John Owen.

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

. (page 19 of 46)
Online LibraryJohn OwenAn exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews; with the preliminary exercitations (Volume 2) → online text (page 19 of 46)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

lO.) Now, as was faid before, to * fanclify,* is cither to

Jcparate for facred ufc, or morally to purify^ which latter
itv\{c is here principally intended.

§ 3. (II.) Having given this defcription of the cap-
tain of falvation, and of the fons to bt- brought to glory,
the apoflle here affirms of them that they are (j^' -vog)

* of one,' which made it meet for him to fuffer, and for
them to be made of his fulferings. The apoftle
here treats not of the fpiritual onenefs which is the refult
of fpiritual life, but of their being fo of one, that he
might be meet to fuffer for them, which is antecedent to
their being fanftiiied, as the caufe is to the efFe£t. It is
then one common fuiture that is here intended ; he and they
are of the fame nature, of one mafs, of one blood.
And hereby he became meet to fufFer for them, and they
capable to enjoy the benefit of his fufFcring^;. The Lord
Jefus Chriil being taken as the firll fruits of the nature of
the children, and as fuch offered to God, the whole lump,
or the whole nature of man in the children, that is, all the
cle£l, is fcparated to God, and effectually fandlified in
their feafon. Being thus of one nature with them, he is
not alhamed to call them brethren ; and yet bemg the
principle, head, and firft fruits of our nature, and therein
the author and fmiflicr of our fiilvation, he is a father to
us, and we are his children. * Behold I and the children

* which God hath given me.'

But if any one dcflrc to extend this cnenefs (^^ ^vog) far-
ther, and to comprifc in it the manifold relation lubtifting
between Chrifl and his members, I fhall not contend.
There may be in it — Their being of one Gody dcfigning
him and them to be one myftical body, one church, he
the head, they the memberi,. — Thtir being of one covenant^
made originr.lly with lnm,and exemplified in them. — 'Dicir
being «/" ^ne common principle of human nr.ture. — Their



being of one divine principky or defigned for a manifold
fpirital union in refped of that new nature which the
children receive from him, with every other thing that
concurs to promote that union and relation ; but that
which we have inliflcd on is principally intended. Hence

§ 4. (HI.) A natural confequence of the onenefs before
aflerted, * for which caufe he is not alliamed to call

* them brethren.* For which caufe ; that is, becaufe they
are * of one,' partakers of one common nature, he calls
them brethren. This affords a fufficicnt and proper
ground for that appellation. Now his calling them
' brethren,' both declares that they are fo^ and alfo that
he owns them as fuch. But whereas it may be faid, that
although they are thus ' of one,' in refpefl of their com-
mon nature, yet upon fundry other accounts he is fo glo-
rious, and they are fo vile and miferable, that he may
juilly difavow the relation, and refpeft them as ilrangers.
No, faith the apoflle, * he is not afhamed to call them

* brethren,' what deep condefcenfion and fervent love I

§ 5. (IV.) What remains of thcfe verfes confifteth in
the tcJli)7ionics which the apoftlc produceth out of the Old
Tcftament, [Pfalm xxii. 22.] 'I will declare thy namt

* unto my brethren, in the midft of the congregation

* will I fing praife unto thee.' This teflimony was brought
to confirm what was faid immediately before, that Chrift
owns them for his brethren. The ' name' of God is va-
rioufly ufcd : fometimes it denotes the being of God,
God himfelf ; fometimes his attributes, his excellencies,
fome one or more of the divine perfe£lions. As it is pro-
pofcd to finners for the obje£l of their faith, truft, and love,
as here, it denotes in an efpecial manner his love, grace,
and goodnefs. And this is the name of God which the
Lord Jefus manifefted to the men given him out of the
world, [John xvii. 5.] which is the fame with his decla-
ring the Father whom no man hath fecn at any time,
[John i. 18.] Hereof he fays in the Pfalm xxii. 22.
(msD«) * I will declare it,' recount it in order, number
tlie particulars that belong to it, and fo diflinctly and

OL. II. E c evidently


evidently make it known, ( I\.7:oiyyc7jx) * I will make it
« known as a mclTcnger* lent from thee. And tliis h«
doth by his own perlbn and by his Spirit.

He ' will fmg praifcs to God in the midfl of the con-

• gregation.' Both expreffions allude to the declaration of
God's name, and praifing him in the temple. The iing-
ing of hymns of praifc to God in the great congregation
was then a principal part of his worfliip. This is only
explanatory of what went before. He would praife God by
declaring his name. There is no way by which the praifc
of God may be celebrated, like that of declaring his grace,
goodnefs, and love to men, whereby they may be won to
believe and trull in him ; whence glory redounds to him.
The Lord Chrill in his own perfon, by his Spirit, in his
apoftles and his word, by all his faithful melTengers to the
end of the world, fctting forth the love, grace, and good-
nefs of God in him the mediator, fets forth the praife of
God * in the midft of the congregation.'

§ 6. His next teftimony is taken from Pfalm xviii. 2.

* I will put my truft in him.' The whole pfalm literally
refpc^ls David, with his ftraights and deHverances ; not
abfolutelv, but as he was a type of Chrift. That which
the apoftle intends to prove by this teftimony, is, that he
was really and truly of one with the fons to be brought to
glory. Had he been only God, this could not have been
fpoken of him. * He put his truft in God ;' which
cvinceth him to have been truly and really of otie with the
children, his brethren ; feeing it was his duty no lefa
than it is theirs, to depend on God in troubles and dif-

§ 7. The remaining teftimony is, * Behold I and the
y children which God hath given me,' and is taken from
Ifaiah viii. i 8. That which the apoftle aims at in the cita-
tion of this tcftimonv, is farther to coniirm the union in
nature, and the confccjucnt relation between Chrift and
Jus redeemed ones. God gives all the fonsr that are to be
brought to glory to Jefus Chrift ; * Thine they were,*
iaith he, * and thou gaveft them me,' [John viii. 6.]
God having feparatcd them as his peculiar portion in the



eternal couiifel of his will, gives them to the Sou to take
care of them, that they may be preferved and brought to
the glory deligned for them. He gives them to him as his
children to be provided for ; and to have an inheritance pur-
chafed for them, that they may become heirs of God and
co-heirs with himfelf. Chrill is fathfied with, and rc-
joiceth in the portion given him of his Father, as his chil-
dren, his redeemed ones. Such was his love, fuch was
his grace ! for we in ourfelves are * a people not to be
* defired.* Jefus ajfumcs the children given him of his
Father into the fame condition with himfelf, both as to
life and eternity. * I and the children ,' as he is, fo are
they ; his lot is their lot ; his God is their God ; his
Father is their father ; and his glory fhall be theirs.

§ 8. Obf. I. That all the children which are to be
brought to glory, before their relation to Chrift, are
polluted and defiled, feparate from God. They are all to
ht fanclifiedhy him, both as to their real purification, and
their confecration to be God's hallow^ed portion. We
are naturally very proud, apt to pleafe ourfelves w^ith our
fancied excellencies, to think of nothing lefs than of being
polluted or defiled, or at leafi: not fo far but that we can
walh ourfelves. What a hard thing it is to perfuade the
great men of the world, in the midll of their ornaments,
paintings, and perfumes, that they are all over vile, le-
prous, loathfome, and defiled ! Are they not ready to
vvafh themfelves in the blood of them who intimate any
fuch thing to them ? But whether men will hear or for-
bear, this is their real condition univerfally.

§ 9. Obf. 2. The captain of our falvation fanflifies
every fon whom he brings to glory. He will never glo-
rify an unfan6lified perfon : this is neccfiary on the part
of God. If then he bring the children to God, he '^^nft
make them holy, or they can have no admittance into his
prcfence, no acceptance with him ; for no unclean thing,
nothing that defileth can enter into the new Jcrufalem,
the place where his holinefs dwelleth. It is utterly im-
pofiible that any foul not wafhcd with the blood of Chrift,
not fiui6i:ificd by his fpirit and grace, fhould ft^n^ in the


fight of God. The infinitely pure Jehovah will not divcft
himfclf of his hohncfs, that he may receive, or be en-
joyed by unholy creatures. This fandification is necef-
fary alfo on the part of Chr'iji. A living head and dead
members, a beautitul licad and rotten members, how un-
comely would it be ! Such a monllrous body Chrift will
never own. He loved the church, and gave himfelf for
it, that he might fan£lify it and cleanfe it with the waHi-
ing of water by the word, and that he might prcfent it to
himfelf a glorious church, not having a f})Ot or wrinkle, or
any fuch thing, but that it Ihould be holy without a ble-
mifh. This it became him to do,, this was the end why
he did it ; he fandlifieth his church that he may prefent it
a meet bride or fpoufe unto himfclf. The fame is nccef-
fary on the children s part ; as without it they arc not meet
for their duty, fo they are not capable of their reward.
Yea, heaven itfelf, in the true notion of it, is undefirable
to an unfan£lified perfon. Such a one, neither can, nor
■would enjoy God if he might. In a word, there is no
one thing required of the fons of God, that an Uiifan^ti'
fled perfon can do, nor one thing promifed them that he
can enjoy.

Tliere is furely then a woful miilake in the world. If
Chrifl fan(Slifies all whom he faves, many will appear to
have been mifcaken in their expectations another day. Let
none deceive themfelves, fanOilication is a qualification
indifpenfably neccfiary to them who will be under the fafc
conduct of Chrift for falvation, for he leads none to
heaven but whom he fanCtifies on earth.

§ 10. Ohf. 3. That notwithftanding the union of na-
ture which is between the Son of God incarnate, the
fanftificr, and the children that are to be fanftified, there
is, in rcfpe£t of their pcrfons, an inconceivable diftancc
bet\vcen them, fo that it is a marvellous condefcenfion in
him to call them brethren. He is not ajhamcd to call
them fo, though conlidcring what himfelf is, and what
they arc, it fhould feem that he might juftly be fo. Hii
nature u:ns free from fm. Human nature defiled with fin,
and the fame nature as pure and ftri£lly holy, arc farther



rjemoved in real worth and excellency, than the meaneH:
worm is from the moll glorious angel. Yet they did not
l^inder him, who was holy, harmlefs, undefiled, feparatc
from iinners, to own us as * his brethren.' He fays
i)ot with thofe proud hypocrites in the prophet, ' Hand
* farther off, I am holier than you;* but he comes to us
and takes us by the hand in his love, to deliver us from
this condition. Befldcs, wc were obnoxious to all m'lferks
here ani hereafter^ We fee how unapt thofe that are rich
and prolperops in this world arc to take notice of their
neareft relations in poverty and dlflrefs ; and who among
them would dp fo, if thereby they muft be reduced to the
Itate of thofe who are already miferable ? Yet fo it was
with the Redeemer ; his calling us, and owning us for
l)is brethren, made him inftantly obnoxious to all the mi-
|*eries due to ourfelves. And this alfo renders his conde-
fceniion marvellous. Again, he is inconceivably above us in
dignity : we are poor objeiJs who have neither bread to eat,
nor good right to partake of what we may meet with.
And if Mephibofhcth thought it a great condefcenfion in
David on his throne to ta|ce notice of him, being poor^
ivho yet was the fon of Jonathan, what is it in this Kin^j
of kings to own us for brethren in our vile and low con-
xlition ? He is infinitely diflant from us, in his per/on, be-
ing, in refpeft of his divine nature, God over all, blelTcd
for ever. He did not fo become man, as to ccafe to be
God : though he drew a veil over his infinite glory, yet
he did not part with it. But that he who in himfelf is
thus over all,^eterna]ly bleffed, holy, and powerful, fhould
take us, poor worms of the earth, into this relation with
himfelf, and avow us for * his brethren \ as it is not eafy
to be believed, fo it is for ever to be admired. And if he
will do this bh;aufe he is of one with us, becaufc a foun-
dation of brotherhood is laid in his participation of our
nature, how much more will he continue the fraternal
kindnefs, when he hath perfeded this relation by the com-
munication of his holy Spirit. He is a brother, born for
9 day of trouble, a redeemer for the friendlefs and father-
^cfs. Let their miferies be what they will, he will be



afliamcd of none, but of them who arc afhamcd of him
and his ways. The world rejects them, it may be their
own relations dcfpife them, they are perfecutcd, hated,
reproached ; but the Lord Jefus Chrift is not afliamcd of*
them : he will naturaKy care for them as their brother.
Who then would be afhamed of him or his gofpel ?

§ I I. Obf, 4. That which was principally in the heart
of Chrift upon his fufFerings, was to declare and manifcft
the love, grace, and good will of God unto men, that
they might come to be acquainted with him and accepted
before him. As he ' lands upon the fliorc' from that
tempeft wherein he was tolTed in his paffion, he cries out,

* 1 will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midil

* of the congregation will I Ung praife unto thee.' And
thus we find, that upon his refurrection he did not im-
xnediately afcend into glory, but firft ' declared the name
' of God* to his apoftles and difciples ; and then gave
them orders that it fliould be declared and publifhed to all
the world. This was upon his compafTionatc heart, and
he entered not into his glorious reft until he had performed
it. For lierein confiftcd the manifeftation and exaltation
of Jehovah's glory ; nor could the fons be brought to
glory of thcmfclves, nor have known any thing of that
name of God, which is their life and falvation. Some
men talk of I know not what declaration of God's nnmc^
nature, and glory, by the works of creation and provi-
dence ; but if the Lord Mcftiah had not * declared,' and
preached thcfe things, thcfe very difputers themfelves
would not have been in any other condition than nil
others of mankind arc, who arc left to the mere infor-
mation of thofe boafted teachers, which is a condition
moft dark and mifcrablc. Befidcs, on thi*; * declaration'
depended his ou.m glory. The gofpel is ne rod of his
ftrcngth, whereby liis people are made willing in the day
of his power. In brief, the gathering of his church,
the fctting up of his kingdom, the eftahlilhment of his
throne, the fctting of the crown upon his head, depend
wliolly upon his declaring the name of Crod in a prcacl^-
€i!L gofpel. Seeing, therefore, that the glory of (rod

1 NvhicU


which he ahned at, the falvation of the Tons which htt
fought for, and the honour of his kingdom which was
promifed him, all depend upon this work, it is no wonder
if his heart were full of it, and that he rejoiced to be en-
gaged it.

§ 12. And this frame of heart ought to be in them,
who under him are called to this work. The work itfelf
we fee is noble and excellent ; foch as the Lord of heaven
carried in his eye through all his fufferings. And by his

* rejoicing' to be engaged in it, he hath fet a pattern for
them whom he calls to the fame employment. Where
men undertake it for filthy lucre, for felfifh ends, and
from carnal refpe£ls, this is not to follow the example of
Chrift, but to ferve their own bellies and hateful lufls.
Zeal for the glory of God, compaffioa for the fouls of
men, love to the honour and exaltation of Chrift, ought
to be the lincere and fteady principles of men in this un-
dertaking. All praying, all preaching, all adminiflra-
tion of ordinances, all our faitli, all our obedience, if
performed in a due and acceptable manner, are nothing
but giv'mg glory to God for his love and grace in ChriH
Jefus. And this is what ought to be our defign in all di-
vine worfhip, efpecially what we perform * in the con-

* gregation,' to * fet forth his praifc,' to * declare his

* name,' and thus to give him glory.

Verses 24, 15.


§ I . Connexion of the vjcrds and ftatement of the fuhjeft,
§ 2. (I.) The fiate and condition of the ahildrm. § 3.

(II.) A


(II.) A double inference from that fupp oft'ion. § 4 . (III.)
The means of deliverance. § 5. (IV ) The effeds of
Chriffs death. § 6. Ohfervalions, 1. All fnners, fub^
jeii to death as penal. §7.2. Fear of death in/eparablr
from pn. § 8. 3. Fear of death fubjeds to bondage. § 9.
4. Chrifl fubmitted^ to every thing but fn for the children's
fake. § 10. 5. // ivas only in the efjcnce of tbe human
mature that Chrifi was like us. §11.6. ChrijVs principal
end in ajjuming human nature u^as to fuffer and die in it*
^ 12. 7. The power of Satan founded in fn. § 13. 8»
The death of Chrifi viilorious*

§ I. X HE union of Chrifi with the children in their re-
lation to one common root, and participation of the fame
nature, being afiertcd, the apoftle proceeds to declare
the ends and nccelTity of that union, in refpedl of the
work for which God had dellgncd him, and what he had
to accompHlh thereby ; namely, the * deflru£lion of the

* devil,* and thereby the * delivery of them that were in

* bondage by reafon of death ;' neither of which could
have been elie^led, but by the death of the captain of
falvation. We have in the words,

I. The Hate and condition of the children to be
brought to glory fuppofed, partakers of flefh and blood
— obnoxious to death — in great bondage through fear of
it — in which they continued all their lives.

II. A double inference with rcfpe£t: to that fuppofitioii
—Chrifi took part of the fame — and delivered them.

HI. The means whereby he did this — by his death.

IV. The immediate cffc£l of his death — the dcflruc-
tion of the devil. From all which wc fliall,

V. Draw fomc profitable obfcrvations.

§ 2. (I.) The apoillc cxprcHcth by way of fuppofition,
the fate of the children whom God dcflgncd to bring to
glory. And, They were in common * partakers of flefli

* and blood :' * flelli and blood* arc by an ufual fyncc-
dochc put for the whole human nature as fubjc^l to in-
firmities and death.. But farther; it is implied ih?.ty


Ver, 14, 15. EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS. 21^

They were, as guilty, chioxhus to death as it was penal^
being due to fiii according to the curfe of the law. On
this fuppofition hes the whole weight of the niediation
of Chrifl.

They were in great ' bondage through fear of death.*
Fear is a perturbation of mind, ariling from the appre-
henfion of a future imminent evil. And the greater this
evil is, the greater v/ill be the perturbation of mind ; pro-
vided the apprehcnfions of it be anfwerable. The * fear

* of death' then here intended is, that trouble of mind
men have in the expectation of death to be inflided upon
them, as 2, puniJJjment due to their fins. And this apprc-
henfion is common to all men, arifing from a general
prefumption that death is penal^ and that it is the judge-
ment of God, that they who commit lin are * worthy of

* death.' But it is more abundantly cleared and confirmed
by the law, whofe known fentence it is, * the foul that
' finneth, it fhall die.' And the troublefome expectation
of this apprehended event is the fear of death here in-
tended, being obnoxious to the fentence of death, they
could not but live in fear of the execution of it. Hence>
the troublefome expectation of death, as peiial, brings
them into bondage ; and this, being involuntary, gene-
rates a ftrong defire of liberty, and puts men on all man-
ner of attempts to fecure it. It perplexes the mind, and
forebodes future and greater evils. This is the common
condition of iinners out of Chrift, whereof there are various
degrees anfwerable to their cbnviCtions. For the apoftle
treats not here of men being fervants to fin, which is vo-
luntary , but of their fenfe of the guilt of fin, which is
wrought in them even whether they will or no ; and the
yoke of which thev v/ould by any means caft off, though
by none are they able to do it ; for.

They are faid to continue in this ftate ' all their lives.'
Not that they were always perplexed with a fenfe of this
bondage, but that they could never be utterly freed from
it. For the apoflle doth not fay, that they were thus in
bondage all their days, but that they were obnoxious and
fnhjen to it. Thev had no way to free or deliver them-

VoL. II. ' F f felvcs


fclvcs from it, but that at any time they might righteoullv'
be brought under its power ; and the more they call ofF
the thoughts of it, the more they increafcd their danger*
This was the ftatc of the children, whofc dchvcrancc was
undertaken by the captain of their lalvation.

§ 3. (II.) We have a double inference with rcfpef^ to
that fuppolition, * He alfo himfclflikewife partook of tlic
* fame' — and ' delivered them.' 1'hc word (TrapccTrX'/ja-iocg)
I'lkciL'ifcy in like mcunury denotes a ilmilitude that is con-
liftent with a fpecilical identity- And therefore Chry-
sosTOM from hence urges the AJarciomtcs and Falcntiniatis^
who denied the reality of the human nature of Chrift,
lecing that he partook of it in like manner with us, that is,
truly and really. But the word by force of its compo-
fition doth intimate fome difparity and difference. He
took part of human nature really as we do, and almojl in
the like manner with us. I fay almoj}^ for there were two
differences between his manner of being partaker of human
nature and curs. Firft, in that wc fubllft f^n^ly in that
nature ; but he took his portion in this nature into fub-
fiftancc with himfclf in the perfon of the Son of God.
Secondly, this nature in us is attended with many infir-
mities, that follow the individual perfons who arc par-
takers of it ; in him it was free from them all. And
this the apoftlc alfo intimates in the word (iLij-a-yj) partook,
changing his exprcllion from (ii-:Xoivu:vr,y,s) that whereby
he declared the common intcrej} of the children in the fame
nature, wliich is every way equal and alike. The whole
IS, that he took to himfclf his own portion in his own
manner. — But he not oiily took the children's nature, lie
alfo * delivered them' from the evils they had incurred.
[Sec belozv § 5.) And,

§ 4. (III.) His death was tlic means of delivering them
from death ; * That throu'::.h death he micrht deliver them.'
There doth not any thing in the text appear to intimate,
that the captain of falvatlon by death of one kind ^ fliould
deliver the children from that of another. Neither will
the apofilc's difcourfe well bear fuch a fuppofition. lor
if he ir.i-ht have frctd tlic children by any way and


Ver. 14, 15. EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS. 217

means, but only by undergoing that which was due from
them for fin, whence could arife that indifpenfable iie^
cejjity which he pleads for, by fo many confidcrations, of
his being * made like unto them?* Seeing he might with-
out a participation of their nature, which the apoftic
nrgeth, have done any other thing for their good and be-
nefit except fuffering what was due to them ? And if it
be faid, that without this participation of then- nature he
could not die, which it was necefTary he fliould do ; I
dcfire to know why it was necefTary ? If the death which
he was to undergo, was not that death to which they for
whom he died were obnoxious, how could it be any ways
more beneficial to them than what he might have done
for them, although he had not died ? The death of Chrifl

Online LibraryJohn OwenAn exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews; with the preliminary exercitations (Volume 2) → online text (page 19 of 46)