for Abraham had all these in Ur of the Chaldees, and not in Haran.
Wherefore this call of Abraham was but one, and given at once ;
namely, whilst he was in Ur of the Chaldees, before his going out from
thence with his father, and the death of his father thereon, which place
Stephen reckons to be Mesopotamia, in the large notation of it. And
this one call is particularly recorded, ch. xii. 1 — 3, after the death of
Terah, when he only remained who was alone concerned therein. But
the reader may see these things fully discoursed, with a just reconcilia-
tion of Moses with Stephen, in our Exercitations, Exer. 19.
Of this call of Abraham there were two parts : 1 . A command, Gen,
xii. 2, ' Get thee out of thy country,' &c. 2. A promise, ver. 2, 3,
' And I will make of thee,' &c. Of this promise there were two parts :
First, a temporal blessing, in the multiplication of his seed, ver. 2.
Secondly, a spiritual blessing, in confining the promised blessing, Seed,
unto him and his family, in whom all the families of the earth were to
be blessed. And it is a thing most absurd, and contrary to the whole
design of the Scripture, and the dispensation of the covenant, to con-
fine the faith of Abraham unto the land of Canaan, and the glory of
his posterity therein. For the life of the promise made unto him on
his call, whereby his faith was animated, was in the blessing of all the
families of the earth in him, which was in Christ alone the promised
Seed, as all but infidels must confess.
The apostle takes notice only of the first part of the call, namely,
the command. And therein two tilings are considerable. 1st. From
what he was to go and depart. 2dly. What he was to go unto. 1.
406 AN EXPOSITION OF THE [ell. XI.
He was ' to go out,' kciAoujuevoc ^sAStiv. He was ' called to go out ;'
so our translation disposeth the words: or being called, vtty\kov<7iv
s&Xduv, ' he obeyed to go out,' or in going out, as they lie in the ori-
ginal. They are both to the same purpose. In the latter way, ' obeyed'
is immediately referred to faith ; in the former, ' going out' is so, his
faith wrought by obedience in his going out.
It is said 'he was called to go out.' From whence, and from what,
we are referred unto the story, Gen. xii. 1. ( Get thee (~]b-~]b, vade
tibi) out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's
house ;' that is, leave and forsake all things that are pleasant, useful,
desirable unto thee. For these three things, country, kindred, and
father's house, comprise them all. And they fall under two considera-
tions : 1. As man is naturally inclined to the love of them, to adhere
unto them, to value them, and delight in them. These are the things
which, by all sorts of circumstances, do from their nativity insinuate
themselves into the minds and affections of men, so as that they cannot
be separated from them without the greatest convulsions of nature.
And we have the testimony of mankind hereunto, with sundry instances
of such as have preferred these things before their own lives. 2. They
may be considered as useful and beneficial unto life, and the comforts of
it. Whatever is so, is contained in these things. Whereas therefore
natural affection and sense of usefulness unto all the advantages and
comforts of life, are the two cords that bind us unto any thing what-
ever, the forsaking of all things that fall under both of them, must
needs proceed from some great cause and efficacious impulse.
This therefore commends the faith of Abraham in the first place, and
evinceth the powerful efficacy of faith in general ; that under its con-
duct, in obedience to the call of God, he could, and did, relinquish all
these things, cast out their insinuations into his affections, and break
the cords of delight and interest, which they cast upon him. And we
may see herein that,
Obs. I. It becomes the infinite greatness, and all-satisfactory good-
ness of God, at the very first revelation of himself unto any of his
creatures, to require of them a renunciation of all other things, and of
their interest in them, in compliance with his commands. — ' Get thee
away' from country, friends, relations, and enjoyments, is a command
becoming the greatness of God. ' I am the Lord thy God,' is his first
word unto us ; and the next is, ' Thou shalt have no other gods but
me,' with me, before me, besides me : nothing to be in my place in
comparison of me, in competition with me, forsake all and be mine
only. Unless we have a sense of that greatness of God which makes
such commands to become him alone, we yield no obedience unto him
in a due manner.
Obs. II. The power of sovereign grace, in calling men to God, and
the mighty efficacy of faith complying therewith. — Whilst Abraham
lived with his father on the other side of the river, they served other
gods, Josh. xxiv. 2, or were engaged in the superstition and idolatry
then prevalent in the world. And the minds of men being once
thoroughly infected with these, as having received them by tradition
from their fathers, are very hardly recovered from their snares. In
VEK. 8.] EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS. 407
this state, he had all worldly accommodations that his own country,
kindred, and inheritance, could afford him. Yet such was the power-
ful efficacy of sovereign grace, in his call by God, that it enabled him
by faith to relinquish and renounce them all, and to betake himself at
once to a new state and condition, both as unto things temporal and
eternal. It is well if all of us who make profession of the same faith,
have an experience of the same grace.
Obs. III. It is the call of God alone that makes a distinction
amongst mankind, as unto faith and obedience, with all the effects of
them. — Abraham thus believed and obeyed God, because he was called.
And he was called, not because he was better, or wiser than others, but
because it pleased (iod to call him and not others, 1 Cor. i. 26 — 31.
Obs. IV. The church of believers consists of those that are called
out of the world. — The call of Abraham is a pattern of the call of the
church, Ps. xlv. 10; 2 Cor. vi. 17, 18.
Obs. V. Self-denial in fact or resolution, is the foundation of all
sincere profession. — Abraham began his profession in the practice of
this, and proceeded unto the height of it in the greatest instances ima-
ginable. And the instruction that our Saviour gives herein, Matt. x.
37, 38, xvi. 21, 25, amounts but unto this, If you intend to have
the faith of Abraham, with the fruits and blessings attending it, you
must lay the foundation of it in self-denial, and in the relinquishment
of all things, if called thereunto, as he did. Wherefore the faith of
Abraham being every-where in the Scripture set up as the measure and
standard of the faith of believers in all ages, and the apostle in this
place giving us an account of the beginning and progress of it for our
example, there is nothing that belongs more directly unto the exposi-
tion of the place, than a due observation of its nature, actings, and ef-
fects, for our instruction, without which, the mind of the Holy Ghost
in the context is not understood, though expositors take very little
notice of these things. Now the foundation of the whole is laid herein,
that the first act of saving faith consists in the discovery and sight of
the infinite greatness, goodness, and other excellencies of the nature of
God, so as to judge it our duty upon his call, his command and pro-
mise, to deny ourselves, to relinquish all things, and to do so accord-
Secondly. We have seen what Abraham was called from ; the next
tiling in the words is, what lie was called unto ; namely, 'a place which
he should after receive for an inheritance.' He was not called merely
to forsake the place where he was, and then left to rove and wander up
and down uncertainly; but he was called unto, rov tottuv, ' a certain
place.' For it so falls out many times, that men, wearied by one means
or another, (as convictions or afflictions,) of their present spiritual state
and condition, so as to have a mind to relinquish it, yet having no dis-
covery of another, of a better state, with rest in Christ by the gospel,
they rove up and down in their minds and affections for a season, and
then return to the state or place from which they came out, which the
patriarchs refused to do, ver. 1 .*), or else perish in their wanderings.
This place whereunto he went, is described by his future relation
unto it, and interest in it : he was afterwards to receive it for an in-
AN EXPOSITION OF THE [CH. XI.
heritance. At present he received it not, but only in right and title, nor
did he receive it during his life : neither he, nor his posterity, for some
generations, had any inheritance in it, only he bought a burying-place
in it of the children of Heth, whereby he took seisin of the whole. But
he received it afterwards in his posterity, as is known. And he is said
to, Xafxfiavetv, ' receive it.' It was given unto him, bestowed on him,
by way of a free gift or donation. He did only receive it; and so it is
with respect unto all good things betwixt God and us : he is the free
donor of them, we are but passive recipients. And he received this
country, tig K:\ripovofiiav, 'for an inheritance.' And unto an inheritance,
there is required, 1. Right and title unto it, that a man maybe a lawful
possessor of it. Now this country was before possessed by others, who
enjoyed it by a prescription from its first plantation. But God, as the
great possessor of heaven and earth, as the sovereign Lord of all things,
transferred their right and title unto that land, and vested it in Abra-
ham. So it is frequently repeated, that God gave them this or that
Obs. VI. There is no right, title, or possession, that can prescribe
against the righteousness of God, in the disposal of all inheritances
here below at his pleasure. — Whatever single persons, whatever whole
nations, may think or boast of their title and right, as unto God, they
are all but tenants at will and pleasure : he can disinherit and disseise
them of all, as he sees good ; and when he will do so, (as he gives in-
stances of his so doing in all ages,) no plea will be admitted against his
right, and the exercise of it. So do kings hold their crowns, nations
their soil, and private men their possessions.
Obs. VII. God's grant of things unto any, is the best of titles, and
most sure against all pretences or impeachments. — Judg. xi. 24, ' We
will possess what the Lord our God gives us to possess.'
Obs. VIII. Possession belongs unto an inheritance enjoyed. — This
God gave unto Abraham in his posterity, with a mighty hand, and
stretched out arm ; and he divided it unto them by lot.
Obs. IX. An inheritance may be given only for a limited season.
The title unto it may be continued unto a prefixed period. So was it
with this inheritance ; for although it is called an everlasting inherit-
ance, yet it was so only on two accounts. 1. That it was typical of
that heavenly inheritance which is eternal. 2. Because, as unto right
and title, it was to be continued unto the end of that limited perpetuity
which God granted unto the church-state in that land ; that is, unto
the coming of the promised Seed, in whom all nations should be blessed ;
which the call and faith of Abraham did principally regard. Until
that time was expired, although many incursions were made into, and
upon this inheritance of Abraham, yet all they that made them were
oppressors, and were punished for their usurpation. But when the
grant of it to them expired, and those wicked tenants of God's vineyard
forfeited their right unto it by their unbelief and by their murdering the
true heir, God disinherited them, dispossessed them, and left them nei-
ther right nor title to, or any interest in this inheritance, as it is at this
day. It is no more the inheritance of Abraham ; but in Christ he is
become heir of the world, and his spiritual posterity enjoy all the pri-
VER. 8.] EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS. 409
vileges of it. Wherefore, the grant of this land for an inheritance unto
Abraham in his posterity, had a season limited unto it. Upon the ex-
piration of that term, their right and title unto it were cancelled and
disannulled. And thereon God in his providence sent the armies of
the Romans to dispossess them, which they did accordingly unto this
day. Nor have the present Jews any more, or any better title unto
the land of Canaan, than unto any other country in the world. Nor
shall their title be renewed thereunto upon their conversion unto God ;
for the limitation of their right was unto that time wherein it was typi-
cal of the heavenly inheritance. That now ceasing for ever, there can
be no special title unto it revived. And we see herein,
Obs. X. That it is faith alone that gives the soul satisfaction in fu-
ture rewards, in the midst of present difficulties and distresses. — So it
did to Abraham, who, in the whole course of his pilgrimage, attained
nothing of this promised inheritance. And,
Obs. XI. The assurance given us by divine promises, is sufficient to
encourage us to advance in the most difficult course of obedience.
Thirdly. The last thing in the words is, the commendation of the
faith of Abraham, from his ignorance of the place whither he was to go
upon the call of God. He had only said unto him, that he should go
into a land that he would show him, Gen. xii. 1.
1. But of what nature the land was, how, or by whom inhabited, or
what way he was to go into it, he told him not. It should seem in-
deed, that God had told him from the beginning, that it was the land
of Canaan which he designed. For when he first left Ur of the Chal-
dees, he steered his course towards Canaan, Gen. xi. 31, but yet it is
said, that, fit] eirifTTafievng, ' he knew it not.' He did not understand
any [thing of the circumstances of it, nor what in that land he was
called unto, nor where it was : so that it may be well said, that ' he
went whither he knew not.' The sum is, that he wholly committed
himself to the power, faithfulness, goodness, and conduct of God, with-
out the least encouragement from a prospect of the place whither he
2. All these things being put together, namely, what he was called
from, what he was called unto, his readiness in obedience, the ground
of his whole undertaking, namely, the call of God, which he received
and obeyed by faith ; here is not only an eminent instance of his faith
recorded, but an invincible encouragement given unto those Hebrews
to whom the apostle wrote, and unto us with them, to remain assured
that faith is able to carry us through all the difficulties of our profession,
unto the full enjoyment of the promise. This I look upon as a second
instance of the faith of Abraham, wherein it was signally exemplary.
][o did not only, on the first call of God, through a view of his great-
ness and sovereign authority, forego all that he had at present, but en-
gage himself unto absolute obedience, without any prospect what it
might cost him, or what he was to undergo on the account of it, or what
was the reward proposed unto him. And the same is required of us.
Ver. 9. — Having declared the foundation of the faith of Abraham,
and given the first signal instance of it, he proceeds to declare his pro-
410 AN EXPOSITION OF THE [CH. XI.
gress in its exercise : first in general, and then in particular acts and
duties, wherein he intermixeth some special acts of it, whereby he was
enabled and encouraged in and unto all other duties of it.
That which he ascribes unto his faith in general, is laid down in this
verse, whereunto he adjoins that encouraging act of it which enabled
him in his duty, ver. JO.
Ver. 9. — Uhttsi 7raptoKr]GEV tig tx\v yn]v tjjc tirayyeXiag tog aWorpiav,
ev (TKijvaig /caroticrjaac jUEra lactate k
rr)g ETrayytXiag rr)g avrrjg.
Ilaptyiaicrtv, Syr. 4S v nnin Kin, ' He was a stranger,' a sojourner. Vulg.
Lat. Demoratus est, ' He tarried.' Rhem. ' He abode.' Erasm. Com-
migravit, that is, fier^Kricrev, saith Beza, ' lie went, or wandered,' to
answer the preposition aig following ; ' He went into the land.' Bez.
Commoratus est, ' he abode ;' and then it must refer unto Karoiierioag,
' he dwelt in tents.' Others, Advena fuit, ' He was a stranger-, a guest,
a sojourner.' Heb. ifTt tj, ' He was a stranger,' or to, ' he sojourned.'
riis, ' in tents or tabernacles.'
Ver. 9. — By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange
country, dwelling in tabernacles, with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs
with him of the same promise.
1. That which is assigned in general unto the faith of Abraham, is,
that ' he sojourned.' 2. The place where is added : ' in the land of
promise.' 3. How he esteemed of that land, and how he used it: 'as
in a strange land.' 4. Who were his companions therein, namely,
Isaac and Jacob, on the same account with himself as the heirs of pro-
1. UapioK^aev, ' He sojourned :' TrapoiKsio is commoror, 'to abide,'
but it is to abide as a stranger. So it is used, Luke xxiv. 18. Su
fiovov TrapoiKEig £v c l£poucroAr;ju, 'Art thou only a stranger in Jerusa-
lem?' a sojourner there for a season, not an inhabitant in the place.
And it is nowhere else used. Thence is Trapoiicog, ' a stranger, a so-
journer,' Acts vii. 6. ' Thy seed shall be, wapoiKOv ev yy aXXorptq, a
stranger,' should sojourn in a strange land. So irapoiKot are joined
with 7rap£Tri^t}fioi, 1 Pet. ii. 11, 'strangers and pilgrims:' and with
Ztvoi, ' foreigners,' Eph. ii. 19, and are opposed to iroXirat, 'citizens,'
or the constant inhabitants of any place : \povog irapoiKiag, is the time
of our pilgrimage here, 1 Pet. i. 17. Wherefore irapyicricre is, 'he abode
as a stranger,' not as a free denizen of the place; not as an inheritor, for
he had ' no inheritance, not a foot breadth in that place,' Acts vii. 6 :
not as a constant inhabitant or house-dweller, but as a stranger that
moved up and down as he had occasion. His several motions and stages
are recorded by Moses.
2. There is the place of his sojourning: 'in the land of promise,' Etc
t»jv yrjv, for ev ty) yy, into for in the land ; so Acts vii. 6. The land,
itg i]v vfneig vvv KaroiKHre, 'wherein you now dwell.' Heb. "pJO; and
VER. 9.J EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS. 41 1
from the use of the Hebrew n, eig is frequently put for ev in the New
Testament, and on the contrary. Wherefore, not the removal of Abra-
ham into that land which he had mentioned in the foregoing verse, but
his abode as a stranger, a foreigner, a pilgrim in it, is intended. And
this was the land ttjc stray ytXiac;, ' of promise ; ' that is, which God had
newly promised to give unto him, and wherein all the other promises
were to be accomplished.
3. He sojourned in this place, J»c aWorptav, 'as in a strange land.'
He built no house in it, purchased no inheritance, but only a burying-
place. He entered indeed into leagues of peace and amity with some,
as with Aner, Eshcol,and Mamre, Gen. xiv. 13, but it was as a stranger,
and not as one that had any thing of his own in the land. He reckoned
that land at present no more his own than any other land in the world,
no more than Egypt was the land of his posterity when they sojourned
there, which God had said was not theirs, nor was so to be, Gen. xv. 13.
4. The manner of his sojourning in this land was, that, tv
KdToiKriaag, ' he dwelt in tabernacles;' ' in cottages,' saith the Vulgar
Latin absurdly. It was no unusual thing in those days, and in those
parts of the world, for many, yea, some nations, to dwell in such
moveable habitations. Why Abraham was satisfied with this kind of
life, the apostle declares in the next verse. And he is said to dwell in
tabernacles, or tents, because his family required more than one of
them ; though sometimes they are called ' a tent * only, with respect
unto that which was the peculiar habitation of the master of the family ;
and the women had tents unto themselves. So Isaac brought Rebekah
into his mother Sarah's tent, Gen. xxiv. 67. So Jacob and his wives
had all of them distinct tents, Gen. xxxi. 33. These tents were pitched,
fixed, and erected, only with stakes and cords, so as that they had no
foundation in the earth ; whereunto the apostle, in the next verse, op-
poseth ' an habitation that hath a foundation.' And with respect unto
their flitting condition in these moveable houses, God in an especial
manner was said to be their dwelling-place, Ps. xc. 1.
5. He thus sojourned and dwelt in tents, /mera IcraaK k
' with Isaac and Jacob.' It is evident that Abraham lived until Jacob
was sixteen or eighteen years old ; and therefore may be said to live
with him as unto the same time wherein they both lived ; nor is there
any force in the objection, that Isaac had a separate tent from Abraham ;
for it is not said, that they lived in the same tents, but that at the same
time they all lived in tents. Yet there is no need to confine it unto the
same time ; the sameness of condition only seems to be intended. For
as Abraham was a sojourner in the land of Canaan, without any inhe-
ritance or possession, living in tents ; so was it also with Isaac and Ja-
cob, and with them alone. Jacob was the last of his posterity who
lived as a sojourner in Canaan ; all those after him lived in Egypt, and
came not into Canaan, until they took possession of it for themselves.
And they were, tiov avjKX^oovofxwv t>)c eiray-ytXiag tjjc aurijc, ' heirs
with him of the same promise ;' for not only did they inherit the promise
as made unto Abraham, but God distinctly renewed the same promise
unto them both. Unto Isaac, Gen. xxvi. 3, 4, and unto Jacob, Gen.
412 AN EXPOSITION OF THE [cH. XI.
xxviii. 13 — 15. So were they heirs with him of the very same promise;
see Ps. cv. 9 — 11.
The sense of the words being declared, we may yet farther consider
the matter contained in them.
We have here an account of the life of Abraham after his call. And
it fell under a twofold consideration. 1. As unto the internal principle
of it : so it was a life of faith. 2. As unto the external manner of it :
so it was a pilgrimage, without a fixed, settled habitation. Both are
proposed in the first words of the text, ' By faith he sojourned.' .
First. As unto the internal principle of it : it was a life of faith.
First. The life which he now led was a life of faith, with respect unto
things spiritual and eternal. For he had for the foundation and object
hereof: 1. The promise of the blessed Seed, and the spiritual blessing
of all nations in him, as a confirmation of the first fundamental promise
of the church, concerning the Seed of the woman that was to break
the serpent's head. And, 2. God entered expressly into covenant with
him, confirming it with the seal of circumcision, wherein he obliged
himself to be his God, his God almighty, or all-sufficient for his tem-
poral and eternal good. To suppose that Abraham saw nothing in this
promise and covenant but only things confined unto this life, nothing of
spiritual grace or mercy, nothing of eternal reward or glory, is so con-
trary to the analogy of faith, to express testimony of Scripture, so de-
structive of all the foundations of religion, so unworthy of the nature
and properties of God, rendering his title of the father of the faithful,
and his example in believing so useless, as it is a wonder that men of
any tolerable sobriety should indulge to such an imagination.
Secondly. It was a life of faith with respect unto things temporal
also. For as he was a sojourner in a strange land, without friends or
relations, not incorporated in any political society, or dwelling in any
city, he was exposed unto all sorts of dangers, oppression, and violence,
as is usual in such cases. Besides, those amongst whom he sojourned
were for the most part wicked and evil men, such as, having fallen into
idolatry, were apt to be provoked against him for his profession of faith
in the most high God. Hence, on some occurrences of his life that
might give them advantage, it is observed as a matter of danger, that
the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelt then in the land, Gen. xiii. 7,
xii. 6. And this he feared, ch. xx. 11. Moreover, he had sundry
particular trials, wherein he apprehended that his life was in imminent
danger, Gen. xii. 11 — 13, ch. xx. 2. In all these dangers and trials,
with others innumerable, being helpless in himself, he lived in the con-
tinual exercise of faith and trust in God, his power, his all-sufficiency,