and wants of believers, hath been opposed and ridiculed. But faith
will triumph over such foolish and impious assaults.
In brief, all the promises recorded in the Scripture, being nothing
but ways and means of the exhibition of the grace of the covenant,
which is made with the whole church, with all believers ; and the
accommodation of it to their state, condition, and occasions, being all
in the ratification of the covenant, made ' yea and amen in Christ
Jesus to the glory of God by us:' they do equally belong to all
believers, and what God says in any of them, he says it to every one
that doth truly believe.
Herein then lieth the force of the apostle's argument; that if God
hath said to every one of us, what he said to Joshua, that he will
712 AN EXPOSITION OF THE [cH. XIII.
never leave us, as to his presence, nor forsake us as to his assistance,
we have sufficient ground to cast away all inordinate desires of earthly
things, all fears of want, and other pressures, to rest quiet and con-
tented with his undertaking for us.
This inference, from this promise given to us, the apostle declares in
the next verse, confirming it with the experience of David, which was
not peculiar to him, but is common to all believers.
Ver. 6. — So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I
will not fear what man shall do unto me.
We may every one of us say, as David did in the like case ; for he
so spake in confidence of the same promise of the presence and assist-
ance of God, which is given also to us : the words are taken from
Ps. cxviii. 6, ' The Lord is on my side,' (for me) ' my helper, I will
not fear what man can do unto me.' To the same purpose the Psalm-
ist speaks, Ps. lvi. 3, 4, 11, only for * man,' ver. 4, he useth the word
' flesh,' ' what flesh can do unto me,' with a great contempt of all the
power of his adversaries.
He confirms his argument by a divine testimony; wherein we may
consider both the manner of its introduction, and the testimony itself.
First. The former is in these words, * so that we may boldly say,'
or so as that we are bold to say, or we do boldly say, or have right so
to do; the verb being of the infinitive mood may be limited either of
these ways. "Qore ' so that,' or ' so as that,' a note of inference or
collection of one thing out of another. By what is said to us, we our-
selves are enabled and justified thus to say.
' Boldly,' SappovvTaQ rifiag, ' we being bold,' using confidence,
■' may say.' This boldness the apostle ascribes to us herein, 1 Be-
cause it is evident that David, in uttering those words, did use a more
than ordinary boldness and confidence in God. For he spake them
first in a time of great distress, when the Philistines took him in Gath,
and his enemies were continually ready to swallow him up, Ps. lvi.
1, 2. In the midst of this distress, with great confidence he express-
eth his trust in God, and says, ' I will not fear what flesh can do unto
me,' ver. 4. And in the same state he was, Ps. cxviii. 6 — 10. The
like confidence in the like condition is required of us. 2. Because an
act of high trust and confidence in God is required to the profession
here expressed. The word signifies the frame of mind that is in
valiant men, when they are preparing with shouts to engage against
their adversaries. 3. To intimate our duty on this occasion, which is
to cast out all fears, every thing that may intimidate our spirits, or
disquiet our minds, or hinder us from making a cheerful profession of
our confidence in God.
For that is required of us : we are \eyeiv, ' to say,' what we believe,
to profess it, yea, to glory and make our boast in God against all
Obs. VII. The cheerful profession of confidence in God against all
opposition, and in the midst of all distresses, is that which believers
have a warrant for in the promises that are made unto them.
VER. 5, 6.] EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS. 713
Obs. VIII. As the use of this confidence is our duty, so it is a duty
highly honourable unto the profession of the gospel. — Degeneres
animos timor arguit.
In the application of this testimony, as taken from Ps. lvi. 4, the
apostle supposeth that David spake these words not merely in his own
person, and with respect unto his own case, or to the especial promises
he had about it; but in the person of the whole church, or on the
general right of all true believers. For it is the word of God, or the
promises therein contained, which are common to all believers, which
was the ground of what he said or professed. So the words in the
beginning of the verse do testify, ' In God I will praise his word.'
He would give unto him the glory of his truth and power by believing.
Obs. IX. Believers may use the same confidence that David used,
seeing they have the same grounds of it that David had. — For out-
ward circumstances alter not the state of things as unto faith or duty.
We may use the same confidence with him, though our case be not
the same with his.
And the apostle, in the application of this testimony, extends the
case which he first applies his exhortation unto. For at first he
speaks only with respect unto want and poverty ; but here he com-
priseth in it persecution and oppression, which usually are the causes
of distressing want and poverty.
Secondly. These things being premised, we may proceed to inquire
what is in the testimony itself, produced unto the end of the apostle's
exhortation. And we may consider,
1. That there is an opposition, a conflict, a contest between distinct
parties, supposed in the words. And the persons concerned im-
mediately herein, are believers on the one hand, and man on the
other; whereon a third person, namely God himself, interposeth, and
becometh a party in the contest. For,
2. God is here on the side of the church : ' The Lord is my helper;'
a helper unto me. Respect seems to be had in this expression unto
Ps. cxviii. 6, 7, though the words also of Ps. lvi. are intended. And
there are two ways whereby the Psalmist asserts this mattpr: 1.
*£ mrr s , ver. 6, ' The Lord is unto me,' ' for me,' ' on my side,' as we
render it, 'in this contest.' 2. s *ny:i "5> mrr s , say we, • The Lord
taketh my part with them that help me ;' ' the Lord is for me among
the helpers.' Both these the apostle compriseth in this one, e/noi €o»j-
0oe, ' He is my helper.' Wherein the help of God in this case con-
sists, we shall show immediately. In the mean time, it is certain that
believers do stand in need of help in that contest which they have
with the world. Of themselves, they are not able to go through it
with success. Yet have we no reason to fear an engagement in what
is above our strength or ability, where we have such a reserve of aid
and assistance. But in whatever befals us, we may say boldly, We
will not fear. For if God be on our side, if God be for us, who shall
be against us? Let whoso will be so: it is all one, the victory is
secured on our side.
3. There is a double opposition in the words, giving an emphasis
714 AN EXPOSITION OF THE [CH. XIII.
unto the sense of the whole. 1. Between God and man : 'The Lord
is on my side, I will not fear, n ttoli)(tu /not avdpwiroQ, what man can
do ;' and this man he calls flesh, Ps. lvi. • What flesh can do.' 2.
Between what God will do, ' He will help ;' and what men can do, ex-
pressed in the Psalm by an interrogation in way of contempt, ' what
can flesh do to me V that is, whilst God is my helper.
4. This help of God, which believers are assured of in their trials,
and under their persecutions, is twofold: 1. Internal, by supplies of
grace, spiritual strength and consolation, enabling them with a victo-
rious frame of mind to go through all the difficulties and dangers of
their conflict with a certain success. 2. External, in actual deliver-
ance by the destruction of their adversaries ; both which are frequently
exemplified in the Scripture, and present experience.
5. There is a double contempt cast on the adversaries of the church.
1st. From their state : they are but man ; ' what man can do ;' which
he calls flesh in the Psalm, a poor, contemptible, dying worm, com-
pared with the eternal, infinitely powerful God. 2. From his power :
' what can he do?' whatever his will and his desires may be, in his
power he is weak and impotent. And that which we are taught from
Obs. X. That all believers, in their sufferings, and under their per-
secutions, have a refreshing supporting interest in divine aid and
assistance. — For the promises hereof are made unto them all equally
in their suffering state, even as they were unto the prophets and apos-
tles of old. And,
Obs. XI. It is their duty to express with confidence and boldness,
at all times, their assurance of the divine assistance declared in the
promises, to their own encouragement, the edification of the church,
and the terror of their adversaries, Philip, i. 28.
Obs. XII. Faith duly fixed on the power of God, as engaged for
the assistance of believers in their sufferings, will give them a con-
tempt of all that men can do unto them.
Obs. XIII. The most effectual means to encourage our souls in all
our sufferings, is to compare the power of God who will assist us, and
that of man who doth oppress us. — So is it prescribed by our blessed
Saviour, Matt. x. 28.
Obs. XIV. That which in our sufferings delivereth us from the fear
of men, takes out all that is evil in them, and secures our success.
Ver. 7. — From a prescription of the foregoing duties of morality,
and of obedience in them, the apostle proceeds unto those duties which
concern faith and worship. Of these, he lays the foundation in that
respect which is due unto them that declare unto us the word of truth,
for their work's sake, and on account of the example which they give
Ver. 7. — Mi/rj/zoveuEre rcov riyovfjievujv vfxwv, oiriveg eXaXr^aav v/uuv
rov Xoyov tov Qeov' wv ava^ewpowTtg rr\v wpamv rr/e ava
jU£jU£tcrSf£ rrjv ttiotiv.
"Hyov/xEvwr. Vul. Prsepositorum. Rhem. 'Your prelates;' but
VER. 7.] EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS. 715
yet they interpret the words of ' saints departed,' with such an usual
inconsistency, as prejudice and interest produce. Syr. ' Your leaders.'
Ductorum, Ducum. We, ' them that have the rule over you ;' as in-
deed the word is sometimes used to express ' rule ;' but it is not
proper unto this place, in which the apostle speaks of them who are
departed this life; and so, whatever they had, they have not still the
rule over us.
AvaOewpovvreg, Intuentes, contemplantes, considerantes ; ' looking
into.' Ek€>cktiv, quis fuerit exitus, exitum, ' the end,' 'the issue,' what
it came to. The Syriac puts another sense on the words, ' Search out
the perfection of their conversation;' but to the same purpose.
Ver. 7. — Remember your guides who have spoken unto you the word
of God, whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversa-
That which the apostle designs in the following discourse, is perse-
verance in the faith, and in the profession of the truth, in opposition
to an infection with, or inclination unto, various and strange doctrines,
as he expresseth it, ver. 8. And this, in the first place, he commends
unto them, from the formal cause of it, or the word of God, and the
instrumental cause of it in them, which is the preaching of it, and
those that taught it. For this is the method of believing : ' Faith
cometh by hearing ; hearing by the word of God ; and the word of
God by them that are sent to preach it,' Rom x. 14 — 17. The duty
prescribed hath a threefold object, or there are three distinct parts or
considerations of its object. 1. The persons of some men : their
guides. 2. Their faith. 3. Their conversation, with the end of it.
And so there are three distinct parts of the duty respecting them dis-
tinctly. 1. To remember them or their persons. 2. To imitate their
faith. 3. To consider the end of their conversation.
First. We must consider who are the persons intended, twv nyov/xe-
vu)v v/Liuv. Our translation makes them to be their present rulers :
'them which have the rule over you.' So Erasmus, Eorum qui vobis
prsesunt. But it is an evident mistake. That which seems to have
led them into it, is that iiyovfievog is a participle of the present tense.
But it is most frequently used as a noun, and so it is here. But that
their present rulers cannot be here intended, is evident. 1. Because
there is another precept given with respect unto them afterwards, ver.
17, and that in words suited unto the duty which they owe them
whilst alive and present with them, ' Obey them, and. submit your-
selves.' 2. He describes them as those which had formerly spoken
unto them the word of God, and not as those who yet continued so to
do. 3. They were such as had received, £Kj3a
event and end of their conversation' in this world.
TLyto/xcu is duco, arbitror, existimo; ' to think,' 'to esteem,' or 'to
judge;' and so it is constantly used in the New Testament. But it
also signifies pia'sum, praeeo, duco, ' to go before,' ' to rule,' ' to lead.'
And i)yov/jizvoi is variously used sometimes for a ruler, Matt. ii. (i ;
Acts vii. 10, sometimes for a principal person among others. So
716 AN EXPOSITION OF THE [CH. XIII.
Judas and Silas are called, Acts xv. 22, avSpag iiyovfxtvovg ev rotg
aSfA^otCj ' chief men among the brethren ;' which one would have to
be bishops over them, very absurdly : for they are reckoned among
those brethren of the church, which were distinguished from the
apostles and elders. And sometimes it is used for them that are chief
in any work. So it is said, Acts xiv. 12, that Paul, when he spake
with Barnabas, was, 6 nyov/nevog tov Xoyov, ' the chief speaker,' or he
who was chief or most forward in speaking. It is used in this
chapter only, ver. 7, 17, 24, for an officer, or officers, in the church ;
that is, such as go before, who guide and direct the church, which is
the nature of their office ; that is, bishops, pastors, elders, that preside
in the church, guide it, and go before it. For they have such a rule
as consists principally in spiritual guidance.
1. By the description following, it is evident that the apostle intends
all that had spoken or preached the word of God unto them, whether
apostles, evangelists, or pastors, who had now finished their course ;
not with any respect unto James, as some think, for he was yet alive,
as appears, ch. xii. 4. Nor doth the apostle, in this case of retaining
the truth, give any direction for peculiar regard to Peter, much less to
his chair or successors ; but unto all that had spoken the word of
God unto them.
2. What is implied in /nv^fxovevEre, ' remember them,' to be mind-
ful of them, to bear them in our minds and memories ? And this is
done two ways : 1. Naturally ; to retain them in our minds, as those
whom we highly value and prize. So we are commanded to bear our-
selves towards them whilst they are alive; namely, to esteem them very
highly in love for their work's sake, 1 Thess v. 13. And the same
respect we are to have for them, when they have finished their work.
Suddenly to forget them, is an evidence that we have not profited by
their labours as we ought to have done. 2. It is to retain them in our
minds morally, with respect to the ends here mentioned. A bare re-
membrance of them, is of little or no use. But to remember them in
what they did and taught, so as to follow them in their faith and con-
versation, this is a duty of no small advantage unto us.
In process of time, the latter of these, namely, to remember them
so as to follow them in their faith and holiness, was much lost among
the professors of the Christian religion. But the first was retained,
and new ways invented for the continuation of it, which ended in va-
rious superstitions. For there were found out unto this end certain
religious celebrations of the supposed times of their deaths, with as-
semblings at their tombs, wherein they placed much devotion, not
without a great mixture of heathenish rites, which issued at length
in prayer, adoration, and sundry acts of religious worship. But no
such thing is here enjoined ; no prayers for them nor to them ; no de-
dications of temples or altars unto their memory ; no reservation, much
less adoration, of their relics or bones, nor ascription of miraculous
cures or operations unto them; yea, the apostle, limiting the ends of
our remembrance of them unto our imitation of their faith and holi-
ness, doth sufficiently condemn all these superstitions.
Obs. I. This therefore is our best, this is our only way of remem-
VER. 7.] EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS. 717
bering them who have been our guides, leaders, and rulers in the church,
whether they have been apostles, or evangelists, or ordinary pastors ;
namely, to follow them in their faith and conversation. — And,
Obs. II. This ought to be the care of the guides of the church ;
namely, to leave such an example of faith and holiness, as that it may
be the duty of the church to remember them, and follow their exam-
ple. Alas ! how many have we had, how many have we, who have
left, or are likely to leave, nothing to be remembered by, but what it
is the duty of the church to abhor ! how many, whose uselessness leads
them into everlasting oblivion !
3. The apostle gives the character of the persons whom he would
have them to remember ; and they are, olnveg eAoAjjctov vfiiv rov Xoyov,
'those who had spoken to them the word of God.' This is the cha-
racteristical note of church guides or rulers. Those who do not labour
herein unto the edification of the church, let them pretend what they
will, are no such guides or rulers, nor are so esteemed by Christ or the
church ; nor is the remembrance of them any duty. The word of
God in this place is the written word, and what is contained therein.
Probably some parts of the Scripture, as the Epistles of John, and
the second of Peter, and certainly the Revelations^ were written after
this Epistle. But what was then written, was a sufficient, and the
sole rule of faith unto the church. Yet 1 will not deny, but that the
vocal speaking of the word of God, by virtue of new revelations in
them who were divinely inspired, as the apostles and evangelists, may
be comprised herein. And whereas the word of the gospel is princi-
pally intended, this speaking may comprise the apostolical writings,
as well as their vocal preaching. For in and by them they spake,
that is, delivered and declared unto them the word of God, 1 Thess.
ii. 13. What they wrote, what they taught by divine revelation,
what others taught out of their writings and other Scriptures, is this
word of God.
Obs. III. This word of God is the sole object of the faith of the
church, the only outward means of communicating the mind and grace
of God unto it. — Wherefore, upon it, the being, life, and blessedness
of the church, doth depend. And it is that alone that is to be spoken
in, and unto it, in all things appertaining unto faith, obedience, or
worship, even the whole discipline of Christ. To speak of traditions,
canons of councils, human institutions of any sort, unto the church,
belongs not unto them who have the rule of it. This they are con-
fined to in their whole work, nor is the church obliged to attend unto
them in any thing else.
As they preached nothing but the word of God, so the expression
intimates their diligence therein : ' They gave themselves unto prayer
and the word.' And this is the ground, the cause of the respect that
is due from the church unto its guides, and this alone ; namely, that
they have diligently, carefully, and constantly spoken the word of God
unto them, and instructed them in the way of life thereby.
Secondly. This remembrance of our guides is prescribed with re-
ference unto the duty of following their faith : wv /xifxtia^e ri)v ttigtiv,
'whose faith follow ;' so mind them and their work in preaching the
word of God, as to follow or imitate them in their faith.
718 AN EXPOSITION OF THE [cH. XIII.
yiiiueofxai is 'to imitate ;' that is, lively to express an example pro-
posed unto us. And it is the word used by the apostle unto that end
which we translate ' to follow,' 2 Thess. iii. 7, 9, as jutjtxrjrrjc is constantly
for the person performing of that dutv which we render ' a follower,'
1 Cor. iv. 16, xi. 1; Eph. v. 1 ; 1 fhess. i. 6, ii. 14: Heb. vi. 12.
So the word is applied unto painting, when one picture is exactly
drawn by another, so as in all things to represent it. Hence one
wrote under his excellent piece, fiwfnqazTai tlq fxaWov rj fxi/mrjaeTai,
' It is easier to envy it than to imitate it,' or do the like. So poets and
players are said, fiifinaSai, to imitate the persons whom they represent ;
and the more accurately they do it, the more exact are they esteemed
in their arts. I mention it only to show that there is more intimated
in this word than ' to follow,' in the usual sense, seems to express. It
is such a following as wherein we are fulty conformed unto, and do
lively express, that which we are said to follow. So a scholar may be
said to follow his master, when having attained all his arts and sci-
ences, he acts them in the same manner as his master did. So are we
to follow the faith of these guides.
Their faith may be considered two ways: 1. Objectively for the
faith which they taught, believed, and professed, or the truth which
they did believe. 2. Subjectively for the grace of faith in them
whereby they believed that truth. And it is here taken in the latter
sense. For their faith in the other sense is not to be imitated, but pro-
fessed. Nor doth the apostle by their faith, intend only the grace of
faith in them, but its whole exercise in all that they did and suffered.
Their faith was that which purified their hearts, and made them fruit-
ful in their lives. Especially it was that whereby they glorified God
in all that they did and suffered for the name of Jesus Christ. Where-
fore, saith the apostle, remember them, and in so doing, remember
their faith, with what it enabled them to do and suffer for the gospel;
their faith in its principle, and all the blessed effects of it. In the
principle, this faith is the same, as to the nature of it, in all true be-
lievers, whether they are rulers, or under rule, 2 Pet. i. 1. But it
differs in its fruits and effects: in these they were eminent. And
therefore are the Hebrews here enjoined to secure it in its principle?,
and to express it in its exercise, even as they did.
Herein are we to imitate and follow them. No mere man, not the
best of men, is to be our pattern or example absolutely, or in all things.
This honour is due unto Christ alone. But they may be so, we ought
to make them so, with respect unto those graces and duties wherein
they were eminent. So the apostle proposeth himself as an example
to believers, Eph. v. 1 ; Philip, iii. 17 ; 1 Thess. i. 6, but with this li-
mitation, as he followed Christ, 1 Cor. xi. 1. And,
Obs. IV. A due consideration of the truth of those who have been
before us, especially of such who were constant in sufferings ; above
all, of those who were constant unto death, as the holy martyrs in
former and latter ages, is an effectual means to stir us up unto the
same exercise of faith when we are called unto it. And if the imita-
tion of former ages had kept itself within these bounds, they had been
preserved from those excesses, whereby at length all the memory of
them was corrupted and polluted.
VER. 7.] EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS. 719
Thirdly. The last thing in the words, is the motive that the apostle
gives unto this duty of following their faith : which ariseth from the
considering avaQewpovvrtg rr\v mfiaaiv rije avaorpo^rje, ' the end of
their conversation,' or what, through their faith, they came or were
brought unto. ' They have,' saith he, 'finished their course in this
world.' What was their conversation, what was the end of it, and
how it was to be considered, and wherein the so doing was a motive to
follow their faith, lies before us in these words.
r} is the word constantly used in the New Testament,
to express the way or course of men's walking and converse in the
world, with respect unto moral duties, and the whole of the obedience
which God requires of them, which we usually call their conversation.
And it is used concerning that which is bad and to be disallowed, as
well as that which is good and approved. But usually when it is used
in the first sense, it hath some discriminating epithet joined with it;