Thursday, June 1st, 2023
the Week of Proper 3 / Ordinary 8
the Week of Proper 3 / Ordinary 8
Burkitt's Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the NT Burkitt's Expository Notes
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Burkitt, William. "Commentary on Hebrews 10". Burkitt's Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the NT. https://www.studylight.org/
commentaries/ eng/ wbc/ hebrews-10.html. 1700-1703.
Burkitt, William. "Commentary on Hebrews 10". Burkitt's Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the NT. https://www.studylight.org/
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In the former part of this chapter, the apostle proves the impotency and imperfection of the Levitical sacrifices by sundry arguments; namely, first from the nature of them, they were but shadows; from the plurality of them, they were many; from the repetition of them, they were often; and from the efficaciousness of them, they could not take away sin.
The former of these is taken notice of, in this first verse, The law having a shadow of good things to come. An allusion probably to the art of painting, wherein a shadow is first drawn; and afterwards the very image itself: or a metaphor taken from the shadow of a body in the light of the sun. As a shadow is the representation of a body; a just and true representation of a body; the life, vigour, and spirit of a body, cannot be represented by it:
Thus was it between the sacrifices of the law, and the sacrifice of Christ; the blood of those sacrifices were representations of Christ: They were a just representation of Christ: He was the idea in the mind of God, whan Moses was charged to make all things according to the pattern showed him in the mount; and they were but an obscure and dark representation of him; the glory and efficacy of these good things appeared not visible in them.
Learn hence, That whatever there may be in religious institutions, and the diligent observation of them, if they only shadow forth Jesus Christ, and do not actually exhibit him to the faith of believers, with the benefits of his mediation, they cannot make us perfect, nor give us acceptance with God.
Here we have a second argument to prove the impotency and weakness of the legal sacrifices; and it is drawn from the repetition and non-cessation of them.
Thus, "Those sacrifices which were often repeated, year by year, could not of themselves make satisfaction for sin, or purge the conscience of the sinner from guilt. Had justice been satisfied, and conscience quited, there had been no reason why those sacrifices should have been so often repeated. But the case was otherwise, for in their most solemn sacrifices there was a commemoration and confession made of their former sins by the High Priest every year; which was an intimation to them, that they needed a new and better sacrifice for the expiation of sin, namely, that of the Messiah, in and by which alone remission of sin was to be expected and obtained."
Learn hence, 1. That the repetition and reiteration of the same sacrifices, is an evident demonstration of their weakness and insufficiency. Accordingly the church of Rome, by affirming the sacrifice in the mass to be the very same with that which Christ offered on the cross, do prove an insufficiency in the sacrifice of Christ for the expiation of sin, if the apostle's argument here be good: For he affirms, that all sacrifices that must be repeated are weak and insufficient.
Learn, 2. That although repeated sins have need of repeated confession, and renewed pardon, yet they have no need of a sacrifice; For he who is once purged has no more conscience of sin, that is, though he knows he has many sins, yet he has not a trembling, tormenting, accusing conscience, because he is purged, and his sins pardoned, through that one sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Learn, 3. That the discharge of conscience from the guilt of sin, by virtue of the sacrifice of Christ, is a full demonstration of the sufficiency of the virtue of that sacrifice: And that there needs no reiteration of it, but only fresh applications made unto it by repeated acts and exercises of faith.
The intendment of our apostle in these words, is to prove that the sacrifices of the law could not expiate sin, nor make reconciliation with God, wich the sacrifice of Christ alone was ordained and appointed to.
Here observe, 1. The subject-matter spoken of, The blood of bulls and goats: They were accompanied with great solemnity and pomp of ceremony in their celebration; and the people had a great esteem and veneration of them in their minds; but when all was done, that which was offered was no more than the blood was done, that which was offered was no more than the blood of bulls and goats.
Observe, 2. That which is denied of these sacrifices, namely, the taking away of sins: To take away sin, is to make atonement for sin, to expiate the guilt of it before God, by a satisfaction given, or price paid, that it shall never bind over the penitent sinner unto punishment.
Observe, 3. The manner of the negation; It was impossible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. Impossible from divine institution; they were never designed for that end therefore could never effect it; for the virtue of every institution depends upon its designation to its end.
Now the blood of bulls was only designed to represent the taking away of sin, but never by itself to effect it. And it was also impossible from the nature of the thing; for how could the blood of a beast expiate the sin of a man? Satisfaction must be made for sin in and by the same nature that had sinned.
Learn hence, That it was utterly impossible that sin should be taken away before God, and from the conscience of a sinner by any other blood than the blood of Christ: It is this alone that cleanseth us from all sin, for he alone was the propitiation for them.
Our apostle having showed the weakness and insufficiency of the Levitical sacrifices in the former verses, he comes now to declare the efficacy and sufficiency of Christ's sacrifice, and of his blessed undertaking, to do, fulfil, perform, and suffer all things required by the will and wisdom, by the holiness and righteousness of God, unto the complete salvation of the church. And this he doth by a quotation out of the Old Testament, Psalms 40:6-8. Where Christ is brought in, as newly made man, speaking to his Father, in and after this manner:
"Forasmuch as thy wisdom did institute, and formerly appoint sacrifices, as types to prefigure the sacrifice of thy Son, but thou didst not intend their longer continuance, when he shold once be offered up; persuant to this holy will and pleasure of thine, I am now come into the world: Thou hast prepared me a body, and holy and innocent human nature, fit to be united to my glorious Godhead, in which nature I will suffer, and, by my sufferings, satisfy thy justice for sin; and, by the sufficiency of my sacrifice, put a period to all the Levitical sacrifces that did precede me, and prefigure me."
Learn hence, 1. That in the fulness of God's appointed time, Christ came into the world to accomplish that which the Levitical sacrfices did only prefigure, but could not effectuate.
2. That in order thereunto, Christ did assume the human nature, and offered in himself that nature willingly to his Father, as a sacrifice to atone divine displeasure.
3. That by this one sacrifice and oblation of Christ, which he performed in obedience to the will of God, all that believe in him are justified and saved, do obtain remission of sin, grace here, and glory hereafter; By which will we are sanctified, through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all.
Our apostle still proceeds upon his former argument, namely, to assign a farther difference between Christ and the Levitical priests.
1. The Levitical priesthood consisted of a plurality of persons; the priests were many; by reason of death they had many successors; but the evangelical priesthood consisted by of one single person, the Lord Jesus, called here, this man.
2. The Levitical priesthood consisted of a plurality of sacrifices; there were also many, many in number, and many in kind, bulls, lambs, goats, &c. but the sacrifice which Christ offered was but one, as to the kind namely, That body which was prepared, ver..
3. The Levitical sacrifices were oft-times offered, ver.. But the sacrifice of Christ was but once offered.
4. The Levitical sacrifices could never take away sin; but Christ by the sacrifice of his death took away sin for ever, fully and everlastingly.
5. The Levitical priests stood and ministered, ver.. "Every priest standeth daily." This is the posture of servants; but Christ sits, which is the posture of a Lord; This man after he had offered, sat down.
6. They stood daily ministering and offering, because their sacrifices could not take away sin; but Christ did his work fully by one offering, and after that sits or rests forever in heaven.
Learn hence, 1. That Christ crucified is the only divine and proper sacrifice under the gospel.
Divine, because its institution and appointment was of God:
proper, because all the essential properties of an expiatory sacrifice were found in this.
It was a living creature offered by a priest; it was offered to God, and it was a sweet savour unto him; and it is the only proper sacrifice of the gospel: Doing good is called a sacrifice, Hebrews 13:16. Righteousness is called a sacrifice, Psalms 4:5 but not properly, but allusively and metaphorically only.
Learn, 2. That the sacrifice of Christ is but of one kind, and was but once offered; yet it is of such unspeakable value, and everlasting efficacy, as to take away sin fully and finally, and to perfect all them that are or shall be sanctified to the end of the world. The virtue of this sacrifice reacheth backward as far as Adam, and reacheth forward to the last believer springing from Adam:
And as it reacheth backward and forward to all believers, in former, present, and future ages, so to all the sins of all believers, which are fully purged and expiated by it; the design and end of this oblation being to atone, pacify, and reconcile God, by giving a full and adequate compensation and satisfaction to the justice of God, for the wrong done to the holiness of his law. Thus our Jesus, by one offering, has perfected forever them that are sanctified.
Our apostle had asserted the perfection of Christ's sacrifice in the former verses, he proves it in these by the testimony of the Holy Ghost, recorded, Jeremiah 31:31, where after he had promised a new covenant instead of the old, and had said, This is the covenant I will make with them after these days, namely, when the days of the Old Testament are expired, then he says, I will put my laws into their hearts, and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.
Now seeing God promiseth, under the new covenant, sanctification and remission of sin to all believers, of which covenant Christ is Mediator, and by whose death the covenant is ratified and confirmed, therefore this one sacrifice once offered up is abundantly sufficient.
And if remission of sins be obtained by Christ's one sacrifice, there needs no repetition of it, nor any other offering for sin.
Learn hence, That the sacrifice of Christ was of that excellent virtue and transcendent merit, that by once offering it took away sin, all sin, and made it eternally remissible; and upon faith actually and eternally remitted: To what purpose then should then should there be any more offerings for sin? Yea, they who look for and trust to any other, fall into that sin for which there is no remission provided in the covenant, nor shall any other offering be accepted for them forever; for they despise both the wisdom and grace of God, the blood of Christ, and the testimony of the Holy Ghost; whereof there is no remission.
Here now we are come to a full end of the doctrinal part of this epistle, concerning the nature of Christ's prieathood, the necessity and efficacy of his sacrifice, the power and prevalency of his intercession.
O glorious mysteries; the light of the church of the Gentiles, the glory of the people of Israel, the foundation and bulwark of evangelical faith!
The apostle having thus finished the doctrinal part of his discourse, and informed their judgment of the excellency of the evangelical service above the Levitical sacrifices, he comes now, in several weighty and important duties, which appeared to be incumbent upon them; as namely to "draw near to God," to preserve in the Christian profession, to stir up one another to love and good works, to continue in Christian communion, Hebrews 10:22-25.
The first duty exhorted to is to draw near to God, seeing we have boldness, &c. Let us draw near with a true heart.
Note here, 1. The duty exhorted to, and that is, to draw near to God; in general, to worship him; in particular, to pray unto him, and seek remission fo sin and eternal life from him; to come unto God as clothed with glorious majesty, sitting upon a throne of grace, and propitiated by the blood of Christ.
Note, 2. The manner of performing this duty, with a pure heart, and in full assurance of faith: With the heart, or we give him a skin instead of a sacrifice: With sincerity of heart, which is the life and soul of all acceptable worship; and with a full assurance of faith grounded upon the fidelity of God, and the immutability of the promise.
Note, 3. THe qualifications of the person: He that draws near to God must:
1. Have his heart sprinkled from and evil conscience, that is, his soul cleansed by the blood of Christ, and freed from the accusatons of an evil condemning conscience.
2. His body washed with pure water, to wit, the lover of regeneration, which was signified by the legal washings.
Note, 4. The encouragement we have thus to draw near to God; and that is threefold:
1. We have a new and living way unto the holiest by the blood of Jesus; an allusion to the legal dispensation, wherein the high priest had a way to pass through the vail with blood into the holiest, to expiate the people's sins, and obtain mercy for them: Ours is called a new way, because newly made manifest; and a living way, because it leads to and ends in life eternal; or a living way, in opposition to the typical way of of going into the holiest, which was a dead way to all but the high priest, and to him too if he entered above once a year, and then also if he entered without blood.
Farther, this new and living way is here said to be consecrated through the vail of Christ's flesh; that is, made passable for penitent sinners, the throne of grace made accessible through the blood of a mediator. When Christ died, the vail of the temple was rent, to signify that our great High Priest was ready to enter the holy place of heaven, to procure eternal redemption for us.
2. Encouragement is boldness, or freedom and liberty to enter into the holiest; a freedom for our prayers to enter heaven whilst we live and a right and liberty for our persons to enter it when we die.
3. The mean whereby we obtain this liberty, By the blood of Jesus. We, that before could not come near him for our sins, may now come near him by faith in the blood of his Son; for that blood satisfied justice, merited divine favour, and made God accessible.
Learn hence, 1. That as sin had mad God inaccessible to sinners, as sinners; so the blood of Christ, that new and living way, has made him accessible to believers.
2. That although, from the first promise of Christ, there was always a way for believers to come to God, yet it was not so manifest, as it was after Christ's death and ascension, and the gospel's revelation.
The second duty which the apostle exhorts the Hebrews here unto, is perseverance in the Christian faith and hope, in order to the actual enjoyment of the great reward.
Where observe, 1. The duty itself to hold fast the profession of our faith: not blindly, without due examination; but, having examined the grounds and foundations of our faith, to maintain the profession of it against all tempations and terrors of the world, occasioned by sufferings and persecutions, and against all the cunning arts and insinuations of busy and disputing men, whose design it is to unhinge us from our religion, and make us proselytes to their party and faction: Thus let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering.
Observe, 2. The reason enforcing this duty, because he is faithful that has promised. Mark the gradation: We have a promise, even a promise of eternal glory, as the reward of our perseverance. This promise is God's promise, not man's, and the promise of a faithful God, who neither can nor will change his mind; he can as soon change his being as change his word and promise; He is faithful, &c.
Observe here the duty exhorted to, To consider one another, that is, to watch over one another. This consideraton respects the gifts, the graces, the temptations, the dangers of one another, and is the foundation of all those mutual duties of warning, exhorting, and admonishing one another: Duties, God knows, generally lost amongst us, and with them is the glory of the Christian religion departed from us.
Learn hence, That the mutual watch of Christians over each other, and their mutual exhortations of each other unto gospel-duties, is necessarily required, as a special mean for their preservation in their Christian profession.
Observe, 2. The duty we are to provoke and be provoked unto, and that is, to love and good works; that is no true faith which can be separated from love; and that is no true love that is separated from good works. The great end of Christian communion amongst believers, should be to excite one another to love! Which is the spring and fountain of all good works: And to provoke one another to good works; as the genuine effect and fruit of a sincere love to God and our neighbour.
Observe here, 1. That in the apostle's time there were Christian assemblies, in which Christians did meet together to worship and serve God, and edify and comfort one another; and, in times of peace and liberty, they had convenient places erected, and separated for that end and use. The light of nature, as well as of Scripture, dictates that God is to be worshipped solemnly and publicly; that public worship pleases him most, and that he accepts it best.
Observe, 2. It was the manner of custom of some then to forsake the public assemblies; some out of sloth and negligence; others out of fear and persecution: This was a dangerous sin, and so continues. God and Christ esteem themselves forsaken, when their worship and worshippers are causelessly forsaken.
Observe, 3. The duty initmated and directed to, not to forsake the assembling together, as some do; for Christian assemblies are the life, the food, and nourishment of our souls; Consequently forsaking of church-assemblies is usually the forerunner of apostacy.
Observe, 4. The great inducement and encouragement to this duty, because the day approacheth.
Ans. The day of Jerusalem's approaching destruction to them; the day of death and judgment coming upon, and hastening towards us.
Learn hence, That the intimations given of approaching judgments, ought to influence unto special diligence in all evangelical duties.
2. That to see evidently the approaches of death and judgment, and yet not to be sedulous and diligent in the duties of divine worship, is a sign and token of a backsliding frame, tending unto final apostasy from Christ and his holy religion.
In these verses the apostle gives a vehement enforcement of his preceding exhortation, to an unfainting perseverance in the profession of Christianity, and this is drawn from the dreadful consequences of apostasy. We have here the nature of the sin expressed, the impossibility of deliverance from the guilt of it declared, and the punishment that will unavoidable follow upon it asserted.
Observe, 1. Wherein the nature of this sin consists, if we sin wilfully, that is, by renouncing Christianity.
Where note, How our apostle puts himself in among the number; to show that there is no respect of persons in this matter, but those who have equally sinned, shall be equally punished.
Note farther, That the apostle, by sinning wilfully, does not mean every wilful sin, and that there is no recovery after any voluntary sin committed: But by wilfully, he means obstinately, maliciously, and with despite.
Observe, 2. The season and circumstance of this sin, After we have received the knowledge of the truth, that is, after the gospel has been preached unto us, and we, upon conviction of its truth, and sense of its power, have taken upon us the public profession of Christianity: After we have dedicated our selves to Christ in baptism, and joined ourselves unto the body of his church: After all this, to relinquish and renounce the Christian profession, either for fear of suffering, or love of this present world, exposes us to a unutterable and inevitable condemnation.
Observe, 3. What the apostle charges as an aggravation of this sin, namely, that it cannot be expiated, There remains no more sacrifice for sin: For God has no other Son to offer as a sacrifice for sin, if this be rejected; and no other Spirit to make that sacrifice effectual, if the Holy Spirit be despised, and finally resisted; and therefore no ground of hope can remain for such apostates. The punishments of sins unpardonable is unavoidable: It is an eternal decree of divine justice, that the sacrifice of Christ shall never benefit that man, who finally falls away after he has received the knowledge of the truth.
Observe, 4. The dreadful and tremendous judgment here threatened to apostates, and what they must eternally expect, namely, the fiery indignation, and fearful wrath of the just and holy God.
From the whole learn, 1. That there is an inseparable connection between apostasy and eternal ruin.
2. That the minds of wretched apostates are oft-times filled with dreadful expectations of approaching wrath.
3. That the dread and terror of God's final judgement against apostates, is, in itself inconceivable, and accordingly shadowed out by things of the greatest dread and terror in the world.
4. That God's fiery indignation, thogh it shall devour his adversaries, yet shall it never eat them up' it shall eternally prey upon them, but never consume them, or annihilate their being.
O mysterious fire! Whose strange property it is always to torture, but never to kill; or always to kill, but never to consume. God grant that we may never experimentally know, or feelingly find, either where hell is, or what it is.
The apostle here confirms what he had before spoken, of the sad and certain destruction of apostates; and compares it with the punishment inflicted on the breakers of Moses' law. If those, under the testimony of two or three witnesses, of that apostasy died without mercy; how much sorer plunishment is due to the contemners of Christ, who tread under foot, that is, vilify and undervalue our Lord Jesus Christ, esteeming him as one that died a public malefactor; counting the blood of the covenant an unholy thing; that is, a common thing; making nothing of the solemnest rite that ever was used in the world for the confirmation of any covenant, to wit, the shedding of the blood of the Son of God, and doing despite unto the spirit of grace: as if he were guilty of lying and falsehood, in bearing witness of the divine power of Christ.
Learn hence, 1. That although to transgress Moses' law was an heinous offence, yet to sin wilfully against the gospel, after we have received the knowledge of it, is far more heinous.
Learn, 2. That to revolt from and rebel against God loving sinful man, against Jesus Christ ransoming and redeeming captive slaves, and against the Holy Spirit sanctifying and cleansing polluted souls, comes nearest the sin of devils; and as the sin is the more heinous, so the punishment must be far more grievous: For God has allotted different degrees of punishments unto different degrees and aggravations of sins.
Learn, 3. That the punishment of final apostasy is eternal without any hope of mercy, and without the least relaxation of punishment: For they shall have judgment without any mercy.
The apostle had declared in the verses before, the certain judgment of apostates: Here he declare the Judge, the Lord; and the judgment, vengeance; Vengeance is mine saith the Lord: Where, by vengeance, is meant vindictive justice in punishing sinners. The apostle's arguments seems to lie thus:
"If God professes himself an avenger of all sin and injury done to his people, as he certainly doth, Deuteronomy 32:36. Much more will he show himself an avenger of so horrible an indignity offered to his Son and his Holy Spirit."
Learn hence, That the consideration of the righteous nature of God, and that inclosure he has made of vengeance, to himself under an irrevocable assurance of the unavoidable purpose for its execution, gives undubitable assurance of the unavoidable destruction of all wilful apostates.
Our apostle, In these words, winds up his whole argument against the wilful despisers of the gospel, taken from the aggravation of that sin, with the severity of the punishment that would certainly befall them that are guilty of it.
Note here, 1. The description given of God, he is the Living God; so called, both by way of opposition unto all dead and dumb idols, and also with respect to his lively power and strength, whereby he is able to avenge the sins of men; and likewise to signify the eternal duration of his existence. He ever liveth to execute his wrath, and inflict vengeance on the apostate sinner.
Learn, That the name of the living God is full either of terror or comfort to the souls of men. O Lord! Thine attributes, which are the principal delight of all sincere Christians, and the special object of their hope and faith, are an eternal spring of dread and terror to all impenitent sinners.
Note, 2. What is the effect and fruit of all sin in general, and of apostasy in particular, namely, a falling into God's hands. There is a threefold hand of God mentioned in Scripture; his protecting hand, his correcting hand, and his wrathful and revenging hand. It is safe and comfortable to fall into God's protecting hand: It is profitable and beneficial, though not pleasing and delightful, to fall into God's chastening and correcting hand; but to fall into his angry hand; his wrathful and revengeful hand, this is sad and fearful; either to fall under this sentence of his wrath in this life, or under the full and final execution of that wrath in the life to come.
Note, 3. THe tremendous dreadfulness of that wrath; it is a fearful, dreadful thing, that which no tongue can utter, no heart can conceive. Who knoweth the power of thy wrath? Psalms 90:11.
Learn hence, That the wrath and vengeance which the ever-living God will certainly inflict upon all wicked sinners in general, and upon all wretched apostates in particular, is very dreadful and tremendous; and so must needs be, because it is a wrath inconceivably great, and unavoidably sure, and because it is the wrath of a just God, of an almighty God, and of an ever-living God.
Our apostle here proceeds to a new argument to persuade Christians to perseverance drawn from the consideration of their former sufferings for christianity:
"Since ye were illuminated, that is, baptized into the Christian faith, ye endured courageously afflictions, a fight of afflictions, yea, a great fight of afflictions."
Learn hence, That the wisdom of God oft-times permits and suffers persons, at their first conversion, to fall into manifold trials and temptations: Carnal relations now first scoff, then frown, and at last cast off. The world hates them, marks them out for persecution, loads them with calumny and slander.
But observe, farther, The apostle directs them to call to remembrance their former sufferings: He doth not mean the remembrance of what was bitter and afflictive in their sufferings, but the cause for which they suffered, and the presence of God enjoyed by them in and under their sufferings: This would encourage, embolden, and strengthen unto duty:
Learn hence, That a wise management of former experience is a great direction and encouragement unto future obedience.
Here our apostle particularly mentions the sufferings which the primitive saints underwent for the sake of Christianity, and reduces them to three heads, shame, pain, loss: They suffered in their names, by being disgraced; in their persons, by being scourged; in their estates, by the spoiling of their goods. Let all that make profession of the name of Christ expect and provide for such sufferings, especially for reproaches.
We may put a due value upon our names and reputations, but must not be over solicitous about the preservation of them. Let us keep in the way of our duty, and leave our good name to God's care and keeping. The world first thunders out our reproaches, then falls into a storm persecution.
Learn hence, that all temporary sufferings, in all their aggravating circumstances, in all their formidable dress and appearance, may be, and oft-times are, the lot and portion of those who have undertaken the profession of Christianity. Ye endured a great fight of afflictions, whilst ye were made a gazing-stock to the world.
The Christians here wre exposed to the world as it were upon a stage, or in a theatre where multitudes might gaze upon them, revile, and make a sport of them.
The first words of this verse, Ye had compassion on me in my bonds, prove St. Paul to be the author of this epistle; for who else could there be, whose bonds for the gospel were so known, and so famous among the believing Jews?
His bonds were first at Jerusalem, afterwards at Rome, the two capital cities of the Jews and Gentiles. And St. Paul declares here what a tender sympathy and fellow feeling with him in his suffering they did express: ye had compassion on me in my bonds, that is, ye owned me in my sufferings, ye sympathized with me under my sufferings, ye administered to my succour and relief when burthened with my sufferings.
Observe next, he reminds them of their deportment under their own sufferings; Ye took joyfully by the spoilers, than it was by the spoiled.
Learn, It is the peculiar glory and excellency of the gospel, that is gives insuperable joy unto the Christian's mind, under the greatest outword sufferings: They endured joyfully the spoiling of their goods.
Observe lastly, THe reason of this their Christian patience under sufferings; they had a substance; they had a substance in heaven; and they had a better substance in heaven that they lost upon earth; and they knew they had it, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and more enduring substance.
Learn hence, That faith by giving and incomparable preference to the things of heaven, above all perishing things on earth, affords abundant joy and full satisfaction in the loss of them all, upon the account of an assured interest in better things.
As if he had said, "Seeing you have endured so much, never shrink back from a bold and courageous profession of Christ and his holy religion, which will be crowned with a great recompence of reward."
Observe, 1. The exhortation, Cast not away your confidence and courage in the free profession of Christianity, like cowardly soldiers, that in the heat of the battle do cast down their shields and armour, and run away. The Christian is a spiritual soldier; he must not shrink, or give back, but die a conqueror rather than be taken prisoner.
Observe, 2. The reason which enforces the exhortation, (which hath great recompence of reward,) mark, the reward is certain, and that it is due to such as persevere. Perseverance and the reward are in separably joined together, so that the one shall infallibly follow the other.
Hence learn, That in times of suffering, and in the approaches of them, it is the duty of believers to look upon the glory of heaven, under the notion of a refeshing and all-sufficient reward; cast not away your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward.
Ye have need of patience: But had they it not already, when they endured such a great fight of afflictions? Yes, assuredly; the meaning hereof is this: "Ye have need of the continued exercise of patience;" implying, that without the constant exercise of patience, none can pass through tribulation to the glory of God, and their own advantage.
We have need of patience to perform difficult duties, to resist strong temptations, to wait for an answer of our prayers, and also to wait for the reward of our patience. After we have done the will of God, we have need of patience to enable us to wait for the receiving of the promise, that is, the good promised.
Here note, that the glory of heaven firmly believed, will powerfully sustain the Christian spirit under sufferings.
2. That patience is as necessary to enable us to expect and wait for the reward of our sufferings, as it is needful and necessary to support and uphold us under sufferings.
Observe farther, The comfortable assurance which the apostle gives, both of the certain coming, and speedy coming of Christ to reward their faith and patience: He that shall come will come, and will not tarry.
Note here, The Christian's suffering season will be short, Christ will come to call him off. He will come, and will not tarry; and when he comes, no dificulties shall be able to stand before him, but such as have suffered patiently, shall be rewarded gloriously.
These words, The just shall live by faith, are taken out of the prophet Habakuk, and are three times made use of by St. Paul, in his epistles, Romans 1:17 ; Galatians 3:11, and in this place. By the just man, understand a justified man; by the life which he lives, understand a life of sanctification and of glorification, a life of grace and holiness, and a life of glory and happiness.
Learn, That whatever life the believer lives, after a more excellent manner, and for more excellent purposes and ends than other men, he lives that life by the help and assistance of his faith. In the following words, But if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.
Observe, 1. The crime supposed, if any man that has embraced Christianity, shall, either for sufferings feared or felt, draw back from his holy profession. The word siginifies to sneak and slink away out of fear; and the apostle means by it, a quitting our profession of Christianity for fear of suffering.
Learn hence, That in and under great, sharp, and long trials, persons are in danger of drawing back from that profession of the gospel wherein they are engaged.
Observe, 2. The sentence pronounced upon this crime, My soul shall have no pleasure in him; that is, God will be exceedingly displeased with him, and punish him very severely; intimating, that apostacy from the profession of God's true religion, is a sin highly provoking to him, and will be most severely punished by him.
Here note, That these threatenings imply, that there is a possibility of the saints falling away, considered in themselves; but not that they are ever totally deserted by the Holy Spirit, and left under the reigning power of sin. These threatenings are intended to awaken their care, and have a singular influence on their preservation.
From the whole learn, That backsliders from the gospel are, in a peculiar manner, the abhorrency of the soul of God: If any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.
Observe here, 1. A twofold opposite state, namely them that draw back, and them that believe, that is, persevere in believing; we are not of them that draw back.
Intimating, 1. That in the visible church there ever have been, are, and will be, a number of hypocrites, who, for fear of suffering in a time of persecution, will draw back.
2. That it is every Christian's duty to evidence to his own conscience, and also to give evidence unto others, that he is not of this sort or number: We are not of them who draw back.
Observe, 2. A twofold opposite event, perdition on the one hand and salvation on the other. The first of these is denied, the latter is affirmed, concerning these Hebrews: We are not of them that draw back into perdition: But of them that believe, to the saving of the soul.
Where note, 1. The actual influence of apostacy on the one hand to destruction; nothing can free apostates from eternal ruin.
Note, 2. The actual influence of faith on the other hand to the saving of the soul.
Thence learn, That sincere faith will carry men through all difficulties, hazards, and troubles, unto the certain enjoyment of eternal blessedness. We are of them that do believe, unto the saving of the soul.