with all excess of bravery ; within, they are full of dead bones, of rotten,
defiled, polluting works. That world which appears with so much out-
ward beauty, lustre, and glory, is all polluted and defiled under the eye
of the Most Holy.
2. These dead works are further described by their relation unto our
persons, as to what is peculiarly affected with them, where they have,
as it were, their seat and residence : and this is rt]v avvuÂ§t)
conscience.' He doth not say, purge your souls, or your minds, or
your persons, but your conscience. And this he doth,
1st. In general, in opposition unto the purification by the law. It
was there the dead body that did defile, it was the body that was de-
filed ; it was the body that was purified ; those ordinances sanctified to
the purifying of the flesh. But the defilements here intended, are spi-
ritual, internal, relating unto conscience, and therefore, such is the puri-
2dly. 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
tlie faculties of the soul, and there is in it a peculiar defilement of con-
science, Tit. i. 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 ap-
proach into the presence of God. It was conscience which reduced
Adam into 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
118 AN EXPOSITION OF THE [CH. IX.
his worship. Hereunto the apostle alludes in the following words,
' That we may serve the living God.' For the word Xarpevu), properly
denotes that service which consists in the observance 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,
ch. x. 2, (that is, of 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, 2dly. 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 Thess. v. 23.
To purge our conscience, is to purge us in our whole persons.
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.
1. To a complete relief in this condition, two things are necessary.
(1.) A discharge of conscience from the 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 to 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 to their purification.
Both these the apostle here expressly ascribes to 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 to this end.
[3.] The reason whence the apostle affirms that it shall much more
do this, than the legal ordinances could, sanctifying to the purifying of
1. The grounds of its efficacy to this purpose are three.
1st. That it was blood offered to 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
VER. 13, 14.] EPISTLE TO TIIU HEBREWS. 119
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.
2dly. It was the blood of Christ ; of Christ, the Son of the Irving
God, Matt. xvi. 18, whereby God purchased his church with his own
blood, Acts xx. 28. The dignity of his person gave efficacy to his
office and offering. No other person in the discharge of the same
offices that were committed to 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 to 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
3dly. He offered his 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. We must next inquire 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 to God.
2. The cleansing of our souls from vicious defiling habits, inclina-
tions, and acts, or all inherent uncleanness. Wherefore under two con-
siderations doth the blood of Christ produce this double effect.
First. As it was offered, so it made atonement for sin, by giving satis-
faction to 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 to. To deny it, is to deny any real efficacy in the blood of
Christ to 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 to him. This
is given us by the blood of Christ as offered.
Secondly. 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 to our souls, see Eph. v. 26, 27; Tit. ii. 14; so doth
the blood of Christ the Son of God cleanse us from all our sins, 1 John
i. 7; Zech. xiii. 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 to. The Socinians
plead on this place, that this effect of the death of Christ doth as to us
depend on our own duty. If they intended no more, but that there is
duty required on our part to 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 con-
science from dead works, they would have to consist in two things.
120 AN EXPOSITION OF THE [cH. IX.
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 to
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 to his exaltation and power in heaven. Wherefore this effect
of the blood of Christ, is what we do ourselves in obedience to 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 to the blood of Christ, as it was offered in sacrifice to God, or
shed in the offering of himself, which alone the apostle speaks to in this
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 on 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 an atone-
ment 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 to 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 to our souls, is wrought according to 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 to us in
the gospel, Rom. iii. 25. 3. It is required of us, to an actual participa-
tion of the benefit of it, and peace with God thereby, that we receive
this atonement by faith, Rom. v. II, but as wrought with God, it is the
immediate effect of the blood of Christ.
Fourthly. 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 while
they were defiled and unclean. And three things are required to 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 of life to all others.
[2.] Comparatively ; with respect to idols and false gods, which are
dead things, such as have neither life nor operation. And this title is
in the Scripture applied to God.
1st. To beget faith and trust in him, as the author of temporal,
VER. 13, 14.] EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS. 121
spiritual, and eternal life, with all things that depend thereon, 1 Tim.
2dly. To beget a due fear and reverence of him, as he 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 princi-
pally 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 Heb. iii. 12, x. 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 rea-
sonable service, Rom. xii. 1.
Secondly. What is it \arptvaiv, ' to serve' the living God ? I doubt
not but that the whole life of faith in universal obedience, is consequen-
tially required hereunto. That we may live to 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 to them on 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 to 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 to God depends
hereon. For as we therein express or testify the subjection of our souls
and consciences to 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
Thirdly. What is required on our part hereunto, is included in the
manner of the expression of it, tig to \arptvtiv, ' that we may serve.'
And two things are required hereunto. 1. Liberty. 2. Ability. The
first includes right and boldness, and is expressed by Trappr\
holy worship is irpoaayuj^r] ev -Kapp^aia, 'an access with freedom and
confidence.' This we must treat of on ch. x. 19 â€” 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 ob-
servations from the words.
Obs. VI. Faith hath ground of triumph in the certain efficacy of the
blood of Christ for the expiation of sin. â€” ' 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 to this
end are admirable, Rom. viii. 31 â€” 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
122" AN EXPOSITION OF THE [cH. IX.
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 conscien-
ces V How heavenly, how divine is that way of arguing to this end,
which our blessed Saviour proposeth to us in the parable of the unjust
judge and the widow, Luke xviii. 1 â€” 3. And in that other, of the man
and his friend that came to seek bread by night, Luke xi. 5â€”7. 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 arguments here managed by the apostle
leave no room for doubt or objection. Would we be more diligent in
the same way of the exercise of faith, by arguings and expostulations
on Scripture principles, we should be more firm in our assent to the
conclusions which arise from them, and be enabled more to triumph
against the assault of unbelief.
Obs. VII. 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. â€” 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 herein is hid only to them that perish.
Obs. VIII. It was God, as the supreme ruler and lawgiver, with
whom atonement for sin was to be made. â€” ' He offered himself to 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 to him but ' the man that was his fellow,' who gave
efficacy to his oblation by the dignity of his person ? In the contem-
plation of the glory of God herein, the life of faith doth principally
Obs. IX. The souls and consciences of men are wholly polluted
before they are purged by the blood of Christ. â€” And this pollution is
such as excludes them from all access to God in his worship, as it was
with them who were legally unclean.
Obs. X. Even the best works of men, antecedently to the purging of
their consciences by the blood of Christ, are but dead works. â€” How-
ever men may please themselves in them, perhaps think to merit by
them, yet from death they come and to death they tend.
Obs. XI. Justification and sanctification are inseparably conjoined,
in the design of God's grace by the blood of Christ. â€” ' Purge our con-
sciences that we may serve the living God.'
Obs, XII. Gospel worship is such in its spirituality and holiness as
becometh the living God. â€” And our duty it is always to consider, that
with him we have to do in all that we perform therein.
Ver. 15. â€” Kcu diet tovto SmS'rjKrjc kcuimjc fxeairrjQ (.arriv, ottmq %ava-
tov yevo/xsvov, tig airoXvTpwoiv twv eiri ry irpwrij SiaS'ijicp 7rapa-
paattov, ri)v iTrayye\iai> Xuftwcriv ol KficXijjUÂ£vot tjjc aiu)vtov /cArj-
Am tovto. Vul. Et ideo, ' And therefore.' Syr. Nun bioft, propter
hoc, ' for this,' or propterea, itaque ob id, ( and for this cause.'
VER. 15.] EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS. 123
Mfo-irjjc eoTiv. Syr. Hiysa Nin in, ' he himself was the mediator.'
He is the mediator. Heb. D s : s n m*, ' a man coming between.'
'O-rnvg Savarov yzvofxtvov. Vul. ut morte intercedente, 'by the in-
terposition of death.' The Syriac reads the passage, ' who by his death
was a redeemer to them who had transgressed against the first testa-
ment,' probably to avoid the difficulty of that expression, ' for the
redemption of transgressions.' The Ethiopic corrupts the whole text.
Etc airoXvrpuHJiv rwv irapaGtKTtwv, in redemptionem eorum praevari-
cationum. Vul. Ad redemptionem eorum transgressionum, properly,
'for the redemption of transgressions,' or those transgressions which
JZiruyytXiav Actâ‚¬wcnv. Vul. Syr. ' that they may receive the promise
who are called to the eternal inheritance.' But in the original and in
the Vulgate, ' eternal inheritance' is joined to, and regulated by the
promise, ' the promise of an eternal inheritance.'
Ver. 15. â€” 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 ivho are called might receive the
promise of eternal inheritance.
The things which are to be considered in this verse are, 1. The note
of connexion in the conjunction, ' and.' 2. The ground of the ensuing-
assertion, ' for this cause.' 8. 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 the means of death.' 6. The
end of the whole, that ' those 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 &a0>]Kij 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 expecta-
tion of the benefits of this Â§iaQr)Ki], that is, covenant or testament. We
may answer, he doth it, because it is the true and proper signification
of the word. AuiOtjKu is properly a ' testamentary disposition of things,'
at nrovQiiKi] 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 vvvOtiKr). However, there is a
great affinity in the things themselves. For there are covenants which
have in them free grants and donations, which is of the nature of a testa-
ment. 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
124 AN EXPOSITION OF THE [CH. IX.
is in the Hebrew called mn, that is, c a covenant/ and nowhere signifies
a- testament; so that from thence the apostle could not argue from the
nature of a testament, or from what is required thereunto, and what
doth depend thereon. Hereunto it is answered, that the LXX. con-
stantly rendering n s ~Q (Berith) by SiaOrjicr], and not by (rvvOrjKt], 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)
is filled with actual mistakes. We must therefore give another answer
unto this objection. Wherefore I say,
1. The word mn could not be more properly rendered by any one
word than by Sm0Â»]/crj. For it being mostly used to express the cove-
nant between God and man, it is of that nature as cannot properly be
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 jt-Q 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 n s "Q only. Nor is there so in the Syriac. Their Np s m
is nothing but SiaOnicr). The Hebrews express the thing by rva^ ms,
* to order, dispose, give commandment concerning the house or house-
hold of a dying man,' Isa. xxxviii. 1 ; 2 Sam. xvii. 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 signifi-
cation 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 to this he compares the new testament in all its causes
and effects. And in that covenant there were three things.
1st. 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, Deut. v. 1 â€” 4. Herein the nature of it,
so far as it was a covenant, did consist.
2dly. 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
gi'ace. 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,