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Bible Commentaries

John Owen Exposition of Hebrews
Hebrews 9

 

 

Other Authors
Introduction

Verse 1

ει῏χε μὲν ου῏ν καὶ ἡ πρώτη δικαιώματα λατρείας τό τε ἅγιον κοσμικόν.

Some things must be premised unto the reading of these words. ῾η πρώτη, “the first,” doth in the original answer in gender unto all things which the apostle treats of, — namely, the priesthood, the tabernacle, and the covenant. But many Greek copies do expressly read σκηνή, “the tabernacle.” So is the text expressed in Stephen’s edition, wherein he followed sixteen ancient manuscripts, adhering generally unto the concurrent agreement of the greatest number; and the word is retained in the most common edition. But there are ancient copies also where it is omitted: and they are attested unto by all ancient translations, as the Syriac and Vulgar Latin; the Arabic supplying “covenant,” in the room of it. Wherefore Beza left it out, and is followed by the generality of expositors, as he is by our translators. Cameron contends for retaining it. But the reasons for its rejection are cogent and undeniable; as, —

1. In the last verse of the preceding chapter, whereunto this immediately succeeds, the apostle mentioning the old covenant, calleth it absolutely τήν πρώτην, “the first,” without the addition of διαθήκην; and immediately repeating ἡ πρώτην, — that is, “that first,” — it is irrational to think that he refers it to another subject.

2. His design requires that the first covenant he intended; for he is not engaged in a comparison between the tabernacle and the new testament, but between the old covenant and the new. And the words of the text, with those that follow, contain a concession of what belonged unto the old covenant, particularly in the administration of divine worship; as is observed by Photius and OEcumenius.

3. The expression in the close of the verse, “A worldly sanctuary,” is no more nor less but the tabernacle; for it is that which the apostle immediately describes in its parts and furniture, which are the parts of the tabernacle, and no other. And if the word σκηνή, “the tabernacle,” be here retained, the sense must be, “And verily the first tabernacle had ordinances of worship and a tabernacle.”

4. In the next verse, adding an account of what he had affirmed, he saith, “For there was a tabernacle prepared; the first:” which would render this sense to the context, ‘For the first tabernacle had a tabernacle; for there was a tabernacle prepared.’Wherefore I shall adhere unto the supplement made by our translators, “the first covenant.”

δικαιώματα λατρείας. Some read these words by an ἀσύνδετον, and not in construction, from the ambiguity of the case and number of λατρείας, which may be either of the genitive singular or accusative plural,” ordinances, services.” This it is supposed the following phrase of speech doth intimate, τό τε ἅγιον κοσμικόν, “And also a worldly sanctuary:” which requires that the preceding words should be construed by apposition. And a difference there is between δικαίωμα and λατρεία; but whereas it is evident that the apostle intends no λατρεία or “service” here but what was performed ἐν δικαιώμασιν, “by virtue of ordinances or institutions,” the word ought to be read in construction, “ordinances of worship.”

ει῏χε μὲν ου῏ν καί. Syr., “but in the first there were in it;” as the Arab.,” in the first covenant there was contained.” Vulg. Lat., “habuit quidem et prius,” the comparative for the positive, unto the sense of the apostle: “and the first truly had also.” Beza,” habuit igitur prius foedus et;” transferring καί unto the words following: “wherefore the first covenant had also;” as we after him. Others, “habuit igitur etiam prius.” Most, in rendering the particles μὲν οὗν, have principal respect unto the note of inference ου῏ν, and include the assertory particle μέν in it. I think the principal respect is to be had thereunto, as it is in the Vulgar Latin, “and verily that first also had.” δικαιώματα λατρείας. Syr., “commands of ministry,” or “precepts;” which gives us the plain sense and true meaning of the apostle, as we shall see afterwards. “Ordinances concerning the administration of divine worship.” Vulg. Lat., “justificationes culturae;” Rhem., “justifications of service,” most obscurely, and in words leading from the sense of the Holy Ghost. Others, “ritus cultus;” “constitutos ritus cultuum,” “appointed rites of worship” or “service.” All agree what it is the apostle intends, namely, the ordinances of Levitical worship; which are expressed in the Vulgar by “justificationes culturae,” both barbarously and beside the mind of the apostle.

῞αγιον κοσμικόν. Syr., “a worldly holy house.” The tabernacle was frequently called” the house of God,” and “the house of the sanctuary.” Vulg., “sanctum seculare;” Rhem., “a secular sanctuary:” which the Interlinear changeth into “mundanum.” “Seculare” denotes duration; but it is not the design of the apostle to speak of the duration of that which he is proving to be ceased. Beza, “sanctuarium mundanum.” Some respect the particles τό τε, and render them “illudque.”(1)

Hebrews 9:1. — Then verily even that first [covenant] had ordinances of worship, and also a worldly sanctuary.

Proceeding unto the comparison designed between the old covenant and the new, as unto the services and sacrifices wherewith the one and the other were established and confirmed, he introduceth the πρότασις of the first by way of concession, as unto what really belonged thereunto. And this is the constant method of the apostle in all the comparisons he makes. He still allows full weight and measure unto that comparate which he prefers the other above. And as this, on the one hand, taketh away all cause of complaint, as though the worth and value of what he determineth against were concealed, so it tends unto the real exaltation of that which he gives the preference unto. It is an honor unto the priesthood and sacrifice of Christ, that they are so much more glorious and excellent than those of the old covenant, which yet were excellent and glorious also.

There is in this verse, —

1. An introduction of the concession intended, ΄ὲν ου῏ν καί. The contexture of these particles is somewhat unusual Hence some would have καί to be redundant: some join it in construction with δικαιώματα that follows. This was the judgment of Beza, whom our translators follow; for the word “also” (“had also ordinances”) renders καί in the original: and thereon they omit it in the first place, not saying, “and then verily,” but “then verily,” — that is, μὲν οὗν. If this be so, the assertion of the apostle seems to be built on a tacit supposition that the latter covenant hath ordinances of worship. Hence he grants the first had so also: ‘Even that had also ordinances of worship, as the new hath.’But I see not at all that any such supposition is here made by the apostle; yea, he doth rather oppose those ordinances of divine worship unto the privileges of the new covenant, than allow the same things to be under both. And this is evident in the worldly sanctuary which he ascribes unto the first covenant, for he had expressly denied that there was any such under the new, Hebrews 8:2. Wherefore although καί, “and,” seems to be redundant, yet it is emphatical, and increaseth the signification of the other particles, as it is often used in the Scripture. And the introduction of the concession, intimated by this contexture of the notes of it, “then verily even that,” shows both the reality of it and the weight that he lays upon it. οι῏ν we render “then;” most do it by “igitur,” “therefore.” But the connection unto the foregoing discourse is rather real than verbal. It is not an inference made from what was before declared, but a continuation of the same design. ‘And yet moreover it is granted;’or, ‘therefore it is granted;’ ‘verily so it was.’And so μέν serves unto the protasis of the comparison, whereunto δέ answereth, verse 11, “but Christ being come.”

2. The subject spoken of is ἡ πρώτη, “the first,” — that is, διαθήκη; ‘that first covenant whereof we treat,’— the covenant made with the fathers at Sinai, which, as unto the administrations of it, the Hebrews as yet adhered unto. The nature of this covenant we have spoken unto at large on the foregoing chapter, and thither refer the reader.

3. Of this covenant it is affirmed in general, that it had two things:

(1.) “Ordinances of worship;”

(2.) “A worldly sanctuary;” and the relation of them unto it is, that it had them: —

(1.) It had them, ει῏χε. It refers unto the time past. The apostle saith not “it hath them,” but “it had them.” ‘That is,’say some, ‘it had so whilst that tabernacle was standing, and whilst these things were in force; but now the covenant is abolished, and it hath none of them.’But this answers not the apostle’s intention. For he acknowledgeth that covenant and all its ordinances “de facto” to have been yet in being, in the patience and forbearance of God; only he affirms that it was ἐγγὺς ἀφανισμοῦ, Hebrews 8:13, — “ready to disappear.” Nor was he to take for granted what was the principal χρινόμενον between him and the Hebrews, but to prove it; which he doth accordingly. Hence he grants that there were “priests that offered gifts according to the law,” Hebrews 8:4; and some “served at the tabernacle,” Hebrews 13:10. But the apostle hath respect unto the time wherein that covenant was first made. Then it had these things annexed unto it, which were the privileges and glory of it; for the apostle hath, in the whole discourse, continual respect unto the first making of the covenant, and the first institution of its administrations. It had them; that is, they belonged unto it, as those wherein its administration did consist.

Obs. 1. Every covenant of God had its proper privileges and advantages. — Even the first covenant had so, and those such as were excellent in themselves, though not comparable with them of the new. For to make any covenant with men, is an eminent fruit of goodness, grace, and condescension in God; whereon he will annex such privileges thereunto as may evince it so to be.

(2.) This first covenant had two things in general: —

[1.] δικαιώματα λατρείας. Both translations and interpreters have cast some difficulty on the meaning of these words, in themselves plain and evident. δικαιώματα are חֻקִּים. And the word is generally rendered by δικαίωμα in the Greek versions, and next unto that by νομικόν; that which is “legal” and “right.” The Vulgar Latin renders it by “justificationes;” from the inclusion of “jus,” “justum” in the signification of it. In the New Testament it is used, Luke 1:6; Romans 1:32; Romans 2:26; Romans 5:16; Romans 8:4; Hebrews 9:1; Hebrews 9:10; Revelation 15:4; Revelation 19:8. And in no one place doth it signify “institution;” but it may be better rendered “righteousness” When alone we so translate it, Romans 5:16. In the context and construction wherein it is here placed, it can have no signification but that of “ordinances,” “rites,” “institutions, “statutes;” — the constant sense of חֻקִּים, determined both by its derivation and invariable use. Wherefore all inquiries on these words, in what sense the rites of the law may be called “justifications,” or whether “because the observation of them did justify before men,” or were signs of our justification before God, are all useless and needless. What there is of just and right in the signification of the word, respects the right of God in the constitution and imposition of these ordinances. They were appointments of God, which he had right to prescribe; whence their observation on the part of the church was just and equal.

These ordinances or statutes were so λατρείας, “of service;” that is, as we render it, “divine service.” λατρεία is originally of as large a signification as δουλεία, and denotes any service whatever. But it is here, and constantly in the New Testament, as is also the verb λατρεύω, restrained unto “divine service,” John 16:2; Romans 9:4; Romans 12:1; “cultus,” “of worship:” and so were it better rendered than by “divine service.” In one place it signifies by itself as much as δικαιώματα λατρείας doth here, Romans 9:4, “Unto whom belongeth the giving of the law, καὶ ἡ λατρεία, — “and the worship;” that is, δικαιώματα λατρείας, “the ordinances of worship,” — the ordinances of the ceremonial law. For although God was served in and according to the commands of the moral law, or the unchangeable prescriptions, “the ten words;” and also in the duties required in the due observance of the judicial law; yet this λατρεία, or עֲבֹדָה, was the immediate worship of the tabernacle, and the services of the priests that belonged thereunto. Hence the Jews call all idolatry and superstition עֲבֹדָה זָרָה, — “strange worship.”

And this was that part of divine worship about which God had so many controversies with the people of Israel under the old testament; for they were always apt to run into noxious extremes about it. For the most part they were prone to neglect it, and to run into all manner of superstition and idolatry. For the law of this worship was a hedge that God had set about them, to keep them from those abominations; and if at any time they brake over it, or neglected it, and let it fall, they failed not to rush into the most abominable idolatry. On the other hand, ofttimes they placed all their trust and confidence, for their acceptance with God and blessing from him, on the external observance of the ordinances and institutions of it. And hereby they countenanced themselves not only in a neglect of moral duties and spiritual obedience, but in a course of flagitious sins and wickednesses. To repress these exorbitancies with respect unto both these extremes, the ministry of the prophets was in an especial manner directed. And we may observe some things here in our passage, as included in the apostle’s assertion, though not any part of his present design: —

Obs. 2. There was never any covenant between God and man but it had some ordinances or arbitrary institutions of external divine worship annexed unto it. — The original covenant of works had the ordinances of the tree of life, and of the knowledge of good and evil; the laws whereof belonged not unto that of natural light and reason. The covenant of Sinai, whereof the apostle speaks, had a multiplication of them. Nor is the new covenant destitute of them or their necessary observance. All public worship, and the sacraments of the church are of this nature. For whereas it is ingrafted in natural light that some external worship is to be given unto God, he would have it of his own prescription, and not, as unto the modes of it, left unto the inventions of men. And because God hath always, in every covenant, prescribed the external worship and all the duties of it which he will accept, it cannot but be dangerous for us to make any additions thereunto. Had he prescribed none at any time, seeing some are necessary in the light of nature, it would follow by just consequence that they were left unto the finding out and appointment of men; but he having done this himself, “let not us add unto his words, lest he reprove us, and we be found liars.” And in his institution of these ordinances of external worship there is both a demonstration of his sovereignty and an especial trial of our obedience, in things whereof we have no reason but his mere will and pleasure.

Obs. 3. It is a hard and rare thing to have the minds of men kept upright with God in the observation of the institutions of divine worship. — Adam lost himself and us all by his failure therein. The old church seldom attained unto it, but continually wandered into one of the extremes mentioned before. And at this day there are very few in the world who judge a diligent observation of divine institutions to be a thing of any great importance. By some they are neglected, by some corrupted with additions of their own, and by some they are exalted above their proper place and use, and turned into an occasion of neglecting more important duties. And the reason of this difficulty is, because faith hath not that assistance and encouragement from innate principles of reason, and that sensible experience of this kind of obedience, as it hath in that which is moral, internal, and spiritual.

[2.] That these ordinances of divine worship might be duly observed and rightly performed under the first covenant, there was a place appointed of God for their solemnization. It had τό τε ἅγιον κοσμικόν, — “also a worldly sanctuary.” He renders מִקְדָּשׁ by ἅγιον properly a” holy place,” a “sanctuary” And why he calls it κοσμικόν, or “worldly,” we must inquire. And some things must be premised unto the exposition of these words: —

1st. The apostle, treating of the services, sacrifices, and place of worship, under the old testament, doth not instance in nor insist upon the temple, with its fabric and the order of its services, but in the tabernacle set up by Moses in the wilderness And this he doth for the ensuing reasons: —

(1st.) Because his principal design is to confirm the pre-eminence of the new covenant above the old. To this end he compares them together in their first introduction and establishment, with what did belong unto them therein. And as this in the new covenant was the priesthood, mediation, and sacrifice of Christ; so in the old it was the tabernacle with the services and sacrifices that belonged unto it. These the first covenant was accompanied with and established by; and therefore were they peculiarly to be compared with the tabernacle of Christ, and the sacrifice that he offered therein. This is the principal reason why in this disputation he hath all along respect unto the tabernacle, and not unto the temple.

(2dly.) Although the temple, with its glorious fabric and excellent order, added much unto the outward beauty and splendor of the sacred worship, yet was it no more but a large exemplification of what was virtually contained in the tabernacle and the institutions of it, from whence it derived all its glory; and therefore these Hebrews principally rested in and boasted of the revelation made unto Moses, and his institutions. And the excellency of the worship of the new covenant being manifested above that of the tabernacle, there is no plea left for the additional outward glory of the temple.

2dly. Designing to treat of this holy tent or tabernacle, he confines himself unto the first general distribution of it, Exodus 26:33, “And thou shalt hang up the veil under the taches, that thou mayest bring in thither within the veil the ark of the testimony: and the veil shall divide unto you between the holy and the most holy;” the holy utensils of which two parts he afterwards distinctly describes. The whole was called מִקְדָּשׁ; which he renders by τὸ ἅγιον, “the holy place,” or “sanctuary.” The tabernacle of witness erected in the wilderness in two parts, the holy and the most holy, with the utensils of them, is that whose description he undertakes.

It is observed by the apostle, that the first covenant had this sanctuary;

1st. Because so soon as God had made that covenant with the people, he prescribed unto them the erection and making of this sanctuary, containing all the solemn means of the administration of the covenant itself.

2dly. Because it was the principal mercy, privilege, and advantage, that the people were made partakers of by virtue of that covenant. And it belongs unto the exposition of the text, as to the design of the apostle in it, that we consider what that privilege was, or wherein it did consist. And, —

(1st.) This tabernacle, with what belonged thereunto, was a visible pledge of the presence of God among the people, owning, blessing, and protecting of them; and it was a pledge of God’s own institution. In imitation whereof, the superstitious heathens invented ways of obliging their idol gods to be present among them for the same ends. Hence was that prayer at the removal of the tabernacle and the ark therein, Numbers 10:35-36,

“Rise up, LORD, and let thine enemies be scattered; and let them that hate thee flee before thee.”

And when it rested he said, “Return, O LORD, unto the many thousands of Israel.” And thence the ark was called “the ark of God’s strength” (see Psalms 68:1-2; Psalms 132:8; 2 Chronicles 6:41), because it was a pledge of God’s putting forth his strength and power in the behalf of the people. And according unto this institution, it was a most effectual means to strengthen their faith and confidence in God; for what could they desire more, in reference thereunto, than to enjoy such a gracious earnest of his powerful presence among them? But when they ceased to trust in God, and put their confidence in the things themselves, — which were no otherwise useful but as they were pledges of his presence, — they proved their ruin. Hereof we have a fatal instance in their bringing the ark into the field, in their battle against the Philistines, 1 Samuel 4:3-11. And it will fare no better with others who shall rest satisfied with outward institutions of divine worship, neglecting the end of them all, which is faith and trust in God, Jeremiah 7:4. But men of corrupt minds had rather place their trust in any thing but God: for they find that they can do so and yet continue in their sins; as those did in the prophet, verses 8-10. But none can trust in God unless he relinquish all sin whatever; all other pretended trust in him is but the entitling of him unto our own wickedness.

(2dly.) It was the pledge and means of God’s residence or dwelling among them, which expresseth the peculiar manner of his presence, mentioned in general before. The tabernacle was God’s house; nor did he promise at any time to dwell among them but with respect thereunto, Exodus 15:17; Exodus 25:8; Exodus 29:44-46; Numbers 5:3. And the consideration hereof was a powerful motive unto holiness, fear, and reverence; unto which ends it is everywhere pressed in the Scripture.

(3dly.) It was a fixed seat of all divine worship, wherein the truth and purity of it were to be preserved. Had the observation of the ordinances of divine service been left unto the memories of private persons, it would quickly have issued in all manner of foolish practices, or have been utterly neglected; but God appointed this sanctuary for the preservation of the purity of his worship, as well as for the solemnity thereof. See Deuteronomy 12:8-11. Here was the book of the law laid up; according unto the prescript whereof the priests were obliged in all generations to take care of the public worship of God.

(4thly.) It was principally the privilege and glory of the church of Israel, in that it was a continual representation of the incarnation of the Son of God; a type of his coming in the flesh to dwell among us, and, by the one sacrifice of himself, to make reconciliation with God and atonement for sins. It was such an expression of the idea of the mind of God concerning the person and mediation of Christ, as in his wisdom and grace he thought meet to intrust the church withal. Hence was that severe injunction, that all things concerning it should be made “according unto the pattern showed in the mount;” for what could the wisdom of men do in the prefiguration of that mystery, which they had no comprehension of?

But yet this sanctuary the apostle calls κοσμικόν, “worldly.” Expositors both ancient and modern do even weary themselves in their inquiries why the apostle calls this sanctuary “worldly.” But I think they do so without cause, the reason of the appellation being evident in his design and the context. And there is a difficulty added unto it by the Latin translation, which renders the word “seculare,” which denotes “continuance” or duration. This expresseth the Hebrew עוֹלָם; but that the apostle renders by αἰών, and not by κόσμος, and therefore here hath no respect unto it. The sense that many fix upon is, that he intends the outward court of the temple, whereinto the Gentiles or men of the world were admitted, whence it was called “worldly,” and not sacred. But this exposition, though countenanced by many of the ancients, is contrary unto the whole design of the apostle. For,

1st. He speaks of the tabernacle, wherein was no such outward court; nor indeed was there any such belonging to the temple, whatever some pretend.

2dly. The whole sanctuary whereof he speaks he immediately distributes into two parts, as they were divided by the veil, namely, the holy and the most holy place; which were the two parts of the tabernacle itself.

3dly. He treats of the sanctuary only with respect unto the divine service to be performed in it by the priests, which they did not in any outward court whereinto the Gentiles might be admitted.

Wherefore the apostle terms this sanctuary “worldly,” because it was every way in and of this world. For,

1st. The place of it was on the earth, in this world; in opposition whereunto the sanctuary of the new covenant is in heaven, Hebrews 8:2.

2dly. Although the materials of it were as durable as any thing in that kind that could be procured, as gold and shittim-wood, because they were to be of a long continuance, yet were they “worldly;” that is, “caduca,” fading and perishing things, as are all things of the world; God intimating thereby that they were not to have an everlasting continuance. Gold, and wood, and silk, and hair, however curiously wrought and carefully preserved, are but for a time.

3dly. All the services of it, all its sacrifices, in themselves, separated from their typical, representative use, were all worldly; and their efficacy extended only unto worldly things, as the apostle proves in this chapter.

4thly. On these accounts the apostle calls it worldly; yet not absolutely so, but in opposition unto that which is heavenly. All things in the ministration of the new covenant are heavenly. So is the priest, his sacrifice, tabernacle, and altar, as we shall see in the process of the apostle’s discourse. And we may observe from the whole, —

Obs. 4. That divine institution alone is that which renders any thing acceptable unto God. — Although the things that belonged unto the sanctuary, and the sanctuary itself, were in themselves but worldly, yet being divine ordinances, they had a glory in them, and were in their season accepted with God.

Obs. 5. God can animate outward, carnal things with a hidden, invisible spring of glory and efficacy. — So he did this sanctuary with its relation unto Christ; which was an object of faith, which no eye of flesh could behold.

Obs. 6. All divine service or worship must be resolved into divine ordination or institution. — A worship not ordained of God is not accepted of God. “It had ordinances of worship.”

Obs. 7. A worldly sanctuary is enough for them whose service is worldly; and these things the men of the world are satisfied with.


Verse 2

Two things were ascribed unto the first covenant in the verse foregoing:

1. Ordinances of worship;

2. A worldly sanctuary. In this verse the apostle enters upon a description of them both, inverting the order of their proposal, beginning with the latter, or the sanctuary itself.

Hebrews 9:2. σκηνὴ γὰρ κατεσκευάσθη ἡ πρώτη, ἐν ἧ ἥ τε λυχνία, καὶ ἡ τρὰπεζα, καὶ ἡ πρόθεσις τῶν ἄρτων, ἥτις λέγεται ἁγία.

Vulg. Lat., “tabernaculum enim factum est primum;” “the first tabernacle was made;” ambiguously, as we shall see. Syr., בְּמַשְׁכְּנָא קַדְמָיָא דֶּאתְעַבַר“in tabernaculo primo quod factum erat;” “in the first tabernacle that was made.” λυχνία. Vulg. Lat., “candelabra,” “candlesticks.” Syr., הָוָא בֵהּ מְנָרְתָא,”in it was the candlestick.” πρόθεσις τῶν ἄρτων. Vulg., “propositio panum,” “the proposition of loaves.” Others, “propositi panes.” Syr. וַלְחֵם אפַא, “and the bread of faces.” ῞ητις λέγεται ἁγία. Vulg. “quae dicitur sancta;” dicitur sanctum;” “quod sancta vocant:” for some read ἁγία, some ἅγια. Syr., וּמֶתְקְיָא הֲית קוּדָשֵׁא“and it was called the holy house.”

Hebrews 9:2. — For there was a tabernacle made [prepared]; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shew-bread; which is called the sanctuary.

Our translation thus rendering the words, avoids the ambiguity mentioned in the Vulgar Latin. “First of all there was a tabernacle made.” But whereas our rendering is also obscure, “the first” being mentioned, where only one thing went before, — which yet includes a distribution supposed, — I would supply it with two parts, — ’There was a tabernacle made, consisting of two parts;’ “tabernaculum bipartite exstructum;” for the following words are a distinct description of these two parts.

1. The subject spoken of is the “tabernacle.”

2. That which in general is affirmed of it is, that it was “made.”

3. There is a distribution of it into two parts in this and the following verse.

4. These parts are described and distinguished by,

(1.) Their names;

(2.) Their situation with respect unto one another;

(3.) Their contents or sacred utensils. The one is so described in this verse:

(1.) By its situation, it was “the first,” that which was first entered into;

(2.) By its utensils, which were three;

[1.] The candlestick;

[2.] The table;

[3.] The shew-bread;

(3.) By its name, it was called “The sanctuary:” —

1. The subject treated of is σκηνή, that is מִקְדָּשׁ, — “the tabernacle;” the common name for the whole fabric, as “the temple” was afterwards of the house built by Solomon. An eminent type this was of the incarnation of Christ, whereby the fullness of the Godhead dwelt in him bodily, Colossians 2:9; substantially in the human nature, as it dwelt typically and by representation in this tabernacle. Hence is it so expressed, “He was made flesh,” John 1:14, — “and pitched his tabernacle amongst” or “with us.” The consideration hereof the apostle on set purpose fixed on, as the great concomitant, privilege, or glory of the first covenant, whereof he treats, and whose consideration was excellently suited unto his design. Immediately on the giving of the law, and making that covenant in Horeb which was accepted of by the people and solemnly ratified, Exodus 24:3-8, the whole of their remaining station in that place, for some months, was taken up in Moses’receiving revelations, and the people’s making provision about and for this tabernacle, with what belonged thereunto. Forty days was Moses in the mount with God, whilst he instructed him in all things that belonged unto it; so great and glorious was the design of divine wisdom in this tabernacle and its appurtenances. For it was the house wherein his glory was to dwell; and not only so, but a type and representation of the depth of his counsel in the incarnation of his Son, whereby the divine nature would personally dwell in the human for ever. 2. It is affirmed of this tabernacle that it was “made;” — “tabernaculum exstructum,” “constructum,” “praeparatum, “ornatum,” “adornatum;” “built,” “prepared,” “adorned.” There is more included in the word than the mere building of the fabric. For the apostle, in this one word, reflects on and compriseth,

(1.) The provision of materials made by the people;

(2.) The workings of those materials by Bezaleel;

(3.) The erection of the whole by the direction of Moses;

(4.) The adorning of it unto its use: that is the substance of the book of Exodus from Exodus 25 to the end.

First, preparation was made for it; then the materials were wrought, and that with such curious workmanship, accompanied with such rich devoted ornaments, that it was adorned in its making. It was prepared in its materials, it was wrought into its form, it was beautified in its ornaments; unto all which respect is had in this word. That which principally gave unto it its order, beauty, glory, and use, was, that it was entirely, and in all the parts and appurtenances of it, made according to the pattern which God showed Moses in the mount. And therefore, when it was finished and erected, all the parts belonging unto it, and all that was in it, were distinctly recounted, and it is added concerning them all, separately and in conjunction, they were all made “as the LORD commanded Moses,” Exodus 40:19-32. For it is the authority and wisdom of God alone that give beauty, use, and order, unto all that belongs unto his worship.

3. The first part of this tabernacle being so prepared, it had its furniture, that was to abide and be used in it: —

(1.) There was in it ἡ λυχνία, — “the candlestick.” The Vulgar Latin reads “candelabra,” in the plural number. Hence many disputes arise among the expositors who adhere unto that translation. Some of them contend that the apostle hath respect unto the temple of Solomon, wherein were ten candlesticks, five on the one side, and five on the other, 1 Kings 7:49; which is directly contrary to his scope and the words of the text. Some suppose that the one candlestick which was in the tabernacle was intended, but is spoken of in the plural number because of the six branches that came out of it, three on each side, and that which went directly upwards made seven, having lamps in them all, Exodus 25:31-32. But whereas it is constantly called “the candlestick,” and spoken of as one utensil only, the apostle could not call it “the candlesticks,” for that was but one. Wherefore the most sober of them depart from their common translation, and adhere unto the original; and make use of the expression to prove that it was the tabernacle of Moses, and not the temple of Solomon, wherein were ten candlesticks, that the apostle refers unto. The making of this candlestick is particularly described, Exodus 25:31, to the end of the chapter. Its frame, measures, and use, are not of our present consideration; they may be found in expositors on that place. It was placed on the south side of the tabernacle, near the veils that covered the most holy place; and over against it on the north side was the table with the shew-bread; and in the midst, at the very entrance of the most holy place, was the altar of incense. See Exodus 27:20-21. And this candlestick was made all of beaten gold, of one piece, with its lamps and appurtenances, without either joints or screws; which is not without its mystery. To fit it for its service, pure oil olive was to be provided by the way of offering from the people, Exodus 27:20. And it was the office of the high priest to “order it;” that is, to dress its lamps, every evening and every morning, supplying them with fresh oil, and removing whatsoever might be offensive, Exodus 27:21. And this is called “a statute for ever” unto the generations of the priests, on the behalf of the children of Israel; which manifests the great concernment of the church in this holy utensil.

(2.) On the other side of the sanctuary, over against the candlestick, were “the table and the shew-bread;” which the apostle reckons as the second part of the furniture of this first part of the tabernacle, distinguishing them from each other: “the table, and the shew-bread.” The making of this table, with its measures and use, its form and fashion, is recorded, Exodus 25:23-28; Exodus 37:10, etc. שֻׁלְחַן, “table.” The manner of its covering, when it was to be carried whilst the tabernacle was movable, is described, Numbers 4:7-8. And it was a utensil fashioned for beauty and glory.

(3.) Upon this table, which the apostle adds, was “the shew-bread.” It is here rendered by the apostle πρόθεσις τῶν ἄρτων, — the “proposition of the bread or “loaves; by an hypallage for ἄρτοι τῆς προθέσεως, — the “bread of proposition,” as it is rendered, Matthew 12:4; the bread that was proposed or set forth. In the Hebrew it is לֶחֶם, “bread,” in the singular number; which the apostle renders by ἅρτοι, in the plural, as also doth the evangelist. For that bread consisted of many loaves; as ἄρτος properly signifies “a loaf.” So the LXX. render it by ἄρτους, Exodus 25:30.

The number of these loaves, or cakes, as we call them, was twelve; and they were set on the table in two rows, six in a row, being laid one upon the other. The Jews say that every loaf was ten hand-breadths long, and five hand-breadths broad, and seven fingers thick. But this cannot well be reconciled unto the proportion of the table. For the table itself was but two cubits long, and one cubit broad; and whereas it had a border of an hand- breadth round about, nothing could lie on the table but what was placed within that border. And seeing a cubit was but five hand-breadths, it cannot be conceived how two rows of loaves, that were ten handbreadths long, and five hand-breadths broad, could be placed within that border. Wherefore they suppose that there were props of gold coming up from the ground, that bore the ends of the cakes. But if so, it could not be said that they were placed on the table, which is expressly affirmed. Wherefore it is certain that they were of such shape, proportion, and measures, as might fitly be placed on the table within the border; and more we know not of them.

These cakes were renewed every Sabbath, in the morning; the renovation of them being part of the peculiar worship of the day. The manner of it, as also of the making of them, is described, Leviticus 24:5-9. And because the new bread was to be brought in and immediately placed in the room of that which was taken away, it is called absolutely לֶחֶם הַתָּמִיד, — “the continual bread,” Numbers 4:7. For God says it was to be before him תָּמִיד, “jugiter,” Exodus 25:30, — “always,” or “continually.” Why it is called לֶחֶם הַפָנִים, “the bread of faces,” there is great inquiry. One of the Targums renders it “inward bread;” for the word is used sometimes for that which looks inward: the LXX., ἄρτους ἐνωπίους, “present bread, or “bread presented.” Many think they were so called because they were set forth before the faces of the priests, and stood in their view when they first entered the tabernacle. But the reason of it is plain in the text: פָנִים לְפָנַי לֶחֶם, — “the shew-bread before my face,” saith God. They were presented before the Lord as a memorial, twelve of them, in answer to the twelve tribes of Israel. The Jews think they were called “bread of faces,” because being made in an oblong square, they appeared with many faces; that is, as many as they had sides. But they cannot evince this to have been the fashion of them, and it is absurd to imagine that they had such a name given unto them from their outward form.

This is all that the apostle observes to have been in the first part of the tabernacle. There was in it, moreover, the altar of incense. But this was not placed in the midst of it at any equal distances from the sides, but just at the west end, where the veil opened to give an entrance into the most holy place; wherefore by our apostle it is reckoned unto that part of the sanctuary, as we shall see on the next verse.

4. Concerning this part of the tabernacle, the apostle affirms that it was called ἁγία, “holy.” This name of it was given and stated, Exodus 26:33, “The veil shall divide וּבֵין קֹדֶשׁ הֲקָּדָשִׁים, — “between the holy” (that is, that part of the sanctuary,) “and the most holy,” which our apostle describes in the next place. And we may observe, that, —

Obs. 1. Every part of God’s house, and the place wherein he will dwell, is filled and adorned with pledges of his presence, and means of communicating his grace. Such were all the parts of the furniture of this part of the tabernacle. And so doth God dwell in his church, which in some sense is his tabernacle with men.

But the principal inquiry about these things, is concerning their mystical signification and use. For by the apostle they are only proposed in general, under this notion, that they were all typical representations of things spiritual and evangelical. Without this he had no concernment in them. This, therefore, we shall inquire into.

We may in this matter be supplied by expositors with variety of conjectures. But none of them, so far as I have observed, have at all endeavored to fix any certain rule for the trial and measure of such conjectures, nor to guide us in the interpretation of this mystery.

Some say, the candlestick, with its branches, represented the seven planets, the sun in the midst, as the scapus of the candlestick was in the midst of the six branches, three on the one side, and three on the other. And the loaves of bread, say they, did represent the fruits of the earth as influenced by the heavenly bodies. This is the interpretation of Philo, a Jew and Platonical philosopher; and it doth not unbecome his principles. But that any Christian writer should approve of it I somewhat wonder, nor doth it deserve a confutation. Some say that the altar of incense signified those that are of a contemplative life; the table of shew-bread, those that follow the active life; and the candlestick, those that follow both of them. The pretended reasons of this application of these things may be seen in the commentaries of Ribera and Tena on this place.

Some, with more sobriety and probability, affirm the candlestick to represent the ministry of the church, appointed for the illumination of it; and the table with the shew-bread, the ordinances as administered by them: which things are declared succinctly by Gomarus on this place; and unto them they may have safely a secondary application.

But, as was said, a rule is to be fixed to guide us in the interpretation of the mystical signification of these things, and the application of them; without which we shall wander in uncertain and unapprovable conjectures. And it is plainly given us in the context. For therein are two things manifest:

1. That the tabernacle and all contained in it were typical of Christ. This is directly affirmed, Hebrews 8:2, as hath been evinced in the exposition of that place. And it is the design of the apostle further to declare and confirm it in what remains of this chapter.

2. That the Lord Christ, in this representation of him by the tabernacle, its utensils and services, is not considered absolutely, but as the church is in mystical union with him; for he is proposed, set forth, and described, in the discharge of his mediatory office. And these things give us an evident rule in the investigation of the original significancy of the tabernacle, with all the parts, furniture, and services of it, and the design of God therein. They were all representative of Christ in the discharge of his office, and by them did God instruct the church as unto their faith in him and expectation of him. This is excellently observed by Cyril. in Johan. lib. 4:cap. xxviii.: “Christus licet unus sit, multifariam tamen a nobis intelligitur. Ipse est tabernaculum propter carnis tegumentum; ipse est mensa, quia noster cibus est et vita; ipse est arca habens legem Dei reconditam, quia est verbum patris; ipse est candelabrum, quia est lux spiritualis; ipse est altare incensi, quia est odor suavitatis in sanctificationem; ipse est altare holocausti, quia est hostia pro totius mundi vita in cruce oblata.” And other instances he gives unto the same purpose. And although I cannot comply with all his particular applications, yet the ground he builds upon and the rule he proceeds by are firm and stable. And by this rule we shall inquire into the signification of the things mentioned by the apostle in the first part of the tabernacle: —

The candlestick, with its seven branches, and its perpetual light with pure oil, giving light unto all holy administrations, did represent the fullness of spiritual light that is in Christ Jesus, and which by him is communicated unto the whole church. “In him was life; and the life was the light of men,”

John 1:5. God gave unto him the Spirit not by measure, John 3:35. And the Holy Spirit rested on him in all variety of his gifts and operations, especially those of spiritual light, wisdom, and understanding, Isaiah 11:2-3; and in allusion unto this candlestick with its seven lamps, is called “the seven Spirits that are before the throne of God,” Revelation 1:4; as he in and by whom the Lord Christ gives out the fullness and perfection of spiritual light and gifts, unto the illumination of the church, even as the light of the tabernacle depended on the seven lamps of the candlestick.

Wherefore, by the communication of the fullness of the Spirit in all his gifts and graces unto Christ, he became the fountain of all spiritual light unto the church. For he subjectively enlightens their minds by his Spirit, Ephesians 1:17-19; and objectively and doctrinally conveys the means of light unto them by his word.

Again; there was one candlestick which contained the holy oil, (a type of the Spirit) in itself. Thence was it communicated unto the branches on each side of it, that they also should give light unto the tabernacle; yet had they originally no oil in themselves, but only what was continually communicated unto them from the body of the candlestick. And so the communications from Christ of spiritual gifts unto the ministers of the gospel, whereby they are instrumental in the illumination of the church, was signified thereby. For “unto every one of us is given grace according unto the measure of the gift of Christ,” even as he pleaseth, Ephesians 4:7.

But hereon we must also remember, that this candlestick was all one beaten work of pure gold, both the scapus, the body, and all the branches of it. There were neither joints, nor screws, nor pins in or about it, Exodus 25:36. Wherefore, unless ministers are made partakers of the divine nature of Christ, by that faith which is more precious than gold, and are intimately united unto him, so as mystically to become one with him, no pretended conjunction unto him by joints and screws of outward order will enable them to derive that pure oil from him with whose burning light they may illuminate the church. But this I submit unto the judgment of others.

This is of faith herein: That which God instructed the church in by this holy utensil and its use, was, that the promised Messiah, whom all these things typed and represented, was to be, by the fullness of the Spirit in himself, and the communication of all spiritual graces and gifts unto others, the only cause of all true saving light unto the church. “He is the true light, which lighteth every man coming into the world;” namely, that is savingly enlightened. Upon the entrance of sin, all things fell into darkness; spiritual darkness covered mankind, not unlike that which was on the face of the deep before God said, “Let there be light, and there was light,” 2 Corinthians 4:6. And this darkness had two parts; first, that which was external, with respect unto the will of God concerning sinners, and their acceptance with him; secondly, on the minds of men, in their incapacity to receive such divine revelations unto that end as were or should be made. This was the double veil, the veil veiled and the covering covered over the face of all nations, which was to be destroyed, Isaiah 25:7. And they are both removed by Christ alone; the former by his doctrine, the latter by his Spirit. Moreover, there was no light at all in the sanctuary, for the performance of any holy administrations, but what was given unto it by the lamps of this candlestick; and therefore was it to be carefully dressed every morning and evening, by a perpetual statute. And if the communication of spiritual gifts and graces do cease, the very church itself, notwithstanding its outward order, will be a place of darkness.

Obs. 2. The communication of sacred light from Christ, in the gifts of the Spirit, is absolutely necessary unto the due and acceptable performance of all holy offices and duties of worship in the church. And, —

Obs. 3. No man, by his utmost endeavors in the use of outward means, can obtain the least beam of saving light, unless it be communicated unto him by Christ, who is the only fountain and cause of it.

The table and the shew-bread, mentioned in the next place, respected him also, under another consideration. The use of the table, which was all overlaid with gold, was only to bear the bread which was laid upon it. What resemblance there might be therein unto the divine person of Christ, which sustained the human nature in its duties, that bread of life which was provided for the church, it may be is not easy to declare. Howbeit, the head of Christ is said to be “as the most fine gold,” Song of Solomon 5:11. Wherefore the matter of it being most precious, and the form of it beautiful and glorious, it might as far represent it as any thing could do which is of this creation, as all these things were, verse 11. But that the Lord Christ is the only bread of life unto the church, the only spiritual food of our souls, he himself doth fully testify, John 6:32-35. He, therefore, he alone, was represented by this “continual bread” of the sanctuary.


Verses 3-5

΄ετὰ δὲ τὸ δεύτερον καταπέτασμα σκηνὴ ἡ λεγομένη ἅγια ἁγίων· χρυσοῦν ἔχουσα θυμιατήριον, καὶ τὴν κιβωτὸν τῆς διαθήκης περικεκαλυμμένην πάντοθεν χρυσίῳ, ἐν ᾗ στάμνος χρυσῆ ἔχουσα τὸ μάννα, καὶ ἡ ῥάβδος ᾿ααρὼν ἡ βλαστήσασα, καὶ αἱ πλάκες τῆς διαθήκης· ῾ψπεράνω δὲ αὐτῆς χερουβὶμ δόξης κατυσκιάζοντα τὸ ἱλαστήριον· περὶ ὧν οὐκ ἔστι νῦν λέγειν κατὰ μέρος.

΄ετὰ δὲ το δεύτερον καταπέτασμα σκηνή, “but after the second veil,” or “covering.” Our Latin translation reads, “post medium velum;” that is, “after the veil that was in the midst:” but there were not three veils, whereof this should be in the midst, but two only. The Syriac somewhat changeth the words, “the inner tabernacle, which was within the face of the second gate.” The same thing is intended; but “the inner” is added; and “after the second veil” is expressed by an Hebraism. What καταπέτασμα is, which is rendered “velum,” and “velamentum,” a “veil,” a “covering,” and by the Syriac, a “gate of entrance,” we shall see afterwards.

῾η λεγομένη, “quod dicitur,” “quod vocatur.” Syr., “it was called.” χρσοῦν ἔχουσα θυμιατήριον, “aureum habens thuribulum;” “having the golden censer.” Syr., “and there were in it the house of incense of gold;” whereby either the altar or the censer may be understood. ᾿εν ᾗ στάμνος. Syr., “and there was in it;” referring plainly to the ark.

περὶ ὧν οὐκ ἔστι νῦν λέγειν κατὰ μέρος, “non est tempus,” “non est propositum;” “it is not a time or place,” “it is not my purpose to speak;” “non est modo dicendum.” κατὰ μέρος,” singulatim;” Vulg. Lat., “per singula;” Arias, “per partes;” Syr., “by one and one,” “apart,” “particularly,” according to the parts laid down distinctly. The Syriac adds the following words unto these, “It is not time to speak of these things by one and one, which were thus disposed.” But the original refers that expression unto what follows.(2)

Hebrews 9:3-5. — And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all; which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid [covered] round about [on every side] with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; and over it the churubim of glory shadowing the mercy-seat; of which [things] we cannot [shall not] now speak particularly.

The apostle in these verses proceedeth unto the description of the second part of the tabernacle, with the things contained in it, or the holy furniture thereof. His design is not to give us an exact description of these things, as he declares in the close of the fifth verse, but only to declare their use and signification. Wherefore he doth not propose an accurate account of their station and relation one to another, but makes such mention of them in general as was sufficient unto his end, namely, to manifest their use and signification. Wherefore they deal injuriously both with him and the text, who rigidly examine every word and passage, as though he had designed an exact account of the frame, positure, fashion, and measure, of this part of the tabernacle, and every thing contained in it; whereas the use and signification of the whole is all that he intends. A due consideration hereof renders the anxious inquiry that hath been made about the assignation of holy utensils unto this part of the sanctuary, and the placing of them with respect unto one another, — which was no part of his design, — altogether needless. For with respect unto the end he aimed at, the words he useth are exactly the truth.

He describes this part of the tabernacle,

1. From its situation; it was “after the second veil.”

2. From its name, given unto it by God himself; it was called “The holiest of all,” or” The holy of holies.”

3. From its utensils or vessels; which were,

(1.) The golden censer;

(2.) The ark, — what was in it or with it:

[1.] The golden pot that had manna;

[2.] Aaron’s rod;

[3.] The tables of the covenant.

4. The cherubim; which he describes,

5. The mercy-seat itself, but this is mentioned as it were only occasionally with respect unto the use of the cherubim.

(1.) From their quality, “cherubim of glory;”

(2.) Their use, they “shadowed the mercy-seat.”

And this sufficiently manifests, that in the rehearsal of these things the apostle designeth not accuracy of order; for the mercy-seat was, for glory and signification, far above the cherubim wherewith it was overshadowed.

With respect unto these things among others, in another place, he affirms that the ministration of divine worship under the law was glorious; but withal he adds that it had no glory in comparison of that which doth excel, — namely, the spiritual ministration of divine worship under the gospel, 2 Corinthians 3:9-10. And this is that which we should always mind in the consideration of these things; for if we yet look after and value such an outward glory as they did exhibit, we are carnal, and cannot behold the beauty of spiritual things.

The verbal difficulties which occur in this context have occasioned critical expositors to labor greatly about them. That is the field wherein they choose to exercise their skill and diligence. But as unto the things themselves, and the difficulties that are in the real interpretation of them, little light is contributed by most of their endeavors. Wherefore some of these words have been so belabored with all sorts of conjectures, that there is no room left for any addition in the same kind; and it were but lost labor to repeat what must be confuted if it were mentioned. I shall therefore take no further notice of any difficulty in the words, but as the explication of it is necessary unto the interpretation of the context; and so far nothing shall be omitted.

1. The first thing mentioned by the apostle is the situation of this part of the tabernacle; it was “after the second veil.” It was so unto them that entered into the tabernacle; they had to pass through the whole length of the first part before they came unto this; nor was there any other way of entrance into it. And by calling this partition of the two parts of the sanctuary the “second veil,” the apostle intimates that there was a former. Howbeit that former was not a separating veil of any part of the tabernacle, as this was. It was only the hanging of the door of the tent. This the apostle here reckons as a veil, because as by this veil the priests were hindered from entering into, or looking into the most holy place, so by that other the people were forbidden to enter or look into the first part of the sanctuary, whereinto the priests entered daily. The making of the first veil is declared, Exodus 26:36-37, and it is called מָסָךְ לְפֶתַח “the hanging,” or “covering for the door.’) The making of this second veil is declared, Exodus 26:31-33, and it is called “the veil” or “covering.” The apostle renders it by καταπέτασμα; as also it is Matthew 27:51, where it is spoken of as in the temple. And so it is rendered by the LXX., Exodus 26:31; as the former is called κάλυμμα, a covering. From πετάζω, which is “to extend,” “to stretch out” so as to cover with what is so extended, is καταπέτασμα, “a veil” to be a covering unto any thing, dividing one thing from another; as περιπέτασμα is that which covereth any thing round about: such was this veil.

The end, use, and signification of it, the apostle expressly declares verse 8, where they must be spoken unto.

2. He describes this part of the tabernacle by its name; it is called “The most holy,” “The holy of holies,” — הַקֲּדָשִׁים קֹדֶשׁ. So it is called by God himself, Exodus 26:33-34, “The holy of holies;” that is, most holy, — the superlative degree expressed by the repetition of the substantive, as is usual in the Hebrew. Some give instances of this kind of phraseology in Greek writers, remote enough from Hebraisms; as Sophocles, Elect. 849: δειλαία δειλαίων κυρεῖς, — “misera miserarum es;” that is, “miserrima.” But however the phrase of ἅγια ἁγίων may be Greek, the apostle intends to express the Hebraism itself. And “holy” in the Hebrew is of the singular number; “holies,” of the plural: but in the Greek both are of the plural number. And what is thus called was most eminently typical of Christ, who is called by this name, Daniel 9:24, “To anoint the Most Holy.” The place in the tabernacle which was most sacred and most secret, which had the most eminent pledges or symbols of the divine presence, and the clearest representations of God in Christ reconciling the world unto himself is so called.

Obs. 1. The more of Christ, by the way of representation or exhibition, any institutions of divine worship do contain or express, the more sacred and holy are they in their use and exercise. But, —

Obs. 2. It is Christ alone who in himself is really the Most Holy, the spring and fountain of all holiness unto the church.

3. The first utensil reckoned unto this second part of the tabernacle is χρυσο"ν θυμιατήριον; and the relation of it thereunto is, that it had it, — ἔχουσα. He doth not say, it was in it, but “it had it.” If any one would see the various conjectures of learned men about this assertion of the apostle, as also about that following, concerning what was contained in the ark, he may consult the collections of Mr. Pool on the place, where he will find them represented in one view. My design being only to declare what I conceive consonant unto the truth, I shall not spend time in repeating or refuting the conjectures of other men.

θυμιατήριον, we translate a “censer;” but it may as well be rendered the “altar of incense;” as it is by the Syriac the “house of spices,” — the place for the spices whereof the incense was compounded. The altar of incense was all overlaid with beaten gold; hence it is here said to be χρυσοῦν, of “gold.” And whereas it was one of the most glorious vessels of the tabernacle, and most significant, if the apostle intended it not in this word, he takes no notice of it at all; which is very unlikely.

And of this altar he says not that it was in the second tabernacle, but that it had it. And in that expression he respects not its situation, but its use. And the most holy place may well be said to have had the altar of incense, because the high priest could never enter into that place, nor perform any service in it, but he was to bring incense with him taken in a censer from this altar. Whereas, therefore, there was a twofold use of the altar of incense; the one of the ordinary priests, to burn incense in the sanctuary every day; and the other of the high priest, to take incense from it when he entered into the most holy place, to fill it with a cloud of its smoke; the apostle intending a comparison peculiarly between the Lord Christ and the high priest only in this place, and not the other priests in the daily discharge of their office, he takes no notice of the use of the altar of incense in the sanctuary, but only of that which respected the most holy place, and the entrance of the high priest thereinto: for so he expressly applies it, verse 12. And therefore he affirms this place to have had this golden altar, its principal use and end being designed unto the service thereof. This I judge to be the true meaning of the apostle and sense of his words, and shall not therefore trouble myself nor the reader with the repetition or confutation of other conjectures. And that this was the principal use of this altar is plainly declared in the order for the making and disposal of it, Exodus 30:6, “Thou shalt put it before the veil that is by the ark of the testimony, before the mercy-seat that is over the testimony, where I will meet with thee.” Although it was placed without the veil, and that for this end, that the high priest might not enter one step into the most holy place until the smoke of the incense went before him, yet had it peculiar respect unto the ark and mercy-seat, and is therefore reckoned in the same place and service with them by the apostle.

And this is yet made further evident, in that when the high priest entered into the most holy place, and had no service to perform but with respect unto the things pertaining thereunto, he was to make atonement on this altar with the blood of the sin-offering, as he did on the ark and mercy- seat, Exodus 30:10. This is an undeniable demonstration that, as unto the use of it, it belonged principally unto the most holy place, and is here so declared by the apostle. Wherefore, the assignation hereof unto ‘that place by the author is so far from an objection against the authority of the epistle, — unto which end it hath by some been made use of, — as that it is an argument of his divine wisdom and skill in the nature and use of these institutions.

The manner of the service of this altar intended by the apostle was briefly thus: The high priest, on the solemn day of expiation, — that is, once a- year, — took a golden censer from this altar; after which, going out of the sanctuary, he put fire into it, taken from the altar of burnt-offerings without the tabernacle, in the court where the perpetual fire was preserved. Then returning into the holy place, he filled his hands with incense taken from this altar, the place of the residence of the spices. And this altar being placed just at the entrance of the most holy place, over against the ark and mercy-seat, upon his entrance he put the incense on the fire in the censer, and entered the holy place with a cloud of the smoke thereof. See Leviticus 16:12-13. The composition and making of this incense is declared, Exodus 30:34-35, etc. And being compounded, it was beaten small, that it might immediately take fire, and so placed on this altar before the ark, verse 36. And the placing of this incense “before the testimony,” as is there affirmed, is the same with what our apostle affirms, that the most holy place had it.

That in general by incense, prayer is signified, the Scripture expressly testifieth: “Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense,” Psalms 141:2. And there is a fourfold resemblance between them:

(1.) In that it was beaten and pounded before it was used. So doth acceptable prayer proceed from “a broken and contrite heart,” Isaiah 51:17.

(2.) It was of no use until fire was put under it, and that taken from the altar. Nor is that prayer of any virtue or efficacy which is not kindled by the fire from above, the Holy Spirit of God; which we have from our altar, Christ Jesus.

(3.) It naturally ascended upwards towards heaven, as all offerings in the Hebrew are called עֹלוֹת, “ascensions,” risings up. And this is the design of prayer, to ascend unto the throne of God: “I will direct unto thee, and will look up;” that is, pray, Psalms 5:3.

(4.) It yielded a sweet savor: which was one end of it in temple services, wherein there was so much burning of flesh and blood. So doth prayer yield a sweet savor unto God; a savor of rest, wherein he is well pleased.

In this general sense, even the prayers of the saints might be typified and represented in that daily burning of incense which was used in the sanctuary. But it must be granted that this incense is distinguished from the prayers of the saints, as that which is in the hand of Christ alone, to give virtue and efficacy unto them, Revelation 8:4. Wherefore thisgolden altar of incense, as placed in the sanctuary, and whereon incense was burned continually every morning and evening, was a type of Christ, by his mediation and intercession giving efficacy unto the continual prayers of all believers.

But that which the apostle in this place hath alone respect unto, was the burning of the incense in the golden censer on the day of expiation, when the high priest entered into the most holy place. And this represented only the personal mediatory prayer of Christ himself. Concerning it we may observe:

(1.)That the time of it was after the sacrifice of the sin-offering; for the high priest was to take along with him the blood of that sacrifice, to carry with him into the holy place, Leviticus 16 :

(2.) That the incense was kindled with fire taken from the altar, when the blood of the sacrifices was newly offered.

And two things in the mediatory prayer of Christ are hereby intimated unto us:

(1.) That the efficacy of them ariseth from and dependeth on the sacrifice of himself. Hence his intercession is best apprehended as the representation of himself and the efficacy of his sacrifice in heaven, before the throne of God.

(2.) That this prayer is quickened and enlivened by the same fire wherewith the sacrifice of himself was kindled, — that is, by the eternal Spirit; whereof we shall treat on verse 14. Yet we must not so oblige ourselves unto the times, seasons, and order of these things, as to exclude the prayers which he offered unto God before the oblation of himself. Yea, that solemn prayer of his, recorded John 17., wherein he sanctified himself to be an oblation, was principally prefigured by the cloud of incense which filled the most holy place, covering the ark and mercy-seat. For by reason of the imperfection of these types, and their accommodation unto the present service of the church so far as it was carnal, they could not represent the order of things as they were to be accomplished in the person of Christ, who was both priest and sacrifice, altar, tabernacle, and incense. For the law had only a shadow of these things, and not the perfect image of them. Some obscure lines of them were drawn therein, but their beautiful order was not represented in them. Although, therefore, the offering of incense from the golden altar in the most holy place was after the offering of sacrifice on the altar of burnt-offerings, yet was the mediatory prayer of Christ for the church of the elect, wherein he also prepared and sanctified himself to be a sacrifice, thereby typified. So also the beating or bruising of the incense before its firing did represent the agony of his soul, with the strong cries and supplications that he offered unto God therein. And we may observe, —

Obs. 3. The mediatory intercession of Jesus Christ is a sweet savor unto God, and efficacious for the salvation of the church. — The smoke of this perfume was that which covered the ark and mercy- seat. Hereby the law itself, which was contained in the ark, became compliant unto our salvation; for herein Christ was declared to be the end of the law for righteousness unto them that do believe.

Obs. 4. The efficacy of Christ’s intercession dependeth on his oblation. — It was fire from the altar of burnt-offerings wherewith the incense was kindled.

Obs. 5. The glory of these types did no way answer the glory of the antitype, or that which was represented by them. — It is acknowledged that the service of the high priest at and from this golden altar, and his entrance with a cloud of incense into the most holy place, had great glory in it, and was suited to ingenerate a great veneration in the minds of the people; howbeit they were all but carnal things, and had no glory in comparison of the spiritual glory of Christ in the discharge of his office. We are apt in our minds to admire these things, and almost to wish that God had ordained such a service in the gospel, so outwardly glorious. For there is that in it which is suited unto those images of things which men create and are delighted withal in their minds. And besides, they love in divine service to be taken up with such a bodily exercise as carries glory with it, — an appearance of solemn veneration. Wherefore many things are found out by men unto these ends. But the reason of all is, because we are carnal. We see not the glory of spiritual things, nor do know how to be exercised in our minds about them with pure acts of faith and love.

Obs. 6. We are always to reckon that the efficacy and prevalency of all our prayers depends on the incense which is in the hand of our merciful high priest. — It is offered with the prayers of the saints, Revelation 8:4. In themselves our prayers are weak and imperfect; it is hard toconceive how they should find acceptance with God. But the invaluable incense of the intercession of Christ gives them acceptance and prevalency.

The second thing in this part of the tabernacle mentioned by the apostle is the ark. This he describes,

(1.) From its appellation; “the ark of the covenant:”

(2.) From one particular in its fabric; it was “overlaid round about with gold:”

(3.) From the things that accompanied it, and had no other use but to be laid up by it; “the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded:”

(4.) From what was placed in it, which to preserve was its principal use; “the tables of the covenant.”

This vessel in the Hebrew is called אָרוֹן; as the ark in the flood was called תֵּבָה. But the Greeks render both by χιβωτός as the Latins by arca. This, with the mercy-seat wherewith it was covered, was the most glorious and mysterious utensil of the tabernacle, and afterwards of the temple; the most eminent pledge of the divine presence, the most mysterious representation of the holy properties of his nature in Christ. This, as the heart of all divine service, was first formed; all other things had a relation unto it, Exodus 25:10-11. To treat of the fabric, that is, the materials, dimensions, and fashion of this ark, is not unto our present purpose. For these things the apostle himself here declines, as being no season to treat of them particularly. This he intends in these words, “Which we shall not now speak of.” And their mystical signification he gives afterwards.

(1.) The name of it is “the ark of the covenant.” Sometimes it is called “the ark of the testimony,” Exodus 26:33; Exodus 40:3; Exodus 40:5; most commonly “the ark of the covenant,” Numbers 10:33; Numbers 14:44, Deuteronomy 10:8, etc.; sometimes “the ark of God,” 1 Samuel 3:3; 1 Samuel 6:2, etc. “The ark of the testimony” it was called, because God called the tables of the covenant by the name of his “testimony,” or that which testified his will unto the people, and, by the people’s acceptance of the terms of it, was to be a perpetual witness between God and them, Exodus 25:16; Exodus 31:18, etc. On the same account is it called “the ark of the covenant,” namely, because of what was contained in it, or the tables of the covenant; which, as I have showed elsewhere, were usually called “the covenant” itself. And so they are called “the tables of testimony,” Exodus 31:18; that is, the covenant which was the testimony of God.

And lastly it was called “the ark of God,” because it was the most eminent pledge of the especial presence of God among the people.

(2.) As to the fabric of it, the apostle observes in particular, that it was on every side “overlaid” or “covered with gold,” — πάντοθεν, “every way, within and without,” — with plates of beaten gold. This, as I said before, was the most sacred and glorious instrument of the sanctuary; yea, the whole sanctuary, as unto its use in the church of Israel, was built for no other end but to be as it were a house and habitation for this ark, Exodus 40:21. Hence sanctification proceeded unto all the other parts of it; for, as Solomon observed, the places were holy whereunto the ark of God came, 2 Chronicles 8:11. And of such sacred veneration was it among the people, so severe was the exclusion of all flesh from the sight of it, — the high priest only excepted, who entered that holy place once a year, and that not without blood, — as that the nations about took it to be the God that the Israelites worshipped, 1 Samuel 4:8. And it were not difficult to evidence that many of the pretended mysterious ceremonies of worship that prevailed among the nations of the world afterwards, were invented in compliance with what they had heard concerning the ark and worship of God thereby.

This was the most signal token, pledge, or symbol, of the presence of God among the people. And thence metonymically it hath sometimes the name of God ascribed unto it, as some think; and of “the glory of God,” Psalms 78:61. And all neglects about it or contempt of it were most severely punished. From the tabernacle it was carried into the temple built by Solomon, where it continued until the Babylonian captivity; and what became of it afterwards is altogether uncertain.

God gave this ark that it might be a representation of Christ, as we shall show; and he took it away to increase the desire and expectation of the church after him and for him. And as it was the glory of God to hide and cover the mysterious counsels of his will under the old testament, — whence this ark was so hidden from the eyes of all men, — so under the new testament it is his glory to reveal and make them open in Jesus Christ, 2 Corinthians 3:18.

(3.) In this ark, as it was placed in the tabernacle, the apostle affirmeth that there were three things: —

[1.] “The golden pot that had manna,” When the manna first fell, every one was commanded to gather an omer, for his own eating, Exodus 16:16. Hereon God appointed that a pot should be provided which should hold an omer, to be filled with manna, to be laid up before the Lord for their generations, verse 33. There was it miraculously preserved from putrefaction, whereas of itself it would not keep two days unto an end. And it is added, “As the LORD commanded Moses, so Aaron laid it up before the testimony, to be kept,” verse 34. But there is a prolepsis in the words; Aaron is said to do what he did afterwards. For the testimony was not yet given, nor Aaron yet consecrated unto his office. It is not said in this place, where the making of it is appointed, that it was of gold, nor is there any mention of what matter it was made. That it was of gold the apostle here declares, who wrote by inspiration. And the thing is evident itself; for it was to be placed in that part of the sanctuary wherein all the vessels were either of pure gold, or at least overlaid with it, and a pot of another nature would have been unsuitable thereunto. And it was to be made of that which was most durable, as being to be kept for a memorial throughout all generations. The reason of the sacred preservation of this manna in the most holy place was, because it was a type of Christ; as himself declares, John 6:48-51.

[2.] The next thing mentioned is “Aaron’s rod that budded.” This rod originally was that wherewith Moses fed the sheep of his father-in-law, Jethro, in the wilderness, which he had in his hand when God called unto him out of the bush. And thereon God ordained it to be the token of the putting forth of his power in the working of miracles, having by a trial confirmed the faith of Moses concerning it, Exodus 4:17. Hereby it became sacred; and when Aaron was called unto the office of the priesthood, it was delivered into his keeping. For on the budding of it, on the trial about the priesthood, it was laid up before the testimony; that is, the ark, Numbers 17:10. That same rod did Moses take from before the testimony when he was to smite the rock with it, and work a miracle; whereof this was consecrated to be the outward sign, Numbers 20:8-11. Hereof the apostle affirms only that it “budded;” but in the story it is, that it “brought forth buds, and bloomed blossoms, and yielded almonds; “being originally cut from an almond tree, Numbers 17:8. But the apostle mentions what was sufficient unto his purpose.

This rod of Moses belonged unto the holy furniture of the tabernacle; because the spiritual Rock that followed them was to be smitten with the rod of the law, that it might give out the waters of life unto the church.

[3.] The last thing mentioned is “the tables of the covenant;” the two tables of stone, cut out by Moses, and written on with the finger of God, containing the ten commandments; which were the substance of God’s covenant with the people. This testimony, this covenant, these tables of stone, with the moral law engraven in them, were, by the express command of God, put into the ark, Exodus 25:16; Exodus 25:21; Exodus 40:20; Deuteronomy 10:5. And “there was nothing in the ark save the two tables of stone” with the law written in them, as is expressly affirmed, 1 Kings 8:9; 2 Chronicles 5:10. Wherefore, whereas it is said of Aaron’s rod and the pot of manna, that they were placed before the testimony, Numbers 17:10, Exodus 16:34, — that is, the ark; and that the book of the law was also put into the side of it, — that is, laid beside it, Deuteronomy 31:26; and not only are the tables of stone appointed expressly to be put into the ark, but also it is likewise affirmed that “there was nothing in the ark save the two tables of stone;” this place of the apostle hath been exceedingly tortured and perplexed by critics, and all sorts of expositors, with multiplied conjectures, objections, and solutions. I know not that the repetition of them in this place would be of any use. Those who have a mind to exercise themselves about them, do know where to find them. I shall therefore give only that interpretation of the words which, for the substance of it at least, all sober expositors do betake themselves unto. The true, real posture of these things was after this manner: In the closed ark there was nothing at all but the two tables of stone. Before it, or at the ends of it, adjoining unto it, were the pot of manna and the miracle- working rod. Neither of these was of any actual use in the service of God, but only were kept as sacred memorials. Unto this end being placed by it, they were joined unto and reckoned with the ark. This appurtenance of them unto the ark the apostle expresseth by the preposition ἐν, from the Hebrew בְּ. Now this preposition is so frequently

used in the Scripture to signify adhesion, conjunction, approximation, appurtenance of one thing unto another, that it is mere cavilling to assign it any other signification in this place, or to restrain it unto inclusion only, the things themselves requiring that sense. See Job 19:20; Deuteronomy 6:7; 1 Samuel 1:24; Hosea 4:3; Joshua 10:10; Matthew 21:12; Luke 1:17. And a multitude of instances are gathered by others

Hebrews 9:5. — “And over it the cherubim of glory, shadowing the mercy-seat; of which things we cannot now speak particularly.”

The apostle proceedeth in his description of the immediate appurtenances of the ark. He hath declared what was disposed with reference unto it, as the golden censer; what was before it, as the pot of manna and Aaron’s rod; what was within it, namely, the tables of the covenant; now he showeth what was over it: so giving an account of its whole furniture, and all that any way belonged unto it.

Two things he adds, namely,

1. The cherubim;

2. The mercy-seat.

And first he describes the cherubim,

(1.) By their posture; they were “over the ark:”

(2.) By their title; cherubim of glory:”

(3.) Their use; they “shadowed the mercy-seat.”

1. The making, form, fashion, and use of these cherubim, are declared, Exodus 25. The signification of the name, and their original shape or form, any further than that they were “alata animata,” “winged creatures,” are not certainly known. Most, as unto the derivation of the name, follow Kimchi; who affirms the letter caph to be servile, and a note of similitude, and the word to signify “a youth or a child.” Such these images are thought to represent; only they had wings instead of arms, as we now usually paint angels; for their bodies, sides, and feet are mentioned in other places, Isaiah 6:2. See Ezekiel 1:5-7, where they are expressly said to have “the shape of a man.” Wherefore, both as they were first framed for the tabernacle, and afterwards for the temple, when their dimensions were exceedingly enlarged, they were of human shape; only with wings, to denote the angelical nature.

There were two of them, one at each end of the ark or mercy-seat. Their faces were turned inwards, one towards another, so as that their wings touched one another. This posture gave unto the whole work of the ark, mercy-seat, and cherubim, the form of a seat, which represented the throne of God. From thence he spake; whence the whole was called דְּבִיו, “the oracle.”

As unto their place and posture, they were over the ark. For these cherubim had feet whereon they stood, 2 Chronicles 3:13. And thesefeet were joined in one continued beaten work unto the ends of the mercy-seat which was upon the ark; wherefore they were wholly over it, or above it, as the apostle here speaks.

As unto the appellation whereby he describes them, it is “cherubim of glory;” that is, say expositors generally, χερουβὶμ ἔνδοξα, — “glorious cherubim.” If so, this term is not given them from the matter whereof they were made. Those, indeed, in the tabernacle were of beaten gold, being but of a small measure or proportion, Exodus 25:18. Those in the temple of Solomon were made of the wood of the olive tree, only overlaid with gold; for they were very large, extending their wings unto the whole breadth of the oracle, which was twenty cubits, 1 Kings 6:23-28; 2 Chronicles 3:10-13. But such was the matter of other utensils also, as the candlestick, which yet is not called the candlestick of glory. Nor are they so called from their shape and fashion; for this, as I have showed, most probably was human shape with wings, wherein there was nothing peculiarly glorious. But they are so called from their posture and use; for, stretching out their wings on high, and looking inwards with an appearance of veneration, and so compassing the mercy-seat with their wings, all but the fore part of it, they made a representation of a glorious seat or throne, wherein the majestatical presence of God did sit and reside. And from between these cherubim, above the mercy-seat, it was that God spake unto Moses, and gave out his oracles, Exodus 25:22; as a man on a throne speaks above the place where he sits and rests. Hence may they be called the “glorious cherubim.”

But I must add, that by “glory” here, the majestatical presence of God himself is intended. The cherubim represented the glorious presence of God himself, as he dwelt among the people. So the apostle, reckoning up the privileges of the Hebrews, Romans 9:4, affirms that unto them appertained “the adoption and the glory.” And therein not the ark is intended, although it may be that is sometimes called “the glory;” or signified under that name, as 1 Samuel 4:21-22, Psalms 26:8; but it is God himself in his peculiar residence among the people, — that is, in the representation of his presence which is in Christ, who is Immanuel, and therefore called “the glory of Israel,” Luke 2:32. The cherubim being designed to make a representation hereof, as we shall immediately declare, are called the “cherubim of glory.”

As unto their use, it is expressed by κατασκιάζοντα. The Hebrew word in that language is of the masculine gender, but the apostle here useth it in the neuter, as appears by this participle; and so do the LXX. where they make mention of them. This, as some suppose, is done because for the most part they had the form of brute creatures; for so they say they had four faces, of a man, of a lion, of an ox, and of an eagle. But although there was this form in the appearance of them made unto Ezekiel, Ezekiel 1:10; yet was it not so of those images in the tabernacle, nor of them afterwards in the temple. But the only reason of this construction is, that Hebrew word not being translated as unto its signification, but literally transferred into the Greek language, is looked on as indeclinable, as all words foreign unto a language are, and belonging unto the neuter gender.

“Shadowing,” “covering,” “protecting,” סֹכְכִים, Exodus 25:20, “They shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering over the mercy-seat with their wings;” or, “their wings covering over the mercy-seat.” But this office of the cherubim we cannot understand, until we have declared what was that mercy-seat which they so covered over, and which the apostle makes mention of in the last place.

2. The making and frame of it is declared, Exodus 25:17. In the Hebrew it is called capporeth, or cipporeth, from caphar. The verb in Kal signifies “to cover,” “to pitch over,” and thereby to cover, Genesis 6:14. Thence is capporeth, “a covering.” But this cipporeth is rendered by our apostle ἱλαστήριον, a “propitiatory,” a “mercy-seat;” as it is also by the LXX. sometimes, and sometimes by ἐπίθημα, an “imposed covering.” But whereas, in allusion hereunto, the Lord Christ is said to be ἱλαστήριον, Romans 3:25; and ἱλασμός, 1 John 2:2; that sense must be taken in, and so it is constantly rendered by our translation “the mercy-seat.” And in that sense it is derived from cipper in Pihel, which signifies “to remove or take away,” and consequently “to be propitious and merciful in taking away of sin;” as also “to appease,” “atone,” “reconcile,” and “purge,” whereby sin is taken away. See Genesis 32:20, “to appease;” Proverbs 16:14, “to pacify;” Psalms 65:3, “to purge away,” applied to sin, Psalms 78:38, “to forgive iniquities;” Deuteronomy 21:8, “to be merciful;” Psalms 79:9, “to expiate.” Thence is “the day of expiation,” the great day of fast unto the Jews. This is the fast which was said to be over, in the storm that Paul and his companions were in; for it was on the tenth day of the seventh month, about which season navigation is dangerous, Hence cipporeth is rendered ἱλαστήριον, “a mercy-seat.” Yet if we will have respect also unto the first sense of the verb, and its use in Exodus, we may render it “a covering mercy-seat.” The matter of this mercy-seat was of “pure beaten gold;” the measures of it exactly commensurate and answering unto that of the ark; “two cubits and an half the length of it, and a cubit and an half the breadth of it,” Exodus 25:10-16. As unto the use of it, it was put מִלְמָעְלָה עַלאּהָאָרֹן, verse 21, — “above upon the ark.” What was the thickness of it, there is no mention. The Jews say it was an hand-breadth; which is not likely. However, it was of considerable substance; for the cherubim were beaten out of it, at its ends, verses 18, 19. For the situation and posture of it, some suppose that it was held in the hands of the cherubim, at a good distance from the ark. And the reason they give for this conjecture is, that so it did best represent a throne. The mercy-seat was as the seat of it, and the ark as the footstool; for so they say it is called when the church is invited to “worship at his footstool,” Psalms 99:5. But this reason indeed everts the supposition which it was produced to confirm. For the ark and mercy-seat being exactly commensurate, and the one placed directly over the other, it could have no appearance of a footstool, which must be placed before the seat itself. Nor is there any mention of the hands of the cherubim, as there is directly of their feet, in those made by Solomon. Nor is it probable they had any, but only wings instead of them; although those in Ezekiel’s vision, as they served the providence of God, had “the hands of a man under their wings,” Ezekiel 1:8. Nor could it be called a covering unto the ark, if it were at that distance from it, as this conceit will make it to be.

It was therefore laid immediately on the ark, so as the cherubim were represented to be above the throne; as the seraphim were in Isaiah’s vision, Isaiah 6:2. It had, as we observed, the just dimension of the ark. But the ark had “a crown of gold round about” it; that is, on its sides and its ends, Exodus 25:11; Exodus 37:2. But this crown or fringe of gold was so placed on the outsides of it, that it diminished nothing of its proportion of two cubits and a half in length and a cubit and a half in breadth. Wherefore the mercy-seat being exactly of the same measure, it fell in upon it, on the inside of the border or crown of gold.

It remains only that we inquire whether it was itself the covering of the ark, or whether the ark had a covering of its own, which it was placed upon. It is certain that the ark was open when the testimony, or tables of stone with the law written in them, was put into it. And there is no mention of the opening or shutting of it, how it should be closed and fastened when the tables were put into it. These things, I suppose, would not have been omitted, had it had a covering of its own. Besides, it is certain that this propitiatory, and the cherubim belonging thereunto, were never to be separated from the ark; and when the ark was removed and carried by the staves, they were carried upon it. This is evident from hence, because, whereas all the other golden utensils had rings and staves wherewith they were borne, these had none, but must be carried in the hands of men, if they were not inseparable from the ark. And when the men of Beth- shemesh looked into the ark, it doth not appear that they first took off the mercy-seat with the cherubim, and then brake up the covering of the ark; but only lifted up the mercy-seat by the cherubim, which opened the ark, and discovered what was therein, 1 Samuel 6:19.I do judge, therefore, that this mercy-seat was the only covering of the ark above, falling in close within the crown of gold, exactly answering it in its dimensions. Out of this mercy-seat, of the same substance with it, and contiguous unto it, the cherubim being formed, their wings which were above, some distance from it, being turned towards it, did overshadow it, giving a representation of a glorious throne.

This is a brief description of the utensils of the most holy place. The ark, which was as the heart and center of the whole, was placed at the west end of it, with its ends towards the sides of the place, the face as unto the entrance, and the back part unto the west end. Before it was placed the pot of manna, and the rod that budded, as afterwards; at one end of it was placed the book of the law. In the ark was the testimony, or the two tables of stone with the law written in them by the finger of God, and nothing else. When they were put into it, it was covered with the mercy-seat, and that shadowed with the wings of the cherubim. At the entrance into it was the golden altar of incense, with the golden censer; which although, as our apostle shows, it did in its use principally respect the service of this part of the tabernacle, yet could not be placed within the veil, because the high priest was not to enter himself until he had raised a cloud of incense, through which he entered.

The apostle having given this account of the sanctuary in both parts of it, and what was contained in them, adds, “Of which we now cannot speak particularly;” or rather, “Concerning which things it is not now a season to speak particularly,” or of the several parts of it, one by one. And the reason hereof was, because he had an especial design to manage, from the consideration of the whole fabric, — the service of the high priest in it; which the particular consideration of each part by itself would have too much diverted him from. Howbeit he plainly intimates that all, and every one of them in particular, were of singular consideration, as typical of the Lord Christ and his ministry. For unto this end doth he reckon them up in order. Only it seemed good unto the Holy Ghost not to give unto the church a particular application of them in this place, but he hath left it unto our humble diligence to seek after it out of the Scripture, according unto the analogy of faith, and such rules of the interpretation of those mysteries as himself giveth, in the ensuing declaration of their nature, use, and end in general. This, therefore, I shall briefly endeavor; yet so as, according unto the example of the apostle, not to divert from the especial design of the place.

As was said before so must I say again, expositors either pass by these things without any notice, or indulge unto various conjectures, without any certain rule of what they assert. Those of the Roman church are generally so taken up with their fourfold sense of the Scripture, literal, allegorical, tropological, and anagogical, — wherein for the most part they know not how to distinguish one from another, — that they wrest this and the like passages unto what sense they please. I shall keep myself unto a certain rule, and where that will not guide me, I shall not venture on any conjectures.

When Ezekiel had his vision of God in the administration of his providence, he says of it,

“This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord,” Ezekiel 1:28.

And we may say of this holy place with its furniture, ‘This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD in the administration of grace.’

Why God would in this manner, by these means, represent himself and the glory of his grace absolutely, we can give no reason but his own holy will and infinite wisdom. But this we find he did, and that with great solemnity. For first he made a glorious representation of it immediately by his own power in the mount. He showed a pattern of it in the mount; which was not only an exemplar of what he would have framed here below, but expressive of the idea in his own mind of good things to come. And thereon he gave command that it should in all things be made exactly according unto that pattern, enabling certain persons with wisdom, skill, and understanding so to do. And some things we may observe concerning the whole in general.

1. The nature of the things themselves, or the materials of the whole, being earthly, and the state of the church unto whose service it was allotted being imperfect, and designed so to be, two things did necessarily follow thereon: —

(1.) That sundry concernments of it, as the outward shape, form, and dimensions both of the tabernacle and all its utensils, were accommodated unto the present state of the church. Hence were they made outwardly glorious and venerable; for the people being comparatively carnal, were affected with such things. Hence were they all portable also, at their first institution, to comply with the state of the people in the wilderness; whence alterations were made in all of them, excepting the ark and mercy-seat, on the building of the temple. In these things, therefore, we are not to seek for any mystical signification, for they were only in compliance with present use. They served, as the apostle immediately declares, unto the use of “carnal ordinances,” which were to continue unto the time of reformation only.

(2.) That the resemblance of heavenly things in them was but dark and obscure, as the apostle expressly affirms, Hebrews 10:1. This both the nature of the things themselves, being earthly and carnal, with that state wherein the church was to be kept unto the fulness of time, did require.

2. This yet is certain and indubitable, — which gives us our stable rule of the interpretation of their significancy, — that God chose this way and these means to represent his glorious presence in and with the LORD Christ, unto all the ends of his mediation. For with respect unto them it is said that “in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily,” Colossians 2:9; namely, as it dwelt typically in the tabernacle by the outward pledges of his especial presence. Whence he concludes that they were all “a shadow,” whereof “the body was Christ,” verse 17. But we need seek for no further testimony hereunto than the express design of the apostle in this place. For his whole discourse, in this and the ensuing chapter, is to manifest the representation of Christ in them all. And those who would have only an application to be made of something unto Christ by way of accommodation or allusion, as the Socinians contend, do reject the wisdom of God in their institution, and expressly contradict the whole scope of the apostle. We have, therefore, nothing else to do but to find out the resemblance which, as an effect of divine wisdom, and by virtue of divine institution, was in them unto God’s being in Christ reconciling the world unto himself. And to this end the things ensuing may be observed: —

(1.) The spring, the life and soul of all this service, was the decalogue, “the ten words,” written in tables of stone, called “the tables of the covenant.” This is the eternal, unalterable rule of our relation unto God as rational creatures, capable of moral obedience and eternal rewards. Hereunto all this service related, as prefiguring the way whereby the church might be freed from the guilt of its transgression, and obtain the accomplishment of it in them and for them. For, —

[1.] It was given and prescribed unto the people, and by them accepted, as the terms of God’s covenant, before any of these things were revealed or appointed, Deuteronomy 5:2-27. Wherefore all these following institutions did only manifest how that covenant should be complied withal and fulfilled.

[2.] It was written in tables of stone, and those renewed after they were broken, before any of these things were prepared or erected, Exodus 34:1. God, by the occasional breaking of the first tables, on the sin of the people, declared that there was no keeping, no fulfilling of that covenant, before the provision made in these ordinances was granted unto the people.

[3.] The ark was made and appointed for no other end but to preserve and keep these tables of the covenant, or testimony of God, Exodus 25:16. And it was hereon the great token and pledge of the presence of God among the people, wherein his glory dwelt among them. So the wife of Phinehas the priest made the dying confession of her faith: she said,” The glory is departed from Israel, for the ark of God is taken,” 1 Samuel 4:22. Wherefore, —

[4.] All other things, the whole tabernacle, with all the furniture, utensils, and services of it, were made and appointed to minister unto the ark; and when the ark was removed from them they were of no use nor signification. Wherefore, when it was absent from the tabernacle, “all the house of Israel lamented after the LORD,” 1 Samuel 7:2; for the remaining tabernacle was no longer unto them a pledge of his presence. And therefore, when Solomon afterwards had finished all the glorious work of the temple, with all that belonged unto it, “he assembled all the elders of Israel, and all the heads of the tribes, the chief of the fathers of the children of Israel, that they might bring up the ark of the covenant into its place” in the temple, 1 Kings 8:1-4. Before this was done, all that glorious and costly structure was of no sacred use. This order of things doth sufficiently evidence that the spring of all these services lay in the tables of the covenant.

(2.) This law, as unto the substance of it, was the only law of creation, the rule of the first covenant of works; for it contained the sum and substance of that obedience which is due unto God from all rational creatures made in his image, and nothing else. It was the whole of what God designed in our creation unto his own glory and our everlasting blessedness. What was in the tables of stone was nothing but a transcript of what was written in the heart of man originally; and which is returned thither again by the grace of the new covenant, Jeremiah 31:33; 2 Corinthians 3:3.

(3.) Although this law as a covenant was broken and disannulled by the entrance of sin, and became insufficient as unto its first ends, of the justification and salvation of the church thereby, Romans 8:3; yet as a law and rule of obedience it was never disannulled, nor would God suffer it to be. Yea, one principal design of God in Christ was, that it might be fulfilled and established, Matthew 5:17-18; Romans 3:31. For to reject this law, or to abrogate it, had been for God to have laid aside that glory of his holiness and righteousness which in his infinite wisdom he designed therein. Hence, after it was again broken by the people as a covenant, he wrote it a second time himself in tables of stone, and caused it to be safely kept in the ark, as his perpetual testimony. That, therefore, which he taught the church by and in all this, in the first place, was, that this law was to be fulfilled and accomplished, or they could have no advantage of or benefit by the covenant.

(4.) This law was given unto the people with great dread and terror. Hereby were they taught, and did learn, that they were no way able of themselves to answer or stand before the holiness of God therein. Hereon they desired that, on the account thereof, they might not appear immediately in the presence of God, but that they might have a mediator to transact all things between God and them, Deuteronomy 5:22-27.

(5.) God himself by all ways declared, that if he should deal with the people according unto the tenor and rigor of this law, they could not stand before him. Wherefore on all occasions he calls them to place their confidence, not in their own obedience thereunto, but in his mercy and grace. And that this was their faith, themselves professed on all occasions. See Psalms 130:3-4; Psalms 143:2.

(6.) All this God instructed them in, by those mystical vessels of the most holy place. For after the tables were put into the ark, as under his eye and in his presence, he ordained that it should be covered with the mercy-seat. For hereby he did declare both that the law was to be kept and fulfilled, and yet that mercy should be extended unto them.

(7.) This great mystery he instructed them in three ways:

[1.] In that the covering of the ark was a propitiatory, a mercy-seat; and that its use was to cover the law in the presence of God. This was a great instruction; for if God should mark iniquities according unto the law, who should stand?

[2.] In that the blood of the atonement for sin was brought into the holy place and sprinkled on the mercy-seat, Leviticus 16:14. And this was done seven times, to denote the perfection of the reconciliation that was made. And herein were they also taught, that the covering of the law by the mercy-seat, so as that mercy and pardon might be granted notwithstanding the sentence and curse of the law, was from the atonement made for sin by the expiatory sacrifice.

[3.] By the cloud of incense that covered both ark and mercy-seat, testifying that God received from thence a savor of rest, Leviticus 16:13.

(8.) The cherubim, or angels under that denomination, were the ministers of God in executing the curse and punishment on man when, after his sin, he was driven out of the garden of God, Genesis 3:24. Hence ensued a fear and dread of angels on all mankind, which they abused unto manifold superstitions. But now, to testify that all things in heaven and earth should be reconciled and brought under one head, Ephesians 1:10, there was a representation of their ministry in this great mystery of the law and the mercy-seat. Wherefore they are ready unto the ministry of the church of mankind, all things being now reconciled, Hebrews 1:14, purely with respect unto the mercy-seat which their faces were turned towards, and which they shadowed with their wings.

(9.) Yet was this mystery so great, — namely, that which was represented by these types, — that the angels themselves were to bow down to look into it, 1 Peter 1:12. So are they here represented in a posture of admiration and adoration. And in their overshadowing of the mercy-seat with their wings, they declared how this mystery in the fullness of it was hid from the eyes of all men. See Ephesians 3:8-12.

(10.) The ground was originally blessed of God, to bring forth food for man, for the preservation of his life in that state and condition wherein he was to live unto God according unto the covenant of works, Genesis 1:29; but upon the entrance of sin it was cursed, neither are the fruits of it any more a token or pledge of the favor of God, nor are they sufficient to maintain a life unto God, Genesis 3:17-18. Wherefore God declared that there must be bread given the church from heaven, which might maintain a spiritual life in them. This God did by giving them manna in the wilderness. And that all instructions in grace and mercy might be reduced into a head in this holy place, because of that whereof it was a type, a pot filled with it was placed for a memorial in this holy place, before the ark and mercy-seat. See Psalms 78:24-25; John 6:31. Hereby were they taught to look for the bread of life from heaven, which should maintain them in their spiritual, and nourish them unto eternal life.

(11.) When the whole church was ready to perish for want of water, a rock was smitten with the rod of Moses, which brought water out of it unto their refreshment. God taught them thereby that the Rock of Ages was to be smitten with the rod of the law, that the waters of life might be brought forth thereby, 1 Corinthians 10:4. Wherefore this rod also was laid up for an instructive memorial before the ark.

In all these things did God instruct the church by the tabernacle, especially by this most holy place, the utensils, furniture, and services of it. And the end of them all was, to give them such a representation of the mystery of his grace in Christ Jesus as was meet for the state of the church before his actual exhibition in the flesh. Hence he is declared in the gospel to be the body and substance of them all. And I shall endeavor, with all humble reverence, to make that application of them unto him which Scripture light guides us unto.

1. In his obedience unto God according unto the law he is the true ark, wherein the law was kept inviolate; that is, was fulfilled, answered, and accomplished, Matthew 5:17; Romans 8:3; Romans 10:4. Hence by God’s gracious dealing with sinners, pardoning and justifying them freely, the law is not disannulled, but established, Romans 3:31. That this was to be done, that without it no covenant between God and man could be firm and stable, was the principal design of God to declare in all this service; without the consideration whereof it was wholly insignificant. This was the original mystery of all these institutions, that in and by the obedience of the promised seed, the everlasting, unalterable law should be fulfilled. In him, as the Jews speak, was the “law restored unto its pristine crown,” signified by that crown of gold which was round about the ark wherein the law was kept. Then had the law its crown and glory, when it was fulfilled in Christ. This the church of Israel ought to have learned and believed, and did so whilst they continued to pray for mercy “for the Lord’s sake,” as Daniel 9:17. But afterwards, when they rejected the knowledge hereof, and adhered unto the law absolutely as written in tables of stone, they utterly perished, Romans 9:31-33; Romans 10:2-3. And they do all yet, what lieth in them, return unto the material ark and tables of stone, who reject the accomplishment of the law in and by Jesus Christ.

2. He was the mercy-seat; that is, he was represented by it. So the apostle speaks expressly, “God set him forth to be ἱλαστήριον,Romans 3:25, — “a propitiation;” that is, to answer the mercy-seat and what was signified thereby. And this was to cover the law under the eye of God. He interposeth between God and his throne and the law, that he may not enter into judgment with us in pursuit of the curse of it. The law required obedience, and threatened the curse in case of disobedience. With respect unto the obedience which it required, Christ was the ark in whom it was fulfilled; and with respect unto the curse of the law, he was the mercy-seat or propitiation whereby atonement was made, that the curse should not be inflicted, Galatians 3:13.

3. It was his blood in figure that was carded into the holy place to make atonement, as the apostle declares at large in this chapter. The efficacy of his blood, when he offered himself an expiatory sacrifice for sin unto God, prevailed for an atonement in the holy place not made with hands. See Hebrews 10:11-14.

4. It is his intercession that is the cloud of incense which covers the ark and mercy-seat. This gives a continual sweet savor unto God from his oblation, and renders acceptable all the worship of the church in their approaches unto him, Revelation 8:3. These things did God instruct the church in by types and figures, to prepare their faith for the receiving of him at his actual oblation. And on the representation so made of him, all that truly believed lived in the expectation of him and longing after him, with the departure of these shadows of good things to come, Song of Solomon 2:17; Song of Solomon 8:14; Luke 10:24; 1 Peter 1:10-11. And the refusal of this instruction was that which ruined this church of the Hebrews.

5. It was He who took off the original curse of the law, whose first execution was committed unto the cherubim, when man was driven out of the garden, and kept from all approaches unto the tree of life. Hereby he made reconciliation between them and the elect church of God, Ephesians 1:10. Hence have they now a ministry with respect unto the mercy-seat, for the good of “the heirs of salvation,” Hebrews 1:14.

6. He was the bread of life, typed by the manna kept in the golden pot before the mercy-seat; for he alone is the nourishment of the spiritual life of men. The mystery hereof himself at large declares, John 6:31-35. This were they taught to expect in the memorial of that heavenly food which was preserved in the sanctuary.

7. He was that spiritual rock which was smitten with the rod of Moses, the curse and stroke of the law. Hereon the waters of life flowed from him, for the quickening and refreshment of the church, 1 Corinthians 10:3-4.

Thus was the Lord Christ all and in all from the beginning. And as the general design of the whole structure of the tabernacle, with all that belonged thereunto, was to declare that God was reconciled to sinners, with a blessed provision for the glory of his holiness and the honor of the law, which is in and by Jesus Christ alone; so every thing in it directed unto his person, or his grace, or some act of his mediation. And two things do now attend all these institutions:

1. As they are interpreted by gospel light, they are a glorious representation of the wisdom of God, and a signal confirmation of faith in Him who was prefigured by them.

2. Take them in themselves, separated from this end, and they give no representation of any one holy property of the nature of God, — nothing of his wisdom, goodness, greatness, love, or grace; but are low and carnal, base and beggarly.

And that we may have a due apprehension of them, some things in general concerning them may be considered.

1. The whole scheme, frame, fashion, use, and service of the tabernacle, with all that belonged thereunto, was a mere arbitrary effect of the sovereign will and pleasure of God. Why he would by this way and by these means declare himself appeased unto the church, and that he would graciously dwell amongst them; why he would by them type out and prefigure the incarnation and mediation of Christ, — no other reason can be given but his own will, which in all things is to be adored by us. Other ways and means unto the same ends were not wanting unto divine wisdom, but this in the good pleasure of his will he determined on. In the supreme authority of God was the church absolutely to acquiesce whilst it was obliged unto the observation of these ordinances, and other reason of them they could not give. And whereas their use is now utterly ceased, yet do they abide on the holy record, as some think the fabric of heaven and earth shall do after the final judgment, to be monuments of his wisdom and sovereignty. But the principal ends of the preservation of this memorial in the sacred record are two:

(1.) That it may be a perpetual testimony unto the prescience, faithfulness, and power of God. His infinite prescience is testified unto, in the prospect which therein he declares himself to have had of the whole future frame of things under the gospel, which he represented therein; his faithfulness and power, in the accomplishment of all those things which were prefigured by them.

(2.) That it might testify the abundant grace and goodness of God unto the church of the new testament, which enjoyeth the substance of all those spiritual things, whereof of old he granted only the types and shadows. Wherefore, —

2. It must be acknowledged, that the instruction given by these things into the mysteries of the will of God, and consequently all those teachings which were influenced and guided by them, were dark, obscure, and difficult to be rightly apprehended and duly improved. Hence the way of teaching under the old testament was one reason for the abolishing of that covenant, that a more effectual way of instruction and illumination might be introduced. This is declared at large in the exposition of the preceding chapter. There was need for them all to go up and down, every one unto his brother, and every one unto his neighbor, saying, “Know the LORD” for the true knowledge of him, and of the mysteries of his will, was by these means very difficult to be obtained. And now that the Jews have lost all that prospect unto the promised seed which their forefathers had in these things, it is sad to consider what work they make with them. They have turned the whole of all legal institutions into such an endless, scrupulous, superstitious observance of carnal rites, in all imaginable circumstances, as never became the divine wisdom to appoint, as is marvellous that any of the race of mankind should enbondage themselves unto. Yea, now that all things are plainly fulfilled in Christ, some among ourselves would have the most of them to have represented heaven and the planets, the fruits of the earth, and I know not what besides. But this was the way which the infinite wisdom of God fixed on for the instruction of the church in the state then allotted unto it.

3. This instruction was sufficient unto the end of God, in the edification and salvation of them that did believe. For these things being diligently and humbly inquired into, they gave that image and resemblance of the work of God’s grace in Christ which the church was capable of in that state, before its actual accomplishment. Those who were wise and holy among them, knew full well that all these things in general were but types of better things; and that there was something more designed of God in the pattern showed unto Moses than what they did contain. For Moses made and did all things

“for a testimony unto what should be spoken afterwards,” Hebrews 3:5.

In brief, they all of them believed that through the Messiah, the promised seed, they should really receive all that grace, goodness, pardon, mercy, love, favor, and privilege, which were testified unto in the tabernacle and all the services of it. And because they were not able to make distinct, particular applications of all these things unto his mediatory actings, their faith was principally fixed on the person of Christ, as I have elsewhere demonstrated. And with respect unto him, his sufferings, and his glory, they diligently inquired into these things, 1 Peter 1:11. And this was sufficient unto that faith and obedience which God then required of the church. For, —

4. Their diligent inquiry into these things, and the meaning of them, was the principal exercise of their faith and subjection of soul unto God; for even in these things also did “the Spirit testify beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that did follow.” And as the exercise of faith herein was acceptable unto God, so the discoveries of grace which they received therein were refreshing unto their souls; for hereby they often saw the King in his beauty, and beheld the pleasant land, which as far off, Isaiah 33:17.

5. That worship which was outwardly performed in and by these things was full of beauty and glory, 2 Corinthians 3. It was also suited to beget a due reverence of the majesty and holiness of God. It was God’s way of worship, it was God’s order; and so had characters of divine wisdom upon it. Wherefore, although the people were originally obliged unto the observance of it by the mere sovereign will and pleasure of God, yet the things themselves were so beautiful and glorious, as nothing but the substance of the things themselves in Christ could excel. This made the devil as it were steal away so many rites of the tabernacle worship, and turn them unto his own use in the idolatry of the nations.

6. It is a sad instance of the degeneracy of the corrupted nature of man, that whereas all these things were appointed for no other end but to signify beforehand the coming of Christ, his sufferings, and the glory that ensued; the principal reason why the church of the Jews rejected him at his coming was, that they preferred these institutions and their carnal use above and before him who was the substance and life of them all. And no otherwise will it fall out with them all who prefer any thing in religion before him, or suppose that any thing is accepted with God without him. Some things we may also observe in general, for our own instruction, from what we have discoursed on this occasion: —

Obs. 7. Although the sovereign will and pleasure of God be the only reason and original cause of all instituted worship, yet there is, and ever was, in all his institutions, such an evidence of divine wisdom and goodness as gives them beauty, desirableness, and usefulness unto their proper end. — There is that in them which, unto an enlightened mind, will distinguish them for ever from the most plausible inventions of men, advanced in the imitation of them. Only a diligent inquiry into them is expected from us, Psalms 111:2-3. When men have slight considerations of any of God’s institutions, when they come unto them without a sense that there is divine wisdom in them, that which becomes him from whom they are, it is no wonder if their glory be hid from them. But when we diligently and humbly inquire into any of the ways of God, to find out the characters of his divine excellencies that are upon them, we shall obtain a satisfying view of his glory, Hosea 6:3.

Obs. 8. All the counsels of God concerning his worship in this world, and his eternal glory in the salvation of the church, do center in the person and mediation of Christ. — The life, glory, and usefulness of all things whereof we have discoursed, arose from hence, that there was in them all a representation of the person and mediation of Christ. Hereunto were they designed by divine wisdom. In him alone is God well pleased; in him alone will he be glorified.


Verse 6-7

Having given an account of the structure or fabric of the tabernacle in the two parts of it, and the furniture of those several parts distinctly, to complete his argument the apostle adds in these verses the consideration of the uses they were designed unto in the service of God. For in the application of these things unto his purpose and the argument he designeth from them, both of these in conjunction, namely, the structure of the tabernacle with its furniture, and the services performed therein, were to be made use of.

Hebrews 9:6-7. τούτων δὲ οὕτω κατεσκευασμένων, εἰς μὲν τὴν πρώτην σκηνὴν διαπαντὸς εἰσίασιν οἱ ἱερεῖς τὰς λατρείας ἐπιτελοῦντες· εἰς δὲ τὴν δευτέραν ἅπαξ τοῦ ἐνιαυτοῦ μόνος ὁ ἀρχιερεὺς, οὐ χωρὶς αἵματος, ὅ προσφέρει ὑπὲρ ἑαυτοῦ καὶ τῶν τοῦ λαοῦ ἀγνοημάτων.(3)

τούτων δὲ οὕτω κατεσκευασμένων. Vulg. Lat., “his vero ita compositis;” “so composed,” “so framed and put together.” Syr., הֲיַי דְּהָכַנָּא מְתַקְנֵן, “quae ira disposita erant,” “which things were so disposed;” altering the absolute construction of the words, and carrying on the sense of the former [verse] thus far. Others, “his vero ita ordinatis,” “ita praeparatis;” “thus ordered,” “thus prepared,” “thus ordained.” “Ornatis,” “adorned.” Beza, “constructis.” κατασκευὰζω is the ordering, placing, or fixing of vessels, or any materials prepared for use.

εἰς τὴν προώτην σκηνὴν. Vulg. Lat., “in priori tabernaculo;” for “in prius tabernaculum.” Syr., לְמַשְׁכְנָא בַּיְיָא, “into the outward tabernacle;” that is, of those parts mentioned by the apostle.

διαπαντός. Vulg. Lat., “semper,” “always.” Syr., בְּכֻלאּזְכַן, “in omni ternpore;” others generally, “quovis tempore;” “at every season,” at any time, as occasion required.

τὰς λατρείας ἐπιτελοῦντες. Vulg. Lat., “sacrificiorum officia consummantes,” “perfecting to this part” or “offices of the sacrifices;” but the sacrifices belonged not at all unto the duties of the tabernacle. Syr., וַמַשַׁלְמִין הֲוַו תֶּשְׁמֶשְׁתְּהוּן, “and they were perfecting their ministry.” “Ritus obeuntes,” “cultus obeuntes;” Beza, “ritus cultus obeuntes;” — “performing the rites of sacred worship.”

εἰς δὲ τὴν δευτέραν. Vulg. Lat., “in secundo autem.” Syr., דַּלְגַו מֶנֵהּ לְמַשְׁכְּנָא דֵּין, “and into the tabernacle that was within it,” or “within the other.” “In secundum autem,” “sed in alterum;” “but into the second,” or “the other.”

῞απαξ. Syr., חֲדָא הוּ; which Boderus renders substantively, “unum est,” “that inward tabernacle was one.” But the reference is unto what follows, and is better rendered adverbially, “semel,” “once.”

οὐ χωρὶς αἵματος, “non sine sanguine.” Syr., “cum sanguine illo,” “with that blood.”

῞ο προσφέρει. Vulg. Lat., Eras., “quem offert;” Syr., “which he was offering,” “which he offereth.” ῾υπὲρ ἑαυτοῦ καὶ τῶν λαοῦ ἀγνοημάτων. Vulg. Lat., pro sua et populi ignorantia;” very corruptly. Syr., חֲלָף נַפְשֵׁה וַחֲלָף סַכְלוּתֵהּ דְּעַמָּא “for his own soul, and the errors of the people;” rightly.

Hebrews 9:6-7. — Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service [of God.] But into the second [went] the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and [for] the errors of the people.

I follow the common translation, but shall take notice of what it seems defective in. And there is in the words, —

First, A supposition of what was before declared, as the foundation of what he was now further to assert: “Now when these things were thus ordained.” And there is therein,

1. The manner of the inference;

2. The subject spoken of;

3. What is spoken of it: —

1. The manner of the inference is the particle δέ, which we ponder “now when;” “vero,” “but.” “Now when” is included in the tense of the participle,

2. The subject spoken of, τούτων, “these things;” that is, the things spoken of in the precedent verses, — namely, the two parts of the tabernacle, and the sacred furniture of them.

3. That which is affirmed of them is, that they were “ordained.” And the manner thereof is also added, that they were “thus ordained,” — κατεσκευασμένων. Beza once rendered it by “ordinatis;” whom I suppose ours follow, rendering it by “ordained.” But “ordinatis” is rather

“ordered’than “ordained.” “To be ordained,” signifies the appointment and designation of them; and so they were ordained of God: but that which is here expressed is their building, framing, finishing, and disposition into their actual order. So the word is used for the making of the tabernacle, verse 2: “A tabernacle was made.” ‘These things being prepared, made, and finished.’The preparation, structure, and finishing of the tabernacle, and all its utensils, with their disposition into their sacred order, are respected in this word. They were “disposed” οὕτω, “thus;” that is, in the manner declared, — that the tabernacle should consist of two parts, that the one should contain such and such holy utensils, and the other those of another sort.

Secondly, When these things were thus prepared and ordered, they stood not for a magnificent show, but were designed unto constant use in the service of God. This the apostle declares, in the same order wherein he had described the parts of the tabernacle in their distribution into the first and the second, the outward and inward tabernacle.

As to the first tabernacle, wherein were the candlestick, and the table, and the shew-bread, he declares the use of it,

1. With respect unto the persons for whose ministry it was ordained;

2. Of that ministry itself;

3. Of the time and season of its performance.

1. The persons who administered therein were the priests. They, and they alone, entered into the sanctuary. All others were forbidden to approach unto it, on pain of excision. These priests, who had this privilege, were all the posterity of Aaron, unless they fell under exception by some legal incapacitating blemish. For a long time, — that is, from the preparing of the tabernacle unto the building of the temple, — they administered in this sanctuary promiscuously, under the care of God and directions of the high priest. For the inspection of the whole was committed in an especial manner unto the high priest, Numbers 4:16; Zechariah 3:7; yea, the actual performance of the daily service of this part of the sanctuary was in the first place charged on him, Exodus 27:21. But the other priests being designed to help and assist him on all occasions, this service in process of time was wholly devolved on them. And if the high priest did at any time minister in this part of the sanctuary, he did it not as the high priest, but as a priest only, for all his peculiar service belonged unto the most holy place.

In process of time, when the priests of the posterity of Aaron were multiplied, and the services of the sanctuary were to be increased by the building of the temple, wherein instead of one candlestick there were ten, David, by God’s direction, cast all the priests into twenty-four courses or orders, that should serve in their turns, two courses in a month; which rule continued unto the destruction of the second temple, 1 Chronicles 24; Luke 1:5. And he did it for sundry ends:

(1.) That none of the priests of the posterity of Aaron might be utterly excluded from this privilege of approaching unto God in the sanctuary; and if they had been, it is likely they would have disposed of themselves into other ways and callings, and so have both neglected and defiled the priesthood.

(2.) That there might be no neglect at any time in the solemn ministry, seeing that which lies on all promiscuously is too often neglected by all. For although the high priest was to “keep the charge, to judge the house, and to keep the courts,” Zechariah 3:7, and so take care for the due attendance unto the daily ministration; yet was the provision more certain, when, being ordained by law, or by divine institution, all persons concerned herein knew the times and seasons wherein they might and wherein they ought to attend on the altar. These were the officers that belonged unto the sanctuary, the persons who alone might enter into it on a sacred account. And when the structure of the whole was to be taken down, that it might be removed from one place to another, as it was frequently in the wilderness, the whole was to be done by the priests, and all the holy utensils covered, before the Levites were admitted to draw nigh to carry them, so as they might not touch them at all, Numbers 4:15. Yet must it be observed, that although this was the peculiar service of the priests, yet was it not their only service. Their whole sacred employment was not confined unto this their entrance into the sanctuary. There was a work committed unto them, whereon their whole service in the sanctuary did depend. This was the offering of sacrifices; which was accomplished in the court without, on the brazen altar before the door of the tabernacle: which belonged not unto the purpose of the apostle in this place.

This was the great privilege of the priests under the old testament, that they alone might and did enter into the sanctuary, and make an approach unto God. And this privilege they had as they were types of Christ, and no otherwise. But withal it was a great part and a great means of that state of servitude and fear wherein the people or the body of the church was kept. They might not so much as come nigh the pledges of God’s presence; it was forbidden them under the penalty of death and being cut off; whereof they sadly complained, Numbers 17:12-13.

This state of things is now changed under the gospel. It is one of the principal privileges of believers, that, being made kings and priests unto God by Jesus Christ, this distinction as unto especial gracious access unto God is taken away, Revelation 1:5-6; Ephesians 2:18; Romans 5:2. Neither doth this hinder but that yet there are and ought to be officers and ministers in the house of God, to dispense the holy things of it, and to minister in the name of Christ, For in their so doing they do not hinder, but promote, the approach of the church into the presence of God; which is the principal end of their office. And as this is their peculiar honor, for which they must be accountable, Hebrews 13:17; so the church of believers itself ought always to consider how they may duly improve and walk worthy of this privilege, purchased for them by the blood of Christ.

2. The general foundation of the service of these priests in the sanctuary was, that they went or entered into it, — εἰσίασιν. This also itself was a divine ordinance. For this entrance both asserted their privilege, all others being excluded on pain of death, and gave hounds unto it. Hereinto they were to enter; but they were to go ‘no farther: they were not to go into or look into the most holy place, nor to abide in the sanctuary when the high priest entered into it; which the apostle here hath an especial regard unto. They entered into the first tabernacle, but they went no farther. Hereinto they entered through the first veil, or the covering of the door of the tabernacle, Exodus 26:36-37. Through that veil, by turning it aside, so as that it closed immediately on their entrance, the priests entered into the sanctuary. And this they were to do with an especial reverence of the presence of God; which is the principal design of that command, “Ye shall reverence my sanctuary,” Leviticus 19:30 : which is now supplied by the holy reverence of the presence of God in Christ which is in all believers. But moreover, the equity of the command extends itself unto that especial reverence of God which we ought to have in all holy services. And although this be not confined unto any postures or gestures of the body, yet those that naturally express a reverential frame of spirit are necessary unto this duty.

3. The time of this their entrance into the sanctuary to discharge their service is expressed. They entered it διαπαντός: that is, χρόνου, “quovis tempore;” “always,” say we; “jugiter,” that is, “every day.” There was no divine prohibition as unto any days or times wherein they might not enter into the sanctuary, as there was with respect unto the entrance of the high priest into the most holy place, which was allowed only once a year. And the services that were required of them made it necessary that they should enter into it every day. But the word doth not absolutely signify “every day,” seeing there was a special service for which they entered only once a- week; but “always,” is “at all times,” as occasion did require. There was also an especial service, when the high priest entered into the sanctuary, which was neither daily nor weekly, but occasional; which is mentioned, Leviticus 4:6-7. For when the anointed priest was to offer a sacrifice for his own sins, he was to carry some of the blood of it into the sanctuary, and sprinkle it towards the veil that was before the most holy place. This he was to do seven times; which is a mystical number, denoting that perfect atonement and expiation of sin which was to be made by the blood of Christ. But this being an occasional service, the apostle seems to have had no respect unto it.

4. The service itself performed by them is expressed: τὰς λατρείας ἐπιτελοῦντες, — “Accomplishing the services.” The expression is sacred, respecting mystical rites and ceremonies, such as were the things here intended: ‘Officiating in the ministry of the sacred ceremonies.’For ἐπιτελοῦντες is not “perfecting” or “accomplishing” only, but “sacredly ministering:” ‘In discharge of the priestly office, accomplishing the sacred services committed unto them.’And these services were of two sorts: (1.) Daily. (2.) Weekly.

(1.) Their daily services were two:

[1.] The dressing of the lamps of the candlestick, supplying them with the holy oil, and taking care of all things necessary unto the cleansing of them, that their light might be preserved. This was done morning and evening, a continual service in all generations, — the service of the candlestick, — λατρεία.

[2.] The service of the golden altar, the altar of incense in the midst of the sanctuary, at the entrance of the most holy place, before or over against the ark of the testimony. Hereon the priests burned incense every day, with fire taken from the altar of burnt-offerings, that was in the court before the door of the tabernacle. This service was performed evening and morning, immediately after the offering of the daily sacrifice on the altar of burnt- offerings. And whilst this service was performed the people gave themselves to prayer without, with respect unto the sacrifices offered, Luke 1:10. For this offering of incense on the sacrifice, and that fired with a coal from the altar whereon the sacrifice was burned, was a type, as we have declared, of the intercession of Christ. For although they understood it not clearly in the notion, yet were true believers guided to express it in their practice. The time of the priest’s offering incense they made the time of their own solemn prayers, as believing that the efficacy and acceptance of their prayers depended on what was typified by that incense, Psalms 141:2. These were the daily services. It is uncertain whether they were all performed at the same time or no; namely, those of the candlestick and the altar of incense. If they were, it should seem that they were done by no more but one priest at one time; that is, every morning and evening. For of Zacharias it is said, that” it was his lot to burn incense in the temple;” and no other was with him there when he saw the vision, Luke 1:8-9; Luke 1:21-22. Wherefore, whereas it is said in the institution of these things, “Aaron and his sons shall do this service,” it is intended that some one of them should do it at any one time.

(2.) The weekly service of the sanctuary was the change of the bread on the table of shew-bread. This was performed every Sabbath-day in the morning, and not else. Now all this daily service was typical. And that which it did represent was the continual application of the benefits of the sacrifice and whole mediation of Christ unto the church here in this world. That the tabernacle itself with the inhabitation of God therein was a type of the incarnation of the Son of God, we have showed before; and have also declared that all the utensils of it were but representations of his grace in the discharge of his office. He is the light and life of the church, the lamp and the bread thereof. The incense of his intercession renders all their obedience acceptable unto God. And therefore there was a continual application made unto these things without intermission every day. And we may thence observe, that, —

Obs. A continual application unto God by Christ, and a continual application of the benefits of the mediation of Christ by faith, are the springs of the light, life, and comfort of the church.

Hebrews 9:7. — “But into the second [went] the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and [for] the errors of the people.”

The use and service of the second part of the tabernacle, or the most holy place, which the apostle designeth principally to apply unto his present argument, are declared in this present verse. And he describes them,

1. By the person who alone might perform the service which belonged unto this part of the sanctuary; and this was the high priest.

2. By that which in general was required unto the other part of it; he went into it. This is not here expressed, but the sense of it is traduced from the foregoing verse. The other priests entered into the sanctuary, and the high priest into this; that is, he entered or went into it.

3. From the time and season of this his entrance, which was once a-year only; in opposition unto the entrance of the priests into the other part, which was at all times, every day.

4. By the manner of his entrance, or what he carried with him to administer or perform the holy service of the place, expressed negatively; not without blood, — that is, with blood.

5. From the use of the blood which he so carried in with him; it was that which he offered for himself and the errors of the people. That which the apostle here respects and describes was the great anniversary sacrifice of expiation, whose institution, rites, and solemnities are at large declared, Leviticus 16. And herein, —

1. The person designed unto this service was the “high priest alone,” and no other person, Leviticus 16:2; Leviticus 16:32. And he was to be so alone as that none were to attend, assist, or accompany him, in any part of the service. Yea, it was so far from it, that any person entered with him into the most holy place, that no one was allowed to be in the other part of the sanctuary, where he might so much as see the veil opened, or look in after him whilst he performed his service, verse 17. As all the people were kept out of the sanctuary and waited at the door whilst the priests entered daily into it; so all the priests were kept without the sanctuary whilst the high priest entered into the most holy place. Hence there was one always provided, who was next in succession unto that office, to perform this office in case of sickness or occasional pollutions of him who was actually high priest. And he was called “the second priest,” 2 Kings 25:18. From whence, in times of disorder and confusion, they had afterwards two high priests at once, John 18:13; John 18:24. Thus sacredly was the presence of God in the holy place made inaccessible, not only to all the people, but even unto all the priests themselves.

Some say that indeed the high priest went alone into the most holy place once a-year only, but with other priests and on other occasions he might enter oftener. But this is weak beneath consideration; for the express institution was, that he should go alone, and go but once. And this was that great truth which in this ordinance God stated unto the church, namely, that there is no entrance into the gracious presence of God but by the high priest. That the true high priest should take along all believers with him, and give them admission with boldness unto the throne of grace, was, as the apostle declares in the next verse, not as yet made known.

2. The way whereby he engaged into this service was, that he went into this holy place. This, as we observed before, is not here expressed, but is necessarily traduced from the foregoing verse. And it is his entrance through the veil that is intended; which also was a part of his service. For it was a type both of the entrance of Christ into heaven, and of our entrance by him unto the throne of grace, Hebrews 9:24, Hebrews 10:19-20. This was that veil which in the temple was rent from the top to the bottom upon the death of our Savior, Matthew 27:51. For hereby the way was laid open into the holy place, and the gracious presence of God discovered unto all that come unto him by Christ.

3. The time of this service is expressed, that it was only “once every year.” The first order unto this purpose was a prohibition or negative precept, that the high priest “should not come at all times into the holy place,” Leviticus 16:2; that is, not every day, as he did into the sanctuary, — not at any time of his own choice. He might not choose, he might not appoint a time for the service of this holy place, whatever occasion he apprehended of it or necessity for it. Times of sacred worship are the Lord’s, no less than the things of it. Our own stated times are no less disapproved by him than any other parts of sacred worship of our own finding out, 1 Kings 12:32-33. And as this time of the entrance of the high priest into the most holy place was limited unto “once every year,” which our apostle observes; so the precise day of the year was determined by the law. It was fixed unto “the tenth day of the seventh month,” or Tisri; which, reckoning from Nisan, the beginning of their ecclesiastical year, answers unto our September. This was the great day of atonement, which with the fast of it ensued thereon, Leviticus 16:29.

But whereas it is said that he entered “once every year,” the meaning is, that upon one day in the year only he did so, and had liberty so to do: for it is evident that on that day he went twice into it; yea, it is most probable that he did so four times. He had three offerings or sacrifices to offer on the day of expiation.

The First was of a bullock and a ram, for himself and his household, Leviticus 16:3. This the apostle notes distinctly, “which he offered for himself.”

Secondly, a goat, for a sin-offering, which he offered for the people, for “the errors of the people,” Leviticus 16:9.

Thirdly, the service of the scape-goat, which also had the nature of a sacrifice, Leviticus 16:10. Of the first two, whose blood was offered on the altar, it is said distinctly that he carried of the blood into the most holy place. He did so, first that of the bullock and the ram, before he offered the goat for the sins of the people. He killed not the goat until he came out of the holy place, after he had carried in the blood of the sacrifice for himself, Leviticus 16:11-14. After this he carried in the blood of the goat that was offered for the sins of the people, Leviticus 16:15. So that of necessity he must enter twice distinctly on that one day into the most holy place.

Yea, it is most probable and almost very certain, that he entered into it four times on that day. For before he carried in the blood, he was to go in with the incense to make a cloud over the mercy-seat. And it is evident that he could not carry in the incense and the blood at the same time: for when he went in with the incense, he had in one hand a censer full of burning coals from the altar, and he so carried it, that besides both his hands were filled with incense, Leviticus 16:12; so that he could carry no blood with him at that time. And when he carried in the blood also, both his hands were in like manner employed. For with the finger of one he was to sprinkle the blood upon and before the mercy-seat: whence it is of necessity that he must have had the blood which he sprinkled in his other hand; for he was to sprinkle it seven times, which could not be done with the blood that was at once upon the finger wherewith he sprinkled it. Wherefore this” once every year” is on one day only; for that day he entered four times into the holy place within the veil, as is plain in the order of the service according unto its institution.

When all this was done, that there might be a full representation of the atonement to be made by the Lord Christ, and of the plenary remission of sins by his blood, the high priest laid all the sins of the people on the head of the scape-goat, which carried them away into the wilderness of everlasting oblivion, Leviticus 16:20-22.

As these institutions were multiplied to typify the one single sacrifice and oblation of the body of Christ, because of the imperfection inseparable from the nature of earthly things, whereby no one of them could absolutely represent it; so in this distinction and distribution of them, the condescension, love, and grace of God, were adorable and glorious. For in the shedding of the blood of the sacrifice, and offering it by fire on the altar, he plainly declared the imputation of the guilt of their sins unto the sacrifice, its bearing of them, and the expiation of their guilt thereby. By carrying of the blood into the holy place, he testified his acceptance of the atonement made, and his reconciliation unto the people. And hereon the full remission and pardon of all their sins, no more to be had in remembrance, was manifested, in the sending away of the scape-goat into the wilderness. Hence the Jews have a saying, that on the day of expiation all Israel were made as innocent as in the day of creation. How all this was accomplished in and by the sacrifice of Christ must be afterwards declared.

4. As to the nature of this service, the apostle tells us that it was “not without blood.” tie so expresseth it to show the impossibility of entering into the holy place any otherwise. And from hence he takes his ensuing argument of the necessity of the death and blood-shedding of the mediator or high priest of the new testament. “Not without blood;” as he might not do it otherwise, so he did it by blood. And this was the manner of the service: After the high priest had filled the most holy place with a cloud of incense, he returned to the altar of burnt-offerings without the tabernacle, where the sacrifice had been newly slain; and whilst the blood of the beast was fresh, and as it were living, Hebrews 10:20, he took of it in his hand, and entering again into the holy place, he sprinkled it seven times with his finger towards the mercy-seat, Leviticus 16:11-14. And there is, as was said, an emphasis in the expression, “Not without blood,” to manifest how impossible it was that there should be an entrance into the gracious presence of God without the blood of the sacrifice of Christ. The only propitiation for sins is made by the blood of Christ; and it is by faith alone that we are made partakers thereof, Romans 3:25-26.

5. This blood is further described by the use of it; “which he offered.” Where or when he offered it, is not expressed. In the most holy place there was no use of this blood, but only the sprinkling of it; but the sprinkling of blood was always consequential unto the offering or oblation properly so called. For the oblation consisted principally in the atonement made by the blood at the altar of burnt-offerings. It was given and appointed for that end, to make atonement with it at that altar, as is expressly affirmed, Leviticus 17:11. After this, it was sprinkled for purification. Wherefore, by προσφέρει, the apostle here renders the Hebrew הֵבִיא, used in the institution, Leviticus 16:15; which is only to bring, and not to offer properly. Or he hath respect unto the offering of it that was made at the altar without the sanctuary. The blood which was there offered he brought a part of it with him into the most holy place, to sprinkle it, according unto the institution.

6. The apostle declares for whom this blood was offered. And this was “for himself and the people;” first for himself, and then for the people. For he hath respect unto the distinct sacrifices that were to be offered on that day. The first was of a bullock and a ram; which was for himself. And this argued, as the apostle observes, the great imperfection of that church-state. They could have no priest to offer sacrifices for the sins of the people, but he must first offer for himself, and that the blood of other creatures. But the true high priest was to offer his own blood; and that not for himself at all, but for others only.

(1.) He offered “for himself;” that is, for his own sins, Leviticus 16:6. Wherefore the Vulg. Lat. reads the words, “pro sua et populi ignorantia,” very corruptly, changing the number of the substantive; but very truly applying ἀγνοημάτων to the priest as well as unto the people. Others would supply the words by adding τῶν before ἑαυτοῦ, and so repeat ἀγνοημάτων. But the apostle expresseth the words of the institution, אֲשֶׁראּלוֹ, “which for himself,” leaving the application unto the series of the context and the nature of the service: “For himself;” — that is, his own sins.

(2.) The blood was offered also “for the people;” that is, the people of Israel, the people of God, the church, the whole congregation. And as the high priest herein bore the person of Christ, so did this people of all the elect of God, who were represented in them and by them. It was that people, and not the whole world, that the high priest offered for; and it is the elect people alone for whom our great high priest did offer and doth intercede.

7. That which he offered for. It was their “errors,” or their sins. The Socinians, some of them, — not for want of under standing, but out of hatred unto the true sacrifice of Christ, — contend from hence that the anniversary sacrifice on the great day of expiation, the principal representation of it, was only for sins of ignorance, of imbecility and weakness. But it is a fond imagination; at least the argument from these words for it is so. For besides that the Scripture calls all sins by the name of “errors,” Psalms 19:12; Psalms 25:7; and the worst, the most provoking of all sins, is expressed by “erring in heart,” Psalms 95:10; and the LXX. frequently render “to sin” by ἀγνοεῖν, 2 Chronicles 16:9; 1 Samuel 26:21; Hosea 4:16, etc; — besides, I say, this application of the word elsewhere unto all sorts of sins, in the enumeration of those errors of the people which the high priest offered for they are said to be “all their iniquities,” and “all their transgressions in all their sins,” Leviticus 16:21. Wherefore to offer for the “errors” of the people, is to offer for “all their sins,” of what nature soever they were. And they are thus called, because indeed there is no such predominancy of malice in any sin in this world as wherein there is not a mixture of error, either notional or practical, of the mind or of the heart, which is the cause or a great occasion of it. See 1 Timothy 1:13; Matthew 12:31-32. Here, indeed, lies the original of all sin. The mind being filled with darkness and ignorance, alienates the whole soul from the life of God. And as it hath superadded prejudices, which it receives from corrupt affections, it yet neither directs nor judgeth aright, as unto particular acts and duties, under all present circumstances. And what notions of good and evil it cannot but retain, it gives up in particular instances unto the occasions of sin. Wherefore, —

Obs. 1. Spiritual illumination of the mind is indispensably necessary unto our walking with God.

Obs. 2. Those who would be preserved from sin, must take care that spiritual light do always bear sway in their minds. And therefore, —

Obs. 3. Constantly to watch against the prevalency of corrupt prejudices and affections in their mind. And, —

Obs. 4. When the light of the mind is solicited by temptations to suspend its conduct and determination on present circumstances, to know that sin lies at the door; this is its last address for admission. And, —

Obs. 5. If error grow strong in the heart through the love of sin, truth will grow weak in the mind as to the preservation of the soul from it. And, —

Obs. 6. Nothing ought to influence the soul more unto repentance, sorrow, and humiliation for sin, than a due apprehension of the shameful error and mistake that is in it.


Verse 8

τοῦτο δηλοῦντος τοῦ πνεύματος τοῦ ἁγίου μήπω πεφανερῶσθαι τὴν τῶν ἁγίων ὁδὸν, ἔτι τῆς πρώτης σκηνῆς ἐχούσης στάσιν.

τοῦτο δηλοῦντος. Vulg. Lat., “hoe significante,” “hoc declarante,” “hoc innuente.” Syr., בְּהָדָא מַוְדְעָא“by this manifesting.” “Manifestans,” “patefaciens,” “notum faciens;” “making known.” δῆλος, is “openly manifest.” καὶ τυφλῷ δῆλον, “which a blind man may see.” And δηλόω, is “manifestly, plainly, perspicuously to declare.”

΄ήπω πεφανερῶσθαι. Vulg. Lat., nondum propalatam esse, made palam, “open,” “manifest.” Syr., לָא אֶתְגַלְיַת עַדכִיל, “not yet revealed.”

“Manifestata,” “facta manifests;” “not made evidently to appear.”

τὴν τῶν ἁγίων ὁδόν. Vulg. Lat., “viam sanctorum,” “the way of the holies.” Beza, “viam ad sacrarium,” “the way into the sanctuary.” “Viam in sancta sanctorum,” “the way into the most holy place.” None suspect ἁγίων to be of the masculine gender.

᾿εχούσης στάσιν. Vulg. Lat., “habente statum,” “having” or “continuing its state or condition.” And στάσις is sometimes so used; “having its station;” “adhuc consistente,” as yet abiding, continuing its state, standing, consisting.

Hebrews 9:8. — The Holy Ghost this signifying, [Syr., signifying hereby, evidently declaring,] that the way into the holiest of all [the way of the most holy place, of the holies] was not as yet made manifest, whilst yet the first tabernacle was standing, [kept its station].

The apostle in this verse enters on a declaration of the use which he designed to make of the description of the tabernacle, its furniture and its utensils, which he had before laid down. Now, this was not to give a particular account of the nature, use, and signification of every thing in it, — which he declined in his close of the recounting of them, affirming that it belonged not to his purpose to treat of them particularly on this occasion, — but from the consideration of the whole, in its structure, order, and services, he would prove the dignity, pre-eminence, and efficacy of the priesthood and sacrifice of Christ, above those which belonged thereunto. And hence would he manifest the unspeakable advantage of the church in the removal of the one and introduction of the other.

The first inference which he makes unto this purpose is laid down in this verse. And it is taken from what he had observed immediately before concerning the time and manner of the high priest’s entrance into the most holy place. It was done by him alone, and that only once a-year, and that not without the blood of the sacrifices which he offered. None of the people were ever suffered to draw nigh thereunto; nor might the rest of the priests themselves come into the sanctuary, the place of their daily ministration, whilst the high priest went in, and was in the most holy place.

‘In this order, this disposal of the institutions of divine service,’saith he, ‘there was that instruction provided for the use of the church which I shall now declare.’And three things he expresseth with respect hereunto:

1. Who gave that instruction; it was the Holy Ghost.

2. The way whereby he gave it; it was by the manifest signification of his mind, in and by what he did, appointed, ordered, or prescribed.

3. What was the instruction he gave; namely, “that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, whilst the first tabernacle was standing.”

And concerning this we must inquire,

1. What is here intended by “the holiest of all.”

2. What is the “way into this holiest of all,” or “the way of the holies.”

3. How this way was “manifest,” and how it was “not manifest.”

4. What was the duration of that state wherein this way was not manifest; namely, “whilst the first tabernacle was standing.”

First, The author of this instruction was the Holy Ghost: “The Holy Ghost this signifying;” that is, saith Grotius, “Deo per affiatum suum Mosi haec prsecipiente.” So they speak by whom the divine personality of the Holy Ghost is denied. But it is not only here supposed, but it may be hence undeniably proved. For he that by his word and works teacheth and instructeth the church, is a person. For acts of understanding, will, power, and authority, such as these are, are the acts of a person. We intend no more by a person, but one that hath an understanding, will, and power of his own, which he is able to act and exert. Moreover, he is a divine person. For he who by his authority and wisdom disposed of the worship of God under the old testament, so as it might typify and represent things afterwards to come to pass and be revealed, is so, and none other. He who doth these things, and can do them, is he in whom we believe, the Holy Spirit. And as he is the immediate author and appointer of all divine worship, so there are characters of his wisdom and holiness on all the parts of it.

Secondly, The way whereby he gave this instruction was by the signification of the things intended, — “signifying, declaring manifestly, evidently, openly.” He did it not by any especial revelation made unto Moses about it, he did not in words declare it, or express it as a doctrinal truth; but this signification was made in the nature and order of the things appointed by him. The framing of the tabernacle and the constitution of the services belonging thereunto, made this declaration. For things in his wisdom were thus disposed, that there should be the first tabernacle, whereinto the priests did enter every day, accomplishing the divine services that God required. Howbeit in that tabernacle there were not the pledges of the gracious presence of God, — it was not the especial residence of his glory: but the peculiar habitation of God was separated from it by a veil; and no person living might so much as look into it, on pain of death. But yet, lest the church should apprehend that indeed there was no approach, here or hereafter, for any person into the gracious presence of God, he ordained that once a-year the high priest, and he alone, should enter into that holy place with blood. Hereby he plainly signified that an entrance there was to be, and that with boldness, thereinto. For unto what end else did he allow and appoint that once a-year there should be an entrance into it by the high priest, in the name of and for the service of the church? But this entrance being only once a-year, by the high priest only, and that with the blood of atonement, — which was always to be observed whilst that tabernacle continued, — he did manifest that the access represented was not to be obtained during that season. For all believers in their own persons were utterly excluded from it. And we may hence observe, —

Obs. 1. That the divine ordinances and institutions of worship are filled with wisdom sufficient for the instruction of the church in all the mysteries of faith and obedience. — How eminent was the divine wisdom of the Holy Ghost in the structure and order of this tabernacle! What provision of instruction for the present and future use of the church was laid up and stored in them! What but infinite wisdom and prescience could order things so in their typical signification? He that considers only the outward frame and state of these things, may see a curious and beautiful structure, a beautiful order of external worship; yet can he find nothing therein but what the wisdom and contrivance of men might attain unto; at least, they might find out things that should have as glorious an outward appearance. But take them in their proper state, as unto their signification and representation of spiritual and heavenly things in Christ Jesus, and there is not the least concernment of them but it infinitely transcends all human wisdom and projection. He alone in whose divine understanding the whole mystery of the incarnation of the Son of God and his mediation did eternally reside, could institute and appoint these things. And to instruct us unto a humble adoration of that wisdom, is the framing of the whole fabric, and the institution of all its ordinances, contained in the sacred record for the use of the church.

Obs. 2. It is our duty with all humble diligence to inquire into the mind of the Holy Ghost in all ordinances and institutions of divine worship. — Want hereof lost the church of Israel. They contented themselves with the consideration of outward things, and the external observance of the services enjoined unto them. Unto this day the Jews perplex themselves in numberless curious inquiries into the outward frame and fashion of these things, the way, manner, and circumstances of the external observation of the services of it. And they have multiplied determinations about them all, and every minute circumstance of them, so as it is utterly impossible that either themselves or any living creature should observe them according to their traditions and prescriptions. But in the meantime, as unto the mind of the Holy Ghost in them, their true use and signification, they are stark blind and utterly ignorant. Yea, hardness and blindness are so come upon them unto the utmost, that they will not believe or apprehend that there is either spiritual wisdom, instruction, or signification of heavenly things in them. And herein, whilst they profess to know God, are they abominable and disobedient. For no creatures can fall into higher contempt of God than there is in this imagination, namely, that the old institutions had nothing in them but so much gold and silver, and the like, framed into such shapes, and applied to such outward uses, without regard unto things spiritual and eternal. And it is a great evidence of the apostate condition of any church, when they rest in and lay weight upon the external parts of worship, especially such as consist in corporeal observances, with a neglect of spiritual things contained in them, wherein are the effects of divine wisdom in all sacred institutions.

And whereas the apostle affirms that this frame of things did plainly signify (as the word imports) the spiritual mysteries which he declares, it is evident with what great diligence we ought to search into the nature and use of divine institutions Unless we are found in the exercise of our duty herein, the things which in themselves are plainly declared will be obscure unto us, yea, utterly hidden from us. For what is here said to be clearly signified, could not be apprehended but by a very diligent search into and consideration of the way and means of it. It was to be collected out of the things he ordained, with the order of them, and their respect unto one another. Most men think it not worth while to inquire with any diligence into sacred institutions of divine worship. If any thing seem to be wanting or defective therein, if any thing be obscure and not determined, as they suppose, in the express words, without more ado they supply it with somewhat of their own. But there are many things useful and necessary in the worship of God which are to be gathered from such intimations of the mind of the Holy Ghost as he hath in any place given of them; and those who with humility and diligence do exercise themselves therein, shall find plain, satisfactory significations of his mind and will in such things as others are utterly ignorant of.

Thirdly, That which the Holy Ghost did thus signify and instruct the church in, (the τοῦτο, “this,” in the words,) was, “that the way into the most holy place” (“the way of the holies”) “was not yet made manifest.” And for the explication hereof we must consider the things before proposed: —

1. What the apostle intends by “the holies.” It is generally supposed by expositors that it is heaven itself which is hereby intended. Hence some of the ancients, the schoolmen, and sundry expositors of the Roman church, have concluded that no believers under the old testament, none of the ancient patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, or David, were admitted into heaven whilst the first tabernacle stood; that is, until the ascension of Christ. Hereon they framed a limbus for them in some subterranean receptacle, — whither they suppose the soul of Christ went, when it is said that he “descended into hell,” — where they were detained, and whence by him they were delivered. But whatever becomes of that imagination, the most learned expositors of that church of late, such as Ribera, Estius, Tena, Maldonate, A Lapide, do not fix it on this text; for the supposition whereon it is founded is wholly alien from the scope of the apostle, and no way useful in his present argument. For he discourseth about the privileges of the church by the gospel and priesthood of Christ in this world, and not about its future state and condition. Besides, he says not that there was no entrance into the holies during that season, but only that “the way of it was not yet manifest.” Wherefore they might enter into it, although the way whereby they did so was not yet openly declared; for they had but a shadow, or dark, obscure representation of good things to come. And this is the interpretation that most sober expositors do give of the words: Heaven with eternal blessedness was proposed unto the faith, hope, and expectation of the saints under the old testament. This they believed, and in the hope of it walked with God, as our apostle proves at large, Hebrews 11. Howbeit the way, that is, the means and cause of communicating the heavenly inheritance unto them, namely, by the mediation and sacrifice of Christ, was but obscurely represented; not illustriously manifested, as it is now, life and immortality being brought to light by the gospel. And as these things are true, so this interpretation of the words being consonant unto the analogy of faith, is safe, only we may inquire whether it be that which is peculiarly intended by the apostle in this place or no.

The comment of Grotius on these words is, that the apostle signifies “superaetherias sedes. Via eo ducens est evangelium, praecepta habens vere coelestia Eam viam Christus primus patefecit; aditumque fecit omnibus ad summum coelum. Pervenient quidem, eo, Abrahamus, Isaacus, Jacobus, ut videre est, Matthew 8:11, et alii viri eximii, ut videbimus infra, cap. 11:40. Sed hi eo pervenient quasi per machinam, non per viam; extraordinaria quadam et rara Dei dispensatione.” But these things are most remote from the mind of the Holy Ghost, not only in this place, but in the whole Scripture also. For, —

(1.) How far the gospel is this “way into the holiest” shall be declared immediately. That it is so because of the heavenly precepts which it gives, that is, which were not given under the old testament, is most untrue. For the gospel gives no precepts of holiness and obedience that were not for the substance of them contained in the law. There is no precept in the gospel exceeding that in the law, “Thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thy heart, and thy neighbor as thyself.” Only the gospel adds new motives unto obedience, new encouragements and enforcements of it, with directions for its due performance.

(2.) That Christ should be no otherwise the way but only as he revealed and declared the gospel and the precepts of it, is not only untrue and injurious unto the honor of Christ, but directly contrary unto the design of the apostle in this place. For he is treating of the sacerdotal office of Christ only, and the benefit which the church doth receive thereby; but the revelation of the doctrine or precepts of the gospel was no duty of that office, nor did it belong thereunto. That he did as the prophet of the church; but all his sacerdotal actings are towards God in the behalf of the church, as hath been proved.

(3.) That the ancient patriarchs went to heaven by a secret engine, and that some of them only in an extraordinary way, is plainly to deny that they were saved by faith in the promised Seed, — that is, to affirm that they were not saved by the mediation of Christ; which is contrary unto the whole economy of God in the salvation of the church, and to many express testimonies of the Scripture. These Socinian fictions do not cure but corrupt the word of God, and turn away the minds of men from the truth unto fables. We shall therefore yet further inquire into the true meaning of the Holy Ghost in these words.

The apostle by ἁγίων here, ὁδὸν τῶν ἁγίων, intends the same with what, verse 3, he called ἅγια τῶν ἁγίων, “the holy of holies,” the second part of the sanctuary; whereinto the high priest alone could enter once a-year, as he declares in the foregoing verse: only whereas he there spake of the material fabric of the tabernacle, and the things contained in it, here he designs what was signified thereby; for he declares not what these things were, but what the Holy Ghost did signify in and by them. Now, in that most holy place were all the signs and pledges of the gracious presence of God, — the testimonies of our reconciliation by the blood of the atonement, and our peace with him thereby. Wherefore, to enter into these holies, is nothing but an access with liberty, freedom, and boldness, into the gracious presence of God, on the account of reconciliation and peace made with him. This the apostle doth so plainly and positively declare, Hebrews 10:19-22, that I somewhat admire so many worthy and learned expositors should utterly miss of his meaning in this place. The “holies,” then, is the gracious presence of God, whereunto believers draw nigh in the confidence of the atonement made for them, and of acceptance thereon. See Romans 5:1-2; Ephesians 2:14-18; Hebrews 4:14-16; Heb_10:19. The atonement being made, and received by faith, conscience being purged, bondage and fear being removed, believers do now under the gospel enter with boldness into this gracious presence of God.

2. We must consider what is the “way” into these holies, which was “not yet made manifest.” And here also expositors indulge unto many conjectures, very needlessly, as I suppose; for the apostle doth elsewhere expressly declare himself, and interpret his own meaning, namely, Hebrews 10:19-20. This way is no other but the sacrifice of Christ, the true high priest of the church. For by the entrance of the high priest into the most holy place with blood the Holy Ghost did signify that the way into it, namely, for believers to enter by, was only the one true sacrifice which he was to offer and to be. And accordingly, to give an indication of the accomplishment of this type, when he expired on the cross, having offered himself unto God for the expiation of our sins, the veil of the temple, which enclosed and secured this holy place from any entrance into it, was rent from the top to the bottom, whereby it was laid open unto all, Matthew 27:51. And an evidence this is that the Lord Christ offered his great expiatory sacrifice in his death here on earth, a true and real sacrifice; and that it was not an act of power after his ascension, metaphorically called a sacrifice, as the Socinians dream. For until that sacrifice was offered the way could not be opened into the holies; which it was immediately after his death, and signified by the rending of the veil. This is ὁδὸς τῶν ἁγίων, the only way whereby we enter into the most holy place, the gracious presence of God, and that with boldness.

3. Of this way it is affirmed that it was “not yet made manifest, whilst the first tabernacle was standing.” And a word is peculiarly chosen by the apostle to signify his intention. He doth not say that there was no way then into the most holy place, none made, none provided, none made use of; but, there was not a φανέρωσις, an “open manifestation” of it. There was an entrance under the old testament into the presence of God, as unto grace and glory, namely, the virtue of the oblation of Christ; but this was “not as yet made manifest.” Three things were wanting thereunto: —

(1.) It was not yet actually existent, but only was virtually so. The Lord Christ had not yet actually offered himself unto God, nor made atonement for sin. Howbeit by virtue of the eternal agreement that was between the Father and him, concerning what he should accomplish in the fullness of time, the benefit of what he was so to do was applied unto them that did believe; they were saved by faith, even as we are. Hence is he called, “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world;” that is, in and from the giving of the first promise.

(2.) Although the coming of his person was promised, and his sacrifice variously shadowed out or represented unto the church, yet their perception and understanding thereof was weak and dark, — proportionate unto the means of its revelation. Hence, whatever were its virtue and efficacy, yet was it not in itself and its own nature made manifest.

(3.) There were many blessed privileges that attended the opening of this way, or the actual existence of it, in the oblation of Christ, which the church of the old testament was not acquainted with, nor made partaker of. And although these things belonged not unto the essence of the way, yet they did so as unto our entrance into it. We could not without them, — that is, the administration of the Spirit in gospel ordinances, — make use of this way, though prepared and set open, unto the glory of God and our own spiritual advantage.

Wherefore the plain, open manifestation of the way into the holiest, which the apostle denies unto the church under the old testament, consists in these three things: —

(1.) In the actual exhibition of Christ in the flesh, and his sacrifice of himself, making atonement for sin; for hereby alone was the way laid open unto an access with boldness into the gracious presence of God. Without this, the law and its curse were like the cherubim and flaming sword, that turned every way to keep sinners from drawing nigh unto God. Hereby were they removed, a new and living way being consecrated for our access unto him.

(2.) In the full, plain declaration of the nature of his person and of his mediation. And therefore, although the gospel be not this way in the precepts of obedience which it gives unto us, yet is it the declaration and manifestation of this way, and our sole direction how to make use of it, or how to enter by it into the most holy place. This they enjoyed not under the old testament, but were limited unto typical institutions directing the priests how to enter into the sanctuary made with hands; which were but an obscure representation of these things.

(3.) In the introduction or revelation and establishment of those privileges of gospel-worship whereby believers are led comfortably into the presence of God, as our apostle declares, Hebrews 10:19-22. For they are full of light and grace, and a guide unto all the steps of faith and obedience in this way. Hereunto may be added all those things which we have declared to belong unto that perfection or consummation of the church-state, which the law could not bring it unto, on Hebrews 7:11.

In these things consisteth that manifestation of the way into the most holy place which is here denied unto the old testament.

4. The continuance of this state is added: “Whilst the first tabernacle was standing.”

(1.) By “the first tabernacle,” the apostle understands not that first part of the tabernacle into which the priests entered continually, accomplishing the divine services, which before he had so called; but he intends the whole tabernacle, with respect unto the true tabernacle of the body of Christ, which succeeded into its room. Neither yet doth he understand precisely that tent or tabernacle which was erected in the wilderness, — which was not in itself of any long continuance, nor designed thereunto, for it was only suited unto the service of the church whilst it was in an unsettled condition, — but he intends the whole worship instituted together with it and belonging unto it, celebrated afterwards in the temple according unto the laws of that tabernacle. For there was the same worship and the same order of things in the one and the other; and so the same signification made at first by the Holy Ghost in the constitution of the tabernacle was still continued under the temple also.

(2.) It was continued whilst this first tabernacle, or the tabernacle in this sense, was standing.” “Having its station;” that is, according unto the mind of God, it had its state and use in the church. This it had absolutely until the death of Christ, and no longer. For until then both the Lord Christ himself and all his disciples continued the observation of all its services, according to the mind of God; for he was made under the law of it, whilst it was in force, Declaratively it continued until the day of Pentecost; for then, in the coming of the Holy Ghost, was the foundation of the gospel church-state, order, and worship, solemnly laid, whereon, a new way of worship being established, the abrogation of the old was declared. And this was yet further made known by the determination put unto the observation of it among the Gentile converts by the Holy Ghost, in the council of the apostles and elders at Jerusalem. Actually it continued until the destruction of the temple, city, and people, some years after. Its first station it had in God’s appointment, the second in his connivance, and the third in his patience.

It is the first of these that is here intended. The tabernacle, — that is, the laws and service of it, — preserved its station and use in the church, by God’s ordinance and appointment, unto the death of Christ. Then did he pronounce concerning it and all things belonging unto it, “It is finished.” Then was the veil rent, and the way into the holiest laid open. Then was peace with God publicly confirmed by the blood of the cross, Ephesians 2:14-16; and the nature of the way of our access unto him made known. And some things we may hence observe, which also tend unto the further explication of the mind of the Holy Ghost in the text: —

Obs. 3. Although the Lord Christ was not actually exhibited in the flesh under the old testament, nor had actually offered himself unto God for us, yet had believers then an access into the grace and favor of God, though the way, the cause and means of it, was not manifestly declared unto them. The apostle doth not exclude them all from the grace and favor of God, but only shows their disadvantage in comparison of believers under the gospel, in that this way was not manifested unto them.

Obs. 4. The design of the Holy Ghost in all the tabernacle ordinances and institutions of worship, was to direct the faith of believers unto what was signified by them.

Obs. 5. Typical institutions, attended diligently unto, were sufficient to direct the faith of the church unto the expectation of the real expiation of sin, and acceptance with God thereon. God was never wanting unto the church in what was necessary unto it in its present condition, so as that it might be guided in its faith and encouraged unto obedience.

Obs. 6. Though the standing of the first tabernacle was a great mercy and privilege, yet the removal of it was a greater; for it made way for the bringing in of that which was better.

Obs. 7. The divine wisdom in the economy and disposal of the revelation of the way into the holiest, or of grace and acceptance with himself, is a blessed object of our contemplation. The several degrees of it we have considered on Hebrews 1:1-2.

Obs. 8. The clear manifestation of the way of redemption, of the expiation of sin, and peace with God thereon, is the great privilege of the gospel.

Obs. 9. There is no access into the gracious presence of God but by the sacrifice of Christ alone.


Verse 9-10

῝ητις παραβολὴ εἰς τὸν καιρὸν τὸν ἐνεστηκότα, καθ᾿ ὅν δῶρά τε καὶ θυσίαι προσφέρονται, μὴ δυνάμεναι κατὰ συνείδησιν τελειῶσαι τὸν λατρεύοντα, μόνον ἐπὶ βρώμασι καὶ πόμασι καὶ διαφόροις βαπτισμοῖς, καὶ δικαιώμασι σαρκὸς, μέχρι καιροῦ διορθώσεως ἐπικείμενα.

῞ητις παραβολὴ. Vulg. Lat., “quae parabola est.” Syr., מַתְלָא, “an exemplar,” or “example.” So all render it, though it answers the Hebrew מָשָׁל, “a parable” or “proverb.” “quod erat exemplar;” so Beza and others.

εἰς τὸν καιρόν τὸν ἐνεστηκότα. Vulg. Lat., “temporis instantis,” “of the instant time” or “season;” which Arias rectifies into “in tempus praesens,” “for the time present;” Beza, “pro tempore illo praesente,” “for that present time;” “pro tempore tum praesente,” “for the time that was then present;” Syr., לְזַבְנָא הָו, “for that time,” omitting ἐνεστηκότα.

καθ᾿ ὅν. Vulg. Lat., “juxta quam.” It being uncertain what he refers “quam” unto, Arias rectifieth it, “juxta quod;” for ὅν answereth unto καιρόν, and not unto παραβολή. “Quo,” “wherein;” Syr., “in quo,” “wherein.”

δῶρά τε καὶ θυσίαι. Vulg. Lat., “munera et hostiae,” “dona et sacrificia.” Syr., “gifts (that is, meat and drink offerings) and sacrifices by blood.” Syr., קוּרבָנֵא וְדֶבְחֵא, “oblations and victims,” or “bloody sacrifices.”

κατὰ συνείδησιν τελειῶσαι τον λατρεύοντα. Vulg. Lat, “juxta conscientiam perfectum facere servientem,” “make him that did the service perfect according to conscience;” others, “in conscientia sanctificare cultorem;” others, “consummare:” of the sense of the word we have spoken before. Syr., “perfect the conscience of him that offered them.”

΄όνον ἐπὶ βρώμασι. Syr., “in meat and drink,” in the singular number.

καὶ διαφόροις βαπτισμοῖς. Syr., וַבְּמַעֲמוּדִיתָא דַּזְנֵין זְנֵין“And in the washing of kinds kinds,” that is, various kinds; with respect not unto the various rites of washing, but the various kinds of things that were washed. δικαιώμασι σαρκός. Vulg. Lat., “justitiis carnis;” so it renders δικαίωμα by “justitia,” or “justificatio,” constantly, but very improperly. Syr פוּקָרֵא דְּבֶסְרָא“precepts of the flesh.” “Ritibus carnalibus,” “ordinances, institutions, rites of the flesh, concerning fleshly things.”

Hebrews 9:9-10. — Which [was] a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices that could not make him that did the service perfect, as per-raining to the conscience; [which stood] only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed [on them] until the time of reformation.

I shall not alter the translation, but show what might be more properly expressed, as unto some instances, in our exposition.

Expositors have made use of various conjectures in their commentaries on this place. What is material in the most eminent of them, the reader may see in Mr. Poole’s Collections. But I must needs say, that in my judgment they have brought more difficulty unto the text than they have freed it from. Wherefore I shall not detain the reader in the examination of them; but I shall give that interpretation of the text which I hope will evidence its truth unto such as impartially seek after it, and are in any measure acquainted with the things treated of.

The apostle, in these two verses, gives a summary account and reason of the imperfection of the tabernacle and all its services, wherein the administration of the old covenant did consist. This was direct and proper unto his present argument. For his design is to prove the pre-eminence of the new covenant above the old, from the excellency of the high priest thereof, with his tabernacle and sacrifice. Unto this end a discovery of the imperfection and weakness of the first tabernacle and services was indispensably necessary. And if, notwithstanding its outward excellency and glory, it was no other but what it is here declared to be, as evidently it was not, then was it not only an unreasonable thing, and a plain rejection of the wisdom and grace of God, to adhere unto it in opposition unto the gospel, — which was done by the most of the Hebrews, — but it was altogether unmeet and useless to be retained with the profession of the gospel, which the residue of them earnestly contended for. This was that which the apostle designed ultimately to convince them of. And a work herein both great and difficult was committed unto him. For there is nothing more difficult than to dispossess the minds of men of such persuasions in religion as they have been bred up in, and received by a long tract of tradition from their fathers. So we find it to be in such persuasions and observances as are evidently false and impious, unto the understandings of all that are not under the power of such prejudices: so is it at present with them of the Roman church, and others. But these Hebrews had a pretense or plea for their obstinacy herein which none other ever had in the like case but themselves; for the things which they adhered unto were confessedly of divine institution. Wherefore the apostle labors principally to prove, that in the will and wisdom of God they were to continue only for a season, and also that the season of their expiration was now come. And this he doth in this place, by a declaration of their nature and use whilst they did continue; whence it is evident that God never designed them a perpetual station in the church, and that because they could not effect what he purposed and had promised to do for it. This is the substance of his present argument.

1. The subject spoken of, ἥτις, “which.”

2. The proper use and end of it; it was “a figure.”

3. The limitation of that use as unto time; “for the time then present.”

4. The especial nature of it; the “offering of gifts and sacrifices.”

5. The imperfection of it therein; “they could not consummate the worshippers in conscience.”

6. The reason of that imperfection; it “stood only in meats and drinks,” etc.

7. The manner of its establishment; it was “imposed.”

8. The time allotted for its continuance; “until the time of reformation.”

1. The subject spoken of is expressed by ἥτις, “which.” Some would refer it unto παραβολή following, and so read the words, “Which figure was for the time present.” But there is no cause for this traduction of the words. The verb substantive, ἧν, is deficient, as usually, and is to be supplied as in our translation, “which was.” “Which,” that is, σκηνή, “the tabernacle;” — not only the fabric and structure of it, but the tabernacle in both parts of it, with all its furniture, vessels, utensils, and services, as before described.

2. As unto its proper use and end, the apostle affirms that it was παραβολή, — figura, exemplar,” exemplum,” “comparatio,” “similitudo,” “typus,” “representatio:” so variously is this word rendered by interpreters. Most fix on “exemplar” or “exemplum;” but they are τύπος and ὑπόδειγμα, not παραβολή. And in all these versions the proper sense of the word as used in the Scripture is missed. It is not תַּבְנִיתthat the apostle intends, but מָשָׁל, as it is rendered by the Syriac.

And this many have observed, namely, that it answers unto מָשָׁל, but yet have missed in the interpretation of it. מָשָׁל is the same with חִידָהwherewith it is joined, as of the same signification and importance, Psalms 49:5; Psalms 78:2. And whereas it is said that the queen of Sheba tried the wisdom of Solomon בְּחִידוֹת, 1 Kings 10:1; the Targum renders it by במתלין, the Chaldee מתל, and the Syriac מתלא, being the same with the Hebrew מָשָׁל. Now חִידָהis enigma, problema, γρῖφος, “a riddle,” “a hard question;” and חוּד is to speak enigmatically, obscurely, so as that one thing is to be gathered out of another. So is מָשָׁל used also, Ezekiel 20:49, “Is he not מְמַשֵּׁל מְשָׁלִים, “proverbiator proverbiorum?” — “one that speaks darkly and obscurely;” that expresseth one thing and intends another, using similitudes and metaphors; an obscure, mystical instruction, by figures, signs, symbols, metaphors, and the like.

Thus is παραβολή almost constantly used in the New Testament. So our Lord Jesus Christ expressly opposeth speaking in parables unto a clear, plain, open teaching, so as to be understood of all. See Matthew 13:10, John 16:28-29, “Now speakest thou openly, and no parable.” Wherefore παραβολή, in this place, is an obscure, mystical, metaphorical instruction. God taught the church of old the mysteries of our redemption by Christ, by the tabernacle, its fabric, parts, utensils, and services; but it was but an obscure, parabolical, figurative instruction. So should the word here be rendered, “a figurative instruction,” or the word “parable” be here retained, as it is in other places. This was God’s way of teaching the mysteries of his wisdom and grace; which, as it was sufficient for the state of the church which was then present, so it instructs us in what he requires, what he expects from us, unto whom all these things are unfolded, made plain and evident. 3. The third thing in the text is the time or season wherein the tabernacle was so parabolically or mystically instructive. It was εἰς τὸν καιρόν τὸν ἐνεστηκότα. Some few copies for τόν read τοῦτον, as doth that now before me, — “unto this present time.” This reading is generally rejected by expositors, as not suited unto the mind of the apostle in this place. For he intends not the time that was then present when he wrote the epistle, not the times of the gospel, not the time after the resurrection of Christ until the destruction of the temple, which the addition of that word would denote; for God had prepared another kind of instruction for that season, and not by parables, or mystical metaphors. But yet the word may be retained, and a sense given of the words both sound and proper. For εἰς may well signify as much as “until;” or be taken τελικῶς, as it is often.

εἰς τοῦτον καιρόν, — “unto this season;” ‘until the time that God would grant another kind of teaching, which now he hath done. It served until this present season, wherein the gospel is preached, and all the things signified by it are accomplished.’But I shall rather follow the reading of the most copies, though the Vulgar Latin reading “temporis instantis” seems to favor the first. And Arias rectifying it into “in tempus praesens,” gives the same sense also. But the word ἐνεστηκότα being of the preterimperfect tense, signifies a time that was then present, but is now past. And it is therefore well rendered by our translators, “the time then present;” as if τότε had been in the text; — the time then present when the tabernacle was made and erected, ὁ καιρὸς ὁ ἐνεστηκώς, the season of the church which was then present. For the apostle in this whole discourse not only respects the tabernacle, and not the temple, but he considers the first erection of the tabernacle in a peculiar manner; for then was it proposed as the means of the administration of the first covenant and the worship thereunto belonging. It is the covenants which he principally designeth a comparison between. And he doth in that way of the disposition and administration of them, which was given and appointed at their first establishment. As this in the new covenant was the person, office, sacrifice, and ministry of Christ; so as unto the first, it was the tabernacle and all the services of it.

Wherefore “the time then present,” was the state and condition of the church at the first setting up of the tabernacle. Not as though this time were confined unto that or those ages wherein the tabernacle was in use, before the building of the temple; but this instruction, which was then signally given, was the whole of what God granted unto the church during that state wherein it was obliged unto the ordinances and services which were then instituted. The instructions which God thought meet to grant unto the church at that season were obscure, mystical, and figuratively representative; yet was it sufficient for the faith and obedience of the church, had it been diligently attended unto, and what the Holy Ghost signified thereby. So are all God’s ways of instruction in all seasons. We cannot err but either by a neglect of inquiry into them, or by looking for more than God in his wisdom hath committed unto them.

And this sense those who render παραβολή by a “figure,” “type,” or “example,” must come unto: for the use of it is confined unto the time of the erection of the tabernacle, and the institution of the ordinances thereunto belonging; but a type or figure was unto them of no use but so far as it was instructive, which was obscurely and mystically. And that this is the sense of the word the apostle declares, verse 8, where he shows the substance of what the Holy Ghost signified by the building, disposal, and services of the tabernacle; that is, what he taught the church thereby parabolically and figuratively.

This kind of instruction, whatever now it seem to us, was meet and fit for them unto whom it was given. And by the administration of grace in it, it was a blessed means to ingenerate faith, love, and obedience, in the hearts and lives of many unto an eminent degree. And we may consider from hence what is required of us, unto whom the clear revelation of the wisdom, grace, and love of God, is made known from the bosom of the Father, by the Son himself.

4. The especial nature and use of this tabernacle and its service is declared: “In which were offered both gifts and sacrifices.” καθ᾿ ὅν, the Vulgar Latin reads “juxta quam;” making the relative to answer unto ἥτις, or to παραβολή. But the gender will not allow it in the original. καθ᾿ ὅν is as much as ἐν ᾧ, “in which time,” “during which season:” for immediately upon the setting up of the tabernacle God gave unto Moses laws and institutions for all the gifts and sacrifices of the people, which were to be offered therein. This was the first direction which God gave after the setting up of the tabernacle, namely, the way and manner of offering all sorts of gifts and sacrifices unto him. And the apostle here distributes all the קָרְבָּנִים, all the “sacred offerings,” into δῶρα and θυσίας, — that is, unbloody and bloody sacrifices; as he did before, Hebrews 5:1, where the distinction hath been explained.

Of them all he affirms, προσφέρονται, — “They are offered;” not that they were so: for the apostle erects a scheme of the first tabernacle and all its services at its first institution, and presents it unto the consideration of the Hebrews as if it were then first erected. He doth, indeed, sometimes speak of the priests and sacrifices as then in being, with respect unto that continuance of the temple and its worship which it had in the patience of God, as we have showed on Hebrews 8:4; but here, treating only of the tabernacle and its worship, as that which was granted in the confirmation and for the administration of the old covenant, then entered into, — as the tabernacle, priesthood, and sacrifice of Christ were given in the confirmation of the new, — he represents that as present which was past long before. The tabernacle served aptly for the use whereunto it was designed, — it was meet for the offering of gifts and sacrifices; and so alone is the tabernacle of Christ for its proper end also.

5. On these concessions, the apostle declares the imperfection of this whole order of things, and its impotency as unto the great end that might be expected from it; for these “gifts and sacrifices could not make perfect him that did the service, as pertaining unto the conscience.” This was the end aimed at, this was represented in them and by them. And if they could not really effect it, they were weak and imperfect, and so not always to be continued. The end represented in and by them, was to make atonement for sin, that the anger of God being pacified, they might have peace with him. The covenant was then newly established between God and the church, before any laws were given about these offerings and sacrifices, Exodus 24. God knew that there would be among the people, and even the priests themselves, many sins and transgressions against the rules and laws of that covenant. This of itself it could not dispense withal; for its sanction was the curse against every one that continued not in all things written in the book of it: wherefore if this curse on all just and righteous occasions should rigidly have been put in execution, the covenant would only have proved the means and cause of the utter destruction and excision of the whole people; for “there is no man that liveth and sinneth not.” And on many occasions sin abounded in that state of the church, wherein light and grace were but sparingly dispensed, in comparison of the times of the new covenant. Wherefore God, in his mercy and patience, provided that by sacred gifts and offerings atonement should be made for sin, so as that the curse of the covenant should not be put in immediate execution against the sinner, Leviticus 17:11. But there were two things to be considered in those sins which God had appointed that atonement should be made for. The first was, the external, temporal punishment which was due unto them, according unto the place which the law or covenant had in the polity or commonwealth of Israel. The other, that eternal punishment which was due unto every sin by the law, as the rule of all moral obedience; for “the wages of sin is death.” In the first of these, the person of the sinner, in all his outward circumstances, his life, his goods, his liberty, and the like, was concerned. In the latter, his conscience, or the inward man alone was so. And as unto the first of them, the gifts and sacrifices mentioned, being rightly offered, were able in themselves, “ex opere operato,” to free the sinner from all temporal, political inconvenience or detriment, so as that his life and inheritance should be continued in the land of Canaan, or his state preserved entire in the commonwealth of Israel This the apostle here tacitly acknowledgeth, namely, that the gifts and sacrifices were able to free the sinner from temporal punishment, and give him outward peace in his possessions. But as unto the latter, wherein conscience was concerned, he denies that they had any such efficacy.

They were not able, — μή δυνάμεναι. It agrees in gender with θυσίαι, only, and not with δῶρα, which being of the neuter gender, usually regulates the construction in such conjunctions: but most think it equally respects both the antecedent substantives; and instances may be given where a participle respecting more antecedent substantives than one may agree in gender with either of them, as, “Leges et plebiscita coactae.” But I rather think that the apostle confines the impotency he mentions unto “sacrifices” only; that is, θυσίαι, “slain and bloody sacrifices.” For those things which were δῶρα, “gifts,” and no more, were not designed to make atonement for sin; that was to be done by blood, and no otherwise: so the words should be read, “offered gifts and sacrifices that could not perfect.”

These sacrifices were impotent and ineffectual unto this end, τελειῶσαι. What the τελείωσις is which the apostle so frequently mentions in this epistle, I have before declared, and so what it is τελειῶσαι. It is indeed to “perfect,” to “consummate,” to “sanctify,” to “dedicate,” to “consecrate;” but whereas those sacrifices did all these things outwardly, and as unto the flesh, as the apostle grants, Hebrews 9:13, he doth not here absolutely deny it unto them, but in a certain respect only. They could not do it κατὰ συνείδησιν— as unto the conscience of the sinner before God. What he intends hereby he doth more fully declare, Hebrews 10:2. There is a conscience condemning for sin. This could not be taken away by those sacrifices. They were not able to do it; for if they could have done so, the sinner would have had complete peace with God, and would not have had need to have offered those sacrifices any more.

But they were multiplied and often repeated, because of their disability unto this end. Wherefore τελειῶσαι κατὰ συνείδησιν, is to give peace of conscience unto men, through a sense of perfect atonement made for sin, in the sight of God, with an interest in his love and favor thereon. This, it is to be “perfect” or “consummated, as pertaining to conscience” in the sight of God, namely, to have a conscience condemning for sin taken away. This those sacrifices of the law could not effect. It will be said, then, ‘Unto what end did they serve? Were they of no use but only to free men from the penalties of the law or covenant, as it was a rule of the polity or commonwealth of Israel, and the tenure of their possessions in Canaan?’ Yes, they were moreover part of the παραβολή or “mystical instruction” which God granted the church in those days, directing them unto the one sacrifice and offering of Christ, typically representing it, and through faith applying the virtue and efficacy of it unto their consciences every day.

6. The person is described towards whom this effect of purifying the conscience is denied. They could not thus perfect τον λατρεύοντα, — “him that did the service,” saith our translation, I think not so properly. He that did the service was the priest only; but respect is had unto every one that brought his gift or offering unto the altar. ᾿επιτελεῖν τὰς λατρείας, “sacredly to accomplish the services,” was the work of the priest alone, Hebrews 9:6. But ὁ λατρεύων, is the same with ὁ προσερχόμενος, Hebrews 10:1; that is, every one who brought his sacrifice to be offered, that atonement might be made for him. And λατρεύων comprehends the whole of divine worship in all individuals: τῷ θεῷ λατρεύσεις, Matthew 4:10. But he also may be said to do the service, on whose account and in whose stead it was performed.

But the defect charged doth not in the first place reflect on the persons, as though it was by their default. They worshipped God according unto his own institutions; but it was in the sacrifices themselves. And if they could not make the worshippers, those who did the service, perfect, they could make none so, for it was they alone who had the benefit of them.

The note of Grotius on this place is, “Isti cultus non possunt sectatorum suorum animos purgare a vitiis quemadmodum evan-gelium;” — most remote from the mind of the Holy Ghost: for he speaks not of purging our minds from vices, but of purifying conscience by atonement made for the guilt of sin; and opposeth not those sacrifices unto the doctrine of the gospel, but unto the sacrifice of Christ. And we may hence observe, —

Obs. 1. There is a state of perfect peace with God to be attained under imperfect obedience. For it is charged as a weakness in the legal administrations, that they could not give such a peace where any sin remained; it is therefore to be found in the sacrifice of Christ, as is proved at large in the next chapter. “Being justified by faith, we have peace with God.”

Obs. 2. Nothing can give perfect peace of conscience with God but what can make atonement for sin. And whoever attempt it any other way but by virtue of that atonement, will never attain it, in this world nor hereafter.

Hebrews 9:10. — “Only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed [on them] until the time of reformation.”

It is acknowledged that there is no small difficulty in the connection of these words, or their relation unto what doth immediately precede; and therefore expositors have multiplied conjectures about it, in whose examination we are not concerned. I shall therefore no further consider any of them, but as they relate unto what I judge to be their true coherence. Two things are plain and evident unto this purpose: —

1. That the design of the apostle in the words themselves, is to manifest and declare the weakness of the services of the tabernacle, and their insufficiency for attaining the end proposed in them. This end in general was the perfecting of the church-state in religious worship; and in particular, to make the worshippers perfect as unto their consciences before God. And he gives such a description of them as of itself will sufficiently evince their weakness and insufficiency. For what is it possible that things of that kind and nature which is here described can contribute unto these ends

2. That the things instanced in do comprise a great part of the Levitical institutions; and his assertion concerning them may, by a parity of reason, be extended unto them all. For to render his description of them comprehensive, the apostle

(1.) Expresseth them in a particular enumeration of the heads whereunto they might be reduced, “Meats and drinks, and divers washings.” And then,

(2.) To show that he intends all things of an alike nature with them, he adds the general nature of them all, — they were “carnal ordinances:” —

(1.) A great part of the Levitical religious observances may be reduced unto these heads of “meats and drinks, and divers washings.” Laws and institutions were multiplied about these things; what they might eat, and what they might not; what was clean, and what was unclean unto that end; what they might drink, and what vessels defiled all liquors; what were to be, their eatings and drinkings, and when upon their peace-offering, and at their solemn feasts; their great variety of washings, of the priests, of the people, of their garments, and their flesh, stated and occasional, do take up a great part of the entire system of their ordinances. And as laws were multiplied concerning these things, so many of them were enforced with very severe penalties. Hence they were difficultly to be learned, and always impossible to be observed. The Mishna and Talmud — that is, the whole religion of the present Jews — consist almost wholly in scrupulous inquiries, and endless determinations, or rather conjectures, about these things and their circumstances.

(2.) All the laws concerning these things were carnal, “carnal ordinances;” such as, for the matter, manner of performance, and end of them, were carnal. This being their nature, it evidently follows that they were instituted only for a time, and were so far from being able themselves to perfect the state of the church, as that they were not consistent with that perfect state of spiritual things which God would introduce, and had promised so to do.

The scope and design of the apostle being thus fixed, the coherence and interpretation of the words will not be so difficult as at first view they may appear. ΄όνον ἐπὶ βρώμασι, — “Only in meats and drinks,” etc, Our translators observing the sense elliptical, have supplied it with “which stood,” — which stood only in meats and drinks.” And that supplement may give a double sense: —

1. It may respect the substance of the things spoken of. “Which,” relates to “gifts and sacrifices.” And so the sense intended is, that they consisted “in meats and drinks, and divers washings.” And this was the natural substance of them. They consisted in such things as might be eaten and drunk, being duly prepared, as flesh, flour, salt, oil, and wine. Hence were they called meat and drink-offerings. And they had washings also that belonged unto them, as the washing of the inwards, Exodus 29:17; and of the burnt- offerings peculiarly, Leviticus 1:9; Leviticus 1:13; of the hands and feet of the priests, Exodus 30:18-19; and of the leper, Leviticus 14:9. Howbeit it cannot be said that the gifts and sacrifices, as they were such, did consist in these things, though in them things of this nature were offered unto God. Wherefore the supplement of, “which stood,” cannot be admitted in that sense.]

2. It may respect the consummation of these gifts and sacrifices, or the celebration of the whole service that belonged unto them, and all their necessary circumstances or consequents: ‘which stood in these things;’that is, which were accompanied with them. and not perfected without them.

The argument in the words is to prove the insufficiency of the gifts and sacrifices of the law unto the end mentioned, of perfecting conscience before God. And this is evidenced by the consideration of their necessary adjuncts, or what belonged unto them, and were inseparable from them. It is not said that these “gifts and sacrifices” were only meats and drinks, and so things of no value: for neither doth the apostle treat of the old institutions with such contempt, nor would the truth of his assertion have been evident unto the Hebrews; but he argues unto a discovery of their use and end from the things that did always accompany them, and were inseparable from them. For those by whom they were offered were obliged, by the same divine institution, at the same time unto sundry “meats and drinks, and divers washings;” which proves both the gifts and sacrifices to have been of the same kind, and to have had respect unto carnal things, as they had. For if those gifts and sacrifices had an immediate effect on the consciences of men unto their purification before God, by any virtue inherent in them, whence is it that the observances which by the same law accompanied them were only about “meats and drinks, and divers washings?” And this sense is not to be refused.

But whereas there is an ellipsis in the connection of the words, it may be otherwise supplied. For having mentioned the “gifts and sacrifices” of the law, the apostle makes an addition unto them of the remaining institutions and ceremonies of it, whose very nature and use declared their insufficiency unto the end inquired after; — “[And other laws] only concerning meats and drinks, and divers washings;” which in general he calls “carnal rites.” Hereby is the argument in hand carried on and completed.

There are four things in the words:

1. An account of the legal institutions, under several heads.

2. Their nature in general, with that of others of the same kind; they were “carnal ordinances,” or fleshly rites.

3. The way of the relation of the people unto them; they were “imposed” on them.

4. The time for which they were imposed, or the measure of their duration; which was, “until the time of reformation.”

First, For the nature of them, they consisted,

1. In “meats and drinks.” Take the words in their full extent, and they may be comprehensive of four sorts of institutions: —

(1.) Of all those which concerned meats, or things to be eaten or not eaten, as being clean or unclean; an account whereof is given, Leviticus 11 throughout. With reference thereunto doth the apostle reflect on the Levitical institutions in these words, “Touch not, taste not, handle not; which all are to perish with the using,” Colossians 2:21-22, — are all carnal things.

(2.) The portion of the priests out of the sacrifices; especially what they were to eat in the holy place, as the portion of the sin-offering, Exodus 29:31-33; Leviticus 10:12-13; Leviticus 10:17; and what they were to eat of the peace-offerings in any clean place, verses 14, 15. And the prohibition of drinking wine or strong drink in the holy place, verses 8, 9, may be here respected in “drinks,” about which these institutions were. And these were such, as without which the service of the sacrifices could not be acceptably performed, verses 17, 18. And therefore are they intended in this place in an especial manner, if it be the design of the apostle to prove the insufficiency of the sacrifices from the nature of their inseparable adjuncts, which were carnal and perishing things.

(3.) The eating of the remainder of the peace-offering, whether of a vow or of thanksgiving; the law whereof is given as a holy ordinance, Leviticus 7:14-17.

(4.) The laws concerning the feasts of the whole people, with their eating and drinking before the Lord, Leviticus 23. All these divine ordinances were ἐπὶ βρώμασι καὶ πόμασι, — “concerning meats and drinks,” that were necessary to be observed with their offering of “gifts and sacrifices,” declaring of what nature they were. And the observation of them all was at the same time imposed on them.

2. They consisted in, or were concerning “divers washings” βαπτισμός is any kind of washing, whether by, dipping or sprinkling, — putting the thing to be washed into the water, or applying the water unto the thing itself to be washed. Of these washings there were various sorts or kinds under the law: for the priests were washed, Exodus 29:4; and the Levites, Numbers 8:7; and the people, after they had contracted any impurity, Leviticus 15:8; Leviticus 15:16. But the apostle seems to have particular respect unto the washings of the priests and of the offerings in the court of the tabernacle, before the altar; for these were such, as without which the gifts and sacrifices could not be rightly offered unto God.

Secondly, It is added in the description of these things, καὶ δικαιώμασι σαρκός, — “institutis carnalibus,” “ritibus,” “ceremoniis,” “justitiis, justificationibus carnis.” “Carnal ordinances,” say we. The signification of δικαίωμα in this place hath been spoken unto before. Rites of worship arbitrarily imposed, whose “jus” or “right” depended on the will or pleasure of God. And they are said to be of the flesh for the reason given, Hebrews 9:13, — “they sanctified unto the purifying of the flesh,” and no more.

The words may be an expression of the nature in general of the law about meats, drinks, and washings; they were “carnal ordinances.” But the distinctive copulative, καί, “and,” will not admit of that sense. It seems, therefore, to contain an addition of all those other legal ordinances which any way belonged unto the purifications of the law. The force of the reasonings in these words is evident. For the design of the apostle is to prove, that, in the perfect church-state which God would bring in under the new covenant, the worshippers were to enjoy peace of conscience, with joy and boldness in the presence of God, from a perfect atonement and purification of sin. Holy this is effected by the one sacrifice of Christ, he afterwards declares. But the ordinances of the law, and the Levitical sacrifices, were weak and imperfect as unto this end; for in them and by them men were conversant wholly in carnal things, in meats, drinks, washings, and such like carnal observances, which could reach no farther than the sanctification of the flesh, as he evidenceth in the application of all these things unto his present argument, Hebrews 9:13. And the faith of believers is rather weakened than confirmed by all things of the like nature, that divert their minds from an immediate respect unto and total dependence on the one sacrifice of Christ.

Thirdly, Concerning all these things it is affirmed, that they were “imposed” on the people, — ἐπικείμενα. There is a difficulty in the syntax of this word, which all interpreters take notice of. If it refers unto the substantives immediately foregoing, βρώμασι καὶ πόμασι, etc., it agrees not with them in case; if unto θυσίας in the other verse, it agrees not with it in gender. And the apostle had before adjoined unto it a participle of the feminine gender, — δυνάμεναι. Some think that the letter iota is added unto the first word, or taken from the latter, so that originally they were both of the same gender. But whereas the apostle had put together δῶρα καὶ ζυσίας, the one of the neuter, the other of the feminine gender, he might apply his adjectives either to one or both, without offense to grammar. Yet I rather judge that in this word he had respect unto all the things whereof he had discoursed from the very beginning of the chapter. Concerning them all he declares that they were thus “imposed;” and so the use of the word in the neuter gender is proper.

Many judge that there is an objection anticipated in these words. For upon the description of the nature and use of the tabernacle, with all its furniture and services, he declares that they could not all of them, nor any of them, perfect the worshippers that attended unto them. Hereon it might be well inquired, ‘To what purpose, then, were they appointed? unto what end did they serve?’Hereunto he replies, ‘That they were never designed unto perpetual use, but only imposed on the people unto the time of reformation.’But whether there be a respect unto any such objection or no, he plainly declares their use and duration according unto the mind of God; which were such as their nature did require. And hereby also he confirms his argument of their insufficiency unto the great end of perfecting, sanctifying, or consecrating the state of the church. And hereof there are two evidences in these words: —

1. They were things imposed; that is, on the people under the law. They were laid on them as a burden. The word is properly “incumbentia,” lying on them; that is, as a burden. There was a weight in all these legal rites and ceremonies, which is called a “yoke,” and too heavy for the people to bear, Acts 15:10. And if the imposition of them be principally intended, as we render the word, “imposed,” it respects the bondage they were brought into by them. Men may have a weight lying on them, and yet not be brought into bondage thereby. But these things were so imposed on them as that they might feel their weight, and groan under the burden of it. Of this bondage the apostle treats at large in the epistle unto the Galatians. And it was impossible that those things should perfect a church-state, which’in themselves were such a burden, and effective of such a bondage.

2. As unto the duration assigned unto them, they were thus imposed μεχρὶ καιροῦ, — for a determined limited, season. They were never designed to continue for ever. And this is the great controversy which we have at this day with the Jews. The principal foundation of their present unbelief is, that the law of Moses is eternal, and that the observation of its rites and institutions is to be continued unto the end of the world. The contrary hereunto the apostle had evidently proved in the foregoing chapters. Whereas, therefore, he had undeniably demonstrated that they were not to be of perpetual use in the church, nor could ever effect that state of perfection which God designed unto it, he now declares that there was a certain determinate season fixed in the purpose and counsel of God for their cessation and removal. And this he describes in the last word.

This was the season διορθώσεως: “correction,” say some; “direction,” others; we, “of reformation,” restraining the word unto the things spoken of, and retaining its usual signification, most improperly. For “reformation” is the amendment and reduction of any thing in the church unto its primitive institution, by abolishing and taking away the abuses that have crept into it, or corrupt additions that have been made unto it; but nothing of that nature is here intended. Many such seasons there were under the old testament, wherein the things belonging unto the worship of God were so reformed; but now not the reduction of the tabernacle and its services unto its first institution is intended, but its utter removal and taking away out of the service of God in the church. But if respect be had unto the whole state of the church in general, and what God designed unto it, taking the word “reformation” in a universal sense, for the introduction of a new animating form and life, with new means and ways of their expression and exercise in new ordinances of worship, the word may be of use in this place.

Those who render it, “of correction,” are no less out of the way. For “correction” might be applied unto the abuses that had crept into the worship of God; — so it was by our Savior with respect unto pharasaical traditions: but the apostle treats here of the worship itself as it was first instituted by God, without respect unto any such abuses. This was not the object of any just correction.

The time intended is sufficiently known and agreed upon. It is the great time or season of the coming of the Messiah, as the king, priest, and prophet of the church, to order and alter all things, so as it might attain its perfect state. This was the season that was to put an end unto all legal observances, wherein they were to expire.

Unto the bringing in of this season God had ordered and disposed all things from the foundation of the world. See Luke 1:68-75. And it is called καιρὸς διορθώσεως, because therein God finally disposed and directed all things in the church unto his own glory and the eternal salvation thereof. See Ephesians 1:10. And we may observe from the whole verse, —

Obs. 1. That there is nothing in its own nature so mean and abject, but the will and authority of God can render it of sacred use and sacred efficacy, when he is pleased to ordain and appoint it. — Such were the “meats and drinks, and divers washings,” under the law; which, however contemptible in themselves, had a religious use from the appointment of God. For others to attempt the like, as they do with their salt, and oil, and the like, in the Papacy, is foolishly to imitate his sovereignty, and proudly to usurp his authority.

Obs. 2. The fixing of times and seasons, for the state of things in the church, is solely in the hand of God. and at his sovereign disposal. — He alone appointed this “time of reformation;” the church could neither hasten it nor was to refuse it. Wherefore quiet waiting alone is our duty, as unto the accomplishment of all promises concerning the state of the church in this world.

Obs. 3. It is a great part of the blessed liberty which the Lord Christ brought into the church, namely, its freedom and liberty from legal impositions, and every thing of the like nature in the worship of God

Obs. 4. The time of the coming of Christ was the time of the general final reformation of the worship of God, wherein all things were unchangeably directed unto their proper use.


Verse 11

Unto this verse the account of the Levitical priesthood, its sanctuary and services, is continued. Amongst them, the service of the high priest in the most holy place on the day of expiation was principally designed; for this was looked on and trusted unto by the Hebrews, as the principal glory of their worship, and as of the greatest efficacy as unto atonement and reconciliation with God. And so it was, in its proper place. Hence they have a saying yet common amongst them, “That on the day of expiation, when the high priest entered into the most holy place, all Israel were made as innocent as in the day of creation.” In what sense it neither was nor could be so shall be declared on Hebrews 10:1-3. But in these things the glory of the administration of the old covenant did consist; which the apostle allows unto it in his demonstration of the excellency of the new above it. Wherefore this ministry of the high priest on that day he hath an especial respect unto, in the account he gives of the priesthood of Christ and its administration.

But yet, although he hath a principal regard hereunto, he doth not respect it only and singly. The whole description of the sanctuary and its services he also regards, in the comparison he intends between the Lord Christ in his office and these things. In him, his office, sanctuary, and sacrifice, do the excellency and efficacy of the new covenant consist, in opposition unto all those of the like kind under the law. The want of a due observation hereof hath led some expositors into mistakes: for they would confine all that he says unto a correspondency with what was done on that solemn day by the high priest, whereas he doth also expressly declare that the truth, reality, and substance of the tabernacle, all its utensils, its services and sacrifices, were to be found in him alone; for unto this end doth he give us such a description of them all in particular.

But, as was said, that which he principally respects in the comparison he makes between the type and the antitype, is the high priest and his especial service in the most holy place, which he makes an entrance into in this verse.

Hebrews 9:11. χριστὸς δὲ παραγενόμενος, ἀρχιερεὺς τῶν μελλόντων ἀγαθῶν, διὰ τῆς μείζονος καὶ τελειοτέρας σκηνῆς, οὐ χειροποιήτου, τουτ ᾿ ἔστιν, οὐ ταύτης τῆς κτίσεως. (5)

παραγενόμενος. Vulg., “assistens,” “assisting.” Syr., דֵּאתָא, “who cometh.” “Adveniens,” “coming.”

᾿αρχιερεύς. Syr., הֲוָא וַב כּוּמָרֶא, “was an high priest,” or “was made an high priest;” whereunto it adds, instead of “good things to come,” “of the good things which he hath wrought.”

διὰ μείζονος καὶ τελειοτέρας σκηνῆς. Vulg. Lat., “per amplius et perfectius tabernaculum;” barbarously for “mains et praestantius.” Syr. וַמְשַׁלְמָנָא וְעַל לְמֶשְׁכְּנָא רַבָּא, “and he entered into that great and perfect tabernacle.”

οὐ ταύτης τῆς κτίσεως. Vulg. Lat., “non hujus creationis.” Syr., מֵן הָלֵין בְּרַיְתָא, “of” or “from among these creatures.” Most, “hujus structurae,” “of this building.”

Hebrews 9:11. — But Christ being come, an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building.

The introduction of the comparison in the redditive conjunction δὲ, “but,” answers unto μέν in the first verse of the chapter; which are the common notes of comparison and opposition. εἷχε μέν...... χριστὸς, — “That had truly ...... but Christ,” etc. In this and the next verse the apostle lays down in general what he proves and confirms by instances in this, and unto the 20th verse of the following chapter.

And there are two things which he declares in this and the verse ensuing:

1. Who is the high priest of the new covenant, and what is the tabernacle wherein he administered his office, Hebrews 9:11.

2. What are the especial services he performed, in answer unto those of the legal high priest, and their preference above them, Hebrews 9:12.

In this verse he expresseth the subject whereof he treats, or the person of the high priest concerning whom he treats. And he describes him,

1. By his name; it is “Christ.”

2. By his entrance on his office; “being come.”

3. His office itself; “an high priest.”

4. The effects of his office, or the especial object of it; “good things to come.”

5. The tabernacle wherein he administereth or dischargeth his office; which is described by a comparison with the old tabernacle, and that two ways:

(1.) Positively; that it was “greater” and “more perfect” or “more excellent” than it.

(2.) By a double negation, the latter exegetical of the former; “not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building” or “creation.” All these particulars must be distinctly opened, to give a right understanding of the sense of the; place and meaning of the words: —

First, The person spoken of is “Christ.” I have observed before the variety of appellations or names whereby the apostle on various occasions expresseth him in this epistle, otherwise than he is wont to do in any other of his epistles. Sometimes he calls him Jesus only, sometimes Christ, sometimes Jesus Christ, sometimes the Son, and sometimes the Son of God. And he had respect herein unto the various notions which the church of the Jews had concerning his person from the prophecies and promises of the Old Testament. And he useth none of them peculiarly but when there is a peculiar reason for it, as we have already observed on sundry occasions. And so there is in this place. He doth not say Jesus is come, or the Son, or the Son of God, but “Christ being come;” that is, “the Messiah being come.” Under that name and notion was he promised from the beginning, and the fundamental article of the faith of the church was, that the Messiah was to come; — all their desires and expectations were fixed on the coming of the Messiah. Hence ὁ ἐρχόμενος, “he that was to come,” was the name whereby they expressed their faith in him. σὺ ει῏ ὁ ἐρχόμενος; Matthew 11:3, — “Art thou he who is to come?” And the coming of Christ, or the Messiah, was the time and the cause wherein and whereby they expected the last revelation of the will of God, and the utmost perfection of the church. Wherefore the apostle on this occasion mentions him by his name, ‘He who was promised of old that he should come, upon whose coming the faith of the church was built, by whom and at whose coming they expected the last revelation of the will of God, and consequently a change in their present administrations, the promised Messiah being come.’The church was founded of old on the name Jehovah, as denoting the unchangeableness and faithfulness of God in the accomplishment of his promises, Exodus 6:2-3. And this name of Christ is declarative of the accomplishment of them. Wherefore by calling him by this name, as it was most proper when he was to speak of his coming, so in it he minds the Hebrews of what was the ancient faith of their church concerning him, and what in general they expected on his coming. He had now no more to offer unto them but what they had for many ages expected, desired, and earnestly prayed for.

Secondly, As a general foundation of what is afterwards ascribed unto him, or as the way whereby he entered on his office, he affirms that he is “come:” “Christ being come,” — παραγενόμενος. The word is nowhere else used to express the advent or coming of Christ. Hence by the Vulgar it is rendered “assistens;” which as it doth not signify to “come,” so the sense is corrupted by it. The Rhemists render that translation, “but Christ assisting an high priest.” But this increaseth the ambiguity of the mistake of that translation, as not declaring that Christ himself was this high priest, which is the direct assertion of the apostle. That which is intended is the accomplishment of the promise of God, in the sending and exhibition of Christ in the flesh: ‘He being now come, according as was promised from the foundation of the world.’For although the word is inseparable in its construction with what followeth, “an high priest,” — “being come an high priest;” yet his coming itself in order unto the susception and discharge of that office is included in it. And upon this coming itself depended the demonstration of the faithfulness of God in his promises. And this is the great fundamental article of Christian religion, in opposition unto Judaism, as it is declared, 1 John 4:2-3. Wherefore, by his being “come,” in this place, no one single act is intended, as his advent or coming doth usually signify his incarnation only; but the sense of the word is comprehensive of the whole accomplishment of the promise of God in sending him, and his performance of the work whereunto he was designed thereon. In that sense is he frequently said to come, or to be come, 1 John 5:20.

And, as was before observed, there is not only argument herein unto the apostle’s design, but that which, being duly weighed, would fully determine all the controversy he had with these Hebrews. For all their legal administrations were only subservient unto his coming, and representations thereof, — all given in confirmation of the truth of the promises of God that so he should come: wherefore upon his coming they must all necessarily cease and be removed out of the church.

Thirdly, There is in the words a determination of the especial end of his coming, under present consideration, — “an high priest,” “being come an high priest;” that is, in answer unto and in the room of the high priest under the law. This states the subject of the apostle’s argument. He had before proved that he was to be a priest, that he was a priest, and how he came so to be. He now asserts it as the foundation of those actings which he was to ascribe unto him in answer unto those of the legal high priests, whose offices and services, with the effects of them, he had before declared:

‘Those high priests did so, “but Christ being come an high priest,” etc.’

Fourthly, He adds the especial object of his office, or the things about which he is conversant in the discharge of it: “Of the good things to come.” As the assertion is positive, so there is a comparison and opposition included in it. The high priests of the law were not so. They were not priests of “good things;” that is, absolutely, or such as were necessary unto the purification, sanctification, and justification of the church. And so far as they were priests of good things, they were so of good things present, not of the good things promised, that were for to come. And this is the force of the article τῶν, “of the good things;” namely, that God had promised unto the church. A priest, or a high priest, may be said to be the priest of the things that he doth in the execution of his office, or of the things which he procureth thereby; he is the priest of his duties, and of the effects of them; — as a minister may be said to be a minister of the word and sacraments which he administereth, or of the grace of the gospel which is communicated thereby. Both are here included, both the duties which he performed and the effects which he wrought.

The things whereof Christ is a high priest, are said to be “things to come;” — that is, they are yet so, absolutely so; or they were so called with respect unto the state of the church under the old testament. Most expositors embrace the first sense. ‘These good things to come,’they say, ‘are that future eternal salvation and glory which were procured for the church by the priesthood of Christ, and were not so by the Levitical priesthood. To the administration of the priesthood under the law he assigns only things present, temporal things, or what could be effected by them in their own virtue and power; but unto that of Christ he assigns eternal things, as he speaks immediately, he hath “obtained eternal redemption for us.” The eternal salvation and glory of the church were procured by the priesthood of Christ, or Christ himself in the discharge of that office, and were not so by the Levitical priests. These things are true, but not the meaning, at least not the whole meaning, of the apostle in this place. For, —

1. This confines the relation of the priesthood of Christ in this place unto the effects of it only, and excludes the consideration of his sacerdotal actings in the great sacrifice of himself; for this was not now to come, but was already past and accomplished. But this is so far from being excluded by the apostle, as that it is principally intended by him. This is evident from the words ensuing, wherein the tabernacle is described in which he was thus “an high priest of good things to come;” for this was his human nature, wherein he offered himself, as we shall see.

2. He doth not in this place compare together and oppose the future state of glory which we shall have by Christ with and unto the state of the church in this world under the old testament; which were not equal, nor would be cogent unto his purpose, seeing the saints of old were also made partakers of that glory. But he compares the present state of the church, the privileges, advantages, and grace which it enjoyed by the priesthood of Christ, with what it had by the Aaronical priesthood; for the fundamental principle which he confirms is, that the τελείωσις, or present “perfection” of the church, is the effect of the priesthood of Christ.

Wherefore the apostle expresseth these things by that notion of them which was received under the old testament and in the church of the Hebrews, namely, the “good things to come;” — that is, they were so from the beginning of the world, or the giving of the first promise. Things which were fore-signified by all the ordinances of the law, and which thereon were the desire and expectation of the church in all preceding ages; the things which all the prophets foretold, and which God promised by them, directing the faith of the church unto them; in brief, all the good things in spiritual redemption and salvation which they looked for by the Messiah, are here called the “good things to come.” Of these things Christ was now come the high priest; the law having only the shadow, and not so much as the perfect image of them, Hebrews 10:1. And these things may be referred unto two heads: —

(1.) Those wherein the actual administration of his office did consist, for, as we said, he was the high priest of the duties of his own office, he by whom they were performed. These in general were his oblation and intercession. For although his intercession be continued in heaven, yet was it begun on the earth; as his oblation was offered on the earth, but is continued in heaven, as unto the perpetual exercise of it. The whole preparation unto, and actual oblation of himself, was accompanied with most fervent and effectual intercessions, Hebrews 5:7. And such was his solemn prayer recorded John 17. These things themselves, in the first place, were the “good things to come.” For these were they which were designed in, and the substance of, the first promise; as also of all those which were afterwards given for the confirmation of the faith of the church therein. These did all the legal institutions direct unto and represent. And that they are here intended by the apostle, he plainly declares in the next verse; for with respect unto these good things to come, he opposeth his own blood and sacrifice, with the atonement he made thereby, unto the blood of bulls and of goats, with whatever could be effected thereby.

(2.) The effects of these sacerdotal actings are also intended: for these also are reckoned hereunto in the close of the next verse, in the instance of one of them, namely, “eternal redemption,” which is comprehensive of them all. And these also were of two sorts: —

[1.] Such as immediately respected God himself. Of this nature was the atonement and reconciliation which he made by his blood, and peace with God for sinners thereon. See 2 Corinthians 5:19-20; Ephesians 2:14-16.

[2.] The benefits which hereon are actually collated on the church, whereby it is brought into its consummate state in this world. What they are we have discoursed at large on Hebrews 7:11.

These, therefore, are the “good things to come,” consisting in the bringing forth and accomplishing of the glorious effects of the hidden wisdom of God, according unto his promises from the beginning of the world, in the sacrifice of Christ, with all the benefits and privileges of the church, in righteousness, peace, and spiritual worship, which ensued thereon. And we may observe, —

Obs. 1. These things alone are the true and real good things that were intended for and promised unto the church from the beginning of the world. — The Jews had now utterly lost the true notion of them, which proved their ruin; and yet do they continue in the same fatal mistake unto this day. They found that great and glorious things were spoken of by all the prophets, to be brought in at the coming of the Messiah; and the hope of good things to come they lived upon, and continue yet so to do. But being carnal in their own minds, and obstinately fixed unto the desire of earthly things, they fancied them to consist in things quite of another nature; — honor, riches, power, a kingdom and dominion on the earth, with a possession of the wealth of all nations, were the good things which they hoped were to come. As to reconciliation and peace with God by a full and perfect atonement for sin, righteousness, deliverance from spiritual adversaries, with a holy worship acceptable unto God, they are things which they neither desired nor regarded. Wherefore, choosing the world and the things of it before those which are spiritual and heavenly, unto the world they are left, and the curse which it lieth under. And it is to be feared that some others also have deceived themselves with carnal apprehensions of the good things, if not of the priesthood, yet of the kingdom of Christ.

Obs. 2. These things alone are absolutely good unto the church; all other things are good or evil as they are used or abused. — Outward peace and prosperity are good in themselves, but oftentimes they prove not so to the church. Many a time have they been abused unto its great disadvantage. They are not such things as are too earnestly to be desired, for who knows what will be the end of them? But these things are absolutely good in every state and condition.

Obs. 3. So excellent are these good things, as that the performance and procuring of them were the cause of the coming of the Son of God, with his susception and discharge of his sacerdotal office. — They are excellent in their relation unto the wisdom, grace, and love of God, whereof they are the principal effects; and excellent in relation unto the church, as the only means of its eternal redemption and salvation. Had they been of a lower or meaner nature, so glorious a means had not been designed for the effecting of them. Woe unto them by whom they are despised! “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?” And, —

Obs. 4. Such a price and value did God put on these things, so good are they in his eyes, as that he made them the subject of his promises unto the church from the foundation of the world. — And in all his promises concerning them, he still opposed them unto all the good things of this world, as those which were incomparably above them and better than them all. And therefore he chose out all things that are precious in the whole creation to represent their excellency; which makes an appearance of promises of earthly glories in the Old Testament, whereby the Jews deceived themselves. And because of their worth, he judged it meet to keep the church so long in the desire and expectation of them.

Fifthly, That which the apostle hath immediate respect unto in the declaration of the priesthood and sacrifice of Christ, is what he had newly at large declared concerning the tabernacle and the service of the high priest therein. Wherefore he assigns a tabernacle unto this high priest, in answer unto that under the law, whereby he came, or wherein he administered the duties of his office. And concerning this he,

1. Asserts that “he came by a tabernacle.”

2. Describes this tabernacle in comparison with the former:

(1.) Positively, that it was “greater and more perfect;”

(2.) Negatively, in that being “not made with hands,” it was not of the same building with it.

1. He came by a tabernacle. These words may have prospect unto what is afterwards declared in the next verse, and belong thereunto; — as if he bad said, ‘Being come an high priest, he entered into the holy place by a perfect tabernacle, with his own blood;’for so the high priest of the law entered into the holy place, by or through the tabernacle, with the blood of others But the words do rather declare the constitution of the tabernacle intended than the use of it, as unto that one solemn service; for so before he had described the frame and constitution of the old tabernacle, before he mentioned its use.

“Being come an high priest, by such a tabernacle;” that is, wherein he administered that office. What is the tabernacle here intended, there is great variety in the judgment of expositors, Some say it is the church of the new testament, as Chrysostom, who is followed by many. Some say it is heaven itself. This is embraced and pleaded for by Schlichtingius, who labors much in the explanation of it. But whereas this is usually opposed, because the apostle in the next verse affirms that “Christ entered into the holies,” which he expounds of heaven itself, by this tabernacle, which therefore cannot be heaven also, he endeavors to remove it. For he says there is a double tabernacle in heaven. For as the apostle hath in one and the same place described a double tabernacle here on earth, a first and a second, with their utensils and services, distinguished the one from the other by a veil; so there are two places in heaven answering thereunto. The first of these he would have to be the dwelling-place of the angels; the other the place of the throne of God himself, represented by the most holy place in the tabernacle. Through the first of these he says the LORD Christ passed into the second, which is here called his tabernacle. And it is indeed said that the Lord Christ in his exaltation did “pass through the heavens,” and that he was “made higher than the heavens;” which would seem to favor that conceit, though not observed by him. But there is no ground to conceit or fancy such distinct places in heaven above; yea, it is contrary to the Scripture so to do, for the residence of the holy angels is before and about the throne of God. So are they always placed in the Scripture, Daniel 7:10; Matthew 18:10; Revelation 5:11. And these aspectable heavens, which Christ passed through, were not so much as the veil of the tabernacle in his holy service, which was his own flesh, Hebrews 10:20. The only reason of this ungrounded, curious imagination, is a design to avoid the acknowledgment of the sacrifice of Christ whilst he was on the earth. For this cause he refers this tabernacle unto his entrance into the most holy place, as the only means of offering himself. But the design of the apostle is to show, that as he was a high priest, so he had a tabernacle of his own wherein he was to minister unto God.

2. This tabernacle, whereby he came a high priest, was his own human nature. The bodies of men are often called their tabernacles, 2 Corinthians 5:1; 2 Peter 1:14. And Christ called his own body the temple, John 2:19. His flesh was the veil, Hebrews 10:20. And in his incarnation he is said to “pitch his tabernacle among us,” John 1:14. Herein dwelt “the fullness of the Godhead bodily,” Colossians 2:9, — that is, substantially; represented by all the pledges of God’s presence in the tabernacle of old. This was that tabernacle wherein the Son of God administered his sacerdotal office in this world, and wherein he continueth yet so to do in his intercession. For the full proof hereof I refer the reader unto our exposition on Hebrews 8:2. And this gives us an understanding of the description given of this tabernacle in the adjuncts of it, with reference unto that of old. This is given us, —

[1.] That it was “greater” than it; — greater in dignity and worth, not quantity and measures. The human nature of Christ, both in itself, its conception, framing, gracious qualifications and endowments, especially in its relation unto and subsistence in the divine person of the Son, was far more excellent and glorious than any material fabric could be. In this sense, for comparative excellency and dignity, is μείζων almost constantly used in the New Testament. So is it in this epistle, Hebrews 6:13; Hebrews 6:16. The human nature of Christ doth thus more excel the old tabernacle than the sun doth the meanest star.

[2.] “More perfect.” This respects its sacred use. It was more perfectly fitted and suited unto the end of a tabernacle, both for the inhabitation of the divine nature and the means of exercising the sacerdotal office in making atonement for sin, than the other was. So it is expressed, Hebrews 10:5, “Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not have, but a body hast thou prepared me.” This was that which God accepted, wherewith he was well pleased, when he rejected the other as insufficient unto that end. And we may hence observe, that, —

Obs. 5. The human nature of Christ, wherein he discharged the duties of his sacerdotal office in making atonement for sin, is the greatest, the most perfect and excellent ordinance of God; far excelling those that were most excellent under the old testament. — An ordinance of God it was, in that it was what he designed, appointed, and produced unto his own glow; and it was that which answered all ordinances of worship under the old testament, as the substance of what was shadowed out in them and by them. And I have labored elsewhere to represent the glory of this ordinance as the principal effect of divine wisdom and goodness, the great means of the manifestation of his eternal glory. The wonderful provision of this tabernacle will be the object of holy admiration unto eternity. But the glory of it is a subject which I have elsewhere peculiarly labored in the demonstration of.(6) And unto the comparison with those of old, here principally intended, its excellency and glory may be considered in these as in other things: representation; that it had in truth, reality, and substance.

2dly. What they only shadowed out as unto reconciliation and peace with God, that it did really effect.

3dly. Whereas they were capable only of a holiness by dedication and consecration, which is external, giving an outward denomination, not changing the nature of the things themselves; this was glorious in real internal holiness, wherein the image of God doth consist.

4thly. The matter of them all was earthly, carnal, perishing; his human nature was heavenly as unto its original, — “the Lord from heaven;” and immortal or eternal in its constitution, — he was “made a priest after the power of an endless life;” for although he died once for sin, yet his whole nature had always its entire subsistence in the person of the Son of God.

5thly. Their relation unto God was by virtue of an outward institution or word of command only that of his was by assumption into personal union with the Son of God.

6thly. They had only outward, typical pledges of God’s presence; “in him dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.”

7thly. They were exposed unto the injuries of time, and all other outward occurrences, wherein there was nothing of the glory or worship of God; he never did nor could suffer any thing but what belonged unto his office, and is now exalted above all adversities and oppositions. And other considerations of the like nature might be added.

Obs. 6. The Son of God undertaking to be the high priest of the church, it was of necessity that he should come by or have a tabernacle wherein to discharge that office, — He “came by a tabernacle.” So it is said unto the same purpose, that it “was of necessity that he should have somewhat to offer,” Hebrews 8:3. For being to save the church by virtue of and in the discharge of that office, it could not be otherwise done than by the sacrifice of himself in and by his own tabernacle.

(2.) He describes this tabernacle by a double negation:

[1.] That it was “not made with hands.”

[2.] That it was “not of this building.” And this latter clause is because of its introduction by τουτ᾿ ἔστιν, “that is to say.” I shall consider both: —

[1.] It was ἀχειροποίητος, — “not made with hands.” The old tabernacle whilst it stood was the temple of God. So it is constantly called by David in the Psalms. Temples were generally sumptuous and glorious fabrics, always answering the utmost ability of them that built them. Not to have done their best therein they esteemed irreligious; for they designed to express somewhat of the greatness of what they worshipped, and to beget a veneration of what was performed in them. And this men in the degenerate state of Christianity are returned unto, endeavoring to represent the greatness of God, and the holiness of his worship, in magnificent structures, and costly ornaments of them. Howbeit the best of them all are made by the hands of men; and so are no way meet habitations for God, in the way he had designed to dwell among us. This Solomon acknowledgeth concerning the temple which he had built, which yet was the most glorious that ever was erected, and built by God’s own appointment: 2 Chronicles 2:5-6,

“The house which I build is great: for great is our God above all gods. But who is able to build him an house, seeing the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain him? who am I then, that I should build him an house, save only to burn sacrifice before him?” 1 Kings 8:27,

“Will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded?”

Service was to be done unto God in that temple according unto his appointment, but a meet habitation for him it was not. And our apostle lays it down as a principle suited unto natural light, that “God, who made all things, could not dwell ἐν χειροποιήτοις νασῖς,” — “in temples made with hands,” Acts 17:24. Such was the tabernacle of old; but such was not that wherein our Lord Jesus administereth his office.

There seems to me to have been an apprehension among the Jews that there should be a temple wherein God would dwell, that should not be made with hands. Our Lord Jesus Christ, in the first year of his ministry, upon his purging of the temple, upon their requiring a sign for the justification of his authority in what he had done, says no more but only, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up,” John 2:19.He spake of the same temple, as to their destruction of it and his own raising it again. Thus he called his own body. “He spake,” saith the evangelist, “of the temple of his body.” That other fabric was a type thereof, and so partook of the same name with it; but yet was no further a temple, or a habitation of God, but as it was typical of that body of his, wherein the fullness of the Godhead did dwell. This testimony of his seemeth to have provoked the Jews above every other; — unless it was that, when he plainly declared his divine nature unto them, affirming that he was before Abraham; for this cast them into so much madness, as that immediately “they took up stones to cast at him,” John 8:58-59. But their malice was more inveterate against him for what he thus spake concerning the temple; for, three years after, when they conspired to take away his life, they made these words the ground of their accusation. But as is usual in such cases, when they could not pretend that his own words, as he spake them, were criminal, they variously wrested them to make an appearance of a crime, though they knew not of what nature. So the psalmist prophesied that they should do, Psalms 56:5-6. Some of them affirmed him to have said,

“I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days,” Matthew 26:61.

Which was apparently false, as is evident in comparing his words with theirs. Wherefore others of them observing that the witness was not yet home unto their purpose, and the design of the priests, they sware positively that he said,

“I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands,” Mark 14:58.

For they are not the words of the same persons, variously reported by the evangelists; for these in Mark are other witnesses, which agreed not with what was sworn before, as he observes, verse 59, “But neither so did their witness agree together.” However, they fix on a notion that was passant among them, of a temple to be built without hands. And sundry things there are in the prophets which led them into an apprehension that God would dwell among men in a temple or tabernacle that should not be made with hands. And all their predictions were accomplished when the eternal Word, by the assumption of our nature, fixed his tabernacle among us, John 1:14.

This is that which the apostle intimates: Whereas Solomon openly affirms that the habitation of God could not be in the temple that he had built, because it was made with hands, and it is a principle of natural light, that he who made the world and all things contained therein could not dwell in such a temple; and whereas it seems to have belonged unto the faith of the church of old that there should be a temple wherein God would dwell that was to be ἀχειροποίητος; in comparing the human nature of Christ with the old tabernacle, he affirms in the first place that it was not made with hands.

Respect also is had herein unto the framing of the fabric of the old tabernacle by Bezaleel. For although the pattern of it was shown unto Moses in the mount from heaven, yet the actual framing and erection of it was by the hands of workmen skillful to work in all kinds of earthly materials, Exodus 31:1-6; Exodus 36:1. And although by reason of the wisdom, cunning, and skill which they had received in an extraordinary way, they framed, made, and reared a tabernacle most artificial and beautiful; yet when all was done, it was but the work of men’s hands. But the constitution and production of the human nature of Christ was an immediate effect of the wisdom and power of God himself, Luke 1:35. Nothing of human wisdom or contrivance, nothing of the skill or power of man, had the least influence into or concurrence in the provision of this glorious tabernacle, wherein the work of the redemption of the church was effected. The body of Christ, indeed, was “made of a woman,” of the substance of the blessed Virgin; but she was purely passive therein, and concurrent in no efficiency either moral or physical thereunto. It was the contrivance of divine wisdom and the effect of divine power alone.

[2.] The apostle adds, as a further dissimilitude unto the other tabernacle, “That is, not of this building.” Expositors generally take these words to be merely exegetical of the former: “Not made with hands; that is, not of this building.” To me there seems to be an αὔξησις in them. ‘It is so not made with hands like unto that tabernacle, as that it is not of the order of any other created thing; not of the same make and constitution with any thing else in the whole creation here below.’For although the substance of his human nature was of the same kind with ours, yet the production of it in the world was such an act of divine power as excels all other divine operations whatever. Wherefore God speaking of it saith, “The LORD hath created a new thing in the earth, A woman shall compass a man,” Jeremiah 31:22; or conceive him without natural generation.

κτίσις is the word whereby the creation of all things is constantly expressed in the New Testament; and sometimes it signifies the things that are created. Neither is it ever used, nor κτίζω, whence it is derived, to signify the constitution of the ordinances of the old testament, the tabernacle, the temple, or any thing belonging thereunto. Wherefore ταύτης here doth not limit it unto that constitution, so as that “not of this building” should be, “not made with hands as that tabernacle was.” It is therefore not of the order of created things here below, either such as were immediately created at the beginning, or educed out of them by a creating act of power. For although it was so as unto its substance, yet in its constitution and production it was an effect of the divine power above the whole order of this creation, or things created.

Obs. 7. God is so far from being obliged unto any means for the effecting of the holy counsels of his will, as that he can when he pleaseth exceed the whole order and course of the first creation of all things, and his providence in the rule thereof.


Verse 12

From the comparison between the tabernacle of old and that of the high priest of the new covenant, there is a procedure in this verse unto another, between his sacerdotal actings and those of the high priest under the ,law. And whereas, in the description of the tabernacle and its especial services, the apostle had insisted in a peculiar manner on the entrance of the high priest every year into the most holy place, — which was the most solemn and most mystical part of the tabernacle service, — in the first place he gives an account of what answered thereunto in the sacerdotal administrations of Christ; and how much on all accounts, both of the sacrifice in the virtue whereof he entered into the most holy place, and of the place itself whereinto he entered, and of the time when, it did in glory and efficacy excel that service of the high priest under the law.

Hebrews 9:12. οὐδὲ δι᾿ αἵματος τράγων καὶ μόσχων, διὰ δὲ τοῦ ἰδίου αἵματος εἰσῆλθεν ἐφάπαξ εἰς τὰ ἅγια, αἰωνίαν λύτρωσιν εὐράμενος.

διὰ δὲ τοῦ ἰδίου αἵματος. Syr., בַּדְמָא דְּנַפְשֵׁהּ, “by the blood of his own soul” or “life.” He made his soul an offering for sin, Isaiah 53:10. Blood is the life of the sacrifice. ᾿εφάπαξ. Syr., חֲדָא זְבַן, “one time;” not many times, not once every year, as they did under the law. εἰς τὰ ἅγια.

Syr., . לְבֵית מַקְדְשָׁה, “into the house of the sanctuary;” less properly, for by that expression’the old tabernacle is intended, but the apostle respects heaven itself. “In sancta,” “sancta sanctorum,’ “sacrarium;” — that which answers unto the most holy place in the tabernacle, where was the throne of God, the ark and mercy-seat. αἰωνίαν. Vulg., “aeterna redemptione inventa;” “aeternam redemptionem nactus;” “aeterna redemptione acquisita;” most properly, and according unto the use of the word in all good authors.

Hebrews 9:12. — Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the [most] holy place, having obtained eternal redemption.

In this verse there is a direct entrance into the great mystery of the sacerdotal actings of Christ, especially as unto the sacrifice he offered to make atonement tot sin. But the method which the apostle proceedeth in is what he was led unto by the proposal he had made of the types of it under the law; wherefore he begins with the complement or consequent of it, in answer unto that act or duty of the high priest wherein the glory of his office was most conspicuous, which he had newly mentioned.

And here, because part of our design in the exposition of this whole epistle is to free and vindicate the sense of it from the corrupt glosses which the Socinians, and some that follow them, have cast upon it, I shall on this great head of the sacrifice of Christ particularly insist on the removal of them. And indeed the substance of all that is scattered up and down their writings against the proper sacrifice of Christ, and the true nature of his sacerdotal office, is comprised in the comment on this epistle composed by Crellius and Schlichtingius I shall therefore first examine their corrupt wrestings of the words and false interpretations of them, before. I proceed unto their exposition.

They begin, “Nunc etiam opponit sacrificium ipsius Christi, sacrificio pontificis antiqui.” This is the πρῶτον ψεῦδος, of their interpretation of this and the following verses. If this be not so, all that they afterwards assert, or infer from it, falls of itself. But this is most false. There is not any thing directly either of the sacrifice of Christ or of the high priest, but only what was consequent unto the one and the other; yea, there is that which excludes them from being intended. The entrance of the high priest into the holy place was not his sacrifice. For it supposed his sacrifice to be offered before, in the virtue whereof, and with the memorial of it, he so entered; that is, with “the blood of goats and calves.” For all sacrifices were offered at the brazen altar; and that of the high priest on the day of expiation is expressly declared so to have been, Leviticus 16. And the entrance of Christ into heaven was not his sacrifice, nor the oblation of himself. For he offered himself unto God with strong cries and supplications; but his entrance into heaven was triumphant. So he entered into heaven by virtue of his sacrifice, as we shall see; but his entrance into heaven was not the sacrifice of himself.

They add in explication hereof:

“Pontifex antiquus per sanguinem hircorum et vitulorum ingrediebatur in sancta, Christus vero non per sanguinem tam vilem, seal pretiosissimum; quod alius esse non potuit quam ipsius proprius. Nam sanguis quidem humanus sanguine brutorum, sed sanguis Christi, sanguine caeterorum omnium hominum longe est pretiosior; cum ipse quoque caeteris hominibus omnibus imo omnibus creaturis longe sit praestantior, Deoque charior et proprior, utpote unigenitus eius Filius.”

What they say of the “preciousness of the blood of Christ” above that of brute creatures, is true; but they give two reasons for it, which comprise not the true reason of its excellency as unto the ends of his sacrifice:

1. They say, it was “the blood of a man.”

2. That “this man was more dear to God than all other creatures, as his only-begotten Son.” Take these last words in the sense of the Scripture, and the true reason of the preciousness and efficacy of the blood of Christ in his sacrifice is assigned; take them in their sense, and it is excluded. The Scripture by them intends his eternal generation, as the Son of the Father; they, only his nativity of the blessed Virgin, with his exaltation after his resurrection. But the true excellency and efficacy of the blood of Christ in his sacrifice was from his divine person, whereby “God purchased his church with his own blood,” Acts 20:28.

Nor do I know of what consideration the “preciousness” of the blood of Christ can be with them in this matter; for it belonged not unto his sacrifice, or the oblation of himself, as they pretend. For they would have the offering of himself to consist only in his entrance into heaven, and appearing in the presence of God, when, as they also imagine, he had neither flesh nor blood.

They proceed unto a speculation about the use and signification of the preposition per, by, or διά:

“Notandum est auctorem, ut ele-gantiae istius comparationis consuleret, usum esse in priori membro voce, ‘per;’licet pontifex legalis non tantum per sanguinem hircorum et vitulorum, hoc est, fuso prius sanguine istorum animalium, seu interveniente sanguinis eorum fusione, sed etism cum ipsorum sanguine in sancta fuerit ingressus, Hebrews 9:7. Verum quia in Christi sacrificio similitudo eousque extendi non potuit, cum Christus non alienum sed suum sanguinem fuderit, nec sanguinem suum post mortem, sed seipsum, et quidem jam immortalem, depositis carnis et sanguinis exuviis, quippe quae regnum Dei possidere nequeant, in coelesti illo tabernaculo obtulerit; proindeque non cum sanguine, sed tantum fuso prius sanguine, seu interveniente sanguinis sui fusione in sancta fuerit ingressus; idcirco auctor minus de legali pontifice dixit quam res erat; vel potius ambiguitate particulae, ‘per,’quae etiam idem quod ‘cum,’in sacris literis significare solet, comparationis concinnitati consulere voluit.”

The design of this whole discourse is to overthrow the nature of the sacrifice of Christ, and to destroy all the real similitude between it and the sacrifice of the high priest; the whole of its sophistry being animated by a fancied signification of the preposition “per,” or falsely-pretended reason of the use of it by the apostle. For,

1. The high priest did indeed carry of the blood of the sacrifice into the holy place, and so may be said to enter into it with blood; as it is said he did it “not without blood,” Hebrews 9:7 : yet is it not that which the apostle hath here respect unto; but it is the sacrifice at the altar, where the blood of it was shed and offered, which he intends, as we shall see immediately.

2. There is therefore nothing less ascribed unto the high priest herein than belonged unto him; for all that is intended is, that he entered into the holy place by virtue of the blood of goats and calves which was offered at the altar. Less than his due is not ascribed unto him, to make the comparison fit and meet, as is boldly pretended. Yea,

3. The nature of the comparison used by the apostle is destroyed by this artifice; especially if it be considered as a mere comparison, and not as the relation that was between the type and the antitype; for that is the nature of the comparison that the apostle makes between the entrance of the high priest into the holy place and the entrance of Christ into heaven. That there may be such a comparison, that there may be such a relation between these things, it is needful that they should really agree in that wherein they are compared, and not by force or artifice be fitted to make some kind of resemblance the one of the other. For it is to no purpose to compare things together which disagree in all things; much less can such things be the types one of another. Wherefore the apostle declares and allows a treble dissimilitude in the comparates, or between the type and the antitype: for Christ entered by his own blood, the high priest by the blood of goats and calves; Christ only once, the high priest every year; Christ into heaven, the high priest into the tabernacle made with hands. But in other things he confirms a similitude between them; namely, in the entrance of the high priest into the holy place by the blood of his sacrifice, or with it. But by these men this is taken away, and so no ground of any comparison left; — only the apostle makes use of an ambiguous word, to frame an appearance of some similitude in the things compared, whereas indeed there is none at all! For unto these ends he says, “by the blood,” whereas he ought to have said, “with the blood.” But if he had said so, there would have been no appearance of any similitude between the things compared. For they allow not Christ to enter into the holy place by or with his own blood in any sense; not by virtue of it as offered in sacrifice for us, nor to make application of it unto us in the fruits of his oblation for us. And what similitude is there between the high priest entering into the holy place by the blood of the sacrifice that he had offered, and the Lord Christ entering into heaven without his own blood, or any respect unto the virtue of it as offered in sacrifice?

4. This notion of the sacrifice or oblation of Christ to consist only in his appearance in heaven without flesh or blood, as they speak, overthrows all the relation of types or representations between it and the sacrifices of old. Nay, on that supposition, they were suited rather to deceive the church than instruct it in the nature of the great expiatory sacrifice that was to be made by Christ. For the universal testimony of them all was, that atonement and expiation of sin was to be made by blood, and no otherwise; but according unto these men, Christ offered not himself unto God for the expiation of our sins until he had neither flesh nor blood.

5. They say, it is true, he offered himself in heaven, “fuse prius sanguine.” But it is an order of time, and not of causality, which they intend. His blood was shed before, but therein, they say, was no part of his offering or sacrifice. But herein they expressly contradict the Scripture and themselves. It is by the offering of Christ that our sins are expiated, and redemption obtained. This the Scripture doth so expressly declare as that they cannot directly deny it. But these things are constantly ascribed unto the blood of Christ, and the shedding of it; and yet they would have it that Christ offered himself then only, when he had neither flesh nor blood.

They increase this confusion in their ensuing discourse:

“Aliter enim ex parte Christi res sese habuit, quam in illo antique. In antique illo, ut in aliis quae pro peccato lege divina constituta erant, non offerebatur ipsum animal mactatum, hoc est, nec in odorem suavitatis, ut Scriptura loquitur, adolebatur, sod renes ejus et adeps tantum; nec inferebatur in sancta, sed illius sanguis tantum. In Christi autem sacrificio, non sanguis ipsius quem mactatus effudit, sod ipse offerri, et in illa sancta coelestia ingredi debuit. Idcirco infra Hebrews 9:14, dicitur, seipsum, non vero sanguinem suum Deo obtulisse; licet alias comparatio cum sacrificiis expiatoriis postulare videretur, ut hoc posterius potius doceretur.”

1. Here they fully declare, that, according to their notion, there was indeed no manner of similitude between the things compared, but that, as to what they are compared in, they were opposite, and had no agreement at all. The ground of the comparison in the apostle is, that they were both by blood, and this alone. For herein he allows a dissimilitude, in that Christ’s was “by his own blood,” that of the high priest “by the blood of goats and calves.” But according unto the sense of these men, herein consists the difference between them, that the one was with blood, and the other without it; which is expressly contradictory to the apostle.

2. What they observe of the sacrifices of old, that not the bodies of them, but only the kidneys and fat were burned, and the blood only carried into the holy place, is neither true nor any thing to their purpose. For,

(1.) The whole bodies of the expiatory sacrifices were burnt and consumed with fire; and this was done without the camp, Leviticus 16:27, to signify the suffering of Christ, and therein the offering of his body without the city, as the apostle observes, Hebrews 13:11-12

(2.) They allow of no use of the blood in sacrifices, but only as to the carrying of it into the holy place: which is expressly contradictory unto the main end of the institution of expiatory sacrifices; for it was that by their blood atonement should he made on the altar, Leviticus 17:11. Wherefore there is no relation of type and antitype, no similitude for a ground of comparison between the sacrifice of Christ and that of the high priest, if it was not made by his blood.

(3.) Their observation, that in verse 14 the Lord Christ is said to offer himself, and not to offer his blood, is of no value. For in the offering of his blood Christ offered himself, or he offered himself by the offering of his blood; his person giving the efficacy of a sacrifice unto what he offered. And this is undeniably asserted in that very verse. For the “purging of our consciences from dead works,” is the expiation of sin; but Christ, even according to the Socinians, procured the expiation of sin by the offering of himself; yet is this here expressly assigned unto his blood, “How much more shall the blood of Christ purge your conscience from dead works?” Wherefore in the offering of himself he offered his blood.

They add, as the exposition of these words, “He entered into the holiest;”

— “Ingressus in sancta, necessario ad sacrificium istud requiritur. Nec anteoblatio, in qua sacrificii ratio potissimum consistit, peragi potuit, cum ea in sanctis ipsis fieri debuerit. Hinc manifestum est pontificis nostri oblationem et sacrificium non in truce, sed in coelis peractam esse, et adhuc peragi.”

Ans. 1. What they say at first is true; but what they intend and infer from thence is false. It is true that the entrance into the holy place, and carrying of the blood in thither, did belong unto the anniversary sacrifice intended; for God had prescribed that order unto its consummation and complement. But that the sacrifice or oblation did consist therein is false; for it is directly affirmed that both the bullock and goat for the sin-offering were offered before it, at the altar, Leviticus 16:6; Leviticus 16:9.

2. It doth not therefore hence follow, as is pretended, that the Lord Christ offered not himself a sacrifice unto God on the earth, but did so in heaven only; but the direct contrary doth follow. For the blood of the sin-offering was offered on the altar, before it was carried into the holy place; which was the type of Christ’s entrance into heaven.

3. What they say, that the sacrifice of Christ was performed or offered in heaven, and is yet so offered, utterly overthrows the whole nature of his sacrifice. For the apostle everywhere represents that to consist absolutely in one offering, once offered, not repeated or continued. Herein lies the foundation of all his arguments for its excellency and efficacy. Hereof the making of it to be nothing but a continued act of power in heaven, as is done by them, is utterly destructive.

What they add in the same place about the nature of redemption, will be removed in the consideration of it immediately. In the close of the whole they affirm, that the obtaining of everlasting salvation by Christ was not an act antecedent unto his entering into heaven, as the word seems to import, — εὐράμενος, “having obtained;” but it was done by his entrance itself into that holy place; whence they would rather read the word εὐράμενος in the present tense, “obtaining.” But whereas our redemption is everywhere constantly in the Scripture assigned unto the blood of Christ, and that alone, — Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14; 1 Peter 1:18-19; Revelation 5:9, “Hast redeemed us unto God by thy blood,” — it is too great a confidence, to confine this work unto his entrance into heaven, without any offering of his blood, and when he had no blood to offer. And in this place, the “redemption obtained” is the same upon the matter with the “purging of our consciences from dead works,” Hebrews 9:14, which is ascribed directly unto his blood.

These glosses being removed, I shall proceed unto the exposition of the words.

The apostle hath a double design in this verse and those two that follow:

1. To declare the dignity of the person of Christ in the discharge of his priestly office above the high priest of old. And this he doth,

(1.) From the excellency of his sacrifice, which was his own blood;

(2.) The holy place whereinto he entered by virtue of it, which was heaven itself; and,

(3.) The effect of it, in that by it be procured eternal redemption:

which he doth in this verse.

2. To prefer the efficacy of this sacrifice of Christ for the purging of sin, or the purification of sinners, above all the sacrifices and ordinances of the law, Hebrews 9:13-14.

In this verse, with respect unto the end mentioned, the entrance of Christ into the holy place, in answer unto that of the legal high priest, described Hebrews 9:7, is declared. And it is so,

1. As unto the way or means of it;

2. As unto its season

3. As unto its effect: in all which respects Christ was manifested in and by it to be fax more excellent than the legal high priest.

1. The manner and way of it is expressed,

(1.) Negatively; it was “not by the blood of goats and calves.”

(2.) Positively; it was “by his own blood.”

2. For the time of it, it was “once,” and but once.

3. The effect of that blood of his, as offered in sacrifice, was, that he “obtained” thereby “eternal redemption.”

The thing asserted is the entrance of Christ, the high priest, into the holy place. That he should do so was necessary, both to answer the type and for the rendering his sacrifice effectual in the application of the benefits of it unto the church, as it is afterwards declared at large. And I shall open the words, not in the order wherein they lie in the text, but in the natural order of the things themselves. And we must show,

1. What is the holy place whereinto Christ entered.

2. What was that entrance.

3. How he did it once; whereon will follow,

4. The consideration of the means whereby he did it,

5. With the effect of that means: —

1. For the place whereinto he entered, it is said he did so εἰς τὰ ἅγια, — “into the holies.” It is the same word whereby he expresseth the “sanctuary,” the second part of the tabernacle, whereinto the high priest entered once a-year. But in the application of it unto Christ, the signification of it is changed. He had nothing to do with, he had no right to enter into that holy place, as the apostle affirms, Hebrews 8:4. That, therefore, he intends which was signified thereby; that is, heaven itself, as he explains it in Hebrews 9:24. The heaven of heavens, the place of the glorious residence of the presence or majesty of God, is that whereinto he entered.

2. His entrance itself into this place is asserted: “He entered.” This entrance of Christ into heaven upon his ascension may be considered two ways:

(1.) As it was regal, glorious and triumphant; so it belonged properly unto his kingly office, as that wherein he triumphed over all the enemies of the church. See it described, Ephesians 4:8-10, from Psalms 68:18. Satan, the world, death, and hell, being conquered, and all power committed unto him, he entered triumphantly into heaven. So it was regal

(2.) As it was sacerdotal. Peace and reconciliation being made by the blood of the cross, the covenant being confirmed, eternal redemption obtained, he entered as our high priest into the holy place, the temple of God above, to make his sacrifice effectual unto the church, and to apply the benefits of it thereunto.

3. This he did “once” only, “once for all.” In the foregoing description of the service of the high priest, he shows how he went into the holy place “once every year;” that is, on one day, wherein he went to offer. And the repetition of this service every year proved its imperfection, seeing it could never accomplish perfectly that whereunto it was designed, as he argues in the next chapter. In opposition hereunto, our high priest entered once only into the holy place; a full demonstration that his one sacrifice had fully expiated the sins of the church.

4. Of this entrance of Christ it is said, —

(1.) Negatively, that he did not do it “by the blood of goats and calves.” And this is introduced with the disjunctive negative, οὐδέ, “neither;” which refers unto what was before denied of him, as unto his entrance into the tabernacle made with hands. ‘He did not do so, neither did he make his entrance by the blood of goats and calves’A difference from and opposition unto the entrance of the high priest annually into the holy place is intended. It must therefore be considered how he so entered.

This entrance is at large described, Leviticus 16. And,

[1.] It was by the blood of a bullock and a goat, which the apostle here renders in the plural number, “goats and calves,” because of the annual repetition of the same sacrifice.

[2.] The order of the institution was, that first the bullock or calf was offered, then the goat; the one for the priest, the other for the people. This order belonging not at all unto the purpose of the apostle, he expresseth it otherwise, “goats and calves.”

τράγος is a “goat;” a word that expresseth “totum genus caprinum,” — that whole kind of creature, be it young or old. So the goats of his offering were שְׂעִירֵי, “kids,” Hebrews 9:5; that is, young he-goats, for the precise time of their age is not determined. So the bullock the priest offered for himself was פַר, “juvencus ex genere bovino;” which is μόσχος, for it expresseth “genus vitulinum,” all young cattle. Concerning these it is intimated, in this negative as unto Christ, that the high priest entered into the holy place δι᾿ αἵματος, “by their blood;” which we must inquire into.

Two things belonged unto the office of the high priest, with respect unto this blood. For,

[1.] He was to offer the blood both of the bullock and the goat at the altar for a sin-offering, Leviticus 16:9; Leviticus 16:11. For it was the blood wherewith alone atonement was to be made for sin, and that at the altar, Leviticus 17:11; so far is it from truth that expiation for sin was made only in the holy place, and that it is so by Christ without blood, as the Socinians imagine.

[2.] He was to carry some of the blood of the sacrifice into the sanctuary, to sprinkle it there, to make atonement for the holy place, in the sense before declared. And the inquiry is, which of these the apostle hath respect unto.

Some say it is the latter; and that δυά here is put for σύν, — “by” for “with.” He entered with the blood of goats and calves; namely, that which he carried with him into the holy place. So plead the Socinians and those that follow them, with design to overthrow the sacrifice which Christ offered in his death and bloodshedding, confining the whole expiation of sin, in their sense of it, unto what is done in heaven. But I have before disproved this surmise. And the apostle is so far from using the particle

διά improperly for σὺν, so to frame a comparison between things wherein indeed there was no similitude, as they dream, that he useth it on purpose to exclude the sense which σὺν, “with,” would intimate: for he doth not declare with what the high priest entered into the holy place, for he entered with incense as well as with blood; but what it was by virtue whereof he so entered as to be accepted with God. So it is expressly directed, Leviticus 16:2-3,

“Speak unto Aaron thy brother, that he come not at all times into the holy place.... With a young bullock for a sin-offering, and a ram for a burnt-offering, shall he come.”

Aaron was not to bring the bullock into the holy place, but he had right to enter into it by the sacrifice of it at the altar. Thus, therefore, the high priest entered into the holy place by the blood of goats and calves; namely, by virtue of the sacrifice of their blood which he had offered without at the altar. And so all things do exactly correspond between the type and the antitype. For, —

(2.) It is affirmed positively of him that “he entered by his own blood,” and that in opposition unto the other way; διὰ δὲ τοῦ ἰδίου αἵματος ( δέ for ἀλλά), — “but by his own blood.”

It is a vain speculation, contrary to the analogy of faith, and destructive or the true nature of the oblation of Christ, and inconsistent with the dignity of his person, that he should carry with him into heaven a part of that material blood which was shed for us on the earth. This some have invented, to maintain a comparison in that wherein is none intended. The design of the apostle is only to declare by virtue of what he entered as a priest into the holy place. And this was by virtue of his own blood when it was shed, when he offered himself unto God. This was that which laid the foundation of, and gave him right unto the administration of his priestly office in heaven. And hereby were all those good things procured which he effectually communicates unto us in and by that administration.

This exposition is the center of all gospel mysteries, the object of the admiration of angels and men unto all eternity. What heart can conceive, what tongue can express, the wisdom, grace, and love, that are contained therein? This alone is the stable foundation of faith in our access unto God. Two things present themselves unto us: —

[1.] The unspeakable love of Christ in offering himself and his own blood for us. See Galatians 2:20; Revelation 1:5; 1 John 3:16; Ephesians 5:25-27. There being no other way whereby our sins might be purged and expiated, Hebrews 10:5-7, out of his infinite love and grace he condescended unto this way, whereby God might be glorified, and his church sanctified and saved. It were well if we did always consider aright what love, what thankfulness, what obedience, are due unto him on the account hereof.

[2.] The excellency and efficacy of his sacrifice is hereby demonstrated, that through him our faith and hope may be in God. He who offered this sacrifice was “the only-begotten of the Father,” the eternal Son of God. That which he offered was “his own blood.” “God purchased his church with his own blood,” Acts 20:28. How unquestionable, how perfect must the atonement be that was thus made! how glorious the redemption that was procured thereby

5. This is that which the apostle mentions in the close of this verse as the effect of his blood-shedding, “Having obtained eternal redemption.” The word εὐράμενος is variously rendered, as we have seen. The Vulgar Latin reads, “redemptione aeterna inventa.” And those that follow it do say that things rare, and so sought after, are said to be found. And Chrysostom inclines unto that notion of the word. But εὐρίσκω is used in all good authors, for not only “to find,” but “to obtain” by our endeavors. So do we render it, and so we ought to do, Romans 4:1; Hebrews 4:16. He obtained effectually eternal redemption by the price of his blood. And it is mentioned in a tense denoting the time past, to signify that he had thus obtained eternal redemption before he entered into the holy place. How he obtained it we shall see in the consideration of the nature of the thing itself that was obtained.

Three things must be inquired into, with what brevity we can, for the explication of these words:

(1.) What is “redemption;

(2.) Why is this redemption called “eternal;”

(3.) How Christ” obtainedit.

(1.) All redemption respects a state of bondage and captivity, with all the events that do attend it. The object of it, or those to be redeemed, are only persons in that estate. There is mention, verse 15, of “the redemption of transgressions,” but it is by a metonymy of the cause for the effect. It is transgression which cast men into that state from whence they are to be redeemed. But both in the Scripture and in the common notion of the word, “redemption” is the deliverance of persons from a state of bondage. And this may be done two ways:

[1.] By power;

[2.] By payment of a price.

That which is in the former way is only improperly and metaphorically so called. For it is in its own nature a bare deliverance, and is termed “redemption” only with respect to the state of captivity from whence it is a deliverance. It is a vindication into liberty by any means. So the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt, though wrought merely by acts of power, is called their redemption. And Moses, from his ministry in that work, is called λυτρωτής, a “redeemer,” Acts 7:35. But this redemption is only metaphorically so called, with respect unto the state of bondage wherein the people were. That which is properly so is by a price paid, as a valuable consideration. λύτρον is a “ransom,” a price of redemption. Thence are λύτρωσις, ἀπολύτρωσις, λυτρωτής, “redemption” and a “redeemer.” So the redemption that is by Christ is everywhere said to be a “price,” a “ransom.” See Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45; 1 Corinthians 6:20; 1 Timothy 2:6; 1 Peter 1:18-19. It is the deliverance of persons out of a state of captivity and bondage, by the payment of a valuable price or ransom. And the Socinians offer violence not only to the Scripture, but to common sense itself, when they contend that the redemption which is constantly affirmed to be by a price is metaphorical, and that only proper which is by power.

The price or ransom in this redemption is two ways expressed:

[1.] By that which gave it its worth and value, that it might be a sufficient ransom for all;

[2.] By its especial nature.

The first is the person of Christ himself: “He gave himself for us,”

Galatians 2:20; “He gave himself a ransom for all,” 1 Timothy 2:6; “He offered himself to God,” Hebrews 9:14; Ephesians 5:2. This was that which made the ransom of an infinite value, meet to redeem the whole church. “God purchased the church with his own blood,” Acts 20:28. The especial nature of it is, that it was by blood, “by his own blood.” See Ephesians 1:7; 1 Peter 1:18-19. And this blood of Christ was a ransom, or price of redemption, partly from the invaluableness of that obedience which he yielded unto God in the shedding of it; and partly because this ransom was also to be an atonement, as it was offered unto God in sacrifice. For it is by blood, and no otherwise, that atonement is made, Leviticus 17:11. Wherefore he is “set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood,” Romans 3:24-25.

That the Lord Jesus Christ did give himself a ransom for sin; that he did it in the shedding of his blood for us, wherein he made his soul an offering for sin; that herein and hereby he made atonement, and expiated our sins; and that all these things belong unto our redemption, is the substance of the gospel. That this redemption is nothing but the expiation of sin, and that expiation of sin nothing but an act of power and authority in Christ now in heaven, as the Socinians dream, is to reject the whole gospel

Though the nature of this redemption be usually spoken unto, yet we must not here wholly put it by. And the nature of it will appear in the consideration of the state from whence we are redeemed, with the causes of it:

[1.] The meritorious cause of it was sin, or our original apostasy from God. Hereby we lost our primitive liberty, with all the rights and privileges thereunto belonging.

[2.] The supreme efficient cause is God himself. As the ruler and judge of all, he cast all apostates into a state of captivity and bondage; for liberty is nothing but peace with him. But he did it with this difference: sinning angels he designed to leave irrecoverably under this condition; for mankind he would find a ransom.

[3.] The instrumental cause of it was the curse of the law. This falling on men brings them into a state of bondage. For it separates as to all relation of love and peace between God and them, and gives life unto all the actings of sin and death; wherein the misery of that state consists. To be separate from God, to be under the power of sin and death, is to be in bondage.

[4.] The external cause, by the application of all other causes unto the souls and consciences of men, is Satan. His was the power of darkness, his the power of death over men in that state and condition; that is, to make application of the terror of it unto their souls, as threatened in the curse, Hebrews 2:14-15. Hence he appears as the head of this state of bondage, and men are in captivity unto him. He is not so in himself, but as the external application of the causes of bondage is committed unto him.

From hence it is evident that four things are required unto that redemption which is a deliverance by price or ransom from this state. For,

[1.] It must be by such a ransom as whereby the guilt of sin is expiated; which was the meritorious cause of our captivity. Hence it is called “the redemption of transgressions,” verse 15; that is, of persons from that state and condition whereinto they were cast by sin or transgression.

[2.] Such as wherewith in respect of God atonement must be made, and satisfaction unto his justice, as the supreme ruler and judge of all. [3.] Such as whereby the curse of the law might be removed; which could not be without undergoing of it.

[4.] Such as whereby the power of Satan might be destroyed. How all this was done by the blood of Christ, I have at large declared elsewhere.

(2.) This redemption is said to be “eternal.” And it is so on many accounts:

[1.] Of the subject-matter of it, which are things eternal; none of them are carnal or temporal. The state of bondage from which we are delivered by it in all its causes was spiritual, not temporal; and the effects of it, in liberty, grace, and glory, are eternal.

[2.] Of its duration. It was not for a season, like that of the people out of Egypt, or the deliverances which they had afterwards under the judges, and on other occasions. They endured in their effects only for a season, and afterwards new troubles of the same kind overtook them. But this was eternal in all the effects of it; none that are partakers of it do ever return into a state of bondage. So,

[3.] It endures in those effects unto all eternity in heaven itself.

(3.) This redemption Christ obtained by “his blood.” Having done all in the sacrifice of himself that was, in the justice, holiness, and wisdom of God, required thereunto, it was wholly in his power to confer all the benefits and effects of it on the church, on them that do believe. And sundry things we may observe from this verse.

Obs. 1. The entrance of our Lord Jesus Christ as our high priest into heaven, to appear in the presence of God for us, and to save us thereby unto the uttermost, was a thing so great and glorious as could not be accomplished but by his own blood. — No other sacrifice was sufficient unto this end: “Not by the blood of bulls and goats.” The reason hereof the apostle declares at large, Hebrews 10:4-10. Men seldom rise in their thoughts unto the greatness of this mystery; yea, with the most, this “blood of the covenant,” wherewith he was sanctified unto the remainder of his work, is a common thing. The rain of Christian religion lies in the slight thoughts of men about the blood of Christ; and pernicious errors do abound in opposition unto the true nature of the sacrifice which he made thereby. Even the faith of the best is weak and imperfect as to the comprehension of the glory of it. Our relief is, that the uninterrupted contemplation of it will be a part of our blessedness unto eternity. But yet whilst we are here, we can neither understand how great is the salvation which is tendered unto us thereby, nor be thankful for it, without a due consideration of the way whereby the Lord Christ entered into the holy place. And he will be the most humble and most fruitful Christian whose faith is most exercised, most conversant about it.

Obs. 2. Whatever difficulties lay in the way of Christ, as unto the accomplishment and perfection of the work of our redemption, he would not decline them, nor desist from his undertaking, whatever it cost him. — “Sacrifice and burnt-offering thou wouldest not have; then said I, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God.” He made his way into the holy place by his own blood. What was required of him for us, that we might be saved, he would not decline, though never so great and dreadful; and surely we ought not to decline what he requires of us, that he may be honored.

Obs. 3. There was a holy place meet to receive the Lord Christ after the sacrifice of himself, and a suitable reception for such a person, after so glorious a performance. — It was a place of great glory and beauty whereinto the high priest of old entered by the blood of calves and goats; the visible pledges of the presence of God were in it, whereunto no other person might approach. But our high priest was not to enter into any holy place made with hands, unto outward, visible pledges of the presence of God, but into the heaven of heavens, the place of the glorious residence of the majesty of God itself.

Obs. 4. If the Lord Christ entered not into the holy place until he had finished his work, we may not expect an entrance thereinto until we have finished ours. — He fainted not, nor waxed weary, until all was finished; and it is our duty to arm ourselves with the same mind.

Obs. 5. It must be a glorious effect which had so glorious a cause; and so it was, even “eternal redemption.”

Obs. 6. The nature of our redemption, the way of its procurement, with the duties required of us with respect thereunto, are greatly to be considered by us.


Verse 13-14

There is in these verses an argument and comparison. But the comparison is such, as that the ground of it is laid in the relation of the comparates the one unto the other; namely, that the one was the type and the other the antitype, otherwise the argument will not hold. For although it follows, that he who can do the greater can do the less, whereon an argument will hold

“a majori ad minus;” yet it doth not absolutely do so, that if that which is less can do that which is less, then that which is greater can do that which is greater; which would be the force of the argument if there were nothing but a naked comparison in it: but it necessarily follows hereon, if that which is less, in that less thing which it doth or did, was therein a type of that which was greater, in that greater thing which it was to effect. And this was the case in the thing here proposed by the apostle. The words are, —

Hebrews 9:13-14. εἰ γὰρ τὸ αἷμα ταύρων καὶ πράγων, καὶ σποδὸς δαμάλεως ῥαντίζουσα τοὺς κεκοινωμένους, ἁγιάζει πρὸς τὴν τῆς σαρκὸς καθαρότηατα· πόσῳ μᾶλλον τὸ αἷμα τοῦ χριστοῦ, ὅς διὰ πνεύματος αἰωνίου ἑαυτὸν προσήνεγκεν ἄμωμον τῷ θεῷ, καθαριεῖ τὴν συνείδησιν ἡμῶν ( ὑμῶν) ἀπὸ νεκρῶν ἔργων, εἰς τὸ λατρεύειν θεῷ ζῶντι.

The words have no difficulty in them as to their grammatical sense; nor is there any considerable variation in the rendering of them in the old translations. Only the Syriac retains דְעֶגְלֵא, that is, μόσχων, from Hebrews 9:12, instead of ταὑρων, here used. And both that and the Vulgar place τράγων here before ταύρων, as in the foregoing verse, contrary unto all copies of the original, as to the order of the words.

For πνεύματος αἰωνίου the Vulgar reads πνεύματος ἁγίου, “per Spiritum sanctum.” The Syriac follows the original, דַּבְּרוּחָא דַּלְעָלַם, “by the eternal Spirit.”

τὴν συνείδησιν ἡμῶν. The original copies vary, some reading ἡμῶν, “our,” but most ὑμῶν, “your;” which our translators follow.(7)

Hebrews 9:13-14. — For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth unto the purifying of the flesh: how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works, to serve the living God!”

The words are argumentative, in the form of a hypothetical syllogism; wherein the assumption of the proposition is supposed, as proved before. That which is to be confirmed is what was asserted in the words foregoing; namely, “That the Lord Jesus Christ by his blood hath obtained for us eternal redemption.” This the causal redditive conjunction; “for,” doth manifest; whereunto the note of a supposition, “if,” is premised as a note of a hypothetical argumentation.

There are two parts of this confirmation:

1. A most full declaration of the way and means whereby he obtained that redemption; it was by the “offering himself through the eternal Spirit without spot unto God.”

2. By comparing this way of it with the typical sacrifices and ordinances of God. For arguing “ad homines,” — that is, unto the satisfaction and conviction of the Hebrews, — the apostle makes use of their concessions to confirm his own assertions.

And his argument consists of two parts:

1. A concession of their efficacy unto their proper end.

2. An inference from thence unto the greater and more noble efficacy of the sacrifice of Christ, taken partly from the relation of type and antitype that was between them, but principally from the different nature of the things themselves.

To make evident the force of his argument in general, we must observe,

1. That what he had proved before he takes here for granted, on the one side and the other. And this was, that all the Levitical services and ordinances were in themselves carnal, and had carnal ends assigned unto them, and had only an obscure representation of things spiritual and eternal; and on the other side, that the tabernacle, office, and sacrifice of Christ were spiritual, and had their effects in eternal things, 2. That those other carnal, earthly things were types and resemblances, in God’s appointment of them, of those which are spiritual and eternal.

From these suppositions the argument is firm and stable; and there are two parts of it:

1. That as the ordinances of old, being carnal, had an efficacy unto their proper end, to purify the unclean as to the flesh; so the sacrifice of Christ hath a certain efficacy unto its proper end, namely, the “purging of our conscience from dead works.” The force of this inference depends on the relation that was between them in the appointment of God.

2. That there was a greater efficacy, and that which gave a greater evidence of itself, in the sacrifice of Christ, with respect unto its proper end, than there was in those sacrifices and ordinances, with respect unto their proper end: “How much more!” And the reason hereof is, because all their efficacy depended on a mere arbitrary institution. In themselves, that is, in their own nature, they had neither worth, value, nor efficacy, — no, not even as unto those ends whereunto they were by divine institution designed: but in the sacrifice of Christ, who is therefore here said to “offer himself unto God through the eternal Spirit,” there is an innate glorious worth and efficacy, which, suitably unto the rules of eternal reason-and righteousness, will accomplish and procure its effects.

Hebrews 9:13. — There are two things in this verse, which are the ground from whence the apostle argueth and maketh his inference in that which follows:

1. A proposition of the sacrifices and services of the law which he had respect unto.

2. An assignation of a certain efficacy unto them. The sacrifices of the law he refers unto two heads:

1. “The blood of bulls and of goats.”

2. “The ashes of an heifer.” And the distinction is,

1. From the matter of them;

2. The manner of their performance. For the manner of their performance, the blood of bulls and goats was “offered,” which is supposed and included; — the ashes of the heifer were “sprinkled,” as it is expressed.

1. The matter of the first is “the blood of bulls and of goats.” The same, say some, with the “goats and calves” mentioned in the verse foregoing. So generally do the expositors of the Roman church; and that because their translation reads “hircorum et vitulorum,” contrary unto the original text. And some instances they give of the same signification of μόσχων and ταύρων. But the apostle had just reason for the alteration of his expression. For in the foregoing verse he had respect only unto the anniversary sacrifice of the high priest, but here he enlargeth the subject unto the consideration of all other expiatory sacrifices under the law; for he joins unto the “blood of bulls and of goats” the “ashes of an heifer,” which were of no use, in the anniversary sacrifice. Wherefore he designed in these words summarily to express all sacrifices of expiation and all ordinances of purification that were appointed under the law. And therefore the words in the close of the verse, expressing the end and effect of these ordinances, “sanctifieth the unclean unto the purifying of the flesh,” are not to be restrained unto them immediately foregoing, “the ashes of an heifer sprinkled;” but an equal respect is to be had unto the other sort, or “the blood of bulls and of goats.”

The Socinian expositor, in his entrance into that wresting of this text wherein he labors in a peculiar manner, denies that the water of sprinkling is here to be considered as typical of Christ, and that because it is the anniversary sacrifice alone which is intended, wherein it was of no use. Yet he adds immediately, that in itself it was a type of Christ; so wresting the truth against his own convictions, to force his design. But the conclusion is strong on the other hand; because it was a type of Christ, and is so here considered, whereas it was not used in the great anniversary sacrifice, it is not that sacrifice alone which the apostle hath respect unto.

Wherefore by “bulls and goats,” by a usual synecdoche, all the several kinds of clean beasts, whose blood was given unto the people to make atonement withal, are intended. So is the matter of all sacrifices expressed, Psalms 50:13, “Will I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats?” Sheep are contained under goats, being all beasts of the flock.

And it is the “blood” of these bulls and goats which is proposed as the first way or means of the expiation of sin, and purification under the law. For it was by their blood, and that as offered at the altar, that atonement was made, Leviticus 17:11. Purification was also made thereby, even by the sprinkling of it.

2. The second thing mentioned unto the same end, is “the ashes of an heifer,” and the use of them; which was by “sprinkling.” The institution, use, and end of this ordinance, are described at large, Numbers 19. And an eminent type of Christ there was therein, both as unto his suffering and the continual efficacy of the cleansing virtue of his blood in the church. It would too much divert us from the present argument, to consider all the particulars wherein there was a representation of the sacrifice of Christ and the purging virtue of it in this ordinance; yet the mention of some of them is of use unto the explication of the apostle’s general design: as, —

(1.) It was to be a red heifer, and that without spot or blemish, whereon no yoke had come, verse 2. Red is the color of guilt, Isaiah 1:18, yet was there no spot or blemish in the heifer: so was the guilt of sin upon Christ, who in himself was absolutely pure and holy. No yoke had been on her; nor was there any constraint on Christ, but he offered himself willingly, through the eternal Spirit.

(2.) She was to be led forth without the camp, Numbers 19:3; which the apostle alludes unto, Hebrews 13:11, representing Christ going out of the city unto his suffering and oblation.

(3.) One did slay her before the face of the priest, and not the priest himself: so the hands of others, Jews and Gentiles, were used in the slaying of our sacrifice.

(4.) The blood of the heifer being slain, was sprinkled by the priest seven times directly before the tabernacle of the congregation, Numbers 19:4 : so is the whole church purified by the sprinkling of the blood of Christ.

(5.) The whole heifer was to be burned in the sight of the priest, Numbers 19:5 : so was whole Christ, soul and body, offered up to God in the fire of love, kindled in him by the eternal Spirit.

(6.) Cedar wood, hyssop, and scarlet, were to be cast into the midst of the burning of the heifer, Numbers 19:6; which were all used by God’s institution in the purification of the unclean, or the sanctification and dedication of any thing unto sacred use, to teach us that all spiritual virtue unto these ends, really and eternally, was contained in the one offering of Christ.

(7.) Both the priest who sprinkled the blood, the men that slew the heifer, and he that burned her, and he that gathered her ashes, were all unclean, until they were washed, verses 7-10: so when Christ was made a sin- offering, all the legal uncleannesses, that is, the guilt of the church, were on him, and he took them away.

But it is the use of this ordinance which is principally intended. The ashes of this heifer, being burned, were preserved, that, being mixed with pure water, they might be sprinkled on persons who on any occasion were legally unclean. Whoever was so, was excluded from all the solemn worship of the church. Wherefore, without this ordinance, the worship of God and the holy state of the church could not have been continued. For the means, causes, and ways of legal defilements among them, were very many, and some of them unavoidable. In particular, every tent and house, and all persons in [hem, were defiled, if any one died among them; which could not but continually fall out in their families. Hereon they were excluded from the tabernacle and congregation, and all duties of the solemn worship of God, until they were purified. Had not therefore these ashes, which were to be mingled with living water, been always preserved and in a readiness, the whole worship of God must quickly have ceased amongst them. It is so in the church of Christ. The spiritual defilements which befall believers are many, and some of them unavoidable unto them whilst they are in this world; yea, their duties, the best of them, have defilements adhering unto them. Were it not that the blood of Christ, in its purifying virtue, is in a continual readiness unto faith, that God therein hath opened a fountain for sin and uncleanness, the worship of the church would not be acceptable unto him. In a constant application thereunto doth the exercise of faith much consist.

3. The nature and use of this ordinance are further described by its object, “the unclean,” κεκοινωμένους that is, those that were made common. All those who had a liberty of approach unto God in his solemn worship were so far sanctified; that is, separated and dedicated. And such as were deprived of this privilege were made common, and so unclean.

The unclean especially intended in this institution were those who were defiled by the dead. Every one that by any means touched a dead body, whether dying naturally or slain, whether in the house or field, or did bear it, or assist in the bearing of it, or were in the tent or house where it was, were all defiled; no such person was to come into the congregation, or near the tabernacle. But it is certain that many offices about the dead are works of humanity and mercy, which morally defile not. Wherefore there was a peculiar reason of the constitution of this defilement, and this severe interdiction of them that were so defiled from divine worship. And this was to represent unto the people the curse of the law, whereof death was the great visible effect. The present Jews have this notion, that defilement by the dead arises from the poison that is dropped into them that die by the angel of death; whereof see our exposition on Hebrews 2:14. The meaning of it is, that death came in by sin, from the poisonous temptation of the old serpent, and befell men by the curse which took hold of them thereon. But they have lost the understanding of their own tradition. This belonged unto the bondage under which it was the will of God to keep that people, that they should dread death as an effect of the curse of the law, and the fruit of sin; which is taken away in Christ, Hebrews 2:14; 1 Corinthians 15:56-57. And these works, which were unto them so full of defilement, are now unto us accepted duties of piety and mercy.

These and many others were excluded from an interest in the solemn worship of God, upon ceremonial defilements. And some vehemently contend that none were so excluded for moral defilements; and it may be it is true, for the matter is dubious. But that it should thence follow that none under the gospel should be so excluded, for moral and spiritual evils, is a fond imagination; yea, the argument is firm, that if God did so severely shut out from a participation in his solemn worship all those who were legally or ceremonially defiled, much more is it his will that those who live in spiritual or moral defilements should not approach unto him by the holy ordinances of the gospel.

4. The manner of the application of this purifying water was by sprinkling, being sprinkled; or rather, transitively, “sprinkling the unclean.” Not only the act, but the efficacy of it is intended. The manner of it is declared, Numbers 19:17-18. The ashes were kept by themselves. When use was to be made of them, they were to be mingled with clean living water, water from the spring. The virtue was from the ashes, as they were the ashes of the heifer slain and burnt as a sin-offering. The water was used as the means of their application. Being so mingled, any clean person might dip a bunch of hyssop (see Psalms 51:7) into it, and sprinkle any thing or person that was defiled. For it was not confined unto the office of the priest, but was left unto every private person; as is the continual application of the blood of Christ. And this rite of sprinkling was that alone in all sacrifices whereby their continued efficacy unto sanctification and purification was expressed. Thence is the blood of Christ called “the blood of sprinkling,” because of its efficacy unto our sanctification, as applied by faith unto our souls and consciences.

The effect of the things mentioned is, that they “sanctified unto the purifying of the flesh;” namely, that those unto whom they were applied might be made Levitically clean, — be so freed from the carnal defilements as to have an admission unto the solemn worship of God and society of the church.

“Sanctifieth.” ἁγιάζω in the New Testament doth signify for the most part, “to purify and sanctify internally and spiritually.” Sometimes it is used in the sense of קָדַשׁ in the Old Testament, “to separate, dedicate, consecrate.” So is it by our Savior, John 17:19, καὶ ὑπὲρ αὐτῶν ἐγὼ ἀγιάζω ἐμαυτόν, — “And for them I sanctify myself;” that is, ‘separate and dedicate myself to be a sacrifice.’So is it here used. Every defiled person was made common, excluded from the privilege of a right to draw nigh unto God in his solemn worship: but in his purification he was again separated to him, and restored unto his sacred right.

The word is of the singular number, and seems only to respect the next antecedent, σποδὸς δαμάλεως, — “the ashes of an heifer.” But if so, the apostle mentions “the blood of bulls and goats” without the ascription of any effect or efficacy thereunto. This, therefore, is not likely, as being the more solemn ordinance. Wherefore the word is distinctly to be referred, by a zeugma, unto the one and the other. The whole effect of all the sacrifices and institutions of the law is comprised in this word. All the sacrifices of expiation and ordinances of purification had this effect, and no more.

They “sanctified unto the purifying of the flesh.” That is, those who were legally defiled, and were therefore excluded from an interest in the worship of God, and were made obnoxious unto the curse of the law thereon, were so legally purified, justified, and cleansed by them, as that they had free admission into the society of the church, and the solemn worship thereof. This they did, this they were able to effect, by virtue of divine institution.

This was the state of things under the law, when there was a church purity, holiness, and sanctification, to be obtained by the due observance of external rites and ordinances, without internal purity or holiness. Wherefore these things were in themselves of no worth or value. And as God himself doth often in the prophets declare, that, merely on their own account, he had no regard unto them; so by the apostle they are called “worldly, carnal, and beggarly rudiments.” Why then, it will be said, did God appoint and ordain them? why did he oblige the people unto their observance? I answer, It was not at all on the account of their outward use and efficacy, as unto the purifying of the flesh, which, as it was alone, God always despised; but it was because of the representation of good things to come which the wisdom of God had inlaid them withal. With respect hereunto they were glorious, and of exceeding advantage unto the faith and obedience of the church.

This state of things is changed under the new testament. For now “neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.” The thing signified, namely, internal purity and holiness, is no less necessary unto a right unto the privileges of the gospel, than the observance of these external rites was unto the privileges of the law. Yet is there no countenance given hereby unto the impious opinion of some, that God by the law required only external obedience, without respect unto the inward, spiritual part of it; for although the rites and sacrifices of the law, by their own virtue, purified externally, and delivered only from temporary punishments, yet the precepts and the promises of the law required the same holiness and obedience unto God as doth the gospel.

Hebrews 9:14. — “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purify your conscience from dead works to serve the living God!”

This verse contains the inference or argument of the apostle from the preceding propositions and concessions. The nature of the argument is “a minori,” and “a proportione.” From the first, the inference follows as unto its truth, and formally; from the latter, as to its greater evidence, and materially.

There are in the words considerable,

1. The subject treated of, in opposition unto that before spoken unto; and that is, “the blood of Christ.”

2. The means whereby this blood of Christ was effectual unto the end designed, in opposition unto the way and means of the efficacy of legal ordinances; he “offered himself” (that is, in the shedding of it) “unto God without spot, through the eternal Spirit.”

3. The end assigned unto this blood of Christ in that offering of himself, or the effect wrought thereby, in opposition unto the end and effect of legal ordinances; which is, to “purge our consciences from dead works.”

4. The benefit and advantage which we receive thereby, in opposition unto the benefit which was obtained by those legal administrations; that we may “serve the living God.” All which must be considered and explained.

First, The nature of the inference is expressed by, “How much more.” This is usual with the apostle, when he draws any inference or conclusion from a comparison between Christ and the high priest, the gospel and the law, to use an αὔξησις in expression, to manifest their absolute pre- eminence above them: See Hebrews 2:2-3; Hebrews 3:3; Hebrews 10:28-29; Hebrews 12:25. Although these things agreed in their general nature, whence a comparison is founded, yet were the one incomparably more glorious than the ether. Hence elsewhere, although he alloweth the administration of the law to be glorious, yet he affirms that it had no glory in comparison of what doth excel, 2 Corinthians 3:10. The person of Christ is the spring of all the glory in the church; and the more nearly any thing relates thereunto, the more glorious it is.

There are two things included in this way of the introduction of the present inference, “How much more:” —

1. An equal certainty of the event and effect ascribed unto the blood of Christ, with the effect of the legal sacrifices, is included in it. So the argument is “a minori.” And the inference of such an argument is expressed by, “much more,” though an equal certainty be all that is evinced by it. ‘If those sacrifices and ordinances of the law were effectual unto the ends of legal expiation and purification, then is the blood of Christ assuredly so unto the spiritual and eternal effects whereunto it is designed.’And the force of the argument is not merely, as was observed before, “a comparatis,” and “a minori,” but from the nature of the things themselves, as the one was appointed to be typical of the other.

2. The argument is taken from a proportion between the things themselves that are compared, as to their efficacy. This gives greater evidence and validity unto the argument than if it were taken merely “a minori.” For there is a greater reason, in the nature of things, that “the blood of Christ should purge our consciences from dead works,” than there is that “the blood of bulls and of goats should sanctify unto the purifying of the flesh.” For that had all its efficacy unto this end from the sovereign pleasure of God in its institution; in itself it had neither worth nor dignity, whence, in any proportion of justice or reason, men should be legally sanctified by it. The sacrifice of Christ also, as unto its original, depended on the sovereign pleasure, wisdom, and grace of God; but being so appointed, upon the account of the infinite dignity of his person, and the nature of his oblation, it had a real efficacy, in the justice and wisdom of God, to procure the effect mentioned in the way of purchase and merit. This the apostle refers unto in these words, “Who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unto God.” That the offering was “himself,” that “he offered himself through the eternal Spirit,” or his divine person, is that which gives assurance of the accomplishing of the effect assigned unto it by his blood, above any grounds we have to believe that “the blood of bulls and goats should sanctify unto the purifying of the flesh.” And we may observe from this, “How much more,” that, —

Obs. 1. There is such an evidence of wisdom and righteousness, unto a spiritual eye, in the whole mystery of our redemption, sanctification, and salvation by Christ, as gives an immovable foundation unto faith to rest upon in its receiving of it. — The faith of the church of old was resolved into the mere sovereign pleasure of God, as to the efficacy of their ordinances; nothing in the nature of the things themselves did tend unto their establishment. But in the dispensation of God by Christ, in the work of our redemption by him, there is such an evidence of the wisdom and righteousness of God in the things themselves, as gives the highest security unto faith. It is unbelief alone, made obstinate by prejudices insinuated by the devil, that hides these things from any, as the apostle declares, 2 Corinthians 4:3-4. And hence will arise the great aggravation of the sin, and condemnation of them that perish.

Secondly, We must consider the things themselves.

FIRST, The subject spoken of, and whereunto the effect mentioned is ascribed, is “the blood of Christ.” The person unto whom these things relate is Christ. I have given an account before, on sundry occasions, of the great variety used by the apostle in this epistle in the naming of him. And a peculiar reason of every one of them is to be taken from the place where it is used. Here he calls him Christ; for on his being Christ, the Messiah, depends the principal force of his present argument. It is the blood of him who was promised of old to be the high priest of the church, and the sacrifice for their sins; in whom was the faith of all the saints of old, that by him their sins should be expiated, that in him they should be justified and glorified; Christ, who is the Son of the living God, in whose person God purchased his church with his own blood. And we may observe, that, —

Obs. 2. The efficacy of all the offices of Christ towards the church depends on the dignity of his person. — The offering of his blood was prevalent for the expiation of sin, because it was his blood, and for no other reason. But this is a subject which I have handled at large elsewhere.

A late learned commentator on this epistle takes occasion in this place to reflect on Dr. Gouge, for affirming that Christ was a priest in both natures; which, as he says, cannot be true. I have not Dr. Gouge’s Exposition by me, and so know not in what sense it is affirmed by him; but that Christ is a priest in his entire person, and so in both natures, is true, and the constant opinion of all protestant divines. And the following words of this learned author, being well explained, will clear the difficulty. For he saith, “That he that is a priest is God; yet as God he is not, he cannot be a priest. For that Christ is a priest in both natures, is no more but that in the discharge of his priestly office he acts as God and man in one person; from whence the dignity and efficacy of his sacerdotal actings do proceed. It is not hence required, that whatever he doth in the discharge of his office must be an immediate act of the divine as well as of the human nature. No more is required unto it, but that the person whose acts they are is God and man, and acts as God and man, in each nature suitably unto its essential properties. Hence, although God cannot die, — that is, the divine nature cannot do so, — yet ‘God purchased his church with his own blood;’and so also ‘the Lord of glory was crucified’for us. The sum is, that the person of Christ is the principle of all his mediatory acts; although those acts be immediately performed in and by virtue of his distinct natures, some of one, some of another, according unto their distinct properties and powers. Hence are they all theandrical; which could not be if he were not a priest in both natures.” Nor is this impeached by what ensues in the same author, namely, “That a priest is an officer; and all officers, as officers, are made such by commission from the sovereign power, and are servants under them.” For, —

1. It may be this doth not hold among the divine persons; it may be no more is required, in the dispensation of God towards the church, unto an office in any o£ them, but their own infinite condescension, with respect unto the order of their subsistence. So the Holy Ghost is in particular the comforter of the church by the way of office, and is sent thereon by the Father and Son; yet is there no more required hereunto, but that the order of the operation of the persons in the blessed Trinity should answer the order of their subsistence: and so he who in his person proceedeth from the Father and the Son is sent unto his work by the Father and the Son; no new act of authority being required thereunto, but only the determination of the divine will to act suitably unto the order of their subsistence.

2. The divine nature considered in the abstract cannot serve in an office; yet he who was “in the form of God, and thought it not robbery to be equal with God, took upon him the form of a servant, and became obedient unto death.” It was in the human nature that he was a servant; nevertheless it was the Son of God, he who in his divine nature was in the form of God, who so served in office and yielded that obedience. Wherefore he was so far a mediator and priest in both his natures, as that whatever he did in the discharge of those offices was the act of his entire person; whereon the dignity and efficacy of all that he did depend.

That which the effect intended is ascribed unto, is the blood of Christ. And two things are to be inquired hereon.

1. What is meant by “the blood of Christ.”

2. How this effect was wrought by it.

First, It is not only that material blood which he shed, absolutely considered, that is here and elsewhere called “the blood of Christ,” when the work of our redemption is ascribed unto it, that is intended; but there is a double consideration of it, with respect unto its efficacy unto this end:

1. That it was the pledge and the sign of all the internal obedience and sufferings of the soul of Christ, of his person. “He became obedient unto death, the death of the cross,” whereon his blood was shed. This was the great instance of his obedience and of his sufferings, whereby he made reconciliation and atonement for sin. Hence the effects of all his sufferings, and of all obedience in his sufferings, are ascribed unto his blood.

2. Respect is had unto the sacrifice and offering of blood under the law. The reason why God gave the people the blood to make atonement on the altar, was because “the life of the flesh was in it,” Leviticus 17:11; Leviticus 17:14. So was the life of Christ in his blood, by the shedding whereof he laid it down. And by his death it is, as he was the Son of God, that we are redeemed. Herein he made his soul an offering for sin, Isaiah 53:10. Wherefore this expression, “the blood of Christ,” in order unto our redemption, or the expiation of sin, is comprehensive of all that he did and suffered for those ends, inasmuch as the shedding of it was the way and means whereby he offered it, or himself (in and by it), unto God.

Secondly, The second inquiry is, how the effect here mentioned was wrought by the blood of Christ. And this we cannot determine without a general consideration of the effect itself; and this is, the “purging of our conscience from dead works.” καθαριεῖ, — “shall purge.” That is, say some, shall purify and sanctify, by internal, inherent sanctification. But neither the sense of the word, nor the context, nor the exposition given by the apostle of this very expression, Hebrews 10:1-2, will admit of this restrained sense. I grant it is included herein, but there is somewhat else principally intended, namely, the expiation of sin, with our justification and peace with God thereon.

1. For the proper sense of the word here used, see our exposition on Hebrews 1:3. Expiation, lustration, carrying away punishment by making atonement, are expressed by it in all good authors.

2. The context requires this sense in the first place; for, —

(1.) The argument here used is immediately applied to prove that Christ hath “obtained for us eternal redemption;” but redemption consists not in internal sanctification only, although that be a necessary consequent of it, but it is the pardon of sin through the atonement made, or a price paid: “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins,” Ephesians 1:7.

(2.) In the comparison insisted on there is distinct mention made of “the blood of bulls and goats,” as well as of “the ashes of an heifer sprinkled;” but the first and principal use of blood in sacrifice was to make atonement for sin, Leviticus 17:11.

(3.) The end of this purging is to give boldness in the service of God, and peace with him therein, — that we may “serve the living God;” but this is done by the expiation and pardon of sin, with justification thereon.

(4.) It is “conscience” that is said to be purged. Now conscience is the proper seat of the guilt of sin; it is that which chargeth it on the soul, and which hinders all approach unto God in his service with liberty and boldness, unless it be removed: which, —

(5.) Gives us the best consideration of the apostle’s exposition of this expression, Hebrews 10:1-2; for he there declares, that to have the conscience purged, is to have its condemning power for sin taken away and cease.

There is therefore, under the same name, a twofold effect here ascribed unto the blood of Christ; the one in answer and opposition unto the effect of the blood of bulls and goats being offered; the other in answer unto the effect of the ashes of an heifer being sprinkled: the first consisting in making atonement for our sins; the other in the sanctification of our persons. And there are two ways whereby these things are procured by the blood of Christ:

1. By its offering, whereby sin is expiated.

2. By its sprinkling, whereby our persons are sanctified.

The first ariseth from the satisfaction he made unto the justice of God, by undergoing in his death the punishment due to us, being made therein a curse for us, that the blessing might come upon us; therein, as his death was a sacrifice, as he offered himself unto God in the shedding of his blood, he made atonement: the other from the virtue of his sacrifice applied unto us by the Holy Spirit, which is the sprinkling of it; so doth the blood of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, cleanse us from all our sins.

The Socinian expositor on this place endeavors, by a long perplexed discourse, to evade the force of this testimony, wherein the expiation of sin is directly assigned unto the blood of Christ. His pretense is to show how many ways it may be so; but his design is to prove that really it can be so by none at all; for the assertion, as it lies in terms, is destructive of their heresy. Wherefore he proceeds on these suppositions: —

1. “That the expiation for sin is our deliverance from the punishment due unto sin, by the power of Christ in heaven.” But as this is diametrically opposite unto the true nature of it, so is it unto its representation in the sacrifices of old, whereunto it is compared by the apostle, and from whence he argueth. Neither is this a tolerable exposition of the words: ‘The “blood of Christ,” in answer unto what was represented by the blood of the sacrifices of the law, doth “purge our consciences from dead works;” that is, Christ, by his power in heaven, doth free us from the punishment due to sin.’

2. “That Christ was not a priest until after his ascension into heaven.” That this supposition destroys the whole nature of that office, hath been sufficiently before declared.

3. “That his offering himself unto God was the presenting of himself in heaven before God, as having done the will of God on the earth.” But as this hath nothing in it of the nature of a sacrifice, so what is asserted to be done by it can, according to these men, be no way said to be done by his blood, seeing they affirm that when Christ doth this he hath neither flesh nor blood.

4. “That the resurrection of Christ gave all efficacy unto his death.” But the truth is, it was his death, and what he effected therein, that was the ground of his resurrection. He was “brought again from the dead through the blood of the covenant.” And the efficacy of his death depends on his resurrection only as the evidence of his acceptance with God therein.

5. “That Christ confirmed his doctrine by his blood;” that is, because he rose again.

All these principles I have at large refuted in the exercitations about the priesthood of Christ, and shall not here again insist on their examination. This is plain and evident in the words, unless violence be offered unto them, namely, that “the blood of Christ,” — that is, his suffering in soul and body, and his obedience therein, testified and expressed in the shedding of his blood, — was the procuring cause of the expiation of our sins, “the purging of our consciences from dead works,” our justification, sanctification, and acceptance with God thereon. And, —

Obs. 3. There is nothing more destructive unto the whole faith of the gospel, than by any means to evacuate the immediate efficacy of the blood of Christ. — Every opinion of that tendency breaks in upon the whole mystery of the wisdom and grace of God in him. It renders all the institutions and sacrifices of the law, whereby God instructed the church of old in the mystery of his grace, useless and unintelligible, and overthrows the foundation of the gospel.

The second thing in the words, is the means whereby the blood of Christ came to be of this efficacy, or to produce this effect. And that is, because in the shedding of it “he offered himself unto God, through the eternal Spirit, without spot.” Every word is of great importance, and the whole assertion filled with the mystery of the wisdom and grace of God, and must therefore be distinctly considered.

There is declared what Christ did unto the end mentioned, and that is expressed in the matter and manner of it:

1. He “offered himself.”

2. To whom; that is, “to God.”

3. How, or from what principle, by what means; “through the eternal Spirit.”

4. With what qualifications; “without spot.”

1. “He offered himself.” To prove that his blood purgeth away our-sins, he affirms that he “offered himself.” His whole human nature was the offering; the way of its offering was by the shedding of his blood. So the beast was the sacrifice, when the blood alone or principally was offered on the altar; for it was the blood that made atonement. So it was by his blood that Christ made atonement, but it was his person that gave it efficacy unto that end. Wherefore by “himself,” the whole human nature of Christ is intended. And that, —

(1.) Not in distinction or separation from the divine. For although the human nature of Christ, his soul and body, only was offered, yet he offered himself through his own eternal Spirit. This offering of himself, therefore, was the act of his whole person, both natures concurred in the offering, though one alone was offered.

(2.) All that he did or suffered in his soul and body when his blood was shed, is comprised in this offering of himself. His obedience in suffering was that which rendered this offering of himself “a sacrifice unto God of a sweet-smelling savor.” And he is said thus to offer “himself,” in opposition unto the sacrifices of the high priests under the law. They offered goats and bulls, or their blood; but he offered himself. This, therefore, was the nature of the offering of Christ: — It was a sacred act of the Lord Christ, as the high priest of the church, wherein, according unto the will of God, and what was required of him by virtue of the eternal compact between the Father and him concerning the redemption of the church, he gave up himself, in the way of most profound obedience, to do and suffer whatever the justice and law of God required unto the expiation of sin; expressing the whole by the shedding of his blood, in answer unto all the typical representations of this his sacrifice in all the institutions of the law.

And this offering of Christ was proper sacrifice, —

(1.) From the office whereof it was an act. It was an act of his sacerdotal office; he was made a priest of God for this end, that he might thus offer himself, and that this offering of himself should be a sacrifice.

(2.) From the nature of it. For it consisted in the sacred giving up unto God the thing that was offered, in the present destruction or consumption of it. This was the nature of a sacrifice; it was the destruction and consumption by death and fire, by a sacred action, of what was dedicated and offered unto God. So was it in this sacrifice of Christ. As he suffered in it, so in the giving himself up unto God in it there was an effusion of his blood and the destruction of his life.

(3.) From the end of it, which was assigned unto it in the wisdom and sovereignty of God, and in his own intention; which was to make atonement for sin: which gives an offering the formal nature of an expiatory sacrifice.

(4.) From the way and manner of it. For therein, —

[1.] He sanctified or dedicated himself unto God to be an offering, John 17:19.

[2.] He accompanied it with prayers and supplications, Hebrews 5:7.

[3.] There was an altar which sanctified the offering, which bore it up in its oblation; which was his own divine nature, as we shall see immediately.

[4.] He kindled the sacrifice with the fire of divine love, acting itself by zeal unto God’s glory and compassion unto the souls of men.

[5.] He tendered all this unto God as an atonement for sin, as we shall see in the next words.

This was the free, real, proper sacrifice of Christ, whereof those of old were only types and obscure representations; the prefiguration hereof was the sole cause of their institution. And what the Socinians pretend, namely, that the Lord Christ offered no real sacrifice, but only what he did was called so metaphorically, by the way of allusion unto the sacrifices of the law, is so far from truth, as that there never had been any such sacrifices of divine appointment but only to prefigure this, which alone was really and substantially so. The Holy Ghost doth not make a forced accommodation of what Christ did unto those sacrifices of old, by way of allusion, and by reason of some resemblances; but shows the uselessness and weakness of those sacrifices in themselves, any further but as they represented this of Christ.

The nature of this oblation and sacrifice of Christ is utterly overthrown by the Socinians. They deny that in all this there was any offering at all; they deny that his shedding of his blood, or any thing which he did or suffered therein, either actually or passively, his obedience, or giving himself up unto God therein, was his sacrifice, or any part of it, but only somewhat required previously thereunto, and that without any necessary cause or reason- But ‘his sacrifice, his offering of himself, they say, is nothing but his appearance in heaven, and the presentation of himself before the throne of God, whereon he receiveth power to deliver them that believe in him from the punishment due to sin. But, —

(1.) This appearance of Christ in heaven is nowhere called his oblation, his sacrifice, or his offering of himself. The places wherein some grant it may be so, do assert no such thing; as we shall see in the explanation of them, for they occur unto us in this chapter.

(2.) It no way answers the atonement that was made by the blood of the sacrifices at the altar, which was never carried into the holy place; yea, it overthrows all analogy, all resemblance and typical representation between those sacrifices and this of Christ, there being no similitude, nothing alike between them. And this renders all the reasoning of the apostle not only invalid, but altogether impertinent.

(3.) The supposition of it utterly overthrows the true nature of a proper and real sacrifice, substituting that in the room of it which is only metaphorical, and improperly so called. Nor can it be evidenced wherein the metaphor doth consist, or that there is any ground why it should be called an offering or a sacrifice; for all things belonging to it are distinct from, yea, contrary unto a true, real sacrifice.

(4.) It overthrows the nature of the priesthood of Christ, making it to consist in his actings from God towards us in a way of power; whereas the nature of the priesthood is to act with God for and on the behalf of the church.

(5.) It offers violence unto the text. For herein Christ’s offering of himself is expressive of the way whereby his blood purgeth our consciences; which in their sense is excluded. But we may observe, unto our purpose, —

Obs. 4. This was the greatest expression of the inexpressible love of Christ; “he offered himself.” — What was required thereunto, what he underwent therein, have on various occasions been spoken unto. His condescension and love in the undertaking and discharge of this work, we may, we ought to admire, but we cannot comprehend. And they do what lies in them to weaken the faith of the church in him, and its love towards him, who would change the nature of his sacrifice in the offering of himself; who would make less of difficulty or suffering in it, or ascribe less efficacy unto it. This is the foundation of our faith and boldness in approaching unto God, that Christ hath “offered himself” for us. Whatsoever might be effected by the glorious dignity of his divine person, by his profound obedience, by his unspeakable sufferings, all offered as a sacrifice unto God in our behalf, is really accomplished.

Obs. 5. It is hence evident how vain and insufficient are all other ways of the expiation of sin, with the purging of our consciences before God. — The sum of all false religion consisteth always in contrivances for the expiation of sin; what is false in any religion hath respect principally thereunto. And as superstition is restless, so the inventions of men have been endless, in finding out means unto this end. But if any thing within the power or ability of men, any thing they could invent or accomplish, had been useful unto this end, there would have been no need that the Son of God should have offered himself. To this purpose, see Hebrews 10:5-8; Micah 6:6-7.

2. The next thing in the words, is unto whom he offered himself; that is, “to God.” He gave himself an offering and a sacrifice to God. A sacrifice is the highest and chiefest act of sacred worship; especially it must be so when one offereth himself, according unto the will of God. God as God, or the divine nature, is the proper object of all religious worship, unto whom as such alone any sacrifice may be offered. To offer sacrifice unto any, under any other notion but as he is God, is the highest idolatry. But an offering, an expiatory sacrifice for sin, is made to God as God, under a peculiar notion or consideration. For God is therein considered as the author of the law against which sin is committed, as the supreme ruler and governor of all, unto whom it belongs to inflict the punishment which is due unto sin. For the end of such sacrifices is “averruncare malum,” — to avert displeasure and punishment, by making atonement for sin. With respect hereunto, the divine nature is considered as peculiarly subsisting in the person of the Father. For so is he constantly represented unto our faith, as “the judge of all,” Hebrews 12:23. With him, as such, the Lord Christ had to do in the offering of himself; concerning which, see our exposition on Hebrews 5:7. It is said, ‘If Christ were God himself, how could he offer himself unto God? That one and the same person should be the offerer, the oblation, and he unto whom it is offered, seems not so much a mystery as a weak imagination.’

Ans. (1.) If there were one nature only in the person of Christ, it may be this might seem impertinent. Howbeit there may be cases wherein the same individual person, under several capacities, — as of a good man on the one hand, and a ruler or judge on the other, — may, for the benefit of the public, and the preservation of the laws of the community, both give and take satisfaction himself. But whereas in the one person of Christ there are two natures so infinitely distinct as they are, both acting under such distinct capacities as they did, there is nothing unbecoming this mystery of God, that the one of them might be offered unto the other. But, —

(2.) It is not the same person that offereth the sacrifice and unto whom it is offered. For it was the person of the Father, or the divine nature considered as acting itself in the person of the Father, unto whom the offering was made. And although the person of the Son is partaker of the same nature with the Father, yet that nature is not the object of this divine worship as in him, but as in the person of the Father. Wherefore the Son did not formally offer himself unto himself, but unto God, as acting supreme rule, government, and judgment, in the person of the Father. As these things are plainly and fully testified unto in the Scripture, so the way to come unto a blessed satisfaction in them, unto the due use and comfort of them, is not to consult the cavils of carnal wisdom, but to pray “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, would give unto us the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him, that the eyes of our understandings being enlightened,” we may come unto “the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ.”

3. How he offered himself is also expressed; it was “by the eternal Spirit.” “By,” διά. It denotes a concurrent operation, when one works with another. Nor doth it always denote a subservient, instrumental cause, but sometimes that which is principally efficient, John 1:3; Romans 11:36; Hebrews 1:2. So it doth here; the eternal Spirit was not an interior instrument whereby Christ offered himself, but he was the principal efficient cause in the work.

The variety that is in the reading of this place is taken notice of by all. Some copies read, “by the eternal Spirit;” some, “by the Holy Spirit;” the latter is the reading of the Vulgar translation, and countenanced by sundry ancient copies of the original. The Syriac retains “the eternal Spirit;” which also is the reading of most ancient copies of the Greek. Hence follows a double interpretation of the words. Some say that the Lord Christ offered himself unto God in and by the acting of the Holy Ghost in his human nature; for by him were wrought in him that fervent zeal unto the glory of God, that love and compassion unto the souls of men, which both carried him through his sufferings and rendered his obedience therein acceptable unto God as a sacrifice of a sweet-smelling savor: which work of the Holy Spirit in the human nature of Christ I have elsewhere declared.(8) Others say that his own eternal Deity, which supported him in his sufferings and rendered the sacrifice of himself effectual, is intended. But this will not absolutely follow to be the sense of the place upon the common reading, “by the eternal Spirit;” for the Holy Spirit is no less an eternal Spirit than is the Deity of Christ himself.

The truth is, both these concurred in, and were absolutely necessary unto the offering of Christ. The acting of his own eternal Spirit was so, as unto the efficacy and effect; and the acting of the Holy Ghost in him was so, as unto the manner of it. Without the first, his offering of himself could not have “purged our consciences from dead works.” No sacrifice of any mere creature could have produced that effect. It would not have had in itself a worth and dignity whereby we might have been discharged of sin unto the glory of God. Nor without the subsistence of the human nature in the divine person of the Son of God, could it have undergone and passed through unto victory what it was to suffer in this offering of it.

Wherefore this sense of the words is true: Christ offered himself unto God, through or by his own eternal Spirit, the divine nature acting in the person of the Son. For, —

(1.) It was an act of his entire person, wherein he discharged the office of a priest. And as his human nature was the sacrifice, so his person was the priest that offered it; which is the only distinction that was between the priest and sacrifice herein. As in all other acts of his mediation, the taking our nature upon him, and what he did therein, the divine person of the Son, the eternal Spirit in him, acted in love and condescension, so did it in this also of his offering himself.

(2.) As we observed before, hereby he gave dignity, worth, and efficacy unto the sacrifice of himself; for herein “God was to purchase his church with his own blood.” And this seems to be principally respected by the apostle; for he intends to declare herein the dignity and efficacy of the sacrifice of Christ, in opposition unto those under the law. For it was in the will of man, and by material fire, that they were all offered; but he offered himself by the eternal Spirit, voluntarily giving up his human nature to be a sacrifice, in an act of his divine power.

(3.) The eternal Spirit is here opposed unto the material altar, as well as unto the fire. The altar was that whereon the sacrifice was laid, which bore it up in its oblation and ascension. But the eternal Spirit of Christ was the altar whereon he offered himself. This supported and bore it up under its sufferings, whereon it was presented unto God as an acceptable sacrifice. Wherefore this reading of the words gives a sense that is true and proper unto the matter treated of.

But on the other side, it is no less certain that he offered himself in his human nature by the Holy Ghost. All the gracious actings of his mind and will were required hereunto. The “man Christ Jesus,” in the gracious, voluntary acting of all the faculties of his soul, offered himself unto God. His human nature was not only the matter of the sacrifice, but therein and thereby, in the gracious actings of the faculties and powers of it, he offered himself unto God. Now all these things were wrought in him by the Holy Spirit, wherewith he was filled, which he received not by measure. By him was he filled with that love and compassion unto the church which acted him in his whole mediation, and which the Scripture so frequently proposeth unto our faith herein: “He loved me, and gave himself for me.” “He loved the church, and gave himself for it.” “He loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.” By him there was wrought in him that zeal unto the glory of God the fire whereof kindled his sacrifice in an eminent manner. For he designed, with ardency of love to God above his own life and present state of his soul, to declare his righteousness, to repair the diminution of his glory, and to make such way for the communication of his love and grace to sinners, as that he might be eternally glorified. He gave him such holy submission unto the will of God, under a prospect of the bitterness of that cup which he was to drink, as enabled him to say in the height of his conflict, “Not my will, but thine be done.” He filled him with that faith and trust in God, as unto his supportment, deliverance, and success, which carried him steadily and safely unto the issue of his trial, Isaiah 50:7-9. Through the actings of these graces of the Holy Spirit in the human nature, his offering of himself was a free, voluntary oblation and sacrifice.

I shall not positively determine on either of these senses unto the exclusion of the other. The latter hath much of spiritual light and comfort in it on many accounts; but yet I must acknowledge that there are two considerations that peculiarly urge the former interpretation: —

(1.) The most, and most ancient copies of the original, read, “by the eternal Spirit;” and are followed by the Syriac, with all the Greek scholiasts. Now, although the Holy Spirit be also an eternal Spirit, in the unity of the same divine nature with the Father and the Son, yet where he is spoken of with respect unto his own personal actings, he is constantly called “the Holy Spirit,” and not as here, “the eternal Spirit.”

(2.) The design of the apostle is to prove the efficacy of the offering of Christ above those of the priests under the law. Now this arose from hence, partly that he offered himself, whereas they offered only the blood of bulls and goats; but principally from the dignity of his person in his offering, in that he offered himself by his own eternal Spirit, or divine nature. But I shall leave the reader to choose whether sense he judgeth suitable unto the scope of the place, either of them being so unto the analogy of faith. The Socinians, understanding that both these interpretations are equally destructive to their opinions, the one concerning the person of Christ, the other about the nature of the Holy Ghost, have invented a sense of these words never before heard of among Christians. For they say that by “the eternal Spirit,” “a certain divine power” is intended, “whereby the Lord Christ was freed from mortality, and made eternal;” that is, no more obnoxious unto death. “By virtue of this power,” they say, “he offered himself unto God when he entered into heaven;” — than which nothing can be spoken more fond or impious, or contrary unto the design of the apostle. For, —

(1.) Such a power as they pretend is nowhere called “the Spirit,” much less “the eternal Spirit;” and to feign significations of words, without any countenance from their use elsewhere, is to wrest them at our pleasure.

(2.) The apostle is so far from requiring a divine power rendering him immortal antecedently unto the offering of himself, as that he declares that he offered himself by the eternal Spirit in his death, when he shed his blood, whereby our consciences are purged from dead works.

(3.) This divine power, rendering Christ immortal, is not peculiar unto him, but shall be communicated unto all that are raised unto glory at the last day. And there is no color of an opposition herein unto what was done by the high priests of old.

(4.) It proceeds on their πρῶτον ψεῦδος in this matter; which is, “that the Lord Christ offered not himself unto God before he was made immortal:” which is utterly to exclude his death and blood from any concernment therein; which is as contrary unto the truth and scope of the place as darkness is to light.

(5.) Wherever there is mention made elsewhere in the Scripture of the Holy Spirit, or the eternal Spirit, or the Spirit absolutely, with reference unto any actings of the person of Christ, or on it, either the Holy Spirit or his own divine nature is intended. See Isaiah 61:1-2; Romans 1:4; 1 Peter 3:18.

Wherefore Grotius forsakes this notion, and otherwise explains the words: “Spiritus Christi qui non tantum fuit vivus ut in vita terrena, sed in aeternum corpus sibi adjunctum vivificans.” If there be any sense in these words, it is the rational soul of Christ that is intended. And it is most true, that the Lord Christ offered himself in and by the actings of it; for there are no other in the human nature as to any duties of obedience unto God. But that this should be here called “the eternal Spirit,” is a vain conjecture; for the spirits of all men are equally eternal, and do not only live here below, but shall quicken their bodies after the resurrection for ever. This, therefore, cannot be the ground of the especial efficacy of the blood of Christ.

This is the second thing wherein the apostle opposeth the offering of Christ unto the offerings of the priests under the law: —

(1.) They offered bulls and goats; he offered himself.

(2.) They offered by a material altar and fire; he by the eternal Spirit.

That Christ should thus offer himself unto God, and that by the eternal Spirit, is the center of the mystery of the gospel. All attempts to corrupt, to pervert this glorious truth, are designs against the glory of God and faith of the church. The depth of this mystery we cannot dive into, the height we cannot comprehend. We cannot search out the greatness of it; of the wisdom, the love, the grace that is in it. And those who choose rather to reject it than to live by faith in a humble admiration of it, do it at the peril of their souls. Unto the reason of some men it may be folly, unto faith it is full of glory. In the consideration of the divine actings of the eternal Spirit of Christ in the offering of himself, of the holy exercise of all grace in the human nature that was offered, of the nature, dignity, and efficacy of this sacrifice, faith finds life, food, and refreshment. Herein doth it contemplate the wisdom, the righteousness, the holiness, and grace of God; herein doth it view the wonderful condescension and love of Christ; and from the whole is strengthened and encouraged.

4. It is added that he thus offered himself, “without spot.” This adjunct is descriptive not of the priest, but of the sacrifice; it is not a qualification of his person, but of the offering.

Schlichtingius would have it, that this word denotes not what Christ was in himself, but what he was freed from. For now in heaven, where he offered himself, he is freed from all infirmities, and from every spot of mortality; which the high priest was not when he entered into the holy place. Such irrational fancies do false opinions force men to take up withal. But, —

(1.) There was no spot in the mortality of Christ, that he should be said to be freed from it when he was made immortal. A spot signifies not so much a defect as a fault; and there was no fault in Christ from which he was freed.

(2.) The allusion and respect herein unto the legal institutions is evident and manifest. The lamb that was to be slain and offered was antecedently thereunto to be “without blemish;” it was to be neither lame, nor blind, nor have any other defect. With express respect hereunto, the apostle Peter affirms that we were

“redeemed ...... with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot,” 1 Peter 1:18.

And Christ is not only called “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world,” John 1:29, — that is, by his being slain and offered, — but is represented in the worship of the church as “a Lamb slain,” Revelation 5:6. It is thereforeto offer violence unto the Scripture and common understanding, to seek for this qualification anywhere but in the human nature of Christ, antecedently unto his death and blood-shedding.

Wherefore this expression, “without spot,” respects in the first place the purity of his nature and the holiness of his life. For although these principally belonged unto the necessary qualifications of his person, yet were they required unto him as he was to be the sacrifice. He was “the Holy One of God;” “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners.” “He did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth;” — he was “without spot.” This is the moral sense and signification of the word. But there is a legal sense of it also. It is that which is meet and fit to be a sacrifice. For it respects all that was signified by the legal institutions concerning the integrity and perfection of the creatures, lambs or kids, that were to be sacrificed. Hence were all those laws fulfilled and accomplished. There was nothing in him, nothing wanting unto him, that should any way hinder his sacrifice from being accepted with God, and really expiatory of sin. And this was the church instructed to expect by all those legal institutions.

It may be not unuseful to give here a brief scheme of this great sacrifice of Christ, to fix the thoughts of faith the more distinctly upon it: —

1. God herein, in the person of the Father, is considered as the lawgiver, the governor and judge of all; and that as on a throne of judgment, the throne of grace being not as yet erected. And two things are ascribed, or do belong unto him: —

(1.) A denunciation of the sentence of the law against mankind: “Dying, ye shall die;” and, “Cursed be every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.”

(2.) A refusal of all such ways of atonement, satisfaction, and reconciliation, as might be offered from any thing that all or any creatures could perform. “Sacrifice and offering, and whole burnt-offerings for sin, he would not have,” Hebrews 10:5-6. He rejected them as insufficient to make atonement for sin.

2. Satan appeared before this throne with his prisoners. He had the power of death, Hebrews 2:14; and entered into judgment as unto his right and title, and therein was judged, John 16:11. And he put forth all his power and policy in opposition unto the deliverance of his prisoners, and to the way or means of it. That was his hour, wherein he put forth the power of darkness, Luke 22:53.

3. The Lord Christ, the Son of God, out of his infinite love and compassion, appears in our nature before the throne of God, and takes it on himself to answer for the sins of all the elect, to make atonement for them, by doing and suffering whatever the holiness, righteousness, and wisdom of God required thereunto: “Then said I, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt-offerings for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein, which are offered by the law; then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second,” Hebrews 10:7-9.

4. This stipulation and engagement of his, God accepteth of, and withal, as the sovereign lord and ruler of all, prescribeth the way and means whereby he should make atonement for sin, and reconciliation with God thereon. And this was, that “he should make his soul an offering for sin,” and therein “bear their iniquities,” Isaiah 53:10-11.

5. The Lord Christ was prepared with a sacrifice to offer unto God, unto this end. For whereas “every high priest was ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices, it was of necessity that he also should have somewhat to offer,”

Hebrews 8:3. This was not to be the blood of bulls and goats, or such things as were “offered according to the law,” verse 4; but this was and was to be himself, his human nature, or his body. For, —

(1.) This body or human nature was prepared for him and given unto him for this very end, that he might have somewhat of his own to offer, Hebrews 10:5.

(2.) He took it, he assumed it unto himself to be his own, for this very end, that he might be a sacrifice in it, Hebrews 2:14.

(3.) He had full power and authority over his own body, his whole human nature, to dispose of it in any way, and into any condition, unto the glory of God. “No man,” saith he, “taketh my life from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again,” John 10:18.

6. This, therefore, he gave up to do and suffer according unto the will of God. And this he did, —

(1.) In the will, grace, and love of his divine nature, he offered himself unto God through the eternal Spirit.

(2.) In the gracious, holy actings of his human nature, in the way of zeal, love, obedience, patience, and all other graces of the Holy Spirit, which dwelt in him without measure, acted unto their utmost glory and efficacy. Hereby he gave himself up unto God to be a sacrifice for sin; his own divine nature being the altar and fire whereby his offering was supported and consumed, or brought unto the ashes of death. This was the most glorious spectacle unto God, and all his holy angels. Hereby he “set a crown of glory on the head of the law,” fulfilling its precepts in matter and manner unto the uttermost, and undergoing its penalty or curse, establishing the truth and righteousness of God in it. Hereby he glorified the holiness and justice of God, in the demonstration of their nature and by compliance with their demands. Herein issued the eternal counsels of God for the salvation of the church, and way was made for the exercise of grace and mercy unto sinners. For, —

7. Herewith God was well pleased, satisfied, and reconciled unto sinners. Thus was he “in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing our trespasses unto us,” in that “he was made sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in him.” For in this tender of himself a sacrifice to God, —

(1.) God was well pleased with and delighted in his obedience; it was “a sacrifice unto him of a sweet-smelling savor.” He was more glorified in that one instance of the obedience of his only Son, than he was dishonored by the sin of Adam and all his posterity, as I have elsewhere declared.

(2.) All the demands of his justice were satisfied, unto his eternal glory. Wherefore, —

8. Hereon Satan is judged, and destroyed as unto his power over sinners who receive this atonement; all the grounds and occasions of it are hereby removed, his kingdom is overthrown, his usurpation and unjust dominion defeated, his goods spoiled, and captivity led captive. For of the anger of the Lord against sin it was that he obtained his power over sinners, which he abused unto his own ends. This being atoned, the prince of this world was judged and cast out.

9. Hereon the poor condemned sinners are discharged. God says, “Deliver them, for I have found a ransom.” But we must return to the text.

SECONDLY, The effect of the blood of Christ, through the offering of himself, is the “purging of our consciences from dead works.” This was somewhat spoken unto in general before, especially as unto the nature of this purging; but the words require a more particular explication And, —

The word is in the future tense, “shall purge.” The blood of Christ as offered hath a double respect and effect: —

1. Towards God, in making atonement for sin. This was done once, and at once, and was now past. Herein “by one offering he for ever perfected them that are sanctified.”

2. Towards the consciences of men, in the application of the virtue of it unto them. This is here intended. And this is expressed as future; not as though it had not had this effect already on them that did believe, but upon a double account: —

(1.) To declare the certainty of the event, or the infallible connection of these things, the blood of Christ, and the purging of the conscience; that is, in all that betake themselves thereunto. ‘It shall do it;’that is, effectually and infallibly.

(2.) Respect is had herein unto the generality of the Hebrews, whether already professing the gospel or now invited unto it. And he proposeth this unto them as the advantage they should be made partakers of, by the relinquishment of Mosaical ceremonies, and betaking themselves unto the faith of the gospel. For whereas before, by the best of legal ordinances, they attained no more but an outward sanctification, as unto the flesh, they should now have their conscience infallibly purged from dead works Hence it is said, “your conscience.” Some copies read ἡμῶν, “our.” But there is no difference in the sense. I shall retain the common reading, as that which refers unto the Hebrews, who had been always exercised unto thoughts of purification and sanctification, by one means or another.

For the explication of the words we must inquire,

1. What is meant by “dead works.”

2. What is their relation unto “conscience.”

3. How conscience is “purged” of them by the blood of Christ.

First, By “dead works,” sins as unto their guilt and defilement are intended, as all acknowledge. And several reasons are given why they are so called; as, —

1. Because they proceed from a principle of spiritual death, or are the works of them who have no vital principle of holiness in them, Ephesians 2:1; Ephesians 2:5; Colossians 2:13.

2. Because they are useless and fruitless, as all dead things are.

3. They deserve death, and tend thereunto. Hence they are like rotten bones in the grave, accompanied with worms and corruption.

And these things are true. Howbeit I judge there is a peculiar reason why the apostle calls them “dead works” in this place. For there is an allusion herein unto dead bodies, and legal defilement by them. For he hath respect unto purification by the ashes of the heifer; and this respected principally uncleanness by the dead, as is fully declared in the institution of that ordinance. As men were purified, by the sprinkling of the ashes of an heifer mingled with living water, from defilements contracted by the dead, without which they were separated from God and the church; so unless men are really purged from their moral defilements by the blood of Christ, they must perish for ever. Now this defilement from the dead, as we have showed, arose from hence, that death was the effect of the curse of the law; wherefore the guilt of sin with respect unto the curse of the law is here intended in the first place, and consequently its pollution. This gives us the state of all men who are not interested in the sacrifice of Christ, and the purging virtue thereof. As they are dead in themselves, “dead in trespasses and sins,” so all their works are “dead works.” Other works they have none. They are as a sepulcher filled with bones and corruption. Every thing they do is unclean in itself, and unclean unto them.

“Unto them that are defiled nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled,” Titus 1:15.

Their works come from spiritual death, and tend unto eternal death, and are dead in themselves. Let them deck and trim their carcasses whilst they please, let them rend their faces with painting, and multiply their ornaments with all excess of bravery; within they are full of dead bones, — of rotten, defiled, polluting works. That world which appears with so much outward beauty, lustre, and glory, is all polluted and defiled under the eye of the Most Holy.

Secondly, These dead works are further described by their relation unto our persons, as unto what is peculiarly affected with them, where they have, as it were, their seat and residence: and this is the conscience. He doth not say, “Purge your souls, or your minds, or your persons,” but “your conscience.’ “And this he doth, —

1. In general, in opposition unto the purification by the law. There it was the dead body that did defile; it was the body that was defiled; it was the body that was purified; those ordinances “sanctified to the purifying of the flesh.” But the defilements here intended are spiritual, internal, relating unto conscience; and therefore such is the purification also.

2. He mentions the respect of these dead works unto conscience in particular, because it is conscience which is concerned in peace with God and confidence of approach unto him. Sin variously affects all the faculties of the soul, and there is in it a peculiar defilement of conscience, Titus 1:15. But that wherein conscience in the first place is concerned, and wherein it is alone concerned, is a sense of guilt. This brings along with it fear and dread; whence the sinner dares not approach into the presence of God. It was conscience which reduced Adam unto the condition of hiding himself from God, his eyes being opened by a sense of the guilt of sin. So he that was unclean by the touching of a dead body was excluded from all approach unto God in his worship Hereunto the apostle alludes in the following words, “That we may serve the living God;” for the word λατρεύω properly denotes that service which consists in the observation and performance of solemn worship. As he who was unclean by a dead body might not approach unto the worship of God until he was purified; so a guilty sinner, whose conscience is affected with a sense of the guilt of sin, dares not to draw nigh unto or appear in the presence of God. It is by the working of conscience that sin deprives the soul of peace with God, of boldness or confidence before him, of all right to draw nigh unto him. Until this relation of sin unto the conscience be taken away, until there be “no more conscience of sin,” as the apostle speaks, Hebrews 10:2, — that is, conscience absolutely judging and condemning the person of the sinner in the sight of God, — there is no right, no liberty of access unto God in his service, nor any acceptance to be obtained with him. Wherefore the purging of conscience from dead works, doth first respect the guilt of sin, and the virtue of the blood of Christ in the removal of it. But, secondly, there is also an inherent defilement of conscience by sin, as of all other faculties of the soul. Hereby it is rendered unmeet for the discharge of its office in any particular duties. With respect hereunto conscience is here used synecdochically for the whole soul, and all the faculties of it, yea, our whole spirit, souls, and bodies, which are all to be cleansed and sanctified, 1 Thessalonians 5:23. To purge our conscience, is to purge us in our whole persons.

Thirdly, This being the state of our conscience, this being the respect of dead works and their defilement to it and us, we may consider the relief that is necessary in this case, and what that is which is here proposed: —

Unto a complete relief in this condition, two things are necessary: —

1. A discharge of conscience from a sense of the guilt of sin, or the condemning power of it, whereby it deprives us of peace with God, and of boldness in access unto him.

2. The cleansing of the conscience, and consequently our whole persons, from the inherent defilement of sin.

The first of these was typified by the blood of bulls and goats offered on the altar to make atonement. The latter was represented by the sprinkling of the unclean with the ashes of the heifer unto their purification.

Both these the apostle here expressly ascribes unto “the blood of Christ;” and we may briefly inquire into three things concerning it:

1. On what ground it doth produce this blessed effect.

2. The way of its operation and efficacy unto this end.

3. The reason whence the apostle affirms that it shall much more do this than the legal ordinances could, sanctifying unto the purifying of the flesh: —

1. The grounds of its efficacy unto this purpose are three: —

(1.) That it was blood offered unto God. God had ordained that blood should be offered on the altar to make atonement for sin, or to “purge conscience from dead works” That this could not be really effected by the blood of bulls and goats is evident in the nature of the things themselves, and demonstrated in the event. Howbeit this must be done by blood, or all the institutions of legal sacrifices were nothing but means to deceive the minds of men, and ruin their souls. To say that at one time or other real atonement is not to be made for sin by blood, and conscience thereby to be purged and purified, is to make God a liar in all the institutions of the law. But this must be done by the blood of Christ, or not at all.

(2.) It was the blood of Christ, of “Christ, the Son of the living God,” Matthew 16:16, whereby “God purchased his church with his own blood,” Acts 20:28. The dignity of his person gave efficacy unto his office and offering. No other person, in the discharge of the same offices that were committed unto him, could have saved the church; and therefore all those by whom his divine person is denied do also evacuate his offices. By what they ascribe unto them, it is impossible the church should be either sanctified or saved. They resolve all into a mere act of sovereign power in God; which makes the cross of Christ of none effect.

(3.) He offered this blood, or himself, by the eternal Spirit. Though Christ in his divine person was the eternal Son of God, yet was it the human nature only that was offered in sacrifice. Howbeit it was offered by and with the concurrent actings of the divine nature, or eternal Spirit, as we have declared.

These things make the blood of Christ, as offered, meet and fit for the accomplishment of this great effect.

2. The second inquiry is concerning the way whereby the blood of Christ doth thus purge our conscience from dead works. Two things, as we have seen, are contained therein: —

(1.) The expiation, or taking away the guilt of sin, that conscience should not be deterred thereby from an access unto God.

(2.) The cleansing of our souls from vicious, defiling habits, inclinations, and acts, or all inherent uncleanness

Wherefore, under two considerations doth the blood of Christ produce this double effect: —

(1.) As it was offered; so it made atonement for sin, by giving satisfaction unto the justice and law of God. This all the expiatory sacrifices of the law did prefigure, this the prophets foretold, and this the gospel witnesseth unto. To deny it, is to deny any real efficacy in the blood of Christ unto this end, and so expressly to contradict the apostle. Sin is not purged from the conscience unless the guilt of it be so removed as that we may have peace with God and boldness in access unto him. This is given us by the blood of Christ as offered.

(2.) As it is sprinkled, it worketh the second part of this effect. And this sprinkling of the blood of Christ is the communication of its sanctifying virtue unto our souls. See Ephesians 5:26-27; Titus 2:14. So doth “the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanse us from all sin,” 1 John 1:7; Zechariah 13:1.

3. The reason why the apostle affirms that this is much more to be expected from the blood of Christ than the purification of the flesh was from legal ordinances hath been before spoken unto.

The Socinians plead on this place, that this effect of the death of Christ doth as unto us depend on our own duty. If they intended no more but that there is duty required on our part unto an actual participation of it, namely, faith, whereby we receive the atonement, we should have no difference with them. But they are otherwise minded. This purging of the conscience from dead works, they would have to consist in two things:

1. Our own relinquishment of sin.

2. The freeing us from the punishment due to sin, by an act of power in Christ in heaven.

The first, they say, hath therein respect unto the blood of Christ, in that thereby his doctrine was confirmed, in obedience whereunto we forsake sin, and purge our minds from it. The latter also relates thereunto, in that the sufferings of Christ were antecedent unto his exaltation and power in heaven. Wherefore this effect of the blood of Christ, is what we do ourselves in obedience unto his doctrine, and what he doth thereon by his power; and therefore may well be said to depend on our duty. But all this while there is nothing ascribed unto the blood of Christ as it was offered in sacrifice unto God, or shed in the offering of himself, which alone the apostle speaks unto in this place.

Others choose thus to oppose it: This purging of our consciences from dead works is not an immediate effect of the death of Christ, but it is a benefit contained therein; which upon our faith and obedience we are made partakers of. But, —

1. This is not, in my judgment, to interpret the apostle’s words with due reverence. He affirms expressly, that “the blood of Christ doth purge our conscience from dead works;” that is, it doth make such an atonement for sin, and expiation of it, as that conscience shall be no more pressed with it, nor condemn the sinner for it.

2. The blood of Christ is the immediate cause of every effect assigned unto it, where there is no concurrent nor intermediate cause of the same kind with it in the production of that effect.

3. It is granted that the actual communication of this effect of the death of Christ unto our souls is wrought according unto the method which God in his sovereign wisdom and pleasure hath designed. And herein,

(1.) The Lord Christ by his blood made actual and absolute atonement for the sins of all the elect.

(2.) This atonement is proposed unto us in the gospel, Romans 3:25.

(3.) It is required of us, unto an actual participation of the benefit of it, and peace with God thereby, that we receive this atonement by faith, Romans 5:11; but as wrought with God, it is the immediate elect of the blood of Christ.

THIRDLY, The last thing in these words, is the consequent of this purging of our consciences, or the advantage which we receive thereby: “To serve the living God.” The words should be rendered, “that we may serve;” that is, have right and liberty so to do, being no longer excluded from the privilege of it, as persons were under the law whilst they were defiled and unclean. And three things are required unto the opening of these words; that we consider,

1. Why God is here called “the living God;”

2. What it is to “serve him;”

3. What is required that we may do so.

First, God in the Scripture is called “the living God,” —

1. Absolutely, and that,

(1.) As he alone hath life in himself and of himself;

(2.) As he is the only author and cause f life unto all others.

2. Comparatively, with respect unto idols and false gods, which are dead things, such as have neither life nor operation.

And this title is in the Scripture applied unto God,

1. To beget faith and trust in him, as the author of temporal, spiritual, and eternal life, with all things that depend thereon, 1 Timothy 4:10.

2. To beget a due fear and reverence of him, as him who lives and sees, who hath all life in his power; so “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” And this epistle being written principally to warn the Hebrews of the danger of unbelief and apostasy from the gospel, the apostle in several places makes mention of God with whom they had to do under this title, as Hebrews 3:12; Hebrews 10:31, and in this place.

But there is something peculiar in the mention of it in this place. For,

1. The due consideration of God as “the living God,” will discover how necessary it is that we be purged from dead works, to serve him in a due manner.

2. The nature of gospel-worship and service is intimated to be such as becomes the living God, “our reasonable service,” Romans 12:1.

Secondly, What is it to “serve the living God?” I doubt not but that the whole life of faith in universal obedience is consequently required hereunto. That we may live unto the living God in all ways of holy obedience, not any one act or duty of it can be performed as it ought without the antecedent purging of our consciences from dead works. But yet it is sacred and solemn worship that is intended in the first place. They had of old sacred ordinances of worship, or of divine service. From all these those, that were unclean were excluded, and restored unto them upon their purification. There is a solemn spiritual worship of God under the new testament also, and ordinances for the due observance of it. This none have a right to approach unto God by, none can do so in a due manner, unless their conscience be purged by the blood of Christ. And the whole of our relation unto God depends hereon. For as we therein express or testify the subjection of our souls and consciences unto him, and solemnly engage into universal obedience, (for of these things all acts of outward worship are the solemn pledges,) so therein doth God testify his acceptance of us and delight in us by Jesus Christ.

Thirdly, What is required on our part hereunto is included in the manner of the expression of it, εἰς τὸ λατρεύειν, — “that we may serve.” And two things are required hereunto:

1. Liberty; 2. Ability.

The first includes right and boldness, and is expressed by παῤῥησία: our holy worship is προσαγωγὴ ἐν παῤῥησίᾳ, — “an access with freedom and confidence.” This we must treat of on Hebrews 10:19-21. The other respects all the supplies of the Holy Spirit, in grace and gifts. Both these we receive by the blood of Christ, that we may be meet and able in a due manner to serve the living God. We may yet take some observations from the words: —

Obs. 6. Faith hath ground of triumph in the certain efficacy of the blood of Christ for the expiation of sin: “How much more!” The Holy Ghost here and elsewhere teacheth faith to argue itself into a full assurance. — The reasonings which he proposeth and insisteth on unto this end are admirable, Romans 8:31-39. Many objections will arise against believing, many difficulties do lie in its way. By them are the generality of believers left under doubts, fears, and temptations, all their days. One great relief provided in this case, is a direction to argue “a minore ad majus:”’If the blood of bulls and goats did so purify the unclean, how much more will the blood of Christ purge our consciences!’How heavenly, how divine is that way of arguing unto this end which our blessed Savior proposeth unto us in the parable of the unjust judge and the widow, Luke 18:1-8; and in that other, of the man and his friend that came to seek bread by night, Hebrews 11:5-9. Who can read them, but his soul is surprised into some kind of confidence of being heard in his supplication, if in any measure compliant with the rule prescribed? And the argument here managed by the apostle leaves no room for doubt or objection. Would we be more diligent in the same way of the exercise of faith, by arguings and expostulations upon Scripture principles, we should be more firm in our assent unto the conclusions which arise from them, and be enabled more to triumph against the assaults of unbelief.

Obs. 7. Nothing could expiate sin and free conscience from dead works but the blood of Christ alone, and that in the offering himself to God through the eternal Spirit. — The redemption of the souls of men is precious, and must have ceased for ever, had not infinite wisdom found out this way for its accomplishment. The work was too great for any other to undertake, or for any other means to effect. And the glory of God is hid herein only unto them that perish.

Obs. 8. It was God, as the supreme ruler and lawgiver, with whom atonement for sin was to be made: “He offered himself unto God.” It was he whose law was violated, whose justice was provoked, to whom it belonged to require and receive satisfaction. — And who was meet to tender it unto him, but “the man that was his fellow,” who gave efficacy unto his oblation by the dignity of his person? In the contemplation of the glory of God herein the life of faith doth principally consist.

Obs. 9. The souls and consciences of men are wholly polluted, before they are purged by the blood of Christ. And this pollution is such as excludes them from all right of access unto God in his worship; as it was with them who were legally unclean.

Obs. 10. Even the best works of men, antecedently unto the purging of their consciences by the blood of Christ, are but “dead works.” — However men may please themselves in them, perhaps think to merit by them, yet from death they come, and unto death they tend.

Obs. 11. Justification and sanctification are inseparably conjoined in the design of God’s grace by the blood of Christ: — “Purge our consciences, that we may serve the living God.”

Obs. 12. Gospel-worship is such, in its spirituality and holiness, as becometh “the living God;” and our duty it is always to consider that with him we have to do in all that we perform therein.


Verse 15

καὶ διὰ τοῦτο διαθήκης καινῆς μεσίτης ἐστὶν, ὅπως θανάτου γενομένου, εἰς ἀπολύτρωσιν τῶν ἐπὶ τῇ πρώτη διαθήκῃ παραβάσεων, τὴν ἐπαγγελίαν λάβωσιν οἱ κεκλημένοι, τῆς αἰωνίου κληρονομίας.

διὰ τοῦτο. Vulg., “et ideo,” “and therefore.” Syr., מֶטוּל הָנָא, “propter hoe,” “for this;” or “propterea,” “itaque ob id,” “and for this cause.”

΄εσίτης ἔστιν. Syr., הַו הֲוָא מֶצְעָיָא, “he himself was the mediator.” “He is the mediator.” Heb., אִישׁ בֵּינַיִם, “a man coming between.”

῞οπως θανάτου γενομένον. Vulg., “ut morte intercedente,” “by the interposition of death.” The Syriae reads the passage, “Who by his death was a redeemer unto them who had transgressed against the first testament;” probably, to avoid the difficulty o£ that expression, “for the redemption of transgressions.” The Ethiopic corrupts the whole text.

εἰς ἀπολύτρωσιν τῶν παραβάσεων, “in redemptionem eorum praevaricationum.” Vulg., “ad redemptionem eorum transgressionum;” properly, “for the redemption of transgressions,” or those transgressions which were.

᾿επαγγελίαν λαβωσιν. Vulg., Syr., “that they may receive the promise who are called to the eternal inheritance.” But in the Original and in the Vulgar “eternal inheritance” is joined unto and regulated by “the promise;” — “the promise of an eternal inheritance.”(9)

Hebrews 9:15. — And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first testament, they who are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.

The things which are to be considered in this verse are,

1. The note of connection in the conjunction, “and.”

2. The ground of the ensuing assertion: “For this cause.”

3. The assertion itself: “He is the mediator of the new testament.”

4. The especial reason why he should be so: “For the redemption of transgressions under the first testament.”

5. The way whereby that was to be effected: “By means of death.”

6. The end of the whole: “That they who are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.”

But before we proceed unto the exposition of the whole or any part of it, a difficulty must be removed from the words as they lie in our translation. For an inquiry may be justly moved, why we render the word διαθήκη by a “testament” in this place, whereas before we have constantly rendered it by a “covenant.” And the plain reason of it is, because from this verse unto the end of the chapter the apostle argues from the nature and use of a testament among men, as he directly affirms in the next verse. Hereby he confirms our faith in the expectation of the benefits of this διαθήκη, — that is, “covenant” or “testament.” We may answer, he doth it because it is the true and proper signification of the word. διαθήκη is properly a “testamentary disposition of things;” as συνθήκη is a “covenant.” For in the composition of the word there is nothing to intimate a mutual compact or agreement, which is necessary unto a covenant, and is expressed in συνθήκη. However, there is a great affinity in the things themselves: for there are covenants which have in them free grants and donations, which are of the nature of a testament; and there are testaments whose force is resolved into some conventions, conditions, and agreements, which they borrow from the nature of covenants. So there is such an affinity between them as one name may be expressive of them both.

But against this it will be replied, ‘That what the apostle speaks unto is in the Hebrew called בְּרִית, — that is, a “covenant,” and it nowhere signifies a testament; so that from thence the apostle could not argue from the nature of a testament what is required thereunto and what doth depend thereon.’Hereunto it is answered, That the LXX. constantly rendering בְּרִית, “berith,” by διαθήκη, and not by συνθήκη, the apostle made use of that translation and that signification of the word. But this will not solve the difficulty; for it would resolve all the apostle’s arguings in this great and important mystery into the authority of that translation, which is fallible throughout, and (at least as it is come to us) filled with actual mistakes. We must therefore give another answer unto this objection. Wherefore I say, —

1. The word בְּרִית could not be more properly rendered by any one word than by διαθήκη. For it being mostly used to express the covenant between God and man, it is of such a nature as cannot properly be termed συνθήκη, which is a covenant or compact upon equal terms of distributive justice between distinct parties; but God’s covenant with man is only the way and the declaration of the terms whereby God will dispose and communicate good things unto us, which hath more of the nature of a testament than of a covenant in it.

2. The word בְּרִית is often used to express a free promise, with an effectual donation and communication of the thing promised, as hath been declared in the foregoing chapter; but this hath more of the nature of a testament than of a covenant.

3. There is no word in the Hebrew language whereby to express a testament but בְּרִית only. Nor is there so in the Syriac: their דיתיקיis nothing but διαθήκη. The Hebrews express the thing by צִוָּה לְבֵּית, to “order, dispose, give command concerning the house or household of a dying man,” Isaiah 38:1; 2 Samuel 17:23. But they have no other word but berith to signify it; and therefore, where the nature of the thing spoken of requires it, it is properly rendered a “testament,” and ought so to be.

Wherefore there is no force used unto the signification of the word in this place by the apostle. But that which makes the proper use of it by him evident in this place, is that he had respect unto its signification in the making of the covenant with the people at Sinai; for this he compares the new testament unto in all its causes and effects. And in that covenant there were three things: —

1. The prescription of obedience unto the people on the part of God; which was received by their consent in an express compliance with the law and terms of it, Deuteronomy 5:1-27. Herein the nature of it, so far as it was a covenant, did consist.

2. There was a promise and conveyance of an inheritance unto them, namely, of the land of Canaan, with all the privileges of it. God declared that the land was his, and that he gave it unto them for an inheritance. And this promise or grant was made unto them without any consideration of their previous obedience, out of mere love and grace. The principal design of the book of Deuteronomy is to inlay this principle in the foundation of their obedience. Now the free grant and donation of an inheritance of the goods of him that makes the grant, is properly a testament. A free disposition it was of the goods of the testator.

3. There was in the confirmation of this grant the intervention of death. The grant of the inheritance of the land that God made was confirmed by death and the blood of the beasts offered in sacrifice; whereof we must treat on verses 18-20. And although covenants were confirmed by sacrifices, as this was, so far as it was a covenant, namely, with the blood of them; yet as in those sacrifices death was comprised, it was to confirm the testamentary grant of the inheritance. For death is necessary unto the confirmation of a testament; which then could only be in type and representation; the testator himself was not to die for the establishment era typical inheritance.

Wherefore the apostle having discoursed before concerning the covenant as it prescribed and required obedience, with promises and penalties annexed unto it, he now treats of it as unto the donation and communication of good things by it, with the confirmation of the grant of them by death; in which sense it was a testament, and not a covenant properly so called. And the arguing of the apostle from this word is not only just and reasonable, but without it we could never have rightly understood the typical representation that was made of the death, blood, and sacrifice of Christ, in the confirmation of the new testament, as we shall see immediately.

This difficulty being removed, we may proceed in the exposition of the words.

First. That which first occurs is the note of connection, in the conjunction “and.” But it doth not here, as sometimes, infer a reason of what was spoken before, but is emphatically expletive, and denotes a progress in the present argument; as much as “also,” “moreover.”

Secondly. There is the ground of the ensuing assertion, or the manner of its introduction: “For this cause.” Some say that it looks backward, and intimates a reason of what was spoken before, or why it was necessary that our consciences should be purged from dead works by the blood of Christ, namely, because “he was the mediator of the new covenant;” others say it looks forward, and gives a reason why he was to be the mediator of the new testament, namely, “that by means of death for the transgressions,” etc. It is evident that there is a reason rendered in these words of the necessity of the death and sacrifice of Christ, by which alone our consciences may be purged from dead works. And this reason is intended in these words, διὰ τοῦτο, — “For this cause.” And this necessity of the death of Christ the apostle proves, both from the nature of his office, namely, that he was to be “the mediator of the new covenant,” which, being also a testament, required the death of the testator; and from what was to be effected thereby, namely, the “redemption of transgressions” and the purchase of an “eternal inheritance.” Wherefore these are the things which he hath respect unto in these words, “For this cause.”

But withal the apostle in this verse enlargeth his discourse, as designing to comprehend in it the whole dispensation of the will and grace of God unto the church in Christ, with the ground and reason of it. This reason he layeth down in this verse, giving an account of the effects of it in those that follow. Hereunto respect is had in this expression.

For the exposition of the words themselves, — that is, the declaration of the mind of the Holy Ghost, and nature of the things contained in them, — we must leave the order of the words and take that of the things themselves. And the things ensuing are declared in them: —

1. That God designed an eternal inheritance unto some persons.

2. The way and manner of conveying a right and title thereunto was by promise.

3. That the persons unto whom this inheritance is designed are those that are called.

4. That there was an obstacle unto the enjoyment of this inheritance, which was transgression against the first covenant.

5. That this obstacle might be removed, and the inheritance enjoyed, God made a new covenant; because none of the rites, ordinances, or sacrifices of the first covenant, could remove that obstacle, or expiate those sins.

6. The ground of the efficacy of the new covenant unto this end was, that it had a mediator, a high priest, such as had been already described.

7. The way and means whereby the mediator of the new covenant did expiate sins under the old was by death; nor could it otherwise be done, seeing this new covenant, being a testament also, required the death of the testator.

8. This death of the mediator of the new testament did take away sins by the redemption of them: “For the redemption of transgressions.”

All which must be opened, for the due exposition of these words.

1. God designed unto some an “eternal inheritance.” And both the reason of this grant with the nature of it must be inquired into: —

(1.) As unto the reason of it: God in our first creation gave unto man, whom he made his son and heir, as unto things here below, a great inheritance, of mere grace and bounty. This inheritance consisted in the use of all the creatures here below, in a just title unto them and dominion over them. Neither did it consist absolutely in these things, but as they were a pledge of the present favor of God, and of man’s future blessedness upon his obedience. This whole inheritance man forfeited by sin. God also took the forfeiture, and ejected him out of the possession of it, and utterly despoiled him of his title unto it. Nevertheless he designed unto some another inheritance, even one that should not be lost, that should be eternal. It is altogether vain and foolish to seek for any other cause or reason of the preparation of this inheritance, and the designation of it unto any person, but only his own grace and bounty, his sovereign will and pleasure. What merit of it, what means of attaining it, could be found in them who were considered under no other qualification but such as had wofully rejected that inheritance which before they were instated in? And therefore is it called an “inheritance,” to mind us that the way whereby we come unto it is gratuitous adoption, and not purchase or merit.

(2.) As unto the nature of it, it is declared in the adjunct mentioned; it is “eternal.” And it is so called in opposition unto the inheritance which by virtue of the first testament God granted unto the Israelites in the land of Canaan. That was an inheritance, and was conveyed by a promise. And when God threatened to deprive them of that land, he said he would “disinherit them,” Numbers 14:12. And this inheritance consisted not only in the land itself, but principally in the privileges of holy worship and relation unto God which they enjoyed therein, Romans 9:4-5. But yet all things that belonged unto it were in themselves carnal and temporary, and only types of good things to come. In opposition hereunto God provided an “eternal inheritance.” And as the state of those who are to receive it is twofold, namely, that in this life, and that in the life to come, so there are two parts of their inheritance, namely, grace and glory; for although grace be bestowed and continued only in this life, yet the things we enjoy by virtue of it are eternal. The other part of their inheritance is glory; which is the way of the full, unchangeable possession and enjoyment of it. This, therefore, is not to be excluded from this inheritance, at least as the end and necessary consequent of it. But that which is principally and in the first place intended by it, is that state of things whereinto believers are admitted in this life. The whole inheritance of grace and glory was in the first place given and committed unto Jesus Christ. He was “appointed heir of all things,” Hebrews 1:2. By him is it communicated unto all believers; who thereby become “heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ,” Romans 8:15-17. For the Lord Christ, as the great testator, did in and by his death bequeath unto them all his goods, as an eternal legacy. All that grace, mercy, and glory, all the riches of them which are prepared in the covenant, are comprised herein. And a goodly inheritance it is; the lines are fallen unto believers in pleasant places. And the way whereby we become interested in this inheritance is by gratuitous adoption. “If sons, then heirs.”

This is that which is the end of all, and regulates all that precedes in this verse. It declares the way whereby .God would communicate unto some persons the inheritance which in free grace and bounty he had provided. And, —

Obs. 1. It is an act of mere sovereign grace in God to provide such a blessed inheritance for any of them who had sinfully cast away what they were before intrusted withal. — And into this are all God’s following dealings with the church to be resolved. If there was nothing in us to move God to provide this inheritance for us, no more is there of the communication of any part of it unto us; as we shall see further on the next words.

2. The way whereby God did convey or would communicate this inheritance unto any, was by promise: “Might receive the promise of an eternal inheritance.” The Syriac translation refers the inheritance unto the “called:” “Those that are called to an eternal inheritance.” But in the original it respects the “promise:” “The promise of an eternal inheritance;” for by the promise is assurance given of it, and it is the means of the actual conveyance of it unto us. And the apostle hath respect unto what he had discoursed about the promise of God, and the confirmation of it by his oath, Hebrews 6:15-18. So he declares it also, Galatians 3:18. The promise made unto Abraham, and confirmed by the oath of God, was concerning the eternal inheritance by Christ. The inheritance of Canaan was by the law, or the first covenant; but this was by promise. And we may consider three things:

(1.) What is the promise intended.

(2.) How and why it was by promise.

(3.) How we do receive the promise of it.

(1.) The “promise” principally intended is that which was given unto Abraham, and confirmed by the oath of God: for the inheritance, that is, the eternal inheritance, was of the promise, Galatians 3:18, namely, that in the seed of Abraham all nations should be blessed. It includes, indeed, the first promise, made unto our first parents, which was the spring and foundation of it, and respects all the following promises concerning the Lord Christ and the benefits of his mediation, with all the grace which is administered by them, which were further declarations and confirmations of it; but that great solemn promise is principally intended: for the apostle designs to convince the Hebrews that neither by the law nor by the sacrifices and ordinances of it they could come unto the inheritance promised unto Abraham and his seed. This was “the promise of eternal inheritance,” whereof that of the land of Canaan was a type only.

(2.) We must inquire how and why this inheritance is conveyed by promise. And God made this settlement by promise for these ends; —

[1.] To evince the absolute freedom of the preparation and grant of it. The promise is everywhere opposed unto every thing of works or desert in ourselves. It hath no respect unto what we were or did deserve. The land of Canaan was given to the posterity of Abraham by promise. And therefore doth God so often mind them of the freedom of it, — that it was an act of mere love and sovereign grace, which in themselves they were so far from deserving, as that they were altogether unworthy of it, Deuteronomy 9:4-5; Deuteronomy 7:7-8. Much less hath the promise of the eternal inheritance respect unto any thing of works in ourselves.

[2.] To give security unto all the heirs of it unto whom it was designed. Hence in this promise and the confirmation of it, there was the highest engagement of the faithfulness and veracity of God. There was so, “to the end that the promise might be sure unto all the seed,” Romans 4:16. Wherefore God doth not only declare the relation of it unto his essential truth, — ‘God, who cannot lie, hath given this promise of eternal life,’

Titus 1:2, — but hath ‘confirmed it with his oath; that by two immutable things, wherein it was impossible that God should lie, it might be established.’The reasons of the use and necessity hereof have been declared on Hebrews 6:17-18.

[3.] It was thus conveyed, and is communicated by promise unto all the heirs of it in their successive generations, that the way of obtaining this inheritance on our part might be by faith, and no otherwise; for what God hath only promised doth necessarily require faith unto its reception, and faith only. There is nothing can contribute aught unto an interest in the promise, but the mixing of it with faith, Hebrews 4:2. And “it is of faith, that it may be by grace,” Romans 4:16; namely, that it may be evidenced to be of the mere grace of God, in opposition unto all worth, works and endeavors of our own. And if all grace and glory, all benefits of the mediation of Christ, our sanctification, justification, and glorification, be an inheritance prepared in grace, conveyed by promise, and received by faith, there is no place left for our own works, with reference unto the procurement of an interest in them. Freely it was provided, freely it is proposed, and freely it is received.

(3.) We may inquire what it is to “receive” the promise. And it hath a double sense:

[1.] As the promise may be considered formally or materially. To receive the promise formally as a promise, is to have it declared unto us, and to mix it with faith, or to believe it. This it is to receive the promise, in opposition unto them by whom it is rejected through unbelief. So Abraham is said to “receive the promises,” Hebrews 11:17, in that when they were given unto him,

“he staggered not through unbelief, but was strong in faith, giving glory to God,” Romans 4:20.

[2.] As the promise is materially considered, so to receive it is to receive the thing promised. So it is said of the saints under the old testament, that “they obtained a good report through faith,” but “received not the promise,” Hebrews 11:39. They received the promises by faith in them as proposed; but the principal thing promised, which was the coming of Christ in the flesh, they received not. The receiving of the promise here mentioned is of both kinds, according to the distinct parts of this inheritance. As unto the future state of glory, we receive the promise in the first way; that is, we believe it, rest upon it, trust unto the truth of God in it, and live in the expectation of it. And the benefit we receive hereby, as unto our spiritual life and consolation, is inexpressible. As unto the foundation of the whole inheritance, in the oblation and sacrifice of Christ, and all the grace, mercy, and love, with the fruits of them, whereof in this life we are made partakers, and all the privileges of the gospel, believers under the new testament receive the promise in the second sense; namely, the things promised. And so did they also under the old testament, according to the measure of the divine dispensation towards them. And we may observe, —

Obs. 2. All our interest in the gospel inheritance depends on our receiving the promise by faith. — Though it be prepared in the counsel of God, though it be proposed unto us in the dispensation of the gospel, yet, unless we receive the promise of it by faith, we have no right or title unto it.

Obs. 3. The conveyance and actual communication of the eternal inheritance by promise, to be received by faith alone, tends exceedingly unto the exaltation of the glory of God, and the security of the salvation of them that do believe. — For, as unto the latter, it depends absolutely on the veracity of God, confirmed by his oath. And faith, on the other hand, is the only way and means of ascribing unto God the glory of all the holy properties of his nature, which he designs to exalt in this dispensation of himself.

3. The persons unto whom this inheritance is designed, and who do receive the promise of it, are “those that are called.” It is to no purpose to discourse here about outward and inward calling, effectual and ineffectual, complied with or not: no others are intended but those that actually receive the promise. It was the design of God, in this whole dispensation, that all the called should receive the promise; and if they do not so, his counsel, and that in the greatest work of his wisdom, power, and grace, is frustrated. They are the “called according to his purpose,” Romans 8:28; — those who obtain the inheritance “being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will,” Ephesians 1:11. God here puts forth his almighty power, that his purpose, or the counsel of his will, may be established, in giving the inheritance unto all that are called: “Whom he did predestinate, them he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified,” or gave them the whole eternal inheritance, Romans 8:30. Hence Estius, an expositor of the Roman church, chargeth the contrary opinion in Catharinus as unorthodox. It is not a general call, wherein those who are so called may or may not receive the inheritance; but what God designs unto them that are intended, they are so called as that they shall assuredly be made partakers of it. This is the end that God designed in the dispensation of himself by Jesus Christ here declared, and therefore respect is had thereunto in the whole of it.

Some think that by “the called” here, those only are intended who were so under the old testament: for mention is made only of the redemption of transgressions under that covenant; in what sense shall be immediately declared. But this is contrary both unto the design of the apostle and the use of the word. For on that supposition, he says no more but that Christ was the mediator of the new testament,’that those might be saved who lived and died under the old. But his principal design is to prove the advantage that we now have, even above the elect themselves under the old testament; yet so as not to exclude them from the same benefit with us by. the mediation of Christ, as unto the substance of it. And “the called,” in the language of this apostle, doth principally signify the “called in Christ Jesus.”

Obs. 4. Effectual vocation is the only way of entrance into the eternal inheritance; for it is accompanied with adoption, which gives us right and title thereunto, John 1:12. In vain do they expect it who are not so called.

4. Things being thus prepared in the counsel and grace of God, yet there was an obstacle in the way of actually receiving the promise; namely, the “transgressions that were under the first testament.” God designed unto the elect an eternal inheritance; yet can they not be made partakers of it, but in such a way as was suited unto his glory. It was unjust and unreasonable that it should be otherwise. Whereas, therefore, they were all of them guilty of sin, their sins must be expiated and taken out of the way, or they cannot receive the promise of the inheritance.

παραβάσεις, פְּשָׁעִים עֲוֹנִים. Our word “transgressions” doth properly express the original word. And in the distribution of sins by their names into פְּשָׁעִים עֲוֹנִים, and חֲטָאִים, Leviticus 16:21, we render פְּשָׁעִים by it. But it compriseth all sorts of sins whereby the law is transgressed, be they great or small. Every thing that hath the nature of sin must be expiated, or the inheritance cannot be enjoyed.

Obs. 5. Though God will give grace and glory unto his elect, yet he will do it in such a way as wherein and whereby he may be glorified also himself. — Satisfaction must be made for transgression, unto the honor of his righteousness, holiness, and law.

There are yet sundry difficulties in this expression, which must be inquired into. For, —

(1.) “The redemption” or expiation “of sins” is confined unto those under the old testament; whence it should seem that there is none made for those under the new.

Ans. The emphasis of the expression, “sins under the old testament,” respects either the time when the sine intended were committed, or the testament against which they were committed. And the preposition ἐπί will admit of either sense. Take it in the first way, and the argument follows “a fortiori,” as unto the sins committed under the new testament; though there be no expiation of sins against it, which properly are only final unbelief and impenitency. For the expiation intended is made by the mediator of the new testament: and if he expiated the sins that were under the first testament, that is, of those who lived and died whilst that covenant was in force, much more doth he do so for them who live under the administration of that testament whereof he is the mediator; for sins are taken away by virtue of that testament whereunto they do belong. And it is with peculiar respect, unto them that the blood of Christ is called “the blood of the new testament, for the redemption of sins.”

But yet more probably the meaning may be, the sins that were and are committed against that first covenant, or the law and rule of it. For whereas that covenant did in its administration comprise the moral law, which was the substance and foundation of it, all sins whatever have their form and nature with respect thereunto. So “sins under the first covenant,” are all sins whatever; for there is no sin committed under the gospel but it is a sin against that law which requires us to love the Lord our God with all our heart, and all our strength. Either way, the sins of them who are called under the new testament are included.

(2.) It is inquired whether it is the nature of the sins intended that is respected, or the persons guilty of them also under that testament. The Syriac translation avoids this difficulty, by rendering the words of the abstract, “the redemption of transgressions,” in the concrete, “a redeemer unto them who had transgressed.” That it is a certain sort of sins that is intended, Socinus was the first that invented. And his invention is the foundation of the exposition not only of Schlichtingius, but of Grotius also on this place. Such sins they say they are, as for which no expiation was to be made by the sacrifices of the law, — sins of a greater nature than could be expiated by them; for they only made expiation of some smaller sins, as sins of ignorance, or the like. But there is no respect unto the persons of them who lived under that testament; whom they will not grant to be redeemed by the blood of Christ. Wherefore, according unto them, the difference between the expiation of sin by the sacrifices of the law and that by the sacrifice of Christ, doth not consist in their nature, that the one did it only typically, and in an external representation, by the purifying of the flesh, the other really and effectually; but in this, that the one expiated lesser sins only, the other greater also.

But there is nothing sound or consonant unto the truth in this interpretation of the words. For, —

[1.] It proceeds on a false supposition, — that there were sins of the people (not only presumptuous sins, and which had impenitency in them) for which no atonement was made, nor expiation of them allowed; which is expressly contrary unto Leviticus 16:16; Leviticus 16:21. And whereas some offenses were capital amongst them, for which no atonement was allowed to free the sinner from death, yet that belonged unto the political rule of the people, and hindered not but that typically all sorts of sins were to be expiated.

[2.] It is contrary unto the express design of the apostle. For he had proved before, by all sorts of arguments, that the sacrifices of the taw could not expiate any sin, could not purge the conscience from dead works; that they “made nothing perfect.” And this he speaks not of this or that sin, but of every sin wherein the conscience of a sinner is concerned, Hebrews 10:1-2. Hence two things follow: —

1st. That they did not, in and of themselves, really expiate any one sin, small or great. It was impossible, saith the apostle, that they should do so, Hebrews 10:4; only they “sanctified to the purifying of the flesh:” which overthrows the foundation of this exposition.

2dly. That they did typify and represent the expiation of all sorts of sins whatever, and made application of it unto their souls. For if it was so, that there was no atonement for their sins, that their consciences were not purged from dead works, nor themselves consummated, but only had some outward purification of the flesh, it cannot be but they must all eternally perish; but that this was not their condition the apostle proves from hence, because they were called of God unto an eternal inheritance, as he had proved at large concerning Abraham, Hebrews 6. Hence he infers the necessity of the mediation and death of Christ, as without the virtue whereof all the called under the first covenant must perish eternally, thero being no other way to come to the inheritance.

(3.) Whereas the apostle mentions only the sins under the first covenant, as unto the time past before the exhibition of Christ in the flesh, or the death of the mediator of the new testament, what is to be thought of them who lived during that season who belonged not unto the covenant, but were strangers from it, such as are described Ephesians 2:12? I answer, The apostle takes no notice of them; and that because, taking them generally, Christ died not for them. Yea, that he did not so, is sufficiently proved from this place. Those who live and die strangers from God’s covenant have no interest in the mediation of Christ.

Wherein the redemption of those transgressions did consist shall be declared in its proper place. And we may observe, —

Obs. 6. Such is the malignant nature of sin, of all transgression of the law, that unless it be removed, unless it be taken out of the way, no person can enjoy the promise of the eternal inheritance.

Obs. 7. It was the work of God alone to contrive, and it was the effect of, infinite wisdom and grace to provide, a way for the removal of sin, that it might not be an everlasting obstacle against the communication of an eternal inheritance unto them that are called. 5. We have declared the design of God here represented unto us, who are the persons towards whom it was to be accomplished, and what lay in the way as a hinderance of it. That which remains in the words, is the way that God took and the means that he used for the removal of that hinderance, and the effectual accomplishment of his design.

This in general was, first, the making of a new testament. He had fully proved before that this could not be done by that covenant against which the sins were committed, neither by the priests, nor sacrifices, nor any other duties of it. Therefore had he promised the abolition of it, because of its weakness and insufficiency unto this end, as also the introduction of a new to supply its defects, as we have seen at large in the exposition of the foregoing chapter. For it became the wisdom, goodness, and grace of God, upon the removal of the one for its insufficiency, to establish another that should be every way effectual unto his purpose, namely, the communication of an eternal inheritance unto them that are called. But then the inquiry will be, how this covenant or testament shall effect this end; what is in it, what belongs unto it that should be so effectual, and by what means it might attain this end. All these are declared in the words. And, —

6. In general, all this arose from hence, that it had a mediator, and that the Lord Christ, the Son of God, was this mediator. The dignity of his person, and thereon both the excellency and efficacy of his priestly office, — whereunto alone respect is had in his being called here a mediator, — he had abundantly before demonstrated. Although the word in general be of a larger signification, as we have declared on Hebrews 8:6, yet here it is restrained unto his priestly office, and his acting therein. For whereas he had treated of that alone in the foregoing chapter, here, declaring the grounds and reasons of the necessity of it, he says, “For this cause is he the mediator.” And proceeding to show in what sense he considers him as a mediator, he doth it by his being a testator and dying; which belongs to his priestly office alone. And the sole end which in this place he assigns unto his mediatory office, is his death: “That by means of death.” Whereas, therefore, there were sins committed under the first covenant, and against it, and would have been so for ever, had it continued, which it was no way able so to take away as that the called might receive the inheritance, the Lord Christ undertook to be the mediator of that covenant, which was provided as a remedy against these evils. For herein he undertook to answer for and expiate all those sins. Whereas, therefore, expiation of sin is to be made by an act towards God, with whom alone atonement is to be made, so as that it may be pardoned, the mediation of Christ here intended is that whereby, suffering death in our stead, in the behalf of all that are called, he made atonement for sin.

But moreover, God had a further design herein. He would not only free them that are called from that death which they deserved by their sins against the first covenant, but give them also a right and title unto an eternal inheritance, — that is, of grace and glory; wherefore the procurement hereof also depends on the mediation of Christ. For by his obedience unto God in the discharge thereof he purchased for them this inheritance, and bequeathed it unto them, as the mediator of the new testament.

The provision of this mediator of the new testament is the greatest effect of the infinite wisdom, love, and grace of God. This is the center of his eternal counsels. In the womb of this one mercy all others are contained. Herein will he be glorified unto eternity.

(1.) The first covenant of works was broken and disannulled, because it had no mediator.

(2.) The covenant at Sinai had no such mediator as could expiate sin. Hence, —

(3.) Both of them became means of death and condemnation.

(4.) God saw that, in the making of the new covenant, it was necessary to put all things into the hand of a mediator, that it also might not be frustrated.

(5.) This mediator was not in the first place to preserve us in the state of the new covenant, but to deliver us from the guilt of the breach of the former, and the curse thereon. To make provision for this end was the effect of infinite wisdom.

7. The especial way and means whereby this effect was wrought by this mediator, was by death: “Morte obita,” “facta,” “interveniente,” “intercedente. “By means of death,” say we. Death was the means, that whereby the mediator procured the effect mentioned. That which in the foregoing verse is ascribed unto the blood of Christ, which he offered as a priest, is here ascribed unto his death as a mediator. For both these really are the same: only in the one, the thing itself is expressed, it was death; in the other, the manner of it, it was by blood: in the one, what he did and suffered, with respect unto the curse of the first covenant, it was death; in the other, the ground of his making expiation for sin by his death, or how it came so to do, name]y, not merely as it was death or penal, but as it was a voluntary sacrifice or oblation.

It was therefore necessary unto the end mentioned that the mediator of the new testament should die: not as the high priests of old died, a natural death for themselves; but as the sacrifice died that was slain and offered for others. He was to die that death which was threatened unto transgressors against the first covenant; that is, death under the curse of the law. There must therefore be some great cause and end why this mediator, being the only begotten of the Father, should thus die.

“This was,” say the Socinians, “that he might confirm the doctrine that he taught. He died as a martyr, not as a sacrifice.” But, —

(1.) There was no need that he should die unto that end; for his doctrine was sufficiently confirmed by the scriptures of the Old Testament, the evidence of the presence of God in him, and the miracles which he wrought.

(2.) Notwithstanding their pretense, they do not assign the confirmation of his doctrine unto his death, but unto his resurrection from the dead.

Neither indeed do they allow any gracious effect unto his death, either towards God or men, but only make it something necessarily antecedent unto what he did of that kind. Nor do they allow that he acted any thing at all towards God on our behalf. Whereas the Scripture constantly assigns our redemption, sanctification, and salvation, to the death and blood of Christ, these persons

[1.] Deny that of itself it hath any influence into them: wherefore,

[2.] They say that Christ by his death confirmed the new covenant; but hereby they intend nothing but what they do also in the former, or the confirmation of his doctrine, with an addition of somewhat worse. For they would have him to confirm the promises of God as by him declared, and no more; as though he were God’s surety to us, and not a surety for us unto God. Neither do they assign this unto his death, but unto his resurrection from the dead. But suppose all this, and that the death of Christ were in some sense useful and profitable unto these ends, which is all they plead, yet what use and advantage was it of, with respect unto them, that he should die an accursed death, under the curse of the law and a sense of God’s displeasure? Hereof the Socinians, and those that follow them, can yield no reason at all. It would become these men, so highly pretending unto reason, to give an account upon their own principles of the death of the only-begotten Son of God, in the highest course and most intense acts of obedience, that may be compliant with the wisdom, holiness, and goodness of God, considering the kind of death that he died. But what they cannot do, the apostle doth in the next words.

8. The death of the mediator of the new testament was “for the redemption of transgressions;” and for this end it was necessary. Sin lay in the way of the enjoyment of the inheritance which grace had prepared. It did so in the righteousness and faithfulness of God. Unless it were removed, the inheritance could not be received. The way whereby this was to be done, was by redemption. The “redemption of transgressions,” is the deliverance of the transgressors from all the evils they were subject unto on their account, by the payment of a satisfactory price. The words used to express it, λύτρον, ἀντίλυτρον, λύτρωσις, ἀπολύτρωσις, λυτροῦσθαι, will admit of no other signification. Here it must answer “the purging of conscience by the blood of Christ.” And he calls his life “a ransom,” or price of redemption. And this utterly destroys the foundation of the Socinian redemption and expiation for sin; for they make it only a freedom from punishment by an act of power. Take off the covering of the words, which they use in a sense foreign to the Scripture and their proper signification, and their sense is expressly contradictory unto the sense and words of the apostle. He declares Christ to have been the high priest and mediator of the new testament in the same acts and duties; they teach that he ceased to be a mediator when he began to be a priest. He affirms that the blood of Christ doth expiate sin; they, that he doth it by an act of power in heaven, where there is no use of his blood. He says that his death was necessary unto, and was the means or cause of the redemption of transgressions, — that is, to be a price of redemption, or just compensation for them; they contend that no such thing is required thereunto. And whereas the Scriptures do plainly assign the expiation of sin, redemption, reconciliation and peace with God, sanctification and salvation, unto the death and blood-shedding of Christ; they deny them all and every one to be in any sense effects of it, only they say it was an antecedent sign of the truth of his doctrine in his resurrection, and an antecedent condition of his exaltation and power: which is to reject the whole mystery of the gospel.

Besides the particular observations which we have made on the several passages of this verse, something may yet in general be observed from it; as, —

Obs. 8. A new testament providing an eternal inheritance in sovereign grace; the constitution of a mediator, such a mediator, for that testament, in infinite wisdom and love; the death of that testator for the redemption of transgressions, to fulfill the law, and satisfy the justice of God; with the communication of that inheritance by promise, to be received by faith in all them that are called; are the substance of the mystery of the gospel. And all these are with wonderful wisdom comprised by the apostle in these words.

Obs. 9. That the efficacy of the mediation and death of Christ extended itself unto all the called under the old testament, is an evident demonstration of his divine nature, his pre-existence unto all these things, and the eternal covenant between the Father and him about them.

Obs. 10. The first covenant did only forbid and condemn transgressions; redemption from them is by the new testament alone.

Obs. 11. The glory and efficacy of the new covenant, and the assurance of the communication of an eternal inheritance by virtue of it, depend hereon, that it was made a testament by the death of the mediator; which is further proved in the following verses.


Verse 16-17

῞οπου γὰρ διαθήκη, θάνατον ἀνάγκη θέρεσθαι τοῦ διαθεμένου· διαθήκη γὰρ ἐπὶ νεκροῖς βεβαία, ἐπεὶ μήποτε ἰσχύει ὅτε ζῇ ὁ διαθέμενος.

θάνατον ἀνάγκη φέρεσθαι. Syr., מַוְתָא היּ מְחַיְּיָא“the death of him is declared,” showed, argued, or proved. “Mors intercedat necesse est;” “necesse est mortem intercedere.” Ar., “Necesse est mortem ferri;” which is not proper in the Latin tongue: however, there is an emphasis in

φέρεσθαι, more than is expressed by “intercedo.” διαθεμένον. Syr., דְּהָו דְּעַבְדָהּ, “of him that made it; “of the testator.” ᾿επὶ νεκροῖς. Syr., עַל מִיתָא הוּ, “in him that is dead;” “in mortuis,” “among them that are dead.” βεβαία. Vulg., “confirmatum est;” and so the Syriac, “ratum est,” more proper. ΄ήποτε ιεσχύει. Syr., לַית בָּהּ חַשְׁחוּ, “there is no use, profit, or benefit in it.” Ar., “nunquam valet;” “quandoquidem nunquam valet;” “nondum valet;” “it is not yet of force.” (10)

Hebrews 9:16-17. — For where a testament [is,] there must also of necessity be brought in the death of the testator. For a testament [is] firm [or ratifed] after men are dead; otherwise it is of no force whilst the testator liveth.

There is not much more to be considered in these verses, but only how the observation contained in them doth promote and confirm the argument which the apostle insists upon. Now this is to prove the necessity and use of the death of Christ, from the nature, ends, and use of the covenant whereof he was the mediator; for it being a testament also, it was to be confirmed with the death of the testator. This is proved in these verses from the notion of a testament, and the only use of it amongst men. For the apostle in this epistle doth argue several times from such usages amongst men as, proceeding from the principles of reason and equity, were generally prevalent among them. So he doth in his discourse concerning the assurance given by the oath of God, Hebrews 6. And here he doth the same from what was commonly agreed upon, and suitable unto the reason of things, about the nature and use of a testament. The things here mentioned were known to all, approved by all, and were the principal means of the preservation of peace and property in human societies. For although testaments, as unto their especial regulation, owe their original unto the Roman civil law, yet as unto the substance of them, they were in use amongst all mankind from the foundation of the world. For a testament is the just determination of a man’s will concerning what he will have done with his goods after his decease; or, it is the will of him that is dead. Take this power from men, and you root up the whole foundation of all industry and diligence in the world. For what man will labor to increase his substance, if when he dies he may not dispose of it unto those which by nature, affinity, or other obligations, he hath must respect unto? Wherefore the foundation of the apostle’s arguing from this usage amongst men is firm and stable.

Of the like nature is his observation, that “a testament is of no force whilst the testator liveth.” The nature of the thing itself, expounded by constant practice, will admit no doubt of it. For by what way soever a man disposeth of his goods, so as that it shall take effect whilst he is alive, as by sale or gift, it is not a testament, nor hath any thing of the nature of a testament in it; for that is only the will of a man concerning his goods when he is dead.

These things being unquestionable, we are only to consider whence the apostle takes his argument to prove the necessity of the death of Christ, as he was the mediator of the new testament.

Now this is not merely from the signification of the word διαθήκη, — which yet is of consideration also, as hath been declared, — but whereas he treats principally of the two covenants, it is the affinity that is between a solemn covenant and a testament that he hath respect unto. For he speaks not of the death of Christ merely as it was death, which is all that is required unto a testament properly so called, without any consideration of what nature it is; but he speaks of it also as it was a sacrifice, by the effusion of his blood, which belongs unto a covenant, and is no way required unto a testament. Whereas, therefore, the word may signify either a covenant or a testament precisely so called, the apostle hath respect unto both the significations of it. And having in these verses mentioned his death as the death of a testator, which is proper unto a testament, in the 4th verse, and those that follow, he insists on his blood as a sacrifice, which is proper unto a covenant. But these things must be more fully explained, whereby the difficulty which appears in the whole context will be removed. Unto the confirmation or ratification of a testament, that it may be βεβαία, “sure, stable, and of force,” there must be death, “the death of the testator.” But there is no need that this should be by blood, the blood of the testator, or any other. Unto the consideration of a covenant, blood was required, the blood of the sacrifice, and death only consequentially, as that which would ensue thereon; but there was no need that it should be the blood or death of him that made the covenant. Wherefore the apostle, declaring the necessity of the death of Christ, both as to the nature of it, that it was really death; and as to the manner of it, that it was by the effusion of his blood; and that from the consideration of the two covenants, the old and the new testament, and what was required unto them; he evinceth it by that which was essential unto them both, in a covenant as such, and in a testament precisely so called. That which is most eminent and essential unto a testament, is, that it is confirmed and made irrevocable by the death of the testator; and that which is the excellency of a solemn covenant, whereby it is made firm and stable, is, that it was confirmed with the blood of sacrifices, as he proves in the instance of the covenant made at Sinai, verses 18-20. Wherefore, whatever is excellent in either of these was to be found in the mediator of the new testament. Take it as a testament, which, upon the bequeathment made therein of the goods of the testator unto the heirs of promise, of grace and glory, it hath the nature of, and he died as the testator; whereby the grant of the inheritance was made irrevocable unto them. Hereunto no more is required but his death, without the consideration of the nature of it, in the way of a sacrifice. Take it as a covenant, as, upon the consideration of the promises contained in it, and the prescription of obedience, it hath the nature of a covenant, though not of a covenant strictly so called, and so it was to be confirmed with the blood of the sacrifice of himself; which is the eminency of the solemn confirmation of this covenant. And as his death had an eminency above the death required unto a testament, in that it was by blood, and in the sacrifice of himself, which it is no way necessary that the death of a testator should be, yet it fully answered the death of a testator, in that he truly died; so had it an eminency above all the ways of the confirmation of the old covenant, or any other solemn covenant whatever, in that whereas such a covenant was to be confirmed with the blood of sacrifices, yet was it not required that it should be the blood of him that made the covenant, as here it was.

The consideration hereof solves all the appearing difficulties in the nature and manner of the apostle’s argument. The word בְּרִית, whereunto respect is here had, is, as we have showed, of a large signification and various use. And frequently it is taken for a “free grant and disposition” of things by promise, which hath the nature of a testament. And in the old covenant there was a free grant and donation of the inheritance of the land of Canaan unto the people; which belongs unto the nature of a testament also. Moreover, both of them, a covenant and a testament, do agree in the general nature of their confirmation, the one by blood, the other by death. Hereon the apostle, in the use of the word διαθήκη, doth diversely argue both unto the nature, necessity, and use of the death of the mediator of the new testament. He was to die in the confirmation of it as it was a testament, he being the testator of it; and he was to offer himself as a sacrifice in his blood, for the establishment of it, as it had the nature of a covenant. Wherefore the apostle doth not argue, as some imagine, merely from the signification of the word, whereby, as they say, that in the original is not exactly rendered. And those who have from hence troubled themselves and others about the authority of this epistle, have nothing to thank for it but their own ignorance of the design of the apostle, and the nature of his argument. And it were well if we all were more sensible of our own ignorance, and more apt to acknowledge it, when we meet with difficulties in the Scripture, than for the most part we are. Alas! how short are our lines, when we come to fathom the depths of it! How inextricable difficulties do appear sometimes in passages of it, which when God is pleased to teach us, are all pleasant and easy!

These things being premised, to clear the scope and nature of the apostle’s argument, we proceed unto a brief exposition of the words.

Hebrews 9:16. — “For where a testament [is,] there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.”

There are two things in the words:

1. A supposition of a testament.

2. What is required thereunto.

1. In the first place there is,

(1.) The note of inference;

(2.) The supposition itself.

(1.) The first is the particle “for.” This doth not infer a reason to ensue of what he had before affirmed, which is the common use of that illative; but only the introduction of an illustration of it, from what is the usage of mankind in such cases, on supposition that this covenant is also a testament. For then there must be the death of the testator, as it is in all testaments amongst men.

(2.) The supposition itself is in these words, ῞οπου διαθήκη. The verb substantive is wanting. “Where a testament is;” so it is by us supplied, it may be, not necessarily. For the expression, “Where a testament is,” may suppose that the death of the testator is required unto the making of a testament; which, as the apostle showeth in the next verse, it is not, but only unto its execution. ‘In the case of a testament, namely, that it may be executed,’is the meaning of the word “where;” that is, ‘wherever.’ Amongst all sorts of men, living according unto the light of nature and the conduct of reason, the making of testaments is in use; for without it neither can private industry be encouraged nor public peace maintained. Wherefore, as was before observed the apostle argueth from the common usage of mankind, resolved into the principles of reason and equity.

2. What is required unto the validity of a testament; and that is, the death of the testator. And the way of the introduction of this death unto the validity of a testament is, by “being brought in,” — φέρεσθαι; that it enter, namely, after the ratifying of the testament, to make it of force, or to give it operation. The testament is made by a living man; but whilst he lives it is dead, or of no use. That it may operate and be effectual, death must be brought into the account. This death must be the death of the testator, — τοῦ διαθεμένου. ῾ο διαθέμενος is he who disposeth of things; who hath right so to do, and actually doth it. This in a testament is the testator. And διαθήκη and διαθέμενος have in the Greek the same respect unto one another as “testamentum” and “testator” in the Latin.

Wherefore, if the new covenant hath the nature of a testament, it must have a testator, and that testator must die, before it can be of force and efficacy; which is what was to be proved.

This is further confirmed, —

Hebrews 9:17. — “For a testament [is] of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all, while the testator liveth.”

It is not of the making and constitution of a testament, but of the force and execution of it, that he speaks. And in these words he gives a reason of the necessity of the death of the testator thereunto. And this is because the validity and efficacy of the testament depend solely thereon. And this reason he introduceth by the conjunction γάρ, “for.”

A testament ἐπὶ νεκροῖς βεβαία, — “is of force,” say we; that is, firm, stable, not to be disannulled. For “if it be but a man’s testament, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereunto,” Galatians 3:15.It is ratified, made unalterable, so as that it must be executed according unto the mind of the testator. And it is so ἐπὶ νεκροῖς, “among them that are dead,” “after men are dead;” that is, those who make the testament: for it is opposed unto ὅτε ζῆ ὁ διαθέμενος, “whilst the testator liveth;” for testaments are the wills of dead men. Living men have no heirs. And this sense is declared in these words, ἐπεὶ μὴποτε ἰσχύει, “quandoquidem,” “quoniam,” “seeing that;” “otherwise,” say we, — without this accession unto the making of a testament, as yet it prevaileth not, it is not of force for the actual distribution of the inheritance or the goods of the testator.

Two things must yet further be declared:

1. What are the grounds or general reasons of this assertion.

2. Where lies the force of the argument from it: —

1. The force of a testament depends on the death of the testator, or the death of the testator is required to make it effectual, for these two reasons: —

(1.) Because a testament is no act or deed of a man whereby he presently, and in the making of it, conveys, gives, or grants, any part of his possession unto another, or others, so as that it should immediately thereon cease to be his own, and become the property of those others: all such instruments of contract, bargain, sale, or deeds of gift, are of another nature, they are not testaments. A testament is only the signification of the will of a man as unto what he will have done with his goods after his death. Wherefore unto the force and execution of it his death is necessary.

(2.) A testament, that is only so, is alterable at the pleasure of him that makes it whilst he is alive. Wherefore it can be of no force whilst he is so; for he may change it or disannul it when he pleaseth. The foundation, therefore, of the apostle’s argument from this usage amongst men is firm and stable.

2. Whereas the apostle argueth from the proportion and similitude that is between this new testament or covenant and the testaments of men, we may consider what are the things wherein that similitude doth consist, and show also wherein there is a dissimilitude, whereunto his reasonings are not to be extended. For so it is in all comparisons; the comparates are not alike in all things, especially where things spiritual and temporal are compared together. So was it also in all the types of old. Every person or every thing that was a type of Christ, was not so in all things, in all that they were. And therefore it requires both wisdom and diligence to distinguish in what they were so, and in what they were not, that no false inferences or conclusions be made from them. So is it in all comparisons; and therefore, in the present instance, we must consider wherein the things compared do agree, and wherein they differ.

(1.) They agree principally in the death of the testator. This alone makes a testament among men effectual and irrevocable. So is it in this new testament. It was confirmed and ratified by the death of the testator, Jesus Christ; and otherwise could not have been of force. This is the fundamental agreement between them, which therefore alone the apostle expressly insisteth on, although there are other things which necessarily accompany it, as essential unto every testament; as, —

(2.) In every testament amongst men there are goods disposed and bequeathed unto heirs or legatees, which were the property of the testator. Where a man hath nothing to give or bequeath, he can make no testament; for that is nothing but his will concerning the disposal of his own goods after his decease. So is it in this new testament. All the goods of grace and glory were the property, the inheritance of Christ, firmly instated in him alone; for he was “appointed heir of all things.” But in his death, as a testator, he made a bequeathment of them all unto the elect, appointing them to be heirs of God, co-heirs with himself. And this also is required unto the nature and essence of a testament.

(3.) In a testament there is always an absolute grant made of the goods bequeathed, without condition or limitation. So is it here also; the goods and inheritance of the kingdom of heaven are bequeathed absolutely unto all the elect, so as that no intervenience can defeat them of it. And what there is in the gospel, which is the instrument of this testament, that prescribes conditions unto them, that exacts terms of obedience from them, it belongs unto it as it is a covenant, and not as a testament. Yet, — (4.) It is in the will and power of the testator, in and by his testament, to assign and determine both the time, season, and way, whereby those to whom he hath bequeathed his goods shall be admitted unto the actual possession of them. So it is in this case also. The Lord Christ, the great testator, hath determined the way whereby the elect shall come to be actually possessed of their legacies, namely, “by faith that is in him,” Acts 26:18. So also he hath reserved the time and season of their conversion in this world, and entrance into future glory, in his own hand and power.

And these things belong unto the illustration of the comparison insisted on, although it be only one thing that the apostle argues from it, touching the necessity of the death of the testator. But notwithstanding these instances of agreement between the new testament and the testaments of men, whereby it appears to have in it, in sundry respects, the nature of a testament, yet in many things there is also a disagreement between them, evidencing that it is also a covenant, and abideth so, notwithstanding what it hath of the nature of a testament, from the death of the testator; as, —

(1.) A testator amongst men ceaseth to have any right in or use of the goods bequeathed by him, when once his testament is of force. And this is by reason of death, which destroys all title and use of them. But our testator divests himself neither of right nor possession, nor of the use of any of his goods. And this follows on a twofold difference, the one in the persons, the other in the goods or things bequeathed: —

[1.] In the persons. For a testator amongst men dieth absolutely; he liveth not again in this world, but “lieth down, and riseth not, until the heavens be no more.” Hereon all right unto, and all use of the goods of this life, cease for ever. Our testator died actually and really, to confirm his testament: but, 1st. He died not in his whole person; 2dly. In that nature wherein he died he lived again, “and is alive for evermore.”

Hence all his goods are still in his own power.

[2.] In the things themselves. For the goods bequeathed in the testaments of men are of that nature as that the propriety of them cannot be vested in many, so as that every one should have a right unto and the enjoyment of all, but in one only. But the spiritual good things of the new testament are such, as that in all the riches and fullness of them they may be in the possession of the testator, and of those also unto whom they are bequeathed. Christ parts with no grace from himself, he diminisheth not his own riches, nor exhausts any thing from his own fullness, by his communication of it unto others. Hence also, —

(2.) In the wills of men, if there be a bequeathment of goods made unto many, no one can enjoy the whole inheritance, but every one is to have his own share and portion only. But in and by the new testament, every one is made heir to the whole inheritance. All have the same, and every one hath the whole; for God himself thence becomes their portion, who is all unto all, and all unto every one.

(3.) In human testaments, the goods bequeathed are such only as either descended unto the testators from their progenitors, or were acquired during their lives by their own industry. By their death they obtained no new right or title unto any thing; only what they had before is now disposed of according unto their wills. But our testator, according unto an antecedent contract between God the Father and him, purchased the whole inheritance by his own blood, “obtaining for us eternal redemption.”

(4.) They differ principally in this, that a testament amongst men is no more but merely so; it is not moreover a solemn covenant, that needs a confirmation suited thereunto. The bare signification of the will of the testator, witnessed unto, is sufficient unto its constitution and confirmation. But in this mystery the testament is not merely so, but a covenant also. Hence it was not sufficient, unto its force and establishment, that the testator should die only, but it was also required that he should offer himself in sacrifice by the shedding of his blood, unto its confirmation.

These things I have observed, because, as we shall see, the apostle in the progress of his discourse doth not confine himself unto this notion of a testament, but treats of it principally as it had the nature of a covenant. And we may here observe, —

Obs. 1. It is a great and gracious condescension in the Holy Spirit, to give encouragement and confirmation unto our faith by a representation of the truth and reality of spiritual things in those which are temporal and agreeing with them in their general nature, whereby they are presented unto the common understanding of men. — This way of proceeding the apostle calls a speaking κατ ᾿ ἄνθρωπον, Galatians 3:15, “after the manner of men.” Of the same kind were all the parables used by our Savior; for it is all one whether these representations be taken from things real or from those which, according unto the same rule of reason and right, are framed on purpose for that end.

Obs. 2. There is an irrevocable grant of the whole inheritance of grace and glory made unto the elect in the new covenant. — Without this, it could not in any sense have the nature of a testament, nor that name given unto it. For a testament is such a free grant, and nothing else. And our best plea for them, for an interest in them, for a participation of them, before God, is from the free grant and donation of them in the testament of Jesus Christ.

Obs. 3. As the grant of these things is free and absolute, so the enjoyment of them is secured from all interveniencies by the death of the testator.


Verses 18-22

῝οθεν οὐδ᾿ ἡ πρώτη χωρὶς αἵματος ἐγκεκαίνισται. λαληθει. σης γὰρ πάσης ἐντολῆς κατὰ νόμου ὐπὸ ΄ωϋσέως παντὶ τῷ λαῷ, λαβὼν τὸ αἷμα τῶν μόσχων καὶ τράγω, μετὰ ὕδατος καὶ ἐρίου κοκκίνου καὶ ὑσσώπου, αὐτό τε τὸ βιβλίον καὶ πάντα τὸν λαὸν ἐῤῥάντισε, λέγων· τοῦτο τὸ αἵμα τῆς διαθήκης, ἧς ἐνετείλατο πρὸς ὑμᾶς ὁ θεός· καὶ τὴν σκηνὴν δὲ καὶ πάντα τὰ σκεὺη τῆς λειτουργίας τῷ αἵματι ὁμοίως ἐῤῥάντισε. καὶ σχεδὸν ἐν αἵματι πάντα καθαρίζεται κατὰ τὸν νόμον, αὶ χωρὶς αἵματεκχυσίας οὐ γίνεται ἄφεσις.

῞οθεν, “unde;” “hence,” “therefore.” Syr., מֶטוּל חָנָה, “propter hoc,” “quia,” “propter.” “For this cause.” “And hence it is,” Arab. ᾿εγκεκαίνισται Syr., אֶשְׁתַּיְיַת, “was confirmed;” “dedicatum fuit,” “was dedicated,” “consecrated,” “separated unto sacred use.”

λαληθείσης γὰρ πάσης ἐντολῆς κατὰ νόμον. Syr., “when the whole command was enjoined.” Vulg. Lat., “lecto omui mandato legis,” “the command of the law being read;” taking ἐντολὴ and νόμος for the same. Arias, “exposito secundum legem.” Most, “cum recitasset;” “having repeated,” “recited,” namely, out of the book.

΄όσχων καὶ τράηων. The Syriac reads only דַעְגֶלְתָא, “of an heifer;” as the Arabic omits τράγων also, “of goats;” it may be in compliance with the story in Moses, without cause, as we shall see. σχεδόν is omitted in the Syriac.

Hebrews 9:18-22. — Whereupon neither the first [testament] was dedicated without blood. For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book and all the people, saying, This [is] the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you. Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry: and almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. What we have before observed is fully confirmed in this discourse, namely, that the apostle intended not to argue absolutely and precisely from the name and nature of a testament properly so called, and the use of it among men. For he makes use of these things no further but as unto what such a testament hath in common with a solemn covenant; which is, that they are both confirmed and ratified by death. Wherefore it was necessary that the new testament, as it was a testament, should be confirmed by death; and as it had the nature of a covenant, it was to be so by such a death as was accompanied by bloodshedding. The former was proved before, from the general nature and notion of a testament; the latter is here proved at large from the way and manner whereby the first covenant was confirmed or dedicated.

But the apostle in this discourse doth not intend merely to prove that the first covenant was dedicated with blood, which might have been despatched in a very few words; but he declares moreover, in general, what was the use of blood in sacrifices on all occasions under the law; whereby he demonstrates the use and efficacy of the blood of Christ, as unto all the ends of the new covenant. And the ends of the use of blood under the old testament he declares to have been two, namely, purification and pardon; both which are comprised in that one of the expiation of sin. And these things are all of them applied unto the blood and sacrifice of Christ in the following verses.

In the exposition of this context we must do three things: —

1. Consider the difficulties that are in it.

2. Declare the scope, design, and force of the argument contained in it.

3. Explain the particular passages of the whole.

FIRST. Sundry difficulties there are in this context; which arise from hence, that the account which the apostle gives of the dedication of the first covenant and of the tabernacle seems to differ in sundry things from that given by Moses, when all things were actually done by him, as it is recorded, Exodus 24. And they are these that follow: —

1. That the blood which Moses took was the blood of calves and goats, whereas there is no mention of any goats or their blood in the story of Moses.

2. That he took water, scarlet wool, and hyssop, to sprinkle it withal; whereas none of them are reported in that story.

3. That he sprinkled the book in particular; which Moses doth not affirm.

4. That he sprinkled all the people; that is, the people indefinitely, for all the individuals of them could not be sprinkled.

5. There are some differences in the words which Moses spake in the dedication of the covenant, as laid down verse 20.

6. That he sprinkled the tabernacle with blood, and all the vessels of it; when at the time of the making and solemn confirmation of the covenant the tabernacle was not erected, nor the vessels of its ministry yet made.

For the removal of these difficulties some things must be premised in general, and then they shall all of them be considered distinctly: —

First, This is taken as fixed, that the apostle wrote this epistle by divine inspiration. Having evidence hereof abundantly satisfactory, it is the vainest thing imaginable, and that which discovers a frame of mind disposed to cavil at things divine, if from the difficulties of any one passage we should reflect on the authority of the whole, as some have done on this occasion. But I shall say with some confidence, he never understood any one chapter of the epistle, nay, nor any one verse of it aright, who did or doth question its divine original. There is nothing human in it, — that savors, I mean, of human infirmity, — but the whole and every part of it is animated by the wisdom and authority of its Author. And those who have pretended to be otherwise minded on such slight occasions as that before us, have but proclaimed their own want of experience in things divine. But, —

Secondly, There is nothing, in all that is here affirmed by the apostle, which hath the least appearance of contradiction unto any thing that is recorded by Moses in the story of these things; yea, as I shall show, without the consideration and addition of the things here mentioned by the apostle, we cannot aright apprehend nor understand the account that is given by him. This will be made evident in the consideration of the particulars, wherein the difference between them is supposed to consist.

Thirdly, The apostle doth not take his account of the things here put together by him from any one place in Moses, but gathers up what is declared in the Law, in several places unto various ends. For, as hath been declared, he doth not design only to prove the dedication of the covenant by blood, but to show also the whole use of blood under the law, as unto purification and remission of sin. And this he doth to declare the virtue and efficacy of the blood of Christ under the new testament, whereunto he makes an application of all these things in the verses ensuing. Wherefore he gathers into one head sundry things wherein the sprinkling of blood was of use under the law, as they are occasionally expressed in sundry places. And this one observation removes all the difficulties of the context; which all arise from this one supposition, that the apostle gives here an account only of what was done at the dedication of the first covenant. So, in particular, by the addition of those particles, καὶ δέ, Hebrews 9:21, which we well render “moreover,” he plainly intimates that what he affirms of the tabernacle and the vessels of its ministry was that which was done afterwards, at another time, and not when the covenant was first confirmed.

On these grounds we shall see that the account given of these things by the apostle is a necessary exposition of the record made of them by Moses, and no more.

1. He affirms that Moses took the blood μόσχων καὶ τράγων, “of calves and goats,” And there is a double difficulty herein: for,

(1.) The blood that Moses so used was the blood of oxen, Exodus 24:5; which seems not to be well rendered by μόσχων, “of calves.” But this hath no weight in it. For פָּרִים, the word there used, signifies all cattle of the herd, great and small, every thing that is “generis bovini.” And there is no necessity from the words that we should render פָּרִים there by “oxen,” nor μόσχων here by “calves;” we might have rendered both words by “bullocks.” But,

(2.) There is no mention at all of goats in the story of Moses; and, as we observed, it is here omitted by the Syriac translator, but without cause.

Ans. [1.] There were two sorts of offerings that were made on this occasion;

1st, Burnt-offerings;

2dly, Peace-offerings: Exodus 24:5, “They offered burnt- offerings, and sacrificed peace-offerings.”

The distinct expression of them proves the offerings to have been distinct: וַיַּעֲלוּ עֹלֹת וַיִּזְבְּחוּ זְבָחִים שְׁלָמִים, — “they offered burnt-offerings, and they sacrificed,” or “slew peace-offerings.” And as for the peace-offerings, it is said that they were of bullocks or oxen; but it is not said of what sort the burnt-offerings were. Yea, and it may be that although bullocks only are mentioned, yet that goats also were sacrificed in this peace-offering; for it is so far from being true what Ribera observes on the place, that a goat was never offered for a peace-offering, that the contrary unto it is directly expressed in the institution of the peace-offering, Leviticus 3:12. Wherefore the blood of goats might be used in the peace-offering, though it be not mentioned by Moses. But, —

[2.] The apostle observes, that one end of the sacrifice at the dedication of the first covenant was purging and making atonement, Hebrews 9:22-23; for in all solemn sacrifices blood was sprinkled on the holy things, to purify them and make atonement for them, Leviticus 16:14; Leviticus 16:19-20. Now this was not to be done but by the blood of an expiatory sacrifice; it was not to be done by the blood of peace-offerings. Wherefore the burnt-offerings mentioned by Moses were expiatory sacrifices, to purge and make atonement. And this sacrifice was principally of goats, Leviticus 16:9. Wherefore the text of Moses cannot be well understood without this exposition of the apostle. And we may add hereunto, also, that although the blood of the peace-offering was sprinkled on the altar, Leviticus 3:13, yet was it not sprinkled on the people, as this blood was; wherefore there was the use of the blood of goats also, as a sin-offering, in this great sacrifice.

[3.] In the dedication of the priests these two sorts of offerings were conjoined, namely, peace-offerings and sin-offerings, or burnt-offerings for sin, as here they were. And therein expressly the blood of goats was used, namely, in the sin-offering, as the blood of bullocks was in the peace- offering, Leviticus 9:3-4. Neither is there mention anywhere of burnt- offerings or sin-offerings and peace-offerings to be offered together, but that one of them was of goats; and therefore was so infallibly at this time, as the apostle declares.

2. It is affirmed in the text, that he took the blood with water, scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled it; but there is mention of none of these things in the story of Moses, but only that he sprinkled the blood. But the answer hereunto is plain and easy. Blood under the law was sprinkled either in less or greater quantities. Hereon there were two ways of sprinkling. The one was with the finger; when a small quantity of blood, it may be, some few drops of it, were to be sprinkled, it was done with the finger, Leviticus 8:15; Leviticus 16:14. The quantity being small, though the blood were unmixed, and almost congealed, it might be so sprinkled. But there was a sprinkling whereunto a greater proportion of blood was required; as namely, when a house was to be sprinkled, and thereby purified. This was done by mixing running water with the blood, and then sprinkling it with scarlet wool and hyssop, Leviticus 14:50-52. For these things were needful thereunto. The water prevented the blood from being so congealed as that it could not be sprinkled in any quantity; the scarlet wool took up a quantity of it out of the vessel wherein it was; and the bunch of hyssop was the sprinkler. Whereupon, when Moses sprinkled the altar, book, and people, he did it ,by one of these two ways, for other there was none. The first way he could not do it, namely, with his finger, because it was to be done in a great quantity; for Moses took that half of it that was to be sprinkled on the people and put it into basins, Exodus 24:6; Exodus 24:8. It was therefore infallibly done this latter way, according as our apostle declares.

3. It is added by the apostle that he sprinkled the book; which is not expressed in the story. But the design of the apostle is to express at large the whole solemnity of the confirmation of the first covenant, especially not to omit any thing that blood was applied unto; because in the application he refers the purification and dedication of all things belonging unto the new covenant unto the blood of Christ. And this was the order of the things which concerned the book: Moses coming down from the mount, told the people by word of mouth all things which God had spoken unto him, or the sum and substance of the covenant which he would make with them: Exodus 24:3, “And Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD,” — that is, the words spoken on mount Sinai, the ten commandments; “and all the judgments,” — that is, all the laws contained in Exodus 21-23, with this title, אֵלֶּא הַמִּשְׁפָּמִים, “These are the judgments,” Exodus 21:1. Upon the oral rehearsal of these words and judgments, the people gave their consent unto the terms of the covenant:

“All the people answered with one voice, and said, All the words which the LORD hath said, will we do,” Exodus 24:3. Hereon Moses made a record, or “wrote all the words of the LORD” in a book, Exodus 24:4. This being done, the altar and pillars were prepared, Exodus 24:4. And it is evident that the book which he had written was laid on the altar, though it be not expressed. When this was done, “he sprinkled the blood on the altar,” Exodus 24:6. After which, when the book had been sprinkled with blood as it lay on the altar, it is said, “He took the book,” that is, from off the altar, “and read in the audience of the people,” Exodus 24:7. The book being now sprinkled with blood, as the instrument and record of the covenant between God and the people, the very same words which were before spoken unto the people are now recited or read out of the book. And this could be done for no other reason, but that the book itself, being now sprinkled with the blood of the covenant, was dedicated to be the sacred record thereof.

4. In the text of Moses it is said that he sprinkled the people; in explanation whereof the apostle affirms that he sprinkled all the people. And it was necessary that so it should be, and that none of them should be excluded from this sprinkling; for they were all taken into covenant with God, men, women, and children. But it must be granted, that for the blood to be actually sprinkled on all individuals in such a numberless multitude is next unto what is naturally impossible: wherefore it was done in their representatives; and what is done towards representatives as such, is done equally towards all whom they do represent. And the whole people had two representatives that day:

(1.) The twelve pillars of stone, that were set up to represent their twelve tribes; and, it may be, to signify their hard and stony heart under that covenant, Exodus 24:4. Whereas those pillars were placed close by the altar, some suppose that they were sprinkled, as representing the twelve tribes.

(2.) There were the heads of their tribes, the chief of the houses of their fathers, and the elders, who drew nigh unto Moses, and were sprinkled with blood in the name and place of all the people, who were that day taken into covenant.

5. The words which Moses spake unto the people upon the sprinkling of the blood are not absolutely the same in the story and in the repetition of it by the apostle. But this is usual with him in all his quotations out of the Old Testament in this epistle. He expresseth the true sense of them, but doth not curiously and precisely render the sense of every word and syllable in them.

6. The last difficulty in this context, and that which hath an appearance of the greatest, is in what the apostle affirms concerning the tabernacle and all the vessels of it; namely, that Moses sprinkled them all with blood. And the time which he seems to speak of, is that of the dedication of the first covenant. Hence a twofold difficulty doth arise; first, as unto the time; and secondly, as unto the thing itself. For at the time of the dedication of the first covenant, the tabernacle was not yet made or erected, and so could not then be sprinkled with blood. And afterwards, when the tabernacle was erected, and all the vessels brought into it, there is no mention that either it or any of them was sprinkled with blood, but only anointed with the holy oil, Exodus 40:9-11. Wherefore, as unto the first, I say the apostle doth plainly distinguish what he affirms of the tabernacle from the time of the dedication of the first covenant. The manner of his introduction of it, καὶ τὴν σκηνὴν δέ, — “And moreover the tabernacle,” — doth plainly intimate a progress unto another time and occasion. Wherefore the words of Exodus 40:21, concerning the sprinkling of the tabernacle and its vessels, do relate unto what follows, Exodus 40:22, “and almost all things are by the law purged with blood;” and not unto those that precede, about the dedication of the first covenant: for the argument he hath in hand is not confined unto the use of blood only in that dedication, but respects the whole use of the blood of sacrifices under the law; which in these words he proceeds unto, and closeth in the next verse. And this wholly removes the first difficulty. And as unto the second, expositors generally answer, that aspersion or sprinkling with blood did commonly precede unction with the holy oil. And as unto the garments of the priests, which were the vessels or utensils of the tabernacle, it was appointed that they should be sprinkled with blood, Exodus 29:21; and so it may be supposed that the residue of them were also. But to me this is not satisfactory. And be it spoken without offense, expositors have generally mistaken the nature of the argument of the apostle in these words. For he argues not only from the first dedication of the tabernacle and its vessels, — which, for aught appears, was by unction only, — but making, as we observed before, a progress unto the further use of the blood of sacrifices in purging, according to the law, he giveth an instance in what was done with respect unto the tabernacle and all its vessels, and that constantly and solemnly every year; and this he doth to prove his general assertion in the next verse, that “under the law almost all things were purged with blood.” And Moses is here said to do what he appointed should be done. By his institution, — that is, the institution of the law, — the tabernacle and all the vessels of it were sprinkled with blood. And this was done solemnly once every year; an account whereof is given, Leviticus 16:14-16; Leviticus 16:18-20. On the solemn day of atonement, the high priest was to sprinkle the mercy-seat, the altar, and the whole tabernacle with blood, to make an atonement for them, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, the tabernacle remaining among them in the midst of their uncleanness, Leviticus 16:16. This he takes notice of, not to prove the dedication of the first covenant and what belonged thereunto with blood, but the use of blood in general to make atonement, and the impossibility of expiation and pardon without it. This is the design and sense of the apostle, and no other. Wherefore we may conclude, that the account here given concerning the dedication of the first covenant, and the use of blood for purification under the law, is so far from containing any thing opposite unto or discrepant from the records of Moses concerning the same things, that it gives us a full and clear exposition of them.

SECONDLY. The second thing to be considered, is the nature of the argument in this context; and there are three things in it, neither of which must be omitted in the exposition of the words.

He designeth,

1. To prove yet further the necessity of the death of Christ, as he was the mediator of the new testament, both as it had the nature of a testament and that also of a solemn covenant.

2. To declare the necessity of the kind of his death, in the way of a sacrifice by the effusion of blood; because the testament, as it had the nature of a solemn covenant, was confirmed and ratified thereby.

3. To manifest the necessity of shedding of blood in the confirmation of the covenant, because of the expiation, purging, and pardon of sin thereby. How these things are proved, we shall see in the exposition of the words.

THIRDLY, There are in the words themselves,

1. A proposition of the principal truth asserted, Hebrews 9:18.

2. The confirmation of that proposition: which is twofold;

(1.) From what Moses did, Hebrews 9:19;

(2.) From what he said, Hebrews 9:20.

3. A further illustration of the same truth, by other instances, Hebrews 9:21.

4. A general inference or conclusion from the whole, comprising the substance of what he intended to demonstrate, Hebrews 9:22. In the proposition there are five things considerable:

1. A note of introduction; “whereupon.”

2. The quality of the proposition, it is negative; “neither was.”

3. The subject spoken of; “the first.”

4. What is affirmed of it; it was “dedicated.

5. The way and manner thereof; it was “not without blood.”

1. The note of introduction is in the particle ὅδεν, which the apostle frequently makes use of in this epistle, as a note of inference in those discourses which are argumentative. We render it by “therefore,” and “wherefore;” here, “whereupon.” For it intimates a confirmation of a general rule by especial instances. He had before laid it down as a general maxim, that a testament was to be confirmed by death. For thereupon the first testament was confirmed with the blood of sacrifices shed in their death. ‘Wherefore let not any think it strange that the new testament was confirmed by the death of the testator; for this is so necessary, that even in the confirmation of the first there was that which was analogous unto it. And moreover, it was death in such a way as was required unto the confirmation of a solemn covenant.’

2. The proposition hath a double negative in it, οὐδέ, and χωρὶς αἵματος, — “neither was it without blood;” that is, it was with blood, and could not otherwise be.

3. The subject spoken of is ἡ πρώτη, “the first;” that is διαθήκη, “testament,” or “covenant.” And herein the apostle declares what he precisely intended by the first or old covenant, whereof he discoursed at large, Hebrews 8. It was the covenant made with the people at Horeb; for that and no other was dedicated in the way here described. And, to take a brief prospect into this covenant, the things ensuing may be observed: —

(1.) The matter of it, or the terms of it materially considered, before it had the formal nature of a covenant. And these were all the things that were written in the book before it was laid on the altar; namely, it was that epitome of the whole law which is contained in chapters 20-23, of Exodus And other commands and institutions that were given afterwards belonged unto this covenant reductively. The substance of it was contained in the book then written.

(2.) The manner of the revelation of these terms of the covenant. Being proposed on the part of God, and the terms of it being entirely of his choosing and proposal, he was to reveal, declare, and make them known. And this he did two ways:

[1.] As unto the foundation and substance of the whole in the decalogue. He spake it himself on the mount, in the way and manner declared, Exodus 19, 20.

[2.] As unto the following judgments, statutes, and rites, directive of their walking before God, according to the former fundamental rule of the covenant. These he declared by revelation unto Moses; and they are contained in chapters 21-23.

(3.) The manner of its proposal. And this also was twofold:

[1.] Preparatory. For before the solemn covenanting between God and the people, Moses declared all the matter of it unto the people, that they might consider well of it, and whether they would consent to enter into covenant with God on those terms; whereon they gave their approbation of them.

[2.] Solemn, in their actual and absolute acceptance of it, whereby they became obliged throughout their generations. This was on the reading of it out of the book, after it was sprinkled with the blood of the covenant on the altar, Exodus 24:7.

(4.) The author of this covenant was God himself: “The covenant which the Load hath made with you,” verse 8. And immediately after, he is thereon called “the God of Israel,” verse 10; which is the first time he was called so, and it was by virtue of this covenant. And the pledge or token of his presence, as covenanting, was the altar, the altar of Jehovah; as there was a representative pledge of the presence of the people in the twelve pillars or statues.

(5.) Those with whom this covenant was made were “the people;” that is, “all the people,” as the apostle speaks, none exempted or excluded. It was made with the “men, and women, and children,” Deuteronomy 31:12; even all on whom was the blood of the covenant, as it was on the women; or the token of the covenant, as it was on the male children in circumcision; or both, as in all the men of Israel.

(6.) The manner on the part of the people of entering into covenant with God, was in two acts before mentioned:

[1.] In a previous approbation of the matter of it;

[2.] In a solemn engagement into it. And this was the foundation of the church of Israel.

This is that covenant whereof there is afterwards in the Scripture such frequent mention, between God and that people, the sole foundation of all especial relation between him and them. For they took the observation of its terms on themselves for their posterity in all generations, until the end should be. On their obedience hereunto, or neglect hereof, depended their life or death in the land of Canaan. No farther did the precepts and promises of it in itself extend. But whereas it did not disannul the promise that was made unto Abraham, and confirmed with the oath of God, four hundred years before, and had annexed unto it many institutions and ordinances prefigurative and significant of heavenly things, the people under it had a right unto, and directions for the attaining of an eternal inheritance. And something we may hence observe.

Obs. 1. The foundation of a church-state among any people, wherein God is to be honored in ordinances of instituted worship, is laid in a solemn covenant between him and them. — So it was with this church of Israel. Before this they served God in their families, by virtue of the promise made unto Abraham, but now the whole people were gathered into a church-state, to worship him according to the terms, institutions, and ordinances of the covenant. Nor doth God oblige any unto instituted worship but by virtue of a covenant. Unto natural worship and obedience we are all obliged, by virtue of the law of creation and what belongs thereunto. And God may, by a mere act of sovereignty, prescribe unto us the observation of what rites and ordinances in divine service he pleaseth. But he will have all our obedience to be voluntary, and all our service to be reasonable. Wherefore, although the prescription of such rites be an act of sovereign pleasure, yet God will not oblige us unto the observance of them but by virtue of a covenant between him and us, wherein we voluntarily consent unto and accept of the terms of it, whereby those ordinances of worship are prescribed unto us, And it will hence follow, —

(1.) That men mistake themselves, when they suppose that they are interested in a church-state by tradition, custom, or as it were by chance, — they know not how. There is nothing but covenanting with God that will instate us in this privilege. And therein we do take upon ourselves the observance of all the terms of the new covenant. And they are of two sorts:

[1.] Internal and moral, in faith, repentance, and obedience;

[2.] Such as concern the external worship of the gospel, in the ordinances and institutions of it.

Without such a covenant formally or virtually made, there can be no church-state. I speak not at all of any such covenants as men may make or have made among themselves, and with God, upon a mixture of things sacred, civil and political, with such sanctions as they find out and agree upon among themselves. For whatever may be the nature, use, or end of such covenants, they no way belong unto that concerning which we treat. For no terms are to be brought hereinto but such as belong directly unto the obedience and ordinances of the new testament. Nor was there any thing to be added unto or taken from the express terms of the old covenant. whereby the church-state of Israel was constituted And this was the entire rule of God’s dealing with them. The only question concerning them was, whether they had kept the terms of the covenant or no. And when things fell into disorder among them, as they did frequently, as the sum of God’s charge against them was that they had broken his covenant, so the reformation of things attempted by their godly kings before, and others after the captivity, was by inducing the people to renew this covenant, without any addition, alteration, or mixture of things of another nature.

(2.) That so much disorder in the worship of God under the gospel hath entered into many churches, and that there is so much negligence in all sorts of persons about the observance of evangelical institutions, so little conscientious care about them, or reverence in the use of them, or benefit received by them; it is all much from hence, that men understand not aright the foundation of that obedience unto God which is required in them and by them. This, indeed, is no other but that solemn covenant between God and the whole church, wherein the church takes upon itself their due observance. This renders our obedience in them and by them no less necessary than any duties of moral obedience whatever. But this being not considered as it ought, men have used their supposed liberty, or rather, fallen into great licentiousness in the use of them, and few have that conscientious regard unto them which it is their duty to have.

Obs. 2. Approbation of the terms of the covenant, consent unto them, and solemn acceptance of them, are required on our part, unto the establishment of any covenant between God and us. and our participation of the benefits of it. — Thus solemnly did the people here enter into covenant with God, whereby a peculiar relation was established between him and them. The mere proposal of the covenant and the terms of it unto us, which is done in the preaching of the gospel, will not make us partakers of any of the grace or benefits of it. Yet this is that which most content themselves withal. It may be they proceed to the performance of some of the duties which are required therein; but this answers not the design and way of God in dealing with men. When he hath proposed the terms of his covenant unto them, he doth neither compel them to accept of them nor will be satisfied with such an obedience. He requires that upon a due consideration of them, we do approve of them, as those which answer his infinite wisdom and goodness, and such as are of eternal advantage unto us; that they are all equal, holy, righteous, and good. Hereon he requires that we voluntarily choose and consent unto them, engaging ourselves solemnly unto the performance of them all and every one. This is required of us, if we intend any interest in the grace and glory prepared in the new covenant.

Obs. 3. It has been the way of God from the beginning, to take children of covenanters into the same covenant with their parents. — So he dealt with this people in the estabhsnment of the first covenant; and he hath made no alteration herein in the establishment of the second. But we must proceed with the exposition of the words.

4. Of this covenant it is affirmed, that it “was consecrated with blood,” or “was not dedicated without blood.” ᾿εγκαινίζω is “solemnly to separate any thing unto a sacred use.” חָנַךְ is the same in Hebrew. But it is not the sanction of the covenant absolutely that the apostle intends in this expression, but the use of it. The covenant had its sanction, and was confirmed on the part of God, in offering of the sacrifices. In the killing of the beasts, and offering of their blood. did the ratification of the covenant consist. This is included and supposed in what is signified by the dedication of it. But this is not an effect of the shedding and offering of blood, but only of the sprinkling of it on the book and the people. Thereby had it its ἐγκαίνισμος, its “consecration” or “dedication unto sacred use,” as the instrument of the peculiar church relation between God and that people, whereof the book was the record. So was every thing consecrated unto its proper use under the law, as the apostle declares. This, therefore, is the meaning of the words: ‘That first covenant, which God made with the people at mount Sinai, wherein he became their God, the God of Israel, and they became his people, was dedicated unto sacred use by blood, in that it was sprinkled on the book and the people, after part of the same blood had been offered in sacrifice at the altar.’Hence it follows that this, which belongs so essentially unto the solemn dedication and confirmation of a covenant between God and the church, was necessary also unto the dedication and confirmation of the new covenant, — which is that which is to be proved.

Obs. 4. It is by the authority of God alone that any thing can be effectually and unchangeably dedicated unto sacred use, so as to have force and efficacy given unto it thereby. — But this dedication may be made by virtue of a general rule, as well as by an especial command.

5. The assertion of the apostle concerning the dedication of the first covenant with blood is confirmed by an account of the matter of fact, or, —

First, What Moses did therein, Hebrews 9:19.

Hebrews 9:19. — “For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book and all the people.”

There are two things considerable in the words:

1. The person made use of in the dedication of the covenant; which was Moses.

2. What he did therein; which is referred unto two heads:

(1.) His speaking or reading the terms of the covenant, every precept out of the book;

(2.) His sprinkling of the book and people with blood.

1. Moses was the internuncius between God and the people in this great transaction. On God’s part he was immediately called unto this employment, Exodus 3. And on the part of the people he was chosen, and desired by them to transact all things between God and them, in the making and confirmation of this covenant; because they were not able to bear the effects of God’s immediate presence, Exodus 20:19; Deuteronomy 5:22-27. And this choice of a spokesman on their part God did approve of, verse 28. Hence he became in a general sense a μεσίτης, a mediator between God and men, in the giving of the law, Galatians 3:19. Whatever, therefore, was done by Moses in this whole affair of the dedication of the covenant, on the part of God or of the people, was firm and unalterable, he being a public person authorized unto this work. And, —

Obs. 1. There can be no covenant between God and men but in the hand or by virtue of a mediator. The first covenant, in the state of innocency, was immediately between God and man. But since the entrance of sin it can be so no more. For,

(1.) Man hath neither meetness nor confidence to treat immediately with God. Nor,

(2.) Any credit or reputation with him, so as to be admitted as an undertaker in his own person. Nor,

(3.) Any ability to perform the conditions of any covenant with God.

Obs. 2. A mediator may be either only an internuncius, a messenger, a daysman; or also a surety and an undertaker. Of the first sort was the mediator of the old covenant; of the latter, that of the new.

Obs. 3. None can interpose between God and a people in any sacred office, unless he be called of God and approved of the people, as was Moses.

2. That which Moses did in this affair was first in way of preparation. And there are three things in the account of it:

(1.) What he did precisely.

(2.) With respect unto whom.

(3.) According to what rule or order he did it: —

(1.) He “spake every precept.” Vulg. Lat., “lecto omni mandato,” “having read every command;” which is the sense intended. λαληθείσης is as much in this place as “recited.” So it is rendered by most translators, “cum recitasset;” that is, when he had read in the book. For his first speaking unto the people, Exodus 24:3, is not here intended, but his reading in the audience of the people, Exodus 24:7. He spake what he read, — that is, audibly; so it is in the story, “He read it in the audience of the people,” so as that they might hear and understand. It is added by the apostle, that he thus read, spake, recited “every precept” or “command.” “He took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people,” saith the text; that is, the whole book, and all that was contained in it, or “every precept.” And the whole is reduced by the apostle unto precepts, It was νόμος ἐντολῶν, Ephesians 2:15; “a law, a system of precepts.” And it is so called to intimate the nature of that covenant. It consisted principally in precepts or commandments of obedience, promising no assistance for the performance of them. The new covenant is of another nature; it is a “covenant of promises.” And although it hath precepts also requiring obedience, yet is it wholly founded in the promise, whereby strength and assistance for the performance of that obedience are given unto us. And the apostle doth well observe that Moses read “every precept unto all the people;” for all the good things they were to receive by virtue of that covenant depended on the observation of every precept. For a curse was denounced against every one that continued not “in all things written in the book of the law to do them,” Deuteronomy 27:26; Galatians 3:10.And we may observe, —

Obs. 4. A covenant that consisted in mere precepts, without an exhibition of spiritual strength to enable unto obedience, could never save sinners. — The insufficiency of this covenant unto that end is that which the apostle designs to prove in all this discourse. But thereon a double inquiry may be made:

[1.] Why God gave this covenant, which was so insufficient unto this great end? This question is proposed and answered by the apostle, Galatians 3:19.

[2.] How then did any of the people yield obedience unto God, if the covenant exhibited no aid or assistance unto it? The apostle answereth in the same place, that they received it by faith in the promise, which was given before, and not disannulled by this covenant.

Obs. 5. In all our dealings with God respect must be had unto every one of his precepts. — And the reason hereof is given by the apostle James, namely, that the authority of God is the same in every one of them, and so may be despised in the neglect of the least as well as of the greatest, James 2:10-11.

(2.) To whom did Moses thus read every precept? It was, saith the apostle, “to all the people.” In the story it is said indefinitely, “In the audience of the people;” as afterwards, “He sprinkled the people.” The apostle adds the note of universality in both places; “all the people.” For whereas these things were transacted with the representatives of the people, (for it was naturally impossible that the one-half of the individuals of them should hear Moses reading,) they were all equally concerned in what was said and done. Yet I do believe, that after Moses first “told the people,” — that is, the elders of them, — “all the words of the LORD,” Exodus 24:3, there were means used by the elders and officers to communicate the things, yea, to repeat the words unto all the people, that they might be enabled to give their rational consent unto them. And we may observe, —

Obs. 6. The first eminent use of the writing of the book of the law, (that is, of any part of the Scripture, for this book was the first that was written,) was, that it might be read unto the people. — He gave not this book to be shut up .by the priests; to be concealed from the people, as containing mysteries unlawful to be divulged, or impossible to be understood. Such conceits befell not the minds of men, until the power and ends of religion being lost, some got an opportunity to order the concerns of it unto their own worldly interest and advantage.

Obs. 7. This book was both written and read in the language which the people understood and commonly spake. — And a rule was herein prescribed unto the church in all ages; if so be the example of the wisdom and care of God towards his church may be a rule unto us.

Obs. 8. God never required the observance of any rites or duties of worship without a previous warranty from his word. — The people took not on them, they were not obliged unto obedience, with respect unto any positive institutions, until Moses had read unto them every precept out of the book.

Obs. 9. The writing of this book was an eminent privilege, now first granted unto the church, leading unto a more perfect and stable condition than formerly it had enjoyed. — Hitherto it had lived on oral instructions, from traditions, and by new immediate revelations; the evident defects whereof were now removed, and a standard of divine truth and instruction set up and fixed among them.

(3.) There is the rule whereby Moses proceeded herein, or the warranty he had for what he did: “According unto the law.” He read every precept according to the law. It cannot be the law in general that the apostle intends, for the greatest part of that doctrine which is so called was not yet given or written; nor doth it in any place contain any precept unto this purpose. Wherefore it is a particular law, rule, or command, that is intended; — according unto the ordinance or appointment of God. Such was the command that God gave unto Moses for the framing of the tabernacle: “See thou make all things according to the pattern showed to thee in the mount.” Particularly, it seems to be the agreement between God and the people, that Moses should be the internuncius, the interpreter between them. According unto this rule, order, or divine constitution, Moses read all the words from God out of the book unto the people. Or it may be, “the law” may here be taken for the whole design of God in giving of the law; so as that “according unto the law,” is no more but, according unto the sovereign wisdom and pleasure of God in giving of the law, with all things that belong unto its order and use. And it is good for us to look for God’s especial warranty for what we undertake to do in his service.

The second thing in the words is, what Moses did immediately and directly towards the dedication or consecration of this covenant. And there are three things to this purpose mentioned:

(1.) What he made use of.

(2.) How he used it.

(3.) With respect unto what and whom: —

(1.) The first is expressed in these words: “He took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop.” He took the blood of the beasts that were offered for burnt-offerings and peace-offerings, Exodus 24:5-6; Exodus 24:8. Unto this end, in their slaying he took all their blood in basins, and made an equal division of it. The one half he sprinkled on the altar, and the other half he sprinkled on the people. That which was sprinkled on the altar was God’s part; and the other was put on the people. Both the mutual stipulation of God and the congregation in this covenant, and the equality of it, or the equity of its terms, were denoted hereby. And herein lies the principal force of the apostle’s argument in these words: ‘Blood was used in the dedication of the first covenant. This was the blood of the beasts offered in sacrifice unto God. Wherefore both death, and death by blood-shedding, was required unto the confirmation of a covenant So also, therefore, must the new covenant be confirmed; but with blood and a sacrifice far more precious than they were.’

This distribution of blood, that half of it was on the altar, and half of it on the people, — the one to make atonement, the other to purify or sanctify, — was to teach the twofold efficacy of the blood of Christ, in making atonement for sin unto our justification, and the purifying of our natures in sanctification.

(2.) With this blood he took the things mentioned with respect unto its use, which was sprinkling. The manner of it was in part declared before. The blood being put into basons, and having water mixed with it to keep it fluid and aspersible, he took a bunch or bundle of hyssop bound up with scarlet wool, and dipping it into the basons, sprinkled the blood, until it was all spent in that service.

This rite or way of sprinkling was chosen of God as an expressive token or sign of the effectual communication of the benefits of the covenant unto them that were sprinkled. Hence the communication of the benefits of the death of Christ unto sanctification is called the sprinkling of his blood, 1 Peter 1:2. And our apostle compriseth all the effects of it unto that end under the name of “the blood of sprinkling,” Hebrews 12:24 And I fear that those who have used the expression with some contempt, when applied by themselves unto the sign of the communication of the benefits of the death of Christ in baptism, have not observed that reverence of holy things that is required of us. For this symbol of sprinkling was that which God himself chose and appointed, as a meet and apt token of the communication of covenant mercy; that is, of his grace in Christ Jesus unto our souls. And, —

Obs. 10. The blood of the covenant will not benefit or advantage us without an especial and particular application of it unto our own souls and consciences. — If it be not as welt sprinkled upon us as it was offered unto God, it will not avail us. The blood of Christ was not divided, as was that of these sacrifices, the one half being on the altar, the other on the people; but the efficacy of the whole produced both these effects, yet so, as that the one will not profit us without the other. We shall have no benefit el the atonement made at the altar, unless we have its efficacy on our own souls unto their purification. And this we cannot have unless it be sprinkled on us, unless particular application be made of it unto us by the Holy Ghost, in and by an especial act of faith in ourselves.

(3.) The object of this act of sprinkling was “the book” itself “and all the people.” The same blood was on the book wherein the covenant was recorded, and the people that entered into it. But whereas this sprinkling was for purifying and purging, it may be inquired unto what end the book itself was sprinkled, which was holy and undefiled. I answer, There were two things necessary unto the dedication of the covenant, with all that belonged unto it:

[1.] Atonement;

[2.] Purification. And in both these respects it was necessary that the book itself should be sprinkled.

[1.] As we observed before, it was sprinkled as it lay upon the altar, where atonement was made. And this was plainly to signify that atonement was to be made by blood for sins committed against that book, or the law contained in it. Without this, that book would have been unto the people like that given to Ezekiel, that was “written within and without; and there was written therein lamentations, and mourning, and woe,” Ezekiel 2:10. Nothing but curse and death could they expect from it. But the sprinkling of it with blood as it lay upon the altar was a testimony and assurance that atonement should be made by blood for the sins against it; which was the life of the things.

[2.] The book in itself was pure and holy, and so are all God’s institutions; but unto us every thing is unclean that is not sprinkled with the blood of Christ. So afterwards the tabernacle and all the vessels of it were purified every year with blood, “because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions,” Leviticus 16:16. Wherefore on both these accounts it was necessary that the book itself should be sprinkled.

The blood thus sprinkled was mingled with water. The natural reason of it was, as we observed, to keep it fluid and aspersible. But there was a mystery in it also. That the blood of Christ was typified by this blood of the sacrifices used in the dedication of the old covenant, it is the apostle’s design to declare. And it is probable that this mixture of it with water might represent that blood and water which came out of his side when it was pierced. For the mystery thereof was very great. Hence that apostle which saw it, and bare record of it in particular, John 19:34-35, affirms likewise that “he came by water and blood,” and not by blood only, 1 John 5:6. He came not only to make atonement for us with his blood, that we might be justified, but to sprinkle us with the efficacy of his blood, in the communication of the Spirit of sanctification, compared unto water.

For the sprinkler itself, composed of scarlet wool and hyssop, I doubt not but that the human nature of Christ, whereby and through which all grace is communicated unto us, (“for of his fullness we receive, and grace for grace,”) was signified by it; but the analogy and similitude between them are not so evident as they are with respect unto some other types. The hyssop was a humble plant, the meanest of them, yet of a sweet savor, 1 Kings 4:33; so was the Lord Christ amongst men in the days of his flesh, in comparison of the tall cedars of the earth. Hence was his complaint, that he was as “a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people,” Psalms 22:6. And the scarlet wool might represent him as red in the blood of his sacrifice. But I will not press these things, of whose interpretation we have not a certain rule.

Secondly, The principal truth asserted is confirmed by what Moses said, as well as what he did: —

Hebrews 9:20. — “Saying, This [is] the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you.”

The difference between the words of Moses and the repetition of them by the apostle is not material, as unto the sense of them. הִנֵּה, “behold,” in Moses, is rendered by τοῦτο, “this;” both demonstrative notes of the same thing. For in pronouncing of the words Moses showed the blood unto the people; and so, “Behold the blood,” is all one as if he had said, “This is the blood.” The making of the covenant in the words of Moses is expressed by כָּרַת, “hath cut,” “divided,” solemnly made. This the apostle renders by ἐνετείλατο “hath enjoined” or “commanded you.” And this he doth partly to signify the foundation of the people’s acceptance of that covenant, which was the authority of God enjoining them or requiring them so to do; partly to intimate the nature of the covenant itself, which consisted in precepts and injunctions principally, and not absolutely in promises, as the new covenant doth. The last words of Moses, “Concerning all these words,” the apostle omits; for he includes the sense of them in that word, “Which God hath commanded you.” For he hath respect therein both unto the words themselves written in the book, which were precepts and injunctions, as also the command of God for the acceptance of the covenant.

That which Moses said is, “This is the blood of the testament.” Hence the apostle proves that death, and the shedding of blood therein, was necessary unto the consecration and establishment of the first testament. For so Moses expressly affirms in the dedication of it, “This is the blood of the covenant;” without which it could not have been a firm covenant between God and the people. Not, I confess, from the nature of a covenant in general, for a covenant may be solemnly established without death or blood; but from the especial end of that covenant, which in the confirmation of it was to prefigure the confirmation of that new covenant which could not be established but with the blood of a sacrifice. And this adds both force and evidence unto the apostle’s argument. For he proves the necessity of the death and blood-shedding or sacrifice of Christ in the confirmation of the new covenant from hence, that the old covenant, which in the dedication of it was prefigurative hereof, was not confirmed without blood. Wherefore, whereas God had solemnly promised to make a new covenant with the church, and that different from, or not according unto the old (which he had proved in the foregoing chapter), it follows unavoidably that it was to be confirmed with the blood of the mediator (for by the blood of beasts it could not be); which is that truth wherein he did instruct them. And nothing was more cogent to take off the scandal of the cross and of the sufferings of Christ.

For the enunciation itself, “This is the blood of the covenant,” it is figurative and sacramental. The covenant had no blood of its own; but the blood of the sacrifices is called “the blood of the covenant,” because the covenant was dedicated and established by it. Neither was the covenant really established by it; for it was the truth of God on the one hand, and the stability of the people in their professed obedience on the other, that the establishment of the covenant depended on. But this blood was a confirmatory sign of it, a token between God and the people of their mutual engagement in that covenant. So the paschal lamb was called “the LORD’S passover,” because it was a sign and token of God’s passing over the houses of the Israelites when he destroyed the Egyptians, Exodus 12:11-12. With reference it was unto those sacramental expressions which the church under the old testament was accustomed unto, that our Lord Jesus Christ, in the institution of the sacrament of the supper, called the bread and the wine, whose use he appointed therein, by the names of his body and blood; and any other interpretation of the words wholly overthrows the nature of that holy ordinance.

Wherefore this blood was a confirmatory sign of the covenant. And it was so,

1. From God’s institution; he appointed it so to be, as is express in the words of Moses.

2. From an implication of the interest of both parties in the blood of the sacrifice; God, unto whom it was offered; and the people, on whom it was sprinkled. For it being the blood of beasts that were slain, in this use of it each party as it were engaged their lives unto the observation and performance of what was respectively undertaken by them.

3. Typically, in that it represented the blood of Christ, and fore-signified the necessity of it unto the confirmation of the new covenant. See Zechariah 9:11; Matthew 26:28; Luke 22:20; 1 Corinthians 11:25. So was it “the blood of the covenant,” in that it was a sign between God and the people of their mutual consent unto it, and their taking on themselves the performance of the terms of it, on the one side and the other.

Obs. 11. The condescension of God in making a covenant with men, especially in the ways of the confirmation of it, is a blessed object of all holy admiration. — For,

1. The infinite distance and disproportion that is between him and us, both in nature and state or condition;

2. The ends of this covenant, which are all unto our eternal advantage, he standing in no need of us or our obedience; 3. The obligation that he takes upon himself unto the performance of the terms of it, whereas he might righteously deal with us in a way of mere sovereignty;

4. The nature of the assurance he gives us thereof, by the blood of the sacrifice, confirmed with his oath; do all set forth the ineffable glory of this condescension. And this will at length be made manifest in the eternal blessedness of them by whom this covenant is embraced, and the eternal misery of them by whom it is refused.

The apostle having given this full confirmation unto his principal assertion, he adds, for the illustration of it, the use and efficacy of blood, that is, the blood of sacrifices, unto purification and atonement.

Hebrews 9:21. — “Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry.”

The manner of the introduction of this observation, Hebrews 9:21, by καὶ ὁμοίως, “and in like manner,” doth manifest that this is not a continuation of the former instance, in that which belongs thereunto; but that there is a proceed unto another argument, to evince the further use of the sprinkling of blood unto purification and atonement under the old testament. For the design of the apostle is not only to prove the necessity of the blood of Christ in sacrifice, but also the efficacy of it in the taking away of sins. Wherefore he shows that as the covenant itself was dedicated with blood, which proves the necessity of the blood of Christ unto the confirmation of the new covenant; so all the ways and means of solemn worship were purged and purified by the same means, which demonstrates its efficacy.

I will not absolutely oppose the usual interpretation of these words; namely, that at the erection of the tabernacle, and the dedication of it with all its vessels and utensils, there was a sprinkling with blood, though not expressly mentioned by Moses, for he only declares the unction of them with the holy oil, Exodus 40:9-11. For as unto the garments of Aaron and his sons, which belonged unto the service of the tabernacle, and were laid up in the holy place, it is expressly declared that they were sprinkled with blood, Exodus 29:21; and of the altar, that it was sprinkled when it was anointed, though it be not said wherewith. And Josephus, who was himself a priest, affirms that “all the things belonging unto the sanctuary were dedicated with the sprinkling of the blood of the sacrifices;” which things are usually pleaded for this interpretation. I shall not, as I said, absolutely reject it; yet because it is evident that the apostle makes a progress in these words, from the necessity of the dedication of the covenant with blood unto the use and efficacy of the sprinkling of blood in all holy administrations, that they might be accepted with God, I choose rather to refer the words unto that solemn sprinkling of the tabernacle and all the vessels of it by the high priest with blood of the expiatory sacrifice which was made annually, on the day of atonement. This the introduction of these words by καί and ὁμοίως; doth declare. As the covenant was dedicated with the sprinkling of blood, so in like manner afterwards, the tabernacle and all the vessels of it were sprinkled with blood unto their sacred use.

All the difficulty in this interpretation is, that Moses is said to do it, but that which we intend was done by Aaron and his successors. But this is no way to be compared with that of applying it unto the dedication of the tabernacle, wherein there is no mention made of blood or its sprinkling, but of anointing only. Wherefore Moses is said to do what he appointed to be done, what the law required which was given by him. So “Moses” is frequently used for the law given by him: Acts 15:21, “For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath-day;” that is, the law. Moses, then, sprinkled the tabernacle, in that by an everlasting ordinance he appointed that it should be done. And the words following, Acts 15:22, declare that the apostle speaks not of dedication, but of expiation and purification.

This sprinkling, therefore, of the tabernacle and its vessels, was that which was done annually, on the day of atonement, Leviticus 16:14-16; Leviticus 16:18. For thereon, as the apostle speaks, “both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry were sprinkled with blood;” as the ark, the mercy-seat, and the altar of incense. And the end of it was to purge them because of the uncleannesses of the people; which is that the apostle intends. And that which we are taught herein is, that, —

Obs. 1. In all things wherein we have to do with God, whereby we approach unto him, it is the blood of Christ, and the application of it unto our consciences, that gives us a gracious acceptance with him. — Without this all is unclean and defiled.

Obs. 2. Even holy things and institutions, that are in themselves clean and unpolluted, are relatively defiled, by the unholiness of them that use them; defiled unto them. — So was the tabernacle, because of the uncleannesses of the people among whom it was. For unto the unclean all things are unclean.

From this whole discourse the apostle makes an inference which he afterwards applies at large unto his present purpose.

Hebrews 9:22. — “And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.”

There are two parts of this verse, or there is a double assertion in it:

1. That “almost all things are by the law purged with blood.”

2. That “without shedding of blood is no remission.”

1. In the first of these there is considerable the assertion itself, and the limitation of it.

(1.) The assertion itself is, that “by the law all things were purged with blood; κατὰ τὸν νόμον according unto the law;” the rules, the commands, the institutions of it; in that way of worship, faith, and obedience, which the people were obliged unto by the law. According unto the law, there was a necessity of the blood of sacrifices, for the purging of sin and making of atonement. This he infers and concludes from what he had said before, concerning the dedication of the covenant and the purification of the tabernacle with all the vessels of its ministry. And from hence he designs to prove the necessity of the death of Christ, and the efficacy of his blood for the purging of sin, whereof those legal things were types and representations. Of these legal purifications, or purgings by blood, we have treated already.

(2.) The limitation of this assertion is in the word σχεδόν, “almost.” Some few purifications there were under the law that were not by blood. Such, as some judge, was that by the ashes of a heifer mingled with water; whereof we have treated on verse 13. But I am not certain that this may be esteemed a purification without blood. For the heifer whose ashes were used in it was first slain, and its blood poured out; afterwards the blood as well as the flesh was burnt and reduced unto ashes. Wherefore that way of purification cannot be said to be without blood. And it was a type of the purifying efficacy of the blood of Christ, who offered himself a whole burnt-offering unto God, through the fire of the eternal Spirit. But there were two sorts of purifications under the law wherein blood was neither formally nor virtually applied or used. The one was by fire, in things that would endure it, Numbers 31:23 (and the apostle speaks of things as well as persons, as the word πάντα declares); the other was by water, whereof there were many instances. See Exodus 19:10; Leviticus 16:26; Leviticus 16:28; Leviticus 22:6-7. All other purifications were ἐν αἵματι, “in blood;” ἐν for διὰ; δι᾿ αἵματος, by the offering and sprinkling of blood.

From the consideration of the purifications mentioned, the apostle adds the limitation of “almost.” For the conceit of some of the ancients, that σχεδόν is as much as fere, and is to be joined with “purged,” “were almost purged,” — that is, they were so only ineffectually, — is most improper; for it is contrary to the natural construction of the words and the direct intention of the apostle. Only we may observe, that the purifications which were by fire and water were of such things as had no immediate influence into the worship of God, or in such cases as wherein the worship of God was not immediately concerned; nor of such things wherewith conscience was defiled. They were only of external pollutions, by things in their own nature indifferent, and had nothing of sin in them. And the sacred institutions which were not concerning the immediate worship of God, nor things which in themselves did defile the consciences of men, were as hedges and fences about those which really did so. They served to warn men not to come near those things which had a real defilement in themselves. See Matthew 15:16-20.

Thus “almost all things,” — that is, absolutely all which had any inward, real moral defilement, — “were purged with blood,” and directed unto the purging efficacy of the blood of Christ. And we may observe, that, —

Obs. 1. There was a great variety of legal purifications. For as all of them together could not absolutely purge sin, but only direct unto what would do so, so none of them by themselves could fully represent that one sacrifice by blood whereby all sin was to be purged; therefore were they multiplied.

Obs. 2. This variety argues that in ourselves we are ready to be polluted on all occasions. Sin cleaveth unto all that we do, and is ready to defile us even in our best duties.

Obs. 3. This variety of institutions was a great part of the bondage state of the church under the old testament; a yoke that they were not able to bear. For it was almost an insuperable difficulty to attain an assurance that they had observed them all in a due manner; the penalties of their neglect being very severe. Besides, the outward observation of them was both burdensome and chargeable. It is the glory of the gospel, that we are directed to make our address by faith on all occasions unto that one sacrifice by the blood of Christ, which cleanseth us from all our sins. Howbeit many that are called Christians, being ignorant of the mystery thereof, do again betake themselves unto other ways for the purification of sin, which are multiplied in the church of Rome.

Obs. 4. The great mystery wherein God instructed the church from the foundation of the world, especially by and under legal institutions, was, that all purging of sin was to be by blood. This was that which by all sacrifices from the beginning, and all legal institutions, he declared unto mankind. Blood is the only means of purging and atonement. This is the language of the whole law. All was to manifest that the washing and purging of the church from sin was to be looked for from the blood of Christ alone.

2. The second assertion of the apostle is, that “without shedding of blood there is no remission.” Some would have these words to contain an application of what was spoken before unto the blood of Christ; but it is manifest that the apostle yet continues in his account of things under the law, and enters on the application of them not before the next verse. Wherefore these words, κατὰ τὸν νόμου, “according to the law,” or by virtue of its institutions, are here to be repeated: “By the law, without shedding of blood,” that is, in sacrifice, “there is no remission.” Yet though that season be particularly intended, the axiom is universally true, and applicable unto the new covenant; — even under it, without shedding of blood is no remission.

The curse of the law was, that he that sinned should die; but whereas there is no man that liveth and sinneth not, God had provided that there should be a testification of the remission of sins, and that the curse of the law should not be immediately executed on all that sinned. This he did by allowing the people to make atonement for their sins by blood; that is, the blood of sacrifices,” Leviticus 17:11. For hereby God signified his will and pleasure in two things:

(1.) That by this blood there should be a political remission granted unto sinners, that they should not die under the sentence of the law as it was the rule of the government of the nation. And in this sense, for such sins as were not politically to be spared no sacrifice was allowed.

(2.) That real spiritual forgiveness, and gracious acceptance with himself, were to be obtained alone by that which was signified by this blood; which was the sacrifice of Christ himself.

And whereas the sins of the people were of various kinds, there were particular sacrifices instituted to answer that variety. This variety of sacrifices, with respect unto the various sorts or kinds of sins for which they were to make atonement, I have elsewhere discussed and explained. Their institution and order are recorded, Leviticus 1:7. And if any person neglected that especial sacrifice which was appointed to make atonement for his especial sin, he was left under the sentence of the law, politically and spiritually; — there was no remission. Yea also, there might be, there were, sins that could not be reduced directly unto any of those for whose remission sacrifices were directed in particular. Wherefore God graciously provided against the distress or ruin of the church on either of these accounts. For whether the people had fallen under the neglect of any of those especial ways of atonement, or had contracted the guilt of such sins as they knew not how to reduce unto any sort of them that were to be expiated, he had graciously prepared the great anniversary sacrifice, wherein public atonement was made for all the sins, transgressions, and iniquities of the whole people, of what sort soever they were, Leviticus 16:21. But in the whole of his ordinances he established the rule, that “without shedding of blood was no remission.”

There seems to be an exception in the case of him who was so poor that he could not provide the meanest offering of blood for a sin-offering; for he was allowed by the law to offer “the tenth part of an ephah of fine flour” for his sin, and it was forgiven him, Leviticus 5:11-13. Wherefore the word σχεδόν, “almost,” may be here again repeated, because of this single case. But the apostle hath respect unto the general rule of the law. And this exception was not an ordinary constitution, but depended on the impossibility of the thing itself, whereunto it made a gracious condescension. And this necessity ofttimes of itself, without any constitution, suspends a positive law, and gives a dispensation unto the infringers of it. So was it in the case of David when he ate of the shew- bread in his hunger; and as to works of necessity and mercy on the Sabbath-day: which instances are given by our Savior himself. Wherefore the particular exception on this consideration did rather strengthen than invalidate the general rule of the law. Besides, the nearest approach was made unto it that might be. For fine flour is the best of the bread whereby man’s life is sustained; and in the offering of it the offerer testified that by his sin he had forfeited his own life and all whereby it was sustained: which was the meaning of the offering of blood.

The expositors of the Roman church do here greatly perplex themselves, to secure their sacrifice of the mass from this destroying sentence of the apostle. For a sacrifice they would have it to be, and that for the remission of the sins of the living and the dead; yet they say it is an unbloody sacrifice. For if there be any blood shed in it, it is the blood of Christ, and then he is crucified by them afresh every day; as indeed in some sense he is, though they cannot shed his blood. If it be unbloody, the rule of the apostle is, that it is no way available for the remission of sins. Those that are sober have no way to deliver themselves, but by denying the mass to be a proper sacrifice for the remission of sins: which is done expressly by Estius upon the place. But this is contrary unto the direct assertions contained in the mass itself, and raseth the very foundation of it.

Now, if God gave them so much light under the old testament, as that they should know, believe, and profess, that “without shedding of blood is no remission,” how great is the darkness of men under the new testament, who look, seek, or endeavor any other way after the pardon of sin, but only by the blood of Christ!

Obs. 5. This is the great demonstration of the demerit of sin, of the holiness, righteousness, and grace of God. — For such was the nature and demerit of sin, such was the righteousness of God with respect unto it, that without shedding of blood it could not be pardoned. They are strangers unto the one and the other who please themselves with other imaginations. And what blood must this be? That the blood of bulls and goats should take away sin was utterly impossible, as our apostle declares. It must be the blood of the Son of God, Romans 3:24-25; Acts 20:28. And herein were glorified both the love and grace of God, in that he spared not his only Son, but gave him up to be a bloody sacrifice in his death for us all.


Verse 23

In the following verses, unto the end of the chapter, the apostle makes an application of all that he had discoursed, concerning the services and sacrifices of the tabernacle, with their use and efficacy, on the one hand, and the sacrifice of Christ, its nature, use, and efficacy, on the other, unto his present argument. Now this was to demonstrate the excellency, dignity, and virtue of the priesthood of Christ, and the sacrifice of himself that he offered thereby, as he was the mediator of the new covenant. And he doth it in the way of comparison, as unto what there was of similitude between them; and of opposition, as unto what was singular in the person and priesthood of Christ, wherein they had no share; declaring on both accounts the incomparable excellency of him and his sacrifice above the priests of the law and theirs, And hereon he concludes his whole discourse with an elegant comparison and opposition between the law and the gospel, wherein he compriseth in few words the substance of them both, as unto their effects on the souls of men.

That wherein in general there was a similitude in these things is expressed, Hebrews 9:23.

Hebrews 9:23 ᾿ανάγκη ου῏ν τὰ μὲν ὑποδείγματα τῶν ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς, τούτοις καθαρίζεσθαι· αὐτὰ δὲ τὰ ἐπουράνια κρείττοσι θυσίαις παρὰ ταύτας.

There is no difference of importance in the translation of these words by any interpreters of reputation, and singly they have been all of them before spoken unto. Only the Syriac renders ὑποδει. γματα by דְמוּתָא “similitudes;” not unaptly.

Hebrews 9:23. — It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.

An entrance is made in these words into the comparison intended. For as unto both sorts of sacrifices compared, it is here granted in general that they purged the things whereunto they were applied. But there is a difference also laid down in this verse, namely, as unto the things that were purified by them, and consequently in the nature of their respective purifications.

There are in the words,

1. A note of inference, or dependence on the former discourse; “therefore.”

2. A double proposition of things of diverse natures compared together.

3. The modification of both these propositions; “it was necessary.”

4. In the first proposition there is,

(1.) The subject-matter spoken of; “the patterns of things in the heavens.”

(2.) What is affirmed of them as necessary to them; that they “should be purified.”

(3.) The means whereby; “with these.”

5. The same things are proposed in the second, namely,

(1.) The things spoken of, or the “heavenly things themselves.”

(2.) What is affirmed of them is traduced from the other proposition; they also were “purified.”

(3.) The means whereby they were so; “with better sacrifices than these.”

1. That which first occurs is the note of inference, or dependence on the former discourse; “therefore.” And it hath an equal respect unto both parts of the assertion. And it is not the being of the things, but their manifestation, that is intended: ‘From what hath been said concerning the legal purification of all things, and the spiritual purification that is by the sacrifice of Christ, these things are evident and manifest.’

2. Of both the things affirmed it is said that “it was necessary” they should be so; that is, it was so from God’s institution and appointment. There was no necessity in the nature of the things themselves, that the patterns of heavenly things should be purged with these sacrifices; but on supposition that God would in and by them represent the purification of the heavenly things, it was necessary that they should be thus purged with blood. And on the supposition of the same divine ordination that the heavenly things themselves should be purified, it was necessary that they should be purified with better sacrifices than these, which were altogether insufficient unto that end.

3. The subject of the first proposition is, “The patterns of things in the heavens.” The τὰ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς are the τὰ ἐπουράνια in the next words. “Things in the heavens” are “heavenly things.” And they are the same with ἀντίτυπα τῶν ἀληθινῶν, in the next verse; “figures of the true things.

(1.) The things intended are those which the apostle hath discoursed of; the covenant, the book, the people, the tabernacle, with all the vessels of its ministry. These he calls ὑποδείγματα, which we well render “patterns.” And patterns are of two sorts:

[1.] Such as are πρωτότυπα, “exemplaria;” those from and according unto which any other thing is framed. That is the pattern of any thing, according unto which it is contrived, made and fashioned. So a scheme or frame drawn and delineated, is the pattern of — an edifice.

[2.] Such as are ἔκτυπα, “exemplata;” that are framed according unto other things which they do resemble and represent. These also are ὑποδείγματα.

The things mentioned were not patterns of the heavenly things in the first sense; the heavenly things were not framed by them, to answer, resemble, and represent them. But they were so in the latter only. And therefore in the first constitution of them, those which were durable and to abide, as the tabernacle with all its utensils and vessels, with the posture and disposal of them, were made and erected according to an original pattern showed in the mount; or they were framed according unto the idea of the heavenly things themselves, whereof he made a representation unto Moses, and communicated a resemblance of them unto him, according unto his own good pleasure.

This is the order of these things: The heavenly things themselves were designed, framed, and disposed in the mind of God, in all their order, courses, beauty, efficacy, and tendency unto his own eternal glory. This was the whole mystery of the wisdom of God for the redemption and salvation of the church by Jesus Christ. This is that which is declared in the gospel, being before hid in God from the foundation of the world, Ephesians 3:8-10. Of these things did God grant a typical resemblance, similitude, and pattern, in the tabernacle and its services. That he would make such a kind of resemblance of those heavenly things, as unto their kind, nature, and use, that he would instruct the church by them, was an act of his mere sovereign will and pleasure. And this is that effect of his wisdom which was manifest under the old testament; whereon the faith and obedience of the church were wholly to acquiesce in his sovereignty. And this their resemblance of heavenly things, which they had not from their own nature, but merely from the pleasure of God, gave them all their glory and worth; which the saints under the old testament did in some measure understand. The present Jews do, as their forefathers did, under the degeneracy of their church, conceive their glory to consist in the materials and curious structure of them; things that the wealth and art of men might exceed. But in themselves they were all earthly, carnal, perishing, and liable unto all sorts of corruption. Much inferior they were in nature and glory unto the souls of men, which were conversant in their highest and most noble acts about them. But herein alone consisted their honor, worth, and use, — they were “patterns of heavenly things,” And we may observe, that —

Obs. 1. The glory and efficacy of all ordinances of divine worship which consist in outward observance (as it is with the sacraments of the gospel) consist in this, that they represent and exhibit heavenly things unto us. — And this power of representation they have from divine institution alone.

(2.) What they were patterns of is expressed; namely, of “things in the heavens.” What these were in particular must be spoken unto in the exposition of the next proposition, whereof they are the subject, “The heavenly things themselves.”

(3.) Of these things it is affirmed that they were “purified.” The apostle had treated before of a double purification:

[1.] Of that which consisted in a cleansing from defilements of its own; “sprinkling the unclean,” and “sanctifying to the purifying of the flesh,” Hebrews 9:13; Hebrews 9:22.

[2.] That which consisted in a dedication unto sacred use. But this also had some respect unto uncleanness: not unto any that the things so dedicated had in themselves, but because of the uncleanness of them that were to make use of them. This was such, as that God would have the intervention of the sprinkling of blood between him and them in all their services, as he declares, Leviticus 16:15-17. And this he would do, that he might teach them the absolute and universal necessity of the purifying efficacy of the blood of Christ, in all things between him and sinners. Of this purification he gives us in this discourse two instances:

[1.] That which was initial, at the first solemnization of the covenant, Hebrews 9:18-20.

[2.] That which was annual, in the sprinkling of the tabernacle and its vessels, because of the uncleannesses of the people, Hebrews 9:21. This latter purification is that which is intended.

(4.) The means whereby they were thus to be purified is, “with these.” In the next proposition, the heavenly things themselves are said to be purified θυσίαις, “with sacrifices.” But the purification of these patterns was not absolutely confined unto sacrifices. Water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and the ashes of an heifer, in some cases, were required thereunto. “With these;” that is, with all those things which were appointed by the law to be used in their purification or dedication unto sacred use.

(5.) If inquiry be made why these patterns were thus purified, the apostle affirms that “it was necessary” it should be so. This, as it respects both propositions in this verse equally, was spoken unto in general before. The grounds of this necessity with respect unto these patterns were these:

[1.] The will and command of God. This is that which originally, or in the first place, makes any thing necessary in divine worship. This is the only spring of rational obedience in instituted worship; whatever is without it, whatever is beyond it, is no part of sacred service. God would have them thus purified. Yet also was there herein this manifest reason of his will, namely, that thereby he might represent the purification of heavenly things. On this supposition, that God would so represent heavenly things by them, it was necessary that they should be purified.

[2.] Seeing he would have them purified, there was a meetness that they should be so with these things. For being themselves carnal and earthly, as were the tabernacle and all the vessels of it, it was meet they should be purified with things carnal also; such as were the blood of beasts, water, hyssop, and scarlet wool.

[3.] In particular, it was necessary that they should be purified with the blood of sacrifices; because they were types of those things which were to be purified with the only proper expiatory sacrifice. These were the foundations of the whole system of Mosaical rites and ordinances; and on them they stood until they were removed by God himself.

Obs. 2. And that which we should learn from hence is, a due consideration of that respect which we ought to have to the holiness of God in his worship and service. He did manifest it unto us, to beget in us a due reverence of it. He would never admit of any thing therein but what was purified according unto his own institution. All other things he always rejected as unclean and profane. Without a due apprehension hereof, and endeavoring to have both our persons and our services purified by the sprinkling of the blood of Christ. neither they nor we can be accepted before him.

4. The other proposition in the text is, that “the heavenly things themselves were to be purified with better sacrifices”

(1.) The first thing in the words is the subject of the proposition, “the heavenly things themselves;” that is, the things whereof the other were the patterns, by which God represented them unto the church. But what these things are is not easy to determine. Some say that heaven itself is intended, the superethereal heavens; the place of the present residence of Christ, and of the souls of them that are saved by him. But taking the heavens absolutely, especially for that which is called “the heaven of heavens,” with respect unto their fabric, and as the place of God’s glorious residence, and it is not easy to conceive how they stood in need to be purified by sacrifice. Some say it is spiritual things, that is, the souls and consciences of men, that are intended. And they are called “heavenly” in opposition unto the things of the law, which were all carnal and earthly. And it is certain they are not to be excluded out of this expression; for unto their purification is the virtue of the sacrifice of Christ directly applied, verse 14. Yet the whole context, and the antithesis in it between the types and the things typified, make it evident that they alone are not intended.

To clear the mind of the apostle in this expression, sundry things must be observed out of the context: —

[1.] The apostle treats of a double purification, as was immediately before declared. In this application of his discourse he intends them both. But whereas some things stood in need of the one only, namely, of that of dedication unto God; and some of the other, namely, purging from defilements, as the souls and consciences of men; they are distinctly to be applied unto the things spoken of, according to their capacity. Some were purified by dedication, some by actual cleansing from real defilements; both which are included in the notion of sacred purification, or sanctification.

[2.] These heavenly things must be all those, and only those, whereof the other were patterns or resemblances This is plain in the context and antithesis. Wherefore, —

[3.] By “heavenly things,” I understand all the effects of the counsel of God in Christ, in the redemption, worship, salvation, and eternal glory of the church; that is, Christ himself in all his offices, with all the spiritual and eternal effects of them on the souls and consciences of men, with all the worship of God by him according unto the gospel. For of all these things those of the law were the patterns. He did in and by them give a representation of all these things, as we may see in particular: —

1st. Christ himself, and the sacrifice of himself, were typed out by these things To prove this, is the principal purpose of the apostle. They were the “shadow,” he the “body” or substance, as he speaks elsewhere. He was “the Lord from heaven;” “who is in heaven,” “who speaketh from heaven,” 1 Corinthians 15:47; John 3:13; Hebrews 12:25.

2dly. All spiritual and eternal grace, mercy, blessings, whereof the souls of men are made partakers by the mediation and sacrifice of Christ, are “heavenly things,” and are constantly so called, Hebrews 3:1; John 3:12; Ephesians 1:3; Ephesians 2:6.

3dly. The church itself and its worship are of the same kind; the things principally to be purified by these sacrifices It is God’s heavenly kingdom, Ephesians 5:25-26.

4thly. Heaven itself is comprised herein, not absolutely, but as it is the mansion of Christ and the redeemed in the presence of God for evermore.

(2.) Hereon the inquiry will be, how these things are said to be “purified;” for of real purification from uncleanness not one of them is capable but only the church, — that is, the souls and consciences of men. I answer, that we are to have recourse unto that twofold sense of purification before laid down, namely, of external dedication, and internal purging; both which are expressed by the name of “sanctification” in the Scripture. Most of the things that were purified by the blood of the sacrifices at the ,giving of the law were so in the first sense, and no otherwise. The covenant, the book of the law, and the tabernacle with all its vessels, were purified in their sacred dedication unto God and his service. Thus were all the heavenly things themselves purified. Christ himself was sanctified, consecrated, dedicated unto God, in his own blood. He “sanctified himself,” John 17:19; and that by “the blood of the covenant,” Hebrews 10:29; even when he was “consecrated” or “made perfect through sufferings,” Hebrews 2:10. So was the church and the whole worship of it dedicated unto God, made holy unto him, Ephesians 5:25-26. And heaven itself was dedicated to be a habitation for ever unto the mystical body of Christ, in perfect peace with the angels above, who had never sinned, Ephesians 1:10; Hebrews 12:22-25.

But yet there was, moreover, a real purification of the most of these things. The church, or the souls and consciences of men, were really cleansed, purified, and sanctified, with an internal, spiritual purification, Ephesians 5:25-26; Titus 2:14. It was washed in the blood of Christ, Revelation 1:5; and is thereby cleansed from sin, 1 John 1:7. And heaven itself was in some sense so purified, as the tabernacle was because of the sins of the people among whom it was, Leviticus 16:16. Sin had entered into heaven itself, in the apostasy of angels; whence it was not pure in the sight of God, Job 15:15. And upon the sin of man, a state of enmity ensued between the angels above and men below; so that heaven was no meet place for a habitation unto them both, until they were reconciled; which was done only in the sacrifice of Christ, Ephesians 1:10. Hence, if the heavenly things were not defiled in themselves, yet in relation unto us they were so; which is now taken away.

The sum is: As the covenant, the book, the people, the tabernacle, were all purified, and dedicated unto their especial ends, by the blood of calves and goats, wherein was laid the foundation of all gracious intercourse between God and the church, under the old covenant; so all things whatever, that in the counsel of God belonged unto the new covenant, the whole mediation of Christ, with all the spiritual and eternal effects of it, were confirmed, dedicated unto God, and made effectual unto the ends of the covenant, by the blood of the sacrifice of Christ, which is the spring from whence efficacy is communicated unto them all. And moreover, the souls and consciences of the elect are purified and sanctified from all defilements thereby; which work is gradually carried on in them, by renewed applications of the same blood unto them, until they are all presented unto God glorious, “without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing.” And we are taught that, —

Obs. 3. The one sacrifice of Christ, with what ensued thereon, was the only means to render effectual all the counsels of God concerning the redemption and salvation of the church. Ephesians 1:3-7, Romans 3:24-26.

(3.) Of these heavenly things it is said, that they were purified “with better sacrifices than these,” — κρείττοσι θυσίαις παρὰ ταύτας. παρά is added to increase the signification. All sober expositors agree that here is an enallage of number, the plural put for the singular. The one sacrifice of Christ is alone intended. But because it answered all other sacrifices, exceeded them all in dignity, was of more use and efficacy than they all, it is so expressed. That one sacrifice comprised the virtue, benefit, and signification of all others. The gloss of Grotius on these words is intolerable, and justly offensive unto all pious souls: θυσίαις, saith he, “quia non tantum Christi perpessiones intelligit, sed eorum qui ipsum sectantur, una cum precibus et operibus misericordiae.” Is it possible that any Christian should not tremble to join the sufferings of men and their works with the sacrifice of Christ, as unto the same kind of efficacy in purifying of these heavenly things? Do they make atonement for sin? Are they offered unto God for that end? Are they sprinkled on these things for their purification?

(4.) The modification of the former proposition belongs unto this also. “It was necessary” these things should be thus purified:

[1.] As that which the holiness of God required, and which therefore in his wisdom and grace he appointed;

[2.] As that which in itself was meet and becoming the righteousness of God, Hebrews 2:10. Nothing but the sacrifice of Christ, with the everlasting efficacy of his most precious blood, could thus purify the heavenly things, and dedicate the whole new creation unto God.

(5.) The last thing we shall observe hereon is, that it was θυσία that this dedication and purification is ascribed unto. Now θυσία is a “slain sacrifice,” a sacrifice as slain; a sacrifice by mactation, killing, or shedding of blood. So is זֶבַח, also. Wherefore it is the sacrifice of Christ in his death and blood-shedding that is the cause of these things. Other θυσία of him there was none, he offered none. For the vindication hereof we must examine the comment of Schlichtingius on this place. His words are, —

“Licet enim non sanguinem suum Christus Deo obtulerit, sed se ipsum; tamen sine sanguinis effusione offerre se ipsum non potuit neque debuit. Ex eo vero quod diximus fit, ut auctor divinus Christum cum victimis legalibus contferens, perpetuo fugiat dicere Christi sanguinem fuisse oblatum; et nihilominus ut similitudini serviat, perpetuo Christi sanguinis fusionem insinuet, quae nisi antecessisset, hand quaquam tam plena, tamque concinna inter Christum et victimas antiquas comparatio institui potuisset. Ex his ergo manifestum est in ilia sancta celestia ad eorum dedicationem emundationemque peragendam, victimam pretiosissimam, proinde non sanguinem hircorum et vitulorum, imo ne sanguinem quidem ullum, sed ipsum Dei Filium, idque omnibus mortalis naturae exuviis de-positis, quo nulla pretiosior et sanctior victima cogitari potuit, debuisse inferri.”

Ans. [1.] The distinction between Christ offering [his blood and offering himself to God (the foundation of this discourse), is coined on purpose to pervert the truth. For neither did Christ offer his blood unto God but in the offering of himself, nor did he offer himself unto God but in and by the shedding and offering of his blood. There is no distinction between Christ offering of himself and offering of his blood, other than between the being of any thing and the form and manner of its being what it is

[2.] That “he could not offer himself without the antecedent effusion of his blood,” seems a kind concession; but it hath the same design with the preceding distinction. But in the offering of himself he was θυσία, “a slain sacrifice,” which was in and by the effusion of his blood; in the very shedding of it, it was offered unto God.

[3.] It is a useless observation, that the apostle, in comparing the sacrifice of Christ with the legal victims, doth (as it is said) “carefully avoid the saying that he offered his blood.” For in those legal sacrifices the beasts themselves were always said to be offered, although it was the blood alone wherewith atonement was made on the altar, Leviticus 17:11. And this the apostle expressly ascribes unto the blood of Christ, in answer unto the blood of bulls and goats, Hebrews 9:13-14.

[4.] The apostle doth not “insinuate the mention of the shedding of the blood of Christ only to make up a full and fit comparison with the legal victims,” as is impudently insinuated; but he directly ascribes the whole effect of reconciliation, peace, atonement, remission of sins, and sanctification, unto the blood of Christ, as shed and offered unto God. And this he doth not only in this epistle, where he insists on this comparison, but in other places also, where he hath no regard unto it, Romans 3:25; Ephesians 1:7; Ephesians 5:2; Ephesians 5:25-26; Titus 2:14; Colossians 1:20.

[5.] Having advanced thus far, in the close of his exposition he “excludes the blood of Christ from any more interest or efficiency in the purification of these heavenly things than the blood of goats and calves;” which is such an open contradiction unto the whole design and express words of the apostle, as that the assertion of it exceeds all the bounds of sobriety and modesty.

From the words thus opened, we may observe unto our own use, —

Obs. 4. Neither could heavenly things have been made meet for us or our use, nor we have been meet for their enjoyment, had they not been dedicated and we been purged by the sacrifice of Christ. — There was no suitableness either in them unto us, or in us unto them, until it was introduced by the blood of Christ. Without the efficiency hereof, heavenly things would not be heavenly unto the minds and souls of men; they would neither please them nor satisfy them, nor make them blessed. Unless they themselves are purged, all things, even heavenly things themselves, would be unclean and defiled unto them, Titus 1:15.

Obs. 5. Every eternal mercy, every spiritual privilege, is both purchased for us and sprinkled unto us by the blood of Christ.

Obs. 6. There is such an uncleanness in our natures, our persons, our duties, and worship, that unless they and we are all sprinkled with the blood of Christ, neither we nor they can have any acceptance with God.

Obs. 7. The sacrifice of Christ is the one, only, everlasting fountain and spring of all sanctification and sacred dedication; whereby the whole new creation is purified and dedicated unto God.


Verse 24

The opposition between the high priests of the law and their sacrifices, with their efficacy, and the Lord Christ with his sacrifice and its efficacy, is further carried on in this verse. And this is done in an instance of a dissimilitude between them, as it was showed in general before in how many things they did agree. And this dissimilitude consists in the place and manner of the discharge of their office, after the great expiatory sacrifice which each of them did offer.

The causal connection of the words doth also intimate that a further evidence is given unto what was before laid down, namely, that heavenly things were purified by the blood of Christ: ‘For, as an assurance thereof, upon the dedication of the new covenant he entered into heaven itself.’ Had he purified the things only on the earth, he could have entered only into an earthly sanctuary, as did the high priest of old. But he is entered, as the apostle now declares, into heaven itself; which, in the gracious presence of God therein, is the spring and center of all the things purified by his sacrifice.

Hebrews 9:24. οὐ γὰρ εἰς χειροποίητα ἅγια εἰσῆλθεν ὁ χριστὸς, ἀντίτυπα τῶν ἀληθινῶν, ἀλλ᾿ εἰς αὐτὸν τὸν οὐρανὸν νῦν ἐμρανισθῆναι τῷ προσώπῳ τοῦ θεοῦ ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν.

εἰς ἄγια. Syr., לְבֵית מַקְדְשָׁא, “into the house of the sanctuary.” “Sancta;” “sacrarium;” “sanctuarium;” “sancta sanctorum;” “the most holy place.” χειροποίητα. “Manufacta;” “manibus exstructa;” “built with hands.” ᾿αντίτυπα τῶν ἀληθινῶν. Syr., דִּאיתַיְהִי דְּמוּתָא דְּהָו שַׁיִירָא, “which is the similitude of that which is true.” Vulg., “exemplaria verorum;” “exemplar respondens veris illis;” “an example answering unto the true,” a “resemblance of the true.” τῷ προσώπῳ. Syr., קְדָם פַרְצוכֵּהּ, “before the face;” “faciei,” “vultui,” “conspectui;” “in the presence.”

Hebrews 9:24. — For Christ is not entered into the holy places [the sanctuary] made with hands, the figures of the true; but into heaven itself; now to appear in the presence of God for us. There is in the words a dissimilitude between the Lord Christ and the priests of the law, or an opposition between what was done by the one and the other. And one branch of the antithesis, as unto affirmation on the one hand, is included in the negation on the other; for in that he says, “He is not entered into the holy places made with hands,” it is affirmed that the high priest did so of old, and no more.

In the words there is,

1. The subject spoken of; that is “Christ.”

2. A double proposition concerning him:

(1.) Negative; that “he is not entered into the holy places made with hands.”

(2.) Affirmative; that he is so “into heaven itself.”

3. The end of what is so affirmatively ascribed unto him; “to appear in the presence of God for us.”

First, The subject spoken of is “Christ.” “Jesus,” saith the Vulgar Latin; but all Greek copies, with the Syriac, have “Christ.” From the 15th verse he had spoken indefinitely of the mediator of the new covenant, what he was to be, and what he had to do, whoever he were. This mediator and the high priest of the church are one and the same. He makes application of all he had said unto one singular person, — Christ, our high priest.

Secondly, That which in general is ascribed unto him, or spoken of him, both negatively and affirmatively, is an entrance. That which was the peculiar dignity of the high priest of old, wherein the principal discharge of his duty did consist, and whereon the efficacy of his whole ministration did depend, was, that he, and he alone, did enter into the holy place, the typical representation of the presence of God. Wherefore such an entrance must our high priest have, after he had offered himself once for all.

This entrance of our high priest, as unto the place whereinto he entered, is expressed:

First negatively: “Not into the holy places made with hands.” The place intended is the sanctuary, or most holy place in the tabernacle. It is here expressed in the plural number, to answer the Hebrew הַקָּדָשִׁים קֹדֶשׁ; for so the LXX. render their reduplications wherewith they supply their want of superlatives. These holy places Christ entered not into.

A double description is here given of this place;

1. As unto its nature;

2. As unto its use: —

1. As unto its nature, it was “made with hands,” built by the hands of men. The manner of this building was part of its glory; for it relates unto the framing and erection of the tabernacle in the wilderness. And as this was wholly directed by God himself, so he endowed them in an extraordinary manner with singular skill and wisdom by whom the work was wrought. But as unto the thing itself, it is a diminution from its glory, not absolutely, but comparatively; — yet was still made by the hands of men, and so had no glory in comparison of that which doth excel, namely, “heaven itself.”

2. As unto the use of these “holies,” they were ἀντίτυπα τῶν ἀληθινῶν. ᾿αντίτυπον is sometimes used for πρᾶγμα ἀντὶ τοῦ τὺπου, — “that which is signified by the type;” and this we commonly call the antitype. So is the word used by the apostle Peter, 1 Peter 3:21; — the substance of what is typified. Sometimes it is used for τύπος ἀντι τοῦ πράγματος, — “the type and resemblance of the thing signified.” So is it here used, and well rendered “figures. And what the apostle calls ὑποδείγματα in the foregoing verse, he here calls ἀντίτυπα. They are therefore the same; only they express different respects and notions of the same things. As the delineation and representation of heavenly things in them were obscure and dark, they were ὑποδείγματα, “similitudes,” resemblances of heavenly things; as that representation which they had and made of them was a transcript from the original pattern and idea in the mind of God, and showed unto Moses in the mount, they were ἀντίτυπα, or express “figures.”

And they were thus “figures of the true;” that is, the true holies. “True” in these expressions is opposed unto shadowy and typical, not unto that which is false or adulterated. So John 1:17-18, “real,” “substantial;” the things originally signified in all these institutions.

This is a brief description of the place whereinto the high priest under the law did enter, wherein his great privilege did consist, and whereon the efficacy of all his other administrations did depend. And it is described,

1. With respect unto its institution; it was “the most holy place,” peculiarly dedicated unto the reception of the especial pledges of the presence of God.

2. As unto its fabric; it was “made with hands;” though of an excellent structure, directed by God himself, and framed by his especial command, yet was it in itself no more but the work of men’s hands.

3. As unto its principal end and use; it was a “figure” and “resemblance” of heavenly things.” All God’s appointments in his service have their proper season, beauty, glory, and use; which are all, given them by his appointment. Even the things that were made with men’s hands had so, whilst they had the force of a divine institution. To enter into the presence of God, represented by the typical pledges of it in this place, was the height of what the high priest under the law attained unto. And this he did on the ground of the dedication and purification of the tabernacle by the blood of the sacrifices of goats and calves. And it may be said, ‘If the Lord Jesus Christ be the high priest of the church, hither or into this place he ought to have entered.’I answer, He ought indeed so to have done, if by his sacrifice he had purified only earthly things; but whereas he had no such design, nor were the temporal things of the whole creation worth the purification with one drop of his blood, but they were things spiritual and heavenly that were purified by his sacrifice, he was not to “enter into the holy places made with hands, the figures of the true, but into heaven itself.”

Secondly, In opposition unto what is denied of him, and which is therein ascribed unto the high priest of the law, the place whereinto he did enter is called “heaven itself.” The entrance spoken of was sacerdotal, not triumphant and regal, as I have elsewhere declared. And by this “heaven itself,” a peculiar place is intended. The apostle hath in several places affirmed that in his ascension he “passed through the heavens,” and “was made higher than the heavens.” Wherefore by this “heaven itself,” some place that is called so by the way of eminency is intended. This in the Scripture is sometimes called “the heaven of heavens,” and “the third heaven;” the place of the peculiar residence of the presence, majesty, and glory of God, and of his throne; where all the blessed saints enjoy his presence, and all his holy angels minister unto him; — a place above all these aspect-able heavens, the heavens which we do behold.

The entrance of Christ into heaven as our high priest was into it as the temple of God; wherein the chief thing considerable is the throne of grace. For it is that which answers unto and was signified by the entrance of the high priest into the most holy place in the tabernacle: and there was nothing therein but the ark and the mercy-seat, with the cherubim of glory overshadowing them; which, as we have declared, was a representation of a throne of grace. He entered likewise into heaven triumphantly, as, it was the palace of God, the throne of the great King, and sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high; but this he did with respect unto the execution of his kingly office with authority and power For as the offices of Christ are distinct, and their exercise is so also, so heaven itself, wherein he now dischargeth them all, is proposed unto us under diverse considerations, distinctly answering unto the work that the Lord Christ hath yet to perform therein.

Obs. 1. And this serves unto the direction and encouragement of faith. — When we apply ourselves unto Christ to seek for aid for the subduing and destruction of our spiritual adversaries by his ruling power, — that mighty power “whereby he is able to subdue all things unto himself,” — we consider him on the throne of majesty, in the full possession of “all power in heaven and in earth.” Hereby is faith both encouraged and directed in its acting or approach unto him. And when we go unto him for relief under our temptations, with a sense of the guilt of sin, which requires tenderness and compassion, we consider him as in the temple of God, appearing as our high priest before the throne of grace, Hebrews 4:14-16.

Obs. 2. This representation is the spring of all spiritual consolation. — God on a throne of grace, the Lord Christ before it in the exercise of his office with faithfulness, compassion, and power, is the spring and center of all the comforts of the church.

Schlichtingius affirms on this place, that these things are spoken of Christ only in “a neat and handsome metaphor, under which he is compared unto the priests of old.” And the whole of his discourse tends unto this, that it is a comparison framed or coined by the apostle for the illustration of what he intends. But this is not to interpret the meaning of his words, but directly to oppose his whole design. For it is not a fancied, framed comparison that the apostle insists on, but a declaration of the typical significancy of legal institutions; and his purpose is to manifest the accomplishment of them all in Christ alone.

Thirdly. The end of this sacerdotal entrance of Christ into heaven is expressed: “Now to appear in the presence of God for us.”

A further degree of opposition between our high priest and those of the law is expressed in these words. They entered into the holy place, to appear for the people, and to present their supplications unto God; but this was only in an earthly tabernacle, and that before a material ark and mercy- seat. In what is here ascribed unto Christ there are many differences from what was so done by them.

1. In the time of what he did or doth; νῦν, “now,” — at this present season, and always. What those others did was of no continuance; but this “NOW” is expressive of the whole season and duration of time from the entrance of Christ into heaven unto the consummation of all things. So he declares it in the next verse. He never departs out of the sanctuary to prepare for a new sacrifice, as they did of old. There is no moment of time, wherein it may not be said, ‘He now appeareth for us.’

2. In the end of his entrance into this heavenly sanctuary; ἐμφανισθῆναι, — that is, εἰς τό; “to appear.” Absolutely his entrance into heaven had other ends, but this is the only end of his entering into heaven as God’s temple, the seat of the throne of grace, as our high priest. And the whole discharge of the remaining duties of his sacerdotal office are comprised in this word, as we shall immediately demonstrate.

3. In that he doth thus appear τῷ προσώπῳ τοῦ θεοῦ, — “vultui,” “conspectui,” “faciei Dei;” that is, the immediate presence of God, in opposition unto the typical symbols of it in the tabernacle, before which the high priest presented himself. The high priest appeared before the ark, the cherubim and mercy-seat, composed into the form of a throne: Christ enters into the real presence of God, standing in his sight, before his face; and this expresseth his full assurance of his success in his undertaking, and his full discharge from that charge of the guilt of sin which he underwent Had he not made an end of it, had he not absolutely been freed from it, he could not have thus appeared with confidence and boldness in the presence of God.

4. This is said to be done ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν, — “for us.” This refers only to “appear,” — to appear for us; that is, as we shall see, to do all things with God for us at the throne of grace, that we may be saved. The words being opened, the nature of the thing itself, namely, of the present appearance of Christ in heaven, must be further inquired into. And it may be declared in the ensuing observations: —

1. It is an act of his sacerdotal office. Not only he who is our high priest doth so appear, but he so doth as the high priest of the church. For such was the duty of the high priest under the law, whereby it was typified and represented. His entrance into the holy place, and presentation of himself before the mercy-seat, was in the discharge of his office, and he did it by virtue thereof. And this is one principal foundation of the church’s comfort, namely, that the present appearance of Christ in the presence of God is a part of his office, a duty in the discharge of it.

2. It is such an act and duty of our high priest as supposeth the offering of himself a sacrifice for sin antecedently thereunto; for it was with the blood of the expiatory sacrifices offered before on the altar that the high priest entered into the holy place. It hath therefore regard unto his antecedent sacrifice, or his offering himself in his death and blood-shedding unto God. Without a supposition hereof he could not, as our high priest, have entered into the sanctuary and have appeared in the presence of God. Wherefore, —

3. It supposeth the accomplishment of the work of the redemption of the church. His words in this appearance before God are expressed, John 17:4, “I have glorified thee on the earth; I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do; and now I come unto thee.” He was sent of God into the world on this great errand, for this great work; and he returned not unto him, he appeared not in the presence of him that sent him, until he had fulfilled it, and was ready in all things to give an account of it unto the eternal glory of God.

4. In this his appearance he presents himself unto God as a Lamb that had been slain, Revelation 5:6. He is now alive, and lives for ever. But there must, as unto efficacy in this appearance, be a representation of his sacrifice, his suffering, his death, his blood, — of himself as a Lamb slain and offered unto God. And this was to be so in answer unto the blood of the expiatory sacrifice which the high priest carried into the holy place. For he was himself both the priest and the sacrifice, the offerer and the lamb. And as that blood was sprinkled before the ark and the mercy-seat, to apply the atonement made unto all the sacred pledges of God’s presence and good-will; so from this representation of the offering of Christ, of himself as “a Lamb that had been slain,” in this his appearance before God, doth all the application of its benefits unto the church proceed.

5. He thus appears for us. He is therein, therefore, the great representative of the church, or he represents the whole church of his redeemed unto God. There is more in it than merely for our good. It is as it were the appearance of an advocate, a law-appearance in the behalf of others. So is it declared 1 John 2:1-2. He will at the end of all present his whole church unto God, with the whole work of his love and grace accomplished towards them. He first so presents it unto himself, and then to God, Ephesians 5:26-27. Now he presents them as the portion given unto him of God out of fallen mankind to be redeemed and saved; saying, ‘“Behold I and the children which thou gavest me; thine they were, and thou gavest them to me.” I present them unto thy love and care, holy Father, that they may enjoy all the fruits of thine eternal love, all the benefits of my death and sacrifice.’

6. This is the great testimony of the continuation of his love, care, and compassion towards the church, now he is in the height of his own glory. Love, care, and compassion, belong unto him in an especial manner as he is a high priest; which we have declared on many occasions. They are the spring of all his sacerdotal actings. And they are all witnessed unto in his perpetual appearance in the presence of God for us.

7. This also compriseth his being an advocate. He is hereby in a continual readiness to plead our cause against all accusations, which is the especial nature of his work as an advocate; which is distinct from his intercession, whereby he procures supplies of grace and mercy for us.

8. This account of the appearance of Christ before God on the throne of grace gives direction into a right apprehension of the way of the dispensation of all saving grace and mercy unto the church. The spring and fountain of it is God himself, not absolutely considered, but as on a throne of grace. Goodness, grace, love, and mercy, are natural unto him; but so also are righteousness and judgment. That he should be on a throne of grace is an act of his sovereign will and pleasure, which is the original spring of the dispensation of all grace unto the church. The procuring cause of all grace and mercy for the church, as issuing from this throne of grace, is the sacrifice of Christ, whereby atonement was made for sin, and all heavenly things purified unto their proper end. Hence he is continually represented before this throne of God, “as a Lamb that had been slain.” The actual application of all grace and mercy unto the church, and every member of it, depends on this his appearance before God, and the intercession wherewith it is accompanied.

Schlichtingius grants on the place, that Christ doth indeed “solicitously take care of the salvation of the church;” but “yet God,” saith he, “doth grant it of mere mercy, without any regard unto satisfaction or merit; which,” saith he, “we exclude.” And the only reason he gives for their so doing is this, that “where there is satisfaction or merit, there is no need of oblation, appearance, or intercession.” But this fancy (opposed unto the wisdom of God in the dispensation of himself and his grace) ariseth from their corrupt notion of these things. If the oblation of Christ, with his appearance in heaven and intercession, were nothing but what they imagine them to be, — that is, his appearance in heaven with all power committed unto him, and the administration of it for our good, — his satisfaction and merit could not directly be thence proved. Yet also on the other hand are they no way disproved thereby; for they might be antecedently necessary unto the exercise of this power. But the argument is firm on the other hand. There is in the dispensation of grace and mercy respect had unto satisfaction and merit, because it is by the blood and sacrifice of Christ, as it is the design of the apostle to declare. For whereas he was therein an “offering for sin,” was “made sin for us,” and “bare our sins,” undergoing the penalty or curse of the law due unto them, which we call his satisfaction or sufferings in our stead; and whereas all that he did antecedently unto the oblation of himself for the salvation of the church, he did it in a way of obedience, unto God, by virtue of the compact or covenant between the Father and him for our salvation unto his glory, which we call his merit: unto these there is respect in the dispensation of grace, or the Lord Christ lived and died in vain. But to declare their apprehension of these things, the same author adds: “Porro in pontifice legali, apparitio distincta erat ab oblatione, licet utraque erat conjuncta et simul fieret; nempe quia alius erat pontifex, alia victima; et apparebat quidem pontifex, offerebatur autem victima, seu sanguis victimae: at nostri pontificis et oblatio et apparitio, quemadmodum et interpellatio, reipsa idem sunt; quia nimirum idem est pontifex et victima. Dum enim apparet Christus, seipsum offert; et dum seipsum offert, apparet; dum autem et offert et apparet, interpellat.”

1. It is not true that the oblation or offering of the sacrifice by the high priest, and his appearance in the holy place, “was at the same time;” for he offered his sacrifice at the altar without, and afterwards entered with the blood into the holy place.

2. He grants that the blood of the sacrifice was offered; but will not allow that the blood of Christ was offered at all, nor that Christ offered himself before he had laid aside both flesh and blood, having no such thing belonging unto him.

3. That the sacrifice of Christ, his oblation, appearance, and intercession, are all one and the same, and that nothing but his power and care in heaven for the salvation of the church are intended by them, is an imagination expressly contradictory unto the whole design and all the reasonings of the apostle in the context. For he carefully distinguisheth these things one from the other, showeth the different and distinct times of them under the old testament, declareth their distinct natures, acts, and effects, with the different places of their performance. Violence also is offered unto the signification of the words, and the common notion of things intended by them, to make way for this conceit. In common use and force, προσφορά or θυσία are one thing, and ἐμφανισμός and ἔντευξις are others. It is true, the Lord Christ is in him self both the priest and the sacrifice; but it doth not thence follow that his offering of himself and his appearance in the presence of God for us are the same, but only that they are the acts of the same person.

This continual appearance of the Lord Christ for us, as our high priest in the presence of God, in the way explained, is the foundation of the safety of the church in all ages, and that whereon all our consolation doth depend; whence relief is derived by faith on all occasions. The consideration hereof being rightly improved will carry us through all difficulties, temptations, and trials, with safety unto the end.


Verse 25

οὐδ᾿ ἵνα πολλάκις προσφέρῃ ἐαυτὸν, ὥσπερ ὁ ἀρχιερεὺς εἰσέρχεται εἰς τὰ ἅγια κατ᾿ ἐνιαυτὸν ἐν αἵματι ἀλλοτρίῳ.

οὐδέ. Syr., אַ לָא, “and not also;” “neque,” “neither;” “nor yet.”

῾εαυτόν. Syr., נַפְשֵׁהּ, “his soul;” he made his soul an offering for sin. πολλάκις. Syr., זַבְנָתָא סַגְּיָאתָא, “many times.” ᾿εν αἵματι ἀλλοτρίῳ,. Syr., בַּדְמָא דְּלָא דִּילֵהּ, “in” or “with blood that was not his own,” properly, Heb., בְּדַּם אַחֵר, “with other blood,” or the blood of another.

Hebrews 9:25. Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with the blood of others.

In the foregoing verse there is an opposition in the comparison between the Lord Christ and the high priest of the law; yet is it such as hath its foundation in a similitude that is between them, and therefore respects not so much the things themselves opposed as, the manner of them. For as the Lord Christ entered not into the holy place made with hands, but into heaven itself; so the high priest had an entrance also, yet not into heaven, but into that other holy place. But in this verse there is an opposition in the comparison that hath no foundation in any similitude between them, and that is absolutely denied of Christ which belonged essentially unto the discharge of the office of the high priest of old. Many things ensued on the weakness and imperfection of the types which would not allow that there should be a perfect, complete resemblance in them of the substance itself, that all things between them should exactly answer unto one another. Hence they did at best but obscurely represent the good things to come, and in some things it was not possible but there should be a great discrepancy between them.

The assertion in these words proceeds on a supposition of the duty of the high priest, which had that reason for it, as that it was absolutely necessary that our high priest should not do after the same manner. The high priest ended not his work of offering sacrifice by his entrance into the holy place with the blood of it, but he was to repeat the same sacrifice again every year. This, therefore, in correspondence with this type, might be expected from Christ also, namely, that whereas he offered himself unto God through the eternal Spirit, and afterwards entered into the holy place, or heaven itself, he should offer himself again, and so have another entrance into the presence of God. This the apostle denies him to have done; and in the next verse gives a demonstration, proving it was impossible he should so do. And hereof he gives the reason both in the remaining verses of this chapter and the beginning of the next. The repetition of the annual sacrifices under the law was mainly from hence, because they were not able perfectly to effect that which they did signify; but the one sacrifice of Christ did at once perfectly accomplish what they did represent. Herein, therefore, of necessity there was to be a difference, a dissimilitude, an opposition between what those high priests did as unto the repetition of sacrifices, and what was done by our high priest, which is expressed in this verse.

The introduction of the apostle’s assertion is by the disjunctive negative, οὐδέ, “nor yet.” It answers the negative in the first part of the preceding verse: ‘He entered not into the holy place made with hands, as the high priest; nor yet did what the high priest did afterwards.’

In the words themselves, there are two things:

1. What is denied of the Lord Christ.

2. The limitation of that denial unto the other part of the comparison, as unto what the high priest did: —

First, It is denied of him that he did thus enter into heaven that he should offer himself often. ‘It doth not follow,’saith the apostle, ‘that because as a high priest he entered into heaven, as the high priest of the law entered into the holy place made with hands, he should therefore offer himself often, as that high priest offered every year.’It was not required of him; there was no need of it, for the reasons mentioned; it was impossible he should. For this offering of himself was not his appearance in the presence of God; but the one sacrifice of himself by death, as the apostle declares in the next verse. That he should so offer himself often, more than once, was needless, from the perfection of that one offering, — “By one offering he hath for ever perfected them that were sanctified;” and impossible, from the condition of his person, — he could not die often. What remains for the exposition of these words will be declared in the removal of those false glosses and wrestings of them whereby some endeavor to pervert them. The Socinians plead from hence that the sacrifice of Christ, or his offering of himself, is the same with his appearance in heaven and the presentation of himself in the presence of God; and they do it out of hatred unto the atonement made by his blood. For, say they, “it is here compared unto the entrance of the high priest into the holy place every year; which was only an appearance in the presence of God.”

Ans. 1. There is no such comparison intended in the words. The apostle mentioning the entrance of the high priest with blood into the holy place, intends only to evince the imperfection of that service, in that after he had done so he was again to offer renewed sacrifices every year; a sufficient evidence that those sacrifices could never make them perfect who came unto God by them. With Christ it was not so, as the apostle declares. So that there is not herein a comparison between the things themselves, but an opposition between their effects.

2. It is granted that the entrance of the high priest into the holy place belonged unto the complement or perfection of his service in the expiatory sacrifice. But the sacrifice itself did not consist therein. So likewise did the entrance of Christ into heaven belong unto the perfection of the effects and efficacy of his sacrifice, as unto the way of its application unto the church. So far there is a comparison in the words, and no farther.

3. That the sacrifice of Christ, or his offering himself once for all, once, and not often, is the same with his continual presentation of himself in the presence of God, is both false in itself and contrary to the express design of the apostle. For, —

(1.) It is θυσία, a slain or bloody sacrifice, whereof he treats, as he expressly calls it, verse 26; but there is no shedding of blood in the appearance of Christ in heaven; nor, according to these men, any such thing appertaining unto his nature.

(2.) These things are distinguished in the Scripture, from their different natures and effects, 1 John 2:1-2.

(3.) His sacrifice, or the offering of himself, is so affirmed to be one, as to consist in one individual act. It is not only said that it was “one offering,” but that. it was “once” only “offered,” verses 26, 28. This is no way reconcilable unto his continual appearance in the presence of God.

(4.) His offering is mentioned by the apostle as that which was then past, and no more to be repeated: “He hath by one offering perfected for ever them that are sanctified.”

(5.) His oblation was accompanied with, and inseparable from suffering; so he declares in the next verse, proving that he could not often offer himself, because he could not often suffer. But his presentation of himself in heaven is not only inconsistent with actual suffering, but also with any obnoxiousness thereunto. It belongs unto his state of exaltation and glory.

(6.) The time of the offering of himself is limited unto the end of the world, “Now once in the end of the world,” in opposition unto the season that passed before; denoting a certain determinate season in the dispensation of times; of which afterwards.

(7.) This imagination is destructive of the principal design and argument of the apostle. For he proves the imperfection of the sacrifices of the law, and their insufficiency to consummate the church, from their annual repetition; affirming, that if they could have perfected the worshippers they would have ceased to have been offered: yet was that sacrifice which he respects repeated only once a-year. But on this supposition, the sacrifice of Christ must be offered always, and never cease to be actually offered; which reflects a greater imperfection on it than was on those which were repeated only once a year. But the apostle expressly affirms that the sacrifice which could effect its end must “cease to be offered,” Hebrews 10:2. Whereas, therefore, “by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified,” he doth not continue to offer himself; though he doth continue to appear in the presence of God to make application of the virtue of that one offering unto the church.

The expositors of the Roman church do raise an objection on this place, for no other end but that they may return an answer unto it perniciously opposite unto and destructive of the truth here taught by the apostle; though some of them do acknowledge that it is capable of another answer. But this is that which they principally insist upon as needful unto their present cause. They say, therefore, “That if Christ cease to offer himself, then it seems that his sacerdotal office ceaseth also; for it belongs unto that office to offer sacrifices continually.” But there is no force in this objection; for it belonged to no priest to offer any other or any more sacrifices but what were sufficient and effectual unto the end of them and their office. And such was the one sacrifice of Christ. Besides, though it be not actually repeated, yet it is virtually applied always; and this belongs unto the present discharge of his sacerdotal office. So doth also his appearance in heaven for us, with his intercession; where he still continues in the actual exercise of his priesthood, so far as is needful or possible. But they have an answer of their own unto their own objection. They say, therefore, that “Christ continueth to offer himself every day in the sacrifice of the mass, by the hands of the priests of their church.” And, “This sacrifice of him, though it be unbloody, yet is a true, real sacrifice of Christ; the same with that which he offered on the cross.”

It is better never to raise objections than thus to answer them. For this is not to expound the words, but to dispute against the doctrine of the apostle, as I shall briefly evince: —

1. That the Lord Christ hath “by the one offering of himself for ever perfected them that are sanctified,” is a fundamental article of faith. Where this is denied or overthrown, either directly or by just consequence, the church is overthrown also. But this is expressly denied in the doctrine of the frequent repetition of his sacrifice, or of the offering of himself. And there is no instance wherein the Romanists do more expressly oppose the fundamental articles of religion.

2. The repetition of sacrifices arose solely from their imperfection, as the apostle declares, Hebrews 10:1-2. And if it undeniably proved an imperfection in the sacrifices of the law that they were repeated once every year, in one place only, how great must the imperfection of the sacrifice of Christ be esteemed, if it be not effectual to take away sin and perfect them that are sanctified unless it be repeated every day, and that, it may be, in a thousand places!

3. To say that Christ offereth himself often, is expressly and in terms contradictory to the assertion of the apostle. Whatever, therefore, they may apprehend of the offering of him by their priests, yet most certain it is that he doth not every day offer himself. But as the faith of the church is concerned in no offering of Christ but that which he offered himself, of himself, by the eternal Spirit, once for all, so the pretense to offer him often by the priests is highly sacrilegious.

4. The infinite actings of the divine nature in supporting and influencing of the human, the inexpressible operation of the Holy Ghost in him unto such a peculiar acting of all grace, especially of zeal unto the glory of God and compassion for the souls of men, as are inimitable unto the whole creation, were required unto the offering of himself a sacrifice of a sweet-smelling savor unto God. And how can a poor sinful mortal man, such as are the best of their priests, pretend to offer the same sacrifice unto God?

5. An unbloody sacrifice is,

(1.) A contradiction in itself. θυσία, which is the only sacrifice which the apostle treats of, is “victimae mactatio,” as well as “victimae mactatae oblatio.” It is a sacrifice by death, and that by blood-shedding; other θυσία there never was any.

(2.) If it might be supposed, yet is it a thing altogether useless; for “without shedding of blood there is no remission.” The rule, I acknowledge, is firstly expressed with respect unto legal sacrifices and oblations: yet is it used by the apostle, by an argument drawn from the nature and end of those institutions, to prove the necessity of blood- shedding in the sacrifice of Christ himself for the remission of sin. An unbloody sacrifice for the re-minion of sin overthrows both the law and the gospel

(3.) It is directly contrary unto the argument of the apostle in the next verse; wherein he proves that Christ could not offer himself often. For he doth it by affirming, that if he did so then must he “often suffer;” that is, by the effusion of his blood, which was absolutely necessary in and unto his sacrifice. Wherefore an unbloody sacrifice, which is without suffering, whatever it be, is not the sacrifice of Christ; for if he be often offered, he must often suffer, as the apostle affirms. Nor is it unto any purpose to say, that this unbloody sacrifice of the mass receiveth its virtue and efficacy from the one sacrifice of Christ on the cross, as is pleaded by the defenders of it; for the question is not what value it hath, nor whence it hath it, but whether it be the sacrifice of Christ himself or no.

To sum up the substance of this whole controversy: The sacrifice or offering of Christ was,

1. By himself alone, through the eternal Spirit.

2. Was of his whole human nature, as to the matter of it. He made his soul an offering for sin.

3. Was by death and blood-shedding; whereon its entire efficacy as unto atonement, reconciliation, and the sanctification of the church, do depend.

4. Was once only offered, and could be so no more, from the glory of his person and the nature of the sacrifice itself.

5. Was offered with such glorious internal actings of grace as no mortal creature can comprehend.

6. Was accompanied with his bearing the curse of the law and the punishment due unto our sins; which were taken away thereby. And in all this the human nature was supported, sustained, and acted by the divine in the same person; which gave the whole duty its efficacy and merit.

That pretended in the mass is,

1. Offered by priests, without him, or those which call themselves so; who therefore rather represent them by whom he was crucified than himself who offered himself alone.

2. Is only of bread and wine, which have nothing in them of the soul of Christ, allowing their transubstantiation.

3. Can have no influence into the remission of sins, being confessedly unbloody, whereas “without the shedding of blood there is no remission.”

4. Is often offered, — that is, every day; declaring a greater imperfection in it than was in the great expiatory sacrifice of the law, which was offered only once a year.

5. Requires unto it no grace in the offerer, but only an intention to do his office.

6. Doth in nothing answer the curse of the law, and therefore makes no atonement. Wherefore these things are so far from being the same sacrifice, as that they are opposite, inconsistent, and the admission of the one is the destruction of the other.

Some observations we may take from the text.

Obs. 1. Such is the absolute perfection of the one offering of Christ, that it stands in need of, that it will admit of no repetition in any kind. Hence the apostle affirms that if it be despised or neglected, “there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin.” There is none of any other kind, nor any repetition to be made of itself, as there was of the most solemn legal sacrifices. Neither of them is consistent with its perfection. And this absolute perfection of the one offering of Christ ariseth,

1. From the dignity of his person, Acts 20:28. There needs no newoffering after that, wherein he who offered and who was offered was God and man in one person. The repetition of this offering is inconsistent with the glory of the wisdom, righteousness, holiness, and grace of God, and would be utterly derogatory to the dignity of his person.

2. From the nature of the sacrifice itself:

(1.) In the internal gracious actings of his soul; He “offered himself unto God through the eternal Spirit.” Grace and obedience could never be more glorified.

(2.) In the punishment he underwent, answering and taking away the whole curse of the law; any further offering for atonement is highly blasphemous.

(3.) From the love of the Father unto him, and delight in him. As in his person, so in his one offering, the soul of God resteth and is well pleased.

(4.) From its efficacy unto all the ends of a sacrifice. Nothing was ever designed therein but was at once accomplished by this one offering of Christ. Wherefore, —

Obs. 2. This one offering of Christ is always effectual unto all the ends of it, even no less than it was in the day and hour when it was actually offered. — Therefore it needs no repetition like those of old, which could affect the conscience of a sinner only for a season, and until the incursion of some new sin. This is always fresh in the virtue of it, and needs nothing but renewed application by faith for the communication of its effects and fruits unto us. Wherefore, —

Obs. 3. The great call and direction of the gospel is to guide faith, and keep it up unto this one offering of Christ, as the spring of all grace and mercy. — This is the immediate end of all its ordinances of worship. In the preaching of the word, the Lord Christ is set forth as evidently crucified before our eyes; and in the ordinance of the supper especially is it represented unto the peculiar exercise of faith.

Secondly. But we must proceed to a brief exposition of the remainder of this verse. The one offering of Christ is not here proposed absolutely, but in opposition unto the high priest of the law, whose entrance into the holy place did not put an end unto his offering of sacrifices, but his whole service about them was to be annually repeated. This sacrifice of the high priest we have treated of before, and shall therefore now only open these words wherein it is expressed: —

1. The person spoken of is “the high priest;” that is, any one, every one that is so, or that was so in any age of the church from the institution of that priesthood unto the expiration of it. “As the high priest;” in like manner as he did.

2. It is affirmed of him, that he “entereth,” in the present tense. Some think that respect is had unto the continuance of the temple-service at that time. “He entereth;” that is, he continueth so to do. And this the apostle sometimes admits of, as Hebrews 8:4. But in this place he intends no more but the constitution of the law. ‘According unto the law, he entereth. This is that which the law requires.’And hereby, as in other instances, the apostle lays before their consideration a scheme of their ancient worship, as it was at first established, that it might be the better compared with the dispensation of the new covenant and the ministry of Christ.

3. This entrance is limited unto “the holy place;” the most holy place in the tabernacle or temple, the holy place made with hands.

4. There is the season of his entrance; “yearly:” once in an annual revolution, on the day fixed by the law, the tenth day of the month Tizri, or our September.

5. The manner of his entrance was, “with the blood of others;” “blood that was not his own,” as the Syriac expresseth it. The blood of the sacrifice of Christ was his own. He “redeemed the church διὰ τοῦ ἰδίου αἵματος,

Acts 20:28. Hereunto ἀλλότριον is opposed, — דַּם אַחֵר, “other blood,” “the blood of others;” that is, the blood of bulls and goats offered in sacrifice: “in” for “cum,” say most expositors; which is not unusual. See 1 John 5:6; Genesis 32:10; Hosea 4:3. The meaning is, by virtue of the blood of others, which he carried with him into the holy place. That which is denied of Christ, the antitype, is the repetition of this service, and that because of the perfection of his sacrifice; the other being repeated because of their imperfection. And we may observe, that —

Obs. 4. Whatever had the greatest glory in the old legal institutions, carried along with it the evidence of its own imperfection, compared with the thing signified in Christ and his office. — The entrance of the high priest into the holy place was the most glorious solemnity of the law; howbeit the annual repetition of it was a sufficient evidence of its imperfection, as the apostle disputes in the beginning of the next chapter.


Verse 26

᾿επεὶ ἔδει αὐτὸν πολλάκις παθεῖν ἀπὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου· νῦν δὲ ἅπαξ ἐπὶ συντελείᾳ τῶν αἰώνων, εἰς ἀθέτησιν ἀμαρτίας διὰ τῆς θυσίας αὐτοῦ πεφαςέρωται.

᾿επεί is properly causal; “quia,” “quandoquidem, quoniam.” But it is generally rendered in this place by all expositors, “alioquin,” by concession, — ‘If it were so that he would offer, offer himself;’ “for otherwise.” ῎εδει. Syr., הֲוָא חַיּבָ, “he would have been a debtor;” it would have been due from him. “Oportebat,’ “oportuisset;” “he ought.” πολλάκις. Vulg., “frequenter pati.” Others, “saepe,” “saepius passum fuisse;” “to have suffered often,” “more often,” “frequently;” that is, once every year. Syriac, דְּזַבְנָתָא סַגְיָאתָא, “many times,” and not once only.

Hebrews 9:26. — For then [if otherwise] must he [he ought] often [to] have suffered since [from] the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world [in the consummation of times] hath he appeared, [been made manifest,] to put away [to abolish, or for the destruction of.] sin by the sacrifice of himself.

There are sundry difficulties in these words, both as to the signification and construction of them, as also as unto their sense and importance, with the nature of the argument contained in them and the things treated of. I shall not repeat the various conjectures of expositors, most of which are alien from the mind of the apostle and easy to be refuted, if that belonged any way unto the edification of the reader; but I shall only give that account of the whole and the several parts of it which, according unto the best of my understanding, doth represent the mind of the Holy Ghost with perspicuity and clearness.

There are two parts of the words:

1. A reason confirming the foregoing assertion, that Christ was not often to offer himself, as the high priest did offer sacrifice every year when he entered into the holy place: “For then must he,” etc.

2. A confirmation of that reason, from the nature and end of the sacrifice of Christ, as stated in matter of fact according unto the appointment of God: “But now once in the end,” etc.

In the FIRST, we may consider,

1. The note of connection and of the introduction of the reason insisted on.

2. The signification or sense of the words.

3. The ground and nature of the argument contained in them.

First, The note of connection is ἐπεί, which we render, “for then:” ‘If it were so, namely; that Christ should often offer himself;’‘Had it been otherwise, that Christ had so offered himself:’so we observed that most translate the word by “alioquin.’Either way the intention of the apostle is expressed, which is to confirm what he had before affirmed, by the introduction of a new reason of it.

Secondly, From a supposition of the contrary unto what he had affirmed, the apostle proves not only the truth but the necessity of his assertion. “For then,”

1. “He must,” “he ought,” “he would have been a debtor,” as the Syriac speaks; it would have been due from him, and indispensably required of him. It would have been so “necessitate medii,” which is the greatest in divine institutions and duties. There could have been no such thing, unless that which he now infers from it be allowed, which was utterly impossible.

2. That which he ought so to have done, is “to suffer” in the offering of himself. All the sufferings of Christ, in the whole course of his humiliation and obedience, are sometimes expressed by this word, as Hebrews 5:8. But the suffering here intended is that of his death, and the shedding of his blood therein alone; that which accompanied and was inseparable from his actual sacrifice, or the mactation of himself; — ‘to have died, to have shed his blood, to have underwent the penalty and curse of the law.’

3. “Often,” “frequently,” as the high priest offered sacrifice of old once every year.

4. “Since,” or rather, “from the foundation of the world.” This expression is sometimes used absolutely for the original of the world in its creation, for the absolute beginning of time and all things measured by it, Ephesians 1:4; Matthew 25:34; John 17:24; 1 Peter 1:20; —

sometimes for what immediately succeeded on that beginning, Matthew 13:35; Luke 11:50; Hebrews 4:3; Revelation 13:8. And it is in the latter sense that it is here used. “From the foundation of the world;” that is, from the first entrance of sin into the world, and the giving of the first promise, which was immediately after the creation of it, or its foundation and constitution in its original frame. This is the first thing on record in the Scripture. So “God spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began, Luke 1:70; that is, the first revelation of God unto the church concerning the Messiah, with all that succeeded. So Christ is said to be a “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world,” Revelation 13:8; because of the efficacy of his sacrifice extending itself unto the first entrance of sin, and the promise thereon, immediately on the foundation of the world. Wherefore, “The foundation of the world” absolutely is in its creation. “Before the foundation of the world,” is an expression of eternity, and the counsels of God therein, Ephesians 1:4; 1 Peter 1:20. “From the foundation of the world,” is mostly from the first entrance of sin, and God’s dispensation of grace in Christ thereon.

Thirdly, The third thing considerable in the words is the nature and force of the argument contained in them. And it is taken from the most cogent topics; for it is founded on these evident suppositions: —

1. That the suffering and offering of Christ are inseparable. For although, abstracted from the present subject-matter, suffering is one thing and offering another, yet the Lord Christ offered himself unto God in and by his suffering of death. And the reason hereof is, because he himself was both the priest and the sacrifice. The high priest of old offered often, yet never once suffered therein. For he was not the sacrifice itself. It was the lamb that was slain that suffered. Christ being both, he could not offer without suffering; no more than the high priest could offer without the suffering of the beast that was slain.

And herein doth the force of the argument principally consist. For he proves that Christ did not, nor could offer himself often; not absolutely, as though the reiteration of any kind of oblation were impossible, but from the nature of his especial offering or sacrifice, which was with and by suffering, — that is, his death and blood-shedding. And this wholly explodes the Socinian imagination of the nature of the offering of Christ. For if his offering might be separated from his suffering, and were nothing but the presentation of himself in the presence of God in heaven, it might have been reiterated without any inconvenience, nor would there have been any force in the arguing of the apostle; for if his oblation be only that presentation of himself, if God had ordered that it should have been done only at certain seasons, as once every year, nothing inconvenient would have ensued.

But the argument of the apostle against the repetition of the sacrifice of Christ, from the necessity of his suffering therein, is full of light and evidence; for, —

(1.) It was inconsistent with the wisdom, goodness, grace, and love of God, that Christ should often suffer in that way which was necessary unto the offering of himself, namely, by his death and blood-shedding. It was not consistent with the wisdom of God to provide that as the ultimate and only effectual means of the expiation of sin which was insufficient for it; for so it would have been if the repetition of it had been necessary. Nor was it so with his unspeakable love unto his Son, namely, that he should frequently suffer an ignominious and cursed death. It is the eternal object of the admiration of men and angels, that he should do it once. Had it been done often, who could have understood the love of the Father unto the Son, and not rather have conceived that he regarded him not in comparison of the church? whereas indeed his love to him is greater than that unto all others, and the cause of it. And moreover, it would have been highly dishonorable unto the Son of God, giving an appearance that his blood was of no more value or excellency than the blood of beasts, the sacrifice whereof was often repeated.

(2.) It was impossible, from the dignity of his person. Such a repetition of suffering was not consistent with the glory of his person, especially as it was necessary to be demonstrated unto the salvation of the church. That he once “emptied himself, and made himself of no reputation,” that he might be “obedient unto death, the death of the cross,” proved a stumbling-block unto the unbelieving Jews and Gentiles. The faith of the church was secured by the evident demonstration of his divine glory which immediately ensued thereon. But as the frequent repetition hereof would have been utterly inconsistent with the dignity of his divine person, so the most raised faith could never have attained a prospect of his glory.

(3.) It was altogether needless, and would have been useless. For, as the apostle demonstrates, “by one offering” of himself, and that once offered, “he put away sin,” and “for ever perfected them that are sanctified.”

Wherefore the argument of the apostle is firm on this supposition, that if he were often to offer himself then was he often to suffer also. But that he should so do, was, as inconsistent with the wisdom of God and the dignity of his own person, so altogether needless as unto the end of his offering. And, —

Obs. 1. As the sufferings of Christ were necessary unto the expiation of sin, so he suffered neither more nor oftener than was necessary.

2. The argument is also built on another supposition, namely, that there was a necessity for the expiation of the sin of all that were to be saved from the foundation of the world. For otherwise it might be objected, that there was no need at all that Christ should either offer or suffer before he did so, and that now it may be yet necessary that he should often offer himself, seeing that all sins before were either punished absolutely, or their sins were expiated and themselves saved some other way. And those by whom this supposition is rejected, as it is by the Socinians, can give no color of force unto the argument of the apostle, although they invent many allusions, whereby they endeavor to give countenance unto it. But whereas he discourseth of the only way and means of the expiation of sin, to prove that it was done at once, by the one offering of Christ, which needed no repetition, he supposeth,

(1.) That sin entered into the world from the foundation of it, or immediately upon its foundation, namely, in the sin and apostasy of our first parents.

(2.) That notwithstanding this entrance of it, many who were sinners, as the patriarchs from the beginning, and the whole Israel of God under the old testament, had their sins expiated, pardoned, and were eternally saved.

(3.) That none of the sacrifices which they offered themselves, none of the religious services which they performed,, either before or under the law, could expiate sin, or procure the pardon thereof, or consummate them in conscience before God.

(4.) That all this, therefore, was effected by virtue of the sacrifice or one offering of Christ. Hence it follows unavoidably, that if the virtue of this one offering did not extend unto the taking away of all their sins, then he must often have suffered and offered from the foundation of the world, or they must all have perished, at least all but only those of that generation wherein he might have once suffered. But this he did not, he did not thus often offer himself; and therefore there was no need that he should so do, though it was necessary that the high priest under the law should repeat his every year. For if the virtue of his one offering did extend itself unto the expiation of the sins of the church from the foundation of the world, before it was offered, much more might and would it extend itself without any repetition unto the expiation of the sins of the whole church unto the end of the world, now it is actually offered. This is the true force and reason of the argument in these words, which is cogent and conclusive. And we may hence observe, that, —

Obs. 2. The assured salvation of the church of old from the foundation of the world, by virtue of the one offering of Christ, is a strong confirmation of the faith of the church at present to look for and expect everlasting salvation thereby. To this end we may consider, —

(1.) That their faith had all the difficulties to conflict withal that our faith is to be exercised with, and yet it carried them through them all, and was victorious. This argument, for the strengthening of our faith, the apostle insists upon in the whole 11th chapter throughout. In particular, [1.] They had all the trials, afflictions, and temptations, that we have; — some of them unto such a degree as the community of believers met not withal. Yet was not their faith by any of them prevailed against. And why should we despond under the same trials?

[2.] They had all of them the guilt of sin, in the same or the like kind with us. Even Elijah was a man subject unto the like passions with others. Yet did not their sins hinder them from being brought unto the enjoyment of God. Nor shall ours, if we walk in the steps of their faith.

[3.] They had all the same enemies to conflict withal that we have. Sin, the world, and Satan, made no less opposition unto them than they do unto us. Yet were they victorious against them all. And following their example, we may look for the same success.

(2.) They wanted many advantages of faith and holiness which we enjoy. For,

[1.] They had not a clear revelation of the nature of God’s way of salvation. This is that which gives life and vigor unto gospel-faith. Yet did they follow God through the dark representation of his mind and grace unto the eternal enjoyment of him. We cannot miss our way, unless we wilfully “neglect so great salvation.”

[2.] They had not such plentiful communications of the Holy Spirit as are granted under the gospel; but being faithful in that little which they received, they missed not of the reward.

[3.] They had not that light, those directions for the actings of faith unto consolation and assurance, with many more advantages unto all the ends of faith and obedience, which believers now enjoy; yet in this state and condition, by virtue of the one offering of Christ, they were all pardoned and eternally saved. The consideration hereof tends greatly to the confirmation of the faith of them who truly believe.

SECONDLY, The latter part of this verse contains the confirmation of the argument proposed in the former. And it consists in a declaration of the true state, nature, efficacy, and circumstances of the one offering of Christ, now accomplished according unto the will of God.

There are three things in the words:

1. An opposition unto, or a rejection of the supposition of Christ’s offering himself often since the foundation of the world.

2. An assertion of the use, end, and efficacy of that offering, manifesting the uselessness of its repetition.

3. The means of accomplishing that end, or whereby he came to offer himself.

The opposition unto the rejected supposition is in these words, “But now once in the end of the world.” And every word hath its distinct force in the opposition: —

1. As unto the time in general: “But now.” νῦν,” now, generally is a limitation of time unto the present season; opposed to τότε, “then.” But sometimes it is only a note of opposition, when joined with δέ, “but,” as in this place. It may be taken in either sense, or include both. In the latter, “But now,” is no more, ‘But it is not so, it is otherwise, and so declared to be; he did not offer himself often since the world began.’A limitation of time may also be included in it. ‘Now, at this time and season, it is declared that things are otherwise ordered and disposed.’This makes the opposition more emphatical. ‘Now it is, and now only, that Christ hath suffered, and not before.’

2. He did this “once,” ἅπαξ; which is opposed unto πολλάκις, “often.” The apostle useth this word on this occasion, verse 28, Hebrews 10:2.1 Peter 3:18. So he doth ἐφάπαξ, “once for all,” Hebrews 10:10.

He hereby confines our thoughts about the offering of Christ unto that time and action wherein he offered himself unto God in his death. He speaks of it as a thing once performed, and then past; which cannot be referred unto the continual presentation of himself in heaven. ‘Thus it is,’saith he, in matter of fact, ‘he hath not often, but once only, offered himself.’

3. He confirms his opposition unto the rejected supposition by an especial denotation of the time when he once offered himself. He did it “in the end of the world,” — ἐπὶ συντελείᾳ τῶν αἰώνων: in opposition unto ἀπὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου. ‘Not then, but now; not often, but once; not from the foundation of the world, but in the end of it.’ There is no question as unto the thing itself, or the time intended in this exposition. It was the time when our Lord Jesus Christ appeared in the flesh, and offered himself unto God. But why he should express that time by “the end of the world,” in the words that our Savior designeth the end of the world absolutely by, Matthew 28:20, is not so plain; for there was after this a long continuance and duration of the world to succeed, — so far as any knows, not less than what was past before it.

Various are the conjectures of learned men about this expression; I shall not detain the reader with their repetition. My thoughts are determined by what I have discoursed on Hebrews 1:1-2; the exposition of which place the reader may consult on this occasion, I hope unto his satisfaction. In brief, to give a short account of what more largely I have explained and fully confirmed in the place referred unto, αἰών and αἰῶνες do answer unto the Hebrew עוֹלָם and עָֹולמִים. And “the world,” not absolutely with respect unto its essence or substance, but its duration and the succession of ages therein, is signifed by them. And the succession of the times of the world is considered with reference unto God’s distinction and limitation of things in his dealing with the church, called οἰκονομία τοῦ πληρώματος τῶν καιρῶν, Ephesians 1:10. And God’s distinction of time with respect unto the dispensation of himself in his grace to the church, may be referred unto three general heads: first, the time before the law; secondly, that which was spent under the law; thirdly, that of the exhibition of Christ in the flesh, with all that doth succeed it unto the end of the world. This last season, absolutely considered, is called πλήρωμα τῶν καιρῶν, “the fullness of time,” when all that God had designed in the dispensation of his grace was come unto that head and consistency wherein no alteration should be made unto the end of the world. This is that season which, with respect unto those that went before, is called συντέλεια τῶν αἰώνων, “the end of the world,” or the last age of the world, the consummation of the dispensation of time, no change being afterwards to be introduced, like those which were made before in the dispensation of God. This season, with respect unto the coming of Christ unto the Judaical church, is called אַחֲרִית חַיָּמִים, the “latter days,” or the “end of the days;” namely, of that church-state, of the dispensation of God in that season. With respect unto the whole dispensation of God in the עוֹלָמִים, all the allotted ages of the church, it was the last or end of them all; it was that wherein the whole divine disposition of things had its consummation. Wherefore both the entrance and the end of this season are called by the same name, — the beginning of it here, and the end of it Matthew 28:20; for the whole is but one entire season. And the preposition ἐπὶ, in this construction with a dative case, signifies the entrance of any thing; as ἐπὶ θανάτῳ is “at the approach of death” Wherefore, whatever hath been, or may be in the duration of the world afterwards, the appearance of Christ to offer himself was ἐπὶ συντελείᾳ τῶν αἰάνων, “in the end of the world;” that is, at the entrance of the last season of God’s dispensation of grace unto the church.

‘Thus it was,’saith the apostle, ‘in matter of fact; then did Christ offer himself, and then only.’

With respect unto this season so stated, three things are affirmed of Christ in the following words:

1. What he did; “he appeared.”

2. Unto what end; “to take away sin.”

3. By what means; “by the sacrifice of himself.”

But there is some difficulty in the distinction of these words, and so variety in their interpretation, which must be removed. For these words, διὰ τῆς θυσίας, “by the sacrifice of himself,” may be referred either unto εἰς ἀθέτησιν ἁμαρτίας, “the putting away of sin,” that goes before; or unto πεφανέρωται, “was manifest,” that follows after. In the first way the sense is, ‘He was manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself;’—

in the latter, ‘He appeared by the sacrifice of himself to put away sin;’ which confines his appearance unto his sacrifice; which sense is expressed by the Vulgar translation, “per hostiam suam apparuit.” “He appeared by his own host,” say the Rhemists. But the former reading of the words is evidently unto the mind of the apostle; for his appearance was what he did in general with respect unto the end mentioned, and the way whereby he did it.

1. There is what he did, — ‘“he appeared,” “he was manifested.” Some say that this appearance of Christ is the same with his appearance in the presence of God for us, mentioned in the foregoing verse. But it is, as another word that is used, so another thing that is intended. That appearance was after his sacrifice, this is in order unto it; that is in heaven, this was on earth; that is still continued, this is that which was already accomplished, at the time limited by the apostle. Wherefore this “appearance,” this φανέρωσις or “manifestation” of Christ in the end of the world, is the same with his being “manifested in the flesh,” 1 Timothy 3:16; or his coming into the world, or taking on him the seed of Abraham, to this end, that he might suffer and offer himself unto God. For what is affirmed is opposed unto what is spoken immediately before, namely, of his suffering often since the foundation of the world. This he did not do, but appeared, was manifested, (that is, in the flesh,) in the end of the world, to suffer and to expiate sin. Nor is the word ever used to express the appearance of Christ before God in heaven. His φανέρωσις is his coming into the world by his incarnation, unto the discharge of his office; his appearance before God in heaven is his ἐμφανισμός; and his illustrious appearance at the last day is his ἐπιφάνεια, though that word be used also to express his glorious manifestation by the gospel, 2 Timothy 1:10. See 1 Timothy 3:16; 1 John 3:8; Titus 2:13. This, therefore, is the meaning of the word: ‘Christ did not come into the world, he was not manifested in the flesh, often since the foundation of the world, that he might often suffer and offer; but he did so, he so appeared, was so manifested, in the end of the world.’

2. The end of this appearance of Christ was to “put away sin.” And we must inquire both what is meant by “sin,” and what by the “putting of it away.” Wherefore by “sin,” the apostle intends the whole of its nature and effects, in its root and fruits, in its guilt, power, and punishment; sin absolutely and universally; sin as it was an apostasy from God, as it was the cause of all distance between God and us, as it was the work of the devil; sin in all that it was and all that it could effect, or all the consequents of it; sin in its whole empire and dominion, — as it entered by the fall of Adam, invaded our nature in its power, oppressed our persons with its guilt, filled the whole world with its fruits, gave existence and right unto death and hell, with power to Satan to rule in and over mankind; sin, that rendered us obnoxious unto the curse of God and eternal punishment. In the whole extent of sin, “he appeared to put it away;” — that is, with respect unto the church, that is sanctified by his blood, and dedicated unto God..

᾿αθέτησις, which we render “putting away,” is “abrogatio,” “dissolutio,” “destructio;” an “abrogation,” “disannulling,” “destroying,” “disarming.” It is the name of taking away the force, power, and obligation of a law. The power of sin, as unto all its effects and consequents, whether sinful or penal, is called its law, the “law of sin,” Romans 8:2. And of this law, as of others, there are two parts or powers:

(1.) Its obligation unto punishment, after the nature of all penal laws; hence it is called “the law of death,” that whereon sinners are bound over unto eternal death. This force it borrows from its relation unto the law of God and the curse thereof.

(2.) Its impelling, ruling power, subjectively in the minds of men, leading them captive into all enmity and disobedience unto God, Romans 7:23.

Christ appeared to abrogate this law of sin, to deprive it of its whole power,

(1.) That it should not condemn us any more, nor bind us over to punishment. This he did by making atonement for it, by the expiation of it, undergoing in his own suffering the penalty due unto it; which of necessity he was to suffer as often as he offered himself. Herein consisted the ἀθέτησις or “abrogation” of its law principally.

(2.) By the destruction of its subjective power, purging our consciences from dead works, in the way that hath been declared. This was the principal end of the appearance of Christ in the world, 1 John 3:8.

3. The way whereby he did this, was “by the sacrifice of himself,” — διὰ τῆς θυσίας αὐτοῦ for ἑαυτοῦ: that sacrifice wherein he both suffered and offered himself unto God. For that both are included, the opposition made unto his often suffering doth evince.

This, therefore, is the design and meaning of these words: — to evidence that Christ did not offer himself unto God often, more than once, as the high priest offered every year, before his entrance into the holy place, the apostle declares the end and effect of his offering or sacrifice, which rendered the repetition of it needless. It was one, once offered, in the end of the world; nor need be offered any more, because of the total abolition and destruction of sin at once made thereby. What else concerns the things themselves spoken of will be comprised under the ensuing observations.

Obs. 3. It is the prerogative of God, and the effect of his wisdom, to determine the times and seasons of the dispensation of himself and his grace unto the church. — Hereon it depended alone that Christ “appeared in the end of the world,” not sooner nor later, as to the parts of that season. Many things do evidence a condecency unto divine wisdom in the determination of that season; as,

1. He testified his displeasure against sin, in suffering the generality of mankind to lie so long under the fatal effects of their apostasy, without relief or remedy, Acts 14:16; Acts 17:30; Romans 1:21-24; Romans 1:26.

2. He did it to exercise the faith of the church, called by virtue of the promise, in the expectation of its accomplishment. And by the various ways whereby God cherished their faith and hope was he glorified in all ages, Luke 1:70; Matthew 13:17; Luke 10:24; 1 Peter 1:10-11; Haggai 2:7.

3. To prepare the church for the reception of him, partly by the glorious representation made of him in the tabernacle and temple with their worship, partly by the burden of legal institutions laid on them until his coming, Galatians 3:24.

4. To give the world a full and sufficient trial of what might be attained towards happiness and blessedness by the excellency of all things here below. Men had time to try what was in wisdom, learning, moral virtue, power, rule, dominion, riches, arts, and whatever else is valuable unto rational natures. They were all exalted unto their height, in their possession and exercise, before the appearance of Christ; and all manifested their own insufficiency to give the least real relief unto mankind from under the fruits of their apostasy from God. See 1 Corinthians 1:5. To give time unto Satan to fix and establish his kingdom in the world, that the destruction of him and it might be the more conspicuous and glorious. These, and sundry other things of a like nature, do evince that there was a condecency unto divine wisdom in the determination of the season of the appearance of Christ in the flesh; howbeit it is ultimately to be resolved into his sovereign will and pleasure.

Obs. 4. God had a design of infinite wisdom and grace in his sending of Christ, and his appearance in the world thereon, which could not be frustrated. “He appeared to put away sin.” The footsteps of divine wisdom and grace herein I have inquired into in a peculiar treatise, and shall not here insist on the same argument. (12)

Obs. 5. Sin had erected a dominion, a tyranny over all men, as by a law. — Unless this law be abrogated and abolished, we can have neither deliverance nor liberty. Men generally think that they serve themselves of sin, in the accomplishment of their lusts and gratification of the flesh; but they are indeed servants of it and slaves unto it. It hath gotten a power to command their obedience unto it, and a power to bind them over to eternal death for the disobedience unto God therein. As unto what belongs unto this law and power, see my discourse of Indwelling Sin. (13)

Obs. 6. No power of man, of any mere creature, was able to evacuate, disannul, or abolish this law of sin; for, —

Obs. 7. The destruction and dissolution of this law and power of sin, was the great end of the coming of Christ for the discharge of his priestly office in the sacrifice of himself; No other way could it be effected. And, —

Obs. 8. It is the glory of Christ, it is the safety of the church, that by his one offering, by the sacrifice of himself once for all, he hath abolished sin as unto the law and condemning power of it.


Verse 27-28

καὶ καθ᾿ ὅσον ἀπόκειται τοῖς ἀνθρώποις ἅπαξ ἀποθανεῖν, μετὰ δὲ τοῦτο κρίσοις· οἵτω καὶ ὁ χριστὸς ἅπαξ προσενεχθεὶς εἰς τὸ πολλῶν ἀνενεγκεῖν ἁμαρτίας, ἐκ δευτέρου χωρὶς ἀμαρτίας ὀφθήσεται τοῖς αὐτὸν ἀπεκδεχομένοις εἰς σωτηρίαν.

καὶ καθ᾿ ὅσον, “et sicut,” “et quemadmodum.” ᾿απόκειται, “statutum,” “constitutum est.” τοῖς ἀνθρώποις. Syr., לַבְנַי נָשָׁא, “to the sons of men;” of Adam, all his posterity. ῎απαξ. Syr., דַּחֲדָא זְבַן, “that at one time,” “a certain appointed time.” ΄ετὰ δὲ τοῦτο. Vulg., “post hoc autem.” “Postea vero;” “and afterward.” Syr., וּמֵן בָּתַי מַוְתְהוּן, “and after their death,” the death of them.

So also Christ ἅπαξ. Syr., חֲדָא זְבַן, “one time,” “at one time.” εἰς τὸ ἀνενεγκεῖν. Vulg., “ad exhaurienda peccata;” Rhem.,” to exhaust the sins of many;” without any sense. ᾿αναφέρω may signify “to lift” or “bear up;” not at all “to draw out of any deep place,” though there may be something in that allusion. Syr., וְבַקְנוּמֵהּ דְּבַח חֲטָּהֵא, “and in himself he slew” (or “sacrificed”) “the sins of many.” “In himself;” that is, by the sacrifice of himself he took them away. Beza, “ut in seipso attolleret multorum peccata;” that he might “lift” or” beat’up” the sins of many in himself: he took them upon himself as a burden, which he bare upon the cross; as opposed to χωρὶς ἀμαρτίας, afterwards, “not burdened with sin.” Others, “ad attollendum peccata multorum in semet ipsum;” “to take up unto himself” (that is, “upon himself”) “the sins of many.”

The Syriac reads the first clause, “He shall appear the second time unto the salvation of them that expect” or “look for him.” All others, “He shall appear unto” (or “be seen by”) “them that look for him, unto salvation:” unto which difference we shall speak afterwards.

Hebrews 9:27-28. — And [in like manner] as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this [afterwards] the judgment: so also Christ was once offered to bear [in himself] the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time, without sin, unto salvation. These verses put a close unto the heavenly discourse of the apostle concerning the causes, nature, ends, and efficacy, of the sacrifice of Christ, wherewith the new covenant was dedicated and confirmed. And in the words there is a treble confirmation of that singularity and efficacy of the sacrifice of Christ which he had pleaded before:

1. In an elegant instructive similitude, “And as it is appointed,” etc. Hebrews 9:27.

2. In a declaration of the use and end of the offering of Christ; “He was once offered to bear the sins of many.”

3. In the consequent of it; his second appearance, unto the salvation of believers, Hebrews 9:28.

In the comparison, we must first consider the force of it in general, and explain the words. That, as we have observed, which the apostle designeth to confirm and illustrate, is what he had pleaded in the foregoing verses concerning the singularity and efficacy of the offering of Christ; whereon also he takes occasion to declare the blessed consequent of it. Hereof he gives an illustration, by comparing it unto what is of absolute and unavoidable necessity, so as that it cannot otherwise be, namely, the death of all the individuals of mankind by the decretory sentence of God. As they must die every one, and every one but once; so Christ was to die, to suffer, to offer himself, and that but once. The instances of those who died not after the manner of other men, as Enoch and Elijah, or those who, having died once, were raised from the dead and died again, as Lazarus, give no difficulty herein. They are instances of exemption from the common rule by mere acts of divine sovereignty; but the apostle argues from the general rule and constitution, and thereon alone the force of his comparisons doth depend, and they are not weakened by such exemptions. As this is the certain, unalterable law of human condition, that every man must die once, and but once, as unto this mortal life; so Christ was once, and but once, offered.

But there is more in the words and design of the apostle than a bare similitude and illustration of what he treats of, though expositors own it not. He doth not only illustrate his former assertion by a fit comparison, but gives the reason of the one offering of Christ, from what it was necessary for and designed unto. For that he introduceth a reason for his former assertion, the causal connection, καί, doth demonstrate; especially as it is joined with καθ᾿ ὅον, — that is, “in quantum,” “inasmuch as: in which sense he constantly useth that expression, Hebrews 3:3; Hebrews 7:20; Hebrews 8:6. ‘And inasmuch as it was so with mankind, it was necessary that Christ should suffer once for the expiation of sin and the salvation of sinners.’ How was it with mankind in this matter? On the account of sin they were all subject unto the law and the curse thereof. Hereof there were two parts:

1. Temporal death, to be undergone penally on the sentence of God.

2. Eternal judgment, wherein they were to perish for evermore. In these things consist the effects of sin, and the curse of the law.

And they were due unto all men unavoidably, to be inflicted on them by the judgment and sentence of God. ‘It is appointed, decreed, determined of God, that men, sinful men, shall once die, and after that come to judgment for their sins.’This is the sense, the sentence, the substance of the law. Under this sentence they must all perish eternally, if not divinely relieved. But inasmuch as it was thus with them, the one offering of Christ, once offered, is prepared for their relief and deliverance. And the relief is, in the infinite wisdom of God, eminently proportionate unto the evil, the remedy unto the disease. For, —

1. As man was to die once legally and penally for sin, by the sentence of the law, and no more; so Christ died, suffered, and offered once, and no more, to bear sin, to expiate it, and thereby to take away death so far as it was penal.

2. As after death men must appear again the second time unto judgment, to undergo condemnation thereon; so after his once offering, to take away sin and death, Christ shall appear the second time to free us from judgment, and to bestow on us eternal salvation.

In this interpretation of the words I do not exclude the use of the comparison, nor the design of the apostle to illustrate the one offering of Christ once offered by the certainty of the death of men once only; for these things do illustrate one another as so compared. But withal I judge there is more in them than a mere comparison between things no way related one to another, but only having some mutual resemblance in that they fall out but once; yea, there seems not to be much light nor any thing of argument in a comparison so arbitrarily framed. But consider these things in their mutual relation and opposition one unto the other, which are the same with that of the law and the gospel, and there is much of light and argument in the comparing of them together. For whereas the end of the death, suffering, and offering of Christ, was to take away and remove the punishment due unto sin, which consisted in this, that men should once die, and but once, and afterwards come to judgment and condemnation, according to the sentence of the law; and it was convenient unto divine wisdom that Christ for that end should die, suffer, offer once only, and afterwards bring them for whom he died unto salvation.

And this is the proper sense of καθ᾿ ὅσον, “in quantum,” which interpreters know not what to make of in this place, but endeavor variously to change and alter. Some pretend that some copies read καθ᾿ ὅ, and one καθ᾿ ὅ; which they suppose came from καθῶς. But the only reason why the word is not liked, is because the sense is not understood. Take the mind of the apostle aright, and his expression is proper unto his purpose. Wherefore there is in these verses an entire opposition and comparison between the law and the gospel; the curse due to sin, and the redemption that is by Christ Jesus. And we may observe, that —

Obs. 1. God hath eminently suited our relief, the means and causes of our spiritual deliverance, unto our misery, the means and causes of it, so that his own wisdom and grace may be exalted and our faith established. — That which is here summarily represented by our apostle in this elegant antithesis, he declares at large, Romans 5., from Romans 5:12 to the end of the chapter.

But we proceed with the interpretation of the words. In the first part of the antithesis and comparison, verse 27, there are three things asserted:

1. The death of men,

2. The judgment that ensues, and,

3. The cause of them both. The last is first to be explained.

First, “It is appointed,” “determined,” “enacted,” “statutum est.” It is so by him who hath a sovereign power and authority in and over these things; and hath the force of an unalterable law, which none can transgress. God himself hath thus appointed it; none else can determine and dispose of these things. And the word equally respects both parts of the assertion, death and judgment. They are both equally from the constitution of God, which is the cause of them both. The Socinians do so divide these things, that one of them, namely, death, they would have to be natural; and the other, or judgment, from the constitution of God: which is not to interpret, but to contradict the words. Yea, death is that which in the first place and directly is affirmed to be the effect of this divine constitution, being spoken of as it is penal, by the curse of the law for sin; and judgment falls under the same constitution, as consequential thereunto. But if death, as they plead, be merely and only natural, they cannot refer it unto the same divine constitution with the future judgment, which is natural in no sense at all.

Death was so far natural from the beginning, as that the frame and constitution of our nature were in themselves liable and subject thereunto; but that it should actually have invaded our nature unto its dissolution, without the intervention of its meritorious cause in sin, is contrary unto the original state of our relation unto God, the nature of the covenant whereby we were obliged unto obedience, — the reward promised therein, with the threatening of death in case of disobedience. Wherefore the law, statute, or constitution here related unto, is no other but that of Genesis 2:17, “In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die;” with that addition, “Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return,” Genesis 3:19. God enacted it, as an everlasting law concerning Adam and all his posterity, that they should die, and that once, as they were once taken out of the dust. But in the words of God before mentioned there are two things:

1. A penal law enacted, Genesis 2:17;

2. A judicial sentence denounced, Genesis 3:19; — not only death, but future judgment also was appointed thereby.

Thus “it is appointed to men;” that is, to all men, or men indefinitely, without exception, — it is their lot and portion. It is appointed unto men, not; merely as men, but as sinners, as sinful men; for it is of sin and the effects of it, with their removal by Christ, that the apostle discourseth.

It is appointed unto them “to die;” — that is, penally for sin, as death was threatened in that penal statute mentioned in the curse of the law; and death under that consideration alone is taken away by the death of Christ. The sentence of dying naturally is continued towards all; but the moral nature of dying, with the consequents of it, is removed from some by Christ. The law is not absolutely reversed; but what was formally penal in it is taken away. Observe, —

Obs. 2. Death in the first constitution of it was penal. — And the entrance of it as a penalty keeps the fear of it in all living. Yea, it was by the law eternally penal. Nothing was to come after death but hell. And, —

Obs. 3. It is still penal, eternally penal, unto all unbelievers. — But there are false notions of it amongst men, as there are of all other things. Some are afraid of it when the penalty is separated from it. Some, on the other hand, regardless of the penalty, look on it as a relief, and so either seek it or desire it; — unto whom it will prove only an entrance into judgment. It is the interest of all living to inquire diligently what death will be unto them.

Obs. 4. The death of all is equally determined and certain in God’s constitution. It hath various ways of approach unto all individuals, — hence is it generally looked on as an accident befalling this or that man, — but the law concerning it is general and equal.

The second part of the assertion is, that “after this is the judgment.” This, by the same divine, unalterable constitution, is appointed unto all. “God hath appointed a day wherein he will judge the world in righteousness.” Death makes not an end of men, as some think, others hope, and many desire it should: “Ipsa mors nihil, et post mortem nihil.” But there is something yet remaining, which death is subservient unto. Hence it is said to be “after this.” As surely as men die, it is sure that somewhat else follows after death. This is the force of the particle δέ, “but,” — “but after it.” Now this “after” doth not denote the immediate succession, of one thing unto another; — if one go before, and the other certainly follow after, whatever length of time be interposed between them, the assertion is true and proper. Many have been long dead, probably the most that shall die, and yet judgment is not come after. But it shall come in its appointed season; and so as that nothing shall interpose between death and judgment to make any alteration in the state or condition of the persons concerned in them. The souls of them that are dead are yet alive, but are utterly incapable of any change in their condition between death and judgment. “As death leaves men, so shall judgment find them.”

The second part of this penal constitution is judgment, “After death the judgment.” It is not a particular judgment on every individual person immediately on his death, although such a judgment there be, for in and by death there is a declaration made concerning the eternal condition of the deceased; but “judgment” here is opposed unto the second appearance of Christ unto the salvation of believers, which is the great or general judgment of all at the last day. κρίσις and κρῖμα, used with respect unto this day, or taken absolutely, do signify a condemnatory sentence only.

᾿ανάστασις κρίσεως, “the resurrection of” or “unto judgment, is opposed unto ἀνάστασις ζωῆς, “the resurrection of” or “unto life,” John 5:29. See verses 22, 24. So is it here used; “judgment,” that is, condemnation for sin, follows after death, in the righteous constitution of God, by the sentence of the law. And as Christ by his death doth not take away death absolutely, but only as it is penal; so on his second appearance, he doth not take away judgment absolutely, but only as it is a condemnatory sentence, with respect unto believers. For as we must all die, so “we must all appear before his judgment-seat,” Romans 14:10. But as he hath promised that those that believe in him “shall not see death,” for “they are passed from death unto life,” — they shall not undergo it as it is penal; so also he hath, that they “shall not come εἰς κρίσιν,” (the word here used) “into judgment,” John 5:24, — they shall be freed from the condemnatory sentence of the law. For the nature and manner of this judgment, see the exposition on Hebrews 6:1-2. This, then, is the sense of the words:

‘Whereas, therefore, or inasmuch as this is the constitution of God, that man, sinful man, shall once die, and afterwards be judged, or condemned for sin:’— which would have been the event with all, had not a relief been provided, which in opposition hereunto is declared in the next verse. And no man that dies in sin shall ever escape judgment.

Hebrews 9:28. — This verse gives us the relief provided in the wisdom and grace of God for and from this condition. And there is in the words,

1. The redditive note of comparison and opposition, “so.”

2. The subject spoken of; “the offering of Christ.”

3. The end of it; “to bear the sins of many.”

4. The consequent of it, which must be spoken to distinctly.

First, The redditive note is οὕτω, “so,” “in like manner,” in answer unto that state of things, and for the remedy against it, in a blessed condecency unto divine wisdom, goodness, and grace.

Secondly, The subject spoken of is the offering of Christ. But it is here mentioned passively; “he was offered.” Most frequently it is expressed by his offering of himself, the sacrifice he offered of himself. For as the virtue of his offering depends principally on the dignity of his person, so his human soul, his mind, will, and affections, with the fullness of the graces of the Spirit resident and acting in them, did concur unto the efficacy of his offering, and were necessary to render it an act of obedience, “a sacrifice unto God of a sweet-smelling savor,” Ephesians 5:2; yea, herein principally depended his own glory, which arose not merely from his suffering, but from his obedience therein, Philippians 2:7-11. Wherefore he is most frequently said to offer himself,

1. Because of the virtue communicated unto his offering by the dignity of his person.

2. Because he was the only priest that did offer.

3. Because his obedience therein was so acceptable unto God.

4. Because this expresseth his love unto the church. “He loved it, and gave himself for it.”

But as himself offered, so his offering was himself. His whole entire human nature was that which was offered. Hence it is thus passively expressed, “Christ was offered;” that is, he was not only the priest who offered, but the sacrifice that was offered. Both were necessary, — that Christ should offer, and that Christ should be offered. And the reason why it is here so expressed, is because his offering is spoken of as it was by death and suffering. For having affirmed that if he must often offer he must often suffer, and compared his offering unto the once dying of men penally, it is plain that the offering intended is in and by suffering and death. “Christ was offered,” is the same with “Christ suffered,” “Christ died.” And this expression is utterly irreconcilable unto the Socinian notion of the oblation of Christ. For they would have it to consist in the presentation of himself in heaven, eternally free from and above all sufferings; which cannot be the sense of this expression, “Christ was offered.”

The circumstance of his being thus offered is, that it was “once” only. This, joined as it is here with a word in the present tense, can signify nothing but an action or passion then past and determined. It is not any present continued action, such as is the presentation of himself in heaven, that can be signified hereby.

Thirdly, The end of Christ’s being thus once offered, and which his one offering did perfectly effect, was “to bear the sins of many.” There is an antithesis between πολλῶν, “of many,” and ἀνθρώποις, “unto men,” in the verse foregoing. “Men,” expressed indefinitely in that necessary proposition, intends all men universally; nor, as we have showed, is there any exception against the rule by a few instances of exemption by the interposition of divine sovereignty. But the relief which is granted by Christ, though it be unto men indefinitely, yet it extends not to all universally, but to “many” of them only. That it doth not so extend unto all eventually, is confessed. And this expression is declarative of the intention of God, or of Christ himself in his offering. See Ephesians 5:25-26.

He was thus offered for those “many,” to “bear their sins,” as we render the words. It is variously translated, as we have seen before, and various senses are sought after by expositors. Grotius wholly follows the Socinians in their endeavors to pervert the sense of this word. It is not from any difficulty in the word, but from men’s hatred unto the truth, that they put themselves on such endeavors. And this whole attempt lies in finding out one or two places where ἀναφέρω signifies “to take away;” for the various signification of a word used absolutely in any other place is sufficient for these men to confute its necessary signification in any context. But the matter is plain in itself; Christ did bear sin, or take it away, as he was offered, as he was a sacrifice for it. This is here expressly affirmed: “He was offered to bear the sins of many.” This he did as the sacrifices did of old, as unto their typical use and efficacy. A supposition hereof is the sole foundation of the whole discourse of the apostle. But they bare sin, or took away sin (not to contend about the mere signification of the word) no otherwise but by the imputation of the sin unto the beast that was sacrificed, whereon it was slain, that atonement might be made with its blood. This I have before sufficiently proved. So “Christ bare the sins of many.” And so the signification of this word is determined and limited by the apostle Peter, by whom alone it is used on the same occasion 1 Peter 2:24, ῞ος τὰς ἁμαρτίας ἡμῶν αὐτὸς ἀνήνεγκεν ἐν τῷ σώματι αὐτιῦ ἐπὶ τὸ ξὺλος, — “Who himself bare our sins in his own body on the tree.” That place, compared with this, doth utterly evert the Socinian fiction of the oblation of Christ in heaven. He was offered ἀνενεγκεῖν, “to bear the sins of many.” When did he do it? how did he do it? ᾿ανήνεγκεν, “He bare our sins in his own body on the tree.” Wherefore then he offered himself for them; and this he did in his suffering.

Moreover, wherever in the Old Testament נָשָׂאis translated by ἀναφέρω in the LXX., as Numbers 14:33, Isaiah 53:12, or by φέρω, with reference unto sin, it constantly signifies to “hear the punishment of it.” Yea, it doth so when, with respect unto the event, it is rendered by ἀφαιρεῖν, as it is Leviticus 10:17. And the proper signification of the word is to be taken from the declaration of the thing signified by it. “He shall bear their iniquities,” Isaiah 53:11; — יִסְבֹּל, “bear them as a burden upon him.” He was “once offered,” so as that he suffered therein.

As he suffered, he bare our iniquities; and as he was offered, be made atonement for them. And this is not opposed unto the appearance of men before God at the last day, but unto their death, which they were once to undergo. Wherefore, —

Obs. 5. The ground of the expiation of sin by the offering of Christ is this, that therein he bare the guilt and punishment due unto it.

Fourthly, Upon this offering of Christ the apostle supposeth what he had before declared, namely, that “he entered into heaven, to appear in the presence of God for us;” and hereon he declares what is the end of all this dispensation of God’s grace: “Unto them that look for him he shall appear the second time, without sin, unto salvation.” And he shows,

1. What “de facto” Christ shall yet do: “He shall appear.”

2. To whom he shall so appear: “Unto them that look, for him.”

3. In what manner: “Without sin.”

4. Unto what end: “Unto salvation.”

5. In what order: “The second time.”

1. The last thing mentioned is first expressed, and must first be explained: “The second time.” The Scripture is express unto a double appearing or coming of Christ. The first was his coming in the flesh, coming into the world, coming unto his own, — namely, to discharge the work of his mediation, especially to make atonement for sin in the sacrifice of himself, unto the accomplishment of all promises made concerning it, and all types instituted for its representation; the second is in glory, unto the judgment of all, when he shall finish and complete the eternal salvation of the church. Any other personal appearance or coming of Christ the Scripture knows not, and in this place expressly excludes any imagination of it. His first appearance is past; and appear the second time he will not until that judgment comes which follows death, and the salvation of the church shall be completed. Afterward there will be no further appearance of Christ in the discharge of his office; for “God shall be all in all.” 2. That which he affirms of him is, “He shall appear,” “he shall be seen.” There shall be a public vision and sight of him. He was seen on the earth in the days of his flesh: he is now in heaven, where no mortal eye can see him, within the veil of that glory which we cannot look into. “The heaven must receive him until the times of restitution of all things.” He can, indeed, appear unto whom he pleaseth, by an extraordinary dispensation. So he was seen of Stephen standing at the right hand of God, Acts 7:56.

So he appeared unto Paul, 1 Corinthians 15:8. But as unto the state of the church in general, and in the discharge of his mediatory office, he is not seen of any. So the high priest was not seen of the people, after his entrance into the holy place, until he came forth again. Even concerning the person of Christ we live by faith, and not by sight. And, —

Obs. 6. It is the great exercise of faith, to live on the invisible actings of Christ on the behalf of the church. So also the foundation of it doth consist in our infallible expectation of his second appearance, of our seeing him again, Acts 1:11. “We know that our Redeemer liveth;” and we shall see him with our eyes. Whilst he is thus invisible, the world triumpheth, as if he were not. “Where is the promise of his coming?” The faith of many is weak. They cannot live upon his invisible actings. But here is the faith and patience of the church, of all sincere believers: — in the midst of all discouragements, reproaches, temptations, sufferings, they can relieve and comfort their souls with this, that “their Redeemer liveth,” and that “he shall appear again the second time,” in his appointed season. Hence is their continual prayer, as the fruit and expression of their faith, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”

The present long-continued absence of Christ in heaven is the great trial of the world. God doth give the world a trial by faith in Christ, as he gave it a trial by obedience in Adam. Faith is tried by difficulties. When Christ did appear, it was under such circumstances as turned all unbelievers from him. His state was then a state of infirmity, reproach, and suffering. He appeared in the flesh. Now he is in glory, he appeareth not. As many refused him when he appeared, because it was in outward weakness; so many refuse him now he is in glory, because he appeareth not. Faith alone can conflict with and conquer these difficulties. And it hath sufficient evidences of this return of Christ,

(1.) In his faithful word of promise. The promise of his coming, recorded in the Scripture, is the ground of our faith herein.

(2.) In the continual supplies of his Spirit which believers do receive. This is the great pledge of his mediatory life in heaven, of the continuance of his love and care towards the church, and consequently the great assurance of his second coming.

(3.) In the daily evidences of his glorious power, put forth in eminent acts of providence for the protection, preservation, and deliverance of the church; which is an uninterrupted assurance of his future appearance. He hath determined the day and season of it; nor shall all the abuse that is made of his seeming delay in coming hasten it one moment.

And he hath blessed ends of his not appearing before the appointed season, though the time seems long to the church itself: as,

(1.) That the world may “fill up the measure of its iniquities,” to make way for its eternal destruction:

(2.) That the whole number of the elect may be gathered in; though days of trouble are sometimes shortened for their sakes, that they may not faint after they are called, Matthew 24:22, yet are they also in general continued, that there may be time for the calling of them all:

(3.) That all the graces of his people may be exercised and tried unto the utmost:

(4.) That God may have his full revenue of glory from the new creation, which is the first-fruits of the whole:

(5.) That all things may be ready for the glory of the great day.

3. To whom shall he thus appear? Of whom shall he be thus seen? “To them that look for him.” But the Scripture is plain and express in other places that he shall appear unto all; shall be seen of all, even of his enemies, Revelation 1:7. And the work that he hath to do at his appearance requires that so it should be; for he comes to judge the world in general, and in particular to plead with ungodly men about their ungodly deeds and speeches, Jude 1:15. So therefore must and shall it be. His second illustrious appearance shall fill the whole world with the beams of it; the whole rational creation of God shall see and behold him. But the apostle treats of his appearance hero with respect unto the salvation of them unto whom he doth appear: “He shall appear unto salvation.” And this word, “unto salvation,” is capable of a double explication. For it may refer unto “them that look for him,” — “that look for him unto salvation;” that is, that look to be saved by him: or it may do so unto his appearance; “he shall appear unto the salvation of them that look for him.” The sense is good either way.

This looking for the coming of Christ, — which is a description of faith by a principal effect and fruit of it, called also waiting, expecting, longing, earnest expectation, — consists in five things:

(1.) Steadfast faith of his coming and appearance. This is in the foundation of Christian religion. And whatever the generality of hypocritical, nominal Christians profess, there are uncontrollable evidences and demonstrations that they believe it not.

(2.) Love unto it, as that which is most desirable, which contains in it every thing wherein the soul takes delight and satisfaction: “That love his appearing,” 2 Timothy 4:8.

(3.) Longing for it, or desires after it: “Even so, come, Lord Jesus;” that is, “come quickly,” Revelation 22:20. If the saints of the old testament longed after his appearance in the flesh, how shall not we do so for his appearance in glory? See Titus 2:13. “Looking for and hasting unto,” 2 Peter 3:12.

(4.) Patient waiting for it, in the midst of all discouragements. These the world is filled withal; and it is the great trial of faith, Jude 1:20-21.

(5.) Preparation for it, that we may be ready and meet for his reception; which is the substance of what we are taught in the parable of the virgins, Matthew 25. Unto those that thus “look for him” shall the Lord Christ “appear unto salvation.”

4. The manner of his appearance is, “without sin.” This may either respect himself or the church, or both. In his first appearance in the flesh he was absolutely in himself without sin; but his great work was about sin. And in what he had to do for us he was “made sin,” “he bare our iniquities,” and was treated both by God and man as the greatest sinner. He had all the penal effects and consequents of sin upon him; all dolorous infirmities of nature, as fear, sorrow, grief, pain; all sufferings that sin deserved, that the law threatened, were in him and upon him. Nothing, as it were, appeared with him or upon him but sin; that is, the effects and consequents of it, in what he underwent for our sakes. But now he shall appear perfectly free from all these things, as a perfect conqueror over sin, in all its causes, effects, and consequents. It may respect the church. He will then have made an utter end of sin in the whole church for ever. There shall not then be the least remainder of it. All its filth, and guilt, and power; and its effects, in darkness, fear, and danger, shall be utterly abolished and done away. The guilt of sin being done withal, the whole church shall then be perfectly purified, “without spot or wrinkle,” every way glorious. Sin shall be no more. Respect may be had to both himself and the church.

5. The end of his appearance is the “salvation” of “them that look for him.” If this word relate immediately unto his appearance, the meaning is, to bestow, to collate salvation upon them, eternal salvation. If it respect them that look for him, it expresseth the qualification of their persons by the object of their faith and hope. They look for him, to be perfectly and completely saved by him. Where both senses are equally true, we need not limit the signification of the words to either of them. But we may observe, —

Obs. 7. Christ’s appearance the second time, his return from heaven to complete the salvation of the church, is the great fundamental principle of our faith and hope, the great testimony we have to give against all his and our adversaries. And, —

Obs. 8. Faith concerning the second coming of Christ is sufficient to support the souls of believers, and to give them satisfactory consolation in all difficulties, trials, and distresses.

Obs. 9. All true believers do live in a waiting, longing expectation of the coming of Christ. It is one of the most distinguishing characters of a sincere believer so to do.

Obs. 10. To such alone as so look for him will the Lord Christ appear unto salvation.

Obs. 11. Then will be the great distinction among mankind, when Christ shall appear unto the everlasting confusion of some, and the eternal salvation of others; — a thing that the world loves not to hear of.

Obs. 12. At the second appearance of Christ there will be an end of all the business about sin, both on his part and ours.

Obs. 13. The communication of actual salvation unto all believers, unto the glory of God, is the final end of the office of Christ.

΄όνῳ τῷ θεῷ δόζα.

 


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Bibliography Information
Owen, John. "Commentary on Hebrews 9:4". "John Owen Exposition of Hebrews". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/joc/hebrews-9.html. 1862.


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Saturday, October 21st, 2017
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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