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

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delight in his beauty, joy in his undertaking, holy thought-
fulnefs of his whole mediation : this has betrayed us into
lukewarmnefs and indifferency, and made as faint and
weary in his ways. — The next ufe is,

2. For caution. The w^orld fmiles upon apoflates and
promifeth a plentiful fupnly of fuch things as corrupt
nature efleems deiirabie : errors and falfe worlhip fpread
their wings of glorious pretences over the whole world.
Trials, troubles, florms, perfecutions attend and threaten
on every hand ; and he only that endureth unto the end
Ihall be faved. He that like Jonah is afleep in this tem-
pell, is at the door of ruin ; he that is fecure in himfelf
from danger, is in the greateil: danger of falling by fecu-
rity. What then fhall w^e do, what means fhall v/e ufe
foj our prefervation ? Take the counfel of our blefled
apoflle. * Holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling,
* conlider the apoflle and high priefl of our profeiTion.'
And again, chap. xii. 3. ' Confider him who endured
' fuch contradlftion of finners againfl himfelf, lefl you be
' w^eary and faint in your minds.' Be much, therefore, in
the confideration of the perfon, offices, and work of Chrifl.
This will conform you unto him, this will derive flrength
from him, will arm you with the fame mind that was in
him, increafe all your graces, keep you from being faint,
and give you affured viftory. He deferves it, you need
it, let it not be omitted. Another ufe is,

3. For d'lre^ion. This will give direction to them who
are called to the work of teaching others. For that which
is the chief obje£l of the church's faith, ought to be the
chief fubjed of our preaching. So Paul tells the Gala-

VoL. n. Mm tians,


tians, that in his preaching Chrifl: was cvidentlv crucified
before their eyes, [Gal. iii. i.] He propofcd Chrill crucified
to their coiifideration, determining, as he ipcaks in ano-
ther place, to know nothing amongfl them but Jcfus
Chrift, and him cruciiied. For if the confideration of
Chrift be fuch an important di;tv in believers, certainly
the due propofal of him to their confideration is no lcf«
in preachers ; Chrill: alone is to be preached abfolutely, and
all other truths, as they begin, end, and center in him.
To propofe the Lord Chrill amiable, defirable, ufcful, and
every way worthy of acceptation is the great duty of tlrc
difpcnfcrs of the gofpel.

Verse 3.

for this man was cotjkted worthy of more
glory than moses, inasmuch as he who hath
builded the house hath more honour than
the house.

§ I. The a-pojllcs rcafonhig Jiated. § 2, 3. (I.) He /up-
pofeth ATg/cs Ivor thy of glory, § 4, 5. (II.) Chr'ijl vjcrthy
of more glory ^ with the proof of it. § 6. (III.) Obfer-
vations, i. Every faithful fcrvant of God is worthy of
honour. ^ 7. 7 he nt faithful not fo. § 8. 2. Chrifl is
worthy of. all glory on account of his building the church,
§ 9 — 10. (l.) Jf^'hat this glory y and its formal rca fen.
^ 12 — 14. (2.) IVhat the great motive for afcribing is
him this glory.

^ I. X HIL apofilc proceeds in this verfe and the three
following, with his dciign of evidencing the excellency and
preference of Chrift above Mofcs, as he had done before
in reference to angels, and all other revealcrs of the will
of God 10 the churcli. The firft word (yc^j.) * for,' de-


notes the connexion of the difcoyrfe ; coniider him, faith
Ke, '-for he is worthy of rnore glory than Mofes.' "Jh^
church being called the * Houfe of God,' and that by God"
liiinfclf ; the apoftle takes advantage of the metaphor to
cxprefs the dignity of Chrifl. He that buildeth the
lioufe, hath more honour than the houfe. The affump-
tion included is this — But Chrill built the houfe, and
Mofes was onjy ^ fervant of the houfe or a part of it — r
and therefore he had more glory than Mofes. In cpn-
firmation of the firft argument the 4th verfc is inferted ;
' for every houfe is builded by Ibmc, but he that built all

* things is God.'

' For this (man) was counted worthy of more glory than.

* Mofes.' Here lies the proportion wherein two things
occur :

I. A fuppofition that Mofes was counted worthy.

II. An aifertion, that the Lord Jefus Chrifl was much
more worthy of glory.

§ 2. (I.) The apoflle grants and fuppofeth that Mofes
\yas {cc^iu}9-ig ^o^'/ig) ' counted worthy of glory,' or truly
glorious and honourable. * Glory' is (cxccllentis vlrtutis
fama cum laiide,) ' the illuftrious fame of an excellency
' virith praife i' and in this * glory' there are two things
— an excellency deferving honour — and the reputatio7i of
that excellency.

I. The excellency of Mpfes ponfifted principally In his
ivork — and \\h fidelity. In his work; this was glorious,
and rendered him fo as being employed in it. So our
iipoHle declares, II. Cor. iii. 7. * The miniflration of

* death written and engraven in ftones was glorious, fo that

* the children of Ifrael could not ftedfaftly behold the face
\ of A^ofes for the glory of his countenance.' And one
part of his miniftration is called the ' glory.' [Rom. ;x. 4.]
The giving of the la\y, the eredion of the vifible church
ftate in the poftcrity of Abraham, attended with all that
glorious worlliip which was inftituted therein, was a work
ot exceeding glory. In this work was Mofes employed in
lb honourable a manner, as to be the foje mediator therein
i:ctwcen God ^nd the people, [Gal, iii. 19.] as himfelf

M m 2 fpeakclh


ipcakcth, [Deut. v. 5.] * I flood between the Lord and you
♦ at that time, to fhcw you the word of the Lord.* This
was his peculiar glory, that Tingled him out from amongft
all the poflerity of Abraham, to be thus employed. But
this excellency farther confifted — In his fidelity ; This,
added to the former, makes his dignity complete. It is no
glory for a man to be employed in a glorious work and to
mifcarry therein ; it will rather end in his dillionour and
reproach. Such may not improperly be compared to
Pbaetcn the fon of Apollo, in the fable, who, though
difTuadcd from it, would needs drive the chariot of the
fun ; but the raih attempt ended in his ruin. Better
never be employed in the work of God, than deal un-
faithfully in it. But a glorious trull conne^cd with ikill
and great faithfulnefs render a condition really excellent.
So was it with Mofes. However he might failperfonally,
he failed not miniflcrially, as the i);irrmintius between God
and his people ; for every perfonal failing in faith doth
not impeach a man*s faithfuhiefs in his office. In thcfc
things was he excellent, O what a glorious thing is it to
be faithful in any office or trufl committed to us by our
divine mafler !

§ 3. (2.) He had the fame and rcputaticn of that ex-
cellency, by the verdia of God, and the cftccm of the
church. His reputation was founded on the infallible tejii-
fnony of Gcd : this God gave him during his life, and fun-
dry times after liis death : this is the great foundation ot
all his renown. And what greater honour could be done
to any creature, than to be adorned with fuch an illufln-
ous teftimony by God himfelf ? Greater honour had none,
but he with whom he is compared. And even thus wc
may fay God * gives grace and glory.' Grace to be faith-
ful, and a glory upon men's being fo. — BcfidcSj-his repu-
tation fprung from the cfccm of the church. Until the Son
himfelf came, the whole church of God was precifcly
bound to obfcrve the laws and ordinances appointed by
him, on which all their hnppincfs depended. That was
the condition of their temporal and eternal welfare ; the
yieglea hereof expofcd them to all mifcry from God and


,nan This was the charge that God left them through-
out all th ir generations , ' Remember the law of Mofe.
?m;"f:rvantf which I commanded unto h.m.n^ Horeb
' for all Ifrael, with the ftatutes and judgements LMal.
;/ It Thi; made his name and remembrance honour-
able to the church, and the finful abufe of .t turned af-
er V rds to the fnare and difadvantage of the mcredulous
W, . according to the prophetical imprecation of the
£iC SrLir table (or their table fhall) become .
^fn^re before them, and that which fhould have been for
. h welfare become a trap,' [Pfalm Ixix. a..]
our apoftle declares to have befallen them on their rejed-
Z the iofpcl, through an obftinate adherence to the letter
Jthefaw'o Mofes! [Rom. ix. i8, tg-] Yet we may
obf rve that in all the honour which God gave Mofes .i»
the cTu'rch, he never commanded, he never allowed, that
Inytould -r>^ him or pray to him Should we add
hereunto fome other particulars, they will make this glory
ft more confpicuous. Such, for inftance, was the care
of God over him in his infancy, his miraculous call to
hs office, the honour he had in the world, the miracle*
which he wrought, and the fignal teflimony given hirn

LmGod in all the conrefts ^.-^^^ '"' -"'^^'ut t^ey
many things of the like nature might be added But they
TL things which appertain to his #« and the d./char,.
of it which are principally intended.

Th I therefor', the apoftle fully grants, not giving
the leaft fufpicion to the Hebrews, that he meant to detraft
?om 1 L praifes and honour of Mo es as he wa.
commonly traduced. The unbelieving P^" ;'-"!' '^^
deed, boafted of Mofes to the contempt of Chrift. [John
ix 20 ] • We know that God fpake unto Mofes ; as for
'riris fellow, we know not from whence he is. And they
generally thought the prevalency of the gofpel was deroga-
Ly to his honour and law, [Aas xni. 45-SO.]. But
thefe things did not move him to deal partial y in tl e
truth He allows Mofes his due honour and glory, and
yet affcrts the excellency of Chrift above h.m. fhewing
I dently the confiftency of thefe things, as there neither


IS nor can be any oppofition or contrariety between any
ordinances or inflitutions of God. Let us now proceed
to coniider,

§ 4. (II.) What is pofitively affirmed in this alTertion,
with the proof of it— That the Lord Jefus Chrift was
much more worthy of glory than Mofcs.

The demonflrative pronoun (^log) * this,' is rendered
t^jis ; but it refpcfts him not merely as man, but di^
rc£ls to hh per/on, God and man.

MVas counted worthy of more glory than Mofcs,'
(dot^^g ^Kucvcg-orucc Mccr^Jyj of much more glory than Mofes,
The cxpicfllon intimates the glory of Chrill to be fo'far
above that of Alofes, that in comparifon thereof it mi-ht
even fccm to be no glory, [fee II. Cor. iii. 10.] "^

' Accounted wortliy' {r,^[oului) iLas more honoured, had
more glory from God, was more glorious in the church.

This glory, though attendant on the per/on of Chrift,
is that which directly belongs to him in his office, wherein
alone he is now compared with Mofes. Having made the
alFcrtion, the apoftle proceeds to the proof of it in the
next words :

* He who builds an houfe, is more honourable than
' the houfe built;' but Chrifl built the houfe, whereas
Mofcs was only a part of it.

The intended glory of Chrift, the apoftle fcts forth un-
der the metaphorical terms of an houfe, its buildmg, and
us builder. The church of God, with all the ordinances
ot worfliip in it, are an houfe, as appears in the foregoing
loftimony ; now this is the condition of an houfe, that he
wiio builds it is much more honourable than the houfe it-
fclf. But this houfe of God was hunt by fefus Chrift,
whereas Mofes was only a part of tiic houfe itfclf, and fo
no way to be compared with him in honour and glory.
When one builds an houfe by his own authoritv, for h'is
own ufe, whereby it becomes his own houfe, and wholly
^t his own difpofal, there lie is always more honourable
tlian the houfe itfelf ; and therefore Chrill, who th-.ii
Vuih his ho'iir, is more honourable than Mofts.

Ver.3. epistle to THE HEBREWS. ii>

It is fuppofcd in the aiTumption that Mofcs was not a
lidlder. But how can that be ? For what was wanting to
render him a builder ? The reply is eafy : By the houle of
God in this place the apoflle doth not intend the houfe of
this or that particular age, under this or that form or ad-
miniftration of worfhip; but the houle of God in all
ages and places, from the foundation to tlie end of the
world — a building erefted with fupreme power, and for
the builder's own ufe.

§ 5. On the contrary, Chrift built the church in the
properefl and higheft fenfe. For tlie building of the
houfe of God three things are required — the pattern —
the materials — its appropriation and dedication to God ;
as in the typical houfes, the tabernacle of Mofes, and the
temple of Solomon. All thefe particulars were perfed^ly
effected by Jefus Chrifl the Son of God. * On this rock/
faith he, * I will build my church,' [Matt. xvi. 18.]

1. He was in the eternal counfels of the Father, about
providing and framing this habitation for himfelf And
this glorious delineation or pattern he had in his mind in
all ages, and this he brought with him into the world,
when he came to put the lafl hand to it. This anfwered
the (n'jnn) idea reprefented to Mofes on the mount. He,
under every difpenfation, exprclTed this conception of his
mind when he gave out laws, orders, ordinances, and in-
ilitutions of worfhip, the whole pattern of the houfe as it
were, ia divers manners, and at fundry feafons, to be

2. The fccond thing required in the building of this
houfe is the providing of materlah^ and the framing and
compacting of them into a houfe for God. Now this was
a great work indeed, confidering the condition of all thofe
perfons of whom this houfe was to be conftituted ; they
were dead in trefpaffcs and lins ; but the houfe v;as to be a
* living houfe,' [I. Peter il. 5.] They v/ere all enemies
to God, ftrangers from him, and under his cnrfe ; but
this houfe was to be made up of the friends of God, and
fuch as he may delight to dwell in. Dead llones muft be
"made of the children of Abraham. This then was a great

2 ■ and

t7o AN EXPOSlTrON OF THE CiiAf. m.

and glorious work, and which none could perform but he
that was unfpeakably more honourable than Mofcs, or all
the fons of men. He doth not gather men by force or
violence, or drive them together to the profeihon of truth
with the fword. No ; The living flones, being brought
together by their own offering themfelves willingly to the
Lord, ?:re by him, as the tabernacle was of old, fitly
framed together into an holy habitation for God. In
Chrirt, the Lord and builder of this houfc, there is rcfi-
dent a fpirit of life, which by him is communicated to
every ftune of the houfc, and which gives it life, union
to hitiifelf, and alfo order and beauty in reference to the
whole ; that is, being all alike united to Chrilt and ac-
tuated in their places and order by one fpirit, they become
one houfc for God.

3. That tlie houfe fo built and compa£led might be an
habitation fit for God, it was necclfary that an atonement
Hiouli be made for it by facrifice, and that it be purified
and fanftified with the blood thereof. Thus Chriil made
atonement for it by the facrifice of himfelf, and fprinkled
it wholly with his own blood, as the fcriptures abundantly
teilify. The tabernacle, being erefted and fprinkled with
blood, w^as alfo, with all its utenlils, anointed with the
holy oil, [Exod. xl. 9 — 11.] This un£lion was a type
of the Holy Ghoft, who is the oil of gladnefs wherewith
Chrift himfelf, and all his living members, were to be
anointed. To the completing of this houfe for a fettled
habitation to the Lord, the glorious entrance of his pre-
sence into it was required. And this alfo is accomplilhed
by him according to his promife, that he will be with us,
among us, and dwell in us by his Spirit to the end of the
world. Hence,

§6. (in.) Obf. I. Every one who is employed in the
fervice of God's houfe, and is faithful \n the dlfcharge of
it, is worthy of honour ; fo was Moles. And this be-
cometh both the grcatncfs and goodnefs of God , and he
hath eftaMIHicd it by an cvcrlafllrig law, * Th.em that ho-

• nour mc,' faith he, * I will honour ; and they that de-

• fpife mc Ihall be lightly eflccmcd, f L Sam. ii. 30.] The



honouring of God in the fervice of his houfe, fliall be
honoured, for the mouth of the Lord hath fpoken it.
They are honourable ; for

(i.) Their work is f o : reputation, glory, and honour,
attend honourable works. This work is God's. The
church is God's hufbandry, God's building, [I. Cor. iii.
9.] They have a great work in hand, and have a glorious
alTociate, even God himfelf. God lb works by them, as
that he alfo works urith them, and they are {<rvvz'^/oi <Sii^)
* labourers together with God :' they work alfo in the
name and on the behalf of God, [II. Cor. v. 20.] What-
ever glory and honour that can pollibly redound to any
from the nature of the work wherein they are employed,
it all belongs to them. Hence the apoftle commands that
we fhould ' efteem fuch very highly for their works' fake,'
[1. Tlief. v. 13.] Their work makes them worthy of
eftimation, yea, of ' double honour,' [I. Tim. v. 17.

(2.) Honour is relieved upon them from their relation
to Chrifl, who goes before chem in their work. To be
aflbciated with Chrift in his work, to (hare in office under
him, will appear at length to have been honourable. The
queen of Sheba counted them happy and blefled, who were
fervants to Solomon, and flood before him, [II. Chron.
ix. 7.] And what are they who fland before him who is
infinitely wifer and greater than Solomon ! The Lord
help poor minifters to believe their relation to Chrift, and
his engagement with them in their work, that they may
be fupported againft thofe innumerable difcouragements
they meet with.

(3 ) The fpecial nature of their work and employment
is another fpring of honour to them: it lies about things
holy, fpiritual, myfterions, and more excellent than ail
the things of this world ; it is their work to difcover, and
to bring fortii to light unfearchable riches, [Ephef. iii.
S.] to reveal and to declare the whole counfel of God,
[Afts XX. 27.] to prepare and make ready the bride for
the Lamb, to gather in God's revenue of glory.

(4.) The effe^Js of their work alfo communicate ho-
nour to them. The miniilry of tlip word is that alone
VpL. 11. N n whereby


whereby God will ordinarily treat with men for falvation;
this he makes ule of for their convidion, converfioii, fanc-
tillcation, and falvation ; and in thcfc cflccls of the Chrif-
tian minidry will the glory of God be principally con-
cerned for ever: in them will his goodncfs, righteouf-
iicfs, grace, mercy, patience, and all the other excel-
lencies of his nature Ihine forth in glory. How honou-
rable then that miiiiftry, the grand defjgn of which is to
produce thefe evcrlailing effcds ?

(5.) Their fpecial honour will one day appear in their

fpecial rd-^wv/. [Dan. xii. i 3.] Inftruftors, teachers, they

that make men wife, that give them underflanding,

* fliall fhine as the brightnefs of the firmament ;' and tlic

juftifiers of many, thofe that make them righteous mi-

niflerially, by revealing to them the knowledge and

rightcoufncfs of Chrift, whereby they are juflificd, [Tfa.

liii. II.] * as the ftars for ever and ever.' If they have

not more glory than others, vet they lliall have a d'lJuuLi

glory of their own. For when the prince of Ihephcrds

fiiall be manifcftcd, he will give thefe his fliepherds an

unfading * crown of glory ;' [1. Pet. v. 4.] alluding to,

but infinitely tranfcending, fuch a peculiar crown, as

great triumphant conquerors were wont to be crowned


§ 7. Only it mufl be obfervcd, that there is nothing
of all this fpoken, merely with refpc£t to being employed
in this houfe of God, but only to fuithfulr.cfs in the em-
ployment. Some are fo far from being worthy of honour,
that they deferve nothing but reproach, contempt, and
Ihamc. For as God faith in this matter, * Him that ho-

* nourcth mc, 1 will honour ;* fo he adds, ' he that

* defpifcth mc ihall be lightly cftccmed.' Such pcrfons
are rrjc(fted of God, as to any acceptance in their ofhcc,
f flof. vi..4.] and as unfavory fait, are to be caft on tliC
dunghill, [Matt. v. 13.] Thefe fcrvants, when the Lord
conus, he will tear in pieces and give them their portion
with hypocrites, [Matt. xxiv. 50,51.] Pcrfons, there-
fore, who undertake to be builders in the houfe of God,
and who have received no ikill or ability from the Mafter-


Ver.3. epistle to THE HEBREWS. 275

builder, or are negligent in their work, or corrupt it, or
dawb with untempcred mortar, or are any way unfaith-
ful ; whatever double or treble advantage they may obtain
of men in this world, they Ihall have nothing but fhamc
and confuiion of fa-ce from God in that which is to come.
Let thofe then who are indeed faithful in this work, be
fatisficd with the work itfelf. It will prove in the end
to have been a good revenue, a blefled inheritance : add
Ibut that reward which the Lord Chrift brings with him,
to the reward of honour that is in tht work itfelf, and it
will be abundantly fatisfactory^ We difhonour our
Mafter, and raanifcll that we underfland not the nature
of our work, when we are folicitous about any other re-
compcnce. And this will ferve to flrengthen fuch per-
fons in all the oppofitions they meet, and all the difcou-
ragements they are encompafTed with, in the difcharge of
their duty. It is enough to give them an holy contempt
and fcorn of the worll that can befall them. And this
alfo may teach others their duty towards them, which for
the moil part they are unwilling to hear, and more un-
willing to pradife.

§ 8. Olf. 2. The Lord Chrifl is worthy of all glory
and honour, on account of his thus building his church,
the houfe of God.

(i.) He hath an ellential glory, the fame with that of
the Father, antecedent to his whole undertaking to build
the houfe of God. He and his Father m-e one ; [John x.
30.] before his humiliation he was * in the form of God,
* and counted it no robbery to be equal with God ;' [Phil,
ii. 6.] equal in dignity and glory, becaufe of the fame
nature^ which is the fountain of all divine glory and
honour. But this is not the glory intended. Had this
houfe never been built, yet he would have been thus glo-
rious to eternity.

(2.) There is in Ciiriil the glory and honour of the
human nature^ as glorified after its obedience and fuffering.
This nature was rendered glorious by virtue of its union
with the Son of God from his incarnation, as cxprefTed
by the angel, [Luke i. 35.] Neither is this abfolutely

N n 2 cou-


confidcrcd, the glory and honour here intended : for the
glory \vc arc now invcfligating, is not merely that which
he hath in h'tmfclf^ but that which is due to hiai from,
and given hini by the church. Therefore,

(3.) Chrift is honourable and glorioois in his exaltation,
as the head of the church. Hereby is he the * lirft born
* of every creature,' or Lord and heir of the whole crea-
tion. And which retidcrs this exaltation realonablc, is
taken from the dignity of his perfon abfolutely confidercd,
and the infinitenefs of his power. Hence the equity, that,
having fulfilled the work alligned him, Jie Ihould enjoy
the matchkfs glory here afcribcd to him. — This requires
further explication, and to this purpolc let us inquire,

1. What is this glory of Chrill:, with rcfpeft to the
church built bv him, and the formal rcafon of it ^

2. What is the great motive whereby we are engaged
and obliged to give him this glory.

§ 9. ( I.) What this glory or honour of Chrill: is with
refpe£lto the church, or the houfe built by hini; and the
formal reafon of it ? And this may be confidercd briefly,
in rcfpcd of the collation of it upon him — its nature —
and its formal reafon.

I. This glory of Chrifl as the builder of the church is
conferred upon him — by the will and aflual donation of the
Father ; * He railed him from the dead and gave him
glory,' [I. Pcl. i. 21.] it was his will, that glory and ho-
nour fliould be afcribed to him ; for fo he fpeaks con-
cerning the whole intelligent creation. As for angeli ; he
faith, * Let all the angels of God worfliip him,' [chap. i.
6.] and for man ; * The Father hath committed all judge-
' ment unto the Son, that all men fliould honour the Son,
* even as they honour the Father, [John v. 22, 23.] So

Online LibraryJohn OwenAn exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews; with the preliminary exercitations (Volume 2) → online text (page 24 of 46)