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

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fpring ot* all our dar.gers in the couifc of our profefiion
continually in our eye. Here it lies, the root of it is here
laid open; and if it be not continually watched againll,
all other endeavours to preferve ourfelves blamelcfs to the
end will be in vain.

§ 12. Obf. 4. The malignity and venom of fm, is apt
to hide itfelf under many, and even under any pretences.
The fubtillty and deceit of lufl doth fiill ftrivc to conceal
the true and proper natmc of fin whcfeunto it cnticcth, or
is enticed. When Naaman the Syrian would, notwith-
flanding his condition, abide in his idolatry, bccaufe of
his fccular advantage, it is but a going with his mailer into
the houfc of Rimmon, and bowing there; not that he
intended to have any other God, but the God of Ifrael.
[II. Kings V. 18.] Hence modern men of honour fay,
that if any one kill another, not with an intention to kill
him, but to vindicate his honour, it is no fin, or at leall
no great fin, or much to be regarded. And what is this
but direcllv to comply with tlie dcceitfulncfs of lln ? For
none furclv is fo flagitioufly wicked as to make the formal
nature of lii\ their objc£l and profefled end ; nor, it may
be, is human nature capable of fuch exorbitancy ; but iViU
fome other end is propofed by a corrupt defign and incita-
tion of the mind, which is blind to its wickcdnefs.

§ 13. Obf. 5. The beft way to adminiftcr to the foul
an antidote againfl fm, is to rcprcfcnt it to the mind in its
true nature and tendency. I'he hiding of thcfc was the
way whereby fm firll: entered into the world; thereby did
Satan draw our iiril parents into their tranfgreffion ; hiding
from them the nature and end of tlicir fin, he cnfnarcd and
1 fcduccd

Ver.i2. epistle to the HEBREWS. 36-

feduccd them. In the fame way and method doth he {lill
proceed. This caufed our apoille here to rend off the co-
verings and vain pretences which the Hebrews were ready
to put upon their fin of relinquifliing the gofpel; he pre-
fents it here naked to them as a fatal defe£tion and apof-
tacy from the living God ; and therein gives them alfo to
underfland its end, which was no other but the calling of
themfelves into his revenging hand to eternity. If the
mind keep up itfelf to the true notion of the nature and
end of fm, through the flrength of grace its temptation
will probably be evaded and difappointed. So it wjis with
Jofeph ; various fuggeflions he had made to him, but he
keeps his mind fixed on that, ' How can I do this great
' wickednefs and fin againft God ?' which preferved and
delivered him, [Gen. xxxix. 9.] But if the mind be
prevailed with to admit of thofe reprcfcntatmis of fin,
which are made to it in temptations, fin in the perpetra-
tion of it will enfue ; and this will be our wifdom, that
we always keep our minds pofiefied with a due fenfe of the
nature and end of fin.

§ 14. Obf. 6. Whoever departs from the obfervation
of the gofpel and the inftitutions thereof, doth in fo do-
ing depart from the living God ; or, an apoflate from the
gofpel is an abfolute apofiiate from God. Men think it
almoft a matter of no account to play wnth gofpel inflitu-
tlons at their pleafure ; they can obferve or omit them, as
feems good to themfelves; but (i.) in their fo doing the
authority of God over their fouls and confciences is utterly
rejefted, and fo confequently is God himfelf ; for where
his authority is not owned, his being is defpifed. Now
there are various ways whereby God puts forth and mani-
fcfts his authority over men, but all of them are recapitu-
lated in the gofpel ; the Father judgeth no man, but hath
committed all judgement to the Son, [John v. 22.] Now
Chrift exercifeth'his power and authority principally by
the gofpel, which is the rod of his power; [Pfal. ex. 2.]
and if this be rcjcftcd, the whole authority of God is ut-
terly cafl off. This therefore is done by all who reje£l,
rclinquilh, or defpife the gofpel; they forfake God him-


felf, tlic Irving God ; for God is not owned where his
monarchy) is not owned. Let men deal lo with their rulers,
and try how it will be interpreted ; let thcin pretend tiiey
acknowledge them, bat rejcdl the only way, all the ways
thev have for the cxerclfe of their authority, and it will
tloubtlefs be eileemed a revolt from them.

(2.) There is no other way or means whereby men may
yield obedience or '■jjorjh'ip to God, but by the gofpel ; and
fo no other way whereby men may exprefs their lubjcctioii
to him, or dependence upon him: and where this is not
done, he is necelTarily forfaken. Whatever men may
pretend as to the worlhip of God, if it be not in the
name of Chrift, if it be not appointed in the gofpcl, it is
not performed to the living God, but to an idol of their
own hearts ; for the only true God is the God and Fa-
ther of our Lord Jefus Chrift. And therefore by what
aft or ads foever men may defign to give honour to God,
and to own their dependence on him, if it be not done in
Chrill according to the gofpcl, it is all an abomination
to him.

(3.) There is no other way whereby we may obtain the
Icaft encouraging intimation of the favour or good will of
God towards us ; no way wiiereby his grace may be adu-
red to us but this only. And where there is not a fufficient
ground of that, no man can abide with God in a due
manner. If men have not a liable foundation to appre-
hend God to be good and gracious, and luilung to receive
them, they will no ot'nerwife refpcft orefLCcm him, but as
the poor Indians do the devil, whom they worfliip that he
may do them no harm.

(4.) There is no other way wherein we may look for
a reward from God, or hope to come to the enjoyment ot
him, but only by the gofpel. And tiiis alio is nccclliiry
that wc may honour him as God, as * the living God.*
This is the end for winch we were made, and if wc leave
the purfuit of it, we call off all regard to Ciod. And this
will ilifcover the great multitude of praclioal atlKifts that
arc in the world. Many thei-c are who have been edu-
cated in gofpel principles, and fome who have been brought


Veii.13. epistle TO THE HEBREWS. 367

under great convi£lion, who yet, by the power of their
lufls and temptations, come to renounce and defpife all
the inflitutions, ordinances, and worfhip of the gofpel ;
and confequently the author of it himfelf : for it is a vain
thing to pretend love or honour to Chrift, and not to
keep his commandments. They would not however be
reckoned among Athcifls, for they flill acknowledge the
one God ; but herein they induftriouily deceive their own
fouls. Then they forfake the living God, when they
forfake the gofpel of his Son. And let us all know what
reverence becomes us in the things of the gofpel ; God is
in them, even the living God ; his name, his authority,
bis grace, is enftamped on them all.

Verse 13.

but exhort one another daily, while it is
called to-day; lest any of you be har-
dened through the deceitfulness of sin.

§ I, 2. (T.) T^he words explained. The duty to exhort. § 3.
The feafon and mayiner. § 4. The limitation of the fcafon.
§ 5. The perfons concerned. § 6, 7. (II.) Ohfervation.
Mutual exhortation^ an eminent jncans to prevent the de*
hful zvorkings of fn, § 8. Other oh fer vat loyu.


§ I . Iri ERE lies one means of preventing the evil men-
tioned in the foregoing verfe ; and we have in it the duty
itfelf — the manner and feafon of its performance — with
a limitation of that feafon — and a fpecial enforcement
from the dangers of its neglcdt, as we fliall fee in our
opening of the words. We ihall therefore,

Fhjl., Explain thefe particulars included in the verfe ;

Vol. IE B b b. Secondl^^


Secon^ly^ Raife fomc profitable obfcrvations from them.

§ 2. (I.) The duty intended is expreffcd in the firfl
word (7ra^a,KocXc'i]s) ; the firil: and principal fignification
of which is to exhott^ to cicjhc^ to call in, and fo it is al-
moft conflantly ufed in CTfcck authors ; and Jccondarily^
only ' to comfort.* Bat there is a near affinity between
thefe things ; for the way of adminiflcring confolation is
by exhortation, [I. Thef. iv. i8.] ' Comfort you one another
' with thefc words,' (TrctouKc^Kcilc u}0^:/i7 .ag) that is, ex-
horting and perfuading one another by thefe words, ad-
minilkr to each other mutual confolation. And all ex-
hortation ought to be only by confolatory words and way??,
to rcnJer it acceptable and fo effe^lual. So it is obferved
of Barnabas, who was a fon of confolation, that he had
alfo a great excellency in exhorting. [Ads ii. 2^, 24.]

* When Barnabas come and had fcen the grace of God, he
' exhorted them all, that witbpurpofc of heart they would

* cleave to the Lord ; for he was a good man and full of
' the Holy Ghoft and of faith.* The word intimates a
XQVf prevalent v.'ay of exhorting in Barnabas; and that be-
caufe he was {o'.vYip o^yoc^cg) ' a good man \ not in the or^
dinary fenfc, a holy, juft man, but one that was bejiign,
kind, co'ndefcending ; apt to comfort and refrefli. The
Greek term, (77o:,'^ocyM.7\{iv) * to exhort,' therefore, is to
perfuade with good, meek, and comfortable words, upon
grounds of confolation, and to the end that men may be
comforted. This i^ incumbent on fome by virtue of
office, [Rom. viii. 12.] 'he that exhorteth, on cxlior-

* tation,' as well as on all believers.

^ 3. The fcafon of the performance of this duty is ad^
joined, which includeth alfo the manjicr of it : {yM,^ -yjx,-
^7fj y^u/zuovj) Dally y fay we, or cz'er\ day. A day is often
taken for a feafon ; and to do a tiling * daily,' is to do it
in its feafon ; and moreover to tlo it feduloudy and heed-
fully. Two things arc plainly intended ; /;>/?, a con-
flant readinefs of mind, inclining, inducing, and prepa-
ring any one for the Jifchargc of this duty; Secondly, an
ai^ual dilchargc of it on all juft occafions, which are to
be watched foi and willingly embiaced. And this the



Hebrews now ilood in fpccial need of, becaufe of the
inanifoM temptations and feduclions wherewith they were

§ 4. Hereunto is added a limitation of the fcafon of
this duty as to its continuance, * whihl: it is called to-
* day;' that is, be fedulous in tlie difcharge of this dutv%
whilil xX.Q, fcafon of it continues. The apoftle now gives
the Hebrews to underftand, that the great day, or promifcd
feafon, iliadowed to their forefathers, was now really and
actually come upon them. It was juftly called * to-day,*
with them whilil: they enjoyed the gofpei ; for the apoille
faw that their feafon was almoll ready to expire ; and,
indeed, it continued but a few years after the waiting of
this epiUle. This he fecretly minds them of, and withal
exhorts them to improve their prefent advantages, efpcci-
ally in the difcharge of the great duty of mutual exhorta-
tion, that (o they might prevent the great evil of depart-
ing from the living God, and, as tending thereunto, the
hardening of their hearts through the deceitfuinefs of fin.

§ 5. Wc have next xht pcrfons concerned, (Tig Ip uu^>)
any of you \ any one that is of your fociety, engaged in
the fame profeffion, and partaker of the fame privileges.
Herein, we fee, the apoflle extends his diredion to mutual
watchfulncfs and exhortation unto ally even the meaneli
of the church. Again ; the fpnng or caufe of the evil to
be feared from the intimidated negle£l is fin, (uu^c/Sj lck.)
a general name for all or any fin ; our apoftle conftantly
ufcth it to cxprefs original fin, the fin of our nature, the
root on which all other fins grow, which is here intend-
ed ; the fin that by nature dwelleth in us, that is, prefent
with us, when we would do good, to hinder us ; and is
continually working to put forth \U venomous nature in
a<Slual tranfgrelTions. This he calls elfewhere, a * root of
* bitternefs,' that fprings up to defilement, [chap. xii.
15.] Moreover, the ways and means, whereby this fin
workcth, is by deceit, (rn c^ttuJ}! Tv^g u^c^pl^iccg.) The
word {uTToPiYi) here rendered * deceit,' fignifies both the
faculty of deceiving, the artifice ufed in deceiving, and
adual deceit, oj: deceiving itfelf. The evil itfelf particu-

B b b 2 hrly


larly cantloncd againft is exprcircd in tliat word, (crx?./;-
pv'A^i) * flioulcl be hardoied \' of the (cnic and import of
which \vc have fpoken fully on the foregoing verfcs.

§ 6. (II.) Ohf. I. Sedulous mutual exhortation is an
fmincnt means to prevent the deceitful workings of iin.
There are many praiftical duties ntgk£led bccaufe they arc
not underftood, and they are not undcrflood, becaufc
they are fuppofcd to have no dilhculty in them. High
notions, curious fpeculations, with knotty controverfies,
,arc thought to dci'crvc men's ntmoil: diligence in their
fearch and examination ; but for thcfc prai/ical duties it
is generally fuppofcd that they are known fufficiently at a
word's fpeaking, if they were but pra(5\ifed accordingly.
Yet it will be found that the great wifdom of faith con-
lilb in a fpiritual acquaintance with the true nature of
thefe duties ; which indeed are therefore praftically neg-
le<^ed, bccaufe they are not do£lrinally underftood. The
duty of conllant exhortation, that is, of perfuading the
fouls of men to conflancy and growth in faith and obe-
dience, to watchfulncfs and diligence againfl the deceit-
fulnefs of fm, from the word of truth, in the name and
authority of Chrifl, is the moll important part of the
minijhiial office. But there is alfo an exhortation, which
is mutual among believers, founded in their common in-
tereft, and proceeding from fpecial love wrought in them
by the fpirit of Chrill, and required in them by the h\T
of Chrill.

§ 7. This is the duty immediately intended, and to
the right performance of it, the following things ap-
pertain :

I. Thar they who arc engaged in it, find in thcmfclvcs
an cfpcclal coyicernmoit in the perfons with whom, and the
things about which they treat in their exhortations. It
will not admit of that pragmatical curiofitv which leads
men to intcrpofc tliemfcl-vcs in matters wherein they arc
no way concerned. If men find not thcmfclvcs concern-
ed in the glory of God, and their hearts moved with
compalTion towards the fouls of men, whether they arc in
church office or not, it will be their wifdom to abftain
I fro in

from tins work, as that which they are no way fitted to

"^'^t^Tfpecial wan-anty for the particular exercife of this
duty" is required of us. Now this arifeth from a due co-
incidence of rule andcircumftances ; add to the nght rule
a due confideration of circumftances relating to tunes,
feafons, perfons, and occafions, and it will rat.ty the
warranty intended. , ,.,.

o Special wifdom, underftandmg, and abihty are re-
nuired It is an eafv thing to fpoil the beft duty in the
lanner of its performance, and efpecially a defea in fp.n-
tual ikiU • for if men have not a found judgement and
underftanding of the matter about which this mutual ex-
hortation is to be exercifed, and of the way whereby it .s
to be managed, they may do well to leave it to them who
are better qualified to fpeak a word in feafon I mean as
to the folema difcharge of it; otherwife occafional mutual
encouragements to faith and obedience are the common
and conftant duties of all behevers.

4 That it be done with words of truth. It is truth
alone that in things of this nature is attended with autho-
rity and good effea ; for if there be any failure in this
foundation, the whole fuperftruaure will fink ot itfelf.

c That it may be managed, unlcfs peculiar circum-
ftances require fome variation, with good and comfortabh
words, words of confolation and encouragement. The
word here ufed, as hath been fliewcd, fignihes to comjort,
as well as to exhort. Morofe, feverc expreffions become
not this duty ; but fuch as wifdom will draw out from
love, care, tendcrnefs, compaffion, and the like compliant
affedions. Thefe open and foften the heart and make the
entrance into it fmooth and cafy.

6 That it be carefully and diligently accompanied with
a fultable example in the pradice of the perfons exhorting.
An obfervation of the contrary will quickly huftratc the
wei<^htiefl: words that look anotlier way. ChrilUan ex-
horution is nothing but an encouragement given to others
to walk with us, or after us, in the ways of God ; 'Be
• followers of me,' faith our apolUe, ' as 1 am of Chnft

^ 8. 10


^ 8. To the aliove more general obfcrvations, wc may
add the following ones:

1. Golpel duties have an cfpccial efficacy attending
them in ihcir fpccial feafons. ' Whilil it is called to-day.*
Every thing hath its beauty, order, and efficacy from its
proper feafon. Again,

2. We have but an tnicertain feafon for the due perfor-
mance of moft certain duties. How long it will be called
* to-dav/ we know^ not; the day of our lives is uncer-
tain; fo is the day of the gofpel, as alfo of our opportu-
nities ; the prefetit feafon alone is ours ; and for the inoft
part, we ntcd. no other reafon to prove any time to be a
feafon for duty, but becaufe it \spycfcnt.

3. The deceit which is in fin, and "which is infcparablc
from it, tends continually to harden the heart. This is
principally taught us in thcfc words, and is a truth of great

Verse 14.


^ I — 3. (I.) 7he words explained. § 4. (11.) Ohfirva-
tions, I . Utncn ivitb Chr'iJ} is the pnridple and meofure of
all fpirilual enjoyments and expc Nations. § 5- ^^ Stedfaji^
ncfs in believing is the great evidence of union with Chn/?.
§6, 7. Onr yub/iyien'ce in ChriJ? maintained to the endy a
maiter of great endeavour and diligence,

§ i.l N thcfe words the apofllc lets us know, that all
our intcrcft in Chritl, and all the benefits wc cxpea or
may be made partakers of by him, depend upon our an-
fwcring his exhortation to conftancy and pcrlcveiancc in


Ver.14. epistle to THE HEBREWS. 373

o\ir profefTion. And moreover, that v;-hcreas men are apt
to wax weary and faint, or to grow flothful in the courfc
of their profcllion, fometimes fo foou almoft as they
entered upon it, unlefs they continue the fame diligence
and earneftnefs of endeavours as at the firft, fo as to abide
lledfaft to the end, they would have no benefit either by
Chrill: or the gofpel, but rather fail affurcdly under that
indignation of God which he had newly warned them of.

§ 2. (II.) ' We are made partakers of Chrift,' (y^yo-
ya-u.^y) * Wc haz'e been made ;' a prefent Hate is here
denoted, that which is already wrought ; and indeed the
due coniideration of this word doth rightly Hate the rela-
tion of the feveral parts of the paiTage. * We are made

* partakers of Chrift, if we hold faft the beginning of our

* confidence,' that is, thereby are we fo interpretatively
and declaratively. Our perfeverance is enjoined as an
fviclcnce of our participation of Chrift ; that whereby it
may be tried whether it be true and genuine, which if it
be, it will be producing this efFe6l. As James requires
that we Ihould try or evidence, and manifeft our faith by
our works, of what fort it is. We are made (u^fjoyoi
Xpi(flii) ' partakers of Chrift ' Moft expofitors fuppofe
the name * Chrift' to be here taken metonymically, for
the benefits of his mediation, in grace here, and right to
future bleftednefs ; fome fuppofe it to be only an expref-
fion of being a difciple of Chrift, and fo really to belong
to him ; but the true and precife import of the words may
be learned from the apoftle himfelf, in his ufe of thole of
a fimilar fignification, with reference to Chrift himfclf.
[Chap. ii. 14.] ' Bccaufe the children were partakers of

* flefh and blood ;' he was partaker of us, how ? By tak-
ing f.efh and blood, that is, entire human nature. How
then are we partakers of Chrift ? It is by our having an
intereft in his nature^ by the communication of his Spirit,
as he had in ours by the alTumption ofourflcfli. He
and wc are made one ; he the head, wc the body ; co-
heirs and incorporated with iiim. We are ' one body

* with him, as he fneaks, of his fleih and bones.' * If

' we


* wc hold the beginning of our confidence flcdfaft unto

* tlie end.'

§ 3. Some by (Tip «pv'';V 7>jf VTrogarrcC^jg) the phrafc
here rendered, ' the beginning of our confidence,' under-
Hand the gofpcl; feme fu'ith^ fome hope^ fome ioufiJcmc,
fomc Ch:ji hiiufelf , but there feems yet to nie another
more genuine fcnfe of tl)C words fuitcd to the fcopc of
the place, and dcfign of the apoille, witiiout wrefting it
from its native fignification. We have lliewcd, tliat our
partaking of Chriil is our being united to him, and the
(vnogoioig) hypoAafis, which on that union we are bound
to prefcrve and maintain, is our fubfijloice in Chrift, our
abiding in him, as the branches in the vine ; fo t!ie word
very properly iignifies, and fo is it here emphatically ufed.
(T;;"-' ^PX'^/) ' the beginning,' is plainly here an adjunct
of our fubliflence in Chrill : the beginning of our en-
g.-'.gemcnts to Chrift is for the moft part accompanied
with much love, and other choice affections, refolution
and courage, which, v.ithout great care and watchfulnefs,
we arc very ready to decay in, and fall from.

§ 4. (II.) Obf. I. Union with Chrill is the principle
and meafure of all fpiritual enjoyments and expeClations.
The apollle fums up all, both what we enjoy bv the gof-
pcl at prefcnt, and what expectation wc have of future
blciTedncfs, in this one phrafe, ' \\'e are partakers of
* Chrift.' The propriety of the obfervatlon will plainly
appear if we confider,

(i.) That this union is itfelf the flrjl truly favlng
mercy, /// the order of nature ; the firft vital grace we arc
made partakers of. And that which is the iirft of any
kind, is the meafure and rule of all that enfucs in that
kind. As is the root, fo are the branches and the fruit ;
they do not only follow the nature of it, but live upon
its fupplies. All our grace is but a participation ot the
root, and therein of tlu fatncfs of the olive tree; and wc
hear not tlie root, but the root bears us. [Rom. xi. 17,
iS.] Whatever precedes this, is not true faving grace ;
iind whaitver follows it proceeds from it : Chrift as fav-



ingly bellowed, is the fprlng and fountain of all grace
whatever. Now our union with Chrift, our participa-r
tuon of him, conlilts in the habitation of the fame fpirit
in him and us; and ti)e rirft work of tins fpirit bellowed,
upon us, is to form Chriil in us, whereby our union is
completed. God doth not firil create a fuul, giving it an
exillence of its own, without union with the body ; but
creates it /';/ and by its infufion : fo the fpirit doth not
firll: come to us, and aftcrivard quicken or fancStify us ;
but he doth this by his coming to us, and poiTefling our
hearts with Chriil. This the apoftle calls the * framing
* of Chrift in us,' [Gal. iv. 19.] He that is in Chrift
Jefus is a new creature, [U. Cor. v. 17.] and this is
Chrift in us the hope of glory, [Col, i. 27.]

(2.) It is the firji in digniiy \ it is the greateft, moft
honourable, and glorious of all graces we are made par-
takers of. The greateft humiliation of the Son of God
confifted in his taking upon him our nature ; and on the
contrary, our grace of union with Chrift, our participa-
tion of him and his nature, is our higheft exaltation.
He became poor for our fakes, by a participation of our
nature; that we through his poverty may be rich in a
participation of his nature. Being once made co-heirs
with Chrift, we are made heirs qf God, and have a right
to the whole inheritance ; and indeed what greater glory
or dignity can a poor {inner be exalted to, than to be
thus intimately and indillolubly united to the Son of

(3.) It is the firjl and principal grace, in refpe£l of can-
fality and efficacy. It is the caafe of all other graces that
we arc made partakers of; they are all communicated to
us by virtue of our union with Chrift, Hence is our
adoption, our juftification, our fan£lifIcation, our perfeve-
ranee, our fruitfulncfs, our refurre£lion, our glory.

§ 5. Obf. 2. Conftancy and ftcdfaftnefs in believing,
is the great touchftone and evidence of union with Chrift,

Online LibraryJohn OwenAn exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews; with the preliminary exercitations (Volume 2) → online text (page 33 of 46)