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The Hebrews are exhorted to Perseverance in the Faith. The Case of the Unregenerate is considered. The Chapter ends, in a very blessed Manner, in relating the Will of Jehovah, that the Heirs of Promise, should be shewn his unchangeable Counsel concerning them!
(1) Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, (2) Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. (3) And this will we do, if God permit.
This Chapter opens in a very beautiful and striking manner. Christ is considered as the whole sum and substance of the Gospel; and as such, the Gospel is here called the doctrine of Christ. And the reason is plain. Because all the purpose, will and decree of Jehovah; in his threefold character of Person, are made known, and revealed in, and by Christ. Christ himself is Jehovah's salvation. Hence, Christ is called the Christ of God; the sent of God, the sealed of God, the Lamb of God, and the like; in all the parts of the divine word. And what is everlastingly to be kept in view, in these our contemplations of Christ is, that it is the Person of Christ, which is all along spoken of, as the great object of faith. Jesus himself, in a very blessed and comprehensive manner, sums up the whole of the principles of everlasting life, when he saith it is seeing the Son, and believing on him, John 6:40 . So that it is not simply the doctrines of Christ, but Christ himself, which faith hath for its object, of hope and trust, and confidence, and joy; and which of necessity include, the doctrines of Christ as the greater include the less. And hence, this blessed Chapter opens with observing that the Church, when brought into a state of regeneration, should leave, (that is, should pass on,) from what we have been taught, of the first rudiments of the word, in repentance, and the like; to study Christ. Like those, who from the first hearing of the Lord, are going on to a greater knowledge of him, who passing through the outer courts, are now introduced into the inner apartments of the king's presence, and becoming daily more and more acquainted with the Lord, in having fellowship with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ, 1 John 1:3 . Paul hath another beautiful train of ideas, to the same effect, when he saith; that the measure of grace, given to the several orders in the Church, is for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry; for the edifying of the body of Christ; till we all come, in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature, of the fulness of Christ, Ephesians 4:12-13 .
I know not, whether I explain myself to the Reader's apprehension. But according to my view of what the Holy Ghost here saith, it should seem, that the Lord is drawing a line of distinction, between Christ, as he is in himself; and the fullness of all things, as he stands to his people, and all ordinances whatever. Repentance, faith, doctrine of baptisms, laying on of hands and the like, are all in their respective places to be suitably regarded, as means of grace; but all, and everyone of them, are but effects, and not, in the smallest degree, as any procuring cause of our salvation. Christ himself is the sole cause; and consequently ought to be the sole object of a believer's hope and trust. And therefore to seek comfort from anything beside, or to rest in anything short of centering all in Christ, is to seek the living among the dead. Let us (saith the Apostle) leave these, as the principles we began with, when first we heard of the Lord Jesus, and every other ordinance, to live upon the God of Ordinances; and be more earnest to be satisfied, with the substance, than the being amused with the shadow.
Reader! pause over this view of the subject. There is nothing more highly important, to the comfort and peace of a child of God, than a clear apprehension of having Christ, our one only portion, and living upon him. Many of Christ's little ones are unconscious of this; and therefore live below their privileges. They know the Lord, and love the Lord, and professedly are looking for salvation only in the Lord. But notwithstanding these things, they are more occupied with what are called the doctrines of Christ than Christ himself. They enjoy Christ at second hand. They look at him through ordinances, and through the exercise of their graces. Surely there is an error here. It is Christ himself; which ought to be the first object in our view, and every other concern, but as mediums, and channels, to pass through to him. It is true, indeed, that the doctrines of Christ, and the ordinances of Christ, are all valuable, as connected with him; and in having him, we have all. But for a child of God, to be more intent upon them, than upon him; to be more pleased, with some supposed gracious disposition wrought in us, than in the glorious, and complete work, Christ hath wrought for us; this is putting the effect, for the cause; and the servant in the place of his master. This is not making Christ in our view, what Christ is, in God's view; the Alpha, and Omega the first, and the last: the author and finisher of salvation. Christ is the first in all God's thoughts, and the last, and ultimate object of all God's designs. I know, that there are many of God's dear children, who would tremble if they were found, having any other views; and who would not intentially for the world, place any object before Christ, or in the room of Christ; but certainly, this is the case, when we take comfort in any grace, without eyeing Christ in the grace; and are found magnifying the effects of Christ's love, more than Christ himself. It is a sad consequence of our fallen state, and the imperfection of our faith, when the Person of Christ is bidden from our dim-sighted view, in a cloud of his own gifts.
(4) For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, (5) And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, (6) If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. (7) For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: (8) But that which beareth thorns and briars is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned. (9) But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak. (10) For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labor of love, which ye have showed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister. (11) And we desire that everyone of you do show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: (12) That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
In the opening of this paragraph, we have those memorable verses of scripture, which, for want of due attention to divine teaching, by the perversion of some, and the mistaken apprehension of others, have given rise, to much anxiety, in weak minds, through the slenderness of their faith. There can be no doubt, but that God the Holy Ghost is drawing the portrait of finished hypocrites; for there is not a single feature, in the whole of what is represented, of those falling away, which belongs to a child of God. The persons here described, under such a flaming profession, never were in grace; and therefore impossible to have fallen from grace. They fell from a profession only, and as such, it became impossible to renew them again to repentance. As the subject in itself is so highly important, and as a right apprehension of the Lord's words, is so truly interesting to every regenerated child of God, and, especially, the weak in faith, I shall hope the Reader's indulgence, if I enter upon the whole of it, very particularly. For my own part, I am very fully convinced, that the passage, hath not one reference whatever to the Church of God: that the Lord the Holy Ghost is speaking of hypocrites, and the unregenerate only; and that the whole subject, if duly considered, is calculated more to comfort, than to distress the Lord's people. May God the Spirit, the blessed Author of his holy word, be our Teacher in it, and guide both Writer and Reader of this Poor Man's Commentary, into all truth.
And here I beg the Reader, again to remark, what I have so often observed to him, in the course of this little work; that God the Holy Ghost is writing this whole Epistle to the Church; to them who are the heirs of salvation. This is a great point always to have in view, and to keep in remembrance, as we prosecute every part of this Epistle. See Hebrews 1:0 : Heb_1:2-3; Heb_1:9; Heb_1:14 .
Let me next desire the Reader, to look back to the concluding verses of the preceding Chapter, where he expressly speaketh to the Church, as being in grace, though weak in the faith. The Lord tells them, that when for a time they ought to have been teachers, they were so weak in faith, and their progress in the divine life, had been so inconsiderable, that they need, like little children, to go over their first lessons again. See Hebrews 5:12 to the end. And hence, the Lord opens this Chapter, with bidding them to leave the first principles of doctrine, and go on to perfection, namely, to Christ himself, Hebrews 6:1 . Now let the Reader pause, and ask himself, whether the very expressions, which the Lord the Holy Ghost here useth, towards the Church, do not very, fully prove, that they were in grace, though in a low and languishing condition? How could they be said, that for the time they ought to have been teachers, if they themselves had never learnt? How could even milk suit them, if they were dead in trespasses and sins? Mark these things as proofs, from the Lord the Spirit himself, that the persons to whom he wrote were considered by him as regenerate.
Thirdly. Let the Reader further observe in this paragraph that while the Lord is speaking of the impossibility to renew hypocrites, who made a flaming profession of godliness, but never had felt the power of it; the Lord at the same time is speaking to the Church, and calling them beloved, concerning whom he was persuaded better things, and things which accompany salvation; that they had ministered to the saints their labor of love, and that they were still ministering; and that God would not forget it! And hence, having before called upon them, to forget first principles, and go on to Christ; they would now shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: and no longer be slothful, but followers of them, who through faith and patience inherit the promises. And in a following chapter, the Lord bids them, to call their former days to remembrance, in which, after they were illuminated, they endured a great fight of affliction. And therefore, as they knew in themselves, that they had in heaven a better, and an enduring substance, they should not cast away the confidence, which hath great recompence of reward, Hebrews 10:32-35 .
Let the Reader ponder well, these features of character in the Church, to whom God the Holy Ghost sends this Epistle; and mark in them, the clear testimonies which they carry with them, of being in a state of regeneration. And when he hath duly considered this point, I will next request him to attend to the several outlines, which the same Almighty Lord hath drawn of those unregenerate, concerning whom he speaks in those verses. Let us look at them one by one.
And first. They are said to have been once enlightened. By which I apprehend is meant, an enlightening in head-knowledge. And it is astonishing to conceive to what lengths men, who have been accustomed to sit under the sound of the Gospel may go, in this way, without possessing an atom of saving grace. But the doctrine of Christ, in insisting on the new birth, throws to the ground all, and every pretension short of this, John 3:7 . It is with the heart, man believeth unto righteousness, Romans 10:10 . If head-knowledge would make wise unto salvation, the devil himself would be in a salvable state; for he told Christ, he knew him, Mark 1:24 . I presume no one will venture to call this enlightening, a mark of regeneration.
Secondly. They are said to have tasted of the heavenly gift. Yes, Christ is the heavenly gift, in the Gospel sent down from heaven. And these hypocrites had so far tasted it, as to dislike it. Redemption by Christ's blood, and righteousness alone: no Pharisee will relish, but, like children, which nauseate medicine, though it tendeth to heal, yet spit it out of their mouth. Here again, we find no mark of real grace.
Thirdly. They are said to be made partakers of the Holy Ghost. This, in the first view, carries with it somewhat more plausible; but when looked into, is but seemingly so, for it hath no more of real saving grace, than the former. everyone may, in one sense, be said, to be made partakers of the Holy Ghost, who is brought under the preaching of the Gospel, and partakes in the ordinances and means of grace. They whose carcasses fell in the wilderness, as well as the faithful, whom the Lord brought into Canaan were all alike partakers of the Manna, and drank of the Rock, and had the carnal ordinances of the worldly sanctuary, Hebrews 9:1 . But, none except the chosen seed, eyed Christ in all. Nay, further, some there have been in all ages of the Church, which may be said to have been made partakers of the Holy Ghost, in his outward gifts of working miracles; and who yet, were never partakers of the Holy Ghost, in his inward regenerating grace. The magicians in the court of Pharaoh, to a certain degree, were permitted to exercise power; and Judas in the college of Apostles, without all doubt, had the same faculty, in outward acts with them, Luke 9:1 . But in the midst of these, there was no inward work of God the Spirit on either; and the new-birth is the only infallible character.
Fourthly. Those persons are said, to have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the world to come. Not drank into the spirit of those precious things; not relished them. The Holy Ghost dwells particularly on tasting, as if to shew their aversion. They tasted of the good word of God, so as to manifest their more deadly hatred to it; and they heard enough of the powers of the world to come, as in their consciences to believe there is an hereafter, in which it will be well with the righteous, and ill with the wicked; but, like Balaam, though sufficiently convinced of those solemn truths, as now and then to send forth the wish to die the death of the righteous, yet never awakened by grace to live their life, Numbers 23:10 .
Reader! pause over those portraits of character, for they are truly awful, and perhaps much more general than is imagined. But what hath the child of God to do with such things, in whose spirit the Holy Spirit heareth witness that he is born of God? They are indeed very awful monuments for the children of God to contemplate, as they pass on their pilgrimage state. We behold in them to what an height of elevation nature may go in a way of resembling grace. And they ought to serve, as no doubt God the Holy Ghost intended them to serve, to make the regenerated the more awakened, to leave the first principles of the doctrines, and press on after Christ. But while such clear marks are discoverable between nature and grace, surely the children of God ought not to confound one with the other. To be led into the conclusion, that there may be a falling from grace, because men who never were in grace, have for a while taken up with a profession, and then dropped it, is forming conclusions from false premises. Nature, in her highest attainments, is but nature. Nothing can rise above its level. It is very possible, that by hearing sermons, attending the means of grace, and the like, the understanding may be much enlightened. The young man in the Gospel, who came to Christ, at first, seemed to look fair for heaven. Paul, the Apostle, while a Pharisee, thought himself not far from glory. But in both, at the time, there was not a single act of renewing grace wrought in their heart. The unregenerate mind is still carnal, and enmity against God. The tiger, though chained, is the tiger still. Nothing short of the new-birth is grace. Where this is, it is impossible to fall away, for the Scripture saith, that the highly beloved objects are made partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust, 2 Peter 1:3-4 . Where this is not, the most flaming profession will go out in obscure darkness. They have the form, but not the power of godliness, 2 Timothy 3:5 .
Before I dismiss this view of the subject, I would add one observation more, by way of confirming what hath been said, namely, that in all that is said of those hypocrites, there is not a single circumstance, even hinted at, of those precious fruits and effects being found in them, which arise from grace in the heart, and where a saving act of regeneration hath passed upon the soul. In this whole account of being enlightened, and having tasted of the heavenly gift, we read nothing of faith, or love, an adherence to Jesus, or affection to his people; not a word of an holy life and conversation, all which are the sure consequences of the new-birth. But, all that is said from beginning to end is no more than what may be said of mere professors only, who are like clouds without water, carried about with mere wind of doctrine; who, though they have a name to live, are virtually dead before God.
Hence, as is here said, if they fall away from, this profession, and openly deny it, and (as hath been seen in many instances,) after having put on a sanctity of appearance, and by restraints induced by the fear or praise of men, have for a while seemingly escaped the pollution which is in the world through lust, at length return, like a dog to his vomit, and as the sow that was washed, to her wallowing in the mire; they only manifest that all that was before seen of them, was but the efforts of nature, not grace. And how shall they be rendered again to the same profession? The thing is impossible. They may indeed, like Judas, repent themselves, and do as he did, hang themselves; but the Lord will not grant to them his grace of repentance, in the regeneration of the heart. And for this plain reason. They do in effect, by their denial of that faith they once owned in head, though felt it not in heart, crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. For as, when the Gospel of Christ was preached, and made known to them, that is, when they were once enlightened with the head knowledge, that the Son of God had been crucified for his people; and their sense and understanding, though not their affections, were gained to the acknowledgment of those glorious truths, connected with Christ and his great salvation; they professed to receive them, and believe them; but now by their apostacy from the truth, as it is in Jesus, they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, either by denying his Godhead as the Son of God, or that his offering on the cross was not a sufficient sacrifice for the redemption of his people; that he hath not risen from the dead; salvation is not finished, and somewhat more is needed for justification before God in either, or all of these, or the like objections, this is to crucify the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. And utterly impossible is it, in such cases, to renew such men to repentance. I beg the Reader to mark the expression, they crucify to themselves. Yes! in their apostacy and denial they fully prove Christ was never crucified for them; for they have no part, nor lot in the one all-sufficient sacrifice of Christ upon the cross; and therefore they insult the soul-travail and agonies which Christ sustained by their despising the efficacy of his blood. Such become hardened in iniquity, and their last end is worse than the first.
The figure of the earth drinking in the rain, is a beautiful similitude in a way of further illustration. For, as the rain falls alike on the earth, both where the pure herbs are, and where the thorns are; so the dew of the Gospel descends upon the whole visible Church, both real and nominal. But while the regenerated, under the genial influence, bring forth to the glory of God; the mere professor only sends forth nothing but the rank weeds and briars of the state of nature, unredeemed from the curse, and whose end is to be burned.
And the next verse, wherein the Apostle calls the Church beloved, and declares his persuasion of better things concerning the members of it, is so utterly opposed to what went before, as can hardly be reconciled, upon any other idea, than that the Holy Ghost intended the whole representation he hath here made of such flaming profession void of all vital godliness, but as a matter of comfort to the Lord's people under all their short comings and attainments. For, slender as their growth had been, yet they had truly been regenerated. Babes as they still were, yet this argued the new-birth. So that there is, and ever must be, an everlasting difference between the falling away of professors, who never were in grace, and those whom the Lord hath quickened. For while the child of God, when born of that incorruptible seed which liveth and abideth forever, (and must so live and abide forever, however dormant to our view, the spiritual seed sometimes appears, because it remaineth in him, 1 Peter 1:23 ; 1 John 3:9 ) hath a renewed nature, the Scriptures nowhere speak of mere professors, amidst all the high elevations of nature, as being born again. The stony ground hearers receive the word with great joy, but no fruit followed, because they had no root. And when those flashes of joy subsided, they soon died away. Hence the Prophet speaks, There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days, for the child (regenerated) shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner, being an hundred years old (yet unregenerated) shall be accursed, Isaiah 65:20 .
Such, then, according to my view of this blessed Scripture, appears to be the doctrine contained in it. The Holy Ghost is writing to the Church, considered in a state of regeneration; not unsimilar to the same purport as when writing to the Corinthians; babes in Christ, but yet too much occupied in worldly things, and of consequence, making slow progress in spiritual attainments, 1 Corinthians 3:1-2 . He tells them, in opening his Epistle, in confirmation of their new birth, and justification in Christ, that Christ had by himself purged their sins; and that they were heirs of salvation, Hebrews 1:14; Hebrews 1:14 , that Christ had not taken the nature of angels, but the seed of Abraham, on their account; and that, having himself suffered, being tempted; he knew how to succor them that were tempted, Hebrews 2:18; Hebrews 2:18 , that they were partakers of Christ, as a rich blessing not to be lost, and therefore were to hold fast their confidence of hope firm to the end, Hebrews 3:14 . And that having such an High Priest as the Son of God, passed into the heavens, they were to come boldly to the throne of grace, and obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need, Hebrews 4:14-16 . These, and the like things, they had been assured of in the preceding chapters; and in this the Lord tells them, that now they ought to go on to perfection, because they might, according to the time they had been in grace, have been teachers; which is a plain proof that they had not only been taught of God, and consequently regenerated; but that they had been a long time in a state of conversion. So that as the Holy Ghost, by the Apostle, in the close of this account blessedly saith, when he called them also beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, (than of those Apostates,) and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak: that is though we thus speak of your slow progress in the divine life. And the Lord adds that God's faithfulness and love are engaged to them, for they had ministered and still did minister to the saints of God, as saints of God. An account of which we have, Hebrews 10:32 to end, and which is spoken as the effect of their early days conversion. I beg the Reader to turn to that Chapter, in proof. So that upon the whole, however low the waters of the sanctuary then ran to their view, for their comfort, yet they were in grace, and the Lord considered them as such, and charged them to be no longer slothful, but followers of them, who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
And now, my brother, in summing up the whole, I commend you to the grace of God, wherein (if in regeneration) you stand, that you may rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Painful and humbling ask is to a child of God, to feel such continual deadness of soul, such coldness of affection, the little growth in grace, yea, as it sometimes appears to you, rather growing imperfections, and under which you groan continually; nevertheless, these all differ from professing hypocrites. Such never groan, for they never felt the plague of their own heart, neither entered in by the door into the sheepfold, John 10:1 . And, therefore, when at any time you behold such meteors in the professing Church, and see the blaze of their supposed gifts and talents, either as preachers or hearers, and then are tempted to draw conclusions unfavorable to yourself, from your long knowledge of the Lord, and your short comings; call to remembrance what God the Holy Ghost hath here taught, and wait and see the end of those men. Oh! how suddenly do they consume, perish, and come to a fearful end! But the salvation of the righteous is of the Lord; he is their strength in time of trouble. And the Lord shall help them and deliver them: he shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, because they trust in him, Psalms 37:39-40 .
(13) For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he swore by himself, (14) Saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee. (15) And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. (16) For men verily swear by the greater: and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife. (17) Wherein God, willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: (18) That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: (19) Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; (20) Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.
In this most blessed portion, we have the same glorious truths confirmed to us, as in the former. Indeed, as I before observed, it should seem that God the Holy Ghost intended this precious chapter to answer the double purpose, that while dashing to the ground all the presumptuous hopes of mere professors and hypocrites; he might teach the Church to rest their confidence, not in their attainments, but in the divine faithfulness. It is blessed to observe, how the Lord delights in reminding his people of his word and his oath to Abraham. For as Christ was sworn into his office by oath, before the world began; so Christ, when beginning to manifest himself in his priestly office, did it with an oath. Compare Psalms 110:4 with Genesis 22:16-17 . That this was Christ, who made oath to Abraham, is unquestionable, for he is called the Angel of the Lord, or the Messenger of the Covenant, as Malachi 3:1 . And it is further blessed to observe the sweetness of expression, because he could swear by no greater. Reader! what a proof is this, by the way, of the Godhead of Christ? So the Lord again speaks by his servant the Prophet: Isaiah 45:23 compared with Philippians 2:10-11 . As Jehovah, in his threefold character of Person, can find no object of complacency and delight but in himself, in the image of the invisible God Christ Jesus: so none to swear by, to confirm his purposes and decrees concerning the Church, but the same. Compare Matthew 17:3 with 2 Peter 1:16-18 .
But we must not stop here. The fatherly love of God, in his most gracious designs towards his Church in Christ, is yet to be considered from this blessed Scripture. And, perhaps, there is not a portion in the word of God more in point, to assure to us this first, and eternal, and unchangeable purpose, will, and pleasure of Jehovah, in his love to the Church, than in what is here said. It is blessed, yea, very blessed, to ponder over it; and I pray the Reader to do it most attentively, looking for divine teaching to make it profitable.
First. Let us observe what is first said: Wherein God willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsels, confirmed it by an oath. Pause, Reader! Think of God the Father's love, in this gracious, wonderful condescension. Was it not enough, in our God and Father, to choose the Church in Christ before the foundation of the world, to be holy, and without blame before him in love; to adopt the several members of Christ's body to himself, as children in Christ Jesus: Ephesians 1:4-6 , to present them to Christ: John 7:2 , to accept them in Christ: to redeem them by Christ: to regenerate them by his Holy Spirit; and to give them the assurance of eternal life. I say, was it not enough for, that God, who cannot lie, to manifest, by such rich, free, and unmerited promises, his love of the Church in Christ; but as if consulting the weakness, and infirmity of our faith, hath confirmed the whole by an oath? Well may we exclaim with the Apostle: Behold! what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us? 1 John 3:1 . Reader! do not overlook this fatherly love of God. Here it is at this great bottom, on which the whole super-structure of the Church in Christ rests; faith begins her triumphs!
Secondly. In this precious view of the subject, observe the reason God the Father hath assigned, for this special act of grace, both in promising, and confirming that promise with an oath, namely, that the heirs of promise might see, and depend upon the immutability of his counsel; that there is nothing fickle, or inconstant, in the mind of God towards his people; but that he is of one mind, and none can change him: and, therefore, they might have a strong consolation, who have taken refuge in a Covenant God in Christ. Now, Reader! beg of God the Almighty Promiser of such precious things, that you may have always grace; to believe in Him also, as an Almighty Performer of such unspeakable mercy: and, as it is a mercy which is wholly founded in God, and hath nothing to make it sure, in the will or performance of man; you may give God the credit of God, and never for a moment disbelieve the record which he hath given of his Son, 1 John 5:10-12 . And if these things are true, (as who will dare to question,) what must those men be about, or how do they give us any testimonies of their being taught of God, who would insinuate that the everlasting safety of the Church in Christ is doubtful, and that the final perseverance of the saints is unscriptural, and highly dangerous? So then it appears, that God himself is willing, more abundantly, that the heirs of promise should be firmly established, in the blessed consolation of His sovereign, and unchangeable will, and which he hath for that purpose made sure by oath, for their eternal safety and happiness: and poor blind man is unwilling God's people, the heirs of promise, should depend upon a refuge so sure, and certain! How truly awful such a conduct.
Thirdly. One precious point more remains to be noticed in this very sweet portion, namely, the title by which the Lord our God and Father here calls his chosen the heirs of promise. The very thought of this peculiar mark of God's love, filled the heart of Paul with holy joy. Hence, when to the Church he was drawing the everlasting line of distinction between the children of the bond-woman, and the children of the free, he cried out, now we brethren, (said he) as Isaac was, are the children of promise, Galatians 4:28 . And children of promise indeed they are. God himself is the Father, and the Almighty Promiser of all their being, and well being in Christ. This is their charter: I will be to them a God, and they shall be my people, Jeremiah 31:33 . God the Son, is himself, in his Mediator-character, the first promise in the Bible, and all the promises are in Him, yea, and Amen, Gen 3:15 ; 2 Corinthians 1:20 . And as Christ is the heir of all things, so they are heirs of God, by reason of their being chosen in Him, and having union with Him, and joint heirs with him, Hebrews 1:2 ; Galatians 4:7 ; Romans 8:17 . God the Holy Ghost is himself the Almighty Spirit of promise, whereby believers are sealed unto the day of redemption, Ephesians 1:13-14 . Hence, the children of Christ, whom God hath chosen in Him, and given to Him, are heirs of promise, being conceived in the womb of promise, before they were born of flesh, John 1:13 ; Psa 110:3 ; 2 Timothy 1:1 ; Titus 1:1 ; James 1:18 . And, as to eternal life, they are all the sure heirs of this promise also, as in grace they are the sure possessors, when born again of the Holy Ghost, from the Adam-nature of sin and corruption. See a string of the richest promises to this amount, Isaiah 66:8-14 .
I must not enlarge. But, did I dare to swell the pages of this Poor Man's Commentary, what an endless subject is here proposed in God the Father's purposes; Christ, our refuge, anchor, and sure abiding place; and God the Spirit opening to our faith a view of Him, our forerunner, even Jesus, entered within the vail, having taken possession of the promised inheritance, in the name, and for the persons of all the heirs of promise. But I must shut up this Chapter. Views of Melchizedec will meet us, in the next. And the Lord pardon the defects in the Commentary on this, and bless what is offered, as far as agreeable to his truths, and the Reader's profit, in Jesus Christ, Amen.
Called upon as the Church is, in this Chapter, to leave behind first principles in the awakening of the soul to the convictions of sin, and having then but slight views of Christ, let us seek from God the Spirit, that growth in grace which marks those who have long known the Lord, and long found our own nothingness in everything out of Christ; that we may discover that life, and light, and joy, are only in Christ; while deadness, darkness, and sorrow, are in all we say or do.
But, Reader! while divine teaching infallibly leads every child of on into this conclusion, sooner or later, let no child of God be led away, from the features of character God the Holy Ghost hath here drawn of hypocrites, to fancy that such distinguish him also. They differ as wide as the east from the west. God's children are indeed full of defects and unworthiness, and undeserving; nevertheless, they are still children. The new spiritual life imparted to them in regeneration, however, to their view, at times appears hardly discernible, is in them a well of water, springing up to everlasting life. But, the unawakened nature of the hypocrite, amidst all appearance of plentiful showers, is all outward and forming pools only, like Job's friends, prove deceitful, as the brook which in summer seasons dry away.
Reader! if so be the Lord hath caused you to know his grace, and by regeneration you are led to the precious discovery of being an heir of promise, see here the unspeakable love of God, and his willingness more abundantly, that his children shall live upon, and rejoice in, the immutability of his counsel. Oh! the strength of that consolation, founded in God the Father's will! Jesus's person, blood, and righteousness, and the Holy Ghost's regenerating, sanctifying, and renewing mercy. Jesus! be thou the anchor of my soul, both sure and stedfast! Not like the mariner's anchor beneath, but above; not founded on anything breakable, but in things which are eternal. Not formed by the wisdom of men; but in the power of God. Precious, precious Jesus! thou art the Rock of ages! Thy work is perfect. Blessed, forever blessed, be God, for Jesus Christ.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Hebrews 6". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25