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grant, donation, and will of the Father.



VER. 3-6.] EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS. 549

Secondly, As to the nature of this glory, it consists in this, that
lit; is tlie object of all divine religious worship, and the principal
author of all the laws thereof whereby it is outwardly and solemnly
celebrated or performeil. Hence there is a twofold duty incumbent
on the church in reference to him who is the builder of it, our medi-
ator, Jesus Christ: — 1. That they serve him, trust him, believe in
him, obey him with all religious subjection of soul and conscience.
Hence saith he, " Ye believe in God, believe also in me," John xiv.
1 ; — ' Ye believe in God the Father who sent me, believe also in me
who am sent, with the same divine faith and confidence.' Com-
mands and examples unto the same purpose are multiplied in the
Scripture, as I have elsewhere shown at large. Jesus Christ, our
mediator, God and man, the builder of the church, is the proper
object of our religious faith, love, and fear, even as the Father is.
In him do we believe, on his name do we call, to him do we subject
and commit our souls unto eternity. This glory is due unto him
because he built the church. 2. The observation of all his com-
mands, laws, and institutions, as the great sovereign Lord over our
souls and consciences in all things; for "to this end Christ both died,
and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead
and living," Rom. xiv. 9; — supreme Lord over us whilst alive, re-
quiring obedience to all his laws, as a son over his own house; and
when we are dead, to raise us again and to bring us unto his judg-
m nt-seat, as verses 10, 1 1. And this obedience he gives in command
to all his disciples, Matt, xxviii. 20. And in these things consists
that peculiar glory which Christ as this builder of the house hath,
or is endowed withal.

Thirdly, Two things may be considered concerning this glory: —
1. What it is that is the formal reason of it, — that which renders
him a meet object of the church's worship, and the church's wor-
ship to be truly divine or religious. 2. What is the principal
motive prevailing with us to give him this glory and honour.

For the first, it is no other but the divine nature. The natural and
essential excellencies of the Deity are the formal reason and proper
object of all divine worship. We worship the Lord Christ, who is Goil
and man. He is so in one person; and his person who is God and
man is the oVyect of that worship. But the formal reason and ob-
ject of it is the divine nature in that person. Give me leave to say,
God himself could not command the Lord Christ to be worshipped
with divine religious adoration were he not Gcd hy nature, for the
thing itself implieth a contradiction. Religious worship is nothing
but an assignation of that honour which is due to divine excellen-
cies; namely, to trust, believe, fear, obey, love, and submit unto
iiitinite holiness, goodness, righteousness, power, in the first cause,
last end, and sovereign Lord of all. Now, to assign glory proper to



650 AN EXPOSITION OF THE [CHAP. III.

divine excellencies, and which receiveth its nature from its object,
where divine excellencies are not, is openly contradictory. Besides,
God hath said, " I am the Lord : that is ray name : and my glory
will I not give to another," Isa xlii. 8. He that hath not the
name of God, (that is, his nature,) shall not, nor can have this glory,
which is to be the object of the worship mentioned. And there are
scarcely more gross idolaters in the world than those who profess
to worship Christ and to believe in him, in a word, to give him
all the glory that is due to God, and yet deny him so to be.

Now, in our worship of Ciirist, which is our assignation of glory
unto him, he is considered two ways: — (1.) Absolutely, as he is " over
all, God blessed for ever," Rom. ix. 5. (2.) As he is the mediator be-
tween theFatherand us. (1.) In the first respect he is the proper and
ultimate object of our worship. We believe in him, pray unto him;
as Stephen offered his dying prayer unto him in particular. They
stoned Stephen, praying or invocating in these vvords, " Lord Jesus,
receive my spirit," Acts vii. 59. So are we baptized in his name,
and thereby initiated into his service, as our Lord and our God, as
Tliomas expresseth his confession of him, John xx. 28. So may we
pray unto iiim directly and distinctly, making his person the ulti-
mate object of our faith, trust, and subjection of soul therein. See
Eph. v. 23-25; 2 Cor. v. 15; Tit ii. 14; Rom. xiv 9, 18. (2.) Con-
sider him in the latter way, as the mediator between the Father and
us; so he is the immediate but not the ultimate object of our wor-
ship. In this sense, " through him we do believe in God, who
raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory, that our faith
and hope might be in God," 1 1 et. i. 21. He is the means of our
iaith and hope. By him " we have access by one Spirit unto the
Father," Eph. ii. 18. And according to his command, we ask of God
in his name, and for his sake, John xvi. 23, 24, 26. And in this
sense, in all our worship, internal and external, in our faith, confi-
dence, obedience, and supplications, the Father is considered as the
ultimate object of our worship, and the Lord Christ the Son as he who
hath procured acceptance for us, who pleads our cause, manageth
our affairs, justifies our persons, and prevails for grace and mercy.
And this is the most ordinary and standing way of faith in the wor-
ship of God. We address ourselves to the Father by Christ the Son
as mediator, considering him as vested with his ofl&ces in and over
the house of God. This the apostle excellently expresseth, Eph. iii.
14-19. However, it is free for us to address our petitions directly
unto Christ as he is God, equal with the Father.

And we may see here the difference that is between our worship
of Christ the mediator, and the Papists' worship of their saints and
angf^ls. They go first to their saints, to the blessed Virgin especially.
Vo her ihey pray; — what to do? To give them grace, mercy, pardon



VER. 3-6.] EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS. 651

of sins, and salvation. This, indeed, many of them have done, and
do, and that in a horrible, idolatrous, blasphemous manner. But
this they commonly plead, that they only pray to saints that they
would pray and intercede with God for them, granting that they
may be mediators of intercession, though not of oblation. Well,
then, their praying unto saints is one distinct act of worship, whereof
the saints are tlie only object; which, they l)eing mere creatures, is
open and express idolatry. But now in our worship of God by Christ,
it is the same worship whei'eby we worship the Father and the Son,
the Father in and through the Son; with the same actings of faith
and confidence, and by the same invocation, — the one as the object
ultimately of our intercession, the other as the mediator of our ac-
ceptance. But it will be said. May we not then pray to Christ to
pray to the Father for us, which would be a distinct act of religious
worship? I answer, — (1.) We have no precedent in Scripture nor
warrant for any such address; (2.) It seems not agreeable to the
analogy of faith that we should j^ray unto Christ to discharge his
own office fliithfuliy. But this we may do, we may pray unto him
distinctly for grace, mercy, pardon, because he is God; and we may
pray unto the Father by him, as he is ou7' mediator: which two
modes of divine worship are sufficiently revealed in the Scripture.

Secondly, Having considered the formal reason of the glory in-
sisted on, we are nextly to inquire after the great motive unto our
giving him this glory, that makes him worthy of it, and obligeth us
in especial duty to give it unto him. Christ our mediator, God
manifested in the flesh, God and man, whole Christ, his divine and
human nature in one person, is the object of our religious adoration
and worship; and it is just, righteous, equal, that we should con-
stantly and continually worship him, because he hath built the house
of God, because of his work of mediation.

As it is in the first command, so it is in this matter, " I am the
Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt,
out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods be-
fore me," Exod. xx. 2, 3. Declaring himself to be the Lord God,
he proposeth the formal reason of all religious worship, and that
which makes it indispensably necessary. But yet, to stir the people
up unto the actual performance of it, he adds that great motive in
whai he had done for them ;— he had brought them out from the land
of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Had he not done so, all
worship and honour divine was due unto him ; but having done so,
it is a strong obligation to bind them to diligence in its observance.
So I say it is in this matter. Christ is to be worshipped because
he is God, but the great motive hereunto is what he hath done for
us in the work of redemption. And unto all that we have said in
this matter we have the joint testimony of all the saints and angels



5,' 2 AN EXPOSITION OF THE , [CHAP. III.

of God ; Rev. v. 8-13, " And when lie had taken the book, the four
living creatures and four and twenty elders fell down before the
Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of
odours, which are the prayers of saints. And they sung a new
souf^, saying. Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the
seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God
by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and
nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we
sliall reign on the earth. And I beheld, and I heard the voice of
many angels round about the throne, and the living creatures, and
the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten
thousand, and thousands of thousands; saying with a loud voice,
Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches,
and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.
And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under
the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard
I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him
that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever and ever,"
The whole of what we have asserted is here confirmed : for, — (1,) The
Lamb here is Jesus Christ the Mediator, the Lamb of God that took
away the sins of the world, (2.) The worship and honour ascribed
unto him is holy, sacred, and religious, and that from the whole crea-
tion, (3.) It is but one and the same worship that is given unto
the Lamb and to him that sits u{jon the throne, even the Father.
(4.) The reason hereof and great motive unto it, whence it is said
that he is worthy of it, — that is, it is our continual duty to perform
it unto him, — is because of the great things he hath done for us in
our redemption and salvation; that is, his building of the house of
God,

From what hath been spoken, it is evident in what sense we
worship "the man Christ Jesus" with divine honour and worship, even
as his human nature, by virtue of personal union, subsisteth in the
person of the Son of God, which person is the proper object of our
worship.

To close this matter, here lies a great difference between Christ
and Moses, that whereas the work of Moses brought all the honour
and glory he had unto his person, and wliich yet was but an inferior
work, the work of a servant or ministerial builder, the person of
Christ brought glory and honour unto his work, although it was
very excellent and glorious; for he condescended and humbled him-
self unto it, Phil, ii, 6-8. But yet the work being done, is a cause of
giving new honour and glory unto his person.

It remains only that I briefly give the reasons why this building
of the house doth render the Lord Christ so worthy of glory and
honour. It doth so, —



VEH. 3-6.] EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS. f)53

First, Because the work itself was great and glorious. Great
works make the authors of them famous and honourable. Hence
have beea the endeavours of men to eternize their names, to make
themselves famous and renowned by their works and buildings.
This was one end of that stupendous enterprise of the children of
men in the building of Babel; they would build a tower to make
themselves a name, Gen. xi. 4, — to get them renown and glory.
And they have been imitated by their posterity, who in all ages
have praised their saying. So Nebuchailnezzar testifieth concern-
ing himself: Dan. iv. 30, " Is not this," saith he, " great Babylon,
that I have built for the house of the kingdom, by the might of
my power, and for the honour of my majesty V But alas, what
poor perishing heaps have been the products of their endeavours !
they have all long ago been made a spoil unto time and confusion.
When Solomon went about to build a material typical house for
God, he tells Hiram, the king of Tyre, in his message unto him, that
the house which he built was very great; for, saith he, " Great is our
God above all gods," 2 Chron. ii. 5, 6. But he adds moreover, " But
who is able to build him an house, seeing the heaven and heaven of
heavens cannot contain him? who am I then, that I should build
him an house, save only to burn sacrifice before him;" — 'The use
of this house is, not for God to dwell in, but for us to worship him
in. Do not conceive that I am building a temple with such thoughts
and apprehensions as the nations build theirs unto their false deities,
namely, to confine them to a place and keep them in. The im-
mensity of the nature of our God will admit of no such thing. It is
only a place for his service that I intend.' But now this hath Christ
done; he hath built a house ^for God to dwell in for ever. And
this, on many accounts, was ^^reater work than that of the creation
of all things out of nothing. ' But if from that ancient work of crea-
tion was to arise all the glory of God according to the law of nature,
how excellent is this honour and glory which ariseth to Jesus Christ,
and to God by him, from this new creation, from his forming and.
creating/* new heavens and anew earth, v/herein dwelleth righteous-
ness ! '

Secondly, It is glorious on all accounts of glory. Glorious in it-
self : who can set forth, who can express the glory and beauty, tlie
order of this work ? The tabernacle, with the temple of old, and
all their furniture, were exceeding glorious; but yet they and their
worship had no glory in comparison of the more excellent glory of
this spiritual house, 2 Cor. iii. 10.

It IS glorious in its foundation ; which is Christ himself. "Other
foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus
Christ," 1 Cor. iii. 11. This is the rock on which this hou.se is built,
Matt. xvi. 18. He is laid " in Zion for a foundation, a stone, a tried



654 AN EXPOSITION OF THE [CHAP. III.

Stone, a precious corner-stone, a sure foundation," Isa. xxviii. 16, —
so glorious that when he is brought forth, those concerned in the
building shout with crying, " Grace, grace unto it," Zech. iv. 7. And
it is glorious in its superstruction ; it is built up of living stones,
1 Pet. ii. 4; which also are precious and elect, cemented among them-
selves and wrought into beauty and order by the Spirit of God. It
is also, glorious in respect of its end; it is built unto the glory of
God, fXhis house is the foundation of eternal glory, as being that
upon ihe account whereof God will for ever be glorified. It comes
into the place of the whole creation at first, and doubles the revenue
of glory unto God/ But as unto these things more must be spokeu
afterwards. y

Our duty is to bear in mind this honour and glory of Christ, as
that whereunto he is exalted, that whereof he is every way worthy.
And herein our concernment and honour doth lie. For if any one
member of the mystical body being honoured, all the members re-
joice with it, 1 Cor. xii. 26, how much more have all the members
cause to rejoice in this unspeakable honour and glory of their head,
whence all their honour in particular doth flow !

8. The honour and glory of all that ever were employed, or ever
shall so be, in the work and service of the house of God, jointly and
severally considered, is inferior, subordinate, and subservient to the
glory and honour of Jesus Christ, the chief builder of tlie house.
He is worthy of more honour than they all. He is the Son, they
are servants. He is over the house, they are in it, and parts of it.
They are shepherds, but the sheep and the lambs are his. He is
the ap^iTnifiriv, the chief or prince of shepherds; all their honour is
from him, and if it be not returned unto him, it is utterly lost.

Ver. 4, — " For every house is builded by some man ; but he that
built all things is God,"

In this verse the apostle confirms and illustrates what he had
before asserted and proved. Hereunto two things were necessary ;
for, first, whereas his whole discourse had reference unto the analogy
that is between a house and its builder on the one hand, and Christ
with his church on the other, — seeing it lies in this, that as the builder
is worthy of more honour than the house built by him, so is Christ
worthy of more than the whole church or house of God which was built
by him, — it was therefore necessary to show that his argument had
a real foundation in the things from which the parity of reason in-
sisted on by him did arise. This he doth in the first words, " Every
house is builded by some." Every house whatever hath its builder,
between whom and the house there is that respect that he is more
honourable than it. This, therefore, holds equally in an artificial
house and in an analogical. The respect mentioned is alike in both.



YER. 3-6.] EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS. 555

Secondly, If that building of the house which alone would make
good the apostle's inference and intention (namely, that Christ was
more honourable than Moses, because he built the house, Moses was
only a part of it), were such as we have described, the building of
the church in all ages, who could perform it ? to whom must this
work belong ? Why, saith he, " He who built all things is God."

Two things are here to be inquired into; — first, What is intended
by the " all things" here mentioned ; secondly. Who is intended by
" God," who is said to build them all.

For the first, ra vtivra, " all things," is put ibr raDra itdwa^ " all
these things," — all the things treated about; which kind of expres-
sion is frequent in the Scripture. And therefore Beza well renders
the words " hsec omnia," " all these things," — the whole house, and
all the persons that belong unto it, or the parts of it in all ages.
And thus is ra 'Ko.MrcL constantly restrained to the subject-matter
treated of. Besides, the word xaraGTisvdcag, here used by the apostle,
whereby he expressed before the building of the house, plainly de-
clares that it is the same kind of building that he yet treats of, and
not the absolute creation of all things, which is nowhere expressed
by that word. And this is sufficient to evince what we plead for.
This word is nowhere used in the Scripture to express the creation of
all things, neither doth it signify to create, but to "prepare" and to
" build." And it is often used in this business of preparing the church
or the ways of the worship of God. See Matt. xi. 10; Luke i. 17,
vii. 27; Heb. ix. 2, 6. So that there can be no pretence of apply-
ing it to the creation, of the world in this place. Again, the making
of all things, or the first creation, doth not belong unto his purpose ;
but the mention of it would disturb the series of his discourse, and
render it equivocal. There is neither reason for it in his design, nor
place for it in his discourse, nor any thing in it to his purpose.

Secondly, Who is here intended by the name " God." The words
may be so understood as to signify either that God made or built all
these things, or, that he who made and built all these things is
God; the first sense making God the subject, the latter the predicate
of the proposition. But as to our purpose they amount unto the
same; for if he who made them is God, his making of them declares
him so to be. And it is the Lord Christ who is intended in this
expression; for, —

First, If God absolutely, or God the Father, be intended, then by
" the building of all things" the creation of the world is designed; so
they all grant who are of that opinion : but that this is not so we
have already demonstrated from the words themselves.

Secondly, The introduction of God absolutely, and his building of
all things, in this place, is no way subservient unto the purj)ose of
the apostle; for what light or evidence doth this contribute unto his



556 AN EXPOSITION OF THE [CHAP. III.

principal assertion, namely, that the Lord Christ was more honour-
able than Moses, and that upon the account of his building the house
of God, the confirmation whereof he doth in these words expressly
design.

Thirdly, It is contrary to his purpose ; for whereas he doth not
prove the Lord Christ to be deservedly preferred above Moses, unless
he manifest that by his own power he built the house of God in
such a manner as Moses was not employed in, according to this in-
terpretation of the words, he here assigns the principal building of
the house unto another, even the Father, and so overthrows what
he had before asserted.

This, then, is that which by these words the apostle intends to
declare, namely, the ground and reason whence it is that the house
was or could be in that glorious manner built by Christ, even be-
cause he is God, and so able to etfect it; and by this effect of his
power he is manifested so to be.

Ver. 5, 6. — " And Moses verily \ii)as] faithful in all his h6use,
as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were \after^^ to
be spoken; but Christ [was faithful] as a son over his own house;
whose house are we, if we hold last the confidence and the rejoicing
of the hope, firm unto the end."

The apostle in these words proceedeth imto another argument to
the same purpose with the former, consisting in a comparison be-
tween Christ and Moses in reference unto their relation to the house
of God when built. In the building they were both faithful, Christ
as the chief builder, Moses as a principtd part of the house, minis-
terially also employed in the building of it. The house being built,
they are both faithful towards it in their several relations unto it; —
Moses as a servant in the house of God; Christ as a Son over his
own house ; his own because he built it.

The Vulgar Latin reads also in the latter place, " in the house,"

, ^ , ^ h rip o'Uw, for It/ rov o/zoc, "over the house;" but cor-

ruptly, as was observed, ihe agreement oi the original

copies and the series of the apostle's discourse require, " over the

house :" " a Son over the house."

Some by a-oroZ would have God the Father to be intended, " over

, „ his house," " the house of God." But the other sense,

"his own house," is evidently intended. Having built

the house, and being the Son or lord over it, it becomes his own

house.

As to Moses, there are in the words, — 1. His relation to the
house of God, which was that of a " servant ;" 2, The end of his
ministry, " For a testimony of those things which were [after] to be
spoken."



VER. '6-6.] EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWb. 657

In reference unto the Lord Christ, — 1. His relation to the house
is asserted to be that of " a son/' or lord " over the house." 2. An
implication of his faithfulness in that relation, " But Christ as
a son ;" that is, * was faithful as a son/ 3. A declaration of the
state and condition of that house over which as a son he presides,
with an application of the things spoken unto the faith and obedi-
ence of the Hebrews, " Whose house are we, if we hold fast," etc.

The argument of the apostle in these words is obvious: 'The son
faithful over his own house is more glorious and honourable than a
servant that is faithful in the house of his lord and master; but
Christ was thus a son over the house, Moses only a servant in it/

There is one difficulty in the terms of this argument, which must
be removed before we enter upon the explication of the words in
particular; and this lies in the opposition that is here made between
a son and a servant, on which the stress of it doth lie. For Moses
was not so a servant but that he was also a child, a son of God ; and
the Lord Christ was not so a son but that he was also the servant



Online LibraryJohn OwenThe works of John Owen (Volume 12) → online text (page 68 of 70)