Lo, I come.
I. None but the Son of God could offer unto the Father a sacrifice to please Him, and to reconcile us unto Him in a perfect manner. The burnt-offerings and sin-offerings were ordained merely as shadows and temporary types of that one offering, the self-devotedness of the Son of God to accomplish all the will of God, the counsel of salvation. It is the Divine and eternal offering of Himself unto the Father in which the incarnation and death of the Lord Jesus are rooted; it is the voluntary character of His advent and passion, and it is the Divine dignity of the Mediator, which render His work unique, to which nothing can be compared, and a repetition of which is impossible.
II. Rise from the river to its source, from the rays of light and love to the eternal origin and fount. See in the life, the obedience, the agony of Jesus, the expression of that free surrender of Himself, and espousal of our cause, which was accomplished in eternity, in His own all-glorious and perfect divinity. Beware lest you see in Him only the faith and obedience, the sufferings and death of the Son of Man; see His eternal divinity shining through and sustaining all His humanity.
III. This truth is revealed to us, not merely to establish our hearts in peace, and to fill us with adoring gratitude and joy, but here, marvellous to say, is held out to us a model which we are to imitate, a principle of life which we are to adopt. So wondrously are high mysteries and deep doctrines intertwined with daily duties, and the transformation of our character, that the Apostle Paul, when exhorting the Philippians to avoid strife and vain-glory, and have brotherly love and helpfulness, ascends from our lowly earthly path into this highest region of the eternal covenant. As we owe all to Him, let us be not merely debtors, but followers of Him who came, not to do His own will, and to be ministered unto, who came to love and to serve, to give and to bless, to suffer and to die.
A. Saphir, Lectures on Hebrews, vol. ii., p. 167.
Reference: Hebrews 10:1-14.—Homiletic Quarterly, vol. iii., p. 46.
The Body of Christ.
The mystical body of Christ is the whole fellowship of all who are united to Him by the Spirit, whether they be at rest in the world unseen, or here in warfare still on earth, differing only in this, that all His members who have been gathered out of this world are secure for ever; but in this world they who are still in trial may yet be taken away, and, as the fruitless and withered branch, cast forth for the burning. There are three manners, three miracles of Divine omnipotence, by which Christ's one body has been, is, and present: the first, as mortal and natural; the second, supernatural, real, and substantial; the third, mystical, by our incorporation. Surely these great realities ought to teach us many high and practical truths.
I. As, for instance, with how much of loving reverence we ought to regard every baptised person. He is a member of Christ; what more can be spoken or conceived? He is united by the Spirit of Christ to the mystical body, of which the Lord made flesh is the supernatural Head. He has in Him a life and an element which is above this world; even "the powers of the world to come." We partake of Him—of His very flesh, of His mind, of His will, and of His Spirit.
II. This is the great reality which has restored to the world two great laws of love, the unity and the equality of man. All the members of Christ are one in Him, and equal, because He is in all. The highest and most endowed is but as the poorest and the lowest. Christ's kingdom is full of heavenly paradoxes. Even the poor working man, with his hard palms, sits at the marriage supper with the king and princes; it may be he sits higher than his earthly lord. There is a courtesy, and a mutual observance, which is the peculiar dignity and sweetness of a Christian; and the source of it is, that He sees the presence of His Lord in others, and reveres Him in himself. Only the true Christian can have real self-respect. From this springs purity of manners, language, conversation, and amusements in private and social life.
III. And one more thought we may take from this blessed mystery,—I mean, with what veneration and devotion we ought to behave ourselves towards the presence of Christ, in the Sacrament of His body and Blood.
H. E. Manning, Sermons, vol. iv., p. 190.
I. In Christ's sacrifice there was no earthly altar, no expiatory form, no visible priest; nobody could have told, either from His life or from His death, that He was the victim; He died by the natural course of events, as the effect of a holy and courageous life operating upon the intense jealousy of a class; He died by civil punishment, and in heaven that death pleaded as the sacrifice that taketh away the sin of the world. But that sacrifice was a willing, a self-offered sacrifice. The circumstance, then, of the victim being self-offered, makes, in the first place, all the difference upon the question of injustice to the victim. He who is sent is one in being with Him who sends. His willing submission, therefore, is not the willing submission of a mere man to one who is in a human sense another; but it is the act of one who, by submitting to another, submits to himself. By virtue of His unity with the Father, the Son originates, carries on, and completes Himself the work of the Atonement. It is His own original will to do this, His own spontaneous undertaking.
II. Consider the effect of the act of the Atonement upon the sinner. It will be seen, then, that with respect to this effect, the willingness of a sacrifice changes the mode of the operation of a sacrifice, so that it acts on a totally different principle and law from that upon which a sacrifice of mere substitution rests. The Gospel puts before us the doctrine of the Atonement in this light, that the mercy of the Father is called out toward man by our Lord Jesus Christ's generous sacrifice of Himself on behalf of man. The act of one produces this result in the mind of God towards another; the act of a suffering Mediator reconciles God to the guilty. But neither in natural mediation, nor in supernatural, does the act of suffering love, in producing that change of regard to which it tends, dispense with the moral change in the criminal. We cannot, of course, because a good man suffers for a criminal, alter our regards for him if he obstinately continues a criminal. And if the gospel taught any such thing in the doctrine of atonement, that would certainly expose itself to the charge of immorality. So rooted is the great principle of mediation in nature, that the mediator-ship of Christ cannot be revealed to us without reminding us of a whole world of analogous action, and a representation of action. It is this rooted idea of a mediator in the human heart which is so sublimely displayed in the sacred crowds of St. John's Revelation. The multitude which no man can number are indeed there, all holy; all kings and priests are consecrated and elect. But the individual greatness of all is consummated in One who is in the centre of the whole, Him who is the need of the whole race, who heads it, who has saved it, its King and Representative, the First-born of the whole creation, and the Redeemer of it. Toward Him all faces are turned; and it is as when a vast army fixes its look upon a great commander in whom it glories, who on some festival day is placed conspicuously in the midst. The air of heaven is perfumed with the fragrance of an altar, and animated with the glory of a great conquest. The victory of the Mediator never ceases, and all triumph in Him.
J. B. Mozley, University Sermons, p. 162.
References: Hebrews 10:5.—Homiletic Quarterly, vol. i., pp. 275, 413. Hebrews 10:5-7.—G. Huntingdon, Sermons for Holy Seasons, p. 161; J. Thain Davidson, Sure to Succeed, p. 61.
I. Perfection is now given to all who believe God Himself is our salvation. Jehovah Himself is our righteousness. Christ's inheritance is our inheritance. The source is eternal love, self-moved, infinite, ocean without shore; the channel is free, abounding grace; the gift is eternal life, even life by the Holy Ghost in oneness with Jesus. The foundation is the obedience of Christ, eternal in its origin, infinite in its value, and unspeakably God-pleasing in its character.
II. The word "perfected" falls with a strange sound on those who are experiencing daily their sad imperfections.. But the Christian is a strange paradox. You may be caught up into the third heaven, and yet the abundance of this revelation will not burn up the dross that is in you, or kill the old man, the flesh which warreth against the spirit. On the contrary, there is the danger, imminent and great, lest you be exalted above measure, and dream of victory and enjoyment while you are still on the battlefield. We have died once with Christ, and with Christ are accepted and perfect; but our old nature is not dead, the flesh in us is not annihilated; there is still within us that which has no pleasure in the will and ways of God. We sin, we fall, we carry about with us a mind resisting God's will, criticising it, and rebelling, and we shall experience to the very last breath we draw on earth that there is a conflict, and that we must strive and suffer in order to be faithful unto death. So we confess daily our errors and our sins, and condemn ourselves whenever we appear before God; yet are we perfect in Christ Jesus. Deeper than all our grief is the melody of the heart, and always can we rejoice in God.
A. Saphir, Lectures on Hebrews, vol. ii., p. 187.
I. The life of our Lord Jesus Christ is the most beautiful life that has ever been lived in the world. All sorts of beauty were bright in Him. The beauty of virtue, the beauty of godliness, the beauty of love, the beauty of sympathy, the beauty of obedience, and this without crack or flaw; beauty which shone in the house, beauty which flamed in the temple, beauty which lighted up the cornfield and the wayside, beauty which graced alike the table of the publican and the Pharisee, beauty with smiles and tears, gifts and helps for men, women, and children as He found them. Ever radiant, ever beneficent. In the old pictures they used to paint Him with a gloriole or nimbus round His head, and had we seen Him anywhere, from cradle to cross, from tomb to cloud, in a trice we should have picked Him out from ail others for His very beauty.
II. One great reason why that beautiful life has been lived amongst us men is that we may make our lives beautiful by it. There is nothing in Christ that is foreign to us. He was a man amongst men. All His beauty is capable of translation into our lives. Nothing in Him was superfluous in us. Nothing that was in Him can we lack without leaving void or chasm in our being.
III. The secret of this most beautiful life of our Lord Jesus Christ is told us. The will of God was to Him an irresistible spell. By it He accepted all tasks, and achieved them; by it He faced all sufferings, and endured them. No other explanation of His life is needed. Its strength, its unity, its manifold beauty are all intelligible now. The great secret is out. He came to do the will of God.
IV. What a beautiful will the will of God must be if the beautiful life of Christ is simply its outcome. If we would make our life beautiful like that of Christ, we must daily study the will of God, and just be and do what that will ordains. This is the one grand law of time and eternity, of earth and heaven.
G. B. Johnson, The Beautiful Life of Christ, p. 1.
Reference: Hebrews 10:7.—Clergyman's Magazine, vol. i., p. 96.
I. The election of God is that ocean of love which surrounds our earthly Christian life as an island, and which we can never lose out of sight for any length of time. Is it not our ultimate refuge in our weakness, our afflictions, our trials? Thus we ascend to the eternal counsel of God, whether we consider the character of the Gospel dispensation in its relation to the law, or the Divine righteousness and life through faith in the crucified Saviour, or the work of grace in conversion, or the spiritual experience of the believer. Infinite love from all eternity purposed to clothe us with Divine and perfect righteousness, to endow us with an incorruptible inheritance, and this through the gift and the self-devotedness of the Son.
II. Of the eternal counsel of God, Jesus crucified is the centre and the manifestation. He came to offer unto God that which sacrifice and burnt-offering could only shadow forth. In the sin-offering, death, due to the offerer, was transferred to the sacrifice; in the burnt-offering one already accepted professed his will to offer himself wholly unto the will of God. How perfectly and above all finite conception was this twofold sacrifice fulfilled in Christ!
III. From all eternity God, according to His good pleasure, which He had purposed in Himself, chose us in Christ that we should be to the praise of His glory. Notice the expression "good pleasure." It is God's eternal delight, this purpose of self-manifestation in grace; His counsel and election centre in the Son of His love, in the Only-begotten. It is according to this same good pleasure, to this same eternal, free, infinite delight, that God calls and converts souls through the foolishness of preaching; that He gives unto us the adoption of children, and the forgiveness of sins; it is the Father's good pleasure to keep the little flock, and afterwards to give them the kingdom and the glory, together to Jesus.
A. Saphir, Lectures on Hebrews, vol. ii., p. 186.
If an innocent man should suffer, what is the common verdict of the world? It says, "There is a crime beneath the seeming innocence, or he would not suffer." The book of Job gives the Old Testament answer to this blind opinion. The complete answer is in the death and suffering of Jesus. It has been written there for all the world to read, that this stupid maxim is wrong; suffering does not prove God's anger, nor prove the sufferer's sin. If increase of love were possible, never did the Father so deeply love the Son of man as at the hour of the cross; if increase of righteousness were possible, never was Jesus more sinless than in that hour of human agony and apparent defeat.
I, Christ did not come to tell us that God needed to be reconciled to us, but that we needed to reconcile ourselves to Him. Christ did not come to die for us, the innocent for the guilty, that God's justice might be satisfied, and because of this satisfaction be enabled to show mercy to us. He came to die that He might make us feel, through the intensity of His human love, how much God loved us, and make us understand that God's justice, though it punished, was final mercy. Christ did not come to enable God to forgive us, He came to tell us that God had forgiven us.
II. The things which belong to the law of atonement are not theological dreams, woven out of the intellect, not parts of a scheme; they are developments of human powers natural to man, things possible to his nature, growing out of the common life of man; ideas, but practical ideas; the flower, according to law, of plants in the garden of human nature. Christ manifested these powers, showed that they were practical and possible, made us understand that we could blossom also into this perfection. And that was another way in which He brought salvation to us, took away our sins, and justly earned the title of Redeemer. His revelation reconciles us to God; reconciles man to man; reconciles man to suffering.
S. A. Brooke, The Unity of God and Man, p. 82.
References: Hebrews 10:9.—G. Dawson, Sermons on Disputed Points, p. 73; Christian World Pulpit, vol. iv., p. 319; Clergyman's Magazine, vol. iii., p. 18. Hebrews 10:10.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxvi., No. 1527; Clergyman's Magazine, vol. x., p. 145. Hebrews 10:11.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xviii., No. 1034.
The Lessons of the Cross.
Our Lord's suffering is also
I. Our example. How powerful the force of that teaching has been; how deep it has sunk into human nature's heart. Here is He who was man, and yet was God. As God He could not die, but He stooped to death in the inferior nature. There is no limit to the force of this example. He has burst the gap through the gloomy barrier that fenced in the human life; He has let in light where all was dark before. His footsteps shine before us on the way, and the more rugged and painful the ground, the more firmly are they printed, the more deeply traceable.
II. But, again, the death of Christ witnesses to truth. All prophecy and its fulfilment, all teaching and its verification in the life of man, is less convincing than the tale of the cross. It proves to us the truth in practice, that the will of God is the law and life to man. Life eternal is our object, and therefore suffering is our business.
III. The cross of Christ is our greatest lesson in moral teaching. It teaches us under this head, (1) the immense value of our souls, and (2) the heinousness of sin as the bane and scourge of those souls.
IV. And, lastly, it is our bond of union. He died to gather together in one the Church of God which is scattered abroad, to become the Good Shepherd of those far-off sheep, to bring them home to Him and to each other. The Church of God is the result, imperfect, scantily realised, and in idea so wide and so prominent, so historically grand, so socially vast, that its failure—so far as it has failed—is forced into prominence which meaner things could not reach. But the Church of God in its imperfections does but sum up and contain the total of the shortcomings of its members. They are Christ's members still; He counts them as such, and we may count them as such.
H. Hayman, Rugby Sermons, p. 214.
I. There is an exceeding grandeur—approaching to awe—about everything which can be done only once. This is a great part of the grandeur of death, and of the judgment in their nature, they can be only once. And the atonement is the more grand because it is of the same character. The cross is magnificently fearful in its perfect isolation. Everything in religious truth, which went before it in ages past, looked on to it. Everything in religious truth which has ever followed, and in ages yet to come, looks back to it. It is the bud of all, the beginning of all, the sum of all.
I. We make sacrifices, and what are they? If we think, in any sense whatever, to offer up anything in the slightest degree propitiatory for sin, we plainly violate the whole Bible. We offer three things: our praises, our duties, and ourselves. These are our only sacrifices. And what makes these things sacrifices? The Christ that is in them. So that still, be we of the Jewish or the Christian dispensation, the same thing is true—there is "one sacrifice for sins for ever."
II. Remember, that marvellous as is the region of the thought in which we are walking when we treat of the atonement, it is all in accordance with the most perfect sense of our understanding, and all lies within the strictest limit of perfect justice; nay, its foundation is justice, and it commends itself to every man's judgment as soon as he sees it. But such a view as a prospective forgiveness of future sin would violate every principle of common sense. Holiness is the great end of the cross. Pardon, peace, salvation, happiness, are only means—means to holiness; holiness, which is the image of God, which is the glory of God. Beware of any approach to any view of Christ which does not directly tend to personal holiness. For He perfects—whom? Them that are sanctified.
J. Vaughan, Fifty Sermons, 5th series, p. 138.
References: Hebrews 10:12.—Clergyman's Magazine, vol. x., p. 230. Hebrews 10:12, Hebrews 10:13.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. ii., No. 91.
The Only Sacrifice.
There is, and there can be, only one atonement for the sin of the world—the sacrifice of the death of Christ. This alone is in itself meritorious, propitiatory, and of infinite price and power. And this is, in fact, the whole argument of the Epistle to the Hebrews. St. Paul is showing that the law of Moses was in itself without power; that it could make no propitiation, no true atonement in the eternal world; that the vileness of the sacrifices was enough to show their impotence, and much more their continual repetition.
I. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ, then, is one. There is no other like it, or second after it. It is not the highest of a kind, or the perfecting of any order of oblations; but, like His Person, a mystery sole and apart. In what does this unity consist? In the nature, the quality and the passion of Him who offered Himself. (1) It is one and unapproachable, because He was a Divine Person, both God and man. (2) In like manner the sacrifice is one and above all, in the quality of the person who, as God, was holy, as man was sinless. It was not the obedience only of man for man, but of man without sin; nor only a sinless man for sinners, but the obedience of God. (3) And, further, as the nature and the quality, so the passion of Christ gives to His sacrifice an unity of transcendent perfection. Righteous, holy, pure, perfect in love both to God and man, He offered Himself up as a sacrifice and atonement between God and man. This, then, is its unity.
II. But, further, the sacrifice is not only one, but continuous. As by its unity it abolished the multitude of oblations, so by its continuity it abolished the repetition of sacrifices. To add one more would be to deny its final atonement. The sacrifice of Christ is as everlasting as His Person. He was pierced on Calvary, but His passion is still before the mercy-seat. He was pierced eighteen hundred years ago, but His blood was shed four thousand years before, and His wounds are fresh and atoning until now. His sacrifice is eternal. Though every light in the firmament of heaven were a world, and every world dead in sin; and though time should multiply the generations of sinners for ever, yet that one sacrifice for sin would infinitely redeem all worlds.
H. E. Manning, Sermons, vol. iv., p. 210.
Christ our Priest.
The Epistle to the Hebrews represents Christ as our High Priest, and His office as a priesthood; as a priesthood in the two great parts of the priestly character, sacrifice and intercession or mediation. And it declares, also, that this is the only priest, and the only priesthood which the gospel acknowledges.
I. Christ, then, by one offering, hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. By one offering, namely, the offering of Himself upon the cross, for the sins of the whole world. By this offering we are perfected, and without it we were lost. Undoubtedly these few words are the very sum and substance of the gospel. Every heart, however constituted, with all our manifold varieties of power and disposition, can yet find in Christ that which will better suit its peculiar nature than anything to be found elsewhere; all of us, if we could truly believe in Christ should assuredly find that our faith had saved us.
II. He has perfected us; that is, the work is complete, if we would but believe it; but till we do believe it, it is in us not completed. It is complete in us when our hearts are softened, and God and Christ and our own sin are fully before us; but as they pass away, so it becomes again undone. It becomes undone, because then we do not believe. Another belief is ruling in our hearts; the belief that we may follow our own ways, and live safely without God. But when we believe in God, the Father of Christ, we shall know and feel what is meant by infinite holiness and infinite love; and by the one offering of our High Priest once offered, we shall feel that we who were dead are made alive—that we are now for ever perfected.
T. Arnold, Sermons, vol. iii., p. 78.
References: Hebrews 10:14.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. v., No. 232; Clergyman's Magazine,-vol. iv.,p. 224; vol. vi.,p. 153. Hebrews 10:15-18.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xii., No. 714; Homiletic Quarterly, vol. iii., p. 47. Hebrews 10:17.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxviii., No. 1685. Hebrews 10:19.—Preacher's Monthly, vol. viii., p. 361. Hebrews 10:19, Hebrews 10:20.—Bishop Thorold, Church of England Pulpit, vol. i., p. 81; Clergyman's Magazine, vol. x., p. 144. Hebrews 10:19-22.—H. W. Beecher, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xi., p. 266; Homiletic Quarterly, vol. iii., p. 463.
Faith, Hope, and Love.
I. The Apostle's great argument is concluded, and the result is placed before us in a very short summary. We have boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way; and we have in the heavenly sanctuary a great Priest over the house of God. On this foundation rests a threefold exhortation. (1) Let us draw near with a true heart, in the full assurance of faith. (2) Let us hold fast the profession of hope without wavering. (3) Let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works. Faith, hope, and love—this is the threefold result of Christ's entrance into heaven, spiritually discerned, and a believing, hoping, and loving attitude of heart corresponds to the new covenant relation of Divine grace.
II. In times of persecution or lukewarmness, Christian fellowship is specially important; it is likewise a test of our faithfulness. The Hebrews, it seems, needed this word of exhortation; and the Apostle confirms it by the solemn addition, "Forasmuch as ye see the day approaching." The Apostle refers, doubtless, to the approaching judgment of Jerusalem, connecting it, according to the law of prophetic vista, with the final crisis. Because the Lord is at hand we are to be patient, loving, gentle,—exercising forbearance towards our brother, while examining with strict care our own work.
III. The second advent of our Lord is the most powerful, as well as the most constraining motive. Called to eternal fellowship and love in joy and glory, let us fulfil the ministry of love in suffering and service, and let every day see some help and consolation given to our fellow-pilgrims. Christians see the day approaching, for they love Christ's appearing; and to them the day of light is not far off. Jesus said, "I come quickly," and the long delay of centuries does not contradict this "quickly." Christ is looking forward unto His return and to nothing else.
A. Saphir, Lectures on Hebrews, vol. ii., p. 219.
Sins of Ignorance and Weakness.
Among the reasons which may be assigned for the observance of prayer at stated times, there is one which is very obvious, and yet perhaps is not so carefully remembered and acted upon as it should be. I mean the necessity of sinners cleansing themselves from time to time of the ever-accumulating guilt which loads their consciences. We cannot, by one act of faith, establish ourselves for ever after in the favour of God. The text is addressed to Christians, to the regenerate; yet so far from their regeneration having cleansed them once for all, they are bid ever to sprinkle the blood of Christ upon their consciences, and renew, as it were, their baptism, and so continuously appear before the presence of Almighty God.
I. First consider our present condition, as shown us in Scripture. Christ has not changed this, though He has died; it is as it was from the beginning—I mean our natural state as men. We are changed one by one; the race of man is what it ever was, guilty—what it was before Christ came. The taint of death is upon us, and surely we shall be stifled by the encompassing plague, unless God from day to day vouchsafes to make us clean.
II. Again, reflect on the habits of sin which we superadded to our evil nature before we turned to God. Here is another source of continual defilement. Through the sins of our youth, the power of the flesh is exerted against us, as a second creative principle of evil, aiding the malice of the devil.
III. Further, consider how many sins are involved in our obedience, I may say from the mere necessity of the case: that is, from not having that more clear-sighted and vigorous faith which would enable us accurately to discern, and closely to follow the way of life. We attempt great things with the necessity of failing, and yet the necessity of attempting; and so while we attempt, need continual forgiveness for the failure of the attempt. How inexpressibly needful to relieve ourselves of the evil that weighs upon the heart, by drawing near to God in full assurance of faith, and washing away our guilt by the expiation which He has appointed.
J. H. Newman, Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. i., p. 83.
References: Hebrews 10:23.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxii., No. 1897. Hebrews 10:23, Hebrews 10:24.—J. B. Heard, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xv., p. 344. Hebrews 10:23-25.—Homiletic Quarterly, vol. iii., p. 464.
I. "Works." Work is the condition of life in the world. The law of both kingdoms alike is, "If any man will not work, neither should he eat." Work has been made a necessity in the constitution of nature, and declared a duty in the positive precepts of Scripture. Idleness is both sin and misery. Every thing is working. A non-productive class is an anomaly in creation. Christ was a worker. He went about doing. The world is a field. It must be subdued and made the garden of the Lord.
II. Good works. It is not any work that will please God or be profitable to man. A bustling life will not make heaven sure. The works must be good in design and character. The motive must be pure, and the effect beneficent. Good works rendered by Christians to Christ, put forth upon a needy world, are not dangerous things. Christians should not be jealous, but zealous of good works. The Lord requires them; disciples render them; the world needs them.
III. Love and good works. Verily good works constitute a refreshing stream in the world wherever they are found flowing. It is a pity that they are too often like Oriental torrents, waters that fail in the time of need.
IV. Provoke unto love and good works. All the really effective machinery for doing good in the world depends for propulsion on the love that glows in human breasts; with all the revival of our own favoured times, the wheels, clogged with the thick clay of a predominating selfishness, move but slowly. Up with the impelling love into greater warmth, that it may put forth greater power.
V. "Consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works." It is the considerer, not the considered, who is provoked unto love. What attitude must we assume, and what preparation must we make, in order that love by the ministry of the Spirit may he kindled in our heart? Here is the prescription short and plain, "Consider one another."
W. Arnot, Roots and Fruits, p. 51.
I. Mutual consideration is to be a cultivated influence. By that I mean, that consideration is not necessarily natural to children, although it is to some. There is an inborn selfishness in most children; yet some little folks seem to be dowered with thoughtful faculties which they have inherited. Even children can be like Christ, living in others. Consideration is to be cultivated; and the child's nature, through Christ's renewing grace, will grow into carefulness about his neighbours, and about everybody.
II. Mutual consideration is to be a provocative influence. "Consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works." Why has the word "provoke" got to have an ugly meaning? Why, in the same way that the word "retaliation" has. Because men oftener retaliate injuries than benefits! If I were to announce a sermon on "Retaliation," most people would think that I meant to preach against the retaliation of injuries, forgetting the fact that a man can retaliate a benefit just as well as an injury! How can you provoke unto love? It cannot be done by speech, unless that speech is translated into deed. So the Apostle says, "Provoking one another." When you see the speech translated into the deed, then you have the provocative power. The attractive power of life is in character, not in word only; and be thankful, those of you who are engaged in mission work, that you do not know all the results, for the might of influence has provoked some people you have never seen. This is the grandest thought to take away with us; that something which occurred twenty years ago may be provoking another invitation today, for good deeds never die; they walk the earth when we are dead and gone.
III. Mutual consideration is to be a Church influence. Consideration is the element that is to change the world. The cross living in us, and transfiguring us, will take away all those elements in our life which make us Pharisaic towards sinners, proud of our virtues, selfish in our thoughts and aims, hard in our judgments, and vulgar in our manners.
W. M. Statham, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxv., p. 92.
References: Hebrews 10:24.—Preacher's Monthly, vol. ii., p. 135; T. G. Bonney, Church of England Pulpit, vol. iv., p. 225. Hebrews 10:25.—C. P. Reichel, Ibid., vol. xiii., p. 133; Homilist, 2nd series, vol. i., p. 588; Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxvi., p. 216; W. Scott, Ibid., vol. xxix., p. 56; Preacher's Monthly, vol. x., p. 289. Hebrews 10:26.—Homiletic Quarterly, vol. iii., p. 465.
Warning against Apostasy.
I. Note briefly some misconceptions which prevent some readers of Scripture from receiving in a meek and docile spirit solemn admonitions of the Holy Ghost, such as the present. (1) There is an undue and one-sided haste to be happy and in the enjoyment of comfort. (2) There is a one-sided and unscriptural forgetfulness of the true position of the believer, as a man who is still on the road, in the battle; who has still the responsibility of trading with the talent entrusted, and watching for the return of the Master. (3) We must remember that God, in the Gospel and in the outward Church, deals with mankind, and not merely with the elect known only unto Him. The warning is necessary, for the actual condition of the Church embraces false professors. It is necessary and salutary for all, for young and weak believers, as well as for the most experienced. It is, above all, true; for the gospel reveals to us the living and holy God, the earnestness and jealousy, as well as the tenderness of Divine love.
II. Mark the bearing of the passage on the mere professor of Christianity. If we follow our deceitful and sluggish hearts, we neither rejoice in God's promises, nor tremble at His threatenings. The world knows not the sweetness of Divine love, nor does it stand in awe before God's wrath. And professing Christians also may forget that our God is a consuming fire, and that we must either serve Him with all our heart, or depart from Him as evil-doers. God sends now the message of peace; but this message rests on the full manifestation, and not upon a change of his character. And hence the gospel brings to him who, in fear and trembling, and with faith, accepts it, salvation, blood-bought, and wrought into us by a total and central renewal of our hearts; whereas it brings to him who rejects it a fuller disclosure of God's wrath, and a sterner announcement of everlasting perdition.
A. Saphir, Lectures on Hebrews, vol. ii., p. 237.
References: Hebrews 10:28, Hebrews 10:29.—Homiletic Magazine, vol. viii., p. 258. Hebrews 10:30.—Clergyman's Magazine, vol. x., p. 84.
The Judgments of God.
I. This is, of all the revelations of Scripture, the one which men can least bear. They would fain find something of hope, something of mitigation, even in the heaviest sentence of God's anger. They would fain believe that all shall be well at the last. Most natural is it for flesh and blood so to wish; most natural that the strong wish should labour to become belief. But the declaration of God's truth is in His own Scriptures clear and full; no man can mistake, no man can dispute its meaning. Can that be inconsistent with God's mercy which is declared by Him who laid down His life for us?
II. The real Christian faith in Christ's promises and Christ's threatenings is what we all require daily. Where is the man of us, however earnestly he may love Christ's words, who can pretend that he believes them with the same undoubting faith that he could do if he knew and loved Christ better? Conceive, if that were the case, how entire would be our confidence in all God's words; how steadily should we look beyond the grave, and see the river's further shore. For what makes death clear or dark to us is exactly our greater or less knowledge of God, a knowledge that if we are with Him we shall be safe and happy, whether it be in life or death. And it is a knowledge also of His terrors, that it is indeed a fearful thing to find ourselves in His hands for the first time when He comes with judgment. Here we knew Him not, and therefore carelessly offended Him; but there we must know Him, and shall find that the evil done or the good not done to one of the least of our brethren was a wrong or a neglect to Him.
T. Arnold, Sermons, vol. vi., p. 253.
References: Hebrews 10:31.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xii., No. 682; R. L. Browne, Sussex Sermons, p. 241. Hebrews 10:32.—E. White, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxx., p. 72; Homiletic Magazine, vol. xiii., p. 200. Hebrews 10:34-37.—Homilist, 3rd series, vol. i., p. 222. Hebrews 10:35.—H. F. Walker, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xiv., p. 341; J. B. Brown, Ibid., vol. xxiii., p. 113. Hebrews 10:35, Hebrews 10:36.—H. W. Beecher, Christian World Pulpit, vol. v., p. 378; Clergyman's Magazine, vol. iii., p. 210. Hebrews 10:36.—H. W. Beecher, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxi., pp. 27, 68; H. P. Liddon, Ibid., vol. xxv., p. 136.
Transgressions and Infirmities.
Warnings such as these would not be contained in Scripture were there no danger of our drawing back, and thereby losing that life in God's presence which faith secures to us. Faith is the tenure upon which the Divine life is continued to us: by faith the Christian lives, but if he draws backs he dies; his faith profits him nothing, or, rather, his drawing back to sin is a reversing of his faith, after which God has no pleasure in him. Faith keeps us from transgressions, and they who transgress, for that very reason, have not true and lively faith, and therefore it avails them nothing that faith, as Scripture says, is imputed to Christians for righteousness, for they have not faith. Instead of faith blotting out transgressions, transgressions blot out faith. Faith, if it be true and lively, both precludes transgressions, and gradually triumphs over infirmities; and, while infirmities continue, it regards them with so perfect an hatred, as avails for their forgiveness, and is taken for that righteousness which it is gradually becoming.
I. There are sins which forfeit a state of grace. (1) All habits of vice are such. (2) It is fearful to think that covetousness is mentioned in connection with sins of the flesh, as incurring forfeiture of grace equally with them. (3) All violent breaches of the law of charity are inconsistent with a state of grace; and, in like manner, all profaneness, heresy, and false worship, and, further, hardness of heart or going against light.
II. That there are sins of infirmity, or such as do not throw the soul out of a state of salvation, is evident directly it is granted that there are sins which do; for no one will pretend to say that all sins exclude from grace, else no one can be saved, for there is no one who is sinless.
III. These sins of infirmity tend to those which are greater, and forfeit grace. Never suffer sin to remain upon you; let it not grow old in you; wipe it off while it is fresh, else it will stain; let it not get ingrained; let it not eat its way in and rust in you; come continually to the Fount of cleansing for cleansing. It is thus that the Church of God, it is thus that each individual member of it, becomes all glorious within and full of grace.
J. H. Newman, Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. v., p. 195.
References: Hebrews 10:38.—W. M. Statham, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xi., p. 248; H. W. Beecher, Ibid., vol. xvii., p. 164; Homiletic Quarterly, vol. iii., p. 567. Hebrews 10:38, Hebrews 10:39.—Homiletic Magazine, vol. viii., p. 132.
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Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Hebrews 10". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany