth require. There is also, I acknowledge, an energy, an operative power in the word of God as written or preached; but it is not in it primarily, by virtue of a life or principle of power in itself, but only as a consequent of its being his word who is “the living one,” or “as it is indeed the word of the living God.”

The original of the power of Christ in life, and the efficacy of it in operation, being laid down, he further declares it,

(1.) By its properties;

(2.) By its effects.

(1.) The property of the Word, with respect unto the exercise of his power, is, that it is τομώτερος ὑπὲρ πᾶσαν μάχαιραν δίστομον . From τέμνω , to “cut or “divide,” is τομός , “scindens,” “incidens,” “cleaving,” “cutting,” or that which is “vi incisofia praeditus,” endued with a cutting power; τομώτερος , in the comparative degree. Valla says he would render it “incidentior,” were that word used. So in Phocylides,

῞Οπλον τοι λόγος ἀνδρὶ τομώτερόν ἐστι σιδήρῳ .

“Telum ferro penetrantius;” “acutior,” “penetrantior” (see the different translations of the word before); “sharper,” “more piercing.” ῾Υπὲρ πᾶσαν μάχαιραν δίστομον . The preposition added to the comparative degree increaseth the signification; for it might have been said, τομὸς ὑπὲρ πᾶσαν , or τομώτερος πάσης μαχαίρας : but the construction used expresseth the greatest distance between the comparates, “than any two-edged sword.” Δίστομος , that is, ἀμφι . στομος , “gladius biceps, anceps, utrinque incidens;” “double-edged or mouthed, cutting every way.” פִּיאּחֶרֶב , “the mouth of the sword,” is a Hebraism, with such an elegance in the allusion as most languages have admitted it. The metaphor is doubtless taken from wild beasts, whom mankind first feared, that devour with their mouths; which when the sword began to be used for destruction, gave them occasion to call its edge by the name of its “mouth:” δίστομος , “double-mouthed,” cutting each way, that leaves nothing unpierced whereunto it is applied. Christ in the exercise of his power is said to be “more piercing than any two-edged sword;” for so doth God oftentimes set forth himself and his power, with an allusion to things sensible, thereby to convey a notion and apprehension of them to our understandings. So he is said to be “a consuming fire,” and that he will be “as a lion;” things of great terror to men. This of a “sword” is often mentioned with respect unto the Lord Christ, Isaiah 49:2; Revelation 1:16, “Out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword.” And it is principally assigned unto him with respect unto the exercise of his power in and by his word, which is called “the sword of the Spirit,” Ephesians 6:17; the “sword that is on his thought” Psalms 45:3, which he hath in readiness when he goeth forth to subdue the souls of men to himself; as it is also “the rod of his power,” Psalms 110:2.

But it is Christ himself who makes the word powerful and sharp: the principal efficiency is in himself, acting in and with it. That then which is here intended, is the spiritual, almighty, penetrating efficacy of the Lord Christ, in his dealing with the souls and consciences of men by his word and Spirit. And whereas there is a twofold use of a sword; the one natural, to cut or pierce through all opposition, all armor of defense; the other moral, to execute judgments and punishments, whence the sword is taken for the right and authority of punishing, and ofttimes for punishment itself, Romans 13:4; here is an allusion unto it in both senses. The Lord Christ, by his word and Spirit, pierceth into the souls of men (as we shall see in the next clause), and that notwithstanding all the defense of pride, security, obstinacy, and unbelief, which they wrap up themselves in, according to the natural use of the sword. Again, he by them executes judgments on wicked men, hypocrites, false professors, and apostates. He “smites the earth with the rod of his mouth, and slays the wicked with the breath of his lips,” Isaiah 11:4. He cuts off the life of their carnal hopes, false peace, worldly security, whatever they live upon, by the “two-edged sword” that proceeds out of his mouth. And the minding of the Hebrews hereof was exceedingly suited to his present purpose, as hath been declared. And in the pursuit of this double allusion are the ensuing expressions accommodated to the matter intended.

(2.) This power of the Word is described by its effects: Διϊκνούμενος ἄχρι μερισμοῦ ψυχῆς τε καὶ πνεύματος , ἀρμῶν τε καὶ μυελῶν· καὶ κριτικὸς ἐνθυμήσεως καὶ ἐννοιῶν καρδίας . The act itself intended is in the first word, διϊκνούμενος . The object of that act is doubly expressed,

[1.] By “soul and spirit;”

[2.] “Joints and marrow;” and

[3.] There is the extent of this act with reference unto that object, expressing the effect itself, ἄχρι μερισμοῦ , “to the dividing of them.”

Διϊκνούμενος , perceniens,” “penetrans;” “piercing,” say we, in answer to the sharpness before expressed. The word in other authors is variously rendered by “pervado,” “permeo,” “pervenio,” “attingo,” “to pass through,” “to reach unto,” “to attain an end;” from ἵκω , “to come.” It is here, in the pursuit of the former allusion, used elegantly to express the power of Christ, as a sword piercing into the soul. And the meaning of the following expressions is, that it doth so into the innermost recesses, and as it were the secret chambers of the mind and heart. And this word is nowhere else used in the Scripture.

The object of this piercing is the “soul and spirit.” Some think that by ψυχή , the natural and unregenerate part of the soul is intended; and by πνεῦμα , that which is in it renewed and regenerate. And there is some ground for that explication of this distinction; for hence is a man wholly unregenerate called ψυχικός , 1 Corinthians 2:14; say we, “the natural man.” And though ψυχή , absolutely used, doth denote either the being of the rational “soul,” or “life,” which is an effect thereof; yet as it is opposed to the “spirit,” or distinguished from it, it may denote the unregenerate part, as σάρξ , the “flesh,” doth, though absolutely it signifies one part of the material substance of the body. From hence is an unregenerate person denominated ἄνθρωπος ψυχικός . So the spiritual part is frequently called πςεῦμα , the “spirit,” as John 3:6; and are generate person πνευματικός , the “spiritual man,” 1 Corinthians 2:15. According to this interpretation, the sense of the words is, that the Word of God, the Lord Christ, by his word and Spirit pierceth into the state of the soul, to discover who or what is regenerate amongst us or in us, and who or what is not so. The principles of these things are variously involved in the souls of men, so that they are not ofttimes discernible unto them in whom they are, as to whether of them is predominant. But the Lord Christ makes μερισμός , a “division” with a distribution, referring all things in the soul to their proper source and original. Others judge, that whereas our apostle makes a distinction between soul and spirit, as he doth in other places, he intends by ψυχή , “the soul,” the affections, the appetites, and desires; and by πνεῖμα , “the spirit,” the mind or understanding, the τὸ ἡγεμονικόν , the “conducting part” of the soul. And it is most probable that he here intends the same: for setting out the penetrating power of the Word of God with reference unto the souls of men, he distributes the soul into as it were its principal constituent parts, or faculties of it; that is, the mind, that leads, conducts, and guides it; and the passions, that steer and balance it, wherein all the most secret recesses and springs of all its actings do lie. And this sense is confirmed from the following words, wherein the same thing is asserted under a different notion, namely, of the “joints and marrow.” That which in the soul answers the joints and marrow in the body, by way of allusion, is that which is intended. Joints and marrow in themselves are things sensual and fleshly, that have no concern in this matter; but in the body they are doubly considerable,

[1.] Upon the account of their use; and so they are the ligaments of the whole, the principal and only means of communication to the members from the head, and among themselves. So this use of them is translated to spiritual things, Ephesians 4:16. And by a luxation or discontinuation of them the whole body will be dissolved.

[2.] On the account of their hiddenness and secrecy. They are undiscernible unto the eye of man, and it must be a sharp instrument or sword that pierceth unto them so as to divide them one from the other, whereby natural life will be destroyed. As these things are in the body for use and hiddenness, with respect unto their being pierced with a sword, so would the apostle have us to understand what he speaks of in reference unto the soul, the most useful and secret parts whereof are pierced and divided by the power of Christ; whence, if it be in a way of punishment, spiritual death doth ensue. And this is yet further confirmed in the last description which the apostle gives us of the Word of God from his actings and effects, he is “a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart;” which yet he more clearly explains in the next verse, as we shall see in the opening of it. That, then, which in all these expressions is intended, is the absolute power and ability of the Son of God to judge of the rectitude and crookedness of the ways and walkings of the sons of men under their profession, from the inward frames of their minds and hearts unto all their outward duties and performances, either in perseverance or backsliding.

The last expression, κριτικὸς ἐνθυμήσεοιν καὶ ἐννοιῶν καρδίας , “is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart,” is plainly declarative of what is elsewhere ascribed unto him, namely, that he is καρδιογνώστης , he that “knoweth and searcheth the hearts of men.” This is a peculiar property of God, and is often affirmed so to be, Jer 17:10 ; 1 Samuel 16:7; Psalms 7:9; and this in an especial manner is ascribed to the Lord Christ, John 2:24-25; John 21:17; Revelation 2:23. This is eminently expressed in that confession of Peter, “Lord, thou knowest all things, thou knowest that I love thee;”

‘By virtue of thine omniscience, whereby thou knowest all things, thou knowest my heart, and the love which I have therein unto thee.’ Κριτικός , “judex,” “discretor;” one that, upon accurate inspection and consideration, judgeth and giveth sentence concerning persons and things. It differs from κριτής , a “judge,” as adding the act of judging unto the right and power of judgment. And this word alone, as it is here used, is sufficient to evince that the person of Christ is here principally intended, seeing it cannot be accommodated to the word as written or preached, in any tolerable manner.

Καρδίας . By the “heart,” as I have showed before, the whole soul and all the faculties of it, as constituting one rational principle of moral actions, is intended, and so includes the “soul and spirit” before mentioned. Here two things are ascribed unto it:

[1.] ᾿᾿Ενθυμήσεις , “thoughts,” “cogitations,” whatever is inwardly conceived, ἐν τῷ θυμῷ , “in the mind;” with a peculiar respect unto the irascible appetite called יֵצֶר מַחְשְׁ בֹת לֵכ , Genesis 6:5, “the figment of the cogitations of the heart,” the thoughts which are suggested by the inclinations of the affections, with their commotions and stirrings in the heart or mind.

[2.] ῎Εννοιαι , “designs” or purposes,” inwardly framed ἐν τῷ νόῳ , “in the understanding.” Sometimes this word signifies the moral principles of the mind, by which it is guided in its actings. Hence are the κοιναὶ ἔννοιαι , or “common principles” that men are directed by in what they do. And here it denotes the principles that men are guided by in their actings, according to which they frame their actual purposes and intentions. Upon the whole matter, the design of the apostle in these words is to declare the intimate and absolute acquaintance that the Word of God hath with the inmost frames, purposes, desires, resolutions, and actings of the minds of professors; and the sure, unerring judgment which he makes of them thereby.

Hebrews 4:13 . The 13th verse contains a confirmation of what is asserted in that foregoing. There the apostle declared how the Word of God pierceth into the hearts, minds, and souls of men, to discern and judge them. That they to whom he wrote might not doubt hereof, he confirms it by showing the ground of his assertion, which is the natural omniscience of the Word of God: ‘It cannot be otherwise than as I have declared, seeing he of whom we speak, “with whom we have to do,” to whom we must give an account, this “Word of God,” seeth and knoweth all things, nor can any thing possibly be hid from him.’This is the natural coherence of the words, and upon a supposition of a different subject to be spoken of in this from the foregoing verse, no man can frame a tolerable transition in this contexture of words from the one unto the other. I shall therefore proceed in the explication of them, as words of the same design, and used to the same purpose.

Καὶ οὐκ ἔστι κτίσις ἀφανὴς ἐνώπιον αὐτοῦ . The manner of the expression is by a double negation: the one expressed, οὐκ ἔστι , there is not;” the other included in the privative α in ἀφανής . And these expressions do emphatically assert the contrary to what is denied: “There is not a creature that is not manifest;” that is, every creature is eminently, illustriously manifest.

Οὐκ ἔστι κτίσις , “there is not a creature,” anything created: that is, every creature whatever, whether they be persons or things, angels, men, devils, professors, persecutors, all men of all sorts; and all things concerning them, their inward frames of mind and heart, their affections and temptations, their state and condition, their secret actings, their thoughts and inclinations. This confirms and carries on the foregoing attributions to the Word of God. ᾿Αφανής Θαίνω is “to appear,” “to shine forth;” and ἀφανής is opposed to ἐπιφανής , “illustrious,” “perspicuous,” “eminently manifest;” so it is “hid,” “obscure,” not openly or evidently appearing. It is more than ἄραντος , which is merely “one out of sight,” Luke 24:31. This negation includes a plain, clear, illustrious appearance, nothing shrouding, hiding, terposing itself to obscure it.

᾿Ενώπιον αὐτοῦ , “before him,” “in conspectu ejus,” “in his sight.” Every creature is continually under his view. Αὐτοῦ must refer to ὁ Λόγος τοῦ Θεοῦ , “the Word of God,” in the beginning of Hebrews 4:12; and cannot respect πρὸς ὅν , in the end of this verse. For the interposition of the adversative particle δέ , “but,” and the introduction of the relative αὐτοῦ again, do necessarily refer this αὐτοῦ to ὁ Λόγος , and proves the same person to be all along intended.

Πάντα δὲ γυμὰ καὶ τετραχηλισμένα . The unusual application of the word τραχηλίζομαι , in this place hath made work more than enough for critica. But the design of the apostle is open and plain, however the use of the word be rare, with some especial allusion. All agree that τετραχηλισμένα is as much as πεφανερωμένα , “absolutely open” or “manifest.” Only Oecumenius hath a peculiar conceit about it. It is, saith he, κάτω κύπτοντα , καὶ τὸν τράχηλον ἐπικλίνοντα , διὰ τὸ μὴ ἱσχύειν ἀτεςίσαι τῇ δοξῃ ἐκείνῃ τοῦ κριτοῦ καὶ Θεοῦ ἡμῶν ᾿Ιησοῦ· “bowing down, and declining or turning aside the neck, as not being able to behold the glory of Jesus, our Judge and God.” But he gives us another signification of the word himself. Τράχηλος , “the neck,” is a word commonly used in Scripture, and in all authors. Thence τραχηλίζομαι , in the sense here used, “to be manifest,” must receive its signification from some posture of the neck; and as joined here with Turves, “naked,” it may have respect unto a double allusion. First, unto wrestlers and contenders in games. First they were made naked, or stripped of their clothes; whence, as it is known, comes γυμνάζω and γυμνάσιον , “vigorously to exercise,” and a place of such exercise. Then, in their contending, when one was thrown on his back, when he was “resupinatus,” he was τραχηλιζόμενος , “laid open, with his throat and neck upwards.” Hence the word comes signify things that are “open, naked, evident, manifest.” The face and neck of a naked person being turned upwards, it is manifest who he is. This is to have “os resupinatum;” and, as he speaks, “aulam resupinat amici” [Juv., Sat. 3. 112], of him who sees what is in the bottom. There is yet another allusion that may be intended, and this is token from beasts that are slain, and, being stripped of their skins, are hanged by the neck, that all may see and discern them. This is also mentioned by OEcumenius. And Varinus gives us a further sense, and says that τραχηλίζειν is as much as διχοτομεῖν , “to divide into parts;” or διὰ τῆς ῥάχεως σχίζειν , “to cut,” “cleave,” or “divide through the back- bone,” that all may be discovered. And from these two significations I suppose the design of the apostle in this allusion may most probably be collected. It is evident that he hath great regard unto, and doth much instruct the Hebrews by and from the customs in use amongst themselves. Unto one of them doth he here seem to have respect, namely, the beasts that were sacrificed. The first thing that was done with the body of it, after it was slain, was its being flayed. This work was done by the priests. Hereby the carcass of the beast was made γυμνόν , “naked,” laid open to the view of all. Then were all its entrails opened, from the neck down to the belly; after which the body was cut into its pieces through the chine- bone: whereby in both the senses mentioned, both of opening and division, it became τετραχηλισμένον , “opened and divided,” so that every part of it was exposed to view. Hence the apostle, having compared the Word of God before in his operations to a “two-edged sword, that pierceth to the dividing asunder of the joints and marrow,” as did the sharp knife or instrument of the sacrificer; here affirms that “all things” whatever, and so consequently the hearts and ways of professors, were “evident, open, and naked before him,” as the body of the sacrificed beast was to the priests when flayed, opened, and cut to pieces. This is the most probable account of these expressions in particular, whose general design is plain and evident. And this appears yet further from the next words.

Τοῖς ὀφθαλμοῖς αὐτοῦ , “to the eyes of him.” He followeth on his former allusion; and having ascribed the evidence of all things unto the omniscience of the Word, by the similitude before opened, in answer thereunto he mentions his eyes wherewith he beholds the things so naked and open before him. Both expressions are metaphorical, containing a declaration of the omniscience of Christ, whom he further describes in the last words, by our respect unto him in all these things.

Πρὸς ὅν ἡμῖν ὁ λόγος . How variously these words are rendered, and thereby what various senses are put upon them, hath been declared. But both the proper signification of them and the design of the place direct us to one certain sense, namely, “to whom we must give an account.” Λόγος is “an account;” there is no other word used in the New Testament to express it. Πρὸς ὅν is properly “unto whom,” and not “of whom,” or “concerning whom;” that is, it expresseth the object of the action here mentioned, and not the subject of the proposition. And the whole is rightly rendered, “to whom we must give an account;” or, “before whom our account is to be made.” And this answers the design of the apostle in the place. For evidencing unto them the efficacy and omniscience of the Word of God, trying all things, and discerning all things, he minds them of their near concernment in these matters, in that he and they must all give up their final accounts unto and before him who is so intimately acquainted with what they are, and with whatsoever they shall do in this world.

There are many things remaining to be observed from these words, which are both of great importance in themselves, and do also serve to the further explanation of the mind of the Holy Ghost in these words, as to what of our instruction is particularly intended in them. And from the properties that are assigned to the Word of God, Hebrews 4:12, we may observe, that,

Obs. 1. It is the way of the Spirit of God, to excite us unto especial duties by proposing unto us and minding us of such properties of God as the consideration whereof may in an especial manner incline us unto them.

Here the Hebrews are minded that the Word of God is living, to give unto their hearts that awe and reverence of him which might deter them from backsliding or falling away from him. Our whole duty in general respects the nature of God. It is our giving glory to him because he is God, and as he is God, “glorifying him as God,” Exodus 20:2; Isaiah 42:8; Deuteronomy 28:58; Romans 1:21. It is our giving him the honor which is due to his being. That is the formal reason of all divine worship and obedience. And as this duty in general brancheth itself into many particular duties in the kinds of them, all which in various instances are continually to be attended unto; so God hath not only revealed his being unto us in general, but he hath done it by many distinct properties, all of them suited to promote in our minds our whole duty towards God, and this or that duty in particular. And he often distinctly presseth upon us the consideration of those properties, for to stir us up unto those distinct duties which they direct unto. God in his nature exists in one simple essence or being; nor are there any things really different or distinct therein. His nature is all his properties, and every one of his properties is his whole nature; but in the revelation of himself unto us he proposeth his nature under the notion of these distinct properties, that we may the better know the nature of the duty which we owe unto him: Hosea 3:5, “Fear the LORD and his goodness.” So in places innumerable doth he mind us of his power and greatness; that upon our thoughts and apprehensions of them we might be stirred up to fear him, to trust in trim, to get our hearts filled with a due awe and reverence of him, with many other duties of the like nature with them, or evidently proceeding from them: to trust, Isaiah 26:4; fear, Jeremiah 10:6-7. His goodness, grace, bounty, patience, are all of them distinctly proposed unto us; and they all lead us unto especial duties, as the apostle speaks, Romans 2:4, “The goodness of God leadeth to repentance.” From these, or the efficacy of the consideration of them upon our souls, ought to proceed our love, our gratitude, our delight in God, our praise and thankfulness; and by them ought they to be influenced. So his holiness ingenerates terror in the wicked, Isaiah 33:14; and holy reverence in others, Hebrews 12:28-29. The like may be spoken of the rest of the properties of God, with respect unto the remainder of our duties. In like manner, and to the same purpose, did God of old reveal himself by his name. He still ascribed such a name to himself as might be prevalent on the minds of men unto their present duties. So when he called Abraham to “walk before him,” in the midst of many difficulties, temptations, hardships, and dangers, he revealed himself unto him by the name of God Almighty, thereby to encourage him to sincerity and perseverance, Genesis 17:1. Hence, in his greatest distress he peculiarly acted his faith on the power of God, Hebrews 11:19. And when he called his posterity to comply in their faith and obedience with his faithfulness in the accomplishment of his promises, he revealed himself unto them by his name Jehovah; which was suited to their especial encouragement and direction, Exodus 6:3. To the same end are the properties of the Word of God here distinctly proposed unto us. We are called to the faith and profession of the gospel. Herein we meet with many difficulties without, and are ofttimes ready to faint in ourselves, or otherwise to fail and miscarry. In this matter we have to do with the Lord Christ; to him we must one day give an account. Wherefore, to stir us up to carefulness, diligence, and spiritual watchfulness, that we give not place to any decays or declensions in our profession, we are especially minded that he is the living one, and one that continually exerciseth acts of life toward us. And in all duties of obedience, it will be our wisdom always to mind that respect which the properties of God or of Christ have unto them. Again, the Word of God is so living as that also it is powerful, or actually always exercising itself in power, actually efficacious toward the ends mentioned, ἐνεργής . So that,

Obs. 2. The life and power of Christ are continually exercised about the concernments of the souls of professors; are always actually efficacious in them and upon them.

And this power he putteth forth by his word and Spirit; for we declared, in the opening of the words, that the effects here ascribed unto the essential Word are such as he produceth by the word preached, which is accompanied with and made effectual by the dispensation of the Spirit, Isaiah 59:21. And the power here intended is wholly clothed with the word; thereby it is conveyed to the souls of men; therein is “the hiding of his power,” Habakkuk 3:4. Though it seems weak, and is despised, yet it is accompanied with the hidden power of Christ, which will not fail of its end, 1 Corinthians 1:18. And the word preached is not otherwise to be considered, but as that which is the conveyance of divine power to the souls of men. And every impression that it makes on the heart is an effect of the power of Christ. And this will teach us how to value it and esteem it, seeing it is the only way and means whereby the Lord Christ exerciseth his mediatory power towards us on the behalf of God; and effectual it will be unto the ends whereunto he designs it. For he is in it “sharper than any two-edged sword.” So that,

Obs. 3. The power of Christ in his word is irresistible, as to whatever effects he doth design it, Isaiah 55:10-11.

The power of Christ in his word is by many exceedingly despised and slighted. Few there are who seem to have any real effects of it produced in them or upon them. Hence it is looked on in the world as a thing of no great efficacy; and those who preach it in sincerity are ready to cry out, “Who hath believed our report?” But all this ariseth from a mistake, as though it had but one end designed unto it. Had the Lord Christ no other end to accomplish by his word but merely that which is the principal, the conversion of the souls of his elect, it might be conceived to fail towards the far greater number of them to whom it is preached. But it is with him in his word as it was in his own person. He was “set for the fall” as well as “the rising of many in Israel,” and “for a sign that should be spoken against, Luke 2:34. As he was to be unto some “for a sanctuary,” so “for a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense to both the houses of Israel; for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem,” among whom “many were to stumble” at him, “and fall, and be broken,” Isaiah 8:14-15. And these things are all of them effectually accomplished towards them to whom he is preached. They are all of them either raised by him unto God out of their state of sin and misery, and do take sanctuary in him from sin and the law; or they stumble at him, through their unbelief, and perish eternally. None can ever have Christ proposed unto them upon indifferent terms, so as to be left in the condition wherein they were before. They must all be saved by his grace, or perish under his wrath. And so is it also with him in his word. The end, whatever it be that he assigns unto it with respect unto any, shall undoubtedly be accomplished. Now these ends are various, 2 Corinthians 2:14-15. Sometimes he intends by it only the hardening and further blinding of wicked sinners, that they may be the more prepared for deserved destruction: Isaiah 6:9-11,

“Go, tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed. Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate.”

The principal accomplishment hereof was in the personal ministry of Christ himself towards the people of the Jews, Matthew 13:14; Mark 4:12; Luke 8:10; John 12:50. But the same is the condition of things in the preaching of the word to this day. Christ designs in it to harden and blind wicked sinners unto their destruction. And herein it misseth not of its effect. They are so until they are utterly destroyed. Towards some he designs it only for their conviction; and this it shall through his power unconquerably effect. There is not one whom he aimeth to convince but he shall be convinced, whatever he intends by those convictions. “His arrows are sharp in the heart of his enemies, whereby the people fall under him,” Psalms 45:5. Let men be never so much his enemies, yet if he intends their conviction, he will so sharpen his word upon their hearts as that they shall let go their professed enmity and fall down in the acknowledgment of his power. None whom he will have convinced by his word shall be able to withstand it. Now, as the first sort of men may reject and despise the word as to any convictions from it which it is not designed to give them, but can never avoid its efficacy to harden them in their sins; so this second sort may resist and reject the word as to any real saving work of conversion, which is not in it or by it assigned unto them, but they cannot withstand its convictions, which are its proper work towards them. With respect unto others, it is designed for their conversion; and the power of Christ doth in this design so accompany it as that it shall infallibly accomplish that work. These dead creatures shall “hear the voice of the Son of God” in it and live. It is, then, certainly of high concernment unto all men unto whom Christ comes in his word, to consider diligently what is or is like to be the issue and consequence of it with respect unto themselves. Things are not issued according to outward appearance. If there were no hidden or secret events of the dispensation of the power of Christ in the word, all thoughts of any great matter in it might easily be cast off; for we see that the most live quietly under a neglect of it, without any visible effect upon their hearts or lives. And how then is it “sharper than any two-edged sword?” Things are indeed quite otherwise; the word hath its work on all; and those who are neither convinced nor converted by it, are hardened, which is in many evident to a spiritual eye. And surely we may do well to consider how it fareth with our own souls in this state of things. It is to no purpose to think to hide things secretly in our own thoughts, and to please ourselves in our own darkness; the power of Christ in the word will reach and search out all; for it “pierceth to the dividing asunder of the. soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow.” So that,

Obs. 4. Though men may close and hide things from themselves and others, yet they cannot exclude the power of Christ in his word from piercing into them.

Men are apt strangely to hide, darken, and confound things between their soul and their spirit, that is, their affections and their minds. Herein consists no small part of the deceitfulness of sin, that it confounds and hides things in the soul, that it is not able to make a right judgment of itself. So men labor to deceive themselves, Isaiah 28:15. Hence, when a man can countenance himself from any thing in his affections, his soul, against the reflections that are made upon him from the convictions of his mind or spirit, or when he can rest in the light of his understanding, notwithstanding the perverseness and frowardness of his affections, he is very apt to be secure in an ill condition. The first deceiveth the more ignorant, the latter the more knowing professors. The true state of their souls is by this means hid from themselves. But the power of Christ in his word will pierce into these things, and separate between them. He doth so as to his

1. Discerning, his

2. Discovering or convincing, and his

3. Judging power.

1. Let things be never so close and hid, he discerneth all clearly and distinctly; they are not hid from him, Psalms 139:4; Jeremiah 23:24. John 2:23-25. And where he designs,

2. The conviction of men, he makes his word powerful to discover unto them all the secret follies of their minds and affections, the hidden recesses that sin hath in them, their close reserves, and spreads them before their eyes, to their own amazement, Psalms 50:21. So our apostle tells us, that by prophesying, or expounding the word of Christ, the secrets of men’s hearts are discovered; that is, to themselves, they find the word dividing asunder between their souls and spirits; whereon they fall down and give glory to God, 1 Corinthians 14:24-25. And hereby also,

3. He exerciseth his judging power in men. Let men arm themselves never so strongly and closely with love of sin and pleasure, carnal security, pride, and hatred of the ways of God, until their brows become as brass, and their neck as a sinew of iron, or let their sins be covered with the fair pretense of a profession, Christ by his word will pierce through all into their very hearts; and having discovered, divided, and scattered all their vain imaginations, he will judge them, and determine of their state and condition, Psalms 45:5; Psalms 110:6. Hereby doth he break all their strength and peace, and the communication of supplies in sin and security that have been between the mind and the affections, and destroys all their hopes.

Men are apt to please themselves in their spiritual condition, though built on very sandy foundations. And although all other considerations fail them, yet they will maintain a life of hopes, though ungrounded and unwarrantable, Isaiah 57:10. This is the condition of most false professors; but when the word of Christ by his power enters into their souls and consciences, it utterly casts down all their confidences, and destroys their hopes and expectations. Nothing now remains but that such a person betake himself wholly to the life which he can make in sin, with its lusts and pleasures; or else come over sincerely to him in whom is life, and who giveth life unto all that come unto him. So he “slays the wicked with the breath of his lips,” Isaiah 11:4. And this is the progress that the Lord Christ makes with the souls of men:

1. He discerneth himself their state and condition, what is good or evil in them.

2. He discovereth this unto themselves, or convinceth them of their sins and dangers; which surpriseth them with fears, and sometimes with amazements.

3. He judgeth them by his word, and condemns them by it in their own consciences. This makes them give over their old security and confidences, and betake themselves unto new hopes that yet things may be better with them.

4. He destroys these hopes also, and shows them how vain they are. And hereon they either betake themselves wholly to their sins, so to free themselves from their convictions and fears, or sincerely give up themselves unto him for relief. To this purpose, again, it is added, that this Word of God is “a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart;” that is, one that so discerns them as to put a difference between them, and to pass judgment upon them.

Obs. 5. The Lord Christ discerneth all inward and spiritual things. in order to his future judgment of those things, and the persons in whom they are on their own account.

Our discerning, our judging, are things distinct and separate. Discerning every thing weakly, imperfectly, and by parts or pieces, we cannot judge speedily, if we intend at all to judge wisely. For we must “judge after the sight of our eyes, and reprove after the hearing of our ears;” that is, according as we can take in by weak means an understanding of what we are to make a judgment upon. With the Word or Son of God it is not so; for he at once discerning all things perfectly and absolutely, in all their causes, circumstances, tendencies, and ends, in the same instant he approveth or condemneth them. The end of his knowledge of them is comprised in his knowledge itself, license to “know,” in the Scripture, when ascribed to God, doth sometimes signify to approve, accept, and justify; sometimes to refuse, reject, and condemn. Wherefore Christ’s judging of the thoughts and intents of men’s hearts is inseparable from his discerning of them, and the end why he fixeth his eye upon them. For this cause is he said to be “of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD,” so as “not to judge after the sight of his eyes, nor approve after the hearing of his ears;” that is, according to the outward appearance and representation of things, or the profession that men make, which is seen and heard: but “he judgeth with righteousness, and reproveth with equity,” according to the true nature of things, which lieth hidden from the eyes of men, Isaiah 11:3-4. He knows to judge, and he judgeth in and by his knowledge; and the most secret things are the especial objects of his knowledge and judgment. Let not men please themselves in their secret reserves. There is not a thought in their hearts, though but transient, never arising to the consistency of a purpose, not a pleasing or seeming desirable imagination in their minds, but it lies continually under the eye of Christ, and at the same instant that very judgment is by him passed on them which shall be given out concerning them at the last day. O that we could always consider with what awe and reverence, with what care and diligence, we ought continually to walk before this holy, all-seeing One! In the description that is given of him when he came to deal with his churches, to “judge them with righteousness, and reprove them with equity,” “not according to the sight of his eyes or the hearing of his ears,” that is, the outward profession that they made, it is said that “his eyes were as a flame of fire,” Revelation 1:14; answerable unto that of Job to God, “Hast thou eyes of flesh? or seest thou as man seeth?” Job 10:4. He doth not look on things through such weak and failing mediums as poor frail creatures do, but sees all things clearly and perfectly according as they are in themselves, by the light of his own eyes, which are “as a flame of fire.” And when he comes actually to deal with his churches, he prefaceth it with this, “I known thy works,” which leads the way; and his judgment on them upon the account of those works immediately followeth after, Revelation 2:3. And it may be observed, that the judgment that he made concerning them was not only wholly independent of their outward profession, and ofttimes quite contrary unto it, but also that he judged otherwise of them, yea, contrary to that which in the secret of their hearts they judged of themselves. See Hebrews 3:17. So when Judas was in the height of his profession, he judged him a devil, John 6:70-71; and when Peter was in the worst of his defection he judged him a saint, as having prayed for him that his faith might not fail So doth he know that he may judge, and so doth he judge together with his knowledge; and this easily and perfectly, for “all things are naked and opened before him;” so that,

Obs. 6. It is no trouble or labor to the Word of God to discern all creatures, and all that is of them and in them, seeing there is nothing but is evidently apparent, open, and naked, under his all- seeing eye.

It would be necessary here to open the nature of the knowledge or omniscience of God, but that I have done it at large in another treatise, whereunto I refer the reader. [10] Now, after the consideration of all the particulars, we may subjoin an observation that naturally ariseth from the multiplying of the instances here given by the apostle, and it is that,

[10] See vol. 10. p. 23, of the author’s works. Ed.

Obs. 7. It is a great and difficult matter really and practically to convince professors of the practical judging omnisciency of Jesus Christ, the Word of God.

On the account hereof, added to the great importance of the thing itself unto our faith and obedience, doth the apostle here so multiply his expressions and instances of it. It is not for nothing that what might have been expressed in one single plain assertion is here set out in so many, and with such variety of allusions, suited to convey a practical sense of it unto our minds and consciences. All professors are ready enough to close with Peter in the first part of his confession, “Lord, thou knowest all things;” but when they come to the other, “Thou knowest that I love thee,” that is, to make a practical consideration of it with respect unto their own hearts and ways, as designing in all things to approve themselves unto him as those who are continually under his eye and judgment, this they fail in and are hardly brought unto. If their minds were fully possessed with the persuasion hereof, were they continually under the power thereof, it would certainly influence them unto that care, diligence, and watchfulness, which are evidently wanting in many, in the most of them. But love of present things, the deceitfulness of sin, the power of temptations, cares, and businesses of life, vain and uncertain hopes, do effectually divert their minds from a due consideration of it. And we find by experience how difficult it is to leave a lasting impression of it on the souls of men. Yet would nothing be of more use unto them in the whole course of their walking before God. And this will further appear, if, after the precedent exposition of the several particular parts of these verses, and brief observations from them, we duly consider the general design of the apostle in the words, and what we are instructed in thereby.

In the foregoing verses, having greatly cautioned the Hebrews against backsliding and declension in their profession, acquainting them with the nature and danger of unbelief and the deceitfulness of sin whereby that cursed effect is produced, the apostle in these verses gives an account of the reason of his earnestness with them in this matter. For although they might pretend that in their profession they gave him no cause to suspect their stability, or to be jealous of them, yet he lets them know that this is not absolutely satisfactory, seeing that not only others may be deceived in the profession of men, and give them “a name to live” who are really “dead,” but they also may please themselves in an apprehension of their own stability, when they are under manifold decays and declensions. The principles and causes of this evil are so close, subtile, and deceitful, that none is able to discern them but the all-seeing eye of Jesus Christ. On the account whereof he minds them fully and largely of his power and omniscience, whereunto they ought to have a continual regard, in their faith, obedience, and profession. Hence we are instructed,

First, That the beginnings or entrances into declensions in profession, or backslidings from Christ and the ways of the gospel, are secret, deep, and hardly discoverable, being open and naked only to the all-discerning eye of Christ.

Secondly, That the consideration of the omniscience of Christ, his all- searching and all-seeing eye, is an effectual means to preserve the souls of professors from destructive entrances into backslidings from the gospel.

Thirdly, The same consideration, duly improved, is a great relief and encouragement unto those who are sincere and upright in their obedience. For the apostle intends not merely to terrify those who are under the guilt of the evil cautioned against, but to encourage the meanest and weakest sincere believer, who desireth to commend his conscience to the Lord Jesus in his walking before him. And these things being comprehensive of the design of the apostle in these weighty words of truth and wisdom, and being greatly our unto concernment duly to consider, must be distinctly handled and spoken unto.

Obs. 8. For the first of the propositions laid down, it is the design of the apostle to teach it in all those cautions which he gives to these professing Hebrews against this evil, and concerning the subtilties and surprisals wherewith it is attended. See Hebrews 3:12-15. Everywhere he requires more than ordinary watchfulness and diligence in this matter; and plainly intimates unto are the temptations that professors are to be exercised withal, unless they are exceeding heedful, there will be no preventing of a surprisal or seduction into some degrees at least of declension and backsliding from the gospel. There will be some loss or decay, in faith, or love, or works, one way or other.

The Asian churches are a sad exemplification of this truth. In a short time the most of them were greatly fallen off from their first gospel engagements; yea, so far as that some of them are threatened with excision and casting off from Christ. And yet no one of those churches seems to have had the least sense of their own decays; and those in especial who had made the greatest progress in falling away were yet justified by others with whom they conversed, having amongst them “a name to live,” and applauded themselves in their condition, as that which was good and in nothing blamable. In this state the Lord Christ comes to make a judgment concerning them, as all things lay open and naked under his eye. In the description that is given of him upon his entrance into this work, it is said, as was observed before, that “his eyes were as a flame of fire,”

Revelation 1:14, seeing all things, discerning all things, piercing at one view from the beginning unto the end of all. And he declares that he will so deal with them that “all the churches shall know that he searcheth the reins and hearts” of men, Revelation 2:23. And what work doth he make amongst these secure churches! One is charged with loss of love and faith; another of works; a third with lukewarmness and carnal pride; a fourth with spiritual death as to the generality of them, and most of them with various decays and miscarriages, and those such as themselves took no notice of. But his eye, which stays not upon the outside of things, be they never so gay or glorious, but pierceth to the secret embryos and first conceptions of sin and declensions, found them out, and passed judgment on them in righteousness and equity.

1. Now, one great reason hereof is taken from the subtilty of the principal causes of backsliding, and of the means or false reasonings whereby it is brought about. That which is wrought subtilely and deceitfully is wrought closely, and is therefore secret and hidden. And the first impressions that these subtile and deceitful causes make upon the minds of professors, the first entanglements which these deceitful reasonings cast upon their affections, if they are not merely transient, but abide upon their souls, there these causes of declensions, they are everywhere expressed in the Scripture, and everywhere expressly declared to be subtile and deceitful;

(1.) Indwelling sin is fixed on as the next cause of declensions and backslidings. This the apostle in this epistle chargeth (under the names of a “root of bitterness,” of “the sin that doth so easily beset us,” an “evil heart of unbelief,” and the like) with the guilt of this evil. And he himself declares this principle to be deceitful, subtile; that is, close, secret, hidden in its operation and tendency, Hebrews 3:13. To this purpose is seducing, enticing, and craft assigned unto it in the Scripture. And it hath among others innumerable this advantage also, that being within us, dwelling in us, having possessed itself of the principles of our natures, it can insinuate all its corrupt and perverse reasonings, under the specious pretense of natural self-love, which is allowable. This our apostle was aware of, and therefore tells us that when he was called to preach the gospel he “conferred not with flesh and blood,” Galatians 1:16. By “flesh and blood” no more is intended but human nature as weak and frail. But in and by them the deceitfulness of sin is so ready to impose upon us its own corrupt reasonings, that the apostle thought not meet to entertain a parley with the very principles of his own nature, about self-preservation.

But this deceitfulness of sin I have handled at large in another treatise. Here only I observe, that the effects of this deceitful principle are, at least in their beginnings and first entrances, very close and secret, open only to the eye of Christ.

(2.) Satan also hath a principal hand in effecting or bringing about the declension of men from and in their profession. It is his main work, business, and employment in the world. This is the end of all his temptations and serpentine insinuations into the minds of professors. Whatever be the particular instance wherein he dealeth with them, his general design is to draw them off from their “first faith,” their “first love,” their “first works,” and to loosen their hearts from Christ and the gospel. And I suppose it is not questioned but that he carrieth on his work subtilely, secretly, craftily. He is not called the “old serpent” for nothing. It is a composition of craft and malice that hath laid him under that denomination. His methods, his depths, his deceits, are we cautioned against. Hereabout treats our apostle with the Corinthians, 2 Corinthians 11:3, “I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” It is true Eve was so beguiled, but who should now beguile the Corinthians? Even the same old deceiver, as he informs them, verse 14, “For Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light;” namely, in his fair and plausible pretences for the accomplishment of his wicked and abominable ends. He works in this matter by deceit, beguiling the souls of men, and therefore doth his work secretly, closely; for “in vain is the net spread before the eyes of any fowl.” But his work also lies under the eye of Christ.

(3.) The world also hath its share in this design. The “cares of it,” and “the deceitfulness of riches,” further this pernicious work of the minds and ways of professors, Matthew 13:22. By them is the seed of the gospel choked, when they pretend only to grow up with it, and that there is a fair consistency between them and profession.

Now, though backsliding from Christ and the gospel be thus distinctly assigned to these causes, and severally to one in one place, to another in another, and that as they are especially or eminently predominant in the singular instances mentioned, and so the effect is denominated from them, this is from indwelling sin, this from Satan, and that from the world; yet indeed there is no apostasy or declension in the minds of any which is not influenced by them all, and they are mutually assistant to each other in their work. Now, where there is a contribution of subtilty and craft from several principles all deeply depraved with that vicious habit, the work itself must needs be close and hidden, which craft and deceit do principally aim at; as that poison must needs be pernicious which is compounded of many poisonous ingredients, all inciting the venom of one another. But the Lord Christ looks through all this hidden and deceitful work, which no eye of man can pierce into.

Again, The conjunct reasonings of these deceitful principles whereby they prevail with professors to backsliding, are plausible, and thereby the malignity of them and their secret influencing of their minds hardly discernible. Many of them may be referred unto these heads, wherein they do consist:

(1.) Extenuations of duties and sins.

(2.) Aggravations of difficulties and troubles.

(3.) Suggestions of false rules of profession. Profession is our avowed observation of all evangelical duties, on the account of the authority of Christ commanding them; and abstinence from conformity to the world in all evil, on the same forbidding it. The forementioned principles labor by all ways to extenuate these duties, as to their necessity and importance. Granted it shall be that they are duties, it may be, but not of that consideration but that they may be omitted or neglected. Consider the severals, in that which is comprehensive of them all:

[1.] This is constancy in profession in a time of danger and persecution. The hearts of men are often seduced with vain thoughts of holding their faith and love to Christ, which they hope will save them eternally, whilst they omit that profession of them which would endanger them temporally. A duty that also shall be allowed to be; but not of that necessity or importance, to save our present concerns, especially whilst the substance of faith and love to Christ is in our hearts entirely preserved. This ruined many of the rich and great among the Jews: John 12:42, “Among the chief rulers many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue.” They went a great way in believing. And, considering their places and conditions, who would have required more of them? Would you have men, merely on the account of outward profession, hazard the loss of their places, interests, reputation, and all that is dear unto them? I know now well what men think in this case; the censure of the Holy Ghost in this matter concerning them is, “They loved the praise of men more than the praise of God,” verse 43, than which nothing almost can be spoken with more severity. And these Hebrews were influenced into declensions from the same fallacy of sin. They were fallen into days wherein profession was perilous; and therefore, although they would not renounce the faith whereby they hoped to be roved, yet they would let go their profession, for which they feared they should be troubled. So our apostle intimates, Hebrews 10:25. In this and the like instances do the subtile reasonings of sin and Satan secretly corrupt the minds of men, until they are insensibly, and sometimes irrecoverably engaged in a course of withdrawing from Christ and the gospel. The same may be observed as to other duties, and especially as to degrees of constancy and fervency in the performance of them. From these the minds of men are often driven and diverted by the crafty reasonings of sin, whereby they are entered into apostasy. Some of the churches in the Revelation are charged not absolutely with the loss of their love, but of their “first love;” that is, the especial degrees of it in fervency and fruitfulness which they had attained.

[2.] Again, by these reasonings the deceitful principles mentioned do endeavor an extenuation of the guilt of such evils as lie in a tendency to alienate the heart from Christ and the gospel. An instance hereof we have in the Galatians. The observation of Judaical ceremonies was by false teachers pressed upon them. They did not once attempt to draw them from Christ and the gospel, nor would they have endured the proposal of any such thing. Only they desired that, together with the profession of the gospel and the grace of Christ, they would also take upon them the observation of the Mosaical rites and institutions. Hereunto they propose unto them a double motive:

1 st. That they should hereby have union with the professing Jews, and so all differences be removed.

2dly . That they should escape persecution, which was then upon the matter alone stirred up by the envious Jews, Galatians 6:12.

If both these ends may be obtained, and yet faith in Christ and the gospel be retained, what inconvenience or harm would it be if they should engage into these observances? Accordingly many did so, and took upon them the yoke of Judaical rites. And what was the end of this matter! Our apostle lets them know that what they thought not of was befallen them, and yet was the genuine effect of what they did. They had forsaken Christ, fallen from grace, and, beginning in the Spirit, were ending in the flesh; for, under the specious pretences before mentioned, they had done that which was inconsistent with the faith of the gospel ‘Yea, but they thought not in the least of any declension from Christ.’The matter is not what they thought, but what they did. This they did, and this was the effect of it. The corrupt reasonings of their minds, deceived by the pleas and pretences mentioned, had prevailed with them to look on these things as, if not their duties, yet of no ill consequence or importance. So were they deluded by extenuations of the evil proposed unto them, until they justly fell under the censure before mentioned. And the principal mischief in this matter is, that when men are beguiled by false reasonings into unwarrantable practices, their corruptions are variously excited to adhere to and defend what they have been overtaken withal; which confirms them in their apostasies.

[3.] Aggravations of difficulties in the way of profession are made use of to introduce a declension from it. For when thoughts and apprehensions of them are admitted, they insensibly weaken and dishearten men, and render them languid and cold in their duties; which tends unto backsliding. The effect of such discouragements our apostle expresseth, Hebrews 12:12-13: “Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; and make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way.” Having laid down the afflictions and persecutions which they were to meet withal, and also declared the end and use of them in the grace and wisdom of God, he shows how ready men are to despond and grow heartless under them; which deprives them of all life and spirit in their profession; which he warns them to avoid, lest all end in apostasy. For if men begin once to think hard and strange of the trials that may befall them on the account of their religion, and cannot find that in it which will outweigh their sufferings, they will not long retain it. Nor is it advisable for any man to entertain a profession that will not keep and maintain him in a dear year, but leave him to sink under those troubles which may befall him on the account thereof; as every thing whose real good doth not outbalance the evil that for it, and upon its single account, we must undergo, is certainly ineligible. Herein, then, lies no small part of the deceitful actings of the subtile principles mentioned. They are ready to fill the mind with dismal apprehensions of the difficulties, dangers, troubles, reproaches, and persecutions that men may undergo on the account of profession. And unless they can make the Lord Christ absolutely to be their end, portion, and measure of all, so as to reckon on all other things not according to their own nature, but according to the respect which they have unto him, and their interest in him, it is impossible but these things will secretly influence them into declensions from their profession. In the meantime aggravating thoughts of trouble please men’s minds; it seems reasonable unto them, yea their duty, to be terrifying themselves with the apprehensions of the evils that may befall them. And when they come indeed, if liberty, if goods, if life itself, be required in the confirmation of our testimony to the gospel, there needs no more to seduce us into a relinquishment of its profession, but only prevailing with us to value these things out of their place and more than they deserve, whereby the evils in the loss of them will be thought intolerable. And it is marvellous to think how the minds of men are insensibly and variously affected with these considerations, to the weakening, if not the ruin, of that zeal for God, that delight in his ways, that “rejoicing in tribulation,” which are required to the maintaining of a just and due profession. And against the effect of such impressions we are frequently warned in the Scripture. [4.] Again; these corrupt and fallacious reasonings do cover and conceal the entrances of apostasy, by proposing false rules of walking before God in profession, wherein men are apt to satisfy and deceive themselves. So in particular they make great use of the examples of other men, of other professors; which on very many accounts is apt to deceive them, and draw them into a snare. But this head of the deceit of sin I have spoken to at large in another discourse. [11]

[11] Treatise on Indwelling Sin, volume 6 of the author’s works. Ed.

2. The beginnings of declensions from Christ and the gospel are deep and hidden, because ofttimes they are carried on by very secret and imperceptible degrees. Some men are plunged into apostasy by some notorious crimes and wickednesses, or by the power of some great temptations. In these it is easy to discover the beginning of their fall; as it was with Judas when the devil entered into him, and prevailed with him for money to betray his Master. And many such there are in the world, who for money, or the things that end in money, part with their professed interest in Christ and the gospel. And if they get more than Judas did, it is because they meet with better chapmen in the world than were the priests and Pharisees. The fall of such men from their profession is like the dying of a man by a fever. The first incursion of the disease, with its whole progress, is manifest. It is with others in their spiritual sickness and decays as with those who are in a hectical distemper; which at first is hardly known, and in its progress hardly cured. Small negligences and omissions are admitted, and the soul is habituated unto them, and so a progress is made to greater evils; of which also, as I remember, I have treated elsewhere.

3. Revolters and backsliders do their utmost endeavor to hide the beginnings of their falls from themselves and others. This makes the discovery and opening of them to be difficult. By the false and corrupt reasonings before mentioned they labor to blind their own eyes, and to hide their own evils from themselves: for in this case men are not deceived, unless they contribute to their own beguiling. Their own hearts seduce them before they feed on ashes. And herewith they willingly attend unto the delusions of Satan and the world; which they do in not watching against them as they ought. So are they deceived themselves. And when they have made such a progress in their declensions as that they begin themselves, it may be, to be sensible of it, then do they endeavor by all means to hide them from others; by which means, at length, they hide them from themselves, and rest satisfied in what they have pleaded and pretended, as if it were really so. They will use pleas, excuses, and pretences, until they believe them. Was it not so with the church of Sardis? Even when she was almost dead, yet she had outwardly so demeaned herself as to have a “name to live;” that is, a great reputation to be in a good thriving state and condition. And Laodicea, in the height of her apostasy, yet persuaded herself that she was “rich,” and increased, and wanted nothing; and knew not, as is expressly testified, that she was “poor,” and fallen under the power of manifold decays.

From these and the like causes it is that the beginnings of men’s backslidings from the gospel are so secret and hidden, as that they are open only to the all-seeing eye of Jesus Christ; which our apostle here minds these Hebrews of, to beget in them a watchful jealousy over themselves.

And this effect it should have upon all. This the nature of the thing itself, and frequent Scripture admonitions, do direct us unto, namely, that we should continually be watchful over our own hearts, lest any beginnings of backslidings or declensions from the gospel should have taken place or prevailed in us. Cautions to this purpose the Scripture abounds withal: “Let him that standeth,” that is, in the profession of the gospel, “take heed lest he fall;” or, beware that he decay not in his faith, and love, and zeal, and so fall into sin and apostasy. And again, “Take heed that we lose not those things which we have wrought,” 2 John 1:8. That profession which is not working is ever false, and to be despised. “Faith worketh by love.”

Hath it been so with us, that profession hath been effectual in working? Let us look to it carefully, lest we discontinue that course, or by apostasy forfeit all the benefit and advantage of it. And our apostle in this epistle in an especial manner abounds with admonitions to the same purpose: because the Hebrews, on many accounts, were much exposed to the danger of this sin. And it is the duty of the dispensers of the gospel to apply themselves particularly to the state, condition, and temptations of them with whom in an especial manner they have to do. And let not any man think that the earnest pressing of this duty of constant watchfulness against the first entrances of spiritual declensions is not of so much use and necessity as is pretended. We see what the neglect of it hath produced. Many who once made a zealous profession of the truth, having strong convictions upon their souls, and were thereby in a way of receiving more grace and mercy from the Lord, have, through a neglect of this duty, fallen from the ways of God, and perished eternally, 2 Peter 2:20-22. And many more have exceedingly dishonored God, and provoked his indignation against the whole generation of professors in the world; which hath caused him to fill all his dispensations with tokens of his displeasure. This hath laid all the virgins, even wise and foolish, asleep, whilst the Bridegroom standeth at the door There is, then, no greater evidence of an unsound heart than to be careless about the beginnings of spiritual decays in any kind. When men once lay up all their spiritual interest in retaining some kind of persuasion that in the end they may come to heaven, and, so they may by any means retain that persuasion, are regardless of exact watchfulness and walking, they are even in a perishing condition. There needs no greater evidence that self is their, utmost end, that they have neither care to please God, nor love to Christ, nor delight in the gospel, but, with Balaam, desire only to “die the death of the righteous.” Yet thus is it with them who neglect the first entrances of any cold, careless frame or temper of heart in gospel duties. They little consider either the power or deceitfulness of sin who are negligent in this matter, and how backsliding will get and firm its ground in the soul after a while, which might with ease have been at first prevented. Let us, therefore, because of the importance of this duty, consider some directions for the preventing of this evil, and some instructions how to discover it in the ways and means of its prevalency:

Take heed of weariness in and of those ways of God wherein you have been engaged according to his mind. A spontaneous lassitude in the body is esteemed an ill prognostic; some great distemper usually ensues upon it. So is weariness of any of God’s ways; its hidden cause and consequent, that will in time appear, is some great spiritual distemper. And this our apostle intimates to be the beginning of most men’s apostasy, Hebrews 10:36-39. Men, through want of patience to continue in well-doing, grow weary, and ofttimes “draw back unto perdition.” And there are three things that men are apt to grow weary of in the ways of God, and thereby to enter into spiritual decays:

1. Of duties. Many duties are burdensome to flesh and blood; that is, nature as weak and frail. All of them are opposite to flesh and blood; that is, nature as corrupt and sinful. In the one sense, nature is ready to faint under them; in the other, to raise up an opposition against them, and that by a secret aversation in the will, with innumerable corrupt reasonings, excuses, and pretences in the mind. If they prevail to an effectual weariness, that is, such as shall introduce a relinquishment of them, in part or in whole, as to the matter of them or the manner of their performance, those in whom they do so will have cause to say,

“We were almost in all evil in the midst of the congregation and assembly,” Proverbs 5:14.

Hence is the caution of our apostle, 2 Thessalonians 3:13, “Brethren, be not weary in well-doing;” and Galatians 6:9. ‘A patient continuance in an even, constant course of well-doing, in a due observance of all gospel duties, will be burdensome and grievous unto you; but faint not, if you intend to come to the blessed cud of your course in fence with God.’Now, weariness in duty discovers itself by impairing it in the intenseness of our spirits, or constancy of its performance. Where there is a decay in either of these, weariness is at the root; and after weariness ensues contempt, Malachi 1:13. And whatever interpretation men may put upon this frame, God calls it a being weary of himself, Isaiah 43:22; which is the next step to forsaking of him. Wherever, therefore, this begins to discover itself in the soul, nothing can relieve it but a vigorous shaking off all appearances of it, by a warm, constant application of the mind unto those duties whose neglect it would introduce.

2. Of waiting to receive any particular good or special mercy from God in his ways. God is a good and gracious master. He entertains none into his service but he gives them in hand that which is an abundant recompense for the duties he will require of them. “In keeping of his commands there is great reward,” Psalms 19:11. Every part of his work carries its own wages along with it. Those who serve him never want enough to make them “rejoice” when they fall into “manifold temptations,” and to “glory in tribulations;” which are the worst things that do or can befall them on his account. But, moreover, besides the pledges that he gives them in hand, they have also many “great and precious promises,” whereby they are justly raised up to the expectation of other and greater things than at present they do enjoy. Whatever mercy or grace by any or all the promises of God they have been made partakers of, there is still more in them all, nay, in every one of them, than they can here come to the actual enjoyment of. Yet are all these things theirs, and they have a right unto them. This makes waiting on God so excellent a grace, so necessary a duty. Now, sometimes this hath respect unto some mercy that g man may in an especial manner stand in need of. Here he would have his faith expedited, his expectation satisfied, and his waiting have an end put unto it. If he fail herein, it maketh his heart sick. But here lieth the great trial of faith. “He that believeth,” that is, truly and sincerely, “he will not make haste;” that is, he will abide in this duty, and not “limit the Holy One” as to times and seasons. If those who are called hereunto wax weary of it, they are in the high road to apostasy. Consolation, light, and joy, do not come in through the administration of the ordinances answerable to the measures they have themselves given, unto or taken of things; strength against a temptation or corruption is not yet received upon prayer or supplication; they are weary of waiting, and so give over. This will end in absolute apostasy if not timely prevented. See the cautions of our apostle in this matter, Hebrews 6:11-12; Hebrews 10:35-36.

3. Weariness of troubles and persecutions is of the same tendency. It opens a door to apostasy. They are for the most part the portion of believers in this world. Nor have they cause to complain of their lot. They are told of it beforehand. Had they been allured on unto faith and profession with hopes and expectations of peace and prosperity in this world, and were they afterwards surprised with the cross, they might have some reason to complain. But the matter is quite otherwise. Our Savior hath told us plainly, that if we will not “take up the cross” we must let him alone. ‘If,’saith he, ‘you will follow me, you must take up the cross; yea, fathers, mothers, houses, lands, and possessions, if called for (and probably they will be called for), must all go, or be foregone, for my sake and the gospel’s. If you like not these terms, you may let them and me alone.’So our apostle assures us, that

“they who will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution,” 2 Timothy 3:12.

There is a kind of profession that may escape well enough in the world, such as men shall have no disadvantage by in this life, nor advantage in that which is to come. But that profession which causeth men to “live godly in Christ Jesus,” will for the most pare be attended with persecution. And this are we all forewarned of. But so foolish are we generally, as that when these things befall us, we are apt to be surprised, as if some strange thing, something foreign to our condition, had seized on us; as the apostle Peter intimates, 1 Peter 4:12. And if men by their natural courage, their spirit to sustain infirmities, can hold out the first brunt of them, yet when they begin to return and to be prolonged, to follow one upon another, and no way of deliverance or of ending them be in view, they are apt to be weary, and cast about, like men in a storm, how they may give over their intended voyage and retreat into some harbour, where they may be in peace and safety. Omission of provoking duties or compliance with pleasing ways, in such a condition, begins to be considered as a means of relief And this with many is an entrance into apostasy, Matthew 13:21. And this is confirmed, as by testimonies of the Scripture, so by instances and examples in all ages of the church. This, therefore, our apostle in an especial manner treats with these Hebrews about, plainly declaring that if they grew weary of their troubles, they would quickly fail in their profession, Hebrews 6:11-12; and he multiplies both reasons and examples to encourage them unto the contrary, Hebrews 10-12. For when men begin to wax weary of troubles and persecutions, and to make their own carnal reasonings, affections, and desires, to be the measure of their suffering, or what it is meet for them to undergo upon the account of the gospel, they will quickly decline from it. Now, because this is the common way and means whereby men are brought to decays in their profession, and insensibly unto apostasy, it may not be amiss to subjoin some few considerations which may help to relieve our spirits under their troubles, and to preserve them from fainting or being weary; as,

1. What is it that these troubles do or can deprive us of, whatever their continuance be? Is it of heaven, of everlasting rest, of peace with God, of communion with Christ, of the love and honor of saints and angels? These things are secured utterly out of their reach, and they cannot for one. moment interrupt our interest in them. This is Paul’s consideration, Romans 8:38-39; Romans 8:38-39. And had we a due valuation of these things, what may outwardly befall us in this world on their account would seem very light unto us, and easy to be borne, 2 Corinthians 4:15-18.

2. What is it that they fall upon and can reach unto? It may be they may deprive us of our riches, our liberty, our outward ease and accommodations, our reputation in the world. But what perishing trifles are these, compared to the eternal concerns of our immortal souls! It may be they may reach this flesh, these carcasses that are every day crumbling into dust. But shall we faint or wax weary on their account. Suppose we should, to spare them, turn aside to some crooked paths, wherein we suppose we may find security, God can send diseases after us that shall irrecoverably bring on us all those evils which by our sins we have sought to avoid. He can give a commission to a disease to make the softest bed a severe prison, and fill our loins and bones with such pains as men cannot inflict on us and keep us alive under them. And for death itself, the height, complement, and end of temporary trouble, how many ways hath he to cast us into the jaws of it, and that in a more terrible manner than we need fear from the children of men! and shall we, to preserve a perishing life, which, it may be, within a few days a fever or a feather may deprive us of, startle at the troubles which, on the account of Christ and the gospel, we may undergo, and thereby forfeit all the consolations of God, which are able to sweeten every condition unto us? This consideration is proposed unto us by Jesus Christ himself, Matthew 10:28.

3. Whereunto, in the wisdom and grace of God, do these things tend, if managed aright in us and by us? There is nothing that the Scripture doth more abound in, than in giving us assurance that all the evils which we do or may undergo upon the account of Christ and his gospel, shall work effectually towards our unspeakable spiritual advantage. See Romans 5:1-5.

4. For whom or whose sake do we or are we to undergo the troubles mentioned? A man of honesty and good nature will endure much for a parent, a child, a friend; yea, the apostle tells us, that “for a good man some would even dare to die,” Romans 5:0. But who is it whom we are to suffer for? Is it not He who is infinitely more than all these in himself and to us? Consider his own excellency, consider his love to us, consider the effects of the one and the fruits of the other, whereof we are and hope to be made partakers, and it will be granted that he is worthy of our all, and ten thousand times more if it were in our power. Besides, he calls us not to any thing but what he went before us in; and he went before us in many things wherein he calls not us to follow him, for he underwent them that we might escape them. He died that we might live; and was made a curse that the blessing might come upon us. Let us not then be so foolish, so unthankful, so brutish, as to think any trouble too great or too long to be undergone for him. This our apostle at large expresseth, Philippians 3:7-10.

5. What is the end of these trials and troubles which we are so ready to faint and despond under? Eternal rest and glory do attend them. See 2 Thessalonians 1:7; 2 Corinthians 4:17; Revelation 7:13-14.

These and the like considerations, being pleaded in the mind and soul, may be a means to preserve them from fainting under troubles that do or may befall men on the account of the profession of the gospel, which are apt to dispose them unto backslidings.

There are sundry means that may be improved to prevent the entrances of the decays insisted on; amongst all which none is so proper as that here mentioned by our apostle, and which is comprised in our next proposition. For,

Obs. 9. A due and holy consideration at all times of the all-seeing eye of Jesus Christ is a great preservation against backslidings or declensions in profession.

This is the end for which the mention of it is here introduced by the apostle. It was not in his way, nor was any part of his design, to treat absolutely about the omniscience of Christ; nothing could be more foreign to his present discourse. But he speaks of it on purpose, as an effectual means to awe and preserve their souls from the evil that he dehorted them from and warned them of And the consideration of it is so on many accounts; for,

1. If we retain this in remembrance, that all the most secret beginnings of spiritual declensions in us are continually under his eye, it will influence us unto watchful care and diligence. Some, with Sardis, are ready to please themselves whilst they keep up such a profession as others with whom they walk do approve of, or cannot blame. Others, with Laodicea, think all is well whilst they approve themselves, and have no troublesome accusations rising up against their peace in their own consciences, when, it may be, their consciences themselves are debauched, bribed, or secure. For lesser things, which neither others observe to their disreputation, nor themselves are affected with to their disquiet, many men regard them not. And hereby are they insensibly betrayed into apostasy, whilst one neglect follows another, and one evil is added to another, until ‘a breach be made upon them “great like the sea, that cannot be healed.” Herein, then, lies a great preservative against this ruining danger. Let the soul consider constantly that the eye of Christ, with whom principally, and upon the matter solely in these things, he hath to do, and to whom an account of all must be one day given, is upon him; and it cannot but keep him jealous over himself, lest there should any defiling root of bitterness spring up in him. To him ought we in all things to approve ourselves; and this we cannot do without a continual jealousy and constant watchfulness over our hearts, that nothing be found there that may displease him: and whatever is there, it is all “naked and open unto him.” And,

2. The Lord Christ doth not behold or look on the evils that are or may be in the hearts of professors as one unconcerned in them, by a mere intuition of them; but as one that is deeply concerned in them, and as it were troubled at them: for by these ‘things is his good Spirit grieved and vexed, and great reproach is cast upon his name. When the miscarriages of professors break out so far as that the world takes notice of them, it rejoiceth in them, and triumpheth over that truth and those ways which by them are professed. And when other believers or professors observe them, they are grieved and deeply afflicted in their minds. And who knows not that even the consideration of these things is of great use to prevail with sincere professors unto watchfulness over their ways and walkings; namely, lest the name of God should be evil spoken of by reason of them, or the spirits of the servants of Christ be grieved by them. How often doth David declare that he would take heed to his ways, because of his enemies or observers, those that watched for his halting, and would improve their observation of it to the dishonor of his profession! And, on the other side, he prays that none which feared God might be ashamed on his account, or troubled at his failings. And therefore did he labor in all things to preserve his integrity, and keep himself from sin. Nor have they any respect unto the glory of God who have not the same sense and affections in such cases. Now, if these things are, or ought to be, of such weight with us, as to what comes under the cognizance of men, that is open and naked unto men, according to their capacity of discerning, what ought our thoughts to be of all things of the same nature that fall fully and solely under the cognizance of Christ, considering his concernment in them, and how he is affected with them? And so it is with respect unto the first, most secret, and imperceptible spiritual decays that may befall us; yea, he lays most weight on the things that are known to himself alone, and would have all the churches know and consider that he “searcheth the hearts and trieth the reins” of men. Neither can we have in any thing greater evidence given unto our sincerity, than when we have an especial watchful regard unto those things which lie under the eye of Christ alone, wherein we have to do with him only. This testifieth a pure, unmixed, uncorrupted faith and love towards him. Where, therefore, there is any thing of sincerity, there will be a continual care about these things upon the account of the concernment of Christ in them. And,

3. We may do well to remember that he so sees all our neglects and decays, as in an especial manner to take notice of their sinfulness and demerit. Many of the churches in the Revelation pleased themselves in their state and condition, when yet, because of their decays, the Lord Christ saw that guilt in them and, upon them as that for it he threatened them with utter rejection, if they prevented it not by repentance; which accordingly befell some of them. We are apt to take a very undue measure of our failings, and so esteem this or that folly, neglect, or decay, to have no great guilt attending it; so that we may well enough spare it and ourselves in it. And the reason hereof is, because we are apt to consider only acts or omissions themselves, and not the spring from whence they do proceed, nor the circumstances wherewith they are attended, nor the ends whereunto they tend. But saith our apostle, ‘All things are open and naked before him, neither is there any thing that is hid from his eyes.’There is no omission of duty, no neglect of the acting or stirring up of any grace, no sinful miscarriage or worldly compliance, wherein the beginnings of our decays do or may consist, but that, together with all their causes and occasions, their aggravating circumstances, their end and tendency, they are all under the eye of Christ; and so their whole guilt is spread before him. And oftentimes there is a more provoking guilt in some circumstances of things than in the things themselves. He sees all the unkindness and unthankfulness from whence our decays proceed; all the contempt of him, his love and grace, wherewith they are attended; the advantage of Satan and the world in them; and the great end of final apostasy whereunto they tend, if not by grace prevented. All these things greatly aggravate the guilt of our inward, spiritual decays; and the whole provocation that is in them lies continually under his eye. Hence his thoughts of these things are not as our thoughts commonly are; but it is our wisdom to make his the rule and measure of ours.

4. He so sees all things of this kind as that he will pass judg ment on us and them accordingly; it may be in this world, by sore afflictions and chastisements, but assuredly at the last day. Alas! it is not the world that we are to be judged by, if it were, men might hide their sins from it; nor is it the saints nor angels, who discover not the secret frames of our hearts; but it is he who is “greater than our hearts, and knoweth all things.” This our apostle directs us to the consideration of; for after he hath given the description of the Word of God insisted on, he adds, that it is he to whom we must give up our account. And how shall backsliders in heart escape his righteous judgment? Secrecy is the relief of most in this world, darkness is their refuge; but before him these things have their aggravation of guilt, and will yield no relief.

5. Again; He so discerns all declensions in the hearts and spirits of professors, as withal to be ready to give them supplies of help and strength against all the causes of them, if sought unto in a due manner. And there can be no greater encouragement to them that are sincere, unto the use of their utmost endeavors, to preserve their faith and profession entire for him. And this will be further improved in our consideration of the last observation which we drew from the words of the apostle and the exposition of them, which is that,

Obs. 10. A due, holy consideration of the omniscience of Christ is a great encouragement unto the meanest and weakest believers, who are upright and sincere in their faith and obedience.

To this purpose are all these properties of Christ proposed unto us, and to be improved by us. They all are suited to give encouragement unto us in our way and course of obedience.

Hence is he able to take care of and to encourage the least beginnings of grace in the hearts of his disciples. It is his office to take care of the whole seed of God, of all the work of the Spirit of grace. This he could not do without that all-discerning ability which is here ascribed unto him. By this he takes notice of the beginning, increase, growth, and decays of it, from first to last. Hence he says of himself, that he “will not break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax,” Matthew 12:20. Be our spiritual strength but like that which is naturally in a bruised reed, which is the next degree to none at all, he will not break it; that is, he will take care that it be not bruised, despised, or discouraged, but will cherish it, and add strength unto it. The smoking of flax also expresseth the least degree imaginable of grace; [12] yet neither under his eye and care shall this be quenched. It is easy with him to discover and blast the hypocrisy of false pretenders. He did so by one word to him who boasted of keeping all the commandments from his youth, Matthew 19:18-22. So by the breath of his lips he slays the wicked, Isaiah 11:4. Be their profession never so specious or glorious, do they please themselves in it, and deceive others by it, he can come to their consciences under all pretences, and by his word and Spirit slay all their false hopes, discover their hypocrisy, and strip them naked of their profession, to the contempt of all. And so doth he know and take care of the least dram of sincerity in the weakest soul that belongs unto him. So he did in the poor woman, when she owned herself to be no better than a dog, Matthew 15:27-28. He doth not only bear his lambs in his arms, the weakest of the flock who have an appearance of life, and of following him in it; but also “gently leads those that are with young,” Isaiah 40:11, who as yet have but newly conceived his grace in their hearts.

[12] In the original edition the word is “sin,” an evident misprint for “grace,” or some similar word. Ed.

And this gives us a stable ground whereon to answer that great objection, which many souls make against their own peace and consolation. They are convinced of the excellency of Christ, and of the suitableness of his grace and righteousness unto their wants. They are also satired in the faithfulness of gospel promises, and the stability of the covenant of grace, with all other principles and grounds of evangelical consolation. But they look on themselves as unconcerned in all these things. As far as they know, they have no grace in them; and therefore have no interest in or right unto what is proposed to them. And hereon ensue various entanglements in their minds, keeping them off from sharing in that “strong consolation” which God is abundantly wilting that all “the heirs of promise” should receive. The consideration of the properties of the Lord Christ insisted on is exceedingly suited to the removal of this objection out of the way. To confirm this, I shall consider the whole case a little more largely. We may then observe,

1. That the beginnings of most things are imperceptible. Things at first are rather known by their causes and effects than from any thing discernible in their own beings. As they are gradually increased, they give evidence of themselves; as a little fire is known by the smoke it causeth, when itself cannot be seen.

2. That the beginnings of spiritual things in the souls of men are, moreover, very secret and hidden, upon many especial accounts and reasons. Grace in its first communication is a thing new to the soul, which it knows not how to try, examine, or measure. The soul is possibly put by it under some surprise; as was Rebekah when she had conceived twins in her womb. Until such persons seriously consult with God by his word, they will be at a great loss about their own state and condition. Again, Satan useth all means possible to darken the mind, that it may not aright apprehend the work of God in it and upon it. His first design is to keep us from grace; if he be cast therein, his reserve is to keep us from consolation. His sleights and methods herein are not now to be insisted on. Hence most of the objections we meet with, from persons under darkness as to gospel comforts and refreshment, may be easily manifested to be his suggestions. Moreover, indwelling corruption doth exceedingly endeavor to cloud and darken the work of God’s grace in the soul. And it doth so two ways especially:

(1.) By a more open discovery of itself in all its evil than it did before. Grace is come upon it as its enemy, and that which fights against it, designing its ruin. The very first actings of it lie in a direct opposition to the former rule of sin in the heart. This inbred corruption meeting withal, sometimes it is excited unto rage, and presseth for its own satisfaction with more earnestness than formerly, when it was as it were in the full and quiet possession of the soul. This causeth darkness and trouble in the mind, and keeps it off from discerning any thing of the work of God in it.

(2.) By a sensible opposition to gospel duties. This it will raise against that spiritual manner of their performance which a gracious soul now aims at, though it was more quiet when only the outward bodily exercise was attended unto. These things surprise beginners in grace, and leave them in the dark as to what is their interest in it.

3. Believers in this state and condition have in themselves many just grounds of fears and jealousies concerning themselves, which they know not how to disentangle themselves from. The many self-deceivings which they either see the example of in others or read of in the Scripture, make them jealous, and that justly, over their own hearts. And whereas they find much hypocrisy in their hearts in other things, they are jealous lest in this also they should deceive themselves. And many other reasonings there are of the same nature whereby they are entangled.

Against all these perplexities much relief may be administered from this consideration, that the Lord Christ, “with whom we have to do,” sees, knows, and approves of the least spark of heavenly fire that is kindled in us by his Spirit; the least seed of faith and grace that is planted in us is under his eye and care, to preserve, water, and cherish it. And this may be pressed in particular instances; as,

1. He sees and takes notice of the least endeavors of grace in the heart against the power of sin. This the soul wherein it is may not be acquainted with, by reason of that pressing sense which it hath from the assaults that sin makes upon it. These so imbitter it that it cannot find out unto its satisfaction the secret lustings and warrings of the Spirit against the flesh; as one that is deeply sensible of the weight of his burden, which is ready to overbear him, doth not perceive his own strength whereby he standeth under it. But this lies under the eye of Christ distinctly, and that, so as to give in suitable help and succor unto it in a time of need, as is declared in the next verses.

2. He sees and perceives the principle and actings of grace in that very sorrow and trouble wherewith the soul is even overwhelmed in an apprehension of the want of it. He knows that much of many a soul’s trouble for want of grace is from grace. There is in it the search of grace after an increase and supply. He sees the love that works in trouble for want of faith; and the faith that works in trouble for want of holiness And these things he takes care of.

3. He finds grace in those works and duties wherein they by whom they are performed, it may be, can find none at all. As he will manifest at the last day that he observed that filth and wickedness, that perverse rebellion in the ways of wicked men, which themselves took no notice of, or at least were not thoroughly convinced about; so he will declare the faith and love which he observed in the duties of his disciples, which they never durst own in themselves This is fully declared, Matthew 25:0, from verse 34 (Matthew 25:34) to the end.

4. How small soever that grace be which he discovers in the souls of his, he accepts of it, approves it, and takes care for its preservation and increase. The life of it doth not depend on our knowledge, but his And as these things do really tend to the relief and consolation of believers, so they do justly deserve to be more largely insisted on and more fully improved, but that the nature of our present design will not admit of it in this place.

Verse 14

῾Εχοντες οὗν ἀρχιερέα μέγαν διεληλυθότα τοὺς οὐρανοὺς , ᾿Ιησοῦν τὸν Υἱὸν τοῦ Θεοῦ , κρατῶμεν τῆς ὁμολογίας .

Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that passed into [ through ] the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.

There being no difficulty in the words in the original, nor much diversity in translations, we shall cast what is worth observation on their account into the exposition of the words itself.

῎Εχοντες ου῏ν , “habentes igitur,” “having therefore;” or, as ours, “seeing then that we have.” And so the Syriac, “whereas, therefore, we have.” The illative ου῏ν declares the relation of what is under assertion unto that which went before. That which the apostle is now instructing us in, directing us unto, is educed from what he had before laid down. It is not a consequence in way of argument that is here inferred, but the consequent in way of duty: “Seeing we have.”

᾿Αρχιερέα μέγαν , “pontificem magnum.” Some translations, as the Arabic and Syriac, in this place transpose the words, and place the person of Christ as the immediate object of our “having,” or that which the word ἐχοντες doth firstly and formally respect: “Having Jesus the Son of God be a high priest.” And in this way the person of Jesus Christ should be proposed unto us firstly, and that described by the adjunct of his office, and his acting therein, “he passed into heaven.” But in the original it is a “high priest,” as focally considered, which is the object proposed unto us. And he is described,

1. By his quality and condition; he is “passed through the heavens.”

2. By the particular nomination of his person; he is “Jesus the Son of God.”

In the condition wherein we are, we stand in need of the help and assistance of a high priest. Such a one we have. We have a high priest, as they had of old; and this such a one as “is passed through the heavens, even Jesus the Son of God.” This is the order of the words. ᾿Αρχιερέα μέγαν . Arab., “the chief prince of the priests;” rightly as to sense, bemuse of the twofold use of the word ἀρχιερεὺς , for it is applied to denote two sorts of persons. First, it signifies him who was eminently and signally so called, the high priest, that is Aaron, and the chief of his family, who succeeded him in the office of the high priesthood. In the Old Testament he is called הַכֹּהֵן הַגָּדוֹל ὁ ἱερεὺς ὁ μέγας , “the great priest.” This is frequently expressed by ἀρχιερεύς , as the Latins do it by “pontifex,” and “pontifex maximus.” Again, the word is often used to denote them who were the principal heads, rulers, or leaders of any one of the twenty-four orders which the priests were cast into for the service of the temple, 1 Chronicles 24:0. These are those which are intended in those places where some are expressed by name, and it is added, “They and their brethren;” that is, those who being of the same order with them, were yet in dignity not so conspicuous as themselves. And these in the gospel are frequently called ἀρχιερεῖς , as Matthew 2:4; Matthew 16:21; Matthew 20:18; Matthew 21:15, and in the other evangelists frequently. And when the word is so applied we render it by “chief priests,” to distinguish them intended from the “high priest” properly so called, who was one set over them all, the peculiar successor of Aaron.

If the word ἀρχιερεύς be here taken in the latter sense, as it may denote a “pontifex minorum gentium,” a high priest of the second rank and order, one of the chief priests, then the adjunct of μέγας , “great,” is discriminative; showing that it is not they who were merely so, but he only who was הכֹּהֵן הַגָּדוֹל , “the great priest, “pontifex maximus,” that is alluded unto. But if ἀρχειρεύς do of itself denote the single high priest, Aaron, or his successor, as most frequently it doth, then μέγας , “great,” is added κατ᾿ ἐξαίρετον , by way of eminency, and is accumulative with respect unto Aaron. He is great high priest in comparison of him, exalted above him, more excellent, glorious, powerful, and able than he. And this is that which is intended in the words; for the especial design of the apostle is to compare him with Aaron, and not with any inferior priests, as we shall see in his ensuing discourses. Therefore “a great high priest,” is one eminently, excellently, gloriously so, and that on the accounts mentioned in his subjoined description.

Διεληλυθότα τούς οὐρανούς , “that is passed into the heavens.” So our translation; in which expression the thing intended is plain, but the difficulty that is in the words is as plainly concealed, and somewhat of their proper sense and meaning. Syr., “who is ascended into heaven;” laying the emphasis upon and directing our thoughts unto his ascension, and not to his present abode in heaven, which ours seem to point unto, “who is passed into the heavens.” Ethiop., “who came from heaven into the world;” which kind of mistakes are not infrequent with that interpreter, Διέρχομαι is “pertranseo,” “to pass through;” that is, any one place into another. 1 Corinthians 16:5: ῝Οταν Μακεδονίαν διέλθω· Μακεδονίαν γὰρ διέρχομαι· “When I shall pass through Macedonia; for I pass through Macedonia.” So Acts 15:41, John 4:4. And no other signification can it have in this place: “Is passed through τοὺς οὐρανούς ,” “the heavens.” Διέρχεσθαι τοὺς οὐρανούς , is plainly to “pass through the heavens,” and not to “pass into them.” Neither the sense nor construction of the words will allow any such interpretation; nor will any thing else but his passing through the heavens answer the apostle’s design.

The “heavens,” therefore, are taken two ways:

First, and most frequently, to denote the place of God’s glorious residence, the holy habitation of God, the resting-place of blessed souls, and palace of the great King, where is his throne, and thousands of his holy ones stand ministering before him. This heaven the Lord Christ did not pass through, but into, when ἀνελήφθη ἐν δόξῃ , he was “taken up into glory,” 1 Timothy 3:16. There he sits, “on the right hand of the Majesty on high;” and these heavens “must receive him until the times of restitution” shall come, Acts 3:21.

Secondly, The “heavens” are taken for the air, as when mention is made of the “fowls of heaven;” that is, which “fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven,” Genesis 1:20: as also for the ethereal regions, the orbs of the sun, moon, and stars, which are set “for lights in the firmament of heaven,” Genesis 1:15, the aspectable heavens above us, which “declare the glory of God,” and “shew his handywork,” Psalms 19:1; which he “garnished by his Spirit” for that end, Job 26:13. These are the heavens here intended. And concerning them our apostle says again of our high priest, ὑψηλότερος τῶν οὐρανῶν γενόμενος , Hebrews 7:26, “made higher than the heavens;” he passed through them, and was exalted above them. These ethereal regions the disciples looked towards when he was “taken up into glory,” Acts 1:9-10. So Ephesians 4:10, “He ascended up, far above all heavens.” He passed through them, and ascended above them, into that which is called “the third heaven,” or the “heaven of heavens,” where is his blessed residence.

This being the sense of the words, we may nextly inquire into what the apostle peculiarly designs to instruct us in by them. And this will appear from the consideration of what it is that in this expression he alludes unto. Now, it is the high priest peculiarly so called that he hath respect unto; and he designs an explanation of what was, in and by him, typically represented unto the church of old. Known it is, that he was the principal officer of the church in things immediately pertaining unto the worship of God. And the chief or most signal part of his duty in the discharge of his office, consisted in his annual entrance into the most holy place, on the day of expiation, with the services thereunto belonging. This is at large described, Leviticus 16:0. And herein three things were eminent:

1. That he departed out of the sight of the people, yea, and of all the ministering priests also. The people were without in the court; and the priests that ministered in the tabernacle, when he was to open the veil to enter into the holy place, left the tabernacle, that they might not look in after him: Leviticus 16:17, “There shall be no man in the tabernacle of the congregation when he goeth in to make an atonement in the holy place, until he come out, and have made an atonement.”

2. In this entrance he passed through the second veil of the tabernacle, which received him and hid him by the closing of the curtains from the sight of all.

3. In the place whither he thus went were the especial pledges of the presence and tokens of the covenant of God, Leviticus 16:2.

How all these things were really and in a glorious manner accomplished in and by our high priest, the apostle declares in these words. For,

1. He had a holy place to pass into. He entered into the holy place not made with hands, even “heaven itself, to appear in the presence of God for us,” Hebrews 9:24; that is, the heaven of heavens, the place of the glorious residence of the majesty of God.

2. Hereinto he passed through these aspectable heavens; which the apostle compareth unto the second veil of the temple, bemuse they interpose between us and the holy sanctuary whereinto he entered. Hence, when in his great trial and testimony he miraculously enabled. Stephen to see into the heavenly place, where he is in glory on the fight hand of God, these heavens were opened, Acts 7:55-56. The curtains of this veil were turned aside, that he might have a view of the glory behind them.

3. By these heavens was he taken and hid out of the sight of all men in his entrance, Acts 1:9-10. Thus, in answer to the type of old, he passed through the veil of these heavens, into the glorious presence of God, to appear there as our intercessor.

᾿Ιησοῦν τὸν Υἱὸν τοῦ Θεοῦ , “Jesus the Son of God.” Translations do not well express the emphasis of these words, through the interposition of the article, ᾿Ιησοῦν τὸν Υἱὸν , the Son eminently, peculiarly, that Son of God; that is, the natural, only-begotten Son of the Father. And there is in the words a double designation of the person of our high priest; first by his name, and then by his relation unto God.

1. By his name; that is, “Jesus,” a name given him from the work he had to do. He was to “save his people.” Jesus, a savior. Matthew 1:21, Καλέσεις τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ ᾿Ιησοῦν , with the angel; “Thou shalt call his name Jesus? For what cause? Saith he, Αὐτὸς γὰρ σώσει τὸν λαὸν αὐτοῦ ἀπὸ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν αὐτῶν , “ For” (or “because”) “he shall save his people from their sins.” So our apostle calls him ᾿᾿Ιησοῦν τὸν ῥυόμενον , “Jesus the deliverer,” 1 Thessalonians 1:10. Our high priest is our savior; and he is so [that is, the latter] in a great measure by his being so [that is, the former]. And this name was given him as born of a virgin: “She shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus.” It doth not, therefore, in this place only nay, not so much denote him by his work of saving, according to the signification of his name, “Jesus;” but declares his human nature, whereof he was made partaker “that he might be a merciful high priest,” wherein he was called by that name.

2. He describes him by his relation unto God: Τὸν Υἱὸν τοῦ Θεοῦ , “that Son of God;” the eternal Son of God. The reason and nature of this sonship of our high priest hath been elsewhere declared. At present it may suffice to observe, that his divine nature is included in this appellation; for in his one person, as comprising both these natures, is he our high priest, as he is θεάνθρωπος , God and man in one. And we are here minded of it as a great encouragement unto our duty, expressed in the next words.

Κρατῶμεν τῆς ὁμολογίας , “let us hold fast our profession.” Vulg. Lat., in some copies, “spei et fidei nostrae,” “of our hope and faith;” words taken from Hebrews 3:6, which here have no place. “Hold fast the profession, that is which we make, or have made; and so “our profession,” as we supply the words.

Two things are to be inquired into for the opening of these words:

1. What is meant by ὁμολογία , or “profession;”

2. What is included in κρατῶμεν , “let us hold fast”

1. For the word ὁμολογία , it hath been opened, and the thing itself intended somewhat spoken unto, on Hebrews 3:1, where the Lord Christ is called “the apostle and high priest of our profession.” I shall therefore here only so far treat of it as it contains the duty which the apostle exhorts us unto, and wherein all the lines of his discourse do meet and center. This makes it assuredly a matter of singular consideration, as being that about which he doth so greatly labor.

Our ὁμολογία is our “professed subjection to the gospel of Christ,” 2 Corinthians 9:13; or the subjection of our souls in the acknowledgment of the power and authority of Jesus Christ in the gospel: ᾿Υποταγὴ ὁμολογίας . It contains both our secret subjection unto the gospel, and our solemn declaration of it. The former which respects the matter of our profession, is ᾿Ιησοῦ Χριστοῦ , 1 Peter 3:21; ‘“the answer” (or“reply”) “of a good conscience,” by virtue of the resurrection of Christ, unto the demands of God in the precepts and promises of the gospel.’And it hath two parts:

(1.) Faith in Christ.

(2.) Obedience unto him; the “obedience of faith,” Romans 1:5.

(1.) Faith is the root, and obedience the fruit of our profession. And that faith which constitutes evangelical profession is distinctly acted on Christ, the Son of God, the mediator of the covenant, the king, priest, and prophet of his church. This he calls for John 14:1, “Ye believe in God, believe also in me,” expressly. See John 3:18; John 3:36; John 7:38. This, I say, makes our profession formally evangelical, distinguishing it from that of believers under the old testament. Their faith was directly in God as one, Deuteronomy 6:4; consequentially in the Messiah, as promised. Ours is express in Christ also, John 17:3; and in the Father by him, 1 Peter 1:21.

(2.) Unto faith is added obedience, which is indeed inseparable from it. See a full description of it, Romans 6:22. It may be considered two ways:

[1.] As it is internal and absolutely spiritual, or the constant acting of all the graces of the Spirit of God, unto purification and holiness, 2 Corinthians 7:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; Acts 15:9. This belongs unto our profession, not absolutely as profession, but as sincere and saving; on which account we ought to hold it fast.

[2.] As it is external also, in the diligent observation of all gospel commands in our course and practice. And these are of two sorts:

1st. The moral duties of a holy conversation, Philippians 1:27; Titus 2:10-13. By a failure herein our whole profession is overthrown, Philippians 3:17-18; Titus 1:16; 2 Timothy 2:19.

2dly . The instituted duties of holy gospel worship, Matthew 28:20. And herein consists that part of our profession which the apostle in this epistle doth principally intend, as hath been declared. This is the matter of our profession; herein consists our subjection to the gospel.

To complete our profession, yea, to constitute our ὁμολογία , there is required that we make a solemn declaration of our subjection unto the gospel in these things. And this is made two ways.

(1.) By works.

(2.) By words.

(1.) Our profession by works, is our constant and solemn observation of all Christ’s commands in and concerning gospel-worship, Matthew 28:20; John 14:15; John 15:14. And the discharge of our duty herein is to be attended,

[1.] With prudence; and that,

1 st . Not to provoke the world causelessly, by any irregularities of misguided zeal, or other disorders, Matthew 10:16; 1 Corinthians 10:32, 2 Corinthians 6:3;

2 dly . Not to cast ourselves into dangers or troubles without just cause, call, or warrant, Matthew 10:23.

[2.] With constancy and confidence; so as,

1st . Not to be terrified with any persecutions or troubles which may befall us on the account of the gospel, 1 Peter 3:14, Philippians 1:28;

2dly . Not on any account to decline the constant observance of the duties of worship required of us, Hebrews 10:25.

(2.) By words; for “with the mouth confession is made unto salvation,”

Romans 10:10. And this also is twofold:

[1.] With respect unto all times in general, 1 Peter 3:15. We are on all occasions to declare whose servants we are, and whom we own as our Lord and Master.

[2.] Unto especial seasons.

1st. Of temptation. Such arise from company, which may be so circumstanced as to awe us or corrupt us, that we shall not own the gospel as we ought. So it befell Peter in the highest instance, Matthew 26:70. And so are others in lesser degrees foiled everyday.

2dly . Of persecution. Then is our profession to be turned into confession, or we lose it. The oral, open avowing of the Lord Christ, his ways and worship, in and under persecution, is the touchstone of all profession, Matthew 10:32-33; 1 Corinthians 3:13. This is the profession we are to hold fast.

2. Κρατῶμεν , “let us hold it fast.” So have we rendered κατάσχωμεν , Hebrews 3:6. But this word is more emphatical than that, and intimates another frame of mind, and a more severe endeavor: κρατεῖν is to hold a thing “strongly,” “firmly,” “totis viribus,” “with all our strength,” by all lawful means, with resolution and intension of mind. For the word is from κράτος , that is, “power,” “strength,” “efficacy;” which are to be exercised in the holding fast intended: Revelation 2:25, “That which yehave κρατήσατε ἄχρις οὗ ἀνV ήξω ,” “hold fast,” ‘with all care, against all opposition,’ “till I come.” So Hebrews 3:11, Κράτει ὃ ἔχεις , ἵνα μηδεὶς λάβῃ τὸν στέφανόν σου ; “Hold fast,” that is, with all thy might, with all diligence and intension of mind, “what thou hast,” as a man would hold fast his crown, if any should attempt to take it from him or deprive him of it. And this word is used concerning the Pharisees, with respect unto their traditions; which they adhered so firmly and resolutely unto, that nothing could move them or prevail with them to the contrary, Mark 7:3, Κρατοῦντες τὴν παράδοσιν τῶν πρεσβυτέρων , “Holding fast” (or “tenaciously”) “the tradition of the elders.” So also of them who, having entertained false and noxious opinions, are obstinate in their adherence to them: Revelation 2:15, Οὑτως ἔχεις καὶ σὺ κρατοῦντας τὴν διδαχὴν τῶν Νικολαϊτῶν , “So hast thou them who,” against light and persuasions, “retain the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes.” Wherefore the sense of the command here given is, that we should with our utmost ability and diligence hold fast against all oppositions, and take care that we lose not our profession after we are once engaged in it.

So, then, this verse containeth the prescription of a duty, with a motive and encouragement unto the due performance of it. The duty is expressed in these last words, “Let us hold fast our profession.” And the reason for it, with an encouragement unto it, in those which go before, “Seeing then we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God.” And this is further amplified by the declaration of his qualifications, verse 15, and an exhortation to make use of and improve his assistance in this matter, verse 16, as we shall see afterwards. At present we may take some observations from this verse, according to the exposition of the words already given, which will further direct us to answer in our practice the mind of the Holy Ghost in this matter. Now, there is included in the words,

Obs. 1. First, that great opposition is, and always will be, made unto the permanency of believers in their profession.

This the word of exhortation unto it plainly intimates. It is “injecta manu fortiter retinere,” to “lay hold of a thing, and to retain it with all our might,” as if it were ready every moment to be taken from us with a violent and strong hand; it is to keep a thing as a man keeps his treasure when it is ready to be seized on by thieves and robbers. This argues great opposition, and no small hazard thereon ensuing. So our blessed Savior informs us, Matthew 7:25. When men hear the word, they build a house by profession. This all who make profession do, whether they build upon the rock or upon the sand. And when this house is built, “the rain will descend, and the floods will come, and the winds will blow and beat upon it.” Profession will be assaulted and pressed by all manner of hazardous and dangerous oppositions And if the house be not well secured, it will fall, if our profession be not well guarded, it will be lost. What our Lord Jesus told Peter with respect unto this very matter, is even so concerning all professors When he was led to speak with much confidence, which his present convictions of duty and resolutions for its performance prompted him unto, that he would abide in his profession, and never forsake him, whatever other men might do; he answers, “Simon, Simon, Satan hath sought to winnow thee,” Luke 22:31-32. He minds him, that although he had called him Peter, for the unmovableness of that Rock which his faith was fixed on, yet he would appear in himself to be but Simon still, a man, exposed to danger, and easy to be prevailed against; and therefore he might do well, in the midst of his confidence, to consider his dangers and the surprisals that he might be overtaken withal. And the same is the condition of all professors, the best and meanest, the strongest and weakest.

From this opposition, our continuance in profession is called “enduring,” Matthew 24:13, ῾Ο δὲ ὑπομείνας εἰς τέλος , οὗτος σωθήσεται , “He that patiently tolerateth” (beareth opposition) “unto the end shall be saved.” So we render ὑπομονή , Romans 2:7, “patient continuance.” And to the same purpose are the words προσκαρτερέω , Acts 2:42, and προσκαρτέρησις , Ephesians 6:18, used, and of the same signification, “constantly to abide and endure against oppositions.” So is the word commonly applied. Men endure hunger, cold, bonds, imprisonment, the pains of death. They are hard things that men endure. “Durate” is the word of encouragement in difficulties: “Durate et vosmet rebus servate secundis. Durare, est verbum quod perferendis malls convenit,” Donat in Virg. AEn. 1:211. There is, then, a supposition of a conflict with all sorts of evil, where we are enjoined to “endure;” that is, to continue in our course with patience, courage, and constancy. Hence are the multiplied cautions that are given us, especially in this epistle, to take heed that we be not prevailed against and cast down from our stability by these oppositions. See 2 John 1:8; Revelation 2:24-26; Revelation 3:2.

We are exceedingly apt to deceive ourselves in this matter. Desires, false hopes, appearing helps, do insinuate themselves into our minds, and prevail to ingenerate a persuasion that we shall not meet with any great difficulties in our profession. And these self-deceivings do exceedingly unprepare the mind for what we have to encounter, which the apostle warns us against, 1 Peter 4:12-13.

The principles, causes, reasons, and means, of the opposition that is made to the profession of believers, are commonly handled. Could we take but one view of that constant preparation which there is amongst “principalities and powers,” those “spiritual wickednesses in high places,” in the world and all its fullness, and in the deceitfulness of sin which dwelleth in us, for an opposition unto our profession, we would either constantly stand upon our guard to defend it, or presently give it up as that which is not tenable. See Ephesians 6:10-13.

Obs. 2. It is our duty, in the midst of all oppositions, to hold our profession firm and steadfast unto the end. This is the substance of what we are here exhorted and pressed unto, and the great design of the apostle in this whole epistle; which also we have occasionally insisted on in sundry precedent passages.

What this profession is hath been declared. The principle of it is “faith in God” by Christ Jesus. The fruits of it are the whole “obedience of faith,” or “a conversation in all things becoming the gospel,” “adorning the doctrine of our Savior” in all holiness and’godliness. And it is expressed by a constant observation of all the ordinances and institutions of worship appointed by Christ or his authority, with an open confession of him at all times. For by such institutions did God in all ages try and exercise the faith and obedience of the church, whence they were the means of giving glory to himself in the world. And from this expression of them do our faith and obedience take the denomination of “profession.” And thereby are they proved in this world, and must be tried at the last day.

This profession we are to hold in the manner expressed in the opening of the words; that is, with watchfulness, diligence, constancy, and our utmost endeavor in all of them. And this duty hath respect unto the contrary sins, which the apostle dehorts us from. Now these fall under two heads:

1. Apostasy, or a total desertion of our profession.

2. Declension, or going back gradually from our diligence, progress, and attainments in it; which make way for the former evil.

1. Some totally fall off from their profession. These the apostle describes and reflects upon, Hebrews 6:10. In which places we must take theirsin and punishment under consideration. And against this evil it is our duty to “hold fast our profession.” None doubt of it until they are under the power of the contrary evil, and are blinded or hardened thereby. And this total desertion from the gospel is twofold:

(1.) Express, by an open abrenunciation of it. This we hear not of much amongst us, because none is tempted thereunto. The prodigious eruptions of some men’s atheism we consider not.

(2.) Interpretative, when men really east off all inward regard unto the authority of Christ in the gospel, and their outward compliance with any thing required in it is on motives foreign to the gospel itself; and this too much abounds in the world.

Our apostle supplies us with considerations of the greatest and highest nature that can be conceived. In brief,

(1.) The glory of God in Christ is in the highest manner concerned in it. Every sin tends to the dishonor of God, all sinners dishonor him; but all is nothing, as it were, to the despite that is done to him by this sin. So it is described, Hebrews 10:29. It is a “treading under foot the Son of God,” an act of the highest despite, malice, and contempt that a creature can be capable of.

(2.) Assured destruction attends it, and that in a peculiar, terrible, and dreadful manner, Hebrews 10:29-31; 2 Peter 2:1. It is, therefore, undoubtedly our duty and our wisdom to “hold fast our profession,” so as neither by the blindness of our minds nor sensuality of life to lose and forego it.

2. It is so as to the degrees of it. All the parts of our profession have their degrees whereby they are varied. Faith is strong or weak, stable or infirm. Obedience may be more or less exact, precise, and fruitful in good works. Our observation of instituted ordinances of worship may be exact and circumspect, or loose and negligent. In holding fast our profession, an endeavor to keep up to the degrees that we have attained, and a pressing forward in them all toward perfection, are required of us. That which our Lord Jesus Christ blames in his churches, Revelation 2:3, is the decay in their profession as to these degrees. Their faith, their love, their diligence, were decayed; and they performed not the works they had some time been fruitful in. And in all these things are men liable to let go their profession. Again, growth and progress in all these is required of professors. The kingdom of God is a growing thing, and ought to be so in all them in whom it is by its grace, and who are in it by the observation of its laws. Where growth is not, profession is not held firm. This is, in general, the nature of the duty we are charged with. The principal intendment of this verse, and those following, is to declare the encouragement and assistance which we have in Christ for its discharge, as he is our high priest; which must further be insisted on, and therein a fuller explication of the things contained in this verse will be given. And the whole of what is aimed at may be comprised in this observation,

Obs. 3. Believers have great encouragement unto and assistance in the constancy of their profession, by and from the priesthood of Jesus Christ.

So it is expressly laid down in the text, and to that end is it by us to be improved. And to this purpose is,

1. The priesthood of Christ in itself, and our relation thereunto, proposed and asserted; “we have an high priest.”

2. Described,

(1.) By the qualification of our’high priest; he is “a great high priest:”

(2.) By his action, and his exaltation therein; he is “passed through the heavens:”

(3.) By his name and nature; he is “Jesus the Son of God.”

And from every one of these considerations we have both encouragement and assistance in the great duty of holding fast our profession.

1. The Lord Christ is a “high priest;” and we have in our obedience and profession a relation unto him, he is our high priest, the “high priest of our profession.” He is the “high priest over the house of God,” not only to direct us in our profession, but also to assist us in it. The difficulty of this duty lies in the opposition that is made unto it by sin, Satan, and the world, as we have showed: he that hath not found it never yet knew what it was to profess the gospel. And the effects of it lie under our view every day; they have done so in all ages. And we can never be jealous enough of our own hearts and ways, lest we should be made an example unto others, as others have been unto us. But herein lies our help and relief; for,

(1.) Whilst we are in this condition our high priest pitieth us and hath compassion on us, Hebrews 2:17-18. This is part of his duty and office, Hebrews 5:2. And there is some help in pity, some relief in compassion. Want hereof our Savior complained of as a great aggravation of his distresses, Psalms 69:20: “I am,” saith he, “full of heaviness: I looked for some to take pity,” (or “lament with me,”) “but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none.” Compassion, indeed, doth not communicate new strength; yet it greatly refresheth the spirits of them that suffer, especially if it be from those whom they greatly value. And this we are assured of in and from our high priest, in all the oppositions and sufferings that we meet withal in the course of our profession. See Hebrews 2:17, and the two verses following in this place. He is himself on his throne of glory, on the right hand of the Majesty on high, in eternal rest and blessedness, as having finished his personal works and labor, as hath been showed; but from the habitation of his holiness he looks on his laboring, suffering, tempted disciples, and is “afflicted in all their afflictions,” and is full of compassion towards them. ‘So,’saith he, ‘was I tempted, so was I opposed. And what thus befalls them is for my sake, and not for their own;’and his bowels are moved towards them. Whose heart will not the consideration hereof refresh? whose spirit will it not revive?

(2.) As our high priest, he gives us actual help and assistance in this case. The ways whereby he doth this have been partly declared on Hebrews 2:18; and must yet be spoken unto, verse 16 of this chapter. At present I shall only show in general that the aid which he gives us is sufficient to secure our profession, and conquer the opposition that is made against it; for, as hath been observed, there are three parts of it, our faith, our obedience in general, and our especial observance of instituted worship. And there are three especial principles of the opposition made to them:

[1.] Our faith is opposed by Satan and his temptations in chief, with a contribution of aid from the world and our own corruptions. Faith’s overthrow is his principal design, Luke 22:31-32. No such irreconcilable enemies as faith and the devil. And this adversary is prevailed against by our high priest. He hath contended with him, bruised his head, conquered him, bound him, spoiled him, triumphed over him, and destroyed him, Genesis 3:15; Colossians 2:15; Hebrews 2:14-15. And shall we suffer ourselves to be deprived of our profession by one thus dealt withal in our behalf? He shall not prevail in his attempt.

[2.] Our obedience is opposed principally by our own corruptions, aided by Satan and the world. These “war against our souls,” 1 Peter 2:11; and tend unto death, James 1:14-15. Whence our apostle warns us to take heed that these prove not the cause of our apostasy, Hebrews 3:13. And against these also there is relief for us in and by our high priest; for as “he was manifested to destroy the works of the devil,” 1 John 3:8, or all the effects of his first temptation in our hearts; so whatever evil it intends towards us, there is a remedy provided for it and against it in his grace, his blood, and by his Spirit.

[3.] Our profession, as formally such, consisting in the diligent observance of the laws and ways of Christ, is continually opposed by the world, not without assistance from Satan and the treacheries of indwelling sin. But he also hath “overcome the world,” John 16:33. He hath overcome it for us, and he will overcome it in us. And who, on this account, would not be encouraged to contend earnestly for the preservation of that profession wherein they are sure they shall be assisted?

Professors have an aim and an end in their profession. They do not “run in vain,” nor “fight uncertainly,” nor “beat the air,” in what they do. Now their great design is to have their profession, and their persons therein, “accepted with God.” Without this they must acknowledge themselves to be “of all men most miserable.” For what would it avail them to spend their time in fears, hazards, conflicts, sorrows and troubles in this world, and when they have done all, be rejected of God, and have their everlasting portion amongst them who take the full of their sins and satisfactions in this world? And if it be so, why do they yet suffer persecution? And yet there are two things that do vehemently assault their faith and hope in this matter:

[1.] The sinfulness and unworthiness of their own persons. Whatever be the duties that they perform, yet they find their persons on many accounts so vile, as that both they and their duties may be justly rejected of God. Hence they suppose themselves to defile whatever they touch. The guilt and defilement of their consciences by sin perplex their thoughts when they consider what it is to appear before the great and holy God.

[2.] They find that even the duties themselves wherein their profession doth consist are so weak, so mixed and imperfect, as it is hard for them to conceive how they should obtain acceptance with God. Their endeavors are weak and faint, their strivings against sin uneven and uncertain, their prayers ofttimes languid, and a fading is on all their duties. And say they often in themselves, ‘What ground of hope is there that a profession so made up will be accepted with God, and rewarded by him?’

But against all these considerations believers have relief in their relation to this high priest; for in this matter lies the principal part of his office. As such he hath undertaken to render our persons and duties accepted with God. This he respects both in his oblation and intercession; by which two ways he dischargeth the duties of this office:

[1.] By them he gives acceptance with God unto our persons. For as he hath “made reconciliation for our sins,” Hebrews 2:17, so he hath “brought in everlasting righteousness,” Daniel 9:24. Yea, he himself is “our righteousness,” Jeremiah 23:6. “In him have we righteousness and strength,” Isaiah 45:24; he being “made of God unto us righteousness,” 1 Corinthians 1:30; having been “made a curse for us,” that the blessing of faithful Abraham might be ours, Galatians 3:13-14; who “believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness,” Galatians 3:6. So that although we have no such righteousness of our own as on the account whereof our persons may be accepted with God, yet upon the account of him and his who is ours, we shall not fail thereof.

[2.] He dealeth so likewise in reference unto our duties: for, as he “bears the iniquity of our holy things,” Exodus 28:38, that they should not be rejected because of any sinful imperfections cleaving to them; so he adds unto them the sweet incense and perfume of his own righteousness, Revelation 8:3-4, which causeth them to come up with a grateful and acceptable savor before the Lord.

And these few things have I mentioned as instances of the encouragements that we have to abide in our profession in the midst of all hazards and against all oppositions, from the consideration of this one thing, that we have a high priest; the end aimed at in this place by our apostle.

2. There is weight added hereunto from the qualification of the person vested with that office, here expressed. He is “a great high priest.” He is so both comparatively and absolutely. He is so in comparison of others so called; and not only so, for he may be great in comparison of another who is but little in himself, but he is so absolutely also, as we shall see afterwards.

(1.) He is great comparatively with respect unto Aaron; which the apostle, as was showed, hath in this assertion regard unto: for he is now entering upon his great design, or showing his answering unto Aaron, and his pre- eminence above him. The high priest, in his office, sacred garments, and administrations, was the principal glory of the Judaical church. If that office ceased, all their solemn worship was to cease. And so excellent was his office, so beautiful were his garments, so glorious was his work and ministry, that these Hebrews, though now in some measure instructed in the doctrine and worship of the gospel, could not be persuaded utterly to relinquish that sacred service which he had the conduct of. And here lay the principal occasion of their obstinate adherence to Mosaical institutions. They had a high priest whose order and service they were exceedingly pleased withal. The prevalency of these thoughts on their minds our apostle obviates, by letting them know that they should undergo no loss or disadvantage by the relinquishment of him; inasmuch as in that profession which they were called unto by the gospel they had in like manner a high priest, and that “a great high priest,” that is, one incomparably exalted and preferred above Aaron and his successors; which he afterwards invincibly demonstrates. And hereby he presseth them to constancy in profession, the duty at present proposed to them. For if God had appointed destruction unto him who forsook the worship and service of the law under the guidance of Aaron and his sons, what must and will their lot and portion be who shall forsake and desert the worship of the new testament, when we have a high priest far more excellent and glorious than they?

(2.) He is absolutely great: and this the apostle proves by a double instance, wherein he gives a further description of him;

[1.] By his exaltation;

[2.] By his name and person.

[1.] He is “a great high priest,” because he is “passed through the heavens.” The triumphant passage of the Lord Christ into glory is that which is expressed in these words.

But for the right understanding hereof some things must be premised. As,

1st, That the person of the Lord Christ, in all that he did, was still clothed with all his offices. Yet,

2ndly In sundry things he exerciseth the power and faculty of one office, and not of another immediately. Some things he did as a king, and some things as a priest, but he is still both king and priest who doth them all.

3dly , In some things he puts forth the power of both these offices at the same time and in the same manner, though with different respects.

Thus, in his passing through the heavens as king, it was his triumph over all his enemies, and his glorious ascension into his throne, or “sitting down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;” as priest, it was his entrance through the veil into the holy place not made with hands, “to appear in the presence of God for us.” This is that which is here principally intended, but I shall explain the whole; because even his acting as king, though it belongs not unto him as a priest, yet it doth to his glory as he is “a great high priest.” And there are three things which herein set out his greatness and glory.

1st. His passage itself; concerning which sundry things are observable, as,

(1st.) His entrance into it, or the time and place when and where he began his triumphant entry into heaven. These are recorded Acts 1:9-12. Forty days after his resurrection, assembling his disciples he spake unto them of the kingdom of God. “And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath-day’s journey.” The time is expressed verse 3. It was forty days after he was alive, “after his passion.” As he went forty days in the wilderness to be tempted of the devil before he entered on his ministry, so he continued forty days in the world triumphing over him after he had finished his ministry. But the chief reason hereof was, that whereas his apostles, who were to be the eyewitnesses of his resurrection, could not bear his continual presence with them, he might have opportunity to show himself unto them by “many infallible signs and tokens,” Acts 1:3. The place was mount Olivet, “a sabbath-day’s journey from Jerusalem,” Acts 1:12. This place was near unto Bethany, for Luke 24:50; which was a village near that mount, “about fifteen furlongs from Jerusalem,” John 11:18. The Jews constantly affirm that a sabbath- day’s journey was the space of two thousand cubits, which amount not to above seven furlongs of our measure; so that John had respect unto some other measure among the Jews, or Bethany was directly on the east of the mount, which took up the other space. This mount Olivet, therefore, near Bethany, was about a mile from Jerusalem. It was on the east side of the city, whither our Lord Jesus did often retreat for prayer and rest. It was a hill so high, that from the top of it a man might look into all the streets of Jerusalem, and into the temple. This was the last of his bodily presence on the earth, and the last that shall be “until the times of the restitution of all things.” Fabulous superstition hath feigned that on a stone he left here the impression of his feet. This was the mountain unto which “the glory of the Lord went up,” when it left the temple and city of Jerusalem, Ezekiel 11:23. And so did He now who was “the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person.” With him the glory of God utterly departed from the temple and city, or the worship and people. Here he was taken up; and his disciples were ἀτεςίζοντες , earnestly, carefully, with love, diligence, and delight, looking on whilst these things were doing. Those who had not long before seen him hanging on the cross between two thieves, bleeding and dying, now saw him gloriously and triumphantly taken up into heaven. From their eyes a cloud received him. Elijah was taken up, before, alive into heaven, 2 Kings 2:11; but it was with fire and in a whirlwind, with dread and terror, insomuch that the young prophets much questioned what was become of him. But here, when his disciples were fully instructed, and were now no longer to live by sense, but by faith, whilst they earnestly and steadily looked on him as he ascended, a cloud draws the curtain, placidly interposing between him and their sight, who were not able as yet to look on what was doing within that veil.

(2dly.) This was the time and day of heaven’s triumph. Ever since the apostasy of angels and men by sin, there had been an enmity and war between heaven and earth, pleaded by the interest of heaven in the earth here below. God had sent forth his champion, the Captain of salvation, typed out of old by Joshua, and David, and all those worthies which were employed to vanquish the enemies of the church in their especial stations. He had now finished his work, having fully conquered the first apostate, the great enemy of God, and spoiled him of his power. And he was now entering into that glory which he had left for a season to engage in the difficult and perilous service of subduing all the adversaries of God. And now was all heaven prepared for his triumphant reception. As when a great conqueror of old returned from a far country, where he had subdued the enemies of his people and brought home the leaders of them captives, all the citizens went forth with applauses and shouts of joy to meet him, to which custom our apostle alludeth in this matter, Colossians 2:15; so was it with the glorious inhabitants of heaven upon the return of this victorious Captain of salvation. So the prophet describeth the fall of the oppressing tyrant of Assyria, Isaiah 14:9

“Hell from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming; it stirreth up the dead for thee, even all the chief ones of the earth; it hath raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations.”

He was theirs, they had looked for him, and he was to have a principal share in their condition. How much more was heaven stirred up, when the “everlasting gates were opened; and this King of glory entered in!” The psalmist expresseth it, Psalms 47:5-6,

“God is gone up with a shout, the LORD with the sound of a trumpet. Sing praises to God, sing praises: sing praises unto our King, sing praises.”

It is the glorious ascension of the Lord Christ into his kingdom and throne which is described in that psalm; and this all are exhorted to rejoice in.

(3dly.) His attendants in this his passage through the heavens are also described unto us, Psalms 68:17-18:

“The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels: the LORD is among them, as in Sinai, in the holy place. Thou hast ascended on high.”

And this place our apostle applies to the ascension of Christ, Ephesians 4:8. As when he descended of old upon the earth at the giving of the law on mount Sinai, he was attended with the heavenly host, who ministerially wrought all those glorious and dreadful effects which were wrought on the mount, Exodus 19:0; so now in his ascension he was attended with the angels of God, who were as the chariots in his triumph, that carried and bore up the human nature, and waited on him, ready to do his will and to manifest his glory. They had received command from God to “worship him,” Hebrews 1:6, and now they appeared eminently in the discharge of their duty. They compassed him about with joyful acclamations, doing their obeisance unto him as to their head and king. With them, then, and by their ministry, he “passed through the heavens;” a sight too glorious for mortal eyes to behold.

(4thly.) The disposal of his enemies is also declared, Psalms 68:18: “He ascended on high, he led captivity captive;” that is, the authors of all bondage, of all captivity in sin and misery. See the phrase explained, Judges 5:12. And this our apostle expresseth, Colossians 2:15, “He spoiled principalities and powers,” all the fallen, apostate angels; “making a show of them openly” in his triumph. He took them along with him in chains, tied, as it were, to his chariot wheels; making a show of them to the citizens of heaven. So dealt the old Roman conquerors with their enemies: they led them in chains, bound to their triumphal chariots, making them a spectacle to the people, and then returned them to prison, unto the time appointed for their execution. So dealt he with these implacable enemies of the glory of God and the salvation of the souls of the elect: he showed them openly, as judged, conquered, and fully subdued, remanding them to their prisons, until the time of their final doom should come. Thus did he pass through the heavens; and all the glory of God was laid open for his reception, all his saints and angels coming forth to meet him, to congratulate that success the fruits whereof they had before enjoyed.

2dly. His actual reception into the especial presence of God, as the end of his passage, adds to the manifestation of his greatness and glory. This our apostle declares, 1 Timothy 3:16, ᾿Ανελήφθη ἐν δόξῃ , He was “received up into glory.” This himself calls his “entering into his glory,” Luke 24:26. See Hebrews 12:22-24. He was received gloriously into the highest heaven, the habitation of the blessed. Then and there had he his entertainment and refreshment, after all the travail of his soul. Then was the time of the espousals of his church, “the day of the gladness of his heart.” There is joy in heaven upon the returning and repentance of one sinner; and what was there when He that causes them to return, and saves all that do so, was received into his glory? No heart can conceive, much less can any tongue express, the glorious reception of the human nature of Christ in heaven.

3dly. His exaltation, which ensued upon his reception. And this respects first God himself, and then the creation.

In respect of God the Father two things are spoken of him:

(1st.) That he sat down in his throne. He “overcame, and sat down with his Father in his throne,” Revelation 3:21. The throne is the place and ensign of rule and judgment. And the Father did not forego his throne, but he sits down with him in it, inasmuch as the actual administration of all rule and judgment is committed unto him, John 5:22.

(2dly.) As he sat down in the throne, so it was “on the right hand of God,” or “at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” This God promised him of old, and now gave him the actual possession of it. Of these things, see our exposition on Hebrews 1:2-4.

In respect of others; so he had power over the whole creation given into his hand, “all power in heaven and in earth;” concerning which, see also the digression about his kingdom and power, on Hebrews 1:3.

These things, as they were openly glorious, belonged unto his passing through the heavens as the king of his church and the captain of our salvation; but there was in the thing itself a respect unto his priestly office and the exercise thereof. So in his dying, the principal thing intended was the offering up of himself, through the eternal Spirit, an offering for sin and a sacrifice of atonement as a priest; but yet withal he died as a prophet also, “to bear witness unto the truth,” for which cause he came into the world, John 18:37. So, although he thus passed through the heavens triumphantly as a king, he at the same time, and by the same action, passed through as our high priest, as they were the veil through which he entered into the holy place: which shall, God willing, be explained on Hebrews 9:23-24.

And these things belong to the greatness of our high priest upon the account of his exaltation, or his passing through the heavens; and,

[2.] The second consideration of our high priest evincing his greatness, is taken from his name and person, or who he is. He is “Jesus the Son of God.” Sundry things must be observed to manifest the necessity and usefulness hereof, namely, that our high priest is and was to be “Jesus the Son of God;” first, absolutely “the Son of God,” and then “Jesus the Son of God.” But the things of the priesthood of the Son of God being handled at large in our Exercitations, I shall only here give a brief summary of them:

1st. Before the entrance of sin, there was no need of the office of priesthood between God and man. Everyone in his own name was to go to God with his worship; which would have been accepted according unto the law of the creation. If man, therefore, had continued in that state wherein he was made, there would have been no such office in the church of God; for it is the office of a priest to represent them acceptably unto God who in their own persons might not appear before him. This was manifest in the after solemn institution of that office, wherein the nature and work of it were declared. On all occasions that interdiction is severely repeated and inculcated, ‘None shall come near but he who is of the seed of Aaron; and if any one do so, he shall be cut off.’And this God afterwards confirmed in sundry instances, especially that of Uzziah the king, who was smitten with leprosy for attempting to approach unto the altar of incense, 2 Chronicles 26:16-21. And, by the way, God will much more sorely revenge the sin of them who take the priestly office of the Lord Christ out of his hand; as by their false, pretended sacrifices and oblations the Papists attempt to do. Now this was needless before the entrance of sin, and therefore so was the office also; for every one had acceptance with God upon the account of his own personal interest in the covenant, as hath been showed elsewhere.

Whatever other rule, dignity, or pre-eminence there would or might have been in that state amongst men, the office of priesthood would have been needless, and would not therefore have been appointed; for it is not natural, but a mere institution. So are things among the angels. There is dignity and pre-eminence in their order. Hence some of them are called שָׂרִים רִאשֹׁנִים , “the first,” or “chief princess” And this they seem to retain in their apostasy, one being everywhere represented as the head of the rest: “The devil and his angels.” But every one of them was immediately to perform his service and worship unto God in his own person, without the interposition of any other on their behalf. And so would it have been with Adam and his posterity in a state of integrity and holiness.

2dly. Sin being entered into the world, there was no more worship to be performed immediately unto God. Two cannot walk together unless they be agreed, Amos 3:3. All our obedience unto God and worship of him is our “walking before him,” Genesis 17:1. This we cannot do, unless there be a covenant agreement between him and us. But this now by sin was utterly broken, and rendered useless as unto any such end. The agreement failing, the walking together also ceaseth. None could now obtain acceptance with God in any of their duties, on their own account, inasmuch as “all had sinned, and come short of his glory.”

3dly . That the worship of God might be restored again in the world, it was indispensably necessary that some one must interpose between sinners and the holy God. Should they approach unto him immediately in their own names, he would be unto them a consuming fire, Isaiah 27:4-5. And here, because God would not lose the glory of his grace, and other holy excellencies of his nature, but would have a revenue of glory continued unto him from the worship of his creatures here on earth; and because in his love he would not have all sinners to perish under the curse of the old covenant that they had broken; he found out and appointed, in the counsel of his will, the office of priesthood, namely, that there should be one to transact the whole worship of sinners in the presence of God for them, and render what they should do themselves in their own persons acceptable unto him. This is the rise, reason, and foundation of that office which was undertaken by the Son of God; for,

4thly. In this condition no creature could undertake the office of being a priest for the church of God, which now consisted all of sinners. This both the nature of the office itself, and the work which he was to perform that should undertake it, do declare:

(1st.) For the office itself, it was to be a gracious interposition between God and sinners. The priest must approach unto God, even to his throne, representing the persons and worship of the church unto him, rendering them and it acceptable upon his account. Who was meet to be intrusted with this honor? who amongst the creatures could undertake this office? The best of them stand in need of goodness and condescension, to obtain and continue their own acceptance with him; for in the strictness of his justice, and infinite purity of his holiness, “the heavens,” that is, the inhabitants of them, “are not pure in his sight,” and “he charged his angels with Jolly,” Job 4:18; Job 15:15. How, then, should any of them, upon his own account, and in his own name, undertake to appear for others, for sinners, in the presence of God? They were doubtless utterly unmeet to interpose in this matter.

(2dly.) The general work of such a priest is utterly exclusive of the whole creation from engaging herein; for the first thing that he undertakes must be to make atonement for sin and sinners. This is his first work, and the only foundation of what else he has to do, namely, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people in whose stead he appeareth before God. That this could not be performed by any creature I have manifested on the second chapter. Failing in this, no other thing that can be done is of any value. Wherefore,

5thly. The Son of God undertakes to be this priest for sinners: “We have a great high priest, Jesus the Son of God.” The whole enunciation is expressive of his person jointly, and each nature therein is also distinctly signified. “The Son of God,” which in the first place we intend and consider, denotes his divine person and nature. How the second person in the Trinity did undertake to be a mediator and priest for all the elect of God, hath been opened in our exposition of the second chapter of the epistle, and it shall not here be again in particular insisted on. This counsel was of old between the Father and the Son, namely, that he, the Son, should become the “seed of the woman,” that is, should be “made of a woman,” and be thereby “made under the law;” that he should come to do the will of God in making atonement by the offering up or sacrifice of himself for sin; that he should undertake the cause of sinners, pay their debts, and satisfy for their offenses, that is, by his appearance and acting for them, he should procure acceptance for them and their services at “the throne of grace.” All this the Son of God undertook, and therein both became the high priest of his people and discharged that office for them. And herein is the mystery of God, his truth and his grace, made conspicuous, as hath been at large declared in our Exercitations; for,

(1st.) Here the sacred truth of the trinity of persons in the divine nature or essence openeth itself unto the creatures. The nature, the essence, or being of God, is absolutely and numerically one. All the natural and essential properties of that being are absolutely and essentially the same; and all the operations of this divine essence or being, according to its properties, are undivided, as being the effects of one principle, one power, one wisdom. Hence it could not by any such acts be manifested that there was more than one person in that one nature or being. But now, in these actings of the persons of the Trinity in such ways as firstly respect themselves, or their operations “ad intra,” where one person is as it were the object of the other persons’acting, the sacred truth of the plurality of persons in the same single, undivided essence is gloriously manifested. The Son undertaking to the Father to become a high priest for sinners, openly declares the distinction of the Son, or eternal Word, from the person of the Father. And in these distinct and mutual actings of the persons of it is the doctrine and truth of the holy Trinity most safely contemplated. See concerning this our Exercitations at large.

(2dly.) It opens the mystery of the fountain of divine grace, the springs of life and salvation which are with God. These things flow from the counsel that was between the Father and the Son, when he undertook to be a high priest for us. Grace and mercy are the way suited to the pursuit and accomplishment of those counsels. Hereon also depend all that religion and all those institutions of worship which were of old in the church. Upon the entrance of sin there was an end put unto all the religion that was in the world, as to any glory of God or advantage to the souls of men. How came it, then, to be restored, revived, accepted? Wherefore did God appoint anew a priesthood, sacrifices, and worship? What was aimed at, attained, or effected hereby? Men were sinners still, obnoxious to the law and the curse thereof, and what could their service do or signify? Here lay the invisible foundations of this new order of things. The Son of God had made an interposition for sinners, undertaken to be their high priest, to reconcile them unto God, and thereon to make their worship acceptable unto him. God was not pleased at first to bring this forth unto light , but hid the mystery of it in himself from the beginning of the world until the fullness of time came. In the meantime he appointed the worship mentioned to be a shadow and obscure representation of what was secretly transacted between the Father and Son within the veil. This did the office of the priesthood among the people of God of old, and all their sacrifices, teach. This gave them life and efficacy; without a respect whereunto they were of no worth nor use. Thus is our high priest “the Son of God,” and thus ought he so to be.

Again; this Son of God is Jesus: “Jesus the Son of God.” Jesus is the name of a man:

“She shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus,” Matthew 1:21.

And this our high priest also was to be. “Every high priest,” saith our apostle, “is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices unto God.” And “therefore of necessity” he who would be our high priest “must have somewhat to offer,” and that somewhat of his own. And what had the Son of God, absolutely considered, of his own to offer? His divine nature or person is not to be offered. All things necessarily required in the matter and form of an offering are eternally incompatible with the infinite excellencies of the divine nature. God cannot be a sacrifice, though he who is God was so to be. Shall he, then, take an offering out of the works of the creation? Shall he take the blood of bulls and goats for this purpose, as did Aaron? The offering, indeed, of these things might represent the sacrifice that should take away sin, but take away sin itself it could not do. For what wisdom, righteousness, or equity, is in this, that whereas man had sinned, other brute creatures, that were none of his own (for whatever right he had to any creatures of God, belonging to his original dominion over them, after his sin he bad none at all), should be accepted a sacrifice in his stead? Besides, what proportion did the blood of bulls and goats bear to the justice of God, that satisfaction for sin should be made unto it thereby? Should, then, the Son of God have taken and appointed any one man to be a sacrifice for himself and others? Every man being a sinner, the sacrifice of any one would have been a provocation unto God. In the typical sacrifices, he would not admit of a lamb or a kid that had the least blemish in it to be offered unto him. And shall we suppose that he would allow of a real expiatory sacrifice by that which was leprous all over? It would have been so far from yielding “a sweet savor to God,” from being an atonement for all men, for any one man, for the man himself that should have been offered, that it would have been the highest provocation unto the eyes of his glory. Wherefore the Son of God himself became “Jesus;” that is, he took human nature, “the seed of Abraham,” into union with himself, that he might have of his own to offer unto God. This by its oneness with our nature, the nature that had sinned, being itself not touched with sin, was meet to be offered for us; and by its union with his person was meet and able to make atonement with God for us; and so “God redeemed his church with his own blood,” Acts 20:28. Thus our high priest is “Jesus, the Son of God.”’And in these things consists his greatness, which the apostle proposeth for our encouragement unto steadfastness in profession. And it may do so on sundry accounts, which have been partly before insisted on, and deserve here to be enlarged, but that we must not draw out these discourses unto too great a length.

Verses 14-16

In the close of this chapter the apostle gives us a summary improvement of all the foregoing discourses and arguings contained in it. Especially he insists on a double inference unto the practice of those duties which, by his former reasonings, he had evinced to be incumbent on all professors of the gospel. And these are two; the one more general, with respect unto that great end which he aims at in the whole epistle; the other containing an especial means conducing unto that end. The first is expressed in the 14th verse (Hebrews 4:14), the other in those two that do ensue. The first is, that we should “hold fast our profession;” which is now the third time mentioned, Hebrews 3:6; Hebrews 3:14, and here, besides sundry other times in terms equivalent. The latter consists in our application of ourselves to the Lord Jesus Christ, our “high priest,” for help and assistance, to enable us so to do; for this is a great and difficult duty, which, without especial supplies of grace, we are not able to discharge.

Unto this twofold duty there is likewise proposed a double encouragement. And in these, various motives, reasons, and directions are included respectively. The first of these encouragements is expressed Hebrews 4:14, consisting in sundry particulars, all tending unto our furtherance under the great duty of holding fast our profession unto the end. The other in Hebrews 4:15, wherein on many grounds we are assured of the assistance which we do stand in need of; unto the use and due improvement whereof we are exhorted, Hebrews 4:16.

Moreover, in these words the apostle makes a transition from what in general he had discoursed on unto the handling of that wherein his great design lay, which he had now fully made way for. And this was destructive to the life and soul of Judaism. Having, therefore, Hebrews 3:1, affirmed that Jesus Christ was “the apostle and high priest of our profession,” he first undertakes the former. Therein he positively declares that he was the apostle, legate, and ambassador of God, to reveal and declare his will unto the church. And because this was the office of Moses of old with respect unto the church of the Jews, in the giving of the law, he makes a comparison between them; which, as it was necessary in his dealing with the Hebrews, who adhered unto, and extolled, yea, almost deified Moses, so it gave him occasion to express much of the excellency of Christ in that office, as also to declare the true nature of the missive or apostolical office of Moses, that undue apprehensions thereof might not keep them off from believing the gospel, or cause them to backslide after they had professed it. From his discourse to that purpose he educeth all his arguings, reasonings, and exhortations unto faith, obedience, and permanency in profession, which ensue in that and this chapter unto these verses. Having therefore discharged that work, and confirmed the first part of his proposition, namely, that the Lord Christ was the “apostle of our profession,” and applied that truth to his present purpose, he returns to the other part of it, namely, his being our “high priest” also. And this was the principal thing which he aimed at in the didactical part of the whole epistle. This, therefore, he pursues from hence unto the end of the 10th chapter. The nature of the priesthood of Christ; his excellency and preference above Aaron, as vested with that office; the nature of the sacrifice that he offered, with the end, use, and efficacy of it; and, on occasion hereof, the nature of the typical priesthood, sacrifices, and law of old, are the subject of his glorious discourses. And this ocean of spiritual truth and heavenly mysteries are we now launching into. And therefore do we most humbly implore the guidance and conduct of that good and holy Spirit, who is promised unto us to lead us into all truth; for who is sufficient for these things?

In these verses, then, the apostle makes a transition unto, and an entrance upon his great design. But whereas his direct scope and aim was to prevail with the Hebrews, and all others in the like condition with them, that is, all professors of the gospel, unto permanency and stability in faith and obedience, he doth here, as elsewhere, fill up his transition with insinuations of duties, attended with exhortations and encouragements unto the performance of them. And this is the only useful way of teaching in all practical sciences. The principles of them are to be accompanied with instances, examples, and exhortations unto practice, wherein their end consisteth. And in so doing, the apostle plainly declares what we ought to be intent upon in our learning and consideration of the truths of the gospel. The end of them all is to teach us to live unto God, and to bring us to the enjoyment of him; therefore to the furtherance of our faith and obedience are they continually to be applied.

Verse 15

But this precedent description of our high priest may be thought to include a discouragement in it in reference unto us, which may take off from all the encouragements which might be apprehended to lie in his office. For if he be in himself so great and glorious, if so exalted above the heavens, how can we apprehend that he hath any concernment in us, in our weak, frail, tempted, sinning condition? and how shall we use either boldness or confidence in our approach unto him for help or assistance? If the apostle Peter, upon a discovery of his divine power in working of one miracle, thought himself altogether unmeet to be in his presence, whilst he was on the earth, in the days of his flesh, and therefore cried out unto him, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord,” Luke 5:8, how much more may we be terrified by his present glory from attempting an access unto him! And how shall we conceive that, in all this glory, he will entertain compassionate thoughts concerning such poor, sinful worms as we are?

‘Yea,’saith the apostle, ‘we may, on the consideration of him and his office, “come boldly to the throne of grace;” ‘the especial reason whereof, removing this objection, and adding a new sort of encouragement, he gives us, Hebrews 4:15.

Hebrews 4:15 . Οὐ γὰρ ἔχομεν ἀρχιερέα μή δυνάμενον συμπαθῆσαι ταῖς ἀσθενείαις ἡμῶν , πεπειρασμένον δὲ κατὰ πάντα καθ᾿ ὁμοιότητα , χωρὶς ἁμαρτίας .

Οὐ γὰρ ἔχομεν . Syr., לָא גֵּיר אִית לַן , “for there is not to us;” an Hebraism, “we have not.”

Μὴ δυνάμενον συμπαθῆσαι . Syr., דְּלָא מְצָא דְּנֵחַשׁ , “qui non possit compati,” “qui non possit, ut patiatur;” “who cannot suffer.” Vulg. Lat., “qui non possit compati;” “that cannot have compassion,” “that cannot suffer with.” Beza, “qui non possit affici sensu;” “who cannot be affected with a sense.” Arab., “qui non possit deflere,” “that cannot mourn.”

Ταῖς ἀσθενείαις ἡμῶν . Syr., “with our infirmity,” in the singular number. We follow Beza, “touched with the feeling of our infirmities;” which well expresseth the sense of the words, as we shall see. Πεπειραμένον [13] δέ , “sed tentatum.” Syr., דּמְנַסַּי , “who was tempted;” one copy reads πεπειρασμένον ; of which word we have spoken before.

[13] Πεπειραμένον is the reading of Knapp and Tischendorf, on the authority of and most other.

Κατὰ πάντα . Vulg. Lat., “per omnia.” Rhem., “in all things.” So Erasm. and Beza, “in omnibus,” “in all things.” Syr., בְּכֻּל מֵדֵם , “in omni re,” “in every thing.”

Καθ᾿ ὁμοιότητα . Bez., “similiter.” Vulg. Lat., Erasm., “pro similitudine.” Rhem., “by similitude.” Syr., אכְּוָתַן , “even as we.” Ours, “like as we are,” supplying the verb substantive; “secundum similitudinem.”

Χωρὶς ἁμαρτίας . Bez., “absque tamen peccato;”.whom we follow in the supply of” tamen,” “ yet without sin.” Vulg. Lat., “absque peccato,” “without sin.” Syr., סְטַר מְן חֲטְיתָא , “excepto peccato,” “sin being excepted.” Some use we shall find in these varieties.

Hebrews 4:15 . For we have not an high priest who cannot be touched with the feeling [ affected with a sense ] of our infirmities; but was every way tempted in like manner [ with us ], without sin.

The words contain a further description of our high priest, by such a qualification as may encourage us to make use of him and improve his office unto our advantage. For whereas those things which may induce us to put our trust and confidence in any, or to expect benefit or advantage thereby, may be reduced unto two heads,

1. Greatness and power;

2. Goodness and love, he manifests both sorts of them to be eminently in our high priest.

The former he declares, Hebrews 4:14; for he is “Jesus the Son of God, who is passed through” and exalted above “the heavens.” The latter sort are ascribed unto him in these words.

The causal connection, γάρ , “for,” doth not so much regard the connection of the words, or express an inference of one thing from another, as it is introductive of a new reason, enforcing the purpose and design of the apostle in the whole. He had exhorted them to “hold fast their profession” upon the account of their high priest, verse 14; and directs them to make addresses unto him for grace and strength enabling them so to do, verse 16. With regard unto both these duties, to show the reasonableness of them, to give encouragement unto them, he declares the qualifications of this high priest, expressed in this verse. These things we may, these things we ought to do,

“For we have not an high priest that cannot.” The manner of the expression is known and usual. A double negation doth strongly and vehemently affirm. It is so with our high priest, even the contrary to what is thus denied. He is such a one as can be affected.

“We have an high priest.” The apostle introduceth this for another purpose. Yet withal he lets the Hebrews know that in the gospel state there is no loss of privilege in any thing as to what the church enjoyed under the law of Mosea They had then a high priest who, and his office, were the life and glory of their profession and worship. ‘We also,’saith he, ‘have a high priest;’who how much, in his person, and office, and usefulness unto the church, he excelleth the high priest under the law he hath partly showed already, and doth more fully declare in the ensuing chapters. The mention of it is introduced for another end, but this also is included in it. The people of God under the gospel are not left without a high priest; who is in like manner the life and glory of their profession, worship, and obedience. For our apostle takes a diverse course in dealing with the Gentiles and the Jews in this matter. Treating with the Gentiles, he minds them of their miserable condition before they were called to the knowledge of Christ by the gospel, as Ephesians 2:11-13; but treating with the Jews, he satisfies them that they lost no advantage thereby, but had all their former privileges unspeakably heightened and increased. And our relation to him and interest in him are expressed in this word ἔχομεν , “we have him;” or, as the Syriac, “there is to us.” God hath appointed him, and given him unto us; and he is ours, as to all the ends of his office, and by us to be made use of for all spiritual advantages relating unto God. The church never lost any privilege once granted unto it, by any change or alteration that God made in his ordinances of worship, or dispensations towards it; but, still keeping what it had before, it was carried on towards that completeness and perfection which it is capable of in this world, and which it hath received by Jesus Christ. Presently upon the giving of the first promise, God instituted some kind of worship, as sacrifices, to be a means of intercourse between him and sinners, in and by the grace and truth of that promise. This was the privilege of them that did believe. After this he made sundry additional ordinances of worship, all of them instructive in the nature of that promise, and directive towards the accomplishment of it. And still there was an increase of grace and privilege in them all They were “the mountains of myrrh and hills of frankincense” on which the church “waited until the day brake, and the shadows fled away,” Song of Solomon 4:6. All along the church was still a gainer. But when the time came of the actual accomplishment of the promise, then were all former privileges realized unto believers, new ones added, and nothing lost. We have lost neither sacrifice nor high priest, but have them all in a more eminent and excellent manner. And this is enough to secure the application of the initial seal of the covenant unto the infant seed of believers. For whereas it was granted to the church under the old testament as a signal favor and spiritual privilege, it is derogatory to the glory of Christ and honor of the gospel to suppose that the church is now deprived of it; for in the whole system and frame of worship God had ordained “the better things for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.” And he says not, ‘There is an high priest,’but, “We have an high priest;” because all our concernment in spiritual things depends absolutely on our personal interest in them. They may do well to consider this, who,

1. Either know not the nature of this priesthood, or do not at all endeavor to improve this office of Christ as that which they have an interest in. Some call themselves Christians, and exercise themselves in the outward worship of God, who are ready to despise, yea, and deride, all spiritual improvement and use of this great privilege, that we have a high priest, and scarce take it any more into any real consideration in the worship of God than if there were no such thing at all.

2. Those who, not contented with it, have invented and appointed unto themselves a priesthood and sacrifice, to the contempt of this of Christ. Had our apostle dealt with these Hebrews on the principles of the present church of Rome, he would have told them, ‘You had under the law an high priest, but we have now a pope, a pontifex maximus, a great high priest; far richer, braver, and more potent, than yours was. You had many bloody sacrifices, but we have one in the host, of more use and profit than were all yours whatever.’But dealing with the principles of the gospel, he declares and proposeth to them “Jesus the Son of God,” as our only priest, sacrifice, and altar, expressly intimating that others we have none.

“That cannot be touched with a feeling,” “who cannot be affected with a sense,” “who cannot suffer with.” The negative expression, μὴ δυνάμενον , “who cannot,” as it includes and asserts a power and ability for the work or acts mentioned, so it doth it in opposition unto and to the exclusion of some other considerations, that infer a disability to this purpose. Now, the ability here intended is either moral only, or moral and natural also. If it be moral only, and intend a constant goodness, kindness, tenderness, and benignity, attended with care and watchfulness, unto the end proposed, it may be asserted in opposition to the high priests among the Jews. For as they were the best of them but men, and sinful men, who did ofttimes indulge to their private and carnal affections, to the disadvantage of the people of God, as did Eli, to the ruin of the church’s worship, 1 Samuel 2:17; 1 Samuel 2:22-25; 1 Samuel 2:28-30, etc., and were none of them able at any time to have a due comprehension of all the temptations and infirmities of the people; so many of them were evil men, proud, haughty, wrathful, and such as despised their brethren and relieved them not at all. In opposition hereunto, it is affirmed of our high priest that he is able to do quite otherwise, that is, with a moral ability of heart, will, and affections. He can and doth, always and constantly, concern himself in all the sins, sufferings, sorrows, temptations, and infirmities of his people.

Again; there may not only be a moral but also a natural ability included in the word. And in this sense there is respect had unto the human nature of Christ, and something moreover ascribed unto him [morel than could have been in him if he had been God only, which is a great encouragement unto us to make our addresses to him for help and assistance. And this seems to be designed from the following words, wherein mention is made of his being “tempted like unto us.” To understand this ability, we must inquire into the meaning of the next word, expressing that which it is applied unto or exercised about.

Συμπαθῆσαι . I have showed how variously this word is translated, “to suffer,” “to suffer with,” “to have compassion,” “to be touched with a feeling,” “to be affected with a sense,” “to condole” or “bewail.” The word is once more used by our apostle in this epistle, and nowhere else in the New Testament, Hebrews 10:34, Τοῖς δεσμοῖς μου συνεπαθήσατε , where we render it by “having compassion:” “Ye had compassion of me in my bonds;” though I should rather say, “Ye suffered with me in my bonds.” 1 Peter 3:8, the noun συμπαθής occurs, where we render it again “having compassion.” And, indeed, the origination of that word “compassion” is comprehensive of its whole sense; but its common use for “pity” is not. Συμπζεῖς is more fully rendered in that place by Beza, “mutuo molestiarum sensu affecti,” “affected with a mutual sense of the troubles of each other.”

First, Συμπαθέω includes a concern in the troubles, or sufferings, or evils of others, upon the account of concernment in any common interest wherein persons are united, as it is in the natural body. Sometimes some part is affected with a disease, which hath seized on it. Another part of the body is affected with it, although nothing of the disease hath really seized on it. That part thereof cannot be said to be absolutely sick or ill-affected, for no part of the disease is in it; but it may be said συμπάσχειν , that is, not to be free from being affected, though not upon its own account, Galen, de Locis Affectis, lib. 1. This suffering is by the consent or harmony that is in the same nature branched into its individuals. So we have a sense of the suffering of humanity or of human nature, wherein we are interested, in other men, in any man whatever.

Secondly, It includes a propensity to relieve them in whose troubles or sufferings we are concerned, and that whether we have power to effect that relief or no. So David, in the deep sense that he had of the death of Absalom, wished that he had died for him, or relieved him from suffering by dying in his stead. And where this is not in some measure, there is no sympathy. We may not be able, in some cases where we are concerned, to relieve; it may not be lawful for us, in some cases, to give that help and succor which our compassion would incline us unto; but if there be no such inclination there is no sympathy.

Thirdly, Properly it contains in it a commotion of affections, which we express by “condolentia;” whence the Arabic renders the word “who can mourn with us” So is the Hebrew נוּד used, Psalms 69:21: אֲקַוֶּה לָנוּד ; LXX., ῾Υπέμεινα συλλυπούμεονον· “I looked for any to be grieved with me;” “to be affected with sorrow on my behalf;” “to take pity,” say we; “to lament with me,” by a motion or agitation of their affections, as the word signifies. And those intended are joined with מְנַחֲמִים , “comforters.” This belongs to this sympathy, to have a moving of affection in ourselves upon the sufferings of others.

And these things are here ascribed unto our high priest on the account of his union with us, both in the participation of our nature and the communication of a new nature unto us, whereby we become “members of his body,” one with him. He is deeply concerned in all our infirmities, sorrows, and sufferings. This is attended with an inclination and propensity to relieve us, according to the rule, measure, and tenor of the covenant; and herewithal, during the time of our trials, he hath a real motion of affections in his holy nature, which he received or took on him for that very end and purpose, Hebrews 2:16-18.

In this sense of the word, σομπαθῆσαι , “to be affected with a sense,” ascribes this ability in a moral and natural sense unto the Lord Christ, our high priest, as he is man, in contradistinction unto God absolutely, whose nature is incapable of the compassion intended. There are, indeed, in the Scripture assignations of such kind of affections unto God; as Isaiah 63:9, בְּכָל צָרָתָם לֹא צָר . For לֹא , “not,” the reading is לוֹ , “to him;” and accordingly we translate it, “In all their afflictions he was affected;” or, “there was straitening, affliction unto him,” he was afflicted with their straits and afflictions But there is an anthropopathy allowed in these expressions. These things are assigned unto God after the manner of men. And the true reason of such ascriptions, is not merely to assist our weakness and help our understandings in the things themselves, but to show really what God doth and will do in the human nature which he hath assumed, and intended to do so from of old; on which purpose the superstructure of his dealing with us in the Scripture is founded and built. And thus it is said of our high priest that “he is able to be affected with a sense of our infirmities,” because in his human nature he is capable of such affections, and, as he is our high priest, is graciously inclined to act according to them.

Ταῖς ἀσθενείαις ἡμῶν , “our infirmities.” ᾿Ασθενεία , “imbecillitas,” “debilitas,” “infirmitas,” is used, both in the Scripture and all Greek authors, for any debility, weakness, or infirmity, of body or mind. Frequently bodily diseases are expressed by it, as by the adjective ἀσθενής , and the verb ἀσθενέω , “to be sick,” “to be diseased,” with respect unto the weakness or infirmity that is introduced thereby, Matthew 10:8; Matthew 25:43; Luke 4:40; John 5:3; John 5:5. And sometimes it expresseth the weakness of the mind or spirit, not able, or scarcely able, to bear the difficulties and troubles that it is pressed withal, 1 Corinthians 2:3; weakness of judgment, Romans 14:2; spiritual weakness, as to life, grace, and power, Romans 5:6; Romans 8:26. So that this word is used to express every kind of imbecility or weakness that doth or may befall our natures with respect unto any difficulties, troubles, or perplexities that we have to conflict withal. And whereas it is here mentioned generally, without a restriction to any special kind of infirmities, it may justly be extended to all weaknesses of all sorts that we are, or upon any pressures may be, sensible of; but whereas, in the following words, the reason of the ability of Christ, our high priest, to be affected with a sense of our infirmities, is placed in his being tempted, it is manifest that the weaknesses here chiefly intended are such as respect afflictions and temptations, with persecution for the gospel. Our infirmities and weaknesses under these things, to wrestle with them or remove them, and consequently our trouble, sorrow, suffering, and danger, by them and from them, our high priest is intimately affected withal. He takes himself to be concerned in our troubles, as we are members of his mystical body, one with him; he is inclined from his own heart and affections to give in unto us help and relief, as our condition doth require; and he is inwardly moved during our sufferings and trials with a sense and fellow-feeling of them.

Obs. The church of God hath a standing, perpetual advantage, in the union of our nature to the person of the Son of God, as he is our high priest.

We all acknowledge that so it is with us, upon the account of the sacrifice that he was to offer for us. He had thereby somewhat of his own to offer. Thence it was that “God redeemed his church with his own blood,”

Acts 20:28; and that “he laid down his life for us,” 1 John 3:16. But we are apt to think that this work being well over, we have now no more concernment in that nature nor advantage by it, but that what yet remains to be done for us may be as well discharged by him who is only God, and absolutely so in every respect. For since he “dieth no more,” what profit is there in his flesh? It is true, the flesh of Christ, carnally and sensually considered, “profiteth nothing,” as he told the Capernaites of old, John 6:0. And they will find his words true, who, in their own imagination, turn bread into his flesh every day. Yea, and our apostle tells us,

“though he had known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth he knew him so no more,” 2 Corinthians 5:16;

that is, though he had known Christ in the days of his flesh here in the world, whilst as a mortal man he conversed with mortal men, yet all the privilege thereof and advantage thereby, which some in those days boasted of, were past, and of use no longer; he was now to be known after another manner, and under another consideration, as exalted at the right hand of God. Yet doth not all this in the least impeach our assertion of the greatness of our concernment in the continuation of his human nature in the union of his person. If, when he had finished his sacrifice, and the atonement which he made for sin, by the offering up of himself, he had then left off his human nature, which he had for that end taken on him, notwithstanding that offering we could not have been delivered nor saved. For besides that he himself had not been sufficiently manifested to be the Son of God for us to have believed on him, seeing he was “declared to be the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead,” Romans 1:6; so our apostle declares that without his resurrection from the dead we could neither be delivered from our sins nor have been ever raised again unto glory, 1 Corinthians 15:12-21.

It is therefore confessed that many and great are the advantages of the resurrection of the body of Christ, and therein of his human nature; for this was the way and means of his entrance into glory: He “revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living,” Romans 14:9. And this was the testimony that he was acquitted and discharged from the penalty of the law, and the whole debt he had undertaken to make satisfaction of unto God for sinners, Acts 2:24, Romans 8:33-34; without which we could have said of him only as the disciples did when they knew not of his resurrection, “We trusted that it had been he who should have redeemed Israel,” Luke 24:21. And hereby had he an illustrious and uncontrollable testimony given to his being the Son of God, Romans 1:4; as also, he laid the foundation and gave an infallible pledge of the future blessed resurrection, which all that believe in him shall by him obtain. But this being also past and over, what further concernment hath the church in the continuation of the union of his natures? I might mention many, and those of the greatest importance. For there yet remained some parts of his mediatory work to be discharged, which could not be accomplished without this nature; for he had not yet appeared in the holy place with his own blood, whereby he had made atonement, that the whole sacrifice might be completed. And the exaltation of our nature in glory was needful for the supportment and consolation of the church. But I shall mention that alone which is here proposed by our apostle, namely, his ability from thence to be affected with a sense of our infirmities and sufferings. This, as I have showed, is appropriate unto him on the account of his human nature. And on this account we may consider his compassion four ways:

1. As it is an eminent virtue in human nature as absolutely innocent. So was the nature of Christ from the beginning; for therein was he “holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners.” Now, though in that blessed estate wherein we were created there was no actual object for us to exercise compassion upon or towards, seeing every thing was at rest in its proper place and order, yet was there no virtue more inlaid in our rational constitution, as being absolutely inseparable from goodness and benignity, upon a supposition of a suitable object. Hence they are justly esteemed to be fallen into the utmost of degeneracy from our first make, frame, and state, and to be most estranged from our common original, who have cast off this virtue where it may and ought to have its actual exercise. Nor are any more severely in the Scripture reflected on than those who are unmerciful and without compassion, fierce, cruel, and implacable. No men more evidently deface the image of God than such persons. Now, our nature in Christ was and is absolutely pure and holy, free from the least influence by that depravedness which befell the whole mass in Adam. And herein are the natural virtues of goodness, benignity, mercy, and compassion, pure, perfect, and untainted. And he hath objects to exercise these virtues on which Adam could not have, and those such as are one with himself, by their participation in the same common principles of nature and grace.

2. This compassion is in him as a grace of the Spirit. For besides the spotless innocency and purity of our nature in him, there was a superaddition of all grace unto it, by virtue of its union with the person of the Son of God and the unction it had from the Spirit of God. Hence there was an all-fullness of created grace communicated unto him; for he received not the Spirit and his graces by measure, John 3:34. Of this fullness compassion is a part, and that no mean part neither; for of this rank and kind are all the principal fruits of the Spirit, Galatians 5:22-23. And in and by these did he make a representation of God’s nature unto us, which he hath described as full of pity, compassion, and tender affections; whence he compares himself unto those creatures and in those relations which have the most intense and merciful affections, And hereby doth the compassion of Christ, our high priest in our human nature, receive an eminent exaltation.

3. He had a peculiar furnishment with graces, virtues, habits of mind, and inclinations, suited to the good and useful discharge of his office in our behalf. The Spirit of the Lord was upon him, and peculiarly anointed him to that end, Isaiah 11:2-4; Isaiah 61:1-3. Now unto the office of a high priest it is in especial required that he should be able to have compassion, Hebrews 5:2; the reasons whereof we shall see afterwards. He had, therefore, in his human nature, an especial provision of compassion inlaid by the Holy Ghost, by whom he was anointed, for the due discharge of this office. Thus was he every way framed in his nature unto mercy and compassion. And whereas there seems nothing now wanting but an outward object of weakness, infirmities, and temptations, to excite and occasion the exercise of this virtue and grace, that this might be the more effectual to that purpose,

4. He took an experiencs of such sufferings in himself as are the proper objects of compassion when they are in others. This the next words declare, which we shall afterwards consider.

By these means is the nature of our high priest filled with tenderness, compassion, or sympathy, the foundation of whose exercise towards us lies in the oneness of his nature and ours. And these things belonging to the pure constitution of his nature, and receiving their improvement by the unction of the Spirit, are not lessened or impaired by his present glorification; for they all belonging unto him on the account of his office, continuing still in the exercise of the same office, their continuation also is necessary. And hence it is, namely, because of our concernment therein, that he gave so many particular instances of his retaining the same human nature wherein he suffered. For he did not only

“shew himself alive to his disciples after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God,” Acts 1:3,

providing particularly that they should not think or take him now to be a mere spirit, and so to have lost his natural human constitution, saying unto them,

“Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have,” Luke 24:39;

but when he left the world with that body of flesh and bones, the angels witnessed that he should “come again in like manner” as he then went away, Acts 1:11. For “the heaven must” in that nature “receive him until the times of the restitution of all things,” Acts 3:21. And to confirm our faith in this matter, he appeared afterwards in the same nature to Stephen, Acts 7:56; and to our apostle, telling him that he was “Jesus whom he persecuted,” Acts 9:5. All this to assure us that he is such a high priest as is able to be “affected with a sense of our infirmities.” And those who by the monstrous figment of transubstantiation, and those others who feign the Lord Christ to have an ubiquitarian body, both of them by just consequence destroying the verity of his human nature, do evert what lies in them a main pillar of the church’s consolation. Much more do they do so who deny him to retain the same individual body wherein he suffered, in any sense. Herein lies a great advantage of the church, a great encouragement and supportment unto believers under their infirmities, in their trials and temptations. For,

1. It is some relief to be pitied in distress. The want hereof Job complained of, and cried out pathetically about it: Job 19:21,

“Have pity upon me, have pity upon me, O ye my friends; for the hand of God hath touched me.”

It went unto his heart, to find that his friends were not affected with a sense of his sufferings; and it added exceedingly to the weight of them. And such was the complaint of David, as a type of Christ: Psalms 69:20,

“Reproach hath broken my heart, and I am full of heaviness; and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none.”

It is a representation of the state of our Savior when all his disciples fled and left him, and he was encompassed with fierce and reproaching enemies. This is a high aggravation of the sorrows and sufferings of any that are in distress. And there is relief in compassion. Some going to the stake have been much refreshed with a compassionate word whispered unto them.

And it cannot but be a cause of great refreshment unto believers, in all the hardships that befall them, and their weakness under them, that they have the compassion of their high priest accompanying of them. He is in himself exceedingly great and glorious, nearly allied unto us, able to relieve us, being far above all those persons and things that occasion our troubles, for they are all under his feet; all which considerations render his compassion, as before described, refreshing and relieving.

2. Herein lies a great encouragement to make our addresses unto him in all our straits and weaknesses. For if he be so concerned in us and our troubles, if he be so affected in himself with a sense of them, and have in his holy nature, and upon the account of his office, such a propensity to relieve us, which also he is so able for, as hath been declared, what should hinder us from making our addresses unto him continually for help and supplies of his assisting grace, according as our necessities do require?

But this being the peculiar use that the apostle makes of this doctrine in the next verse, it must be there considered.

3. There lies no small warning herein, how heedfully we should take care that we miscarry not, that we faint not in our trials. He looks on us with a great concernment, and his glory and honor are engaged in our acquitting of ourselves. If we have a due regard to him and his love, it will excite us unto all care and diligence in the discharge of every duty we are called unto, notwithstanding the difficulties that it may be attended withal.

In the next words an especial reason is assigned of this merciful ability of our high priest to be “affected with a sense of our infirmities:” “But was in all things tempted as we are, yet without sin.” The assertion which is the ground of the reason assigned, is that he was “tempted;” expressed with the extent of it; it was κατὰ πάντα , “in all things;” and an appropriation unto our concernment, “like as we are;” with a limitation of the extent and appropriation, “yet without sin.”

The whole substance of what is here intended hath been largely treated on, Hebrews 2:17, whither I refer the reader, that we may not repeat the same things again. Some very few words may be added, in the explication of what is peculiar to this place.

Πεπειραμένον δέ . The particle δέ , “but,” is contradictory to what was before denied: ‘He is not such a one as cannot be affected, but one who was himself tempted.’And this plainly shows that what is now introduced is the principal proof of the former assertion: ‘It is evident that he can be “affected with a sense of our infirmities,” because he was “tempted.” ’

Πεπειραμένον , “tempted;” that is, “tried,” “exercised,” for no more doth the word originally import. Whatever is the moral evil in temptation, it is from the depraved intention of the tempter, or from the weakness and sin of the tempted. In itself, and materially considered, it is but a trial, which may have a good or a bad effect. How, whereby, or wherein our high priest was thus tried and tempted, see the place before mentioned.

Κατὰ πάντα , “every way,” “in all things;” that is, from all means and instruments of temptation, by all ways of it, and in all things, wherein as a man, or as our high priest, he was concerned.

Καθ᾿ ὁμοιότητα , “secundum similitudinem,” “in like manner.” There is a plain allusion or relation unto the temptation of others. For whatever is “like,” is of necessity like to somewhat else; and what is done in “like manner,” or “according to similitude,” hath something that answers unto it. Now this is the trials and temptations of them that do believe, the things that press on them by reason of their weakness. See as above.

Χωρὶς ἁμαρτίας , “without sin.” Sin with respect unto temptation may be considered two ways;

1. As the principle of it;

2. As its effect.

1. Sin sometimes is the principle of temptation. Men are tempted to sin by sin, to actual sin by habitual sin, to outward sin by indwelling sin, James 1:14-15. And this is the greatest spring and source of temptations in us who are sinners.

2. It respects temptation as the effect of it, that which it tends and leads unto, which it designs, which it bringeth forth or produceth. And it may be inquired with respect unto which of these considerations it is that the exception is here put in on the behalf of our high priest, that he was “tempted without sin.” If the former, then the meaning is, that he was tried and tempted by all ways and means, from all principles and causes, in like manner even as we are, excepting only that he was not tempted by sin, which had no place in him, no part, no interest, so that it had no ground to make suggestions unto him upon. And hereby the apostle preserves in us due apprehensions of the purity and holiness of Christ, that we may not imagine that he was liable unto any such temptations unto sin from within as we find ourselves liable unto, and which are never free from guilt and defilement. If the latter be intended, then all success of temptation upon our high priest is denied. We are tried and tempted by Satan, and the world, and by our own lusts. The aim of all these temptations is sin, to bring us more or less, in one degree or other, to contract the guilt of it. Of times in this condition sin actually ensues, temptation hath its effect in us and upon us; yea, when any temptation is vigorous and pressing, it is seldom but that more or less we are sinfully affected with it. It was quite otherwise with our high priest. Whatever temptation he was exposed unto or exercised withal, as he was with all of all sorts that can come from without, they had none of them in the least degree any effect in him or upon him; he was still in all things absolutely “without sin.” Now, the exception being absolute, I see no reason why it should not be applied unto sin with both the respects unto temptation mentioned. He neither was tempted by sin, such was the holiness of his nature; nor did his temptation produce any sin, such was the perfection of his obedience. And concerning all these things the reader may consult the place before mentioned.

Verse 16

The last verse of this chapter contains an inference from what was discoursed in the two foregoing, as the contexture of the words declares. The exhortation is insisted on, Hebrews 4:14, that we would “hold fast our profession” unto the end. The motive and encouragement hereunto is taken from the consideration of the priesthood of Christ, with the several concerns thereof before explained. Here a further improvement of them in particular is directed unto, for the same end; for it is supposed that we may meet with many difficulties, oppositions, and temptations, in the discharge of that duty, which in and of ourselves we are not able to conflict withal and to overcome. Wherefore we are guided and encouraged to seek for help and assistance against them on the account of what hath been declared concerning the priesthood of the Son of God.

Hebrews 4:16 . Προσερχώμεθα οὗν μετὰ παῤῥησίας τῷ θρόνῳ τῆς Χάριτος , ἵνα λαβωμεν ἔλεον , καὶ χάριν εὔρωμεν εἰς εὔχαιρον βοήθειαν .

Ου῏ν , “therefore;” ‘seeing we have an high priest, and him such a one as we have described.’The consideration hereof is to encourage, guide, and influence us unto the ensuing duty, and in all the concerns of it Without this we have no might unto it, no ability for it.

Προσερχώμεθα , “let us come;” so we. But that is only ἐρχώμεθα . There is some addition of sense from the composition. Nor is it by any translators rendered “veniamus” singly, “let us come;” but “adeamus,” or “accedamus,” or “appropinquemus,” “let us come to” “draw near,” or “approach.” Syr., נֶתְקַרַב , “let us draw near,” in a sacred manner, or to sacred purposes. So have we rendered the mine word, Hebrews 10:22; and it is used absolutely for to come unto God in his worship, Hebrews 10:1; Hebrews 11:16. It answers קָרַב in the Hebrew, which, as it is used for “to approach” or “draw nigh” in general, so it is peculiarly used to signify the solemn approach that was to be made unto God in his worship or service. Hence, also it signifies “to offer sacrifices and offering,” which are thence called קָרְבָּנִים . The word, therefore, hath respect unto the access either of the people of old with their sacrifices to the altar in the temple, or the priests’approach unto the holy place, as the next words will more fully declare. Having asserted the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, to be our high priest, as typed out by the high priest among the Jews, he expresseth our addresses unto God by him, in answer to the way and manner whereby the priests or people of old made their approaches unto God, as that which agreeth therewith in its general nature, though on other accounts variously exalted above it: ‘“Let us draw near,” in a holy, sacred manner, according to his appointment;’that is, with our prayers and supplications.

Μετὰ παῤῥησίας , “with boldness.” This word hath been spoken unto on Hebrews 3:6. Here it is variously rendered. Syr. בּגְלֵא עִין , “with an open” or “revealed eye,” Vulg. Lat. “cum fiducia,” “with confidence.” So the Arabic. By the Ethiopic it is wholly omitted. Beza, “cure loquendi libertate,” “with liberty of speech” or “speaking.” It is a principal adjunct of the worship of God which our apostle expresseth in this word, both here and Hebrews 10:19; and this somewhat that is peculiar to theworship of the new testament in opposition unto that of the old. This he elsewhere calls ἐλευθερίαν , “liberty,” 2 Corinthians 3:17; the libertythat is given by the Holy Spirit under the new testament unto believers, which those who were kept under bondage by the letter of the old had no interest in: “For where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” And he calls it πρόσωτον ἀνακεκαλυμένον , 2 Corinthians 3:18, “open face;” whence is the “oculus revelatus” of the Syriac in this place. This, as it hath an especial opposition to the veil that was on the Jews, and is to this day, filling them with darkness and fear, so it denotes boldness and confidence of mind, in a freedom from fear, shame, and discouragements.

There are, therefore, two things that the apostle intends to remove, and to have us free or delivered from, in our drawing near to the throne of grace with our prayers and supplications, on the account of the interposition of our high priest:

First, A bondage frame of spirit, or a “spirit of bondage unto fear,” which was upon the people under the old testament in the worship of God. This he elsewhere frequently both ascribes unto them and removes from us, Rom 8:14-15 ; 2 Corinthians 3:12-18. God, in the giving of the law and the institution of the ordinances of worship, wherein he taught the people how he would be reverenced by them, had so encompassed himself with fire and terror, that it ingenerated a great and awful horror in their minds. This made them remove and stand afar off, desiring that God would not approach to them, nor that they might approach unto God, but that all things between them might be transacted at a distance, by an internuncius, Exodus 20:18-19. This legal diffidence and distrust in our approaches unto God, which shuts up the heart, straitens the spirit, and takes away the liberty of treating with him as a father, is now by Christ removed and taken away, Galatians 4:4-6. Christ was “made under the law,” to deliver us from the dread and bondage of it; whereby, also, we receive the adoption of children, and therewithal the Spirit of Christ, to treat with God with the liberty, boldness, and ingenuity of children, crying “Abba, Father,” with the genuine actings of faith and love.

Secondly, A disbelief of acceptation, arising from a sense of our own unworthiness. From an apprehension of God’s greatness and terror there arises a dread in persons under the law; and from the consideration of their own vileness there arises a distrust in sinners, accompanied with fear and despondency, as though there were no hope for them in him or with them. This also the apostle would remove, upon the account of the priesthood of Christ. The manner assigned unto us for our approach to God includes all this. We are to do it μετὰ παῤῥησίας , “with boldness;” which word imports,

1. “Orationis,” or “orandi libertatem.” Παῤῥησία is πανρησία , “a freedom and liberty in speaking;” rendered here by Beza, “loquendi libertas.” This liberty is internal and spiritual, and is opposed unto the legal diffidence and bondage before described. This therefore, in the first place, is our spiritual liberty and freedom, attended with a holy confidence, in our access unto God, to make our requests known unto him, expressing our condition, our wants, our desires, freely and with confidence.

2. “Exauditionis fiduciam,” or a spiritual confidence of acceptance with God through the interposition of Jesus Christ. In another place our apostle seems to make this to be a thing distinct from the παῤῥησία here mentioned: Ephesians 3:12, ᾿Εν ᾧ ἔχομεν τὴν παῤῥησίαν , καὶ τὴν προσαγωγὴν ἐν πεποιθήσει , διὰ τῆς πίστεως αὐτοῦ· “In whom we have boldness, and an access with confidence, through the faith that is in him.” Our “access with confidence” includes a persuasion of acceptance, and is distinguished from the “boldness” that it is accompanied withal; but yet as this παῤῥησία and προσαγωγὴ ἐν πεποιθήσει , this “boldness” and “access with confidence,” are inseparable in and from the same duty, so they may be mentioned the one for both in other places, as here they seem to be. And we thus “draw near,” Τῷ θρόνῳ τῆς χάριτος , “to the throne of grace.” The proper and immediate object of our access or approach is and must be a person. Who that is, is not here expressed, but left to be understood from the manner of his being represented unto us. A throne is a seat of majesty, and is ascribed to God and men; to God frequently, as he is מֶלֶךְ גָּדוֹל , the “great king over all. Isaiah saw him “on a throne, high and exited,” Isaiah 6:1; and Ezekiel, as on “the likeness of a throne,” Ezekiel 1:26. So “justice and judgment” are said to be “the habitation of his throne,” Psalms 89:14. There they abide and dwell, when other thrones have but some partial visits from them. In general, heaven is said to be God’s throne, Matthew 5:34, as the place where principally he manifests his glory and majesty. But the expression being metaphorical, is not to be restrained to any one thing in particular. The Hebrews say that God hath a double throne; כסא הדין , “a throne of judgment;” and כסא רחמים , “a throne of compassion;; and tender mercy, that is, θρόνος τῆς χαρίτος , a “throne of grace. A throne, then, is the place where and from whence judgment is exercised and mercy administered; and therefore our coming unto God in his worship for mercy and grace, is said to be a coming unto his throne. Or there may be an allusion unto the mercy-seat in the tabernacle, which being laid on the ark with a coronet of gold round about it, and shadowed with the cherubim, it was as the throne or seat of God in that most solemn representation of his presence amongst that people; for that which the apostle here calls our “coming to the throne of grace,” in Hebrews 10:19 he expresseth by “drawing nigh with boldness into the holiest,” the place where the ark and mercy-seat were placed. And it is the love and grace of God in Christ which was thereby represented, as hath been manifested elsewhere.

Our next inquiry is after the person whom we are distinctly to consider as on this throne in our addresses thereunto. Some say ‘it is the Lord Christ as our mediator and high priest who is intended: for concerning him directly is the discourse immediately preceding; he is also in particular here described as our merciful, faithful, and careful high priest, all which are encouragements to come unto him, which accordingly we are exhorted unto, and that with boldness; and a throne is peculiarly ascribed unto him in this epistle, Romans 1:8; and he sits in the throne of God, Romans 3:21; and at his throne of grace we may be sure of acceptance.’

But yet this seems not to be the especial intention of this place. For,

1. A throne, rule, and government, are ascribed unto the Lord Christ with respect unto his kingly and not his priestly office, of which the apostle here discourseth. It is said indeed of him that he should be “a priest upon his throne,” Zechariah 6:13; but that is to intimate the concomitancy of his kingly power as inseparable from his person, he shall be a priest, though sitting, or whilst he sits as a king on his throne.

2. Wherever the Lord Christ is spoken of as on his throne, exalted in the glory and majesty of his kingdom, it is always with reference to his power and authority over his church for to give laws and rules unto it for his worship, or over his enemies for their ruin and destruction.

3. The context requires another sense; for the Lord Christ, in his office and interposition on our behalf, is not proposed as the object of our coming, but as the means of it, and a great encouragement unto it; for “through him we have an access by one Spirit unto the Father,” Ephesians 2:18. On the account of his undertaking for us, his appearance before God on our behalf, the atonement he hath made, we may come in his name with confidence of acceptance unto the throne of God. See Revelation 4:2-3, Hebrews 7:25.

I cannot omit one argument that is used by Primasius, Haymo, and Ludovicus de Tena, on this place, to prove that it is the throne of Christ that is here intended. And this is because it is called a “throne of grace;”

‘that is,’say they, ‘of Christ, for so is he called by our apostle, Hebrews 2:9.’For, following the Vulgar translation, and reading the words, “ut gratia Dei gustaret mortem pro omnibus,” they say “gratia” is of the nominative and not of the ablative case, that “the Grace of God should taste of death for all.” And herein Tena urgeth the consent of Thomas and the ordinary gloss. Such woful mistakes do men, otherwise wise and learned, fall into, who undertake to expound the Scriptures without consulting the original, or an ability so to do. The “throne of grace,” therefore, is unto us, God as gracious in Christ, as exalted in a way of exercising grace and mercy towards them that through the Lord Jesus believe in him and come unto him.

This is the duty exhorted unto. The end hereof is twofold:

1. General and immediate;

2. Particular, as an effect and product thereof. The general end hath two parts:

(1.) “That we may obtain mercy;”

(2.) “That we may find grace.” The particular and determinate end of all is, “seasonable help,” “help in a time of need.”

The first thing designed, as a part of the end ‘to be aimed at in the discharge or performance of this duty, is, ἵνα λάβωμεν ἔλον , “that we may receive mercy,” “that we may obtain mercy.” Λαμβάνω doth sometimes signify “to obtain,” “to acquire;” and so by most interpreters it is here tendered, “ut obtineamus,” “ut consequamur,” as by ours, “that we may obtain;” but the first and most usual signification of the word is only “to receive,” or “to take,” “that we may receive.” And I see no reason why that sense of it may not be most proper unto this place; for the apostle seems to intimate that mercy is prepared for us, only our access unto God by Christ with boldness is required to our being made actual partakers thereof. And this answers his prescription of “boldness,” or spiritual confidence in our approaches to the throne of grace for the receiving that mercy which in and through Christ is prepared for us.

“That we may receive ἔλεος .” This word is often used to signify that “mercy” in God from whence we obtain and receive the pardon of our sins, mercy in pardoning, חסְּלִיחַה . So most expound this place, that we may obtain mercy for our sins, that we may be pardoned. But this doth not seem to answer the present purpose of the apostle; for he is not discoursing about sin in the guilt of it, but about temptations, afflictions, and persecutions. Wherefore the ἔλεος , or “mercy,” here intended, must be that which is the principle or cause of our supportment, assistance, and deliverance, namely, in the effects of it. This is חֶסֶד in the Hebrew, which the LXX. frequently render by ἕλεος , and we by “mercy,” though it rather signifies “kindness and benignity,” than pardoning grace. Moreover, it is not about the first approach of sinners unto God by Christ for mercy and pardon, whereof he treats, but about the daily access of believers unto him for grace and assistance. To “receive mercy,” therefore, is to be made partakers of gracious help and supportment from the kindness and benignity of God in Christ, when we are in straits and distresses; which springs, indeed, from the same root with pardoning grace, and is therefore called “mercy.”

Καὶ χάριν εὕρωμεν , “and that we may find grace.” This is the next general end of our access, unto the throne of grace. Εὕρωμεν , “that we may find, or rather “obtain;” for so is this word often used. And there may be a twofold sense of these words:

1. “To find” or “obtain favor,” or favorable acceptance with God. When God is pleased χαριτῶσαι , to make us acceptable unto himself in Christ, as he is said to do, Ephesians 1:6, then we find χάριν , “grace,” or “favor” with him. And this is the foundation of all grace that is communicated unto us. The phrase of speech occurs frequently in the Old Testament. “Let me find grace in thine eyes,” or “favor in thy sight;” that is, “be accepted with thee,” מָצָא חֵן . And to this doth εὔρειν χάριν exactly answer; and that is, “to be accepted.” See Genesis 6:8; Genesis 18:3, Ephesians 1:6. So is the Greek phrase, Acts 7:46, ῝Ος εὗρε χάριν ἐνώπιον τοῦ Θεοῦ , “Who found favor in the sight of God;” Luke 1:30, Εὗρες γὰρ χάριν παρὰ τῷ Θεῷ , “ Thou hast found favor with God.” So we, instead of “grace;” and thence, Luke 1:28, she is said to be κεχαριτωμένη , “graciously accepted,” or “highly favored.”

This sense is pious, and agreeable to the analogy of faith; our free, gracious acceptance with God is the foundation and cause of all that grace or assistance that we are made partakers of. But,

2. The apostle is not treating of the personal acceptance of sinners or believers in or by Christ in this place, but of that especial assistance which, upon particular addresses unto him, we do obtain. Now this may be considered two ways:

(1.) In respect of the fountain of it, and so it is “beneficentia,” the will of God to assist us; or,

(2.) Of the effect itself, the “beneficium,” the actual assistance and help we do receive. So when our apostle, in his strait upon his temptation, made his address to God for relief, he received that answer, “My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness,” 2 Corinthians 12:9. Wherein he had an intimation both of God’s gracious care and good- will towards him, as also of the actual powerful assistance which he should be supplied with against his temptation. And this sense is determined by the next words.

Εἰς εὔχαιρον βοήθειαν . What kind of help βοήθεια is hath been declared on Hebrews 2:18. It is a “succor;” that is, aid yielded unto any upon their cry. Θεῖν εἰς βοήν , “to run in to assist upon the cry of any,” is the original of the word’s signification. And this help is, Εὔχαιρος , “seasonable;” that is, help בְּעִתּוֹ , “in its time,” its proper time or season. Proverbs 15:23, דָבָר בְּעִתּוֹ מַהאּטוֹב ; “A word in its time” (or “its season”); “how good is it!” Help that is fit, suitable, seasonable, that is, on the part of God that gives it, of the persons that receive it, of the time wherein it is afforded, of the end for which it is bestowed, is εὔχαιρος . This kind of help it becometh the greatness and wisdom of God to give. And it is an impression on the minds of men by nature that such kind of help is from God. Hence the proverb, Θεὸς ἀπὸ μηχανῆς , for unexpected aid when all things otherwise would be lost. This the psalmist excellently expresseth, Psalms 46:2, עֶזְרָה בְצָרוֹת נִמְצָא מְאוֹד ; “God is a help wonderfully found in straits.” And so the Syriac version adds in this place, “help in time of affliction” or “persecution.” Grace, therefore, effectual for our assistance in every time of need, upon our cry to God in Christ, is that which is here intended. I know not whether I may add an allusion that may be found in the Hebrew words, if respect may be had to that language here. For as כִּסֵּא is a “throne,” the throne whereunto we approach for help; so כֶּסֶא is as much as זְמָן an “appointed time” or” season.” We come לַכִּסֵּא for help בכֵּסֶא .

We have opened the words in their order as they lie in the text. Our observations from the resolution of the sense will arise from the last clause and ascend unto the first; and in them the meaning of the words themselves will be yet more fully explained; as,

Obs . 1. There is, there will be a season, many a season in the course of our profession and walking before God, wherein we do or shall stand in need of especial aid and assistance.

This is included in the last words, “help in a time of need,” help that is suitable and seasonable for and unto such a condition, wherein we are found earnestly to cry out for it. This I shall a little enlarge upon. Our condition all along and in all things is wanting and indigent. We do live, we must live, if we intend to live, always in a constant dependence on God in Christ for supplies. There is a continual ἐπιχορηγία τοῦ Πνεύματος , Philippians 1:19, or “additional supply of the Spirit” unto what we have received, without which we cannot well spiritually subsist one moment. And “God supplies all our wants according to his riches in glory” (that is, his glorious riches in grace) “by Christ Jesus,” Philippians 4:19. But besides that want which always attends our condition in this world, and which God constantly supplies according to the tenor of the covenant of grace, there are especial straits and difficulties, which in especial seasons we are exposed unto. I need not prove this to them that read; they have found it, they have felt it, and so have I also. I shall therefore only call over a few instances of such seasons, some whereof we have already been exercised in, some whereof we cannot escape for the future, and the rest may probably befall us, if they have not done so already.

1. A time of affliction is such a season. God is a help בְצָרוֹת Psalms 46:2, in all sorts of straits and afflictions. And the Scripture abounds in instances of believers making their especial application unto God for especial assistance in such a season, and directions for them so to do. And the rule of the covenant in sending relief, is upon the coming up of the cry of the afflicted unto God, Psalms 50:15, Exodus 2:23-25. And let men’s stock of wisdom, grace, experience, and resolution, be what it will, or what they can fancy, they are not able to go through with the least new affliction to the glory of God without new especial aid and assistance from him.

2. A time of persecution is such a season, yea, it may be the principal season here intended; for hence arose the great danger of these Hebrews in the course of their profession, as our apostle declares at large, Hebrews 10:0. And this is the greatest trial that in general God exerciseth his church withal. In such a season some seed quite decayeth, some stars fall from heaven, some prove fearful and unbelieving to their eternal ruin. And few there are but that, where persecution is ‘urgent, it hath some impression upon them to their disadvantage. Carnal fears, with carnal wisdom and counsels, are apt to be at work in such a season; and all the fruit that comes from these evil roots is bitter. Hence many make it their only design, in such a send, on, to creep through it and live; to be “strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might,” unto the performance of all the duties which the gospel requireth, and as it requires them, they have no design. But by this means, as God hath no revenue of glory from them, nor the church of advantage, so they will scarce find inward peace when outward trouble is over. This, then, is a season wherein, if ever, an especial address is needful for especial aid.

3. A time of temptation is such a season. Our apostle found it so when he had the “messenger of Satan sent to buffet him.” Thrice did he pray and cry out for especial assistance against it, or deliverance from it; and he got assurance of them both. This, added to the former, completed the condition of these Hebrews. With their persecutions they had manifold temptations. These made it a time of need unto them. In reference to this season and the power of it doth our apostle give that great caution, “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall,” 1 Corinthians 10:12. And wherein doth this heedfulness principally consist? In an application to him who is “faithful, who will not suffer us to be tempted above what we are able, but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that we may be able to bear it,” 1 Corinthians 10:13; that is, who will give out seasonable help, “help in a time of need.”

4. A time of spiritual desertion is such a season. When God in any way withdraws himself from us, we shall stand in need of special assistance. “Thou didst hide thy face,” saith David, “and I was troubled.” Trouble will ensue on God’s hiding himself from us. But this is of the mystery of his grace, that when he withdraws himself from any soul as to sense and experience, whereby it is troubled, he can secretly communicate of himself unto it in a way of strength whereby it shall be sustained.

5. A time wherein we are called unto the performance of any great and signal duty is such a season also. So was it with Abraham when he was called first to leave his country, and afterwards to sacrifice his son. Such was the call of Joshua to enter into Canaan, proposed to our example, Hebrews 13:5; and of the apostles to preach the gospel, when they were sent out “as sheep in the midst of wolves.” Now, although we may not perhaps be called in particular to such duties as these, yet we may be so to them which have an equal greatness in them with respect unto us and our condition. Something that is new, that we are yet unexperienced in, something that there is great opposition against, somewhat that may cost us dear, somewhat that as to the state of the inward and outward man we may seem to be every way unfit for, somewhat that the glory of God is in an especial manner concerned in, we may be called unto. And there is nothing of this nature which doth not render the time of it a season wherein we stand in need of especial aid and assistance.

6. Times of changes, and the difficulties wherewith they are attended, introduce such a season. “Changes and war,” saith Job, are against me,” Job 10:17. There is in all changes a war against us, wherein we may be foiled if we are not the more watchful, and have not the better assistance. And freedom from changes is in most the ground of carnal security: Psalms 55:19, “Because they have no changes, therefore they fear not God.” Changes will beget fear; they are trials to all that are subject unto them. And these we are in all instances of life continually obnoxious unto. No man can enumerate the vicissitudes of our course; yet no one of them can we pass through in a due manner without renewed especial assistances of grace.

7. The time of death is such a season. To let go all hold of present things and present hopes, to give up a departing soul entering into the invisible world, and an unchangeable eternity therein, into the hands of a sovereign Lord, is a thing which requires a strength above our own for the right and comfortable performance of.

Now it is easy to apprehend how great an influence these things have into our whole course of walking before God, and how much of our lives and ways is taken up with them, either afflictions, or persecutions, or temptations, or defections from God, or signal difficult duties, or changes, are continually before us, and the last of them, death, lies still at the door, and there is none of these but render their seasons times of need. It may, indeed, then be said, ‘Wherein doth the specialty of the grace and aid mentioned consist, seeing it is that which we always stand in need of, and always receive?’I answer, that indeed all grace is special grace. It proceeds not from any common principle, but from the especial love of God in Christ; and is given out in an especial, distinguishing manner; and that for especial ends and purposes; so that no supply of it hath a peculiar specialty in its own nature. But it is here so called because it is suited unto especial occasions, to be “seasonable help in a time of need.” And although we may stand in need of it always, yet we do not so always on the same account, which gives it its specialty. Sometimes one thing, sometimes another, makes it needful and suitable. That which presently presseth upon us, be it affliction or persecution, be it duty or change, it makes the grace we seek for “help in a time of need.” And God is pleased so to dispose of things that we shall have occasion at all times to make our applications unto him for especial assistance. If things should be left unto an ordinary course, without some peculiar concernment to excite us, to awaken us, it is inconceivable how formal and secure we should quickly grow. Wherefore we have, in the wisdom of God, always somewhat that in particular presseth upon us, to make us intent, earnest, and vigilant in our addresses to him for help. And the especial supplies which we obtain on any particular occasion afford a contribution of new spiritual strength to the soul for all its duties. The remaining observations may be briefly presented; for hence it appears,

Obs. 2. That there is with God in Christ, God on his throne of grace, a spring of suitable and seasonable help for all times and occasions of difficulty. He is “the God of all grace,” and a fountain of living waters is with him for the refreshment of every weary and thirsty soul.

Obs. 3. All help, succor, or spiritual assistance in our straits and difficulties, proceeds from mere mercy and grace, or the goodness, kindness, and benignity of God in Christ: “That we may receive mercy, and obtain grace to help.” Our help is from grace and mercy; and thence must it be, or we must be forever helpless. And, not to exclude that sense of the words,

Obs. 4. When we have, through Christ, obtained mercy and grace for our persons, we need not fear but that we shall have suitable and seasonable help for our duties. If we “obtain mercy” and “find grace,” we shall have “help.”

Obs. 5. The way to obtain help from God is by a due gospel application of our souls for it to the throne of grace: “Let us come” for it “to the throne of grace.” How this application is to be made by faith and supplications, and how indispensable it is for the procuring of the aid aimed at, shall be elsewhere declared.

Obs. 6. Great discouragements are used to interpose themselves in our minds and against our faith, when we stand in need of especial help from God, and would make our application unto him for relief. It is included in the exhortation to “come with boldness;” that is, to cast off and conquer all those discouragements, and to use confidence of acceptance and liberty of speech before him.

Obs. 7.