one, is to embitter his spirit, and to stir him up unto anger. And when
any provocation is high, we render it strife and contention, such as
whereby the spirits of men are embittered one towards another, Acts xv.
39. Howbeit, it is used sometimes for an earnest and diligent excita-
tion of the minds or spirits of men unto that which is good. See Rom.
xi. 14 : so it is here used. And there is more in it than a bare mutual
exhortation, an excitation of spirit by exhortation, examples, rebukes,
until it be warmed unto a duty. This is the great end of the commu-
nion that is among Christians in the mutual consideration of one
another ; considering the circumstances, conditions, walkings, abilities
for usefulness, of one another, they do excite one another unto love and
good works, which is called the provocation of them, or the stirring up
of the. minds of men unto them. This was the way and practice of
the Christians of old, but is now generally lost, with most of the prin-
ciples of practical obedience, especially those which concern our mutual
edification, as if they had never been prescribed in the gospel.
The duties themselves, which they are thus mutually to provoke one
another unto, are, ' love and good works ;' and they are placed by the
apostle in their proper order; for love is the spring and fountain of all
acceptable good works. Of mutual love among believers, which is that
here intended, as unto the nature and causes of it, and motives unto it,
VER. 25.] EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS. 295
I have treated at large, ch. vi. The good works intended, are called
here, jcaAa, usually they are ayaSa. Those which are most commenda-
ble and praiseworthy are intended, such as are most useful to others,
such as whereby the gospel is most exalted ; works proceeding from the
shining light of truth, whereon God is glorified.
Obs. I. The mutual watch of Christians, in the particular societies
whereof they are members, is a duty necessary unto the preservation of
the profession of the faith.
Obs. II. A due consideration of the circumstances, abilities, tempta-
tions, and opportunities for duties, in one another, is required hereunto.
Obs. III. Diligence, or mutual exhortation unto gospel duties, that
men on all grounds of reason and example, may be provoked unto them,
is required of us, and is a most excellent duty, which in an especial
manner, we ought to attend unto.
Ver. 25. — Mrj £yKara\inrovTeg tx\v t7ri