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An exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews; with the preliminary exercitations (Volume 2) online

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oi our falvation for us and /;; us. Again,

§ 2 1. 5. He not only conquers all their enemies, but
Iv; avenges tht;}r fuffcr'mgs upon them, and will punilh their
opprelfors for their ciimity and oppofition. And tliougli
thefe enemies prevail not abfolutcly nor finally ag.iinil
the fons of Ciod, yet by tlu^ir temptations, pcrfccutiojis,
ajid opprcflion<, they put tliem ofttimes to unfpeakablc
Iwrdlhips, trouble, and lurrow. This the captain of their



falvation will not take at their hands, but will avenge
upon them all their ungodly endeavours from the loweft to
the highefl of them. ScjJie of them he will deal with in
this world, but he hath appointed a day wherein not one
of them fliall be able to efcape. [See Rev. xx. 10, 14.]
Devil, and beaft, and falie prophet, and death, and hell,
Ihall altogether be banifhed into the lake of fire.

§ 22. 6. He provides for the Chriftian foldier a reiuard,
a celeilial crown. He is gone before the adopted and
highly favoured fons into lieaven, to make ready their
glorv, to prepare a place for them, and he will come ere
long to receive them to himfelf, * that where he is, there
* they may be aifo,' [John xiv. 2, 3.] When he hath given
them the victory, he will take them to himfelf, even to
his throne, [Rev. iii. 22.] and as a righteous judge will
give them ' a crown of righteoufnefs and glory,' [H Tint-
iv. 8. Thus is the whole work of conducing the fons of
God to glory, from iiril to laft, committed to this great
captain of their falvation ; and thus doth he difchargc
his office and truft therein ; and bleffed arc all they who
are under his leading and guidance !

§ 23. And fhould not all this teach us to betake our-
felves to him, and to rely upon him in the whole courfc
of our obedience, and all the paill^ges thereof? What
lliould hinder us from betaking ourfelves unto him con-
tinually ? Is our trouble fo fmall, are our duties fo ordi-
nary, that we can wreftle with them, or perform them in
our own ftrength ? Alas ! we caii do nothing; not think
a good thought, nor endure a reproachful word. And
whatever we do, or endure, of ourfelves, is all loll ; for
in us dwelleth no good thing. Or are our diftrclTes fo
great, our temptations fo many, our corruptions fo llrong,
that we begin to fay, There is no hope ? Is any thing too
hard for the captain of our falvation? Hath he not already
conquered all our enemies ? Is he not able to fubdue al!
things by his power ? Shall we faint whilil Jefus Chrifl
lives and reigns? But it may be we have looked for help-
and affiftance, and it hath not anfwcred our expectation,
fo that wc now begin to faint and dfefpond. Sin is not


t96 AN EXrOSlTlON OF THE Chap. 11.

fubducd, the worJd is mil triumphant ; and Satan ragcth
as xnuch as ever ; his temptations are ready to pafs over
our louls. But have we fouglu for liis help and afr.ftance
in a due mamier, with faith and perfcverancc ; for ri-ht
€>ids, his glory, and the advantage of the gofpel ? Have
wc taken a right meafurc of what we have received ? Or
do wc complain without a caufc ? Let us not judge ac-
cording to outward appearance, but judge righteous judge-
ment. What IS it to us if the world triumph, if Satan
rage, if fin tempt and vex ; it is not promifed that it
Ihould be othcrwife. But are we forfaken ? Arc we not
kept from being prevailed againll? Moreover, if we alk
amils, or for improper ends, or know not we receive or
tlimk becaufe the ilrength of enemies appears to be great
wc mud fail and be ruined ; let us not complain of our
captain ; for all thefe things arife from our own un:>elief
Let our application to him be according to his command
our expedations from him according to the promife ; our
experience of what we receive be meafured by the rule of
the word, and we fhall find, that wc have all grounds of
affurance that we can defirc. Let us then in every con-
dition ' look unto Jefus the author and fmilher of our
' faith,' who hath undertaken the leading of us in the
whole courfc of our obedience from firft to laft, and we
lliall not need to faint, norfhali we ever fail. And if wc
ncglca him, his example, liis direction, his teaching, it
IS no wonder if wc pine away under our diarefTcs.

§ 24. O^/ 2. The Lord Clnift, being confecrated
and perfeacd througli fufleiings, hath confecrated the way
of lulFering for all that follow him in their march to
glory. AH complaints of Ibf^crings, all dcfpondencies
under them, all fears of them in profped, are rendered
unjuft and unieafonablc bv the lufferings of Chrill. It is
furely right that thev Ihould be contented w,ih his lot
here, who dcfire to be received into his glory hereafter.
To elucidate the above obfcrvation, and to reconcile us to
our lot of fulTerings in following the captain of our fal-
vation, wc fhould conlldcr, that thcv arc made neceffarv
and umrjcuU'U, . The apoillc tolls believers, that thev arc



< p red efl ilia ted to be conformed to the image of the Soa
* of God/ [Rom. viii. 29.] And no fmall part of this
conformity confifts in their affliftions and fuffcrings. The
head having palTed through them, there is a meafure of
afflictions belonging to the body, which every member is
to bear his Ihare of, [Col. ii. 24.] And the Lord Jefus
himfelf hath given us this law, that every one who will
be his difciple mufl ' take up his crofs and follow him.'
Difcipleihip and the crofs arc infeparably connected, by
the unchangeable law and conflitution of Chrifl himfelf.
And the gofpel^is full of warnings and inftruftions to
this purpofe ; that none may complain they are furprifed,
or that any thing did befall them in the courfe of their
profeffion, which they looked not for. Men may deceive
themfclves or others with vain hopes and expeftations,
but the gofpel deceiveth none ; it tells them plainly before-
hand, that * through many tribulations they mull enter

* into the kingdom of God,' and that ' they who w^ill

* live godly in Chrift Jefus, fliall fuffer perfecutions,'
But we would be children and not be chaftifed ; we would
be gold and not be tried ; we would overcome, and not
be put to fight and contend ; we would be Chriflians,
and not fuffer ! But all thefe things are contrary to the
irrevocable law of our profeffion.

Again : All fufFerings for the gofpel are now made ho-
nourahle. The fufFerings of Chrift himfelf were indeed
ignominious, and that not only in the efteem of men,
but alfo in the nature of them, and by God's conltitu-
tion. They were part of the curfe, as it is written,

* Curfed is he that hangeth on a tree.* And as fuch our
Lord coniidered them, when he wreftled with and con-
quered the Ihame as well as the fliarpnefs of them. But
he hath rendered all the fufFerings of his people for his
fake very honourable in themfelves, whatever they are in
the reputation of a blind and perifhing world. Hence
the apoitle rejoiced that they had the honour to * fuffer
* Jhamc iox his name.' A6ts v. 41. That is, the things
which the world looked upon as fhameful, but themfelves
knew to be honourable. When Mofcs came to make a



right judgement concerning this matter, he * tftccmed

* the reproach of Chrifl greater riches than all treafures

* of Egypt,* [Heb. xi. 29.]

Bcfide, they arc made ufeful 2.nd profitable. The Lord
Jcfus Chrift, by confecrating our fufferings as our way of
ibllowing him, hath quite altered their nature and ten-
dency, he hath made them good, ufeful, and profitable.
He hath thereby cut them ofF from their old flock of
wrath and the curfe, and planted them on that of love
and good-will. He hath taken them off from the cove-
nant of works, and tranflated them into that of grace.
He hath turned their courfc from death towards life and
immortality; mixing his grace, love, and wifdom, with
thcfe bitter waters, he hath made them fwect and whole-
Ibme. And if we would benefit by them, we mull: always
have regard to this confecration of them.

He hath alfo made them jafc. Never did a believer pe-
rilli by anliclions or pcrfccutions : never was real gold or
filver coiifumed or loft in this furnace. Hypocrites, in-
deed, and falfe profelTors, the fearful and unbelieving, are
difcovcred by them, and ilripped of their hopes : but they
that are difciples, indeed, are never fofcr than in this
way, and that becaufe it is onfccratcd for them. Some-
times, it may be, through their unbelief, and want of
heeding the captain of their falvation, they are wounded
^nd caft down by them for a Icafon, but they are Hill in
the way. Nay, it is not only abfolutely a fafe way, but
comparatively more fafe than the way of profpcrity.

§ 25. 01) f. 3. Such is the dcfert of {in, and fuch is
the immutability of divine jullice, that there was no way
pofhblc to bring linners unto glory, but by the death and
lufferings of the Son of God, who undertook to be the
captain of their falvation. It would have been * unbc-

* coming' Ciod, the fupreme governor of all the world,
tQ have paiTcd by the dcfert of lin without this fatisfaftion.
That tlic Son of God who * did no iin,' in whom the
Father was always well pleafed on account of his obedi-
ence, Ihould fuffer and die, and that under the fentenco
and curfc of the Jaw, is a great and ailonilhiug myfterv ,



all the faints of God admire it, and the angels defire to
look into it. What demonftration of the glory of juflice
can arife from punifhing an innocent perfon, who might
have been fpared, and yet all the ends of his being fo pu-
nillied to have been otherwife anfwered ? And to fay that
one drop of Chrift*s blood was fufficient to redeem the
world, is derogatory to the goodnefs, wifdom, and righ-
leoufnefs of Gody in caufing not only the whole to be
fhed, but alfo his foul to be made an offering for iin,
which was altogether needlefs, if that were true. The
truth is, God by a VL\^xtfree aH of his love and grace dc-
l]gned the Lord Jefus Chrift to be the way and means for
the faying of Unners ; while he might, without the leaft
impeachment of the glory of any of his effential properties,
have fuffered all mankind to have perifhed under that pe-
nalty they had juflly incurred. But on fuppolition of
any being redeemed, the juflice of God required, that he
ihould lay on tlie Redeemer the punifnment due to thofc
whofe caufe he had efpoufed. It became the nature of
God, or the effential properties of his nature indifpenfa-
bly required, that fin fhould be punifhed with death in
the finner, or in his furety ; and, therefore, if he would
bring any fons to glory^ the captain of their falvation
mufl undergo fufferings and death to make fatisfadllon for
them. God punifheth fin fuitably to the principle of his
nature, fo that he cannot do otherwife ; yet fo, as that
tor the manner^ meafure, and feafon, they depend on the
conflitution of his wifdom and righteoufnefs, affigning a
' meet recompence of reward' to every tranfgrefiion. God
cannot at all be to fin and finners as a devouring fire, un-
lefs it be in the principle of his nature indifpenfably to
take vengeance on them. In that proclamation of his
name, wherein he declared many blelfed eternal proper-
tics of his nature, he adds this among the reft ; that * he
' will by no means clear the guilty,' [Exod. xxxiv. 7.]
This his nature, his eternal holinefs, requircth that the
guilty be by no means cleared. So Jofhua infl:ru6ls the
people in the nature of this holinefs of God, [chap. xxix.
19.] ' Ye cannot ferve the Lord, for he is an holy God ;
Vol. IL D d he

4©o AN EXPOSlTlOxX OF THE Chap. iT.

* he is -a jealous God, lie will not torgive your tranfgref-

* fions, nor your fins.' Tiiat is, it you continue in your
{\n^, if there be not a way to free you from them, it is in
\ain fdr you to have any thing to do with this God; for
he is holy and jealous, and will therefore certainly de-
ftroy you for your iniquities. Now if fuch be the yiature
of God, that with refpcft thereunto he cannot but punifh
fm in whomfocver it be found ; tlien the fufFcring of every
dinner, in his own perfon, or by his fiirety, doth not de-
pend on a mere free voluntary conflitution, nor is refolvcd
merely into tlic veracity of God, in his commination or
threatening, but is antecedently nccelTary ; unlcfs we

"would have the nature of God changed, that finners may
be freed. And thus the necelTity of the fuffering and fa-
tisfa£lion of Chrift, if fnmers be brought to glory, is re-
folvcd into the holinefs and nature of God ; he being fuch
a God as he is, it could not be otherwifc — The fame truth
is inaniiell: from other confederations.

§ 26. What God doth bccaufc he is righteous, hneccf-
Jury to be done. Aiid if it be iuil: with God in refpe£l of
his elfcntial jufcice to punifli iin, it would be unjuft not to
do it ; for to condemn the innocent, and acquit the
guilty, is equally unjull:. Juflice is an eternal and un-
altcra])Ic rule, and what is done according to it, is necef-
fary ; it cannot be otherwife, and jullice not be im-
peached. That which is to be done with refpc£l to juf-
tice„ mi'.Jl be done ; or he that is to do it is unjufl. Thus
it is fiid to be * a righteous thing with God to render

• tribulation to fmncrs,' [II. ThelT. i. 6.] Becauje he is
righteous; fo that the contrarv would be unjufr, not an-
fwcring his righteoufnefs. God is fald [Rom. i. 18.] to
liave * declared hi<? righteoufnefs* by an example in the
fuiTerings of Chrift ; which indeed was the greateft in-
ftancc of the fcvcrity and inexorablcnefs of jullice againll
fin, that God ever gave. And this he did, * that he

* might be juft^^ as well as gracious and mercrfMl in the
forgivencfs of iin. Now if the juilice of God did not
rc(]uire, that Iin Ihould be punilhed in the Mediator, how-
did God give an inflancc of liis jujlicc in his fullbrLngs ;

for epistle to the HEBREWS. 201

for nothing can be declared, but in and by that which it
requires ;' for to fay, that God fhevved his righteoufnefs
in doing that, which might have been omitted without
the kalt impeachment of his righteoufnefs, is in this mat-
ter bold and dangerous.

Again : God is the fupreme governor and judge of all.
To him, as fuch, it belongeth to do right. So faith Abra-
ham, [_Gcn. xviii. 25.] * Shall not the Judge of all the

* earth do right ?' Undoubtedly he will do fo, it belongs
to him fo to do ; for, faith the apollile, ' Is God unrigh-

* teous who taketh vengeance, God forbid ; for then how

* fliall God judge the world ?' [Rom. iii. 5, 6.] Right
judgement in all things belongs to the univcrfal re£titude
of God, as the fupreme governor and judge of the world.
Now the froodnefs or the ri2:hteoufnefs of all thin2;s con-
lifts in obferving that place and order which God in their
creation allotted to them, whereon he pronounced they
were ' very good.' And it belongs to the govermnent of
God to take care that this order be preferved for the good
of the whole ; or if it be in any thing tranfgreffed, not to
leave all things in confufion, but to reduce them into
fome new order and fubje£lion to himfelf That this pri-
mitive order was broken by fin we all know. What fliall
now the governor of all the world do ? Shall he leave all
things in diforder and confufion ? Caft off the work of
his hands, and fufFer all things to run at random ? Would
this become the righteous governor of all the world ? What,
then is to be don^ to prevent this confufion ? Nothing
remains, but that he who brake the lirft order by ////,
fhould be fubdued into a new one by pu7iiJJjment. This
brings him into fubjeftion to God upon a new account.
And to fay that God might have let his fin go unpunilhed,
is to fay, that he might not be righteous in his govern-
ment, nor do that which is neccffary for the good, bcautv,
and ordc of the whole. — Farther,

§ 27. There is no common prcfumptlon engrafted in the
hearts of men, concerning any free a£l of God in this
matter, and which might have been'othervvife. No frep
^ccrcc or a<5l of God i1, or can be known to any of the

Dd 2 Chjl.


children of men, but by revelation ; much lefs have they
all ot them univcrfally an inhrcd perfuajion concerning any
fuch ad or aflings. But of the natural properties of
God, and of his acting fuitably thereunto, there is a fccret
light and perfuafion engrafted on the hearts of all men
by nature. At Icafl thofe things of God, whereof there
is a natural and indelible character in the hearts of all
men, arc neceflary and clTential to him. Now that God is
juft, and that therefore he will punifh our fm, is an inbred
prefumption of nature, that can never be rooted out of
the minds of men. All fmners have an inbred apprchen-
fion that God is difpleafed with fin, and that punifliment
is due to it. They cannot but know, that * it is the

* judgement of God that they who commit lin are worthy

* of death.' And, therefore, though they have not the
law written to inflrudl them, yet * their thoughts accufe

* them' upon finning, [Rom. i. 14, 15.] that is, their
confcicnccs ; for conference is the judgement that a man
makes of himfelf in reference to the judgement of God.
And therefore all nations who retained any knowledge of
a Deity, conftantly invented fome wav and means w'here-
by they thought they might expiate fin, and appeafe the
God that they feared. All which manifells that the pu-
n'ljhment of Jin infcparahly follows the nature of God^ and
fuch properties thereof, as men have a natural notion and
prefumption of. For if it depended merely in the will of
God, and his faithfulnefs in the accomplifliing of that
threatening and conftitution, whereof they had no know-
ledge, they could not have had fuch an immoveable and
unconquerable apprehenfion of it.

§ 28. And this fully difcovers the vile and horrid na-
ture of Jin. Fools, as the wife man tells us, make a
mock of it. Stifling for a while their natural convic-
tions, they ad as if fin were a thing of nought ; at Icaft
a thing not fo horrible as fome reprcfcnt it. And few
thiCre arc who endeavour aright to obtain a true notion
of it ; contenting themfelves in general, that it is a thing
that ought not to be. What dired oppofition it flands
in to the nature, properties, rule, and authority of God,
2 they


they confider not. But the laft day will difcovcr the true
nature of it ; when ail eyes fnall fee what it deferves ia
the judgement of God, which is according to righteouf-
nefs and truth. Is it a fmall thing for a creature to break
that order which God at firft placed him and all things
in ? To cafl off the rule and autliority of God, to en-
deavour to dethrone him, fo that he cannot continue to
be the fupreme moral governor and judge of all the world,
unlefs he will punifh it ? Is it a fmall thing to fet up that
which hath an utter inconfiftency with the holinefs and
righteoufnefs of God, fo that if it go free, God cannot
be holy and righteous ? If thefe things will not now fmk
into the minds of men ; if they will not learn the feve-
rity of God in this matter from the law, on the very-
threatening and curfe of which he had imprelTed the image
of his holinefs and juftlce, they will learn it all in hell.
Why doth God thus threaten iin and iinners ? Why hath
he prepared an eternity of vengeance and torment for
them ? Is it becaufe he merely would do fo ? Nay, but
becaufe it could not be otherwife, God being invariably
holy and righteous as he is. Men may thank themfelvcs
for death and hell ; they are no more than fin hath made
neceffary, unlefs God fhould ceafe to be holy, righteous,
and the judge of all — or by unmerited and unfathomable
mercy find out a ranfom. And this appears mofl emi-
nently in the crofs of Chrifl ; for God gave in him an.
inftance of his righteoufnefs, and of the defert of fin.
Sin being imputed to the only Son of God, he could not
be fpared. If he be made fin, he mufl be made a curfe ;
if he will take away our iniquities, he mufl make his foul
an offering for fins, and bear the puniihment due to them.
Obedience in all duties will not do it ; interccffion and
prayers will not do, fin required another manner of ex-
piation. Nothing but undergoing the wrath of God,
and the curfe of the law, and therein anfwering what the
eternal juflice of God required, will effe£l that end. How
can God fpare fin in his enemies, who could not fpare it
on his only Son ? Had it been pofTible, this cup fhould
have pafTed from him : but this could not be, and God



continue righteous. Thefe things, I fay, will give us
an infight into tlic nature of lin, and th.e horrible pro-
vocation wherewith it is attended. And this alfo opens
the myflcry of the wifdom, love, and grace of God in
the falvation of iinners. This is that vvliich he will for
ever be admired in ; a way he hath fouiid out to excr-
cifc grace, and fatisfy juflicc, at the fame time, and by
the fame perfon ; fni fhall be punifhed, yet grace exer-
cifed ; finncrs fhall be faved to the uttermofl, yet jufticc
exalted to the higheft degree in the crofs of Chrifb !

Verses i i — i 3.


^ I. I'be ivords i}itroduccd and the fubjen Jlatcd. § 2. (T.)
The mutual relation of Chrijl and his people, § 3. (II.)
IVhere'in conjijls their onenefs. § 4. (III.) In ccnfequence
of which he is not afhamed of them. § 5 — 7. (IV.) Cor-
roborating^ fcripture tcjiimonics. § 8. Obfcrvations^ I. All
the children^ before their union to Chrijl ^ are unholy. § 9.
2. Chrijl fan^ifies all whom he hrings to glory. § lO. 3.
// is a marvellous condefcenjion hi Chrijl not to be afhamed
cf us. §11. /That was principally on the heart of Chrijl
in his fujfcring^y was to declare the love and grace of God



to men. § 12. Which is a frame of mind indifpenfahlj
necejary for minifiers.

4 I. 1 HE great reafoii or ground of the neceffity of
ChrilVs fuffcrings hath been declared. It * became' God that
he fhoiild fufFer. But it doth not yet appear on what
grounds this fuffering of his could be beneficial to the
fons to be brought to glory. It was the finner himfelf
againft whom the law denounced the judgement of death.
And although the Lord Chrift, undertaking to be a cap-
tain of falvation to the fons of God, might be willing to
fufFer for them, yet what reafon is there that the punifh-
nient of one, fhould be accepted for the fin of another ?
Let it be granted, that the Lord Chrifl had an ablblutc
and fovereign power over his own life, and all the con-
cernments of it, in the nature which he affumed ; as alfo,
that he was willing to undergo any fufFerings that God
fhould call him to ; this indeed will acquit the juftice of
God in giving him up to death. But whence is it that
finners fhould come to be fo interefled in thefe things,
as thereon to be acquitted from fin, and brought into
glory. In thefe verfes the apoftle enters upon a fatis-
faftory anfvver to thefe important inquiries : the words

L A farther defcription of the captain of falvation
and the fons to be brought to glory by him, taken from
his office and work towards them, and the effed of it ;

* He that fandlifieth and they that are fan6tified.'

II. An airertion concerning them ; they arc * all of

* one.'

III. A natural confequence of that affertion, v;hich
includes alfo the dclign and fcope of it, ' he is not a-

* ihamed to call them brethren.'

IV. The confirmation thereof by a triple teflimony
from the Old Teflament, * Saying I will declare,' &c.

§ 2. (I.) He defcribcs the captain of falvation, and
the fons to be brought to glory, by their mutual relation
to one another m fanc^ifiaititn. He is [c uyiuC^v) * he

* that

fto6 An exposition of the

* that fan£lifieth ;' and they arc (c/ c^yix^oix-voi) * they

* that are fandtificd/ As Chrill fan(ftifics, fo are the
children fan£lificd. And the a6l of Chrill which is here
intended, is that which he did for the fons when he fuf-
fered for them according to divine appointment (as vcrfe

Online LibraryJohn OwenAn exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews; with the preliminary exercitations (Volume 2) → online text (page 18 of 46)