which on sundry accounts constitutes an especial duty in itself; and
that is, Kat Koivwviag, ' communication,' that is, a distribution of the
good things we enjoy, unto others, according as their necessities do re-
quire. It is beneficence restrained by its object, which is peculiarly
the poor and indigent, and by its principle, which is pity and compas-
sion. Koivwvia is the actual exercise of that charity towards the poor,
which is required of us in the distribution of good things unto them
according to our ability. This is an important evangelical duty, which
the Scripture every where gives us in charge, as that wherein the glory
of God, the salvation of our own souls,' with the honour of our pro-
fession, are highly concerned. To be negligent herein, is to despise
the wisdom of God in the disposal of the lots and conditions of his
own children in the world, in so great variety as he hath done always,
and will always continue to do. He doth it for the exercise of those
graces in them, which their several conditions call for ; such are pa-
tience, submission, and trust in the poor; thankfulness, bounty, and
charity, in the rich. And where these graces are mutually exercised,
there is beauty, order and harmony, in this effect of divine wisdom,
with a revenue of glory and praise unto himself. Good men are scarce
ever more sensible of God, than in giving and receiving in a due
manner. He that gives aright, finds the power of divine grace in his
heart; and he that receives, is sensible of divine care and love in sup-
plies : God is nigh to both. Wherefore, to be negligent herein, is to
despise the wisdom of God, in his holy disposal of various outward
conditions of his children in this world. No man is rich or poor
merely for himself, but to fill up that public order of things which
750 AN EXPOSITION OF THE [CH. XIII.
God hath designed unto his own glory. But there is no end of what
might be spoken on this head, or unto the necessity and excellency of
this duty. And from the injunction of these duties, we may observe,
Obs. II. That the world itself, even in those that believe not, doth
receive great advantage by the grace administered from the death of
Christ, and its fruits, whereof the apostle treats. â€” For there is an obli-
gation on them, and an inclination wrought in them, who are sanctified
by his blood, to do good unto all men all manner of ways, as they are
able. And there was a time when the word was filled with the fruits of
it. Did all those who at this day profess the name of Christ, show
forth the virtue of his mediation in these duties, as the profession of
religion would be glorious, so the benefit which the world would re-
ceive thereby, would be unspeakable.
Obs. III. That religion hath no relation unto the cross of Christ,
which doth not incline and dispose men unto benignity, and the exer-
cise of loving-kindness towards all.
Obs. IV. Much less hath that religion any relation to the cross of
Christ, which guides and disposeth its professors unto rage, cruelty,
and oppression of others, on the account of an interest of its own.
Obs. V. We ought always to admire the glory of divine wisdom,
which hath so disposed the state of the church in this world, that
there should be continual occasion for the exercise of every grace mu-
tually among ourselves. â€” For all the works of providence do serve
the glory of God in the exercise of grace.
Obs. VI. Beneficence and communication are the only outward evi-
dences and demonstrations of the renovation of the image of God in us.
Obs. VII. God hath laid up provision for the poor in the grace and
duty of the rich ; not in their coffers and their barns, wherein they
have no interest. And in that grace lies the right of the poor to be
Thirdly. The observance of these duties the apostle presseth on
them, from this consideration, that, roiavraiQ Svaiaig, ' with such sacri-
fices' God is well pleased. He persists in his way of calling our
Christian duties by the name of 'sacrifices.' And he doth it to con-
firm the cessation of all other sacrifices in the church, upon the accom-
plishment of the signification of them all in the sacrifice of Christ.
But yet there is a peculiar reason of assigning this appellation unto
moral duties, to be performed mutually among ourselves. For in every
sacrifice there was a decrement unto the offerer. He was not to offer
that which cost him nothing; part of his substance was to be trans-
ferred from himself unto God. So is it in these duties : they cannot
be duly observed, but there must be an alienation of what is ours, in
time, in ease, in our substance, and a dedication of it unto God.
Hence they have the general nature of sacrifices, as to cost, and parting
with our substance, or what is ours. So in the first recorded sacrifices
of Cain and Abel, each of them gave somewhat of his own unto God ;
the one of the fruit of the ground, the other of the firstlings of the
flock. In things of the like nature, do these sacrifices much consist.
But in general all things done for God, unto his glory, and accepted
with him, may be so called.
VER. 17.] EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS. 751
The force of the motive consists in this, that with these sacrifices,
tvapÂ£(TTuTai 6 Otoe, ' God is well pleased.' The Vul. Lat. renders the
words, promeretur Deus; and the Rhem. ' God is promerited ;' with
a barbarous word, and a false signification assigned unto it. And from
their own feigned word, those of the church of Rome dispute for the
merit of good works, whereof, at least in their sense, there is nothing
in the text, nor any thing to give the least countenance thereunto.
The word is no more, but ' accepted,' or * well approved of;' and being-
spoken of God, is his being well pleased with what is done ; that is,
his approbation of it.
Wherefore the apostle having called these duties ' sacrifices,' he ex-
presseth God's respect unto them, by a word signifying the act of his
mind and will towards the sacrifices of old. So it is said, he had
respect unto the offering of Abel, Gen. iv. 4 ; that is, he approved of
it, and accepted it, as our apostle declares, Heb. xi. 4. So, on the sacri-
fice of Noah, it is said that he ' smelled a savour of rest,' Gen. viii. 21,
it was well pleasing unto him. And this frame of mind in God with
respect unto those sacrifices, doth the apostle express by this word,
1 is well pleased.' But there is also in the word a clear intimation of
the especial pleasure of God in these things. This is that which he
is well pleased withal in an especial manner. And hence we may
Obs. VIII. That the will of God revealed concerning his acceptance
of any duties, is the most effectual motive unto our diligence in them.
â€” Promise of acceptance gives life unto obedience.
Obs. IX. The works and duties which are peculiarly useful unto
men, are peculiarly acceptable unto God.
Ver. 17. â€” ITfctS'Eo-^'E rote iiyov/utvoiQ vfxojv kcu vttÂ£iketÂ£' cwtoi yap
aypvirvovaiv virtp twv ipv^iov vpuov, w? \oyov airoSwcrnvrtg Iva /xtra
â– \apaq tovto ttokvcfi, kui fit) crT&vaZovTtg' aXvaiTtXtg yap vfiiv tovto.
Ver. 17 â€” Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit your-
selves, for they watch for your souls as they that must give an
account; that they may do it with joy, and not mourning, for that
is unprofitable for you.
This is the third instance of duties required in our Christian profes-
sion, on the account of the sacrifice of Christ, and of our sanetifica-
tion by his blood. And it is in things ecclesiastical, or gospel institu-
tions. And some things are to be premised unto the exposition of the
1. There is a supposition of a settled church state among them unto
whom the apostle wrote, whereof he gave intimation, ch. x. 24, 25
For there were among- them rulers, and those that were ruled,
into which two sorts he distributes the whole. And he adds more-
over, their mutual duties in that church state, and that distinctly, ac-
cording to the office of the one, and capacity of the other.
2. The epistle was written immediately to the community of the
faithful, or body of the fraternity in the church, and that in distinc-
752 AN EXPOSITION OP THE [CH. XIII.
lion from their rulers or guides, as appeareth both in this place, and
ver. 24. Hence all the duties contained in it, are given in immediate
charge unto them. So it was in those primitive times, when the church
itself was entrusted with the care of its own edification. But these
things can scarcely be accommodated unto the present state of most
churches in the world, wherein the people, as such, have no interest in
their own edification.
3. The especial duty here prescribed, includes all that concerns
church rule and order ; for the springs of all things belonging there-
unto, lie in the due obedience of the church unto its rulers, and their
due discharge of their office : in them they also are enjoined. This,
therefore, added unto the spiritual and moral duties before mentioned,
gives us a summary of the whole duty of believers.
The words contain a prescription of a duty, with the ground or
reason of it. First. There is, 1. The persons towards whom it is to be
discharged ; that is, their rulers. 2. The duty itself, whereof there are
two parts: 1st. Obedience, 'Obey them.' 2dly. Submission, 'and
submit yourselves.' Tn the second, there are two things. 1. The
reason of the equity and necessity of this duty, and this is taken from
the due discharge of their office and work, ' They watch for your
souls;' which is amplified from the consideration of their accountable-
ness unto Christ in their office, as ' those that give an account.' 2.-
An enforcement of the reason itself, from the different ways of their
giving account, with the different causes and events thereof, 'that
they may do it with joy,' &c.
First. The persons towards whom the duty is prescribed, are, toiq
vyovfxevoig v/au)v, ' those that have the rule over you.' Of the mean-
ing of the word here used, see the exposition of ver. 7, of this chapter.
It signifies properly guides or leaders, though usually applied unto
them that guide, feed, or lead with authority, or by virtue of office.
But all the names given by the Holy Ghost unto those who preside in
the church, are exclusive, of rigid authority, and pregnant with notions
of spiritual care, duty and benignity. Styles or titles of magisterial
power, of earthly dignity, of rigid authority, are foreign to evangelical
churches; your guides, your leaders, who rule by rational guidance
These guides or rulers are those who are called the elders or bishops
of the church. And,
1. There were many of them in each church. For suppose that
the apostle wrote this Epistle directly and immediately to all the
churches in Judea, (which yet he did not, but unto that at Jerusalem),
yet each of them must be supposed to have more of these rulers of
their own than one. For they are directed to obey them that had the
rule over them, and not over others, those that watched over their souls,
and were to give an account of them. Here is no room left for a
single bishop, and his rule in the church, much less for a pope.
2. These rulers or guides were then of two sorts^ as the apostle de-
clares, 1 Tim. v. 17. First. Such as, together with rule, laboured also
in word and doctrine, and then such as attended unto rule only. And
if this be not here allowed, let it be taken in the other sense, and then
VRR. 17.] EPISTLK TO THE HEBREWS. 753
the two parts or duties of the same office in teaching and ruling are
directed unto. For distinct respect is had unto them in the prescrip-
tion of the duties here mentioned, as we shall see.
3. The grant of these guides unto the church, this office, and its
due discharge, being of necessity unto its edification, is an act of the
authority of Christ, and an effect of his love and care; as our apostle
declares at large, Eph. iv. 8 â€” 14. And where those that take upon
them so to be, are useless, or obstructive as unto that end, they must
bear their own judgment. This is certain, that in after ages the
church owed its ruin unto its guides, who led it into a fatal
4. The rulers or guides here intended, were the ordinary elders, or
officers of the church, which were then settled among them. For al-
though probably one of the apostles was yet alive among them, yet
it is plain that it is their ordinary officers, which had the peculiar rule
of them, that are intended. And that there be such, more than one
in every church, belongs to the complete state and constitution of it.
Secondly. There are two parts of the duty enjoined with respect
unto these guides, and that with distinct respect unto the two parts
of their office before mentioned, namely, of teaching and ruling.
1. It is with respect unto their teaching, preaching, or pastoral feed-
ing, that they are commanded to ' obey them/ ireiBeaSt. For the word
signifies an obedience on a persuasion ; such as doctrine, instruction, or
teaching, doth produce. And the submission required, vtthkcts, ' sub-
mit yourselves,' respects their rule : obey their doctrine, and submit to
their rule. And some things must be observed to clear the intention
of the apostle herein.
1. It is not a blind implicit obedience and subjection, that is here
prescribed ; a pretence hereof hath been abused to the ruin of the
souls of men. But there is nothing more contrary to the whole nature
of gospel obedience, which is our reasonable service ; and in par-
ticular, it is that which would frustrate all the rules and directions
given unto believers in this Epistle itself, as well as elsewhere, about
all the duties that are required of them. For to what purpose are they
used, if no more be required but that men give up themselves by an
implicit credulity to obey the dictates of others?
2. It hath respect unto them in their office only. If those who sup-
pose themselves in office, do teach and enjoin things that belong not
to their office, there is no obedience due unto them by virtue of this
command. So is it with the guides of the church of Rome, who,
under a pretenee of their office, give commands in secular things, no
way belonging unto the ministry of the gospel.
3. It is their duty so to obey, whilst they teach the things which
the Lord Christ hath appointed them to teach ; for unto them is their
commission limited, Matt, xxviii. 20, and to submit unto their rule
whilst it is exercised in the name of Christ according to his institution,
and by the rule of the word, and not otherwise. When they depart
from these, there is neither obedience nor submission due unto them.
1. In the performance of these duties, there is supposed a judgment
VOL. IV. 3 C Jv D
754 AN EXPOSITION OF THE [cil. Xllt.
to be made of what is enjoined, or taught by the word of God, accord'
ing to all the instructions and rules that are given us therein. Our
obedience unto them, must be obedience unto God.
5. On this supposition, their word is to be obeyed, and their rule
submitted unto, not only because they are true and right materially,
but also because they are theirs, and conveyed from them unto us by
divine institution. A regard is to be had unto their authority and
office-power, in what they teach and do. And it is hence evident,
Obs. I. That the due obedience of the church, in all its members,
unto the rulers of it, in the discharge of their office and duty, is the
best means of its edification, and the chief cause of order and peace
in the whole body. â€” Therefore is it here placed by the apostle, as com-
prehensive of all ecclesiastical duties.
Thirdly. The ground of this duty, or the principal motive unto it,
is taken from the office of these rulers, and their discharge of it :
* They watch for your souls, as they that must give account.' Obey
them, avrot yap, ' for they' watch. Make the consideration hereof a
motive to your duty.
Aypv-irvvocTi, ' they watch.' The word used is peculiar unto this
place, and it denotes a watchfulness with the greatest care and dili-
gence, and that not without trouble or danger, as Jacob kept and
watched the flock of Laban in the night.
And they did it V7rtp rwv \pv\wv v/ulwv, ' for their souls,' about them,
concerning them, and the things that belong unto them, for their good.
So v7TÂ£p, frequently denotes the final cause : they watch, that souls
may be guided, kept and directed, unto their present duty and future
reward. And the apostle compriseth herein the whole duty of the
pastoral office, with the manner of its discharge. Wherein that duty
doth consist, what are the principal parts and acts of it, I have else-
where declared. Here the thing itself is intimated, but the manner of
its discharge is principally intended ; that is, with design, care and
diligence, and that against troubles, dangers, and oppositions. As if
it were said, the work and design of these rulers is solely to take care
of your souls, by all means to preserve them from evil, sin, backsliding,
to instruct and feed them ; to promote their faith and obedience, that
they may be led safely to eternal rest. For this end is their office ap-
pointed, and herein do they labour continually.
Where this is not the design of church-rulers, where it is not their
work and employment, where they do not evidence it so to be, they
can claim no obedience from the church, by virtue of this rule. For
the words here used are so a motive unto this obedience, as that they
also contain the formal reason of it, because this watching belongs
unto the essence of the office in the exercise of it, without which it is
an empty name.
Obs. II. An assumption of right and power by any to rule over the
church, without evidencing their design and work to be a watching
for the good of their souls, is pernicious unto themselves, and ruinous
unto the church itself.
On the other side, that all the members of the church may be kept
in due obedience unto their guides, it is necessary that they always
VER. 17.] EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS. 755
consider the nature of their office, raid their discharge of it. When
they find that the office itself is a divine institution for the good of
their souls, and that it is discharged by their guides with labour, care,
and diligence, they will be disposed unto that obedience and submis-
sion which is required of them.
And herein consists the beauty and usefulness of church order ;
namely, when the guides of it do make it evident that their whole design
is, with labour and diligence, to promote the eternal welfare of the
souls of them that are committed unto their care; and they, on the
other hand, on the account hereof, do obey them in their doctrine, and
submit unto them in their rule. Without this, all pretence of order
is but confusion.
Fourthly. There is moreover an enforcement added unto this motive,
from the consideration of the condition whereon they undertake this
work of watching for their souls; namely, we Xoyov cnroSwcrovTtg, * as
those that must give an account;' that is, of their office, work, duty,
and discharge of it. So we render the words, ' those that must give
an account,' referring it unto the last day of universal account. But
respect is had also unto their present state and work ; as,
1. They are in their office accountable persons, such as are obliged
to account. They are not owners but stewards: they are not sove-
reigns, but servants. There is a great Shepherd of the sheep, ver. 20,
the Prince of the shepherds, 1 Pet. v. 4, 10, to whom they must give
an account of their office, of their work, and of the flock committed
to their charge.
2. They behave themselves as those that are so entrusted, and so
accountable. This is included in the particle wg, 'as those.' And
those who have an accountable office or work committed unto them,
do act, 1. With good boldness and confidence towards those that are
under their care; for they are committed unto them by him who hath
the sovereign power over them all, unto whom they must give an ac-
count. They are not afraid to be esteemed intruders, or to impose
themselves unduly on others, in any acts or duties of their office.
Stewards are bold in the honest management of things committed
unto them. This gives them encouragement against all oppositions
and reflections, as though they took too much upon them at any time.
The remembrance of their trust, and their account, animates them unto
their duty. 2. With care, diligence, and circumspection, and a con-
tinual regard unto the issue of things, and the trial which they must
come unto. This the nature of the thing requires.
Although the last great account, which all church guides must give
of their stewardship, may be intended, yet the present account which
they give every day to Jesus Christ of the work committed to them, is
included in it also. There are no conscientious church guides, but
they do continually represent unto the Lord Christ the state of the
flock committed unto them, and what is the success of their ministry
among them. If they thrive, if they flourish, if they go on to perfec-
tion, this they give him an account of, blessing him for the work of his
Spirit and grace among them. If they are diseased, unthrifty, fallen
under decays, or do any wav misconduct themselves, therein also they
3 c 2
756 AN EXPOSITION OF THE [CII. XII!.
give an account unto Jesus Christ; they spread it before him, mourn-
ing with grief and sorrow. And indeed the different ways of giving
this account with joy or sorrow, mentioned in the next words, seem to
have respect hereunto.
Obs. III. Those who do attend with conscience and diligence unto the
discharge of the work of the ministry towards their flocks, committed in
an especial manner unto their charge, have no greater joy or sorrow in
this world, than what accompanies the daily account which they give
unto Christ, of the discharge of their duty amongst them, as their
success falls out to be.
4. The account, as was said, of the last day, when every shepherd
shall be called on for his whole flock, by number and tale, is referred
unto. But whereas this consists only in a solemn declaration and mani-
festation of what is done in this life, the present account is principally
regarded, in the pressing of this duty. For the last clause of the
words, ' this is unprofitable for you,' on the supposition of an account
given with sorrow, can refer to no other account but that which is pre-
sent, with respect unto the success of the ministry.
Obs. IV. Much of the life of the ministry and benefit of the church,
depends on the continual giving an account unto Christ, by prayer
and thanksgiving, of the state of the church, and success of the word
therein. Those guides who esteem themselves obliged thereunto, and
do live in the practice of it, will find their minds engaged thereby unto
constant diligence, and earnest labouring in the discharge of their
duly. And the dealings of Christ with the church itself, are regulated
according unto this account, as the last words do manifest. For,
Lastly. The motive proposed unto obedience, is farther improved
from the consideration of the frame of mind, which is, or may be,- in
the guides of the church, in giving this account, which wholly depends
on the due observance, or omission of the duty prescribed. For on the
one they will give their account with joy, and on the other with sorrow ;
and as unto this latter frame, it is added, ' For that is unprofitable for
you,' the contrary is to be understood with respect unto the former,
namely, that it is profitable for them. Now, this joy or sorrow where-
with they are affected in giving of their accounts, doth not respect
themselves, or their own ministry ; for they are a sweet savour unto
God, both in them that are saved, and in them that perish ; but it re-
spects the church itself committed unto their guidance.
1. The duty is urged, Iva pera % a P a C rovro iroitvai, ' that they may
give their account with joy.' It is matter of the greatest joy unto the
pastors of the churches, when they find the souls of them committed
unto their charge, thriving under their ministry. So was it with the
apostles themselves, ' I have no greater joy than to hear that my chil-
dren walk in the truth,' saith one of them, 3 John, ver. 4. And another,
' What is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? are not even ye, in
the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? for ye are our
glory and joy,' 1 Thess. ii. 19, 20. And when they give this account
with praise, it fills their hearts with joy in a particular manner. And