may come unto the full assurance of understanding, to the acknow-
ledgment of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ.
Thirdly. How he offered himself is also expressed: it was by the
eternal Spirit. ' By,' Sia, denotes a concurrent operation, when one
works with another. Nor doth it always denote a subservient instru-
mental cause, but sometimes that which is principally efficient, John i.
5; Rom. xi. 34; Heb. i. 2. So it doth here: the eternal Spirit was
not an inferior instrument whereby Christ offered himself, but it 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 TlvevjuaTog aicoviov, 'eternal Spirit,'
some, by the 'holy Spirit;' the latter is the reading of the Vulgar trans-
lation, 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 ac-
ceptable unto God, as a sacrifice of a sweet-smelling savour; which
work of the Holy Spirit in the human nature of Christ I have elsewhere
.declared. Others say, that his own eternal Deity, which supported him
in his sufferings, and rendered the sacrifice of himself effectual, is in-
tended. 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 him-
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 unto the efficacy and effect. And those of the Holy Ghost in him
were 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 miÂ§fot 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 SonÂ»
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.
VER. 13,14.] EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS 111
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 re-
spected 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, volun-
tarily giving up his human nature, to be a sacrifice, in an act of his
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 actuated him in his whole media-
tion, 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 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 communica-
tion of his love and grace to sinners, that he might be eternally glori-
fied. He gave him that 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 thy
will 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, Isa. 1. 7 â€” 9. Through the act-
ings of these graces of the Holy Spirit in the human nature, his offer-
ing 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.
1st. 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,
112 'AN EXPOSITION OF THE [dl. IX.
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
2dly. 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 1 shall leave the reader to choose whether
sense he juclgeth 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 those 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 with-
out any countenance from their use elsewhere, is to wrest them at our
(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
(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 colour of an opposition herein unto
what was done by the high priests of old.
(4.) It proceeds on their irpwrov \ptvSog 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
concern 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 Isa. lxi. 1, 2;
Rom. i. 3; 1 Pet. iii. 18.
Wherefore Grotius forsakes this notion, and otherwise explains the
words. ' Spiritus Christi qui non tantum fuit vivus ut in vita terrena,
sed in asternum 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 bv the act-
VER. 13, 14.] EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS. 113
ings of it. For there are no other in the human nature, as to any
duties of obedience unto God. But that this here should be 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 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 wherein4he 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 centre of the mystery of the gospel. An attempt
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, or 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 sacri-
fice, 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.
Fourthly. It is added, that he thus offered himself 'without spot,'
afxwfiov. This adjunct is descriptive, not of the priest, but of the sacri-
fice : it is not a qualification of his person, but of the offering.
Slichtingius 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 any 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
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 evi-
dent 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 Pet.
i. 18. And Christ is not only called the ' Lamb of God, which taketh
away the sins of the world,' John i. 29, that is, by his being slain and
offered, but is represented in the worship of the church as a ' Lamb
slain,' Rev. v. 6. It is therefore to offer violence to the Scripture and
common understanding, to seek for this qualification any where but in
VOL. IV. I
114 AN EXPOSITION OF THE [CH. IX.
the human nature of Christ, antecedently unto his death and blood-
Wherefore this expression, ' without spot,' respects in the first place
the purity of his nature, and the holiness of his life. For although this
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 sin-
ners : 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 insti-
tution, 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 not be unuseful to give here a brief scheme of this great sa-
crifice of Christ, to fix the thoughts of faith the more distinctly upon it.
First. 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 continues not in
all things written in the law to do them.'
2. A refusal of all such ways of atonement, satisfaction, and recon-
ciliation, that might be offered from any thing, that all or any creatures
could perform : sacrifice and offerings, and whole burnt-offerings for
sin he would not have, Heb. x. 5, 6, he rejected them as insufficient to
make atonement for sin.
Secondly. Satan appeared before this throne with his prisoners ; he
had the power of death, Heb. ii. 14, and entered into judgment as unto
his right and title, and therein was judged, John xvi. 1 1 . 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 xxii. 53.
Thirdly. 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 atone-
ment for them, by doing and suffering whatever the holiness, righteous-
ness, and wisdom of God required thereunto. ' Then said I, Lo I
come to do thy will, O God : above when he said, Sacrifice and offer-
ing, and burnt-offerings for sin thou wouldst 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 might establish the
second,' Heb. x. 7 â€” 9.
Fourthly. This stipulation and engagement of his, God accepteth of,
and withal, as the sovereign Lord and Ruler of all, prescribeth the way
and moans whereby he should make atonement for sin, and reconcilia-
VER. 13, 14.] EPISTLE TO TIIF-: HEBREWS. 115
tion with God thereon. And this was, that he should make his soul
an offering for sin, and therein bear their iniquities, Isa. liii. 10, 11.
Fifthly. 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, Heb. viii. 3. This was not to be the blood of bulls
and goats, or such things as were offered by the law, ver. 4. But this
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,
Heb. x. 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, Heb. ii. 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, I lay
it down of myself, I have power to lay it down, and I have power to
take it again,' John x. 18.
Sixthly. 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 him-
self 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, exerted 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 confirmed, or brought unto the ashes of death.
Tins 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 to 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 demonstra-
tion of their nature, and 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,
Seventhly. Herewith God was well pleased, satisfied, and reconciled
unto sinners. Thus was he in Christ ' reconciling the world unto him-
self, not imputing our sins unto us, in that he was made sin for -us, that
we might become the righteousness of God in him.' For in this ten-
der 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 well-smelling savour. He was more
glorified in that one instance of the obedience of his only Son, than he
was dishonoured by the sin of Adam, and all his posterity, as I have
2. All the demands of his justice were satisfied, unto his eternal
Eighthly. Hereon Satan is judged, and destroyed as unto his power
over sinners, who receive this atonement ; all the grounds and occasions
116 AN EXPOSITION OF THE ' [CH. IX.
of it are hereby removed, his kingdom is overthrown, his usurpation
and unjust dominion defeated, his arms spoiled, and captivity led cap-
tive. For it was from the anger of the Lord against sin, that he ob-
tained his power over sinners, which he abused unto his own ends.
This being atoned, the prince of this world was judged and cast out.
Ninthly. Hereon the poor condemned sinners are discharged. God
says, deliver them, for I have found a ransom. But we must return to
Thirdly. 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 to the nature of
this purging. But the words require a more particular explication.
The word is in the future tense, KaSapisi, '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 this effect already on them that did believe,
but upon a double account.
1 st. To declare the certainty of the event, or the infallible connexion
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.'
2dly. 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 par-
takers of, by the relinquishment of Mosaic 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 sanctifi-
cation as unto the flesh, they should now have their conscience infalli-
bly purged from dead works. Hence it is said, v/iidv, ' your conscience.'
Some copies read iifxwv, ' our.' But there is no difference in the sense.
I shall retain the common reading, as that which refers unto the He-
brews, 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.
1. By cnro veicpo.>v epywv, '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,
1st. Because they proceed from a principle of spiritual death, or are
the works of them who have no vital principle of holiness in them, Eph.
it. 1,5; Col. ii. 13.
2dly. Because they are useless and fruitless, as all dead things are.
3dly. They deserve death, and tend thereunto. Hence, they are
like rotten bones in the grave, accompanied with worms and corruption.
VER. 13, 14.] EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS. 117
And these things are true. Howbeit, I judge there is a peculiar rea-
son 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 a heifer mingled with living water, from de-
filements 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 shown, 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 sacri-
fice 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 sepulchre filled
with bones and corruption. Every thing they do, is unclean in itself,
and unclean to them. * Unto them that are defiled, nothing is pure,
but even their mind and conscience is defiled,' Tit. i. 15. Their works
come from spiritual death, and tend unto eternal death, and are dead in
themselves. Let them deck and trim their carcases whilst they please,
let them rend their faces with paintings, and multiply their ornaments