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The Epistle is here closed; and a Blessed Conclusion is made. Christ in his Person, Relations, and Character, the same forever: Several weighty Exhortations are used; and the whole is summed up in praying for grace to the whole Church.
(1) Let brotherly love continue. (2) Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. (3) Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body. (4) Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge. (5) Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. (6) So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.
This Chapter opens with some very engaging exhortations, arising out of the foregoing doctrines. And, first, of the brotherly love, as members of Christ's body, and brethren in the faith. For as the Church, in heaven and earth, is but one, so Christ's love to each, and they to one another, should be formed upon his standard. From the love of the brethren, the Church is next directed to regard strangers; simply as strangers, and from the case of Abraham's entertaining the heavenly Guests he did, an inducement is made that the Church should give kind reception to strangers, under the hope that there may be some of God's dear children among them, and a such, well known to Him, though unknown to them, Gen_18:3; Gen_19:1-3 . To this precept succeeds another, namely, of tenderness to those in bonds; not merely prisoners in the body, but bondage frames of soul. And indeed in the times in which the Apostle lived, there were opportunities for the exercise of compassion to both. Then follows a very delightful observation on the marriage-state. And as all marriages of honor, and undefilement are evidently typical of Christ's marriage with his Church; it is very blessed to hear the Holy Ghost, thus continually approving of in. And this paragraph closeth with arguing the weakness of an over anxiety for the things of the body, when God by his Covenant promise, hath made such ample provision, for his redeemed, in the engagement first given to Joshua, and in him to all the Lord's people, Joshua 1:5 . I do not enlarge on these different subjects, being in themselves so plain, as to need no comment.
(7) Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation. (8) Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever. (9) Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein.
It is truly interesting to behold, more or less, in every Epistle, where affectionate recommendations are given to the Church, to be attentive in all the tokens of love and regard, to the Pastors, whom the Lord had set over them, and on the other hand, how much the truly ordained Servants in the ministry are called upon to distinguish themselves, from mere hirelings, by a careful watching over, and tenderly feeding the flock. And do observe, Reader, in this instance now before us, how much stress is laid upon the Church's following the faith of their Pastors. A thing taken for granted, that they are not only, speaking to their people; the word of God, but eminently living in the practice of it. And what a lovely sight, when the Pastor and People are striving together for the faith of the Gospel. But I beg the Reader also in this account to observe, what is said, concerning the end of the Pastor's conversation, namely, Jesus Christ. If the Reader be particular to notice, he will see that the words of one verse run into the other. The end of their conversation is Jesus Christ. A plain proof, that the Holy Ghost will have no other subject in his Church. everything centers itself in Jesus Christ. He that is the first and last in Jehovah's thoughts is, or ought to be, the beginning and end of every faithful minister's conversation. See a beautiful picture of this, in the early Church, Acts 8:5; Acts 8:5 .
Pause over the short, but comprehensive statement, which God the Holy Spirit hath in this verse given of the Lord our Rightousness, Jesus Christ, the same yesterday and today, and forever! Every word is big with importance; and to dwell upon each might fill volumes. First. His name, Jesus. A Savior! for so the name imports. And whether considered in the Godhead of his nature and essence, as one with the Father, over all, God blessed forever; or whether, in his twofold, nature, as God and Man, Mediator; every way, and in all things, he is a Savior, and expressly called Jesus, on that account; for he shall save his people from their sins, Matthew 1:21 . Reader! beg for grace to be continually meditating on bite sweet savor of his name, Jesus; that a name, which perfumes all heaven, may give continually fragrancy to the Church upon earth; and be in every believing heart, as the savor of the richest ointment poured forth, Song of Solomon 1:3 .
Secondly. He is not only Jesus, but Jesus Christ; that is the anointed, sent, and sealed, of the Father, full of grace and truth. Reader! this is a most blessed, and interesting part of his name. Jehovah's name, and Jehovah's authority is in him, and with him. Christ glorified not himself, to be made an High Priest, but was called of God, as was Aaron, Hebrews 5:4-5 . And what a warrant such a view of the Lord Jesus gives, to the fullest exercise of every believer's faith and hope: when he not only goes to the throne of grace here below, but will hereafter stand before the throne of judgment above, in the blood and righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ, and also in the way of God's own appointing, the salvation he himself hath sent is his dear Son. Oh! the blessedness of that scripture, which Old Testament saints used; and which is the same strength to the faith of New Testament believers; Behold! O God our shield, and look upon the face of thine Anointed, Psalms 84:9 .
Thirdly. Jesus Christ the same. Yes! Every circumstance belonging to his Person, Offices, Characters, Relations, Royalties, faithfulness to God, to man, love to his Church, and people; all partake of this everlasting sameness. He is the same yesterday. What yesterday? In all the eternity past. Set up from everlasting in his Mediator character, Proverbs 8:23 . The Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, Revelation 13:8 . Today. What day? Nay, the whole day of the World's continuance in the time-state of the church. And forever? That forever, which God the Father hath marked, when he said to him: Thy throne, 0 God, is forever, and ever! Psalms 45:6 ; Hebrews 1:8 . Reader! pause over the wonderful account, and ponder well the sameness of his Person, his love, his grace, and all the unchangeableness of his Godhead, Mediator-character, and offices; the same yesterday, and to-day, and forever. Never will a child of God be in danger of being carried away with divers, and strange doctrines, whose heart is established in the grace of the Holy Ghost, having been regenerated, and taught by Him, Who Christ is, and the everlasting unchangeableness in all that relates to his Person, and Character. Lord Jesus, thou Great Author, and Finisher of faith! do thou, in the present awful day of a Christ-despising, generation, take to thyself thy great Name. Establish, confirm, and strengthen all thine own, in this most glorious truth; that no change of time, nor change of men, nor change of worlds, may shake them from this faith! Lord! be thou to them in time, what thou art, and will be, to all eternity; Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and to-day, and forever.
(10) We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle. (11) For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp. (12) Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. (13) Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. (14) For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come. (15) By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. (16) But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.
There is but one Altar which the Church of Christ knoweth, and that is a precious Altar indeed; namely, Christ himself. It was on this Altar, even his divine nature, the Lord Jesus offered himself to God, through the Eternal Spirit, Hebrews 9:14 . Christ is our New Testament Altar, and our Sacrifice, and our High Priest, and, the Sacrificer. Now they can have no right, neither benefit, in this Altar, or Sacrifice, and Sacrificer, who are looking to any sacrifice beside. And not only are they prohibited from any right to this our Altar, who serve the Jewish Tabernacle; but any Christian Tabernacle, falsely so called, that is, they who sacrifice to their own net, and burn incense to their own drag: Hebrews 1:14 , and, according to the Prophet, are building themselves up in their own fancied righteousness, and making Christ only a part Savior with themselves.
This is a beautiful illustration of the Old Testament service, and which at once proves, that the whole of the ministry, on the great day of atonement, related but to Christ. Let the Reader first read the account of the appointment, as minutely related, Leviticus 16:0 , and he will be struck with the type, in its close resemblance to Christ. Jesus did all this in substance, as the High Priest then did in the shadow, in the day when he suffered without the gate, that is, without Jerusalem, on the Mount Calvary. And, as the bodies of those beasts, whose blood was brought into the Sanctuary by the High Priest, for sin, were burnt without the Camp: Leviticus 16:27 , so Christ, in his own Person, endured the fiery indignation of sin, as the Church's representative; and then went by his own blood into heaven itself, there to appear in the presence of God for us, Hebrews 9:11-12 . And what a most affectionate exhortation the Holy Ghost adds to this beautiful illustration, when he invites the Church, to go forth, from the observance of all self-offerings whatever; from the camp of the world, and from all vain things, of any fancy attainments of our own; seeking acceptance wholly in the Person and finished salvation of our Lord Jesus Christ? This will indeed bring reproach; but it is Christ's reproach, being for his sake, and on his account. This would be doing good in the only way in which the child of God, regenerated by grace, can do good; namely, communicating to others, by our word, and by our example, that Christ is our all, and in whom we depend for all. With such sacrifices God is well pleased. Yes! For the child of God, who dares in such a day as the present, amidst a Christ-despising generation, openly to avow, that he is looking wholly to Christ, and that he makes Christ his all, for life and salvation; must sacrifice both name and reputation, and sometimes many earthly comforts besides, in the connections, and relationships of natural life. And from no class whatever will he find greater bitterness manifested, than from modern Pharisees, who profess to honor Christ as well as he, in giving him the glory of the procuring cause of salvation; but contend, that what Christ hath done, and suffered, is not a finished salvation, but that our sincere repentance, and obedience, and faith, may on Christ's account be accepted of God. Alas! did those men but seriously consider, how wretched at the best, are all the performances of creatures such as we are, they would discover what a flimsy thing the sincerity, and obedience, and repentance, yea, faith itself, considered as an act of ours, must be to trust in when going in before God. Wretched indeed would be my guilty soul, if an atom of mine became necessary for acceptance in that solemn hour!
(17) Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you. (18) Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly. (19) But I beseech you the rather to do this, that I may be restored to you the sooner.
Still harping upon the pleasant string of brotherly love, we have here the same sweet notes sung over again, of the people's duty to their ministers, and the affectionate request of the ministers to their people, to be by them remembered in their prayers. And what a lovely sight to behold, the aged Apostle Paul, seeking from the Church as a boon, what, from his voluntary, and unrecompensed labors, he might have justly demanded as a tribute. Oh! the happiness of that Church, where minister, and people, are wrestling together in prayer, before the Lord, for each other? What spiritual blessings may not be expected from such an harmony of souls, knit together as one in Christ?
(20) Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, (21) Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
As the Apostle had begged an interest in the prayers of the people; so here, in concluding his Epistle, he looks up in prayer for the Church, and pours forth his earnest supplications for the people. But I beg the Reader to observe some of the several weighty things by which he mentions his desires, for a blessing on the Church. He calls God the God of peace. This is a blessed title, and comes with peculiar energy, after the many precious proofs the Holy Ghost had given the Church, in this Epistle, of God's being at peace with his redeemed, in the blood of the cross. And the bringing Christ again from the dead, as the Great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood, of the everlasting Covenant; is specially mentioned, I should humbly conceive, on purpose to shew, that Christ had made our peace by that blood; and God's Covenant promises of peace, were all included in that high administration. Reader! pray mark this in the deepest memorandums of your life. Beg of God the Holy Ghost to mark it, with his deep impressions on your heart, for the testimony of it is sweet. Never would the Lord have taken to himself so precious, and blessed a name, as it concerns his Church; had not Christ fully made that peace, and paid down on the mercy-seat the full price of his Church's redemption, in bags richer than gold, even in blood. Oh! the blessedness of it. God saith, in confirmation, I have found a ransom, Job 33:24 ; 1 Peter 1:18-19 ; Genesis 23:16 .
I admire the preciousness, as well as the strength of the argument the Apostle useth, from this view of the God of peace raising Christ from the dead, in confirmation of the Covenant in his blood; . when he makes this the bottom, and foundation, for the Lord's making the Church perfect. For, in fact, this is the same principle which now worketh in them, which then worked in Christ. And not only so, but from the same cause. It is covenant-work from covenant-engagements. Reader! do you understand this? If so, the Lord give you also to see, that it is a firm, and sure principle, a certain principle, a covenant principle, and never can fail. It is a part of the same first cause, which began in the free, unpurchased, unmerited, unlooked-for, unheard-of grace, till revealed, at regeneration, by the Holy Ghost. When God first chose the Church in Christ, and to be without blame before him in love, all the blessed things included in this choice, were folded up, as the seed to all future generations of that fruit, is in the first acorn. The same grace which chose, the same grace compleats. So that, the resurrection of Christ gave a confirmation to all included in Christ. And in like manner, the same power which was exerted, by virtue of Christ's resurrection, to raise the sinner, then dead in trespasses and sins, is engaged, and will assuredly go forth, in every subsequent act, to make perfect every good work, to do his will, working in his redeemed that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ.
I detain the Reader, just to observe the sweetness with which the Apostle closeth his prayer. To whom be glory forever and ever, Amen. Surely there was somewhat more than merely a form of words in the minds of the Apostles, when we find all of them uniformly, with one heart, and one voice, thus closed up their writings. You will say, they were inspired. To which I answer Yes! they were. And these things are no small proof of it. But while we see, that their hearts were so filled with divine love, their tongues, and pens, could not fail to give testimony to the same, when out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh; I would ask, how is it that the consciousness of their inspired frame of mind, doth not affect us more? We read those blessed words but as ordinary things. We are accustomed to find the holy Apostles beginning their Epistles with the gracious salutations, such as Grace, mercy, and peace be with you; and ending them with giving glory, and praise, and power, unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb: and we accept both but as words of course. Reader! Is it so with you? I acknowledge with shame, and sorrow, it is but too often so with me. Oh! for grace to both Writer and Reader, to be more alive to those precious things; and never more read those divine words, but with the most awakened affection.
(22) And I beseech you, brethren, suffer the word of exhortation: for I have written a letter unto you in few words. (23) Know ye that our brother Timothy is set at liberty; with whom, if he come shortly, I will see you. (24) Salute all them that have the rule over you, and all the saints. They of Italy salute you. (25) Grace be with you all. Amen.
The salutations to the brethren I pass over to observe the blessed conclusion at the end. Grace be with you all. Amen. What could Paul say beyond this? And with what form of prayer could he as well close his Epistle? The close of all the dispensations among men, is to be thus, when God shall bring home the last stone of the spiritual building, it will be with shoutings, of grace, grace unto it, Zechariah 4:7 . And both the Old Testament building, and the New, are but one and the same. Christ is the foundation stone God hath laid in Zion, for the whole Church. And therefore, Paul, and every faithful Minister of the Sanctuary, like Paul, can say no more; neither close their ministry, or their life, in any manner more suitable, or proper for the Church of Jesus, than in the same sweet prayer Grace be with you all. Amen. And may the faithful, and true Witness, Christ Jesus, who is the Amen, put his precious name to it Amen; and then grace will indeed be with all his people. Amen.
Here let us pause, while reading the closing words of this most precious Epistle: and, as a man who hath been ascending an high hill, and is arrived at the summit of it, looks round, and takes a leisurely survey of the many beautiful prospects which come up to his view, from the rising ground he hath trodden; so may the Writer, and Reader of this Poor Man's Commentary, contemplate the unspeakable glories which God the Spirit hath presented before both, in this his Holy Scripture. Gracious Lord! I would say for myself, what praises do I owe thee, for the divine revelation herein contained? From the first opening of the subject, in the first Chapter, through all the portions of the sacred contents; what beauties, and glories, hast thou unveiled, of his Person, and Character, who is the Lord Our Righteousness! Beginning with the proofs of his Godhead, then of his Manhood, then of His glorious Person in union with both, as the God-Man-Mediator; how sweetly and blessedly hath my Lord the Holy Ghost held him up to my view, and (shall I not hope) brought him home to my heart, in all his offices, characters, and relations, as the Prophet, Priest, and King of his people! Hail! thou Great, and glorious Lord Jesus Christ! thou High Priest of thy people forever, after the order of Melchizedec!
Here then, let both Writer and Reader fall down on the knee of prayer and praise, before the throne, and in Him, and through Him, and by Him, through whom alone we can offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually; bless the united Source of all our mercies, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, the One Glorious, and Eternal Jehovah, for the Lord Jesus Christ himself; and all the fullness of grace and glory; in Him, for his Church, in time, and to all eternity.
And, as an instrument in the Lord's hand, let neither Writer, nor Reader of this little Work, overlook the faithful Apostle, whom God the Spirit was graciously pleased to appoint to this ministry, in handing down to the Church, from age to age, those sacred records, we have here gone over in the perusal. Truly, Lord, we cannot but see God the Holy Ghost's distinguishing grace to this man, in this most honorable appointment. Well is it recorded, of the Lord's personal ordination of him to the ministry, when in the Church the voice was heard: Separate me Barnabas and Saul, for the work whereunto I have called them! And oh! what a work indeed, not only in the then living ministry in person, to the Churches; but by his writings, in this, and the other blessed Epistles left on record for the everlasting instruction and comfort of the saints of God; whereby he being dead, yet speaketh. Farewell Paul, farewell, until the whole Church shall meet thee in glory, there together to praise God and the Lamb, for electing, redeeming, regenerating love, and favor, both to Pastor and People, all in One and the same glorious Head, to all eternity. Blessed be the Lord Jesus! for making thee his chosen vessel to bear his name as thou hast in those sacred writings done before Gentiles and Kings in every age of the Church.
Lord! add one blessing more. Pardon everything of error in this humble work: and bless all that is offered upon it, as far as is agreeable to thy truth, and to thy mind, and will; that God in all things may be glorified in Jesus Christ.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Hebrews 13". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30