to devour him, he stopped his mouth by rending him to pieces, Judges
xiv. 5, 6. In like manner David stopped the mouth of a lion when he
slew him, 1 Sam. xvii. 34, 35. But if the word be to be taken in its
proper signification, to put a bridle or stop to the mouth of a lion, so
as he shall neither hurt or devour, though he be kept alive and at
liberty ; then it is applied unto Daniel only : for so it is said of him ex-
pressly when he was cast into the den of the lions, that God had sent
his angel and shut the lions' mouths, that they did not hurt him ; he
stopped the mouths of lions, Dan. vi. 22. And he did it by faith, al-
though the ministry of angels was used therein, yet it was done because
he ' believed in his God,' ver. 23.
Obs. II. And that faith that hath thus stopped the mouths of lions,
can restrain, disappoint, and stop the rage of the most savage oppressors
and persecutors of the church.
518 AN EXPOSITION OF THE [CH. XI.
Ver. 34, 36. — TLafitaav Svvajjiiv 7rupoc, tQvyoy OTOuara jua^a'pac,
ivtSwctfitoSqaav airo aoSivuag, zytvt]Sr]Gav taxvpoi ev iroXe/j.^,
7rapEju/3oXac ticXivav aXXorptwv* EAa/3ov yvvawtg &, avaaraouDg
rovg vekoovq avrwv.
Ver. 34, 35. — Quenched the violence (the power) of fire ; escaped
(fled from) the edge (edges) of the sword ; out of weakness were
made strong ; waxed (were made) valiant (powerful, strong) in
fight ; turned to flight the armies of the aliens, (or overthrew the
tents or camps of the aliens ;) women received their dead, (by a
resurrection) raised to life again.
Six more instances of the power of faith, are added unto those fore-
going; and those, taken from things of all sorts, to let us know, that
there is nothing of any kind whatever, wherein we may be concerned,
but that faith will be useful and helpful in it.
1. The first instance is, that tafizaav Swa/uiv -nvpog, ' they quenched
the violence of fire.' He doth not say they quenched the fire, which
may be done by natural means ; but they took off, abated, restrained the
power of fire, as if the fire itself had been utterly quenched. This,
therefore, belongs unto the three companions of Daniel, who were cast
into the burning fiery furnace, Dan. iii. 23. The fire continued still,
and had its burning power in it; for it slew the men that cast them into
the furnace. But by faith they quenched, or restrained the power and
violence of it towards themselves, so as that ' not an hair of their head
was singed,' ver. 21. And the faith of these men was considerable, in
that it did not consist in an assurance that they should be so mira-
culously delivered; but only in committing themselves unto the
omnipotency and sovereignty of God in the discharge of their duty ; as
it is declared ver. 16 — 18. A resolution to perform their duty what-
ever were the event, committing the disposal of themselves unto the so-
vereignty of God, with a full persuasion of his power to do whatever he
pleased, and that he would do whatever was for his own glory, was the
faith whereby they quenched the violence of fire. And, as this faith is
imitable in us, for though a miracle ensued on it, yet was it not the
faith of miracles, so it will never fail of those blessed effects which tend
unto the glory of God, and the good of the church.
2. R(j)vyov aTOfiara ina\aipag, ' they escaped the edge of the sword ;'
the ' edges' of it ; swords with two edges. In the Greek it is, the
'mouths of the sword;' from the Hebrew mn s O; and a two-edged
sword, they call a sword of mouths ; as in the Greek, /j.a\aipa Storojuoc,
Heb. iv. 12; 'they escaped,' Vul. Lat. effugaverunt, for effugerunt.
The way of their escape from death, when in danger of it by the
sword, is intimated, namely, by flight from the danger, wherein God
was present with them for their deliverance and preservation. So
was it frequently with David when he fled from the sword of Saul,
which was at his throat several times, and he escaped by flight, wherein
God was with him. So did Elijah when he was threatened to be slain
by Jezebel, 1 Kings xix. 3. Mow this should seem rather to be the
effect of fear than of faith ; however, it had good success. But,
VEB. 34, 35.] EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS. 519
Obs. I. It is the wisdom and duty of faith,, to apply itself to all
lawful ways and means of deliverance from danger. — Not to use means
when God affords them unto us, is not to trust in him, but to tempt him.
Fear will be in all cases of danger, and yet faith may have the principal
conduct of the soul. And a victory is sometimes obtained by flight.
3. Some of them, iv^vvafito^rjaav awo aaStvuag, ' out of weakness
were made strong.' AoStvtta is any kind of weakness or infirmity,
moral or corporeal. In each of these senses it is used in the Scripture,
to be without, to want strength in any kind. Frequently it is applied to
bodily distempers, Luke xiii. 11, 12 ; John v. 5, xi. 4; Acts xxviii. 9.
And so it is here used. For the conjecture of Chrysostom and others
of the Greek scholiasts, that respect is had herein unto the Jews in the
Babylonish captivity, who were weakened therein, and afterwards re-
stored unto strength and power, hath no probability in it. They are
the words in Isaiah that the apostle doth almost express : ' The writing
of Hezekiah, king of Judah, when he had been sick, and was recovered
of his sickness,' ch. xxxviii. 9. For this was through faith, as is evi-
dent in the story, and was in part miraculous.
Obs. II. We ought to exercise faith about temporal mercies, as they
are ofttimes received by it, and given in on the account of it. — In the
miraculous cure of many diseases by our Saviour himself there was a
concurrence of the faith of them that were healed. ' Thy faith hath
made thee whole.'
4. Some of them through faith, eyevtftrioav ur-xypoi £v7roXtjuw, ' waxed
(were made) valiant (strong) in fight,' (or battle.) As this may be ap-
plied unto many of them, as Joshua, Barak, Gideon, Jephthae, so
David affirms of himself, that ' God taught his hands to war, so as that
a bow of steel was broken by his arms :' and that he did, ' gird him with
strength unto battle,' Ps. xviii. 34, 39 ; the same thing which is here
5. Of the same kind is that which folio we th : Trape/mfioXag enXtvav
a.\\oTf)i(vv, ' they turned to flight the armies of the aliens.' Erasmus
renders these words, incursiones averterunt exterorum, ' they turned
away the incursions of the aliens,' mistaking both the words, as many
have observed. IlaptfxfioXai are the ' camps,' the fortified tents of an
army : but the word is used for an army itself; as Gen. xxxii. 7 ; 1 Sam.
iv. 16. An host encamped like that of the Midianites when Gideon
went down unto it, Judg. vii. 10. And his overthrow of that host, is
here principally intended; for so it was signified in the dream, that the
tents should be smitten and overturned, ver. 13. But because the
apostle useth the word in the plural number, it compriscth other enter-
prises of the like nature, as that of Barak, and of Jonathan against the
Philistines, with the victories of Asa and Jehoshaphat; in all which,
there was an eminent exercise of faith, as the stories of them declare.
And these aliens were those whom the Scripture calls tFTT, that is, not
only foreigners, but strangers from, and enemies unto the church of
God. And where this defence against foreign invasions is neglected,
there can be no assured ground or security of deliverance, whatever the
success may be.
G. It is added, tXafiov yvvaimc t£ avaaraatwg rovg vtKpovc avrwv,
520 AN EXPOSITION OF THE [CH. XI.
' women received their dead raised to life again.' These women were
the widow of Zarephath, whose son, Elijah raised from death, 1 Kings
xvii. 22 — 24. And the Shunammitess, whose son was raised by Elisha,
2 Kings iv. 36. And it is said of them, that ' they • received their
children from the dead ;' for in both places, the prophets having raised
them from the dead, gave them into their mother's arms, who received
them with joy and thankfulness. Their faith is not expressed ; but re-
spect is rather had unto the faith of the prophets, who obtained this
miraculous operation by faith. However, at least one of them, namely,
the Shunamitess, seems to have exercised much faith in the whole
matter. And it is said, 'they received their dead,' their children which
had been dead, s£ avuoraaewcj ' out of, (or) by a resurrection.'
These ten instances did the apostle choose, to show the great things
that had been done through faith, to assure the Hebrews, and us with
them, that there is nothing too hard or difficult for faith to effect, when
it is set on work and applied according to the mind of God.
Ver. 35 — 37. — He proceeds, in the next place, unto instances
quite of another nature, and which were more immediately suited unto
the condition of the Hebrews. For hearing of these great and glorious
things, they might be apt to think that they were not so immediately
concerned in them. For their condition was poor, persecuted, exposed
to all evils, and death itself, for the profession of the gospel. Their in-
terest, therefore, was to inquire, what help in, what relief from faith
they might expect in that condition ? What will faith do where men
are to be oppressed, persecuted, and slain ? Wherefore, the apostle,
applying himself directly unto their condition, with what they suffered,
and farther feared on the account of their profession of the gospel ; he
produceth a multitude of examples, as so many testimonies unto the
power of faith in safe-guarding and preserving the souls of believers,
under the greatest sufferings that human nature can be exposed unto.
And sundry things lie plain in this discourse of the apostle.
1 . That he would not hide from these believers, what they might
meet withal and undergo in and for their profession. He lets them
know that many of them who went before them in the same cause, en-
dured all manner of miseries on the account thereof. Therefore ought
not they to think it a strange thing, if they also should be called unto
the like trials and sufferings. Our Lord Jesus Christ dealt openly and
plainly in this matter ; he hid nothing of what was like to befal them
whom he called to be his disciples, but professed directly that he
would admit of them on no other terms to be his disciples, but that
they denied themselves and took up the cross, or engaged to undergo
all sorts of sufferings for his sake and the gospel. He deceiveth none
with fair promises of things in this world ; nor ought we to be surprised,
nor ought we to complain of any thing that may befal us in our follow-
ing him ; no not of a fiery trial, 1 Pet. iv. 12, v. 9. So the apostle here
having given instances of the great and glorious things that have been
done even in this world by faith, that those Hebrews might not expect
that they should also be called to enjoy the like successes and victories,
because they had the same spirit of faith with them who did so, he re-
VEE. 35 — 37.] EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS. 521
minds them of those who were called to exercise their faitli in the
greatest miseries that could be undergone.
2. That all the evils here enumerated did befal the persons intended,
on the account of their faith, and the profession thereof. He doth not
present them with a company of miserable, distressed creatures, that fell
into that state through their own default, or merely on the account of a
common providence, disposing their lot in this world into such a state
of misery, as it is with many ; but all the things mentioned they under-
went merely and solely on the account of their faith in God, and the
profession of true religion. So as that their case differed in nothing
from that which they might be called unto. And from both these we
Obs. I. That it belongs unto the sovereign pleasure of God to dis-
pose of the outward state and condition of the church, as unto its sea-
sons of prosperity and persecution. As also,
Obs. II. That those whose lot falleth in the times of greatest distress
or sufferings, are no less accepted with him, than those who enjoy the
highest terrene felicity and success.
;>. There is as much glory unto a spiritual eye, in the catalogue of
the effects of faith that follow, as in that which went before. The
church is no less beautiful ami glorious when encompassed, and seem-
ingly overwhelmed with all the evils and dreadful miseries here recount-
ed, than when it is in the greatest peace and prosperity. To look,
indeed, only on the outside of them, gives a terrible undesirable pros-
pect. But to see faith and love to God working effectually under them
all, to see comforts retained, yea, consolations abounding, holiness pro-
moted, God glorified, the world condemned, the souls of men profited,
and at length triumphant over all ; this is beautiful and glorious.
4. That to do the greatest things, and to suffer the hardest, is all
one to faith. It is equally ready for both, as God shall call ; and
equally effectual in both. These things unto the flesh differ next to
heaven and hell : they are both alike to faith when duty calls.
5. That the evils here enumerated are of such various sorts and kinds,
as to comprise every thing that may befall believers on the account of
their profession. Temptations, scorn, mockings, scourgings, bonds
imprisonments, troubles of poverty, fears, and dangers ; and those of
long continuance, with death itself by all sorts of tortures and extremi-
ties. It is impossible that any believer can be called to suffer any thino-
in any kind whatever for the profession of the gospel, but that he may
find an instance of it in the sufferings of these martyrs. And it is an
encouragement in the greatest distresses, to remember that others in the
same cause have undergone them, and been carried victoriously through
them. There is good use to be made of the records of the sufferings
of the primitive Christiana under their Pagan oppressors, and of be-
lievers of late ages under the power of antichrist.
(i. It may be observed, that as the apostle obliged not himself unto
the order of time in naming the foregoing witnesses; so here he useth
his own liberty in representing these sufferings of the church, without
respect unto any method of coherence between the things themselves
or order of time as to the seasons wherein they fell out. Hence in the
522 AN EXPOSITION OF THE [CH. XI.
midst of his account of the various sorts of death which they underwent,
he interposcth that they were tempted, ver. 37. ' They were stoned,
they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword.'
This hath given occasion to many to question whether the word tempted
do indeed belong unto the text, or whether it is not a mistake in the
copies, for a word of almost an alike sound, but quite of another signifi-
cation, namely, they were burned. But without cause : for it is evi-
dent that the apostle obligeth himself unto no such order, as that things
of the same nature should be placed together, without the interposition
of any thing else. And we shall see there was occasion to interpose
that expression, ' they were tempted,' in the place where it is put by
7. It may also be observed, that the apostle takes most of these in-
stances, if not all of them, from the time of the persecution of the church
under Antiochus, the king of Syria, in the days of the Maccabees. And
we may consider concerning this season, 1. That it was after the closing
of the canon of the Scripture or putting of the last hand unto writings
by divine inspiration under the Old Testament. Wherefore, as the
apostle represented these things from the notoriety of fact then fresh in
memory, and it may be, some books then written of those things, like
the books of the Maccabees, yet remaining ; yet as they are delivered
out unto the church by him, they proceeded from divine inspiration.
2. That in those days wherein these things fell out, there was no extra-
ordinary prophet in the church. Prophecy, as the Jews confess, ceased
under the second temple. And this makes it evident that the rule of
the word, and the ordinary ministry of the church, is sufficient to main-
tain believers in their duty, against all oppositions whatever. 3. That
this last persecution of the church under the Old Testament by Antio-
chus, was typical of the last persecution of the Christian church under
antichrist ; as is evident to all that compare the prophecy of Daniel,
ch. viii. 10 — 14, 23 — 25, xi. 36—39, with that of the Revelation in
sundry places. And indeed the martyrologies of those who have suf-
fered under the Roman antichrist, are a better exposition of this context
than any that can be given in words.
v ER. 35. — AXXot §£ ervpnravurSrjaav, ov Trpoade^afxsvoi rr\v cnroXv-
rpojaiv, Iva upeirrovog avaaraatwg tv\io(tiv.
Y.TVfjLTravKT^riaav. Syr. W73 ***ram, ' They died with torments.' Vul.
Lat. Districti sunt. Rhem. ' Were racked,' ' stretched out,' respect-
ing that kind of torture wherein they were stretched on a wheel, as a
skin is on the head of a drum. So Beza and Erasmus. We use a
more general word, ' were tortured.'
Ov irpoa^i^aptvoi rrjv airoXvTpwaiv. Syr. VXDDfc^ VDD t*b\ Trem.
Neque intenti expectarunt ut liberentur. Others render it by Non spe-
raverunt. 'They looked not earnestly after deliverance,' they hoped
not for it ; that is, they regarded it not. Vul. Non suscipientes re-
demptionem, ' Not accepting redemption,' that is, deliverance ; libe-
Iva KpuTTOvog avaaraatcog rvx^aiv. Syr. \\nb Ninn Nmn s » NTI73 s p-r,
VER. 35 — 37.] EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS. 523
' That there might be to them a more excellent resurrection.' Vul. Ut
meliorem invenirent resurrectionem. Rhem. ' That they might find a
better resurrection.' Invenio is ofttimes used for 'to attain,' or 'ob-
tain.' Others, Ut consequerentur, nanciscerentur, ' That they might
Ver. 35. — Others ivere tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they
might obtain a better resurrection.
The apostle passeth to the second sort of them in whom faith exerteth
its power and efficacy in their sufferings. These he saith were ' others ;'
persons of another sort, that were called to other duties than those
before mentioned. And this distinction is farther signified by the par-
ticle Se, 'but,' others there were.
Three things he mentions of them in this first instance : 1. What
they suffered. 2. How they acted faith in their sufferings. 3. On
what grounds they did it.
First. For the first, he affirms that they were ' tortured.' The word
here used, iTVfxiravia^^aav, hath been by critics and others so coursed
through all sorts of authors, that there needs no farther search after it.
The substance of their discoveries is, thatru/xa7ravov, tympanum, whence
the word is framed, doth signify either an engine whereon those who
were tortured were stretched out, as a skin is stretched on the head of a
drum, or the instruments which were used in the striking and beating
them who were fastened to that engine, like those who have their bones
broken on a wheel. So some render the word by fustibus multati, con-
tusi, cresi. But whereas the word is frequently used to take away the
lives of men by any kind of torture or tormenting pain, the precise nota-
tion of it from its original is not here much to be regarded. We have
therefore rendered it, and that properly in general, ' were tortured,' that
is, to death.
There is no doubt but the apostle hath respect herein to the story
that is recorded in the sixth and seventh chapters of the second book
of the Maccabees. For the words are a summary of the tilings and
sayings there ascribed to Eleazer, who was beaten to death when he
had been persuaded and allured to accept deliverance by transgressing
the law. And the like respect may be had to the mother and her seven
sons, whose story and torments are there also recorded.
And this is the height of what the old murderer could rise and attain
to. He began with a sudden death by violence and blood. But when
he had got advantages, he was not contented therewith. He would
have the servants of the living God to die by all sorts of tortures.
This was his hell, a hell of his making. But he could never put the
displeasure of God into it, nor make it of any continuance. Divine
wrath, and perpetuity under it, are his own portion. But that which
is most marvellous herein is, that he should get amongst men such as
should execute his infernal rage and malice. There was never any
greater instance of the degeneracy of human nature to the image and
likeness of the devil than this, that so many of them have been found,
and that in high places of power, emperors, kings, judges, and priests,
524 AN EXPOSITION OF THE [CH. XI.
who were not satisfied to take away the lives of the true worshippers of
God by the sword, or by other ways in which they slew the worst of
malefactors ; but invented all kinds of hellish tortures whereby to de-
stroy them. For although the crafts of Satan were open and evident
herein, who designed by these ways to get time and advantage for his
temptations to draw them off from the profession of the faith, which he
could not have had in a speedy execution ; yet it is astonishing that the
nature of man should be capable of so much villany and inhumanity.
But this also God hath seen good to permit, in that patience whereby
he ' endures with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath that are
fitted for destruction.' And he doth it for many blessed ends of his
own glory, and the eternal salvation of his church, not here to be
' They were tortured.' This is the utmost that the devil and the
world can reach to, all the hell he hath to threaten his enemies withal.
But when he hath done his utmost, it falls only on the body, it cannot
reach the soul ; it is but of a short continuance, and gives assurance of
an entrance into a blessed eternity. It can shut out no divine consola-
tion from the minds of them that suffer ; a little precious faith will carry
believers victoriously through the worst of all.
The work of faith with respect to these tortures, which are the utmost
trials of it, may be reduced to these heads. 1. A steady view of that
promised eternal glory which they are on an entrance into, 2 Cor. iv.
17, 18. 2. A due comparing of present sufferings with the eternal
miseries of the damned in hell, Matt. x. 28. 3. A firm persuasion that
these things shall make no separation between God and them, Rom. viii.
35 — 39. 4. A derivation of present help, strength, and consolation
from God, by mixing itself with his promises. 5. By a due considera-
tion of the presence of Christ with us, and his concernment in our suf-
ferings. And sundry other ways there are of the like nature, whereby
faith acts itself, and is victorious under tortures ; that none of us may
tremble at the thoughts of Smithfield flames.
Secondly. The way whereby those who were tortured did evidence
their faith, was, that they ov 7rpo