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

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able to produce this eficdt. But it is able to do it in its
own kind and })Iacc ; and is thence faid to be * able to favc

* our fouls,* [Jam. i. 21.] and 'able to build us up, and

* give us an inheritance amongft them that are faniftified,*
[A£>s XX. 32.] being alfo that immortal feed whereby wc
are begotten unto God, [I. Pet. i. 23.] By this means
doth God take away that natural blindnefs of men ;
opening their eyes and turning them from darkncfs to
light, [A<fls xxvi. iS.]] Ihining into their hearts to give
them the knowledge of his glory in the face of [ci'us Cliriil: \

2 ' [11. Cor,


[II. Cor. iv. 6.] as alfo quickening them who were dead
in trefpalTes and iins ; and thereby removes that hardnefs
which is a confequent of thefe things ; and God doth not
apply a means to any end which is unfuited to it, or in-
fufficient for it. Every one therefore, to whom the word
is duly revealed, and who is not converted to God, doth
voluntarily and obftinatcly oppofe its operation. Here lies
the great obftru6lion to the progrefs of the w^ord in its
efficacy upon the fouls of men. If they will add new ob-
flinacy and hardr.efs to their minds and hearts, if they
will fortify themfelves againfl the v/ord with prejudices
and difiike, if they will refill its operation through their
luds and corrupt alteftions, God mayy?//?/y leave them to
perilli, and to be filled with the fruit of their own ways.
And this flate of things is varioufly exprefTed in the fcrip-
t\xv^. As by God's wiUlngnefs for the falvation of thof«
to whom he grants his word, as the means of their con-
verfion ; [Ezek. xviii. 23. chap. xiii. 2. II. Pet. iii. 9.
I. Tim. ii. 4.] by his expofiulations w^ith them who rejetlt:
his word, calling all the blameable caufe of their deflru-c-
tion upon themfelves, [Matt, xxiii. 34.] Now as thefe
things cannot denote a decretive intention in God for
their converfion, fo they exprefs more than a mere pro-
pofal of the outward means which men are not able
favingly to receive and improve. There rs this alfo in
them, that God gives fuch an efficacy to thefe means,
as that their operation doth proceed on the minds and
fouls of men in their natural condition, until by fome
new a6l3 of their will, they harden themfelves againfl
them. And fo tlie gofpel is propofed to the zvUls of men,
[Ifa. Iv. I. Rev. xxii. 14.] Hence it is, that the mifcar-
ringe of men under the difpenfation of the word is iWM
cl>arged upon fome pofit'rje a flings of thslr wills ^ in oppo-
fition to it, [Ifa. xxx. 15". Matt, xxiii. 21. John iii. 10.
cliap. V. 40.] They pcrilh not, they defeat not the end
of the word towards them, by a mere continuance in the
flate wherein the word finds them, but- by reje^lyig the
co\infel of God made known to them for their healinj
and rccoverv. [Luks vii. -50.]

^ 2-.


§ 20. Ohf. 9. Many previous fins make way for the
great fin of finally rejedting the voice of God. The not
hearing the voice of God which is here reproved, is that
which is final, and which abfolutely cuta men off from
entering into the reft of God. Men come not to this
length without having their hearts hardened by depraved
lufts and affc£tions ; hardening of the heart goes before
final impenitcncy and infidelity, as the means and caufe
of it. Things do not ordinarily come to an imrmc/iate ifCac
between God and the hearers of his word : 1 fay ordinarily,
becaufe God may immediately cut off any perfon upon
the firft refuted tender of the gofpcl, and it may be, he
deals with fo many, but ordinarily he exercilcth much
paitience towards men in this condition. He finds them
in a ftate of nature, that is, of enmity againll: him. In
tliis ftate he oftcrs them terms of peace, and waits thereon
during the feafon of his good pleafurc, to fee what the
event will be. Many in the meantime attend to their
lufts and temptations, and fo contraft an obdurate fenle-
lefTnefs upon their hearts and minds, which fortifving thcni
againft the calls of God, prepares them for final impc-

§ 21. Ohf. 10. Old Teftamcnt examples are New Tef-
tament inftru6\ions. Our apoftlc elfevvherc reckoning
fundry inftances of what fell out among the people of
old, affirms of them, [Cor. x. 11.] * All thefe things
• befell them as types.'* 1l\\c Jews have a faying ; *' W'hat-
cver happencth to the fathers, is a fign or an example to
the children," with which agrees the Latin adage ; Dif-
c'tpulus ejl pr'iorii pojierior dies . *' Tlic following day Is to
Jearn of the former." l^xperience is the greatcft advan-
tage for wifdom. But there is more in this matter ; the
will and appointment of Ciod is in it. All the times of
the Old Tcftament, and v/hat fell out ii^ them, arc in-
ftrui^ivc of the times and days of the New ; not only
the words, do<^rines, and prophecies, but the a^lions, do-
ings, and fulrcrings of the j)e()plc are for the fame purpofe.
'J'hcy bctcll them, tliut God in them miglit rcprcfcnt to
•ws, what we arc to cxpc(5\. if we tianfgrefs in like man-


ner. They and their a£lions were our types. [Tviroq]
a type, hath many figiiifications ; in this connediou it
fignifies a rude and imperte£l expreffion of any thing, in
order to a full, clear, and exa6l declaration of it.
Now thcfe types and examples were of three forts:
(i.) Such as were direftly inftituted and appointed for
this end, That they fhould fignify and reprefent fome^
thing in particular in the Lord Jefus Chriil: and his king-
dom. Their then, prefent ufe did not comprehend their
principal end. And herein do types ^lIxA facramcnts differ.
The latter have no ufe but what refpefts their fpiritual
end and fignilication ; (we do not baptize any to zva/h the
body, nor give them the facred fupper to notai/Jj it) but
the former had their ufe in temporal things, as well as
their iignification of things, fpiritual. Now thefe types,
which had a folemn, dire£t, flated inflitution, were either
per f oris or things,

(2.) Such as had only a providential ordination to that
purpofe ; things or anions that occafionally fell out, and
fo were not capable of a folemn inflitution j but were fo
guided by divine Providence, as that they might prefigure
fome future event. Some of thefe have received an ex-
prefs particular application by the Holy Ghofl in the New
Teflament ; and the infallible application of the one to
the other is not the leafl part of thofe teaching examples
which are recorded in the Old Teilament. They are all
written for our fakes-

(3.) Such as are meet to illuflrate prefent things, from
a proportion o'i fnnilitude between them. And thus where
a place of fcripture treats diredly of one thing, it may in
the interpretation of it be applied to illuflrate another which
hath fome likenefs to it.

§ 22. Now in thefe allegorical expoftlons or applications,
fundry things are wifely and diligently to be .confidcred.
Such as, that there be a due proportion between the
things compared — that there be a dejtgned fignificaticn in
them — and that the firft original fenfe of the words be
facredly obferved. I have added thefe things, becaufe I
iind many very ready to allegorize upon the fcripture with-

VoL. II. S s out


out any clue confldcratioii of the analogy of faith, or the
proportion of the things compared, or of the firfl ge-
nuine fenfc of the word they make ufe of. This is plainly
to corrupt the zvord of God \ and however they who make
life of fuch perverted allufions of things, may pleafe the
fancies of fome pcrfons, they render both themfelvcs and
their fervices contemptible to the judicious. But, in general^
all things in the Old Tellament, both what was fpoken
aiid what was done, hath an efpecial reference to the
Lord Jefus Chrifl and the gofpel ; and therefore in fe-
veral ways we may receive infiruflion from them. As
their inflitutions are our initrudlions more than theirs,
and we fee more of the mind of God in them than thev
did ; fo their mercies are our encouragement, and their
punifhments our examples. And this proceedeth from
the way that God in infinite v/ifdom had allotted to the
opening and unfolding of the myflery of his love, and
the difpcnfation of the covenant of grace. The way
whereby God was plcaftd to manifcil the counfels of his
will in this matter, was gradual, until the fulnefs of time
came, and all things were completed in Chrift. More-
over : This is part of that privilege which God had re-
ferved for that church wliicli was to be ere6led immedi-
ately by his Son. God had ' provided fome better thing
• for us, that they without us fliould not be made perfe6\,'
[^Heb. xi. 40.] Neither themfelvcs, nor any thing that
befell them, was perfctl without us. It had not in them
its full end, nor its full ufe, being ordained in the coun-
fcl of God for our benefit. This privilege did God re-
ferve for the New Teflamcnt church, that as it fhould
enjoy that perfect revelation of his will in Chrift, wliich
the'Old Teftament church received not : fo what was then
revealed had not its perftf^ end and ufe, until it was
brought over to this alfo. See hence what ufe wc are to
make of the fcriptures of the Old Teftament. They arc
all ours with all their inftrudtive contents. The fins of
the people are recorded for our warning ; their obedience
for our cx.'.mple, and God's denling with them on the
account of the one and the other, fur our d Predion ?.ni



encouragement in believing. Confidcr alfo what is ex-
pe6led from us above thcin who believed under the Old
Teftamcnt. Where much is given, much is required.
Now we have not only the fuperadded helps of golpel
light, but alfo whatever means or advantages they had,
are made over to us ) a, their very fins and punifliment
are our inilru£lion As God in his grace and wifdom
hath granted us more light and advantage than he granted
them, fo in his righteoufncfs he experts from us more
fruits of holinefs to his praifc and glory,

§ 23. Obf. II. Special feafons of grace and obedience
are in an efpecial manner to be obfervcd and improved.
For this end are they given and made fpccial, that they
may be peculiarly improved. God doth nothing in vain ;
leafl of all in the things of grace, of the gofpel, and of
the kingdom of his Son. When he gives a fpecial day,
it is for fpecial work. * To-day if ye will hear his voice,'
fuch a day or feafon confiib in a concurrence of fundry
things :

( \.^) In a peculiar difpenfation of the means of
'^race : there are fometimes fpecial effcds of providence^ of
divine wifdom and power, making way for it, bringing
it in, or preferving it in the world. The * day ' mention-
ed in the text was that which the people enjoyed in the
wildernefs, when the worlhip of God was firft revealed
to them and eilabliflied amongfl them ; this made that
time their fpecial day and feafon. The like works for
the like purpofc at any time will conftitute the like feafon.
When God is pleafed to make his arm bare in behalf of
the gofpel ; when his power an4 wifdom are made con-
fpicuous in various inftances far its introduction into any
place, or the continuance of its preaching againft oppo-
sitions, then doth he give a * fpecial day,' or feafon to
them who enjoy it.

Again: When there are cmineyit communications of the
gifts of the Holy Ghoft to thofe by whom the myfleries
of the gofpel are to be difpenfed ; and that either as to the
ln:reafe of their number, or of their abilities, with rea-
vJinefs for, and diligence in their work. When God thus

S. s :• give^.


gives the word, ' great is the army of them that pvbllfli

* It :' tor the church in its work and order is (r^^hi 1:3)

* as bannered ones,' that is, as bannered armies, * armies
'with banners,' (Cant. vi. 10.; Such was the ' day '
that our apoflle calls the Hebrews to confider. It was
not long after the afcenfion of Chrifl, when the gifts of
the Spirit were poured out upon the multitudes of all forts,
as was foretold, (A^s ii. 18.) ' This is that which was

* fpoken by the prophet : And it fliall come to pais in

* the lall days (faith God) I will pour out my Spirit upon
' all ticfh ; and your fons and your daughters Ihall pro-

* phcfy, and your young men fball fee vifions, and your

* old men fhall dream dreams : and on my fervants and on
' my handmaids I will pour out in thofe days of mv Spirit

* and they fhall prophefy.' The exU^t of \he communi-
cation of the Spirit at that feafon is emphatically ex-
prclled in thofe words, ' I will ppur out my Spirit upon

* all fiefh/ As the aft of pourhig denotes abundance,
plenty, freedom, largenefs ; fo the ohjr^ ' all flefh' iignifies
the extent of it to all forts of pcrfons. And when God
is plcafed to give, or * pour out' of the gifts of his Spirit;
upon many, for the declaration and preaching of the
word of truth, then doth he conftitute fuch a fp° cial day
or feafon.

(2.) ^Vhcn God is plcafed to give fignal providential
iL'arnnigs to awaken and ftir up men to confider or attend
to his word and ordinances, fuch a feafon becomes a

* fpecial day.' For the end of extraordinary providences
i^ to prepare men for receiving the word, or to warn them
of impending judgements for the contempt of it. This
confpicuous mark did God put upon the feafon refpeded
by the apoftle in the padhge before cited. For to the
mention of the pouring of the Spirit, that of y7-;/,r and
jurlgemcnts is adjoined, [Ads ii. 19,20.] * And I will

* fhcw wonders in heaven above, and flgns on the cartli

* beneath, blood, and fire, and vapours of fmoak : the

* fun fhall be turqed into darkncfs, and the moon into

* blood, before the great and notable day of the Lord come.'
"1 he things here fpoken of, were thofe figns, prodigies.



and judgement which God fhewed the Jews before the
deftru6lion of Jerufalcm, as foretold by our Lord, [Matt,
xxiv.] And what was the end of them ? It was evidently-
to put ^ lignal mark upon the day and feafon of grace
which was then granted that people. For fo it is added,
[v. 21]' And it fhall come to pafs that whofoever Ihali

* call upon the name of the Lord fhall be faved ;' that is,
whofoever fhall make ufe of thefe warnings by figns and
wonders, fliall be faved ; when others that are negligent,
Rebellious, and difobedient, fhall utterly perifh.

(3.) When it is a feafon of the accompli/Jmient of pro^
phccies and promifes for effeding fome great work of God
in the outward flate of the church as to its worfliip.
The * day ' whereunto the application of thefe things is
ynade by the apoflle, was the feafon wherein God would
make that ^reat alteration in the whole worfliip of the
church, by the laft revelation of his mind and will * in

* the Son.' This was a day great and lignal. So alfo
when the time comes of the fulfilling of any fpecial pro-
phecy or prediction for the reformation of the church, it
conflitutes fuch a feafon. Something of this nature fcems
to be expreiTed, Rev. xiv. 6 — 8. * And I faw another

* angel fly in the midft of heaven, having the everlafling

* gofpel to preach unto them that dwelt on the earth, and

* to every nation and kindred and tongue and people; fay-

* ing with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him,

* for the hour of his judgement is come : and there fol-

* lowed another angel, faying, Babylon is fallen, that

* great city, bccaufe flie made all nations drink of the

* wine of the wrath of her fornication.' The time is
approaching wherein Babylon is to be deflroyed and the
church to be redeemed from under her tyranny, as alfo to
be freed from her pollution, and from drinking any more
of the cup of her fornication, wiiicli is the greatefl change
or alteration that the outward flate of it is capable of in
rhc world. The everlafling gofpel is to be preached with
fuch glory, bcautv, and efhcacy, as if it were delivered
from the midil of heaven ; and hereby men have an
ffpecial day of •cpcnrancc given them. And thus it is,

J ■ '" ■ alfo


alfo at fundry times, wherein tlic Lord deals with his
churches in one place or another, by v/ay oi preparation to
what ihah follow in his appointed time amongll them alL

§ 24. It is declared in the obler-jatiort^ that Inch a day
or Icafon is to be diligently mprovcd \ and the reafons

1. Bccaufe God c.xpc^.i it. He expcds that our ap-
plications to him in obedience Hiould anfwer his to ui
in care and tcnderncfs ; that when he is earnell in his
dealings with us, we fhould be diligent in our obfcrvancc
of him. Every circumftance he adds to his ordinary dif-
penfations is weighty : and in fuch a day there arc
many, fee Ifa. v. 12. * My wcU-bcloved hath a vineyar4

• (l!:r p Ipn) in an hern cf a Jon of oil \ planted in a fat

• and fruitful foil,' that is, furnilhed with all polhble
means to make it fruitful. And * he fenced it \ prote£t-
cd it by his providence from the incurfion of enemies ;

• and gathered out the flones thereof;' removed from it
whatever was hurtful ; it may be, the gods of wood and
ftone in an cfpccial manner out of the land ; * and

• planted it wiih the clioicell: vine \ in its order, ordi-
nances, and inftitutions of worlhip : and * built a tower

• in the midfl of it;' the flrong city of Jerufalem in the
midfl of tlie lan.d, which was built as * a city that is com-

• pa£t together, (all as one great tower) whither the

• tribes went up, the tribes of the Lord to the teftimony of

• Ifrael, [Pfal. cxxii. 34.] * and alfo made a wine prefs

• therein ,' the temple and altar continually running with
rhe blood of facrifices. * And he looked that it IhoulJ
'bring forth grapes j* his expectations anfwer his care
and difpenfations towards his church. Afcribed to him,
it only fignilics what is jujl and equal, and which in fuch
cafes ought to be, fuch a vineyard ought to bring forth
grapes anfwerabic to all the a£ts of God's care and grace
towards it.

2. Such a day is the feafon that is allotted us ioi f pedal
work and duty. So the apollle informs us, [II. Pet.
iii. 2.] • Seeing then that all thefc things Ihall be dilfolved,

• what manner of pcrfons ought wc to be in all holy con-


* verfatioii and godlinefs !' What manner of perfon wc
ought to ? Judge in youifelves and a.R accordingly.
Great light, great hohnefs, great reformation in hearts,
houfes, and churches arc expected in fuch a day. All
advantages of this feafon are to have their ufe and im-
provement, or we lofe the end of it. Every thing that
concurs to conftitute fuch a day, hath advantages in it to
promote fpecial work in us, and if we anfvver them not,
our time for it is irrecoverably lofl ; and what bitternefs
will this be in the end !

3. Every fuch day is a day of great trials. The Lord
Chrifl comes in it with his fan in his hand, to fift and try
the corn , * his fan is in his hand, and he will thorough-

* ly purge his floor, and gather in his wheat into his gar-

* ner, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable

* fire.' The fan of Chrift in his wofd ; and by the
preaching of it, he feparates the precious from the vile,
the wheat from the chaff. He comes into his floor, the
church, where there is a mixture of corn and chaff; he
fifts and winnows them by his word and fpirit, caflino- off
light, empty, and fruitlefs profeffors. Such a day is de-
fcribed by Daniel, [chap. xii. 10.] ' Many fhall be puri-

* lied, made white and tried, but the wicked fliall do

* wickedly ; and none of the wicked fliall underlland,

* but the wife fliall underftand.' Alany, that is, of the
faints, fhall be purified^ ( mnn^) purged, made clean from
fuch defilements as in their afeftions orconverfation thev
had contracted : and made white; fliall be whitened \n their
profeflion ; fhall be rendered more eminent, confpicuous,
and glorious; and tried, as in a furnace, that it may appear
what metal they are made of: but wicked and falfe pro-
feffors fhall be difcovered and fo far hardened, that they
fhall go on, and grow higli in their wickednefs to their
utter deflruftion. And therefore it concerns us heedfuily
to regard fuch a feafon ; for,

4. Unto whom fuch a day is loft, they alfo themfehes
are lofl:. It is God's lafl: deal-ng with them. If this be
negleCled, if this be dcfpifed, lie hath done with them.
He faith to them in it, * This is the acceptable time, this


* is the day of falvation.'' If this day pafs over, night
will come wherein men cannot work. So fpcaks our Sa-
viour concerning Jcrufalcm which then enjoyed that day,
but was on the point of utterly lofing it, [Luke xix. 41,
42.] ' And when lie was come near he beheld the city,
' and wept over it, faying, if thou hadft known, even thou,

* at leall in this thy dav, the things which belong to thy

* peace ; but now they arc hid from thine eves.* He
wepty which is but once more recorded of him in the
gofpcl, [John xi. 35.] and the word here ufcd, (syjMVcrc)
denotes a weeping with lamentation. A juft confidcration
of the mournful fuhje£l moved his lioly, tender, merciful
heart, to the decpell commifcration. He did it alfo for
our example ; that we may know how deplorable and mife-
rable a thing it is for a people, a city, a pcrfon to with-
Hand or lofe their day of grace. * If thou hadfl known,

* even thou :' the reduplication is very emphatically,

* thou, even Tiiou ;' thou ancient city, thou city of David,
thou feat of the temple and worOiip of the great God,
thou ancient habitation of the church ; * If thou hadfl

* known ;' or oh ! that thou hadit known ; * at leafl in

* this thy day.' They had enjoyed mzny fmaller days of
grace, many melfages or dealings of the prophets^ as our
Saviour reminds them, [Matt. xxi. 33 — 36.] Thefe they
defpifed, periecuted, rejc£led, and fo loft the feafon of
their preaching ; but they were days of lefs moment, and
not decretory of their Hate and condition. ' Another

* day' they were to have, which he calls * this their day ;*
the day fo long foretold and determined by Daniel the pro-
phet, wherein the Son of God was to come, and was
now aftualiy come amongll them ; and what did he treat
with them about? ' The things which belonged to their

* peace \ of repentance and reconciliation, the things
which might have given tlicm peace with God, and con-
tinued their peace in the world ; but they rcfufed tliefc
things, neglefled their dav, and fufFered it to pafs over
their heads unimprovctl. What was the ifTue of all this ?
God v/ould deal 110 more with them i the things of the^r



peace fhall now be hid from them, and themfelves be
left to deftrudlion ; for,

§ 25. When fuch a difpenfation is loft, when the
evening of fuch a day is come, and the work of it not

I, It may be God will bring wafting dcftrudliGyi upon
the perfons, churches, or people that have defpifed it. So
he dealt with Jerufalem, as it was foretold by our Saviour
in the place before mentioned, [Luke xix. 43, 44.] The
things of thy peace are now over and hid from thee. What
then fliall follow ? Why ' the days fliall come upon thee,
' that thine enemies fliall caft a trench about thee, and com-
' pafs thee around, and keep thee in on every fide ; and
' fhall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children

* within thee ; and they fhall not leave within thee one
' flone upon another, becaufe thou knewefl not the time of
' thy vilitation.' Becaufe thou haft not difcerned thy day,
nor regarded it, haft not anfwered the mind of God in it,
all this Ihall fpeedily befall thee. The fame hath been
the ilTue of many renowned churches ; the very places
where they were planted are utterly confamed. Tem-
poral judgements are oft times the liTue of defpifed fpiri-
tual mercies.

2.. God may, and fometimcs doth, leave fuch people,
churches, or perfons, as have withftood his dealings by-
way of grace, to poirefs their outward Jiatlon in the world,
and yet hide the things of their p^ace utterly from them^
by a removal of the means of grace. He can leave to
men their kingdoms in this world, and yet take away the
kingdom of heaven, and give it others. They may
dwell ftill in their houfes, but yet be in the dark, their
candleftick and the light of it being eonfumed together.
This is what God threatcncth, [IL Thef ii. 2 — 12.]

Online LibraryJohn OwenAn exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews; with the preliminary exercitations (Volume 2) → online text (page 28 of 46)