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proper work towards us. There is in some a dropsy of hearing; —
the more they hear, the more they desire. But they are only pleased
with it at present, and swelled for the future, — are neither really
refreshed nor strengthened. But every truth hath, as the Hebrews
express it, VS3 1^^, " meat in its mouth," something for our own
nourishment. We should look unto sermons as Elijah did to the
ravens, that " brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and
bread and flesh in the evening," 1 Kings xvii. 6. They bring food
with them for our souls, if we feed on it; if not, they are lost. When
the Israelites gathered manna to eat, it was a precious food, " bread
from heaven, angels' meat," food heavenly and angelical, — that is,
excellent and precious; but when they laid it up by them, "it bred
worms and stank," Exod. xvi. 20. When God scatters truths amongst
men, if they gather them to eat, they are the bread of heaven,
angels' food ; but if they do it only to lay them by them, in their
books, or in the notions of their mind, they will breed the worms of
pride and hypocrisy, and make them an offensive savour unto God.
When, therefore, any truth is proposed unto you, learn what is your
concernment in it, and let it have its proper and perfect work upon
your souls.

Secondly, In the manner of his pressing his exhortation two
things occur: — 1 His compellation of them, in these words, " Holy
brethren." 2. His description of them by one property or privilege,
*' Partakers of the heavenly calhug."


1. In the former, two things also are observable: (1.) The appella-
tion itself which he makes use of, " Brethren." (2.) The
adjunct of that appellation, " Holy."
(1.) This term of relation, "brethren," is variously used in the
Scripture; sometimes naturally, and that most strictly, for children
of the same father or mother. Gen. xlii. 13 ; or more largely for near
kinsmen (and among the Hebrews the descendants of the same
L,rrandfather are almost constantly so called ; whence is that expres-
sion of the brethren of our Lord Jesus Christ, who were descendants
of his grandfather according to the flesh, Gen. xiii. 8, xxiv. 27; Matt.
xii. 46, xiii. 55; Mark iii. 31; John ii. 12, vii. 3, 5, 10; Acts i. 14):
or, in analogy thereunto, for all the branches of one common stock,
though a whole nation, yea, though of many nations. So all the
Hebrews were brethren, Deut. xv. 12; and the Edomites are said to
be their brethren, because of the stock of Abraham, Deut. xxiii. 7.
And in this sense, in another place, our apostle calls all the Jews liis
brethren; that is, his kinsfolk in the flesh, Rom. ix. 3. Sometimes
it is used civilly, and that, [1.] On the mere account of cohabitation,
Gen. xix. 7; [2.] Of combination in some society, as, \st. For evil,
Gen. xlix. 5 ; 2dly. For good, Ezra iii. 2. And sometimes it express-
eth a joint profession of the same religion ; on which account the
Jews called themselves brethren all the world over. Acts xxviii. 21.
Lastly, It is also an expression of spiritual cognation, founded on that

of our Saviour, "All ye are brethren, and one is your Father,

which is in heaven," Matt, xxiii. 8, 9. And herein is an allusion to
the first, proper signification of the word. That men be brethren,
properly an<l strictly, it is required that they have one father, be of
one family, and be equally interested in the privileges and advan-
tages thereof. This is the nearest bond of alliance that is or can be
between equals, the firmest foundation of love. And thus it is with
those who are brethren spiritually, as will afterwards appear.

Now, though the apostle stood in the relation intimated with the
Hebrews upon a natural account, yet he here calls them brethren
principally in the last sense, as s^nritually interested in the same
family of God with himself; although I am apt to think that in the
use of this expression to the Jews the apostle had respect also unto
that brotherhood which they had among themselves before in their
ancient church-state. So Peter, writing to some of them, tells them
that the same afilictions which they suffered would befall rjj h
x66(iu) u/xuv abiKfornri, " the whole brotherhood of them in the world,"
1 Epist. V. 9; that is, all the believing Jews. And whereas they had
a particular and especial mutual love to each other on that account,
our apostle warns them that they should not think that that relation
or love was to cease 'tpon their conversion to Christ, Heb. xiii. 1 :
'H (piXad!X(p!a /j,sv:rTu, — 'Let that brotherly love continue which hath


been amongst you/ But principally I suppose he respects their
new relation in Christ; which further appears from the adjunct of
this compellation annexed, " holy."

(2.) " Holy." This is the usual epithet wherewith our apostle
adorns believers, Rom. i. 7; 1 Cor. i. 2; 2 Cor. i. 1 ; Eph. ,
i. 1 ; Phil. i. 1. And in many places he joins their call- '""'

ing with it, which here he subjoins unto it. And this is peculiar
to Paul. What he means by dyioi, " holy," he declares, wliere he
terms the same persons riyiacfi'svot, " sanctified ones," 1 Cor. i. 2 ;
Eph. V. 26; 1 Cor. vi. 11; 1 Thess. v. 23; John xvii. 19. He ac-
counted them holy, not upon the account of an external separation,
as of old all the people were holy, but also of internal, real sanctifi-
cation and purity. This he judged the professing Hebrews to be
interested in, as being " called by an holy calling." And it may be,
in the present use of this expression, he hath respect unto what he
had before affirmed of believers, namely, their being ay/a^o'/^e.-o/,
" sanctified," or made holy by Christ, chap. ii. 11 ; considering that
from thence he infers their relation unto Christ as his brethren,
verse 12, and so becoming in him brethren to one another, even all
of them dBi7.(p6rrjg, "a brotherhood," or "fraternity," 1 Pet. v. 9. And
by this compellation of "holy brethren" doth the apostle manifest
his high regard of them or respect unto them, looking on them as
persons sanctified by the Spirit and word of Christ, and a dear
affection for them as his brethren. By this treatment also of them
he gives a great evidence of his sincerity in dealing with them ; for
they might not fear that he would impose any thing on them whom
he honoured as holy, and loved as brethren. And hereby he smooths
his way to his ensuing exhortation.

2. He describes them from their calling, KX?;C£w; i-zoupaviou iikroyju.
This is usual with our apostle: "Called to be saints" —
"Sanctified in Christ Jesus." And this calling or voca- ^^^'"■'■':' '■^'"'-
tion he first describes by its quality; it is "heavenly,"
or " super-celestial ; " or, as elsewhere, " the calling that is from
above:" and then ascribes an interest unto them therein. And he
calls it "heavenly," (1.) From the fountain and principal cause of it;
that is, God, even the Father, which is in heaven. As our election,
so our calling is in an especial manner ascribed unto him, 1 Cor.
i. 9; 1 Thess. ii. 12; Rom. viii. 28-:30; 1 Pet. i. lo, ii. 9, v. 10;
Phil. iii. 14; Gal. v. 8: for no man can come unto the Son, unless
the Father draw him. Believers, indeed, are termed K?.^ro/ roD
'l^iffoD Xp/ffrou, Rom. i. 6, — "The called of Jesus Christ;" that is, to
him, not hy him; or, by him as executing the counsel and dispens-
ing the grace of the Father, 2 Cor. v. 20. (2.) In respect of the
means whereby this calling is wrought, which are spiritual and hea-
venly, namely, the word and Spirit, both from above, John xvL


7-1 1 : for the word of the gospel is on many accounts heavenly, or
from heaven; whence our apostle calls it "the voice of him that
speaketh from heaven/' Heb. xii. 25. And Christ, who is the author
of it, is called " The Lord from heaven," 1 Cor. xv. 47; and that on
this account, that he who was in heaven came down from heaven
to reveal the gospel, John iii. 13, vi. 38. And so also the Spirit
is poured out from above, being given of Christ after he was
ascended into heaven. Acts ii. 33. (3.) Of the end also; which is to
heaven and heavenly things, wherein lies the hope of our calling,
Eph. i. 18, iv. 4. So that effectual vocation from God above, in his
grace and mercy by Jesus Christ, is here intended.

Herein the apostle assigns a participation unto these Hebrews;
they were " partakers" of it, had an interest in it, —
iToxei. together with himself were so called. And this he doth
for several reasons: —

(1.) That he might manifest wherein their great privilege con-
sisted, and which, as such, they were to value. They were apt to
boast of the privileges they enjoyed in their Judaism, John viii. 33,
Rom. ii. 1 7, 18 ; which also were great, Rom. iii. 1, 2, ix. 4, 5 : but they
were all of no esteem in comparison of what they had now obtained
an interest in, by the grace of Jesus Christ, in their high, holy, and
heavenly calling. This he manifests in the instance of himself, Phil,
iii. 4-9. The call of Abraham, which was the foundation of all their
privileges in their Judaism, was but an earthly call, — on the earth and
to the earth; but this is every way more excellent, being heavenly.

(2.) To set forth the grace of God towards the Jews, and his
own faith concerning them, that they were not all rejected of
God, notwithstanding the hardness and obstinacy of the most of
them, as Rom. xi. 2, 4, 5. And, on the other hand, he insinuates
that they were not to make an enclosure of this privilege, like those
wherewith of old they were intrusted. The Gentiles being fellow-
heirs with them therein, they were " partakers" with others in this
" heavenly calling ;" as Eph. iii. 6.

(3.) He declares his oiun communion with them in that great
privilege, whereby they might understand his intimate concernment
in their state and condition.

(4.) He minds them of their duty from their privilege. Being
partakers of this calling unto Christ, it must needs be their duty
diligently to "consider" him; which he exhorts them unto. But we
may make some observations on the words unfolded already.

II. Dispensers of the gospel ought to use holy prudence in winning
upon the minds and affections of those whom they are to instruct.

So dealeth Paul with these Hebrews. He minds them here of
their mutual relation; calls them brethren; ascribes unto them the
privileges of holiness and participation of a heavenly calling; — all


to assure them of his love, to remove their prejudices against h'xva
and to win upon their affections. And, indeed, next unto our Lord
Jesus Christ himself, he is the most signal pattern and example of
holy wisdom, tenderness, compassion, and zeal, unto all ministers of
the gospel. The image of his spirit, expressed in his instractions
given unto his two beloved sons, Timothy and Titus, sufficiently
testify hereunto. Yea, so great was his wisdom and condescension
in dealing with his hearers, that seducers and false apostles took
occasion from thence to say, that being crafty he caught them with
guile, 2 Cor. xii. 16. The words are an objection of his adversaries,
not a concession of his. He shows how in all things he wa j tender
tow^ards them, and put them neither to charge nor trouble. Here-
unto he supposeth a reply by the false apostles: "Eatw ds, syu ov zars-
pdprjda 'jn,ag' aXX' birdp^uv 'Travoupyog, 86Xw hfiag 'i'KaZov' — " Be it SO,
that I myself did not burden you, nor put you to charge, yet being
every way crafty, I took you by deceit." This is their reply unto his
plea, and not any concession of his; for both the words, rravovpyog
and hoXog, are such as will admit no interpretation in a good sense,
so that the apostle should ascribe them iinto himself But wherein
did that craft and deceit consist which they would impute unto him ?
It was in this, that though he himself put them to no charge, he
burdened them not, yet when he was gone, and had secured them
unto himself, then he sent those to them which should receive
enough for him and themselves. Unto this calumny the apostle
replies, verses 17, 18, showing the falseness of it. " Did I," saith he,
" make a gain of you by any of them whom I sent unto you?" This
was that which was imputed unto him, which he rejects as false and
calumnious. And he confirms what he says by an especial instance:
" I desired Titus, and with him I sent a brother. Did Titus make
a gain of you? walked we not in the same spirit? walked we not in
the same steps?" So that this reproach is every way false, and
such as may be evicted so to be. And this is the true sense of this
place. This was not his way. But this he always did, and on all
occasions, — he testified unto them his great affection, his readiness to
spend and to be spent for them, 2 Cor. xii. 14, 15. His gentleness
towards them, — cherishing them as a nurse cherisheth her children,
1 Thess. ii. 7, or as a father his, verse 11, — forewent that which
in earthly things was due to him by the appointment of Christ,
that he might no way burden them, 2 Cor, xi. 9-11, Actsxx. 33-35;
enduring all things for their sakes, 2 Tim. ii. 10, — amongst which
were many able to make the stoutest heart to tremble. His care,
pains, travail, watchfulness, patience, love, compassion, zeal, who
can declare or sufficiently admire! By these means he removed or
rendered ineffectual the great prejudice of forsaking Judaism, kept
up a regard in his hearers against the insinuations of seducers and
VOL. XII. — 32


false apostles, raised their attention, prepared them every way for
instruction, and won them over to Christ. Blessed Jesus! what
cause have we to mourn when we consider the pride, covetousness,
ambition, wrath, negligence, self-seeking, and contempt of thy flock,
which are found amongst many of them who take upon themselves
to be dispensers of thy word, whereby the souls of men are scanda-
lized and filled with offences against thy holy ways every day !

III. Believers are all related one unto another in the nearest
and strictest bond of an equal relation. They are all brethren, " holy

So the Holy Ghost calls them in truth ; so the reproaching world
calls them in scorn. They have " one Father," Matt, xxiii. 8, 9 ; one
elder Brother, Rom. viii. 29, who is " not ashamed to call them
brethren," Heb. ii. 11 ; and have "one Spirit, and are called in one
hope of calling," Eph. iv. 4, — which being a Spirit of adoption, Rom.
viii. 15, interesteth them all in the same family, Eph, iii. 14, 15,
whereby they become "joint-heirs with Christ," Rom. viii. 17. The
duties of unity, love, usefulness, and compassion, which depend on
this relation, are more known than practised, and ought to be con-
tinually pressed, Ps. cxxxiii. 1, Heb. xiii. 1. Of old, indeed, the
Pagans spake proverbially of the Christians, " See how they love
one another I" in a way of admiration. The contrary observation
hath now prevailed, to the shame and stain of the profession of
these latter days. What through dissensions and divisions amongst
them who have any real interest in the privilege of sonship; what
through an open, visible defect as to any relation unto God as a
father, or unto the Lord Chi-ist as an elder brother, in the most of
them that are called Christians, — we have lost the thing intended,
and the name is become a term of reproach. But when iniquity
abounds, love will wax cold. In the meantime, it were well if
those who are brethren indeed could live as brethren, and love as
brethren, and agree as brethren. The motives unto it are great and
many. That mentioned in the business of Abraham and Lot seems
to me of weight: Gen. xiii. 7, 8, "There was a strife between the
herdmen of Abram's cattle and the herdmen of Lot's cattle: and
the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelt then in the land. And
Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between
me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we
be men that are brethren." Abraham and Lot were brethren na-
turally, as near kinsfolk, for Abraham was Lot's uncle; and spirit-
ually, as the children of God. A difference happening between their
herdmen, Abraham, as a wise man, fears lest it should proceed
to some distance and variance between themselves. Thereupon he
takes into consideration the state of things in the place where they
were. '' The Canaanite and the Perizzite," saith he, " are in the


land;" — 'The land is full of profane men, enemies to us both, who
would rejoice in our divisions, and take advantage to reproach the
religion which we profess.' This prevailed with them to continue
their mutual love, and should do so with others. But our condition
is sad whilst that description which the Holy Ghost gives of men
whilst uncalled, whilst unbelievers, is suited unto them who profess
themselves to be Christians. See Tit. iii. 3.

IV. All true and real professors of the gospel are sanctified by
the Holy Ghost, and made truly and really holy.

So Paul here terms those Hebrews, exercising towards them the
judgment of charity, declaring what they ought to be, and what
they professed themselves to be, what he believed them to be, and
what, if they were living members of Christ, really they were. It
is true, some that profess holiness may not be really holy. But,
first, If they do not so profess it as not to be convinced by any
gospel means of the contrary, they are not to be esteemed professors
at all. Acts viii. 20-23; Phil. iii. 18, 19; 2 Tim. iii. 5. Secondly,
If that holiness which men profess in their lives be not real in their
hearts, they have no right to the privileges that attend profession,
John iii. 5.

V. No man comes unto a useful, saving knowledge of Jesus
Christ in the gospel, but by virtue of an effectual heavenly calling.

These Hebrews came to be "holy brethren," children of God, united
unto Christ, by their participation in a " heavenly calling." We are
" called out of darkness into his marvellous light," 1 Pet. ii. 9 ; and
this not only with the outward call of the word, — which many are
made partakers of who never attain the saving knowledge of Christ,
Matt. XX. 16, — but with that effectual call, which, being granted in
the pursuit of God's purpose of election, Rom. viii. 28, is accom-
panied with the energetical, quickening power of the Holy Ghost,
Eph. ii. 5, giving eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart to obey tlie
word, according unto the promise of the covenant, Jer. xxxi. 33, 3-i.
And thus no man can come to Christ unless the Father draw him,
John vi. 44.

VI. The effectual heavenly vocation of believers is their great
privilege, wherein they have cause to rejoice, and which always
ought to mind them of their duty unto Him that hath called them.

For these two ends doth the apostle mind the Hebrews of their
participation in the heavenly calling; — first. That they might con-
sider the privilege they enjoyed by the gospel far above and beyond
whatever they boasted of under the law; and, secondly. That he
might stir them up unto the performance of their <iuty in faith and
obedience, according as God requires of them who are called. And
this calling will appear a signal privilege if we consider: — 1. The
state from whence men are called, which is a state of death, Epli.


H. 1 ; and of darkness, Col. i. 13, 1 Pet. ii. 9 ; and of enmity acjainst
God, Col. i. 21, Eph. iv. 18, Rom. viiL 7; and of wrath, John iii. 36,
Eph, ii, 3. It is a state of all that misery which the nature of man
is capable of or obnoxious unto in this world or to eternity. Or,
2. By whom they are called, even by God above, or in heaven, the
Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 1 Cor. i. 9, Rom. viii. 28, 1 Pet.
i. 15, Phil. iii. 14, Gal. v. 8. And, 3. From whence or what induce-
ment it is that he calls them ; which is from his own mere love and
undeserved grace, Tit. iii. 3-5. And, 4. The discrimination of per-
sons in this call. All are not thus called, but only those that are,
in the eternal purpose of the love of God, designed to so great a
mercy, Rom. viii. 28, 31, 32. And, 5. The outward condition for
the most part of them that are called, which is poor and contempt-
ible in this world, 1 Cor. i. 26-28, James ii. 5. And, 6. The means
of this calling, which are the holy Word and Holy Spirit, John xvii.
17, 1 Cor. vi. 11, 2 Thess. ii. 14. And, 7. What men are called
unto; which is to light, 1 Pet. ii. 9, Col. i. 13; and to life, John v.
24, 25; to holiness, Rom. i. 7, 1 Cor. i. 2, 1 Thess. iv. 7; and unto
liberty, Gal. v. 13; unto the peace of God, Col. iii. 15, 1 Cor. vii.
15; and unto his kingdom, 1 Thess. ii. 12, Col. i. 13; unto righte-
ousness, Rom. viii. 30; and to mercy, Rom. ix. 23, 24; and unto
eternal glory, 1 Pet. v, 10. Of all these benefits, with the privilege
of the worship of God attending them, are believers made partakers
by their heavenly calling. And this minds them of their whole
duty; — (1.) By the way of justice, representing it unto them as meet,
equal, and righteous, 1 Pet. i. 15; (2.) Of gratitude, or thankfulness
for so great mercy, 1 John iii. 1, 1 Pet. iii. 9; (3.) Of encourage-
ment, etc. Proceed we again unto the exposition of the words:

" Consider the apostle and high priest of our profession, Christ
Jesus." The words may be read either, " Consider
Christ Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our profes-
sion," and so the person of Christ is placed as the immediate object
of the consideration required, and the other words are added only
as a description of him by his offices; or, "Consider the apostle and
high priest of our profession, Christ Jesus," and then the apostle
and high priest of our profession are the proper objects of this con-
sideration, and the name added doth but indigitate the individual
person who was clothed with these offices.

This is the immediate duty which the apostle here presseth them
unto, namely, the consideration of that apostle and high priest of
our profession, whose greatness, glory, excellency, and pre-eminence
in all things he had declared. And herein the nature of the duty
and the object of it are represented unto us.

First, The nature of it, in the word "consider." Some suppose
that faith, trust, and confidence, are intended or included in this


word. But xaT-ai/oico is nowhere used in any such sense, nor will
the present design of the apostle admit of any such interpretation
in this place ; for the duty he exhorts unto is in order unto faith,
and constancy therein. And this is no other but a diligent inten-
sion of mind, in their considerations, thoughts, meditations, and
conceptions about Jesus Christ, that they may understand and per-
ceive aright who and what he is, and what will follow upon his
being such. And this rational consideration is of singular use unto
the end proposed. And as he afterwards blames them for their
remissness and backwardness in learning the doctrine of the gospel,
chap. V. 11—14; so here he seems to intimate that they had not suf-
ficiently weighed and pondered the nature and quality of the person
of Christ, and his offices, and were thereupon kept in their entangle-
ments unto Judaism. This, therefore, he now exhorts them unto,
and that by fixing their minds unto a diligent, rational, spiritual
consideration of what he had delivered, and was yet further to
deliver concerning him and them.

VII. The spiritual mysteries of the gospel, especially those which
concern the person and offices of Christ, require deep, diligent, and
attentive consideration.

This is that which the Hebrews are here exhorted unto: Karavo?3'-
ffarj, " Consider attentively," or " diligently." This is assigned as
one means of the conversion of Lydia, Acts xvi. 14. Upogi^si, — she
attended diligently to the things spoken by Paul, as an effect of the
grace of God in opening her heart. Careless, wayside hearers of the
word get no profit by it, Matt. xiii. 19. Their nature and worth,
with our own condition, call for this duty.

1. In their nature they are mysteries; that is, things deep, hid-
den, and full of divine wisdom : 1 Cor. ii. 7, 2opia Qsow h fivarj^picf),
— "The wisdom of God in a mystery;" such as the angels desire
to bow down (not in a way of condescension, but of endeavour,
E'^iSufxovffi irapa-Ku-^ai) and look into, 1 Pet. i. 12. For in Christ, and
through him in the gospel (tig snriyvusiv ro\J fivffrripiov tov Xptsrov,

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