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kindness which Paul expresses for Onesimus, in being willing that his debt to Philemon should be charged to his account, lead us to reflect on our infinite obligations to a gracious Redeemer. He has suffered our ten thousand talents to be imputed to him, that his righteousness might be so imputed to us, that, for the sake of it, we should finally be re-admitted to the family of God. With an ingratitude not to be paralleled, by any thing which can pass between mortal men, we had perfidiously deserted it;, but the divine goodness leaves us room humbly to hope, we may have departed from it for a while, to be received into it for ever. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with our spirit, to produce those strong impressions of wonder, thank-. fulness, and love, which ought to fill it, in every remembrance of such overflowing and triumphant mercy! Amen.
[Here ends the fifth volume of the original work.]
THE EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS.
I EARNED men have been divided in opinion concerning the author of e this epistle, but the generality have considered it as the genuine work of Paul. Some have contended that it was written in Hebrew or Syriac, and translated into Greek; but their arguments are very little to be depended upon. The persons to whom the epistle is addressed, called the Hebrews, were converts from Judaism to Christianity, who inhabited some particular country, as appears from Ch. xiii. 13, 19. That country most probably was Judea, where the Jewish Christians were fiersecuted by their unbelieving brethren. The manifest design of the author is, to confirm them in the faith and practice of the gospel ; in order to which he proves its divine original, in answer to the arguments and insinuations of its enemies, and fortifies their minds against the storm of persecution which had come, or was likely to come upon them for their Christian frrofession, reminding them of many renowned examples of faith and fortitude, and concludes with various cautions and ex-. hortations.
The apostle reminds the Hebrews of the grcat favour of God to them in
sending thein a revelation by his own Son, whose glory was far superior to that of angels. Ch. i.
1 * C od, who hath, at many times, and in various manners of
. old, spoken to the fathers of the Jewish nation by the 2 prophets, in these last days hath spoken to us by the Son ; whom
* The reason why Paul does not begin this, as he does most of his other epistles, by prefixing his name to it, probably was, that those to whom he was now writing were under strong prejudices against his name.
he hath appointed the heir and possessor of all things; by whom
he also constituted the ages, and dispensations of the church and 3 world. Who being the effulgent ray of his glory, and the ex
press delineation of his person, and upholding the universe by the word of his power, having by himself performed the cleans
ing away of our sins, sat down on the right-hand of the majesty 4 on high. Who was made as much superior to angels, as the 5 name he hath inherited is more excellent than theirs. For to
which of the angels hath he ever said (as he said to the Messiah, Ps. ii. 7.) “ Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee?"
And again (2 Sam. vii. 14.) “ I will be a Father to him, and he 6 shall be my Son?” But when he again introduceth his first-begot
ten Son into the world, he saith, “ And let all the angels of God 7 worship him.” (Ps. xlvii. 7.) And concerning the angels he saith,
" He maketh his angels winds, and his ministers a flame of fire." 8 But to the Son he saith, (Ps. xly. 6, 7.) “ Thy throne, O God, is
for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a sceptre of 9 righteousness. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniqui
ty ; therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of 10 gladness above thy associates." And (Ps.cii. 17.) “ Thou, Lord,
from the beginning hast founded the earth, and the heavens are 11 the works of thy hands: they shall perish, but thou endurest; 12 yea all of them shall grow old like a garment, and as a mantle
thou shalt fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art 13 the same, and thy years shall not fail." But to which of the an
gels hath he ever said (as to the Son, Ps. cx. 1.) “ Sit thou at my
right-hand, till I make thine enemies the foot-stool of thy feet?” 14 Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to attend on those
who shall inherit salvation? They are but servants to him, who is Lord of all.]
REFLECTIONS. Let us learn from this wonderful and delightful portion of scripture, how we are to conceive of our blessed Redeemer. Admirable contrast of characters! which might appear to our feeble reason, inconsistent, if faith did not teach us to reconcile them. Strange, that the brightness of his father's glory, and the express image of his person, by whom he made the worlds, should condescend by himself to frurge our sins! That he, to whom God saith, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee; that he, whom the angels are commanded to worship; that he, whose divine throne is for ever and ever ; that he, whom the church hath for successive ages adored as having founded the earth and formed the heavens, as in his original perfections and glories far more immutable than they, changing them as a vesture at his sovereign pleasure ; that this great, this illustrious, this divine person, should have laid aside these robes of celestial light, to array himself in mortal flesh; not only that he might reveal his Father's will, and speak to us in his name, but that he might redeem us to God by his blood ? What shall we say? We will receive the message he brings us with all humble thankfulness ;' we will seek his favour
with most carnest solicitude ; we will congratulate his exaltation with loyal joy. O triumphant, transporting thought that Jesus is enthrone ed above all heavens, that he is anointed with an unequalled effusion of the oil of glaciness! with angels we will fall down and worship him as our Lord and our God. Our Hosannahs shall proclaim it, that he is set down at the right-hand of the Majesty on high, and that God hath engaged to make his enemies his foolstool, Angels minister before him with unwearied vigour, with inconceivable speed do they fly like flames of lightning from one end of the heaven to the other, from world to world, to execute his sacred commands. With delight do they minister to those whom he hath appointed heirs of salvation, nor do they neglect the youngest or meanest. Let us thankfully acknowledge the great Redeemer's goodness and care, in every kind office we receive from them. And as our obligations to him are infinitely superior to theirs, let us emulate their fidelity, vigour, and zeal, in the steadiness and cheerfulness of our obedience ; till we join them in services like their own, in that world where they dwell, and to which, if we approve ourselves his faithful servants, he will ere long give them a charge safely and joyfully to convey use
The apostle in fers the danger of despising Christ on account of his humilia
tion, to which he voluntarily submitted, for wise and important reasons, Ch. ii. INTOW if Christ be so far superior to angels, we ought there
I fore to yield extraordinary attention to the things which we % have heard, lest by any means we let them slip*. For if ihe word
spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and diso
bedience received, as its reward, a correspondent vengeance ; 3 how shall we escape, in neglecting so great a salvation ? which
having at its beginning been spoken by the Lord, was confirmed 4 to us by them that heard him; God joining his testimony, both by
signs and wonders, and various miracles, and distributions of the
Holy Spirit, according to his own will. And hereby the superiority 5 of Christ is further illustrated : For to angels he hath not subject6 ed the world to come, concerning which we speak. But a certain
writer somewhere beareth his testimony, saying, “What is man,
that thou rememberest him! or the son of man, that thou regard7 est him! Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels: with
glory and honour hast thou crowned him; and hast constituted 8 him lord over the works of thine hands. Thou hast put all things
under his feet.” (Ps. viii. 4.) For in putting all things under him, nothing was left out which was not reduced to subjection to
him. But now we do not, as yet, see all things put under him. 9 Nevertheless we see Jesus, who was made a littlet lower than the
* “Flow out." D.-The word signifies to run out, as out of a leaky vessel. M.
+ “For a little while made less, &c.” M. who transposes the next clause * for the suffering of death, crowned, &c."
angels, for the suffering of death, that by the grace of God he
might taste death for every man, crowned with glory and honour. 10 For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all
things, in conducting many sons to glory, to make the Captain* 11 of their salvation perfect by sufferings. Now the sanctifier, and
they who are sanctified, are all of one family : for which cause he
is not ashamed to call them brethren; saying, in the person of Da12 vid when refiresenting the Messiah (P8. xxii. 22.) “I will declare
thy name to my brethren; in the midst of the church will I
praise thee." And again, he says, in the language of other good 13 men in trouble, “ I will trust in him.” And again ( 18. viii. 18.) 14 “Behold, I, and the children which God hath given me." See.
ing then the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he himself
in like manner participated of them, that he might by death de15 pose him who had the empire of death, that is the devil; and de
liver those who, through fear of death, were all their life-time 16 obnoxious to bondage. For truly he took not hold of the ar.
gels, to save them from misery, but he took hold of the seed of 17 Abraham. Wherefore r it behoved him to be made, in all things,
like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful
high-priest in things relating to God, that he might make atone18 ment for the sins of the people : and in that he hath himself suf
fered, being tempted, he is able r to help those that are tempted.
REFLECTIONS. Eternal praise to our compassionate High Priest, who put on our infirmities that he might know how to pity and relieve them! Eternal praise to him, by whom are all things, and for whom are all things, that he has concerted the merciful scheme of bringing many sons unto glary, in a manner so well worthy of his divine perfections, and so full of instruction and comfort to us ; appointing his own son the Captain of our salvation, and making him perfect through sufferings ! Let us reflect upon it with pleasure and gratitude, that he is not ashamed to call us his brethren, though so highly exalted above the angels of God; and that he took not hold of the superior nature of angels, which was sunk into apostasy, guilt and ruin, but took hold on the seed of Abraham. How venerable, as well as amiable, is that condescension with which he made himself a little lower than the angels, that by the grace of God which was to owe its highest honours to his cross, he might taste death for every man! He hath effected his merciful purpose : by death he hath deposed and abolished the tyrannical prince of death, that is, the devil, and delivered from the fears of death, those who, had they known and considered their real circumstances, might have been continually in bondage to it.
We see our great enemy deposed; we see life and immortality brought to light by his gospel : let us see it with gratitude and pleasure. And let us learn from all, if we would not charge ourselves with the most inexcusable guilt, and the basest ingratitude, if we
would not plunge ourselves into the lowest gulf of perdition, not to neglect so great a salvation. Let the doom which the law of Moses passed upon the presumptuous transgressor, deter us; and let the grace of the gospel allure and invite us to attend to the salvation spoken by the Lord, and to take the most earnest heed to it, lest we let slip that golden opportunity, which, if neglected, will never return.
He represents Christ as superior to Moses; and from the sentence passed on
the rebellious Jews, argues the danger of despising the gospel-promises. Ch. iii. 1–13.
I THEREFORE, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly
1 calling, attentively regard the apostle and high-priest of our 2 profession, Christ Jesus ; who was faithful to him that appointed - 5 him, as Moses was also in r all his house. For he was esteemed
worthy of more honour than Moses, in proportion to the degree
in which the builder of a house hath more honour than the house. 4 For every house hath some builder : now he who built all things 5 is God. And Moses was indeed faithful in all his house, as a
servant, for a testimony of things afterwards to be mentioned. 6 But Christ was faithful, as a son in his own house, whose house
we are, if we maintain our freedom of profession, and boasting -7 of hope, stedfast unto the end. Therefore as the Holy Ghost 8 saith (Ps, xcv. 7.) « To-day if ye will hear his voice, harden not
your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the 9 wilderness ; when your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw 10 my works forty years. Therefore I was angry with that genera
tion, and said, They always err in their hearts, and they have not 11 known my ways. So I sware in my wrath, that they should nev. 12 er enter into my rest." See to it, brethren, lest there be in any
of you a wicked heart of unbelief, in apostatizing from the living 13 God. But exhort one another daily, whilst it is called to-day, that
no one of you may be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
REFLECTIONS. We are partakers of this heavenly calling, and to us are the mes. sages of mercy addressed : let us therefore hear with reverence and obedience, the admonitions of the word of God. Let us behold with veneration and delight, the Son of God becoming the messenger of his Father's love, and the High Priest of our Christian profession. He is the great prophet too, whom God hath raised up unto us like Moses, in many respects ; but O), how far superior to him ! More completeiy faithful to him who hath appointed him ; faithful as a Son in his own hollse.
The world is an edifice raised by Christ : the church is the house in which he delights to reside. Let both be considered in this important view. The divine perfections of the great architect are indeed illustriously displayed in the construction and constitution of this visible