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of the grace of the gospel is great and deep, such as the angels de-
sire to bow down and look into, 1 Pet. i. 12; which the prophets of
old, notwithstanding the advantage of their own especial revela-
tions, inquired diligently after, verses 10, 11: whereas now, if any
pretend, though falsely, to a revelation, they have immediately done
with the word, as that which, by the deceit of their imagmations,
they think beneath them, when indeed it is only distant from them,
and is really above them; as if a man should stand on tiptoe on a
molehill, and despise the sun appearing newly above the horizon
as one beneath him. Diligent, sedulous searching into the word
belongs unto this heeding of it, Ps. i. 2; or a labouring by all ap-
pointed means to become acquainted with it, wise in the mystery
of it, and skilled in its doctrine. Without this, no man will hold
fast his profession. Nor doth any man neglect the gospel but he
that knows it not, 2 Cor. iv. 3, 4. This is the great principle of
apostasy in the world : — men have owned the gospel, but never


knew what it was; and therefore leave the profession of it foolishly,
as they took it up lightly. Studying of the word is the security of
our faith.

3. Mixing the word ^vith faith is required in this attention. See
Heb. iv. 2. As good not hear as not believe. Believing is the end
of hearing, Eom. x. 10, 11 ; and therefore Lydia's faith is culled her
attention, Acts xvi. 14. This is the life of heeding the word, with-
out which all other exercise about it is but a dead carcass. To hear
and not believe, is in the spiritual life what to see meat and not to
eat is in the natural ; it will j^lease the fancy, but will never nourish
the soul. Faith alone realizeth the things spoken unto the heart,
and gives them subsistence in it, Heb. xi. 1 ; without which, as to us,
th(iy flow up and down in loose and uncertain notions. This, then,
is tiie principal part of our duty in heeding the things spoken; for
it gives entrance to them into the soul, witliout which they are poured
upon it as water upon a stick that is fully dry.

4. Labouring to express the word received, in a conformity of
heart and lije unto it, is another part of this attention. This is the
next proper end of our hearing. And to do a thing appointed unto
an end without aiming at that end, is no better than the not doing
it at all, in some cases much worse. The apostle says of the Romans,
that they were cast into the mould of the doctrine of the gospel,
chap. vi. 17. It left upon their hearts an impression of its own like-
ness, or produced in them the express image of that holiness, puiity,
and wisdom which it revealeth. This is to behold with open face
the glory ot the Lord in a glass, and to be changed into the same
image, 2 Cor. iii. 18; that is, the image of the Lord Christ, mani-
fested unto us and reflected upon us by and in the glass of the
gospel. When the heart of the hearer is quickened, enlivened,
spirited with gospel truths, and by them is moulded and fashioned
into their likeness, and expresseth that likeness in its Iruits, or a
conversation becoming the gospel, then is the word attended unto
in a right manner. This will secure the word a station in our hearts,
and give it a permanent abode in us. This is the indwelling of the
word, whereof there are many degrees, and we ought to aim that it
should be plentifid.

5. Watchfxdness against all opposition that is made either against
the truth or power of the word in us belongs also unto this duty.
And as these oppositions are many, so ought this watchfulness to be
great and diligent. And these things have we added for the further
explication of the duty that is pressed on us by the apostle, the
necessity whereof, for the preservation of the truth in our hearts and
minds, will further appear in the ensuing observation.

II. There are sundry times and seasons wherein, and several ways
and means whereby, men are in danger to lose the word that they


have heard, if they attend not diligently unto its preservation.
Mri'Tron, " at any time/' or " by any way or means."
Tliis our Saviour teacheth us at larcie in the parable of T'l' ■rapccj).
the seed, which was retained but in one sort of ground
of those four whereinto it was cast, Matt. xiii. ; and this the expe-
rience of all times and ages confirmeth. Yea, few there are at any
time who keep the word heard as they ought. 1. We may briefly
name the seasons wherein and the ways whereby the hearts and
minds of men are made as leaking vessels, to pour out and lose the
"word that they have heard.

(1.) Some lose it in a time of jJ^ace and prosjjerity. That is a sea-
son which slays the foolish, Jeshurun waxes fat and kicks. Accord-
ing to men's pastures they are filled, and forget the Lord. They
feed their lusts high, until they loathe the word. Quails often make
a lean soul. A prosperous outward estate hath ruined many a con-
viction from the word; yea, and weakened faith and obedience in
many of the saints themselves. The warmth of prosperity breeds
swarms of apostates, as the heat of the sun doth insects in the spring.

(i.) Some lose it in a time of 'persecution. " AVhen persecution
ariseth," saith our Saviour, " they fall away." Many go on apace
in profession until they come to see the cross; this sight puts them
to a stand, and then turns them quite out of the way. They thought
not of it, and do not like it. We know what havoc this hath made
amongst professors in all ages; and commonly where it destroys the
bodies of ten, it destroys the souls of a hundred. This is the sea-
son wherein stars fall from the firmament ; in reference whereunto
innumerable are the precepts for watchfulness, wisdom, patience,
enduring, that are given us in the gospel.

(3.) Some lose it in a time of trial by temptation. It pleaseth God,
in his wisdom and grace, to suffer sometimes an " hour of temptation"
to come forth upon the world, and upon the church in the world, for
their trial. Rev. iii. 10. And he doth it that his own thereby may
be made conformable unto their head, Jesus Christ, who had his
especial hour of temptation. Now, in such a season temptation
worketh variously, according as men are exposed unto it, or as God
seeth meet that they should be tried by it. Every thing that such
days abound withal shall have in it the force of a temptation. And
the usual effect of this work is, that it brings professors into a slum-
ber, Matt. XXV. 5. In this state many utterly lose the word. They
have been cast into a negligent slumber hy the secret power and
efficacy of temptation ; and when they awake and look about them,
the w4iole power of the word is lost and departed from them. With
reference unto these and the like seasons it is that the apostle gives
us this caution, to " take heed lest at any time the v/ord which we
have heard do slip out."


2. The ways and means also whereby this wretched effect is pro-
duced are various, yea, innumerable. Some of them only I shall
mention, whereunto the rest may be reduced; as, (1.) Love of this
present world. This made Demas a leaking vessel, 2 Tim. iv. 10,
and chokes one fourth part of the seed of the parable, Matt. xiii.
Many might have been rich in grace, had they not made it their
end and business to be rich in this Avorld, 1 Tim. vi. 9. But this is
too well known, as well as too little regarded. (2.) Love of sin. A.
secret lust cherished in the heart will make it "plenum rimarum,"
" full of chinks,'' that it will never retain the showers of the word;
and it will assuredly open them as fast as convictions stop them,
(o.) False doctrines, errors, heresies, false worship, superstition, and
idolatries, will do the same. I place these things together, as tliose
which work in the same kind upon the curiosity, vanity, and dark-
ness of the minds of men. These break the vessel, and at once pour
out all the benefits of the word that ever were received. And many
the like instances might be given.

And this gives us the reason of the necessity of that heeding of the
word which we before insisted on. Without it, at one time or other,
by one means or other, we shall lose all the design of the word upon
our souls. That alone will preserve us, and carry us through the
course and difficulties of our profession. The duty mentioned, then,
is of no less concernment unto us than our souls, for without it we shall
perish. Let us not deceive ourselves; a slothful, negligent hearing
of the word will bring no man to life. The commands we have to
" watch, pray, strive, labour, and fight," are not in vain. The warn-
ings given us of the opposition that is made to our faith, by indwell-
ing sin, Satan, and the world, are not left on record for nothing; no
more are the sad examples which we have of many, who beginning
a good profession have utterly turned aside to sin and folly.

All these things, I say, teach us the necessity of the duty which
the apostle enjoineth, and which we have explained.

III. The word heard is not lost without the great sin as well as

the inevitable ruin of the souls of men. Lost it is when
n-roTi -rapxfi- -J. jg ^^^^ mixed with faith, when we receive it not in good

and honest hearts, when the end of it is not accom-
plished in us and towards us. And this befalls us not without our
sin, and woful neglect of duty. The word of its own nature is apt
to abide, to incorporate itself with us, and to take root; but we cast
it out, we pour it forth from us. And they have a woful account to
make on whose souls the guilt thereof shall be found at the last day.

IV. It is in the nature of the word of the gospel to water barren
hearts, and to make them fruitful unto God. Hence, as was showed,
is it compared to water, dew, and rain; which is the foundation
of the metaphorical expression here used. Where this word comes,


it makes " the parched ground a pool, and the thirsty land springs
of water," Isa. xxxv. 7. These are the waters of the sanctuary, that
heal the barren places of the earth, and make them fruitful, Ezek.
xlvii. ; the river that maketh glad the city of God, Ps xlvi. 4; that
river of living water that comes forth from the throne of God, Rev.
xxii. 1 . And the places and persons which are not healed or benefited
by these waters are left to barrenness and burning for evermore,
Ezek. xlvii. 11 ; Heb. vi, 8. With the dew hereof doth God water his
church every moment, Isa. xxvii. 3 ; and theu doth it " grow as a lily,
and cast forth its roots as Lebanon," Hos. xiv. 5-7. Abundant fruit-
fulness unto God follows a gracious receiving of this dew from him.
Blessed are they who have this dew distilling on them every morning,
who are watered as the garden of God, as a land that God careth for.

V. The consideration of the revelation of the gospel by the Son
of God is a powerful motive unto that diligent attend- , _
ance unto it which we have before described. This is
the inference that the apostle makes from the proposition that he
had made of the excellency of the Son of God : " Therefore."

And this is that which in the greatest part of the ensuing chapter
he doth pursue. This is that which God declares that he might so
justly expect and look for, namely, that when he sent his Son to
the vineyard, he should be regarded and attended unto.

And this is most reasonable upon many accounts: —

1. Because of the authority wherewith he spake the word. Others
spake and delivered tlieir message as servants; he as the Lord over
his own house, Heb. iii. 6. The Father himself gave him all his
authority for the revealing of his mind, and therelbre proclaimed
from heaven that if any one would have any thing to do with God,
they were to "hear him," Matt. xvii. 5; 2 Pet. i. 17. The whole
authority of God was with him ; for him did God the Father seal, or
he put the stamp of all his authority upon him ; and he spake ac-
cordingly, Matt. vii. 29. And therefore he spake both in his own
name and the name of his Father: so that this authority sprung
partly from the dignity of his person, — for being God and man,
though he spake on the earth, yet he who wa.'* the Son of man was
in heaven still, John iii. 13, and therefore is said to speak from
heaven, Heb, xii. 25, and coming from heaven was still above all,
John iii. 31, having power and authority over all, — and partly from
the commission that he had from his Father, which, as we said be-
fore, gave all authority into his hand, John v. 27. Being then in
himself the Son of God, and being peculiarly designed to reveal the
mind and will of the Father (which the prophet calls his " standing
and feeding in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name
of the Lord his God," Mic. v. 4), all the authority of God over the
souls and consciences of men is exerted in this revelation of the


gospel by him. It cannot, then, be neglected without the contempt
of all the authority of God. And this will be a sore aggravation of
the sin of unbelievers and apostates at the last day. If we attend
not unto the word on this account, we shall suffer for it. He that
despiseth the word despiseth him; and he that despiseth him de-
spiseth him also who sent him.

2. Because of the love that is in it. There is in it the love of the
Father in sending the Son, for the revealing of himself and his mind
unto the children of men. There is also in it the love of the Son
himself, condescending to teach and instruct the sons of men, who
by their own fault were cast into error and darkness. Greater love
could not God nor his eternal Son manifest unto us, than that he
should undertake in his own person to become our instructor. See
1 John v. 20. He that shall consider the brutish stupidity and
blindness of the generality of mankind in the things of God, the
miserable fluctuating and endless uncertainties of the more inquiring
part of them, and withal the greatness of their concernment in being
brought unto the knowledge of the truth, cannot but in some mea-
sure see the greatness of this love of Christ in revealing unto us the
whole counsel of God. Hence his words and speech are said to be
"gracious,'' Luke iv. 22; and "grace to be poured into his lips,'' Ps.
xlv. 2. And this is no small motive unto our attention unto the word.

3. T\\Q fnlness of the revelation itself by him made unto us is of
the same importance. He came not to declare a j)art or parcel, but
the whole will of God, — all that we are to know, all that we are to
do, all that we are to believe. " In him are hid all the treasures of
wisdom and knowledge," Col. ii. 3. He opened all the dark sen-
tences of the will of God, hidden from the foundation of the world.
There is in his doctrine all wisdom, all knowledge, as all light is in
the sun, and all water in the sea, there being nothing of the one or
the other in any other thing but by a communication from them.
Now, if every word of God be excellent, if every part and parcel of
it delivered by any of his servants of old was to be attended unto on
the penalty of extermination out of the number of his people, how
much more will our condition be miserable, as now are our blind-
ness and obstinacy, if we have not a heart to attend unto this full
revelation of himself and his will !

4. Because it is final. " Last of all he sent his Son," and hath
"spoken imto us by liim." Never more in this world will he speak
with that kind of speaking. No new, no further revelation of God
is to be expected in this world, but what is made by Jesus Christ.
To this we must attend, or we are lost for ever.

VI. The true and only way of honouring the Lord

mrt'^^ori^i^; Christ as the Son of God, is by diligent attendance and

obedience unto his word. The apostle having evidenced

his glory as the Sou of God, makes this his only inference from it.

, l:R. 2-4.] EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS. 2"!

So doth he himself. " If ye love me," saith he, " keep my com-
mandments." Where there is no obedience imto the word, there is
neither faith in nor love unto Jesus Christ. But this whole ar^u-
ment the apostle further pursues iu the following verses : —

Verses 2-4

In these three verses the apostle follows on his exhortation, laid
down in that foregoing, and giveth many peculiar enforcements unto
a due compliance with it, as we shall see in our exposition of them.

Ver. 2. — E/ yap 6 di' ayysXojv "kakriQitg Xoyos sysvsro jSiQaiog, -/.al
'iraaa TapdCaaig /.ai vapaxori sXadv ivdiKov fj.isda'^rodoaiav

E/ yxp. "si enim," " etenim," " and if," " for if." 'O 'Koyo; >.a,'h-/i6i\g, " sermo
dictus;" ^.^^'.^r^" ^^?^, Syr.. " sermo qui dictus est," or •' pronuntiatus," ''the
word whi'jh was spoken or pronounced," — properly, as we shall see. At a.yyk'huv,
Syr., ^'r'*;? ""^r , " by the hand of angels ;" a Hebraism for their ministry. •' The
word pronounced by the ministry of anjjels." The Arabic refers these words to
the testimonies before insisted on about angels, and renders them, " If that which
is spoken concerning the angels he approved," or confirmed to be true; that is,
•Kipi dyytkuu, not oi oiyyiKuii. 'Eysi/sro ili%oi,iog, "factus est firmus," Ar., V. L.,
" was made- firm" or " stable," " became sure;" " fuit firmus," Eras., Beza, '• w;is
firm;" or, as ours, "steadfast:" '^T.^'f??, Syr., " confirmatiis fuit," '' was confirmed
or established." K«i 'Trxaoc 7!-»pot,%cc(jtg Kal TrapsczoTi, " et omnis prevaricatio et
inohe iientia," V. L., Ar., "prevarication and disobedience;" Rhem., "omnisque
transgressio et contumacia;" Beza, " every transgression and stubborn disobe-
Hit-ncr;" the Syriac, a little otherwise, v"'??' ''?5'.l '^^T'^"? '.pi, "and every one that
he.ird it and transgressed it," — with peculiar respect, us it should seem, to ',
%\ hich includes a disobedience to that which is heard. "^'Kx'^sv 'iuhiKov y.iatlctTro-
"hoaiccu, " arcepit justam mercedis retributionein," V. L., Btz. ; "retulit. prajmii,"
Eras., — all to the same purpose, " received a just recompence," " reward," " a just
compensation;" Syr., "received a retribution in righteousness."

Ver. 2. — For if the word spoken [^pronounced] by angels
was sure [steadfast], and every transgression and [stub-
horn] disobedience received a jnst [meet, equal] retri-
bution [or, recompence of reward] ;

Ver. 3. — Tiojg ri/xsTg sxfsut.o/J'ida rriXixahrrig apAXrieavTsg eurr^plag;
ring ap')(r\v "KaZoiJGa "kahiTcsdai bia T0\j Kvpiou, ucro ruv dzovadvruv iig Jj/xac

' Apci'^mavTSi, " si neglexerimus," V. L., Eras., Beza, " if we neglect:" ^r^' "is^
Svr., " si eontemnainus," " if we despise," " if we care not about," " if we take no
care of." Tri'huixvTyii (jcyrnpictg, " tantam salutem,""so great salvation ;" the Syriac,
a little otherwise, T'Jj V^ V™"^. V.?'? '?, " super ea ipsa quae sunt vitae," " those
things which are our life;" or, as others remier the words, " eos sermones qui vivi
sunt," " those words which are living." The former translation, taking the pro-
noun in the neuter gender, and '{"jH substantively, with respect unto the effects
of the gospel, most suits the place. "Ht/j cip'^'/iv 'Kccltyjaa. T^cchuadat, " quffi cum
primum enanari coe;jit," Eras., Bez., "which when it was begun to be declared;"
and so the Syriac, " which began to be declared," which was first, at first spoken,
declared, pron<amced.
VOL. xn. — 18


Ver. 3. — How shall we escape [yZy or avo{d~\, if we neglect
[not taking care about'] so great salvation, which began
to be [ivas first of alV^ spoken [declared] by the Lord,
and was confirmed [assured, established] unto us by
them that heard [it of him],

Ver. 4.- — ^vvi'7ri//.aprvpovvTog rou @io\J crjf^sioig n xai rspaffi, %a] rroDit-

^vji'7ri;.(.xpTvpovvTog, " contestante Deo," V. L. : " Jittestante Deo," Eras. ; " tes-
tinioniuin lUis iirseliente Deo," Beza; — " God withal teslif\'ing, attestinjj^ it, aiving
testimony unto them." It is doubtful whether it be the word itself or the
preachers of it that God is said to give testhiiony unto. Syr., *'~/'.^. X~\T^. "~7 "■?,
''when God had testified unto them." Arab., "whose truth was also proved
unto U'*, besides the testimony of God with wonders;" separating between Go I's
te-iimony to the word and the signs and wonders that accompanied it. Tipxai,
" pi-Qiiigiis," '' portentis," "miraculis."

Ver. 4. — God bearing witness with signs and wonders
[prodigies], and divers [various] mighty works [powers],
and distributions [divisio7is] of the Holy Ghost, accord-
ino; to his own will?

The design of the apostle in these three verses is to confirm and
enforce the inference and exhortation laid down ia the first, as that
which arose from the discourses of the former cliapLer. The way he
proceeds in for this end, is by interposing, after his usual manner in
this epistle, subservient motives, arguments, and considerations,
tending directly to his principal end, and connatural unto the sub-
ject treated on. Thus the main argument wherewith he presseth
his preceding exhortation unto attendance and obedience unto the
word is taken " ab incommodo," or "ab eventu pernicioso," — from
the pernicious end and event of their disobedience thereunto. The
chief proof of this is taken from another argument, " a minori;" and
that is, the confessed event of disobedience unto the law, verse 2.
To confirm and strengthen which reasoning, he gives us a summary
comparison of the law and the gospel; whence it might appear,
that if a disregard unto the law was attended with a sure and sore
revenge, much more must and would the neglect of the gospel be
so. And this comparison on the part of the gospel is expressed,
1. In the nature of it, — it is "great salvation;" 2. The author of
it, — it was "spoken by the Lord;" 8. The manner of its tradition, —
being " confirmed unto us by them that heard him,'' and the testi-
mony given to it and them, by " signs and wonders, and distributions
of the Holy Ghost:" from all v/hich he infers his proof of the per-
nicious event of disobedience unto it or disregard of it. This is the
sum of the apostle's reasoning, which we shall further open as the
vvuids present it unto us in tlie text.


The first thing we meet with in the words is his subservient
argument " a minori," verse 2, wherein three things occur :^ — -1. Tiic
description tliat he gives us of the law, which he compares the gospel
withal, — it was " the word spoken by angels." 2. An adjunct of it,
wiiich ensued upon its being spoken by them, — it was " lirni" or
" steadfast." 3. The event of disobedience unto it, — " every trans-
gression" of it "and stubborn disobedience received a just recompence
of reward." How from hence he confirms his assertion of the per-
nicious consequence of neglecting the gospel, we shall see afterwards.

The first thing in the words is the description of the law, by that
periphrasis, 'O "Koyog Bi' ayy's^.uv XaXrjdsig, " The word
spoken" (or "pronounced") by "angels." Aoyog is a word
Very variously used in the New Testament. The special senses of it
we shall not need in this place to insist upon. It is here taken for a
system of doctrine ;'and, by the addition of KaXyjkls, as
published, preached, or declared. Thus the gospel,
from the principal subject-matter of it, is called, 6 Xoyog 6 rov araufoZ^
1 Cor. i. 18, — the word, the doctrine, the preaching concerning the
cross, or Christ crucified. So o \6yog here, "the word," is the doctrine
ot tlie law; that is, the law itself spoken, declared, published, promul-
gated. A/' dyysXuv, "by angels;" that is, by the minis- , , ,
try of angels. It is not the vofx^odirrn, he from whom ' " >■
the law was given, that the apostle intends; but the ministerial
puljlishers of it, by whom it was given. The law was given from
God, but it was given by angels, in the way and manner to be con-

Two things we may observe in this periphrasis of the law: — 1.
That the apostle principally intends that part of the Mosaical dis-
pensation which was given on mount Sinai; and which, as such, was
the covenant between God and that people, as unto the privilege of
the promised land. 2. That he fixes on this description of it rather
than any other, or merely to have expressed it by the law, — (1.)
Because the ministry of angels, in the giving of the law by Moses,
was that by which all the prodigious effects wherewith it was at-
tended (which kept the people in such a durable reverence unto it)

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