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for your feet, that the infirm may not be turned out of the way, 14 but may rather be healed. Pursue peace with all men, and holi.
ness, without which no man sliall see the Lord.
REFLECTIONS. In what clearer words can these exhortations of the apostle be expressed! by what more powerful motive can they be enforced ! Be. hold, the whole of our duty comprehended in one word : to follow after peace and holiness! Behold the most awful engagements sug. gested, that no man, whatever his profession or hope or confidence may be, can possibly see the Lord without it! What a solicitude should it awaken to cultivate holiness in ourselves, to promote it in others, and to remove every obstruction as much as possible. Awaken our spirits, O Lord, by the good Spirit, that the most languid hands and feeble knees, may be strengthened and confirmed.” And that they may be strengthened, let us look to our great Leader; to him who passed through so many years, in the midst of the most violent opposition, the most perverse contradiction. Surely we might see enough to animate us to maintain the combat, even till we left the last drop of our blood in the place, when we strive against sin, against his enemies and ours, to deliver us from the power of which, he assumed flesh and blood, and died.
He, the best beloved Son, was distinguished by his Father's chastisement, though there was not the least degree of failing in him to deserve it. But the chastisement of our peace was upon him, And shall we who have merited to be chastised with Scorpions mourn at the rod ? Let this scripture be attentively reviewed, and laid up in our mind, to dispose us to the most exemplary patience under afiliction ; and to guard against the opposite and dangerous extremes, of despising divine corrections, or fainting under them. Would we wish to be excused from the tokens of God's paternal love? Would we wish to be neglected, as if we were illegitimate, rather than cultivated with the discipline of beloved children? Were we submissive to our earthly parents, and shall we rebel against our Father in heaven ? Shall we not be in subjection to the Father of our spirits, and live? May our souls remember the unanswerable argument and the awful motive to this s!ibjection. In what would opposition end, bu: in death? and how unreasonable would that opposition be? Is God in these latter ages of the world become an arbitrary and tyrannical being, that his proceedings should now be suspected and censured ? Is he no longer concerned for the profit and advantage of his children? or is it no longer desirable to be partaker of his holiness ? of that holiness, which is to fit us to see and enjoy him for ever? Lord, should each of us say, I bless thee, that thou hast made me partaker of thy providential bounties, of thy gospel, of thy grace, in any degree : but O, my soul longs to be partaker of thine holiness, to bear thine image more completely, as the great glory and blessedness of my nature. For this therefore would I submit to thy corrections, though for the present ever so grievous, and wait those peaceful fruits of righteousness which will be so rich an equivalent for all.
Cautions against despising the blessings of the gospel, enforced by the won
derful manner of their introduction, which even that of the Jewish æconomy did not equal. Ch. xii, 15–29.
15 T OOK to it therefore with the greatest care, lest any one fall . L short of the grace of God ; lest any root of bitterness spring16 ing up, occasion trouble, and by it many be defiled : lest there be
any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one meal gave 17 away his birth-right. For ye know that, when afterwards he
would gladly have inherited the blessing, he was rejected; for he found no room for repentance, though he sought it earnestly with
tears. The superior privileges of the gospel add weight to these ex18 hortations. For ye are not come to Sinai, the mountain which
was the object of touch", and to the burning fire, and the thick 19 cloud, and darkness, and tempest, and to the sound of the trum
pet, and the voice of words, which they who heard, entreated 20 that the word might not be continued to them: (for they were not
able to endure that which was pronounced ; and it was threatened,
if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or 21 struck through with a dart. And the appearance was so dreadful, 22 that Moses said, I do exceedingly fear and tremble :) but ye are
come to mount Sion; and to the city of the living God, the heav3 enly Jerusalem ; and to myriads of angels; to the general assem
bly and church of the first-born, who are written in heaven ; and
to God the judge of all; and to the spirits of the righteous made -24 perfect; and to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant ; and to
the blood of sprinkling, which speaketh better things than the 25 blood of Abel. See to it, that ye reject not him that speaketh :
For if they escaped not who rejected him that gave forth oracles
on earth, how much more shall we not be able to escape if we turn 26 away from him that speaketh to us from the heavens? whose voice
then shook the earth ; but now he hath promised, saying, “ Yet
once more I shake not the earth only, but also the heaven." (Hag. 27 ii. 6.) And this expression yet once more, signifieth the removal
of the things shaken, the ordinances of Moses, as of things which , were constituted, only for a time, that the things not to be shaken 28 inight remain. As therefore we have received an unshaken king
dom, let us have gracet whereby we may serve God in an accepta29 ble manner, with reverence and pious fear. For our God is a con
* Dr. Wall is inclined to think y may have been omitted, and that the passage originally was “the mount which might not be touched.” See ver. 20, and Ex. xix. 13. W. renders it “a mountain spread all over and burning with fire.”
+ “Hold fast the gift.” M. “Have thankfulness." W.
REFLECTIONS. The glories of the eternal Jehovah are indeed inconceivable and immutable. Sull he is possessed of all that awful majesty which he displayed on mount Sinai, and able in a moment, as a devouring fire, to consume the transgressors of his law. But though he kindly reminds us of this dreadful scene, he does not limit and confine our views to it : he appears to us, not on that mountain, which was involved in blackness, and darkness, in tempest, and fire ; but calls us to the milder glories of mount Sion. Yet even there might our consciousness of guilt cause us to fear. How should we appear in the city of the living God, or presume to mingle ourselves with the general assembly and church of the first-born ? How should we hope for a place among myriads of angels and the perfected spirits of the just, in the presence of God, the Judge of all, if it were not for the refuge and support, which we find in Jesus, the mediator of the new covenant, and in the blood of sprinkling, which speaketh better things than the blood of Abel? But being thus encouraged, let us draw near with humble bolinces, though with reverence and godly fear ; while we hear the voice that once shook the earth, speaking to us in accents of love, and promising a kingdom that cannot be moved. That kingdom do we in some degree receive now, and we hope for the full possession hereafter. It shall indeed be obtained, if we learn so to value it, as in the expectation of it, to serve God acceptably, in the improvement of that grace which awaits us, to make us equal to his service: only let us see to it that we do not, by our own criminal negligence, fail of that grace: that we do not profanely and foolishly follow the example of that wretched Esau, who stands recorded with so much infamy, as having for one sorry meal sold his birth-right, with all his sacred privileges. How many sons of Abraham, having followed him, have found, as he did, the impossibility of retrieving so fatal a bargain ; found, as he did, that there was no place for repeniance, though they may have sought it carefully with tears ; with an anguish of heart, which none can conceive, but they who know what final and everlasting despair means ! May God preserve all his churches from such roots of bitterness, as, alas ! have too often sprung up among them! And since there is so much danger, that many may be defiled by them, let those that have a real concern for their honour and safety, be looking round, with a proper solicitude, to guard against the first appearance of what may be so fatal to their honour, their purity, and their peace.
Exhortations to brotherly-love, purity, contentment, stedfastness in pro
fessing the truth, thankfulness to God, and benevolence to man. Ch. xiii. 1-16.
1,2T ET brotherly-love continue. Be not forgetful of hospitality; 3 Le for some have entertained angels without knowing it. Remember them who are in bonds, as bound with them : and them that suffer ill treatment, as being yourselves also in the body. 4 Marriage is honourable in all, and the marriage-bed undefiled; but 5 whoremongers and adulterers God will judge. Let your conver
sation be free from covetousness; be content with such things as
ye have : For he hath said, “I will not, I will not leave thee; I 6 will never, never, never forsake thee.” (Josh. i. 5.) So that we
may take courage to say, “ The Lord is my helper, and I will not 7 fear what man shall do unto me.” Remember those deceased per
80ns, who having presided over you, have spoken to you the word
of God; whose faith imitate, considering the end of their conver8 sation. And remember that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, to9 day, and for ever. Be not carried about by various and foreign
doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established in the
grace of the gospel, not in Jewish meats, by which they who have 10 been conversant in them have not profited. We have an altar of a
spiritual nature*, from off which they have no authority to eat who 11 attend divine service in the tabernacle (for their justification.] For..
the bodies of those animals, whose blood being offered for sin, is
carried by the high-priest into the holy placet, are burnt without 12 the camp fas things unclean.) Therefore, as we may say, Jesus also,
that he might sanctify the people by his own blood, suffered with13 out the gate of Jerusalem. Let us therefore go out, as it were, unto 14 him without the camp, bearing our part of his reproach. For we 15 have here no abiding city ; but we seek one to come. By him
therefore let us always offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, 16 the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to his name. But be not for
getful of doing good, and of communicating to those in necessity, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.
REFLECTIONS. Those other expensive sacrifices which the Mosaic law required, are now entirely abrogated. Let us consider this as an additional engagement upon us, to abound more and more in those of unfeigned benevolence and real charity ; rejoicing, that the God of our lives, who gives us all, will condescend to have any regard to them. And let our brethren in Christ be remembered with that distinguishing affoction which suits the relation in which we stand to them ; and in whatever bonds of affliction they may be bound, let us endeavour to make their fetters sit lighter upon them, by every thing which our compassionate assistance can do for that purpose; considering our. selves as in the body. That we may be ready to all such kind offices, lel us endeavour to overcome the love of money, whichis the root of all evil. Let us learn (and O, that divine grace may effectually teach us !) to moderate our desires, to be contented with what providence allots us, whether more or less, and to trust in God, as to the supply of our future wants. Well may we not only trust, but even boast in him. when we consider in how endearing a manner he hath declared, with
* Viz. that dignified by the sacrifice of the Son of God. [By a metonymy the altar is put for the sacrifice. M.).
From this and other passages it has been inferred that the temple was standing when this epistle was written.
such reiterated assurances, that he will never, never, never lcave us ; that he will not, yea, he will not forsake us. Surely, the language of the most cheerful and courageous faith well corresponds to that of so gracious and soul-reviving a promise. Let faith then put a reality into it, or rather glory in that certain reality which there cannot but be in every promise ; especially as Jesus Christ, in whom this, and all the promises are confirmed to us, is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.
And let this thought support us under those breaches which may be made on the church by death. Christ ever lives to guard and protect it, and to maintain those great truths which in every age have been the joy and confidence of his people. Let our attachment to him, therefore, be preserved inviolable, and the purity of our souls unspotted. And let us never fear to share in his reproach, in whose glory we have such a security of sharing ; but cheerfully go, as it were, out of the camp, to him who suffered crucifixion for us without the gates of the city. Were we called to endure martyrdom for his sake, he would only lead us out of a mean and precarious tabernacle ; for we have here no continuing city ; but then he will conduct us, if we are faithful to him, to a city so durable, that its foundations are represented by rocks of solid gems : so glorious, that its pavements are described as gold, and its gates as pearl, May our faith be daily beholding it as near; and may we feel every day more of its attractive influence, to render us superior to all that earth can promise, and to all it can threaten, while we are passing thither. Under his guardianship, let us daily be offering the sacrifice of praise, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to his name, as well knowing, that while we are on our journey to the New Jerusalem, no mountain can be so steep and rugged, no valley so deep and gloomy, as not to admit of the songs of Sion.
The Apostle concludes with recommending particular regards to pious ministers, adding some salutations, and a solemn benediction. Ch. xiii. 17, &c.
17 n BEY them who preside over you, and submit yourselves 10
them ; for they watch for your souls, as those that must ren. der an account ; that they may do it with joy, and not with groan18 ing; for that is unprofitable and dangerous for you. Pray for us :
for we are confident that we have a good conscience, determined 19 in all things to behave honourably. And I especially beseech you
to do this, that I may quickly be restored to you from this con
fincment. 20 Now may the God of peace,' who hath brought again from the
dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep*, by the 21 blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good
work, that you may do his will; producing in you that which is acceptable in his sight by Jesus Christ ; to whom be glory for ever
*" That shepherd of the sheep, great by the blood,” &c. W.