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Bible Commentaries

John Owen Exposition of Hebrews
Hebrews 1

 

 

Other Authors
Introduction

THE general scope and design of the apostle in this whole epistle hath been before declared, and need not here be repeated. In this first chapter he fixeth and improveth the principal consideration that he intends to insist on throughout the epistle, — to prevail with the Hebrews unto constancy and perseverance in the doctrine of the gospel. And this is taken from the immediate author of it, the promised Messiah, the Son of God. Him, therefore, in this chapter he at large describes; and that two ways, —

  1. Absolutely, declaring what he is in his person and offices, as also what he hath done for the church; and,

  2. Comparatively, with respect unto other ministerial revealers of the mind and will of God, especially insisting on his excellency and preeminence above the angels, as we shall see in the explication of the several parts and verses of it.

Verse 1-2

πολυμερῶς καὶ πολυτρόπως πάλαι ὁ θεὸς λαλήσας τοῖς πατράσιν ἐν τοῖς προφήταις, ἐπ᾿ ἐσχάτων τῶν ἡμερῶν τούτων ἐλάλησες ἡμιν ἐν υἱῷ, ὅν ἔθηκε κληρονόμον πάντων, δι᾿ οὗ καὶ τοὺς αἰῶνας ἐποίησεν.

Many of these words being variously rendered, their true grammatical sense and importance is to be considered before we open the meaning of the whole, and aim of the apostle in them; in which way we shall also proceed throughout the whole epistle.

πολυμερῶς. בְּכֻל מַגוָן, Syr., “in all parts,” or “by many parts.” “Multifariam,” Vulg. Eras., A. Montan., “diversely.” “Multis vicibus,” Beza; which ours render, “at sundry times.” ΄είρομαι is “sortior,” “divido,” to part,” “to take part,” “to divide :” whence is μέρος, “the part of any thing;” and πολυμερής, “that which consisteth of many parts;” and πολυμερῶς, “by many parts;” which is also used as ἐν τῷ μέρει, for “alternis vicibus,” “sundry changes.” The word properly is,” by many parts,” “fully,” “by several parts at several times,” as our translation intimates; yet so that a diversity of parts and degrees, rather than of times and seasons, is intended.

καί πολυτρόπως. ובְּכֻל דַּמְוָן, Syr., “in all forms.” “Multisque modis,” Vulg. Eras., A. Montan., Beza, “many ways ;” or as ours, “divers manners.”

πάλαι. מֵן קְדִים, Syr., “ab initio,” “from the beginning.” “Olim,” the Latin translation, “of old,” “formerly,” “in times past.” πάλαι is “olim,” quondam, pridem, jamdudum, any time past that is opposed τῷ ἄρτι, or νῦν, to that which is present, properly time some good while past, as that was whereof the apostle treats, having ended in Malachi four hundred years before.

τοῖς πατράσιν. עַם אֲבָהֵין Syr., “with our fathers,” “to the fathers.”

᾿εν τοῖς προφήταις. בּנְבִיֵאּ, Syr., “in the prophets.” So all the Latin translations, “in prophetis.”

᾿επ᾿ ἐσχάτων τῶν ἡμερῶν τούτων. ובְּהָלֵין יַוְמָחֵא אַחֲרַיִאּ, Syr., “and in those, last days.” “Ultimis diebus hisce,” “ulitmis diebus istis,” “in these last days.” “Novissime diebus istis,” Vulg., — “last of all in these days.” Some Greek copies have ἐπ᾿ ἐσχάτου τῶν ἡμερῶν τούτων, “in extremo dierum istorum,”” in the end of these days.” The reason of which variety we shall see afterwards.

᾿εν υιῷ, as before, “in the prophets;” not “by his Son,” but “in the Son.” The emphasis of the expression is necessarily to be retained, as the opening of the words will discover.

τοὺς αἰῶνας. “Mundos,” “secula.” לְעָלְמֵא, Syr., “the ages,” “times,” “worlds.” In the remaining words there is no difficulty, as to the grammatical signification; we shall then read them,’(1)

EXPOSITION. — II. καὶ π. “Of the two modes of interpreting these words, I rather prefer that which separates them, and gives a distinct meaning to each: ‘God, who in ancient times made communications to the fathers by the prophets, in sundry parts and in various ways, has now made a revelation to us by his Son:’i. e., he has completed the whole revelation which he intends to make under the new dispensation by his Son, his Son only, and not by a long-continued series of prophets, as of old.” — Stuart.

They have been considered merely a rhetorical amplification.” — Tholuck.

πολυμερῶς means, not ‘many times,’but ‘manifoldly, in many parts.’The antithesis is not that God has spoken often by the prophets, but only once by his Son;..... the opposition is between the distribution of the Old Testament revelation among the prophets, and the undivided fullness of the New Testament revelation by Christ.” — Ebrard.

᾿επ ἐσχ. τῶν ἡμ. “Under the last period, viz., of the Messiah.” — Stuart.

“On the confines of the former period, and of the new everlasting epoch; not within the later, and also not within the former.” — Tholuck.

“The end of this time, in reference to the עולם הזהof the Jews, the period of the world which preceded the coming of Christ, whose work was to form the transition from it to the period terminating in the resurrection.” — Ebrard.

“The period of the gospel, the last dispensation of God.” — Bloomfield.

εν ψἱῷ. A specimen of the arbitrary use of the article, for “ ψἱῷ is monadic: it designates one individual peculiarly distingished, and the pronoun αὐτοῦ is omited after it; on all which accounts, according to theory, the article should be added.” — Stuart.

“‘God spake to us by one who was Son,’who stood not in the relation of prophet, but in the relation of Son to him. If it were ἐν τῷ ψἱῷ, then Christ would be placed as this individual, in opposition to the individuals of the prophets; but as the article is wanting, it is the species that is placed in opposition to the species, although, of court, Christ is the single individual of his species.” — Ebrard.

ψἱός may in this use be considered (like χριστός, put for ῾ο χριστός) as an appellative converted into a sort of proper name.” — See Middleton on the Greek article, note Matthew 1:1; Matthew 4:3; Bloomfield. κληρονόμος.

“The Son inherited the world neither by lot nor by the demise of the possessor. Like the Hebrew יָרַשׁ, of which inherit is only a secondary sense, it means to take into possession in any manner.” — Stuart.

“The prophets were heralds of the promised future inheritance; Christ is the heir himself..... The principal idea is, not that of a possession which any one receives through the death of another, but a possession which he on his part can transfer as an inheritance to his posterity; consequently a permanent possession, over which he has full authority.” — Ebrard.

καὶ connects a new thought with what precedes; the same being who, according to his divine human nature, shall possess all things in the world, is also, according to his divine nature, the author of all things.” — Tholuck.

αἰών must necessarily signify the world. This is decisively shown by the parallel passage, Hebrews 11:3, and likewise by that in the Epistle to the Colossians, Colossians 1:15-17, and φέρων τὰ πάντα in Hebrews 1:3.” — Tholuck.

TRANSLATIONS. — II. καὶ π. “Often, and in various ways.” — Stuart.

“In many portions, and in many ways.” — Craik.

τοὶς πατ. “To our fathers.” — De Wette.

πάλ. “Since primeval times.” — Tholuck.

“In ancient times.” — Stuart.

επ ἐσχ. κ. τ. λ. “In the end of these days.” — Conybeare and Howson.

᾿εν ψ. “In the person of the Son.” — Conybeare and Howson. κλ.

“Lord of all things.” — Stuart. αἰών.

“The world.” — Stuart.

“The universe.” — Conybeare and Howson.

Hebrews 1:1-2. — By sundry parts, and in divers manners, God having formerly [or, of old] spoken unto the fathers in the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us in the Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all, by whom also he made the worlds.

The apostle intending a comparison between the Mosaical law and the gospel, referreth it unto two heads, — first, Their revelation and institution, whence the obligation to the observance of the one and the other did arise; and, secondly, Their whole nature, use, and efficacy. The first he enters upon in these words, and premising that wherein they did agree, distinctly lays down the severals wherein the difference between them doth consist; both which were necessary to complete the comparison intended.

That wherein they agree is the principal efficient cause of their revelation, or the prime author from whom they were. This is God. He was the author of the law and gospel. He spake of old “in the prophets,” he spake in the last days “in the Son.” Neither of them was from men; not one from one principle, and the other from another, — both have the same divine original. See 2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20-21. Herein they both agree.

Their difference in this respect, namely, in their revelation, he refers to four heads, all distinctly expressed, saving that some branches of the antithesis on the part of the gospel are only included in the opposite expressions that relate unto the law.

Their difference,

First, respects the manner of their revelation, and that in two particulars:

1. The revelation of the will of God under the law was given out by “divers parts;” that under the gospel at once, or in one dispensation of grace and truth.

2. That “in divers manners;” this one way only, by the Spirit dwelling in the Lord Christ in his fullness, and by him communicated unto his apostles.

Secondly, The times and seasons of their revelation. That of the law was made “of old,” “formerly, in times past;” this of the gospel “in these last days.”

Thirdly, The persons to whom the revelation of them was made. That was to the “fathers,” this to “us.”

Fourthly, and principally, The persons by whom these revelations were made. That was by “the prophets;” this by “the Son.” God spake then in the prophets; now he hath spoken in the Son. The whole stress of the apostle’s argument lying on this last instance, omitting the prosecution of all the other particulars, he enters upon the further description of this immediate revealer of the gospel in whom God spake, the Son, and lays down in general,

1. The authority committed unto him, — God made him “heir of all;”

2. The ground and equity of committing that great power and trust unto him, in these words, “By whom also he made the worlds:” whereby he opens his way to the further declaration of his divine and incomparable excellencies, wherein he is exalted far above all or any that were employed in the revelation or administration of the law of Moses, and the holy worship instituted thereby.

All these particulars must be opened severally, that we may see the intendment of the apostle, and the force of his argument in the whole; and some of them must necessarily be somewhat largely insisted on, because of their influence into the ensuing discourse.

That wherein the law and gospel do both agree is, that God was the author of them both. About this there was no difference as to the most of them with whom the apostle treated. This he takes for granted. For the professing Jews did not adhere to Mosaical institutions because God was their author, not so of the gospel; but because they were given from God by Moses in such a manner as never to be changed or abrogated. This the apostle lays down as an acknowledged principle with the most, that both law and gospel received their original from God himself; proving also, as we shall see in the progress of our discourse, to the conviction of others, that such a revelation as that of the gospel was foretold and expected, and that this was it in particular which was preached unto them.

Now, God being here spoken of in distinction from the Son expressly, and from the Holy Ghost by evident implication, it being he by whom he spake in the prophets, that name is not taken οὐσιώδως, substantially, to denote primarily the essence or being of the Deity, and each person as partaking in the same nature, but ὐποστατικῶς, denoting primarily one certain person, and the divine nature only as subsisting in that person. This is the person of the Father; as elsewhere the person of the Son is so signified by that name, Acts 20:28; John 1:1; Romans 9:5; 1 Timothy 3:16; 1 John 3:16; 1 John 5:20 ; — as also the person of the Holy Spirit, Acts 5:3-4; 1 Corinthians 12:6; 1 Corinthians 12:11; Colossians 2:2. So that God, even the Father, by the way of eminency, was the peculiar author of both law and gospel; of which afterwards. And this observation is made necessary from hence, even because he immediately assigns divine properties and excellencies unto another person, evidently distinguished from him whom he intends to denote by the name God in this place; which he could not do did that name primarily express, as here used by him, the divine nature absolutely, but only as it is subsisting in the person of the Father.

From this head of their agreement the apostle proceeds to the instances of the difference that was between the law and the gospel as to their revelation from God; of which, a little inverting the order of the words, we shall first consider that which concerns the times of their giving out, sundry of the other instances being regulated thereby.

For the first, or the revelation of the will of God under the old testament, it was, “of old.” God spake πάλαι, “formerly,” or “of old.” Some space of time is denoted in this word which had then received both its beginning and end, both which we may inquire after. Take the word absolutely, and it comprises the whole space of time from the giving out of the first promise unto that end which was put unto all revelations of public use under the old testament. Take it as relating to the Jews, and the rise of the time expressed in it is the giving of the law by Moses in the wilderness. And this is that which the apostle hath respect unto. He had no contest with the Jews about the first promise, and the service of God in the world built thereon, nor about their privilege as they were the sons of Abraham; but only about their then present church privilege and claim by Moses’law. The proper date, then, and bound of this πάλαι, “of old,” is from the giving out of Moses’law, and therein the constitution of the Judaical church and worship, unto the close of public prophecy in the days of Malachi. From thence to the days of John Baptist God granted no extraordinary revelation of his will, as to the standing use of the whole church. So that this dispensation of God speaking in the prophets continued for the space of twenty-one jubilees, or near eleven hundred years. That it had been now ceased for a long time the apostle intimates in this word, and that agreeably to the confessed principles of the Jews; whereby also he confirmed his own of the coming of the Messiah, by the reviving of the gift of prophecy, as was foretold, Joel 2:28-29.

And we may, by the way, a little consider their thoughts in this matter; for, as we have observed and proved before, the apostle engageth with them upon their own acknowledged principles. “The Jews, then, generally grant, unto this day, that prophecy for the public use of the church was not bestowed under the second temple after the days of Malachi, nor is to be expected until the coming of Elias. The delusions that have been put upon them by impostors they now labor all they can to conceal; and they are of late, by experience, made incredulous towards such pretenders as in former ages they have been brought to much misery by. Now, as their manner is to fasten all their conjectures, be they true or false, on some place, word, or letter of the Scripture, so have they done this assertion also. Observing or supposing the want of sundry things in the second house, they pretend that want to be intimated, Haggai 1:7-8, where God, promising to glorify himself in that temple, the word אֶכָּבְדָ, ‘I will glorify,’is written defectively, without ה, as the Keri notes. That letter, being the numeral note of five, signifies, as they say, the want of five things in that house. The first of these was, ארון, — ‘the ark and cherubim;’the second, המשחה שמן— ‘the anointing oil;’the third, עצי המערכה, — ‘the wood of disposition,’or ‘perpetual fire;’the fourth, אורים ותומים, — ‘Urim and Thummim;’the fifth, רוח הקדש, — ‘the Holy Ghost,’or ‘Spirit of prophecy.’They are not, indeed, all agreed in this enumeration. The Talmud in יומא, Joma, cap. v., reckons them somewhat otherwise: —

1. The ark, with the propitiatory and cherubim;

2. The fire from heaven, which answers the third, or wood of disposition, in the former order;

3. The divine Majesty, in the room of the anointing oil:

4. The Holy Ghost;

5. Urim and Thummim.

Another order there is, according to Rabbi Bechai, Comment. in Pentateuch., sect. ויגש; who places the anointing oil distinctly, and confounds the שכינה, or; ‘divine Majesty,’with רוח הקדוש, ‘the Holy Ghost,’contradicting the Gemara. The commonly approved order is that of the author of Aruch, in the root כבד: — “ ארון כפורת וכרוב אחד, — ‘the ark, propitiatory, and cherubim, one.’ “ שכינה שני, — ‘the divine Majesty, the second thing.’ “ רוח הקדוש שהוא נבואה שלושי, — ‘the Holy Ghost, which is prophecy, the third.’ “ אווים ותומים רביעי, — ‘Urim and Thummim, the fourth thing.’ “ אש מן השמים חמישי, — ‘fire from heaven, the fifth thing.’

“But as this argument is ridiculous, both in general in wire-drawing conclusions from letters deficient or redundant in writing, and in particular in reference to this word, which in other places is written as in this, as Numbers 24:11, 1 Samuel 2:30, Isaiah 66:5; so the observation itself of the want of all these five things in the second house is very questionable, and seems to be invented to give countenance to the confessed ceasing of prophecy, by which their church had been planted, nourished, and maintained, and now, by its want, was signified to be near expiration. For although I will grant that they might offer sacrifices with other fire than that which was traduced from the flame descending from heaven, though Nadab and Abihu were destroyed for so doing, because the law of that fire attended the giving of it, whence upon its providential ceasing, it was as lawful to use other fire in sacrifice as it ‘was before its giving out; yet as to the ark, the Urim and Thummim, the matter is more questionable, and as to the anointing oil out of question, because it being lawful for the high priest to make it at any time, it was no doubt restored in the time of Ezra’s reformation. I know Abarbanel, on Exodus 30 sec. תשא, affirms that there was no high priest anointed with oil under the second house; for which he gives this reason, לפי שבבר היה נגנז שמן המשחה, ‘Because the anointing oil was now hid;’ שגנזו יאשיהו עם שאר הדברים הקדושים, ‘for Josiah had hid it with the rest of the holy things ;’a Talmudical figment, to which he adds, להם רשות לעשותו ולא היה, ‘and they had no power to make it.’I will not much contend about matter of fact, or what they did: but that they might have done otherwise is evident from the first institution of it; for the prohibition mentioned, Exodus 30:31-32, respects only private persons. And Josephus tells us that God ceased to give answer by Urim and Thummim two hundred years before he wrote, book 3 chapter 8; which proves they had it.

“It is indeed certain that at their first return from Babylon they had not the Urim and Thummim, Ezra 2:63, — there was no priest with Urim and Thummim; yet it doth not appear that afterwards that jewel, whatever it were, was not made upon the prophecies of Haggai and Zechariah, whereby the restoration of the temple and the worship belonging thereunto was carried on to perfection, especially considering the vision of Zechariah about clothing the high priest with the robes of his office, chapter 3; after which time it seems they were made and in use, as Josephus shows us, book 11, chapter 8, treating of the reverence done by Alexander the Great to the name of God engraven in the plate of gold on the high priest’s forehead. And Maimonides, Tractat. Sanhed. cap. 10, sect. 10, says expressly that all the eight robes of the high priest were made under the second temple, and particularly the Urim and Thummim. Howbeit, as he says, they inquired not of God by them, because the Holy Ghost was not on the priests. Of the ark we shall have occasion to treat afterwards, and of its fictitious hiding by Jeremiah or Josiah, as the Jews fancy. This we may observe for the present, that as it is certain that it was carried away by the Babylonians, amongst other vessels of gold belonging to the temple, either amongst them that were taken away in the days of Jehoiakim, 2 Chronicles 36:7; or those taken away with Jehoiachin his son, 2 Chronicles 36:10; or when all that was left before, great and small, was carried away in the days of Zedekiah, 2 Chronicles 36:18 : so it may be supposed to be restored by Cyrus, of whom it is said that he returned ‘the vessels of the house of the LORD, which Nebuchadnezzar had brought forth out of Jerusalem,’ Ezra 1:7. And it is uncertain to what end was the solemn yearly entrance of the high priest into the most holy place, observed to the very destruction of the second house, if neither ark nor mercy-seat were there. Neither is this impeached by what Tacitus affirms, Hist. lib. v., that when Pompey entered the temple, he found ‘nullas Deum effigies, vacuum sedem, et inania arcana;’for as he wrote of the Jews with shameful negligence, so he only intimates that they had no such images as were used among other nations, — nor the head of an ass, which himself, not many lines before, had affirmed to be consecrated in their sanctuary. For aught, then, appears to the contrary, the ark might be in the second house, and be carried thence to Rome with the book of the law, which Josephus expressly mentions. And therefore the same Abarbanel, in his commentary on Joel, tells us that Israel by captivity out of his own land lost ומפתים וידיעת אלהית שֶלשה מתנות שתיו הם נבואה— ‘three excellent gifts, prophecy, miracles, and divine knowledge,’Psalms 74:9; all which he grants were to be restored by the Messiah, without mention of the other things before recited. And they confess this openly in Sota Distinc. Egla Hampha: חגי זכריה ומלאכי נסתלקה רוח הקודש מישראל משמתו הנביאים האחרונים; — ‘After the death of the latter prophets, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, the Holy Spirit was taken away from Israel.’”

It is, then, confessed “that God ceased to speak to the church in prophets, as to their oral teaching and writing, after the days of Malachi; which season of the want of vision, though continuing four hundred years and upwards, is called by Haggai, Haggai 2:6, מְעַט אַחַת:, ‘unum pusillum,’‘a little while,’in reference to the continuance of it from the days of Moses; whereby the Jews may see that they are long since past all grounds of expectation of its restoration, all prophecy having left them double the time that their church enjoyed it, which cannot be called מְעַט אחַת, ‘a little while,’in comparison thereof.” To return. This was the πάλαι, these the times, wherein God spake in the prophets: which determines one instance more of the comparison, namely, “the fathers,” to whom he spake in them; which were all the faithful of the Judaical church, from the days of giving the law until the ceasing of prophecy in the days of Malachi.

In answer to this first instance, on the part of the gospel, the revelation of it is affirmed to be made in these last days, “Hath spoken in these last days;” the true stating of which time also will discover who the persons were to whom it was made, “Hath spoken to us.”

Most expositors suppose that this expression, “The last days,” is a periphrasis for the times of the gospel. But it doth not appear that they are anywhere so called; nor were they ever known by that name among the Jews, upon whose principles the apostle proceeds. Some seasons, indeed, under the gospel, in reference to some churches, are called “The last days,” 1 Timothy 4:1, 2 Timothy 3:1; but the whole time of the gospel absolutely is nowhere so termed. It is the last days of the Judaical church and state, which were then drawing to their period and abolition, that are here and elsewhere called “The last days,” or “The latter days,” or “The last hour,” 2 Peter 3:3; 1 John 2:18; Jude 1:18. For, —

1. As we before observed, the apostle takes it for granted that the Judaical church-state did yet continue, and proves that it was drawing to its period, chap. 8 ult., having its present station in the patience and forbearance of God only, without any necessity as unto its worship or preservation in the world. And hereunto doth the reading of the words in some copies, before intimated, give testimony, ῾επ᾿ ἐσχάτου τῶν ἡμερῶν τούτων, — “ In the end” (or “extremity’’) “of these days;” which, as the event hath proved, can no way relate to the times of the gospel.

2. The personal ministry of the Son, whilst he was upon the earth in the days of his flesh, is here eminently, though not solely intended: for as God of old spake in the prophets, so in these last days he spake in the Son; that is, in him personally present with the church, as the prophets also were in their several generations, Hebrews 2:3. Now, as to his personal ministry, he was sent to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel,” Matthew 15:24 (to whom also alone in his own days he sent his apostles, Matthew 10:5-6); and is therefore said to have been “a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God,” Romans 15:8, being in the last place sent to the same vineyard unto which the prophets were sent before, Matthew 21:37. The words there used, “Last of all he sent unto them his Son,” are exegetical of these, “He spake in the Son in the last days.”

3. This phrase of speech is signally used in the Old Testament to denote the last days of the Judaical church. So by Jacob, Genesis 49:1, “I will tell you that which shall befall you בְּאַחֲרִית הַיָמִים,” — “in the last days:” which words the LXX. render, ᾿επ ἐσχάτων τῶν ἡμερῶν, the words here used by the apostle; the days pointed unto by Jacob being those wherein the Messiah should come, before Judah was utterly deprived of scepter and scribe. Again, by Balaam the same words are used to signify the same time, Numbers 24:14, where they are rendered ᾿επ ἐσχάτου τῶν ἡμερῶν, “In the end of the days,” as many copies read in this place. And in all the prophets this is the peculiar notation of that season, הַיָּמִים אחֲרִית, Micah 4:1, Isaiah 2:2, “In the latter” (or “last”) days; and הא הידיעה, “the He hajediah,” prefixed, noteth that course of days that was then running, as Deuteronomy 31:29, “Evil will overtake you בְּאַחֲרִית הַיָּמִים,” — “ in the end of those days.” And the promise of the conversion of some of the Jews by David their king is annexed to the same season, Hosea 3:5. From these places is the expression here used taken, denoting the last times of the Judaical church, the times immediately preceding its rejection and final ruin. Hence Manasseh, lib. 3 de Resurrect. cap. 3, tells us out of Moses Gerundensis, המשיח כל מקום שנאמר בו באחרית הימים הוא לימות; — “ In every place that mentions the ‘latter days,’the days of the Messiah are to be understood;” which saying of his is confirmed by Manasseh himself, though attended with a gloss abominable and false, that is purely Judaical. The days of the Messiah and the days of the end of the Judaical church are the same. And these words are expressly also used by R. D. Kimchi, Comment. in Isaiah 2:2; who honestly refers all the words of that prophecy unto the Messiah.

It is not for nothing that the apostle minds the Hebrews that the season then present was the “last days,” whereof so many things were foretold in the Old Testament. Many of their concernments lay in the knowledge of it: which, because they give great light unto the whole cause, as stated then between him and them, must be opened and considered. The sum is, that the end of their church and state being foretold to be a perpetual desolation, Daniel 9:27, the last days being now come upon them, they might understand what they were shortly to expect and look for. The end of the Jews being a people, a church, and kingdom, was to bring forth the Messiah, whose coming and work must of necessity put an end to their old station and condition. Now, because herein is enwrapped the most infallible demonstration that the Messiah is long since come, the apostle mentioning the last days to intimate that upon necessity he must be come in them, I shall further open his design in this matter, but with briefness, having been large on this head in our Prolegomena, and for their sakes who by any difficulties may be deterred from the consideration of them.

“God having from the foundation of the world promised to bring forth the ‘Seed of the woman,’to work out the redemption of his elect in the conquest of Satan, did, in the separation of Abraham from the rest of the world, begin to make provision of a peculiar stock, from whence the Seed of the woman should spring. That this was the cause and end of his call and separation is evident from hence, that immediately thereupon God assures him that ‘in his seed all the kindreds of the earth should be blessed,’ Genesis 12:1-3; Genesis 22:18; which is all one as if he had expressly said to him, ‘For this cause have I chosen and called thee, that in thee I might lay a foundation of bringing forth the promised Seed, by whom the curse is to be taken away, and the blessing of everlasting life procured,’as Galatians 3:13-14. For this cause was his posterity continued in a state of separation from the rest of the world, that He might seek a godly seed to himself, Numbers 23:9; Malachi 2:15 : for this cause did he raise them into a civil, regal, and church state, that he might in them typify and prefigure the offices and benefits of the promised Messiah, who was to gather to himself the nations that were to be blessed in the seed of Abraham, Genesis 49:10; Psalms 45; Hosea 3:5; Ezekiel 34:23. And all their sacrifices did but shadow out that great expiation of sin which he was to make in his own person, as hath been already proved.

“Things being thus disposed, God promised unto them that their civil political state, their condition as a peculiar nation and people, should be continued until the coming of the Messiah, Genesis 49:10; Ezekiel 21:27. And this was made good unto them, notwithstanding the greatoppositions of those mighty empires in the midst of whose devouring jaws they were placed, with some such short intercisions of the actual administration of rule amongst them, as, being foretold, impeached not the promise. They lost not their civil state until He came unto whom was ‘the gathering of the nations.’After that, though many of the individuals obtained mercy, yet their being a nation or people was of no peculiar use, as to any special end of God. Therefore was it immediately destroyed and irrecoverably exterminated. From that day God in a wonderful manner blasted and cursed all their endeavors, either for the preservation of what they then had, or for its recovery and restoration when lost. No means could ever retrieve them into a people or nation on the old account. What may be hereafter on a new, God knows. The end of the days was come; and it was to no purpose for men to endeavor to keep up that which God, having accomplished the utmost of his design by and upon, would lay aside. And this season was fully evidenced to all the world by the gathering of the people to the Shiloh, or the coming in of the nations to partake in the blessing of faithful Abraham, Micah 4:1-2.

“Of their church-state there were two principal parts, — the temple itself, and the worship performed in it. The first of these (as was the tabernacle) was set up to typify him in whom the fullness of the Godhead should dwell bodily; and the latter the same person, as he was himself to be the great high priest and sacrifice. Both these also were to be continued until the coming of the Messiah; but by no endeavor afterwards. Hence was that promise of the glory of the second house, built after the captivity, and restored by Herod, because of his coming unto it who was signified by it, Haggai 2:9; Malachi 3:1. He was to come whilst that temple was standing; after which it was to be of no more use. And therefore Ezekiel describes third and spiritual temple to succeed in the room thereof. The condition of their sacrifices was the same. Therefore Daniel, foretelling the coming of the Messiah four hundred and ninety years after the captivity, adds that upon his death the daily sacrifice must cease for ever, and a total desolation ensue on all the things that were used, for the end accomplished, Daniel 9:24-27. The nation, state, temple, sacrifices, being set apart, set up, and designed for no other end but to bring him forth, he was to come whilst they were standing and in use; after which they were none of them to be allowed a being upon their old foundation. This is that which the apostle pointed at in mentioning the last days, that they might consider in what condition the church and people of the Jews then were.

To discover the evidence of this demonstration, as confirmed in our Prolegomena, I shall here also briefly add some considerations of the miserable entanglements of the Jews in seeking to avoid the argument here intimated unto them by the apostle. “It is a common tradition among them that all things were made for the Messiah; whereby they do not intend, as some have imagined, the whole old creation, but all things of their church state and worship. So the Targum, Psalms 40:8, in the person of the Messiah, ‘I shall enter into life eternal when I study in the volume of the law אפטולתי דאתכתיבא,’— ‘that was written for my sake.’By ‘the law’they understand their all. All depended on their Messiah, all was written for him. They see by experience that there was a coincidence of all these things in the last days, when Jesus came. No sooner had he done his work but scepter and scribe departed from Judah; they ceased to be a church and nation. The temple, which the Lord whom they formerly sought came to, was destroyed; their sacrifices, wherein they trusted, caused to cease; and the nations of the earth were gathered into the faith of Abraham. From that time they have no more been a people, nor have had any distinction of tribes or families, temple, priesthood, or sacrifice, nor any hope of a retrieve-merit into their pristine condition. Let us then see what course they do or have taken to countenance themselves in their infidelity. Two ways to relieve themselves they have fixed on: —

“1. Granting that the Messiah was to come to their government and worship, they labored to keep them up, and to restore them being cast down, that so they might prolong their expectation of that as to come which indeed was already past. This, in the righteous and holy providence of God, proved the means of their ruin; for their endeavor to maintain their liberty, rule, and government, after the coming of the Messiah, was the cause of the utter overthrow of all rule, authority, and public worship amongst them, by Vespasian and Titus his son. Their endeavor to restore themselves into a state and people, under their false Messiah Bar-Cochba, was the means of their utter desolation from all hopes of being a people and nation any more, by Adrian; as also of their extermination for ever out of that country, wherein they were separated from all nations for that end which God appointed unto them. After this, once more, — still to avoid the thoughts that the Messiah was come, and had put an end unto their former condition, — they endeavored, and were encouraged by Julian the emperor, to rebuild their temple and restore their sacrifices. And this attempt also God turned to their further confusion; for whereas in former days, in the building of the temple, he encouraged and supported them against all difficulties and oppositions, being now upheld and strengthened by the favor and wealth of the Roman empire in the same work, he sets himself against them, and scatters them with no less indignation than he did the builders of Babel of old. When he would have a temple amongst them, he punished them with famine for building their own houses, and suffering his to lie waste, Haggai 1:2-11. Now they may build houses for themselves where they please; but if they take in hand to build a temple God is against them. In this state they have now continued for sixteen hundred years; and were not blindness come upon them to the utmost, they could not but see that it is not the will of God that they should be a people, state, or church, on the former account, any more. What then is become of their Messiah, who was to come unto them whilst they were a state and church, seeing they were so, by their own confession, only for his sake? This puts their later masters to their last miserable shifts; for, —

“2. Contrary to the evident nature of all things relating to them from the appropriating of the promise to the family of Abraham, contrary to the whole design of the Scripture, and to the express testimonies of it before mentioned, with many other to the same purpose, they deny that their Messiah was to come to them, or at least to abide with them, for the work whereunto he was destined, whilst their state, temple, and sacrifices continued. In the management of this shift of unbelief, they are woefully divided amongst themselves.

“(1.) For the continuance of their state until the coming of the Messiah, Genesis 49:10, some say that by ‘Shiloh’the Messiah is not intended; who are confuted by their own Targums, all rendering the word Messiah, and by the constant tradition of the elder doctors. Some say that by the ‘scepter and scribe’ the rod of affliction and instruction only is intended; which is a gloss evidently contrary to the design of the prophecy, to the use of the words in all places where their sense is not restrained by evident circumstances, to the Targums, and to all old writers; asserting that which was not peculiar to Judah, nor true in itself, that tribe having for so long a season enjoyed as flourishing a condition as any people in the world, — as good as the Jews look for under the Messiah. Their state, then, is utterly gone, and their Messiah, as it seems, not come.

“(2.) What say they unto their temple, that second house whereunto he was to come, and so render the glory of it greater than that of the former? Haggai 2; Malachi 3. Of old they unanimously agreed that he was born whilst the temple stood, or that day that it was destroyed, as Aben Ezra confesseth on Isaiah 53. Many stories out of them might be told to this purpose, — where he was born, how, and of whom, to whom it was revealed by the בתאּקול, who saw him, where he was disposed of, where he is, but being all the fancies of idle, curious heads and unbelieving hearts, — which St. Paul calls βεβήλους, 1 Timothy 4:7, ‘profane and old wives’fables,’— we shall not trouble the reader with them. Abarbanel, who in corrupting the prophecies concerning the Messiah hath a reach beyond his fellows, affirms that Haggai speaks not of the second, but of a third temple, to be built under the Messiah; but this is nothing but a bold contradiction of the prophet, who three or four times signally declares that he spake of that house which was then building, which their eyes saw, and which so many contemned as not to be compared with the former: Haggai 1:4, ‘This house;’ Haggai 2:7, ‘This house;’ Haggai 2:9, ‘This house;’ so Haggai 2:18. Others say that the glory of that house did not consist in the coming of the Messiah unto it, but in its duration and continuance; for it stood ten years longer than the former. But this also is contrary, —

[1.] To the catholic persuasion of their forefathers, Targums, Talmuds, and all ancient doctors.

[2.] To experience; for what could the miserable languishing of ten years by that house, whilst it was by their own confession ‘a den of thieves,’ contribute unto it to enable it to vie for glory with that wonder of the world, the temple of Solomon; in comparison whereof their forefathers thought it no more than some of them of old thought themselves compared to the sons of Anak?

[3.] To the truth, affirming that the glory of that house was to consist in the coming of the Lord, whom they sought, the desire of all nations, unto it.” All which things are vindicated in our Prolegomena.

“3. Their temple being utterly destroyed, as well as their state, and their Messiah not yet come, what think they of their sacrifices? Daniel tells them that he was to come, and to be cut off, before the ceasing of the daily sacrifices; but they must confess that all sacrifices are long since utterly ceased, for surely their offering of a cock to the devil on the day of expiation is no continuance of them. Some say that the Messiah intended by Daniel was king Agrippa, whom Vespasian slew at Rome. But this obstinacy is intolerable. That a semi-pagan, as Agrippa was, should be their Messiah, so honorably foretold of, is a figment which, whatever they pretend, themselves believe not. Nor was Agrippa slain or cut off, but lived in peace to the day of his death. The most of them know not what to say, but only object that the computation of Daniel is dark and obscure, which Christians themselves are not agreed about;” concerning which I must refer the reader to our Prolegomena, as also for the full and large handling of the things here by the way only touched upon.

This makes it evident who were the persons who were spoken unto in these last days, “To us;” that is, the members of the Judaical church who lived in the days of the personal ministry of Christ, and afterwards under the preaching of the gospel unto that day, Hebrews 2:3. The Jews of those days were very apt to think that if they had lived in the times of the former prophets, and had heard them delivering their message from God, they would have received it with a cheerful obedience; their only unhappiness, they thought, was that they were born out of due time as to prophetical revelations. This is intimated of them, Matthew 23:30. The apostle, meeting with this persuasion in them, minds them that in the revelation of the gospel God had spoken to themselves, — the thing they so much desired, not questioning but that thereon they should believe and obey. If this word, then, they attend not unto, they must needs be self-condemned. Again, that care and love which God manifested towards them in speaking immediately unto them required the same obedience, especially considering the manner of it, so far excelling that which before he had used towards the fathers; of which afterwards.

And these are two instances of the comparison instituted, relating unto times and persons. The next difference respects the manner of these several revelations of the will of God, and that in two particulars; for, — 1. The former was made πολυμερῶς, “by divers parts,” one after the other. The branch of the antithesis that should answer hereunto is not expressed, but implied to be ἅταξ or ἐφάπαξ, “at once.” πολυμερῶς, “by many parts,” and so, consequently, at sundry times. The gradual discovery of the mind and will of God, by the addition of one thing after another, at several seasons, as the church could bear the light of them, and as it was subserving unto his main design of reserving all pre-eminence to the Messiah, is that which is intended in this expression. How all this is argumentative to the apostle’s purpose will instantly appear. Take the expression absolutely to denote the whole progress of divine revelation from the beginning of the world, and it compriseth four principal parts or degrees, with those that were subservient unto them.

The first of these was made to Adam in the promise of the seed, which was the principle of faith and obedience to the fathers before the flood; and unto this were subservient all the consequent particular revelations made to Seth, Enos, Enoch, Lamech, and others, before the flood.

The second to Noah after the flood, in the renewal of the covenant and establishing of the church in his family, Genesis 8:21-22; Genesis 9:9-10; whereunto were subservient the revelations made to Melchizedek, Genesis 14:18, and others, before the calling of Abraham.

The third to Abraham, in the restriction of the promise to his seed, and fuller illustration of the nature of it, Genesis 12:1-3; Genesis 15:11-12; Genesis 17:1-2; confirmed in the revelations made to Isaac, Genesis 26:24; Jacob, Genesis 49; Joseph, Hebrews 11:22, and others of their posterity.

The fourth to Moses, in the giving of the law, and erection of the Judaical church in the wilderness; unto which there were three principal heads of subservient revelations: —

1. To David, which was peculiarly designed to perfect the revelation of the will of God concerning the old testament worship in those things that their wilderness condition was not capable of, 1 Chronicles 23:25-32; 1 Chronicles 28:11-19. To him we may join Solomon, with the rest of the prophets of their days.

2. To the prophets after the division of the kingdom unto the captivity, and during the captivity, to whom pleading with the people about their defection by sin and false worship was peculiar.

3. To Ezra, with the prophets that assisted in the reformation of the church after its return from Babylon, who in an especial manner incited the people to an expectation of the coming of the Messiah.

But, as I showed before, if we attend unto the special intention of the apostle, we must take in the date of these revelations, and begin with that to Moses, adding to it those other subservient ones mentioned, peculiar to the Judaical church, which taught and confirmed the worship that was established amongst them.

This, then, is that which in this word the apostle minds the Hebrews of, namely, that the will of God concerning his worship and our obedience was not formerly revealed all at once to his church, by Moses or any other, but by several parts and degrees, — by new additions of light, as in his infinite wisdom and care he saw meet. The close, and last hand was not to be put unto this work before the coming of the Messiah. He, they all acknowledged, was to reveal the whole counsel of God, John 4:25, after that his way had been prepared by the coming of Elias, Malachi 4; until when they were to attend to the law of Moses, with those expositions of it which they had received, Malachi 4:4-5. That was the time appointed, לחְתֹּם חָזוֹן וְנָביא, also חטָּאוֹת לְחָתֵם, “to seal,” complete, and finish, “vision and prophet; as “to seal up sin,” or, as we render it, “to make an end of sin,” or the controversy about it, which had held long agitation by sacrifices, that could never put an end to that quarrel, Hebrews 10:1-2; Hebrews 10:14.

Now, in this very first word of his epistle doth the apostle clearly convince the Hebrews of their mistake, in their obstinate adherence unto Mosaical institutions. It is as if he had bidden them consider the way whereby God revealed his will to the church hitherto. Hath it not been by parts and degrees? hath he at any time shut up the progress of revelation? hath he not always kept the church in expectation of new revelations of his mind and will? did he ever declare that he would add no more unto what he had commanded, or make no alteration in what he had instituted? What he had revealed was to be observed, Deuteronomy 29:29, and when he had revealed it; but until he declare that he will add no more, it is folly to account what is already done absolutely complete and immutable. Therefore Moses, when he had finished all his work in the Lord’s house, tells the church that God would raise up another prophet like him; that is, who should reveal new laws and institutions as he had done, whom they were to hear and obey on the penalty of utter extermination, Deuteronomy 18:18.

“And this discovers the obstinacy of the modern Jews, who from the days of Maimonides, who died about the year of our Lord 1104, have made it one of the fundamental articles of their religion, which they have inserted in their prayer-books, that the law of Moses is never to be changed, and that God will never give them any other law or rule of worship. And as they further ground that article in Ezrim Vearba, printed in the end of Bomberg’s Bibles, they affirm that nothing can be added unto it, nothing taken away from it, no alteration in its obligation be admitted; which is directly contrary both to the truth and to the confession of all their predecessors, who looked for the Messiah, as we shall afterwards declare.”

In opposition to this gradual revelation of the mind of God under the old testament, the apostle intimates that now by Jesus, the Messiah, the Lord hath at once begun and finished the whole revelation of his will, according to their own hopes and expectation. So, Jude 1:3, the faith was “once delivered unto the saints;” not in one day, not in one sermon, or by one person, but at one season, or under one dispensation, comprising all the time from the entrance of the Lord Christ upon his ministry to the closing of the canon of Scripture; which period was now at hand. This season being once past and finished, no new revelation is to be expected, to the end of the world. Nothing shall be added unto nor altered in the worship of God any more. God will not do it; men that attempt it, do it on the price of their souls.

God spake in the prophets πολυτρόπως, “after divers sorts” or “manners.” Now this respects either the various ways of God’s revealing himself to the prophets, by dreams, visions, inspirations, voices, angels, every way with an equal evidence of their being from God; or the ways of his dealing with the fathers by the prophets, by promises, threats, gradual discoveries of his will, special messages and prophecies, public sermons, and the like. The latter, or the various ways of the prophets in delivering their messages to the people from God, is principally intended, though the former be not excluded, it being that from whence this latter variety did principally arise and flow.

In opposition hereunto, the apostle intimates that the revelation of God and his will by Christ was accomplished μοςοειδῶς, in one only way and manner, — by His preaching the gospel who was anointed with the Spirit without measure.

The last difference or instance in the comparison insisted on by the apostle, is, that of old God spake “in the prophets,” but now “in the Son:” ᾿εν τοῖς προφήταις, ἐν for διά, say most expositors, “in” for “by,” διὰ τῶν προφητῶν: as Luke 1:70, διὰ στόματος τῶν ἀγίων προφητῶν, — “By the mouth of the holy prophets.” But ἐν here answers the Hebrew בְּ, Numbers 12:2, “God spake בְּמשֶׁה, “in Moses.” The certainty of the revelation and presence of God with his word is intimated in the expression. So the word of the Lord was בְּיָד, “in the hand,” of this or that prophet. They were but instruments to give out what from God they had received.

Now these prophets, in whom God spake of old, were all those who were divinely inspired, and sent to reveal his will and mind as to the duty of the church, or any special concernment of his providence in the rule and government thereof, whether they declared the inspirations they had, or revelations they received, by word of mouth or by writing. “The modern Jews make a distinction between the gift of prophecy and the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, following Maimonides in his More Nebuchim, part. 2 cap. 32. His opinion, which he calls the opinion or sentence of the law about prophecy, in general is the same with that of the Gentile philosophers, as he professeth. In one thing only he differs from them, namely, that ‘prophecy doth not so necessarily follow after due preparation as that a man cannot but prophesy who is rightly prepared.’But the gift of prophecy he asserts wholly to depend on the temperature of the brain, natural and moral exercises for the preparing and raising of the imagination; upon which divine visions will succeed. A brain-sick imagination, confounding; divine revelation with fanatical distempers! But in the eleven degrees of prophecy which he assigns, and attempts to prove by instances out of Scripture, he placeth that of inspiration by the Holy Ghost in the last and lowest place. And therefore by the late masters is the book of Daniel cast into this latter sort, though eminently prophetical, because they are so galled with his predictions and calculations; other reason of that disposition none readily occurs. And this is the ground of their disposition of the books of the Scripture into תּוֹרָה, ‘the law,’or five books of Moses, given in the highest way and degree of prophecy; נְבִאִים, of two sorts, רִשוֹנִים, and אחֲרִוֹנים, ‘prophets, former’(or books historical), ‘and latter;’and כְּתוּבִים, or רוַּח הַקָדוֹש, ‘books written by inspiration of the Holy Ghost.’Of the ground of which distinction see Kimchi in his preface to the Psalms. Their mistake lies in this, that prophecy consists principally in, and is distinguished into several degrees, by the manner of revelation; as by dreams, visions, appearances of angels, or men, and the like. But as נָבִיא, ‘a prophet,’and נְבוּאָה, ‘prophecy,’are of a larger signification than that pretended, as, Numbers 11:29, 1 Samuel 10:5, 1 Chronicles 25:1-3, will appear; so that which made any revelation to be prophecy, in that sense as to be an infallible rule for the guidance of the church, was not the means of communicating it to the prophets, but that inspiration of the Holy Ghost which implanted upon their minds, and gave forth by their tongues or pens, that which God would utter in them and by them, 2 Peter 1:20-21.”

In answer unto this speaking of God in the prophets, it is asserted that in the revelation of the gospel God spake “in his Son.” This is the main hinge, on which all the arguments of the apostle in the whole epistle do turn; this bears the stress of all the inferences afterwards by him insisted on. And therefore having mentioned it, he proceeds immediately unto that description of him which gives evidence to all that he draws from this consideration. Now, because no one argument of the apostle can be understood unless this be rightly stated, we must of necessity insist somewhat largely upon it; and unto what we principally intend some previous observations must be premised: —

1. I take it at present for granted that the Son of God appeared unto the prophets under the old testament. Whether ever he spake unto them immediately, or only by the ministry of angels, is not so certain. It is also granted that there was in vision sometimes signs or representations of the person of the Father, as Daniel 7. But that the Son of God did mostly appear to the fathers under the old testament is acknowledged by the ancients, and is evident in Scripture. See Zechariah 2:8-11. And he it was who is called “The angel,” Exodus 23:20-21. The reason that is pleaded by some that the Son of God was not the angel there mentioned, namely, because the apostle says that to none of the angels was it said at any time, “Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee,” which could not be affirmed if the Son of God were that angel, is not of any force. For notwithstanding this assertion, yet both the ancient Jews and Christians generally grant that it is the Messiah that is called “The angel of the covenant,” Malachi 3:1 : though the modern Jews foolishly apply that name to Elias, whom they fancy to be present at circumcision, which they take to be the covenant; a privilege, as they say, granted him upon his complaint that the children of Israel had forsaken the covenant, 1 Kings 19:14, — that is, as they suppose, neglected circumcision. The apostle therefore speaks of those who were angels by nature, and no more, and not of him who, being Jehovah the Son, was sent of the Father, and is therefore called his angel or messenger, being so only by office. And this appearance of the Son of God, though not well understanding what they say, is acknowledged by sundry of the post-Talmudical rabbins. To this purpose very considerable are the words of Moses Gerundensis on Exodus 23 :

“Iste angelus, si rem ipsam dicamus, est Angelus Redemptor, de quo scripture est, ‘Quoniam nomen meum in ipso est.’Ille, inquam, angelus qui ad Jacob dicebat, ‘Ego Deus Bethel;’ille de quo dictum est, ‘Et vocabat Mosen Deus de rubo.’Vocatur autem ‘angelus’ quia mundum gubernat; scriptum est enim, ‘Eduxit nos ex AEgypto.’Praeterea scriptum est, ‘Et angelus faciei salvos fecit eos.’Nimirum ille angelus qui est ‘Dei facies;’de quo dictum est, ‘Facies mia praeibit et efficiam ut quiescas.’Denique ille angelus est de quo vates, ‘Subito veniet ad, templum suum Dominus quem vos quaeritis, angelus foderis quem cupitis;’” —

“The angel, if we speak exactly, is the Angel the Redeemer, of whom it is written, ‘My name is in him;’that angel which said unto Jacob, ‘I am the God of Bethel;’he of whom it is said, ‘God called unto Moses out of the bush.’And he is called ‘The angel’because he governeth the world: for it is written, ‘Jehovah brought us out of Egypt;’and elsewhere, ‘He sent his angel, and brought us out of Egypt.’And again it is written, ‘And the angel of his presence’ [‘face’] ‘saved them,’— namely, ‘the angel which is the presence’.[‘face’] ‘of God;’of whom it is said, ‘My presence’ [‘face’] ‘shall go before thee, and I will cause thee to rest,’Lastly, that angel of whom the prophet speaks, ‘The Lord whom ye seek shall suddenly come to his temple, the angel of the covenant whom ye desire.’”

To the same purpose speaks the same author on Exodus 33:14, “My presence shall go before thee:”

“Animadverte attente quid ista sibi velint: Moses enim et Israelitae semper optaverunt angelum primum; caeterum, quis ille esset vere intelligere non potuerunt; neque enim ab aliis percipiebant, neque prophetica notione satis assequebantur. Atqui facies Dei ipsum significat Deum.” And again, “‘Facies mea praecedet;’hoc est, ‘angelus foederis quem vos cupitis;’” —

“Observe diligently what is the meaning of these words: for Moses and the Israelites always desired the principal angel, but who he was they could not perfectly understand; for they could neither learn it of others nor attain it by prophecy. But the presence of God is God himself: ‘My presence’[‘face’] ‘shall go before thee;’that is, ‘the angel of the covenant whom ye desire.’”

Thus he; to which purpose others also of them do speak, though how to reconcile these things to their unbelief in denying the personality of the Son of God they know not. This was the angel whose רָצוֹן Moses prayed for on Joseph, Deuteronomy 33:23; and whom Jacob made to be the same with the God that fed him all his days, Genesis 48:15-16; whereof we have treated largely before. The Son of God having from the foundation of the world undertaken the care and salvation of the church, he it was who immediately dealt with it in things which concerned its instruction and edification. Neither doth this hinder but that God the Father may yet be asserted, or that he is in this place, to be the fountain of all divine revelation.

2. There is a difference between the Son of God revealing the will of God in his divine person to the prophets, of which we have spoken, and the Son of God as incarnate revealing the will of God immediately to the church. This is the difference here insisted on by the apostle. Under the old testament the Son of God, in his divine person, instructed the prophets in the will of God, and gave them that Spirit on whose divine inspiration their infallibility did depend, 1 Peter 1:11; but now, in the revelation of the gospel, taking his own humanity, or our nature hypostatically united unto him, in the room of all the “internuncii,” or prophetical messengers he had made use of, he taught it immediately himself.

There lies a seeming exception unto this distinction, in the giving of the law; for as we affirm that it was the Son by whom the law was given, so in his so doing he spake immediately to the whole church: Exodus 20:22, the Lord said, “I have talked with you from heaven.” The Jews say that the people understood not one word of what was spoken, but only heard a voice, and saw the terrible appearances of the majesty of God, as Exodus 20:18; for immediately upon that sight they removed and stood afar off: and the matter is left doubtful in the repetition of the story, Deuteronomy 5:4. It is said, indeed, “The LORD talked with you face to face in the mount,” but yet neither do these words fully prove that they understood what was spoken, and as it was spoken, but only that they clearly discovered the presence of God delivering the law; for so are those words expounded in Deuteronomy 5:5 : “I stood,” saith Moses, “between the LORD and you at that time, to shew you the word of the LORD: for ye were afraid by reason of the fire, and went not up into the mount;” — that is, ‘Ye understood not the words of the law, but as I declared them unto you.’And it being so, though the person of the Son caused the words to be heard, yet he spake not immediately to the whole church, but by Moses. But, secondly, we shall afterwards show that all the voices then heard by Moses and the people were formed in the air by the ministry of angels, so that they heard not the immediate voice of God. Now, in the last days did the Lord take that work into his own hands, wherein from the foundation of the world he had employed angels and men.

3. Though the apostle’s argument arise not immediately from the different ways of God’s revealing himself to the prophets and to Christ, but in the difference that lies in his immediate speaking unto us in Christ the Son, and his speaking unto the fathers in the prophets, yet that former difference also is intimated by him, in his affirming that he spake to them variously or diversely, as hath been declared; and therefore we must consider that also. And herein we are to obviate the great Judaical prejudice against the gospel; to which end observe,-

(1.) That though the apostle mentions the prophets in general, yet it is Moses whom he principally intends. This is evident in the application of this argument, which he makes in particular, Hebrews 3:3, where he expressly prefers the Lord Jesus before Moses by name, in this matter of ministering to the church in the name of God. For whereas, as was before intimated, the apostle manages this thing with excellent wisdom in this epistle, considering the inveterate prejudices of the Hebrews in their adhering unto Moses, he could not mention him in particular until he had proved him whom he preferred above him to be so excellent and glorious, so far exalted above men and angels, that it was no disreputation to Moses to be esteemed inferior to him.

(2.) That the great reason why the Jews adhered so pertinaciously unto Mosaical institutions was their persuasion of the unparalleled excellency of the revelation made to Moses. This they retreated unto and boasted of when they were pressed with the doctrine and miracles of Christ, John 9:28-29; and this was the main foundation in all their contests with the apostles, Acts 15:1; Acts 21:21; Acts 21:28. And this at length they have made a principal root or fundamental article of their faith, being the fourth of the thirteen articles of their creed, namely, that Moses was the most excellent and most sublime among the prophets, — so far above that excellency, that degree of wisdom and honor, which men may attain unto, that he was equal to angels. This Maimonides, the first disposer of their faith into fundamental articles, expounds at large, More Nebuch., p. 2 cap. 39.

“Declaravimus,” saith he, “quod prophetia Mosis doctoris nostri ab omnium aliorum prophetiis differat. Dicemus nunc quod propter solam illam apprehensionem ad legem vocati sumus; quia nempe vocationi illi qua Moses nos vocavit similis neque antecessit ab Adamo primo ad ipsum usque neque etiam post ipsum apud ullum prophetam sequuta est. Sic fundamentum legis nostrae est quod in aeternum finem non sit habitura, vel abolenda; ac propterea etiam ex sententia nostra, alia lex nec unquam fuit, nec erit praeter unicam hanc legem Mosis doctoris nostri;” —

“We have declared that the prophecy of Moses, our master, differed from the prophecies of all others. Now we shall show that upon the account of this persuasion alone” (namely, of the excellency of the revelation made unto Moses) “we are called to the law; for from the first Adam to him, there was never any such call” such ensue after him. Hence it is a fundamental principle of our law, that it shall never have an end or be abolished; and therefore also it is our judgment that there was never any other” (divine) “law, nor ever shall be, but only this of our master Moses.”

This is their present persuasion; it was so of old. The law and all legal observances are to be continued for ever; other way of worshipping God there can be none; and this upon the account of the incomparable excellency of the revelation made to Moses.

To confirm themselves in this prejudicate apprehension, they assign a fourfold pre-eminency to the prophecy of Moses above that of other prophets; and those are insisted on by the same Maimonides in his explication of cap. 10. Tractat. Sanhed., and by sundry others of them.

[1.] The first they fix on is this, “That God never spake to any prophet immediately, but only to Moses;” to him he spake without angelical mediation. For so he affirms that he spake to him פֶּה אֶלאּפֶּה, “mouth to mouth,” Numbers 12:8.

[2.] “All other prophets,” they say, “received their visions either in their sleep, or presently after their sleep; but Moses in the daytime standing between the cherubim, Exodus 25:22.” And, —

[3.] “That when other prophets received their visions or revelations, although it was by the mediation of angels, yet their nature was weakened by it, and the state of their bodies, by reason of the consternation that befell them, Daniel 10:8; but Moses had no such perturbation befalling him when the Lord spake unto him, but it was with him as when a man speaks unto his friend.”

[4.] “That other prophets had not inspirations and answers from God at their own pleasure, but sometimes were forced to wait long and pray for an answer before they could receive it; but Moses was wont when he pleased to say, ‘Stay, and I will hear what God will command you,’Numbers 9:8.” So they.

And to reconcile this unto what is elsewhere said, that he could not see the face of God and live, they add that he saw God not immediately, but באספקלריא, “in speculo” or “speculari” (a word formed from the Latin), “in a glass,” — an expression which the apostle alludes unto, 1 היו הנביאים, — Other prophets saw through nine perspectives;” ומשה ראה מתוךְ ספקלריא אחת, — but Moses saw through one only,” Vaiikra Rabba, sect. 1; whereunto they add that his speculum was clear and lucid, theirs spotted.

It must be granted that Moses, being the lawgiver and first revealer of all that worship in the observation whereof the Judaical church-state and privilege of that people did consist, had the pre-eminency above the succeeding prophets, whose ministry chiefly tended to instruct the people in the nature and keep them to the observation of his institutions: but that all those things by them insisted on were peculiar to him, it doth not appear; nor if it did so, are the most of them of any great weight or importance.

The first is granted, and a signal privilege it was. God spake unto him פָּנִים אֶלאּפָּנִים, “face to face,” Exodus 33:11; and פֶּה אֶלאּפֶּה, “mouth to mouth,” Numbers 12:8; and this is mentioned as that which was peculiar to him above the prophets which should succeed him in the ministry of that church. But that Moses saw the essence of God, which the Jews contend from those words, is expressly denied in the text itself; for even then when it was said that God spake to him face to face, it is also affirmed that he did not nor could see the face of God, Exodus 33:20. See John 1:17-18. Both those expressions intend only that God revealed himself unto him in a more clear and familiar way than he had done unto other prophets, or would do whilst that administration continued; for although the things which he revealed to and by other prophets were more clear, evident, and open to the understanding of believers, than they were in the revelation made to Moses (they being intended as expositions of it), yet in the way of the revelation itself, God dealt more dearly and familiarly with Moses than with any other prophet of that church whatever,

The second difference assigned is vain. Of the times and seasons wherein the prophets received their visions there can be no determinate rule assigned. Many of them were at ordinary seasons, whilst they were waking, and some were about the employment of their callings, as Amos, Amos 7:15. The third also, about that consternation of spirit which befell other prophets, is groundless. Sometimes it was so with them, as the instance of Daniel proves, Daniel 7:28; Daniel 10:8; and so it befell Moses himself, Hebrews 12:21; which if we attain to that place, we shall prove the Jews themselves to acknowledge. Ordinarily it was otherwise, as with him so with them, as is manifest in the whole story of the prophets.

There is the same mistake in the last difference assigned. Moses did not so receive the Spirit of prophecy as that he could, at his own pleasure, reveal those things which were not discoverable but by that Spirit, or speak out the mind of God infallibly in any thing for the use of the church, without actual inspiration as to that particular; which is evident from the mistake that he was under as to the manner of his government, which he rectified by the advice of Jethro, Exodus 18:19. And likewise in other instances did he wait for particular answers from God, Numbers 15:34. To have a comprehension at once of the whole will of God concerning the obedience and salvation of the church, was a privilege reserved for Him who in all things was to have the pre-eminence. And it seems that Maimonides himself in his exaltation of Moses excepted the Messiah; for whereas in the Hebrew and Latin copies of More Nebuch., part. 2 cap. 45, there are these words, וזו גם כן מדרגת יצעי ישראל, which Buxtorf renders, “Est gradus hic etiam praestantissimorum consiliariorum Israelis,” “This is the degree” (in prophecy) “of the counsellors of Israel;” the Arabic or original hath, “And this also is the degree of the Messiah of Israel, who goeth before” (or “excelleth”) “all others;” that is, in point of prophecy.

Not to follow them in their imaginations, the just privileges of Moses above all other prophets lay in these three things: —

(1.) That he was the lawgiver or mediator by whom God gave that law and revealed that worship in the observation whereof the very being of the Judaical church did consist.

(2.) That God in the revelation made unto him dealt in a more familiar and clear manner, as to the way of his outward dealing, than with any other prophets.

(3.) In that the revelation made unto him concerned the ordering of the whole house of God, when the other prophets were employed only about particulars built on his foundation. In these things consisted the just and free pre-eminence of Moses; which whether it was such as would warrant the Jews in their obstinate adherence to his institutions upon their own principles shall be inquired into. But before we manifest that indeed it was not, the revelation of the mind of God in and by the Son, which is compared with and preferred before and above this of Moses, must be unfolded; and this we shall do in the ensuing observations : —

1. The Lord Jesus Christ, by virtue of the union of his person, was from the womb filled with a perfection of gracious light and knowledge of God and his will. An actual exercise of that principle of holy wisdom wherewith he was endued, in his infancy, as afterwards, he had not, Luke 2:52; nor had he in his human nature an absolutely infinite comprehension of all individual things, past, present, and to come, which he expressly denies as to the day of judgment, Matthew 24:36, Mark 13:32; but he was furnished with all that wisdom and knowledge which the human nature was capable of, both as to principle and exercise, in the condition wherein it was, without destroying its finite being and variety of conditions, from the womb. The Papists have made a vain controversy about the knowledge of the human soul of Christ. Those whom they charge with error in this matter affirm no more than what is expressly asserted in the places of Scripture above mentioned; and by their answers unto these places, it is evident how little they care what scorn they expose the Scripture and all religion unto, so they may secure their own mistakes, But this wisdom, whatever it were, is not that whereby God so revealed his mind unto him as thereby to be said to speak to us in him. He had it by his union, and therefore immediately from the person of the Son, sanctifying that nature by the Holy Ghost, which he took into subsistence with himself. But the revelation by which God spake in him unto us was in a peculiar manner from the Father, Revelation 1:1; and, as we have showed, it is the person of the Father that is here peculiarly spoken of. And hence the inquiry of some on this place, how the second person revealed himself to the human nature, is not to the purpose of it; for it is the person of the Father that is spoken of. So that, —

2. The commission, mission, and furnishing of the Son, as incarnate and mediator, with abilities for the declaration of the mind and will of God unto the church, were peculiarly from the Father. For the whole work of his mediation he received command of the Father, John 10:18, and what he should speak, John 12:49; according to which commandment he wrought and taught, John 14:31. Whence that is the common periphrasis whereby he expresses the person of the Father, “He that sent him;” as also, “He that sealed and anointed him.” And his doctrine on that account, he testified, was not his, his own, that is, primarily or originally as mediator, but his that sent him, John 7:16. It was from the Father that he heard the word and learned the doctrine that he declared unto the church. And this is asserted wherever there is mention made of the Father’s sending, sealing, anointing, commanding, teaching him; of his doing the will, speaking the words, seeking the glory, obeying the commands of him that sent him. See John 8:26; John 8:28; John 8:40; John 14:10; John 15:15, Revelation 1:1; and in the Old Testament, Zechariah 2:8; Isaiah 48:15-17. That blessed “tongue of the learned,” whereby God spake in and by him the refreshing word of the gospel unto poor weary sinners, was the gift of the Father.

3. As to the manner of his receiving of the revelation of the will of God, a double mistake must be removed, and then the nature of it must be declared: —

(1.) The Socinians, to avoid the force of those testimonies which are urged to confirm the deity of Christ, from the assertions in the gospel that he who spake to the disciples on earth was then also in heaven, John 2:13; John 6:38; John 6:51; John 7:33-34; John 8:29; John 8:41-42; John 8:57-58, have broached a Mohammedan fancy, that the Lord Christ before his entrance on his public ministry was locally taken up into heaven, and there instructed in the mystery of the gospel and the mind of God which he was to reveal, Cat. Rac., cap. 3, de Offic. Ch. Prophet., quaest. 4, 5; Smalcius de Divinit. Christi, cap. 4; Socin. Resp. ad Paraen. Vol. pag. 38, 39.

But, —

[1.] There was no cause of any such rapture of the human nature of Christ, as we shall evidence in manifesting the way whereby he was taught of the Father, especially after his baptism.

[2.] This imaginary rapture is grounded solely on their πρῶτον ψεῦδος, that the Lord Christ in his whole person was no more than a mere man.

[3.] There is no mention of any such thing in the Scripture, where the Father’s revealing his mind and will to the Son is treated of; which had it been, ought not to have been omitted. [4.] The fancy of it is expressly contrary to Scripture: for, —

1st. The Holy Ghost affirms that Christ “entered in once into the holy place,” and that after he had “obtained eternal redemption,” Hebrews 9:12; which would have been his second entrance had he been taken thither before in his human nature. So that coming of his into the world which we look for at the last day is called his second coming, his coming again, because of his first entrance into it at his incarnation, Hebrews 9:28.

2dly. He was to suffer before his entry into heaven and his glory therein, Luke 24:26. And,

3dly. As to the time of his ascension which these men assign, — namely, the forty days after his baptism, — it is said expressly that he was all that time in the wilderness amongst the wild beasts, Mark 1:13. So that this figment may have no place in our inquiry into the way of the Father’s speaking in the Son.

(2.) Some lay the whole weight of the revelation of the will of God unto Christ upon the endowments of his human nature by virtue of its personal union with the eternal Word. But this is wholly inconsistent with the many testimonies, before rehearsed, of the Father’s revealing himself unto him after that union. Wherefore, to declare the nature of this revelation, we must observe further, —

4. That Jesus Christ in his divine nature, as he was the eternal Word and Wisdom of the Father, not by a voluntary communication, but eternal generation, had an omnisciency of the whole nature and will of God, as the Father himself hath, because the same with that of the Father, their will and wisdom being the same. This is the blessed συμπεριχώρησις, or in-being of each person, the one in the other, by virtue of their oneness in the same nature. Thus, as God, he had an absolute omniscience. Moreover, the mystery of the gospel, the eternal counsel and covenant of it concerning the redemption of the elect in his blood, and the worship of God by his redeemed ones, being transacted between Father and Son from all eternity, was known unto him as the Son, by virtue of his own personal transactions with the Father in the eternal counsel and covenant of it. See what we have elsewhere delivered concerning that covenant.

5. The Lord Christ discharged his office and work of revealing the will of the Father in and by his human nature, that nature wherein he “dwelt among us,” John 1:14; for although the person of Christ, God and man, was our mediator, Acts 20:28, John 1:14; John 1:18, yet his human nature was that wherein he discharged the duties of his office, and the “principium quod” of all his mediatory actings, 1 Timothy 2:5.

6. This human nature of Christ, as he was in it “made of a woman, made under the law,” Galatians 4:4, was, from the instant of its union with the person of the Son of God, a “holy thing,” Luke 1:35, “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners;” and radically filled with all that perfection of habitual grace and wisdom which was or could be necessary to the discharge of that whole duty which, as a man, he owed unto God, Luke 2:40; Luke 2:49; Luke 2:52; John 8:46; 1 Peter 2:22. But, —

7. Besides this furniture with habitual grace, for the performance of all holy obedience unto God, as a man made under the law, there was a peculiar endowment with the Spirit, without and beyond the bounds of all comprehensible measures, that he was to receive as the great prophet of the church, in whom the Father would speak and give out the last revelation of himself. This communication of the Spirit unto him was the foundation of his sufficiency for the discharge of his prophetical office, Isaiah 11:2-3; Isaiah 61:1-3; Daniel 9:24. As to the reality and being of this gift of the Spirit, he received it from the womb; whence in his infancy he was said to be πληρούμενος σοφίας, Luke 2:40, “filled with wisdom;” wherewith he confuted the doctors to amazement, Luke 2:47. And with his years were these gifts increased in him: προέκοπτε σοφίᾳ καὶ ἡλικίᾳ καὶ χάριτι — “He went forward in wisdom and stature and favor,” Luke 2:52. But the full communication of this Spirit, with special reference unto the discharge of his public office, with the visible pledge of it in the Holy Ghost descending on him in the shape of a dove, he was made partaker of in his baptism, Matthew 3:16; when also he received his first public testimony from heaven, Matthew 3:17; which, when again repeated, received the additional command of hearing him, Matthew 17:5, — designing the prophet that was to be heard on pain of utter extermination, Deuteronomy 18:18-19. And therefore he was thereupon said to be πνέυματος ἀγίου πλήρης, Luke 4:1, “full of the Holy Ghost,” and sealed to this work by the sign foretold of God, John 1:33.

This was the foundation of the Father’s speaking in the Son as incarnate. He spake in him by his Spirit; so he did in the prophets of old, 2 Peter 1:21. And herein in general the prophecy of Christ and theirs did agree. It remaineth, then, to show wherein his pre-eminence above them did consist, so that the “word spoken” by him is principally and eminently to be attended unto; which is the argument of that which the apostle hath in hand in this place.

8. The pre-eminences of the prophecy of Christ above that of Moses and all other prophets were of two sorts: —

(1.) Such as arose from his person who was the prophet;

(2.) Such as accompanied the nature and manner of the revelation made unto him.

(1.) They arise from the infinite excellency of his person above theirs. This is that which the apostle from the close of this verse insists upon to the very end of the chapter, making his discourse upon it the basis of his ensuing exhortations. I shall therefore remit the consideration of it unto its proper place.

(2.) There were sundry excellencies that attended the very revelation itself made unto him, or his prophecy as such; for, —

[1.] Not receiving the Spirit by measure, John 3:34, as they all did, he had given unto him altogether a comprehension of the whole will and mind of God, as to whatever he would have revealed of himself, with the mystery of our salvation, and all that obedience and worship which in this world he would require of his church. “It pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell,” Colossians 1:19, — that is, of “grace and truth,” John 1:17 : not granting him a transient irradiation by them, but a permanency and constant abode of them with him in their fullness, all “treasures of wisdom and knowledge” being hid in him, Colossians 2:3, as their home and proper abiding place; which made him of “quick understanding in the fear of the LORD,” Isaiah 11:3. All the mysteries of the counsel between the Father and the eternal Word for the salvation of the elect, with all the way whereby it was to be accomplished, through his own blood, were known unto him; as also were all the bounds, the whole extent of that worship which his church was to render unto God, with the assistance of the Spirit that was to be afforded unto them for that end and purpose. Hence the only reason why he did not at once reveal unto his disciples the whole counsel of God was, not because all the treasures of it were not committed unto him, but because they could bear no other but that gradual communication of it which he used towards them, John 16:12. But he himself dwelt in the midst of those treasures, seeing to the bottom of them. All other prophets, even Moses himself, receiving their revelations by transient irradiations of their minds, had no treasure of truth dwelling in them, but apprehended only that particular wherein they were enlightened, and that not clearly neither, in its fullness and perfection, but in a measure of light accommodated unto the age wherein they lived. 1 Peter 1:11-12. Hence the Spirit is said to “rest upon him,” Isaiah 11:2-3; and to “abide upon him,” John 1:32; who did only in a transient act affect the minds of other prophets, and by an actual motion, which had not a habitual spring in themselves, cause them to speak or write the will of God, as an instrument of music gives forth a sound according to the skill of him that strikes it, and that only when it is so stricken or used. Hence, —

[2.] The prophets receiving their revelations as it were by number and tale from the Holy Ghost, when they had spoken or written what in particular at any season they had received from him, could not add one word or syllable of the same infallibility and authority with what they had so received. But the Lord Christ having all the treasures of wisdom, knowledge, and truth hid and laid up in him, did at all times, in all places, with equal infallibility and authority, give forth the mind and will of God even as he would, what he so spake having its whole authority from his speaking of it, and not from its consonancy unto any thing otherwise revealed.

[3.] The prophets of old were so barely instrumental in receiving and revealing the will of God, being only servants in the house, Hebrews 3:6, for the good of others, 1 Peter 1:11-12, that they saw not to the bottom of the things by themselves revealed; and did therefore both diligently read and study the books of them that wrote before their time, Daniel 9:2; and meditated upon the things which the Spirit uttered by themselves, to obtain an understanding in them, 1 Peter 1:10-12. But the Lord Jesus, the Lord over his own house, had an absolutely perfect comprehension of all the mysteries revealed to him and by him by that divine wisdom which always dwelt in him.

[4.] The difference was no less between them in respect of the revelations themselves made to them and by them; for although the substance of the will and mind of God concerning salvation by the Messiah was made known unto them all, yet it was done so obscurely to Moses and the prophets that ensued, that they came all short in the light of that mystery to John the Baptist, who did not rise up in a clear and distinct apprehension of it unto the least of the true disciples of Christ, Matthew 11:11; whence the giving of the law by Moses, to instruct the church in that mystery by its types and shadows, is opposed to that grace and truth which were brought by Jesus Christ, John 1:17-18. See Ephesians 3:8-11; Colossians 1:26-27; Titus 2:11; 2 Timothy 1:9-10.

In these, and sundry other things of the like importance, had the Father’s speaking in the Son the pre-eminence above his speaking in Moses and the prophets. For which cause the apostle placeth this consideration in the head of his reasonings and arguments, for attendance unto and observation of the things revealed by him: for even all these things have influence into his present argument, though the main stress of it be laid on the excellency of his person; of which at large afterwards.

9. We must yet further observe, that the Jews, with whom the apostle had to do, had all of them an expectation of a new signal and final revelation of the will of God, to be made by the Messiah in the last days; that is, of their church-state, and not, as they now fondly imagine, of the world. Some of them, indeed, imagined that great prophet promised, Deuteronomy 18, to have been one distinct from the Messiah, John 1:20-21; but the general expectation of the church for the full revelation of the will of God was upon the Messiah, John 4:25. Of the same mind were their more ancient doctors, that retained any thing of the tradition of their fathers, asserting that the law of Moses was alterable by the Messiah, and that in some things it should be so. Maimonides is the leader in the opinion of the eternity of the law; whose arguments are answered by the author of Sepher Ikharim, lib. 3. cap. 13., and some of them by Nachmanides. Hence it is laid down as a principle in Neve Shalom, מלךְ משיח ירום מאברחם ונשא ממשה וגבה ממלאכי השרת; — Messiah the king shall be exalted above Abraham, be high above Moses, yea, and the ministering angels.” And it is for the excellency of the revelation to be made by him that he is so exalted above Moses. Whence Maimonides himself acknowledgeth, Tractat. de Regibus, that at the coming of the Messiah, יהיו הדברים הפתגמים והעמוקים גלוים לכל, — “hidden and deep things” (that is, of the counsel of God) “shall be revealed” (or “laid open”) “unto all.” And this persuasion they built on the promise of a new covenant to be made with them, not like the covenant made with their fathers, Jeremiah 31:31-34. Whence the author before mentioned concludes that it was the judgment of the ancient doctors that they should receive a new covenant from the mouth of God himself; and all their worship being annexed and subservient unto the covenant that was made with them in Horeb, upon the removal of that covenant, there was of necessity a new kind of worship, subservient thereunto, to ensue.

From all these observations we may evidently perceive wherein the force of the apostle’s argument doth lie, which he insists upon in this very entrance of his discourse, rather insinuating it from their own principles than openly pressing them with its reason, which he doth afterwards. They acknowledged that the Messiah was to come; that he was to be in a special manner the Son of God (as we shall show); that in him God would ultimately reveal his mind and will unto them; and that this revelation, on many accounts, would be far more excellent than that of old made to and by Moses ; — which that it was all accomplished in the ministry of Jesus Christ, and that unto themselves in the latter days of their church, according to what was long before foretold, he asserts and proves; whence it was easy for them to gather what a necessity of adhering to his doctrine and institutions, notwithstanding any contrary pleas or arguings, was incumbent on them.

But, moreover, the apostle in these words hath opened the spring from whence all his ensuing arguments do flow, in fixing on him who brought life and immortality to light by the gospel; and from thence takes occasion to enter upon the dogmatical part of the epistle, in the description of the person of Christ, the Son of God, and his excellency, in whom God spake unto them, that they might consider with whom they had to do; wherein he proceeds to the end of this chapter.

But before we proceed we shall stay here a little, to consider some things that may be a refreshment to believers in their passage, in the consideration of those spiritual truths which, for the use of the church in general, are exhibited unto us in the words we have considered.

And the first is this, —

I. The revelation of the will of God, as to all things concerning his worship, our faith and obedience, is peculiarly and in a way of eminency from the Father. This is that which the apostle partly asserts, partly takes for granted, as the head and spring of his whole ensuing discourse. And this shall now be a little farther cleared and confirmed; to which end we may observe, —

1. That the whole mystery of his will, antecedently to the revelation of it, is said to be hid in God; that is, the Father, Ephesians 3:9. It lay wrapped up from the eyes of men and angels, in his eternal wisdom and counsel, Colossians 1:26-27. The Son, indeed, who is, and from eternity was,

“in the bosom of the Father,” John 1:18, “as one brought up with him,” his eternal delight and Wisdom, Proverbs 8:29-30, was partaker with him in this counsel, Proverbs 8:31; as also his eternal Spirit, who searches and knows all “the deep things of God,” 1 Corinthians 2:10-11. But yet the rise and spring of this mystery was in the Father; for the order of acting in the blessed Trinity follows the order of subsistence. As the Father, therefore, is the fountain of the Trinity as to subsistence, so also as to operation. He “hath life in himself;” and “he giveth to the Son to have life in himself,” John 5:26. And he doth it by communicating unto him his subsistence by eternal generation. And thence saith the Son, “As my Father worketh, so I work,” John 5:17. And what he seeth the Father do, that doeth the Son likewise, John 5:19; not by imitation, or repetition of the like works, but in the same works in order of nature the will and Wisdom of the Father doth proceed. So also is it in respect of the Holy Ghost, whose order of subsistence denotes that of his operation.

2. That the revelation of the mystery of the will of God, so hidden in the counsel of his will from eternity, was always made and given out in the pursuit and for the accomplishment of the purpose of the Father, or that eternal purpose of the will of God which is by the way of eminency ascribed unto the Father: Ephesians 1:8-9, “He hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself.” It is the Father of whom he Speaks: Ephesians 1:3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Now, he abounds to us-ward in wisdom and prudence, or abundantly manifests his infinite wisdom in his dealing with us, by the revelation of the mystery of his will. And this he doth in pursuit of “his good pleasure which he purposed in himself,” or that purpose of his will which had its foundation solely in his good pleasure. This is the purpose of election, as is declared, Ephesians 1:3-5; and this purpose is peculiarly assigned unto him, John 17:6; 2 Thessalonians 2:13. For the accomplishment of this purpose, or the bringing of those predestinated thereby to the end purposed for them by the means ordained, for the praise of God’s glorious grace, is the whole revelation of the will of God, first and last, made. He spake in his Son, and he spake in him that he might manifest his name (himself and will) to the men whom he gave him; for saith the Son, “Thine they were” (‘set apart for thee in thine eternal purpose’), “and thou gavest them me,” John 17:6. And therefore Paul tells us, that in preaching of the gospel he “endured all things for the elect’s sakes,” 2 Timothy 2:10; knowing that it was for their salvation that the mystery of it was revealed from the bosom of the Father, as God also had before taught him, Acts 18:10. See Romans 11:7; Romans 8:28, etc.

3. This purpose of God being communicated with and unto the Lord Christ, or the Son, and so becoming “the counsel of peace between them both”, Zechariah 6:13, he rejoicing to do the work that was incumbent on him for the accomplishment of it, Proverbs 8:30-31, Psalms 40:7-8, it became peculiarly the care and work of the Father to see that the inheritance promised him upon his undertaking, Isaiah 53:10-12, should be given unto him. This is done by the revelation of the will of God unto men concerning their obedience and salvation; whereby they are made the lot, the seed, the portion and inheritance of Christ. To this end doth the Lord, that is the Father, who said unto the Lord the Son, “Sit thou at my right hand,” Psalms 110:1, “send the rod of his strength out of Zion,” Psalms 110:2; and that by it to declare his rule even over his enemies, and to make his people, those given unto him, willing and obedient, Psalms 110:3. The inheritance given by the Father unto Christ being wholly in the possession of another, it became him to take it out of the usurper’s hand, and deliver it up to him whose right it was; and this he did and doth by the revelation of his mind in the preaching of the word, Ephesians 1:12-13. And from these considerations it is that, —

4. The whole revelation and dispensation of the will of God in and by the word is, as was said, eminently appropriated unto the Father. Eternal life (the counsel, the purpose, ways, means, and procurer of it) was with the Father, and was manifested to us by the word of truth, 1 John 1:1-2. And it is the Father, — that is, his will, mind, purpose, grace, love, — that the Son declares, John 1:18; in which work he speaks nothing but what he heard from and was taught by the Father, John 8:28. And hence he says, “My doctrine is not mine” (that is, principally and originally), “but his that sent me,” John 7:16. And the gospel is called “The gospel of the glory of the blessed God,” 1 Timothy 1:11; which is a periphrasis for the person of the Father, who is “the Father of glory,” Ephesians 1:17. And we might also declare, that the great work of making this gospel effectual on the minds of men doth peculiarly belong unto the Father, which he accomplisheth by his Spirit, 2 Corinthians 3:18; 2 Corinthians 4:6; but that is not our present business. Thus the revelation of events that should befall the church to the end of the world, that Christ signified by his angel unto John, was first given him of the Father, Revelation 1:1. And therefore, though all declarations of God and his will, from the foundation of the world, were made by the Son, the second person of the Trinity, and his Spirit speaking in the prophets, 1 Peter 1:11-12, yet as it was not by him immediately, no more was it absolutely so, but as the great angel and messenger of the covenant, by the will and appointment of the Father. And therefore the very dispensers of the gospel are said πρεσβεύειν, to treat as ambassadors about the business of Christ with men, in the name of God the Father. ῾ως τοῦ θεοῦ παρακαλοῦτος δι᾿ ἡμῶν, saith the apostle; — “As if God” (the Father) “exhorted in and by us,” 2 Corinthians 5:20; for to him doth this whole work principally relate.

And from the appropriating of this work originally and principally to the Father, there are three things that are particularly intimated unto us: —

1. The authority is to be considered in it. The Father is the original of all power and authority; of him “the whole family in heaven and earth is named,” Ephesians 3:15. He is the Father of the whole family, from whom Christ himself receives all his power and authority as mediator, Matthew 28:18; which, when his work is accomplished, he shall give up again into his hand, 1 Corinthians 15:28. He sent him into the world, set him over his house, gave him command unto his work. The very name and title of Father carries authority along with it, Malachi 1:6. And in the disposal of the church, in respect of this paternal power, doth the Son affirm that the Father is greater than he, John 14:28; and he runs up the contempt of the word, in the preaching of it by his messengers, into a contempt of this authority of the Father: “He that refuseth you refuseth me: he that refuseth me refuseth him that sent me.”

The revelation, then, and dispensation of the mind and will of God in the word, are to be considered as an act of supreme, sovereign authority, requiring all subjection of soul and conscience in the receiving of it. It is the Father of the family that speaks in this word; he that hath all power and authority essentially in him over the souls and eternal conditions of them to whom he speaks. And what holy reverence, humility, and universal subjection of soul to the word, this in a particular manner requires, is easy to be apprehended.

2. There is also love. In the economy of the blessed Trinity about the work of our salvation, that which is eminently and in an especial manner ascribed unto the Father is love, as hath been at large elsewhere showed, 1 John 4:8; 1 John 4:10; 1 John 4:16. “God,” that is the Father, saith John, “is love.” And how he exerts that property of his nature in the work of our salvation by Christ he there shows at large. So John 3:16; Romans 5:7-8. To be love, full of love, to be the especial spring of all fruits of love, is peculiar to him as the Father. And from love it is that he makes the revelation of his will whereof we speak, Deuteronomy 7:8; Deuteronomy 33:3; Psalms 147:19, 2 Corinthians 5:18-19. It was out of infinite love, mercy, and compassion, that God would at all reveal his mind and will unto sinners. He might for ever have locked up the treasures of his wisdom and prudence, wherein he abounds towards us in his word, in his own eternal breast. He might have left all the sons of men unto that woeful darkness whereinto by sin they had cast themselves, and kept them under the chains and power of it, with the angels that sinned before them, unto the judgment of the great day. But it was from infinite love that he made this condescension, to reveal himself and his will unto us. This mixture of authority and love, which is the spring of the revelation of the will of God unto us, requires all readiness, willingness, and cheerfulness, in the receipt of it and submission unto it. Besides these also,-

3. There is care eminently seen in it. The great care of the church is in and on the Father. He is the husbandman that takes care of the vine and vineyard, John 15:1-2. And hence our Savior, who had a delegated care of his people, commends them to the Father, John 17, as to whom the care of them did principally and originally belong. Care is proper to a father as such; to God as a father. Care is inseparable from paternal love. And this also is to be considered in the revelation of the will of God.

What directions from these considerations may be taken for the use both of them that dispense the word, and of those whose duty it is to attend unto the dispensation of it, shall only be marked in our passage.

For the dispensers of the word, let them, —

1. Take heed of pursuing that work negligently which hath its spring in the authority, love, and care of God. See 1 Timothy 4:13-16.

2. Know to whom to look for supportment, help, ability, and encouragement in their work, Ephesians 6:19-20. And,

3. Not be discouraged, whatever opposition they meet with in the discharge of their duty, considering whose work they have in hand, 2 Corinthians 4:15-16.

4. Know how they ought to dispense the word, so as to answer the spring from whence it comes, — namely, with authority, and love to and care for the souls of men. And,

5. Consider to whom they are to give an account of the work they are called to the discharge of, and intrusted with, Hebrews 13:17.

And for them to whom the word is preached, let them consider, —

1. With what reverence and godly fear they ought to attend unto the dispensation of it, seeing it is a proper effect and issue of the authority of Hebrews 12:28. And,

2. How they will “escape if they neglect so great salvation,” declared unto them from the love and care of God, Hebrews 2:3. And,

3. With what holiness and spiritual subjection of soul unto God, they ought to be conversant in and with all the ordinances of worship that are appointed by him, Hebrews 12:28-29.

Other observations I shall more briefly pass over. “God spake in them.”

II. The authority of God speaking in and by the penmen of the Scriptures is the sole bottom and foundation of our assenting to them, and what is contained in them, with faith divine and supernatural.

He spake in them; he then continues to speak by them; and therefore is their word to be received, 2 Peter 1:20-21. But this is elsewhere handled at large.

III. God’s gradual revelation of himself, his mind and will, unto the church, was a fruit of infinite wisdom and care towards his elect. “These are parts of his ways,” says Job; “but how little a portion is heard of him?” Job 26:14. Though all his ways and dispensations are ordered in infinite wisdom, yet we can but stand at the shore of the ocean, and admire its glory and greatness. Little it is that we can comprehend. Yet what may be for our instruction, what may further our faith and obedience, is not hidden from us. And these things lie evident unto us in this gradual discovery of himself and his will : —

1. That he overfilled not their vessels. He gave them out light as they were able to bear. Though we know not perfectly what their condition was, yet this we know, that as no generation needed more light than they had, for the discharge of the duty that God required of them, so more light would have unfitted them for somewhat or other that was their duty in their respective generations.

2. He kept them in a continual dependence upon himself, and waiting for their rule and direction from him; which, as it tended to his glory, so it was exceedingly suited to their safety, in keeping them in a humble, waiting frame.

3. He so gave out the light and knowledge of himself as that the great work which he had to accomplish, that lay in the stores of his infinitely wise will, as the end and issue of all revelations, — namely, the bringing forth of Christ into the world, in the way wherein he was to come, and for the ends which he was to bring about, — might not be obviated. He gave light enough to believers to enable them to receive him, and not so much as to hinder obdurate sinners from crucifying him.

4. He did this work so that the pre-eminence fully and ultimately to reveal him might be reserved for Him in whom all things were to be gathered unto a head. All privileges were to be kept for and unto him; which was principally done by this gradual revelation of the mind of God.

5. And there was tender care conjoined with this infinite wisdom. None of his elect in any age were left without that light and instruction which were needful for them in their seasons and generations; and this so given out unto them as that they might have fresh consolation and supportment, as their occasions did require. Whilst the church of old was under this dispensation, they were still hearkening when they should hear new tidings from heaven for their teaching and refreshment; and if any difficulty did at any time befall them, they were sure not to want relief in this kind. And this was necessary before the final hand was set to the work. And this discovers the woeful state of the present Jews. They grant that the revelation of the will of God is not perfected; and yet, notwithstanding all their miseries, darkness, and distresses, they dare not pretend that they have heard one word from heaven these two thousand years, — that is, from the days of Malachi; and yet they labor to keep the veil upon their eyes.

IV. We may see hence the absolute perfection of the revelation of the will of God by Christ and his apostles, as to every end and purpose whatever for which God ever did or ever will in this world reveal himself, or his mind and will.

For as this was the last way and means that God ever designed for the discovery of himself, as to the worship and obedience which he requires, so the person by whom he accomplished this work makes it indispensably necessary that it be also absolutely perfect, from which nothing can be taken, to which nothing must be added, under the penalty of the extermination threatened to him that will not attend to the voice of that Prophet.

Return we now again unto the words of our apostle. Having declared the Son to be the immediate revealer of the gospel, in pursuit of his design he proceeds to declare his glory and excellency, both that which he had in himself antecedent to his susception of the office of mediator, and what he received upon his investiture therewith, Two things in the close of this verse he assigns unto him : —

1. That he was appointed heir of all;

2. That by him the worlds were made: wherein consist the first amplification of his proposition concerning the revealer of the gospel, in two parts, both acknowledged by the Jews, and both directly conducing to his purpose in hand. ῝ον ἔθηκε ξληρονόμον πάςτων. — “Posuit,” “fecit,” “constituit.” Syr., סָם— “posuit,” “he placed,” “set,” “made,” “appointed.”

1. ῝ον, “whom;” that is the Son, in whom the Father spake unto us; and as such, as the revealer of the gospel, θεάνθρωπος, “God and man.” The Son, as God, hath a natural dominion over all. To this he can be no more appointed than he can be to be God. On what account he hath his divine nature, on the same he hath all the attributes and perfections of it, with all things that necessarily on any supposition attend it, as supreme dominion doth. Nor doth this denotation of him respect merely the human nature; for although the Lord Christ performed all the acts of his mediatory office in and by the human nature, yet he did them not as man, but as God and man in one person, John 1:14, Acts 20:28. And therefore unto him, as such, do the privileges belong that he is vested with on the account of his being mediator. Nothing, indeed, can be added unto him as God, but there may be to him who is God, in respect of his condescension to discharge an office in another nature which he did assume. And this salves the paralogism of Felbenger on this place, which is that wherewith the Jews and Socinians perpetually entangle themselves:

“Deus altissimus non potest salva majestate sua ab aliquo haeres constitutus esse; Filius Dei a Deo est haeres omnium constitutus: ergo Filius Dei non est Deus altissimus.”

God is called אֵל עְלְיוֹן “the high,” or “most high God,” with reference to his sovereign and supreme exaltation over all his creatures, as the next words in the place where that title is given unto him do declare: וָאָרֶצקֹנֵה שָׁמַיִם, — “ Possessor of heaven and earth,” Genesis 14:19.

He is not termed “Deus altissimus,” “the most high God,” as though there were another “Deus altus,” “a high God,” that is not the “altissimus;” which is the sense of the Socinians. This one “Deus altissimus,” “most high God,” absolutely, in respect of his divine nature, cannot be appointed an heir by any other. But he who is so this high God as to be the eternal Son of the Father, and made man, may, in respect of the office which in the nature of man he undertook to discharge, by his Father be made “heir of all.”

2. κληρονόμον, “the heir.” κλῆρος is “a lot,” and a peculiar portion received by lot; thence “an inheritance,” which is a man’s lot and portion. κλῆρος ἐπίδικος, “an inheritance under controversy;” κληρονόμος, “an heir to goods divided by lot,” or he that distributeth an inheritance to others by lot. Absolutely, “an heir.” So the poet, of the covetous Hermocrates, ᾿εν διαθήκαις αὐτὸν τῶν ἰδίων ἔγραψε κληρονόνος, — “He appointed himself his own heir in his last will and testament.” It hath also a more large signification. ῾ο τοῦ λόγου κληρονόμος, he is, in Plato, whose turn it was to speak next. Strictly, it is the same with “haeres, “an heir.” And an heir is he “qui subintrat jus, locum, et dominium rerum defuncti, ac si eadem persona esset;’— “who entereth into the right, place, and title of him that is deceased, as if he were the same person.” But yet the name of an heir is not restrained in the law to him that so succeeds a deceased person; in which sense it can have no place here. “Haeredis nomen latiore significatione possessorem et fidei eommissarium et legatarium comprehendit;’— it comprehends a possessor, a trustee, and a legatary. So Spigelius. This sense of the word takes off the catachresis which must be supposed in the application of it unto the Son, if it only denoted such an heir as Abraham thought Eliezer would be to him, Genesis 15:3-4, — one that succeeds into the right and goods of the deceased; for the Father dieth not, nor doth ever forego his own title or dominion. Neither is the title and right given to the Son as mediator the same with that of God absolutely considered. This is eternal, natural, co- existent with the being of all things; that new, created by grant and donation, by whose erection and establishment the other is not at all impeached. For whereas it is affirmed that “the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son,” John 5:22; John 5:27; John 5:30, it respects not title and rule, but actual administration.

In the latter sense of the word, as it denotes any rightful possessor by grant from another, it is properly ascribed unto the Son. And there are three things intended in this word: —

(1.) Title, dominion, lordship. “Haeres est qui horus ;” for thence is the word, and not from “aere,” as Isidore supposeth. The heir is the lord of that which he is heir unto. So the apostle, Galatians 4:1, κληρονόμος is κύριος πάντων, “The heir is lord of all.” And in this sense is Christ called בְּכוֹר, “the first-born,” Psalms 89:28, “I will give him to be my first-born, higher than” (or, “and high above”) “the kings of the earth;” “princeps, dominus, caput familiae,” — “the prince, lord, and head of the family,” that hath right to the inheritance, and distributes portions to others. Hence בְּכוֹרis used for every thing that excelleth, and hath the pre-eminence in its own kind, Job 28:11; Isaiah 14:30; Ezekiel 47:12. So Colossians 1:15.

(2.) Possession. Christ is made actual possessor of that which he hath title unto. As he is בְּכוֹר, so he is יוֹרֵשׁ, — such a possessor as comes to his possession by the surrender or grant of another. God in respect of his dominion is called קֹגֵה, the absolute possessor of heaven and earth, Genesis 14:22. Christ as mediator is יוֹרֵשׁ, a possessor by grant. And there was a suitableness that he that was the Son should thus be heir. Whence Chrysostom and Theophylact affirm that the words denote καὶ τὸ τῆς υἱότητος γνήσιον, καὶ τὸ τῆς κυριότητος ἀναπόσπαστον,” — “the propriety of his sonship, and the immutability of his lordship.” Not that he was thus made heir of all as he was μονογενής, “the only- begotten” Son of the Father, John 1:14; but it was agreeable and consonant that he who was eternally μονογενής, and had on that account an absolute dominion over all with his Father, becoming πρωτότοκος ἐν πολλοῖς ἀδεγφοῖς, Romans 8:29, “the first-born amongst many brethren,” should have a delegated heirship of all, and be given to be “the head over all to the church,” Ephesians 1:22.

(3.) That he hath both this title and possession by grant from the Father; of which afterwards. Christ, then, by virtue of a grant from the Father, is made Lord by a new title, and hath possession given him according to his title. He is κληρονόμος, “the heir.”

3. πάντων, “of all.” This is the object of the heirship of Christ, his inheritance. The word may be taken in the masculine gender, and denotes all persons, all those of whom he had spoken before, all the revealers of the will of God under the old testament. The Son was Lord over them all; which is true. But the word in the neuter gender denotes all things absolutely; and so it is in this place to be understood: for, —

(1.) It is so used elsewhere to the same purpose: 1 Corinthians 15:27, πάντα ὑπέταξε. — “He hath subjected all things unto him.” So Romans 9:5, ῾῾ο ὣν ἐπὶ πάντων θεός — “Who is God over all.”

(2.) This sense suits the apostle’s argument, and adds a double force to his intention and design. For, —

[1.] The Author of the gospel being heir and lord of all things whatever, the sovereign disposal of all those rites and ordinances of worship about which the Jews contended must needs be in his hand, to change and alter them as he saw good.

[2.] He being the heir and lord of all things, it was easy for them to conclude, that if they intended to be made partakers of any good in heaven or earth, in a way of love and mercy, it must be by an interest in him; which without a constant abode in obedience unto his gospel cannot be attained. (3.) The next words evince this sense, “By whom also he made the worlds.” Probably they render a reason of the equitableness of this great trust made to the Son. He made all, and it was meet he should be Lord of all. However, the force of the connection of the words, δι ᾿ οὗ καὶ τοὺς αἰῶνας, “by whom also he made the worlds,” equals the πάντων, the “all” foregoing, to the αἰῶνας, or the “worlds” following.

(4.) The inheritance given answers the promise of it unto Abraham, which was that he should be “heir of the world,” Romans 4:13, namely, in his seed, Galatians 3:16; as also the request made by Christ on that promise, Psalms 2:8 : both which extend it to the whole world, the ends of the earth.

(5.) The original and rise of this inheritance of Christ will give us its true extent, which must therefore more especially be considered.

Upon the creation of man, God gave unto him a dominion over all things in this lower world, Genesis 1:28-29. He made him his heir, vicegerent, and substitute in the earth. And as for those other creatures to which his power and authority did not immediately extend, as the sun, moon, and stars, the whole inanimate host of the superior world, they were ordered by Him that made them to serve for his good and behoof, Genesis 1:14; Deuteronomy 4:19; so that even they also in a sort belonged unto his inheritance, being made to serve him in his subjection unto God.

Further, besides this lower part of his dominion, God had for his glory created angels in heaven above; of whom we shall have occasion hereafter to treat. These made up another branch of God’s providential kingdom, the whole administered in the upper and lower world, being of each other independent, and meeting in nothing but their dependence upon and subjection unto God himself. Hence they did not so stand in the condition of their creation, but that one kind or race of them might fail and perish without any impeachment of the other. So also it came to pass. Man might have persisted in his honor and dignity notwithstanding the fall and apostasy of some of the angels. When he fell from his heirship and dominion, the whole subordination of all things unto him, and by him unto God, was lost, and all creatures returned to an immediate absolute dependence on the government of God, without any respect to the authority and sovereignty delegated unto man. But as the fall of angels did not in its own nature prejudice mankind, no more did this fall of man the angels that persisted in their obedience, they being no part of his inheritance. However, by the sin, apostasy, and punishment, of that portion of the angels which kept not their first station, it was manifested how possible it was that the remainder of them might sin after the similitude of their transgression. Things being brought into this condition, — one branch of the kingdom of God, under the administration of man, or allotted to his service, being cast out of that order wherein he had placed it, and the other in an open possibility of being so also, — it seemed good to the Lord, in his infinite wisdom, to erect one kingdom out of these two disordered members of his first dominion, and to appoint one common heir, head, ruler, and lord to them both. And this was the Son, as the apostle tells us, Ephesians 1:10 : “He gathered together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on each; even in him.” He designed ἀνακεφαλαιώσασθαι, “to bring all into one head” and rule in him, It is not a similitude taken from casting up accounts, wherein lesser sums are in the close brought into one head, as some have imagined; nor yet an allusion to orators, who in the close of their long orations sum up the matter they have at large treated of that the apostle makes use of; both which are beneath the majesty of and no way suited to illustrate, the matter he hath in hand. But as Chrysostom well intimates on the place, it is as if he had said, ΄ίαν κεφαλὴν ἅπασιν ἐπέθηκε, — “He appointed one head to them all,” angels and men, with whatsoever in the first constitution of the divine government was subordinate unto them. So we have found the object and extent of the heirship of Christ expressed in this word πάντων, which I shall further explain in that brief scheme of the whole kingdom of Christ which to the exposition of these words shall be subjoined.

4. ἔθηκε. The way whereby Christ the Son came to his inheritance is in this word expressed. God “appointed” or “placed” him therein. The word may denote either those special acts whereby he came into the full possession of his heirship, or it may be extended to other preparatory acts that long preceded them, especially if we shall take it to be of the same importance with ἔθετο in the second aoristus. In the former sense, the glorious investiture of the Lord Christ in the full actual possession of his kingdom after his resurrection, with the manifestation of it in his ascension, and token of its stability in his sitting at the right hand of God, is designed. By all these God ἔθηκε, “made him,” placed him with solemn investiture, heir of all. The grant was made to him upon his resurrection, Matthew 28:18, and therein fully declared unto others, Romans 1:4; Acts 13:33 : as there was of Solomon’s being king, when he was proclaimed by Benaiah, Zadok, and Nathan, 1 Kings 1:31-34. The solemnization of it was in his ascension, Psalms 68:17-18, Ephesians 4:8-10; and typed by Solomon’s riding on David’s mule unto his throne, all the people crying, יְחִי הַּמֶּלֶךְ, 1 Kings 1:39, “Let the king live.” All was sealed and ratified when he took possession of his throne at the right hand of the Father; by all which he was made and declared to be Lord and Christ, Acts 2:36; Acts 4:11; Acts 5:30-31. And such weight doth the Scripture lay upon this glorious investiture of Christ in his inheritance, that it speaks of his whole power as then first granted unto him, Romans 14:9; Philippians 2:7-10; and the reason of it is, because he had then actually performed that work and duty upon the consideration whereof that power and authority were eternally designed and originally granted unto him. God’s actual committing all power over all things and persons in heaven and earth, to be exerted and managed for the ends of his mediation, declaring this act, grant, and delegation by his resurrection, ascension, and sitting at his right hand, is that which this word denotes.

I will not deny but it may have respect unto sundry things preceding these, and preparatory unto them; as, —

(1.) The eternal purpose of God, ordaining him before the foundation of the world unto his work and inheritance, 1 Peter 1:20.

(2.) The covenant that was of old between the Father and Son for the accomplishment of the great work of redemption, this inheritance being included in the contract, Proverbs 8:30-31; Isaiah 53:10-11.

(3.) The promises made unto him in his types, Abraham, David, and Solomon, Genesis 15; Psalms 72.

(4.) The promises left upon record in the Old Testament for his supportment and assurance of success, Psalms 2; Isaiah 49, etc.

(5.) The solemn proclamation of him to be the great heir and lord of all, at his first coming into the world, Luke 2:11; Luke 2:30-32. But it is the consummation of all these, whatever was intended or declared in these previous acts of the will and wisdom of God, that is principally intended in this expression.

Some suppose it of importance, in this matter of the heirship of Christ, to assert that he was the rightful heir of the crown and scepter of Israel. This opinion is so promoted by Baronius as to contend that the right of the kingdom was devolved on him, which was caused to cease for a season in Antigonus, who was slain by M. Antony. But what was the right of the kingdom that was in Antigonus is hard to declare. The Asmonaeans, of whom that ruled he was the last, were of the tribe of Levi. Their right to the scepter was no more but what they had won by the sword. So that by his death there could be no devolution of a right to reign unto any, it being that which he never had. Nor is it probable that our Savior was the next of kin to the reigning house of Judah; nor was it any wise needful he should be so; nor is there any promise to that purpose. His lineal descent was from Nathan, and not from Solomon, — of that house was Zerubbabel the aichmalotarches, — which therefore is specially mentioned in the reformation, Zechariah 12:12. Besides, the heirship promised unto Christ was neither of a temporal kingdom of Israel, which he never enjoyed, nor of any other thing in dependence thereon. Were it so, the Jews must first have the dominion, before he could inherit it. And such, indeed, was the mistake of the disciples (as it is of the Jews to this day), who inquired, not whether he would take the kingdom to himself, but whether he would restore it unto Israel.

We have opened the words: it remaineth that we consider the sense and persuasion of the Hebrews in this matter; 2. Show the influence of this assertion into the argument that the apostle hath in hand; and, 3. Annex a brief scheme of the whole lordship and kingdom of Christ.

The testimonies given to this heirship, of the Messiah in the Old Testament, sufficiently evidencing the faith of the church guided by the rule thereof, will be mentioned afterwards. For the present, I shall only intimate the continuance of this persuasion among the Jews, both then when the apostle wrote unto them and afterwards. To this purpose is that of Jonathan in the Targum on Zechariah 4:7 : ויגלי ית משיחא דאמיד שמה מלקדמין וישלט בכל מלכותא; — “He shall reveal the Messiah, whose name is from everlasting, who shall have the dominion over all kingdoms.” See Psalms 72:11. And of him who was brought before the Ancient of days, like the Son of man, Daniel 7, to whom all power was given, they say, הוא מלךְ המשיח; — “He is Messiah, the king.” So R. Solomon on the place. So R. Bechai on Exodus 23:21, “My name is in him.” “He is called,” saith he, “ מטטרון, because in that name two significations are included, אדון, ‘a lord,’and שליח, ‘an ambassador;’” the reasons of which etymology out of the Greek and Latin tongues he subjoins, I confess foolishly enough. But yet he adds to our purpose: “It may have a third signification, of a ‘keeper;’for the Targum, instead of the Hebrew משמרתhath מטרת, from נטר. Because he, that is the Messiah, preserves or keeps the world, he is called שומר ישראל, ‘the keeper of Israel.’Hence it appears that he is the Lord of all things, they being put under him, and that the whole host of things above and below are in his hand. He is also the manager of all above and beneath; because God hath made him to rule over all, hath appointed him the lord of his house, the ruler of all he hath.” Which expressions, how consonant they are to what is delivered by the apostle in this place and chapter 3, is easily discerned.

The influence of this assertion or common principle of the Judaical church into the argument that the apostle hath in hand is evident and manifest. He who is the heir and lord of all things, spiritural, temporal, ecclesiastical, must needs have power over all Mosaical institutions, be the lord of them, which are nowhere exempted from his rule.

The words being opened, and the design of the apostle in them discovered, because they contain an eminent head of the doctrine of the gospel concerning the lordship and kingdom of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, I shall stay here a little, to give in a scheme of his whole dominion, seeing the consideration of it will not again so directly occur unto us. That which is the intendment of the words, in the interpretation given of them, is this: —

God the Father, in the pursuit of the sovereign purpose of his will, hath granted unto the Son as incarnate, and mediator of the new covenant, according to the eternal counsel between them both, a sovereign power and authority over all things in heaven and earth, with the possession of an absolute proprietor, to dispose of them at his pleasure, for the furtherance and advancement of his proper and peculiar work, as head of his church.

I shall not insist on the several branches of this thesis; but, as I said, in general confirm this grant of power and dominion unto the Lord Christ, and then give in our scheme of his kingdom, in the several branches of it, not enlarging our discourse upon them, but only pointing at the heads and springs of things as they lie in the Scripture.

OF THE KINGDOM OR LORDSHIP OF CHRIST.

The grant of dominion in general unto the Messiah is intimated in the first promise of him, Genesis 3:15, — his victory over Satan was to be attended with rule, power, and dominion, Psalms 68:18, Isaiah 53:12, Ephesians 4:8-9, Colossians 2:15; — and confirmed in the renewal of that promise to Abraham, Genesis 22:17-18; for in him it was that Abraham was to be “heir of the world,” Romans 4:13; — as also unto Judah, whose seed was to enjoy the scepter and lawgiver, until he came who was to be Lord over all, Genesis 49:10; — and Balaam also saw the Star of Jacob, with a scepter for rule, Numbers 24:17; Numbers 24:19. This kingdom was fully revealed unto David, and is expressed by him, Psalms 2 throughout, Psalms 45:3-8; Psalms 89:19-24, etc., Psalms 72:6-9, etc., Psalms 110:1-3; — as also in all the following prophets. See Isaiah 11:1-4; Isaiah 9:6-7; Isaiah 53:12; Isaiah 63:1-3; Jeremiah 23:5-6; Daniel 7:13-14, etc.

As this was foretold in the Old Testament, so the accomplishment of it is expressly asserted in the New. Upon his birth he is proclaimed to be “Christ the Lord,” Luke 2:11; and the first inquiry after him is, “Where is he that is born king?” Matthew 2:2; Matthew 2:6. And this testimony doth he give concerning himself, namely, that all judgment was his, and therefore all honor was due unto him, John 5:22-23; and that “all things were delivered unto him,” or given into his hand, Matthew 11:27; yea, “all power in heaven and in earth,” Matthew 28:18, — the thing pleaded for. Him who was crucified did God make “both Lord and Christ,”

Acts 2:35-36; exalting him at his right hand to be “a Prince and a Savior,” Acts 5:31. He is “highly exalted, having “a name given him above every name, Philippians 2:9-11; being “set at the right hand of God in heavenly places, far above,” etc., Ephesians 1:20-22; where he reigns for ever, 1 Corinthians 15:25; being the “King of kings, and Lord of lords,” Revelation 19:16, Revelation 19:12-14; for he is “Lord of dead and living,” Romans 14:7-9.

And this in general is fully asserted in the Scripture, unto the consolation of the church and terror of his adversaries. This, I say, is the spring of the church’s glory, comfort, and assurance. It is our head, husband, and elder brother, who is gloriously vested with all this power. Our nearest relation, our best friend, is thus exalted; not to a place of honor and trust under others, a thing that contents the airy fancy of poor earth-worms; nor yet to a kingdom on the earth, a matter that swells some, and even breaks them with pride; no, nor yet to an empire over this perishing world: but to an abiding, an everlasting rule and dominion over the whole creation of God. And it is but a little while before he will cast off and dispel all those clouds and shades which at present interpose themselves, and eclipse his glory and majesty from them that love him. He who in the days of his flesh was reviled, reproached, persecuted, crucified, for our sakes, that same Jesus is thus exalted and made “a Prince and a Savior,” having “a name given him above every name,” etc.; for though he was dead, yet he is alive, and lives for ever, and hath the keys of hell and death. These things are everywhere proposed for the consolation of the church.

The consideration of it also is suited to strike terror into the hearts of ungodly men that oppose him in the world. Whom is it that they do despise? against whom do they magnify themselves, and lift up their horns on high? whose ordinances, laws, institutions, do they contemn? whose gospel do they refuse obedience unto? whose people and servants do they revile and persecute? Is it not he, are they not his, who hath “all power in heaven and in earth” committed unto him, in whose hand are the lives, the souls, all the concernments of his enemies? Caesar thought he had spoken with terror, when, threatening him with death who stood in his way, he told him, “Young man, he speaks it to whom it is as easy to do it.” He speaks to his adversaries, who stand in the way of his interest, to “deal no more so proudly,” who can in a moment speak them into ruin, and that eternal. See Revelation 6:14-17.

Thus is the Son made heir of all in general. We shall further consider his dominion in a distribution of the chief parts of it; and manifest his power severally in and over them all. He is lord or heir πάντων, — that is, of all persons and of all things.

PERSONS, or rational subsistences, here intended, are either angels or men; for it is evident that “He is excepted who hath subjected all things unto him,” 1 Corinthians 15:27.

Angels are of two sorts: —

1. Such as abide doing the will of God, retaining that name by way of eminency;

2. Such as by sin have lost their first habitation, state, and condition, — usually called evil angels, or devils. The Lord Jesus hath dominion over all, and both sorts of them.

Men may be cast under one common distribution, which is comprehensive of all distinctions whereby they are differenced; for they all are either elect or reprobates. And the Lord Jesus hath rule and dominion over them all. THINGS that are subject unto the Lord Jesus may be referred unto four heads; for they are either, —

1. Spiritual; or, 2. Ecclesiastical; or, 3. Political; or, 4. Natural.

Again, Spiritual are either,

(1.) Temporal, as,

[1.] Grace;

[2.] Gifts; or

(2.) Eternal, as glory.

Ecclesiastical or church things are either,

(1.) Judaical, or old testament things; or,

(2.) Christian, or things of the new testament.

Political and civil things may be considered as they are managed,

(1.) By his friends;

(2.) His enemies.

Of Natural things we shall speak in a production of some particular instances, to prove the general assertion.

Those, in the FIRST place, assigned as part of the inheritance of Christ are, —

I. The angels, and the good angels in especial. These belong to the kingdom, rule, and dominion of Christ. I shall be brief in this branch of his heirship, because it must be professedly handled in opening sundry other verses of this chapter, in which the apostle insisteth on it.

Of the nature of angels, their glory, excellency, dignity, work, and employment, we have here no occasion to treat. Something must afterwards be spoken unto these things. Christ’s pre-eminence above them, rule over them, their subjection unto him, with the original right and equity of the grant of this power and authority unto him, are the things which now fall under our consideration.

1. His pre-eminence above them is asserted by the apostle in the fourth verse of this chapter. He is “made better” (“more excellent”) “than the angels.” See the words opened afterwards. This was to the Jews, who acknowledged that the Messiah should be above Moses, Abraham, and the ministering angels. So Neve Shalom, lib. 9 cap. 5. We have testimony unto Ephesians 1:20-21, “He set him at his own right hand,” ἐν ἐπουρανίοις, “among heavenly things, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named,” whatever title of honor or office they enjoy, “not only in this world, but also in that which is to come,” who enjoy their power and dignity in that state of glory; which is promised unto them also who here believe on him. Philippians 2:9, “God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name” (power, authority, and pre-eminence) “which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus” (unto him vested with that authority and dignity) “every knee should bow” (all creatures should yield obedience and be in subjection), “of things in heaven,” the ἴδιον οἰκητήριον, “proper habitation” and place of residence of the blessed angels, Jude 1:6. For, —

2. As he is exalted above them, so by the authority of God the Father they are made subject unto him: 1 Peter 3:22, “He is gone into heaven,” ὐποταγέντων αὐτῷ ἀγγέλων, “angels being brought into order by subjection unto him.” Ephesians 1:22, πάντα ὐπέταξεν, “He hath put all things” (angels, of which he treats) “in subjection to him;” “under his feet,” as Psalms 8:7, תחַתאּרַגְלָיו; 1 Corinthians 15:27. And this by the special authority of God the Father, in a way of grant of privilege and honor unto him, and to evidence the universality of this subjection.

3. They adore and worship him, — the highest act of obedience and most absolute subjection. This they have in command, Hebrews 1:6, “Let all the angels of God worship him ;” Psalms 97:7, הִשְׁתַּחֲווּ, “worship him,” — with prostration, self-abasement, and all possible subjection to him: of which place afterwards. Their practice answers the command given them, Revelation 5:11-14. All the angels round about his throne fall down, and ascribe “blessing, and honor, and glory, and power” unto him; as we are taught to do in our deepest acknowledgment of the majesty and authority of God, Matthew 6:13. And as to outward obedience, they are ready in all things to receive his commands, being “ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall inherit salvation,” Hebrews 1:14; and that by Him who is “head over all to the church,” Ephesians 1:22. As, for instance, he sent out one of them to his servant John, Revelation 1:1; who, from their employment under him towards them that believe, are said to be their “fellow-servants,” — that is unto Christ, — namely, of all them who have “the testimony of Jesus,” Revelation 19:10; Revelation 22:9. And to this purpose, —

4. They always attend his throne: Isaiah 6:1-2, “I saw the LORD sitting upon a throne,” and “about it stood the seraphim.” This Isaiah “spake of him when he saw his glory,” John 12:39-41. He was upon his throne when he spake with the church in the wilderness, Acts 7:38, — that is, on mount Sinai: where the angels attending him as on chariots, ready to receive his commands, were “twenty thousand, even thousands of angels,” Psalms 68:17, Ephesians 4:8; or “thousand thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand,” as another prophet expresseth it, Daniel 7:10. And so is he in the church of the new testament, Revelation 5:11; and from his walking in the midst of the golden candlesticks, Revelation 1:13, are the angels also present in church assemblies, as attending their Lord and Master, 1 Corinthians 11:10. And so attended shall he come to judgment, 2 Thessalonians 1:7; when he shall be “revealed from heaven with the angels of his power:” which was foretold concerning him from the beginning of the world, Jude 1:14-15.

Thus his lordship over angels is universal and absolute, and their subjection unto him answerable thereunto. The manner of the grant of this excellency, power, and dignity unto him, must be further cleared in the opening of these words of the apostle, Jude 1:4, “Being made better than the angels.” The original right and equity of this grant, with the ends of it, are now only to be intimated.

1. The radical, fundamental equity of this grant lies in his divine nature, and his creation of angels, over whom as mediator he is made Lord. Unto the general assertion of his being made “heir of all,” the apostle in this place subjoins that general reason, manifesting the rise of the equity of it in the will of God that it should be so: “By whom also he made the worlds.” Which reason is particularly applicable to every part of his inheritance, and is especially pleaded in reference unto angels: Colossians 1:15-16, “Who is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of every creature,” — that is, the heir and lord of them all; and the reason is, “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him.” His creation of those heavenly powers is the foundation of his heirship or lordship over them. ᾿εκτίσθη, that is, saith a learned man (Grotius) on the place, “not created or made, but ordered, ordained; all things were ordered by Christ as to their state and dignity.” But what reason is there to depart from the proper, usual, yea, only sense of the word in this place? “Because,” saith he, “mention is made of Christ, which is the name of a man; and so the creation of all things cannot be attributed unto him.” But Christ is the name of the Son of God incarnate, God and man: “Christ, who is over all, God blessed for ever,” Romans 9:5. See Luke 2:11. And he is here spoken of as “the image of the invisible God,” Colossians 1:15, — the essential image of the Father, endowed with all his eternal attributes; and so the creator of all. The Socinians add that the words are used in the abstract, “principalities and powers,” and therefore their dignities, not their persons, are here intended. But,

(1.) “All things created, in heaven and in earth, visible and invisible,” are the substances and essences of things themselves, and not their qualities and places only.

(2.) The distribution into “thrones and dominions, principalities and powers,” respects only the last branch of things affirmed to be created by him, namely, “things in heaven, — invisible;” so that if it should be granted that he made or created them only as to their dignity, order, and power, yet they obtain not their purpose, since the creation of all other things, as to their being and subsistence, is ascribed unto him. But,

(3.) The use of the abstract for the concrete is not unusual in Scripture. See Ephesians 6:12, πςευματικά for πνεύματα. Thus ἠγεμόνας καὶ ἐξουσίαι, “rulers and kings,” Matthew 10:18, are termed ἀπχαὶ καὶ ἐξουσίαι, “principalities and powers,” Luke 12:11. And in this particular, those who are here “principalities and powers” are “angels great in power,” 2 Peter 2:11. And Ephesians 1:20-21, he is exalted μπεράνω πάσης ἀπχῆς καὶ ἐξουσίας καὶ δυνάμεως καὶ κυριότητος, — that is, above all vested with principality and power,” as the next words evince, “and every name that is named.” So Jude tells us of some of whom he says, κυριότητος καταφρονοῦντες, δόξας οὐ τρέμουσι βλασφημοῦντες κυριότηατ ἀθετοῦσι, δόξας βλασφημοῦσι — “They despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities;” that is, those vested with them. And Paul, Romans 8:38-39, “I am persuaded that neither angels,” οὔτε ἀρχαὶ, οὔτε δυνάμεις, “nor principalities, nor powers;” οὔτε τὶς κτίσις ἐτέρα, “nor any other creature.” So that these principalities and powers are κτίσεις, certain “creatures,’’created things and subsistences, — that is the angels, variously differenced amongst themselves; in respect of us, great in power and dignity.

This is the first foundation of the equity of this grant of all power over the angels unto the Lord Christ: in his divine nature he made them; and in that respect they were before his own; as on the same account, when he came into the world, he is said to come εἰς τὰ ἴδια, John 1:11, “to his own,” or the things that he had made.

2. It is founded in that establishment in the condition of their creation, which by his interposition to recover what was lost by sin, and to preserve the untainted part of the creation from ruin, they did receive. In their own right, the rule of their obedience, and the example of those of their number and society who apostatized from God, they found themselves in a state not absolutely impregnable. Their confirmation, — which also was attended with that exaltation which they received by their new relation unto God in and through him, — they received by his means, God gathering up all things to a consistency and permanency in him, Ephesians 1:10. And hence also it became equal that the rule and power over them should be committed unto him, by whom, although they were not, like us, recovered from ruin, yet they were preserved from all danger of it. So that in their subjection unto him consists their principal honor and all their safety.

And as this act of God, in appointing Christ Lord of angels, hath these equitable foundations, so it hath also sundry glorious ends: —

1. It was as an addition unto that glory that was set before him in his undertaking to redeem sinners. A kingdom was of old promised unto him; and to render it exceedingly glorious, the rule and scepter of it is extended, not only to his redeemed ones, but to the holy angels also, and the sovereignty over them is granted him as a part of his reward, Philippians 2:8-11; Ephesians 1:20-21.

2. God hereby gathers up his whole family, — at first distinguished by the law of their creation into two especial kinds, and then differenced and set at variance by sin, — into one body under one head, reducing them that originally were twain into one entire family: Ephesians 1:10, “In the fullness of times he gathered together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him,” as was before declared. Before this the angels had no immediate created head; for themselves are called אַלֹהיִם, “gods,” Psalms 97:7; 1 Corinthians 8:5.

Whoever is the head must be אַלֹהֵי הָאַלֹנִים, [Deuteronomy 10:17], the “God of gods,” or” Lord of lords,” — which Christ alone is; and in him, or under him as a head, is the whole family of God united.

3. The church of mankind militant on the earth, whose conduct unto eternal glory is committed unto Christ, stands in need of the ministry of angels. And therefore hath God granted rule and power over them unto him, that nothing might be wanting to enable him “to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him.” So God hath given him to be “head over all things to the church,” Ephesians 1:22; that he should, with an absolute sovereignty, use and dispose of all things to the benefit and advantage of the church.

This is the first branch of the lordship and dominion of Christ, according to the distribution of the severals of it before laid down. He is Lord of angels, and they are all of them his servants, the fellow-servants of them that have the testimony of Jesus. And as some men do wilfully cast themselves, by their religious adoration of angels, under the curse of Canaan, to be servants unto servants, Genesis 9:25; so it is the great honor and privilege of true believers, that in their worship of Christ they are admitted into the society of “an innumerable company of angels,” Hebrews 12:22, Revelation 5:11-13 : for they are not ashamed to esteem them their fellow-servants whom their Lord and King is not ashamed to call his brethren. And herein consists our communion with them, that we have one common Head and Lord; and any intercourse with them, but only on this account, or any worship performed towards them, breaks the bond of that communion, and causeth us not to “hold the Head,” Colossians 2:19. The privilege, the safety, and advantage of the church, from this subjection of angels to its Head and Savior, are by many spoken unto.

Secondly, There is another sort of angels, who by sin left their primitive station, and fell off from God; of whom, their sin, fall, malice, wrath, business, craft in evil, and final judgment, the Scripture treateth at large. These belong not, indeed, to the possession of Christ as he is the heir, but they belong unto his dominion as he is Lord. Though he be not a king and head unto them, yet he is a judge and ruler over them. All things being given into his hand, they also are subjected unto his power. Now, as under the former head, I shall consider, —

1. The right or equity, and,

2. The end of this authority of Christ over this second sort of the first race of intellectual creatures, the angels that have sinned.

1. As before, this right is founded in his divine nature, by virtue whereof he is ἰκανος, fit for this dominion. He made these angels also, and therefore, as God, hath an absolute dominion over them. The creatures cannot cast off the dominion of the Creator by rebellion. Though they may lose their moral relation unto God, as obedient creatures, yet their natural, as creatures, cannot be dissolved. God will be God still, be his creatures never so wicked; and if they obey not his will, they shall bear his justice. And this dominion of Christ over fallen angels as God, makes the grant of rule over them to him as mediator just and equal.

2. The immediate and peculiar foundation of his right unto rule over fallen angels, rendering the special grant of it equal and righteous, is lawful conquest. This gives a special right, Genesis 48:22. Now, that Christ should conquer fallen angels was promised from the foundation of the world, Genesis 3:15. “The seed of the woman,” the Messiah, was to “break the serpent’s head,” — despoil him of his power, and bring him into subjection; which he performed accordingly: Colossians 2:15, “He spoiled principalities and powers,” — divested fallen angels of all that title they had got to the world, by the sin of man; “triumphing over them,” as captives to be disposed of at his pleasure. He “stilled,”or made to cease as to his power, this “enemy” וּמִתְנַקֵּם, and “self-avenger,” Psalms 8:2; “leading captivity captive,” Psalms 68:18; “breaking in pieces the head over the large earth,” Psalms 110:6; “binding the strong man armed, and spoiling his goods.” And the Scripture of the New Testament is full of instances as to his executing his power and authority over evil angels; they take up a good part of the historical books of it.

Man having sinned by the instigation of Satan, he was, by the just judgment of God, delivered up unto his power, Hebrews 2:14. The Lord Christ undertaking to recover lost man from under his power by destroying his works, 1 John 3:8, and to bring them again into favor with God, Satan with all his might sets himself to oppose him in his work; and foiling in his enterprise, being utterly conquered, he became absolutely subjected unto him, trodden under his feet, and the prey he had taken was delivered from him,

This is the next foundation of the authority of Christ over the evil angels. He had a great contest and war with them, and that about the glory of God, his own kingdom, and the eternal salvation of the elect. Prevailing absolutely against them, he made a conquest over them, and they are put into subjection unto him for ever. They are subjected unto him as to their present actings and future condition. He now rules them, and will hereafter finally judge them. Wherein he suffers them, in his holiness and wisdom, to act in temptations, seductions, persecutions, he bounds and limits their rage, malice, actings; orders and disposes the events of them to his own holy and righteous ends; and keeps them under chains for the judgment of the last day, when, for the full manifestation of his dominion over them, he will cause the meanest of his servants to set their feet on the necks of these conquered kings, and to join with himself in sentencing them unto eternal ruin, 1 Corinthians 6:3; which they shall be cast into by him, Revelation 19:20.

3. The ends of this lordship of Christ are various; as, —

(1.) His own glory, Psalms 110:1.

(2.) The church’s safety, Matthew 16:18; Revelation 12:7-9. And,

(3.) Exercise for their good, —

[1.] By temptation, 1 Peter 5:8-10; and,

[2.] Persecution, Revelation 2:10; Revelation 12:10; both which he directs, regulates, and bounds, unto their eternal advantage.

(4.) The exercising of his wrath and vengeance upon his stubborn enemies, whom these slaves and vassals to his righteous power seduce, blind, harden, provoke, ruin and destroy, Revelation 12:15; Revelation 16:13-14; Psalms 106. And how much of the peace, safety, and consolation of believers, lies wrapped up in this part of the dominion of Christ were easy to demonstrate; as also, that faith’s improvement of it, in every condition, is the greatest part of our wisdom in our pilgrimage. II. All mankind (the second sort of intellectual creatures or rational subsistences) belong to the lordship and dominion of Christ. All mankind was in the power of God as one φύραμα, “one mass,” or “lump,” out of which all individuals are made and framed, Romans 9:21, some to honor, some to dishonor; the τὸ ἀυτὸ φύραμα not denoting the same substance, but one common condition. And the making of the individuals is not by temporal creation, but eternal designation. So that all mankind, made out of nothing and out of the same condition, destined to several ends, for the glory of God, are branched into two sorts; — elect, or vessels from the common mass unto honor; and reprobates, or vessels from the common mass unto dishonor. As such they were typed by Jacob and Esau, Romans 9:11-13; and are expressed under that distribution, 1 Thessalonians 5:9. Some ἀπ᾿ ἀρχῆς, “from the beginning,” being “chosen to salvation,” 2 Thessalonians 2:13; πρὸ κατα, Ephesians 1:4, “before the foundation of the world;” Romans 8:29; Romans 11:5; Matthew 20:16; 2 Timothy 2:10; Revelation 21:27; — others are appointed to the day of evil, Proverbs 16:4; παλαὶ προγεγραμμένοι, “of old ordained to condemnation,” Jude 1:4; εἰς ἅλωσιν καὶ φθοράν, “for to be destroyed,” 2 Peter 2:12. See Romans 9:22; Romans 11:7; Revelation 20:15.

Both these sorts, or all mankind, is the lordship of Christ extended to, and to each of them respectively: — He is Lord over all flesh, John 17:2; both living and dead, Romans 14:9; Philippians 2:9-10.

First, Particularly, he is Lord over all the elect. And besides the general foundation of the equity of his authority and power in his divine nature and creation of all things, the grant of the Father unto him, as mediator, to be their Lord is founded in other especial acts both of Father and Son; for, —

1. They were given unto him from eternity, in design and by compact, that they should be his peculiar portion, and he their Saviour, John 17:2. Of the πάσης σαρκός, “all flesh,” over which he hath authority, there is a πᾶν ὅ δὲδωκε, a universality of them whom the Father gave him, in an especial manner; of whom he says, “Thine they were, and thou gavest them me,” John 17:6; Acts 18:10. They are a portion given him to save, John 6:39; of which he takes the care, as Jacob did of the sheep of Laban, when he served him for a wife, Genesis 31:36-40. See Proverbs 8:31. This was an act of the will of the Father in the eternal covenant of the mediator; whereof elsewhere.

2. His grant is strengthened by redemption, purchase, and acquisition. This was the condition of the former grant, Isaiah 53:10-12, which was made good by him; so that his lordship is frequently asserted on this very account, 1 Corinthians 6:20; 1 Peter 1:18-19; 1 Timothy 2:6; John 10:15; Ephesians 5:25-27; Revelation 5:9; John 11:51-52. And this purchase of Christ is peculiar to them so given him of the Father in the covenant of the mediator; as, —

(1.) Proceeding from his especial and greatest love, John 15:13; Romans 5:8; 1 John 3:16; 1 John 4:9-10; Acts 20:28; Romans 8:32 and, —

(2.) Being accompanied with a purchase for them which they shall certainly enjoy, and that of grace and glory, Acts 20:28; Ephesians 1:14; Philippians 1:28; Hebrews 9:12; Hebrews 9:15. And, indeed, the controversy about the death of Christ is not primarily about its extent, but its efficacy and fruits in respect of them for whom he died,

3. Those thus given him of the Father and redeemed by him are of two sorts: —

(1.) Such as are actually called to faith in him and union with him. These are further become his upon many other especial accounts. They are his in all relations of subjection, — his children, servants, brethren, disciples, subjects, his house, his spouse. He stands towards them in all relations of authority: is their father, master, elder brother, teacher, king, lord, ruler, judge, husband; ruling in them by his Spirit and grace, over them by his laws in his word, preserving them by his power, chastening them in his care and love, feeding them out of his stores, trying them and delivering them in his wisdom, bearing with their miscarriages in his patience, and taking them for his portion, lot, and inheritance, in his providence; raising them at the last day, taking them to himself in glory, and every way avouching them to be his, and himself to be their Lord and Master.

(2.) Some of them are always uncalled, and shall be so until the whole number of them be completed and filled. But before, they belong on the former accounts unto his lot, care, and rule, John 10:16. They are already his sheep by grant and purchase, though not yet really so by grace and holiness. They are not yet his by present obediental subjection, but they are his by eternal designation and real acquisition.

Now, the power that the Lord Jesus hath over this sort of mankind is universal, unlimited, absolute, and exclusive of all other power over them, as unto the things peculiarly belonging unto his kingdom. He is their king, judge, lawgiver; and in things of God purely spiritual and evangelical other they have none. It is true, he takes them not out of the world, and therefore as unto τὰ βιωτικά, “the things of this life,” things of the world, they are subject to the laws and rulers of the world; but as unto the things of God he is the only lawgiver, who is able to kill and make alive. But the nature and ends of the lordship of Christ over the elect are too large and comprehensive to be here spoken unto, in this brief delineation of his kingdom, which we undertook in this digression.

Secondly, His lordship and dominion extends to the other sort of men also, namely, reprobates, or men finally impenitent. They are not exempted from that “all flesh” which he hath power over, John 17:2; nor from those “dead and living” over whom he is Lord, Romans 14:9; nor from that “world” which he shall judge, Acts 17:31. And there are two especial grounds, that are peculiar to them, of this grant of power and authority over them : —

1. His interposition, upon the entrance of sin, against the immediate execution of the curse due unto it; as befell the angels. This fixed the world under a dispensation of, —

(1.) Forbearance and patience, Romans 2:4-5; Acts 17:30; Romans 9:22; Psalms 75:3 :

(2.) Goodness and mercy, Acts 14:16-17.

That God, who spared not the angels when they sinned, but immediately cast them into chains of darkness, should place sinners of the race of Adam under a dispensation of forbearance and goodness, — that he should spare them with much long-suffering during their pilgrimage on the earth, and fill their hearts with food and gladness, with all those fruits of kindness which the womb of his providence is still bringing forth for their benefit and advantage, — is thus far on the account of the Lord Christ, that though these things, as relating unto reprobates, are no part of his especial purchase as mediator of the everlasting covenant of grace, yet they are a necessary consequent of his interposition against the immediate execution of the whole curse upon the first entrance of sin, and of his undertaking for his elect.

2. He makes a conquest over them. It was promised that he should do so, Genesis 3:15; and though the work itself prove long and irksome, though the ways of accomplishing it be unto us obscure and oftentimes invisible, yet he hath undertaken it, and will not give it over until they are every one brought to be his footstool, Psalms 110:1; 1 Corinthians 15:25. And the dominion granted him on these grounds is, —

(1.) Sovereign and absolute. His enemies are his footstool, Psalms 110:1; Matthew 22:44; Mark 12:36; Luke 20:42; Acts 2:34; 1 Corinthians 15:25; Hebrews 1:13. They are in his hand, as the Egyptians were in Joseph’s when he had purchased both their persons and their estates to be at arbitrary disposal; and he deals with them as Joseph did with those, so far as any of the ends of his rule and lordship are concerned in them. And, —

(2.) Judiciary, John 5:22-23. As he hath power over their persons, so he hath regard unto their sins, Romans 14:9; Acts 17:31; Matthew 25:31. And this power he variously exerciseth over them, even in this world, before he gloriously exerts it in their eternal ruin. For, —

[1.] He enlightens them by those heavenly sparks of truth and reason which he leaves unextinguished in their own minds, John 1:9.

[2.] Strives with them by his Spirit, Genesis 6:3; secretly exciting their consciences to rebuke, bridle, yoke, afflict, and cruciate them, Romans 2:14-15. And,

[3.] On some of them he acts by the power and authority of his word; whereby he quickens their consciences, galls their minds and affections, restrains their lusts, bounds their conversations, aggravates their sins, hardens their hearts, and judges their souls, Psalms 45; Isaiah 6.

[4.] He exerciseth rule and dominion over them in providential dispensations, Revelation 6:15-16; Isaiah 63:1-4; Revelation 19:13. By all which he makes way for the glory of his final judgment of them, Acts 17:31; Matthew 25:31; Revelation 19:20; Revelation 20:10-15. And all this will he do, unto the ends, —

1st. Of his own glory;

2dly. His church’s good, exercise, and safety.

And this is the second instance of the first head of the dominion of Christ in this world. He is Lord over persons, angels and men.

The SECOND part of the heirship and dominion of Christ consisteth in his lordship over all things besides; which added to the former comprise the whole creation of God.

I. In the distribution of these premised, the first that occur are spiritual things, which also are of two sorts: —

First, Temporal, or such as in this life we are made partakers of; and,

Secondly, Eternal, the things that are reserved for them that believe in the state of glory. The former may be reduced unto two heads; for they are all of them either grace or gifts, and Christ is Lord of them all.

First, All that which comes under the name of grace in Scripture, which, flowing from the free and special love of God, tends directly to the spiritual and eternal good of them on whom it is bestowed, may be referred unto four heads; for as the fountain of all these (or the gracious free purpose of the will of God, from whence they all do flow), being antecedent to the mission of Christ the mediator, and immanent in God, it can be no otherwise granted unto him but in respect of its effects; which we shall show that it is. Now, these are: —

1. Pardon of sin, and the free acceptation of the persons of sinners in a way of mercy. This is grace, Ephesians 2:8; Titus 3:5-7; and a saving effect and fruit of the covenant, Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 8:8-12.

2. The regenerating of the person of a dead sinner, with the purifying and sanctifying of his nature, in a way of spiritual power. This also is grace, and promised in the covenant. And there are three parts of it: —

(1.) The infusion of a quickening principle into the soul of a dead sinner, Romans 8:2; Titus 3:5; John 3:6; Ephesians 2:1-6.

(2.) The habitual furnishment of the spiritually-quickened soul with abiding, radical principles of light, love, and power, fitting it for spiritual obedience, Galatians 5:17.

(3.) Actual assistance, in a communication of supplies of strength for every duty and work, Philippians 4:13; John 15:5.

3. Preservation in a condition of acceptation with God, and holy obedience unto him unto the end, is also of especial grace. It is the grace of perseverance, and eminently included in the covenant, as we have elsewhere showed at large.

4. Adoption, as a privilege, with all the privileges that flow from it, is also grace, Ephesians 1:5-6.

All these, with all those admirable and inexpressible mercies that they branch themselves into, — giving deliverance unto sinners from evil temporal and eternal, raising them to communion with God here, and to the enjoyment of him for ever hereafter, — are called grace, and do belong to the lordship of Christ, as he is heir, lord, and possessor of them all. All the stores of this grace and mercy that are in heaven for sinners are given into his hand, and resigned up to his sovereign disposal, as we shall intimate in general and particular : —

1. In general, Colossians 1:19, “It pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell.” There is a fourfold fullness in Christ: —

(1.) Of the Deity in his divine nature, Romans 9:5.

(2.) Of union in his person, Colossians 2:9.

(3.) Of grace in his human nature, John 1:14; John 3:34; Luke 2:52; Luke 4:1.

(4.) An authoritative fullness, to communicate of it unto others.

That is the fullness here intended; for it is in him as the head of the church, Luke 4:18, so as that from him, or that fullness which it pleased the Father to intrust him withal, believers might receive “grace for grace,” John 1:16-17. Thus he testifies that “all things are delivered to him of his Father,”

Matthew 11:27, — put into his power and possession. And they are the things he there intends, on the account whereof he invites sinners weary and laden to come unto him, Matthew 11:28, namely, all mercy and grace; which are the things that burdened sinners need and look after. The same is testified John 3:35-36; and fully John 16:15, “All things that the Father hath are mine;” John 17:10. All the grace and mercy that are in the heart of God as Father to bestow upon his children, they are all given into the hand of Christ, and are his, or part of his inheritance.

2. In particular: —

(1.) All pardoning grace, for the acceptance of our persons and forgiveness of our sins, is his; he is the Lord of it. Acts 5:31, He is made “a Prince and a Savior, to give repentance and the forgiveness of sins.” Forgiveness of sin is wholly given unto him as to the administration of it, nor doth any one receive it but out of his stores. And what is the dominion of ten thousands of worlds in comparison of this inheritance? Sure he shall be my God and King who hath all forgiveness at his disposal. All that this world can do or give is a thousand times lighter than the dust of the balance, if compared with these good things of the kingdom of Christ.

(2.) All regenerating, quickening, sanctifying, assisting grace is his.

[1.] John 5:21, He quickeneth whom he pleaseth. He walks among dead souls, and says to whom he will, ‘Live.’And,

[2.] He sanctifies by his Spirit whom he pleaseth, John 4:14. All the living waters of saving grace are committed to him, and he invites men unto them freely, Song of Solomon 5:1; Isaiah 55:1; Revelation 22:17. And,

[3.] All grace actually assisting us unto any duty is his also, for without him we can do nothing, John 15:5; for it is he alone that gives out suitable help in the time of need, Hebrews 4:16. No man was everquickened, purified, or strengthened, but by him; nor can any dram of this grace be obtained but out of his treasures. Those who pretend to stores of it in their own wills, are so far antichrists.

(3.) The grace of our preservation in our acceptation with God and obedience unto him is solely his, John 10:28. And so also, —

(4.) Are all the blessed and gracious privileges whereof we are made partakers in our adoption, John 1:12. Hebrews 3:6, he is so Lord over the house and family of God as to have the whole inheritance in his power, and the absolute disposal of all the good things belonging unto it. These are the riches and treasures of the kingdom of Christ, the good things of his house, the revenues of his dominion. The mass of this treasure that lies by him is infinite, the stores of it are inexhaustible; and he is ready, free, gracious, and bountiful, in his communications of them to all the subjects of his dominion. This part of his heirship extends unto, —

1. All the grace and mercy that the Father could find in his own gracious heart to bestow, when he was full of counsels of love, and designed to exalt himself by the way of grace, Ephesians 1:6.

2. To all the grace and mercy which he himself could purchase by the effusion of his blood, Hebrews 9:14; Ephesians 2:13; and indeed these are commensurate, if things in respect of us altogether boundless may be said to be commensurate.

3. All that grace which hath saved the world of sinners which are already in the enjoyment of God, and that shall effectually save all that come to God by him.

4. All that grace which, in the promises of it in the Old Testament, is set out by all that is rich, precious, glorious, — all that is eminent in the whole creation of God; and in the New is called “treasure,” “unsearchable riches,” and “exceeding excellency:” which, being communicated by him to all the subjects of his kingdom, makes every one of them richer than all the potentates of the earth who have no interest in him.

The especial foundation of all this trust is in an eminent manner expressed, Isaiah 53:10-12. His suffering for the sins of all those to whom he intends to communicate of this his fullness, according to the will of God, and the purchase he made in his death, according to the tenor of the covenant of the mediator, makes it just and righteous that he should enjoy this part of his inheritance, Hebrews 2:14; Hebrews 9:12. The Father says unto him: ‘Seest thou these poor wretched creatures that lie perishing in their blood and under the curse? They had once my image gloriously enstamped on them, and were every way meet for my service; but behold the misery that is come upon them by their sin and rebellion. Sentence is gone forth against them upon their sin; and they want nothing to shut them up under everlasting ruin but the execution of it. Wilt thou undertake to be their savior and deliverer, to save them from their sins, and the wrath to come? Wilt thou make thy soul an offering for their sins, and lay down thy life a ransom for them? Hast thou love enough to wash them in thine own blood, in a nature to be taken of them, being obedient therein unto death, the death of the cross?’Whereunto he replies: ‘I am content to do thy will, and will undertake this work, and that with joy and delight. Lo, I come for that purpose; my delight is with these sons of men, Psalms 40:8; Proverbs 8:31. What they have taken, I will pay. What is due from them, let it be required at my hand. I am ready to undergo wrath and curse for them, and to pour out my soul unto death.’‘It shall be,’saith the Father, ‘as thou hast spoken, and thou shalt see of the travail of thy soul and be satisfied. I will give thee for a covenant and a leader unto them, and thou shalt be the captain of their salvation. To this end take into thy power and disposal all the treasures of heaven, all mercy and grace, to give out unto them for whom thou hast undertaken. Behold, here are unsearchable hidden treasures, not of many generations, but laid up from eternity. Take all these riches into thy power, and at thy disposal shall they be for ever.” This is the noble peculiar foundation of this part of the inheritance of Christ.

From what hath been spoken, the rule also whereby the Lord Christ proceedeth in disposing these treasures to the sons of men is made evident. Though he hath all grace committed unto him, yet he bestows not grace upon all. The rule of his procedure herein is God’s election; for the foundation of this whole truth is his undertaking for them who were given him of his Father. See Acts 13:48; Romans 11:7; Ephesians 1:3-8. And the variety which is seen in his actual communication of grace and mercy unto sinners depends upon the sovereign and eternal designation of the persons of them who by him were to obtain mercy, and be made heirs of salvation.

But although the persons are designed and allotted unto him from eternity who were to receive this grace and mercy at his hands, yet as to the manner and all circumstances of his dispensation and communication of them, they are wholly committed unto his own sovereign will and wisdom. Hence some he calls at one time, some at another; some in the morning, that they may glorify grace in working all the day; some in the evening of their lives, that they may exalt pardoning mercy to eternity: on some he bestows much grace, that he may render them useful in the strength of it; on others less that he may keep them humble in a sense of their wants: some he makes rich in light, others in love; some in faith, others in patience; that they may all peculiarly praise him, and set out the fullness of his stores. And hereby, —

1. He glorifies every grace of his Spirit, by making it shine eminently in one or other, as faith in Abraham and Peter, love in David and John, patience in Job; and,

2. He renders his subjects useful one to another, in that they have opportunities upon the defects and fullness of each other to exercise all their graces; and,

3. So he renders his whole body uniform and comely, 1 Corinthians 12:14-27;

4. Keeping every member in humility and dependence, whilst it sees its own wants in some graces that others excel in, Colossians 2:19.

This is another most eminent part of the inheritance and kingdom of Christ.

Secondly, All gifts that are bestowed on any of the sons of men, whereby they are differenced from others or made useful unto others, belong also unto the inheritance and kingdom of Christ.

Gifts bestowed on men are either natural or spiritual.

1. Natural gifts are especial endowments of the persons or minds of men, in relation unto things appertaining unto this life; as wisdom, learning, skill and cunning in arts and sciences. I call them natural in respect of the objects that they are exercised about, which are τὰ βιωτικά, “things of this life;” as also in respect of their end and use. They are not always so as to their rise and spring, but may be immediately infused, as wisdom was into Solomon for civil government, 1 Kings 3:12; and skill for all manner of mechanical operations into Bezaleel, Exodus 31:2-6. But how far these gifts are educed in an ordinary course of providence out of their hidden seeds and principles in nature, in a just connection of causes and effects, and so fall under a certain law of acquisition, or what there may be of the interposition of the Spirit of God in an especial manner, immediately conferring them on any, falls not under our present consideration of them. Nor yet can we insist on their use, which is such that they are the great instrument in the hand of God for the preservation of human society, and to keep the course of man’s life and pilgrimage from being wholly brutish. I design only to show that even they also belong (though more remotely) to the lordship of Jesus Christ; which they do on two accounts: —

(1.) In that the very use of men’s reason and their natural faculties, as to any good end or purpose, is continued unto them upon the account of his interposition, bringing the world thereby under a dispensation of patience and forbearance, as was declared, John 1:9.

(2.) He is endued with power and authority to use them, in whose hand soever they lie, whether of his friends or enemies, to the especial ends of his glory, in doing good unto his church. And, indeed, in the efficacy of his Spirit and power upon the gifts of the minds of men, exciting, ordering, disposing, enabling them unto various actings and operations, by and with them; controlling, overruling, entangling each other and themselves in whom they are by them; his wisdom and care in the rule, government, chastisement, and deliverance of his church, are most conspicuous.

2. Spiritual gifts, which principally come under that denomination, are of two sorts, — extraordinary, and ordinary. The first are immediate endowment of the minds of men with abilities exceeding the whole system of nature, in the exercise whereof they are mere instruments of Him who bestows those gifts upon them. Such of old were the gifts of miracles, tongues, healing, prediction, and infallible inspiration, given out by the Lord Christ unto such as he was pleased to use in his gospel service in an extraordinary manner. The latter sort are furnishments of the minds of men, enabling them unto the comprehension of spiritual things, and the management of them for spiritual ends and purposes. Such are wisdom, knowledge, prudence, utterance, aptness to teach; in general, abilities to manage the things of Christ and the gospel unto their own proper ends. And these also are of two sorts: —

(1.) Such as are peculiar unto office; and,

(2.) Such as are common unto others, for their own and others’ good and edification, according as they are called unto the exercise of them.

And these two sorts of gifts differ only in respect of degrees. There are no ordinary gifts that Christ’s officers are made partakers of, their office only excepted, which differ in the kind or nature of them from those which he bestows on all his disciples; which makes their stirring up and endeavors to improve the gifts they have received exceeding necessary unto them. And Christ’s collation of these gifts unto men is the foundation of all the offices that under him they are called to discharge. See Ephesians 4:8, 1 Corinthians 12:5, John 20:21-22. And as they are the spring and foundation of office, so they are the great and only means of the church’s edification. By them Christ builds up his church to the measure appointed unto the whole and every member of it. And there is no member but hath his gift; which is the talent given, or rather lent, to trade withal.

Now, of all these Christ is the only Lord; they belong unto his kingdom: Psalms 68:19, לָקַחְתָּ מַתָּנוֹת בָּאָדָם. “When he ascended on high, he took” (or “received”) “gifts for men;” he took them into his own power and disposal, being given him of his Father; as Peter declares, Acts 2:33, adding that he received the Spirit, by whom all these gifts are wrought. And Ephesians 4:8, the apostle renders the words of the psalmist ἔδωκε δόματα, “he gave gifts;” because he received them into his power, not to keep them unto himself, but to give them out to the use of others.

And so לָקַח doth sometimes signify to “give,” Hosea 14:3. “Verbumaccipiendi dare significat cum accipiunt aliunde ut dent,” say the Jewish masters. And it was after his resurrection that this accession was made unto his kingdom, in such an eminent and visible manner as to be a testimony of his office: John 7:39, οὔπω πςεῦμα ἅμιον, “The Holy Ghost was not yet; because Jesus was not yet glorified,” — not eminently given and received, as to these gifts, Acts 19:2. And this investiture of him with power over all gifts, he makes the bottom of the mission of the apostles, Matthew 28:18. This he had as a fruit of his suffering, as a part of his purchase; and it is a choice portion of his lordship and kingdom.

The end also why all these gifts are given into his power and disposal is evident: —

1. The propagation of his gospel, and consequently the setting up of his kingdom in the world, depends upon them. These are the arms that he furnished his messengers withal when he sent them forth to fight, to conquer and subdue the world unto him. And by these they prevailed. By that Spirit of wisdom and knowledge, prayer and utterance, wherewith they were endowed, — attended, where and when needful, with the extraordinary gifts before mentioned, did they accomplish the work committed unto their charge. Now, the Lord Christ having a right unto a kingdom and inheritance given him which was actually under possession of his adversary, it was necessary that all those arms wherewith he was to make a conquest of it should be given to his disposal, 2 Corinthians 10:4. These were the weapons of the warfare of his apostles and disciples, which through God were so mighty to cast down the strongholds of sin and Satan; these are the slings and stones before which the Goliaths of the earth and hell did fall; this was that power from above which he promised his apostles to furnish them withal, when they should address themselves to the conquest of the world, Acts 1:8. With these weapons, this furniture for their warfare, a few despised persons, in the eyes of the world, went from Judea unto the ends of the earth, subduing all things before them to the obedience of their Lord and Master. And, —

2. By these is his church edified. And to that end doth he continue to bestow them on men, and will do so to the end of the world, 1 Corinthians 12:4-14; Ephesians 4:8-12; Romans 12:6-8; 1 Peter 4:10-11; Colossians 2:19. And for any to hinder their growth and exercise is, what in them lies, to pull down the church of Christ, and to set themselves against that testimony which he gives in the world that he is yet alive, and that he takes care of his disciples, being present with them according unto his promise.

3. And by these means and ways is God glorified in him and by him; which is the great end of his lordship over all the gifts of the Spirit.

That we may a little by the way look into our especial concernment in these things, the order of them, and their subserviency one to another, may be briefly considered: for as natural gifts are the foundation of, and lie in an especial subordination unto spiritual, so are spiritual gifts enlivened, made effectual and durable, by grace. The principal end of Christ’s bestowing gifts is the erection of a ministry in his church, for the ends before mentioned. And where all these, in their order and mutual subserviency unto one another, are received by any, there, and there alone, is a competent furniture for the work of the ministry received. And where any of them, as to their whole kind, are wanting, there is a defect in the person, if not a nullity as to the office. Natural gifts and endowments of mind are so necessary a foundation for any that looks towards the work of the ministry, that without some competent measure of them it is madness and folly to entertain thoughts of any progress. Unless unto these, spiritual gifts are in Christ’s time superadded, the other will never be of any use for the edification of the church, as having in their own nature and series no especial tendency unto that end. Nor will these superadded spiritual gifts enable any man to discharge his duty unto all well-pleasing before God, unless they also are quickened and seasoned by grace. And where there is an intercision of this series and order in any, the defect will quickly appear. Thus some we see of excellent natural endowments, in their first setting forth in the world, and in their endeavors on that single stock, promising great usefulness and excellency in their way, who, when they should come to engage in the service of the gospel, evidence themselves to be altogether unfurnished for the employment they undertake, yea, and to have lost what before they seemed to have received. Having gone to the utmost length and bounds that gifts merely natural could carry them out unto, and not receiving superadded spiritual gifts, which the Spirit of Christ bestoweth as he pleaseth, 1 Corinthians 12:11, they faint in the way, wither, and become utterly useless. And this, for the most part, falleth out when men either have abused their natural gifts to the service of their lusts, and in an opposition to the simplicity of the gospel; or when they set upon spiritual things and pretend to the service of Christ merely in their own strength, without dependence on him, as the heir and lord of all, for abilities and furniture for his work; or when they have some fixed corrupt end and design to accomplish and bring about by a pretense of the ministry, without regard to the glory of Christ, or compassion to the souls of men, — which the Lord Christ will not prostitute the gifts of his Spirit to make them serviceable unto. And sundry other causes of this failure may be assigned.

It is no otherwise as to the next degree in this order, in reference unto spiritual gifts and saving grace. When these gifts, in the good pleasure of the Lord of them, are superadded unto the natural endowments before mentioned, they carry on them who have received them cheerfully, comfortably, and usefully, in their way and progress. The former are increased, heightened, strengthened, and perfected by the latter, towards that special end whereunto themselves are designed, — namely, the glory of Christ in the work of the gospel. But if these also are not in due season quickened by saving grace, if the heart be not moistened and made fruitful thereby, even they also will wither and decay. Sin and the world in process of time will devour them; whereof we have daily experience in this world. And this is the order wherein the great Lord of all these gifts hath laid them, in a subserviency one kind unto another, and all of them unto his own glory.

And this that hath been spoken will abundantly discover the reason and ground of the apostolical exhortation, “Covet earnestly the best gifts,” 1 Corinthians 12:31 : as, first, the gift of wisdom and knowledge in the word and will of God, 1 Corinthians 12:8; 1 Corinthians 2:7; 1 Timothy 3:15; 1 Corinthians 1:5 ; — secondly, the gift of ability to manage and improve this wisdom and knowledge to the edification of others, Hebrews 3:13, Romans 15:14; 1 Thessalonians 5:11; — thirdly, of prayer. And many more might be added of the like usefulness and importance.

Secondly, To close our considerations of this part of the lordship of Christ, there remains only that we show him to be the Lord of all spiritual eternal things, which in one word we call glory. He is himself the “Lord of glory,” 1 Corinthians 2:8, and the Judge of all, John 5:22; in the discharge of which office he gives out glory as a reward unto his followers, Matthew 25:32; Romans 14:10. Glory is the reward that is with him, which he will give out at the last day as a crown, 1 Peter 5:4; 2 Timothy 4:8; John 17:2. And to this end, that he might be Lord of it, he hath, —

1. Purchased it, Hebrews 9:12; Ephesians 1:14; Hebrews 2:10;

2. Taken actual possession of it in his own person, Luke 24:26; John 17:5; John 17:22-24; and that,

3. As the forerunner of those on whom he will bestow it, Hebrews 6:20.

And this is a short view of the lordship of Christ as to things spiritual.

II. Ecclesiastical things, or things that concern church institutions, rule, and power, belong also unto his rule and dominion. He is the only head, lord, ruler, and lawgiver of his church. There was a church-state ever since God created man on the earth; and there is the same reason of it in all its alterations, as unto its relation to the Lord Christ. Whatever changes it underwent, still Christ was the Lord of it and of all its concernments. But by way of instance and eminency, we may consider the Mosaical church- state under the old testament, and the evangelical church-state under the new. Christ is Lord of and in respect unto them both.

1. He was the Lord of the old testament church-state, and he exercised his power and lordship towards it in four ways : —

(1.) In and by its institution and erection. He made, framed, set up, and appointed that church-state, and all the worship of God therein observed. He it was who appeared unto Moses in the wilderness, Exodus 3:5-6, Acts 7:32-33; and who gave them the law on mount Sinai, Exodus 20, Psalms 68:17-18, Ephesians 4:8; and continued with them in the wilderness, Numbers 21:6, 1 Corinthians 10:9. So that from him, his power and authority, was the institution and erection of that church.

(2.) By prescribing a complete rule and form of worship and obedience unto it, being erected, as its lawgiver, to which nothing might be added, Deuteronomy 4:1-2; Deuteronomy 12:32.

(3.) By way of reformation, when it was collapsed and decayed, Zechariah 2:8-13; Malachi 3:1-3.

(4.) By way of amotion, or taking down what he himself had set up, because it was so framed and ordered as to continue only for a season, Hebrews 9:10; Deuteronomy 18:15-18; Haggai 2:6-7; Isaiah 65:17-18; 2 Peter 3:13. Which part of his power and lordship we shall afterwards abundantly prove against the Jews.

2. Of the new testament evangelical church-state also, he is the only lord and ruler; yea, this is his proper kingdom, on which all other parts of his dominion do depend: for he is given to be “head over all things to the church,” Ephesians 1:22. For, —

(1.) He is the foundation of this church-state, 1 Corinthians 3:11, the whole design and platform of it being laid in him, and built upon him. And,

(2.) He erects this church-state upon himself, Matthew 16:18, “Upon this Rock I will build my church;” the Spirit and word whereby it is done being from him alone, and ordered in and by his wisdom, power, and care. And,

(3.) He gives laws and rules of worship and obedience unto it, when so built by himself and upon him, Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 1:2; Hebrews 3:1-6. And,

(4.) He is the everlasting, constant, abiding, head, ruler, king, and governor of it, Ephesians 1:22; Colossians 2:19; Hebrews 3:6; Revelation 2:3. All which things are ordinarily spoken unto, and the ends of this power of Christ fully declared.

III. He is Lord also of political things. All the governments the world, that are set up and exercised therein for the good of mankind, and the preservation of society according to the rules of equity and righteousness, — over all these, and those who in and by them exercise rule and authority amongst men, is he lord and king.

He alone is the absolute potentate; the highest on the earth are in a subordination unto him. That,

1. He was designed unto, Psalms 89:27. And accordingly he is,

2. made Lord of lords, and King of kings, Revelation 17:14; Revelation 19:16; 1 Timothy 6:15. And,

3. He exerciseth dominion answerable unto his title, Revelation 6:14-17; Revelation 17:14; Revelation 19:16-20; Psalms 2:8-9; Isaiah 60; Micah 5:7-9. And,

4. Hath hence right to send his gospel into all nations in the world, attended with the worship by him prescribed, Matthew 28:19; Psalms 2:9-12; which none of the rulers or governors of the world have any right to refuse or oppose; nor can so do, but upon their utmost peril And,

5. All kingdoms shall at length be brought into a professed subjection to him and his gospel, and have all their rule disposed of unto the interest of his church and saints, Daniel 7:27; Isaiah 60:12; Revelation 19:16-19.

IV. The last branch of this dominion of Christ consists in the residue of the creation of God, — heaven and earth, sea and land, wind, trees, and fruits of the earth, and the creatures of sense. As they are all put under his feet, Psalms 8:6-8; Ephesians 1:22; 1 Corinthians 15:27; so the exercise of his power severally over them is known from the story of the gospel.

And thus we have glanced at this lordship of Christ in some of the general parts of it. And how small a portion of his glorious power are we able to comprehend or declare! δι᾿ οὗ καὶ τοὺς αἰῶνας ἐποίησεν, — “By whom also he made the worlds.” The apostle in these words gives further strength to his present argument, from another consideration of the person of the Messiah; wherein he also discovers the foundation of the pre-eminence ascribed unto him in the words last insisted on: “By him the worlds were made;” so that they were “his own,” John 1:11, and it was meet that, in the new condition which he underwent, he should be the Lord of them all. Moreover, if all things be made by him, all disobedience unto him is certainly most unreasonable, and will be attended with inevitable ruin; of the truth whereof the apostle aims to convince the Hebrews.

Now, whereas the assertion which presents itself at first view in these words is such as, if. we rightly apprehend the meaning of the Holy Ghost in it, must needs determine the controversy that the apostle had with the Jews, and is of great use and importance unto the faith of the saints in all ages, I shall first free the words from false glosses and interpretations, and then explain the truth asserted in them, both absolutely and with relation to the present purpose of the apostle.

That which some men design in their wresting of this place, is to deface the illustrious testimony given in it unto the eternal deity of the Son of God; and to this purpose they proceed variously.

1. By δι᾿ οὗ, “by whom,” they say, δι᾿ ὃν, “for whom,” is intended. And so the sense of the place is, that “for Christ, for his sake, God made the world.” So Enjedinus. And Grotius embraceth his notion, adding in its confirmation that this was the opinion of the Jews, namely, that all things were made for the Messiah; and therefore ἐποίησε he renders by “condiderat,” as signifying the time long since past, before the bringing forth of Christ into the world: as also that δι᾿ ο῟υ is put for δι᾿ ὃν, in Romans 6:4, Revelation 4:11; Revelation 13:14, and therefore may be here so used. According to this exposition of the words, we have in them an expression of the love of God towards the Messiah, in that for his sake he made the world; but not any thing of the excellency, power, and glory of the Messiah himself.

It is manifest that the whole strength of this interpretation lies in this, that δι᾿ ον῟ may be taken for δι᾿ ὃν, — “by whom,” instead of “for whom.” But neither is it proved that in any other place these expressions are equipollent; nor, if that could be supposed, is there any reason offered why the one of them should in this place be put for the other; for, —

(1.) The places referred unto do no way prove that διά with a genitive doth ever denote the final cause, but the efficient only. With an accusative, for the most part, it is as much as “propter,” signifying the final cause of the thing spoken of; and rarely in the New Testament is it otherwise used. Revelation 4:11, διὰ τό θέλημά σου, “At thy will” or “pleasure,” the efficient and disposing, not the final cause, seems to be denoted; and Revelation 13:14, διὰ τὰ σημεῖα, “By the signs that were given him to do,” the formal cause is signified. But that joined with a genitive case it anywhere signifies the final cause, doth not appear. Beza, whom Grotius cites, says on Romans 6:4, that διὰ δόξης πατρός, “by the glory of the Father,” may be taken for ἐις δόξην, “unto the glory.” But the case is not the same where things as where persons are spoken of. οὗ here relates unto a person, and yet is διά, joined with it, asserted to denote the end of the things spoken of; which is insolent. Besides, δόξα πατρός in that place is indeed the glorious power of the Father, the efficient of the resurrection of Christ treated of. So that whereas διά is used six hundred times with a genitive case in the New Testament, no one instance can be given where it may be rendered “propter,” “for;” and therefore cannot be so here.

(2.) On supposition that some such instance might be produced, yet, being contrary to the constant use of the word, some cogent reason from the text wherein it is used, or the thing treated of, must be urged to give that sense admittance; and nothing of that nature is or can be here pleaded.

(3.) As δι᾿ οὗ and εἰς ὃν are distinguished, the one expressing the efficient the other the final cause, Romans 11:36; so also are δι᾿ οὗ and δι᾿ ὃν in this very epistle: Hebrews 2:10, δι᾿ ὅν τὰ πάντα, καὶ δι᾿ οὗ τὰ πάντα, — “For whom are all things, and by whom are all things.” And is it likely that the apostle would put one of them for the other, contrary to the proper use which he intended immediately to assign severally unto them?

(4.) δι᾿ οὗ, “by whom,” here, is the same with δι᾿ αὐτοῦ, “by him,” John 1:3; which the same person interprets properly for the efficient cause.

On these accounts, the foundation of this gloss being removed, the superadded translation of ἐποίησε by “condiderat” is altogether useless; and what the Jews grant that God did with respect to the Messiah, we shall afterwards consider.

2. The Socinians generally lay no exception against the person making, whom they acknowledge to be Christ the Son, but unto the worlds said to be made. These are not, say they, the things of the old, but of the new creation; not the fabric of heaven and earth, but the conversion of the souls of men; not the first institution and forming of all things, but the restoration of mankind, and translation into a new condition of life. This Schlichtingius at large insists on in his comment on this place; bringing, in the justification of his interpretation, the sum of what is pleaded by all of them, in answer not only to this testimony, but also to that of John 1:3, and that also of Colossians 1:16-17.

(1.) “The old creation,” he says, “is never said to be performed by any intermediate cause, as the Father is here said to make these worlds by the Son.” But,

[1.] This is “petitio principii,” that this expression doth denote any such intermediate cause as should interpose between the Father and the creation of the world, by an operation of its own, diverse from that of the Father. Job 26:13, God is said to adorn the heavens בְּרוּחוֹ, “by his Spirit,” which they will not contend to denote an intermediate cause; and διά here is but what the Hebrews express by בְּ.

[2.] In the creation of the world, the Father wrought in and by the Son, the same creating act being the act of both persons, John 5:17, their will, wisdom, and power being essentially the same.

(2.) He adds, “There is an allusion only in the words unto the first creation, as in John 1:1-3, where the apostle sets out the beginning of the Gospel in the terms whereby Moses reports the creation of the world; and therefore mentions light in particular, because of an allusion to the light at first created by God, when of all other things, whereto there is no such allusion, he maketh no mention.”

Ans. [1.] The new creation granted by the men of this persuasion being only a moral suasion of the minds of men by the outward doctrine of the gospel, I know not what allusion can be fancied in it unto the creation of the world out of nothing.

[2.] It is granted that the apostle speaks here of the same creation that John treats of in the beginning of his Gospel; but that that is the creation of the whole world, and all things contained in it, hath been elsewhere proved, and must be granted, or we may well despair of ever understanding one line in the Scripture, or what we ordinarily speak one to another.

[3.] John doth not mention any particular of the old creation, affirming only in general that by the Word all things were made; whereof he afterwards affirms that he was “the light of men,” — not assigning unto him in particular the creation of light, as is pretended. John 3

(3.) He tells us, “The article proposed, τοὺς αἰῶνας, intimates that it is not the old creation that is intended, but some new especial thing, distinct from it and preferred above it.

Ans. [1.] As the same article doth, used by the same apostle to the same purpose in another place: Acts 14:15, “ ος ἐποίησε τὸν οὐρανὸν καὶ τὴν γῆν καὶ τὴν θάλασσας· — “Who made the heaven, the earth, and sea;” which were certainly those created of old.

[2.] The same article is used with the same word again in this epistle, Hebrews 11:3, πίστει νοοῦμεν κατηρτίσθαι τοὺς αἰῶνας· — “By faith we understand that the worlds were made;” where this author acknowledgeth the old creation to be intended.

(4.) He adds, “That the author of this epistle seems to allude to the Greek translation of Isaiah 9:5, wherein אֲבִיאּעַד, ‘The Father of eternity,’or ‘Eternal Father,’is rendered ‘The Father of the world to come.’”

Ans. [1.] There is no manner of relation between πατὴρ μέλλοντος αἰῶνος, “The Father of the world to come,” and δι᾿ οὗ τοὺς αἰῶνας ἐποίησεν, “By whom he made the worlds,” unless it be that one word is used in both places in very distinct senses; which if it be sufficient to evince a cognation between various places, very strange and uncouth interpretations would quickly ensue. Nor,

[2.] Doth that which the apostle here treats of any way respect that which the prophet in that place insists upon; his name and nature being only declared by the prophet, and his works by the apostle. And,

[3.] It is a presumption to suppose the apostle to allude to a corrupt translation, as that of the LXX. in that place is, there being no ground for it in the original; for אֲבִיאּעַד is not πατὴρ μέλλοντος αἰῶνος, but πατὴρ αἰώνιος, “The eternal Father.” And what the Jews and LXX. intend by “the world to come,” we shall afterwards consider.

(5.) His last refuge is in Isaiah 51:16, “Where the work of God,” as he observes, “in the reduction of the people of the Jews from the captivity of Babylon is called his planting the heavens, and laying the foundations of the earth. And the Vulgar Latin translation,” as he further observes, “renders the word, ‘ut coelum plantes, ut terrain fundes,’ascribing that to the prophet which he did but declare. And in this sense he contends that God the Father is said to make the worlds by his Son”

Ans. [1.] The work mentioned is not that which God would do in the reduction of the people from Babylon, but that which he had done in their delivery from Egypt, recorded to strengthen the faith of believers in what for the future he would yet do for them.

[2.] The expressions, of planting the heavens and laying the foundations of the earth, are in this place of the prophet plainly allegorical, and are in the very same place declared so to be: —

1st. In the circumstance of time when this work is said to be wrought, namely, at the coming of the Israelites out of Egypt, when the heavens and the earth, properly so called, could not be made, planted, founded, or created.

2dly. By an adjoined exposition of the allegory: “I have put my words in thy mouth,..... and say unto Zion, Thou art my people.” This was his planting of the heavens and laying the foundations of the earth, even the erection of a church and political state amongst the Israelites.

[3.] It is not to the prophet, but to the church, that the words are spoken; and לִנְטֹעַ and לִיסֹד are not “ut plantes” and “ut fundes,” but “ad plantandum,” “to plant,” and “ad fundandum,” “to lay the foundation.” And our author prejudicates his cause by making use of a translation to uphold it which himself knows to be corrupt.

[4.] There is not, then, any similitude between that place of the prophet, wherein words are used allegorically (the allegory in them being instantly explained), and this of the apostle, whose discourse is didactical, and the words used in it proper and suited to the things intended by him to be expressed. And this is the substance of what is pleaded to wrest from believers this illustrious testimony given to the eternal deity of the Son of God. We may yet further consider the reasons that offer themselves from the context for the removal of the interpretation suggested: —

1. It sinks under its own weakness and absurdity. The apostle, intending to set out the excellency of the Son of God, affirms that “by him the worlds were made;” that is, say they, “Christ preaching the gospel converted some to the faith of it., and many more were converted by the apostles’ preaching the same doctrine; whereupon blessed times of light and salvation ensued.” Who not overpowered with prejudice could once imagine any such sense in these words, especially considering that it is as contrary to the design of the apostle as it is to the importance of the words themselves? This is that which Peter calls men’s “wresting the Scripture” to their own perdition.

2. The apostle, as we observed, writes didactically, plainly expressing the matter whereof he treats in words usual and proper. To what end, then, should he use so strained an allegory in a point of doctrine, yea, a fundamental article of the religion he taught, and that to express what he had immediately in the words foregoing properly expressed; for, “By whom he made the worlds” is no more, in these men’s apprehensions, than, “In him hath he spoken in these latter days?” Nor is this expression anywhere used, no, not in the most allegorical prophecies of the Old Testament, to denote that which here they would wrest it unto. But making of the world signifies making of the world in the whole Scripture throughout, and nothing else.

3. The making of the worlds here intended was a thing then past: ᾿εποίησε, “He made them;” that is, he did so of old. And the same word is used by the LXX. to express the old creation. But now that which the Jews called “The world to come,” or the blessed state of the church under the Messiah, the apostle speaks of as of that which was not yet come, the present worldly state of the Judaical church yet continuing.

4. The words αἰών and αἰῶνες, or עֹלָם and עֹלָמִים, which are so rendered, taken absolutely, as they are here used, do never in any one place of the Scripture, in the Old or New Testament, signify the new creation, or state of the church under the gospel; but the whole world, and all things therein contained, they do in this very epistle, Hebrews 11:3.

5. Wherever the apostle in this epistle speaks in the Judaical idiom of the church-state under the Messiah, he never calls it by the name of οἰχουμένη or αἰών, but still with the limitation of, “to come,” as Hebrews 6:5. And where the word is used absolutely, as in this place and Hebrews 11:3, it is the whole world that is intended.

6. The context utterly refuseth this gloss. The Son in the preceding words is said to be made heir or lord of all; that is, of all things absolutely and universally, as we have evinced and is confessed. Unto that assertion he subjoins a reason of the equity of that transcendent grant made unto him, namely, because “by him all things were made;” whereunto he adds his upholding, ruling, and disposing of them, being so made by him: “He upholdeth all things by the word of his power.” That between the “all things” whereof he is Lord and the “all things” that he upholds there should be an interposition of words of the same importance with them, expressing the reason of them that go afore and the foundation of that which follows, knitting both parts together, and yet indeed having a signification in them of things utterly heterogeneous to them, is most unreasonable to imagine.

We have now obtained liberty, by removing the entanglements cast in our way, to proceed to the opening of the genuine sense and importance of these words.

δι᾿ οὗ, “by whom;” not as an instrument, or an inferior, intermediate, created cause: for then also must he be created by himself, seeing all things that were made were made by him, John 1:3, but as God’s own eternal Word, Wisdom, and Power, Proverbs 8:22-24, John 1:1, — the same individual creating act being the work of Father and Son, whose power and wisdom being one and the same undivided, so also are the works which outwardly proceed from them. And as the joint working of Father and Son doth not infer any other subordination but that of subsistence and order, so the preposition διά doth not of itself intimate the subjection of an instrumental cause, being used sometimes to express the work of the Father himself, Galatians 1:1.

῾εποίησε, בָּרָא, “created.” So the apostle expresseth that word, Acts 17:24; Acts 17:26; and the LXX. most commonly, as Genesis 1:1, though sometimes they use κτίζω, as our apostle also doth, chapter 10. [Colossians 1:16?] He made, created, produced out of nothing, by the things not seen, Hebrews 11:3.

τοὺς αἰῶνας: αἰών, עוֹלָם. So that word is constantly rendered by the Greeks. עָלַם, is “to hide,” or to be hid, kept secret, close, undiscovered. Whence a virgin is called עלְמָה, one not yet come into the public state of matrimony; as by the Greeks, on the same account, κατύκλειστος, “one shut up,” or a recluse; as the Targumists call a harlot נפקת בוא, “a goer abroad,” from that description of her, Proverbs 7:11-12; בְּבֵיתָה לֹאאּיִשְׁכְּנוּ רַגְלֶיחָ פַעַם בַּחוּצ פַעַם בָּרְחֹבֹת; — “Her feet dwell not in her own house: one while she is in the street, another while abroad;” as the mother of the family is called נְוַת בַּיִת, “the dweller at home,” Psalms 68:13. Hence עוֹלָםsignifies the ages of the world in their succession and duration, which are things secret and hidden. What is past is forgotten, what is to come is unknown, and what is present is passing away without much observation. See Ecclesiastes 1:11.

The world, then, that is visible and a spectacle in itself, in respect of its continuance and duration is עוֹלָם, — “a thing hidden.” So that the word denotes the fabric of the world by a metonymy of the adjunct. When the Hebrews would express the world in respect of the substance and matter of the universe, they do it commonly by a distribution of the whole into its most general and comprehensive parts, as “The heavens, earth, and sea,” subjoining, “all things contained in them” This the Greeks and Latins, from its order, frame, and ornaments, call κόσμος and “mundus;” which principally respect that שִׁפְרָת שָׁמַים, that beauty and ornament of the heavens which God made by his Spirit, Job 26:13. And as it is inhabited by the sons of men, they call it תֵּבֵל, that is, οἰκουμένη; that is, תֵבֵל אֶרֶצ, Proverbs 8:31, “The world of the earth,” — principally, the habitable parts of the earth. As quickly passing away, they call it חֶלֶד. And in respect of its successive duration עוֹלָם; that is, αἰών, the word here used.

αἰῶνες, in the plural number, “the worlds,” so called, Hebrews 11:3, by a mere enallage of number, as some suppose, or with respect to the many ages of the world’s duration. But, moreover, the apostle accommodates his expression to the received opinion of the Jews, and their way of expressing themselves about the world. עוֹלָםdenotes the world as to the subsistence of it and as to its duration. In both these respects the Jews distributed the world into several parts, calling them so many worlds. R.D. Kimchi on Isaiah 6 distributes these worlds into three; on the account of which he says, קרוש, “holy,” was three times repeated by the seraphim. There are, saith he, שלשה עולמות, — “three worlds:” והוא עולם המלאכים והנשמות עולם העליון, — “the upper world, which is the world of angels and spirits;” עולם הגלגלים והכוכבים, — “the world of the heavens and stars:” and העולם השפל“ this world below.” But in the first respect they generally assign these four: —

(1.) העולם השפל, — “the lower world,” the depressed world, the earth and air in the several regions of it:

(2.) העולם המלאכים, — “ the world of angels,’or ministering spirits, whom they suppose to inhabit in high places, where they may supervise the affairs of the earth:

(3.) עולם הגלגלים, — “the world of spheres:” and,

(4.) עולם העליון, — “the highest world;” called by Paul “the third heaven,” 2 Corinthians 12:2; and by Solomon שְׁמֵי הַשָּׁמַיִם, “the heaven of heavens,” 1 Kings 8:27; and עלם הנשמות, “olam hanneshamoth,” — “the world of spirits,” or souls departed.

In respect of duration, they assign a fivefold world: —

(1.) עולם עבר; called by Peter “the old world,” or the world before the flood, the world that perished:

(2.) עולם הזה, — “the present world,” or the state of things under the Judaical church:

(3.) עולם הביאתה משיח, — “the world of the coming of the Messiah;” or “the world to come,” as the apostle calls it, Hebrews 2:5 :

(4.) עולם החית חמתים, — “the world of the resurrection of the dead:”

and,

(5.) עולם אריךְ, — “the prolonged world,” or life eternal. Principally with respect to the first distribution, as also unto the duration of the whole world unto the last dispensation, mentioned in the second, doth the apostle here call it, τοὺς αἰῶνας, “the worlds.”

Thus the apostle having declared the honor of the Son as mediator, in that he was made heir of all, adds thereunto his excellency in himself from his eternal power and Godhead; which he not only asserts, but gives evidence unto by an argument from the works of creation. And to avoid all straitening thoughts of this work, he expresseth it in terms comprehending the whole creation in that distribution whereinto it was usually cast by themselves; as John contents not himself by affirming that he “made all things,” but adds to that assertion that “without him was not any thing made that was made,” John 1:3.

And this was of old the common faith of the Juadaical church. That all things were made and all things disposed by the Word of God, they all confessed. Evident footsteps of this faith abide still in their Targums; for that by “the Word of God,” so often mentioned in them, they did not understand the word of his power, but an hypostasis in the divine nature, is manifest from the personal properties which are everywhere assigned unto it: as, the Word of God did this, said that, thought, went, and the like; as, Psalms 68:17, they affirm that Word which gave the law on mount Sinai to dwell in the highest heaven; yea, and they say in Bereshith Rabba, of these words, Genesis 1:2, “The Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters,” זה רוחו של מלךְ המשיח, — “This is the spirit of the king Messiah;” by which they cannot deny but that all things were formed. And the apostle in this expression lets the Hebrews know that Jesus, the Messiah, was that Word of God by whom all things were made. And so the influence of these words into his present argument is manifest; for the Son, in whom the Father had now spoken to them and declared the gospel, being his eternal Word, by whom the world and all ages were created, there could be no question of his authority to alter their ceremonious worship, which he himself had appointed for a season.

Before we pass to the next verses, we may mark out those instructions which the words passed through afford us in common, as to the abiding interest of all believers.

V. The foundation of them is, That the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the great prophet of his church under the new testament, the only revealer of the will of the Father, as the Son and Wisdom of God, made the worlds, and all things contained in them. And therein, —

1. We have an illustrious testimony given to the eternal Godhead and power of the Son of God; for “He who made all things is God,” as the apostle elsewhere affirms. And, —

2. Unto the equity of his being made heir, lord, and judge of all. No creature can decline the authority or waive the tribunal of him that made them all. And,—

3. A stable bottom of faith, hope, contentment, and patience, is administered unto the saints in all dispensations. He who is their Redeemer, that bought them, hath all that interest in all things wherein they are concerned that the sovereign right of creation can afford him; besides that grant which is made unto him for this very end, that they might be disposed of to his own glory, in their good and advantage. Isaiah 54:4-5. And, —

4. From this order of things, that Christ, as the eternal Son of God, having made the worlds, hath them and all things in them put under his power as mediator and head of the church, we may see what a subserviency to the interest of the saints of the Most High the whole creation is laid and disposed in. And, —

5. The way of obtaining a sanctified interest in and use of the things of the old creation, — namely, not to receive them merely on the general account, as made by the Son of God, but on the more especial one of their being granted unto him as mediator of the church. And, —

6. How men on both these foundations are to be accountable for their use or abuse of the things of the first creation.

But besides these particular instances, there is that which is more general, and which we may a little insist upon from the context and design of the apostle in this whole discourse, whose consideration will not again occur unto us; and it is, that God in infinite wisdom ordered all things in the first creation, so as that the whole of that work might be subservient to the glory of his grace in the new creation of all by Jesus Christ.

By the Son he made the worlds in the beginning of time, that in the fullness of time he might be the just heir and lord of all. The Jews have a saying, that “the world was made for the Messiah;” which is thus far true, that both it and all things in it were made, disposed of, and ordered in their creation, so as that God might be everlastingly glorified in the work which he was designed unto, and which by him he had to accomplish. I shall consider it only in the present instance, namely, that by the Son he made the worlds, that he might be the proper heir and lord of them; of which latter we shall treat more particularly on the ensuing words.

This was declared of old, where he was spoken of as the Wisdom of God, by whom he wrought in the creation and production of all things, Proverbs 8:22-31. This Son, or Wisdom of God, declares at large, — first, his co-existence with his Father from eternity, before all or any of the visible or invisible creation were by his power brought forth, Proverbs 8:22-23, and so onward; and then sets forth the infinite, eternal, and ineffable delight that was between him and his Father, both before and also in the work of the creation, Proverbs 8:30. Further, he declares his presence and cooperation with him in the whole work of making the world and the several parts of it, Proverbs 8:27-30; which in other places is expressed, as here by the apostle, that God by him made the worlds. After which he declares the end of all this dispensation, namely, that he might rejoice in the habitable part of the earth, and his delight be with the sons of men; to whom, therefore, he calls to hearken unto him, that they may be blessed, Proverbs 8:31, to the end of the chapter; — that is, that he might be meet to accomplish the work of their redemption, and bring them to blessedness, to the glory of the grace of God; which work his heart was set upon, and which he greatly delighted in, Psalms 40:6-8.

Hence the apostle John, in the beginning of his Gospel, brings both the creations together, — the first by the eternal Word absolutely, the other by him as incarnate, — that the suitableness and correspondency of all things in them might be evident, “The Word was with God,” saith he, “in the beginning,” and “all things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made,” Psalms 40:1-3. But what was this unto the gospel that he undertook to declare? Yes, very much; for it appears from hence that when this Word was made flesh, and came and dwelt among us, Psalms 40:14, he came into the world that was made by him, though it knew him not, Psalms 40:10; he came but to his own, whatever were the entertainment that he received, Psalms 40:11. For this end, then, God made all things by him, that when he came to change and renew all things, he might have good right and title so to do, seeing he undertook to deal with or about no more but what he had originally made.

The holy and blessed Trinity could have so ordered the work of creation as that it should not immediately, eminently, and signally have been the work of the Son, of the eternal Word; but there was a further design upon the world to be accomplished by him, and therefore the work was signally to be his, — that is, as to immediate operation, though as to authority and order it peculiarly belonged to the Father, and to the Spirit as to disposition and ornament, Genesis 1:1-2; Job 26:13. This, I say, was done for the end mentioned by the apostle, Ephesians 1:10. All things at first were made by him, that when they were lost, ruined, scattered, they might again, in the appointed season, be gathered together into one head in him; of which place more at large elsewhere.

And this mystery of the wisdom of God the apostle at large foldeth, Colossians 1:15-19. Speaking of the Son, by whom we have redemption, he informs us that in himself and his own nature, he is “the image of the invisible God;” that is, of God the Father, who until then had alone been clearly revealed unto them: and that in respect of other things he is “the first-born of every creature;” or, as he terms himself, Revelation 3:14, the “beginning of the creation of God,” — that is, he who is before all creatures, and gave beginning to the creation of God. For so expressly the apostle explains himself in the next verses: “By him were all things created that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him: and he is before all things, and by him all things consist.” But this is not the full design of the apostle. He declares not only that “all things were made by him,” but also that “all things were made for him,” Revelation 3:16; so made for him that he might be “the head of the body, the church,” — that is, that he might be the fountain, head, spring, and original of the new creation, as he had been of the old. So the apostle declares in the next words, “Who is the beginning, the first-

born from the dead.” As he was the “beginning” and the “first-born of every creature” in the old creation, so he is the “beginning” and “firstborn from the dead;” that is, the original and cause of the whole new creation. And hereunto he subjoins the end and design of God in this whole mysterious work; which was, that the Son might have the pre-eminence in all things. As he had in and over the works of the old creation, seeing they were all made by him, and all consist in him; so also he hath over the new on the same account, being the beginning and first-born of them. The apostle in these words gives us the whole of what we intend, namely, that the making of the worlds, and of all things in them, in the first erection by the Son, was peculiarly subservient to the glory of the grace of God in the reparation and renovation of all things by him as incarnate.

It is not for us to inquire much into or after the reason of this economy and dispensation; we “cannot by searching find out God, we cannot find out the Almighty unto perfection,” Job 11:7. It may suffice us that he disposeth of all things according to “the counsel of his own will,” Ephesians 1:11. This antecedently unto the consideration of the effects of it, we cannot, we may not search into, Deuteronomy 29:29. What are the effects and consequences of his infinitely holy, wise counsel, wherein his glory shines forth unto his creatures, those we may consider and contemplate on, and rejoice in the light that they will afford us into the treasures of these counsels themselves.

Now, herein we see, first, that it was the eternal design of God that the whole creation should be put in subjection unto the Word incarnate; whereof the apostle also treats in the second chapter of this epistle.

“God hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father,” Philippians 2:9-11.

God hath put all things in subjection unto him, not only the things peculiarly redeemed by him, but all things whatever, as we shall show in the next words of our epistle. See 1 Corinthians 15:27; Hebrews 2:8; Romans 14:11. Hence John saw

“every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, ascribing blessing, and honor, and glory, and power unto the Lamb for ever and ever,” Revelation 5:13;

that is, owning and avowing their duty, obedience, and subjection unto him. This being designed of God in the eternal counsel of his will, before the world was, 1 Peter 1:2, Titus 1:2, he prepared and made way for it in the creation of all things by him; so that his title and right to be the ruler and lord of all angels and men, the whole creation, in and of heaven and earth, might be laid on this great and blessed foundation, that he made them all.

Again, God designed from eternity that his great and everlasting glory should arise from the new creation and the work thereof. Herein hath he ordered all things “to the praise of the glory of his grace,” Ephesians 1:6. And this praise will he inhabit for ever. It is true, the works of the old creation did set forth the glory of God, Psalms 19:1; they manifested his “eternal power and Godhead,” Romans 1:20. But God had not resolved ultimately to commit the manifestation of his glory unto those works, though very glorious; and therefore did he suffer sin to enter into the world, which stained the beauty of it, and brought it wholly under the curse. But he never suffered spot or stain to come upon the work of the new creation, Ephesians 5:26-27, — nothing that might defeat, eclipse, or impair the glory that he intended to exalt himself in thereby. Yet God hath so ultimately laid up his glory in the new creation, as that he will not lose anything of that which also is due unto him from the old; but yet he will not receive it immediately from thence neither, but as it is put over into a subserviency unto the work of the new. Now, God ordered all things so as that this might be effected without force, coaction, or wresting of the creation, or putting it beside its own order. And is there any thing more genuine, natural, and proper, than that the world should come into subjection unto Him by whom it was made, although there be some alteration in its state and condition, as to outward dispensation, in his being made man? And this I take to be the meaning of that discourse of the apostle about the bondage and liberty of the creature, which we have, Romans 8:19-22. The apostle tells us that the creature itself had an expectation and desire after “the manifestation of the sons of God,” or the bringing forth of the kingdom of Christ in glory and power, Romans 8:19; and gives this reason for it, because it is brought into a condition of vanity, corruption, and bondage, wherein it did, as it were, unwillingly abide, and groaned to be delivered from it. That is, by the entrance of sin the creation was brought into that condition as wherein it could not answer the end for which it was made and erected, namely, to declare the glory of God, that he might be worshipped and honored as God; but was as it were left, especially in the earth, and the inhabitants of it, to be a stage for men to act their enmity against God upon, and a means for the fulfilling and satisfaction of their filthy lusts, This state being unsuitable unto its primitive constitution, preternatural, occasional, and forced, it is said to dislike it, to groan under it, to hope for deliverance, doing that in what it is by its nature, which it would do voluntarily were it endowed with a rational understanding. But, saith the apostle, there is a better condition for this creation; which, whilst it was afar off, it put out its head after and unto. What is this better state? Why, “the glorious liberty of the sons of God;” that is, the new state and condition that all things are restored unto, in order unto the glory of God, by Jesus Christ. The creation hath, as it were, a natural propensity, yea, a longing, to come into a subjection unto Christ, as that which retrieves and frees it from the vanity, bondage, and corruption that it was cast into, when put out of its first order by sin. And this ariseth from that plot and design which God first laid in the creation of all things, that they, being made by the Son, should naturally and willingly, as it were, give up themselves unto obedience unto him, when he should take the rule of them upon the new account of his mediation.

Thirdly, God would hereby instruct us both in the use that we are to make of his creatures, and the improvement that we are to make of the work of the creation unto his glory. For the first, it is his will that we should not use any thing as merely made and created by him, though originally for that purpose, seeing as they are so left they are under the curse, and so impure and unclean unto them that use them, Titus 1:15; but he would have us to look upon them and receive them as they are given over unto Christ. For the apostle, in his application of the 8th Psalm unto the Lord Christ, Hebrews 2:6-8, manifests that even the beasts of the field, on which we live, are passed over in a peculiar manner unto his dominion. And he lays our interest in their use, as to a clear, profitable, and sanctified way of it, in the new state of things brought in by Christ: 1 Timothy 4:4-5,

“Every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.”

The word of promise confirmed in Christ, called on by the Spirit, given by Christ in prayer, gives a sanctified use of the creatures. This God instructs us in, namely, to look for a profitable, sanctified use of the creatures in Christ, in that himself ordered them in the very first creation to fall at length naturally under his rule and dominion, making them all by him. And hereby also we are instructed how to learn the glory of God from them. The whole mystery of laying the works of the old creation in a subserviency unto the new being hidden from many ages and generations, from the foundation of the world men did, by the effects and works which they saw, conclude that there was an eternal power and infinite wisdom whereby they were produced: but whereas there is but a twofold holy use of the works of the creation, — the one suited unto the state of innocency, and the moral-natural worship of God therein, which they had lost; the other to the state of grace, and the worship of God in that, which they had not attained, — the world and the inhabitants thereof, being otherwise involved in the curse and darkness wherewith it was attended, exercised themselves in fruitless speculations about them (“foolish imaginations,” as the apostle calls them), and glorified not God in any due manner, Romans 1:21. Neither do nor can men unto this day make any better improvement of their contemplation on the works of creation, who are unacquainted with the recapitulation of all things in Christ, and the beauty of it, in that all things at first were made by him. But when men shall by faith perceive and consider that the production of all things owes itself in its first original unto the Son of God, in that by him the world was made, and that unto this end and purpose, that he being afterwards incarnate for our redemption, they might all be put into subjection unto him, they cannot but be ravished with the admiration of the power, wisdom, goodness, and love of God, in this holy, wise, beautiful disposition of all his works and ways And this is the very subject of the 8th Psalm. The psalmist considers the excellency and glory of God in the creation of all things, instancing in the most glorious and eminent parts of it. But doth he do this absolutely as they are such? doth he rest there? No; but proceeds to manifest the cause of his admiration, in that God did of old design, and would at length actually put, all these things into subjection unto “the man Christ Jesus,” as the apostle expounds his meaning, Hebrews 2 : which causeth him to renew his admiration and praise, Psalms 8:9, — that is, to glorify God as God, and to be thankful; which yet Paul declared that they were not who considered the works of God only absolutely, with reference to their first original from infinite power and wisdom.

But against what we have been discoursing it may be objected, that God, in the creation of all things, suited them perfectly and absolutely unto a state of innocency and holiness, without any respect unto the entrance of sin and the curse that ensued, which gave occasion to that infinitely wise and holy work of the mediation of Christ, and the restoration of all things by him; so that they could not be laid in such a subserviency and order, one to the other, as is pretended, though the former might be afterwards traduced and translated into the use of the other. But, —

1. What is clearly testified unto in the Scripture, as that truth is which we have insisted on, is not to be called into question because we cannot understand the order and method of things in the hidden counsels of God. “Such knowledge is too wonderful for us.” Neither do we benefit ourselves much by inquiring into that which we cannot comprehend. It is enough for us that we hold fast revealed things, that we may know and do the will of God; but secret things belong to him, and to him are they to be left.

2. The Scripture testifieth that “known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world,” Acts 15:18; not only all those which at first he wrought, but also all that ever he would so do. The idea and system of them was all in his holy mind from eternity. Now, though in their creation and production they are all singly suited and fitted to the time and season wherein they are brought forth and made; yet as they lie all together in the mind, will, and purpose of God, they have a relation, one to another, from the first to the last. There is a harmony and correspondency between them all; they lie all in a blessed subserviency in themselves, and in their respect unto one another, unto the promotion of the glory of God. And therefore, though in the creation of all things that work was suited unto the state and condition wherein they were created, — that is, of innocency and holiness, — yet this hinders not but that God might and did so order them, that they might have a respect unto that future work of his in their restoration by Christ, which was then no less known unto him than that which was perfectly wrought.

3. The most reasonable and best intelligible way of declaring the order of God’s decrees, is that which casts them under the two general heads which all rational agents respect in their purposes and operations, — namely, of the last end, and the means conducing thereunto. Now, the utmost end of God, in all his ways towards the sons of men, being the manifestation of his own glory by the way of justice and mercy, whatever tendeth thereunto is all jointly to be looked on as one entire means tending unto that end and purpose. The works, therefore, of the old and new creation being of this sort and nature, one joint and general means for the compassing of the forementioned end, nothing can hinder but that they may have that respect to each other which before we have declared.


Verse 3

The apostle, in the pursuit of his argument, proceeds in the description of the person of Christ; partly to give a further account of what he had before affirmed concerning his divine power in making the worlds; and partly to instruct the Hebrews, from their own typical institutions, that it was the Messiah who was figured and represented formerly unto them, in those signs and pledges of God’s glorious presence which they enjoyed. And so by the whole he confirmeth the proposition he had in hand concerning the excellency and eminency of Him by whom the gospel was revealed, that their faith in him and obedience unto him might not be shaken or hindered.

Hebrews 1:3. ος ὢ῝ν ἀπαύγασμα τῆς δόξης καὶ χαρακτὴρ τῆς ὐποστάσεως αὐτοῦ, φέρων τε τὰ πάντα τῷ ῤήματι τῆς δυνάμεως αὐτοῦ, δι᾿ ἐαυτοῦ καθαρισμὸν ποιησάμενος τῶν ἀμαρτιῶν ἡμῶν, ἐκάθισεν ἐν δεξιᾷ τῆς μεγαλωσόνης ἐν ὑψηλοῖς.

δι᾿ ἐαυτοῦ is wanting in MS. T.; but the sense requires the words, and all other ancient copies retain them. ῾ηυῶν is wanting in some copies; and one or two for ἐκάθισε have καθίζει, which hath nothing whereunto it should relate. Some also read, τῷ θρόνῳ τῆς μεγαλωσύνης, taken from Hebrews 12:2, where the word is used. ῝ος ὢ῝ν, “qui est,” “qui cum sit,” “qui existens;” — “who is,” “who when he is,” or “was;” “who existing:” as Philippians 2:6, ῝ος ἐν μορφῇ θεοῦ ὑπάρχων, — “Who being in the form of God.”

“Who being ἀπαύγασμα τῆς δόξης,” — “splendor,” “radius,” “jubar,” “effulgentia,” “refulgentia,” “relucentia;” — “the splendor” “ray,” “beam,” “effulgency,” or “shining forth of glory.” Syr., צֶמְחָא, “germen;” so Boderius; — “the branch.” Tremellius and De Dieu, “splendor,” the Arabic concurring.

αὐγή is “lux,” “light,” particularly the morning light: Acts 20:11, ῾ομιλήσας ἄχρις αὐγῆς, — “He talked until the break of day,” or the beaming of the morning light. αὐγὴ ἡλίου, Gloss. Vet., “jubar solis” — “the sun-beam.” And sometimes it denotes the day itself. It is also sometimes used for the light that is in burning iron. ῾απαυγή is of the same signification; properly “splendor lucis,” — “the brightness, shining, beauty, glory or lustre of light.” Hence is αὐγάζω, to a shine forth,” to “shine into” to “irradiate:” 2 Corinthians 4:4, εἰς τὸ μὴ αὐγάσαι αὐτοῖς, — “That the light of the gospel should not irradiate” (shine) “into them.” ᾿απαυγάζω is of the same importance; and from thence ἀπαύγασμα. The word is nowhere used in the New Testament save in this place only; nor doth it occur in the Old of the LXX. Only we have it, Wisdom of Solomon 7:26. Wisdom is said to be ἀπαύμασμα φωτὸς ἀϊδίου, — “a beam of eternal light;” to which place the margin of our translation refers. And it is so used by Nazianzen: ΄εγάλου φωτὸς μικρὸν ἀπαύγασμα, — “A little beam of a great light.” It answers exactly to the Hebrew נֹגַהּ, or אוֹר נֹגַהּthat is; that is, “The morning light:” Proverbs 4:18, “The path of the righteous כְּאוֹר נֹגַהּ,” — “ut lux splendoris,” Jerome; “as the light of brightness,” — that is, “of the morning,” αὐγή, Acts 20:11. And it is also applied to the light of fire, or fire in iron, Isaiah 4:5, נֹגַהּ אֵשׁ, — “The light of fire;” and the fiery streaming of lightning, Habakkuk 3:11.

The brightness, shining, ray, beam, τῆς δόξης, “of glory.” Some look on this expression as a Hebraism, ἀπαύγασμα τῆς δόξης, “the beam of glory,” for ἔνδοξον ἀπαύγασμα, “a glorious beam;” but this will not answer the design of the apostle, as we shall see afterwards.

Our translators have supplied “his,” “the brightness of his glory,” by repeating αὐτοῦ from the end of the sentence; perhaps, as we shall find, not altogether necessarily, — in which case alone such supplements unto the text are allowed in translations.

καὶ χαρακτὴρ, — “character.” “Imago,” “forma,” “figura,” “expressa forma,” “figura expressa,” צָלְמָא, Syr.; — “the character,” “image,” “form,” “figure, express form,” “express figure:” so variously is the word rendered by translators, with little difference. It is nowhere used in the New Testament but only in this place. In other authors it hath many significations. Sometimes they use it properly and naturally; sometimes metaphorically and artificially, as when it denotes several forms of speech or orations. Properly, from χαράσσω or χαράττω, to engrave with a tool or style, is χάραγμα and χαρακτήρ which is firstly and properly the note or mark cut by a tool or instrument into wood, or any other subject capable of such impression, or the stamp and sign that is left in the coining of money. The mark or scar also left by a wound is by the LXX. termed χαρακτήρ, Leviticus 13:28. It is in general an express representation of another thing, communicated unto it by an impression of its likeness upon it, opposed unto that which is umbratile and imaginary.

τῆς ὑποστάσεως αὐτοῦ, — “substantiae,” “subsistentiae,” “personae.” Syr., יִאיתוּתֵהּ, “substantiae ejus;” — “hypostasis,” “substance,” “subsistence,” “person.” The word is four times used in the New Testament, — thrice in this epistle, in this place, and Hebrews 3:14, and Hebrews 11:1, as also 2 Corinthians 9:4, — everywhere in a different sense; so that the mere use of it in one place will afford no light unto the meaning of it in another, but it must be taken from the context and subject treated of. The composition of the word would denote

“substantia,” but so as to differ from and to add something unto οὐσία, “substance,” or being; which in the divine nature can be nothing but a special manner of subsistence. But the controversy that hath been about the precise signification of these words we shall not here enter into the discussion of.

φέρων, “agens,” “regens,” “moderans;” — “acting,” “disposing,” “ruling,” “governing.” Also “portans,” “bajulans,” “sustinens;” — “bearing,” “supporting,” “carrying,” “upholding.” Which of these senses is peculiarly intended we shall afterwards inquire into.

τῷ ῤήματι τῆς δυνάμεως αὐτοῦ, — “by the word of his power,” “by his powerful word.” Syr., בִּחַיְלָא דְּמִלְּתֵהּ, — “by the power of his word,”

changing the order of the words, but not the meaning of them: “By the power of his word,” or, “the word of his power;” that is, his powerful word. αὐτοῦ; some would read it αὐτοῦ, and refer it unto the Father, — “By the powerful word of him;” that is, of the Father, by whose power, they say, the Son disposed of all things. But all copies with accents have αὐτοῦ constantly, none αὐτοῦ, nor will the disposition of the words bear that reference.

δι᾿ ἑαυτοῦ, — “by himself,” “in his own person.”

καθαρισμὸν ποιησάμενος, — “purgationem faciens,” “purgatione facta;” — “having purged,” “cleansed,” “expiated” or “purified” (us from) “our sins.” “Having made a purgation or purification of our sins.”

᾿εκάθισεν. καθίζω is used both neutrally and actively, answering to יָשַׁב both in Kal and Hiphil, signifying “to sit down,” and “to cause to sit down.” Chrysostom seems to have understood the word in the latter sense, referring it to God the Father causing the Son to sit down. But it is hard to find any antecedent word whereby it should be regulated, but only ὅς, “who,” in the beginning of the verse, — that is, he himself; and, as Erasmus observes, γενόμενος in the following words, will not grammatically admit of this construction; for if ἐκάθιοε be to be understood actively and transitively, it must have been γενόμενον. And the apostle clears the neutral sense of the word, Hebrews 8:1. It is well, then, rendered by our translators, “he sat,” or “sat down.”

᾿εν δεξιᾷ. Psalms 110:1, שֵׁב לִימִינִי. LXX., κάθου ἐκ δεξιῶν, in the plural number. So is the same thing expressed, Acts 7:55; and by Mark, ἐν δεξιοῖς, Mark 16:5. Our apostle constantly keepeth the singular number, with ἐν, Hebrews 8:1; Hebrews 12:2. The same thing in both expressions is intended; only that of ἐκ δεξιῶν, or ἐν δεξιοῖς, in the plural number, is more eminently destructive of the folly of the Anthropomorphites; for they cannot hence pretend that God hath a right hand, unless they will grant that he hath many, which were not only to turn the glory of the invisible God into the likeness of a man, but of a monster. And Austin well observes that in the psalm where that expression is first used, “Sit on my right hand,” it is added, אֲדֹנָי עַלאּיְמִינְךָ. “The Lord on thy right hand,” — at the right hand of him who sat on his right hand; which removes all carnal apprehensions from the meaning of the words.

τῆς μεγαλωσύνης. This word is seldom used in other authors: twice in this epistle, here, and Hebrews 8:1; once by Jude, Jude 1:25; and nowhere else in the New Testament; by the LXX. not at all. The apostle evidently expresseth by it כָּבוֹד or גְּבוּרָה not as they are used appellatively for glory, power, or majesty, but as they are names and denote the essential glory of God, “The glorious God.” So that

μεγαλωσύνη is God himself; not absolutely considered, but with reference unto the revelation of his glory and majesty in heaven, God on his throne; as our apostle declareth, Hebrews 8:1.

᾿εν ὑψηλοῖς, — “in the highest.” ΄εγαλωσύνη ἐν ὐψηλοῖς is ὐψίστος; that is, עֶלְיוֹן, “the Highest,” God himself. See Luke 1:35. (3)

φέρ. corresponds to the Hebrew נָשָׁאIsaiah 46:3; Isaiah 66:9, curo, conservo, to sustain, to preserve, as a mother does her child. τῷ ῥήμ. τ. δ. α., by his own powerful word, the word of the Son, not the word of God, as αὐτοῦ would mean. — Stuart. According to Bleek, αὐτοῦ corresponds to ἐμαυτοῦ of the first person, αὐτοῦ to ἐμου. If the former, the emphasis being on “self,” the phrase would be, By the word of his own power.” “There is no occasion for this emphasis here.

αὐτοῦ applies in a reflexive sense to the Son, and not to the Father.” — Ebrard. καθ., purification; in Hellenistic Greek expiation, e.g., Exodus 29:36; Exodus 30:10 not purification by moral means, because it is joined with δι᾿ ἑαυτοῦ, which is explained in Hebrews 2:14 by διὰ τοῦ ζανάτου; in Hebrews 9:12 by διὰ τοῦ ἰδίου αἵματος; and in Hebrews 9:26 by διὰ τῆς ζυσίας αὐτοῦ. — Stuart. “The purification in the Biblical sense consists in the atonement, the gracious covering ( כַפֵר, Leviticus 16:30) of guilt.” — Ebrard. ᾿εκάθ. corresponds to the Hebrew יָשַׁב; which applied to God and to kings, does not mean simply to sit, but to sit enthroned, Psalms 2:4.— Stuart. “As man, and continuing to be man, he was exalted to a participation in the divine government of the world.” — Ebrard. TRANSLATIONS. — ᾿απαύγ. κ. τ. λ. the radiance of his glory and the exact image of his substance. — Stuart. An emanation of his glory and an express image of his substance. — Conybeare and Howson. The radiance of his glory and the impress of his substance. — Craik. The brightness of his glory and the exact impression of his manner of existence. — Pye Smith. The refulgence of his glory and the impression of his essence. — De Wette. The ray of his glory and the stamp of his substance. — Turner. φέρων κ. τ. λ. Controlling all things by his own powerful word. — Stuart. καθαρ. π. After he had made expiation. — Stuart. Having made expiation. — Bloomfield. When he had made purification. — Conybeare and Howson. When he had made atonement. — Craik. After he had by himself purified us from sins by making an expiation. — Turner.

Hebrews 1:3. — Who being the brightness of glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding [or, disposing of] all things by the word of his power, having by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; The apostle proceeds in his description of the person in whom God spake in the revelation of the gospel, ascending unto such a manifestation of him as that they might understand his eminency above all formerly used in the like ministrations; as also how he was pointed out and shadowed by sundry types and figures under the Old Testament.

Of this description there are three parts; the first declaring what he is; the second, what he doth, or did; and the third, the consequent of them both, in what he enjoyeth.

Of the first part of this description of the Messiah there are two branches, or it is two ways expressed: for he affirms of him, first, that he is the “brightest beam,” or “splendor of the glory;” and, secondly, “the express image,” or “character of his Father’s person.”

In the second also there are two things assigned unto him, — the former relating unto his power, as he is the brightness of glory, he “sustaineth,” or ruleth and disposeth of “all things by the word of his power;” — the latter unto his love and work of mediation, — “by himself,” or in his own person, he hath “purged our sins.”

His present and perpetual enjoyment, as a consequent of what he was and did, or doth, is expressed in the last words: “He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.”

Some of these expressions may well be granted to contain some of those δυσνόητα, “things hard to be understood,” which Peter affirms to be in this epistle of Paul, 2 Peter 3:16; which unstable and unlearned men have in all ages wrested unto their own destruction. The things intended are unquestionably sublime and mysterious; the terms wherein they are expressed are rare, and nowhere else used in the Scripture to the same purpose, some of them not at all, which deprives us of one great help in the interpretation of them; the metaphors used in the words, or types alluded unto by them, are abstruse and dark: so that the difficulty of discovering the true, precise, and genuine meaning of the Holy Ghost in them is such as that this verse, at least some part of it, may well be reckoned among those places which the Lord hath left in his word to exercise our faith, and diligence, and dependence on his Spirit, for a right understanding of them. It may be, indeed, that from what was known and acknowledged in the Judaical church, the whole intention of the apostle was more plain unto them, and more plainly and clearly delivered than now it seemeth unto us to be, who are deprived of their advantages. However, both to them and us the things were and are deep and mysterious; and we shall desire to handle (as it becometh us) both things and words with reverence and godly fear, looking up unto Him for assistance who alone can lead us into all truth.

We begin with a double description given us of the Lord Christ at the entrance of the verse, as to what he is in himself. And here a double difficulty presents itself unto us; — first, In general unto what nature in Christ, or unto what of Christ, this description doth belong; secondly, What is the particular meaning and importance of the words or expressions themselves.

For the first, some assert that these words intend only the divine nature of Christ, wherein he is consubstantial with the Father. Herein as he is said to be “God of God, and Light of Light,” — an expression doubtless taken from hence, — receiving, as the Son, his nature and subsistence from the Father, so fully and absolutely as that he is every way the same with him in respect of his essence, and every way like him in respect of his person; so he is said to be “the brightness of his glory,” and “the character of his person” on that account, This way went the ancients generally; and of modern expositors very many, as Calvin, Brentius, Marlorat, Rollock, Gomar, Pareau, Estius, Tena, a Lapide, Ribera, and sundry others.

Some think that the apostle speaks of him as incarnate, as he is declared in the gospel, or as preached, to be “the image of God,” 2 Corinthians 4:4. And these take three ways in the explication of the words and their application of them unto him: —

First, Some affirm that their meaning is, that whereas God is in himself infinite and incomprehensible, so that we are not able to contemplate on his excellencies, but that we are overpowered in our minds with their glory and majesty, he hath in Christ the Son, as incarnate, contemperated his infinite love, power, goodness, grace, greatness, and holiness, unto our faith, love, and contemplation, they all shining forth in him, and being eminently expressed in him. So Beza.

Secondly, Some think that the apostle pursues the description that he was entered upon, of the kingly office of Jesus Christ as heir of all; and that his being exalted in glory unto power, rule, and dominion, expressing and representing therein the person of his Father, is intended in these words. So Cameron.

Thirdly, Some refer these words to the prophetical office of Christ, and say that he was the brightness of God’s glory, etc., by his revealing and declaring the will of God unto us, which before was done darkly only and in shadows. So the Socinians generally, though Schlichtingius refers the words unto all that similitude which they fancy to have been between God and the man Christ Jesus whilst he was in the earth; and therefore renders the participle ὥν, not by the present, but preterimperfect tense, “who was;” that is, whilst he was on the earth, — though, as he says, not exclusively unto what he is now in heaven.

I shall not examine in particular the reasons that are alleged for these several interpretations, but only propose and confirm that sense of the place which on full and due consideration appears, as agreeable unto the analogy of faith, so expressly to answer the design and intendment of the apostle; wherein also the unsoundness of the two last branches or ways of applying the second interpretation, with the real coincidence of the first, and first branch of the latter exposition, will be discovered. To this end the following positions are to be observed: —

First, It is not the direct and immediate design of the apostle to treat absolutely of either nature of Christ, his divine or human, but only of his person. Hence, though the things which he mentioneth and expresseth may some of them belong unto, or be the properties of his divine nature, some of his human, yet none of them are spoken of as such, but are all considered as belonging unto his person. And this solves that difficulty which Chrysostom observes in the words, and strives to remove by a similitude, namely, that the apostle doth not observe any order or method in speaking of the divine and human natures of Christ distinctly one after another, but first speaks of the one, then of the other, and then returns again to the former, and that frequently. But the truth is, he intends not to speak directly and absolutely of either nature of Christ; but treating ex professo of his person, some things that he mentions concerning him have a special foundation in and respect unto his divine nature, some in and unto his human, as must every thing that is spoken of him. And therefore the method and order of the apostle is not to be inquired after in what relates in his expressions to this or that nature of Christ, but in the progress that he makes in the description of his person and offices; which alone he had undertaken.

Secondly, That which the apostle principally intends in and about the person of Christ, is to set forth his dignity, pre-eminence, and exaltation above all; and that not only consequentially to his discharge of the office of mediator, but also antecedently, in his worth, fitness, ability, and suitableness to undertake and discharge it, — which in a great measure depended on and flowed from his divine nature.

These things being supposed, we observe,

Thirdly, That as these expressions are none of them singly, much less in that conjunction wherein they are here placed, used concerning any other but Christ only, so they do plainly contain and express things that are more sublime and glorious than can, by the rule of Scripture or the analogy of faith, be ascribed unto any mere creature, however raised or exalted. There is in the words evidently a comparison with God the Father: he is infinitely glorious, eternally subsisting in his own person; and the Son is “the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person.” Angels are called “the sons of God,” are mighty in power, and excellent in created glory; but when they come to be compared with God, it is said they are not pure in his sight; and he charged them with folly, Job 4:18; and they cover their faces at the brightness of his glory, Isaiah 6:2 : so that they cannot be said so to be. Man also was created in the image of God, and is again by grace renewed thereinto, Ephesians 4:23-24 : but to say a man is the express image of the person of God the Father, is to depress the glory of God by anthropomorphitism. So that unto God asking that question, “Whom will ye compare unto me? and whom will ye liken me unto?” we cannot answer of any one who is not God by nature, that he is “the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person.”

Fourthly, Though the design of the apostle in general be to show how the Father expressed and declared himself unto us in the Son, yet this could not be done without manifesting what the Son is in himself and in reference unto the Father; which both the expressions do in the first place declare. They express him such an one as in whom the infinite perfections and excellencies of God are revealed unto us. So that the first application of the words, namely, to the divine nature of Christ, and the first branch of the second, considering him as incarnate, are very well consistent; as a Lapide grants, after he had blamed Beza for his interpretation. The first direction, then, given unto our faith in these words, is by what the Son is in respect of the Father, namely, “the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person;” whence it follows that in him, being incarnate, the Father’s glory and his person are expressed and manifested unto us.

Fifthly, There is nothing in these words that is not applicable unto the divine nature of Christ. Some, as we have showed, suppose that it is not that which is peculiarly intended in the words; but yet they can give no reason from them, nor manifest any thing denoted by them, which may not be conveniently applied thereunto. I say, whatever can be proved to be signified by them or contained in them, if we will keep ourselves within the bounds of that holy reverence which becomes us in the contemplation of the majesty of God, may be applied unto the nature of God as existing in the person of the Son. He is in his person distinct from the Father, another not the Father; but yet the same in nature, and this in all glorious properties and excellencies. This oneness in nature, and distinction in person, may be well shadowed out by these expressions, “He is the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person.” The boldness and curiosity of the schoolmen, and some others, in expressing the way and manner of the generation of the Son, by similitudes of our understanding and its acts, declaring how he is the image of the Father, in their terms, are intolerable and full of offense. Nor are the rigid impositions of those words and terms in this matter which they or others have found out to express it by, of any better nature. Yet I confess, that supposing with some that by the first expression here used, “The brightness of glory,” the apostle intends to set forth unto us the relation of the Son to the Father by an allusion unto the sun and its beams, or the light of fire in iron, some relief may thence be given unto our weak understandings in the contemplation of this mystery, if we observe that one known rule, whose use Chrysostom urgeth in this place, namely, that in the use of such allusions every thing of imperfection is to be removed, in their application unto God. A few instances we may give unto this purpose, holding ourselves unto an allusion to the sun and its beams

1. As the sun in comparison of the beam is of itself, and the beam of the sun; so is the Father of himself, and the Son of the Father.

2. As the sun, without diminution or partition of its substance, without change or alteration in its nature, produceth the beam; so is the Son begotten of the Father.

3. As the sun in order of nature is before the beam, but in time both are co- existent; so is the Father in order of nature before the Son, though in existence both co-eternal.

4. As the beam is distinct from the sun, so that the sun is not the beam, and the beam is not the sun; so is it between the Father and the Son.

5. As the beam is never separate from the sun, nor can the sun be without the beam, no more can the Son be from the Father, nor was the Father ever without the Son.

6. As the sun cannot be seen but by the beam, no more can the Father but in and by the Son.

I acknowledge that these things are true, and that there is nothing in them disagreeable unto the analogy of faith. But yet as sundry other things may be affirmed of the sun and its beam, whereof no tolerable application can be made to the matter in hand, so I am not persuaded that the apostle intended any such comparison or allusion, or aimed at our information or instruction by them. They were common people of the Jews, and not philosophers, to whom the apostle wrote this epistle; and therefore either he expresseth the things that he intends in terms answering unto what was in use among themselves to the same purpose, or else he asserts them plainly in words as meet to express them properly by as any that are in use amongst men. To say there is an allusion in the words, and that the Son is not properly, but by a metaphor, “the brightness of glory,” is to teach the apostle how to express himself in the things of God. For my part, I understand as much of the nature, glory, and properties of the Son, in and by this expression, “He is the brightness of glory,” as I do by any of the most accurate expressions which men have arbitrarily invented to signify the same thing. That he is one distinct from God the Father, related unto him, and partaker of his glory, is clearly asserted in these words; and more is not intended in them.

Sixthly, These things, then, being premised, we may discern the general importance of these expressions. The words themselves, as was before observed, being nowhere else used in the Scripture, we may receive a contribution of light unto them from those in other places which are of their nearest alliance. Such are these and the like: “We beheld his glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father,” John 1:14. “He is the image of the invisible God,” Colossians 1:15. The glory of God shines forth in him, 2 Corinthians 4:6. Now in these and the like places, the glory of the divine nature is so intimated, as that we are directed to look unto the glory of the absolutely invisible and incomprehensible God in him incarnate. And this in general is the meaning and intendment of the apostle in these expressions: ‘The Son, in whom God speaks unto us in the revelation of the gospel, doth in his own person so every way answer the excellencies and perfections of God the Father, that he is in him expressly represented unto our faith and contemplation.’

It remaineth, then, in the second place, that we consider the expressions severally, with the reasons why the apostle thus expresseth the divine glory of Jesus Christ: ῞ος ὣν ἀπαύγασμα τῆς δόξης· — “Who being the brightness” (“light, lustre, majesty”) “of glory.” The apostle, in my judgment (which is humbly submitted unto consideration), alludes unto and intends something that the people were instructed by typically under the old testament, in this great mystery of the manifestation of the glory of God unto them in and by the Son, the second person in the Trinity. The ark, which was the most signal representation of the presence of God amongst them, was called “his glory.” So the wife of Phinehas, upon the taking of the ark, affirmed that the glory was departed: 1 Samuel 4:22, “The glory is departed from Israel, for the ark of God is taken.” And the psalmist, mentioning the same thing, calls it “his glory” absolutely: Psalms 78:61, “He delivered his glory into the enemy’s hand;” that is, the ark. Now, on the filling of the tabernacle with the signs of God’s presence in cloud and fire, the Jews affirm that there was a constant ἀπαὺμασμα, a תפארה, or “majestic shining glory,” resting on the ark; which was the ἀπαύγασμα τῆς δόξης, “the splendour of the glory of God,” in that typical representation of his presence. And this was to instruct them in the way and manner whereby God would dwell amongst them. The apostle, therefore, calling them from the types, by which in much darkness they had been instructed in these mysteries, unto the things themselves represented obscurely by them, acquaints them with what that typical glory and splendor of it signified, namely, the eternal glory of God, with the essential beaming and brightness of it in the Son, in and by whom the glory of the Father shineth forth unto us. So that the words seem to relate unto that way of instruction which was of old granted unto them.

Besides, they were wont to express their faith in this mystery with words unto this purpose: כָּבוֹד, “glory,” is sometimes put for God himself: Psalms 85:9, לִשְׁכֹּן כָּבוֹד בְּאַרְצֵגוּ, — “That glory may dwell in our land;” that is, the God of glory, or glorious God. This glory the Targum calls יקרא; and the majesty of that glory, שכינה. See Haggai 1:8. Psalms 44:24, they render these words, לָמָּהאּפָנֵיךָ תַסְתִּיר, “Why hidest thou thy face?” למה שכינת יקרךְ תסלק, “Why takest thou away the majesty of thy glory?” as both the Venetian and Basle Bibles read the place: for the Regia have only שכינה, omitting יקרךְ. And in the vision of Isaiah, Isaiah 6:1, they say it was הכבוד, so Kimchi; שכינה, so Rashi; יקרא דיי, so the Targum. And they affirm that it was the same which came down and appeared on mount Sinai, Exodus 19:20; where these words, עלאּהַר סִינַי וַיִּרֶד יְהָֹוה, “And the LORD descended on mount Sinai,” are rendered by Onkelos, ואתגלי יקרא דיי, “The majesty of God was revealed;” which words, from Psalms 68:18, are applied by our apostle unto the Son, Ephesians 4:8. ᾿᾿απαύγασμα τῆς δόξης, then, is nothing else but יקרא שכינת, or שכינת הכבוד, “the essential presence or majesty of the glorious God.” This, saith he, is Christ the Son. And thus of old they expressed their faith concerning him.

The words, as was showed before, denote the divine nature of Christ, yet not absolutely, but as God the Father in him doth manifest himself unto us. Hence he is called שכינה, or שכינתא, or שכינא. The word is from שכַן, “he dwelt.” Elias in Tishbi gives us somewhat another account of the application of that name, in the root: קראו דזיל לרוח הקדש שכינה על שם שהוא שכן על הנכאים, — “The rabbins of blessed memory called the Holy Ghost Shechinah, because he dwelt upon the prophets.” But that this is not so may be observed throughout the Targum, wherein the Holy Ghost is always expressly called רוח הקדש; and the Shechinah is spoken of in such places as cannot be applied unto him. But as the fullness of the Godhead is said to dwell in the Lord Christ σωματικῶς, Colossians 2:9, and he, as the only-begotten Son of God, to dwell amongst us, John 1:14; so is he said in the same sense to be שכינה הכבוד, or ἀπαύγασμα τῆς δόξης, “the majesty, presence, splendor of the glory,” or “the glorious God.”

This, then, is that whereof the apostle minds the Jews: God having promised to dwell amongst them by his glorious presence, — from whence the very name of Jerusalem was called, “The LORD is there,” Ezekiel 48:35, — he who in and under that name was with them, as sent by Jehovah, Zechariah 2:8, was the Son, in whom he had now spoken unto them in these latter days. And this must needs be of weight with them, being instructed that he who had revealed the will of God unto them was none other but he who had dwelt among them from the beginning, representing in all things the person of the Father, being typically revealed unto them as the “brightness of his glory.”

The apostle adds, that he is χαρακτὴρ ὑποστάσεως αὐτοῦ, “the express figure” (or “image”) “of his person;” that is, of the person of God the Father. I shall not enter into any dispute about the meaning of the word ὐποστασις, or the difference between it and οὐσία. Many controversies about these words there were of old. And Jerome was very cautious about acknowledging three hypostases in the Deity, and that because he thought the word in this place to denote “substantia;” and of that mind are many still, it being so rendered by the Vulgar translation. But the consideration of these vexed questions tending not to the opening of the design of the apostle and meaning of the Holy Ghost in this place, I shall not insist upon them.

1. The hypostasis of the Father is the Father himself. Hereof, or of him, is the Son said to be the “express image.” As is the Father, so is the Son. And this agreement, likeness, and conveniency between the Father and Son, is essential; not accidental, as those things are between relations finite and corporeal. What the Father is, doth, hath, that the Son is, doth, hath; or else the Father, as the Father, could not be fully satisfied in him, nor represented by him.

2. By “character” two things seem to be intended: —

(1.) That the Son in himself is ἐν μορφῇ θεοῦ, “in the likeness of God,” Philippians 2:6.

(2.) That unto us he is εἰκὼν θεοῦ, “the image of God,” representing him unto us, Colossians 1:15. For these three words are used of the Lord Christ in respect unto God the Father, μορφή, εἰκών, χαρακτὴρ. And their use seems thus to difference them: —

(1.) It is said of him, ᾿εν μορφῇ θεοῦ ὑπάρχων, Philippians 2:6, — “Being” (“existing, subsisting”) “in the form of God:” that is, being so, essentially so; for there is no μορφή, or “form,” in the Deity but what is essential unto it. This he was absolutely, antecedently unto his incarnation, the whole nature of God being in him, and consequently he being in the form of God.

(2.) In the manifestation of God unto us, he is said to be εἰκὼν τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ ἀορα. του, Colossians 1:15, — “The image of the invisible God;” because in him, so partaker of the nature of the Father, do the power, goodness, holiness, grace, and all other glorious properties of God, shine forth, being in him represented unto us, 2 Corinthians 4:6. And both these seem to be comprised in this word, χαρακτήρ; both that the whole nature of God is in him, as also that by him God is declared and expressed unto us.

Neither were the Jews of old ignorant of this notion of the Son of God. So Philo expresseth their sense, de Confusione Linguarum:

κἂν μηδέπω μέντοι τυγχάνῃ τις ἀξιόχρεως ὥν υἱὸς θεοῦ προσαγορεύεσθαι, σπούδαζε κοσμεῖσθαι κατὰ τὸν πρωτόγονον αὐτοῦ λόγον, τὸν ἅγγελον πρεσβὺτατον ὠς ἀρχάγγελον πολυώνομον ὑπάρχοντα, καὶ γὰρ ἀρχὴ, καὶ ὄνομα θεοῦ, καὶ λόγος, καὶ ὁ κατ᾿ εἰκόνα ἄνθρωπος, καὶ ὀρῶν ᾿ισραὴλ προσαγορεύεται

— “If any one be not yet worthy to be called the son of God, yet endeavor thou to be conformed unto his first-begotten Word, the most ancient angel, the archangel with many names; for he is called ‘The beginning,’‘The name of God,’‘The man according to the image of God,’‘The seer of Israel.’”

And again,

καὶ γὰρ εἰ μήπω ἱκανοὶ θεοῦ παῖδες νομίζεσθαι γεγόναμεν, ἀλλά τοι τῆς ἀϊδίου εἰκόνος αὐτοῦ λόγου τοῦ ἱερώτατου· θεοῦ γὰρ εἰκὼν λόγος ὁ πρεσβύτατος

— “For if we are not meet to be called the sons of God, let us beso of his eternal image, the most sacred Word; for that most ancient Word is the image of God.”

Thus he, expressing some of their conceptions concerning this eternal “character” of the person of the Father. We have seen what it is that is intended in this expression, and shall only add thereunto a consideration of that from whence the expression is taken. The ordinary engraving of rings, or seals, or stones, is generally thought to be alluded unto. It may be also that the apostle had respect unto some representation of the glory of God by engraving amongst the institutions of Moses. Now, there was scarcely any thing of old that more gloriously represented God than that of the engraving of his name on a plate of gold, to be worn on the front of the mitre of the high priest; at the sight whereof the great conqueror of the east fell down before him. Mention of it we have Exodus 28:36, “Thou shalt make a plate of pure gold, and grave upon it, like the engravings of a signet,” ליהָֹוה קֹדֶש, — “Holiness of Jehovah,” or “to Jehovah.” Here was that name of God which denotes his essence and being characterized and engraven, to represent his holiness and glory to his people.

And Aaron was to wear this engraven name of God on his forehead, that he might bear the iniquity of the holy things and gifts of the children of Israel; which could really be done only by him who was Jehovah himself. And thus, also, when God promiseth to bring forth the Son as the cornerstone of the church, he promiseth to engrave upon him the seven eyes of the Lord, Zechariah 3:9, or the perfection of his wisdom and power, to be expressed unto the church in him. There having been, then, this representation of the presence of God, by the character or engraving of his glorious name upon the plate of gold, which the high priest was to wear that he might bear iniquities; the apostle lets the Hebrews know, that in Christ the Son is the real accomplishment of what was typified thereby, the Father having actually communicated unto him his nature, denoted by that name, whereby he was able really to bear our iniquities, and most gloriously represent the person of his Father unto us.

And this, with submission to better judgments, do I conceive to be the design of the apostle in this his description of the person of Jesus Christ. It pleased the Holy Ghost herein to use these terms and expressions, to mind the Hebrews how they were of old instructed, though obscurely, in the things now actually exhibited unto them, and that nothing was now preached or declared but what in their typical institutions they had before given their assent unto.

We have been somewhat long in our explication of this description of the person of the Son of God; yet, as we suppose, not any longer than the nature of the things treated of and the manner of their expression necessarily required us to be. We shall therefore here stay a while, before we proceed to the ensuing words of this verse, and take some observations, from what hath been spoken for our direction and refreshment in our passage.

I. All the glorious perfections of the nature of God do belong unto and dwell in the person of the Son. Were it not so, he could not gloriously represent unto us the person of the Father; nor by the contemplation of him could we be led to an acquaintance with the person of the Father. This the apostle here teacheth us, as in the explication of the words we have manifested. Now, because the confirmation of this allusion depends on the proofs and testimonies given of and unto the divine nature of Christ, which I have elsewhere largely insisted on and vindicated from exceptions, I shall not here resume that task, especially considering that the same truth will again occur unto us.

II. The whole manifestation of the nature of God unto us, and all communications of grace, are immediately by and through the person of the Son. He represents him unto us; and through him is every thing that is communicated unto us from the fullness of the Deity conveyed.

There are sundry signal instances wherein God reveals himself, and communicates from his own infinite fullness unto his creatures, and in all of them he doth it immediately by the Son: —

1. In the creation of all things;

2. In their providential rule and disposal;

3. In the revelation of his will and institution of ordinances;

4. In the communication of his Spirit and grace: in none of which is the person of the Father any otherwise immediately represented unto us than in and by the person of the Son.

1. In the creation of all things, God both gave them their being and imparted unto them of his goodness, and manifested his nature unto those that were capable of a holy apprehension of it. Now, all this God did immediately by the Son; not as a subordinate instrument, but as the principal efficient, being his own power and wisdom. This we have manifested in our explication of the last words of the verse foregoing. In express testimony hereunto, see John 1:3; Colossians 1:16; 1 Corinthians 8:6. The Son, as the power and wisdom of the Father, made all things; so that in that work the glory of the Father shines forth in him, and no otherwise. By him was there a communication of being, goodness, and existence unto the creation.

2. In the providential rule and disposal of all things created, God further manifests himself unto his creatures, and further communicates of his goodness unto them. That this also is done in and by the Son, we shall further evidence in the explication of the next words of this verse.

3. The matter is yet more plain as to the revelation of his will, and the institution of ordinances from first to last. It is granted that after the entrance of sin, God did not graciously reveal nor communicate himself unto any of his creatures but by his Son. This might fully be manifested by a consideration of the first promise, the foundation of all future revelations and institutions, with an induction of all ensuing instances. But whereas all revelations and institutions springing from the first promise are completed and finished in the gospel, it may suffice to show that what we assert is true with peculiar reference thereunto. The testimonies given unto it are innumerable. This is the substance and end of the gospel: — to reveal the Father by and in the Son unto us; to declare that through him alone we can be made partakers of his grace and goodness, and that no other way we can have either acquaintance or communion with him. See John 1:18. The whole end of the gospel is to give us “the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ,” 2 Corinthians 4:6; that is, the glory of the invisible God, whom none hath seen at any time, 1 Timothy 6:16; 1 John 4:12. That is to be communicated unto us, But how is this to be done? absolutely and immediately, as it is the glory of the Father? No, but as it “shines forth in the face of Jesus Christ,” or as it is in his person manifested and represented unto us; for he is, as the same apostle says in the same place, 2 Corinthians 4:4, “the image of God.” And herein also, as to the communication of grace and the Spirit, the Scripture is express, and believers are daily instructed in it. See Colossians 1:19; John 1:16; especially 1 John 5:11; 1 John 5:14. Now, the grounds of this order of things lie, —

1. In the essential inbeing of the Father and Son. This our Savior expresseth, John 10:38, “The Father is in me, and I in him.” The same essential properties and nature being in each of the persons, by virtue thereof their persons also are said to be in each other. The person of the Son is in the person of the Father, not as such, not in or by its own personality, but by union of its nature and essential properties, which are not alike, as the persons are, but the same in the one and the other. And this inbeing of the Father in the Son, and of the Son in him, our Savior affirms to be manifested by the works that he wrought, being wrought by the power of the Father, yet as in him, and not as in the Father immediately. See to the same purpose John 14:10-11, and John 17:21.

2. The Father being thus in the Son, and the Son in the Father, whereby all the glorious properties of the one do shine forth in the other, the order and economy of the blessed Trinity in subsistence and operation require that the manifestation and communication of the Father unto us be through and by the Son; for as the Father is the original and fountain of the whole Trinity as to subsistence, so as to operation he works not but by the Son, who, having the divine nature communicated unto him by eternal generation, is to communicate the effects of the divine power, wisdom, and goodness, by temporary operation. And thus he becomes “the brightness of his Father’s glory, and the express image of his person,” namely, by the receiving his glorious nature from him, the whole and all of it, and expressing him in his works of nature and grace unto his creatures.

3. Because in the dispensation and counsel of grace God hath determined that all communication of himself unto us shall be by the Son as incarnate. This the whole gospel is given to testify. So that this truth hath its foundation in the very subsistence of the persons of the Deity, is confirmed by the order, and operation, and voluntary disposition in the covenant of grace.

And this discovers unto us, first, the necessity of coming unto God by Christ. God in himself is said to be “in thick darkness,” as also to dwell “in light,” whereunto no creature can approach; which expressions, though seeming contrary, yet teach us the same thing, — namely, the infinite distance of the divine nature from our apprehensions and conceptions, “no man having seen God at any time.” But this God, invisible, eternal, incomprehensibly glorious, hath implanted sundry characters of his excellencies and left footsteps of his blessed properties on the things that he hath made; that, by the consideration and contemplation of them, we might come to some such acquaintance with him as might encourage us to fear and serve him, and to make him our utmost end. But these expressions of God in all other things, besides his Son Christ Jesus, are all of them partial, revealing only something of him, not all that is necessary to be known that we may live unto him here and enjoy him hereafter; and obscure, not leading us unto any perfect stable knowledge of him. And hence it is that those who have attempted to come unto God by the light of that manifestation which he hath made of himself any other way than in and by Christ Jesus, bare all failed and come short of his glory. But now, the Lord Christ being “the brightness of his glory,” in whom his glory shines out of the thick darkness that his nature is enwrapped in unto us, and beams out of that inaccessible light which he inhabits; and “the express image of his person,” representing all the perfections of his person fully and clearly unto us, — in him alone can we attain a saving acquaintance with him. On this account he tells Philip, John 14:9, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father;” the reason of which assertion, taken from the mutual inbeing of Father and Son, and his expression of his mind and glory, he asserts in the next verses. He, then, is the only way and means of coming unto the knowledge and enjoyment of God, because in and by him alone is he fully and perfectly expressed unto us.

And therefore this, secondly, is our great guide and direction in all our endeavors after an acceptable access unto Him. Would we come to that acquaintance with the nature, properties, and excellencies of the Father, which poor, weak, finite creatures are capable of attaining in this world, — which is sufficient that we may love him, fear him, serve him, and come unto the enjoyment of him? would we know his love and grace? would we admire his wisdom and holiness? — let us labor to come to an intimate and near acquaintance with his Son Jesus Christ, in whom all these things dwell in their fullness, and by whom they are exhibited, revealed, unfolded unto us; seek the Father in the Son, out of whom not one property of the divine nature can be savingly apprehended or rightly understood, and in whom they are all exposed to our faith and spiritual contemplation. This is our wisdom, to abide in Christ, to abide with him, to learn him; and in him we shall learn, see, and know the Father also.

φέρω τε τὰ πάντα τῷ ῤήματι τῆς δυνάμεως αὐτοῦ. After the description of the person, the apostle returns unto an assertion of the power of Christ, the Son of God, and therein makes his transition from the kingly and prophetical unto his sacerdotal office; on all which he intends afterwards to enlarge his discourse. He showed before that by him the worlds were created; whereunto, as a further evidence of his glorious power, and of his continuance to act suitably unto that beginning of his exercise of it, he adds that he also abides to uphold, or rule and dispose of all things so made by him.

For the explication of these words, two things are to be inquired after; — first, How, or in what sense, Christ is said to “uphold” or rule “all things;” secondly, How he doth it by “the word of his power.” φέρων is taken by expositors in a double sense, and accordingly variously rendered in translations.

1. Some render it by “upholding, supporting, bearing, carrying.” And these suppose it to express that infinite divine power which is exerted in the conservation of the creation, keeping it from sinking into its original of confusion and nothing. Hereof our Savior saith, “My Father worketh hitherto,” ἕως ὔρτι, (or “yet,”) “and I work;” that is, in the providential sustentation of all things made at the beginning. “And this,” saith Chrysostom on this place, “is a greater work than that of the creation.” By the former all things were brought forth from nothing; by the latter are they preserved from that return unto nothing which their own nature, not capable of existence without dependence on their First Cause, and their perpetual conflict by contrariety of qualities, would precipitate them into.

2. Some take the word to express his ruling, governing, and disposing of all things by him made, and (which is supposed) sustained; and so it may denote the putting forth of that power over all things which is given unto the Son as mediator; or else that providential rule over all which he hath with his Father, which seems rather to be intended, because of the way expressed whereby he exerciseth this rule, namely, “by the word of his power.”

The use of the word φέρω is not so obvious in this latter sense as it is in the former; as in the proverb, εἰ δύναμαι τῆς αι῏γα φέρειν, ὲπίθετέ μοι τὸν βοῦν. But I see no reason why we should suppose an inconsistency in these senses, and not rather conclude that they are both of them implied; for as absolutely it is the same divine power and providence which is exercised in the upholding and the ruling or disposing of all things, so all rule and government is a matter of weight and burden. And he who rules or governs others is said to bear or carry them. So Moses expresseth his rule of the people in the wilderness, Numbers 11:11-12 : “Thou hast put,” saith he, משָּׂא, “the weight” (or “burden”) “of this people upon me; and thou hast said, שָׂאֵהוּ, bear” (or “carry”) “them in thy bosom.” And hence from נָשָׂא, “to bear or carry,” is נָשִׁיא, “a prince or ruler;” that is, one that carries and bears the burden of the people, that upholds and rules them. To bear, then, or uphold, and to rule and dispose, may be both well intended in this word; as they are both expressed in that prophecy of Christ, Isaiah 9:6, “The rule” (or “government”) “shall be upon his shoulder,” — that together with his power and rule he may sustain and bear the weight of his people. Only, whereas this is done amongst men with much labor and travail, he doth it by an inexpressible facility, by the word of his power. And this is safe, to take the expression in its most comprehensive sense.

But whereas the phrase of speech itself is nowhere else used in the New Testament, nor is φέρω applied unto any such purpose elsewhere (though once φερόμενος be taken for “actus” or “agitatus,” 2 Peter 1:21), we may inquire what word it was among the Hebrews that the apostle intended to express, whereby they had formerly been instructed in the same matter.

1. It may be he intended מְכַלְכֵּל, a participle from כּוּל, “to sustain, to bear, to endure,” as Malachi 3:2. It signifies also “to feed, nourish, and cherish, 1 Kings 4:7; Ruth 4:15; Zechariah 11:16. φέρων τε παντα, that is, מְכַלְכֵּל כָל, “sustinens, nutriens omnia,” — “sustaining and cherishing all things” But this word hath no respect unto rule or disposal. And in this sense, as the work of creation is eminently ascribed unto the Father, who is said to make all things by the Son, so that of the preservation and cherishing of all things is here peculiarly assigned unto the Son. And this is not unsuitable unto the analogy of faith: for it was the power of God that was eminently exalted and is conspicuously seen in the work of creation, as the apostle declares, Romans 1:20, although that power was accompanied also with infinite wisdom; and it is the wisdom of God that is most eminently manifested in the preservation of all things, though that wisdom be also exercised in power infinite. At least, in the contemplation of the works of the creation, we are led, by the wonder of the infinite power whereby they were wrought, to the consideration of the wisdom that accompanied it; and that which in the works of providence first presents itself unto our minds is the infinite wisdom whereby all things are disposed, which leads us also to the admiration of the power expressed in them. Now, it is usual with the Scripture to assign the things wherein power is most eminent unto the Father, as those wherein wisdom is most conspicuously exalted unto the Son, who is the eternal Wisdom of the Father. And this sense is not unsuitable unto the text.

2. נֹשֵׂא is another word that may be intended; and this denotes a bearing like a prince in government, as נָשִׂיא. And in this sense the word ought to be referred unto Christ as mediator, intrusted with power and rule by the Father. But neither the words nor context will well bear this sense: for, —

(1.) It is mentioned before, where it is said that he is “appointed heir of all;” and it is not likely that the apostle, in this summary description of the person and offices of the Messiah, would twice mention the same thing under different expressions.

(2.) The particle τε added unto φέρων refers us to the beginning of this verse, ῝ος ὥν,..... φέρων τε, — “Who being the brightness of glory,..... and bearing all things.” So that these things must necessarily be spoken of him in the same respect: and the former, as we have showed, relateth unto his person in respect of his divine nature; so therefore doth the latter, and his acting therein.

3. There is yet another word, which I suppose the apostle had a principal aim to express, and this is רֹכֵב. רָכַב is properly “to ride, to be carried, to be carried over;” and it is frequently, though metaphorically, used concerning God himself: as Deuteronomy 33:26, שמַיִם רֹכֵב, “riding on the heavens;” “on the clouds,” Isaiah 19:1; “on the wings of the wind,” Psalms 18:10, and Psalms 68:5; whereby his majesty, authority, and government are shadowed out unto us. And hence also the word signifies “to administer, dispose, govern or preside in and over things.”

Thus in Ezekiel’s vision of the glorious providence of God in ruling the whole creation, it is represented by a chariot ( מֶרְכָבָה) of cherubim ( כְּרוּבִים). The כְּרוּבִים, “cherubim,” with their wheels, made that chariot, over which sat the God of Israel, in his disposing and ruling of all things. And the words themselves have that affinity in signification which is frequently seen among the Hebrew roots, differing only in the transposition of one letter. And the description of Him who sat above the chariot of providence, Ezekiel 1, is the same with that of John, Revelation 4. Now, God in that vision is placed רכֵב, as governing, ruling, influencing all second causes, as to the orderly production of their effects, by the communication of life, motion, and guidance unto them. And though this divine administration of all things be dreadful to consider, the rings of the wheels being high and dreadful, Revelation 1:18, and the living creatures “ran as the appearance of a flash of lightning,” Revelation 1:14; as also full of entanglements, there being to appearance cross wheels, or wheels within wheels, Revelation 1:16, which are all said to be rolling, Revelation 10:11; yet it is carried on in an unspeakable order, without the least confusion, Revelation 1:17, and with a marvellous facility, — by a mere intimation of the mind and will of Him who guides the whole; and that because there was a living, powerful spirit passing through all, both living creatures and wheels, that moved them speedily, regularly, and effectually, as he pleased; that is, the energetical power of divine Providence, animating, guiding, and disposing the whole as seemed good unto him.

Now, all this is excellently expressed by the apostle in these words. For as that power which is in Him that sits over the chariot, influencing and giving existence, life, motion, and guidance unto all things, is clearly expressed by φέρων τὰ πάντα, “upholding and disposing of all things,” — that is, רֹכֵב עַלאּכָל; so is the exercise and issuing of it forth by the spirit of life in all things, to guide them certainly and regularly, by these words, τῷ ῤήματι τῆς δυνάμεως, “by the word of his power:” both denoting the unspeakable facility of omnipotent power in its operations. And Kimchi on the 6th of Isaiah affirms that the vision which the prophet had was of “the glory of God, that glory which Ezekiel saw in the likeness of a man;” which we find applied unto the Lord Christ, John 12:41.

I shall only add, that in Ezekiel’s vision the voice of the quadriga, of the living creatures, in its motion, was as the voice שׁדַּי, “omnipotentis,” “praepotentis,” sibi sufficientis,” of “the Almighty,” “the powerful,” “the all” or “self-sufficient;” which is also fully expressed in this of the apostle, “bearing, upholding, disposing of all things”

Our next inquiry is after the manner whereby the Son thus holdeth and disposeth of all things. He doth it “by the word of his power,” — τῷ ῥήματι τῆς δυνάμεως. ῾ρῆμα in the New Testament is used in the same latitude and extent with דָּבָר in the Old. Sometimes it denotes any matter or thing, be it good or evil, as Matthew 5:11; Matthew 12:36; Matthew 18:16; Mark 9:32; Luke 1:37; Luke 2:15; Luke 18:34; — a word of blessing by Providence, Matthew 4:4; — any word spoken, Matthew 26:75; Matthew 27:14; Luke 9:45; — of promise, Luke 1:38; — and ῥήματα βλάσφημα, “blasphemous words,” Acts 6:11; — the word of God, the word of prophecy, Luke 3:2; Romans 10:17; Ephesians 5:26; Ephesians 6:17; 1 Peter 1:25; — an authoritative command, Luke 5:5. In this epistle it is used variously. In this only it differs from λόγος, that it never denotes the eternal or essential Word of God. That which in this place is denoted by it, with its adjunct of τῆς δυνάμεως, the λόγος ἐςδιάθετος, or the divine power, executing the counsels of the will and wisdom of God, or the efficacy of God’s providence, whereby he worketh and effecteth all things according to the counsel of his will. See Genesis 1:3; Psalms 147:15; Psalms 147:18; Psalms 148:8; Isaiah 30:31. And this is indifferently expressed by ῥῆμα and λόγος. Hence the same thing which Paul expresseth by the one of them, Hebrews 11:3, πίστει νοοῦμεν κατηρτίσθαι τοὺς αἰῶνας ῥήματι θεοῦ, “By faith we know that the worlds were made by the word of God,” Peter doth by the other, 2 Peter 3:5, συνεστῶσα τῷ θεοῦ λόγῳ.

Now, this efficacy of divine Providence is called the word of God, to intimate that as rulers accomplish their will by a word of command, in and about things subject to their pleasure, Matthew 8:9, so doth God accomplish his whole mind and will in all things by his power. And therefore τῆς δυνάμεως, “of his power,” is here added by way of difference and distinction, to show what word it is that the apostle intends. It is not λόγος οὐσιώδης, “the essential Word” of God, who is the person spoken of; nor λόγος προφορικός, the word spoken by him in the revelation of himself, his mind and will; but a word that is effectual and operative, — namely, the putting forth of his divine power, with easiness and authority accomplishing his will and purpose in and by all things.

This in the vision of Ezekiel is the communication of a spirit of life to the cherubs and wheels, to act and move them as seems good to Him by whom they are guided; for as it is very probable that the apostle in these words, setting forth the divine power of the Son in ruling and governing the whole creation, did intend to mind the Hebrews that the Lord Christ, the Son, is he who was represented in the form of a man unto Ezekiel, ruling and disposing of all things, and the שׁדַּי, “the Almighty,” whose voice was heard amongst the wheels, so it is most certain that the same thing is intended in both places. And this expression of “upholding” (or “disposing of”) “all things by the word of his power,” doth fully declare the glorious providence emblematically expressed in that vision. The Son being over all things made by himself, as on a throne over the cherubim and wheels, influenceth the whole creation with his power, communicating unto it respectively subsistence, life, and motion, acting, ruling, and disposing of all according to the counsel of his own will.

This, then, is that which the apostle assigns unto the Son, thereby to set out the dignity of his person, that the Hebrews might well consider all things before they deserted his doctrine. He is one that is partaker essentially of the nature of God, “being the brightness of glory and the express image of his Father’s person,” who exerciseth and manifesteth his divine power both in the creation of all things, as also in the supportment, rule, and disposal of all, after they are made by him. And hence will follow, as his power and authority to change the Mosaical institutions, so his truth and faithfulness in the revelation of the will of God by him made; which it was their duty to embrace and adhere unto.

The several passages of this verse are all of them conjoined by the apostle, and used unto the same general end and purpose; but themselves are of such distinct senses and importance, considered absolutely and apart, that we shall in our passage take out the observations which they singly afford unto us.

And from these last words we may learn: —

I. Our Lord Jesus Christ, as the Son of God, hath the weight of the whole creation upon his hand, and disposeth of it by his power and wisdom.

II. Such is the nature and condition of the universe, that it could not subsist a moment, nor could any thing in it act regularly unto its appointed end, without the continual supportment, guidance, influence, and disposal of the Son of God.

We may briefly consider the sum of both these jointly, to manifest the power and care of Christ over us, as also the weak, dependent condition of the whole creation in and by itself. The things of this creation can no more support, act, and dispose themselves, than they could at first make themselves out of nothing. The greatest cannot conserve itself by its power, or greatness, or order; nor the least by its distance from opposition. Were there not a mighty hand under them all and every one, they would all sink into confusion and nothing; did not an effectual power influence them, they would become a slothful heap. It is true, God hath in the creation of all things implanted in every particle of the creation a special natural inclination and disposition, according unto which it is ready to act, move, or work regularly; but he hath not placed this nature and power absolutely in them, and independently of his own power and operation. The sun is endued with a nature to produce all the glorious effects of light and heat that we behold or conceive, the fire to burn, the wind to blow, and all creatures also in the like manner; but yet neither could sun, or fire, or wind preserve themselves in their being, nor retain the principles of their operations, did not the Son of God, by a constant, continual emanation of his eternal power, uphold and preserve them; nor could they produce any one effect by all their actings, did not he work in them and by them. And so is it with the sons of men, with all agents whatever, whether natural and necessary, or free and proceeding in their operations by election and choice. Hence Paul tells us that “in God we live, and move, and have our being,” Acts 17:28. He had before asserted that he had “made of one blood all nations,” Acts 17:26; that is, all men of one, whom he first created. To which he adds, that we may know that he hath not so left us to stand by ourselves on that first foundation as that we have any power or ability, being made, to do or act any thing without him, that in him, — that is, in his power, care, providence, and by virtue of his effectual influence, — our lives are supported and continued, that we are acted, moved, and enabled thereby to do all we do, be it never so small, wherein there is any effect of life or motion. So Daniel tells Belshazzar that his “breath” and “all his ways” were in the hand of God, Daniel 5:23; — his breath, in the supportment and continuance of his being; and his ways, in his effectual guidance and disposal of them. Peter speaks to the same purpose in general concerning the fabric of the heavens, earth, and sea, 2 Peter 3:5.

Now, what is thus spoken of God in general is by Paul particularly applied unto the Son: Colossians 1:16-17, “All things were created by him, and for him: and he is before all things, and by him all things consist.” He did not only make all things, as we have declared, and that for himself and his own glory, but also he continues at the head of them; so that by him and by his power they consist, — are preserved in their present state and condition, kept from dissolution, in their singular existence, and in a consistency among themselves. And the reason hereof is taken, first, from the limited, finite, dependent condition of the creation, and the absolute necessity that it should be so. It is utterly impossible, and repugnant to the very nature and being of God, that he should make, create, or produce any thing without himself, that should have either a self-subsistence or a self-sufficiency, or be independent on himself. All these are natural and essential properties of the divine nature. Where they are, there is God; so that no creature can be made partaker of them. When we name a creature, we name that which hath a derived and dependent being. And that which cannot subsist in and by itself cannot act so neither.

Secondly, The energetical efficacy of God’s providence, joined with his infinite wisdom in caring for the works of his own hands, the products of his power, requires that it should be so. He worketh yet. He did not create the world to leave it to an uncertain event, — to stand by and to see what would become of it, to see whether it would return to its primitive nothing (of which cask it always smells strongly), or how it would be tossed up and down by the adverse and contrary qualities which were implanted in the severals of it; but the same power and wisdom that produced it doth still accompany it, powerfully piercing through every parcel and particle of it. To fancy a providence in God, without a continual energetical operation; or a wisdom without a constant care, inspection, and oversight of the works of his hands; is not to have apprehensions of the living God, but to erect an idol in our own imaginations.

Thirdly, This work is peculiarly assigned unto the Son, not only as he is the eternal power and wisdom of God, but also because by his interposition, as undertaking the work of mediation, he reprieved the world from an immediate dissolution upon the first entrance of sin and disorder, that it might continue, as it were, the great stage for the mighty works of God’s grace, wisdom, and love, to be wrought on. Hence the care of the continuance of the creation and the disposal of it is delegated unto him, as he that hath undertaken to bring forth and consummate the glory of God in it, notwithstanding the great breach made upon it by the sin of angels and men. This is the substance of the apostle’s discourse, Colossians 1:15-20. Having asserted him to be the image of God, in the sense beforeopened and declared, and to have made all things, he affirms that all things have also their present consistency in him and by his power, and must have so, until the work of reconciliation of all things unto God being accomplished, the glory of God may be fully retrieved and established for ever.

1. We may see from hence the vanity of expecting any thing from the creatures, but only what the Lord Christ is pleased to communicate unto us by them. They that cannot sustain, move, or act themselves, by any power, virtue, or strength of their own, are very unlikely by and of themselves to afford any real assistance, relief, or help unto others. They all abide and exist severally, and consist together, in their order and operation, by the word of the power of Christ; and what he will communicate by them, that they will yield and afford, and nothing else. In themselves they are broken cisterns that will hold no water; what he drops into them may be derived unto us, and no more. They who rest upon them or rest in them, without the consideration of their constant dependence on Christ, will find at length all their hopes disappointed, and all their enjoyments vanish into nothing.

2. Learn hence also the full, absolute, plenary self-sufficiency and sovereignty of the Son, our Savior. We showed before the universality of his kingdom and moral rule over the whole creation; but this is not all. A king hath a moral rule over his subjects in his kingdom: but he doth not really and physically give them their being and existence; he doth not uphold and act them at his pleasure; but every one of them stands therein upon the same or an equal bottom with himself. He can, indeed, by the permission of God, take away the lives of any of them, and so put an end to all their actings and operations in this world; but he cannot give them life or continue their lives at his pleasure one moment, or make them so much as to move a finger. But with the Lord Christ it is otherwise. He not only rules over all the whole creation, disposing of it according to the rule and law of his own counsel and pleasure, but also they all have their beings, natures, inclinations, and lives from him; by his power are they continued unto them, and all their actions are influenced thereby. And this, as it argues an all-sufficiency in himself, so an absolute sovereignty over all other things. And this should teach us our constant dependence on him and our universal subjection unto him.

3. And this abundantly discovers the vanity and folly of them who make use of the creation in an opposition unto the Lord Christ and his peculiar interest in this world. His own power is the very ground that they stand upon in their opposition unto him, and all things which they use against him consist in him. They hold their lives absolutely at the pleasure of him whom they oppose; and they act against him without whose continual supportment and influence they could neither live nor act one moment: which is the greatest madness and most contemptible folly imaginable.

Proceed we now with our apostle in his description of the person and offices of the Messiah.

This beginning of the epistle, as hath been declared, contains a summary proposition of those things which the apostle intends severally to insist upon throughout the whole; and these all relate to the person and offices of the Messiah, the principal subject of this epistle. Having, therefore, first declared him to be the great prophet of the new testament; and, secondly, the lord, ruler, and governor of all things, as also manifested the equity of the grant of that universal sovereignty unto him, from the excellency of his person on the account of his divine nature, and the operations thereof in the works of creation and providence; he proceeds to finish and close his general proposition of the argument of the epistle by a brief intimation of his priestly office, with what he did therein, and what ensued thereon, in the remaining words of this verse.

And this order and method of the apostle is required by the nature of the things themselves whereof he treats; for the work of purging sins, which as a priest he assigns unto him, cannot well be declared without a previous manifestation of his divine nature. For it is “opus θεανδρικόν,” — a work of him who is God and man; for as God takes it to be his property to blot out our sins, so he could not have done it “by himself” had he not been man also.

And this is asserted in the next words: —

δι᾿ ἑαυτοῦ καθαρισμὸν ποιησάμενος τῶν ἀμαρτιῶν ἡμῶν· — “Having by himself purged our sins.”

The Vulgar Latin renders these words, “Purgationem peccatorum faciens,” not without sundry mistakes. For, first, these words, δι, “by himself,” and ἑαυτοῦ, “our,” are omitted; and yet the emphasis and proper sense of the whole depend upon them. Secondly, ποιησάμενος, “having made,” is rendered in the present tense, “making;” which seems to direct the sense of the words to another thing and action of Christ than what is here intended. And therefore the expositors of the Roman church, as Thomas, Lyranus, Cajetan, Estius, Ribera, a Lapide, all desert their own text, and expound the words according to the original. The ancients, also as Chrysostom, Theophylact, and OEcumenius, lay the chief weight of their whole exposition of this place on the words omitted in that translation.

The doctrine of purging our sins by Christ is deep and large, extending itself unto many weighty heads of the gospel; but we shall follow our apostle, and in this place pass it over briefly and in general, because the consideration of it will directly occur unto us in our progress.

Two things the apostle here expresseth concerning the Messiah; and one, which is the foundation of both the other, he implieth or supposeth: —

First, He expresseth what he did, — he “purged our sins;”

Secondly, How he did it, — he did it “by himself.”

That which he supposeth, as the foundation of both these, is, that he was the great high priest of the church; they with whom he dealt knowing full well that this matter of purging sins belonged only unto the priest.

Here, then, the apostle tacitly enters upon a comparison of Christ with Aaron, the high priest, as he had done before with all the prophetical revealers of the will of God; and as he named none of them in particular, no more doth he here name Aaron: but afterwards, when he comes more largely to insist on the same matter again, he expressly makes mention of his name, as also of that of Moses.

And in both the things here ascribed unto him as the great high priest of his church doth he prefer him above Aaron: — First, In that he “purged our sins,” — that is, really and effectually before God and in the conscience of the sinner, and that “for ever;” whereas the purgation of sins about which Aaron was employed was in itself but typical, external, and representative of that which was true and real: both of which the apostle proves at large afterwards. Secondly, In that he did it “by himself,” or the offering of himself; whereas whatever Aaron did of this kind, he did it by the offering of the blood of bulls and goats, as shall be declared.

And hence appears also the vanity of the gloss of a learned man on these words. “Postquam,” saith he, “morte sun causam dedisset ejus fidei per quam a peccatis purgamur, quod nec Moses fecerat nec prophetae.” For as we shall see that Christ’s purging of our sins doth not consist in giving a ground and cause for faith, whereby we purge ourselves, so the apostle is not comparing the Lord Christ in these words with Moses and the prophets, who had nothing to do in the work of purging sin, but with Aaron, who by office was designed thereunto.

Let us then see what it is that is here ascribed unto the Lord Christ: καθαρισμὸν ποιησάμενος. καθαρίζω doth most frequently denote real actual purification, either of outward defilements, by healing and cleansing, as Mark 1:40; Mark 7:19, Luke 5:12; or from spiritual defilements of sin, by sanctifying grace, as Acts 15:9, 2 Corinthians 7:1, Ephesians 5:26. But it is also frequently used in the same sense with καθαίρω and καθαίρομαι, “to purge by expiation or atonement,” as Hebrews 9:22-23. And in the like variety is καθαρισμός also used. But καθαρισμόν ποιήσαι, “to make a purgation,” or purification of our sins, cannot here be taken in the first sense, for real and inherent sanctifying: — First, Because it is spoken of as a thing already past and perfected, “Having purged our sins,” when purification by sanctification is begun only in some, not all at any time, and perfected in none at all in this world. Secondly, Because he did it δι᾿ ἑαυτοῦ, “by himself” alone, without the use or application of any other medium unto them that are purged; when real inherent sanctification is with “washing of water by the word,” Ephesians 5:26; or by “regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost,” Titus 3:5. And the gloss above mentioned, that Christ should purge us from our sins in his death, by occasioning that faith whereby we are cleansed, is excluded, as was in part showed before, by the context. That is assigned unto the death of Christ, as done really and effectually thereby, which was done typically of old in the legal sacrifices by the priests; as is evident from the antithesis couched in that expression, “By himself.” But this was not the way whereby sins were of old purged by sacrifices, — namely, by the begetting a persuasion in the minds of men that should be useful for that purpose, — and therefore no such thing is here intended.

καθαρισμὸς, then, is such a purging as is made by expiation, lustration, and atonement; that is, כִּפֻר or כּפֹּרֶת, ἰλασμός, “propitiatio,” — “atonement,” “propitiation.” So is that word rendered by the LXX., Exodus 29:36 : τῇ ἡμέρα τοῦ καθαρισμου, עלאּחַכִּפְּרִים, — “the day of atonement,” or “expiation.” They do, indeed, mostly render כָּפַר by ἱλάσκομαι, and ἐξιλάσκομᾳι, — “to propitiate,” “to appease,” “to atone;” but they do it also by καθαρίζω, “to purge,” as Exodus 29:37, and Exodus 30:10. So also in other authors, καθαρισμός is used for κάθαρυα, περικάθαρμα; that is, “expiatio,” “expiamentum,” “piaculum,” — “expiation,” “atonement,” “diversion of guilt.” So Lucian:

᾿῾ρίψομεν μὲν αὐτὸν τοῦ κρημνοῦ καθαρισμὸν τοῦ στρατοῦ ἐσόμενον· — “We cast him down headlong, for an expiation of the army;” or, as one that by his death should expiate, bear, take away the guilt of the army. And such lustrations were common among the heathen, when persons devoted themselves to destruction, or were devoted by others, to purge, lustrate, bear the guilt of any, that they might go free. Such were Codrus, Menoeceus, and the Decii; whose stories are known. This purging, then, of our sins, which the apostle declareth to have been effected before the ascension of Christ and his sitting down at the right hand of God, consisteth not in the actual sanctification and purification of believers by the Spirit, in the application of the blood of Christ unto them, but in the atonement made by him in the sacrifice of himself, that our sins should not be imputed unto us. And therefore is he said to purge our sins, and not to purge us from our sins. And wherever sins, not sinners, are made the object of any mediatory act of Christ, that act immediately respecteth God, and not the sinner, and intends the removal of sin, so as that it should not be imputed. So Hebrews 2:17 of this epistle: “He is a merciful high priest,” εἰς τὸ ἱλάσκεσθαι τὰς ἀμαρτίας τοῦ λαοῦ, — “to reconcile the sins of the people;” that is, ἱλάσκεσθαι τὸν θεὸν περὶ τῶν ἀμαρτιῶν, — “to make atonement” (or “reconciliation with God’”) “for the sins of the people.” And again: “He underwent death,” εἰς ἀπολύτρωσιν τῶν ἐπὶ τῇ πρώτῃ διαθήκῃ παραβάσεων — “for the redemption of transgressions under the first covenant;” that is, to pay a price for them, that transgressors might be set free from the sentence of the law. So that καθαρισμὸν ποιησάμενος τῶν ἀμαρτιῶν ἡμῶν, is as much as, “Having made atonement for our sins.”

And this the apostle further declareth by manifesting the way whereby he did it; that is, δι᾿ ἑαυτοῦ, “by himself,” — that is, by the sacrifice and offering of himself, as Hebrews 9:12; Hebrews 9:14; Ephesians 5:2. The high priest of old made atonement, and typically purged the sins of the people, by sacrificing of beasts according unto the appointment of the law, Leviticus 16; this high priest, by the sacrifice of himself, Isaiah 53:10; Hebrews 9:12. Of the nature of propitiatory or expiatory sacrifices we must treat at large afterwards. We keep ourselves now unto the apostle’s general proposition, expressing briefly the sacerdotal office of Christ, and the excellency of it, in that he really purged our sins, and that by the sacrifice of himself. And this was in and by his death on the cross, with his antecedent preparatory sufferings. Some distinguish between his death and the oblation of himself. This, they say, he performed in heaven, when, as the high priest of his church, he entered into the holiest not made with hands, whereunto his death was but a preparation. For the slaying of the beast, they say, was not the sacrifice, but the offering of its blood upon the altar, and the carrying of it into the holy place. But this utterly overthrows the whole sacrifice of Christ; which, indeed, is the thing by them aimed at. It is true, the slaying of the beast was not the whole sacrifice, but only an essential part of it; as was also the offering of its blood, and the sprinkling of it in the most holy place, in the anniversary sacrifice of atonement, but not in any other. And the reason why the whole sacrifice could not consist in any one action, arose merely from the imperfection of the things and persons employed in that work. The priest was one thing, the beast to be sacrificed another, the altar another, the fire on the altar another, the incense added another, each of them limited and designed unto its peculiar end; so that the atonement could not be made by any one of them, nor the sacrifice consist in them. But now in this sacrifice of Christ all these meet in one, because of his perfection. He himself was both priest, sacrifice, altar, and incense, as we shall see in our progress; and he perfected his whole sacrifice at once, in and by his death and blood-shedding, as the apostle evidently, declares, Hebrews 9:12; Hebrews 9:14.

Thus by himself did Christ purge our sins, making an atonement for them by the sacrifice of himself in his death, that they should never be imputed unto them that believe.

And this part of this verse will afford us also this distinct observation: — So great was the work of freeing us from sin, that it could no otherwise be effected but by the self-sacrifice of the Son of God.

Our apostle makes it his design, in several places, to evince that none of those things from whence mankind usually did, or might, with any hopes or probabilities, expect relief in this case, would yield them any at all.

The best that the Gentiles could attain, all that they had to trust unto, was but the improvement of natural light and reason, with an attendance unto those seeds and principles of good and evil which are yet left in the depraved nature of man. Under the conduct and in obedience unto these they sought for rest, glory, and immortality. How miserably they were disappointed in their aims and expectations, and what a woeful issue all their endeavors had, the apostle declares and proves at large, Romans 1:18, unto the end.

The Jews, who enjoyed the benefit of divine revelations, having lost, for the most part, the true spiritual import of them, sought for the same ends by the law, and their own diligent observation of it. They “rested in the law”, Romans 2:17, namely, that by it they should obtain deliverance from sin and acceptance with God; and “followed after it,” Romans 9:31; that is, to attain righteousness and salvation by it. And this seemed to be a sufficient bottom and foundation for them to build upon; for having lost the spiritual understanding, the use and end of the law, as renewed unto them in the covenant of Horeb, they went back unto the primitive use and end of it upon its first giving in innocency, and foolishly thought, as many more yet do, that it would do the same things for sinners that it would have done for men if they had not sinned in Adam; that is, have given them acceptance with God here and eternal life hereafter. Wherefore the apostle in many places takes great pains to undeceive them, to rectify their mistake, and to prove that God had no such design in giving them the law as that which they would impose upon him.

And, first, he asserts and proves in general, that the law would deceive their expectations, that “by the deeds of the law no flesh should be justified,” Romans 3:20; and that it would not give them life, Galatians 3:21, or righteousness. And that they might not complain that then God himself had deceived them, in giving a law that would not serve the turn for which it was given, he declares, secondly, that they had mistaken the end for which the law was renewed unto them; which was, not that it might give them life, or righteousness, but that it might discover sin, exact obedience, and by both drive and compel them to look out after some other thing that might both save them from their sin and afford them a righteousness unto salvation. And furthermore, he, thirdly, acquaints them whence it was that the law was become insufficient for these ends; and that was, because it was become “weak through the flesh,” Romans 8:3. The law was able to continue our acceptance with God in that condition wherein at first we were created; but after that man by sin became flesh, — to have a principle of enmity against God in him, bringing forth the fruits of sin continually, — the law stood aside, as weakened and insufficient to help and save such a one. And these things the apostle expressly and carefully insists upon in his Epistles to the Romans and Galatians. But, thirdly, Though the law, and an earnest endeavor after the observation of it in general, would not serve to save us from our sins, yet there were especial institutions of the law that were appointed for that end and purpose, as, namely, the sacrifices in particular, which were designed to make atonement for the delivery of sinners, and to procure their reconciliation with God. These the Jews principally rested on and trusted unto. And, indeed, to expect righteousness and justification by the Mosaical sacrifices, as they did, was far more rational than to expect them by the works of the moral law, as some now do; for all good works whatever are required in the law, and so far are works of the law. For in the sacrifices there was a supposition of sin, and an appearance of a compensation to be made, that the sinner might go free; but in the moral law there is nothing but absolute, universal, and exact righteousness required or admitted, without the least provision of relief for them who come short therein. But yet our apostle declares and proves that neither were these available for the end aimed at, as we shall see at large on the ninth and tenth chapters of this epistle.

Now, within the compass of these three, — natural light or reason, with ingrafted principles of good and evil, the moral law, and the sacrifices thereof, — do lie and consist all the hopes and endeavors of sinners after deliverance and acceptance with God. Nothing is there that they can do, or put any confidence in, but may be referred unto one of these heads. And if all these fail them, as assuredly they will (which we might prove by reasons and demonstrations innumerable, though at present we content ourselves with the testimonies above reported), it is certain that there is nothing under heaven can yield them in this case the least relief.

Again, This is the only way for that end which is suited unto the wisdom of God. The wisdom of God is an infinite abyss, which, as it lies in his own eternal breast, we cannot at all look into. We can only adore it as it breaks forth and discovers itself in the works that outwardly are of him, or the effects of it. Thus David, in the consideration of the works of God, falls into an admiration of the wisdom whereby they were made, Psalms 104:24; Psalms 136:5. The wisdom of God opens and manifests itself in its effects; and thence, according unto our measure, do we learn what doth become it and is suitable unto it. But when the Holy Ghost cometh to speak of this work of our redemption by Christ, he doth not only call us to consider singly the wisdom of God, but his various and “manifold wisdom,”

Ephesians 3:10; and affirms that “all the treasures of wisdom” are hid in it, Colossians 2:3; plainly intimating that it is a work so suited unto, so answering the infinite wisdom of God in all things throughout, that it could no otherwise have been disposed and effected; and this as well upon the account of the wisdom of God itself absolutely considered, as also as it is that property whereby God designs and effects the glorifying of all other excellencies of his nature, whence it is called various, or “manifold:” so that we may well conclude that no other way of deliverance of sinners was suited unto the wisdom of God.

Secondly, This way alone answered the holiness and righteousness of God. He is “an holy God,” who will not suffer the guilty to go free, “of purer eyes than to behold iniquity;” and his judgment is, that “they who commit sin are worthy of death.” Sin is contrary to his nature, and his justice requireth that it go not unpunished. Besides, he is the great and supreme governor of all; and whereas sin breaketh and dissolveth the dependence of the creature upon him, should he not avenge that defection his whole rule and government would be disannulled. But now, if this vengeance and punishment should fall on the sinners themselves, they must perish under it eternally; not one of them could escape or ever be freed or purged from their sins. A commutation, then, there must be, that the punishment due to sin, which the holiness and righteousness of God exacted, may be inflicted, and mercy and grace showed unto the sinner. That none was able, fit, or worthy to undergo this penalty, so as to make a compensation for all the sins of all the elect; that none was able to bear it, and break through it, so as that the end of the undertaking might be happy, blessed, and glorious on all hands, but only the Son of God, we shall further manifest in our progress, and it hath been elsewhere declared. And this, —

1. Should teach us to live in a holy admiration of this mighty and wonderful product of the wisdom, righteousness, and goodness which had found out and appointed this way of delivering sinners, and have gloriously accomplished it in the self-sacrifice of the Son of God. The Holy Ghost everywhere proposeth this unto us as a mystery, a great and hidden mystery, which none of the great, or wise, or disputers of the world, ever did or could come to the least acquaintance withal. And three things he asserts concerning it: —

(1.) That it is revealed in the gospel, and is thence alone to be learned and attained; whence we are invited again and again to search and inquire diligently into it, unto this very end, that we may become wise in the knowledge and acknowledgment of this deep and hidden mystery.

(2.) That we cannot in our own strength, and by our own most diligent endeavors, come to a holy acquaintance with it, notwithstanding that revelation that is made of it in the letter of the word, unless moreover we receive from God the Spirit of wisdom, knowledge, and revelation, opening our eyes, making our minds spiritual, and enabling us to discover these depths of the Holy Ghost in a spiritual manner.

(3.) That we cannot by these helps attain in this life unto a perfection in the knowledge of this deep and unfathomable mystery, but must still labor to grow in grace and in the knowledge of it, our thriving in all grace and obedience depending thereon. All these things the Scripture abounds in the repetition of. And, besides, it everywhere sets forth the blessedness and happiness of them who by grace obtain a spiritual insight into this mystery; and themselves also find by experience the satisfying excellency of it, with the apostle, Philippians 3:8. All which considerations are powerful motives unto this duty of inquiring into and admiring this wonderful mystery; wherein we have the angels themselves for our associates and companions.

2. Consider we may, also, the unspeakable love of Christ in this work of his delivering us from sin. This the Scripture also abundantly goeth before us in, setting forth, extolling, commending this love of Christ, and calling us to a holy consideration of it. Particularly, it shows it accompanied with all things that may make love expressive and to be admired; for,

(1.) It proposeth the necessity and exigency of the condition wherein the Lord Christ gave us this relief. That was when we were “sinners,” when we were “lost,” when we were “children of wrath,” “under the curse,” — when no eye did pity us, when no hand could relieve us. And if John mourned greatly when he thought that there was none found worthy, in heaven or earth, to open the book of visions, and to unloose the seals thereof, how justly might the whole creation mourn and lament if there had been none found to yield relief, when all were obnoxious to this fatal ruin! And this is an exceeding commendation of the love of Christ, that he set his hand to that work which none could touch, and put his shoulders under that burden which none else could bear, when all lay in a desperate condition.

(2.) The greatness of this delivery. It is from “wrath,” and “curse,” and “vengeance” eternal. Not from a trouble or danger of a few days’ continuance, not from a momentary suffering; but from everlasting wrath, under the curse of God, and power of Satan in the execution of it, which necessarily attend sin and sinners. And,

(3.) The way whereby he did it; not by his word, whereby he made the world; not by his power, whereby he sustains and rules the things that he hath made; not by paying a price of corruptible things; not by revealing a way unto us only whereby we ourselves might escape that condition wherein we were, as some foolishly imagine: but by the “sacrifice of himself,” “making his soul an offering for sin,” and “offering up himself unto God through the eternal Spirit,” — by “laying down his life for us;” and greater love can no man manifest than by so doing. And,

(4.) The infinite condescension that he used, to put himself into that condition wherein by himself he might purge our sins; for to this purpose, when he was “in the form of God, he emptied himself of his glory, made himself of no account, was made flesh, took on him the form of a servant, that he might be obedient unto death, the death of the cross.” And,

(5.) The end of his undertaking for us, which was the “bringing of us unto God,” into his love and favor here, and the eternal enjoyment of him hereafter. All these things, I say, doth the Scripture insist frequently and largely upon, to set forth the excellency of the love of Christ, to render it admirable and amiable unto us. And these things should we lay up in our hearts, and continually ponder them, that we may give due acceptance and entertainment to this wonderful love of the Son of God.

The apostle having thus asserted in general the sacerdotal office of Christ, and the sacrifice that he offered, with the end of it, because that could not be done without the greatest dejection, humiliation, and abasement of the Son, that we may not conceive that he was left in, or doth yet abide under, the same condition, adds the blessed event and consequent of his great work and undertaking: — ῾εκάθισεν ἐν δεξιᾷ τῆς μεγαλωσύνης ἐν ὐψηλοῖς· — “He sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.”

These words we have already opened, as to their sense and importance. The design and meaning of the Holy Ghost in them is nextly to be considered. The things to be inquired after to this end are, — first, The scope of the apostle in these words; secondly, The manner of his expressing his intendment, and the particulars therein intended; thirdly, What he referred unto in the Mosaical economy, whereby he strengthened the argument which he had in hand.

Two things the apostle in general designs in these words: —

1. That the Lord Christ, undertaking to purge our sins, did by the one offering of himself perfectly effect it, so discharging the whole work of his priesthood, as to the making atonement for sinners. This the blessed issue of his undertaking doth demonstrate. Immediately upon his work, he entered into the glorious condition here expressed, — a signal pledge and evidence that his work was perfected, and that God was fully satisfied and well pleased with what he had done.

2. The blessed and glorious condition of the Lord Jesus after his humiliation is expressed in these words. His Spirit did of old signify both his “sufferings” and the “glory that should follow,” 1 Peter 1:11; as himself interpreted the Scriptures unto his disciples, Luke 24:26. And this, upon the close of his work, he requested, as due unto him upon compact and promise, John 17:5. These are the things in general designed by the apostle in these words.

Secondly, The manner of his expression of the glory and blessed condition of the Son of God after his purging our sins, and what is particularly intimated therein, is to be considered. Some mistakes or groundless curiosities must first be removed, and then the real importance of the words declared.

Some contend that the left hand of old was most honorable; so that the placing of Christ at the right hand of God, as it denotes his honor and glory, so also an inferiority unto the Father. To this purpose they produce some sayings out of some ancient writers among the heathen, giving the preference of place or dignity unto the left hand: and these sayings are made use of by the Romanists to answer an objection of very little moment against Peter’s supremacy, taken from some ancient episcopal seals, whereon the figure of Paul was placed on the right hand of that of Peter. But this conjecture may be easily disproved by testimonies innumerable out of approved authors among the Gentiles; and in Scripture the right hand doth constantly denote dignity and pre-eminence. The instance of Jacob’s blessing Joseph’s children testifies also the constant usage of those ancient times, from the intimation of nature itself, Genesis 48:17-19; and the disposal of the sheep and goats at the last day to the right hand and left gives the privilege to the former. So Basil: ῾᾿η δεξιὰ χώρα δηλοῖ τὸ τῆς ἀξίας ὁμότιμον· — “The right hand place denoteth a quality of dignity.” And Chrysostom: εἱ γὰρ ἐλαττωσιν ἤθελς δηλῶσαι οὐχ ἄν ει῏πεν ἐκ δεξιῶν ἀλλ᾿ ἐξ ἀριστερῶν· — “If he would have signified any lessening or diminution, he would not have said, ‘Sit on my right hand,’but on my left.” So that it is honor and glory which is signified by this expression, and that only.

Some, granting the right hand to denote the most honorable place, inquire whether this be spoken in reference unto God the Father himself, or unto others that do or may be supposed to sit on his left hand. For the first sense contends Maldonate on Matthew 16:19; for saith he, “Though it be impossible that the Son in absolute or essential glory should be preferred before or above the Father, yet as to his immediate rule over the church he may more show forth his power and glory in the rule and government of all things” Others contend that it is spoken with respect unto others sitting at the left hand, above which this is preferred. But this whole inquiry is both curious and groundless: for,

1. Though sitting at the right hand be a token of great glory and dignity, yet, as the apostle speaks in this very case, “it is manifest that He is excepted who put all things under him,” 1 Corinthians 15:27, — he who thus exalted him over all at his right hand is excepted; and,

2. Here is no comparison at all, or regard to sitting on the left hand, nor is there so wherever that expression is used, but only the glory of Christ the mediator is absolutely declared.

And this may be cleared by other instances. Solomon placed his mother when she came unto him on his right hand, — a token of exceeding honor; but he himself sat down on the throne of the kingdom, 1 Kings 2:19. The church is said to be at the right hand of Christ, Psalms 45:9; which, as it prefers her above all others, so it takes not off her subjection unto Christ. Nero, in Suetonius, when Tiridates, king of Armenia, came to Rome, placed him for his honor on his right hand, himself sitting on the throne of rule. And where three sit together, the middle seat is the place of chiefest honor. Hence Cato in Africa, when Juba would have placed himself in the midst between him and Scipio, removed himself to the left hand of Scipio, that Juba might not have the place of pre-eminence above Roman magistrates. It is not unlikely but that there may be an allusion in this expression unto the Sanhedrin, the highest court of judicature among the Jews. He who presided in it was called אב דין, or אב בית דין, “The father of judgment,” or, “Father of the house of judgment,” and sat at the right hand of the נשי, or “prince” of the Sanhedrin, next unto him unto whom belonged the execution of the sentence of the court. Of this ab din mention is made in the Targum, Song of Solomon 7:4, ואב בית דינא דדאן דיניךְ; — “The father of the house of judgment, who judgeth thy judgments;” agreeable to that, “The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son.”

The whole expression, then, is plainly metaphorical, and taken from what is or was in use amongst men, and thence translated to signify the state and condition of Christ in heaven. And this is that which the apostle in general intimates in these words, that as the greatest honor that can be done unto any one among the sons of men is for the chief ruler to set him next himself on his right hand, so is the Son, as mediator, made partaker of the greatest glory that God hath to bestow in heaven. It is not, then, the essential, eternal glory of the Son of God, that he hath equally with the Father, which in these words is expressed, and whereof the apostle had spoken before, but that glory and honor which is bestowed on him by the Father, after and upon the sacrifice of himself for the expiation of sin. So, then, the right hand of God is not here taken absolutely, as in other places, for the power and strength of God; but with the adjunct of sitting at it, it shadows out a place and eminency of glory, as he is considered on his throne of majesty; and therefore it is here termed “the right hand of majesty,” and not of omnipotency or power.

In particular, two things are intended in this expression: —

1. The security of Christ from all his adversaries and all sufferings for the future. The Jews knew what he suffered from God and man. Hereof he lets them know what was the reason, — it was for the purging of our sins; and moreover declares that now he is everlastingly secured from all opposition, for where he is, thither his adversaries cannot come, as John 7:34. He is above their reach, beyond their power, — secure in the throne and presence of God. Thus the fruit of the church, being secured from the rage and persecution of Satan, is said to be “caught up unto God, and to his throne,” Revelation 12:5. Hence though men do and will continue their malice and wrath against the Lord Christ to the end of the world, as though they would crucify him afresh, yet he dies no more, being secure out of their reach at the right hand of God.

2. His majesty and glory inexpressible; — all that can be given of God in heaven. God on his throne is God in the full manifestation of his own majesty and glory; on his right hand sits the Mediator, yea, so as that he also is “in the midst of the throne,” Revelation 5:6. How little can our weak understandings apprehend of this majesty! See Philippians 2:9; Matthew 20:21; Romans 8:34; Colossians 3:1; Ephesians 1:20.

These are the things which the apostle sets forth in this expression. And they are plainly intimated in the context of the psalm from whence the words are taken, Psalms 110. So that it is not his rule and authority, but his safety, majesty, and glory, which accompany them, that are here intended.

Thirdly, We are to inquire what it was that the apostle had respect unto, in this ascription of glory and majesty unto Christ, in the old church-state of the Jews, and so what it is that he preferreth him above.

It is thought by many that the apostle in these words exalteth Christ above David, the chiefest king among the Jews. Of him it is said that God would make him his “first-born, higher than the kings of the earth,” Psalms 89:27. His throne was high on the earth, and his glory above that of all the kings about him; but for the Lord Christ, he is incomparably exalted above him also, in that he is sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. But, as was said, these words denote not the rule, power, or authority of Christ, typed by the kingdom of David, but his glory and majesty, represented by the magnificent throne of Solomon. Besides, he is not treating of the kingly power of Christ, but of his sacerdotal office, and the glory that ensued upon the discharge thereof.

That, therefore, which in these words the apostle seems to have had respect unto was the high priest’s entrance into the holy place, after his offering of the solemn anniversary sacrifice of expiation. Then alone was he admitted into that holy place, or heaven below, where was the solemn representation of the presence of God, — his throne and his glory. And what did he there? He stood with all humility and lowly reverence ministering before the Lord, whose presence was there represented. He did not go and sit down between the cherubim, but worshipping at the footstool of the Lord, he departed. It is not, saith the apostle, so with Christ; but as his sacrifice was infinitely more excellent and effectual than Aaron’s, so upon the offering of it he entered into the holy place, or heaven itself above, and into the real, glorious presence of God, not to minister in humility, but to a participation of the throne of majesty and glory. He is a king and priest upon his throne, Zechariah 6:13.

Thus the apostle shuts up his general proposition of the whole matter, which he intends further to dilate and treat upon. In this description of the person and offices of the Messiah he coucheth the springs of all his ensuing arguments, and from thence enforceth the exhortation which we have observed him constantly to pursue. And we also may hence observe: —

I. That there is nothing more vain, foolish, and fruitless, than the opposition which Satan and his agents yet make unto the Lord Christ and his kingdom. Can they ascend into heaven? Can they pluck the Lord Christ from the throne of God? A little time will manifest this madness, and that unto eternity.

II. That the service of the Lord Christ is both safe and honorable. He is, as a good, so a glorious master, one that sits at the right hand of God.

III. Great is the spiritual and eternal security of them that truly believe in Christ. Of all which severally afterwards.


Verse 4

The design of the apostle, as we have now often showed, is to evince the necessity of abiding in the doctrine of the gospel, from the excellency of the person by whom it pleased God to reveal it unto us. This he hath done already in general, in that description which he hath given us of his person, power, works, offices, and glory; whereby he hath made it evident that no creature whom God was pleased at any time to make use of in the revelation of his will, or the institution of his worship, was any way to be compared with him. Having proceeded thus far in general, he descends now to the consideration of particular instances, in all those whom God employed in the ministration of the law and constitution of Mosaical worship; and takes occasion from them all to set forth the dignity and incomparable excellencies of the Lord Christ, whom in all things he exalts.

First, then, he treateth concerning angels, as those who were the most glorious creatures, employed in the giving of the law. The Hebrews owned, yea, pleaded this in their own defense, that besides the mediation of Moses, God used the ministry of angels in the giving of the law, and in other occasional instructions of their forefathers. Some of them contend that the last of the prophets was personally an angel, as the signification of his name imports. Holy Stephen, upbraiding them with their abuse and contempt of their greatest privileges, tells them that they “received the law by the disposition” (“ordering,” or “ministry”) “of angels,” Acts 7:53. And the Targum interprets the chariots of God, with the thousands of angels, Psalms 68:17-18, of the angels by whose ministry God taught Israel the law. This, then, might leave a special prejudice in their minds, that the law being so delivered by angels must needs have therein the advantage above the gospel, and be therefore excellent and immutable.

To remove this prejudice also, and further to declare the excellency and pre-eminence in all things of Him who revealed the gospel, the apostle takes occasion, from what he had newly taught them concerning the exaltation of Jesus Christ at the right hand of God, to prove unto them, out of the scriptures of the Old Testament, that he is exceedingly advanced and glorious above the angels themselves, whose concurrence in the ministration of the law they boasted in; and to this purpose produceth four signal testimonies, one after another. This is the design of the apostle, which he pursues and makes out unto the end of this chapter; and that we may rightly conceive of his intention, and the meaning of the Holy Ghost in the whole, we shall, before we consider his proposition laid down in this fourth verse, or the ensuing confirmations of it, inquire in general what it is in Christ which he compareth with and preferreth above the angels, and wherein it is that he so exalts him.

The comparison entered on between the Lord Christ and angels must be either with respect unto their natures, or unto their dignity, office, power, and glory. If the comparison be of nature with nature, then it must be either in respect of the divine or human nature of Christ. If it should be of the divine nature of Christ with the nature of angels, then it is not a comparison of proportion, as between two natures agreeing in any general kind of being, — as do the nature of a man and a worm, — but a comparison only manifesting a difference and distance without any proportion. So answereth Athanasius, Orat. 2 adv. Arian. But the truth is, the apostle hath no design to prove by arguments and testimonies the excellencies of the divine nature above the angelical. There was no need so to do, nor do his testimonies prove any such thing. Besides, speaking of angels, the other part of the comparison, he treats not of their nature, but their office, work, and employment, with their honorable and glorious condition therein. Whereas, therefore, the apostle produceth sundry testimonies confirming the deity of the Son, he doth it not absolutely to prove the divine nature to be more excellent than the angelical, but only to manifest thereby the glorious condition of him who is partaker of it, and consequently his pre-eminence above angels, or the equity that it should be so.

Neither is the comparison between the human nature of Christ and the nature of angels; for that absolutely considered and in itself is inferior to the angelical; whence, in regard of his participation of it, he is said to be made “lower than the angels,” chap. 2.

The apostle, then, treats of the person of Christ, God and man, who was appointed and designed of God the Father to be the revealer of the gospel and mediator of the new testament. As such, he is the subject of the ensuing general proposition; as such, he was spoken of in the words immediately foregoing; and concerning him as such are the ensuing testimonies to be interpreted, even those which testify to his divine nature, being produced to demonstrate the excellency of his person, as vested with the offices of the king, priest, and prophet of his church, the great revealer of the will of God in the last days.

Hebrews 1:4. τοσούτῳ κρείττων γενὸμενος τῶν ἀγγέλων, ὅσῳ διαφορώτερον παρ᾿ αὐτοὺς κεκληρονόμηκεν ὄνομα.

τοσούτῳ κρείττων γενόμενος Syr. וְהָנָא כֻּלֵהּ יִרֵב“Et ipse tantum praestantior fuit,” Boderian.; — “And he was so much more excellent.” “At tanto potior factus est,” Tremel.; — “And he is made so much more better.” “At ipse toto excellit;” or, as De Dieu, “At hoc totum excellit;” — “And he wholly excelleth;” or, “in all things he excelleth.” Vulg. “Tanto melior factus angelis.” The translation of κρείττων by “melior” is blamed by Erasmus, Beza, Vatablus, and is generally deserted by the expositors of the Roman church; and it is hard, if not impossible, to find “melior” in any good author used in the sense that κρείττων is here and elsewhere constantly applied unto. Ours render the word “better,” “made better;” to avoid, I believe, a coincidence with that which they express διαφορώτερον by, “more excellent.” κρείττων is properly “nobilior,” “potentior,” “praestantior,” “excellentior,” — “more powerful,” “able,” “excellent,” as to love, honor, or state and condition; as in that of Homer, Il. A. 80, —

The name “sons of God” is given to angels. But it is a different thing to apply a common name in the plural to a class, from what it is to apply the same as an individual name in the singular to an individual. When Jehovah, in Psalms 2:2; Psalms 2:7, declares his anointed to be his Son whom he has begotten, this is something different from what is said, when the angels as a class are called sons of the Elohim who has created them. — Ebrard.

κρείτ. refers to superiority in rank or dignity. The term “better” suggests the idea of moral excellence, which is not the thought here. — Craik.

TRANSLATIONS. — κρείτ. Exalted above the angels. — Stuart.

Greater. — Boothroyd, Conybeare, and Howson. Superior to the angels. — Craik,

γενόμ. Being made. — Diodati. διαφορ.

More distinguished, more singular. — Ebrard. — ED.

Hebrews 1:4. — Being in so much preferred [exalted, made eminent] above angels, as he [obtained] inherited a more excellent name than they.

There are five things considerable in and for the exposition of these words: —

1. What it is that the apostle asserts in them as his general proposition, namely, that the Son, as the great priest and prophet of the church, was preferred above, and made more glorious and powerful than the angels; and how this was done, and wherein it doth consist.

2. When, he was so preferred above them; which belongs unto the explication and right understanding of the former.

3. The degree of this preference of him above the angels, intimated in the comparison, “Being by so much made more excellent, as he hath,” etc.

4. The proof of the assertion, both absolutely and as to the degree intimated; and this is taken from his name.

5. The way whereby he came to have this name; he obtained it as his lot and portion, or he inherited it.

1. He is made “more excellent” than the angels, preferred above them, — that is, say some, declared so to be. “Turn res dicitur fieri, cum incipit patefieri.” Frequently in the Scripture a thing is then said to be made, or to be, when it is manifested so to be. And in this sense the word γίνεσθαι is sometimes used: Romans 3:4, γινέσθω ὁ θεὸς ἀληθὴς, πᾶς δὲ ἄνθρωπος ψεύστης, “Let God be true, and every man a liar;” that is, manifested and acknowledged so to be. So, James 1:12, δόκιμος γενόμενος, — he that is approved in trial, and thereby manifested to be sincere and sound. In this sense the apostle tells us, Romans 1:4, that the Lord Christ was “declared to be the Son of God by the resurrection from the dead.” The resurrection from the dead did not make him to be the Son of God, but evidently manifested and declared him so to be. According to this interpretation of the words, that which the Holy Ghost intimateth is, that whereas the Lord Christ ministered in an outwardly low condition in this world, whilst he purged our sins, yet by his sitting down at the right hand of God he was revealed, manifested, declared to be more excellent than all the angels in heaven.

But I see no reason why we should desert the proper and most usual signification of the words, nothing in the context persuading us so to do. Besides, this suits not the apostle’s design, who doth not prove from the Scripture that the Lord Christ was manifested to be more excellent than the angels, but that really he was preferred and exalted above them. So, then, κρείττων γενόμενος is as much as “preferred,” “exalted,” actually placed in more power, glory, dignity, than the angels. This John Baptist affirms of him, ᾿εμπροσθέν μου γέγονεν· ὅτι πρῶτός μου ἧν· — “He was preferred before me, because he was before me,” — preferred above him, called to another manner of office than that which John ministered in, made before or above him in dignity, because he was before him in nature and existence. And this is the proper sense of the words: the Lord Jesus Christ, the revealer of the will of God in the gospel, is exalted above, preferred before, made more excellent and glorious than the angels themselves, all or any of them, who ministered unto the Lord in the giving of the law on mount Sinai.

Some object unto this interpretation, “That he who is said to be made or set above the angels is supposed to have been lower than they before.” To which I answer, And so he was, not in respect of essence, subsistence, and real dignity, but in respect of the infirmities and sufferings that he was exposed unto in the discharge of his work here on the earth, as the apostle expressly declares, Hebrews 2:9.

2. And this gives us light into our second inquiry on these words, namely, when it was that Christ was thus exalted above the angels.

(1.) Some say that it was in the time of his incarnation; for then the human nature being taken into personal subsistence with the Son of God, it became more excellent than that of the angels. This sense is fixed on by some of the ancients, who are followed by sundry modern expositors. But we have proved before that it is not of either nature of Christ absolutely or abstractedly that the apostle here speaketh nor of his person but as vested with his office, and discharging of it. And, moreover, the incarnation of Christ was part of his humiliation and exinanition, and is not, therefore, especially intended where his exaltation and glory are expressly spoken of.

(2.) Some say that it was at the time of his baptism, when he was anointed with the Spirit for the discharge of his prophetical office, Isaiah 61:1-2. But yet neither can this designation of the time be allowed; and that because the main things wherein he was made lower than the angels, as his temptations, and sufferings, and death itself, did follow his baptism and unction.

(3.) It must therefore be the time of his resurrection, ascension, and exaltation at the right hand of God, which ensued thereon, that is designed as the season wherein he was made more excellent than the angels, as evidently appears from the text and context: for, —

[1.] That was the time, as we have showed before, when he was gloriously vested with that all power in heaven and earth which was of old designed unto him and prepared for him.

[2.] The order also of the apostle’s discourse leads us to fix on this season: “After he had by himself purged our sins, he sat down,” etc.; “being made so much more excellent;” that is, therein and then he was so made.

[3.] The testimony in the first place produced by the apostle in the confirmation of his assertion is elsewhere, as we shall see, applied by himself unto his resurrection and the glory that ensued, and consequently they are also in this place intended.

[4.] This preference of the Lord Christ above the angels is plainly included in that grant of all power made unto him, Matthew 28:18; expounded Ephesians 1:21-22.

[5.] The testimony used by the apostle in the first place is the word that God spake unto his King, when he set him upon his holy hill of Zion, Psalms 2:6-8; which typically expresseth his glorious installment in his heavenly kingdom.

The Lord Christ, then, who in respect of his divine nature was always infinitely and incomparably himself more excellent than all the angels, after his humiliation in the assumption of the human nature, with the sufferings and temptations that he underwent, upon his resurrection was exalted into a condition of glory, power, authority, excellency, and intrusted with power over them, as our apostle here informs us.

3. In this preference and exaltation of the Lord Christ there is a degree intimated: “Being made so much more,” etc. Now our conceptions hereabout, as to this place, are wholly to be regulated by the name given unto him. ‘Look,’saith the apostle, ‘how much the name given unto the Messiah excels the name given unto angels, so much doth he himself excel them in glory, authority, and power; for these names are severally given them of God to signify their state and condition.’What and how great this difference is we shall afterwards see, in the consideration of the instances given of it by the apostle in the verses ensuing.

4. The proof of this assertion which the apostle first fixeth on is taken from the name of Christ, — his name, not given him by man, not assumed by himself, but ascribed unto him by God himself. Neither doth he here by the name of Christ or the name of the angels intend any individual proper names of the one or the other; but such descriptions as are made of them, and titles given unto them by God, as whereby their state and condition may be known. ‘Observe,’saith he, ‘how they are called of God, by what names and titles he owns them, and you may learn the difference between them.’This name he declares in the next verse: God said unto him, “Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.” It is not absolutely his being the Son of God that is intended, but that, by the testimony of the Holy Ghost, God said these words unto him, “Thou art my Son,” and thereby declared his state and condition to be far above that of the angels, to none of whom he ever said any such thing, but speaks of them in a far distinct manner, as we shall see. But hereof in the next verse.

Some by this “excellent name” understand his power, and dignity, and glory, called “a name above every name,” Philippians 2:9. But then this can no way prove that which the apostle produceth it for, it being directly the same with that which is asserted, in whose confirmation it is produced.

5. The last thing considerable is, how the Lord Christ came by this name, or obtained it. κεκληρονόμηκε, — he obtained it by inheritance, as his peculiar lot and portion for ever. In what sense he is said to be κληρονόμος, “the heir,” was before declared. As he was made the heir of all, so he inherited a more excellent name than the angels. Now he was made heir of all, in that all things being made and formed by him, the Father committed unto him, as mediator, a peculiar power over all things, to be disposed of by him unto all the ends of his mediation. So also being the natural and eternal Son of God, in and upon the discharge of his work, the Father declared and pronounced that to be his name. See Luke 1:35; Isaiah 7:14; Isaiah 9:6. His being the Son of God is the proper foundation of his being called so; and his discharge of his office the occasion of its declaration. So he came unto it by right of inheritance, when he was “declared to be the Son of God with power, by the resurrection from the dead,” Romans 1:4.

This, then, is the sum of the apostle’s proposition, and the confirmation of it. A name given by God to that end and purpose doth truly declare the nature, state, and condition of him or them to whom it is given; but unto Christ the mediator there is a name given of God himself, exceedingly more excellent than any that by him is given unto the angels: which undeniably evinceth that he is placed in a state and condition of glory far above them, or preferred before them.

I shall only observe one or two things concerning the Hebrews, to whom the apostle wrote, and so put an end to our exposition of this verse.

First, then, This discourse of the apostle, proving the pre-eminence of the Messiah above the angels, was very necessary unto the Hebrews, although it was very suitable unto their own principles, and in general acknowledged by them. It is to this day a tradition amongst them that the Messiah shall be exalted above Abraham, and Moses, and the ministering angels. Besides, they acknowledged the scriptures of the Old Testament, wherein the apostle shows them that this truth was taught and confirmed. But they were dull and slow in making application of these principles unto the confirmation of their faith in the gospel, as the apostle chargeth them, Hebrews 5:11-12. And they had at that time great speculations about the glory, dignity, and excellency of angels, and were fallen into some kind of worshipping of them. And it may be this curiosity, vanity, and superstition in them was heightened by the heat of the controversy between the Pharisees and Sadducees about them; — the one denying their existence and being; the other, whom the body of the people followed, exalting them above measure, and inclining to the worship of them. This the apostle declares, Colossians 2:18. Treating of those Judaizing teachers who then troubled the churches, he chargeth them with fruitless and curious speculations about angels, and the worshipping of them. And of their ministry in the giving of the law they still boasted. It was necessary, therefore, to take them off from this confidence of that privilege, and the superstition that ensued thereon, to instruct them in the pre-eminence of the Lord Christ above them all, that so their thoughts might be directed unto him, and their trust placed in him alone. And this exaltation of the Messiah some of their later doctors assert on Daniel 7:9. חָזֵה הֲוִיִת עד דִּי כָרְסָוָן רְמִיו, — “I beheld until the thrones were set,” “placed,” “exalted,” — as in the original Chaldee, and as all old translations, Greek, Latin, Syriac, and Arabic, render the words, however ours read, “until the thrones were cast down,” — affirming that one of those thrones was for the Messiah, before whom all the angels ministered in obedience.

Secondly, It may not be amiss to remark, that the Jews have always had a tradition of the glorious name of the Messiah, which even since their utter rejection they retain some obscure remembrance of. The name which they principally magnify is מטטרון, “Metatron.” Ben Uzziel, in his Targum on Genesis 5, ascribes this name to Enoch when he was translated: “He ascended into heaven in the word of the Lord, מטטרון ספרא רבא וקרא שמיה,” — “and his name was called Metatron the great scribe.”

But this opinion of Enoch being Metatron is rejected and confuted in the Talmud. There they tell us that Metatron is שו העולם, “the prince of the world;” or, as Elias calls him in Thisbi, שר הפנים, “the prince of God’s presence.” And in the first mention of this name, which is Talmud. Tract. Sanhed. cap. 4. fol. 38, they plainly intimate that they intend an uncreated angel by this expression. And such, indeed, must he be unto whom may be assigned what they ascribe unto Metatron; for as Reuchlin, from the Cabbalists, informs us, they say, רבי של משה מטטרון, — “The teacher of Moses himself was Metatron.” He it is, saith Elias, that is the angel always appearing in the presence of God, of whom it is said, “My name is in him:” and the Talmudists, that he hath power to blot out the sins of Israel, whence they call him the chancellor of heaven. And Bechai, on Exodus 23, affirms that this name signifies both a lord, a messenger, and a keeper; — a lord, because he ruleth all; a messenger, because he stands always before God to do his will; and a keeper, because he keepeth Israel. I confess the etymology that he gives of this name to that purpose is weak and foolish; as is also that of Elias, who tells us that Metatron is יון בלשון, — in the Greek tongue, “one sent.” But yet it is evident what is intended by all these obscure intimations. The increated Prince of glory, and his exaltation over all, with the excellency of his name, is aimed at. As for the word itself, it is either a mere corruption of the Latin word, “mediator,” such as is usual amongst them; or a gematrical fiction to answer שדי, “the Almighty,” there being a coincidence in their numeral letters.

The doctrine of the preference and pre-eminence of Christ is insisted on by the apostle unto the end of this chapter, and therefore I shall not treat of it until we have gone through all the proofs of it produced; nor then but briefly, having already in part spoken of it, in our consideration of his sovereignty and lordship over all. That which we are peculiarly instructed in by these words is that, — All pre-eminence and exaltation of one above others depends on the supreme counsel and will of God.

The instance he gives of him who is exalted over all sufficiently confirms our general rule. He had his “name,” denoting his glory and excellency, by “inheritance,” — a heritage designed for him and given unto him in the counsel, will, and good pleasure of God. He gave him that “name above every name,” Philippians 2:9, and that of his own will and pleasure: “It pleased the Father that in him all fullness should dwell,” that so “in all things he might have the pre-eminence,” Colossians 1:16-19. He foreordained him unto it from eternity, 1 Peter 1:20; and actually exalted him according to his eternal counsel in the fullness of time, Acts 2:36; Acts 5:31.

This prelation, then, of Christ above all depends on the counsel and pleasure of God; and he is herein a pattern of all privilege and preeminence in others.

Grace, mercy, and glory, spiritual things and eternal, are those wherein really there is any difference among the sons of men. Now, that any one in these things is preferred before another, it depends merely on the sole good pleasure of God. No man in these things makes himself to differ from another, neither hath he any thing that he hath not received. “God hath mercy on whom he will have mercy.” And this discrimination of all things by the supreme will of God, especially spiritual and eternal, is the spring, fountain, and rule of all that glory which he will manifest and be exalted in unto eternity.


Verse 5

The apostle proceedeth to the confirmation of his proposition concerning the pre-eminence of the Lord Christ above the angels, and of his proof of it from the excellency of the name given unto him; and this he doth by sundry testimonies produced out of the Old Testament, two whereof are conjoined in this verse, as the verses are divided in our Bibles.

Hebrews 1:5. τίνι γὰρ ει῏πέ ποτε τῶν ἀγγέλων· υἱός μου ει῏ οὺ ἐγὼ σήμερον γεγέννηκά σε;

Hebrews 1:5. — Unto which of the angels did he at any time [or, ever] say, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? Two things are considerable in these words : —

1. The manner of the apostle’s producing the testimony which he intended to make use of: “Unto which of the angels said he at any time?”

2. The testimony itself: “Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.”

In the former three things may be observed: —

First, That the testimony which in a matter of faith he insisted on is that of the Scripture. He refers the Jews unto that common principle which was acknowledged between them. Men had not as yet learned in such contests to make that cavilling return which we are now used unto, ‘How do you know those Scriptures to be the word of God?’Nor, indeed, is it suitable unto common honesty for men to question the credit and prostitute the authority of their own most sacred principles, for no other end but to prejudice their adversaries’. But our apostle here confidently sends the Hebrews to the acknowledged rule of their faith and worship, whose authority he knew they would not decline, Isaiah 8:20.

Secondly, That the apostle argues negatively from the authority and perfection of the Scripture in things relating to faith and the worship of God. ‘It is nowhere said in the Scripture to angels; therefore they have not the name spoken of, or not in that manner wherein it is ascribed to the Messiah.’This argument, saith an expositor of great name on this place, seems to be weak, and not unlike unto that which the heretics made use of in the like cases; and therefore answers that the apostle argues negatively, not only from the Scripture, but from tradition also. But this answer is far more weak than the argument is pretended to be. The apostle deals expressly in all this chapter from the testimony of Scripture, and to that alone do his words relate, and therein doth he issue the whole controversy he had in hand, knowing that the Jews had many corrupt traditions, expressly contrary to what he undertook to prove; particularly, that the law of Moses was eternally obligatory, against which he directly contends in the whole epistle. An argument, then, taken negatively from the authority of the Scripture in matters of faith, or what relates to the worship of God, is valid and effectual, and here consecrated for ever to the use of the church by the apostle.

Thirdly, That the apostle either indeed grants, or else, for argument’s sake, condescends unto the apprehension of the Hebrews, that there is a distinction of degrees and pre-eminence amongst the angels themselves. To confirm, therefore, his general assertion of the dignity and pre-eminence of Christ above them all, he provokes them to instance in any one of them, which either indeed or in their apprehension was promoted above others, to whom such words as these were ever spoken: “To which of the angels said he.” His assertion respects not only the community of them, but any or all of the chief or princes among them. There are שָׂרִים הָרִאשׂנִים, Daniel 10:13, “chief princes” among the angels. And of them Michael, the prince of the people of God, is said to be אֶחָד, “one;” that is, not in order, but the chief in dignity, their head and leader. Now, saith the apostle, to which of these, or of the rest of them, were these words spoken?

Proceed we now to the testimony itself produced. Three things are required to make it pertinent unto his purpose, and useful unto the end for which he makes mention of it : —

First, That He of whom he speaks is peculiarly intended therein.

Secondly, That there be in it an assignation of a name unto him made by God himself, which thereon he might claim as his peculiar inheritance.

Thirdly, That this name, either absolutely or in its peculiar manner of appropriation unto him, is more excellent than any that was ever given unto angels, as a sign of their dignity, authority, and excellency. And these things, for the clearing of the apostle’s argument, must particularly be insisted on.

First, The words produced do peculiarly belong unto him to whom they are applied; that is, it is the Messiah who is prophesied of in the second psalm, from whence they are taken. This with all Christians is put beyond dispute, by the application of it in several places unto him; as Acts 4:25-27; Acts 13:33; Hebrews 5:5. It is certain, also, that the Jews always esteemed this psalm to relate unto the Messiah; they do so to this day. Hence the Targum on the psalm expressly applies it unto him, thus rendering these words: “O beloved! as a son to his father, thou art pure to me as in the day wherein I created thee.” So are the words perverted by the Targumist, not knowing what sense to ascribe unto them; which is frequent with him. But it is manifest that the constant opinion of the ancient Jews was that this psalm principally intended the Messiah, nor did any of them of old dissent. Some of their later masters are otherwise minded, but therein discover their obstinacy and iniquity. Thus Rabbi Solomon Jarchi, in his comment on this psalm, in the Venetian edition of the great Masoretical Bibles, affirms that “whatever is sung in this psalm our masters interpreted of Messiah the king; but,” saith he, “according unto the sound of the words, and for the confutation of the heretics” (that is, Christians), “it is convenient that we expound it of David.” So wickedly corrupt and partial are they now in their interpretations of the Scripture. But these words are left out in the Basle edition of the same notes and comments; by the fraud, it may be, of the Jews employed in that work, so to hide the dishonesty of one of their great masters. But the confession of the judgment of their fathers or predecessors in this matter is therein also extant. And Aben Ezra, though he would apply it unto David, yet speaks doubtfully whether it may not better be ascribed unto the Messiah.

But this was not enough for the apostle, that those with whom he dealt acknowledged these words to be spoken concerning the Messiah, unless they were so really, that so his argument might proceed “ex veris” as well as “ex concessis,” — from what was true as upon what was granted. This, then, we must next inquire into.

The whole psalm, say some, seems principally, if not only, to intend David. He having taken the hill and tower of Zion, and settled it for the seat of his kingdom, the nations round about tumultuated against him; and some of them, as the Philistines, presently engaged in war against him for his ruin, 2 Samuel 5:17. To declare how vain all their attempts should be, and the certainty of God’s purpose in raising him to the kingdom of Israel, and for his preservation therein against all his adversaries, with the indignation of God against them, the Holy Ghost gave out this psalm for the comfort and establishment of the church in the persuasion of so great a mercy. And this is borrowed of Rashi.

But suppose the psalm to have a further respect than unto David and his temporal kingdom, and that it doth point at the Messiah under the type of David, yet then also whatever is spoken in it must firstly and properly be understood of David. So that if the words insisted on by the apostle do prove that the Lord Christ was made more excellent than the angels, they prove the same concerning David also, concerning whom they were spoken in the first place.

Ans. 1. There is no cogent reason why we should acknowledge David and his kingdom to be at all intended in this psalm. The apostles, we see, apply it unto the Lord Christ without any mention of David, and that four several times, — twice in the Acts, and twice in this epistle. The Jews acknowledge that it belongs unto the Messiah. Besides, there are sundry things spoken in the psalm that could never truly and properly be applied unto David. Such are the promises, 2 Samuel 5:8-9, and the invitation of all men to put their trust and confidence in him, 2 Samuel 5:12. And we have a rule given us by the Holy Ghost, — That where any thing seems to be spoken of any one to whom it doth not properly belong, there the person is not at all to be understood, but the Lord Christ himself immediately. This rule Peter gives us in his interpretation of the 16th psalm, and his application of it unto the Lord Jesus, Acts 2:29-31. So that there is no necessity to grant that there is any reference in these words to any type at all. But, —

2. We grant that David was a type of Christ, and that as he was king of the people of God. Hence he is not only often signally called “The son of David,” but “David” also, Jeremiah 30:9; Ezekiel 37:24-25; Hosea 3:5. And the throne and kingdom promised to David for ever and ever, that it should be as the sun, and established for ever as the moon, Psalms 89:36-37, — that is, whilst the world endures, — had no accomplishment but in the throne and kingdom of his Son, Jesus Christ. Thus also many other things are said of him and his kingdom, which in propriety of speech can no way be applied unto him but as he was a type of Christ, and represented him to the church. We may then grant, as that about which we will not contend, that in this psalm consideration was had of David and his kingdom, but not absolutely, but only as a type of Christ. And hence two things will follow: —

(1.) That some things may be spoken in the psalm which no way respect the type at all. For when not the type, but the person or thing signified, is principally aimed at, it is not necessary that every thing spoken thereof should be applicable properly unto the type itself, it being sufficient that there was in the type somewhat that bare a general resemblance unto him or that which was principally intended. So, on the contrary, where the type is principally intended, and an application made to the thing signified only by way of general allusion, there it is not required that all the particulars assigned unto the type should belong unto or be accommodated unto the thing typed out, as we shall see in the next testimony cited by the apostle. Hence, though in general David and his deliverance from trouble, with the establishment of his throne, might be respected in this psalm, as an obscure representation of the kingdom of Christ, yet sundry particulars in it, and among them this mentioned by our apostle, seem to have no respect unto him, but directly and immediately to intend the Messiah.

(2.) If it yet be supposed that what is here spoken, “Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee,” is also to be applied unto David, yet it is not ascribed unto him personally and absolutely, but merely considered as a type of Christ. What, then, is principally and directly intended in the words is to be sought for in Christ alone, it being sufficient to preserve the nature of the type that there was in David any resemblance or representation of it. Thus, whether David be admitted as a type of Christ in this psalm or no, the purpose of the apostle stands firm, that the words were principally and properly spoken of the Messiah, and unto him. And this is the first thing required in the application of the testimony insisted on.

Secondly, It is required that in the testimony produced a signal name be given unto the Messiah, and appropriated unto him, so as that he may inherit it for ever as his own, neither men nor angels having the same interest with him in it. It is not being called by this or that name in common with others that is intended, but such a peculiar assignation of a name unto him as whereby he might for ever be distinguished from all others. Thus many may be beloved of the Lord, and be so termed, but yet Solomon only was peculiarly called יְדִידְיָה, “Jedidiah;” and by that name was distinguished from others. In this way it is that the Messiah hath his name assigned unto him. God decreed from eternity that he should be called by that name; he spake unto him and called him by that name: “Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.” He is not called the Son of God upon such a common account as angels and men, — the one by creation, the other by adoption; but God peculiarly and in a way of eminency gives this name unto him.

Thirdly, This name must be such as either absolutely, or by reason of its peculiar manner of appropriation unto the Messiah, proves his pre- eminence above the angels. Now, the name designed is The Son of God: “Thou art my Son;” not absolutely, but with that exegetical adjunct of his generation, “This day have I begotten thee.” Chrysostom, Hom. 22, on Genesis 6, positively denies that the angels in Scripture are anywhere called the sons of God. Hence some conjecture that the translation of the LXX. is changed since that time, seeing it is evident that they are so called in the Greek Bibles now extant.

However, in the original they are called “the sons of God,” Job 1:6; Job 2:1, Psalms 82:6. Believers are also called “the sons of God,” Romans 8:16; Galatians 4:6; 1 John 3:1; and magistrates “gods,” Psalms 82:1; Psalms 82:6; John 10:34. It doth not therefore appear how the mere assigning of this name to the Messiah doth prove his pre-eminence above the angels, who are also called by it.

Ans. Angels may be called the sons of God upon a general account, and by virtue of their participation in some common privilege; as they are by reason of their creation, like Adam, Luke 3 ult., and constant obedience, Job 1. But it was never said unto any angel personally, upon his own account, “Thou art the son of God.” God never said so unto any of them, especially with the reason of the appellation annexed, “This day have I begotten thee.” It is not, then, the general name of a son, or the sons of God, that the apostle instanceth in; but the peculiar assignation of this name unto the Lord Jesus on his own particular account, with the reason of it annexed, “This day have I begotten thee,” which is insisted on. So that here is an especial appropriation of this glorious name unto the Messiah.

Again, The appropriation of this name unto him in the manner expressed proves his dignity and pre-eminence above all the angels. For it is evident that God intended thereby to declare his singular honor and glory, giving him a name to denote it, that was never by him assigned unto any mere creature, as his peculiar inheritance; in particular, not unto any of the angels. Not one of them can lay any claim unto it as his peculiar heritage from the Lord.

And this is the whole that was incumbent on the apostle to prove by the testimony produced. He manifests him sufficiently to be more excellent than the angels, from the excellency of the name which he inherits, according to his proposition before laid down. There is, indeed, included in this reasoning of the apostle an intimation of a peculiar filiation and sonship of Christ. Had he not been so the Son of God as never any angel or other creature was, he never had been called so in such a way as they are never so called. But this the apostle at present doth not expressly insist upon; only, he intimates it as the foundation of his discourse.

To conclude, then, our considerations of this testimony, we shall briefly inquire after the sense of the words themselves, absolutely considered; although, as I have showed, that doth not belong directly unto the present argument of the apostle.

Expositors are much divided about the precise intendment of these words, both as they are used in the psalm, and variously applied by the apostles. But yet generally the expositions given of them are pious, and consistent with each other. I shall not insist long upon them, because, as I said, their especial sense belongeth not unto the design and argument of the apostle.

That Christ is the natural and eternal Son of God is agreed at this day by all Christians, save the Socinians. And he is called so because he is so. The formal reason why he is so called is one and the same, namely, his eternal Sonship; but occasions of actual ascribing that name unto him there are many. And hence ariseth the difficulty that is found in the words. Some think these words, “This day have I begotten thee,” do contain the formal reason of Christ’s being properly called the Son of God, and so denote his eternal generation. Others think they express only some outward act of God towards the Lord Christ, on the occasion whereof he was declared to be the Son of God, and so called. The former way went Austin, with sundry of the ancients. The היּוֹם, the “hodie,” or “this day,” here, was the same with them as the “nunc stans,” as they call it, of eternity; and the יְליִדְתִּיךָ, “I have begotten thee,” denotes, as they say, the proper natural generation of the Son, by an inconceivable communication of the essence and substance of the Godhead by the person of the Father unto him. And this doctrine is true, but whether here intended or no is by some greatly questioned.

Others, therefore, take the words to express only an occasion of giving this name at a certain season to the Lord Christ, when he was revealed or declared to be the Son of God. And some assign this to the day of his incarnation, when he declared him to be his Son, and that he should be so called, as Luke 1:35; some to the day of his baptism, when he was again solemnly from heaven proclaimed so to be, Matthew 3:17; some to the day of his resurrection, when he was declared to be the Son of God with power, Romans 1:4, and Acts 13:33; some to the day of his ascension, whereunto these words are applied. And all these interpretations are consistent, and reconcilable with each other, inasmuch as they are all means serving unto the same end, that of his resurrection from the dead being the most signal amongst them, and fixed on in particular by our apostle in his application of this testimony unto him, Acts 13:33.

And in this sense alone the words have any appearance of respect unto David, as a type of Christ, seeing he was said, as it were, to be begotten of God when he raised him up, and established him in his rule and kingdom. Neither, indeed, doth the apostle treat; in this place of the eternal generation of the Son, but of his exaltation and pre-eminence above angels.

The word היּוֹם, also, constantly in the Scripture denotes some signal time, one day or more. And that expression, “This day have I begotten thee,” following immediately upon that other typical one, “I have set my king upon my holy hill of Zion,” seems to be of the same importance, and in like manner to be interpreted. Thus far, then, I choose to embrace the latter interpretation of the words, — namely, that the eternal generation of Christ, on which his filiation or sonship, both name and thing, doth depend, is to be taken only declaratively; and that declaration to be made in his resurrection, and exaltation over all that ensued thereon. But every one is left unto the liberty of his own judgment herein.

And this is the first testimony whereby the apostle confirms his assertion of the pre-eminence of the Lord Christ above the angels, from the name that he inherits as his peculiar right and possession.

For the further confirmation of the same truth, he adds another testimony of the same importance, in the words ensuing : —

Hebrews 1:5. καὶ πάλιν· ᾿εγὼ ἔσομαι αὐτῷ εἰς πατέρα, καὶ αὐτὸς ἔσται μοι εἰς υἱόν;

Vulg.: “Et rursum, ego ero illi in patrem, et ipse erit mihi in filium;” — “I will be to him for a father, and he shall be to me for a son.” So also the Syriac, לַאבָּאand לָבְיָא, “in patrem,” and “in filium;” not “pro patre,” and “pro filio,’as some render the words. Erasmus worse than they: “Ego ero ei loco patris, et ille erit mihi loco filii;” — “Instead of a father,” and “instead of a son,” or, “in the place;” which agrees not with the letter, and corrupts the sense. Beza: “Ego ero ei pater, et ipse erit mihi filius;” who is followed by ours, “And again, I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son.”

Hebrews 1:5. — And again, I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son?

This is the second testimony produced by the apostle to prove the pre- eminence of the Lord Christ above the angels, from the excellency of the name given unto him. One word, one witness, the testimony being that of God, and not of man, had been sufficient to have evinced the truth of his assertion; but the apostle adds a second here, partly to manifest the importance of the matter he treated of, and partly to stir them up unto a diligent search of the Scripture, where the same truths, especially those that are of most concernment unto us, are scattered up and down in sundry places, as the Holy Ghost had occasion to make mention of them. This is that mine of precious gold which we are continually to dig for and search after, if we intend to grow and to be rich in the knowledge of God in Christ, Proverbs 2:3-4. Expositors do generally perplex themselves and their readers about the application of these words unto the Lord Christ.

Cajetan, for this cause, that this testimony is not rightly produced nor applied as it ought, rejects the whole epistle as not written by the apostle, nor of canonical authority. Such instances do even wise and learned men give of their folly and self-fullness every day. The conclusion that he makes must needs be built on these two suppositions: —

First, That whatever any man might or could apprehend concerning the right application of this testimony, he himself might and could so do; for otherwise he might have acknowledged his own insufficiency, and have left the solution of the difficulty unto them to whom God should be pleased to reveal it.

Secondly, That when men of any generation cannot understand the force and efficacy of the reasonings of the penmen of the Holy Ghost, nor discern the suitableness of the testimonies they make use of unto the things they produce them in the confirmation of, they may lawfully reject any portion of Scripture thereon. The folly and iniquity of which principles or suppositions are manifest.

The application of testimonies out of the Old Testament in the New depends, as to their authority, on the veracity of him that maketh use of them; and as to their cogency in argument, on the acknowledgment of them on whom they are pressed. Where we find these concurring, as in this place, there remains nothing for us but to endeavor a right understanding of what is in itself infallibly true, and unquestionably cogent unto the ends for which it is used.

Indeed, the main difficulty which in this place expositors generally trouble themselves withal ariseth purely from their own mistake. They cannot understand how these words should prove the natural sonship of Jesus Christ, which they suppose they are produced to confirm, seeing it is from thence that he is exalted above the angels. But the truth is, the words are not designed by the apostle unto any such end. His aim is only to prove that the Lord Christ hath a name assigned unto him more excellent, either in itself or in the manner of its attribution, than any that is given unto the angels, which is the medium of this first argument to prove him, not as the eternal Son of God, nor in respect of his human nature, but as the revealer of the will of God in the gospel, to be preferred above all the angels in heaven, and consequently, in particular, above those whose ministry was used in the giving of the law.

Two things, then, are necessary to render this testimony effectual to the purpose for which it is cited by the apostle; — first, That it was originally intended of him to whom he doth apply it; secondly, That there is a name in it assigned unto him more excellent than any ascribed unto the angels.

For the first of these, we must not waive the difficulties that interpreters have either found out in it, or cast upon it. The words are taken from 2 Samuel 7:14, and are part of the answer returned from God unto David by Nathan, upon his resolution to build him a house. The whole oracle is as followeth: 2 Samuel 7:11-16, “The LORD telleth thee that he will make thee an house. And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom.” (Or as 1 Chronicles 17:11, “And it shall come to pass, when thy days be expired, that thou must go to be with thy fathers, that I will raise up thy seed after thee, which shall be of thy sons; and I will establish his kingdom.”) “He shall build an house for my name; and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever.” (1 Chronicles 17:12, “He shall build me an house, and I will stablish his throne for ever.”) “I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men: but my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee.” (1 Chronicles 17:13, “I will be his father, and he shall be my son: and I will not take my mercy away from him, as I took it from him that was before thee.”) “And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever.” (1 Chronicles 17:14, “But I will settle him in mine house and in my kingdom for ever: and his throne shall be established for evermore.”)

This is the whole divine oracle from whence the apostle takes the testimony under consideration; and the difficulty wherewith it is attended ariseth from hence, that it is not easy to apprehend how any thing at all in these words should be appropriated unto the Lord Christ, seeing Solomon seems in the whole to be directly and only intended. And concerning this difficulty there are three opinions among interpreters: —

1. Some cutting that knot, which they suppose could not otherwise be loosed, affirm that Solomon is not at all intended in these words, but that they are a direct and immediate prophecy of Christ, who was to be the son of David, and to build the spiritual house or temple of God. And for the confirmation of this assertion they produce sundry reasons from the oracle itself; as, —

(1.) It is said that God would raise up to David a seed, or son, intimating that he was not as yet born, being foretold to be raised up; whereas Solomon was born at the time of this prophecy.

(2.) It is also affirmed that this son or seed should reign and sit upon the throne of David after his decease, and being gathered unto his fathers; whereas Solomon was made king and sat upon the throne whilst David was yet alive, and not entered into rest with his fathers.

(3.) The throne of this son is to be established for ever, or as the same promise is expressed, Psalms 89, whilst the sun and moon continue; — the throne of Solomon and his posterity failed within a few generations.

(4.) The title there given unto him who is directly prophesied of shows him, as our apostle intimates, to be preferred above all the angels; and none will say that Solomon was so, who, as he was inferior to them in nature and condition, so by sin he greatly provoked the Lord against himself and his posterity.

But yet all these observations, though they want not some appearance and probability of reason, come short of proving evidently what they are produced for, as we may briefly manifest; for, —

(1.) It doth not appear that Solomon was born at the time of the giving forth of this oracle, if we must suppose that God intimated in it unto David that none of the sons which he then had should succeed him in his kingdom; yea, it is manifest from the story that he was not. Besides, “raising up” doth not denote the birth or nativity of the person intended, but his designation or exaltation to his throne and office, as is the usual meaning of that expression in the Scripture; so that Solomon might be intended, though now born, yea, and grown up, if not yet by the providence of God marked and taken out from amongst his brethren to be king, as afterwards he was.

(2.) Although a few days before the death of David, to prevent sedition and division about titles and pretensions to the kingdom, Solomon by his appointment was proclaimed king, or heir to the crown, yet he was not actually vested with the whole power of the kingdom until after his natural decease. Moreover, also, David being then very weak and feeble, and rendered unable for public administration, the short remainder of his days after the inauguration of Solomon needed no observation in the prophecy.

The other two remaining reasons must be afterwards spoken unto. And for the present removal of this exposition, I shall only observe, that to affirm Solomon not at all to be intended in this oracle, nor the house or temple which afterwards he built, is to make the whole answer of God by the prophet unto David to be equivocal. For David inquired of Nathan about building a house or material temple unto God. Nathan returns him answer from God that he shall not do so, but that his son should perform that work. This answer David understands of his immediate son and of a material house, and thereupon makes material provision for it and preparation in great abundance, upon the encouragement he received in this answer of God. Now, if neither of these were at all intended in it, — neither his son nor the material temple, — it is evident that he was led into a great mistake, by the ambiguity and equivocation of the word; but we find by the event that he was not, God approving and accepting of his obedience in what he did. It remains, then, that Solomon firstly and immediately is intended in these words.

2. Some, on the other hand, affirm the whole prophecy so to belong unto and so to be fulfilled in Solomon, and in him alone, that there is no direct respect therein unto our Lord Jesus Christ. And the reason for their assertion they take from the words which immediately follow those insisted on by the apostle, namely, “If he commit iniquity, I will chastise him with the rod of men;” which cannot be applied unto Him who did no sin, neither was there guile found in his mouth. They say, therefore, that the apostle applies these words unto Christ only by way of an allegory. Thus he deals with the law of not muzzling the ox which treadeth out the corn, applying it to the provision of carnal things to be made for the dispensers of the gospel; as he also in another place representeth the two testaments by the story of Sarah and Hagar.

That which principally is to be insisted on for the removal of this difficulty, and which will utterly take it out of our way, will fall in with our confirmation of the third interpretation, to be proposed. For the present, I shall only answer, that as the words cited by the apostle do principally concern the person of Christ himself, yet being spoken and given out in form of a covenant, they have respect also unto him as he is the head of the covenant which God makes with all the elect in him. And thus whole mystical Christ, head and members, are referred unto in the prophecy; and therefore David, in his repetition and pleading of this oracle, Psalms 89:30, changeth those words, “If he commit iniquity,” into “If his children forsake my law.” Notwithstanding, then, a supposition of transgression in him concerning whom these words are spoken, the Lord Christ may be intended in them; such failings and transgressions as disannul not the covenant often falling out on their part for whom he undertaketh therein. But I offer this only “in majorem cautelam,” to secure the testimony insisted on unto our apostle’s intention; the difficulty itself will be clearly afterwards assoiled.

3. We say, therefore, with others, that both Solomon and the Lord Christ are intended in this whole oracle; Solomon literally, and nextly as the type; the Lord Christ principally and mystically, as he who was typed, figured, and represented by him. And our sense herein shall be further explained and confirmed in the ensuing considerations: —

(1.) That there never was any one type of Christ and his offices that entirely represented him and all that he was to do: for as it was impossible that any one thing or person should do so, because of the perfection of his person and the excellency of his office, which no one thing that might be appointed to prefigure him as a type, because of its limitedness and imperfection, could fully represent; so had any such been found out, that multiplication of types which God in his infinite wisdom was pleased to make use of, for the revelation of him intended in them, had been altogether useless and needless. Wherefore, according as God saw good, and as he had made them meet and fit, so he designed one thing or person to figure out one thing in him, another for another end and purpose.

(2.) That no type of Christ was in all things that he was or did a type of him, but only in that particular wherein he was designed of God so to be, and wherein he hath revealed him so to have been. David was a type of Christ, but not in all things that he was and did. In his conquests of the enemies of the church, in his throne and kingdom, he was so; but in his private actions, whether as a man, or as a king or captain, he was not so. The like must be said of Isaac, Melchizedek, Solomon, and all other personal types under the old testament, and much more of other things.

(3.) That not all things spoken of him that was a type, even therein wherein he was a type, are spoken of him as a type, or have any respect unto the thing signified, but some of them may belong unto him in his personal capacity only. And the reason is, because he who was a type of God’s institution might morally fail in the performance of his duty, even then and in those things when and wherein he was a type. Hence somewhat may be spoken of him, as to his moral performance of his duty, that may no way concern the antitype, or Christ prefigured by him. And this wholly removes the difficulty mentioned in the second interpretation of the words, excluding the Lord Christ from being directly in the oracle, upon that expression, “If he commit iniquity;” for these words relating to the moral duty of Solomon in that wherein he was a type of Christ, — namely, the rule and administration of his kingdom, — may not at all belong to Christ, who was prefigured by God’s institution of things, and not in any moral deportment in the observance of them.

(4.) That what is spoken of any type, as it was a type, and in respect of its institution to be such, doth not really and properly belong unto him or that which was the type, but unto him who was represented thereby. For the type itself, it was enough that there was some resemblance in it of that which was principally intended, the things belonging unto the antitype being affirmed of it analogically, on the account of the relation between them by God’s institution. Hence that which follows on such enunciations doth not at all respect or belong to the type, but only to the antitype. Thus, at the sacrifice of expiation, the scape-goat is said to bear and carry away all the sins of the people into a land not inhabited, not really, and in the substance of the matter, but only in an instituted representation; for “the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” Much less may the things that ensue upon the Lord Christ’s real bearing and taking away of our sins be ascribed to the devoted beast. So is it in this case. The words applied by the apostle to prove the Son to have a more excellent name than the angels, and consequently to be preferred above them, do not at all prove that Solomon, of whom they were spoken merely as he was a type, should be esteemed to be preferred above all angels, seeing he did only represent Him who was so, and had these words spoken unto him, not absolutely, but with respect unto that representation. And this removes the fourth objection made in the behalf of the first interpretation, excluding Solomon from being at all intended in the prophecy; for what was spoken of him as a type required not a full accomplishment in his own person, but only that he should represent him who was principally intended.

(5.) That there is a twofold perpetuity mentioned in the Scripture, the one limited and relative, the other absolute; and both these are applied unto the kingdom of David. First, there was a perpetuity promised unto him and his posterity in the kingdom, as of the priesthood to Aaron, — that is, a limited perpetuity, — namely, during the continuance of the typical state and condition of that people; whilst they continued, the rule by right belonged unto the house of David. There was also an absolute perpetuity promised to the kingdom of David, to be made good only in the kingdom and rule of the Messiah. And both these kinds of perpetuity are expressed in the same words, giving their sense according as they are applied. If applied to the successors of David, as his kingdom was a type of that of Christ, they denote the limited perpetuity before mentioned, as that which respected an adjunct of the typical state of that people, that was to be regulated by it and commensurate unto it; but as they are referred to the kingdom of Christ represented in the other, so an absolute perpetuity is expressed in them. And this takes away the third reason for excluding Solomon from being intended in these words, the perpetuity promised being unto him limited and bounded.

These considerations being premised, I say, the words insisted on by the apostle, “I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son,” belonged first and nextly unto Solomon, denoting that fatherly love, care, and protection that God would afford unto him in his kingdom, so far forth as Christ was represented by him therein; which requires not that they must absolutely and in all just consequences from them belong unto the person of Solomon. Principally, therefore, they intend Christ himself, expressing that eternal, unchangeable love which the Father bore unto him, grounded on the relation of father and son.

The Jews, I confess, of all others, do see least of typicalness in Solomon. But the reason of it is, because that his sin was the occasion of ruining their carnal, earthly glory and wealth; which things alone they lust after. But the thing was doubtless confessed by the church of old, with whom Paul had to do; and therefore we see that the writer of the Books of the Chronicles, written after the return of the people from their captivity, when Solomon’s line was failed, and Zerubbabel of the house of Nathan was governor amongst them, yet records again this promise, as that which looked forward, and was yet to receive its full accomplishment in the Lord Christ. And some of the rabbins themselves tell us that Solomon, because of his sin, had only the name of peace, God stirring up adversaries against him; the thing itself is to be looked for under Messiah Ben David.

The allegation of these words by the apostle being thus fully and at large vindicated, I shall now briefly inquire into the sense and meaning of the words themselves.

It was before observed, that they are not produced by the apostle to prove the natural sonship of Jesus Christ, nor do they signify it; nor were they urged by him to confirm directly and immediately that he is more excellent than the angels, of whom there is nothing spoken in them, nor in the place from whence they are taken. But the apostle insists on this testimony merely in confirmation of his former argument for the pre-eminence of the Son above angels taken from that more excellent name which he obtained by inheritance; which being the name of the Son of God, he hereby proves that indeed he was so called by God himself.

Thus, then, do these words confirm the intention of the apostle; for to which of the angels said God at any time, “I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son?” The words contain a great and signal privilege; they are spoken unto and concerning the Messiah; and neither they nor any thing equivalent unto them were ever spoken of any angel; especially the name of the Son of God, so emphatically, and in way of distinction from all others, was never assigned unto any of them. And this, as hath been already showed, proves an eminency and pre-eminence in him above all that the angels attain unto. All this, I say, follows from the peculiar, signal appropriation of the name of the Son of God unto him, and his especial relation unto God therein expressed.

Briefly, we may adjoin the intention of the words as in themselves considered, and so complete the exposition of them. Now, God promiseth in them to be unto the Lord Christ, as exalted into his throne, a father, in love, care, and power, to protect and carry him on in his rule unto the end of the world. And therefore upon his ascension he says that he went unto his God and Father, John 20:17. And he rules in the name and majesty of God, Micah 5:4. This is the importance of the words. They intend not the eternal and natural relation that is between the Father and Son, which neither is nor can be the subject of any promise, but the paternal care of God over Christ in his kingdom, and the dearness of Christ himself unto him.

If it be asked on what account God would thus be a father unto Jesus Christ in this peculiar manner, it must be answered that the radical, fundamental cause of it lay in the relation that was between them from his eternal generation; but he manifested himself to be his father, and engaged to deal with him in the love and care of a father, as he had accomplished his work of mediation on the earth and was exalted unto his throne and rule in heaven.

And this is the first argument of the apostle, whereby he proves that the Son, as the revealer of the mind and will of God in the gospel, is made more excellent than the angels; whose glory was a refuge to the Jews in their adherence to legal rites and administrations, even because they were given unto them “by the disposition of angels.”

According unto our proposed method, we must in our progress draw hence also some instructions for our own use and edification; as, —

I. Every thing in the Scripture is instructive. The apostle’s arguing in this place is not so much from the thing spoken, as from the manner wherein it is spoken. Even that also is highly mysterious. So are all the concernments of it. Nothing in it is needless, nothing useless. Men sometimes perplex themselves to find out the suitableness of some testimonies produced out of the Old Testament unto the confirmation of things and doctrines in the New by the penmen of the Holy Ghost, when all the difficulty ariseth from a fond conceit that they can apprehend the length and breadth of the wisdom that is laid up in any one text of Scripture, when the Holy Ghost may have a principal aim at those things which they are not able to dive into. Every letter and tittle of it is teaching, and every thing that relates unto it is instructive in the mind of God. And it must be so, because, —

1. It proceeds from infinite wisdom, which hath put an impress of itself upon it, and filled all its capacity with its blessed effects. In the whole frame, structure, and order of it, in the sense, words, coherence, expression, it is filled with wisdom; which makes the commandment exceeding broad and large, so that there is no absolute comprehension of it in this life. We cannot perfectly trace the footsteps of infinite wisdom, nor find out all the effects and characters of it that it hath left upon the Word. The whole Scripture is full of wisdom, as the sea is of water, which fills and covers all the parts of it. And, —

2. Because it was to be very comprehensive. It was to contain, directly or by consequence, one way or other, the whole revelation of God unto us, and all our duty unto him; both which are marvellous, great, large, and various. Now this could not have been done in so narrow a room, but that every part of it, and all the concernments of it, with its whole order, were to be filled with mysteries and expressions or intimations of the mind and will of God. It could not hence be that any thing superfluous should be put into it, or any thing be in it that should not relate to teaching and instruction.

3. It is that which God hath given unto his servants for their continual exercise day and night in this world; and in their inquiry into it he requires of them their utmost diligence and endeavors. This being assigned for their duty, it was convenient unto divine wisdom and goodness to find them blessed and useful work in the whole Scripture to exercise themselves about, that everywhere they might meet with that which might satisfy their inquiry and answer their industry. There shall never be any time or strength lost or misspent that is laid out according to the mind of God in and about his Word. The matter, the words, the order, the contexture of them, the scope, design, and aim of the Holy Ghost in them, all and every one of them, may well take up the utmost of our diligence, — all are divine. Nothing is empty, unfurnished, or unprepared for our spiritual use, advantage, and benefit. Let us then learn hence, —

(1.) To admire, and, as one said of old, to adore the fullness of the Scripture, or of the wisdom of God in it. It is all full of divine wisdom, and calls for our reverence in the consideration of it. And indeed a constant awe of the majesty, authority, and holiness of God in his Word, is the only teachable frame. Proud and careless spirits see nothing of heaven or Divinity in the Word; but the humble are made wise in it.

(2.) To stir up and exercise our faith and diligence to the utmost in our study and search of the Scripture. It is an endless storehouse, a bottomless treasure of divine truth; gold is in every sand. All the wise men in the world may, every one for himself, learn somewhat out of every word of it, and yet leave enough still behind them for the instruction of all those that shall come after them. The fountains and springs of wisdom in it are endless, and will never be dry. We may have much truth and power out of a word, sometimes enough, but never all that is in it. There will still be enough remaining to exercise and refresh us anew for ever. So that we may attain a true sense, but we can never attain the full sense of any place; we can never exhaust the whole impress of infinite wisdom that is on the Word. And how should this stir us up to be meditating in it day and night! And many the like inferences may hence be taken. Learn also, —

II. That it is lawful to draw consequences from Scripture assertions; and such consequences, rightly deduced, are infallibly true and “de fide.” Thus from the name given unto Christ, the apostle deduceth by just consequence his exaltation and pre-eminence above angels. Nothing will rightly follow from truth but what is so also, and that of the same nature with the truth from whence it is derived. So that whatever by just consequence is drawn from the Word of God, is itself also the Word of God, and truth infallible. And to deprive the church of this liberty in the interpretation of the Word, is to deprive it of the chiefest benefit intended by it. This is that on which the whole ordinance of preaching is founded; which makes that which is derived out of the Word to have the power, authority, and efficacy of the Word accompanying it. Thus, though it be the proper work and effect of the Word of God to quicken, regenerate, sanctify and purify the elect, — and the Word primarily and directly is only that which is written in the Scriptures, — yet we find all these effects produced in and by the preaching of the Word, when perhaps not one sentence of the Scripture is verbatim repeated. And the reason hereof is, because whatsoever is directly deduced and delivered according to the mind and appointment of God from the Word is the Word of God, and hath the power, authority, and efficacy of the Word accompanying it.

III. The declaration of Christ to be the Son of God is the care and work of the Father. He said it, he recorded it, he revealed it. This, indeed, is to be made known by the preaching of the gospel; but that it shall be done, the Father hath taken the care upon himself. It is the design of the Father in all things to glorify the Son; that all men may honor him even as they honor the Father. This cannot be done without the declaration of that glory which he had with him before the world was; that is, the glory of his eternal sonship. This he will therefore make known and maintain in the world.

IV. God the Father is perpetually present with the Lord Christ, in love, care, and power, in the administration of his office as he is mediator, head, and king of the church. He hath taken upon himself to stand by him, to own him, to effect every thing that is needful unto the establishment of his throne, the enlargement of his kingdom, and the ruin and destruction of his enemies. And this he will assuredly do to the end of the world, —

1. Because he hath promised so to do. Innumerable are the promises on record that are made unto Jesus Christ unto this purpose. God hath engaged to hold him in his hand, and to hide him as a polished shaft in his quiver, to give him a throne, a glorious kingdom, an everlasting rule and government, and the like. Now, what he hath promised in love and grace, he will make good with care and power. See Isaiah 49:5-9; Isaiah 50:7-9.

2. All these promises have respect unto the obedience of the Lord Christ in the work of mediation; which, being performed by him rightly and to the utmost, gives him a peculiar right unto them, and makes that just and righteous in the performance which was mere sovereign grace in the promise. The condition being absolutely performed on the part of Christ, the promise shall be certainly accomplished on the part of the Father. By this is the covenant of the Redeemer completed, ratified, and established.

The condition of it on his part being performed unto the uttermost, there shall be no failure in the promises, Isaiah 53:10-12.

3. The Lord Christ makes it his request that he may enjoy the presence and power of his Father with him in his work and the administration of his mediation; and the Father always hears him. Part of his covenant with his Father was like that of Barak (who was a type of him) with Deborah the prophetess, who spake in the name of the Lord, Judges 4:8 : “If thou wilt go with me, I will go,” against all the enemies of the church, Isaiah 50:8-9. And accordingly, upon his engagement to go with him, he requests his presence; and in the assurance of it professeth that he is not alone, but that his Father is with him, John 8:16. To this purpose see his requests, John 17.

4. The nature of his work and kingdom requires it. God hath appointed him to reign in the midst of his enemies, and mighty opposition is made on all hands to his whole design, and a very particular act of it. The whole work of Satan, sin, and the world, is both to obstruct in general the progress of his kingdom, and to ruin and destroy every particular subject of it; and this is carried on continually with unspeakable violence and unsearchable stratagems. This makes the presence of the authority and power of the Father necessary to him in his work. This he asserts as a great ground of consolation to his disciples, John 10:28-29. There will be a great plucking, a great contending to take believers out of the hand of Christ, one way or other, to make them come short of eternal life; and though his own power be such as is able to preserve them, yet he lets them know also, for their greater assurance and consolation, that his Father, — who is over all, is greater, more powerful than all, greater than he himself, in the work of mediation, John 14:28, — is also engaged with him in their defense and preservation. So also is he as to the destruction of his adversaries, all opposing power whatever, Psalms 110:5-6. The Lord stands by him, on his right hand, to smite and tread down his enemies, —

all that arise against his design, interest, and kingdom. Be they never so many, never so great, he will ruin them, and make them his footstool every one. See Micah 5:4.


Verse 6

The apostle proceeds to the confirmation of the same important truth by another testimony, wherein we shall meet with some difficulty, both in the manner of the citation and the importance of the testimony itself.

Hebrews 1:6. ῝οταν δὲ πάλιν εἰσαγάγῃ τὸν πρωτότοκον ει῏ς τὴν σἰκουμένην, λέγει· καὶ προσκυνησάτωσαν αὐτῷ πάντες ἄγγελοι θεοῦ. V. L., “Et rum introducit primogenitum in orbem terrae, dicit, Et adorenteum omnes angeli Dei;” omitting πάλιν, “again.” Syr., תּוּב דֵּין אַמַתָי דְּמַעֵל; “Rursum autem rum inducit;” — “And again when he bringeth in.” εἰς τὴν οἰκουμένην, לְעָלְמָא. — “into the world.” πάλιν, “again,” is omitted in the Arabic, as in the Vulgar Latin.

Beza, “Rursum autem cum inducit primogenitum in orbem terrarum, dicit, Et adorent” (Eras., “adorabunt”) “eum omnes angeli Dei;” which is exactly expressed by ours, “And again, when he bringeth in the first-begotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.”

There is not much of difficulty in the words themselves.

῝οταν δὲ, “cum autem,” “quando autem;” — “but when.”

πάλιν, “rursum” “again,” as in the former verse. What sense it is here used in, and what word it is to be joined withal, shall be afterwards declared.

εἰσαγάγῃ, “inducit,” or “inducet,” or “introducit,’— “he bringeth in,” or “leadeth in,” or “shall bring in;” of which difference also afterward.

τὸν πρωτότοκον, “the first-begotten,” “the first-born,” he before whom none is born, nor necessarily after whom any is so. Under the law there was a sacrifice for the πρωτότοκος, “first-begotten;” so called when as yet none were begotten after him, and very uncertain whether ever any should be so of the same womb or no; and doubtless it often fell out that none were so. εἰς τὴν οἰκουμένην, תֵּבֵּל the habitable world,” or תֵבֵל אֶיֶת׃, Proverbs 8, the public place of habitation, where the creatures of God do dwell. The word is nowhere used absolutely in Scripture in any sense but for this habitable world. Only, sometimes it hath a restrained sense, denoting the Roman empire, as Luke 2:1, according to the usual language of those days, wherein the people of Rome, or their emperors, were styled “rerum,” and “orbis terrarum domini;” and it sometimes indefinitely denotes any part of the world as habitable, Luke 2:1; Luke 4:5; Luke 21:26; and therefore oftentimes hath ὅλη “the whole,” joined with it, when it is extended universally to the habitable earth.

προσκυνησάτωσαν. Hebrews הִשְׁתַּהֲווּ, imperative in Hithpael, from שָׁחָה, “to incline, “to bow down.” The LXX. constantly render that word by προσκυνέω. And προσκυνέω is probably derived from κύω, and thence κυνέω, “osculor,” “to kiss;” which also is sometimes used for “to adore,” or “worship,” as πάντες γόνυ πεπτηκῶτες ἐμοὶ κυνέσντι δεσπότην. That is, says Eustathius, προσκυνοῦσι με, ὠς δεσπότην, — “They worship me as their lord;” for being joined with πεπτήκοτες, “bowing,” or “falling down,” it expresseth the whole use and signification of προσκυνέω. How kissing was of old a sign, token, and pledge of worship, especially to bow down and kiss the ground, I have elsewhere declared. And this derivation of the word I prefer far before that which makes it primitively signify “more canum adulari,” as if taken from the crouching of dogs.

In the New Testament it is nowhere used but for that religious worship which is due to God alone. And when it is remembered of any that they did προσκυνεῖν or perform the duty and homage denoted by this word unto any but God, it is remembered as their idolatry, Revelation 13:12; Revelation 13:15. And unto this sense was it restrained of old by the Spartans, whodenied that it was ἐν νόμῳ, lawful for them ἄνθρωπον προσκυνέειν, — that is, to fall down to or to adore a man, Herodot. in Polym.

And in this sense it is exceedingly restrained from the use and importance of שָׁחָה, yea, and from that of הִשְׁתַּהֲוָהin Hithpael, though that always signifies a bowing down with respect and reverence; for it is employed to denote civil as well as religious worship. But for several sorts of religious worship, diversified by its objects, the Scripture knows nothing. The word properly denotes to bow down, and when it is referred unto God, it respects the inward reverence and subjection of our minds by a metonymy of the adjunct. See it for civil respect, Genesis 27:29; Genesis 33:6.

The difficulty in receiving the words as a quotation from Psalms 97:7, lies in the fact that the word is Elohim, “God” or “gods;” it is employed also to denote angels. “It may be sufficient to adduce one striking passage from Psalms 8:5, ‘Thou hast made him a little lower, than the angels;’ literally, than God or gods. But such a literal translation is entirely out of the question, and there can be no reasonable doubt that angels is the true meaning.” The Syriac and Vulgate agree with the LXX. in the use of angels [in Psalms 97]. — Turner. — ED

Hebrews 1:6. — And again, when he bringeth in the first-begotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.

This is the second argument used by the apostle to confirm his assertion of the preference of the Son above angels, and is taken from the command of God given unto them to worship him; for without controversy, he who is to be worshipped is greater than they whose duty it is to worship him. In the words we must consider, —

1. The apostle’s preface;

2. His proof. And in the latter we must weigh, —

(1.) The sense of it;

(2.) The suitableness of it to his present purpose.

His preface, or the manner of his producing of this second testimony, is this: ῝οταν δὲ πάλιν εἰσαγάγῃ..... λέγει. Which words have been exposed unto variety of interpretations: for if πάλιν be joined with εἰσαγάγῃ, which immediately follows, they are to be rendered, “And when he bringeth in again into the world;” if with λέγει, which follows it after the interposition of sundry other words, then it is to be rendered as by our interpreters, “And again when he bringeth,..... he saith.”

Moreover, it is not clear in what sense Christ is called πρωτότοκος, “the first-born,” who is elsewhere termed μονογενὴς παρὰ πατρὸς, “the only-begotten Son of the Father.”

We must also inquire what is the introduction or bringing in here intended, how and when performed; as also what is the world whereinto he was brought. The difficulties about all which must be severally considered.

1. πάλιν, “again,” may be joined with εἰσαγάγῃ, and then the sense of the words must run as above intimated, — namely, “When he bringeth in again the first-born into the world.” And it is evident that most expositors, both ancient and modern, embrace this sense. So do Chrysostom, Theodoret, Ambrose, (Ecumenius, Thomas, Lyra, Cajetan, Ribera, Cameron, Gomarus, Estius, a Lapide, our Mede, with many others. But about what this bringing in again, or second bringing in, of the first-born into the world should be, they are greatly divided.

The ancients refer it to his incarnation; affirming, somewhat harshly, that he was brought before into the world, when all things were made by him.

2. Others refer it to the resurrection, which was as it were a second bringing of Christ into the world, as David was brought into his kingdom again after he had been expelled by the conspiracy and rebellion of Absalom.

3. Others refer it unto his coming forth in the effectual preaching of the gospel after his ascension, whereby he was brought forth in another manner and with another kind of power than that in which he appeared in the days of his flesh.

4. Some suppose the personal reign of Christ on the earth for a thousand years with his saints is intended in these words, when God will bring him again with glory into the world: of which judgment was Mede, and now many follow him.

5. Others again, and they the most, assign the accomplishment of what is here asserted to the general judgment and the second coming of Christ in the glory of the Father, with all the holy angels attending him, to judge the quick and the dead.

6. Some of the Socinians refer them unto the triumphant ascension of Christ into heaven after his resurrection, he having, as they fancy, once before been taken into it, there to be instructed in the mind and will of God.

Now all these assertions concerning the bringing in of Christ into the world have a truth in them, absolutely considered; but whether any of them be here intended by the apostle, we must inquire by an examination of the common foundation that all their authors proceed upon, with the reasons given for its confirmation. Now, this is that which we observed before, namely, that in the construction of the words, πάλιν, “again,” is to be joined with εἰσαγάγῃ, “he bringeth in;” and so to be rendered, “When he bringeth in again,” (or, “a second time,”) “the first-born:” which must needs point to a second coming of Christ, of one kind or another. And to this purpose they say, —

1. That the trajection of the words in the other sense is hard and difficult, and not to be admitted but upon very cogent reasons. It is to suppose that the apostle by ὅταν δὲ πάλιν, “when again,” intends πάλιν δὲ ὅταν, “again when.” And besides, the interposition of the many words between it and λέγει “he saith,” will not admit that they should be conjoined in sense and construction.

But this reason is not cogent; for, —

(1.) Most of the ancient translations acknowledge this transposition of the words. So the Syriac, reading thus, “And again, when he bringeth in;” so the Vulgar Latin; and the Arabic, omitting the term “again,” as not designing any new thing, but merely denoting a new testimony. And they are followed by Valla, Erasmus, Beza, and the best of modern translators.

(2.) Such trajections are not unusual, and that in this place hath a peculiar elegancy; for the word πάλιν, “again,” being used in the head of the testimony foregoing, this transposition adds to the elegancy of the words; and that there was cause for it we shall see afterwards.

(3.) The apostle having immediately before used the word πάλιν, “again,” as his note of producing a second testimony, and placing it here in the entrance of a third, it must needs be used equivocally, if the trajection proposed be not allowed.

2. They deny that the angels worshipped Christ at his first coming into the world, — that is, that they are recorded so to have done; and therefore it must needs be his second coming that is intended, when he shall come in glory, with all his holy angels openly worshipping him and performing his commands.

This reason is especially suited unto the fifth opinion before mentioned, referring the words to the coming of Christ at the general day of judgment, and is unserviceable unto any of the rest. But yet neither is this satisfactory; for the question is, not whether it be anywhere recorded that the angels worshipped Christ at his first entrance into the world, but whether the Lord Christ, upon his incarnation, was not put into that condition wherein it was the duty of all the angels of God to worship him. Now this being at least interpretatively a command of God, and the angels expressly always doing his will, the thing itself is certain, though no particular instances of it be recorded. Besides, the angels’attendance on his birth, proclamation of his nativity, and celebrating the glory of God on that account, seem to have been a performance of that duty which they had received command for. And this is allowed by those of the ancients who suppose that the second bringing of Christ into the world was upon his nativity.

3. They say that this bringing in of the first-begotten into the world denotes a glorious presenting of him in his rule and enjoyment of his inheritance.

But,

(1.) This proves not that the words must respect the coming of Christ unto judgment, to which end this reason is insisted on; because he was certainly proclaimed with power to be the Son, Lord, and Heir of all, upon his resurrection, and by the first preaching of the gospel And,

(2.) No such thing, indeed, can be rightly deduced from the words. The expression signifies no more but an introduction into the world, a real bringing in, without any intimation of the way or manner of it.

4. It is argued in the behalf of the same opinion, from the psalm from whence these words are taken, that it is a glorious reign of Christ and his coming unto judgment that are set forth therein, and not his coming and abode in the state of humiliation. And this reason Cameron affirms, to prove undeniably that it is the coming of Christ unto judgment that is intended.

But the truth is, the consideration of the scope of the psalm doth quite reject the opinion which is sought to be maintained by it; for,

(1.) Hebrews 1:1, Upon the reign of the Lord therein set forth, both Jews and Gentiles, the earth and the multitude of the isles, are called to rejoice therein; that is, to receive, delight in, and be glad of the salvation brought by the Lord Christ unto mankind, — which is not the work of the last day.

(2.) Idolaters are deterred from their idolatry, and exhorted to worship him, Hebrews 1:7, — a duty incumbent on them before the day of judgment.

(3.) The church is exhorted upon his reign to abstain from sin, and promised deliverance from the wicked and oppressors. All which things, as they are unsuited unto his coming at the day of judgment, so they expressly belong unto the setting up of his kingdom in this world. And hereby it appears, that that opinion which indeed seems with any probability to assert a second coming of Christ into the world to be intended in these words, is inconsistent with the scope of the place from whence the testimony is taken, and consequently the design of the apostle himself. The other conjectures mentioned will easily be removed out of the way. Unto that of the ancients, assigning this bringing in of Christ into the world unto his incarnation, we say it is true; but then that was his first bringing in, and being supposed to be intended in this place, the words can be no otherwise rendered but that πάλιν, “again,” must be esteemed only an intimation of the citation of a new testimony.

Neither can the resurrection of the Lord Christ be assigned as the season of the accomplishment of this word, which was not, indeed, a bringing of him into the world, but rather an entrance into his leaving of it; neither did he at his death leave the world utterly, for though his soul was separated from his body, yet his body was not separated from his person, and therein he continued on the earth.

The coming of Christ to reign here on earth a thousand years is, if not a groundless opinion, yet so dubious and uncertain as not to be admitted a place in the analogy of faith to regulate our interpretation of Scripture in places that may fairly admit of another application.

The figment of the Socinians, that the Lord Christ during the time of his forty days’fast was taken into heaven, — which they lay as a foundation unto their interpretation of this place, — I have elsewhere showed to be irrational, antiscriptural, Mohammedan, and derogatory to the honor of our Lord Jesus, as he is the eternal Son of God.

From what hath been spoken, it is evident that the trajection proposed may be allowed, as it is by most of the ancient and modern translations. And so the word πάλιν, “again,” relating unto λέγει, “he saith,” denotes only the introduction of a new proof, and doth not intimate a second bringing in of the Lord Christ. And unto what hath already been spoken I shall only add, that such an intention in these words as hath been pleaded for would be so far from promoting the apostle’s design, that it would greatly weaken and impair it; for the matter he had in hand was to prove the pre-eminence of the Lord Christ above the angels, not absolutely, but as he was the revealer of the gospel; and if this was not so, and proved to be so by this testimony, whilst he was employed in that work in the world, it is nothing at all to his purpose.

Having cleared this difficulty, and showed that no second coming of Christ is intended in this word, but only a new testimony to the same purpose with them foregoing produced, the intention of the apostle in his prefatory expression may be further opened, by considering what that world is whereinto the Father brought the Son, with how and when he did so, and the manner of it.

There are two opinions about the world whereinto Christ is said to be brought by the Father.

1. The one is that of the Socinians, asserted as by others of them, so by Schlichtingius in his comment on this place, and by Grotius after them in his annotations. “ οἰκουμένη,” saith Grotius, “est ‘regio illa superna quae ab angelis habitatur,’ut ipse mox scriptor noster ad haec sua verba respiciens dicet, cap. ;” — “It is,” saith he, “that region above which is inhabited by the angels that is intended; and our author declares as much in that respect which he hath to these words, chapter 2:5.” In like manner Schlichtingius:

“Per terrain istam, non esse intelligendam hanc quam mortales incolimus, sed coelestem illam quam aliquando immortales effecti incolemus, et res ipsa, et D. auctor sequenti capite Hebrews 1:5, aperte declarat.”

That is, by the earth, not the earth but the heaven is to be understood! But, —

(1.) This suits not at all with the purpose and design of the apostle, which is plainly to prove that the Lord Christ, then when he spake to us, and revealed the will of God, and in that work, was above the angels; which is not at all proved by showing what befell him after his work was accomplished.

(2.) It receives no countenance from that other place, of Hebrews 2:5, whither we are sent by these interpreters; for that the apostle is there treating of a matter quite of another nature, without any respect unto these words, shall be there declared. Neither doth he absolutely there mention οἰκουμένην, “the world,” but with the addition of μέλλουσαν, “to come;” which what it is we shall inquire upon the place.

(3.) οἰκουμένη signifies properly the “habitable earth,” and is never used absolutely in the Scripture but for the habitable world, or men dwelling in it; and causelessly to wrest it unto another signification is not to interpret but to offer violence unto the text.

2. By οἰκουμένη, then, “the world,” or “habitable earth,” with them that dwell therein, and nothing else is intended; for as the word hath no other signification, so the psalmist in the place from whence the ensuing testimony is taken expounds it by “the multitude of isles,” or the nations lying abroad in the wide earth. This is the world designed, even that earth wherein the rational creatures of God converse here below. Into this was the Lord Christ brought by the Father.

We are therefore nextly to inquire wherein the Father’s bringing of the Son into this world did consist. We have seen formerly that some have assigned it unto one thing in particular, some to another; some to his incarnation and nativity, some to his resurrection, some to his mission of the Spirit and propagation of his kingdom that ensued. The opinion about his coming to reign in the world a thousand years, as also that of his coming at the general judgment, we have already excluded. Of the others I am apt to think that it is not any one in particular, exclusive of the others, that the apostle intendeth or designeth. That which was intended in the Old Testament in the promises of his coming into the world, is that which is here expressed by the phrase of bringing him in. See Malachi 3:1-2,

“The Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come..... But who may abide the day of his coming?”

Now, it was not any one special act, nor any one particular day that was designed in that and the like promises; but it was the whole work of God in bringing forth the Messiah, by his conception, nativity, unction with the Spirit, resurrection, sending of the Holy Ghost, and preaching of the gospel, which is the subject of those promises. And their accomplishment it is which these words express, “When he bringeth the first-begotten into the world;” that is, after he had kept his church, under the administration of the law given by angels in the hand of Moses the mediator, in the expectation of the coming of the Messiah, when he bringeth him forth unto and carries him on in his work unto the accomplishment of it, he says, “Let all the angels of God worship him.” And herein most of the former senses are comprised. And this interpretation of the words completely answers the intention of the apostle in the citation of the ensuing testimony, namely, to prove that, in the discharge of his work of revealing the will of God, he was such a one as, by reason of the dignity of his person, had all religious worship and honor due unto him from the angels themselves.

This sense, also, we are led unto by the psalm whence the ensuing testimony is taken, Psalms 92. The exultation which the first verse of the psalm requires and calls for is not unlike that which was, in the name of the whole creation, expressed at his nativity, Luke 2:14. And the four following verses are an allegorical description of the work that the Lord Christ should perform in and by the preaching of the gospel. See Malachi 3:1-4; Malachi 4:1; Matthew 3:12; Luke 2:17. And hereon ensues that shame and ruin which was brought upon idols and idolaters thereby, Luke 2:7; and the joy of the whole church in the presence of Christ, Luke 2:8; attended with his glorious reign in heaven, as a consequent of the accomplishment of his work, Luke 2:9; which is proposed as a motive unto obedience, and a matter of confidence and rejoicing unto the church. And this is the Father’s bringing of the Son into the world, described by the psalmist and intended by the apostle.

It remains that we inquire why and in what sense Christ is here called πρωτότοκος, “primogenitus,” or “the first-born.” The common answer is, “Non quod post ilium alii, sed quod ante illum nullus;” — “Not that any was born after him” (in the same way), “but that none was born before him;” which, as we have showed before, will agree well enough with the use of the word. And this is applied both to the eternal generation of his divine person, and to the conception and nativity of his human nature.

But if we suppose that his person and eternal generation may be intended in this expression, we must make πρωτότοκος, or the “firstborn,” to be the same with μονογενής, or “only-begotten;” which may not be allowed: for Christ is absolutely called the “only-begotten of the Father” in his eternal generation, — his essence being infinite, took up the whole nature of divine filiation, so that it is impossible that with respect thereunto there should be any more sons of God, — but πρωτότοκος, or “first-born,” is used in relation unto others; and yet, as I showed before, it doth not require that he who is so should have any other brethren in the same kind of sonship. But because this is by some asserted, namely, that Christ has many brethren in the same kind of sonship whereby he is himself the Son of God, and is on that account called the first-born (which is an assertion greatly derogatory to his glory and honor), I shall in our passage remove it, as a stumbling-block, out of the way.

Thus Schlichtingius on the place:

“Primogenitum eum nomine Dei Filium appellat, innuens hoc pacto plures Dei esse filios etiam ad Christum respectu habito; scilicet ut ostenderet non ita Christum esse Dei Filium, quin alii etiam eodem filiationis genere contine-antur, quanquam filiationis perfectione et gradu Christo multo inferiores.” And again: “Primogenitus dicitur Christus quod eum Deus ante omnes filios, eos nimirum qui Christi fratres appellantur genuerit; eo scilicet modo quo Dens filios gignere solet; eos autem gignit quos sibi similes efficit; primus est Christus qui Deo ea sanctitate similis fuit, qualem in novo foedere praecipit.”

But these things agree neither with the truth, nor with the design of the apostle in this place, nor with the principles of them by whom they are asserted. It is acknowledged that God hath other sons besides Jesus Christ, and that with respect unto him; for in him we are adopted, — the only way whereby any one may attain unto the privilege of sonship: but that we are sons of God with or in the same kind of sonship with Jesus Christ, is, —

1. False. because, —

(1.) Christ in his sonship is μονογενής, the “only-begotten” Son of God: and therefore it is impossible that God should have any more sons in the same kind with him; for if he had, certainly the Lord Christ could not be μονογενής, his “only-begotten” Son.

(2.) The only way of filiation, the only kind of sonship, that believers share in is that of adoption; in any other kind of sonship they are not partakers. Now, if Christ be the Son of God in this kind, he must of necessity antecedently unto his adoption be a member of another family, — that is, of the family of Satan and the world, as we are by nature, — and from thence be transplanted by adoption into the family of God; which is blasphemy to imagine. So that neither can believers be the sons of God with that kind of sonship which is proper to Christ, he being the only-begotten of the Father; nor can the Lord Christ be the Son of God with the same kind of sonship as believers are, which is only by adoption, and their translation out of one family into another. So that either to exalt believers into the same kind of sonship with Christ, or to depress him into the same rank with them, is wholly inconsistent with the analogy of faith and principles of the gospel.

(3.) If this were so, that the Lord Christ and believers are the sons of God by the same kind of sonship, only differing in degrees (which also are imaginary, for the formal reason of the same kind of sonship is not capable of variation by degrees), what great matter is in the condescension mentioned by the apostle, Hebrews 2:11, that “he is not ashamed to call them brethren;” which yet he compares with the condescension of God in being called their God, Hebrews 11:16?

2. This conceit, as it is untrue so it is contrary to the design of the apostle; for, to assert the Messiah to be the Son of God in the same way with men, doth not tend at all to prove him more excellent than the angels, but rather leaves us just ground for suspecting their preference above him.

3. It is contrary unto other declared principles of the authors of this assertion. They elsewhere affirm that the Lord Christ was the Son of God on many accounts; as first and principally, because he was conceived and born of a virgin by the power of God; now, surely, all believers are not partakers with him in this kind of sonship. Again, they say he is the Son of God because God raised him from the dead, to confirm the doctrine that he had taught; which is not so with believers. Also they say he is the Son of God, and so called, upon the account of his sitting at the right hand of God; which is no less his peculiar privilege than the former. So that this is but an unhappy attempt to lay hold of a word for an advantage, which yields nothing in the issue but trouble and perplexity.

Nor can the Lord Christ (which is affirmed in the last place) be called the Son of God and the First-born, because in him was that holiness which is required in the new covenant; for both all believers under the old testament had that holiness and likeness unto God in their degrees, and that holiness consists principally in regeneration, or being born again by the Word and Spirit out of a corrupted estate of death and sin, which the Lord Christ was not capable of. Yea, the truth is, the holiness and image of God in Christ was, in the kind of it, that which was required under the first covenant, — a holiness of perfect innocency and perfect righteousness in obedience. So that this last invention hath no better success than the former. It appeareth, then, that the Lord Christ is not called “the first-begotten,” or the “first-born,” with any such respect unto others as should include him and them in the same kind of filiation.

To give, therefore, a direct account of this appellation of Christ, we may observe, that indeed the Lord Christ is never absolutely called the “first- begotten” or “first-born” with respect either to his eternal generation or to the conception and nativity of his human nature. In respect of the former he is called “the Son,” and “the only-begotten Son of God,” but nowhere “the first-born,” or “first-begotten;” and in respect of the latter, indeed, he is called the “first-born son” of the virgin, because she had none before him, but not absolutely “the first-born” or “first-begotten,” which title is here and elsewhere ascribed unto him in the Scripture. It is not, therefore, the thing itself of being the first-born, but the dignity and privilege that attended it, which are designed in this appellation. So Colossians 1:15, he is said to be πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως, “the first-born of the creation;” which is no more but that he hath power and authority over all the creatures of God.

The word which the apostle intends to express is בְּכוֹר, which ofttimes is used in the sense now pleaded for, namely, to denote not the birth in the first place, but the privilege that belonged thereunto. So Psalms 89:27, God is said to make David his בְּכוֹר, his “first-born;” which is expounded in the next words, “Higher than the kings of the earth.” So that the Lord Christ being the firstborn is but the same which we have insisted on, of his being heir of all, which was the privilege of the first-born; and this privilege was sometimes transmitted unto others that were not the first-born, although the natural course of their nativity could not be changed, Genesis 21:10; Genesis 49:3-4; Genesis 49:8. The Lord Christ, then, by the appointment of the Father, being intrusted with the whole inheritance of heaven and earth, and authority to dispose of it, that he might give out portions to all the rest of God’s family, is and is called “the firstborn” thereof.

There remains now but one word more to be considered for the opening of this introduction of the ensuing testimony, and that is λέγει, “he saith;” that is, ‘God himself saith.’They are his words which shall be produced. Whatever is spoken in the Scripture in his name, it is his speaking; and he continueth to speak it unto this day. He speaks in the Scripture unto the end of the world. This is the foundation of our faith, that which it riseth from, and that which it is resolved into, ‘God speaketh;’and I suppose we need no interposition of church or tradition to give authority or credit unto what he says or speaks.

This, then, is the sum of these words of the apostle: ‘Again, in another place, where the Holy Ghost foretells the bringing forth into the world and amongst men him that is the Lord and Heir of all, to undertake his work, and to enter into his kingdom and glory, the Lord speaks to this purpose, Let all the angels of God worship him.’

To manifest this testimony to be apposite unto the confirmation of the apostle’s assertion, three things are required: —

1. That it is the Son who is intended and spoken of in the place from whence the words are taken, and so designed as the person to be worshipped.

2. That they are angels that are spoken unto, and commanded to worship him.

3. That on these suppositions the words prove the pre-eminence of Christ above the angels.

For the two former, with them that acknowledge the divine authority of this epistle, it is sufficient in general, to give them satisfaction, to observe that the place is applied unto Christ, and this passage unto the ministering angels, by the same Spirit who first wrote that Scripture. But yet there is room left for our inquiry how these things may be evidenced, whereby the strength of the apostle’s reasonings, with them who were not yet convinced of the infallibility of his assertions, any further than they were confirmed by testimonies out of the Old Testament and the faith of the ancient church of the Hebrews in this matter, may be made to appear; as also a check given to their boldness who, upon pretense of the impropriety of these allegations, have questioned the authority of the whole epistle.

1. Our first inquiry must be whence this testimony is taken. Many of the ancients, as Epiphanius, Theodoret, Euthymius, Procopius, and Anselm, conceived the words to be cited from Deuteronomy 32:43, where they expressly occur in the translation of the LXX., εὐφράςθητς οὐρανοὶ ἄμα αὐτοῦ καὶ προσκυνησάτωσαν αὐτῷ πάντες ἄγγελοι θεοῖ; — “Rejoice ye heavens with him, and let all the angels of God worship him.” But there are two considerations that put it beyond all pretensions that the words are not taken from this place of the LXX.: —

(1.) Because indeed there are no such words in the original text, nor any thing spoken that might give occasion to the sense expressed in them; but the whole verse is inserted in the Greek version quite beside the scope of the place. Now, though it may perhaps be safely granted that the apostles, in citing the Scripture of the Old Testament, did sometimes use the words of the Greek translation then in use, yea, though not exact according to the original, whilst the sense and meaning of the Holy Ghost was retained in them; yet to cite that from the Scripture as the word and testimony of God which indeed is not therein, nor was ever spoken by God, but by human failure and corruption crept into the Greek version, is not to be imputed unto them. And indeed I no way question but that this addition unto the Greek text in that place was made after the apostle had used this testimony. For it is not unlikely but that some considering of it, and not considering from whence it was taken, because the words occur not absolutely and exactly in the Greek anywhere, inserted it into that place of Moses, amidst other words of an alike sound, and somewhat an alike importance, such as immediately precede and follow the clause inserted.

(2.) The Holy Ghost is not treating in that place about the introduction of the first-born into the world, but quite of another matter, as is evident upon the first view of the text: so that this testimony is evidently not taken from this place; nor would nor could the apostle make use of a testimony liable unto such just exceptions,

Later expositors generally agree that the words are taken out of Psalms 97:7, where the original is rendered by the LXX., προσκυνήσατε αὐτῷ πάντες ἄγγελοι αὐτοῦ: which, with a very small variation in the words, and none at all in the sense, is here expressed by the apostle, “And let all the angels of God worship him.”

The psalm hath no title at all in the original; which the Greek version noteth, affirming that it is ἀνεπίγραφος παῤ ᾿εβραίοις: but it adds one of its own, namely, ψαλμός τῷ λάβιδ ὅτε ἤ γῆ αὐτοῦ καθίστατο, — “A Psalm of David when his land was restored.” Hence it is referred by some to the time of his return unto Jerusalem, after he had been expelled the kingdom by Absalom; by others, with more probability, to the time of his bringing the ark into the tabernacle from the house of Obed-edom, when the land was quieted before him. And unquestionably in it the kingdom of God was shadowed out under the type of the kingdom of David; which kingdom of God was none other but that of the Messiah. It is evident that this psalm is of the same nature with that which goes before, yea, a part of it, or an appendix unto it. The first words of this take up and carry on what is affirmed in the 10th verse, to close of that; so that both of them are but one continued psalm of praise. Now the title of that psalm, and consequently of this, is שיר חדש, “A new song,” Psalms 97:1; which psalms, as Rashi confesseth, are to be referred unto the world to come, — that is, the time and kingdom of the Messiah. So Kimchi affirms that this psalm and that following respect the time when the people shall be delivered from the captivity out of all nations; that is, the time of the Messiah. And Rakenati affirms that the last verse of it, “He cometh to judge the earth,” can respect nothing but the coming and reign of the Messiah. Thus they, out of their traditions.

Some of the ancients, I confess, charge them with corrupting this psalm in the version of the 10th verse, affirming that the words at one time were, ᾿᾿ο κύριος ἐβασίλευσεν ἀπὸ τοῦ ξύλου, — “The Lord reigned from the tree,” denoting; as they say, the cross. So Justin Martyr, in his Dialogue with Trypho. And after him the same words are remembered by Tertullian, ad. Judae. cap. 10, ad. Marci. lib. 3; and Augustin. Enarr. in Psalms 95. And though the fraud and corruption pretended be improbable, indeed impossible, nor are the words mentioned by Justin acknowledged by the Targum, or any Greek translator, or Jerome, yet it is evident that all parties granted the Messiah and his kingdom to be intended in the psalm, or there had been no need or color for the one to suspect the other of corruption about it. It is evident, then, that the ancient church of the Jews, whose tradition is herein followed by the modern, acknowledged this psalm to contain a description of the kingdom of God in the Messiah; and on their consent doth the apostle proceed. And the next psalm, which is of the same importance with this, is entitled by the Targumist, תשבחת נבואה, “A prophetical psalm,” namely, of the kingdom and reign of the Messiah.

But the matter of the psalm itself makes it manifest that the Holy Ghost treateth in it about God’s bringing in the first-born into the world, and the setting up of his kingdom in him. A kingdom is described wherein God would reign, which should destroy idolatry and false worship; a kingdom wherein the isles of the Gentiles should rejoice, being called to an interest therein; a kingdom that was to be preached, proclaimed, declared, unto the increase of light and holiness in the world, with the manifestation of the glory of God unto the ends of the earth: every part whereof declareth the kingdom of Christ to be intended in the psalm, and consequently that it is a prophecy of the bringing in of the first-begotten into the world.

2. Our second inquiry is, whether the angels be intended in these words. They are, as was before observed, כָּלאּאַלֹהִים, “omnes dii;” and are so rendered by Jerome, “Adorate eum omnes dii;” and by ours, “Worship him, all ye gods,” The preceding words are, “Confounded be all they that serve graven images” הַמִּתְהַלְלִים בָּאַלִילִים“that boast themselves in” (or “of”) “idols,” — “vanities, nothings,” as the word signifies; whereon ensues this apostrophe, “Worship him, כָּלאּאַלֹהִים, all ye gods.” And who they are is our present inquiry.

Some, as all the modern Jews, say that it is the gods of the Gentiles, those whom they worship, that are intended; so making אַֹֹלֹהִיםand אַלִילִים, “gods,” and “vain idols,” to be the same in this place. But, —

(1.) It cannot be that the psalmist should exhort the idols of the heathen, some whereof were devils, some dead men, some inanimate parts of the creation, unto a reverential worshipping of God reigning over all. Hence the Targumist, seeing the vanity of that interpretation, perverts the words, and renders them, “Worship before him, all ye nations which serve idols.”

(2.) אַלֹהִים, “Elohim,” is so far in this place from being exegetical of אַלִילִים, “gods,” or “vain idols,” that it is put in direct opposition to it, as is evident from the words themselves.

(3.) The word Elohim, which most frequently denoteth the true God, doth never alone, and absolutely taken, signify false gods or idols, but only when it is joined with some other word discovering its application, as his god, or their gods, or the gods of this or that people: in which case it is rendered by the LXX. sometimes εἴδωλον, an “idol;” sometimes χειροποίητον, an “idol made with hands;” sometimes βδέλυλμα, an “abomination.” But here it hath no such limitation or restriction.

Whereas, therefore, there are some creatures who, by reason of some peculiar excellency and likeness unto God, or subordination unto him in their work, are called gods, it must be those or some of them that are intended in the expression. Now these are either magistrates or angels.

(1.) Magistrates are somewhere called elohim, because of the representation they make of God in his power, and their peculiar subordination unto him in their working. The Jews, indeed, contend that no other magistrates but only those of the great Sanhedrin are anywhere called gods; but that concerns not our present inquiry. Some magistrates are so called, but none of them are here intended by the psalmist, there being no occasion administered unto him of any such apostrophe unto them.

(2.) Angels also are called elohim: λεγόμενοι θεοί, 1 Corinthians 8:5. They have the name of god attributed unto them, as we have showed before in some instances. And these alone are they whom the psalmist speaks unto. Having called on the whole creation to rejoice in the bringing forth of the kingdom of God, and pressed his exhortation upon things on the earth, he turns unto the ministering angels, and calls on them to the discharge of their duty unto the King of that kingdom. Hence the Targumist, in the beginning of Psalms 96, which is indeed the beginning of this, expressly mentioneth אנגלי מרומא, “his high angels,” joining in his praise and worship, using the Greek word ἄγγελος, for distinction’s sake, as on the same account it often occurs in the Targum.

We have thus evinced that the psalm treats about the bringing in of the first-born into the world; as also that they are the ministering angels who are here commanded to worship him.

For the command itself, and the nature of it, it consisted in these two things: —

(1.) A declaration of the state and condition of the Messiah; which is such as that he is a meet object of religious adoration unto the angels, and attended with peculiar motives unto the discharge of their duty. The former he hath from his divine nature, the latter from his work, with his state and dignity that ensued thereon.

(2.) An intimation of the pleasure of God unto the angels. Not that divine worship was absolutely due unto the Son of God, which they knew from the first instant of their creation, but that all honor and glory were due unto him on the account of his work and office as mediator and king of his church.

3. It remaineth only that we show that this testimony thus explained was suitable unto the apostle’s design and purpose, and did prove the assertion in the confirmation whereof it was produced. Now, this is a matter of so full and clear an evidence that it will not at all detain us; for it is impossible that there should be any more clear or full demonstration of this truth, that the Lord Christ hath an unspeakable pre-eminence above the angels, than this, that they are all appointed and commanded by God himself to adore him with divine and religious worship. We may now, therefore, consider what observations the words will afford us for our own instruction. It appears, then, from hence, —

I. That the authority of God speaking in the Scripture is that alone which divine faith rests upon and is to be resolved into: “He saith.”

It was the begetting of faith in some of the Hebrews, and the increase or establishment of it in others, that the apostle aimed at. That which he proposed to them as the object of their faith, that which they were to believe, was that excellency of the person and kingly authority of the Messiah wherein they had not as yet been instructed. And hereof he endeavors not to beget an opinion in them, but that faith which cannot deceive or be deceived. To this end he proposeth that unto them which they ought to submit unto, and which they may safely rest in. For as faith is an act of religious obedience, it respects the authority of God requiring it; and as it is a religious infallible assent of the mind, it regards the truth and veracity of God as its object. On this alone it rests, “God saith.” And in whatever God speaks in the Scripture, his truth and authority manifest themselves to the satisfaction of faith; and nowhere else doth it find rest.

II. That for the begetting, increasing, and strengthening of faith, it is useful to have important fundamental truths confirmed by many testimonies of Scripture: “Again he saith.”

Any one word of God is sufficient to establish the most important truth to eternity, so as to hang the salvation of all mankind thereon, neither can any thing impeach or weaken what is so confirmed. No more is required in any case, to make faith necessary on our part as a duty of obedience, and infallible as to the event, but that God hath by any means, by any one word, revealed that which he requires our assent unto. But God dealeth not upon strict terms. Infinite condescension lies at the bottom of all wherein he hath to deal with us. He respects not what the nature of the thing strictly requires, but what is needful unto our infirmity and weakness. Hence he multiplies his commands and promises, and confirms all by his oath, swearing to his truth by himself, to take away all pretense of distrust and unbelief. For this cause he multiplies testimonies to the truths wherein the concernments of his glory and our obedience do lie, as might be manifested by the consideration of instances innumerable. Thus in his name deals the apostle in this place. And this is useful to faith: for, —

1. What, it may be, is obscure in one is cleared in another; and so what doubts and fears remain on the consideration of one testimony are removed by another, whereby the souls of believers are carried on unto a “full assurance.” And therefore, because such is our weakness that there is need hereof in ourselves, such is the goodness of God that there is no want of it in the word.

2. Faith discerns hereby the weight that God lays upon its embracing of the truth so testified unto. He knows our concernment in it, and thereon urgeth us with its acceptance. This awakens and excites faith unto attention and consideration, — the eminent means of its growth and increase. It knows that it is not for nothing that the Holy Ghost thus presseth his truth upon it, and attends the more diligently upon his urgency.

3. Every testimony hath something single in it, and peculiar unto it. Though many bear witness to the same truth, yet such is the fullness of the Scripture, and such the wisdom of God laid up therein, that every one of them hath also somewhat of its own, somewhat singular, tending to the enlightening and establishment of our minds. This faith makes a discovery of, and so receives peculiar profit and advantage thereby.

And this should teach us to abound in the study and search of the Scriptures, that we may thereby come to establishment in the truth. God hath thus left us many testimonies to each important truth; and he hath not done it in vain, — he knows our need of it; and his condescension in so doing, when he might have bound us up to the strictest terms of closing with the least intimation of his will, is for ever to be admired. For us to neglect this great effect and product of the wisdom, grace, and love of God, is unspeakable folly. If we think we need it not, we make ourselves wiser than God; if we think we do, and neglect our duty herein, we are really as unwise as the beasts that perish. Want of this fortifying of faith, by a diligent search after the testimonies given unto the truth proposed unto it to be believed, is the cause that so many every day turn away from it, and therewithal make shipwreck of faith and a good conscience. Let us, then, never think ourselves safe in the knowledge and profession of any truth, but whilst we continue sincerely in the investigation of all the confirmation that God hath given it in his word. The opposition made to every truth is so various, and from so many hands, that not the least contribution of evidence unto it can be neglected with safety.

III. The whole creation of God hath a great concernment in God’s bringing forth Christ into the world, and his exaltation in his kingdom.

Hence in the psalm from whence these words are taken, all the principal parts of it are called on to triumph and rejoice therein. The earth, and the multitude of the isles, the heaven, and all people, are invited unto this congratulation; neither is any thing excluded but idols and idolaters, whose ruin God intends in the erection of the kingdom of Christ. And this they have ground for, —

1. Because in that work consisted the principal manifestation of the wisdom, power, and goodness of God. The whole creation is concerned in the glory of the Creator. In his exaltation doth their honor, interest, and blessedness consist. For this end were they made, that God might be glorified. The more that is done by any means, the more is their end attained.

Hence the very inanimate parts of it are introduced, by a προσωποποιϊvα, rejoicing, exulting, shouting, and clapping their hands, when the glory of God is manifested, — in all which their suitableness and propensity to their proper end is declared; as also, by their being burdened and groaning under such an estate and condition of things as doth any way eclipse the glory of their Maker. Now, in this work of bringing forth the first-born is the glory of God principally and eminently exalted; for the Lord Christ is the “brightness of his glory,” and in him all the treasures of wisdom, grace, and goodness are laid up and hid. Whatever God had any otherwise before parcelled out, of and concerning his glory, by the works of his hands, is all, and altogether, and with an unspeakable addition of beauty and excellency, repeated in Christ.

2. The whole creation receiveth a real advancement and honor in the Son’s being made “the first-born of every creature;” that is, the especial heir and lord of them all. Their being brought into a new dependence on the Lord Christ is their honor, and they are exalted by becoming his possession. For after that they had lost their first original dependence on God, and their respect unto him, grounded on his pronouncing of them exceeding good, — that is, such as became his wisdom and power to have made, — they fell under the power of the devil, who became prince of this world by sin. Herein consisted the vanity and debasement of the creature; which it was never willingly or of its own accord subject unto. But God setting up the kingdom of Christ, and making him the first-born, the whole creation hath a right unto a new, glorious lord and master. And however any part of it be violently for a season detained under its old bondage, yet it hath grounds of an “earnest expectation” of a full and total deliverance into liberty, by virtue of this primogeniture of Christ Jesus

3. Angels and men, the inhabitants of heaven and earth, the principal parts of the creation, on whom God hath in an especial manner stamped his own likeness and image, are hereby made partakers of such inestimable benefits as indispensably call for rejoicing in a way of thankfulness and gratitude. This the whole gospel declares, and therefore it needs not our particular improvement in this place.

And if this be the duty of the whole creation, it is easy to discern in what a special manner it is incumbent on them that believe, whose benefit, advantage, and glow, were principally intended in this whole work of God. Should they be found wanting in this duty, God might, as of old, call heaven and earth to witness against them. Yea, thankfulness to God for the bringing forth of the first-born into the world is the sum and substance of all that obedience which God requires at the hands of believers.

IV. The command of God is the ground and reason of all religious worship. The angels are to worship the Lord Christ, the mediator; and the ground of their so doing is God’s command. He saith, “Worship him, all ye angels.”

Now the command of God is twofold: —

1. Formal and vocal, when God gives out a law or precept unto any creature superadded to the law of its creation. Such was the command given out unto our first parents in the garden concerning the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil;” and such were all the laws, precepts, and institutions which he afterwards gave unto his church, with those which to this day continue as the rule and reason of their obedience.

2. Real and interpretative, consisting in an impression of the mind and will of God upon the nature of his creatures, with respect unto that obedience which their state, condition, and dependence on him requireth. The very nature of an intellectual creature, made for the glory of God, and placed in a moral dependence upon him and subjection unto him, hath in it the force of a command, as to the worship and service that God requireth at their hands. But this law in man being blotted, weakened, impaired, through sin, God hath in mercy unto us collected, drawn forth, and disposed all the directions and commands of it in vocal formal precepts recorded in his word; whereunto he hath superadded sundry new commands in the institutions of his worship. With angels it is otherwise. The ingrafted law of their creation, requiring of them the worship of God and obedience to his whole will, is kept and preserved entire; so that they have no need to have it repeated and expressed in vocal formal commands. And by virtue of this law were they obliged to constant and everlasting worship of the eternal Son of God, as being created and upheld in a universal dependence upon him. But now when God brings forth his Son into the world, and placeth him in a new condition, of being incarnate, and becoming so the head of his church, there is a new modification, of the worship that is due to him brought in, and a new respect unto things, not considered in the first creation. With reference hereunto God gives a new command unto the angels, for that peculiar kind of worship and honor which is due unto him in that state and condition which he had taken upon himself.

This the law of their creation in general directed them unto, but in particular required not of them. It enjoined the worship of the Son of God in every condition, but that condition was not expressed. This God supplies by a new command; that is, such an intimation of his mind and will unto them as answers unto a vocal command given unto men, who by that means only may come to know the will of God. Thus, in one way or other, command is the ground and cause of all worship: for, —

1. All worship is obedience. Obedience respects authority; and authority exerts itself in commands. And if this authority be not the authority of God, the worship performed in obedience unto it is not the worship of God, but of him or them whose commands and authority are the reason and cause of it. It is the authority of God alone that can make any worship to be religious, or the performance of it to be an act of obedience unto him.

2. God would never allow that the will and wisdom of any of his creatures should be the rise, rule, or measure of his worship, or any part of it, or any thing that belongs unto it. This honor he hath reserved unto himself, neither will he part with it unto any other. He alone knows what becomes his own greatness and holiness, and what tends to the advancement of his glory. Hence the Scripture abounds with severe interdictions and comminations against them who shall presume to do or appoint any thing in his worship beside or beyond his own institution.

3. All prescriptions of worship are vain, when men have not strength to perform it in a due manner, nor assurance of acceptance when it is performed. Now, both these are and must be from God alone, nor doth he give strength and ability for any thing in his worship but what himself commands, nor doth he promise to accept any thing but what is of his own appointment; so that it is the greatest folly imaginable to undertake any thing in his worship and service but what his appointment gives warrant for.

And this should teach us, in all that we have to do in the worship of God, carefully to look after his word of command and institution. Without this all that we do is lost, as being no obedience unto God; yea, it is an open setting up of our own wills and wisdom against him, and that in things of his own especial concernment; which is intolerable boldness and presumption. Let us deal thus with our rulers amongst men, and obey them not according to their laws, but our own fancies, and see whether they will accept our persons? And is the great and holy God less to be regarded? Besides, when we have our inventions, or the commands of other men, as the ground and reason of our doing it, we have nothing but our own or their warranty for its acceptance with God; and how far this will secure us it is easy to judge.

We might hence also further observe, —

V. That the Mediator of the new covenant is in his own person God blessed for ever, to whom divine or religious worship is due from the angels themselves. As also that, —

VI. The Father, upon the account of the work of Christ in the world, and his kingdom that ensued it, gives a new commandment unto the angels to worship him, his glory being greatly concerned therein. And that,-

VII. Great is the church’s security and honor, when the head of it is worshipped by all the angels in heaven. As also that,-

VIII. It can be no duty of the saints of the new testament to worship angels, who are their fellow-servants in the worship of Jesus Christ.


Verse 7

Having in one testimony from the Scripture, expressing the subjection of angels unto the Lord Christ, signally proved his main design, the apostle proceedeth to the further confirmation of it in the same way, and that by balancing single testimonies concerning the nature and offices of the angels with some others concerning the same things in the Lord Christ, of whom he treats. And the first of these, relating unto angels, he lays down in the next verse: —

Hebrews 1:7. καὶ πρὸς μὲν τοὺς ἀγγέλους λέγει· ᾿ο ποιῶν τοὺς ἀγγέλους αὑτοῦ πςνύματα, καὶ τοὺς λειτουργοὺς αὑτοῦ πυρὸς φλόγα.

There is not much of difficulty in the words. πρὸς ἀγγέλους,” unto the angels.” Syr., על מַלָאכֵא, “of” (or “concerning”) “the angels.” אלis often used for על, and on the contrary, and πρός for περί; so that πρὸς τοὺς ἀγγέλους, “to the angels,” is as much as περί τῶν ἀγγέλων, “of” (or “concerning”) “the angels:” “But as concerning the angels,” (or, “and of the angels,”) “he saith;” for these words are not spoken unto the angels, as the following words are directly spoken unto the Son. He is the person as well spoken to as spoken of; but so are not the angels in the place from whence this testimony is taken, wherein the Holy Ghost only declareth the providence of God concerning them. λέγει, “he saith;” that is, God the Father saith, or the Holy Ghost in the Scripture saith, as was before observe.

τοὺς λειτουργούς. λειτουργός is “minister publicus,” “a public minister,” or agent; from λήϊτος, which is the same with δημόσιος, as Hesychius renders it, “public.” He that is employed in any great and public work is λειτουργός. Hence, of old, magistrates were termed λειτουργοὶ θεῶν, they are by Paul, διάκονοι θεοῦ, Romans 13:4, “the ministers of God.” And Hebrews 8:2 of this epistle, he calls the Lord Jesus, in respect of his priestly office, τῶν ἁγιών λειτουργόν, “the public minister of holy things;” and himself, in respect of his apostleship, λειτουργὸν ᾿ιησοῦ χριστοῦ, Romans 15:16, “a minister of Jesus Christ.” So the name is on this account equipollent unto that of angels; for as that denoteth the mission of those spirits unto their work, so doth this their employment therein.

Hebrews 1:7. — But unto [of] the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire, [or, flaming fire.]

The apostle here entereth upon his third argument to prove the pre- eminence of the Lord Christ above angels, and that by comparing them together, either as to their natures or as to their employments, according as the one or the other is set forth, declared, and testified unto in the Scriptures of the Old Testament. And this first place which he refers unto angels we shall now explain and vindicate; and in so doing inquire both who they are of whom the psalmist speaks, and what it is that he affirmeth of them.

There is a threefold sense given of the words of the psalmist, as they lie in the Hebrew text : —

1. The first is that of the modern Jews, who deny that there is any mention made of angels, affirming the subject that the psalmist treats of to be the winds, with thunder and lightning, which God employs as his messengers and ministers to accomplish his will and pleasure. So he made the winds his messengers when he sent them to raise a storm on Jonah when he fled from his presence; and a flaming fire his minister, when by it he consumed Sodom and Gomorrah. And this opinion makes רוּחוֹת, which it interprets “winds,” and אֵשׂ לֹהֵט, “a flaming fire,” to be the subjects of the proposition, of which it is affirmed that God employs them as his messengers and ministers.

That this opinion, which is directly contradictory to the authority of the apostle, is so also to the design of the psalmist, sense of the words, consent of the ancient Jews, and so no way to be admitted, shall afterwards be made to appear.

2. Some aver that the winds and meteors are principally intended, but yet so as that God, affirming that he makes the winds his messengers, doth also intimate that it is the work and employment of his angels above to be his messengers also; and that because he maketh use of their ministry to cause those winds and fires whereby he accomplisheth his will. And this they illustrate by the fire and winds caused by them on mount Sinai at the giving of the law.

But this interpretation, whatever is pretended to the contrary, doth not really differ from the former, denying angels to be intentionally spoken of, only hooking in a respect unto them, not to seem to contradict the apostle, and therefore will be disproved together with that which went before.

3. Others grant that it is the angels of whom the apostle treats; but as to the interpretation of the words they are of two opinions.

Some make “spirits” to be the subject of what is affirmed, and “angels” to be the predicate. In this sense God is said to make those spiritual substances, inhabitants of heaven, his messengers, employing them in his service; and them whose nature is “a flaming fire,” that is the seraphim, to be his ministers, and to accomplish his pleasure. And this way, after Austin, go many expositors, making the term “angels” here merely to denote an employment, and not the persons employed. But as this interpretation also takes off from the efficacy and evidence of the apostle’s argument, so we shall see that there is nothing in the words themselves leading to the embracement of it.

It remains, therefore, that it is the angels that are here spoken of; as also that they are intended and designed by that name, which denotes their persons, and not their employment.

That angels are primarily intended by the psalmist, contrary to the first opinion, of the modern Jews, and the second mentioned, leaning thereunto, appears, —

1. From the scope and design of the psalmist. For designing to set out the glory of God in his works of creation and providence, after he had declared the framing of all things by his power which come under the name of “heavens,” Psalms 110:2-3, before he proceeds to the creation of the earth, — passing over, with Moses, the creation of angels, or couching it with him under the production of light or of the heavens, as they are called in Job, — he declareth his providence and sovereignty in employing his angels between heaven and earth, as his servants for the accomplishment of his pleasure. Neither doth it at all suit his method or design, in his enumeration of the works of God, to make mention of the winds and tempests, and their use in the earth, before he had mentioned the creation of the earth itself, which follows in the next verse unto this. So that these senses are excluded by the context of the psalm.

2. The consent of the ancient Jews lies against the sentiment of the modern. Both the old translations either made or embraced by them expressly refer the words unto angels. So doth that of the LXX., as is evident from the words; and so doth the Targum, thus rendering the place, מצלהבא דעבד אזגדוי סרהובין היךְ רוחא שמשוי תקיפין היךְ אשא; — “Who maketh his messengers” (or “angels”) “swift as spirits, and his ministers strong” (or “powerful”) “as a flaming fire.” The supply of the note of similitude makes it evident that they understood the text of angels, and not winds, and of making angels as spirits, and not of making winds to be angels or messengers, which is inconsistent with their words.

3. The word מַלְאָכִים doth usually denote the angels themselves, and no reason can be given why it should not do so in this place.

Moreover, it appears that that term is the subject of the proposition: for, —

1. The apostle and the LXX. fixing the articles before ἀγγέλους and λειτουργούς, “angels” and “ministers,” do plainly determine the subject spoken of: for although, it may be, some variety may be observed in the use of articles in other places, so that they do not always determine the subject of the proposition, as sometimes confessedly they do, as John 1:1; John 4:24; yet in this place, where in the original all the words are left indefinitely, without any prefix to direct the emphasis unto any one of them, the fixing of them in the translation of the apostle and LXX. must necessarily design the subject of them, or else by the addition of the article they leave the sense much more ambiguous than before, and give occasion to a great mistake in the interpretation of the words.

2. The apostle speaks of angels: “Unto the angels he saith.” And in all other testimonies produced by him, that whereof he treats hath the place of the subject spoken of, and not of that which is attributed unto any thing else. Neither can the words be freed from equivocation, if “angels” in the first place denote the persons of the angels, and in the latter their employment only.

3. The design and scope of the apostle requires this construction of the words; for his intention is, to prove by this testimony that the angels are employed in such works and services, and in such a manner, as that they are no way to be compared to the Son of God, in respect of that office which as mediator he hath undertaken: which the sense and construction contended for alone doth prove.

4. The original text requires this sense; for, according to the common use of that language, among words indefinitely used, the first denotes the subject spoken of, which is angels here: עֹשֶׂה מַלְאָכָיו רוּחוֹת, — “making his angels spirits.” And in such propositions ofttimes some note of similitude is to be understood, without which the sense is not complete, and which, as I have showed, the Targum supplieth in this place.

From what hath been said, I suppose it is made evident both that the psalmist expressly treats of angels, and that the subject spoken of by the apostle is expressed in that word, and that following, of ministers.

Our next inquiry is after what is affirmed concerning these angels and ministers spoken of; and that is, that God makes them “spirits,” and “a flame of fire.” And concerning the meaning of these words there are two opinions: —

1. That the creation of angels is intended in the words; and the nature whereof they were made is expressed in them. He made them spirits, — that is, of a spiritual substance; and his heavenly ministers, quick, powerful, agile, as a flaming fire. Some carry this sense farther, and affirm that two sorts of angels are intimated, one of an aerial substance like the wind, and the other igneal or fiery, denying all pure intelligences, without mixture of matter, as the product of the school of Aristotle.

But this seems not to be the intention of the words; nor is the creation of the angels or the substance whereof they consist here expressed: for, —

(1.) The analysis of the psalm, formerly touched on, requires the referring of these words to the providence of God in employing the angels, and not to his power in making them.

(2.) The apostle in this place hath nothing to do with the essence and nature of the angels, but with their dignity, honor, and employment; on which accounts he preferreth the Lord Christ before them. Wherefore, —

2. The providence of God in disposing and employing of angels in his service is intended in these words; and so they may have a double sense: —

(1.) That God employeth his angels and heavenly ministers in the production of those winds, רוּחוֹת, and fire, אֵשׁ לֹהֵט, thunder and lightning, whereby he executeth many judgments in the world.

(2.) A note of similitude may be understood, to complete the sense, which is expressed in the Targum on the psalm: “He maketh” (or “sendeth”) “his angels like the winds, or like a flaming fire,” — maketh them speedy, spiritual, agile, powerful, quickly and effectually accomplishing the work that is appointed unto them.

Either way this is the plain intendment of the psalm, — that God useth and employeth his angels in effecting the works of his providence here below, and that they were made to serve the providence of God in that way and manner. ‘This,’saith the apostle, ‘is the testimony which the Holy Ghost gives concerning them, their nature, duty, and work, wherein they serve the providence of God. But now,’saith he, ‘consider what the Scripture saith concerning the Son, how it calls him God, how it ascribes a throne and a kingdom unto him’(testimonies whereof he produceth in the next verses),’ and you will easily discern his pre-eminence above them.’

But before we proceed to the consideration of the ensuing testimonies, we may make some observations on that which we have already passed through; as, —

I. Our conceptions of the angels, their nature, office, and work, is to be regulated by the Scripture.

The Jews of old had many curious speculations about angels, wherein they greatly pleased and greatly deceived themselves. Wherefore the apostle, in his dealing with them, calls them off from all their foolish imaginations, to attend unto those things which God hath revealed in his word concerning them. This the Holy Ghost saith of them, and therefore this we are to receive and believe, and this alone: for, —

1. This will keep us unto that becoming sobriety in things above us which both the Scripture greatly commends and is exceedingly suited unto right reason. The Scripture minds us μὴ ὑπερφρονεῖν παρ᾿ ὅ δεῖ φρονεῖν ἀλλὰ φρονεῖν εἰς σωφρονεῖν, Romans 12:3, “to keep ourselves within the bounds of modesty, and to be wise to sobriety.” And the rule of that sobriety is given us for ever, Deuteronomy 29:28, לָנֹוּ וּלְבָנֵינוּ הנִּסְתָּרֹת לַיהוֹה אֶלהֵינוּ וְהַנִּגְלֹת; — “Secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but revealed things unto us and to our children.” Divine revelation is the rule and measure of our knowledge in these things, and that bounds and determines our sobriety. And hence the apostle, condemning the curiosity of men on this very subject about angels, makes the nature of their sin to consist in exceeding these bounds by an inquiry into things unrevealed; and the rise of that evil to lie in pride, vanity, and fleshliness; and the tendency of it to be unto false worship, superstition, and idolatry, Colossians 2:18. Neither is there any thing more averse from right reason, nor more condemned by wise men of former times, than a curious humour of prying into those things wherein we are not concerned, and for whose investigation we have no certain, honest, lawful rule or medium. And this evil is increased where God himself hath given bounds to our inquiries, as in this case he hath.

2. This alone will bring us unto any certainty and truth. Whilst men indulge to their own imaginations and fancies, as too many in this matter have been apt to do, it is sad to consider how they have wandered up and down, and with what fond conceits they have deceived themselves and others. The world hath been filled with monstrous opinions and doctrines about angels, their nature, offices, and employments. Some have worshipped them, others pretended I know not what communion and intercourse with them; in all which conceits there hath been little of truth, and nothing at all of certainty. Whereas if men, according to the example of the apostle, would keep themselves to the word of God, as they would know enough in this matter for the discharging of their own duty, so they would have assurance and evidence of truth in their conceptions; without which pretended high and raised notions are but a shadow of a dream, — worse than professed ignorance.

II. We may hence observe, that the glory, honor, and exaltation of angels lies in their subserviency to the providence of God. It lies not so much in their nature as in their work and service. The intention of the apostle is to show the glory of angels and their exaltation; which he doth by the induction of this testimony, reporting their serviceableness in the works wherein of God they are employed. God hath endowed the angels with a very excellent nature, — furnished them with many eminenent properties, of wisdom, power, agility, perpetuity: but yet what is glorious and honorable herein consists not merely in their nature itself and its essential properties, all which abide in the horridest and most- to-be-detested part of the whole creation, namely, the devils; but in their conformity and answerableness unto the mind and will of God, — that is, in their moral, not merely natural endowments. These make them amiable, glorious, excellent. Unto this their readiness for and compliance with the will of God, — that God having made them for his service, and employing them in his work, — their discharge of their duty therein with cheerfulness, alacrity, readiness, and ability, is that which renders them truly honorable and glorious. Their readiness and ability to serve the providence of God is their glory; for, —

1. The greatest glory that any creature can be made partaker of, is to serve the will and set forth the praise of its Creator. That is its order and tendency towards its principal end; in which two all true honor consists. It is glorious even in the angels to serve the God of glory. What is there above this for a creature to aspire unto? what that its nature is capable of? Those among the angels who, as it seems, attempted somewhat further, somewhat higher, attained nothing but an endless ruin in shame and misery. Men are ready to fancy strange things about the glory of angels, and do little consider that all the difference in glory that is in any parts of God’s creation lies merely in willingness, ability, and readiness to serve God their Creator.

2. The works wherein God employs them, in a subservience unto his providence, are in an especial manner glorious works. As for the service of angels, as it is intimated unto us in the Scripture, it may be reduced unto two heads; for they are employed either in the communication of protection and blessings to the church, or in the execution of the vengeance and judgments of God against his enemies. Instances to both these purposes may be multiplied, but they are commonly known. Now these are glorious works. God in them eminently exalts his mercy and justice, — the two properties of his nature in the execution whereof he is most eminently exalted: and from these works ariseth all that revenue of glory and praise which God is pleased to reserve to himself from the world: so that it must needs be very honorable to be employed in these works.

3. They perform their duty in their service in a very glorious manner, with great power, wisdom, and uncontrollable efficacy. Thus, one of them slew one hundred and eighty-five thousand of the enemies of God in a night; another set fire on Sodom and Gomorrah from heaven. Of the like power and expedition are they in all their services, in all things to the utmost capacity of creatures answering the will of God. God himself, it is true, sees that in them and their works which keeps them short of absolute purity and perfection, which are his own properties; but as to the capacity of mere creatures, and for their state and condition, there is a perfection in their obedience, and that is their glory.

Now, if this be the great glory of angels, and we poor worms of the earth are invited, as we are, unto a participation with them therein, what unspeakable folly will it be in us if we be found negligent in laboring to attain thereunto! Our future glory consists in this, that we shall be made like unto angels; and our way towards it is, to do the will of our Father on earth as it is done by them in heaven. Oh, in how many vanities doth vain man place his glory! Nothing so shameful that one or other hath not gloried in; whilst the true and only glory, of doing the will of God, is neglected by almost all! But we must treat again of these things upon the last verse of this chapter.


Verse 8-9

Having given an account of what the Scripture teacheth and testifieth concerning angels, in the following verses he showeth how much other things, and far more glorious, are spoken to and of the Son, by whom God revealed his will in the gospel.

Hebrews 1:8-9. πρὸς δὲ τὸν υἱόν· ῾ο θρόνος σου, ὁ θεὸς, εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα τοῦ αἰῶνος·v ῥάβδος εὐθύτητος ἡ ῥάβδος τῆς βασιλείας σου. ᾿ηγάπησας δικαιοσύνην, και ἐμίσησας ἀνομίαν· διὰ τοῦτο ἔχρισέ σε θεὸς, ὁ θεός σου, ἔλαιον ἀγαλλιάσεως παρὰ τοὺς μετόχους σου.

MS. T., ῾η ῥάβδος εὐθύτητος: and for ἀνομίαν, ἀδικίαν. πρὸς δὲ τὸν υἱόν, “But unto the Son.” Syr., על בְּיָא דֵיּן אָמַר, “but of the Son he saith;” which is necessarily supplied as to the apostle’s design. In the psalm the words are spoken by way of apostrophe to the Son, and they are recited by the apostle as spoken of him; that is, so spoken to him as to contain a description of him and his state or kingdom.

῾῾ο θρόνος σου, ὁ θεὸς, εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα τοῦ αἰῶνος. Psalms 45:7 isthe place from whence the words are taken, כִּסְאֲךָ אַלֹהִיּם עוֹלָם וָעֶר. The LXX. render these words as the apostle. Aquila, ῾῾ο ζρόνος σου θεὲ αἰῶνα καὶ ἔτι· θεέ, for ὁ θεός· — “Thy throne, O God, for ever and yet.” Symmachus, ῾ο θρόνος σου ὁ θεὸς αἰώνιος καὶ ἔτι· — “Thy throne, O God, is everlasting and yet;” and that because it is not said, לְעוֹלָּם, but עוֹלָם, absolutely; ῾ο θεός, θεέ, as in the translation of Aquila.

כִּסֵא is “a kingly throne,” nor is it ever used in Scripture for מוֹשָׁב, “a common seat.” Metonymically it is used for power and government, and that frequently. The LXX. almost constantly render it by θρόνος, and θρόνος is ἐλευθέριος καθέδρα σὺν ὑποποδίῳ, Athenae, lib. 5, — “a free open seat with a footstool.” And such a throne is here properly assigned unto the Lord Christ, mention of his footstool being immediately subjoined. So God says of himself, “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool;” as the heathen termed heaven, διὸς θρόνον, “The throne of God.” “Thy throne, O God, עוֹלָם וָעֶד,” — “in seculum et usque;” “in sempiternum et perpetuo;” “in seculum seculorum.” The duration denoted by the conjunction of both these words is mostly an absolute perpetuity, and a certain, uninterrupted continuance, where the subject spoken of admits a limitation. Many of the Greek interpreters render עֵדby ἔτι, attending to the sound rather than the use and signification of the word; so is “yet” in our language. This we express by, “for ever and ever.” ῾῾ράβδος εὐθύτητος ἡ ῥαβδος βασιλείας σου. The variation of ἡ ῥάβδος in the first place, before mentioned, takes off from the elegancy of the expression, and darkens the sense; for the article prefixed to the last ῥάβδος declares that to be the subject of the propositon.

The words of the psalmist are, שֵׁבֶט מִיֹשׂר שֵבֶט מַלְכוּתֶךָ. “Shebet,” is “virga,” and “sceptrum,” and in this place is rendered by Aquila σκήπτρον, “a rod,” “a staff,” “a scepter;” always a scepter when referred to rule, as in this place it is called the scepter of the kingdom.

A “scepter,” מִיֹשׂר, from יָשַׁר, “rectus fuit,” to be “right,” “straight” “upright,” principally in a moral sense. εὐθύτητος, “of uprightness.” εὐθύτης is properly such a rectitude as we call straight, opposed to crooked; and metaphorically only is it used for moral uprightness, that is, equity and righteousness. Syr., שׁבֶטָא פְשִיטָא. Boderianus, “sceptrum erectum,” “a scepter lifted up,” or “held upright.” The Paris edition, “sceptrum protensum,” “a scepter stretched out;” and the stretching out of the scepter was a sign and token of mercy, Esther 5:2. Tremellius, “virga recta;” which answers “mischor” in both its acceptations. Erpenius to the same purpose, “sceptrum rectum,” “a right sceptre.”

“Thou hast loved righteousness and hated רֶשָׁע,” ἀνομίαν, ἀδικίαν, “iniquity,” “unrighteousness,” “wickedness.” διὰ τοῦτο, עַלאּכֵּן“propterea,” “propter quod,” “quare,” “ideo,” “idcirco,” — “wherefore,” “for which cause.” Some copies of the LXX. and Aquila read ἐπὶ τούτῳ, so that διὰ τοῦτο seems to have been taken into the LXX. from this rendering of the words by the apostle.

῎εχρισέ σε ὁ θεὸς, ὁ θεός σου, ἔλαιον ἀγαλλιάσεως מְשָׁחֲךָ אַלֹהִים אַלֹהֵיךָ שֶׂמֶן שָׁשׁוֵֹן; — “God, thy God, hath anointed thee·” The words in Greek and Hebrew are those from whence the names of Christ and Messiah are taken, which are of the same importance and signification, — “The anointed one.” And the same by the Targumist; Aquila, ἤλειψε.

“Hath anointed thee ἔλαιον ἀγαλλιάσεως,” — the instrument in doing of the thing intended, expressed by the accusative case, whereof there are other instances in that language. Of old the LXX. read ἐλαίῳ ἀγλαϊσμοῦ, “with the oil of delight,” or “ornament;” so that ἔλαιον ἀγαλλιάσεως came also into the Greek version from this place of the apostle, and is more proper than the old reading, “the oil of rejoicing,” “joy” or “gladness.”

Hebrews 1:8-9. — But unto the Son [he saith], Thy throne, O God, is for ever; the scepter of thy kingdom is a scepter of righteousness. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; wherefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.

This testimony is produced by the apostle in answer unto that foregoing concerning angels. ‘Those words,’saith he, ‘were spoken by the Holy Ghost of the angels, wherein their office and employment under the providence of God is described. These are spoken by the same Spirit of the Son, or spoken to him, denoting his preexistence unto the prophecies themselves.’

There is little or no difficulty to prove that this testimony belongs properly unto him to whom it is applied by the apostle. The ancient Jews granted it, and the present doctors cannot deny it. One of them says, indeed, וזה המזמור נאמר על דוד או על המשיח; — “ This psalm is spoken of David, or the Messiah.” These are the words and this is the opinion of Aben Ezra; who accordingly endeavors to give a double sense of the chief passages in this psalm, — one as applied unto David, another as applied unto the Messiah, which he inclines unto. Jarchi turns it into an allegory, without any tolerable sense throughout his discourse. But though it might respect them both, yet there is no pretense to make David the subject of it, the title and whole contexture of it excluding such an application. The Targum wholly applies the psalm to the Messiah; which is a somewhat better evidence of the conception of the ancient Jews than the private opinion of any later writer can give us. And the title of the psalm in that paraphrase would make it a prophecy given out in the days of Moses for the use of the Sanhedrin; which manifests what account it had of old in their creed concerning the Messiah.

Some Christian interpreters have so far assented unto the later rabbins as to grant that Solomon was primarily intended in this psalm, as a type of Christ, and that the whole was an epithalamium or marriage-song, composed upon his nuptials with the daughter of Pharaoh. But there want not important reasons against this opinion: for, —

1. It is not probable that the Holy Ghost should so celebrate that marriage, which as it was antecedently forbidden by God, so it was never consequently blessed by him, she being among the number of those “strange women” which turned his heart from God, and was cursed with barrenness; the first foreign breach that came upon his family and all his magnificence being also from Egypt, where his transgression began.

2. There is scarce any thing in the psalm that can with propriety of speech be applied unto Solomon. Two things are especially insisted on in the former part of the psalm, — first, the righteousness of the person spoken of in all his ways and administrations, and then the perpetuity of his kingdom. How the first of these can be attributed unto him whose transgressions and sins were so public and notorious, or the latter to him who reigned but forty years, and then left his kingdom broken and divided to a wicked, foolish son, is hard to conceive.

As all, then, grant that the Messiah is principally, so there is no cogent reason to prove that he is not solely, intended in this psalm. I will not contend but that sundry things treated of in it might be obscurely typified in the kingdom and magnificence of Solomon; yet it is certain that most of the things mentioned, and expressions of them, do so immediately and directly belong unto the Lord Christ as that they can in no sense be applied unto the person of Solomon; and such are the words insisted on in this place by our apostle, as will be made evident in the ensuing explication of them.

We must, then, in the next place, consider what it is that the apostle intends to prove and confirm by this testimony, whereby we shall discover its suitableness unto his design. Now, this is not, as some have supposed, the deity of Christ; nor doth he make use of that directly in this place, though he doth in the next verse, as a medium to prove his preeminence above the angels, although the testimonies which he produceth do eminently mention his divine nature. But that which he designs to evince is this only, that he whom they saw for a time made “lower than the angels,” Hebrews 2:9, was yet in his whole person, and as he discharged the office committed unto him, so far above them as that he had power to alter and change those institutions which were given out by the ministry of angels. And this he doth undeniably by the testimonies alleged, as they are compared together: for whereas the Scripture testifies concerning angels that they are all servants, and that their chiefest glory consists in the discharge of their duty as servants, unto him a throne, rule, and everlasting dominion, administered with glory, power, righteousness, and equity, are ascribed; whence it is evident that he is exceedingly exalted above them, as is a king on his throne above the servants that attend him and do his pleasure.

And this is sufficient to manifest the design of the apostle, as also the evidence of his argument from this testimony. The exposition of the words belongs properly to the place from whence they are taken. But yet, that we may not leave the reader unsatisfied as to any particular difficulty that may seem to occur in them, this exposition shall be here also attended to.

The first thing to be attended to in them is the compellation of the person spoken unto, “O God:” “Thy throne, O God.”

Some would have Elohim ( ὁ θεός) to be a name common to God with others, namely, angels and judges; and in that large acceptation to be here ascribed to the Lord Christ; so that though he be expressly called Elohim, and ὁ θεός, yet that proves him not to be God by nature, but only to be so termed in respect of his office, dignity, and authority. And this is contended for by the Socinians. But this gloss is contrary to the perpetual use of the Scripture; for no one place can be instanced in, where the name Elohim is used absolutely, and restrained unto any one person, wherein it doth not undeniably denote the true and only God. Magistrates are, indeed, said to be elohim in respect of their office, but no one magistrate was ever so called; nor can a man say without blasphemy to any of them, “Thou art Elohim,” or “God.” Moses also is said to be elohim, “a god,” but not absolutely, but “a god to Pharaoh,” and to “Aaron;” that is, in God’s stead, doing and performing in the name of God what he had commanded him. Which places Jarchi produceth in his comment to countenance this sense, but in vain.

It is, then, the true God that is spoken unto in this apostrophe, “Elohim,” “O God.” This being granted, Erasmus starts a new interpretation of the whole words, though he seemeth not to approve of his own invention. “ ῾ο θρόνος σου ὁ θεός. It is uncertain,” saith he, “whether the meaning be, Thy throne, O God,’or ‘God is thy throne for ever.’” In the first way the word is an apostrophe to the Son, in the latter it expresseth the person of the Father. And this interpretation is embraced and improved by Grotius, who, granting that the word Elohim, used absolutely, signifieth as much as, “Elohe elohim,” “the God of gods,” would not allow that it should be spoken of Christ, and therefore renders the words, “God shall be thy seat for ever,” — that is, “shall establish thee in thy throne.” And this evasion is also fixed on by Aben Ezra, from Haggaon, כסזאךְ יכין אלהים; —

“God shall establish thy throne.” May men be allowed thus to thrust in what words they please into the text, leading to another sense than what itself expresseth, there will not much be left certain in the whole book of God. However, in this present instance, we have light enough to rebuke the boldness of this attempt; for, —

1. The interpretation insisted on is contrary to all old translations, whose language would bear a difference in the word, expressing it in the vocative case, “O God.”

2. Contrary to the received sense of Jews and Christians of old, and in especial of the Targum on the psalm, rendering the words, “Thy throne, O God, is in heaven, for ever.”

3. Contrary to the contexture and design of the apostle’s discourses, as may appear from the consideration of the preceding enarration of them.

4. Leaves no tolerable sense unto the words; neither can they who embrace it declare in what sense God is the throne of Christ.

5. Is contrary to the universally constant use of the expression in Scripture; for wherever there is mention of the throne of Christ, somewhat else, and not God, is intended thereby.

6. The word supplied by Grotius trom Saadias and Aben Ezra, to induce a sense unto his exposition “shall establish,” makes a new text, or leads the old utterly from the intention of the words; for whereas it cannot be said that God is the throne of Christ, nor was there any need to say that God was for ever and ever, — which two things must take up the whole intendment of the words if God the Father be spoken of, — the adding of, “shall establish,” or confirm, into the text, gives it an arbitrary sense, and such as, by the like suggestion of any other word, as “shall destroy,” may be rendered quite of another importance.

It is Christ, then, the Son, that is spoken to and denoted by that name, “Elohim,” “O God,” as being the true God by nature; though what is here affirmed of him be not as God, but as the king of his church and people; as in another place God is said to redeem his church with his own blood.

Secondly, We may consider what is assigned unto him, which is his kingdom; and that is described, —

1. By the “insignia regalia,” the royal ensigns of it, — namely, his throne and scepter.

2. By its duration, — it is for ever.

3. His manner of administration, — it is with righteousness; his scepter is a scepter of righteousness.

4. His furniture or preparation for this administration, — he loved righteousness and hated iniquity.

5. By an adjunct privilege, — unction with the oil of gladness; Which,

6. Is exemplified by a comparison with others, — it is so with him above his fellows.

1. The first “insigne regium” mentioned is his “throne,” whereunto the attribute of perpetuity is annexed, — it is for ever. And this throne denotes the kingdom itself. A throne is the seat of a king in his kingdom, and is frequently used metonymically for the kingdom itself, and that applied unto God and man. See Daniel 7:9; 1 Kings 8:20. Angels, indeed, are called “thrones,” Colossians 1:16; but that is either metaphorically only or else in respect of some especial service allotted unto them; as they are also called “princes,” Daniel 10:13, yet being indeed “servants,”

Revelation 22:9, Hebrews 1:14. These are nowhere said to have thrones; the kingdom is not theirs, but the Son’s. And whereas our Lord Jesus Christ promiseth his apostles that they shall at the last day sit on thrones judging the tribes of Israel, as it proves their participation with Christ in his kingly power, being made kings unto God, Revelation 1:5-6, and their interest in the kingdom which it is his pleasure to give them, so it proves not absolutely that the kingdom is theirs, but his on whose throne theirs do attend.

Neither doth the throne simply denote the kingdom of Christ, or his supreme rule and dominion, but the glory also of his kingdom. Being on his throne, he is in the height of his glory. And thus, because God manifests his glory in heaven, he calls that his throne, as the earth is his footstool, Isaiah 66:1. So that the throne of Christ is his glorious kingdom, elsewhere expressed by his “sitting down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.”

2. To this throne eternity is attributed. It is עוֹלָם וָעֶד, — “for ever and ever.” So is the throne of Christ said to be in opposition unto the frail, mutable kingdoms of the earth: “Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth and for ever,” Isaiah 9:7. “His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed,” Daniel 7:14; Micah 4:7; Psalms 62:7; Psalms 145:13. It shall neither decay of itself, nor fall through the opposition of its enemies: for he must reign until all his enemies are made his footstool, 1 Corinthians 15:24-27. Nor is it any impeachment of the perpetuity of the kingdom of Christ, that at the last day he shall deliver it up to God the Father, 1 Corinthians 15:24, seeing that then shall be an end of all rule. It is enough that it continue until all the ends of rule be perfectly accomplished, — that is, until all the enemies of it be subdued, and all the church be saved, and the righteousness, grace, and patience of God be fully glorified; whereof afterwards.

3. The second “insigne regium” is his “scepter.” And this, though it sometimes also denotes the kingdom itself, Genesis 49:10, Numbers 24:17; Isaiah 14:5, Zechariah 10:11; yet here it denotes the actual administration of rule, as is evident from the adjunct of “uprightness” annexed unto it, And thus the scepter denotes both the laws of the kingdom and the efficacy of the government itself. So that which we call a righteous government is here called a “scepter of uprightness”

Now, the means whereby Christ carrieth on his kingdom are his Word and Spirit, with a subserviency of power in the works of his providence, to make way for the progress of his word to avenge its contempt. So the gospel is called, “The rod of his strength,” Psalms 110:2. See 2 Corinthians 10:4-6. “He shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked,” Isaiah 11:4. And these are attended with the “sword” of his power and providence, Psalms 45:3, Revelation 19:15, or his “rod,” Psalms 2:9, or “sickle,” Revelation 14:18. In these things consists the scepter of Christ’s kingdom.

4. Concerning this scepter it is affirmed that it is a “scepter of uprightness.” εὐθύτης, or מִיֹשׂר, denotes either the nature of the scepter, that it is straight and right, or the use of it, that it is lifted up or stretched out, as was showed in the opening of the words. In the first sense it denoteth righteousness, in the latter mercy. According to the first sense, the following words, “Thou hast loved righteousness,” discover the habitual root of his actual righteous administration; according to the latter, there is a progress made in them to a further qualification of the rule of Christ, or of Christ in his rule. But the former sense is rather to be embraced; the latter metaphor being more strained, and founded only in one instance that I remember in the Scripture, and that not taken from among the people of God, but strangers and oppressors, Esther 5:2.

The scepter, then, of the kingdom of Christ is a scepter of “righteousness,’’ because all the laws of his gospel are righteous, holy, just, full of benignity and truth, Titus 2:11-12. And all his administrations of grace, mercy, justice, rewards, and punishments, according to the rules, promises, and threats of it, in the conversion, pardon, sanctification, trials, afflictions, chastisements, and preservation of his elect; in his convincing, hardening, and destruction of his enemies; are all righteous, holy, unblamable, and good, Isaiah 11:4-5; Isaiah 32:1, Psalms 145:17, Revelation 15:3-4; Revelation 16:5; and as such will they be gloriously manifested at the last day, 2 Thessalonians 1:10, though in this present world they are reproached and despised.

5. The habitual frame of the heart of Christ in his regal administrations: “He loveth righteousness and hateth iniquity.” This shows the absolute completeness of the righteousness of God’s kingdom, and of his righteousness in his kingdom. The laws of his rule are righteous, and his administrations are righteous; and they all proceed from a habitual love to righteousness and hatred of iniquity in his own person. Among the governments of this world, ofttimes the very laws are tyrannical, unjust, and oppressive; and if the laws are good and equal, yet ofttimes their administration is unjust, partial, and wicked; or when men do abstain from such exorbitancies, yet frequently they do so upon the account of some self-interest and advantage, like Jehu, and not out of a constant, equal, unchangeable love of righteousness and hatred of iniquity. But all these are absolutely complete in the kingdom of Jesus Christ: for whereas the expression, both in the Hebrew and the Greek, seems to regard the time past, “Thou hast loved righteousness and hated iniquity,” yet the constant present frame of the heart of Christ in his rule is denoted thereby; for the Greek translation exactly followeth and expresseth the Hebrew. Now, there being no form of verbs in that language expressing the present time, there is nothing more frequent in it than to denote that which is present and abiding by the preterperfect tense, as it doth in this place.

6. The consequence of this righteous rule in Christ is his “anointing with the oil of gladness;” wherein we may consider, —

(1.) The author of the privilege conferred on him, — that is, God, his God.

(2.) The privilege itself, — unction with the oil of gladness.

(3.) The connection of the collation of this privilege with what went before, — “wherefore,” or “for which cause.”

(1.) For the author of it, it is said to be God: ὁ θεὸς ὁ θεός σου, — “God, thy God.” Many, both ancient and modern expositors, do suppose that ὁ θεός in the first place, or “God,” is used in the same sense as ὁ θεός in the verse foregoing, and that it ought to be rendered “O God,” and the words to be read, “Therefore, O God, thy God hath anointed thee;” but as no old translation gives countenance to this conception, so that reduplication of the name of God, by an application of it in the second place, as “God, my God,” “God, thy God,” “God, the God of Israel,” being frequent in the Scripture, there is no cogent reason why we should depart in this place from that sense of the expression. The name God in the first place denotes him absolutely who conferred this privilege on the Lord Christ, that is God; and in the second place a reason is intimated of the collation itself, by an appropriation of God to be his God in a peculiar manner.

God is said to be the God of the Son upon a threefold account:

[1.] In respect of his divine nature. As he is his Father, so his God; whence he is said to be “God of God,” as having his nature communicated unto him by virtue of his eternal generation, John 1:14.

[2.] In respect of his human nature, as he was “made of a woman, made under the law.” So God also was his God, as he is the God of all creatures, Psalms 16:2; Psalms 22:1.

[3.] In respect of his whole person, God and man, as he was designed by his Father to the work of mediation; in which sense he calls him his God and his Father, John 20:17. And in this last sense is it that God is here said to be his God, that is his God in especial covenant, as he was designed and appointed to be the head and king of his church; for therein did God the Father undertake to be with him, to stand by him, to carry him through with his work, and in the end to crown him with glory. See Isaiah 49:1-12; Isaiah 50:4-9.

(2.) For the privilege itself, it is “unction with the oil of gladness.” There may be a double allusion in these words: —

[1.] To the common use of oil and anointing, which was to exhilarate and make the countenance appear cheerful at feasts and public solemnities, Psalms 104:15; Luke 7:37.

[2.] To the especial use of it in the unction of kings, priests, and prophets, Exodus 30. That the ceremony was typical is evident from Isaiah 61:1-3; and it denoted the collation of the gift of the Holy Ghost, whereby the person anointed was enabled for the discharge of the office he was called unto. And in this sense there is commonly assigned a threefold unction of Christ: —

1st. At his conception, when his human nature was sanctified by the Holy Spirit, Luke 1:35, and radically endowed with wisdom and grace, which he grew up in; Luke 2:40; Luke 2:52.

2dly. At his baptism and entrance into his public ministry, when he was in an especial manner furnished with those gifts of the Spirit which were needful for the discharge of his prophetical office, Matthew 3:16; John 1:32.

3dly. At his ascension, when he received of the Father the promise of the Spirit, to pour him forth upon his disciples, Acts 2:33. Now, though I acknowledge the Lord Christ to have been thus anointed, and that the communication of the gifts and graces of the Spirit unto him in fullness is called his unction, yet I cannot grant that any of them are here directly intended. But that which the apostle seems here to express with the psalmist is the glorious exaltation of Jesus Christ, when he was solemnly instated in his kingdom. This is that which is called the making of him “both Lord and Christ,” Acts 2:36; when “God raised him from the dead, and gave him glory,” 1 Peter 1:21. He is called Christ from the unction of the Spirit; and yet here, in his exaltation, he is said in an especial manner to be made Christ, — that is, taken gloriously into the possession of all the offices, and their full administration, whereunto he was anointed and fitted by the communication of the gifts and graces of the Spirit unto him. It is, I say, the joyful, glorious unction of his exaltation, when he was signally made Lord and Christ, and declared to be the anointed one of God, that is here intended. See Philippians 2:9-11. Which also appears, —

From the adjunct of this unction, — he is “anointed with the oil of gladness;” which denotes triumph and exaltation, freedom from trouble and distress: whereas, after those antecedent communications of the Spirit unto the Lord Christ, he was a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief, and exposed to innumerable evils and troubles.

(3.) The relation of this privilege granted unto the Lord Christ unto what went before, “He loved righteousness, and hated iniquity,” expressed by עַלאּכֵּן and διὰ τοῦτο (the third thing considerable in this last clause of the testimony), doth plainly declare it. The Lord Christ’s love to righteousness and hatred to iniquity proceeded from his unction with the graces and gifts of the Spirit; and yet they are plainly intimated here to go before this anointing with the oil of gladness; which is therefore mentioned as the consequent of his discharge of his office in this world, in like manner as his exaltation everywhere is, Philippians 2:9-11; Romans 14:9. And if this anointing denote the first unction of Christ, then must he be supposed to have the love to righteousness mentioned from elsewhere, as antecedent thereunto; which is not so. Wherefore these words, עַלאּכֵּן and διὰ τοῦτο, do declare at least a relation of congruency and conveniency unto an antecedent discharge of office in the Lord Christ, and are of the same importance with διό, Philippians 2:9; and so can respect nothing but his glorious exaltation, which is thus expressed. The last thing considerable in the words is the prerogative of the Lord Christ in this privilege, — he is “anointed above his fellows.” Now, these “fellows,” “companions,” or “associates,” of the Lord Christ, may be considered either generally for all those that partake with him in this unction, which are all believers, who are co-heirs with him, and thereby “heirs of God,” Romans 8:17; or more especially for those who were employed by God in the service, building, and rule of his church, in their subordination unto him, — such as were the prophets of old, and afterwards the apostles, Ephesians 2:20. In respect unto both sorts, the Lord Christ is anointed with the oil of gladness above them; but the former sort are especially intended, concerning whom the apostle gives an especial instance in Moses, chapter 3, affirming the Lord Christ in his work about the church to be made partaker of more glory than he. In a word, he is incomparably exalted above angels and men.

And this is the first testimony whereby the apostle confirms his assertion of the pre-eminence of the Lord Christ above angels, in that comparison which he makes between them; which also will afford the ensuing observations : —

I. The conferring and comparing of scriptures is an excellent means of coming to an acquaintance with the mind and will of God in them.

Thus dealeth the apostle in this place. He compareth what is spoken of angels in one place, and what of the Son in another, and from thence manifesteth what is the mind of God concerning them. This duty lies in the command we have to “search the Scriptures,” John 5:39, ἐρευνᾶτε τὰς γραφάς: make a diligent investigation of the mind of God in them,

“comparing spiritual things with spiritual,” — what the Spirit hath declared of the mind of God in one place, with what in like manner he hath manifested in another. God, to try our obedience, and to exercise our diligence unto a study in his word day and night, Psalms 1:2, and our continual meditation thereon, 1 Timothy 4:15, ( ταῦτα μελέτα, ἐν τούτοις ἴσθι,) — “Meditate on these things, be wholly in them,”) hath planted his truths with great variety up and down his word; yea, here one part, and there another of the same truth; which cannot be throughly learned unless we gather them together into one view. For instance, in one place God commands us to circumcise our hearts, and to make unto ourselves new hearts, that we may fear him; which at first consideration seems so to represent it, not only as our duty, but also within our power, as though we had no need of any help from grace for its accomplishment. In another he promiseth absolutely to circumcise our hearts, and to give us new hearts to fear him; as though it were so his work as not to be our concernment to attempt it. But now these several places being spiritually compared together, make it evident that as it is our duty to have new and circumcised hearts, so it is the effectual grace of God that must work and create them in us. And the like may be observed in all the important truths that are of divine revelation. And this, —

1. Discovers the root of almost all the errors and heresies that are in the world. Men whose hearts are not subdued by faith and humility unto the obedience of the truth, lighting on some expressions in the Scripture, that, singly considered, seem to give countenance to some such opinion as they are willing to embrace, without further search they fix it on their minds and imaginations, until it is too late to oppose any thing unto it; for when they are once fixed in their persuasions, those other places of Scripture which they should with humility have compared with that whose seeming sense they cleave unto, and from thence have learned the mind of the Holy Ghost in them all, are considered by them to no other end but only how they may pervert them, and free themselves from the authority of them. This, I say, seems to be the way of the most of them who pertinaciously cleave unto false and foolish opinions. They rashly take up a seeming sense of some particular places, and then obstinately make that sense the rule of interpreting all other scriptures whatever. Thus in our own days we have many who, from the outward sound of these words, John 1:9, “He is the true light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world,” having taken up a rash, foolish, and false imagination that Christ is that light which is remaining in all men, and therein their guide and rule, do from thence either wrest the whole Scripture to make it suit and answer that supposal, or else utterly slight and despise it; when, if they had compared it with other scriptures, which clearly explain and declare the mind of God in the things which concern the person and mediation of the Lord Christ, with the nature and works of natural and saving spiritual light, and submitted to the authority and wisdom of God in them, they might have been preserved from their delusion. It shows also, —

2. The danger that there is unto men unskilled and unexercised in the word of truth, when, without the advice, assistance, or direction of others who are able to guide them and instruct their inquiry after the mind of God, they hastily embrace opinions which it may be some one text or other of Scripture doth seemingly give countenance unto. By this means do men run themselves into the fore-mentioned danger every day, especially where any seducing spirit applies himself unto them with swelling words of vanity, boasting of some misunderstood word or other. Thus have we seen multitudes led, by some general expression, in two or three particular places of Scripture, into an opinion about a general redemption of all mankind and every individual thereof; when, if they had been wise, and able to have searched those other scriptures innumerable setting forth the eternal love of God to his elect, his purpose to save them by Jesus Christ, the nature and end of his oblation and ransom, and compared them with others, they would have understood the vanity of their hasty conceptions.

3. From these things it appears what diligence, patience, waiting, wisdom, are required of all men in searching of the Scriptures, who intend to come unto the acknowledgment of the truth thereby. And unto this end, and because of the greatness of our concernment therein, doth the Scripture itself abound with precepts, rules, directions, to enable us unto a right and profitable discharging of our duty. They are too many here to be inserted. I shall only add, that the diligence of heathens will rise up in judgment and condemn the sloth of many that are called Christians in this matter: for whereas they had no certain rule, way, or means to come to the knowledge of the truth, yet they ceased not with indefatigable diligence and industry to inquire after it, and to trace the obscure footsteps of what was left in their own natures or implanted on the works of creation; but many, the most of those unto whom God hath granted the inestimable benefit and privilege of his word, as a sure and infallible guide to lead them into the knowledge of all useful and saving truth, do openly neglect it, not accounting it worthy their searching, study, and diligent examination. How woefully will this rise up in judgment against them at the last day is not difficult to conceive. And how much greater will be their misery who, under various pretences, for their own corrupt ends, do deter, yea, and drive others from the study of it!

II. It is the duty of all believers to rejoice in the glory, honor, and dominion of Jesus Christ.

The church in the psalm takes by faith a prospect, at a great distance, of his coming and glory, and breaks out thereon in a way of exultation and triumph into these words, “Thy throne, O God, is for ever.” And if this were a matter of such joy unto them, who had only an obscure vision and representation of the glory which many ages after was to follow, 1 Peter 1:11-12, what ought the full accomplishment and manifestation of it to be unto them that believe now in the days of the gospel! This made them of old “rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory;” even because they saw and heard the things which kings, wise men, and prophets, desired to see, and saw them not, “God having provided some better things for us, that they without us should not be made perfect,” Hebrews 11:40. For, —

1. Herein God is glorified. The kingdom of Christ is the glory of God; thereby is his name and praise exalted in the world: and therefore upon the erection and setting of it up are all his people so earnestly invited to rejoice and triumph therein, Psalms 94:1-3; Psalms 96:1-4; Psalms 97:1-2, etc. This, I say, is a cause of eternal joy unto all his saints, that God is pleased to glorify himself and all the infinite excellencies of his nature in the kingdom and rule of Jesus Christ.

2. Herein doth the honor and glory of Christ as mediator consist; which is a matter of great rejoicing unto all that love him in sincerity. He tells his disciples, John 14:28, that if they loved him, they would rejoice because he said he went unto the Father. They considered only their own present condition and distress, being filled with sorrow because he had told them of his departure from them. ‘But,’saith he,’where is your love to me? ought you not to have that in your hearts as well as care of yourselves? For your condition I shall take care, and provide for your security; and if you love me, you cannot but rejoice because I go to my Father to receive my kingdom.’That he who loved us, that gave himself for us, that underwent every thing that is reproachful or miserable for our sakes, is now exalted, glorified, enthroned in an everlasting, immovable kingdom, above all his enemies, secure from all opposition, is a matter of inexpressible joy, if we have any love unto him.

3. Our own concernment, security, safety, present and future happiness, lies herein. Our all depends upon the kingdom and throne of Christ. He is our king if we are believers; our king, to rule, govern, protect, and save us, — to uphold us against opposition, to supply us with strength, to guide us with counsel, to subdue our enemies, to give us our inheritance and reward: and therefore our principal interest lies in his throne, the glory and stability thereof. Whilst he reigneth we are safe, and in our way to glory. To see by faith this king in his beauty, upon his throne, high and lifted up, and his train filling the temple; to see all power committed unto him, all things given into his hands, and him disposing of all and ruling all things for the advantage of his church; must needs cause them to rejoice whose whole interest and concernment lies therein.

4. The whole world, all the creation of God, are concerned in this kingdom of Christ. Setting aside his cursed enemies in hell, the whole creation is benefited by his rule and dominion; for as some men are made partakers of saving grace and salvation thereby, so the residue of that race, by and with them, do receive unspeakable advantages in the patience and forbearance of God, and the very creature itself is raised as it were into a hope and expectation thereby of deliverance from that state of vanity whereunto now it is subjected, Romans 8:19-21. So that if we are moved with the glory of God, the honor of Jesus Christ, our own only and eternal interest, with the advantage of the whole creation, we have cause to rejoice in this throne and kingdom of the Son.

III. It is the divine nature of the Lord Christ that gives eternity, stability, and unchangeableness to his throne and kingdom: “Thy throne, O God, is for ever.” Concerning this, see what hath formerly been delivered about the kingdom of Christ.

IV. All the laws, and the whole administration of the kingdom of Christ by his word and Spirit, are equal, righteous, and holy. His scepter is a scepter of righteousness. The world, indeed, likes them not; all things in his rule seem unto it weak, absurd, and foolish, 1 Corinthians 1:20-21. But they are otherwise, the Holy Ghost being judge, and such they appear unto them that do believe: yea, whatever is requisite to make laws and administrations righteous, it doth all concur in those of the Lord Jesus Christ; as, —

1. Authority. A just and full authority for enacting is requisite to make laws righteous. Without this, rules and precepts may be good materially, but they cannot have the formality of law, which depends on the just authority of the legislator, without which nothing can become a righteous law. Now, the Lord Christ is vested with sufficient authority for the enacting of laws and rules of administration in his kingdom. All authority, all power in heaven and earth, is committed unto him, as we have before proved at large. And hence those that will not see the equity of his rule shall be forced at last to bow under the excellency of his authority. And it were to be wished that those who undertake to make laws and constitutions in the kingdom of Christ would look well to their warrant; for it seems that the Lord Christ, unto whom all power is committed, hath not delegated any to the sons of men, but only that whereby they may teach others to do and observe what he hath commanded, Matthew 28:20. If, moreover, they shall command or appoint aught of their own, they may do well to consider by what authority they do so, seeing that is of indispensable necessity unto the righteousness of any law whatever.

2. Wisdom is required to the making of righteous laws. This is the eye of authority, without which it can act nothing rightly or equally. Effects of power without wisdom are commonly unjust and tyrannical, always useless and burdensome. The wisdom of lawmakers is that which hath principally given them their renown. So Moses tells the Israelites that all nations would admire them, when they perceived the wisdom of their laws, Deuteronomy 4. Now, the Lord Christ is abundantly furnished with wisdom for this purpose. He is the foundation-stone of the church, that hath seven eyes upon him, Zechariah 3:9, — a perfection of wisdom and understanding in all affairs of it, — being anointed with the Spirit unto that purpose, Isaiah 11:2-5. Yea, “in him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,” Colossians 2:3; it having “pleased the Father that in him all fullness should dwell,” Colossians 1:19. So that there can be no defect in his laws and administrations on this account. He is wise of heart, and knows perfectly what rules and actings are suited to the glory of God and the condition of the subjects of his kingdom, and what tendeth to their spiritual and eternal advantage. He knows how to order all things unto the great end which in his government he aimeth at. And thence do all his laws and administrations become righteous. And this also well deserves their consideration who take upon them to appoint laws and rules within his dominion, unto his subjects, for the ends of his rule and substance of his worship. Have they wisdom sufficient to enable them so to do? doth the Spirit of the Lord Christ rest upon them, to make them of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord? are they acquainted with the state and condition, the weakness, temptations, graces, of all the people of Christ? If they are not, how know they but that they may command and appoint them things greatly to their disadvantage, when they think to profit them? It seems a great self-assuming, for men to suppose themselves wise enough to give laws to the subjects of Christ in things directly appertaining to his kingdom.

3. They are righteous, because they are easy, gentle, and not burdensome. The righteousness and uprightness here mentioned doth not denote strict, rigid, severe justice, extending itself unto the utmost of what can be required of the subjects to be ruled; but equity mixed with gentleness, tenderness, and condescension: which if it be absent from laws, and they breathe nothing but severity, rigor, and arbitrary impositions, though they may not be absolutely unjust, yet they are grievous and burdensome. Thus Peter calls the law of commandments contained in the ordinances of old, a yoke which neither their fathers nor themselves were able to bear, Acts 15:10; that is, could never obtain rest or peace in the precise, rigid observation required of them. But now for the rule of Christ, he tells us that “his yoke is easy, and his burden light,” Matthew 11:30; and that “his commandments are not grievous,” 1 John 5:3. And this gentleness and easiness of the rule of Christ consisteth in these three things: —

(1.) That his commands are all of them reasonable, and suited unto the principles of that natural obedience we owe to God; and so not grievous unto any thing in us but that principle of sin and darkness which is to be destroyed. He hath not multiplied precepts merely arbitrary, and to express his authority, but given us only such as are in themselves good, and suitable unto the principles of reason; as might be evinced by the particular consideration of his institutions. Hence our obedience unto them is called “our reasonable service,” Romans 12:1.

(2.) His commands are easy, because all of them are suited to that principle of the new nature or new creature which he worketh in the hearts of all his disciples. It likes them, loves them, delights in them; which makes them easy unto it. The Lord Christ rules, as we said, by his word and Spirit; these go together in the covenant of the Redeemer, Isaiah 59:20-21. And their work is suited and commensurate one to the other. The Spirit creates a new nature fitted for obedience according to the word, and the word gives out laws and precepts suited unto the inclination and disposition of that nature; and in these two consist the scepter and rule of Christ. This suitableness of principle and rule one to the other makes his government easy, upright, and righteous.

(3.) His commands are easy, because he continually gives out supplies of his Spirit to make his subjects to yield obedience unto them. This is that which, above all other things, sets a lustre upon his rule. The law was holy, just, and good of old; but whereas it extended not strength unto men to enable them unto obedience, it became unto them altogether useless and unprofitable, as to the end they aimed at in its observation. It is otherwise in the kingdom of Christ. Whatever he requires to have done by his subjects, he gives them strength by his Spirit and grace to perform it; which makes his rule easy, righteous, equal, and altogether lovely. Neither can any of the sons of men pretend to the least share or interest in this privilege.

(4.) This rule and administration of Christ’s kingdom is righteous, because useful and profitable. Then are laws good, wholesome, and equal, when they lead unto the benefit and advantage of them that do observe them. Laws about slight and trivial things, or such as men have no benefit or advantage by their observation, are justly esteemed grievous and burdensome. But now, all the laws and whole rule of the Lord Christ are every way useful and advantageous to his subjects. They make them holy, righteous, — such as please God and are useful to mankind. This is their nature, this their tendency. “Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report,” they are all ingenerated in the soul by and in the observance of these laws of Christ’s rule. They free the soul from the power of lust, the service of sin, fear of death, hell, and the world, guide it in the truth, make it fruitful amongst mankind, and amiable unto God himself.

(5.) Their end manifests them to be righteous. The worth and equity of laws are taken off when low and unworthy ends are proposed unto their observation. But those of the Lord Christ direct unto the highest end, propose and promise the most glorious rewards; so that whatsoever may be done or suffered in an adherence unto them bears no proportion to that exceeding rich and eternal reward which they are attended withal; which renders them highly righteous and glorious. And many other considerations of the like nature may be added. And hence a threefold corollary may be taken: —

[1.] That our submission to this scepter of the Lord Christ, our obedience to the laws of his kingdom, and the administration thereof, is very righteous, equal, and reasonable. What can be further desired to render it so, or to provoke us unto it?

[2.] That the condemnation of those that refuse the reign of Christ over them, that will not yield obedience unto his laws, is most just and righteous. On these accounts will their mouths be stopped for ever, when he comes to deal with them who know not God and obey not the gospel.

[3.] It is our wisdom to content ourselves with the laws of Christ in things that belong unto his kingdom. They alone, as we have seen, have those properties which make our obedience useful or profitable; whatever we do else, in reference unto the same end with them, is needless and fruitless drudging.

V. The righteous administrations of the Lord Christ in his government proceed all from his own habitual righteousness and love thereunto. See this declared by the prophet, Isaiah 11:1-9.

VI. God is a God in especial covenant with the Lord Christ, as he is the mediator: “God, thy God.” Of this covenant I have treated largely elsewhere, and therefore shall not here insist upon it.

VII. The collation of the Spirit on the Lord Christ, and his glorious exaltation, are the peculiar works of God the Father: “God, thy God, hath anointed thee.”

It was God the Father who designed and appointed him unto his work, who actually sent him, and set him forth in the fullness of time; and therefore on him was it incumbent both to furnish him unto his work, and to crown him upon its Performance. And herein these several acts, partly eternal, partly temporal, are considerable: —

1. The engagement of the eternal will, wisdom, and counsel of the Father with the Son about his work, Proverbs 8:22-23; Proverbs 8:30-31; Isaiah 53:10-12.

2. His fore-ordination of his coming, by an eternal free act of his will, 1 Peter 1:20; Acts 2:23.

3. His covenant with him to abide by him in the whole course of his work, Isaiah 49:6-9; Isaiah 50:7-9.

4. His promise of him from the foundation of the world, often reiterated and repeated, Genesis 3:15.

5. His actual mission and sending of him in his incarnation, Zechariah 2:8-10.

6. The exerting of his almighty power unto that purpose and effect, Luke 1:35.

7. His giving of him command and commission for his work, John 10:18; John 20:21.

8. Furnishing him with all the gifts and graces of his Spirit, to fit him and enable him unto his work, Isaiah 11:2-3; Isaiah 61:1-3; Matthew 3:16-17; John 1:32-33; Colossians 1:19.

9. Abiding by him in care, love, power, and providence, during the whole course of his obedience and ministry, Isaiah 49:2; Isaiah 49:8.

10. Speaking in him, working by him, and in both bearing witness unto Hebrews 1:1-2; John 5:36.

11. Giving him up unto death, Romans 8:32; Acts 2:23.

12. Raising him from the dead, 1 Peter 1:21; Acts 2:24.

13. Giving all power, authority, and judgment unto him, John 5:22; Matthew 28:18.

14. Exalting of him by his assumption into heaven and glorious session at his right hand, Acts 2:32-33; Philippians 2:9-10.

15. Giving him to be the head over all unto the church, and subjecting all things under his feet, Ephesians 1:20-22.

16. In all things crowning him with eternal glory and honor, John 17:5; Hebrews 2:9.

All these, and sundry other particulars of the like nature, are assigned unto the Father as part of his work in reference unto the mediation of the Son; and amongst them his exaltation and unction with the oil of gladness hath an eminent place. And this are we taught, that in this whole work we might see the authority, counsel, and love of the Father, that so our faith and hope through Jesus Christ might be in God, who raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory, 1 Peter 1:21.

VIII. The Lord Jesus Christ is singular in this unction. This is that which the apostle proves in several instances, and by comparing him with others, who in the most eminent manner were partakers of it. And this we are in the consideration of, as the particulars of it do occur. Neither shall I at present further insist on the ensuing observations, because I will not longer detain the reader from the context, namely, that, —

IX. All that serve God in the work of building the church, according to his appointment, are anointed by his Spirit, and shall be rewarded by his power, Daniel 12:3.

X. The disciples of Christ, especially those who serve him in his church faithfully, are his companions in all his grace and glory.


Verses 10-12

In the following verses the apostle, by another illustrious testimony, taken out of Psalms 102, confirms his principal assertion, in the words ensuing.

Hebrews 1:10-12. καί· σὺ κατ᾿ ἀρχὰς, κύριε, τὴν γῆν ἐθεμελίωσας, καὶ ἔργα τῶν χειρῶν σου εἰσὶν οἱ οὐραςοί. αὐτοὶ ἀπολοῦνται, σὺ δὲ διαμένεις· καὶ πάντες ὡς ἱμάτιον παλαιωθήσονται, καὶ ὡσεὶ περιβύλαιον ἐλίξεις αὐτοὺς, καὶ ἀλλαγήσονται· σὺ δὲ ὁ αὐτὸς ει῏, καὶ τὰ ἕτη σου σὐκ ἐκλείψουσι.

In the last verse, for ἐλίξεις one copy hath ἀλλάξεις, to answer unto ἀλλαγήσονται· and MS. T., ἐλίξεις αὐτοὺς ὡς ἱμάτιον.

The words are the same in the Greek Bibles as in this place of the apostle, nor is there any footstep of any other old translation of them in the psalm. The Syriac differs little. καί it renders וְתוּב, “and again,” to show that καί is no part of the testimony cited, but serves only to the introduction of another. Hebrews 1:11, for αὐτοὶ ἀπολοῦνται, “they shall perish,” עָבְרִין הָנוּן, “they shall pass away;” alluding to that of 2 Peter 3:10, οἱ οὐρανοὶ ῥοιζηδὸν παρελεύσονται, — “The heavens shall pass away with a noise.” σὺ δὲ διαμένεις, “but thou abidest,” “thou continuest;” וָאַנְתְּ קִיָם אַגְתְּ“et tu stans es,” “et tu stas,” “et tu stabilis es,” — “and thou standest,” “thou art standing,” answering the Hebrew תעֲמֹד, in the psalm. ῾ελίξεις αὐτούς, “thou shalt roll them up,” תְּעוּŠ אִנוּן; which words interpreters render variously, though to the same purpose. “Involves,” Boderianus, — “roll them;” “complicabis,” Tremellius, — “fold them;” “duplicabis,” De Dieu, — “double them up.” And it is manifest that the translator reads ἑλίξεις, and not ἀλλάξεις. And I doubt not but the same word was inserted into the translation of the psalm from this place of the apostle. σὺ δὲ ὁ αὐτὸς ει῏, — “Thou art the same,” or, “Thou art, I am;” דִּאיתַיְךָ אַנְתְּ וַאנְתְּ אֵאךְ. Boderianus,” Et tu sicut existens es;” — “And thou art as thou existest.” Tremellius,” Tu autem sicut es, eris;” — “But thou shalt be as thou art.” Properly, “And thou, as thou art, art;” that is, “art the same.” The translation of the apostle in all things material answereth the original in the psalm. Psalm (LXX) 101:25-28, σὺ κύριε, “Thou, Lord,” is supplied out of the verse foregoing, “I said, O my God.” לְפָנִים הָאָאיֶ׃ יָסַדְתָּ, “of old,” “before it was;” that is, κατ᾿ ἀρχάς, or בְּיֵשִׁית, “in the beginning.” And our translators needed not to have used any difference of expression in the psalm and this place of the apostle, as they do; — there, “of old ;” here, “in the beginning.” “Thou hast founded” (not “laid the foundation of”) “the earth; and the heavens are the works;” — מעֲשֵׂה, “the work,” which the Greek renders “works,” because of their variety, — “of thy hands.”

“They shall perish, וְאַתָּה תַעֲמֹד,” “but thou shalt stand,” or “dost abide.” The word used in our translation of the psalm (“endure”) doth ill answer the original, but the margin gives relief. Psalm, “Yea all of them shall wax old like a garment;” here, “And they all shall wax old as doth a garment:” a little variety without difference, and that needless, the Greek text exactly expressing the Hebrew. “And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up;” תּחֲלִיפֵם; — “shalt thou change them.” The change of a vesture, whereunto the change of the heavens is compared, being by folding up and laying aside, at least from former use, the apostle instead of ἀλλάξεις, “thou shalt change,” renders the word by ἑλίξεις, “thou shalt fold” (or “roll”) “them up.” וְאַתָּה הוּא, “et tu ipse,” καὶ σὺ ὁ αὐτός, — “and thou art he.” “And thy years shall have no end,” — “shall not fail;” לֹא יִתָּמּוּ, “shall not consume.” (10)

There is no question but that these words do sufficiently prove the pre- eminence of him of whom they are spoken, incomparably above all creatures whatever. Two things, therefore, are questioned by the enemies of the truth contained in them: —

1. Whether they were originally spoken at all of Christ, which the present Jews deny.

2. Whether they were spoken all of Christ, which is questioned by the Socinians. These inquiries being first satisfied, the words shall be opened, and the force of the apostle’s argument from thence declared.

1. That what is spoken in this psalm doth properly respect the Messiah is denied by the present Jews. That it was owned by the ancient Hebrews is sufficiently evident from hence, that the apostle, dealing with them on their own principles, urgeth them with the testimony of it. The psalm also itself gives us light enough into the same instruction. It is partly euctical, partly prophetical; both parts suited unto the condition of the church when the temple was wasted, and Zion lay in the dust during the Babylonish captivity. In the prophetical part there are three things signal: —

(1.) The redemption of the people, with the re-edification of the temple, as a type of that spiritual temple and worship which were afterwards to be erected: as Psalms 102:13, “Thou shalt arise, and have mercy upon Zion; for the time to favor her, yea, the set time, is come:” and Psalms 102:16, “When the Lord shall build up Zion, he shall appear in his glory.”

(2.) The calling of the Gentiles to the church and worship of God: Psalms 102:15, “The heathen shall fear the name of the LORD, and all the kings of the earth thy glory.” Psalms 102:21-22, “To declare the name of the LORD in Zion, and his praise in Jerusalem; when the people are gathered together, and the kingdoms, to serve the LORD.”

(3.) Hereby the creation of a new people, a new world, is brought in: 2 Peter 3:18, “This shall be written for the generation to come” (the world to come): “and the people that shall be created” (the new creation of Jews and Gentiles) “shall praise the LORD.” These are the heads of the prophetical part of the psalm, and they all respect things everywhere peculiarly assigned unto the Son, who was to be incarnate, or the days of the Messiah, which is all one; for, —

[1.] The redemption and deliverance of the church out of trouble is his proper work. Wherever it is mentioned, it is he who is intended, Psalms 98. So signally, Zechariah 2:8-13, and other places innumerable.

[2.] The bringing in of the Gentiles is acknowledged by all the Jews to respect the time of the Messiah; it being he who was to be a light unto the Gentiles, and the salvation of God unto the ends of the earth.

[3.] Also, “the generation to come,” and “people to be created,” the Jews themselves interpret of the עולם הבא, “world to come,” or the new state of the church under the Messiah. These two last put together, the gathering of the people, and the world to come, created for the praise of God, make it evident that it is the Son whom the psalmist hath respect unto.

Grotius in this place affirms that the apostle accommodates unto the Messiah what was spoken of God. And he thinks it a sufficient argument to prove the words were not spoken of the Messiah, because they were spoken of God; whereas they are produced by the apostle to prove his excellency from the properties and works of his divine nature. And he adds, as the sense of the words, as accommodated unto Christ, “‘Thou hast laid the foundation of the earth;’that is, ‘the world was made for thy sake.’” But this interpretation or violent detortion of the words destroys itself; for if they were spoken of God absolutely, and not of the Messiah, to whom they are accommodated, how can it be said that the world was made for his sake, and not by him? Both senses of the words cannot be true. But this is indeed plainly to deny the authority of the apostle.

It appeareth, then, that many things in this psalm are spoken directly and immediately of the Son; though it be probable, also, that sundry things in it are affirmed distinctly of the person of the Father. And hence, it may be, are those frequent variations of speech from the second to the third person that occur in this psalm.

2. As to the second inquiry, the Socinians, who grant the divine authority of this epistle, and therefore cannot deny but that these words some way or other belong unto the Lord Christ, yet plainly perceiving that if they are wholly understood of him, there is an end of all their religion (the creation, not of a new world, but of that which was made of old, and which shall perish at the last day, being here ascribed unto him), fix here upon a new and peculiar evasion. “Some words,” they say, “of this testimony belong unto Christ” (so much they will yield to the authority of the apostle), “but not all of them;” whereby they hope to secure their own error. Now, because if this pretense hold not, this testimony is fatal to their persuasion, I hope it will not be unacceptable if in our passage we do consider the distribution they make of the words according to their supposition, and the arguments they produce for the confirmation of their exposition, as they are managed by Crellius and Schlichtingius in their comment on this place.

(1.) He says that “this testimony doth so far belong unto Christ, as it pertaineth unto the scope of the writer of the epistle. This scripture,” saith he, “as appears from Zechariah 2:4, is to prove that after Christ sat down at the right hand of God, he was made more excellent than the angels; whereto the affirming that he made heaven and earth doth no way conduce.”

Ans. (1.) Suppose that to be the scope of the apostle which is intimated, how doth this author know that it suits not his purpose to show that the Lord Christ is God, by whom heaven and earth were made, seeing it is manifest that himself thought otherwise, or he had not produced this testimony thereof?

(2.) The testimony is not unsuited unto the scope pretended; for whereas, in the administration of his office, the Son was apparently for a while made lower than the angels, he may in these words discover the equity of his after exaltation above them, in that in his divine nature and works he was so much more excellent than they.

(3.) The true and proper design of the apostle we have before evinced; which is to prove the excellency of the person by whom the gospel was revealed, and his pre-eminence above men and angels; which nothing doth more unquestionably demonstrate than this, that by him the world was created, whence the assignation of a divine nature unto him doth undeniably ensue.

(2.) To promote this observation, he adds a large discourse about the use and application of testimonies out of the Old Testament in the New; and says that “they are made use of by the writers of it, either because of some agreement and likeness between the things intended in the one and the other, or because of some subordination. In the former way, that which is spoken of the type is applied unto the antitype: and sometimes, for likeness’sake, that which was spoken of one thing is applied unto another; as, Matthew 15:7-8, our Savior applies those words of Isaiah to the present Jews which were spoken of their forefathers.”

Ans. (1.) That which is spoken in the first place of an instituted type is also spoken of the antitype, or thing prefigured by it, so far as it is represented by the type, so that one thing teaches another; and thereon the words have a double application, first to the type, ultimately to the antitype. But herein such testimonies as this have no concernment.

(2.) The Scripture sometimes makes use of allegories, illustrating one thing by another, as Galatians 4:21-25. Neither hath this any place here.

(3.) That what is spoken of one person should, because of some similitude, be affirmed to be spoken of another, and in nothing agree 244 properly unto him, is untrue, and not to be exemplified with any seeming instance.

(4.) The words of Isaiah, Isaiah 29:13, which our Savior makes use of, Matthew 15:7-9, were a prophecy of the Jews who then lived, as both our Savior expressly affirms and the context in the prophet doth plainly declare.

“Some things,” he adds, “are applied unto others than they are spoken of, because of their subordination to him or them of whom they are spoken. Thus things that are spoken of God are applied unto Christ, because of his subordination to him; and of this,” saith he, “we have an instance in Acts 13:47, where the words spoken of the Lord Christ, Isaiah 49:6, ‘I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth,’are applied unto the apostles because of their subordination unto Christ. And in this case the words have but one sense, and belong primarily unto him of whom they are first spoken, and are secondarily applied unto the other.”

Ans. According to this rule there is nothing that ever was spoken of God but it may be spoken of and applied unto any of his creatures, all things being in subordination unto him; at least, it may be so in that wherein they act under him and are in a peculiar subordination to him. And yet neither can such a subordination, according to this man’s opinion, be applied unto Christ, who in the creation of heaven and earth was in no other subordination to God than any other things not yet made or existing. So that this rule, that what is spoken of God is applied unto them who are in subordination unto him, as it is false in itself, so it is no way suited to the present business, Christ being, in this man’s judgment, in no subordination to God when the world was made, being absolutely in all respects in the condition of things that were not. Nor doth the instance given at all prove or illustrate what is pretended. The apostle, in the citing of those words to the Jews, doth not in the least apply them to himself, but only declares the ground of his going to preach the gospel unto the Gentiles; which was, that God had promised to make Him whom he preached to be a light, and to bring salvation unto them also.

Wherefore he adds,

(3.) what is direct to his pretension, “That all the words, or things signified by them, in any testimony, which are firstly spoken of one, and then are, for some of the causes mentioned” (that is, conveniency, similitude, or subordination), “applied unto another, are not to be looked on as proper to him to whom they are so applied; but so much of them is to be admitted as agrees to the scope of him by whom the testimony is used: as in the testimony produced, Isaiah 49:5, ‘I will be unto him a father, and he shall be to me a son,’the words immediately following are, ‘If he shall offend against me, I will chastise him with the rod of men;’ which words, being spoken of Solomon, can no way be applied unto Christ.”

Ans. What is spoken of any type and of Christ jointly is not so spoken for any natural conveniency, similitude, or subordination, but because of God’s institution, appointing the type so to represent and shadow out the Lord Christ, that what he would teach concerning him should be spoken of the type whereby he was represented. Now, no person that was appointed to be a type of him being in all things a type, it is not necessary that whatever was spoken of him was also spoken of Christ, but only what was spoken of him under that formal consideration of an instituted type. This we showed the case to have been with Solomon, of whom the words mentioned were spoken as he bare the person of Christ. Other things are added in the same place, that belonged unto him in his own personally moral capacity; and therefore those things (as that, “If he offend against me”) are not at all mentioned by the apostle, as not being spoken of him as a type. And this plainly overthrows the pretension of our commentator; for if the apostle would not produce the very next words to the testimony by him brought, because they did not belong unto him of whom he spake, it proves undeniably that all those which he doth so urge and produce were properly spoken of him. And I cannot reach the strength of this inference, ‘Because in a place where all that was spoken was not spoken of Christ, the apostle makes use of what was so spoken of him, and omits that which was not; therefore of that which he doth produce in the next place, somewhat does belong to him, and somewhat does not.’If any thing be offered to this purpose, it must be in an instance of a testimony produced, in the words whereof — which are produced, and not in what may follow in the same chapter and psalm — there is that affirmed which doth now no more belong unto Christ than the making of heaven or earth belongeth to this writer; which is the case in hand.

Having premised these general considerations, he makes application of them in particular to his interpretation of this testimony used by the apostle.

“These words,” saith he, “being first expressly spoken of God, and here by this writer referred unto Christ, we must consider what in them makes to his scope and purpose, what is agreeable to the nature and condition of Christ, who certainly was a man; and such, certainly, is not he which the psalm speaks of about the creation of heaven and earth. And this was well known to them with whom the apostle had to do.”

But any one may perceive that these things are spoken gratis, and upon the supposition that Christ was a mere man, and not God by nature, when the words themselves, ascribing a pre-existence to the world and omnipotency unto him, do prove the contrary. What is the scope of the apostle in the whole discourse under consideration hath been showed, as also how directly this whole testimony tends to the proof of what he had proposed. It is true that the words are spoken of him who is God; but no less true, the apostle being judge, that it is the Son of God who is that God. It, is true that he also was man, and nothing is ascribed unto him but what belongs unto him who was man, but not as he was man; and such was the creation of heaven and earth.

The opinion of these men is, that whereas two things are mentioned in the words, the creation of the world, which was past, and the dissolution or destruction of it, which was to come, that the latter is assigned unto Christ, but not the former; and for this division of the words, which confessedly is not in the least intimated by the apostle, he gives these reasons: —

1. “All the words of the psalm being manifestly spoken of the high God, and no word in the psalm declaring Christ to be that God, yet of necessity, if these words be applied unto Christ, he must be supposed to be the high God there spoken of. But if this divine writer had taken this for granted, he had been eminently foolish to go about to prove by arguments and testimonies that the Creator does excel all creatures. He should use, in a matter no way doubtful, witnesses no way necessary.”

This is the first reason whereby he would prove that the apostle did not apply the words to Christ, though himself says plainly that he does; for his preface to them is, “But to the Son he saith:” or, that if he doth so, he doth it wondrous foolishly; — for such liberty do poor worms take to themselves. That the psalm so speaketh of the high God, that it directly and peculiarly intends Christ the Son of God, hath been in part declared, and shall further afterwards be evinced. And the eulogium in these words given unto him proves him to be so. And though he affirms that it was a foolish thing in the apostle to prove from the works of him that is God that he is above the angels, the most glorious of made creatures, yet God himself most frequently from these his works, his omniscience, omnipresence, and other attributes declared in them, proves his excellency in comparison of idols, which have no existence but in the imagination of men. See Isaiah 41:21, etc.

By this testimony, then, the Holy Ghost with infinite wisdom proves that he who was made less for a little while than the angels, in one respect, was absolutely and in his own person infinitely above them, as being the creator of heaven and earth.

2. He adds, “Those Hebrews to whom he wrote were either persuaded that Christ was God, the creator of heaven and earth, or they were not. If they were, what need of all these arguments and testimonies? One word might have despatched this whole controversy, by affirming that Christ was the creator, angels creatures, between whom there could be no comparison, nor any reason to fear that the law given by the administration of angels should be preferred to the gospel, whereof he was the author. If we shall say the latter, that they did not yet believe it, now do we suppose that he takes a great deal of pains to little purpose; for he assumes and takes for granted that that was true which was alone in question. What need he, then, to prove by so many arguments that Christ was more excellent than the angels, and to take that for granted which would have put it out of question, namely, that he was God, who made heaven and earth?”

Ans. This dilemma hath as much force against the other testimonies produced in this chapter or elsewhere by the apostle as it hath against this; so that the using of it doth scarce argue that reverence to the holy word of God which is required of us. But the truth is, grant whether of the suppositions you please, nothing of inconveniency as unto the apostle’s argumentation will ensue. Let it be granted that they did believe, and that expressly, Christ to be God, have believers no need to have their faith confirmed by testimonies out of the word that may not so readily occur to themselves? Have they no need to be strengthened in the faith, especially in such points as were in those days greatly opposed, as was this of the eternal glory of the Messiah, concerning which the believing Hebrews had to do with learned and stubborn adversaries continually? And if the apostle might have ended the whole controversy by plainly affirming that he was the creator of all things and the angels creatures, might he not as well have ended the dispute about his pre-eminence above angels with one word, without citing so many testimonies to prove it? But had he then unfolded the mysteries of the Old Testament to the Hebrews, which was his design? Had he manifested that he taught nothing but what was before revealed (though obscurely) to Moses and the prophets; which he aimed to do, thereby to strengthen and confirm in the faith those that did believe, and convince gainsayers? Again, suppose some of them to whom he wrote did not yet expressly believe the deity of Christ, — as the apostles themselves did not for a while believe his resurrection, — could any more convincing way be fixed on to persuade them thereunto, than by minding them of those testimonies of the Old Testament wherein the attributes and works of God are ascribed unto him? Nor was it now in question whether Christ were God or no, but whether he were more excellent than the angels that gave the law; and what more effectual course could be taken to put an end to that inquiry than by proving that he made the heaven and earth, — that is, producing a testimony wherein the creation of all things is assigned unto him, — is beyond the wisdom of man to invent.

3. He adds, “That Christ might be spoken of in this place either in respect of his human nature or of his divine. If of the former, to what end should he make mention of the creation of heaven and earth? Christ as man, and as made above the angels, made not heaven and earth. If as God, how could he be said to be made above the angels ?”

But the answer is easy. Christ is said to be made above and more excellent than the angels, neither absolutely as God, nor absolutely as man, but as he was God-man, the mediator between God and man; in which respect, as mediator, for the discharge of one part of his office, he was a little while made lower than they; and so the creation of heaven and earth does demonstrate the dignity of his person, and the equity of his being made more excellent than the angels in his office. And this fully removes his following exception, that the remembering of his deity could be no argument to prove that the humanity was exalted above the angels; for it is not an argument of the exaltation of his humanity, but the demonstration of the excellency of his person, that the apostle hath in hand.

4. He allegeth, “That it is contrary to the perpetual use of the Scripture, to affirm absolutely of Christ that he created any thing. When any creation is ascribed unto him, it is still applied to him as the immediate cause, and is said to be made by him or in him; he is nowhere said absolutely to create. And if he created the world, why did not Moses as plainly attribute that unto him as the writers of the New Testament do the new creation ?” Ans. Were it affirmed in this place only that Christ made all things, yet the words being plain and evident, and the thing itself agreeable to the Scripture in other places, and not repugnant to any testimony therein contained, there is no pretense, for them who truly reverence the wisdom and authority of the Holy Ghost in the word, to deny the words to be spoken properly and directly; nor, if we may take that course, will there be any thing left sacred and ὐκίνητον in the Scripture. Besides, we have showed already the vanity of that distinction, of God’s making things by Christ, as though it denoted any subordination in causality; nor will the Socinians themselves admit of any such thing, but confute that notion in the Arians. But this is not the only place wherein it is affirmed that Christ made all things that are in the heaven and the earth. John 1:1-3, Colossians 1:16, Colossians 1:3 of this chapter, with sundry other places, affirm the same. For what they exact of Moses, did we not believe that God knew what revelation of himself became that dark dispensation better than they, we might consider it. But yet there are even in Moses himself, and his expositors the prophets, many more testimonies of the creation of the world by the Word, that is the Son of God; which have elsewhere been opened and vindicated.

5. He concludes, “That the order and method of the apostle’s procedure doth evince that this creation of heaven and earth is not attributed unto him. For we see that he proves the excellency of Christ above angels from his name, — that he is by the way of eminency called the Son of God; and then he proceeds to his adoration by angels; and in the third place he goes on to the kingly honor and throne of Christ; after which he produceth the testimony we insist upon; and then adds the end of that kingdom which Christ now administereth in the earth. To what end in this discourse should he mention the creation of heaven and earth, when, if that be omitted, all the series of the discourse agrees and hangs well together? For having declared the kingdom of Christ, with the continuance of his throne for ever, he asserts an eminent effect of the kingdom in the abolition of heaven and earth, and then the end of that kingdom itself.”

But this analysis of the apostle’s discourse agreeth not to the mind of the apostle or his design in the place, nor to the principles of the men that formed it, nor is indeed any thing but vain words, to persuade us that the apostle did not say that which he did say, and which is written for our instruction. It is not, first, agreeable to their own principles; for it placeth the naming of Christ the Son of God, and his adoration by the angels, as antecedent to his being raised to his kingly throne; both which, especially the latter, they constantly make consequent unto it and effects of it. Nor is it at all agreeable to the apostle’s design, which is not to prove by these testimonies directly that Christ was exalted above angels, but to show the dignity and excellency of his person who was so exalted, and how reasonable it is that it should be so; which is eminently proved by the testimony under consideration. For the proof of this excellency, the apostle produceth those testimonies that are given unto him in the Old Testament, and that as to his name, his honor and glory, and his works in this place. Neither is there any reason of ascribing the destruction of heaven and earth unto the kingly power of Christ, excluding his divine power in their creation: for the abolition of the world (if such it is to be), or the change of it, is no less an effect of infinite power than the creation of it; nor doth it directly appertain to the kingdom of Christ, but by accident, as do other works of the providence of God.

These exceptions, then, being removed, before we proceed to the interpretation of the words, we shall see what evidence may be added unto what we have already offered, from the psalm, to evince and prove that this whole testimony doth belong unto him; which, were there no other (as there are very many) testimonies to this purpose, were abundantly sufficient to determine this controversy.

1. We have the authority of the apostle for it, ascribing it unto him. The word “and,” in the beginning of Colossians 1:10, relates confessedly unto, “But unto the Son he saith,” Colossians 1:8 : as if he had said, “But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever; and to the Son he said, Thou, O God, in the beginning hast founded the earth.”

2. Again, the whole testimony speaks of the same person, there being no color of thrusting another person into the text not intended in the beginning; so that if any part of what is spoken do belong to Christ, the whole of necessity must do so. To suppose that in this sentence, “Thou hast laid the foundation of the earth,..... and as a vesture shalt thou fold them up,” one person is understood in the former place, another in the latter, no such thing being intimated by the psalmist or the apostle, is to suppose what we please, that we may attain what we have a mind unto. One person is here certainly and only spoken unto. If this be the Father, the words concern not Christ at all, and the apostle was deceived in his allegation of them; if the Son, the whole is spoken of him, as the apostle affirms.

3. Nor can any reason be assigned why the latter words should be attributed to Christ, and not the former. They say it is because God by him shall destroy the world, which is the thing in the last words spoken of. But where is it written that God shall destroy the world by Christ? If they say in this place, I say then Christ is spoken to and of in this place; and if so, he is spoken of in the first words, “And thou, Lord,” or not at all. Besides, to whom do these closing words belong, “But thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail?” If these words are spoken of Christ, it is evident that all the foregoing must be so also; for his enduring the same, and the not failing of his years, — that is, his eternity, — is opposed to the creation and temporary duration of the world. If they say that they belong unto the Father primarily, but are attributed unto Christ, as that of changing or abolishing the world, because the Father doth it by him, I desire to know what is the meaning of these words, ‘Thou art the same by Christ, and thy years fail not by Christ ?’Is not the Father eternal but in the man Christ Jesus? If they say that they belong not at all to Christ, then this is the sum of what they say: ‘The beginning of the words, and the close of them, if spoken of Christ, would prove his infinite power, eternity, and divine nature. One passage there is in the words which we suppose will not do so, therefore we will grant that that passage concerneth him, but not the beginning nor end of the testimony, though spoken undeniably of the same person;’— which whether it becomes men professing a reverence for the word of God is left to themselves to judge. Besides, should we grant all these suggestions to be true, the apostle by his citing of this testimony would prove nothing at all to his purpose, no, not any thing toward that which they affirm him to aim at, namely, that he was made more excellent than the angels; for how out of these words shall any such matter be made to appear? They say, in that by him God will fold up the heavens as a vesture. But, first, no such thing is mentioned or intimated. He who made them is said to fold them. And if they say that from other places it may be made to appear that it shall be done by Christ, then as this place must be laid aside as of no use to the apostle, so indeed there is nothing ascribed to Christ but what the angels shall have a share in, and that probably the most principal, namely, in folding up the creation as a garment; which is a work that servants are employed in, and not the King or Lord himself. Indeed, he that shall without prejudice consider the apostle’s discourse will find little need of arguments to manifest whom he applies this testimony unto. He calls him κύριος in the beginning, using that word which perpetually in the New Testament denotes the Lord Christ, as plainly expounding the text so far as to declare of whom it speaks. Nor doth this testimony ascribe any thing to him but what in general he had before affirmed of him, namely, that by him the worlds were made. Nor was it ever heard of, that any man in his right wits should cite a testimony to confirm his purpose, containing words that were never spoken of him to whom he applies them; nor is there scarce any thing in them that can tolerably be applied unto him, and the most of it would declare him to be that which he is not at all: so that the words as used to his purpose must needs be both false and ambiguous. Who, then, can but believe, on this testimony of the apostle, that Christ the Lord made heaven and earth? And if the apostle intended not to assert it, what is there in the text or near it as a buoy to warn men from running on a shelf, there where so fair a harbor appears unto them? From all that hath been said, it is evident that this whole testimony belongs to Christ, and is by the apostle asserted so to do.

Proceed we now to the interpretation of the words. The person spoken of and spoken unto in them is the Lord: σὺ κύριε, “Thou, Lord.” The words are not in the psalm in this verse, but what is spoken is referred unto אֵלִי, “my God:” “I said, O my God, take me not away in the midst of my days;” comforting himself, under the consideration of the frailty and misery of his life, with the thought and faith of the eternity and power of Christ. For be our lives never so frail, yet as to life eternal, because he liveth we shall live also, and he is of power to raise us up at the last day, John 14:19; 1 Corinthians 15:20; and that is the ground of all our consolation against the brevity and misery of our lives, Whereby it also further appears that it is the Lord Christ whom the psalmist addresses himself unto; for from the absolute consideration of the omnipotency and eternity of God no consolation can be drawn. And, indeed, the people of the Jews having openly affirmed that they could not deal immediately with God but by a mediator, — which God eminently approved in them, wishing that such an heart would always abide in them, Deuteronomy 5:25-29, — so as he suffered them not to approach his typical presence between the cherubim but by a typical mediator, their high priest, so also were they instructed in their real approach unto God, that it was not to be made immediately to the Father but by the Son, whom in particular the apostle declares the psalmist in this place to intend. Concerning this person, or the “Lord,” he affirms two things, or attributes two things unto him.

1. The creation of heaven and earth;

2. The abolition or change of them.

From that attribution he proceeds to a comparison between him and the most glorious of his creatures, and that as to duration or eternity; frailty and change in and of himself, one of the creatures, being that which in particular he addresseth himself to the Lord about.

The time or season of the creation is first intimated: κατ᾿ ἀρχάς, for ἐν ἀρχῇ, — that is, בְּרֵשִׁית, “in the beginning,” or as the word is here, לְפָנִים, “of old,” before they were or existed: ‘They had their being and beginning from thee: of old they were not; but in thy season thou gavest existence or being unto them. “Thou hast laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works of thy hands,”’ Hebrews 1:10.

Two things are observable in this expression of the creation of all things: —

1. The distribution made of them into heaven and earth being distinctly mentioned. In the consideration of the works of God, to admire his greatness, power, and wisdom in them, or to set forth his praise for them, it is usual in the Scripture to distribute them into parts, the more to fix the contemplation of the mind upon them, and to excite it unto faith, admiration, and praise. So dealeth the psalmist with the works of God’s providence in bringing the children of Israel out of Egypt, Psalms 136. He takes, as it were, that whole curious work into its several pieces, and subjoins that inference of praise to every one of them, “For his mercy endureth for ever.” And so he dealeth with the works of creation, Psalms 19, and in sundry other places.

2. What is peculiar in the expressions with respect unto each of them.

(1.) Of the earth it is said he founded it, because of its stability and unmovableness; which is the language of the Scripture, — he set it fast, he established it, that it should not be moved for ever. It may be, also, the whole fabric of heaven and earth is compared to an edifice or building, whereof the earth, as the lowest and most depressed part, is looked on as the foundation of the whole; but the stability, unmovableness, and firmness of it, is that which the word expresseth, and which is most properly intended.

(2.) Of the heavens, that they are the works of his hands; alluding to the curious frame and garnishing of them with all their host of glorious lights wherewith they are adorned. The שִׁפְרָה, Job 26:13, the beautifulness, adorning, or garnishing of the heavens, in the curious, glorious forming and fashioning of them, is that which, in a way of distinction, the psalmist aims to express in these words, “The heavens are the work of thy hands,” —

that which thy hands, thy power, with infinite wisdom, hath framed, so as to set off and give lustre and beauty to the whole fabric, as a master workman doth the upper and more noble parts of his building. This is the first thing assigned to the Lord in this testimony of his glory.

The second is in the change or abolition of them. Most suppose that the heavens and the earth at the last day shall only be changed, altered, or renewed, as to their quality and beauty; some, that they shall be utterly destroyed, consumed, and abolished. The discussing of that doubt belongs not directly to the interpretation or exposition of this place, neither sense of the words conducing particularly to the apostle’s purpose and design in reciting this testimony. It is enough to his argument that the work which was of old in the creation of the world, and that which shall be in the mutation or abolition of it, — which is no less an effect of infinite power than the former, — are ascribed unto the Lord Christ. Whatever the work be, he compares it to a garment no more to be used, or at least not to be used in the same kind wherein it was before; and the work itself to the folding up or rolling up of such a garment, — intimating the greatness of him by whom this work shall be performed, and the facility of the work unto him. The whole creation is as a garment, wherein he shows his power clothed unto men; whence in particular he is said to clothe himself with light as with a garment. And in it is the hiding of his power. Hid it is, as a man is hid with a garment; not that he should not be seen at all, but that he should not be seen perfectly and as he is. It shows the man, and he is known by it; but also it hides him, that he is not perfectly or fully seen. So are the works of creation unto God. He so far makes them his garment or clothing as in them to give out some instances of his power and wisdom; but he is also hid in them, in that by them no creature can come to the full and perfect knowledge of him. Now, when this work shall cease, and God shall unclothe or unveil all his glory to his saints, and they shall know him perfectly, see him as he is, so far as a created nature is capable of that comprehension, then will he lay them aside and fold them up, at least as to that use, as easily as a man lays aside a garment that he will wear or use no more. This lies in the metaphor.

On this assertion he insinuates a comparison between this glorious fabric of heaven and earth and him that made them, as to durableness and stability, which is the thing he treats about; complaining of his own misery or mortality. For the heavens and the earth, he declares that they are in themselves of a flux and perishing nature; חֵמָּה, αὐτοί, “isti,” — “they shall perish.” The word immediately relates to the heavens, but by the figure zeugma comprehends and takes in the earth also: “The earth and the heavens shall perish.” This fading nature of the fabric of heaven and earth, with all things contained in them, he sets forth, first, by their future end, — “They shall perish;” secondly, their tendency unto that end, — “They wax old as a garment.” By their perishing the most understand their perishing as to their present condition and use, in that alteration or change that shall be made on them; others, their utter abolition. And to say the truth, it were very hard to suppose that an alteration only, and that to the better, a change into a more glorious condition, should be thus expressed, יֹאבֵדוּ; that word, as the Greek also, being always used in the worst sense, for a perishing by a total destruction. Their tendency unto this condition is their “waxing old as a garment.” Two things may be denoted in this expression: —

1. The gradual decay of the heavens and earth, waxing old, worse, and decaying in their worth and use;

2. A near approximation or drawing nigh to their end and period. In this sense, the apostle in this epistle affirms that the dispensation of the covenant which established the Judaical worship and ceremonies did wax old and decay, Hebrews 8:13. Not that it had lost any thing of its first vigor, power, and efficacy, before its abolition. The strict observation of all the institutions of it by our Savior himself manifests its power and obligation to have continued in its full force: and this was typified by the continuance of Moses in his full strength and vigor until the very day of his death. But he says it was old and decayed, when it was ἐγγὺς ἀφανισμοῦ, “near to a disappearance,” to its end, period, and to an utter uselessness, as then it was, even as all things that naturally tend to an end do it by age and decays And in this, not the former sense, are the heavens and earth said to wax old, because of their tendency to that period which, either in themselves or as to their use, they shall receive; which is sufficient to manifest them to be of a changeable, perishing nature. And it may be that it shall be with these heavens and earth at the last day as it was with the heavens and earth of Judaical institutions (for so are they frequently called, especially when their dissolution or abolition is spoken of) in the day of God’s creating the new heavens and earth in the gospel, according to his promise; for though the use of them and their power of obliging to their observation were taken away and abolished, yet are they kept in the world as abiding monuments of the goodness and wisdom of God in teaching his church of old. So may it be with the heavens and earth of the old creation. Though they shall be laid aside at the last day from their use as a garment to clothe and teach the power and wisdom of God to men, yet may they be preserved as eternal monuments of them.

In opposition hereunto it is said of Christ that “he abideth,” “he is the same,” and “his years fail not.” One and the same thing is intended in all these expressions, even his eternal and absolutely immutable existence. Eternity is not amiss called a “nunc stans,” a present existence, wherein or whereunto nothing is past or future, it being always wholly present in and to itself. This is expressed in that אתָּה תַעֲמד, — “Thou standest, abidest, endurest, alterest not, changest not,” The same is also expressed in the next words, הוּא אַתָּה, ὁ αὐτὸς ει῏, — “thou art he,” or “art the same;” or, as the Syriac hath it, “the same that thou art.” There is an allusion in these words unto, if not an expression of, that name of God, “I am;” that is, who is of himself, in himself, always absolutely and unchangeably the same. And this אתָּה הוּא, “tu ipse,” the Hebrews reckon as a distinct name of God. Indeed, אתָּה הוּא יְהָֹוה, ὁ ὤν, αὐτὸς ει῏, all the same name of God, expressing his eternal and immutable self-subsistence.

The last expression also, though metaphorical, is of the same importance: “Thy years fail not.” He who is the same eternally properly hath no years, which are a measure of transient time, denoting its duration, beginning, and ending. This is the measure of the world and all things contained therein. Their continuance is reckoned by years. To show the eternal subsistence of God in opposition to the frailty of the world, and all things created therein, it is said, his years fail not; that is, theirs do, and come to an end, — of his being and existence there is none.

How the apostle proves his intendment by this testimony hath been declared in the opening of the words, and the force of it unto his purpose lies open to all. We may now divert unto those doctrinal observations which the words offer unto us; as, —

I. All the properties of God, considered in the person of the Son, the head of the church, are suited to give relief, consolation, and supportment unto believers in all their distresses.

This truth presents itself unto us from the use of the words in the psalm, and their connection in the design of the psalmist. Under the consideration of his own mortality and frailty, he relieves himself with thoughts of the omnipotency and eternity of Christ, and takes arguments from thence to plead for relief.

And this may a little further be unfolded for our use in the ensuing observations : —

1. The properties of God are those whereby God makes known himself to us, and declares both what he is and what we shall find him to be in all that we have to deal with him: he is infinitely holy, just, wise, good, powerful, etc. And by our apprehension of these things are we led to that acquaintance with the nature of God which in this life we may attain, Exodus 34:5-7.

2. God oftentimes declares and proposeth these properties of his nature unto us for our supportment, consolation, and relief, in our troubles, distresses, and endeavors after peace and rest to our souls, Isaiah 40:27-31.

3. That since the entrance of sin, these properties of God, absolutely considered, will not yield that relief and satisfaction unto the souls of men which they would have done, and did, whilst man continued obedient unto God according to the law of his creation. Hence Adam upon his sin knew nothing that should encourage him to expect any help, pity, or relief from him; and therefore fled from his presence, and hid himself. The righteousness, holiness, purity, and power of God, all infinite, eternal, unchangeable, considered absolutely, are no way suited to the advantage of sinners in any condition, Romans 1:32; Habakkuk 1:12-13.

4. These properties of the divine nature are in every person of the Trinity entirely; so that each person is so infinitely holy, just, wise, good, and powerful, because each person is equally partaker of the whole divine nature and being.

5. The person of the Word, or the eternal Son of God, may be considered either absolutely as such, or as designed in the counsel, wisdom, and will of the Father, by and with his own will and consent, unto the work of mediation between God and man, Proverbs 8:22-31. And in him as such it is that the properties of the nature of God are suited to yield relief unto believers in every condition; for, —

(1.) It was the design of God, in the appointment of his Son to be mediator, to retrieve the communion between himself and his creature that was lost by sin. Now, man was so created at first as that every thing in God was suited to be a reward unto him, and in all things to give him satisfaction. This being wholly lost by sin, and the whole representation of God to man becoming full of dread and terror, all gracious intercourse, in a way of special love on the part of God, and spiritual, willing obedience on the part of man, was intercepted and cut off. God designing again to take sinners into a communion of love and obedience with himself, it must be by representing unto them his blessed properties as suited to their encouragement, satisfaction, and reward. And this he doth in the person of his Son, as designed to be our mediator, Hebrews 1:2-3; for, —

(2.) The Son is designed to be our mediator and the head of his church in a way of covenant, wherein there is an engagement for the exerting of all the divine properties of the nature of God for the good and advantage of them for whom he hath undertaken, and whom he designed to bring again into favor and communion with God. Hence believers do no more consider the properties of God in the person of the Son absolutely, but as engaged in a way of covenant for their good, and as proposed unto them for an everlasting, satisfactory reward. This is the ground of his calling upon them so often to behold, see, and consider him, and thereby to be refreshed. They consider his power, as he is mighty to save; his eternity, as he is an everlasting reward; his righteousness, as faithful to justify them; all his properties, as engaged in covenant for their good and advantage. Whatever he is in himself, that he will be to them in a way of mercy. Thus do the holy properties of the divine nature become a means of supportment unto us, as considered in the person of the Son of God. And this is, —

[1.] A great encouragement unto believing. The Lord Christ, as the Wisdom of God inviting sinners to come unto him, and to be made partakers of him, lays down all his divine excellencies as a motive thereunto, Proverbs 8:14-15, etc.; for on the account of them he assures us that we may find rest, satisfaction, and an abundant reward in him. And the like invitation doth he give to poor sinners: Isaiah 45:22, “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.” They may justly expect salvation in him who is God, and in whom all divine attributes are proposed to their benefit, as they find who come unto him, Isaiah 45:24-25. The consideration hereof prevents all the fears and answers all the doubts of them that look up unto him.

[2.] An instruction how to consider the properties of God by faith for our advantage; that is, as engaged in the person of the Son of God for our good. Absolutely considered they may fill us with dread and terror, as they did them of old who concluded, when they thought they had seen God or heard his voice, that they should die. Considered as his properties who is our Redeemer, they are always relieving and comforting, Isaiah 54:4-5.

II. The whole old creation, even the most glorious parts of it, hastening unto its period, at least of our present interest in it and use of it, calls upon us not to fix our hearts on the small perishing shares which we have therein, especially since we have Him who is omnipotent and eternal for our inheritance. The figure or fashion of this world, the apostle tells us, is passing away, — that lovely appearance which it hath at present unto us; it is hastening unto its period; it is a fading, dying thing, that can yield us no true satisfaction.

III. The Lord Christ, the mediator, the head and spouse of the church, is infinitely exalted above all creatures whatever, in that he is God over all, omnipotent and eternal.

IV. The whole world, the heavens and earth, being made by the Lord Christ, and being to be dissolved by him, is wholly at his disposal; to be ordered for the good of them that do believe. And therefore, —

V. There is no just cause of fear unto believers from any thing in heaven or earth, seeing they are all of the making and at the disposal of Jesus Christ.

VI. Whatever our changes may be, inward or outward, yet Christ changing not, our eternal condition is secured, and relief provided against all present troubles and miseries. The immutability and eternity of Christ are the spring of our consolation and security in every condition. The sum of all is, that, —

VII. Such is the frailty of the nature of man, and such the perishing condition of all created things, that none can ever obtain the least stable consolation but what ariseth from an interest in the omnipotency, sovereignty, and eternity of the Lord Christ.

This, I say, is that which the words insisted on, as they are used in the psalm, do instruct us in; and this therefore we may a little further improve.

This is that which we are instructed in by the ministry of John Baptist:

Isaiah 40:6-8, the voice cried,

“All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field: the grass withereth, the flower fadeth; because the Spirit of the LORD bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.”

All is grass, fading grass. Though it bloom and appear goodly for a little season, yet there is no continuance, no consistency in it. Every wind that passeth over it causeth it to wither. This is the best of flesh, of all that in and by ourselves we are, we do, we enjoy, or hope for. The “crown of the pride of man” and his “glorious beauty” is but “a fading flower,” Isaiah 28:1. What joy, what peace, what rest, can be taken in things that are dying away in our hands, that perish before every breath of wind that passeth over them? Where, then, shall this poor creature, so frail in itself, in its actings, in its enjoyments, seek for rest, consolation, and satisfaction? In this alone, that the Word of the Lord abides for ever, — in the eternally abiding Word of God; that is, the Lord Christ as preached in the gospel. So Peter applies these words, 1 Peter 1:25. By an interest in him alone, his eternity and unchangeableness, may relief be obtained against the consideration of this perishing, dying state and condition of all things. Thus the psalmist tells us that “verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity,” Psalms 39:5; and thence takes the conclusion now insisted on, Psalms 39:7, “And now, Lord,” — ‘seeing it is thus, seeing this is the condition of mankind, what is thence to be looked after? what is to be expected? Nothing at all, not the least of use or comfort.’ “What wait I for? my hope is in thee;” — ‘from thee alone, as a God eternal, pardoning and saving, do I look for relief.’ Man, indeed, in this condition seeks oftentimes for satisfaction from himself, — from what he is, and doth, and enjoys, and what he shall leave after him; comforting himself against his own frailty with an eternity that he fancieth to himself in his posterity, and their enjoyment of his goods and inheritance. So the psalmist tells us, Psalms 49:11,

“Their inward thought is, that their houses shall continue for ever, and their dwelling-places to all generations: they call their lands after their own names.”

They see, indeed, that all men die, wise men and fools, Psalms 49:10, and cannot but from thence observe their own frailty. Wherefore they are resolved to make provision against it; they will perpetuate their posterity and their inheritance. This they make use of to relieve them in their inmost imaginations. But what censure doth the Holy Ghost pass upon this contrivance, Psalms 49:12? “Nevertheless,” saith he, notwithstanding all these imaginations, “man being in honor abideth not: he is like the beasts that perish:” which he further proves, Psalms 49:17-20, showing fully that he himself is no way concerned in the imaginary perpetuity of his possessions; which, as they are all of them perishing things, so himself dies and fades away whilst he is in the contemplation of their endurance. And the truth proposed may be further evidenced by the ensuing considerations: —

1. Man was made for eternity. He was not called out of nothing to return unto it again. When he once is, he is for ever; not as to his present state, that is frail and changeable, but as to his existence in one condition or other. God made him for his eternal glory, and gave him therefore a subsistence without end. Had he been created to continue a day, a month, a year, a thousand years, things commensurate unto that space of time might have afforded him satisfaction; but he is made for ever.

2. He is sensible of his condition. Many, indeed, endeavor to cast off the thoughts of it. They would fain hope that they shall be no longer than they are here. In that case they could find enough, as they suppose, to satisfy them in the things that are like themselves. But this will not be.

They find a witness in themselves to the contrary; somewhat that assures them of an after reckoning, and that the things which now they do will be called over in another world. Besides, the conviction of the word, with them that enjoy it, puts the matter out of question. They cannot evade the testimony it gives unto their eternal subsistence.

3. Hence men are exposed to double trouble and perplexity: — First, That whereas their eternal subsistence, as to the enjoyment of good or bad, depends upon their present life, that is frail, fading, perishing. They are here now; but when a few days are come and gone, they must go to the place from whence they shall not return. They find their subsistence divided into two very unequal parts, a few days and eternity, and the latter to be regulated by the former. This fills them with anxiety, and makes them sometimes weary of life, sometimes hate it, almost always solicitous about it, and to bewail the frailty of it. Secondly, That no perishing thing will afford them relief or supportment in this condition, how should it? They and these are parting every moment, and that for eternity. There is no comfort in a perpetual taking leave of things that are beloved. Such is the life of man as unto all earthly enjoyments. It is but a parting with what a man hath; and the longer a man is about it, the more trouble he hath with it. The things of this creation will not continue our lives here, because of our frailty; they will not accompany us unto eternity, because of their own frailty. We change, and they change; we are vanity, and they are no better.

4. An interest in the omnipotency, sovereignty, and eternity of the Lord Christ will yield a soul relief and satisfaction in this condition. There is that in them which is suited to relieve us under our present frailty, and to give satisfaction unto our future eternity; for, —

(1.) What we have not in ourselves, by an interest in Christ we have in another. In him we have stability and unchangeableness; for what he is in himself, he is unto us and for us. All our concernments are wrapped up and secured in him. He is ours: and though we in our own persons change, yet he changeth not, nor our interest in him, — which is our life, our all. Though we die, yet he dieth not; and because he liveth, we shall live also. Though all other things perish and pass away that we here make use of, yet he abideth a blessed and satisfying portion unto a believing soul: for as we are his, so all his is ours; only laid up in him and kept for us in him. So that under all disconsolations that may befall us from our own frailty and misery, and the perishing condition of outward things, we have sweet relief tendered us in this, that we have all good things treasured up for us in him. And faith knows how to make use of all that is in Christ, to the comfort and supportment of the soul.

(2.) When our frailty and changeableness have had their utmost effect upon us, when they have done their worst upon us, they only bring us to the full enjoyment of what the Lord Christ is unto us, — that is, an exceeding great reward, and a full satisfaction unto eternity. Then shall we live for ever in that which we now live upon, being present with him, beholding his glory, and made partakers of it. So that both here and hereafter there is relief, comfort, and satisfaction for believers, laid up in the excellencies of the person of Jesus Christ. And this should teach us, —

[1.] The misery of those who have no interest in him, and have therefore nothing to relieve themselves against the evils of any condition. All their hopes are in this life, and from the enjoyments of it. When these are once past, they will be eternally and in all things miserable, — miserable beyond our expression or their apprehension. And what is this life? “A vapor, that appeareth for a little while.” What are the enjoyments of this life? Dying, perishing things; and unto them, fuel to lust, and so to hell. Suppose they live twenty, thirty, forty, sixty years, yet every day they fear, or ought to fear, that it will be their last. Some die oft every day from the first to the last of the utmost extent of the life of man: so that every day may be the last to any one; and whose then will be all their treasures of earthly things? And the relief which men have against the tormenting fears that the frailty of their condition doth expose them unto is no whit better than their troubles. It is sinful security, which gives the fullness of their misery an advantage to surprise them, and themselves an advantage to aggravate that misery by the increase of their sin. In the meantime, “spes sibi quisque,” — “every one’s hope is in himself alone;” which makes it perpetually like the giving up of the ghost. Surely the contentment that dying man can take in dying things is very contemptible. We must not stay to discover the miseries of the life of man, and the weakness of the comforts and joys of it; but whatever they be, what becomes of them when they have serious thoughts of their present frailty and future eternity? This following eternity is like :Pharaoh’s lean kine, which immediately devours all the fat pleasures of this present life, and yet continues as lean and miserable as ever. The eternal misery of men will not be in the least eased, yea, it will be greatened, by the enjoyments of this life, when once it hath devoured them. And this is the portion of them that have no interest in the eternity and immutability of the Son of God. Their present frailty makes them continually fear eternity, and their fear of eternity imbitters all thing’s that they should use for the relief of their frailty; and that security which they provide against both increaseth their misery, by sin here and suffering hereafter. [2.] This also will teach us how to use these earthly things, how dying persons should use dying creatures; that is, to use them for our present service and necessity, but not as those that look after rest or satisfaction in them, which they will not afford us. Use the world, but live on Christ.

[3.] Not to despond under a sense of our present frailty. We see what blessed relief is provided against our fainting on that account.


Verse 13

The next verse contains the last testimony produced by the apostle for the confirmation of the pre-eminence of the Lord Christ above angels, in the words ensuing: —

Hebrews 1:13. πρὸς τὶνα δὲ τῶν ἀγγέλων εἴρηκέ ποτε· κάθου ἐκ δεξιῶν μου, ἕως ἃν θῶ τοὺς ἐχθροὺς σου ὑποπόδιον τῶν ποδῶν σου·

There is no difference about the reading of these words. As they are here expressed by the apostle so are they in the translation of the LXX., and the original text is exactly rendered by them.

Hebrews 1:13. — But unto which of the angels said he at any time, Sit thou on my right hand, until I make [put, place] thine enemies thy footstool [the footstool of thy feet]?

The usefulness of this testimony for the confirmation of the dignity and authority of the Messiah is evident by the frequent quotation of it in the New Testament: as by our Savior himself, Matthew 22:44; by Peter, Acts 2:34-35; and twice by our apostle, in this place and 1 Corinthians 15:25.

As the words are here used, we may consider the introduction the testimony, and the testimony itself.

The introduction of the testimony is by way of interrogation: “Unto which of the angels said he at any time?” And herein three things may be observed: —

1. That in the interrogation a vehement negation is included: ‘He said not at any time to any angels;’he never spake words or the like concerning them; there is no testimony unto that purpose recorded in the whole Book of God. The way of expression puts an emphasis upon the denial. And the speaking here relates unto what is spoken in the Scripture; which is the only means of our knowledge and rule of our faith in these things.

2. That he makes application of this testimony to every angel in heaven severally considered; for whereas he had before sufficiently proved the pre- eminence of the Messiah above the angels in general, to obviate their thoughts about the especial honor and dignity of any one or more angels, or angels in a singular manner, such indeed they conceived, he applies the present testimony to every one of them singly and individually considered: “Unto which of the angels said he at any time?”

3. A tacit application of this testimony unto the Son, or Messiah: ‘Unto the angels he said not, but unto the Son he said, Sit thou on my right hand.’

That the testimony itself doth clearly prove the intendment of the apostle, provided the words were originally spoken of him or to him unto whom they are applied, is beyond all exceptions; for they contain an eulogium of him of whom they are spoken, and an assignation of honor and glory to him, beyond whatever was or can be ascribed unto any angel whatever. It remains, therefore, that this be first proved, and then the importance of the testimony is self-explained.

1. For those that believe the gospel, the authority of the Lord Christ and his apostles applying this testimony unto him is sufficient for their conviction. By our Savior, as was observed, it is applied unto the Messiah in thesi, Matthew 22:42-44. And had not this been generally acknowledged by the scribes and Pharisees, and whole church of the Jews, as it had not been to his purpose to have mentioned it, so they had not been reduced unto that conviction and shame by it as they were. The apostles apply it unto the true Messiah in hypothesi; and herein doth our faith rest.

2. But a considerable part of the controversy which we have with the Jews relating much unto this 110th psalm, we must yet further clear the application of it unto the Messiah from their exceptions.

Of the Targum or Chaldee paraphrase there are two copies, — one printed in Arias’Bible, the other in the Basle edition by Buxtorf. The title of the psalm in both of them is, על יד דוד תשבחתא, — “A song by the hand of David,” and the beginning of it is thus rendered by the former of them:

“The Lord said by his Word that he would give me the kingdom, because I studied the doctrine of the law of his right hand. Wait thou until I make thine enemies thy footstool.” By the other thus: “The Lord said by his Word that he would appoint me the lord of all Israel. But he said unto me again, Stay, for Saul, who is of the tribe of Benjamin, until he die, for a kingdom will not admit of a companion; and after that I will make thine enemies thy footstool.” Besides what appears from other considerations, it is hence sufficiently evident that this Targum was made after the Jews began to be exercised in the controversy with Christians, and had learned to corrupt by their glosses all the testimonies given in the Old Testament unto the Lord Christ, especially such as they found to be made use of in the New. Their corrupting of the sense of the Holy Ghost in this place by a pretended translation is openly malicious, against evident light and conviction. The psalm they own from the title to be written by David; but they would have him also to be the subject of it, to be spoken of in it. And therefore these words, “The LORD said unto my Lord,” they translate, “The Lord said unto me:” which assertion is contrary to the text and false in itself; for whoever was the penman of the psalm, he speaks of another person; —

“The LORD said unto my Lord;” say they, “The Lord said unto me.” And thereunto are annexed those imaginations about studying the law and waiting for the death of Saul, which in no case belong to the text or matter in hand.

Others, therefore, to avoid this rock, affirm that the psalm speaks of David, but was not composed by him, being the work of some other who calls him lord. So David Kimchi on the place. And this he endeavors to prove from the inscription of the psalm. לְדָוִד מִזְמוֹר: that is, saith he, “A psalm spoken to David;” for it denotes the third, and not the second case or variation of nouns.

But this is contrary to the use of that prefix throughout the whole Book of Psalms; and if this observation might be allowed, all psalms with this title, לְדָוִד, “le David,” which are the greatest part of those composed by him, must be adjudged from him, contrary to the received sense and consent of Jews and Christians. But fully to manifest the folly of this pretense, and that the author of it contradicted his own light out of hatred unto the gospel, there are sundry psalms with this title, לְדָוִד, “le David,” which are expressly affirmed to be composed and sung by him unto the Lord; as Psalms 18, whose title is, “To the chief musician, לְעֶבֶד יְהָֹוח לְדָוִד,” (where the prefix is repeated) — “to David, the servant of the LORD, who spake unto the LORD the words of this song.” So directly do the modern rabbins contradict their own light, out of hatred unto the gospel.

Evident, then, it is that David is not treated of in this psalm, in that he, being the penman of it, calleth him his Lord concerning whom he treats. Besides, to omit other instances of a like cogency, how or when did God swear unto David that he should be a priest, and that for ever, after the order of Melchizedek? The Jews knew well enough that David had nothing to do with the priesthood. So that David had no concernment in this psalm, but only as he was the penman of it. He was not herein so much as a type of the Messiah, but speaks of him as his Lord.

Wherefore others of them, as Jarchi, and Lipman, and Nizzachon, affirm that it is Abraham who is spoken of in this psalm; of whom the one says it was composed by Melchizedek; the other, by his servant, Eliezer of Damascus. But the fondness of these presumptuous figments is evident. Melchizedek, on all accounts, was greater than Abraham, above him in degree, dignity, and office, as being a king and priest of the most high God; and therefore blessed him, and received tithes of him, and on no account could call him his lord. Eliezer did so, being his servant; but how could he ascribe unto him the sitting at the right hand of God? how the sending forth the rod of his power from Zion? how being a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek? or, indeed, any one thing mentioned in the psalm? These things deserve not to be insisted on, but only to manifest the woeful pretences of the present Judaical infidelity.

It appears from the Dialogue of Justin Martyr with Trypho, that some of them of old applied this psalm to Hezekiah. But not one word in it can rationally be conceived to respect him; especially that which is spoken about the priesthood utterly excludes him, seeing his great-grandfather, a man of more power than himself, was smitten with leprosy, and lost the administration of his kingdom, for one single attempt to invade that office, 2 Chronicles 26.

It remains, then, that this psalm was written concerning the Messiah and him alone, for no other subject of it can be assigned. And this use in our passage we may make of the Targum, that whereas these words, “The Lord said,” do not intend a word spoken, but the stable purpose or decree of God, as Psalms 2:7, its author hath rendered them אמר ייי במימרה, — “The Lord said in” (or “by”) “his Word;” that is his Wisdom, his Son,with whom and to whom he speaks, and concerning whom his decree and purpose is here declared.

It remaineth only that we consider the objections of the Jews against our application of this psalm unto the Messiah. And these are summed up by Kimchi in his exposition of the text. “The heretics,” saith he, “expound this psalm of Jesus. And in the first verse they say the Father and Son are designed. And they read ‘Adonai’with kamets under Nun; in which use the true God is signified by that name. And verse the third, in עמךְ they read khirik under Ain; so making it signify ‘with thee.’And what is there said of the ‘beauty of holiness,’they ascribe unto that which is from the womb. But in all copies that are found, from the rising of the sun to the going down of it, khirik is with Nun in ‘Adonai,’and pathakh with Ain in

‘Hammeka.’And Gerolmus [Jerome] erred in his translation. And for the error, if the Father and Son be the Godhead, how doth one stand in need of the other? and how can he say unto him, ‘Thou art a priest?’He is a priest who offers sacrifice, but God doth not.” Of the like nature are the rest of his exceptions unto the end of his notes on that psalm. To this Lipman adds a bitter, blasphemous discourse about the application of these words, “from the womb,” Psalms 2:3, unto the womb of the blessed Virgin.

Ans. Our cause is not at all concerned in these mistakes, whether of Jews or Christians. For the Jews, their chief enmity lies against the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ; and therefore, whatever testimony is produced concerning him, they presently imagine that it is for the proof of his divine nature. This lies at the bottom of these exceptions of Kimchi. Hence he conceives that our argument from this place lies in the word אֲדֹנָי, and the pointing it with kamets, “Adonai,” so making it to be the proper name of God; when we acknowledge that it is Adoni, pointed with khirik, and signifies, “my Lord.” So it is rendered by the evangelist, Matthew 22:44; so by the LXX.; and by Jerome, “Domino meo.” And the argument of our Savior lies not in the word אֲדֹנָי; but that he being the son of David was also then the lord of David, which he could no otherwise be but upon the account of his divine nature.

In the words reflected on by Kimchi it is confessed that there have been mistakes amongst translators and expositors. These words, עמְּךָ נְדָבֹת, are rendered by the LXX. ΄ετὰ σοῦ ἡ ἀρχή· and by the Vulgar from them, “Tecum principium,” — “With thee is the beginning;” which hath misled many expositors. But Kimchi knew that Jerome had translated them, “Populi tui duces spontanei,” — “Thy people shall be willing leaders;” giving both the significations of נְדָבֹת, though one would suffice, “Thy people are” (or “shall be”) “willing.” But this pertains not to the cause under consideration. In like manner have these other words been misrendered by the same translation, מֵרֶחֶם מִשְׁחָר לְךָ טַל יַלְדֻתֶךָ. ᾿εκ γαστρὸς πρὸ ῾εωσφόρον ἐγέννησά σε, say the LXX.; and the Vulgar, “Ex utero ante luciferum genui te,” — “ From the womb before the morning star have I begotten thee:” which gave occasion to many uncouth expositions in Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Epiphanius, Austin, and others, But the words are rightly rendered, “The dew of thy birth is from the womb of the morning,” and express the rise and flourishing of the kingdom of the Messiah. These things prove, indeed, that it is dangerous to interpret the Scripture without heedful attending unto the original text; but that the Messiah is not intended in this psalm they prove not.

For what they further object, on our supposition of the divine nature of Christ, “That there was no need that God should promise God his assistance,” it is but an open effect of their ignorance or malice. Assistance is not promised the Messiah as God, but as made man for our sakes. And so as a priest did he offer that sacrifice without an interest wherein both they and we must eternally perish.

To conclude this discourse, we have many of their own masters concurring with us in the assignation of this psalm unto the Messiah; and to that purpose they freely express themselves when their minds are taken off from the consideration of the difference that they have with Christians. Thus the author of ספר אבקת רוכל, in his signs of the coming of the Messiah. “Armillus shall stir up all the world,” saith he, “to war against the Messiah, למלחמה אלא אומר לישב לימיני יאז הקבה אינו מצרינו;” —

“whom the holy God shall not compel to war, but shall only say unto him, ‘Sit thou at my right hand;’”

referring unto this place. So Saadias Gaon on Daniel 7:13 : צדקנו כדכתוב נאם י לאדני שב לימיני והו משיח; —

“This is Messiah our righteousness, as it is written, ‘The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand.’”

They affirm the same in Midrash Tehillim; on Psalms 18:35 : יהוה לאדני שב לימיני ריודן אמר לעתיד לבא הקבה מושיב מלךְ משיח לימינו שכנאם; —

“Rabbi Joden said, In the world to come, the holy, blessed God shall cause Messiah the king to sit on his right hand; as it is written, ‘The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand.’”

And to the same purpose are the words of R. Moses Haddarshan in Bereshith Rabba on Genesis 18:1 : בשם רלוי פתח ותתן לי מגן ישעךְ וימינךְ הסעדני לעתיד לבא הקבה מושיב למלךְ רברכיה יהוה לאדני שב לימיני ואברהם ישב על שמאלו ופני אברהם בן בנךְ על ימיני ואני על ימינךְ הוי וענותךְ תרבנו מכספת ואומר בן בני ישב על הימין ואני ישב על השמאל הקבה מפיסו ואומר לו המשיח לימינו שכינאם; —

“Rabbi Berechia, in the name of Rabbi Levi, opened that which is spoken, ‘Thou shalt give me the shield of thy salvation, and thy right hand shall sustain me,’Psalms 18:35. In the world to come, the holy, blessed God shall cause Messiah the king to sit on his right hand; as it is written, ‘The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand.’And Abraham shall sit at his left hand. And the face of Abraham shall be pale, and he shall say, ‘The son of my son sits on the right hand, and I on the left.’But God shall appease him, and say unto him, ‘The son of thy son sits at my right hand, but I am at thy right hand;’as it is written, ‘Thy loving-kindness shall increase me.’”

And so on Psalms 17 : Rabbi Joden in the name of R. Chijah, לבא הקבה מושיב למלךְ המשיח לימינו שנאמר נום יהיה לאדוני לעתיד, —

“In the world to come the holy blessed God shall place Messiah the king at his right hand, as it is said, ‘The LORD said unto my Lord.’”

Thus, setting aside the mixture of their follies and impieties, wherein we are not concerned, we have a sufficient suffrage from the Jews themselves unto our assignation of this prophetical psalm to the Messiah; which is enough to stop the mouths of their modern gainsayers, who are not able to assign any other person unto whom it should belong. Having, then, removed their objections, we may return unto the interpretation of the words. The matter intended in the first part of these words, or sitting at the right hand of God, hath been somewhat spoken unto already, and I shall add but little in the further expiration of it in this place.

Some things controverted on these words we may well omit the consideration of; as whether were the more honorable place of old, the right hand or the left Besides, they have been sufficiently spoken unto already on Psalms 17:3. For whereas there is no mention made anywhere of sitting at the left hand of God, as was observed, there is no comparison to be feigned between the one and the other. Besides, the pretense of the left hand to have been the most honorable place of old is most vain, insisted on by some who had a desire to vent new observations on old matters to little purpose. And Bellarmine shows what good leisure he had in managing of controversies, when he spent more time and labor in answering an objection against the pope’s supremacy, from Peter’s being placed in old seals on the left hand of Paul, than on many texts of Scripture plainly overthrowing his pretensions.

Neither shall we consider their claim unto this testimony, who, understanding the human nature of Christ to be only intended and spoken to, affirm that its sitting at the right hand of God consists in a real communication of all divine properties and attributes unto that nature; a pretense very remote from the apostle’s design and importance of the words,

For the introductory preface of this testimony, “Unto which of the angels said he at any time?” we have already considered it. In the testimony itself we must consider, —

1. The person speaking, “The LORD.”

2. The person spoken unto, “my Lord.”

3. The nature and manner of this speaking, “said.”

4. The thing spoken, “Sit on my right hand.”

5. The end hereof as to work and operation, “make thine enemies thy footstool.”

6. The limitation of it as unto duration, “until.”

1. The person speaking is the LORD, “The LORD said.” In the Greek, both the person speaking and the person spoken unto are expressed by the same name, κύριος, “Lord;” only the person spoken unto is not absolutely called so, but with relation to the psalmist, κυρίῳ μου, “to my lord.” David calls him his lord, Matthew 22:45. But in the Hebrew they have different denominations. The person speaking is Jehovah, נְאֻם יְהָֹוה, — that is, God the Father; for though the name be often used where the Son is distinctly spoken of, and sometimes in the same place each of them is mentioned by that name, as Genesis 19:25, Zechariah 2:8-9, because of their equal participation of the same divine nature, signified thereby, yet where Jehovah speaketh unto the Son or of him, as here, it is the person of the Father that is distinctly denoted thereby, according as was showed at the entrance of this epistle.

2. The person spoken unto is the Son, אֲדוֹן, “the Lord,” David’s Lord; in what respect we must now inquire. The Lord Christ, the Son, in respect of his divine nature, is of the same essence, power, and glory, with the Father, John 10:30. Absolutely, therefore, and naturally, in that respect he is capable of no subordination to the Father or exaltation by him, but what depends on and flows from his eternal generation, John 5:26. By dispensation he humbled himself, and emptied himself of this glory, Philippians 2:7-8; not by a real parting with it, but by the assumption of human nature into personal union with himself, being made flesh, John 1:14; wherein his eternal glory was clouded for a season, John 17:5, and his person humbled to the discharge of those acts of his mediation which were to be performed in the human nature, Philippians 2:9-10. This person of Christ is here spoken unto, not in respect of his divine nature only, which is not capable of exaltation or glory by the way of free gift or donation; nor in respect of his human nature only, which is not the king and head of the church; but with respect unto his whole person, wherein the divine nature, exerting its power and glory with the will and understanding of the human nature, is the principle of those theandrical acts whereby Christ ruleth over all in the kingdom given him of his Father, Revelation 1:17-18. As he was God, he was David’s Lord, but not his son; as he was man, he was David’s son, and so absolutely could not be his Lord; in his person, as he was God and man, he was his Lord and his son, — which is the intention of our Savior’s question, Matthew 22:45.

3. For the nature and manner of this speaking, when and how God said it, four things seem to be intended in it: —

(1.) The eternal decree of God concerning the exaltation of the Son incarnate. So David calls this word the “decree,” the statute or eternal appointment of God, Psalms 2:7. This is λόγος ἐνδιάθετος, the internal and eternal word, or speaking of the mind, will, and counsel of God, referred unto by Peter, 1 Peter 1:20. God said this in the eternal purpose of his will, to and concerning his Son.

(2.) The covenant and compact that was between the Father and Son about and concerning the work of mediation is expressed also in this saying. That there was such a covenant, and the nature of it, I have elsewhere declared. See Proverbs 8:30-31; Isaiah 53:10-12; Zechariah 6:12-13; John 17:4-6. In this covenant God said unto him, “Sit thou at my right hand;” which he also pleaded in and upon the discharge of his work, Isaiah 50:8-9; John 17:4-5.

(3.) There is also in it the declaration of this decree and covenant in the prophecies and promises given out concerning their accomplishment and execution from the foundation of the world, Luke 1:70; 1 Peter 1:11, Genesis 3:15. He said it “by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began.” And in this sense David only recounts the prophecies and promises that went before, Luke 24:25-27. And all these are comprised in this speaking here mentioned, — thus “the LORD said unto him;” and all these were past when recorded by David.

(4.) But he yet looks forward, by the Spirit of prophecy, unto the actual accomplishment of them all, when, upon the resurrection of Christ, and the fulfilling of his work of humiliation, God actually invested him with the promised glory, (which is the fourth thing intended in the expression,)

Acts 2:33; Acts 2:36; Acts 5:31; 1 Peter 1:20-21. All these four things center in a new revelation now made to David by the Spirit of prophecy. This he here declares as the stable purpose, covenant, and promise of God the Father, revealed unto him: “The LORD said.”

And this also gives us an account of the manner of this expression, as to its imperative enunciation, “Sit thou.” It hath in it the force of a promise that he should do so, as it respected the decree, covenant, and declaration thereof from the foundation of the world. God, engaging his faithfulness and power for the effecting of it in its appointed season, speaks concerning it as a thing instantly to be done. And as those words respect the glorious accomplishment of the thing itself, so they denote the acquiescence of God in the work of Christ, and his authority in his glorious exaltation.

4. The thing spoken about, is Christ’s sitting at the right hand of God. Wherein that consists hath been declared on 1 Peter 1:3. In brief, it is the exaltation of Christ unto the glorious administration of the kingdom granted unto him, with honor, security, and power; or as in one word our apostle calls it, his reigning, 1 Corinthians 15:25; concerning which we have treated already at large.

And herein we shall acquiesce, and not trouble ourselves with the needless curiosity and speculation of some about these words. Such is that of Maldonate on Matthew 16, before remarked on Matthew 16:3. Saith he,

“Cum Filius dicitur sedere ad dextram Patris, denotatur comparatio virtutis Filii et Patris, et potentia Filii major dicitur ratione functionis officii et administrationis ecclesiae. Paterque videtur fecisse Filium quodammodo se superiorem, et donasse illi nomen etiam supra ipsum Dei nomen, quod omnes Christiani tacite significant, cum audito nomine Jesu detegunt caput, audito autem nomine Dei, non item;” —

than which nothing could be more presumptuously nor foolishly spoken; for there is not in the words the least intimation of any comparison between the power of the Father and the Son, but only the Father’s exaltation of the Son unto power and glory expressed. But, as was said, these things have been already considered.

5. There is in the words the end aimed at in this sitting down at the right hand of God; and that is, the making of his enemies the footstool of his feet. This is that which is promised unto him in the state and condition whereunto he is exalted. For the opening of these words we must inquire, —

(1.) Who are these enemies of Christ;

(2.) How they are to be made his footstool;

(3.) By whom.

(1.) For the first, we have showed that it is the glorious exaltation of Christ in his kingdom that is here spoken of; and therefore the enemies intended must be the enemies of his kingdom, or enemies unto him in his kingdom, — that is, as he sits on his throne carrying on the work designed and ends of it. Now, the kingdom of Christ may be considered two ways ; — first, In respect of the internal, spiritual power and efficacy of it in the hearts of his subjects; secondly, With respect unto the outward, glorious administration of it in the world. And in both these respects it hath enemies in abundance, all and every one whereof must be made his footstool. We shall consider them apart.

The kingdom, rule, or reigning of Christ in the first sense, is the authority and power which he puts forth for the conversion, sanctification, and salvation of his elect. As he is their king, he quickens them by his Spirit, sanctifies them by his grace, preserves them by his faithfulness, raiseth them from the dead at the last day by his power, and gloriously rewardeth them unto eternity in his righteousness. In this work the Lord Christ hath many enemies; as the law, sin, Satan, the world, death, the grave, and hell. All these are enemies to the work and kingdom of Christ, and consequently to his person, as having undertaken that work.

[1.] The law is an enemy unto Christ in his kingdom, not absolutely, but by accident, and by reason of the consequents that attend it where his subjects are obnoxious unto it. It slays them, Romans 7:9-11, which is the work of an enemy; is against them and contrary unto them, Colossians 2:14; and contributes strength to their other adversaries, 1 Corinthians 15:56; which discovers the nature of an enemy.

[2.] Sin is universally and in its whole nature an enemy unto Christ, Romans 8:7. Sinners and enemies are the same, Romans 5:8; Romans 5:10; Colossians 1:21. It is that which makes special, direct, and immediate opposition to the quickening, sanctifying, and saving of his people, Romans 7:21; Romans 7:23; James 1:14-15; 1 Peter 2:11.

[3.] Satan is the sworn enemy of Christ, the adversary that openly, constantly, avowedly opposeth him in his throne, Matthew 16:18; Ephesians 6:12; 1 Peter 5:8. And he exerts his enmity by temptations, 1 Corinthians 7:5; 1 Thessalonians 3:5; accusations, Revelation 12:10; persecutions, Revelation 2:10; — all which are the works of an enemy.

[4.] The world is also a professed enemy of the kingdom of Christ, John 15:18. In the things of it, the men of it, the rule of it, it sets itself against the work of the Lord Christ on his throne. The things of it, as under the curse and subject to vanity, are suited to alienate the hearts of men from Christ, and so act an enmity against him, James 4:4; 1 John 2:15-17; 1 Timothy 6:9-10; Matthew 13:22. The men of the world act the same part, Matthew 10:22; Matthew 24:9. By examples, by temptations, by reproaches, by persecutions, by allurements, they make it their business to oppose the kingdom of Christ. But to that end, [that all things may be under his feet], is the rule of it for the most part directed or overruled, 1 Corinthians 15:24-25.

[5.] Death is also an enemy; so it is expressly called, 1 Corinthians 15:26. It designs the execution of the first curse against all believers, and therein contributes aid and assistance unto all other adversaries; giving up itself to the service of Satan, and therefore said to be in his power, Hebrews 2:14 of this epistle; and it borrows a sting from sin, 1 Corinthians 15:56, to make itself the more terrible and sharp.

[6.] The grave is an adversary also. It fights against the faith of the subjects of Christ by reducing their mortality unto corruption, and holding fast the dead until they are powerfully rescued from the jaws of it.

[7.] Lastly, hell is that enemy in a subordination whereunto all these others do act. They all aim to bring men into hell; which is an eternal enemy where it prevails. This attends the workings and successes of those other adversaries, to consume and destroy, if it were possible, the whole inheritance of Christ, Revelation 6:8. All these are enemies to Christ in his work and kingdom, with every thing that contributes aid or assistance unto them, every thing that they make use of in the pursuit of their enmity against him.

Now, all these enemies, as far as they oppose the spiritual, internal carrying on of the work of Christ, must be made the footstool of his feet.

The expression is metaphorical, and is to be interpreted and applied variously, according to the nature and condition of the enemies with whom he hath to do. The allusion in general is taken from what was done by Joshua, his type, towards the enemies of his people, Joshua 10:24. To show the ruin of their power, and his absolute prevalency against them, he caused the people to set their feet upon their necks. See 2 Samuel 22:39; Psalms 8:6. To have his enemies, then, brought under his feet, is to have an absolute, complete conquest over them; and their being made his footstool implies their perpetual and unchangeable duration in that condition, under the weight of whatever burden he shall be pleased to lay upon them.

(2.) This being that which is to be done, we may consider how it is accomplished. Now, this whole work of conquest and prevalency over all his enemies is done, — [1.] Meritoriously; [2.] Exemplarily; [3.] Efficiently.

[1.] Meritoriously. By his death and blood-shedding he hath procured the sentence of condemnation in the cause depending between him and them to be pronounced against them; so that they shall have no more right to exert their enmity against him or his. He hath given them all their death’s wounds, and leaves them to die at his pleasure.

1st. So hath he prevailed against the law, Galatians 3:13; Colossians 2:14; Romans 7:6. He hath removed that strength which it gave to sin, 1 Corinthians 15:55-56; so that it hath no right to disquiet or condemn any of his subjects for the future. And,

2dly. Against sin, Romans 8:2-3, so that it should not reign in nor condemn his anymore. And,

3dly. Satan also, Hebrews 2:14-15, as to all pretense of liberty or right unto any part of his cursed work. And,

4thly. So likewise the world, John 16:33; Galatians 1:4. And against,

5thly. Death, Hebrews 2:14-15; 1 Corinthians 15:55-56; with,

6thly. The grave; and,

7thly. Hell, or the wrath to come, 1 Thessalonians 1:10. They are all meritoriously conquered in his death and resurrection. And all this hath he done for his church.

[2.] Exemplarily. All these adversaries peculiarly exercised their enmity against and tried their strength and power upon his own person. The law brought its curse upon him, Galatians 3:13; sin its guilt, 2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 8:2-3; Satan put forth all his power against him, Colossians 2:15; as also did the world, in all sorts of things and persons, in all kinds of oppositions and persecutions; death also he tasted of, Hebrews 2:9; and lay in the grave, descending into the lower parts of the earth, Ephesians 4:9; and he was not unassaulted by the pains of hell when he bare our iniquities, Isaiah 53:4-6; Isaiah 53:10. Now all of them did he absolutely conquer in his own person: for he satisfied the law, removed the curse, and took it away, Romans 8:3; made an end of sin, Daniel 9:24; destroyed the devil, Hebrews 2:14, and triumphed over him, Colossians 2:15; subdued the world, John 16:33; conquered death, Acts 2:24, and the grave, Acts 2:27, and hell also. And in his own person hath he set an example of what shall be done in and for the whole church.

[3.] It is done efficiently in, by, and for his whole church; and this in three instances: —

1st. Initially, in their union with himself. When and as he unites any of them unto himself, he begins the conquest of all enemies in them and for them, giving them a right to the complete, total, and final victory over them all.

2dly. Gradually he carries them on in their several seasons towards perfection, treading down their enemies by degrees under them. And

3dly. Perfectly at the last day, when, having freed them from the law and sin, trodden down Satan, prevailed against the world, recovered them from death, rescued them from the grave, and delivered them from hell, he shall be himself perfectly victorious in them, and they made completely sharers in his victory; wherein the making of all his enemies his footstool consisteth.

Secondly, The kingdom of Christ respects his administration of it visibly in this world, in the profession and obedience of his subjects unto him; and this also, with the opposition made unto it, is respected in this expression. God the Father, in the exaltation of Jesus Christ, hath given unto him all nations for his inheritance, and the utmost parts of the earth for his possession, Psalms 2:8. Upon this grant a twofold right ensued: —

[1.] A right to call, gather, and erect his church, in any nation, in any part of the world, and to give unto it his laws and ordinances of worship, to be owned and observed by them in a visible and peaceable manner, Matthew 28:18-20.

[2.] A right, power, and authority to dispose of and order all nations and persons for the good, benefit, and advantage of his kingdom. In pursuit of this grant and right, erecting his church, and therein his visible kingdom, in the world, great opposition is made unto him by all sorts of persons, stirred, excited, and instigated thereunto by Satan. And as this enmity was first acted against himself in his own person, Psalms 2:1-3, so it hath continued against him in his church in all ages and places, and will do so unto the end of the world. The world understands not his right, hates his government, and would not have him to reign. Hence hath been all that rage which hath been executed upon the professors of his name. Kings, rulers, potentates, counsellors, the multitude, have set themselves against him. They are and have been, many of them, his enemies. Great havoc and destruction have they made of his subjects all the world over, and continue to do so in most places unto this very day. Especially, in these later ages, after other means failed him, Satan hath stirred up a fierce, cruel, subtle adversary unto him, whom he hath foretold his disciples of under the name of antichrist, the beast, and false prophet. After the ruin of many others, this enemy by various subtleties and pretences hath drawn the world into a new combination against him, and is at this day become the greatest and most pernicious adversary that he hath in this world. Now, the aim and design of all these is to dethrone him, by the ruin of his kingdom which he hath set up in the world. And this in every age they have hoped to accomplish, and continue to do so unto this day, but in vain; for as hitherto his kingdom and interest in the world have been maintained against all their enmity and opposition, themselves been frustrated and brought to destruction one after another, so by virtue of this promise he shall reign in security and glory until all their heads be broken, their strength ruined, their opposition finished, and themselves brought under his feet unto all eternity, as our apostle declares, 1 Corinthians 15:24-25. And this may suffice to declare the meaning of these words.

(3.) We are to consider by whom these enemies of Christ shall be made thus his footstool. ‘I will make them,’saith God the Father unto him. And this expression wanteth not its difficulty; for is it not the work of Christ himself to subdue and conquer his enemies? is it not said that he shall do so? So doing is he described in the Revelation with glory and power, Revelation 19:11-16, from Isaiah 63:1-6. Whom should this work more become or belong unto than him who was persecuted and oppressed by them? And doth it not directly belong unto his kingly power? Whence is it, then, that he is here described as one resting in glory and security at his Father’s right hand, whilst he subdues his enemies?

Ans. There is no doubt but that the work of subduing the enemies of the mediation and kingdom of Christ is immediately wrought by himself. All prophecies of him, all promises made unto him, the nature of his office, do all require that so it should be; and so the apostle directly expresseth it, 1 Corinthians 15:26. But yet there are sundry reasons why that work which is immediately wrought by the Son may by the way of eminency be ascribed unto the Father, as we see this to be.

[1.] Power and authority to subdue and conquer all his enemies is given unto the Lord Christ by the Father in the way of reward; and it is therefore said to be his work, because the authority for it is from him. See Isaiah 53:12; John 5:27; Philippians 2:9; Romans 14:9. This power then, I say, of subduing all his enemies being granted unto the Lord Christ in the love of the Father, as a reward of the travail of his soul which he underwent in his work on the earth, is ascribed unto the Father as his. And this expression signifies no more but that as God hath given him authority for it, so he will abide by him in it until it be accomplished; and on this account he takes it on himself as his own.

[2.] The work of subduing enemies is a work of power and authority. Now, in the economy of the holy Trinity, among the works that outwardly are of God, those of power and authority are peculiarly ascribed unto the Father; as those of wisdom, or wisdom in the works of God, are unto the Son, who is the eternal Wisdom of the Father. And on this account the same works are ascribed unto the Father and the Son. Not as though the Father did them first, or only used the Son as an immediate instrumental cause of them, but that he worketh by him as his own eternal and essential Wisdom, John 5:17; John 5:19. But there is also more in it, as the Son is considered as mediator, God and man; for so he receives and holds his especial kingdom by grant from his Father, and therefore the works of it may be said to be his.

6. The last thing remaining for the exposition of these words, is the consideration of the appearing limitation of this administration of the kingdom of Christ, in his sitting at the right hand of God: עד, “Until I make thine enemies,” etc. “until:”

First, it is confessed, and may be proved by instances, that those particles thus used are sometimes exclusive of all things to the contrary before the time designed in them, but not assertive of any such thing afterwards. In this sense no limitation of the duration of the kingdom of Christ is here intimated, but only his secure and glorious reign unto the accomplishment of his work in the subduing of his enemies is asserted. The only time of danger is whilst there is opposition; but this saith God, ‘I will carry it through unto the end.’And this sense is embraced by many, to secure thereby the promises that are made unto the Lord Christ of the perpetuity of his kingdom. So Isaiah 9:7,

“Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever.”

His “kingdom shall never be destroyed,” but “shall stand for ever,”

Daniel 2:44; it is an “everlasting kingdom,” Daniel 7:27.

Others suppose that this perpetuity of the kingdom of Christ is not absolutely exclusive of all limitation, but that these two things only are intimated in those prophecies and promises: —

(1.) That his kingdom shall not be like the kingdoms of the earth, obnoxious to change and mutation, by intestine divisions, or outward force, or secret decay; by which means all the kingdoms of the earth have been ruined and brought to nought. In opposition hereunto, the kingdom of Christ is asserted to be perpetual, as that which no opposition shall ever prevail against, no means ever impair; which yet hinders not but that a day may be prefixed for its end.

(2.) The continuance of it unto the total, full accomplishment of all that is to be performed in it or by it, in the eternal salvation of all his subjects and final destruction of all his enemies, is in these and the like places foretold; but yet when that work is done, that kingdom and rule of his may have an end.

And in this sense the term of limitation here expressed seems to be expounded by the apostle, 1 Corinthians 15:24, “Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father;” for although these words may admit of another interpretation, — namely, that he shall give up an account unto the Father of the accomplishment of the whole work committed unto him as king of his church, which he may do and not cease from holding the same kingdom still, — yet as they are further interpreted by the Son’s coming into a new subjection unto the Father, “that God may be all in all,” as 1 Corinthians 15:28, they seem to imply directly the ceasing of his kingdom. Though this matter be not indeed without its difficulty, yet the different opinions about it seem capable of a fair reconciliation, which we shall attempt in the ensuing proposals: —

(1.) The Lord Christ, as the Son of God, shall unto all eternity continue in the essential and natural dominion, over all creatures, and they in their dependence upon him and subjection unto him. He can no more divest himself of that dominion and kingdom than he can cease to be God. Suppose the being of any creatures, and that subjection unto him which is the rise of this kingdom is natural and indispensable.

(2.) As to the economical kingdom of Christ over the church, and all things in order unto the protection and salvation thereof, the immediate ends of it will cease. All his saints being saved, all his sons brought unto glory, all his enemies subdued, the end of that rule, which consisted in the guidance and preservation of the one, and in the restraint and ruin of the other, must necessarily cease.

(3.) The Lord Christ shall not so leave his kingdom at the last day as that the Father should take upon himself the administration of it. Upon the giving up of his kingdom, whatever it be, the apostle doth not say the Father shall rule, or reign, as though he should exercise the same dominion, but that “God shall be all in all;” that is, God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, without the use or intervention of such ways or means as were in use before, during the full continuance of the dispensatory kingdom of Christ, shall fill and satisfy all his saints, support and dispose of the remanent creation.

(4.) This ceasing of the kingdom of Christ is no way derogatory unto his glory or the perpetuity of his kingdom, no more than his ceasing to intercede for his people is to that perpetuity of his priesthood which he hath by oath confirmed unto him. His prophetical office also seems to cease, when he shall teach his people no more by his word and Spirit.

(5.) In three respects the kingdom of Christ may be said to abide unto eternity: —

[1.] In that all his saints and angels shall eternally adore and worship him, on the account of the glory which he hath received as the king and head of the church, and be filled with joy in beholding of him, John 17:22; John 17:24.

[2.] In that all the saints shall abide in their state of union unto God through him as their head, God communicating of his fullness to them through him; which will be his eternal glory when all his enemies shall be his footstool.

[3.] In that, as the righteous judge of all, he shall to all eternity continue the punishment of his adversaries.

And this is the last testimony insisted on by the apostle to prove the pre- eminence of Christ above angels, and consequently above all that were used or employed of old in the disposition and administration of the law; which was the thing he had undertaken to make good. And therefore, in the close of this chapter, having denied that any of these things are spoken concerning angels, he shuts up all with a description of their nature and office, such as was then known and received among the Jews; before the consideration whereof, we must draw out, from what hath been insisted on, some observations for our own instruction, which are these that follow: —

I. The authority of God the Father, in the exaltation of Jesus Christ as the head and mediator of the church, is greatly to be regarded by believers. He says unto him, “Sit thou at my right hand.” Much of the consolation and security of the church depend on this consideration.

II. The exaltation of Christ is the great pledge of the acceptation of the work of mediation performed in the behalf of the church. ‘Now,’saith God, ‘sit thou at my right hand;’— ‘the work is done wherein my soul is well pleased.’

III. Christ hath many enemies unto his kingdom; saith God, ‘I will deal with all of them.’

IV. The kingdom and rule of Christ is perpetual and abiding, notwithstanding all the opposition that is made against it. His enemies rage, indeed, as though they would pull him out of his throne, but altogether in vain; he hath the faithfulness and power, the word and right hand of God, for the security of his kingdom.

V. The end whereunto the Lord Jesus Christ will assuredly bring all his enemies, let them bluster whilst they please, shall be unto them miserable and shameful, to the saints joyful, to himself victorious and triumphant. It is the administration of the kingdom of Christ in the world that this truth principally respects. Great is the enmity of this world against it; great the opposition that is and hath always been made unto it. But this will be the assured issue of it, — ruin to the enemies, joy to the saints, glory to Christ. This is that which is typed unto us in the prophecy of Gog. That prophecy is a recapitulation of all the enmity that is acted in the world against the interest of Christ. What his counsel is the prophet declares: Ezekiel 38:11, I will go up to the land of unwalled villages; I will go to them that are at rest, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates.” They look upon the church of Christ as a feeble people, that hath no visible power or defense, and therefore easy to be destroyed; this encourageth them to their work. Who or what can deliver them out of their hand? With this resolution they come up on the breadth of the earth, and compass the camp of the saints, and the beloved city, Revelation 20:9. They go about their work with glory and terror, as if they would do it in a day. So they have done in all ages; so they continue to do to this day. And what is the issue? The city, which they look on as an unwalled town, no way defensible or tenable, is not yet taken by them, nor ever shall be; but there they fall before it, one after another, and their bones lie under the walls of the city they oppose. They fall upon the mountains of Israel, and leave a stink behind them, the shame and reproach of their names unto eternity. Sometimes, they seem to have prevailed, and to have done their work; but still the issue is that they die, or are destroyed and go down to the pit, and come under the feet of Christ, leaving the city untaken. Disappointment, shame, and everlasting punishment, is their portion. And they find at last by experience that this “feeble folk,” whom they so despise, are wise, and have their habitation in a rock. This pledge we have already of the truth proposed, that all who have formerly risen up in enmity to the kingdom of Christ are dead, gone, perished under his feet, and have left their work undone, as far from accomplishment as the first day they undertook it. The same shall be the lot of those that are, and those that follow, to the end of the world. And when they have all done their utmost, then shall the end be; then shall all their misery be completed, the joy of the saints filled, and the glory of Christ exalted.

For the enemies themselves, what can be more shameful unto them, than to be so stupid as not to learn from the experience of so many hundreds of years to give over a work wherein never any prospered? more miserable, than to engage in that design wherein they must necessarily fail and be ruined? more woeful, than to work out their own eternal destruction under the wrath of Christ, in a business wherein they had no success? And what profit is it if for the present they grow a little rich with the gain of oppression, if there be a worm in it that will devour both it and them? what advantage if they drink a little precious blood and find sweetness in it, if it make them sick, and swell, and die? The beloved city still abides, and their misery shall never end.

For the saints, what more joyful thing can there be, than for them to take a view of these things, to look backward and see all the Nimrods of the earth, that have opposed the kingdom of Christ, lying in shame and misery, with their necks under the footstool of his feet? There they may see Pharaoh lying, and Nebuchadnezzar, Nero, Domitian, Diocletian, with all their multitudes, and all that have walked in their steps, “brought down to the sides of the pit,” in shame and eternal misery, for their opposition to the kingdom of Christ. There are they fallen and perished “all of them, who laid their swords under their heads, and caused terror in the land of the living.”

And the like prospect may they take of what is to come. They may by faith see Babylon fallen, the whole conspiracy that is in the world against them and their Lord disappointed, and all his enemies that shall arise, even to the consummation of all things, brought to ruin. How may they triumph in a glorious prospect of this certain and unavoidable issue of the opposition that is made to the kingdom of their Redeemer! And this must be the issue of these things; for, —

1. God hath promised unto the Lord Christ from the foundation of the world that so it should be. It was part of his eternal covenant and compact with him, as hath been declared. And after the first promise of breaking the serpent’s head, and prevailing therein against the enmity of his seed, no season of the church passed wherein the promises of the same success and issue were not renewed; and hereunto do the writings of Moses, the Psalms, and the prophets bear witness. And hereof it was that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied so expressly unto the old world before the flood, Jude 1:14-15. Other prophecies and promises to the same purpose occur everywhere in the Scripture. And this God also in several ages, for the greater pledge of his veracity, typed out: as in the victory of Abraham over the four kings, representing the great monarchies of the world, wherein he had a pledge that he should be heir of the world in his Seed; in the conquest of Canaan, the seat and inheritance of the church, by Joshua; in the successes and victories of David; and by many signal instances given in the visible ruin of the most potent opposers of his interest in the world. And it cannot be that this word of God should be of none effect.

2. The Lord Christ expects this issue and event of all things, and shall not be frustrated in his expectation. Having received the engagement and faithful promise of his Father, he rests in the foresight of its accomplishment. And hence it is that he bears all the affronts that are put upon him, all the opposition that is made unto him and his kingdom, with patience, long-suffering, and forbearance. When we consider the injuries, reproaches, oppressions, persecutions, blasphemies, that he is exposed unto, in his ways, his servants, his Spirit, and worship, we are ready to admire at his patience (as we ought to do) that he breaks not forth against his enemies as a consuming fire. But he knows the time and season that is allotted for the execution of vengeance upon them, and nothing of their pride, rage, boasting, or triumphing against him, shall ever provoke him to anticipate their ruin; so secure he is of their destruction in the appointed season, and so certain of their day that is coming.

3. He is himself furnished with authority and power for the accomplishment of this work, when and how he pleaseth. He hath not only assurance of the Father’s concurrence, but is himself also thoroughly armed and furnished with power to destroy all his enemies, even in a moment. And he will not fail to put forth his power in the appointed season; he will “bruise them all with a rod of iron, and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” Though all his enemies should at once combine themselves against him, should the world receive the utmost contribution of craft, subtlety, and strength, that hell is able to afford unto it, what is it all to stand before the incomprehensible power of Jesus Christ? See Revelation 6:16.

4. His glory and honor requires that it should be so. This is a thing that he is very tender in. God hath raised him up, and given him glory and honor, and care must be taken that it be not lost or impaired. Now, if his enemies should go free, if they could by any means subduct themselves from under his power, or be delivered from his wrath, where would be his glory, where his honor? Here they reproach him, blaspheme him, despise him, persecute him. Shall they escape and go free? shall they always prosper? What then would he do to his great name? The glory of Christ indispensably requires that there be a season, a day, appointed for the eternal ruin of all his stubborn adversaries.

5. His saints pray that it may be so; and that both upon his account and their own: — Upon his, that his glory, which is dearer to them than their lives, may be vindicated and exalted; their own, that their miseries may be ended, that the blood of their fellow-servants may be avenged, that the whole church may be delivered, and all promises fulfilled. Now, he will not disappoint their prayers nor frustrate their expectations in any thing, much less in those that are of so great importance. He will avenge his elect; he will avenge them speedily.

6. His enemies deserve it unto the utmost; so that as well his justice, as his glory, and interest, and people, is concerned in their destruction. In the most of them their rage against him is notorious, and visible to the eyes of men and angels; in all of them there is a cruel, old, lasting enmity and hatred, which he will lay open and discover at the last day, so that all shall see the righteousness of his judgments against them. God hath given him a kingdom, appointed him to reign; they declare that he shall not do so, and endeavor their utmost to keep him from his throne, and that with scorn, spite, and malice. So that whilst God is righteous, and the scepter of Christ’s kingdom a scepter of righteousness, themselves call aloud for their own destruction.

The uses of this truth, in the comfort of the disciples of Christ against all fears, despondencies, and other effects of unbelief, with the terror of wicked men, are obvious and exposed unto all.


Verse 14

The apostle having proved the pre-eminence of the Son, as mediator of the new testament, above all the angels, from those attributions of honor and glory that are made unto him in the Scriptures, the like whereunto are nowhere made forgiven unto angels, that he may not appear to argue merely negatively, from what is not said concerning them, adds in this last verse such a description of their nature and office, or work and employment, as shows that indeed no such thing can be rightly spoken or affirmed concerning them as he hath before manifested to be spoken and recorded concerning the Son.

Hebrews 1:14. οὐχὶ πάντες εἰσὶ λειτουργικὰ πςέματα, εἰς διακονίαν ἀποστελλόμενα διὰ τοὺς μέλλοντας κληρονομεῖν σωτηρίαν;

There is no difference in the reading, nor much about the translation of these words. (11)

(11) TRANSLATION — Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to execute His service, for the sake of those who shall inherit salvation? — Conybeare and Howson. — ED.

Hebrews 1:14. Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to minister to [unto a ministry for] them that shall inherit salvation?

This was the common received doctrine of the church concerning angels, suitable unto the Scripture and to the purpose of the apostle, as manifesting their disinterest in the glory before ascribed unto the Son.

Sundry things are here expressed concerning angels, which we must briefly pass through the consideration of; as, —

1. Their nature. They are πνεόματα λειτουργικά, רוּחוֹת, “ruchoth,” “spirits,” — spiritual subsistences; not qualities, or natural faculties, as the Sadducees imagined, and which, by a homonymy of the name, Maimonides, More Nebuch. part. 2. cap. 3., admits also to be angels, but falsely, and without authority from Scripture or reason. This is their nature, this the Hebrews acknowledged so to be; they are created spirits, not to be compared with or equalled unto Him that made and created all things.

2. Their office. They are πςεόματα λειτουργικά, “ministering spirits.” So are they termed, Psalms 103:21 “Praise the LORD, all his hosts,” מְשָׁרְתָיוLXX., λειτουργοί αὐτοῦ, “his ministers doing his will.” Hence in general the Jews call them משרתים, “ministers;” and among other titles assign this unto God, that he is יוצר משרתים, “the Creator of ministering spirits or angels.” And expressly in the Talmud they are called מלאכי דשירותא; and more frequently by the rabbins in the Hebrew dialect, מלאכי חשרת, “angels of ministry;” above whom that the Messiah was to be, we have formerly showed from themselves.

Now, what kind of office or ministry it is that is ascribed unto them, the word itself doth in part declare, שֵׁרֵתis to minister principally about holy things; nor is it above once applied unto any other ministry. And such a ministry it signifies as is performed with honor and ease; and is opposed unto עֲבֹד, which is to minister with labor and burden. So the ministry of the Levites in bearing the burden of the tabernacle is called עֲבוֹדָה, “a ministry with labor;” while the more easy and honorable employment, which was attended to by them who, by reason of their age, were exempted from bearing of burdens, is called שֵׁרֵת, Numbers 8:11, Deuteronomy 18:7. Such is the ministry of angels. It is in and about holy things, and unto themselves honorable and easy. And this שֵׁרֵת, is rendered λειτουγρία, which expresseth sometimes such a general ministry as compriseth the whole service and worship of the church: Acts 13:2, λειτουργούντων αὐτῶν κυρίῳ, — “As they ministered unto the Lord;” that is, attended unto the performance of all the duties of the church.

This, then, in general is the office of the angels: they are השרת מלאכי, or רחות, πςεύματα λειτουργικά, — “ ministering spirits,” that wait on God in and about his holy services for the good of the church; which also in the like manner ministereth unto God in its own state and condition. And hence it is that the church and they do make up one family, Ephesians 3:15; and they are all fellow-servants in the same family with them that keep the testimony of Jesus, Revelation 19:10.

And this some of the later Jews have retained the tradition of; whence is that of Maimonides, More Nebuch. part, 2. cap. 6., which he citeth out of the Talmud: מעלה אין הקבה עושה דבר עד שנמלר בפמליא של; — “The holy, blessed God doth nothing unless he consult with hissuperior family.” Only, not knowing the rise of the word פמליא, nor what it should signify, he tells us, פמליא הוא המחגה בלשין יוון, “that in the Greek tongue it signifies a host;” whereas it is purely the Latin “familia,” without the least alteration. And the description of this superior part of the family of God is given us, Daniel 7:10, “Thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him.” In which words Pseudo-Dionysius, Gregory, and Aquinas, with sundry of the schoolmen, have coined a distinction of angels, into “ministrantes,” those that minister unto God, and “assistentes,” those that stand before him; whereas the whole intendment of the expression is, that all the angels stood ministering before him, as John declares the matter, Revelation 5:11. And therefore the apostle expressly here affirms that they are “all ministering spirits,” cutting off one member of their distinction. Neither is there more intended in the ministry of that upper part of the family of God than is expressed concerning the lower part of it of old: <