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  • CHAPTER 3.


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    VERSES 7-11.

    HAVING demonstrated the pre-eminence of the Lord Christ above Moses in their respective ministries about the house of God, the apostle, according unto his design and method, proceeds unto the application of the truth he had evinced, in an exhortation unto stability and constancy in faith and obedience. And this he doth in a way that adds a double force to his inference and exhortation; — first, in that he presseth them with the words, testimonies, and examples recorded in the Old Testament, unto which they owned an especial reverence and subjection; and then the nature of the examples which he insists upon is such as supplies him with a new argument unto his purpose. Now this is taken from the dealing of God with them who were disobedient under the ministry and rule of Moses; which he further explains, verses 15-19. For if God dealt in severity with them who were unbelieving and disobedient with respect unto him and his work who was but a servant in the house, they might easily understand what his dispensation towards them would be who should be so with respect unto the Son and his work, who is Lord over the whole house, and “whose house are we.”

    Ver. 7-11. Dio< , kaqwgei to< pneu~ma to< a[gion? Sh>meron , eJashte , mh< sklhru>nhte taav uJmw~n , wJv ejn tw~| parapikrasmw~| , kata< thran tou~ peirasmou~ ejn th~| ejrh>mw| , ou= ejpei>rasa>n me oiJ pate>rev uJmw~n , ejdoki>masa>n me , kai< ei+don ta< e]rga mou , tessara>konta e[th . Dio< prosw>cqisa th~| genea~| ejkei>nh| , kai< ei+pon? jAei< planw~ntai th~| kardi>a|? aujtoi< de< oujk e]gnwsan tav mou . JWv w]mosa ejn th~| ojrgh~| mou? Eij eiJseleu>sontai eijv thpausi>n mou .

    There are some little varieties in some words and letters observed in some old manuscripts, but of no importance or use, and for the most part mere mistakes; as ejndoki>masan for ejdoki>masan , tau>th| for ejkei>nh , ei+pa for ei+pon ; as many such differences occur, where some have tampered to make the apostle’s words and the translation of the LXX. in all things to agree.

    Kaqw>v, “sicut;” the Syriac and Arabic translations omit this word. “Wherefore the Holy Ghost saith.” JWv ejn tw~| parapikrasmw~| . So the LXX. in the psalm, “sicut in exacerbatione,” “in irritatione,” — “in the provocation.” Syr., “ut ad iram eum provocetis tanquam exacerbatores,” both in the psalm and here also, departing both from the Hebrew text and the apostolical version, — “ that you stir him not up to anger as provokers.” Kata< thran tou~ peirasmou~ . So the LXX. in the psalm. Vulg., “secundum diem tentationis,” — “ according to the day of temptation ;” that is, as those others, the fathers of the people, did in the day of temptation: so also in this place following the LXX. in the psalm, though not only the original but that version also might more properly be rendered, “sieur in die tentationis,” “as in the day of temptation.” Ou= ejpei>rasan. The translator of the Syriae version in the psalm, “qua tentarunt,” that is, “qua die;” referring it unto the time of the temptation, “the day wherein.” Here “quum,” “when,” to the same purpose. Neither was there any need of the variety of expression, the word used by that translator in both places being the same, referring unto time, not place, — the day of temptation, not the wilderness wherein it was. Vulg., “ubi,” properly “where ;” as the Arabic, “in quo,” “in which,” — “desert,” the next antecedent. Ethiop, “Eo quod tentarunt eum patres vestri, tentarunt me,” — “ Whereas your fathers tempted him, they tempted me.” For it was Christ who was tempted in the wilderness, 1 Corinthians 10:9. “Saw my works tessara>konta e]th ,” — “forty years.” Here the apostle completes the sense; for although sundry editions of the New Testament, as one by Stephen, and one by Plantin, out of one especial copy, place the period at e]rga mou , “my works,” yet the insertion of dio> after tessara>konta e]th by the apostle, proves the sense by him there to be concluded. So is it likewise by the Syriac in the psalm, and by all translations in this place. However, the Ethiopie, omitting dio> , seems to intend another sense. The LXX. and Vulgar Latin in the psalm follow the original; though some copies of the LXX. have been tampered withal, to bring them to conformity with the apostle here, as usually it hath fallen out. And there is no doubt but that the order of the words in the Syriac version on the psalm came from this place.

    Prosw>cqisa, “offensus fui,” “incensus fui;” Arab., “exsecratus sum,” — “I cursed this generation.” jAei< planw~ntai. The original in the psalm, hz, µ[æ , “this people,” which in the psalm is followed by the Syriac; and, contrary to the apostle, the same expression is retained in that version on this place. The LXX. in the psalm have taken in these words of the apostle, and left out those of the original; wherein they are (as almost constantly in the Psalms) followed by the Vulgar Latin.

    Dio>, “wherefore.” It expresseth an inference from what was spoken before, manifesting the ensuing exhortation to be deduced from thence. And it hath respect unto the exhortation itself which the apostle directly enters upon, verse 12, “Take heed, brethren,” — ‘ Wherefore take heed, brethren.’

    There is therefore a hyperbaton in the discourse, the words that agree in sense being separated by an interposition of other things; and there is between them a digression to an example or argument for the better enforcement of the exhortation itself.

    Kaqwgei to< Pneu~ma to< a[gion, “as the Holy Ghost saith;” or, ‘ that I may use the words of the Holy Ghost.’ There is an emphasis in the manner of the expression, — to< Pneu~ma to< a[gion, “that Holy Spirit;” so called kat j ejxoch>n , by way of eminency, the third person in the Trinity, who in an especial manner spake in the penmen of the Scripture. Those holy men of God spake uJpo< Pneu>matov aJgi>ou fero>menoi , “moved,” “acted,” “inspired by the Holy Ghost,” 2 Peter 1:21.

    Kaqwgei , “as he saith.” This may intend either his first immediate speaking in his inspiration of the psalmist, as it is expressed, Hebrews 4:7, ejn Dazigwn, “saying in David,” where these words are again repeated; or his continuing still to speak these words to us all in the Scripture. Being given out by inspiration from him, and his authority always accompanying them, he still speaketh them.

    The words reported by the apostle are taken from Psalm 95:7-11. He mentions not the especial place, as speaking unto them who either were, or whom he would have to be exercised in the word, 2 Timothy 3:15.

    Besides, though such particular citations of places may be needful for us, for a present help unto them that hear or read, it was not so to the holy penmen of the New Testament, whose writings are continually to be searched and meditated upon all our lives, John 5:39. Whereas ours are transient and for the present occasion, every thing in their writings (which makes us attentive and industrious in our search) is to our advantage. The leaving, therefore, of an uncertainty whence particular quotations are taken is useful to make us more sedulous in our inquiries.

    This psalm the apostle makes use of both in this chapter, and the next. In this, he manifests it to contain a useful and instructive example, in what happened unto the people of God of old. In the next, he shows that not only a moral example may be taken from what so fell out, but also that there was a type in the things mentioned in it (and that according unto God’s appointment) of our state and condition; and moreover, a prophecy of the gospel state of the church under the Messiah, and the blessed rest therein to be obtained. Here we have the consideration of it as historical and exemplary; in the next we shall treat of it as prophetical.

    The Jews had a tradition that this psalm belonged unto the Messiah.

    Hence the Targum renders these words of the first verse, Wl[,v]yi rWxl] , “to the rock of our salvation,” anqAyp ãyqt µdq, “before the mighty one of our redemption;” with respect unto the redemption to be wrought by the Messiah, whom they looked for as the Redeemer, Luke 24:21. So ver. 7, ˆyd amwy, “in that day,” seems to refer unto the same season. And the ancient Jews do frequently apply these words, “To-day, if ye will hear his voice,” unto the Messiah. For from these words they have framed a principle, that if all Israel would repent but one day the Messiah would come, because it is said, “To-day, if ye will hear his voice.” So in the Talmud. Tract. Taanith., distinc. Mamarai Maskirin. And the same words they used in Midrash Shirhashirim, cap. 5: ver. 2. And this is no small witness against them as to the person of the Messiah; for he is God undoubtedly concerning whom the psalmist speaks, as is evident from verses 2-7. He whose voice they are to hear, whom they acknowledge to be the Messiah, is “Jehovah, the great God,” verse 3; “who made the sea, and formed the dry land,” verse 5; “the LORD our maker,” verse 6. And indeed this psalm, with those that follow unto the 104th, is evidently of those new songs which belong unto the kingdom of the Messiah. And this is among the Jews the vd;j; ryvi, or principal “new song,” expressing that renovation of all things which under it they expect. The next psalm expresseth it: “Sing unto theLORD vd;j; ryvi,” “ a new song.” Dyt[h l[ hz rwmzm , saith Rashi, “This psalm is for the time to come;” that is, the days of the Messiah. Sh>meron, “hodie,” “to-day,” “this day.” A certain day or space of time is limited or determined, as the apostle speaks in the next chapter. And the psalm being in part, as was showed, prophetical, it must have a various application; for it both expresseth what was then done and spoken in the type, with regard to what was before as the foundation of all, and intimateth what should afterwards be accomplished in the time prefigured, in what the words have respect unto as past.

    The general foundation of all lies in this, that a certain limited present space of time is expressed in the words. This is the moral sense of them: — limited, because a day; present, because to-day. And this space may denote in general the continuance of men’s lives in this world. µwOYh; ; that is, saith Rashi, hzh µlw[b , “in this world,” in this life: afterwards there will be neither time nor place for this duty. But yet the measure of such a day is not merely our continuance in a capacity to enjoy it, but the will of God to continue it. It is God’s day that is intended, and not ours, which we may outlive, and lose the benefit of it, as will afterwards appear.

    Again, the general sense of the word is limited to a special season, both then present when the words were spoken, and intimated in prophecy to come afterwards. For the present, or David’s time, that refers, saith Aben Ezra, to WaoB jy,j\Tæv]ni , “come, let us fall down and worship,” verse 6; as if he had said, ‘ If you will hear his voice, come and worship before him this day.’ And in this sense, it is probable that some especial feast of Moses’ institution, when the people assembled themselves unto the solemn worship of God, was intended. Many think that this psalm was peculiarly appointed to be sung at the feast of tabernacles. Neither is it unlikely, that feast being a great type and representation of the Son of God coming to pitch his tabernacle amongst us, John 1:14. Let this, then, pass for David’s typical day. But that a farther day is intended herein the apostle declares in the next chapter. Here the proper time and season of any duty, of the great duty exhorted unto, is firstly intended, as is evident from the application that the apostle makes of this instance, verse 13, “Exhort one another daily, while it is called µwOYhæ sh>meron, “to-day;” that is, whilst the season of the duty is continued unto you.’ So was it also originally used by the psalmist, and applied unto the duties of the feast of tabernacles, or some other season of the performance of God’s solemn worship. jEa>n , “si,” “if;” a mere conditional, as commonly used. But it is otherwise applied in the New Testament, as Matthew 8:19, “I will follow thee o[pou ejarch| ,” — “ whithersoever thou goest.” And Matthew 12:36, “Every idle word o[ ejaswsin oiJ a]nqrwpoi,” — “ which men shall speak.” There is no condition or supposition included in these places, but the signification is indefinite, “whosoever,” “whatsoever,” “whensoever.” Such may be the sense of it in this place; which would, as some suppose, remove a difficulty which is cast on the text; for make it to be merely a conditional, and this and the following clause seem to be coincident, “If ye will hear,” that is, obey his voice, “harden not your hearts;” for to hear the voice of God, and the not hardening of our hearts, are the same. But there is no necessity, as we shall see, to betake ourselves unto this unusual sense of the word.

    Th~v fwnh~v aujtou~ ajkou>shte , — “Ye will hear his voice:” W[m;v]ti wOlqoB] .

    Where-ever this construction of the words doth occur in the Hebrew, — that [mæv; is joined with lwOqB] , whether it be spoken of God in reference unto the voice of man, or of man in reference unto the voice of God, — the effectual doing and accomplishment of the thing spoken of is intended. So Numbers 14:22, “They have tempted me these ten times, yliwOqB] W[m]v; alo]w ,” “and have not heard my voice;” that is, ‘ have not yielded obedience to my command.’ So of God with reference unto men: Joshua 10:14, “There was no day like that, before nor after it, hwO;hy] [æmovili vyai lwOqB] that the LORD should hearken to the voice of a man;” that is, effectually to do so great a thing as to cause the sun and moon to stand still in heaven.

    So between man and man, Deuteronomy 21:18,19. See Matthew 18:15-17. It is frequently observed, that to “hear,”to “hearken,” in the Scripture, signifies to “obey,” or to “yield obedience to the things heard ;” as to “see” doth to “understand” or “believe,” and to “taste” denotes “spiritual experience;” words of outward sense being used to express the inward spiritual acts of the mind. Sometimes I say it is so, but this phrase is always so used. The Holy Ghost, therefore, herein lays down the duty which we owe to the word, to the voice of God, when we hear it in the way of his appointment, — that is, to yield sincere obedience unto it; and the hinderance thereof is expressed in the next words. Now, as this command is translated over into the gospel, as it is by our apostle in the next chapter, it hath respect unto the great precept of hearing and obeying the voice of Christ, as the great prophet of the church; given originally, Deuteronomy 18:19, “Whosoever will not hearken unto my words, which he shall speak in my name” (for the Father speaketh in the Son, Hebrews 1:1,2). “I will require it of him,” Acts 3:22,23; which was again solemnly renewed upon his actual exhibition: Matthew 17:5, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.” See 2 Peter 1:17. And he is thereon, as we have seen, compared with Moses in his prophetical office, and preferred above him, John 1:17,18.

    WOlqoB] hwO;hy] th~v fwnh~v aujtou~ lwOq , “the voice of theLORD,” is sometimes taken for his power, inasmuch as by his word, as an intimation and signification of the power which he puts forth therein, he created and disposeth of all things. See Psalm 29:3-5, 7-9, where the mighty works of God’s power and providence are assigned unto his voice. See also Micah 6:9. Sometimes it is used for the revelation of his will in his commands and promises. This is the lo>gov proforiko>v of God, the word of his will and pleasure. But it is withal certain that lwOq and fwnh> are used principally, if not solely, for a sudden, transient voice or speaking.

    For the word of God as delivered in the Scripture is rb;D; and lo>gov, sometimes rJh~ma , not lwOq or fwnh> . So the lifting up of the voice amongst men, is to make some sudden outcry; as, “They lifted up their voice and wept.” These words, then, do ordinarily signify a sudden, marvelous speaking of God from heaven, testifying unto anything. So doth fwnh> , Mark 1:11, Kai< fwnh< ejge>neto ejk tw~n oujranw~n , — “And there was a voice from heaven.” So Matthew 17:5; Luke 3:22; John 12:28, +Hlqen ou+n fanh< ejk tou~ oujranou~ , — “ There came therefore a voice from heaven:” which when the multitude heard, they said bronthnai , thundered ;” for thunder was called µyhiloa’ lwOq , “the voice of God.” So the tloqo , “the voices,” Exodus 19:16, that accompanied the µyqiy;b] or “lightnings,” that is, the thunders that were at the giving of the law, are rendered by our apostle fwnh< rJhma>twn , Hebrews 12:19; that is, the thunders from heaven which accompanied the words that were spoken. So is fwnh> used Acts 10:13,15, 26:14. Hence came the lwq tb , “Bath Kol” among the ancient Jews: or, as. in the Chaldee, alq trb , Genesis 38:26. “There came filia vocis” (“ the daughter of the voice”) “from heaven.” And so the Syriac version in this place: hlq trb ˆa ˆy[mçt , “if you will hear the daughter of the voice.” They called it so, as being an effect or product of the power of God, to cause his mind and will to be heard and understood by it. They thought it was not the voice of God himself immediately, but as it were the echo of it, — a secondary voice, the offspring of another. And whereas they acknowledge, that after the building of the second temple the hawbn jwr , or çwdqh jwr , the “Spirit of prophecy and of inspiration,” ceased in their, church, they contend that revelations were made by the by the lwq tb , or immediate voice from heaven, though they can instance in none but those which concerned our Savior, which the apostles declared and made famous, Peter 1:17. But it may be there is that in this tradition which they understand not. Elias in his Tishbi tells us, ylwa lwq tarqnh tja hdm lç lwq awhç µyrmwa hlbqh yl[b awh ˆk , — “The Cabbalists say that it is the voice of a property in God which is called Kol; and it may be it is so.” They have no other way to express a person in the divine nature but by hdm , a special property. And one of these, they say, is called “Kol,” that is, “the Word,” the eternal Word or Son of God. His especial speaking is intended in this expression; which is true. So his speaking is called his “speaking from heaven,” Hebrews 12:25; although I deny not but that the immediate speaking of the Father in reference unto the Son is sometimes so expressed, Matthew 17:5, 2 Peter 1:17. But an especial, extraordinary word is usually so intended. So our Savior tells the Pharisees, that they had not heard fwnh>n , the voice of God at any time, nor seen his ei+dov , his shape, John 5:37. They had heard the voice of God in the reading and preaching of the word, but that was oJ lo>gov , “his word.” His fwnh>n they had not heard. Notwithstanding all their pretences and boasting’s, they had not at any time extraordinary revelations of God made unto them. For there is an allusion to the revelation of the will of God at Horeb, when his lyOq , or fwnh> , or “voice,” was heard, and his ha,A]mæ or ei=dov , his “shape,” appeared, or a miraculous appearance of his presence was made; both now being accomplished in himself in a more eminent manner, as the apostle declares, John 1:16-18.

    It is true the Lord Christ calls his ordinary preaching, as we say, “viva voce,” thn , his “voice,” John 10:3,16; but this he doth because it was extraordinary, his person, work, and call being so. Wherefore the psalmist in these words, as to the historic and typical intendment of them, recalls the people unto the remembrance and consideration of God’s speaking unto them in the giving of the law at Horeb, and exhorts them unto obedience unto it formally upon that consideration, — namely, that the will of God was uttered unto them in a marvellous and extraordinary manner. And as to the prophetical intendment of it, he intimates another extraordinary revelation of it, to be made by the Messiah, the Son of God.

    Mh< sklhru>nhte taav uJmw~n , µk,b]bæl] Wvq]TæAlaæ , — “Harden not your hearts.” This expression is sacred; it occurs not in other authors.

    To harden the heart, is a thing peculiarly regarding the obedience that God requireth of us. Sklhro>thv , “hardness,” is indeed sometimes used in heathen writers for stubbornness of mind and manners. So Aristotle says of some that they are ojnomasto>tatoi ejpi< sklhro>thti , “famous for stubbornness.” Such as Homer describes Achilles to have been, who had periskelei~v fre>nav , “a hard, stubborn, inflexible mind.” So is sklhrotra>chlov sometimes used, “duricervicus,” “hard-necked” or “stiff-necked,’’ “curvicervicum pecus,” “a crook-necked, perverse beast.”

    But “to harden,” is scarcely used unless it be in the New Testament and in the translation of the Old by the LXX. Three times it occurs in the New Testament,— Acts 19:9, Romans 9:18, and in this chapter; everywhere by Paul, so that it is a word peculiar unto him. Sklhru>nein than , therefore, “to harden the heart,” in a moral sense, is peculiar to holy writ; and it is ascribed both to God and man, but in different.senses, as we shall see afterwards. By this word the apostle expresseth hv;q; out of the original; that is, “to be hard, heavy, and also difficult.” In Hiphil it is “to harden and make obdurate,” and is used only in a moral sense. The LXX. render it constantly by sklhru>nw , “induro;” or “gravo,” 1 Kings 12:4: to “harden,” or to “burden.” Sometimes it is used absolutely: Job 9:4, wyl;ae hv;q]hi , “hardened against him,” that is, himself; — “hardened himself against him.” Ofttimes it hath ãr,[O, the “neck,” added unto it: ãy,[o hv,q]mæ , Proverbs 29:1, that “stiffeneth,” or “hardeneth his neck;” as one that goes on resolvedly, as will not so much as turn aside or look back towards any one that calls him. Sometimes it hath jæWr , the “spirit”joined to it: Deuteronomy 2:30, wOjWrAta, hv;q]hi , “he hardened his spirit.” But most commonly it hath bb;le the “heart,” as here. And it still in man denotes a voluntary perverseness of mind, in not taking notice of, or not applying the soul unto the will of God as revealed, to do and observe it.

    JWv ejn tw~| parapikrasmw~| , “as in the provocation;” hb;yyim]Ki . The LXX. render this word, where it is first used, by loido>rhsiv , “convitium,” “a reproach,” Exodus 17:7; afterwards constantly by ajntilogi>a , “contradiction,” or contention by words, as Numbers 20:13, 27:14, Deuteronomy 33:8; and nowhere by parapikrasmo>v , as in this place of the psalm. Hence some suppose it is evident that the present Greek translation is not the work or endeavor of the same persons, but a cento of many essays. I rather think that we have hence a new evidence of the insertion of the apostle’s words into that version; for, as I will not deny but that the writers of the New Testament might make use of that Greek version of the Old which was then extant, so that many words and expressions are taken from them, and inserted in that which we now enjoy, is too evident for any man of modesty or sobriety to deny. And this word, as here compounded, is scarce used in any other author. Pikro>v is “bitter,” in opposition to gluku, “sweet,” “pleasant;” that is the proper, natural sense of the word. So also of pikro>w and pikrai>nw, “to make bitter to the taste” or sense. But the metaphorical use of these words in a moral sense is frequent for “exacerbo,” “provoco.” The Hebrew s[eKi , is “to stir up to anger,” “to vex,” “imbitter,” “provoke,” as 1 Samuel 1:6.

    So parapikrasmo>v must be” exacerbatio,” “provocatio,” an imbittering, a provocation to anger by contention: hb;yyim] , which here is so rendered, is “jurgium,” a strife agitated in words. We render it “chiding.” The story which this principally refers unto is recorded, Exodus 17:1-7, “And they pitched in Rephidim: and there was no water for the people to drink. Wherefore the people did chide with Moses, and said, Give us water that we may drink. And Moses said unto them, Why chide ye with me? wherefore do ye tempt the LORD? And the people thirsted there for water; and the people murmured against Moses, and said, Wherefore is this that thou hast brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children, and our cattle, with thirst? And Moses cried unto the LORD, saying, What shall I do unto this people? they be almost ready to stone me. And the LORD said unto Moses, Go on before the people, and take with thee of the elders of Israel; and thy rod, wherewith thou smotest the river, take in thine hand, and go. Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel. And he called the name of the place Massah, and Meribah, because of the chiding of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the LORD, saying, Is the LORD among us, or not?”

    Another story to the like purpose we have of what befell the people in the wilderness of Zin nearly forty years afterwards, when, in their murmuring for water, another reek was smitten to bring it forth, whereon it is added, “This is the water of Meribah; because the children of Israel strove with the LORD,” Numbers 20:13. is also said on the same occasion that they “chode with Moses,” verse 3.

    Kata< thran tou~ peirasmou~, hs;mæ µwOyK] ; — “as in the day of Massah,” or “temptation;” hs;mæ , from hs;n; , “to tempt;” the other name given to the place before mentioned in Exodus: for thence it is that the apostle takes his example, where both the names are mentioned, and where the place is said to be called Massah and Meribah; whereas in that of Numbers it is only said, “This is the water of Meribah,” or strife. And yet it may be not without respect to the latter also. The first instance was at the beginning, the latter at the close of their provocations. As they began so they ended. This was a remarkable passage between God and that people; for, first, a double name is given to the place where it fell out: “He called the name of the place Massah, and Meribah,” Exodus 17:7.

    Meribah, which the apostle renders parapikrasmo>v , seems principally or firstly to respect Moses as the object of it: verse 2, hv,m µ[i µ[;h; br,y;wæ , “and the people chode with Moses.” Thence had the place the name of Chiding, “Meribah,” from “jareb.” And God was the immediate object of their temptation. So in the text there is made a distribution of these things distinctly, whence these several names arose. “And Moses said unto the people, hyO;hy]Ata, ˆysnæT]Ahmæ ydim;[i ˆYbyyiT]Ahmæ ,” “Why do ye chide with me” (Meribah)? “and wherefore do ye tempt the Lord” (Massah)? For in the same things and words wherein they chode with Moses they tempted the Lord. And hence the same word, of chiding, striving, contending, or provoking, is used in this matter towards the Lord also: Numbers 20:13, hwO;hy]Ata, Wbr; , “they strove” (or “chode”) “with the LORD.”

    Secondly, This matter, as a thing exceedingly remarkable, is often called over and remembered again in the Scripture. Sometimes on the part of the people; and that, 1. To reproach and burden them with their sins, as Deuteronomy 9:22, “And at Massah ye provoked the LORD to wrath ;” and sometimes, 2. To warn them of the like miscarriages, Deuteronomy 6:16, “Ye shall, not tempt the LORD your God, as ye tempted him in Massah.” So also in the <199501> 95th Psalm, from whence the apostle takes these words. Again, it is remembered as an instance of the faithfulness of Levi, who clave to God in those trials: Deuteronomy 33:8, “And of Levi he said, Let thy Thummim and thy Urim be with thy Holy One, whom thou didst prove at Massah, and with whom thou didst strive at the waters of Meribah.”

    The mercy likewise that ensued in giving them waters from the rock is frequently celebrated, Deuteronomy 8:15, Psalm 78:15,16, 105:41, Nehemiah 9:15. Moreover, in this rock of Horeb lay hid a spiritual Rock, as our apostle tells us, 1 Corinthians 10:4, even Christ, the Son of God, who, being smitten with the rod of Moses, or the stroke and curse of the law administered by him, gave out waters of life freely to all that thirst and come unto him. In this matter, therefore, is comprehended a great instance of providence and a great mystery of grace. But yet notwithstanding all this, although the especial denomination of the sin of the people be taken from that instance of Exodus 17, yet the expressions are not to be confined or appropriated only thereunto. For the particular provocation on which God sware against them that they should not enter into his rest fell out afterwards, Numbers 14, as we shall see in our progress. But this is eminently referred unto, — 1. Because it was upon the very entrance of that course of provoking which they constantly persisted in until they were consumed; 2. Because of the signal and significant miracles and works which God wrought thereon. jEn ejrh>mw| , rB;d]MiBæ ; — “in the desert,” or “wilderness,” namely, of Midian, where-into that people entered upon their coming through the sea.

    In their way towards Horeb, their fourth station was at Rephidim, where the things fell out before recounted. So they received refreshment in a type, from the spiritual Rock, some days before the giving of the fiery law.

    Ou= ejpei>rasa>n , yniWSni rv,a\ rv,a\ is referred both to time and place as well as persons. We render ou= here, “when,” — “ when your fathers tempted me;” and so rv,a\ in the psalm; referring what is spoken to the time mentioned, or the day of temptation. So the Syriac, “in which day.”

    The Vulg. Lat..,” ubi,” “where,” that is in the desert, at Meribah or Massah. And this is the proper signification of the word. Nor is either ou= or pou~ , the interrogative, ever used in any good authors to denote time, but place only. “Where,” that is rB; d]MiBæ , in the wilderness, where they tempted God and saw his works forty years.

    OiJ pate>rev uJmw~n , µk,ytewOba\ ; — “your fathers,” or “forefathers;” pro>gonoi , “progenitors,” 2 Timothy 1:3. So is pate>rev often used, and twOba\ most frequently; although in one place µynivoair be added: µynivoarih; µt;wOba\ , Jeremiah 11:10; — the first springs and heads of any nation or family, — the whole congregation in the wilderness, whose posterity they were. jEdoki>masa Psalm 139:23. The experience, therefore, that they had of the power of God upon their temptations, is that which by this word is intended. ‘ They “proved me” and found by trial that I was in the midst of them.’

    Kai< ei+don ta< e]rga mou , yli[\p; War;AµGæ ; — “and saw my works.” “And saw my work,” in the psalm. µGæ is rendered by kai> . It signifies “also,” “moreover,” somewhat above a mere conjunction; and so doth kai> , most frequently “quinetiam.” Some suppose it may be here taken for “etse” “etiam,” “although.” ‘They tempted me, and proved me, “although they saw my works.”’ And so these words are placed as an aggravation of their sin in tempting of God, distrusting of him, after they had had such experience of his power and goodness, in those mighty works of his which they saw. But the order of things also seems to be intended. First they tempted God, — “They tempted me.” Then they had an experience of his power, — “They proved me;” and that by the production of his mighty works which they saw. For generally all the works of God in the wilderness, whether of mercy or judgment, were consequents of, or ensued upon the people’s tempting of him. Such was his bringing water out of the rock, and sending of quails and manna. The people murmured chode, strove, tempted; then the power of God was manifested and the works were wrought which they saw. were the judgments that he wrought and executed on Korah, Dathan, and Abiram; and on the spies that brought up an evil report on the land, with those that adhered unto them. This order and method of things is here expressed. They tempted God by their complaints, repinings, murmurings, seditions, unbelief, weariness of their condition, with impatient desires and wishings after other things.

    Hereupon they had frequent trials of the power, care, and faithfulness of God; as also of his holiness, and indignation against their sins. All these were made manifest in the mighty works of providence, in mercies and judgments which he wrought amongst them, and which they saw. They had them not by report or tradition, but saw them with their own eyes, which was a great aggravation of their unbelief. Jarchi refers this to the works of God in Egypt only; but this is contrary to our apostle, although they are not to be excluded: Numbers 14:22, “They have seen my glow, and my miracles” (my glorious works), “which I did in Egypt, and in the wilderness.”

    Tessara>konta e]th , — “forty years.” Here the apostle finisheth the sense of the words, referring them to what goes before: ‘They saw my works forty years.’ The psalmist as was before observe, placeth these words in the beginning of the next verse, and makes them to respect the season of God’s indignation against them for their sins; hn;v; µy[iB;r]aæ , — “forty years was I grieved.” By the apostle, the space of time mentioned is applied unto the people’s seeing of works of God; by the psalmist, to God’s indication against them. And these things being absolutely commensurate in their duration, it is altogether indifferent to which of them the limitation of time specified is formally applied; and the apostle shows it to be indifferent, in that in the 17th verse of this chapter he plies the space of time unto God’s being grieved with them, as here unto the people’s sin: “With whom was he grieved forty years?’ Only, it may be, the apostle made this distinction of the words to intimate, that the oath of God against the entering of that people into his rest was not made after the end of forty years, as the order of the words in the psalm seems to import: “Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they We not known my ways: unto whom I sware in my that they should not enter into my rest.” They seem to intimate, that God thus sware in his wrath after he had been grieved with them forty years. But they do but seem so: really they only declare that it was the same people with whom he was grieved concerning whom he sware; for the oath of God here intended is that mentioned, Numbers 14:20-23. The people falling into a high sedition and murmuring, upon the report of the spies that were sent to search the land, the Lord sware by himself that that whole generation should wander forty years in that wilderness, until they were all consume. Now, this was upon the next year after their coming up out of Egypt, and after which the forty years of their prorations and God’s indignation ensue. But these things, as to time, were of the same duration. The people came out of Egypt, and entered into the wilderness in the first month of the year. At the end of the fortieth year from their coming out of Egypt, the eleventh month of it, is issued the history of three of the books of Moses, — Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers. In the last month of that year Moses reviewed and repeated the whole law, the dealings of God, and sins of the people, as recorded in the book of Deuteronomy. About the end of that month, as is probable, he died, and was lamented thirty days, or all the first month of the forty-first year.

    After which, about three or four days, the people prepared to pass over Jordan, under the conduct of Joshua 1:11. This was the space of time mentioned, containing as wonderful issues and successes of things as ever befell the church of God in the like space of time. Every year in the whole forty was full of instances of the people’s sins, provocations, temptations, and unbelief; and every year also was filled with tokens of God’s displeasure and indignation, until the close of the whole dispensation came, wherein that generation that came out of Egypt under Moses was consumed, and the indignation of God rested in their consumption. And it is not unlikely but that the apostle minds the Hebrews of this space of time granted unto their forefathers in the wilderness after their coming up out of Egypt, with their abuse of it, because an alike space of time was now, in the patience of God, allotted unto the whole church and people of the Jews, between the preaching of Christ and that wasting destruction that was to come upon them. And according to this type it fell out with them; for, as after their forefathers, who came up under Moses out of Egypt were consumed in forty years in the wilderness, a new church, a new generation, under the conduct of Joshua, entered into the rest of God; so within forty years after the preaching of spiritual deliverance unto them, which was rejected by them, that whole generation was cut off in the wrath of God, and a new church of Jews and Gentiles, under the conduct of the true Joshua, enters into the rest of God.

    Dio< prosw>cqisa , — “Wherefore I was grieved.” The apostle here alters the tenor of the discourse in the psalmist, by interposing a reference unto the cause of God’s being grieved with the people, in the word dio> , “wherefore;” that is, because of their manifold temptations and provocations, not cured, not healed, although for so long a season they beheld his works. They continued in the same kind of sins on the account whereof God was first provoked, and sware against their entering into the land. For, as we have before observed, the oath of God passed against them at the beginning of the forty years; but they abiding obstinately in the same sins, the execution of that oath had respect unto all their provocations during the whole forty years. Prosw>cqisa , “I was grieved.”

    This word is supposed peculiar unto the Hellenistical Jews, nor doth ,it occur in any other author, but only in the Greek version of the Old Testament. Nor is it used by the LXX. in any place to express fyq, the word here used in the original, but they render it by ka>mnw , ejkth>kw , and kope>w . In the New Testament it is only in this place, and thence transferred into the psalm. It is generally thought to be derived from o]cqh or o]cqov , “the bank of a river, a rising hill or ridge by the water’s side.”

    Thence is ojcqe>w , “to be offended,” to bear a thing difficultly, with tediousness and vexation, so as to rise up with indignation against it, like the ground that riseth against the waters. Prosocqi>zw is the same, with an addition of sense, “to be greatly grieved.” And this word, “to be grieved,” is ambiguous even in our language: for it either is as much as “dolore affici,” to be affected with sorrow and grief, or a being wearied, accompanied with indignation; as we say, such or such a thing is grievous, — that is, “grave,” “molestum,” or “troublesome.” And so is the word here used, “grieved,” that is burdened, and provoked, offended. So Jerome: “Displicuit mihi generatio ista,” “displeased me.” “Pertuli eam, sed non sine taedio,” — “I bare them, but not without wearisomeness.”

    Symmachus and Aquila render the original word by dusareste>omai,” to be displeased.”

    Fwqa; fWq is a word often used, and of an ambiguous signification, — “ to cut off,”.” to contend,” “to abominate,” (hence by the Arabic it is rendered “cursed them,”) to be “divided with trouble, offense, weariness, and grief.”

    It is commonly in the feminine gender, and joined with yvip]næ , “my soul,” or yy;jæ , “my life.” This is the intendment of it: The appointed time of God’s patience was worn out with their continued provocations, so that he was wearied with them, and weary of them, — he could bear them no longer.

    The Vulgar Latin in some copies reads, “Proximus fui huic generationi,” — “I was near to this generation.” And so are the words still in some of the Roman offices. Some think that countenance is given hereto by the sense of the word prosw>cqisa , which may signify “accedere” or “proximate ad ripam animo hostili,” — “ to draw near to a shore, a bank, with a hostile mind.”

    Now, it doth not denote only that particular provocation, when God in an especial manner entered his caveat against them that they should not enter into his rest, seeing not only the psalmist in this place, but also our apostle, verse 17, directly refers it to the frame of his mind towards them during the whole forty years. He was wearied by them, and grew weary of them.

    Th~| genea~| ejkei>nh| , “that generation;” rwOdB] , “in the generation,” — that is, “with that generation.” rwOD is an age of man, or rather the men of one age: Ecclesiastes 1:4,” One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh,” — that is, the men of one age. See Deuteronomy 32:7. So is geneh> , as in Homer’s Iliad, 6:146: — And when it is taken for “aetas” or “seculum,” it doth not primarily intend a duration of time, but the persons living in that time. Herodotus, in Euterpe, reckons thirty years to a genea> , a “generation.” So doth Plutarch also in De Defect. Oraculorum. The generation here denotes no limited season, but com-priseth all the persons that came up out of Egypt above twenty years of age, who all died within the space of forty years afterwards. jAei< planw~ntai th~| kardi>a| , “They always err in heart;” µhe bb;le y[eTo µ[æ, “ They are a people erring in heart.” The words of the psalmist are somewhat changed by the apostle, but the sense is absolutely the same, for, taking the people to be sufficiently signified, he adds a word to denote the constant course of their provocations, — “ always,” on all occasions, in ever)’ trial. Not in any one condition did they give glory to God, neither in their straits nor in their deliverances, neither in their wants nor in their fullness, but continually tempted and provoked him with their murmurings and unbelief. µhe bb;le y[eTo µ[æ , “Populus errantes corde,” or “errantium corde;” that is, “populus vecors,” — “ a foolish, unteachable people.” h[;T; is most usually “so to err as to wander out of the way:” Isaiah 53:6; Genesis 37:15; Proverbs 7:25. And in Hiphil, it is “to cause to err or wander,” “to seduce,” “to draw aside:” Hosea 4:12; Isaiah 19:13. And it is properly rendered by plana>w and plana>omai , which have both a neuter and active signification, — “ to err,” “to wander,” and “to seduce” or “draw aside :” whence pla>nov is “erro,” “vagabundus,” “a wanderer,” “a vagabond;” and also “deceptor,” “seductor,” “impostor,” “a seducer,” “a deceiver,” or “impostor.” In both which senses the Jews blasphemously applied it unto our Lord Jesus Christ, Matthew 27:63.

    The words, then, denote not a speculative error of the mind, a mistake or misapprehension of what was proposed unto them, — in which sense the terms of error and erring are most commonly used, — but a practical aberration or wandering by choice from the way of obedience made known unto them; and therefore they are said “to err in their heart,” th~| kardi>a| .

    For though that be commonly taken in the Scripture for the entire principle of moral operations, and so compriseth the mind and understanding, yet when an immediate respect is had unto duties and sins, it hath an especial regard to the affections and desires of the heart; so that to “err in heart,” is, “through the seductions and impulsions of corrupt affections, to have the mind and judgment corrupted, and then to depart from the ways of obedience.”

    Aujtoi< de< oujk e]gnwsan tav mou , — “and they have not known my ways;” yk;r;d] W[r]y; alo µhew] . The apostle renders w] by de> , an adversative, “but;” which is frequently used for kai< , “and,” as it is rendered by ours. Yet an opposition may also be intimated, “They have not known.” It is said before that they “saw the works of God,” which were parts of his “ways; and his laws were made known unto them. Of these two parts do his ways consist, — the ways of his providence, and the ways of his commands; or the ways wherein he walketh towards us, and the ways wherein he would have us walk towards him. And yet it is said of this people, that “they knew not his ways.” As we said, therefore, before concerning their error, so we must now say concerning their ignorance, that it is not a simple nescience that is intended, but rather an affected dislike of what they did see and know. It seems to be made up of two parts: — First, They did not so spiritually and practically know the mind, will, and intention of God in them, as thereon to believe in him,’ to trust him, and to honor him. This is the knowledge of God which is required in the law and promised in the covenant. Secondly, In that light and knowledge which they had of the ways of God, they liked them not, they approved them not, they delighted not in them. And this is the constant intention of that word to “know,” where the object of it is God, his ways, or his will.

    JWv w]mosa ejn th~| ojrgh~| mou , — “so I sware in my wrath;” yTi[]Bæv]niArv,a\ .

    The use of the word rv,a\ is so various, as that it may denote either the persons spoken unto or the reason of the things spoken. The Vulgar Latin in some copies reads in this plate, “quibus,” “to whom,” as though it had taken wJv for oi=v , but commonly, “sicut;” wJv is often put for w[ste , “quapropter,” “so that.” So Beza, “whereupon,” “for which cause” or “reason,” — the consideration of the state, condition, and multiplied miscarriages of that people that came out of Egypt. “I sware.” Of the oath of God and his swearing we must deal afterwards expressly. The declared unalterable purpose of God about the dying of that people in the wilderness, expressed in the way of an oath, is that which is intended. And God is said to swear in his wrath, because he declared that purpose of his under a particular provocation. The whole matter is recorded, Numbers 14:21-23, and verses 28-35, “But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD. Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt, and in the wilderness, have tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice; surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked me see it... Say unto them, As truly as I live, saith the LORD, as ye have spoken in mine ears, so will I do to you: your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness; and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward, which have murmured against me, doubtless ye shall not come into the land concerning which I sware to make you dwell therein, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun. But your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, them will I bring in, and they shall know the land which ye have despised. But as for you, your earcasses, they shall fall in this wilderness. And your children shall wander in the wilderness forty years, and bear your whoredoms, until your carcasses be wasted in the wilderness. After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, (each day for a year,) shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years; and ye shall know my breach of promise. I the LORD have said, I will surely do it unto all this evil congregation, that are gathered together against me: in this wilderness they shall be consumed, and there they shall die.”

    We have here the especial occasion of this swearing of God. The whole fabric of the ark and tabernacle being finished, the worship of God established, the law and rules of their polity being given unto them, and a blessed frame of government in things sacred and civil set up amongst them, their military camp, charge, and order in marching, to avoid emulation and confusion, being disposed, all things seemed to be i, a great readiness for the entrance of the people into the promised land. Whereasthey were but a confused multitude when they came out of Egypt, God had now formed them into a beautiful order both in church and state. This he insists on in his dealings with them, Ezekiel 16. Why should they now stay any longer in that wilderness, which was neither meet to entertain them nor designed for their habitation? Wherefore, to prepare a way for their entrance into Canaan, spies are sent by God’s direction, with excellent instructions, to search out the land, Numbers 13:17-20. Upon their return, the peevish, cowardly, unbelieving multitude, terrified with a false report which they made, fall into an outrageous repining against God and sedition against their ruler.

    Hereupon the Lord, wearied as it were with their continued provocations, and especially displeased with their last, whereby they had, what lay in them, frustrated his intentions towards them, threatened to consume the people as one man, Numbers 14:12; but Moses, pleading with him the interest of his own name and glory, prevailed to divert the execution of that commination. And yet so great was this provocation, and so absolutely had the people of that generation discovered themselves to be every way unfit to follow the Lord in that great work, that, to show the greatness of their sin, and the irrevocableness of his purpose, he sware with great indignation concerning them, in manner and form above declared.

    Eij eijseleu>sontai , — “if they shall enter.” So in the Hebrew, ˆWaboy]Aµai , — “if they shall enter.” So, frequently in the place of Numbers from whence the story is taken. The expression is imperfect, and relates to the oath of God wherein he sware by himself. As if he had said, ‘Let me not live,’ or ‘not be God, if they enter;’ which is the greatest and highest asseveration that so they should not do. And the concealment of the engagement is not, as some suppose, from a pa>qov , causing an abruptness of speech, but from the reverence of the person spoken of. The expression is perfectly and absolutely negative. So Mark 8:12, with Matthew 16:4; 1 Samuel 14:44; 1 Kings 20:10.

    Eijv thpausi>n mou , — “into my rest.” The pronoun “my” is taken either efficiently or subjectively. If in the first way, the rest that God would give this people is intended; — ‘They shall not enter into the !and which I promised to give unto Abraham and his seed, as a state of rest, after all their wanderings and peregrinations upon my call and command.’

    Or it may be expounded subjectively, for the rest of God himself; that is, the place wherein he would fix his worship and therein rest. And this seems to be the proper meaning of the word “my rest;” that is, ‘the place where I will rest, by establishing my worship therein.’ Hence this was the solemn word of blessing at the moving of the ark of God, “Arise, O LORD, into thy rest;” so <19D208> Psalm 132:8, 2 Chronicles 6:41. “A place for the Louis, an habitation for the mighty God of Jacob,” <19D205> Psalm 132:5.

    So he calls his worship his rest and the place of his rest, Isaiah 11:10, and 66:1. And the Targumist renders these words, “Into the rest of the house of my sanctuary:” as he speaks elsewhere, “This is my rest for ever;” which place is cited by Rashi on these words. f2 Ver. 7-11. — Wherefore, as the Holy Ghost saith, To-day, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation, in the wilderness: where your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do always err in their hearts; but my ways they have not known. So swart in my wrath, If they shall enter into my rest.

    The exhortation is here pursued which was engaged into at the beginning of the chapter, and which after some diversion is returned unto at the close of the sixth verse. The argument whereby it is confirmed and carried on in these words is taken “ab eventu pernicioso,” from the pernicious event of the alike disobedience in others, which the Hebrews are dehorted from.

    And this the apostle shows by an eminent instance, or the induction of an example to that purpose. And this was such as those to whom he wrote knew to be so as it was by him reported; which they had especial reason to attend unto and consider, which had formerly been recommended to them, and which was purposely designed to be monitory unto them in their present condition: which things render an example cogent and effectual. Known it was to them, as being recorded in the Scripture, wherewith they were acquainted; and it was likewise of near concernment unto them, so deserving their consideration, inasmuch as it was their own progenitors or forefathers who so miscarried as to be therein proposed unto them for an example of an evil to be avoided. It had also, after the first recording of it in the history of the times wherein it fell out, Numbers 14, been resumed and recommended unto their most diligent consideration, Psalm 95. And, as he afterwards informs them, there was a prophecy infolded, or a typical representation made of their present state and condition, with directions for their wise and safe deportment under it. All these things render the example proper, and the exhortation from it cogent.

    Now, whereas the example had been twice recorded, — once materially, where the fact is first expressed, and then formally, as an example, where it is resumed and improved by the psalmist, — our apostle takes it together with its improvement out of the latter place. It lies therefore before us under both considerations, — as a fact recorded by Moses, as an example pressed by the psalmist. FIRST, We may consider in the words, — First , The note of inference wherein the apostle engageth the whole unto his purpose, “Wherefore.”

    Secondly , The manner of his introduction of this persuasive example, both as to the fact and its former improvement, “As the Holy Ghost saith.”

    Thirdly , The manner of its proposition, in way of exhortation; wherein we have, — First, The general matter of it, which is obedience unto God; expressed, — 1. By a supposition, including a positive assertion of the duty especially intended, “If ye will hear his voice.” 2. By a prohibition or removal of the contrary, “Harden not your hearts.”

    Secondly, The time or season of its due performance, “To-day.”\parSECONDLY, There is in the words the example itself on which the exhortation is built or founded: and this consists of two parts or branches; — First , The sin; and, Secondly , The punishment of the persons spoken of.

    First , The sin: on the account whereof there are mentioned, — 1. The persons sinning; they were the “fathers,” the fathers or progenitors of them to whom he wrote; “your fathers,” illustrated by their multitude, — they were a whole “generation.” 2. The quality or nature of their sin, which consisted in two things; — (1.) Provocation, “As in the provocation;” (2.) Temptation of God, “And in the day of temptation they tempted me and proved me.” 3. The aggravation of their sin; — (1.) From the place where it was committed, — it was “in the wilderness;” (2.) From the means of the contrary which they had to have preserved them from it, — they saw the works of God, “And saw my works;” (3.) From the duration and continuance of their sinning, and the means of the contrary, “Forty years.”

    Secondly , The punishment of their sin is expressed in the pernicious event that ensued, whence the exhortation is taker,; and therein is expressed, — 1. The “causa procatarctica,” or procuring cause, in the sense that God had of their sin: it grieved him, “Wherefore I was grieved with that generation.” 2. The expression that he gave of it, containing a double aggravation of their sin, — (1.) In its principle, “They did err in their hearts;” (2.) In their continuance in it, they did so always, “And said, They do always err in their hearts;” (3.) In its effects, “They did not know his ways.” 3. There is the “causa proegoumena,” or “producing cause” of the punishment mentioned, in the resolution that God took and expressed concerning the persons sinning: which also hath a double aggravation: — (1.) From the manner of his declaring this resolution; he did it by an oath, “Unto whom I sware:” (2.) From the frame of his spirit; it was in his wrath, “Unto whom I sware in my wrath.” (3.) The punishment of the sin itself, expressed negatively, “If they shall enter into my rest;” that is, they shall not do so. And this also hath a double aggravation: — [1.] From the act denied; they should not “enter,” — not so much as enter: [2.] From the object; that was the rest of God, — “They shall not enter into my rest.”

    We have so particularly insisted on the opening of the words of this paragraph, that we may be the more brief in the ensuing exposition of the design and sense of them; wherein also we shall interpose the observations that are to be improved in our own practice. FIRST, The illative, “wherefore,” as was first observed, denotes both the deduction of the ensuing exhortation from the preceding discourse, and the application of it unto the particular duty which he enters upon, verse 12. “Wherefore;” that is, ‘Seeing the Lord Christ, who is the author of the gospel, is in his legatine or prophetical office preferred far above Moses in the work of the house of God, as being the son and lord over that house as his own, wherein Moses was a servant only, let us consider what duty is incumbent on us, especially how careful and watchful we ought to be that we be not by any means diverted or turned aside from that obedience which he requires, and which on all accounts is due unto him.’ This he pursues unto verse 11, where the hyperbaton that is in these words is issued.

    Obs. 1. No divine truth ought in its delivery to be passed by, without manifesting its use, and endeavoring its improvement unto holiness and obedience.

    So soon as the apostle had evinced his proposition concerning the excelency of Christ in his prophetical office, he turns himself unto the application of it unto them that are concerned in it. Divine knowledge is like a practical science; the end of all whose principles and theorems is in their practice; take that away and it is of no use. It is our wisdom and understanding how to live unto God; to that purpose are all the principles, truths, and doctrines of it to be improved. If this be not done in the teaching and learning of it, we fight uncertainly, as men beating the air. Obs. 2. In times of temptations and trials, arguments and exhortations unto watchfulness against sin and constancy in obedience are to be multiplied in number, and pressed with wisdom, earnestness, and diligence.

    Such was the season now with these Hebrews. They were exposed to great trials and temptations: seduction on the one hand by false teachers, and persecution on the other hand by wrathful adversaries, closely beset them.

    The apostle, therefore, in his dealing with them adds one argument unto another, and pursues them all with pathetical exhortations. Men are often almost unwilling to be under this advantage, or they quickly grow weary of it. Hence our apostle closeth this hortatory epistle with that entreaty, Hebrews 13:22: “Suffer the word of exhortation.” He was afraid they might have thought themselves overburdened with exhortations. And this befalls men on three accounts: — 1. When they are grieved by their multiplication, as if they proceeded from a jealousy concerning their sincerity and integrity; so was it with Peter, John 21:17. 2. On a confidence of their own strength, which they would not have suspected; as with the same Peter, Matthew 26:33. 3. From a secret inclination lying against the thing exhorted unto, or to the thing dehorted from.

    But these are the ordinances of God for our preservation in such a condition; and these our necessities in it do call for. And pregnant instances hereof are given by our apostle, especially in this epistle and in that unto the Galatians, whose condition was the same with that of these Hebrews. Both of them were in danger to be seduced from the simplicity of the gospel by inveterate prejudices and the subtilty of false teachers; both of them were encompassed with dangers, and exposed unto persecutions. He understood their temptations and saw their dangers. And with what wisdom, variety of arguments, expostulations, exhortations, and awakening reproofs, doth he deal with them! what care, tenderness, compassion, and love, do appear in them all! In nothing did the excellency of his spirit more evidence itself, than in his jealousy concerning and tender care for them that were in such a condition. And herein the Lord Christ set him forth for an example unto all those to whom the work of the ministry and dispensation of the gospel should afterwards be committed. In this care and watchfulness lie the very life and soul of their ministry. Where this is wanting, whatever else be done, there is but the carcass, the shadow of it.

    This, then, is of excellent use, provided, — 1. That the arguments in it proceeded on be solid and firm (such as in this case are everywhere laid down by our apostle), that our foundation fail us not in our work. Earnest exhortations on feeble principles have more of noise than weight; when there is an aim of reaching men’s affections, without possessing their minds with the due reasons of the things treated about, it proves mostly evanid, and that justly. 2. That the exhortation itself be grave and weighty, duty ought to be clothed with words of wisdom, such as may not, by their weakness, unfitness, uncomeliness, betray the matter intended, and expose it unto contempt or scorn. Hence the apostle requires a singular ability unto the duty of admonition, Romans 15:14, “Filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.” 3. That the love, care, and compassion of them who manage such exhortations and admonitions be in them made to appear. Prejudices are the bane and ruin of mutual warnings. And these nothing can remove but a demonstration of love, tenderness, and compassion, acting themselves in them. Morose, peevish, wrathful admonitions, as they bring guilt upon the admonisher, so they seldom free the admonished from any. This course, therefore, the condition of them that are tempted, — who are never in more danger than when they find not a necessity of frequent warnings and exhortations, — and the duty of those who watch for the good of the souls of men, require to be diligently attended unto. SECONDLY, The manner of the introduction of the persuasive example proposed is to be considered, “As saith the Holy Ghost.” The words are the words of the psalmist, but are here ascribed unto the Holy Ghost. Our apostle, as other divine writers of the New Testament, useth his liberty in this matter. Sometimes they ascribe the words they cite out of the Old Testament unto the penmen of them; as to Moses, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and the like, — Luke 24:27; Matthew 2:17, 4:14; John 12:41; Acts 2:25, sometimes to the books wherein they are written; as, “It is written in the book of Psalms,” Acts 1:20, and sometimes they ascribe them unto the principal author, namely, the Holy Ghost, as in this place.

    Now, as they used their liberty therein, so it is not to be supposed that they fixed on any particular expression without some especial reason for it. And the ascribing of the words of the psalmist in this place immediately unto the Holy Ghost, by whom he was inspired and acted, seems to have been to mind the Hebrews directly of his authority. His intention from the words was, to press a practical duty upon them. In reference unto such duties the mind ought to be immediately inflamed by the authority of him that requires it. ‘Consider,’ saith he, ‘that these are the words of the Holy Ghost’ (that is, of God himself), ‘so that you may submit yourselves to his authority.’ Besides, the apostle intends to manifest that those words have respect unto the times of the gospel, and in an especial manner unto that season of it which was then passing over the Hebrews. He therefore minds them that they were given out by the Spirit of prophecy, so that the concernment of the church in all ages must lie in them. “The Holy Ghost saith;” that is, as he spake to them of old in and by David (as it is expressed, Hebrews 4:7), so he continues to speak them unto us in the Scripture, which is not only his word, but his voice, his speaking, living, and powerful voice, for so we may comprise both senses before mentioned. Obs. 3. Exhortations unto duty ought to be well founded, to be built on a stable foundation, and to be resolved into an authority which may influence the consciences of them to whom they do belong.

    Without this they will be weak and enervous, especially if the duties exhorted unto be difficult, burdensome, or any way grievous. Authority is the formal reason of duty. When God gave out his law of commandments, he prefaced it with a signification of his sovereign authority over the people, “I am the LORD thy God.” And this is our duty in giving our exhortations and commands from him. The engagement of his authority in them is to be manifested. “Teach men,” saith our Savior, “to do and observe whatsoever I have commanded,” Matthew 28:20. His commands are to be proposed to them, and his authority in them to be applied unto their souls and consciences. To exhort men in the things of God, and to say, ‘This or that man saith so,’ be he the pope or who he will, is of no use or efficacy. That which you are to attend unto is what the Holy Ghost saith, whose authority the souls of men are every way obnoxious unto. Obs. 4. Whatever was given by inspiration from the Holy Ghost, and is recorded in the Scripture for the use of the church, he continues therein to speak it to us unto this day.

    As he lives forever, so he continues to speak forever; that is, whilst his voice or word shall be of use to the church. “As the Holy Ghost saith;” that is, speaks now unto us. And where cloth he speak it? In the <199501> 95th Psalm; there he says it, or speaks it unto us. Many men have invented several ways to lessen the authority of the Scripture, and few are willing to acknowledge an immediate speaking of God unto them therein. Various pretences are used to sub-duct the consciences of men from a sense of his authority in it. But whatever authority, efficacy, or power the word of God was accompanied withal, whether to evidence itself so to be, or otherwise to affect the minds of men unto obedience, when it was first spoken by the Holy Ghost, the same it retains now it is recorded in Scripture, seeing the same Holy Ghost yet continues to speak therein. THIRDLY, There is in the words, first, The matter of the exhortation intended, that which it aims at and intends. This in general is obedience unto God, answerable unto the revelation which he makes of himself and his will unto us. And this is, — 1. Expressed in a supposition, including a positive assertion of it, “If ye will hear his voice;” — ‘It is your duty so to do; and this is that which you are exhorted unto.’ (1.) The voice of God is ordinarily the word of his command, the voice or signification of his will; which is the rule of all our duty or obedience. (2.) In this place, as commonly elsewhere, not the word of command in general is intended, but an especial call or voice of God in reference unto some especial duty at some especial season. Such was the voice of God to the people in the wilderness at the giving of the law, which the people heard, and saw the effects of. Hence is the command translated into the voice of God, in giving out the gospel by the ministry of his Son Jesus Christ. From the former is the occasion of the words taken in the psalm; and to the latter is the application of it made by the apostle. (3.) The psalmist speaks to the people as if the voice of God were then sounding in their ears. For that which was once the voice of God unto the church (being recorded in the Scripture) continues still to be so; that is, it is not only materially his revealed will and command, but it is accompanied with that special impression of his authority which it was at first attested withal. And on this ground all the miracles wherewith the word of old was confirmed are of the same validity and efficacy towards us as they were towards them that saw them; namely, because of the sacredness of the means whereby they are communicated to us.

    This, then, is the object of the duty exhorted unto, the voice of God: which, as it is used by the apostle, is extended virtually and consequentially to the whole doctrine of the gospel, but with especial respect to the revelation of it by Christ Jesus; as in the psalm it regards the whole doctrine of the law, but with especial regard unto the delivery of it to Moses on mount Sinai. The act exercised about it is hearing, “If ye will hear his voice.” The meaning of this word hath been before explained. It is an act of the whole soul, in understanding, choosing, and resolving to do, the will of God declared by his voice, that is intended. And this further appears from the ensuing charge: “If ye will hear, harden not your hearts;” that is, ‘ If you think meet to obey the voice of God, if you will choose so to do, take heed of that which would certainly be a hinderance thereof.’

    Thus dealeth the apostle with the Hebrews; and herein teacheth us that, — Obs. 4. The formal reason of all our obedience consists in its relation to the voice or authority of God.

    So, therefore, doth the apostle express it, so is it declared in the whole Scripture. If we do the things that are commanded, but not with respect to the authority of God by whom they are commanded, what we so do is not obedience properly so called. It hath the matter of obedience in it, but the formal reason of it, that which should render it properly so, which is the life and soul of it, it hath not: what is so done is but the carcass of duty, no way acceptable unto God. God is to be regarded as our sovereign Lord and only lawgiver in all that we have to do with him. Hereby are our souls to be influenced unto duty in general, and unto every especial duty in particular. This reason are we to render to ourselves and others of all the acts of our obedience. If it be asked why we do such or such a thing, we answer, Because we must obey the voice of God. And many advantages we have by a constant attendance unto the authority of God in all that we do in his worship and service; for, — (1.) This will keep us unto the due rule and compass of duty, whilst we are steered in all that we do hereby. We cannot undertake or perform any thing as a duty towards God which is not so, and which, therefore, is rejected by him, where he saith, “Who hath required these things at your hand?” This is no small advantage in the course of our obedience. We see many taking a great deal of pains in the performance of such duties as, being not appointed of God, are neither accepted with him, nor will ever turn unto any good account unto their own souls. Had they kept upon their consciences a due sense of the authority of God, so as to do nothing but with respect thereunto, they might have been freed from their laboring in the fire, where all must perish, Micah 6:6-9. Such are most of the works wherein the Papists boast. (2.) This, also, will not suffer us to omit anything that God requires of us.

    Men are apt to divide and choose in the commands of God, to take and leave as it seems good unto them, or as serves their present occasion and condition. But this also is inconsistent with the nature of obedience, allowing the formal reason of it to consist in a due respect unto the voice of God; for this extends to all that is so, and only to what is so. So James informs us that all our obedience respects the authority of the Lawgiver, whence a universality of obedience unto all his commands doth necessarily ensue. Nor doth the nature of any particular sin consist so much in respect to this or that particular precept of the law which is transgressed or violated by it, as in a contempt of the Lawgiver himself, whence every sin becomes a transgression of the law, James 2:9-11. (3.) This will strengthen and fortify the soul against all dangers, difficulties, and temptations that oppose it in the way of its obedience.

    The mind that is duly affected with a sense of the authority of God in what it is to do will not be “territa monstris.” It will not be frightened or deterred by any thing that lies in its way. It will have in readiness wherewith to answer all objections, and oppose all contradictions. And this sense of the authority of God requiring our obedience is no less a gracious effect of the Spirit, than are that freedom, and cheerfulness, and alacrity of mind which in these things we receive from him. Obs. 6. Every thing in the commands of God, relating unto the manner of their giving out and communicating unto us, is to be retained in our minds and considered as present unto us.

    The psalmist, “after so long a season,” as the apostle speaks, calls the people to hear the voice of God, as it sounded on mount Sinai at the giving of the law. Not only the law itself, and the authority of God therein, but the manner also of its delivery, by the great and terrible voice of God, is to be regarded, as if God did still continue so to speak unto us. So also is it in respect of the gospel. In the first revelation of it God spake immediately “in the Son;” and a reverence of that speaking of God in Christ, of his voice in and by him, are we continually to maintain in our hearts. So in the dispensation of the gospel he continues yet to speak from heaven, Hebrews 12:25. It is his voice and word unto us no less than it was when in his own person he spake on the earth. And God being thus, both in his commands and the manner of his giving them out, rendered present unto us by faith, we shall receive a great incitation unto obedience thereby. Obs. 7. Consideration and choice are a stable and permanent foundation of obedience.

    The command of God is here proposed unto the people, to their understanding to consider it, to their wills to choose and embrace it: “If ye will hear his voice.” ‘Consider all things, all concerns of this matter; whose command it is, in what manner given, what is the matter of it, and what are its ends, and what is our own concernment in all this.’ Men that are engaged into some course of obedience or profession as it were by chance, or by their minds being merely pre-occupated with education or custom, will leave it by chance or a powerful diversion at any time. Those who are only compelled unto it by some pungent, galling convictions, so that they yield obedience not because they like it or choose it, but because they dare not do otherwise, do assuredly lose all respect unto it as their convictions do by any means wear off or decay.

    A deliberate choice of the ways of God, upon a due consideration of all their concernments, is that which unchangeably fixeth the soul unto obedience. For the strongest obligations that are unto it ought to be in our own wills. And it is the most eminent effect of the grace of Christ, to make his people willing in the day of his power; nor is any other obedience acceptable with God, Romans 12:1. 2. The apostle carries on and enforceth his exhortation unto obedience, in the words of the psalmist, by a caution against or prohibition of the contrary, or that which would utterly prevent it, as having done so formerly in others: “Harden not your hearts.” To clear his intention herein, we must inquire, — (1.) ‘What is intended by “heart;” and, (2.) What by the “hardening” of it. (1.) The heart in the Scripture, spoken of in reference unto moral obedience, doth not constantly denote any one especial faculty of the soul; but sometimes one, sometimes another, is intended and expressed thereby.

    What is peculiarly designed, the subject-matter treated of and the adjuncts of the word will discover. Thus, sometimes the heart is said to be “wise,” “understanding,” to “devise,” to be “filled with counsel;” and, on the other side, to be “ignorant,” “dark,” “foolish,” and the like; — in all which places it is evident that the mind, the to< hjgemoniko>n , the guiding, conducting, reasoning faculty is intended. Sometimes it is said to be “soft,” “tender,” “humble,” “melting;” and, on the other side, “hard,” “stubborn,” “obstinate,” and the like; — wherein principal regard is had to the will and affections. The word, therefore, is that whereby the principle of all our moral actions, and the respective influence of all the faculties of our souls into them, are expressed. (2.) By the sense of the object is the meaning of the act prohibited to be regulated: “Harden not.” The expression is metaphorical, and it signifies the unfitness and resistency of any thing to receive a due impression from that which is applied unto it; as wax when it is hard will not receive an impression from the seal that is set unto it, nor mortar from the trowel.

    The application that is made in the matter of obedience unto the souls of men is by the Spirit of God, in his commands, promises, and threatenings; that is, his voice, the whole revelation of his mind and will. And when a due impression is not made hereby on the soul, to work it to an answerableness in its principles and operations thereunto, men are said to resist the Spirit, Acts 7:51; that is, to disappoint the end of those means which he makes use of in his application to them. By what ways or means soever this is done, men are thereby said to harden their hearts. Prejudices, false principles, ignorance, darkness and deceit in the mind, obstinacy and stubbornness in the will, corruption and cleaving unto earthly and sensual objects in the affections, all concur in this evil. Hence in the application of this example, verse 13, the apostle exhorts the Hebrews to take heed that they be not “hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” Now, deceit firstly and principally respects the mind, and therein consists the beginning and entrance into the sin of hardening the heart. A brief consideration of the condition of the people in the wilderness upon whom this evil is charged, will give much light into the nature of the sin that here comes under prohibition. What were the dealings of God with them is generally known, and we have elsewhere declared. As he gave them instruction from heaven, in the revelation and delivery of the law, and intrusted them with the singular benefit of the erection of his worship amongst them, so he afforded them all sorts of mercies, protections, deliverances, provision, and guidance; as also made them sensible of his severity and holiness, in great and terrible judgments. All these, at least the most part of them, were also given out unto them in a marvelous and amazing manner. The end of all these dispensations was to teach them his will, to bring them to hearken to his voice, to obey his commands, that it might be well with them and theirs, In this state and condition sundry things are recorded of them; as, — (1.) That they were dull, stupid, and slow of heart in considering the ways, kindness, and works of God. They set not their hearts to them to weigh and ponder them, Deuteronomy 32:28,29. (2.) What they did observe and were moved at (as such was the astonishing greatness of some of the works of God amongst them, such the overpowering obligations of many of his dealings with them, that they could not but let in some present transient sense of them upon their minds), yet they soon forgot them and regarded them not, Psalm 78:11,12. (3.) That their affections were so violently set upon earthly, sensual, perishing things, that in comparison of them they despised all the promises and threatenings of God, resolving to pursue their own hearts’ lusts whatever might become of them in this world and to eternity, Psalm 78:18,19. All which are manifest in the whole story of their ways and doings, By this means their minds and spirits were brought into such a frame and condition, that as they did not, so they could not hearken to the voice of God, or yield obedience unto him: they became “a stubborn and rebellious generation; a generation that set not their heart aright, and whose spirit was not steadfast with God,” Psalm 78:8.

    For by these ways and degrees of sin, they contracted a habit of obstinacy, perverseness, and uncircumcision of heart, — neither did the Lord, in his sovereign pleasure, see good by his effectual grace to circumcise the hearts of the persons of that generation, that they might fear and serve him, — whereby they came to be hardened unto final unbelief and impenitency. It appears, then, that unto this sinful hardening of the heart, which the people in the wilderness were guilty of, and which the apostle here warns the Hebrews to avoid, there are three things that do concur: — (1.) The mind’s sinful inadvertency and neglect, in not taking due notice of the ways and means whereby God calls any unto faith and obedience. (2.) A sinful forgetfulness and casting out of the heart and mind such convictions as God, by his word and works, his mercies and judgments, deliverances and afflictions, at any time is pleased to cast into them and fasten upon them. (3.) An obstinate cleaving of the affections unto carnal and sensual objects, practically preferring them above the motives unto obedience that God proposeth to us. Where these things are, the hearts of men are so hardened that in an ordinary way they cannot hearken unto the voice of God. We may hence also take some observations for our instruction. Obs. 8. Such is the nature, efficacy, and power of the voice or word of God, that men cannot withstand or resist it, without a sinful hardening of themselves against it.

    There is a natural hardness in all men before they are dealt withal by the word, or this spiritual hardness is in them by nature. Hardness is an adjunct of that condition, or the corruption of nature, as is darkness, blindness, deadness, and the like; or it is a result or consequent of them.

    Men being dark and blind, and dead in trespasses and sins, have thence a natural hardness, an unfitness to receive impressions of a contrary kind, and a resistency thereunto. And this frame may be increased and corroborated in men by various vicious and prejudicate habits of mind, contracted by custom, example, education, and the practice of sin. All this may be in men antecedent unto the dispensation or preaching of the word unto them. Now unto the removal or taking away of this hardness, is the voice or the word of God in the dispensation of it designed. It is the instrument and means which God useth unto that end. It is not, I confess, of itself absolutely considered, without the influencing operation of the Spirit of grace, able to produce this effect. But it is able to do it in its own kind and place; and is thence said to be “able to save our souls,” James 1:21; “able to build us up, and to give us an inheritance among all them which are sanctified,” Acts 20:32; being also that “immortal seed” whereby we are begotten unto God, Peter 1:23. By this means doth God take away that rural darkness or blindness of men; “opening the eyes of the blind, turning them from darkness to light,” Acts 26:18; “shining in their hearts, to give them the knowledge of his glory in the face of Jesus Christ,” 2 Corinthians 4:6; as also “quickening them who were dead in trespasses and sins;” and thereby he removes that hardness which is a consequent of these things.

    And God doth not apply a means to any end which is unsuited to it or insufficient for it. There is therefore usually such a concomitancy of the Spirit with every dispensation of the word of God that is according to his mind and will, as is able and sufficient to remove that hardness which is naturally upon the hearts of men.

    Everyone, therefore, to whom the word is duly revealed, who is not converted unto God, doth voluntarily oppose his own obstinacy unto its efficacy and operation. Here lies the stop to the progress of the word in its work upon the souls of men. It stays not unless it meets with an actual obstinacy in their wills, refusing, rejecting, and resisting of it. And God, in sending of it, doth accompany his word with that power which is meet to help and save them in the state and condition wherein it finds them. If they will add new obstinacy and hardness to their minds and hearts, if they will fortify themselves against the word with prejudices and dislike, if they will resist its work through a love to their lusts and corrupt affections, God may justly leave them to perish, and to be filled with the fruit of their own ways. And this state of things is variously expressed in the Scripture. As, — (1.) By God’s willingness for the salvation of those unto whom he grants his word as the means of their conversion, Ezekiel 18:23, 33:11; Peter 3:9; 1 Timothy 2:4. (2.) By his expostulations with them that reject his word, casting all the cause of their destruction upon themselves, Matthew 23:34. Now, as these things cannot denote an intention in God for their conversion which should be frustrated, which were to ascribe weakness and changeableness unto him; nor can they signify an exercise towards them of that effectual grace whereby the elect are really converted unto God, which would evert the whole nature of effectual grace, and subject it to the corrupt wills of men; so they express more than a mere proposal of the outward means, which men are not able savingly to receive and improve. There is this also in them, that God gives such an efficacy unto these means as that their operation doth proceed on the minds and souls of men in their natural condition, until, by some new acts o£ their wills, they harden themselves against them. And, (3.) So the gospel is proposed to the wills of men, Isaiah 55:1, Revelation 22:17.

    Hence it is that the miscarriage of men under the dispensation of the word, is still charged upon some positive actings of their wills in opposition unto it, Isaiah 30:15, Matthew 23:37, John 3:19, 5:40. They perish not, they defeat not the end of the word towards themselves, by a mere abode and continuance in the state wherein the word finds them, but by rejecting the counsel of God made known to them for their healing and recovery, Luke 7:30. Obs. 9. Many previous sins make way for the great sin of finally rejecting the voice or word of God.

    The not hearing the voice of God, which is here reproved, is that which is final, which absolutely cuts men off from entering into the rest of God.

    Unto this men come not without having their hearts hardened by depraved lusts and affections. And that it is their nature so to do shall be afterwards declared. Here we only respect the connection of the things spoken of.

    Hardening of the heart goes before final impenitency and infidelity, as the means and cause of it. Things do not ordinarily come to an immediate issue between God and them to whom the word is preached. I say ordinarily, because God may immediately cut off any person upon the first refused tender of the gospel; and it may be he deals so with many, but ordinarily he exerciseth much patience towards men in this condition. He finds them in a state of nature; that is, of enmity against him. In this state he offers them terms of peace, and waits thereon, during the season of his good pleasure, to see what the event will be. Many in the meantime attend to their lusts and temptations, and so contract an obdurate senselessness upon their hearts and minds; which, fortifying them against the calls of God, prepares them for final impenitcncy. And this is the first thing that is considerable, in the general matter of the exhortation in hand. Secondly, The time and season for the performance of the duty exhorted unto is expressed, — “ To-day.” “To-day if ye will hear his voice.” The various respects of the limitation of the season of this duty have been spoken to in the opening of the words. The moral sense of it is no more but the present and proper season of any duty; which what is required unto, in this case of yielding obedience to the voice of God, shall be afterwards declared. And in this sense the word is generally used in all authors and languages. So is µwOYhæ frequently in the Hebrew in other places, as in this. And a proper season they called bwOf µwOy , “a good day,” ‘a meet season,’ 1 Samuel 25:8. It may be only a day of feast is there intended, which they called bwOf µwOy , “a good day,” ‘a day of mirth and refreshment,’ Leviticus 23. And so it is commonly used by the rab-bins, especially for the feast which the high priest made his brethren after the day of expiation; for on that day they were obliged to many observations, under the penalty of excision. This begat fear and terror in them, and was part of their yoke of bondage. Wherefore when that service was over, and they found themselves safe, not smitten by the hand of God, they kept bwOf µwOy , “a good day,” whereon they invited unto a feast all the priests that ministered. But most frequently they so express a present opportunity or season. So the Greeks use sh>meron, as in Anacreon, — Sh>meron me>lei moi to< de< au]rion ti>v oi=de ; — “My care is for to-day” (the present season); “who knows to-morrow” (or the time to come)?

    To the same purpose are hJme>ra and au]rion , used in the gospel, Matthew 6:34: Mh< ou+n merimnh>shte eijv thsei ta< eJauth~v? ajrceto>n th~| hJme>ra| hJ kaki>a aujth~v? — “ Take no care-for the morrow” (things future and unknown): “the morrow shall take care for the things of itself” (provision shall be made for things future according as they fall out). “Sufficient unto the day” (the present time and season) “is the evil thereof.” To the same purpose do they use “hodie” in the Latin tongue, as in these common sayings, — “Sera nimis vita est crastina, viv’ hodie:” And, — “Qui non est hodie, eras minus aptus erit;” with many other sayings of the like importance. This, then, is the sense and meaning of the word absolutely considered. The apostle exhorts the Hebrews, in the words of the psalmist, to make use of the present season, by the use of means, for the furtherance of their faith and obedience, that they may be preserved from hardness of heart and final unbelief. And what arguments unto duty are suggested from a present season shall afterwards be considered. To enforce this exhortation, the apostle minds them that there is in the words of the psalmist, — 1. A retrospect unto a monitory example. For others there were who had their day also, their season. This they improved not, they answered it not, nor filled it up with the duty that it was designed unto; and therefore the sad event befell them mentioned in the text. Hence doth he enforce his exhortation: ‘It is now to-day with you, it was once to-day with them of old; but you see what a dark, sad evening befell them in the close of their day. Take heed lest it be so with you also.’ 2. A respect unto the day enjoyed in the time of the psalmist, which completed the type; of which before. And yet further; — there was, 3. More than a mere example intended by the psalmist. A prophecy also of the times of the gospel was included in the words, as our apostle declares. in the next chapter. Such a season as befell the Jews at the giving of the law, is prefigured to happen to them at the giving of the gospel The law being given on mount Sinai, the church of the Hebrews who came out of Egypt had their day, their time and season for the expressing of their obedience thereunto, whereon their entrance into Canaan did depend. This was their day, wherein they were tried whether they would hearken unto the voice of God or no; namely, the space of thirty-eight or forty years in the wilderness. The gospel was now delivered from mount Sion. And the church of the Hebrews, to whom the word of it first came, had their peculiar day, prefigured in the day after the giving of the law enjoyed by their forefathers. And it was to be but a day, but one especial season, as theirs was. And a trying season it was to be, — whether in the limited space of it they would obey the voice of God or no. And this especial day continued for the space of thirty-eight or forty years, — from the preaching of the gospel by our Lord Jesus Christ, and his death, unto the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus; wherein the greatest part of the people fell, after the same example of unbelief with their forefathers, and entered not into the rest of God. This was the day and the season that was upon the Hebrews at this time, which the apostle exhorts them to the use and improvement of. Sh>meron , then, or to-day, signifies in general a present season, which men are not long to be intrusted with; and it hath a triple respect, limitation, or application: — 1. Unto the season enjoyed by the people in the wilderness, who neglected it. 2. Unto the persons spoken unto in the psalmist typically, who were exhorted to use it. 3. Unto the present Hebrews, whose gospel day was therein foretold and prefigured. In all which we are instructed unto the due use of a present season.

    Obs. 10. Old Testament examples are New Testament instructions.

    Our apostle elsewhere, reckoning sundry instances of things that fell out amongst the people of old, affirms of them Tau~ta de< pa>nta tu>poi sune>zainon ejkei>noiv , 1 Corinthians 10:1; “All these things befell them types.” The Jews have a saying, µynbl ˆmys twba [ryaç hm lk ; — “That which happeneth unto the father is a sign or example unto the children.’’ In general, and in the order of all things, “Discipulus est prioris posterior dies;” — “The following day is to learn of the former.”

    Experience is of the greatest advantage for wisdom. But there is more in this matter. The will and appointment of God are in it. From thence, that all the times of the old testament, and what fell out in them, are instructive of the times and days of the new, not only the words, doctrines, and prophecies that were then given out, but the actions, doings, and sufferings of the people which then fell out, are to the same purpose. There is more in it than the general use of old records and histories of times past, which yet are of excellent use unto a wise consideration in things moral and political. This many have made it their work to manifest and demonstrate.

    The sum of all is comprised in those excellent words of the great Roman historian concerning his own work, [Liv., Pref.]: — “Ad illa mihi acriter pro se quisque intendat animum, quae vita, qui mores fuerint: per quos viros, quibusque artibus, domi militiaeque, et partum et auctum imperium sit. Labente deinde paullatim disciplina, velut desidentes primo mores sequatur animo; deinde ut magis magisque lapsi sint; turn ire coeperint praecipites: donec ad haec tempora, quibus nec vitia nostra, nec remedia pati possumus, perventum est. Hoc illud est praecipue in cognitione rerum salubre ac frugiferum; omnis to exempli documenta in illustri posita monumento intueri: inde tibi quod imitere capias; inde, foedum inceptu, foedum exitu, quod rites;” — “Hereunto” (in reading this history) “let every one diligently attend, to consider who were the men, what was their life and manners, by what means and arts this empire was both erected and increased. And then, moreover, how good discipline insensibly decaying was attended with manners also differing from the former; which in process of time increasing, rushed all things at length headlong into these times of ours, wherein we can endure neither our vices nor their remedies, This is that which, in the knowledge of past affairs, is both wholesome and fruitful, — that we have an illustrious monument of all sorts of examples, from whence you may take what you ought to imitate, and know also, by the consideration of actions dishonest in their undertaking and miserable in the event, what you ought to avoid.” And if this use may be made of human stories, written by men wise and prudent, though in many things ignorant, partial, factious, as most historians have been, unable in many things to judge of actions whether they were really good or evil, praiseworthy or to be condemned, and in all things of the intentions with which and the ends for which they were done; how much more benefit may be obtained from the consideration of those records of times past, which as they were delivered unto us by persons divinely preserved from all error and mistake in their writings, so they deliver the judgment of God himself, to whom all intentions and ends are open and naked, concerning the actions which they do report! Besides, the design of human story is but to direct the minds of men in things just and honest with reference unto political society and the good of community in this world, with respect whereunto alone it judgeth of the actions of men and their events; but all things in the Scriptures of the Old Testament are directed unto a higher end, even the pleasing of God and the eternal fruition of him. They are therefore, with the examples recorded in them, of singular and peculiar use as materially considered. But this is not all. The things contained in them were all of them designed of God for our instruction, and yet do continue as an especial way of teaching. The things done of old were, as Justin Martyr speaks, prokhru>gmata tw~n kata< Cristou~ , — “foredeclarations of the things of Christ.” And Tertullian, to the same purpose, “Scimus ut vocibus, ira rebus prophetatum;” — “ Prophecy or prediction consisted in things as well as words.” And Chrysostom, Serm. ii., de Jejun., distinguisheth between prophecy by speech or words, and prophecy by examples or actions.

    Our apostle expressly treateth of this subject, 1 Corinthians 10.

    Considering the state of the people, in their deliverance from Egypt and abode in the wilderness, he refers the things relating unto them to two heads; — 1. God’s miraculous works towards them, and marvellous dealings with them; 2. Their sins and miscarriages, with the punishments that befell them.

    Having mentioned those of the first sort, he adds, Tau~ta de< tu>poi hjmw~n ejgenh>zhsan, — “ Now these were all our examples,” verse 6, — types representing God’s spiritual dealing with us. And having reckoned up the other, he closeth his report of them with Tau~ta de< pa>nta tu>poi sune>zainon ejkei>noiv , — ‘They befell them, that God in them might represent unto us what we are to expect, if we sin and transgress in like manner.’ They and their actions were our types. Tu>pov , “a type,” hath many significations. In this use of it, it signifies a rude and imperfect expression of any thing, in order to a full, clear, and exact declaration of it.

    So Aristotle useth paculw~v kai< wjv ejn tu>pw| in opposition to ajkrizw~v diori>zein , — a general and imperfect description, to an exact distinction.

    Thus they were our types, in that the matter of our faith, obedience, rewards, and punishments, were delineated aforehand in them.

    Now, these types or examples were of three sorts: — 1. Such as were directly instituted and appointed for this end, that they should signify and represent something in particular in the Lord Christ and his kingdom. It is true that God did not institute any thing among the people of old but what had its present use and service amongst them; but their present use did not comprehend their principal end. And herein do types and sacraments differ. Our sacraments have no use but that with respect unto their spiritual end and signification. We do not baptize any to wash the body, nor give them the supper of the Lord to nourish it. But types had their use in temporal things, as well as their signification of things spiritual. So the sacrifices served for the freeing of the people from the sentence of the law as it was the rule of their polity or civil government, as well as to prefigure the sacrifice of the body of Christ.

    Now those types which had a solemn, direct, stated institution, were materially either persons, as vested with some certain offices in the church, or things. (1.) Persons. So the Lord raised up, designed, and appointed Moses, Aaron, Joshua, David, Solomon, and others, to typify and represent the Lord Christ unto the church. And they are to be considered in a threefold capacity: — [1.] Merely personal, as those individual men; unto which concernment all their moral good and evil did belong. In this sense what they did or acted had no respect unto Christ, nor is otherwise to be considered but as the examples of all other men recorded in the Scriptures. [2.] As to the offices they bare in the church and among the people, as they were prophets, captains, kings, or priests. In this respect they had their present use in the worship of God and government of that people according to the law. But herein, [3.] In the discharge of their offices and present duties, they were designed of God to represent in a way of prefiguration the Lord Christ and his offices, who was to come. They were a transcript out of the divine idea in the mind and will of God, concerning the all-fullness of power and grace that was to be in Christ, expressed by parcels and obscurely in them, so as by reason of their imperfection they were capable. (2.) These types consisted in things, such as were the sacrifices and other institutions of worship among the people. That this was the design and end of the whole Mosaical divine service we shall manifest in our progress.

    This, therefore, is not the place to insist particularly upon them. 2. There were such things and actions as had only a providential ordination to that purpose, — things that occasionally fell out, and so were not capable of a solemn institution, but were as to their events so guided by the providence of God as that they might prefigure and represent somewhat that was afterwards to come to pass. For instance, Jeremiah 31:15, sets out the lamentation of Rachel, — that is, the women of the tribe of Benjamin, upon the captivity of the land: “A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rachel weeping for her children, refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not..” It is evident from Jeremiah 40:1, that after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians, Nebuzaradan gathered the people together that were to go into captivity at Ramah. There the women, considering how many of their children were slain, and the rest now to be carried away, brake out into woeful and unspeakable lamentation. And this was ordered, in the providence of God, to prefigure the sorrow of the women of Bethlehem upon the destruction of their children by Herod, when he sought the life of our Savior; as the words are applied, Matthew 2:17,18. And we may distinguish things of this kind into two sorts, — (1.) Such as have received a particular application unto the things of the new testament, or unto spiritual things belonging to the grace and kingdom of Christ, by the Holy Ghost himself in the writings of the Gospel. Thus, the whole business of Rebekah’s conceiving Jacob and Esau, their birth, the oracle of God concerning them, the preference of one above the other, is declared by our apostle to have been ordained in the providence of God to teach his sovereignty in choosing and rejecting whom he pleaseth, Romans 9. So he treateth at large concerning what befell that people in the wilderness, making application of it to the churches of the gospel, Corinthians 10; and other instances of the like kind may be insisted on, almost innumerable. (2.) This infallible application of one thing and season unto another, extends not unto the least part of those teaching examples which are recorded in the Old Testament. Many other things were ordained in the providence of God to be instructive unto us, and may, by the example of the apostles, be in like manner applied; for concerning them all we have this general rule, that they were ordained and ordered in the providence of God for this end, that they might be examples, documents, and means of instruction unto us. Again, we are succeeded into the same place in the covenant unto them who were originally concerned in them, and so may expect answerable dispensations of God towards ourselves; and they were all written for our sakes. 3. There are things that fell out of old which are meet to illustrate present things, from a proportion or similitude between them. And thus where a place of Scripture directly treats of one thing, it may, in the interpretation of it, be applied to illustrate another which hath some likeness unto it.

    These expositions the Jews call µyçrdm , and say they are made lçm °rdk , “parabolical” or “mystical;” wherein their masters abound. We call them allegories; so doth our apostle expressly, Galatians 4:21-26.

    Having declared how the two covenants, the legal and evangelical, were represented by the two wives of Abraham, Hagar and Sarah; and the two sorts of people, even those that sought for righteousness by the law and believers, by their children, Ishmael and Isaac; he adds that these things are an allegory. Chrysostom supposeth that Paul useth that expression, of an allegory, in a large sense, for any type or figure, seeing the things he mentioneth were express types the one of the other. But the truth is, he doth not call the things themselves an allegory, for they had a reality, the story of them was true; but the exposition and application which he makes of the Scripture in that place is allegorical, — that is, what was spoken of one thing he expounds of another, because of their proportion one to another, or the similitude between them. Now this doth not arise hence, that the same place of Scripture, or the same words in any piece, have a diverse sense, a literal sense and that which is mystical or allegorical; for the words which have not one determinate sense have no sense at all: but the things mentioned in any place holding a proportion unto other things, there being a likeness between them, the words whereby the one are expressed are applied unto the other.

    Now, in the using of these allegorical expositions or applications of things in one place unto another, sundry things are wisely and diligently to be considered; as, — 1. That there be a due proportion in general between the things that are one of them as it were substituted in the room of another. Forced, strained allegories from the Scripture are a great abuse of the word. We have had some who have wrested the Scripture unto monstrous allegories, corrupting the whole truth of the literal sense. This was the way of Origen of old in many of his expositions; and some of late have taken much liberty in the like proceeding. Take an instance in that of the prophet Hosea, Hosea 11:1, “Out of Egypt have I called my son.” The words are directly spoken of the people of Israel, as the passage foregoing evinceth: “When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.” But these words are applied by the evangelist unto the Lord Christ, Matthew 2:15; and that because of the just proportion that was between God’s dealing with that people and with him, after he was carried into Egypt. 2. That there be a destined signification in them. That is, although the words are firstly and principally spoken of one thing, yet the Holy Ghost intended to signify and teach that whereunto they are applied. An intention of the application is included in them. Thus these words of the prophet, “Out of Egypt have I called my son,” did firstly and properly express God’s dealing with the people of Israel; but there was also an intention included in them of shadowing out his future dealing with his only Son, Christ Jesus. The discovery hereof is a matter of great skill and wisdom; and great sobriety is to be used in such applications and allusions. 3. That the first, original sense of the words be sacredly observed. Some will not allow the words of Scripture their first, natural sense, but pretend that their allegories are directly intended in them; which is to make their expositions poisonous and wicked.

    I have added these things because I find many very ready to allegorize upon the Scripture without any due consideration of the analogy of faith, or the proportion of things compared one to other, or any regard to the first, genuine sense of the words which they make use of. This is plainly to corrupt the word of God; and however they who make use of such perverted allusions of things may please the fancies of some persons, they render themselves contemptible to the judicious.

    But in general these things are so. All things in the Old Testament, both what was spoken and what was done, have an especial intention towards the Lord Christ and the gospel; and therefore in several ways we may receive instruction from them. As their institutions are our instructions more than theirs, we see more of the mind of God in them than they did; so their mercies are our encouragements, and their punishments our examples. And this proceedeth, — 1. From the way that God, in infinite wisdom, had allotted unto the opening and unfolding of the mystery of his love, and the dispensation of the covenant of grace. The way, we know, whereby God was pleased to manifest the counsels of his will in this matter was gradual. The principal degrees and steps of his procedure herein we have declared on the first verse of this epistle. The light of it still increased, from its dawning in the first promise, through all new revelations, prophecies, promises, institutions of worship, until the fullness of time came and all things were completed in Christ; for God had from of old designed the perfection of all his works towards his church to be in him. In him all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge were to be laid up, Colossians 2:3; and all things were to be gathered into a head in him, Ephesians 1:10. In him God designed to give out the express image of his wisdom, love, and grace, yea, of all the glorious properties of his nature. For as he is in himself, or his divine person, “the image of the invisible God,” Colossians 1:15, “the brightness of glory, and the express image of his person,” Hebrews 1:3, so he was to represent him unto the church; for we have the “knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ,” 2 Corinthians 4:6. In him, — that is his person, his office, his work, his church, — God perfectly expressed the eternal idea of his mind concerning the whole effect of his love and grace. From hence he copied out, in various parcels, by prophecies, promises, institutions of worship, actions, miracles, judgments, some partial and obscure representations of what should afterwards be accomplished in the person and kingdom of Christ. Hence these things became types, that is, transcripts from the great idea in the mind of God about Christ and his church, to be at several seasons, in divers instances, accomplished among the people of old, to represent what was afterwards to be completed in him. This the apostle Peter declares fully, 1 Peter 1:9-12, “Receiving the end of your faith, the salvation of your souls. Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us, they did minister the things which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel.”

    The prophets were those who revealed the mind and will of God to the church of old; but the things which they declared, although they had a present use in the church, yet principally they respected the Lord Christ, and the things that afterwards were to come to pass. And herein were they instructed by that Spirit of Christ wherewith they were inspired, namely, that the things they declared, and so the whole work of their prophecy wherein they ministered, did principally belong to the times of the gospel.

    And therefore are they all for our instruction. 2. This is part of that privilege which God had reserved for that church which was to be planted and erected immediately by his Son. Having reckoned up the faith of the saints under the old testament, what it effected, and what they obtained thereby, the apostle adds, that yet “God had provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect,” Hebrews 11:40.

    Neither themselves nor any thing that befell them was perfect without us.

    It had not in them its full end nor its full use, being ordained in the counsel of God for our benefit. This privilege did God reserve for the church of the new testament, that as it should enjoy that perfect revelation of his will in Christ which the church of the old testament received not, so what was then revealed had not its perfect end and use until it was brought over to this also.

    See hence what use we are to make of the Scriptures of the Old Testament.

    They are all ours, with all things contained in them. The sins of the people are recorded in them for our warning, their obedience for our example, and God’s dealing with them on the account of the one and the other for our direction and encouragement in believing. We are not to look on any parts of them as bare stories of things that are past, but as things directly and peculiarly ordered, in the wise and holy counsel of God, for our use and advantage. Especial instances we shall meet with many, towards the end of the epistle.

    Consider also what is expected from us above them that lived under the old testament. Where much is given much is required. Now we have not only the superadded helps of gospel light, which they were not entrusted with, but also whatever means or advantages they had, they are made over unto us, yea, their very sins and punishments are our instructions. As God in his grace and wisdom hath granted unto us more light and advantage than unto them, so in his righteousness he expects from us more fruits of holiness, unto his praise and glory.

    There is yet another observation which the words opened will afford unto us, arising from the season, which the apostle presseth upon their consideration in that word “to-day.” And it is that, — Obs. 11. Especial seasons of grace for obedience are in an especial manner to be observed and improved.

    For this end are they given, and are made special, that they may be peculiarly improved. God doth nothing in vain, least of all in the things of grace, of the gospel of the kingdom of his Son. When he gives an especial day to the husbandman and vineyard, it is for especial work. “To-day, if ye will hear his voice.” We may therefore inquire, first, what is necessary unto such an especial season; and then what is required unto a due observance and improvement of it. And I shall refer all, by a due analogy, unto those especial days respected in the text. 1. For the first, such a day or season consists in a concurrence of sundry things: — (1.) In a peculiar dispensation of the means of grace; and hereunto two things are required: — [1.] Some especial effects of providence, of divine wisdom and power making way for it, bringing of it in, or preserving of it in the world. There is, there ever was, a strong opposition at all times against the preaching and dispensation of the gospel. It is that which the gates of hell engage themselves in, although in a work wherein they shall never absolutely prevail, Matthew 16:18. As it was with Christ, so it is with his word.

    The world combined to keep him from it, or to expel him out of it, Acts 4:25-27. So it dealeth with his gospel and all the concernments of it. By what ways and means, on what various pretences this is done, I need not here declare, as it is generally known. Now when God, by some especial and remarkable acts of his providence, shall powerfully remove, overcome, or any way divert that opposition, and thereby make way for the preaching or dispensation of it, he puts a speciality upon that season. And without this the gospel had never made an entrance upon the kingdom of Satan, nor been entertained in any nation of the world. The case before us gives us an instance. The day mentioned in the text was that which the people enjoyed in the wilderness, when the worship of God was first revealed unto them and established amongst them. By what means this was brought about is summed up in the prophet Isaiah, Isaiah 51:15,16: “I am the LORD thy God, that divided the sea, whose waves roared: The LORD of hosts is his name. And I have put my words in thy mouth, and I have covered thee in the shadow of mine hand, that I may plant the heavens, and lay the foundations of the earth, and say unto Zion, Thou art my people.”

    The work which God wrought when he brought the people out of Egypt was so great, that it seemed to be the creation of a new world, wherein the heavens were planted, and the foundations of the earth were laid. And what was the end of it, what was the design of God in it? It was all to put his words into the mouths of his people, to erect Zion or a church-state amongst them, to take them into a covenant-relation with himself for his worship. This made that time their special day and season. The like works, for the like purpose, at any time will constitute the like season. When God is pleased to make his arm bare in behalf of the gospel, when his power and wisdom are made conspicuous in various instances for the bringing it unto any place, or the continuance of its preaching against oppositions, contrivances, and attempts for its expulsion or oppression, then doth he give a special day, a season unto them who do enjoy it. [2.] It consists in an eminent communication of the gifts of the Holy Ghost unto those by whom the mysteries of the gospel are to be dispensed, and that either as to the increase of their number or of their abilities, with readiness unto and diligence in their work. When God thus “gives the word, great is the army of them that publish it,” — br; ab;x; twOC]bæm]hæ , Psalm 68:12. The word is of the feminine gender, and denotes the churches; which, verse 27 of that psalm, are called twOlheq]mæ , which we render “congregations;” that is, churches, in the same gender: “Bless ye God in the congregations,” — twOlheq]mæB] , the churches or congregations publishing “the word” or “glad tidings,” as the word signifies And hereof there is br; ab;x; “a great army :” for the church in its work and order is twOlG;d]NiKæ , as “bannered ones;” that is, twOab;x] twOlG;d]NKæ , as “bannered armies, “armies with banners,” Song of Solomon 6:10. When God “gave the word” (it is a prophecy, of the times of the gospel), “great was the number of twOrC]bæm]hæ twOlheq]mæ , that like armies with banners, not for weapons, but for order and terror to the world, “preached” or “published it.” Such was the day that our apostle called the Hebrews to the consideration of. It was not long after the ascension of Christ when the gifts of the Spirit were poured out on multitudes of all sorts, as was foretold: Acts 2:16-18, “This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days (saith God), I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: and on my servants, and on my handmaids, I will pour out in those days of my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.” The extent of the communication of the Spirit at that season is emphatically expressed in these words, “I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh.” As the act of pouring denotes abundance, freedom, largeness, plenty, so the object, or “all flesh,” signifies the extent of it, unto all sorts of persons. And you know how great and eminent were the gifts that were communicated unto many in those days; so that this work was every way complete. By this means the churches were many, whose work and duty it is to be stu>loi kai< eJdraiw>mata th~v ajlhqei>av , 1 Timothy 3:15, “the pillars of the truth,” — that is, to hold it up, and to hold it forth, Philippians 2:16.

    When, then, there is any such season wherein in any proportion or similitude unto this dispensation, or in a way or manner any thing extraordinary, God is pleased to give or pour out of the gifts of his Spirit upon many, for the declaration and preaching of the word of truth, then doth he constitute such an especial day or season as that we are inquiring after. (2.) When God is pleased to give out signal providential warnings, to awaken and stir up men unto the consideration of and attendance unto his word and ordinances, this makes such a season to become a special day; for the end of extraordinary providences is to prepare men for the receiving of the word, or to warn them of impendent judgments for the contempt of it. This mark did God put upon the season respected here by the apostle.

    For unto the mention of the pouring out of the Spirit that of signs and judgments is adjoined: Acts 2:19,20, “And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke: the sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come.”

    The things here spoken of were those signs, prodigies, and judgments, which God showed unto and exercised the people of the Jews withal before the destruction of Jerusalem, even those foretold by our Lord Jesus Christ, Matthew 24. And they were all wrought during the time that they enjoyed the dispensation Of the gospel before described. And what was the end of them? It was evidently to put a signal mark and note upon that day and season of grace which was then granted unto that people; for so it is added, verse 21, “And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved,” — that is, whosoever shall make use of these warnings by signs, and wonders, and dreadful representations of approaching indignation and wrath, so as to attend unto the word dispensed by virtue of the plentiful effusion of the Spirit before mentioned, and yield obedience thereunto (that is, make use of the day granted to them), they shall be saved, when others that are negligent, rebellious, and disobedient, shall utterly perish. (3.) When it is a season of the accomplishment of prophecies and promises for the effecting of some great work of God in and upon the outward state of the church, as to its worship. The day the people had in the wilderness was the time when the great promise given unto Abraham four hundred and thirty years before was to have its typical accomplishment. Hereupon the outward state of the church was wholly to be altered; it was to be gathered from its dispersion in single families, into a national union, and to have new ordinances of worship erected in it. This made it a great day to the church. The day whereunto the application of these things is made by the apostle, was the season wherein God would make that great alteration in the whole worship of the church, by the last revelation of his mind and will in the Son. This was a great day and signal. So also when the time comes of the fulfilling of any especial, prophecy or prediction for the reformation of the church, it constitutes such a season. Something of this nature seems to be expressed, Revelation 14:6-8: “And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him, for the hour of his judgment is come... And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.”

    The time approaching wherein Babylon is to be destroyed, and the church to be redeemed from under her tyranny, as also to be freed from her pollution, and from drinking any more of the cup of her fornication, — which is the greatest change or alteration that the outward state of it is left obnoxious unto in the world, — the everlasting gospel is to be preached with such glory, beauty, and efficacy, as if it were delivered from the midst of heaven; and men will have an especial day of repentance and turning unto God given unto them thereby. And thus is it also at sundry seasons, wherein the Lord Christ deals with his churches in one place or another in a way of “preludium,” or preparation unto what shall ensue in his appointed time amongst them all.

    These and the like things do constitute such a special season and day as that we inquire after; and whether such a day be not now in many places, needs no great travail of mind or eminency of understanding to determine. 2. It is declared in the proposition laid down, that such a day, such a season, is diligently to be attended unto and improved. And the reasons or grounds hereof are, — (1.) Because God expects it. He expects that our applications unto him in a way of obedience should answer his unto us in a way of care and tenderness, — that when he is earnest in his dealings with us, we should be diligent in our observance of him. Every circumstance that he adds unto his ordinary dispensations is to have its weight with us; and in such a day they are many. See Isaiah 5:1, etc.: “My well-beloved hath a vineyard ˆm,v;AˆB, ˆr,q,B] ,” “in an horn of a son of oil” (“ planted in a fat and fruitful soil ;” that is, furnished with all possible means to render it fruitful): “and he fenced it” (protected it by his providence from the incursion of enemies), “and gathered out the stones thereof” (removed out of it whatever was noxious and hurtful, — it may be the gods of wood and stone in an especial manner out of the land); “and planted it with the choicest vine” (in its order, ordinances, and institutions of worship), “and built a tower in the midst of it” (that is, for its defense; namely, the strong city of Jerusalem, in the midst of the land, which was built “as a city that is compact together,” all as one great tower, “whither the tribes went up, the tribes of the LORD, unto the testimony of Israel,” <19C203> Psalm 122:3,4), “and also made a wine-press therein” (the temple and altar, continually running with the blood of sacrifices): “and he looked that it should bring forth grapes.” His expectations answer his care and dispensations towards his church. That is the meaning of the word wqiy\wæ , — he “looked,” he “expected.” Expectation properly is of a thing future and uncertain, — so is nothing unto God; being therefore ascribed unto him, it only signifies what is just and equal, and what in such cases ought to be: such a vineyard ought to bring forth grapes answerable to all the acts of God’s care and grace towards it; and we may see in that place what is the end of frustrating such an expectation. Such are the dealings of God with churches and persons in the day we have described, and an expectation of such fruit is it accompanied withal. (2.) Such a day is the season that is allotted unto us for especial work, for especial duty. Some singular work is the end and design of such a singular season. So the apostle informs us, 2 Peter 3:11: “Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness?”

    The supposition in the words, concerning the dissolution of all these things, is an intimation of such a day as we have described from one circumstance of it, namely, the impendent judgments of God then threatened to the church and state of the Jews, which was now expiring.

    And the inference that he makes from that supposition is unto a peculiar holiness and godliness. That this at such a time is intended, is a thing so evident, that he refers it to the judgment of them to whom he wrote. “What manner of persons ought ye to be?” — ‘Judge in yourselves, and act accordingly.’ Great light, great holiness, great reformation, in hearts, houses, churches, are expected and required in such a day. All the advantages of this season are to have their use and improvement, or we lose the end of it. Every thing that concurs to the constitution of such a day hath advantages in it to promote special work in us; and if we answer them not our time for it is irrecoverably lost; which will be bitterness in the end. (3.) Every such day is a day of great trials. The Lord Christ comes in it with his fan in his hand, to sift and try the corn; to what end is declared, Matthew 3:12: “His fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

    The “fan” of Christ is his word, in and by the preaching whereof he separates the precious from the vile, the “wheat” from the “chaff.” He comes into his “floor,” the church, where there is a mixture of corn and chaff; he sifts and winnows them by his word and Spirit, so discarding and casting off light, empty, and fruitless professors. Such a day is described by Daniel 12:10: “Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.” “Many,” that is, of the saints, “shall be purified,” — Wrr]B;t]yi , “purged” (made clean from such spots, stains, or defilements, as in their affections or conversation they had contracted); “and made white,” — WnB]læt]yi , (shall be whitened in their profession, — it shall be rendered more eminent, conspicuous, and glorious); “and tried,” — Wpr]x;yi (as in a furnace, that it may appear what metal they are of). Thus shall it be with believers, so shall they be exercised in their spirits, and so approved; but wicked and false professors shall be discovered, and so far hardened that they shall go on and grow high in their wickedness, unto their utter destruction. So it fell out on the day of his coming in the flesh, and so it was foretold, Malachi 3:1-3. The whole people jointly desired his coming, but when he came few of them could abide it or stand before it. He came to try them and purify them; whereon many of them, being found mere dross, were cast off and rejected. Christ in such a day tries all sorts of persons, whereby some are approved, and some have an end put to their profession, their hypocrisy being discovered. And it therefore concerns us heedfully to regard such a season; for, — (4.) Unto whom such a day is lost, they also themselves are lost. It is God’s last dealing with them. If this be neglected, if this be despised, he hath done with them. He says unto them in it, “This is the acceptable time, this is the day of salvation.” If this day pass over, night will come wherein men cannot work. So speaks our Savior concerning Jerusalem, which then enjoyed that day, and was utterly losing it: Luke 19:41,42, “And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.”

    Both the things, and words, and manner of expression declare the greatness of the matter in hand. So doth the action of our Savior, — “ he wept;” which is but once more recorded of him in the gospel, John 11:35. And the word here used, e]klause , denotes a weeping with lamentation. The consideration of what he was speaking unto moved his holy, tender, merciful heart unto the deepest commiseration. He did it also for our example and imitation, that we might know how deplorable and miserable a thing it is for a people, a city, a person, to withstand or lose their day of grace. And the words here used also are of the like importance: “If thou hadst known, even thou.” The reduplication is very emphatical, “Thou, even thou,” — ‘thou ancient city, thou city of David, thou seat of the temple and all the worship of God, thou ancient habitation of the church;’ “if thou hadst known.” And there is a wish or a desire included in the supposition, which otherwise is elliptical, “If thou hadst known,” — ‘O that thou hadst known!’ It is sometimes well rendered by “utinam.” And again it is added, “At least in this thy day.” They had enjoyed many lesser days of grace, and many before in the messages and dealings of the prophets, as our Savior minds them in that great parable, Matthew 21:33-36. These they despised, persecuted, and rejected, and so lost the season of their preaching; but they were lesser days, and not decretory of their state and condition. Another day they were to have, which he calls “This their day;” the day so long foretold, and determined by Daniel the prophet, wherein the Son of God was to come, who was now come amongst them. And what did he treat with them about? “The things which belonged unto their peace,” — of repentance and reconciliation unto God, the things which might have given them peace with God, and continued their peace in the world; but they refused these things, neglected their day, and suffered it to pass over them unimproved. What was the issue thereof?

    God would deal no more with them, the things of their peace shall now be hid from them, and themselves be left unto destruction. For when such a dispensation is lost, when the evening of such a day is come, and the work of it not accomplished, — [1.] It may be God will bring a wasting destruction upon the persons, church, or people that have despised it. So he dealt with Jerusalem, as it was foretold by our Savior in the place before insisted on, Luke 19:43,44: ‘The things of thy peace are now over and hid from thee.’ What then will follow or ensue? Why, “The days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation;” — ‘Because thou hast not discerned thy day, nor regarded it, hast not answered the mind of God in it, all this shall speedily befall thee,’ — as it did accordingly. The same hath been the issue of many famous Christian churches. The very places where they were planted are utterly consumed.

    Temporal judgments are ofttimes the issue of despised spiritual mercies.

    This is the language of those providential warnings by signs and prodigies, which ofttimes such a season is accompanied withal. They all proclaim the impendent wrath of God upon the neglect of his gracious call. And with examples hereof are all records, sacred and ecclesiastical, filled. [2.] God may, and sometimes doth, leave such a people, church, or persons, as have withstood his dealings in a day of grace, in and unto their outward station in the world, and yet hide the things of their peace utterly from them, by a removal of the means of grace. He can leave unto men their kingdoms in this world, and yet take away the kingdom of heaven, and give that unto others. They may dwell still in their houses, but be in the dark, their candlestick and the light of it being consumed. And this hath been the most common issue of such dispensations, which the world groans under at this day. It is that which God threateneth, Thessalonians 2:11,12. Because men would not receive the truth in the love thereof, — that is, because they would not improve the day of the gospel which they enjoyed, — “God sent them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.” And how came it to pass? By removing the sound and sincere preaching of the word, he gave advantage to seducers and false teachers to impose their superstition, idolatry, and heresies upon their credulity. So God punished the neglect and disobedience of the churches of Europe under the papal apostasy. And let us take heed lest this vial of wrath be not yet wholly emptied; or, — [3.] God may leave unto such persons the outward dispensation of the means of grace, and yet withhold that efficacy of his Spirit which alone can render them useful to the souls of men. Hence the word comes to have a quite contrary effect unto what it hath under the influences of God’s especial grace. God in it then speaks unto a people as is expressed Isaiah 6:9,10: “Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.” ‘I have now done with them,’ saith God; ‘I have no design or purpose any more to deal with them about their conversion and healing. And therefore, although I will have the preaching of the word as yet continued unto them, yet it shall have no effect upon them, but, through their own unbelief, to blind them and harden them to their destruction.’ And for these reasons, amongst others, ought such a day as we have described carefully to be attended unto.

    This duty being of so great importance, it may be justly inquired, How may a man, how may a church know that it is such day, such a season of the gospel with them, so as to be suitably stirred up unto the performance of their duty? I answer, They may do so two ways: — 1. From the outward signs of it, as the day is known by the light and heat of the sun, which is the cause thereof. What concurs to such a day was before declared. And in all those things there are signs whereby it may be known. Neglect and ignorance hereof were charged by our Savior on the Jews, and that frequently; so Matthew 16:3: “O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky, but can ye not discern the signs of the times?”

    How they discerned “the face of the sky” he shows in verses 2,3; namely, they judged by usual known prognostics what the weather would be in the evening or morning, that so they might accordingly apply themselves unto their occasions. ‘But,’ saith he, ‘as God hath planted such signs in things natural, hath so ordered them that one should be a sign and discovery of another, so he hath appointed signs of this day of grace, of the coming of the Messiah, whereby it also may be known. But these,’ saith he, ‘ye cannot discern.’ Ouj du>nasqe , “Ye cannot.” But withal he lets them know why they could not. That was because they were hypocrites, and either grossly neglected or despised the means and advantages they had to that purpose. The signs we have before mentioned are such, as being brought at any time to the rule o£ the word, they will reveal the season that they belong unto. And herein consisted the wisdom of those children of Issachar, who had “understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do,” 1 Chronicles 12:32. 2. Such a day or season will manifest itself by its efficacy. When God applies such a concurrence of means, he will make men one way or other sensible of his design and end. The word in such a day will either refine and reform men, or provoke and enrage them. Thus when the witnesses preach, — which is a signal season of light and truth, — they “torment them that dwell on the earth,” Revelation 11:10. If they are not healed, they will be tormented. So it was at the first preaching of the gospel, — some were converted, and the rest were hardened: a signal work passed on them all, and those who dispensed the word became a “sweet savor in them that are saved, and in them that perish.” The consciences of men will discover their times. God will one way or other leave his witness within them. An especial day will make an especial approach unto their hearts. If it make them not better, they will be worse; and this they may find by the search of themselves. God in this dispensation effectually speaks these words unto an evident experience in the minds of men: s“He that is unjust, let him be unjust still; and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still; and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still; and he that is holy, let him be holy still,” Revelation 22:11.

    The especial duty incumbent on men in such a day, is in all things to hearken to the voice of God.

    We now proceed unto theSECOND part of the words under consideration, comprising the example itself insisted on, and whereon the exhortation itself is founded. And this consists of two general parts: first the sin, and secondly the punishment of the people of old.

    First, The sin is contained in these words: “As in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: where your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works, forty years.” 1. The first thing occurring in the words according unto our former distribution of them, relating to the sin mentioned, is the persons of the sinners. They were their “fathers,” the progenitors of them to whom the apostle wrote. And they are in the next verse further described by their multitude, — they were a whole generation, “I was grieved with that generation.”

    Who these were was declared before in the exposition of the words, and it is plain from the story who are intended. It was the people that came up out of Egypt with Moses; all of whom that were above twenty years of age at their coming into the wilderness, because of their manifold sins and provocations, died there, Caleb and Joshua only excepted. So the Lord threatened, Numbers 14:26-30, “And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, How long shall I bear with this evil congregation, which murmur against me? I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel, which they murmur against me. Say unto them, As truly as I live, saith the LORD, as ye have spoken in mine ears, so will I do to you; your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness, and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward, which have murmured against me, doubtless ye shall not come into the land concerning which I sware to make you dwell therein, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun.”

    And so it came to pass; for when the people were numbered again in the plains of Moab, it is said, “Among these there was not a man of them whom Moses and Aaron the priest numbered, when they numbered the children of Israel in the wilderness of Sinai;” that is, besides those two who were excepted by name, Numbers 26:64,65. These were the fathers of the present Hebrews; that is, as it is expressed, Jeremiah 11:10, µynivoarih; µt;wOba\ , — their “forefathers,” as we render the words; rather their “first fathers,” those whom God first took into the express covenant with himself, for the place hath respect unto that very sin which is here reported: “They are turned back to the iniquity of their first fathers, which refused to hear my words,” who hearkened not unto the voice of God. And this limits the term unto those in the wilderness, seeing the former patriarchs did not refuse to hear the word of God. But they are generally called twOba\ indefinitely, pate>rev , the “fathers,” as others also that followed in succeeding generations; once by our apostle they are termed pro>gonoi , — “ progenitors,” 2 Timothy 1:3. Now the psalmist mentioning (and our apostle from him) the sin of the people in the wilderness, and proposing it with its consequents unto the present Hebrews, calls them their “fathers,” — (1.) Because that people were exceedingly apt to boast of their fathers, and to raise a confidence in themselves that they must needs receive mercy from God on their account. And they had, indeed, no small privilege in being the posterity of some of those fathers. Our apostle reckons it as one of their chief advantages, Romans 9:4,5: “Who are Israelites, to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; whose are the fathers, and of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came.”

    It hath a place in the great series of the privileges of that church. And when the church-state is made over to the Gentiles, it is promised her, that instead of these fathers she should have her children, Psalm 45:16, — those that should succeed unto them in holiness and the favor of God. But this people ran into a woeful mistake, which their posterity are hardened in at this day. Their only privilege in this matter was because God had freely and graciously given his promises unto their fathers, and taken them into covenant with himself; and the due consideration hereof tended only to the exaltation of the rich and free grace of God. So Moses expressly declares, Deuteronomy 7:7,8, and elsewhere. But forgetting or despising this, they rested on the honor and righteousness of their fathers, and expected I know not what as due unto them on that account. This vain confidence our Savior frequently rebuked in them, and so did the apostle.

    And for this reason the psalmist and the apostle, having occasion to mention the sins of the people of old, calls them their “fathers;” minding them that many of them in whom they gloried were sinful provokers of God. (2.) It is done to mind them of their near concernment in the example proposed, unto them. It is not taken from amongst strangers, but it is what fell out amongst their own progenitors. (3.) To warn them of their danger. There is a propensity in children to follow the sins of their fathers. Hence some sins prove eminently national in some countries for many generations. The example of parents is apt to infect their children. The Holy Ghost, then, here intimates unto them their proneness to fall into disobedience, by minding them of the miscarriage of their fathers in the same kind. This intimates unto them both their duty and their danger. Again, these fathers are further described by their number. They were a whole “generation ;” that is, all the people of that age wherein they were in the wilderness. And this contains a secret aggravation of the sin mentioned, because there was in it a joint conspiracy as it were of all the persons of that age. These are they who were guilty of the sin here reported. And we may observe from this expression and remembrance of them, — Obs. 12. That the examples of our forefathers are of use and concernment unto us, and objects of our deepest consideration.

    God in his dealings with them laid in instruction for their posterity. And when parents do well, when they walk with God, they beat the path of obedience plain for their children; and when they miscarry, God sets their sins as buoys to warn them who come after them of the shelves that they split upon. “Be not as your fathers, a stiff-necked generation,” is a warning that he oft repeats. And it is in the Scripture an eminent part of the commendation or discommendation of any, that they walked in the way of their progenitors. Where any of the good kings of Judah are testified unto for their integrity, this is still one part of the testimony given unto them, that they walked in the way of David their father, in the paths that he had trod before them. And on the other side, it is a brand on many of the wicked kings of Israel, that they walked in the ways of Jeroboam the son of Nebat. Their examples, therefore, are of concernment unto us, — First, because ofttimes the same kind of temptations are continued unto the children that the fathers were exercised withal. Thus we find in experience that some temptations are peculiar to a nation, some to a family, for sundry generations; which produce peculiar national sins, and family sins, so that at least they are prevalent in them. Hence the apostle chargeth national sins on the Cretians, from the testimony of Epimenides, who had observed them amongst them; — Krh~tev ajei< yeu~stai , kaka< zh>ria , ga>sterev ajrgai> , Titus 1:12, “The Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies.”

    Lying, dissimulation, cruelty, and sloth, were the sins of that nation from one generation to another, children learning them from the example of their parents. So many families for a long season have been infamous for cruelty, or deceit, or the like. And these hereditary sins have proceeded in part from hereditary temptations: some are inlaid in their natural constitutions, and some are inseparably annexed unto some special course of life and conversation, wherein persons of the same family succeed one another. Now it is a great warning unto men, to consider what sad events have befallen them that went before them by yielding unto those temptations which they themselves are exercised withal.

    Again, there is a blessing or a curse that lies secretly hid in the ways of progenitors. There is a revenge for the children of the disobedient unto the third and fourth generation; and a blessing on the posterity of the obedient for a longer continuance. The very heathen acknowledged this by the light of nature. Plato says expressly, Eijv teta>rthn geneazei than, — “ Punishment falls on the fourth generation.” And they had the substance of it from their oracle: — jAlla< kakw~v rje>xasi di>kav te>lov oujci< cronestotaton? eij kai< diosi teke>ssin Eijlei>tai? kai< ph~ma domasi , bai>nei .

    So is that saying common in the same case, Iliad. U> 308: — Kai< pai>dwn pai~dev , toi> ken meto>pisqe ge>nwntai .

    The design is what we have asserted, of the traduction of punishment from wicked parents to their posterity. But there are conditions of the avoidance of the curse, and enjoyment of the blessing. When fathers have made themselves obnoxious to the displeasure of God by their sins, let their posterity know that there is an addition of punishment coming upon them, beyond what in an ordinary coupe of providence is due unto themselves, if they continue in the same sins. So God tells Moses, in the matter of the golden calf which Aaron had made, when he had prevailed with him not immediately to destroy the whole people: “Nevertheless,” saith he, “in the day when I visit I will visit their sin upon them,” Exodus 32:34; — that is ‘ If by their future sins and idolatry they shall provoke me to visit and punish them, I will add unto their punishment somewhat from the desert of this sin of their forefather Whence is that proverb among the Jews, “That there is no evil befalls them but it hath in it some grain of the golden calf.” alç µnhyg lç yjtp l[ bçwy µhrbaç µnhygb larçy y[çyp dryyl jynhl , saith Rashi, — “He will mix a little somewhat of the guilt of this sin with the rest of their sins.” And therefore the same word, of “visiting,” is here used as in the threatening in the commandment, Exodus 20:5. And when one generation after another shall persist in the same provoking sins, the weight of God’s indignation grows so heavy, that ordinarily in one part or other it begins to fall within the third or fourth generation. And doth it not concern men to consider what have been the ways of their forefathers, lest there lie a secret, consuming curse against them in the guilt of their sins?

    Repentance and forsaking their ways wholly intercept the progress of the curse, and set a family at liberty from a great and ancient debt to the justice of God. So God stateth this matter at large, Ezekiel 18. Men know not what arrears may by this means be chargeable on their inheritances; much more, it may be, than all they are worth is able to answer. There is no avoidance of the writ for satisfaction that is gone out against them, but by turning out of the way wherein they are pursued. The same is the case of the blessing that is stored for the posterity of the obedient, provided they are found in the way of their forefathers. These things render them and their ways objects of our consideration. For moreover, — Obs. 13. It is a dangerous condition, for children to boast of the privilege of their fathers, and to imitate their sins.

    This was almost continually the state of the Jews. They were still boasting of their progenitors, and constantly walking in their sins. This they are everywhere in the Scripture charged withal. See Numbers 32:14. This the Baptist reflected on in his first dealing with them: “Bring forth,” saith he, “fruits meet for repentance; and think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father,” Matthew 3:8,9. On every occasion they still cried out, “We have Abraham to our father,” — he who was so highly favored of God, and first received the promises. For his sake and by his means they expected to be saved temporally and eternally. Hence they have a saying in their Talmud, t[Or;l] µyBiræAyrej\aæ hy,h]tiAalo “ Abraham sits at the gates of hell, and will not permit that any transgressors of Israel shall go in thither,” — a great reserve against all their ‘sins, but that it will deceive them when they are past relief. It is true they had on this account many privileges, as our apostle testifies in sundry places, Romans 3:1,2, 9:4,5; and so he esteemed them to be as to his own personal interest in them, Philippians 3:4,5. But whilst they trusted unto them and continued in the sins of them who had abused them, it turned to their further ruin. See Matthew 23:29-32. And let their example deter others from countenancing themselves in privileges of any kind whilst they come short of personal faith and obedience. Again, — Obs. 14. A multitude joining in any sin given it thereby a great aggravation.

    Those here that sinned were all the persons of one entire generation. This made it a formal, open rebellion, a conspiracy against God, a design as it were to destroy his kingdom and to leave him no subjects in the world.

    When many conspire in the same sin it is a great inducement unto others to follow. Hence is that caution in the law, Exodus 23:2, “Thou shalt not follow a multitude to de, evil.” The law, indeed, hath an especial respect unto judgment and causes of differences among men. But there is a general direction in the law for our whole course: wOrx]yOAta, dr; ywOh ; — “Thou shalt not be after many” (or “great men”) “unto evils,” — ‘Take heed of the inclination of a multitude unto evil, lest thou art also carried away with their errors and sin;’ and this aggravates the sin of many. It doth so also, that the opposition unto God therein is open and notorious, which tends greatly to his dishonor in the world. And what resentment God hath of the provocation that lies herein is fully expressed in Numbers 14, from verse 20 unto verse 35, speaking of the sin of the congregation in their unbelief and murmuring against him. In the first place, he engageth himself by his oath to vindicate his glory from the reproach which they had cast upon it, verse 21, “As truly as I live,” saith he, “all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD.” Some take these words to be only an asseveration of that which follows; as if God had said, ‘As truly as I live, and as the earth is filled with my glory, all these men shall perish;’ but the words rather contain the principal matter of the oath of God. He swears that as they, by their conjunct sin and rebellion, had dishonored him in the world, so he, by his works of power and vengeance on them, would fill the earth again with his glory. And there is in the following words a representation of a great pa>qov , or “commotion,” with great indignation: “They have,” saith he, “seen my miracles, and have tempted me now these ten times,” verse 22.

    The Hebrew doctors do scrupulously reckon up these temptations. The first, they say, is in Exodus 14:11, when they said, “Because there were no graves in Egypt.”

    The second in Marah, Exodus 15:24, “The people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink?”

    The third in the desert of Sin, Exodus 16:2,3, “The whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron, and said, Would to God we had died by the hand of the LORD in Egypt, when we sat by the flesh-pots.”

    The fourth when they left manna until the morning, Exodus 16:19,20, “And Moses said, Let no man leave of it till the morning.

    Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto Moses; but some of them left of it until the morning, and it bred worms, and stank.”

    The fifth was when some of them went out to gather manna on the Sabbath-day, Exodus 16:27,28, which God called a “refusing to keep his commandments and his laws.”

    The sixth was in Rephidim, at the waters of Meribah, Numbers 20:2-13.

    The seventh in Horeb, when they made the calf, Exodus 32:The eighth at Taberah, Numbers 11:1-3. The ninth at Kibroth-hattaavah, Numbers 11:31-34. The tenth upon the return of the spies, Numbers 14. Thus are the ten temptations reckoned up by some of the Jews, and by others of them they are enumerated with some little alteration. But whether the exact number of ten be intended in the expression is very uncertain; it seems rather to intend multiplied temptations, expressed with much indignation. So Jacob when he chode with Laban told him, “Thou hast changed my wages ten times,” Genesis 31:41; that is, frequently, which he so expressed in his anger and provocation. So doth God here, — “Ye have tempted me these ten times;” that is, ‘So often, so far, that I neither can nor will bear with you any longer.’ In the whole discourse (which sinners ought to read and tremble at) there is represented as it were such a rising of anger and indignation in the face of God, such a commotion of soul in displeasure (both made use of to declare an unchangeable will of punishing), as scarce appears again in the Scripture. Thus it is for a multitude to transgress against God, as it were by a joint conspiracy. Such issues will all national apostasies and provocations receive. And this is the first general part of the example proposed to consideration, namely, the persons sinning, with the observations that arise from thence. 2. The second is the matter or quality of their sin, which is referred unto two heads: — (1.) Their provocation, “In the provocation, in the day of temptation.” (2.) Their tempting of him, “They tempted me, and proved me.” (1.) Their sin consisted in their provoking. It seems not to be any one particular sin, but the whole carriage of the people in the actions reflected on, that is intended; and that not at any one time, but in their whole course. The word in the original, as was declared, signifies “to chide,” “to strive,” “to contend,” and that in words: Isaiah 45:9, wOrx]yOAta,br; ywOh , — “Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker!” And how doth or maybe do it? “Shall the clay say to him that made it?” etc. It is by” saying,” by speaking against him, that he may so strive with him. But the apostle hath expressed it by a word denoting the effect of that chiding, that is exacerbation or provocation. The expression of the actions here intended, in the places before mentioned, Exodus 17, Numbers 20:13, the chiding of the people, as we observed before, is directly said to be with Moses, as their tempting afterwards is of the Lord. Thus Moses says unto them, “Why chide ye with me? wherefore do ye tempt the LORD?” Exodus 17:2. But it is also said expressly, “They strove” (the same word) “with the LORD,” Numbers 20:13. The meaning is, that “striving” or “chiding” ( hb;yrim] , from bWr ) being properly an altercation with or in words, Moses, and not God, was the immediate object of their chiding; but because it was about and concerning the works of God, which Moses had no relation unto but as he was his minister, servant, and employed by him, the principal object of their chiding, as formally a sin, was also God himself. In striving with Moses they strove with him, and in chiding with Moses they chode with him. This expression, then, in general compriseth all the sinful actions of that people against God under the ministry of Moses.

    There are two things to be considered in this matter of provocation; — [1.] The sin that is included in it; [2.] The event or consequent of it, — God was provoked. The former seems firstly intended in the Hebrew word, the latter in the Greek. [1.] For the sin intended, it is evident from the story that it was unbelief acting itself by murmuring and complaints; the same for the substance of it by which also they tempted God. This the apostle declares to have been the great provoking sin, verse 19: “So we see that they could not enter in, by reason of unbelief.” That was the sin which so provoked God as that “he sware in his wrath that they should not enter into his rest.” Yet it is not their unbelief absolutely considered that is intended, but as it brought forth the effects of chiding with Moses and murmuring against God, which on all occasions they fell into. Though unbelief itself, especially in such a season, be a provoking sin, yet this murmuring and chiding so added unto its provocation that it is directly laid on their accounts. But they also, as the apostle says, are to be resolved into their spring or cause, — that is, unbelief. They are but an especial sign, circumstance, or effect of their unbelief. [2.] The effect of this sin was the provocation or exacerbation of God. The Hebrew word which the apostle here expresseth by pikrasmo>v , is s[æK; ; which sometimes is taken actively, for “provoking,” “inciting,” “stimulating,” “imbittering;” sometimes passively, for “indignation,” “perturbation,” “sorrow,” “grief,” “trouble.” In the whole it includes the imbittering of the mind of its object, with an excitation unto anger, displeasure, and wrath. Now, these things are ascribed unto God only by an anthropopathy. Such effects being usually wrought in the minds of the best men when they are unjustly and ungratefully dealt withal, God, to show men the nature of their sins, ascribes them unto himself. His mind is not imbittered, moved, or changed; but men have deserved to be dealt withal as if it were so. See Jeremiah 8:19; 2 Kings 21:15; Isaiah 65:3; Jeremiah 25:7, 32:29; 2 Chronicles 28:25.

    Now, this provocation of God by their unbelief, acting itself in murmuring, chiding, and complaining, is further expressed from the season of it, — it was in the “day of temptation,” the day of Massah. The denomination is taken from the name of the place where they first murmured for water, and tempted God by the discovery of their unbelief. As it was called Meribah from the contention, chiding, and provoking, so it was called Massah from the tempting of God there, — the “day of temptation.” In this expression, not the addition of a new sin to that of provocation is intended, but only a description of the sin and season of that sin. It was in the “day of temptation” that God was so provoked by them. How also they tempted him we shall see afterwards. Now, as this day signally began upon the temptation at Meribah, so it continued through the whole course of the people’s peregrination in the wilderness, — their multiplied tempting of God made this whole time a “day of temptation.”

    Now, let us consider hence some further observations: — Obs. 15. The sinful actings of men against those who deal with them in the name of God, and about the works or will of God, are principally against God himself.

    The people chode with Moses; but when God came to call it to an account, he says they strove with him and provoked him. So Moses told the people, to take them off from their vain pretences and coverings of their unbelief: Exodus 16:2, “The whole congregation murmured against Moses and Aaron.” But saith he, verse 7, “The LORD heareth your murmurings against him: and what are we that ye murmur against us?” As if he had said, ‘Mistake not yourselves, it is God, and not us, that you have to do withal in this matter. What you suppose you speak only against us, is indeed directly though not immediately spoken against God.’

    So God himself informs Samuel, upon the repining of the people against him: “They have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them;” because he ruled them immediately in the name of God, 1 Samuel 8:7. They pretended weariness of the government of Samuel, but were indeed weary of God and his rule. And so what was done against him, God took as done against himself. And under the new testament, our Savior in particular applies this rule unto the dispensers of the gospel, Luke 10:16, saith he, “He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me.” The preachers of the gospel are sent by Christ, and therefore their opposition and contempt do first reflect dishonor upon him, and through him upon God himself.

    And the reason hereof is, because in their work they are representatives of God himself, — they act in his name and in his stead, as his embroiders: 2 Corinthians 5:20, “Now then,” saith the apostle, “we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.” They treat with men as sent of God, in his name, about the affairs of Christ. The violation of an ambassador amongst men is always esteemed to redound unto the dishonor of him by whom he is employed; for it is he unto whom the injury and affront are principally intended, especially if it be done unto him in discharge of his office Nor are kings or states ever more highly provoked than when an injury is offered or an affront done unto their ambassadors. The Romans of old utterly destroyed Tarentum in Italy, and Corinth in Greece, on that account; and occasions of the same nature have been like of late to fill the world with blood and tumult. And the reason is, because, according to the light of nature, what is done immediately against a representative as such, is done directly and intentionally against the person represented. So it is in this case. The enmity of men is against God himself, against his way, his works, his will, which his ambassadors do but declare. But these things absolutely are out of their reach. They cannot reach them nor hurt them; nor will they own directly an opposition unto them. Therefore are pretences invented by men against those who are employed by God, that under their covert they may execute their rage against God himself. So Amaziah, priest of Bethel, complained to Jeroboam the king, saying, “Amos hath conspired against thee in the midst of the house of lsrael: the land is not able to bear all his words.” It is not because he preached against his idolatry, or denounced the judgments of God against the sins of men, that Ama-ziah opposeth him; no, it is merely on the account of his sedition, and the danger of the king thereby, Amos 7:10. And when, as it is likely, he could not prevail with the king for his destruction, he deals with him personally himself, to flee away, and so to render himself suspected, verses 12,13. He had used an invidious expression concerning him to the king, Úyl,[; rvæq; , — “He hath conspired against thee;” that is, to take away thy life. The word is used concerning two kings of Judah, one after another, and the matter ended in their death, 2 Chronicles 24:25, 25:27. And it is mostly used for a conspiracy ending in death. And yet all this was from enmity against God, and from no affection to the king.

    Under the shade of such pretences do men act their opposition unto God upon his messengers. God sees that they are all but coverts for their lusts and obstinacy, — that himself is intended; and he esteems it so accordingly.

    Instruction lies plain herein for them who, by vainly-invented pleas and pretences, do endeavor to give countenance to their own consciences in opposition unto those who speak in the name and treat about the things of God. Let them look to it; though they may so satisfy themselves, in and by their own prejudices, as to think they do God good service when they kill them, yet they will find things in the issue brought unto another account. This lies so clear from what hath been spoken that I shall not further insist on it. But let them principally consider this, and thence what is incumbent on them, who are called to deal with others in the name of God. And, — [1.] Let them take heed that they neither do, nor act, nor speak any thing but what they have sufficient warrant from him for. It is a dangerous thing to entitle God or his name unto our own imaginations. God will not set his seal of approbation, he will not own a concernment in our lie, though we should think that it tends to his glory, Romans 3:7. Neither will he own what is done against us as done against himself, unless we stand in his counsels, and be found in the ways of his will. There is no object of a more sad consideration, than to see some men persecuting others for their errors.

    They that persecute, — suppose them in the right as to the matter in difference between them and those whom they do oppress, — yet do certainly act against God in what they pretend to act for him; for they usurp his authority over the souls and consciences of men. And they that are persecuted do sacrifice their concernments to the darkness of their own minds. God may concern himself in general to own their integrity towards himself, even in their mistakes; but in the particular wherein they suffer he will not own them. Whether, therefore, we are to do or to suffer any thing for God, it is of great concernment unto us to look well to our call or warrant. And then, [2.] When men are secured by the word and Spirit of God that their message is not their own, but his that sent them, — that they seek not their own glory, but his, — they may have hence all desirable grounds of encouragement, supportment, and consolation, in all the straits and temptations they meet withal in this world. They can be no more utterly prevailed against (that is, their testimony cannot) than can God himself. So he speaks to Jeremiah: “I will make thee a fenced brazen wall; they shall fight against thee, but they shall not prevail against thee: for I am with thee to save thee, and to deliver thee, saith the LORD,” Jeremiah 15:20.

    And in what they suffer God is so far concerned, as to account all that is done against them to be done against himself. Christ is hungry with them, and thirsty with them, and in prison with them, Matthew 25:35-40.

    Again, — Obs. 16. Unbelief manifesting itself in a time of trial is a most provoking sin.

    This, as we have showed, was the sin of the people in their provocation of God. And it is a great sin, — the great sin, the spring of all sins at all times; but it hath many aggravations attending of it in a time of trial. And this compriseth the first sense of the limitation of time in that word, “This day,” before intimated, namely, an especial time and season wherein the guilt of this sin may be eminently contracted. For I speak not of unbelief in general with respect unto the covenant and the promises thereof, but of unbelief as working in a distrust of God with respect unto the dispensations of his providence. It is a disbelieving of God as to any concernment of our own when we have a sufficient warrant to believe and put our trust in him, when it is our duty so to do. And two things we may make a brief inquiry into: — [1.] What is required that men may be in such a condition as wherein they may contract the guilt of this sin? And hereunto three things do belong: — 1st. That in general they be found in the way of God. God’s promises of his presence, and of his protection unto men, are confined unto his own ways, which alone are theirs, or ought so to be: “He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways,” Psalm 91:11; — that is, the ways that he hath appointed thee to walk in. The benefit of which promise the devil vainly attempted to deprive our Savior of, by seducing him to ways that were not his, ways that God had not appointed. Men in ways of their own, — that is, in the crooked paths of sin, — are not obliged to trust in God for mercy and protection in them. So to do, or to pretend so to do, is to entitle God to their lusts. For men to say they trust in God in the pursuit of their covetousness, injustice, oppression, sensuality, or in ways wherein these things have a prevailing mixture, or to pray for the protecting, the blessing presence of God in them, is a high provocation.

    Every difficulty, every opposition that such men meet withal is raised by God to turn them out of their way. And to expect their removal by him, or strength and assistance against them, is to desire the greatest evil unto their own souls that in this world they are obnoxious unto. The Israelites here blamed were in the way of God, and no opposition ought to have discouraged them therein. 2dly. That in particular they have a warrantable call to engage into that way wherein they are. A way may be good and lawful in itself, but not lawful to a man that enters upon it without a sufficient call to engage in it.

    And this deprives men also of the grounds, of expectation of God’s presence, so as to that particular way wherein they cannot contract the guilt of this sin; though commonly it is distrust of God that casts men into such ways. It was the way and work of God that the Israelites should destroy the Amorites and possess their land; but when they would in a heat, without a sufficient warrant, go up into the hill and fight with them, Moses says unto them, “Go not up, for the LORD is not among you;... and they were discomfited unto Hormah,” Numbers 14:42-45.

    Unto a lawful way, then, in general, a lawful call in particular must be added, or we have not a sufficient foundation for the discharge of that duty whose defect is now charged by us. 3dly. They must have a sufficient warranty of the presence and protection of God. This is that which makes faith and trust a duty. And God gives it two ways, — 1. In general, in the promise of the covenant, wherein he hath undertaken to be with us, to bless us, and to carry us through the course of our duty: Hebrews 13:5, “He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” This alone is a sufficient ground and foundation for faith and trust in every condition. And this the Israelites had in the promise made unto Abraham and others of their forefathers, 2. By giving some signal instances of his power, wisdom, and care, in his presence with us, by protection, direction, preservation, or deliverance, in those ways of his wherein we are engaged. When by this means he hath given us experience of his goodness, faithfulness, and approbation of the ways wherein we are, this adds a specialty unto the general warrant for faith in the word of promise. And this they also had in all those works of God which they saw for forty years. [2.] It must be inquired, what it is that makes any time or season to be a day of trial, seeing the miscarriage of men in such a season is expressed as a great aggravation of their sin. And they are the things that follow: — 1st. That there be a concernment of the glory of God in the performance of that duty wherein we are to act faith, or to trust in God. So God tried the faith of Abraham in a duty wherein his glory was greatly concerned. For by his obedience in faith, it appeared to all the world that Abraham respected God, and valued a compliance with his will above all things in this world whatever. So God himself expresseth it, Genesis 22:12: “Now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.” This was the tenth and last trial that befell Abraham. Nine times he had been tried before: — 1. In his departure out of his country; 2. By the famine which drove him into Egypt; 3. In the taking away of his wife there by Pharaoh; 4. In his war with the four kings; 5. In his hopelessness of issue by Sarah, whence he took Hagar; 6. In the law of circumcision; 7. His wife taken item him again by Abimelech; 8. His casting out of Hagar after she had conceived; 9. His expulsion of Ishmael In some of these it is known how he failed, though in most of them he acquitted himself as became the father of the faithful. But now the “fluctus decumanus” came upon him, his last and utmost trial, wherein he was made a spectacle to men, angels, and devils. The Jews tell us great stories of the opposition made by Satan, in his arguing with Abraham and Isaac about and against their obedience in this thing; and no doubt but he employed himself unto that purpose. And it is endless to show how many eyes were upon him; all which gave a concernment of glory unto God.

    Here, therefore, Abraham in a most especial manner acquits himself; whence God gives him that testimony, “Now I know that thou fearest God;” that is, ‘Now thou hast made it known beyond all exception.’ And this puts a blessed close unto all his signal trials. When, therefore, God calls men forth unto the performance and discharge of any duty wherein his glory and honor in the world is concerned, then he makes it unto them a time of trial. 2dly. Difficulties and opposition lying in the way of duty make the season of it a time of trial. When men have wind and tide with them in their sailing, neither their strength nor their skill is tried at all; but when all is against them, then it is known what they are. When the sun shines and fair weather continues, the houses that are built on the sand continue as well as those that are built on the rock; but when the rain, and the floods, and the wind come, they make the trial Whilst men have outward advantages to encourage them in the ways of God, it is not known what principles they act from; but when their obedience and profession are attended with persecution, reproach, poverty, famine, nakedness, death, then it is tried what men build upon, and what they trust unto, — then it is to them a time of trial.

    Further; to give light unto our proposition, we may inquire how or by what means men do or may act and manifest their unbelief at such a time or season. And this may be done several ways: — [1.] By dissatisfaction in and discontent at that condition of difficulty whereinto they are brought by the providence of God for their trial. Herein principally did the Israelites offend in the wilderness. Their condition pleased them not. This occasioned all their murmurings and complaints whereby God was provoked. It is true they were brought into many straits and difficulties; but they were brought into them for their trial by God himself, against whom they had no reason to repine or complain. And this is no small fruit, effect, and evidence of unbelief in trials, — namely, when we like not that condition we are brought into, of poverty, want, danger, persecution. If we like it not, it is from our unbelief. God expects other things from us. Our condition is the effect of his wisdom, his care and love, and as such by faith ought it to be acquiesced in. [2.] By the omission of any duty that is incumbent on us, because of the difficulties that attend it, and the opposition that is made unto it. The “fearful” and “unbelieving” go together, Revelation 21:8. When our fear or any other affection, influenced or moved by earthly things, prevails with us to forego our duty, either absolutely or in the most special and eminent instances of its practice, then unbelief prevails in the time of our trials. And this way also in particular did the Israelites fail. When they heard of fenced cities and sons of Anak, they gave up all endeavors of going into the land of Canaan, and consulted of making a captain to lead them back again into Egypt. And no otherwise is it with them who forego their profession because of the giant-like opposition which they find against it. [3.] When men turn aside and seek for unwarrantable assistances against their difficulties. So did this people, — they made a calf to supply the absence of Moses; and were contriving a return into Egypt to deliver them out of their troubles. When men in any thing make flesh their arm, their hearts depart from the Lord, Jeremiah 17:5. [4.] When men disbelieve plain and direct promises merely on the account of the difficulties that lie against their accomplishment. This reflects unspeakable dishonor on the veracity and power of God; — the common sin of this wilderness people, they limited God, and said, Can he do this or that? Seldom it was that they believed beyond what they enjoyed. Here lay the main cause of their sin and ruin. They had a promise of entering into the land. They believed it not; and, as our apostle says, they “could not enter in because of unbelief.” The promise was to their nation, the posterity of Abraham; the accomplishment of it in their persons depended on their faith. Here was their trial. They believed not, but provoked God; and so perished.

    Now, the reasons of the greatness of this sin, and its aggravations, are contained in the previous description of it. Every instance declaring its nature manifests it also to be heinous. I shall take up and only mention three of them: — [1.] There is, as was showed, an especial concernment of the glory of God in this matter. He calls men forth in such a season to make a trial of their obedience. He makes them therein, as the apostle speaks, a spectacle unto men and angels. And the hinge that the whole case turns upon is their faith.

    This all other actings hold a conformity unto. If here they discharge themselves aright, the glory of God, the manifestation whereof is committed unto them, is preserved entire. If herein they fail, they have done what lies in them to expose it to contempt. See Numbers 14:21. So was the case in the trial of Job. God permitted Satan to try to the uttermost whether he believed in him and loved him sincerely or no. Had Job failed herein, how would Satan have vaunted and boasted, and that against God himself! And the same advantage do others put into his hands, when at any time they miscarry in point of faith in a time of trial. [2.] The good and welfare, the peace and prosperity of the church in this world, depend on the deportment of men belonging to it in their trials; they may, at least as unto God’s outward dispensations towards them, sin at a cheaper rate at other times. A time of trial is the turn of a church’s peace or ruin. We see what their unbelief cost this whole generation in the wilderness; and these Hebrews, their posterity, were now upon the like trial. And the apostle by this instance plainly intimates unto them what would be the issue if they continued therein; which accordingly proved to be their utter rejection. [3.] Add hereunto, that it is the design of God in such particular instances to try our faith in general as to the promises of the covenant and our interest therein. The promise that this people had principally to deal with God about, was that of the covenant made with Abraham, the which all pretended to believe. But God tried them by the particular instances mentioned; and failing therein, they failed as unto the whole covenant. And it is so still. Many pretend that they believe the promises of the covenant as to life and salvation by it firmly and immovably. God tries them by particular instances, of persecution, difficulty, straits, public or private.

    Here they abide not, but either complain and murmur, or desert their duty, or fall to sinful compliances, or are weary of God’s dispensations. And this manifests their unsoundness in the general; nor can it be otherwise tried.

    Again, observe that, — Obs. 17. There is commonly a day, a time, wherein unbelief ariseth to its height in provocation.

    We showed before that there is a day, an especial season of God’s dealing with the sons of men, by his word and other means of grace. The due observance and improvement hereof is of the greatest importance unto them. “Today, if ye will hear his voice;” — that is, the day wherein God’s dispensations of grace and patience come to their ajkmh> , “status rerum inter incrementum et decrementum,” — their height. After this, if not closed with, if not mixed with faith and obeyed, they either insensibly decline, in respect of their tender or efficacy, or are utterly removed and taken away. In like manner there is a day, a season wherein the unbelief of men in its provocation comes to its height and uttermost issue, beyond which God will bear with them no longer, but will break off all gracious intercourse between himself and such provokers This was the direct case with these Israelites They had by their unbelief and murmuring provoked God ten times, as was declared before; but the day of their provocation, the season wherein it arrived to its height, came not until this trial mentioned, Numbers 14, upon the return of the spies that went to search the land. Before that time God often reproved them, was angry with them, and variously punished them, but he still returned unto them in a way of mercy and compassion, and still proposed unto them an entrance into his rest, according to the promise; but when that day once came, when the provocation of their unbelief was come to its height, then he would bear with them no longer, but swears in his wrath that they should not enter into his rest. From that day he took hold of all occasions to exercise severity against them, flooding them away, Psalm 90:5, until that whole evil generation was consumed. And so it was with their posterity as to their church and national state. God sent unto them, and dealt variously with them, by his prophets, in several generations. Some of them they persecuted, others they killed, and upon the matter rejected them all, as to the main end of their work and message. But yet all this while God spared them, and continued them a people and a church, — their provocation was not come unto its height, its last day was not yet come. At length, according to his promise, he sent his Son unto them. This gave them their last trial, this put them into the same condition with their forefathers in the wilderness, as our apostle plainly intimates in the use of this example.

    Again, they despised the promises, — as their fathers had done in the type and shadow, so did they when the substance of all promises was tendered and exhibited unto them. This was the day of their last provocation, after which God would bear with them no more in a way of patience; but enduring them for the space of near forty years, he utterly rejected them; — sending forth his servants, “he slew those murderers, and burned up their city.” This is that which our Savior at large declares in his parable of the householder and his husbandmen, Matthew 21:33-41.

    And thus in God’s dealing with the antichristian state, there is a season wherein the angel swears that “there shall be time no longer,” Revelation 10:6; that God would no longer bear with men, or forbear them in their provocations and idolatries, but would thenceforth give them up unto all sorts of judgments spiritual and temporal, unto their utter confusion, — yea, “send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie, that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness,” 2 Thessalonians 2:11,12. And concerning this day two things may be observed: — [1.] That it is ; [2.] That it is unalterable. [1.] It is uncertain. Men know not when their provocations do come or will come unto this height. Jerusalem knew not in the entrance of her day that her sin and unbelief were coming to their issue, and so was not awakened to their prevention; no more than the men of Sodom knew when the sun arose that there was a cloud of fire and brimstone hanging over their heads. Men in their sins think they will do as at other times, as Samson did when his locks were cut, and that things will be made up between God and them as formerly, — that they shall yet have space and time for their work and duty; but ere they are aware they have finished their course, and filled up the measure of their sins. “For man also knoweth not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them,” Ecclesiastes 9:12.

    For the day of the Lord’s indignation comes “as a snare on them that dwell on the face of the earth,” Luke 21:35. And men are often crying, “Peace, peace,” when sudden destruction comes upon them, 1 Thessalonians 5:3. When Babylon shall say “she sits as a queen, and is no widow” (her sons being again restored unto her), “and shall see no sorrow; then shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine, and she shall be utterly burned with fire,” Revelation 18:7,8.

    Hence is Christ so often said to come as a thief, to manifest how men will be surprised by him in their sins and impenitency. And if the outward peace and the lives of men in this condition be respited for a while, as ofttimes they are, yet they are no longer under a dispensation of patience.

    There is nothing between God and them but anger and wrath. If men knew when would be their last trial, and which were it, we think they would rouse up themselves to a deep consideration of it, and a serious compliance with the call of God. But this, in the holy will and wisdom of God, is always hid from them, until it be too late to make use of it, until it can produce no effects but a few despairing wishes. God will have none of his warnings, none of his merciful dispensations put off or slighted with the hope and expectation of another season, by a foolish promising whereof unto themselves men ruin their souls every day. [2.] It is unalterable and irrecoverable. When the provocation of unbelief comes to this height there is no space or room left for repentance, either on the part of God or the sinner. For men, for the most part, after this they have no thought of repenting. Either they see themselves irrecoverable, and so grow desperate, or become stupidly senseless and lie down in security.

    So those false worshippers in the Revelation, after time was granted unto them no longer, but the plagues of God began to come upon them, it is said they repented not, but bit their tongues for anger, and blasphemed God.

    Instead of repenting of their sins, they rage against their punishment. And if they do change their mind in any thing, as Esau did when he saw the blessing was gone, it is not by true repentance, nor shall it be unto any effect or purpose. So the Israelites finished their sin by murmuring against the Lord upon the return of the spies, and said they would not go up into the land, but would rather return into Egypt, Numbers 14:But after a while they changed their minds, “and they rose up early in the morning, and gat them up into the top of the mountain, saying, Lo, we be here, and will go up unto the place which the LORD hath promised,” verse 40. But what was the issue? Their time was past, the Lord was not among them: “The Amalekites came down, and the Canaanites which dwelt in that hill, and smote them, and discomfited them, even unto Hormah,” verse 45. Their change of mind was not repentance, but a new aggravation of their sin.

    Repentance also in this matter is hid from the eyes of God. When Saul had finished his provocation, Samuel, denouncing the judgment of God against him, adds, “And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent,” Samuel 15:29. God firms his sentence, and makes it irrevocable, by the engagement of his own immutability. There is no change, no alteration, no reprieve, no place for mercy, when this day is come and gone, Ezekiel 21:25.

    Let persons, let churches, let nations, take heed lest they fall unawares into this evil day. I say unawares to themselves, because they know not when they may be overtaken by it. It is true, all the danger of it ariseth from their own negligence, security, and stubbornness. If they will give ear to previous warnings, this day will never come upon them. It may not, therefore, be unworthy our inquiry to search what prognostics men may have into the approach of such a day. And, — [1.] When persons, churches, or nations, have already contracted the guilt of various provocations, they may justly fear that their next shall be their last. ‘You have,’ saith God to the Israelites, ‘provoked me these ten times,’ — that is, frequently, as hath been declared, — ‘and now your day is come. You might have considered before, that I would not always thus bear with you.’ Hath God, then, borne with you in one and another provocation, temptation, backsliding? — take heed lest the great sin lies at the door, and be ready to enter upon the next occasion. As God told Cain, Genesis 4:7, “If thou dost not do well taF;jæ jtæP,læ Åb,ro ,” “peccatum ad ostium cubat,” — “ sin lies down at the door,” as a beast ready to enter on the next occasion, the next opening of it. After former provocations so lieth that which shall fill the ephah, and have the talent of lead laid upon it.

    Take heed, gray hairs are sprinkled upon you, though you perceive it not.

    Death is at the door. Beware lest your next provocation be your last.

    When your transgressions come to three and four, the punishment of your iniquities will not be turned away. When that is come, you may sin whilst you will or while you can; God will have no more to do with you but in a way of judgment. [2.] When repentance upon convictions of provocations lessens or decays, it is a sad symptom of an approaching day wherein iniquity will be completed. Useful repentance, — that is, that which is of any use in this world for the deferring or retarding of judgment, — is commensurate unto God’s dispensations of patience. When the fixed bounds of it (as it hath fixed bounds) are arrived at, all springs of repentance are dried up. When, therefore, persons fall into the guilt of many provocations, and God giving in a conviction of them by his word or providence, they are humbled for them according to their light and principles; if they find their humiliations, upon their renewed convictions, to grow weak, decay, and lessen in their effects, — they do not so reflect upon themselves with self-displicency as formerly, nor so stir up themselves unto amendment as they have done upon former warnings or convictions, nor have in such cases their accustomed sense of the displeasure and terror of the Lord, — let them beware, evil is before them, and the fatal season of their utmost provoking is at hand, if not prevented. [3.] When various dispensations of God towards men have been useless and fruitless, when mercies, judgments, dangers, deliverances, signally stamped with respect unto the sins of men, but especially the warnings of the word, have been multiplied towards any persons, churches, or nations, and have passed over them without their reformation or recovery, no doubt but judgment is ready to enter, yea, if it be into the house of God itself.

    Is it thus with any, is this their estate and condition? — let them please themselves while they please, they are like Jonah, asleep in the ship, whilst it is ready to be cast away on their account. Awake and tremble; you know not how soon a great, vigorous, prevalent temptation may hurry you into your last provocation. And this is the first head of sin instanced in. (2.) They are said also to have tempted God: “In the temptation; when your fathers tempted me.” Wherein their provocation did consist, and what was the sin which is so expressed, we have declared. We must now inquire what was their tempting of God, of what nature was their sin therein, and wherein it did consist. To tempt God is a thing frequently mentioned in the Scripture, and condemned as a provoking sin. And it is generally esteemed to consist in a venturing on or an engaging into any way, work, or duty, without sufficient call, warrant, or rule, upon the account of trusting God therein; or, in the neglect of the use of ordinary means in any condition, desiring, expecting, or trusting unto any extraordinary assistances or supplies from God. So when men seem rashly to cast themselves into danger, out of a confidence in the presence and protection of God, it is said that they tempt God. And sundry texts of Scripture seem to give countenance to this description of the sin of tempting of God. So Isaiah 7:11,12: When the prophet bade Ahaz ask a sign of the Lord in the depth or in the height above, he replied, “I will not ask, neither will I tempt the LORD;” — that is, ‘I will rest in what thou hast said, and not tempt God by seeking any thing extraordinary.’ And so when Satan tempted our Savior to show his power by casting himself down from a pinnacle of the temple, — which was none of his ways, — Matthew 4:7, he answers him by that saying of Deuteronomy 6:16, “Thou shalt not tempt the LORD thy God.” To venture, therefore, on any thing, unwarrantably trusting unto God for protection, is to tempt him.

    And this is usually and generally allowed as the nature of this sin and sense of this expression.

    But yet I must needs say, that upon the consideration of all the places where mention is made of tempting the Lord, I am forced to embrace another sense of the meaning of this expression, which if it be not utterly exclusive of that already mentioned, yet it is doubtless more frequently intended, and doth more directly express the sin here condemned. Now, this is a distrust of God whilst we are in any of his ways, after we have received sufficient experiences and instances of his power and goodness to confirm us in the stability and certainty of his promises. Thus to do is to tempt God. And when this frame is found in any, they are said to tempt him; that is, to provoke him by their unbelief. It is not barely and nakedly to disbelieve the promises, it is not unbelief in general, but it is to disbelieve them under some peculiar attestation and experience obtained of the power and goodness of God in their pursuit and towards their accomplishment. When, therefore, men are engaged into any way of God according to their duty, and meeting with opposition and difficulty therein, if they give way to despondency and unbelief, if they have received any signal pledges of his faithfulness, in former effects of his wisdom, care, power, and goodness, they tempt God, and are guilty of the sin here branded and condemned. The most eminent instances of tempting God in the Scripture, and which are most frequently mentioned, are these of the Israelites in the wilderness. As they are here represented in the story, so they are called over again both in the Old Testament and the New: Psalm 78:41, “Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel;” and 1 Corinthians 10:9, they “tempted Christ.”

    And wherein did this temptation consist? It was in this, and no other, — they would not believe or trust God when they were in his way, after they had received many experiences of his power and presence amongst them.

    And this is directly expressed, Exodus 17:7, “They tempted the LORD, saying, Is the LORD among us, or not?” They doubted of and questioned his presence, and also all the pledges and tokens which he had given them of it. And this sin of theirs the psalmist at large pursues, showing wherein it did consist, Psalm 78:22,23, “They believed not in God, and trusted not in his salvation, though he had commanded the clouds from above, and opened the doors of heaven.”

    Verse 32, “For all this they sinned still, and believed not for his wondrous works.” Verses 41,42, “They turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel. They remembered not his hand, nor the day when he delivered them from the enemy.” Thus plain doth he make the nature of their sin in tempting of God. It was their distrust and disobeying of him, after they had received so many encouraging evidences of his power, goodness, and wisdom amongst them. This, and this alone, is in the Scripture called tempting of God. For that of our Savior, Matthew 4:7, “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God,” it was taken, as was observed, from Deuteronomy 6:16, where the following words are, “as ye tempted him in Massah.” Now this tempting of God at Massah was that which we have declared, namely, the disbelieving of him after many evidences of his power and faithfulness. And this directly answers the end for which our Savior made use of these words; which was to show that he was so far satisfied of God’s presence with him, and of his being the Son of God, that he would not tempt him by desiring other experience of it, as though what he had already were not sufficient. And the reason why Ahaz said he would not tempt the Lord in asking a sign, was no other but because he believed not either that he would give him a sign or that he would deliver: and therefore he resolved to trust to himself, and with his money to hire the Assyrians to help him; which he did accordingly, 2 Kings 16:7-9.

    And this sin is called tempting of God, from its effect, and not from its formal nature. They “tempted God;” that is, by their unbelief they provoked him and stirred him up to anger and indignation. And from the discovery of the nature of this sin we may observe, that, — Obs. 18. To distrust God, to disbelieve his promises, whilst a way of duty lies before us, after we have had experiences of his goodness, power, and wisdom, in his dealing with us, is a tempting of God, and a greatly provoking sin.

    And a truth this is that hath wypb dyx , “meat in his mouth,” or instruction ready for us, that we may know how to charge this aggravation of our unbelief upon our souls and consciences. Distrust of God is a sin that we are apt, upon sundry perverse reasonings, to indulge ourselves in, and yet is there nothing wherewith God is more provoked. Now, it appears in the proposition laid down, that sundry things are required that a person, a church, a people, may render themselves formally guilty of this sin; as, — [1.] That they be called unto or engaged in some especial way of God. And this is no extraordinary thing. All believers who attend unto their duty will find it to be their state and condition. So were the Israelites in the wilderness. If we are out of the ways of God, our sin may be great, but it is a sin of another nature. It is in his ways that we have his promises, and therefore it is in them, and with reference unto them, that we are bound to believe and trust in him; and on the same account, in them alone can we tempt God by our unbelief. [2.] That in this way they meet with oppositions, difficulties, hardships, temptations; and this, whilst Satan and the world continue in their power, they shall be sure to do. Yea, God himself is pleased ofttimes to exercise them with sundry things of this nature. Thus it befell the people in the wilderness. Sometimes they had no bread, and sometimes they had no water; sometimes enemies assaulted them, and sometimes serpents bit them. Those things which in God’s design are trials of faith, and means to stir it up unto a diligent exercise, in their own natures are grievous and troublesome, and in the management of Satan tend to the producing of this sin, or tempting of God. [3.] That they have received former experiences of the goodness, power, and wisdom of God, in his dealings with them. So had this people done; and this God chargeth them withal when he reproacheth them with this sin of tempting him. And this also all believers are or may be made partakers of. He who hath no experience of the especial goodness and power of God towards him, it hath been through his own negligence and want of observation, and not from any defect in God’s dispensations. As he leaveth not himself without witness towards the world, in that “he doth them good, sending them rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling their hearts with food and gladness;” no more is he wanting towards all believers, in giving them especial tokens of his love, care, and kindness towards them; for he is the “savior of all men,” but “specially of those that believe,” 1 Timothy 4:10. But as the most in the world take no notice of the effects of his care and goodness towards them, so many believers are negligent in treasuring up experiences of his especial care and love towards them. Yet this hinders not but that the ways and dealings of God are indeed such as have been declared.

    Now, where these things concur, the distrust of God is a high provocation of him. It is unbelief, the worst of sins, expressing itself to the greatest disadvantage of God’s glory, the height of aggravations; for what can God do more for us, and what can we do more against him? Surely, when he hath revealed his ways unto us, and made known unto us our duty; when he hath given us pledges of his presence with us, and of his owning of us, so as to seal and ascertain his promises unto us; then for us, upon the opposition of creatures, or worldly difficulties, about outward, temporary, perishing things (for their power and efficacy extends no farther), to disbelieve and distrust him, it must needs be a high provocation to the eyes. of his glory. But, alas! how frequently do we contract the guilt of this sin, both in our personal, family, and more public concernments!

    A due consideration hereof lays, without doubt, matter of deep humiliation before us.

    And this is the second general head insisted on by the apostle in the example proposed, — namely, the nature of the sin or sins which the people fell into, and which he intends to dehort his Hebrews from. 3. The third general head of this discourse contains a triple aggravation of the sin of the people in their provoking and tempting of God: — (1.) From the place wherein they so sinned, — it was in the wilderness. (2.) From the means they had to the contrary, — they saw the works of God. (3.) From the continuance of the use of those means, and the duration of their sin under them, — it was thus for forty years: “They saw my works forty years.” For these, as they are circumstances of the story, so they are aggravations of the sin mentioned in it. (1.) They thus dealt with God in the wilderness: what wilderness is intended we showed before, in the exposition of the words. And however there may be a peculiar respect unto that part of the wilderness wherein the definitive sentence of their exclusion from the land of Canaan was given out against them, — which was in the wilderness of Paran, Numbers 12:16, at the very borders of the land that they were to possess, as appears Numbers 14:40, — yet because the time of forty years is mentioned, which was the whole time of the people’s peregrination in the deserts of Arabia, I take the word to comprehend the whole. Here, in this wilderness, they provoked and tempted God. And this contains a great aggravation of their sin; for, — [1.] This was the place wherein they were brought into liberty, after they and their forefathers had been in sore bondage unto the Egyptians for sundry ages. This was a mercy promised unto them, and which they cried out for in the day of their oppression: “They cried; and their cry came up unto God, by reason of the bondage,” Exodus 2:23.

    Now, to handsel their liberty, to make an entrance into it by this rebellion against God, it was a provoking circumstance. [2.] It was a place wherein they lived solely and visibly upon God’s daily extraordinary provision for them. Should he have withheld a continual working of miracles in their behalf, both they and theirs must have utterly perished. This could not but have affected them with love and fear, great preservatives of obedience, had they not been extremely stupid and obdurate. [3.] They were in a place where they had none to tempt them, to provoke them, to entice them unto sin, unless they willfully sought them out unto that very end and purpose; as they did in the case of Midian. The people now “dwelt alone, and were not reckoned among the nations.” Afterwards, indeed, when they dwelt among other nations, they learned their manners; but as that was no excuse for their sin, so this was a great aggravation of it, that here it sprung merely from themselves and their own evil heart of unbelief, continually prone to depart from the living God. (2.) It was a place wherein they continually saw the works of God; which is the second general head mentioned in the aggravation of their sin: “They saw my works.” And this did aggravate their sin on many accounts: — [1.] From the evidence that they had that such works were wrought, and that they were wrought of God, — they saw them. This Moses laid weight on, Deuteronomy 5:3,4, “The LORD made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, hL,ae Wnj]næa\ WnT;ai ,” “who are all of us here alive this day. The LORD talked with you face to face in the mount out of the midst of the fire.” “Not with our fathers;” that is, say some, ‘our forefathers who died in Egypt, and heard not the voice of God in Horeb:’ or, “Not with our fathers;” that is, only, their fathers were alive at the giving of the law, ‘but the covenant was not made with them only, but with us also.’ So Rashi on the place, dblb wnytwba ta al , “Not with our fathers only.” And then WnT;ai yKi . is as much as WnT;ai µGæ yKi , as Aben Ezra observes, “with us also.” And he confirms this kind of speech from that of God to Jacob, “Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel;” — that is, ‘Thou shalt not be called only so;’ for he was frequently called Jacob afterward, Others suppose that by the “fathers,” Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, are intended, who were the especial fathers of the people. Now, they received the promise, and therein had the covenant of grace confirmed unto them, but had no share in the special covenant which was made in, by, and at the giving of the law; and in this sense the emphasis is on the word twOZhæ twOZhæ tyriB] , “this covenant,” this which is now made in the giving of the law. For my part, I am apt to think that God doth in these words of Moses show his indignation against all that provoking generation of their fathers in that wilderness, and affirms his covenant was not made with them, because they despised it, and received no benefit by it; for it had a peculiar respect unto the land of Canaan, concerning which God sware that they should not enter it. ‘ It was not with them,’ saith he, ‘whom God despised and regarded not, but with you who are now ready to enter into the promised land, that this covenant was made.’ See Hebrews 8:9. The ground why I produced this place, is to show what weight is to be laid on immediate transactions with God, — personal seeing of his works. Herein they had an advantage above those who could only say with the psalmist, Psalm 44:1, “We have heard with our ears, O God, our fathers have told us, what work thou didst in their days, in the times of old.”

    They saw with their own eyes what was but told or reported unto others.

    And herein they had a double advantage, — 1st. In point of evidence. They had the highest and most unquestionable evidence that the works mentioned were wrought, and wrought of God, — they saw them. And this is clearly the most satisfactory evidence concerning miraculous works. Hence our Savior chose those to be the witnesses of his miracles who had been aujto>ptai , “spectators,” of them. 2dly. In point of efficacy for their end. Things seen and beheld have naturally a more effectual influence on the minds of men than those which they only hear of or are told them: — “Segnius irritant animos demissa per aures, Quam quae sunt oculis subjecta fidelibus.” — Hor, ad Pison., 180.

    This, therefore, greatly aggravates their sin, — that they themselves saw these works of God, which were signal means of preserving them from it. [2.] From the nature of the works themselves which they saw. They were such as were eminent effects of the properties of God, and means of their demonstration, and therein of the revelation of God unto them. Some of them were works of power, as his dividing of the sea, whose waves roared; some of majesty and terror, as the dreadful appearances, in thunders, lightnings, fire, smoke, and earthquake, at the giving of the law; some of severity and indignation against sin, as his drowning the Egyptians, the opening of the earth to swallow up Corah, Dathan, and Abiram, and the plagues that befell themselves; some of privilege , favor, love, and grace, as the giving of the law, intrusting them with his oracles, and forming them into a church and state, Isaiah 57:16; some of care and providence for their continual supply, in giving water from the rock, and bread from heaven, and preserving their garments from waxing old; some of direction and protection, as in the cloud and pillar of fire, to guide, direct, and refresh them night and day in that waste howling wilderness; — in all which works God abundantly manifested his power, goodness, wisdom, grace, faithfulness, tendering them the highest security of his accomplishing his promises, if they rejected not their interest in them by their unbelief. And it is a matter well worthy consideration, how excellently and pathetically Moses pleads all these works of God with them in the Book of Deuteronomy. And all these works of God were excellent means to have wrought up the hearts of the people unto faith and obedience; and unto that end and purpose were they wrought all of them. This he frequently declared whilst they were under the accomplishment, and thereon afterwards reproacheth them with their unbelief. What could be more suited to beget in the minds of men a due apprehension of the greatness, goodness, and faithfulness of God, than they were? And what is a more effectual motive unto obedience than such apprehensions? The neglect of them, therefore, carries along with it a great aggravation of sin. To tempt God, to murmur against him, as though he could not or would not provide for them, or make good his word unto them, whilst they saw, as it were, every day, those great and marvelous works which had such an impression of his glorious image upon them, it made way for their irrecoverable destruction. (3.) The third aggravation of the sin of this people is taken from the time of their continuance in it, under the use of the means to the contrary before insisted on, — it was “forty years.” The patience of God was extended towards them, and his works were wrought before them, not for a week, or a month, or a year, but for forty years together! And this increaseth the greatness and strangeness of this dispensation, both on the part of God, and theirs also; — on the part of God, that he should bear with their manners so long, when they had so often deserved to be destroyed as one man, and which he had threatened often to do; and on their part, that so long a course of patience, accompanied with so many works of power and mercy, all of them for their instruction, most of them unto their present benefit and advantage, should have no effect upon them to prevent their continuance in their sin unto their ruin.

    And these are the aggravations of their sin, which the psalmist collects from the circumstances of it, and which the apostle repeats for our warning and instruction; and this we shall draw out in the ensuing observations.

    Obs. 19. No place, no retiredness, no solitary wilderness, will secure men from sin or suffering, provocation or punishment.

    These persons were in a wilderness, where they had many motives and encouragements unto obedience, and no means of seduction and outward temptation from others, yet there they sinned and there they suffered.

    They sinned in the wilderness, and their carcasses fell in the wilderness; they filled that desert with sins and graven And the reason hereof is, because no place as such can of itself exclude the principles and causes either of sin or punishment. Men have the principle of their sins in themselves, in their own hearts, which they cannot leave behind them, or yet get off by shifting of places, or changing their stations. And the justice of God, which is the principal cause of punishment, is no less in the wilderness than in the most populous cities; the wilderness is no wilderness to him, he can find his paths in all its intricacies. The Israelites came hither on necessity, and so they found it with them; and in after ages some have done so by choice, — they have retired into wildernesses for the furtherance of their obedience and devotion. In this very wilderness, on the top of Sinai, there is at this day a monastery of persons professing themselves to be religious, and they live there to increase religion in them. I once for some days conversed with their chief (they call him Archimandrite) here in England. For aught I could perceive, he might have learned as much elsewhere. And, indeed, what hath been the issue of that undertaking in general? For the most part, unto their old lusts men added new superstitions, until they made themselves an abomination unto the Lord, and utterly useless in the world, yea, burdensome unto human society. Such persons are like the men of Succoth whom Gideon taught with “the thorns and briers of the wilderness,” Judges 8:16. They learned nothing by it but the sharpness of the thorns and the greatness of their own folly. No more did they at best learn any thing from their wilderness retirements, but the sharpness of the place, which was a part of the punishment of their sin, and no means sanctified for the furtherance of their obedience. These two things, then, are evident: — [1.] That the principle of men’s unbelief and disobedience is in themselves, and in their own hearts, which leaves them not upon any change of their outward condition. [2.] That no outward state of things, whether voluntarily chosen by ourselves, or we be brought into it by the providence of God, will either cure or conquer, or can restrain the inward principles of sin and unbelief. I remember old Jerome somewhere complains, that when he was in his horrid cave at Bethlehem, his mind was frequently among the delicacies of Rome. And this will teach us, — 1st. In every outward condition to look principally to our own hearts. We may expect great advantages from various conditions, but shall indeed meet with none of them, unless we fix and water the root of them in ourselves.

    One thinks he could serve God better in prosperity, if freed from the perplexities of poverty, sickness, or persecution; others, that they should serve him better if called unto afflictions and trials. Some think it would be better with them if retired and solitary; others, if they had more society and company. But the only way, indeed, to serve God better, is to abide in our station or condition, and therein to get better hearts. It is Solomon’s advice, ÚB,li rxon] rm;v]miAlK;mi , Proverbs 4:23, “Above or before every watch or keeping, keep thy heart.” It is good to keep the tongue, and it is good to keep the feet, and it is good to keep the way, as he further declares in that place, but saith he, “Above all keepings, keep thy heart.” And he adds a great reason for his caution: “For,” saith he, “out of it are the issues of life.” Life and death, in the means and causes of them, do come out of the heart. So our Savior instructs us that in our hearts lie our treasures; what they are, that are we, and nothing else. Thence are all our actions drawn forth, which not only smell of the cask, but receive thence principally their whole moral nature, whether they are good or bad. 2dly . Look for all relief and for help against sin merely from grace. A wilderness will not help you, nor a paradise. In the one Adam sinned, in whom we all sinned; in the other all Israel sinned, who were an example unto us all. Men may to good purpose go into a wilderness to exercise grace and principles of truth, when the acting of them is denied elsewhere: but it is to no purpose to go into a wilderness to seek for these things; their dwelling is in the love and favor of God, and nowhere else can they be found. See Job 28:12-28. Do not expect that mercies of themselves will do you good, or that afflictions will do you good, that the city or the wilderness will do you good; it is grace alone that can do you good. And if you find inward benefits by outward things, it is merely from the grace that God is pleased to administer and dispense with them. And he can separate them when he pleaseth. He can give mercies that shall be so materially, but not eventually, — like the quails, which fed the bodies of the people whilst leanness possessed their souls. And he can send affliction that shall have nothing in it but affliction, — present troubles leading on to future troubles. Learn, then, in all places, in every state and condition, to live in the freedom, riches, and efficacy of grace; for other helps, other advantages have we none. 3dly. Let us learn, that whithersoever sin can enter punishment can follow. “Culpam sequitur poena pede claudo.” Though vengeance seems to have a lame toot, yet it will hunt sin until it overtake the sinner: Psalm 140:11, “Evil shall hunt the violent man to overtake him” Go where he will, the fruits of his own evil and violence, the punishment due to them, shall hunt him and follow him; and though it should sometimes appear to be out of sight, or off from the scent, yet it will recover its view, and chase until it hath brought him to destruction, — jpojed]mæl] , “to thrustings down,” until he be utterly thrust down. Saith the Targum, “The angel of death shall hunt him until he thrust him down into hell.” The heathen owned this: — “Quo fugis, Encelade? quascunque accesseris oras, Sub Jove semper eris.” Punishment will follow sin into the wilderness, where it is separated from all the world; and climb up after it to the top of the tower of Babel, where all the world conspired to defend it. It will follow it into the dark, the dark corners of their hearts and lives, and overtake them in the light of the world. God hath e]ndikon o]mma , “an eye of revenge,” that nothing can escape. “Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith theLORD. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the LORD,” Jeremiah 23:24.

    God declares whence it is that none can hide from his presence or escape his justice. It is from his omnipresence; he is everywhere, and all places are alike unto him. Adam when he had sinned went behind a tree; and others, they would go under rocks and mountains; but all is one, vengeance will find them out. This is that Di>kh which the barbarians thought would not let a murderer live, however he might escape for a season, Acts 28:4.

    Obs. 20. Great works of providence are a great means of instruction; and a neglect of them, as to their instructive end, is a great aggravation of the sin of those who live when and where they are performed. “They saw my works,” saith God, works great and wonderful, and yet continued in their sin and disobedience. This heightened their sin, and hastened their punishment. We shall take an instance in one of the works here intended, which will acquaint us with the design, end, and use of them all; and this shall be the appearance of the majesty of God on mount Sinai at the giving of the law. The works accompanying it consisted much in things miraculous, strange, and unusual, — as thunder, lightning, fire, smoke, earthquakes, the sound of a trumpet, and the like. The usual working of the minds of men towards these unusual effects of the power of God, is to gaze on them with admiration and astonishment. This God forbids in them: Exodus 19:21, “Charge the people, lest they break through unto the LORD to gaze.” This is not the end or design of God in these works of his power, in these appearances and evidences of his majesty, that men should gaze at them to satisfy their curiosity. What, then, was aimed at in and by them? It was to instruct them unto a due fear and awful reverence of God, whose holiness and majesty were represented unto them; that they might know him as “a consuming fire.” And this was declared in the issue. For the people coming up unto a due fear of God for the present, and promising obedience thereon, God took it well of them, and approved it in them, as that which answered the design of his works: Deuteronomy 5:23-29, “And it came to pass, when ye heard the voice out of the midst of the darkness, (for the mountain did burn with fire,) that ye came near unto me” (these are the words of Moses to the people), “even all the heads of your tribes, and your elders; and ye said, Behold, the LORD our God hath shewed us his glory and his greatness, and we have heard his voice out of the midst of the fire:… Now therefore why should we diet for this great fire will consume us… Go thou near and hear all that the LORD our God shall say; and speak thou unto us all that the LORD our God shall speak unto thee; and we will hear it, and do it. And the LORD heard the voice of your words when ye spake unto me; and the LORD said unto me, I have heard the voice of the words of this people, which they have spoken unto thee: they have well said all that they have spoken. Oh that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!” God never casts “bruta fulmina;” all his works are vocal.

    They speak, or rather he speaks in them. Now, that they may be instructive unto us, sundry things are required: — [1.] That we take notice of them, and notice of them to be his. Some are so stayed, or so obstinate, or so full of self and other things, that they will take no notice at all of any of the works of God. His hand is lifted up, and they will not see, they will not behold it. He passeth by them in his works on the right hand and on the left, but they perceive it not. Others, though they take notice of the works themselves, yet they will not take notice of them to be his; like the Philistines, they knew not whether the strange plague that consumed them and destroyed their cities were God’s hand or a chance. But until we seriously consider them, and really own them to be the works of God, we can make no improvement of them. [2.] We are to inquire into the especial meaning of them. This is wisdom, and that which God requireth at our hands: so Micah 6:9, “The voice of the LORD crieth unto the city, and the man of wisdom shall see thy name: hear ye the rod, and who hath appointed it,” hwO;hy] lwOq , “The voice of the LORD,” is often taken for the power of God manifesting itself in its effects and mighty works. In this sense it is repeated six or seven times in one psalm, Psalm 29:3-9. The voice of God here, then, is the works of God. And what do they do? They have a voice, they “cry to the city.” The voice of God in his rod doth so; that is, his afflicting and correcting works, as in the end of the verse. It cries ry[il; , “to the city;” that is, the city of God, Jerusalem, or the church: though some think that ry[il; is put for ry[ihæl] “ad excitandum;” it cries to excite or stir up men, — that is, to repentance and amendment. And what is the issue? HY;viWt , “The man of wisdom,” say we, — it is wisdom, or rather substance, that is, the substantial wise man, who gives no place to vanity and lightness, — he “shall see the name of God:” that is, he shall discern the power and wisdom of God in his works; and not only so, but the mind of God also in them, which is often signified by his “name.” See John 17:6. And so it follows, “Hear ye the rod;” they are works of the rod, or correction, that he speaks of. This he commands us to “hear;” that is, to understand. So [mæç; frequently signifies. So speak the servants of Hezekiah to Rabshakeh, Isaiah 36:11, “Speak, we pray thee, unto thy servants in the Syrian language, Wnj]n;a\ µy[im]vo yKi ,” — for we hear it;” that is, can understand it. So are we to “hear the rod;” that is, to learn and understand the mind of God in his works. This is required of us. And that we may do so, two things are necessary: — 1st . That we consider and be well acquainted with our own condition. If we are ignorant hereof we shall understand nothing of the mind of God in his dispensations. Security in sin will take away all understanding of judgments. Let God thunder from heaven in the revelation of his wrath against sin, yet such persons will be secure still. God doth not often utterly destroy men with great and tremendous destructions before he hath given them previous warnings of his indignation. But yet men that are secure in sin will know so little of the sense of them, that they will be crying “Peace and safety,” when their final destruction is seizing upon them, 1 Thessalonians 5:3. God speaks out the curse of the law in his works of judgment; for thereby is “the wrath of God revealed from heaven against the ungodliness of men,” Romans 1:18. But yet when men hear the voice of the curse so spoken out, if they are secure, they will bless themselves, and say they shall have peace, though they add drunkenness to thirst, Deuteronomy 29:19. And this for the most part blinds the eyes of the wise men of this world. They neither see nor understand any of the works of God, though never so full of dread or terror, because being secure in their sin, they know not that they have any concernment in them. If they do at any time attend unto them, it is as the people did to the voice that came from heaven unto our Savior; — some said it thundered, others, that an angel spake. One says one thing of them, another, another thing, but they endeavor not to come unto any certainty about them. This is complained of Isaiah 26:11, “LORD, when thy hand is lifted up, they will not see.” The lifting up of the hand in general is to work or to effect any thing; in particular, to correct, to punish, it being the posture of one ready to strike, or redoubling his blows in striking; as God doth when his “judgments are in the earth,” verse 9. In this state of things, saith the prophet, “They will not see;” they will neither consider nor endeavor to understand the mind of God in his works and judgments. And how doth God take this of them? Saith he, “The fire of thine enemies shall devour them;” that is, either their own fiery envy at the people of God, mentioned in the foregoing words, shall consume themselves, — they shall be eaten up and consumed with it, whilst they will not take notice of the mind of God in his judgments towards them; or, ‘the fire wherewith at length thou wilt consume all thine adversaries shall fall upon them;’ or, lastly, ‘thou wilt turn in upon them a wicked, furious people, who shall destroy them,’ — as it befell the Jews, to whom he speaks in particular. One way or other God will severely revenge this security, and neglect of his works thereon.

    But they who will wisely consider their own condition, — how it is between God and them, — wherein they have been faithful, wherein false or backsliding, — what controversy God hath, or may justly have with them, — what is the condition of the state, church, or nation whereunto they do belong, — will discern the voice of God in his great works of providence. So is the matter stated, Daniel 12:10, “Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.” And when shall this be? When there is “a time of great trouble,” verse 1, — when God’s judgments are greatly in the world. The end of these troubles is to purify men, to cleanse them, by the removal of all “filth of flesh and spirit” that they may have contracted, as dross is taken away from silver in the furnace; and to make them white, by causing their sincerity, constancy, and perseverance in their holy profession to appear in their trials. But the wicked men, secure in their sins, shall yet continue in their wicked-nest, and thereby shall be so blinded that none of them shall understand the mind of God in his great works and tremendous dispensations. But µyliyKiv]Mæhæ , “they that have an understanding” in their own state and condition, and in the state of things in the church of God (as it is said of the men of Issachar, that they were µyTi[il; hn;ybi y[ed]wOy , “knowing in the seasons”), “they shall understand,” or come to the knowledge of the will of God and their duty in these things And of a failure herein see how God complains, Deuteronomy 32:28,29. 2dly. That we consider what peculiar impressions of his will God puts upon any of his works. Hereby we may know much of his mind and design in them. All the works of God, if duly considered, will be found to bear his image and superscription. They are all like him, were sent by him, and are becoming him. They have on them tokens and marks of infinite wisdom, power, and goodness. Those of providence which he intends to be instructive have a peculiar impression of the design of God upon them, and a wise man may see the eye of God in them. So he speaks in the psalmist, “I will guide thee with mine eye,” Psalm 32:8. He would make him see the way and paths that he was to walk in, by that respect which he would have unto them in the works of his providence. This, then, I say, we should inquire after and wisely consider; because, — Obs. 21. The greater evidence that God gives of his power and goodness in any of his works, the louder is his voice in them, and the greater is the sin of them that neglect them; which also is another proposition from the words.

    God made then his works evident unto them, so that they saw them, — “They saw my works;” so they could not deny them to be his. But if men will shut their eyes against the light, they justly perish in their darkness.

    God sometimes hides his power, Habakkuk 3:4, “That was the hiding of his power.” That is, as the Targumist adds, it was laid open; his power, that before was hid from the people, was now manifested. But sometimes he causeth it to shine forth; as it is said in the same place, “He had horns coming out of his hand,” — wOl wOdY;mi µyinær]qæ “Horns,” or shining beams, rays of glory, arose from his hand, or his power, in the manifestation of it in his works. He caused his power to shine forth in them, as the sun gives out light in its full strength and beauty. Then for men not to take notice of them will be a signal aggravation of their sin and hastening of their punishment. Now, we can never know what appears of God in his works, unless by a due consideration of them we endeavor to understand them or his mind in them. Again, — Obs. 22. Because the end of all God’s works, of his mighty works of providence towards a person, a church, or nation, is to bring them to faith and repentance; which is also another observation that the words afford us.

    This end he still declared in all his dealings with this people. And it is the principal design of the Book of Deuteronomy to improve the works of God which they had seen unto this end. And “who is wise, and he shall understand these things? prudent, and he shall know them? for the ways of the LORD are right, and the just shall walk in them, but the transgressors shall fall therein,” Hosea 14:9.

    And herein lies a great aggravation of the misery of the days wherein we live, — the works, the great works of God, are generally either despised or abused. Some account all that is spoken of them wJsei< lh~rov , as a mere fable, as some did of old the things concerning the resurrection of Christ, upon the first report of it, Luke 24:11. And if they are not so in themselves, but that such things as are spoken of are done in the world, yet as to their relation unto God they esteem it a fable. Chance, natural causes, vulgar errors, popular esteem, were the originals with such persons of all those great works of God which our eyes have seen or our ears heard, or which our fathers have reported unto us. “Brutish persons and unwise!” there is scarce a leaf in the book of God, or a day in the course of his providence, that doth not judge and condemn the folly and stupidity of their pride. The very heathen of old either by reason scorned, or by experience were made afraid, to give countenance unto such atheism. Nor do I esteem such persons, who live in an open rebellion against all that is within them and without them, against all that God hath done or said, worthy any consideration. “Because they regard not the works of the LORD, nor the operation of his hands, he shall destroy them, and not build them up,” Psalm 28:5.

    Others will not deny God to be in his works, but they make no use of them but to gaze, admire, and talk. There is somewhat less evil in this than in the former atheism, but no good at all. Yea, where God multiplies his calls by his works, men by this slight consideration of them insensibly harden their hearts into security. Others abuse them, — some by making them the rise of their vain and foolish prognostications: ‘There is such a prodigy, such a strange work of God, such a blazing star,’ or the like. What then? ‘Such or such a thing shall follow this or that year, this or that month.’ This is a specious way whereby atheism exalts itself; for nothing can give countenance to these presumptions but a supposition of such a concatenation of causes and effects as shall exclude the sovereign government of God over the world. Others contend about them; some whose lives are profligate, and whose ways are wicked, are afraid lest they should be looked on as pointed against them and their sins, and therefore they contend that they have no determinate language, no signification in them. Others are too forward to look upon them as sent or wrought to countenance them in their desires, ways, and aims. Amongst most, by these and the like means, the true design of God in all his great and strange works is utterly lost, to the great provocation of the eyes of his glory.

    This, as I have showed, is every man’s faith, repentance, and obedience; which how they have been improved in us by them we may do well to consider. Again, observe from the words that, — Obs. 23. God is pleased ofttimes to grant great outward means unto those in whom he will not work effectually by his grace.

    Who had more of the first than these Israelites in the wilderness? As the works of God amongst them were the greatest and most stupendous that ever he had wrought from the foundation of the world, so the law was first vocally given unto them and promulgated amongst them; and not only so, but they had the gospel also preached unto their ears as we, — not so clearly, indeed, but no less truly, Hebrews 4:1,2. See their privileges and advantages as they are enumerated by our apostle, Romans 3:2, 9:4,5.

    God might well say of them as he did afterwards of their posterity, “What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it?” Isaiah 5:4; — for fencing, and planting, and stoning, nothing more could have been done. Outward means, ordinances, afflictions, mercies, they wanted not; and yet all this while God did not circumcise their hearts to love him with all their heart, and all their soul, that they might live, as he promiseth at other times to do, Deuteronomy 30:6: yea, it is said expressly that he gave them not eyes to see, or ears to hear, that they might know him and fear him. He did not put forth or exercise an effectual work of inward grace during their enjoyment of the outward means before mentioned. And therefore, when God promiseth to make the covenant of grace under the gospel effectual unto the elect, by writing his law in their hearts, and putting his fear into their inward parts, he says expressly and emphatically that he will not make it as he made that with the people in the wilderness; and that for this reason, because they (that is, the generality of them) had only the outward administration of it, and did not enjoy this effectual communication of saving grace, which is there called a writing of the law in our hearts, and putting of the fear of God in our inward parts, Hebrews 8:8-12, from Jeremiah 31:31-34. In like manner, when our Lord Jesus Christ preached the gospel unto all, yet it was to some only to whom it was given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, Matthew 13:11-16. I know some are displeased at this; but for the most part they are such as will be pleased with nothing that God either doeth or saith, or can do or say, unless he would give them a law or a gospel to save them in and with their sins. They are ready to dispute that God is unjust if he give not grace to every man, to use or abuse at his pleasure, whilst themselves hate grace and despise it, and think it not worth acceptance if laid at their doors. But thus God dealt with this people in the wilderness; yea, they had means of obedience granted them after he had sworn they should die for their disobedience.

    And who art thou, O man, that disputest against God? Nay, the righteousness of God in this matter is clear and conspicuous; for, — [1.] God is not obliged to grant any especial privilege, even as unto the outward means of grace, unto any of the sons of men. And to show his sovereignty and absolute freedom herein, he always granted them with great variety in a distinguishing manner. So he did of old: “He shewed his word” ( wuyr;b;D] , “his words,” that is, his institutions) “unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto Israel. He hath not dealt so with any nation; and as for his judgments, they have not known them,” <19E719> Psalm 147:19,20.

    These outward means themselves were their peculiar privilege and enclosure. This was the advantage of the Jews, that “unto them,” and unto them alone, “were committed the oracles of God,” Romans 3:2. And God, as he gave and granted these outward means of grace to them alone, so he might have justly denied them unto them also; or else he might have granted them unto all others and withheld them from them. For he dealt not thus with them because they were in and of themselves in any thing better than those who were excluded from their privileges, Deuteronomy 7:6-9. And thus God dealeth still, even unto this day, with the nations of the world; some he intrusteth with the gospel, and some have not the sound of it approaching unto them. Man would not abide in the condition wherein God made him, Ecclesiastes 7:29; and God may justly leave him in the condition wherein by sin he hath cast himself. That he will afford outward means unto any is of mere grace, liberality, and bounty. And shall we say he is unjust if he give no more, when no rule or law of justice obligeth him unto what he doth? Men may by such means and apprehensions sooner provoke God to take away what they have than to add to them what they have not. A beggar’s murmuring as though he had not his due, when any thing is given him, is the worst way of getting his alms increased. [2.] Even outward means themselves, when singly dispensed, have many blessed ends which shall be effected by them; for they all tend variously to the glory of God. This, I acknowledge, is despised by men of profane and wicked principles, who have no concernment therein. Men whom nothing will satisfy but the making of all grace so common as that it should be prostituted unto the corrupt wills of men, to be used or abused at their pleasure, as indeed they utterly evert all effectual grace, so they must find another scripture to countenance them in their opinion. The Book of God will not do it. They measure things merely by their own advantage. But to those that know God and love him this is of great weight. That the wisdom, holiness, goodness, righteousness, and severity of God, be exalted and glorified, as they are in the dispensation of the outward means of grace, though eventually not effectual unto the salvation of some, is a matter of great rejoicing unto all that do believe. Again, they may redound unto the great advantage of men, and that both in this world and unto eternity. So saith our Savior, Matthew 11:23 “And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained unto this day.”

    The exaltation of Capernaum consisted in its enjoyment of the outward means of grace, in the preaching and miracles of our Savior; and although the end of all was that she was to be brought down to hell for her obstinacy in unbelief, yet whilst she enjoyed these things she had a real privilege, and was much exalted thereby. And there might have been a use of these means, which although it would not have delivered Capernaum from hell at last, because not prevalent against final impenitency, yet it might have delivered it from that hell of temporal destruction which befell it not long after, as prevailing against their open and professed obstinacy.

    And so Sodom, had she been intrusted with the like means of instruction, might have continued in her outward state and condition by such a use of them unto that or unto this day. For there may be such a conviction of sin as may produce that repentance and humiliation which will avert temporal judgments, which will not produce repentance unto salvation and deliverance from judgments eternal. And this renders the gospel the greatest privilege and advantage of any kingdom or nation in the world, and their principal interest to maintain it. Whatever work God is pleased to do secretly and effectually on the hearts of any, to bring them to the eternal enjoyment of himself, the very outward dispensation of the gospel itself is suited to bring forth that profession and amendment of life in all which shall secure unto them the enjoyment of peace and tranquillity in this world. Besides, the taking off of men from their present sinful courses will tend to the mitigation of their future punishment or a diminution of their stripes. There are, then, many mercies in this one of the outward means of grace, considered absolutely and in itself. [3.] Where God grants the use of the outward means of grace to any, ordinarily, if not always, he hath a design to communicate by them especial saving grace unto some. These means granted unto the people in the wilderness, where they seem to have had as sad an event as ever they had anywhere in the world, yet were not lost as to their end and use of the conveyance of especial grace towards some. Some, yea doubtless many, were converted unto God by them, and made obedient. That they died in the wilderness is no argument as unto individuals that they died in final unbelief, — no, though we should conclude that they died all penally; for they did so as they were members and parts of that people, that provoking generation, which God dealt withal according to the demerit of the community. And so, many men may fall and be cut off penally in national desolations, as those desolations are just punishments for the sins of that nation, though they themselves were not personally guilty of them. So the daughters of Zelophehad state the matter, Numbers 27:3, “Our father died in the wilderness, and he was not in the company of them that gathered themselves together against the LORD; but died in his own sin.”

    He was a sinner as all men are, and so on his own personal account there was no reason to complain of his dying in the wilderness; but yet he had no hand in those especial provocations for which God was so displeased as that he cut them off signally in his wrath, and finally. But he, it may be, and many others of them doubtless, had the spiritually efficacious benefit of the means of grace which they enjoyed. The matter is plain in Caleb, Joshua, and others, and a great multitude of the new generation, who believed and entered into rest. Now, the saving of one soul is worth the preaching of the gospel to a whole nation, and that for many years. And whilst God carries on his work visibly, he will take care secretly that not one hidden grain of his Israel shall fall unto the ground.

    To sum up this whole matter: These outward means are granted unto men in a way of grace, favor, and bounty. Their ends, singly considered, are good, holy, and righteous. Moreover, they are all of them properly effectual in that they always attain the end whereunto they are designed.

    And that men are not bettered by them, or more advantaged than they are, is merely from their own pravity and obstinacy. And those who approve not of this dispensation seem to have a great mind to contend with Him who is mightier than they.

    Furthermore, from the exposition before premised we may observe, that, — Obs. 24. No privilege, no outward means of grace, no other advantage whatever, will secure men in a course of sinning from the wrath and justice of God.

    Who could be made partakers of more things of that kind than were this people at that time? Besides the great privilege derived unto them from their fathers, in that they were the posterity of Abraham, the friend of God, and had the token of his covenant in their flesh, they had newly erected amongst them a glorious church-state, wherein they were intrusted with all the ordinances of God’s worship. These privileges the apostle sums up, Romans 9:4,5, “Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; whose are the fathers.” “The adoption” was theirs; God had no other children or family in the world but them, — they were his family when his curse was upon all other families of the earth. And “the glory” was theirs; it was unto them and amongst them that God so manifested his glory as that it became their glory, their glory above all the nations of the world. And “the covenants” were theirs; both the covenant that was made with Abraham, in all the benefits of it, and the especial covenant that God made with them at Sinai.

    There also was the law given unto them, and the solemn worship of God, in all the laws and ordinances thereof, made their peculiar. What works of providence God wrought amongst them we have declared. Doubtless they bare themselves high on these things. So when they contended with Moses and Aaron, their plea was, “that all the people was holy,” so that they saw no reason for their peculiar preeminence. And who also amongst the sons of men is not ready on far less occasions so to do? Some cry they are the church, and some boast of other things; but be men what they will, their privileges and advantages what they can desire, if they are secure and obstinate sinners, the wrath of God at one time or other will overtake them. And some will one day find to their sorrow what their boasting will cost them. Laodicea hath done so long ago; and so in due time will she who says, “I sit as a queen, and shall see no sorrow.” For although the hand of church -privilege should join in with the hand of secular advantage, yet the guilty shall not go unpunished. And one reason hereof lies in another proposition that ariseth from the words, namely, that, — Obs. 25. There are determinate bounds fixed unto God’s patience and forbearance towards obstinate sinners.

    So here he assigned the space of forty years for the consumption of this provoking generation. And as in the point of promise it is observed, that the very same night wherein the time limited was accomplished the people were delivered out of Egypt; so in the point of threatening it is remembered, that at the end of forty years, wherein the people wandered in the wilderness, there was not one remaining of those who were first numbered in Horeb. However men may flatter and please themselves, nothing can secure sinners from punishment in the appointed season. See 2 Peter 3:8-10.

    Secondly, We shall now proceed to the last thing contained in the example insisted on by the apostle; and that is, the consequent of the sin of the people in their punishment. And this is expressed, — 1. In the procuring cause of it, — that in the sense God had of their sin, it grieved him: “Wherefore I was grieved with that generation.” The meaning of the words, both in the psalm and in this place, hath been before declared. It expresseth how God stood affected towards the people, as to the inward frame of his heart; for these, affections doth God take upon himself for our instruction. He says that he will “rejoice over his people, assuredly with his whole heart and his whole soul,” Jeremiah 32:41; and upon the account of their sin it is said, that it “grieved him at his heart that he had made man on the earth,” Genesis 6:6. And these expressions, wherever they are used, are signs of great and signal actions So in the last case mentioned, God said “it grieved him at his heart,” because he was going to do that which could proceed from no principle that we can apprehend but great trouble and molestation. That, then, which is here intended is such a sce>siv , such a “frame” or “habit” of mind or heart in God, as had the people of that generation for its object. It is not, then, lu>ph , “dolor,” or “grief,” properly so called, that is here intended; neither does either of the words here used, the one by the psalmist, the other by the apostle, express that passion: for although God ascribes it often unto himself, yet it is not here intended, but rather indignation and trouble. He was burdened, vexed, displeased beyond what patience or forbearance could extend unto. In brief, it includes these two things: — (1.) The judgment or mind of God concerning the greatness of their sin, with all its aggravations; and, (2.) His determinate will of punishing them. Hence we may observe that, — Obs. 26. The heart of God is greatly concerned in the sins of men, especially of those who on any account are his people, and so esteemed.

    Men live, and act, and speak, as if they thought God very little concerned in what they do, especially in their sins; that either he takes no notice of them, or if he do, that he is not much concerned in them. That he should be grieved at his heart, — that is, have such a deep sense of men’s sinful provocations — they have no mind to think or believe. They think that, as to thoughts about sin, God is altogether as themselves, Psalm 50:21. But it is otherwise; for God hath, — (1.) A concernment of honor in what we do. He made us for his glory and honor; nothing whereof can we any way assign unto him but by our obedience; and whatever is contrary hereunto tends directly to his dishonor. And this God cannot but be deeply sensible of. He cannot deny himself. If men lose the rent which they expect from their tenants, and have obliged them to pay, and which they refuse upon mere will and stubbornness, they will find themselves to have a concernment therein; and shall God lose all the revenue that is due unto him, without expressing an indignation against the guilt of men who deal so unjustly and fraudulently with him? Nay, he is deeply concerned in this matter, as he is our sovereign Lord. (2.) He is concerned in point of justice also, as he is the supreme ruler and governor of all the works of his own hands He is God, to whom vengeance doth belong, who hath said, “Vengeance is mine, and I will recompense.”

    And he needs no other reason to induce him to punish sin but himself, his holiness and his justice being his nature. And this he expresseth after the manner of men, affirming that he is grieved, or vexed and provoked to indignation, with the sins of men. How this provocation is heightened by this aggravation of sin, that it is committed by his own people, under peculiar, unspeakable, obligations unto obedience, hath been declared before. 2. Proceed we with the exposition of the words There is in them the judgment that God made and gave concerning this people and their sin, which is expressed as the reason why he was grieved with them: “He said, They do always err in their hearts; and my ways they have not known.” “He said;” — not that God expressly used these words, but he made this judgment concerning them. This was the sense he had conceived of them.

    So the word is most frequently used for the conception of the mind. It is the lo>govejndia>qetov , or “sense of the mind,” not the lo>gov proforiko>v , or “outward expression,” that is intended.

    And in this judgment which God passed on that sinful generation he declares three things: — (1.) The principle of all their sins, they did “err in their hearts” (2.) Their constancy in or obstinacy unto this principle, — they did so “always” (3.) The consequent, or rather concomitant evil unto or with these, — they knew not the ways of the Lord: “And they have not known my ways.” (1.) God placeth the original of all their miscarriages in their error, — the error of their hearts. An error of the heart in things moral, is a practical misjudging of what is good or evil unto men. So this people, through the power of their lusts sad darkness, their temptations and obstinacy, did, in many instances wherein they were tried, judge that sin and rebellion were better for them than faith, submission, and obedience. They did not in general notionally and formally judge that sin, as sin, was better than obedience, which no creature is capable of doing; but practically and particularly they judged that it was better for them to do the things wherein their sin consisted than to omit or forego them: so they “erred in their hearts.” There the seat of their error is fixed. Now, besides that the heart is here, as in sundry other places, taken for the practical understanding, or for the whole principle of all our moral actions, as it regards both the mind, will, and affections, the expression seems to intend a further discovery of the nature of their sin, with a further aggravation of it. They sinned from and with their hearts; and God lets them know that he doth not so much insist on their outward actions, as that he took notice that their hearts were not right with him. That was the principle of all their rebellions, for which he abhorred them. As he spake in another place of the same people, when their hearts went after their idols, “he regarded them not.” (2.) The adjunct of this their error is their constancy unto it, or persistency in it: “They do always err.” Two things may be denoted hereby: [1.] That in all instances, whenever it came to a trial, they practically chose the wrong side. It may be they did not so universally, but they did so generally, which warrants the denomination. Or, [2.] It denotes the continuance in their error; ajei> is, “not to cease” or “give over.” Though God had exercised great patience and forbearance towards them for a long season, yet they would never change their minds or hearts at any time. (3.) There is the consequent of this great principle of their sin, or rather, another concomitant principle of their miscarriages, — they knew not the ways of God: “And they have not known my ways.” This may be exegetical of the former, and declare wherein their error consisted, namely, in this, that they knew not, they judged not aright of the ways of God.

    But, as I said, I shall rather look upon it as another principle of their miscarriages. As they erred in their hearts because they liked the ways of sin, so they disliked the ways of God because they knew them not, and from both rushed into all manner of miscarriages and provocations. We are hence instructed first, that, — Obs. 27. In all the sins of men God principally regards the principle; that is, the heart, or what is in it. “They do err,” saith he, “in their hearts.” The heart he principally requires in our obedience; and this he principally regards in men’s disobedience. “My son,” saith he, “give me thine heart;” and, “O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me!” When the heart is upright, as to its general frame, design, and principle, God will bear with many failings, many miscarriages. And when it is false, and gone off from God, thousands of duties are of no esteem with him. We know little, yea, directly nothing, of the hearts of men; and a man would therefore think that we should little concern ourselves in them, or not at all, but merely rest satisfied in outward acts and effects, wherein our concernment lies. But yet even amongst us it is quite otherwise. If once a man begins justly to suspect that the hearts of them with whom he hath to do be not upright with him, but false and guileful, let them pretend what they will, and act what they please, all is utterly disregarded and despised. So saith he, Hom. II. i> . 312, — jEcqror moi kei~nov , oJmw~v jAi`da>o pu>lh|sin , \Ov c j e[teron meqei , ejni< fresizei? — “I hate him like the gates of hell, who, pretending fairly to me, reserves other’ things in his mind.”

    And if it be thus with men, who judge of the hearts of others only by effects, and that with a judgment liable to be inflamed by groundless suspicions and corrupt imaginations, how much more must it be so with God, before whose eyes all the hearts of men lie open and naked, whose glory and property it is to be kardiognw>sthv , — the judge, searcher, knower of all hearts? Again, — Obs. 28. The error of the heart in the preferring the ways of sin before obedience, with its promises and rewards, is the root of all great provoking sins and rebellions against God.

    Many sins are the effects of men’s impetuous lusts and corruptions; many they are hurried into by the power and efficacy of their temptations; most are produced by both these in conjunction; — but as for great provocations, such as carry in them apostasy, or rebellion against God, they proceed from a deceiving and a deceived heart. There are many noisome and hurtful errors in the world, but this is the great soul-mining error, when the heart is practically corrupted to prefer sin and its wages before obedience and its reward. It seems, indeed, a hard and difficult thing to do this notionally, especially for such as admit of any sense of eternity.

    But yet the contrary hereunto, namely, to prefer obedience, with its promises and rewards, consisting in things future and invisible, unto sin and its present ways, is expressed as an act or fruit of faith, and which nothing else will enable us unto. This was the evidence of the faith of Moses, that he “chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater fiches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward,” Hebrews 11:25,26.

    And so the apostle expresseth the working of faith in this matter: Corinthians 4:18, “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

    It is the work of faith so to look into, so to see and discern invisible and eternal things, as on their account to prefer obedience unto God, with afflictions, temptations, and persecutions, unto sin, with all its present pleasures and wages. But, practically, this is frequently found amongst men. And how this is brought about or effected; how the mind is prejudiced and obstructed, as to its making a right judgment concerning its rules; how it is diverted from a due consideration of the things and reasons that should influence it, and lead it thereunto; how it is entangled and seduced unto present approbation of appearing satisfactions; and how the will is thereby deceived into a consent unto sin, I have declared in a particular discourse to that purpose. In brief, when the directive part of the mind is diverted from attending unto the reason of things proposed unto it; when it is corrupted by false pretences imposed on it by the outrage of corrupt lusts and affections, which have possessed the imagination with their objects and their present deceivableness; when the judging, accusing faculty of it is baffled, slighted, and at least partially silenced, as wearied with doing its work in vain, and accustomed to repulses; when in its reflective acts, whereby it should receive impressions from its own self-accusations and reproofs, it is made obtuse, hard, and senseless, not regarding what is spoken in it or to it; and when by these means carnal affections bear sway in the soul, impetuously inclining it to seek after their satisfaction, then is the heart under the power of the error we speak of, — that error which is the principle of all great provocations and apostasies from God.

    For, [1.] This sets all the lusts of the soul at liberty to seek after their satisfaction in sin; [2.] Makes it slight and contemn all the promises annexed unto obedience; and, [3.] Disregard the threatenings that lie against sin, and so prepares it for the utmost rebellion.

    And of all errors let us take heed of this practical error of the heart. It is not men’s being orthodox, or sound in their opinions, that will relieve them if they are under the power of this great, fundamental error. And it is a matter to be lamented, to see how men will contest for their opinions under the name of truth, and cast manner of severe reflections on those that oppose them, whilst themselves err in their hearts, and know not the ways of God. And this is a frame which of all others God most abhorreth; for when men pretend to be for him, and are really against him, as all such are, shall not the Searcher of hearts find it out? Orthodox liars, swearers, drunkards, adulterers, oppressors, persecutors, are an unspeakable burden unto the patience of God. Again, — Obs. 29. A constant persistency in a course of sin is the utmost, highest, and last aggravation of sin. “They do always err,” — in every instance of obedience, and that continually. This filled up their measure; for herein consists that finishing of sin which brings forth death, James 1:15. Sin may be conceived and brought forth, and yet death not ensue. But if it be finished, if men err in their hearts always, inevitable destruction will be the consequent of it.

    This, as was said, is the highest and last aggravation of sin; for, — [1.] It includes a neglect and contempt of all times and seasons of amendment. God gives unto men, especially those who live under the dispensation of the word, many peculiar times or seasons for their recovery. They have their day, their especial day, wherein they ought in an especial manner to look after the things of their peace, as hath been declared. It may be this day is often revived to the persons spoken of, and often returned upon them; but it is as often despised and neglected by them. [2.] It includes a rejection and disappointment of the means of repentance which God is pleased graciously to afford unto them. During the season of his patience towards sinners, God is pleased to grant unto them sundry means and advantages for their amendment, and that in great variety; but they are all rejected and rendered fruitless in an unchanged course of sinning. [3.] It includes a contempt of the whole work of conscience from first to last. Many assistances conscience doth receive in its work: convictions from the word, excitations by judgments, mercies, dangers, deliverances; but yet in this condition all its actings are baffled and despised. And what can be more done against God? what can add to the guilt of such sin and sinners?

    And this may serve to justify God in his severity against persons that “always err in their hearts,” that continue in a course of sinning. In the day when the secrets of all hearts shall be disclosed, and all transactions between God and the souls of men laid open, the holiness, righteousness, and just severity of God against impenitent sinners, will on these and other accounts be gloriously displayed.

    Obs. 30. None despise or desert the ways of God but those that know them not.

    For whatever they may profess, yet indeed profligate sinners know neither God nor his ways: “They err in their hearts; and have not known my ways.” Who would seem more fully to have known the ways of God than this people? The ways of his providence, wherein he walked towards them, and the ways of his law, wherein they were to walk towards him, were all before them. They saw the former themselves, and that appearance of the power, wisdom, and greatness of God in them, as never had any generation of men from the foundation of the world. And for the ways of his law and worship, who should know them if they did not?

    They heard God himself proclaiming his own law on mount Sinai, and had it afterwards written by him in tables of stone; and for the residue of his institutions, they received them by fresh revelation, seeing them all exemplified in the erection of the tabernacle and practice of the service of it. And yet all this while, being unbelieving and obdurate, “they knew not the ways of God;” nay, though they professed that they knew them, and that they would observe them, yet in truth they knew them not. And such were their posterity and successors in unbelief and disobedience, of whom the apostle speaks, Titus 1:16, “They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.”

    So was it with this people; so it is with all that despise the ways of God.

    Whatever they profess, — as some of them will be forward enough to profess much, — yet indeed they know not God or his ways. So our Savior tells the Pharisees, that, notwithstanding all their boasting of their wisdom, skill, and knowledge of the law, and of God himself, yet being, as they were, proud, hypocritical self-justiciaries, that they had not indeed “heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape,” John 5:37; that is; that they had no real acquaintance with him or knowledge of him.

    Whatever notion such persons have or may have of the ways of God, whatever skill in the outward letter of his laws and institutions, yet they know neither the righteousness, nor the holiness, nor the efficacy, nor the usefulness, nor the beauty of any of them. These things are spiritually discerned, and they are spiritually blind; these are spirit and life, and they are flesh, and dead. And all this is evident from men’s despising of the ways of God or their dereliction of them. This none can do but those that know them not; for, “they that know the name of the LORD,” — that is, any of the ways whereby he reveals himself, — “will put their trust in him,” Psalm 9:10. They will forsake neither him nor them. What Paul speaks in a way of extenuation as to some of the Jews, “Had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of life,” we may apply by way of exprobration unto some: ‘ Had they known the ways of God, as once they professed they did, they would not have forsaken them.’ And this may support us against the offenses and scandals that are in the world upon the account of the apostasies of professors. Some that have professed religion in its power turn sensual worldlings; some who have professed it in its truth, as Protestants, turn Papists and idolaters. Shall any reflection be taken from hence, or be cast on the right ways of God, as though they were such as deserved to be deserted? Whatever men, such men, have pretended or professed, the truth is, they never knew the ways of God in their light, power, efficacy, or beauty. Julian, that infamous apostate, was wont to boast concerning the Scriptures, “That he had read them, known them, and condemned them.” Unto whom it was truly replied, “That if he had read them, yet he understood or knew them not;” of which there needed no other evidence but that he condemned them. 3. “Unto whom I sware in my wrath, that they should not enter into my rest.”

    This is the last thing that remaineth to be considered; and it is the issue or event of the sin before declared, — what it came to in the holiness and righteousness of God, and what was the punishment that was inflicted on the offenders. And in this decretory sentence of God concerning this people, after all their temptations and provocations, there is considerable, — (1.) The irrevocableness of the sentence denounced against them. It is not any longer a mere threatening, but a sentence irreversibly passed, and enrolled in the court of heaven, and committed for execution unto the honor, power, and veracity of God; for he “sware” unto it, or confirmed it by his oath. All mere promises or threatenings whatever about temporal things have a tacit condition included in them. This, as occasion requires, is drawn forth, so as to alter and change the event promised or threatened.

    But when God interposeth with his oath, it is to exclude all reserves on such tacit conditions, — it is to show that the time wherein they might take place or be of use is elapsed. And the threatening so confirmed becomes an absolute sentence. And until it comes unto this, the state of sinners is not absolutely deplorable. But when the oath of God is gone out against them, all reserves for mercy, all former allowances of conditions are utterly cut off. And this is not the state only of them concerning whom it is recorded in an especial manner that he did so swear; but in such instances God shows what is the way of his holiness and severity with all sinners who fall into the like provocations with them. For hereon doth the apostle ground his exhortation and caution, Hebrews 4:11, “Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief;” but if the tenor of God’s dealings with such unbelievers were not absolutely the same, if the oath of God extended only unto that generation, though they fell, yet others might stand under the same guilt with them, which the apostle hence demonstrates to be otherwise.’ (2.) The greatness of their sin, in the great offense that God took at it, and the provocation which, as it were, befell him thereon: He “sware in his wrath;” that is, with great indignation. Let the place be read as before set down, where the frame of the heart of God towards them is expressed, and the greatness of his wrath and indignation will appear. Now, whereas the holy nature of God is not in itself capable of such commotions, of such smoking wrath and anger as are therein described and represented, the sole end of these expressions must needs be to show the heinousness of the sin that the people were guilty of. And herein lies an infinite condescension of God, in taking care to instruct some in and by his deserved wrath against others: for such weak and mean creatures are we, that we have need thus to be instructed in the holiness of God’s nature and the severity of his justice against sin; for whatever we may ween concerning ourselves, we are not indeed capable of any perfect notions or direct apprehensions of them, but stand in need to have them represented unto us by such effects as we can take in the species of into [our] minds. (3.) There is in the words the punishment itself denounced against this provoking people, — that they should not enter into the rest of God. And there is a double aggravation of the punishment in the manner of the expressing of it: — [1.] In the act denied: “They shall not enter,” — no, not so much as enter into it. Doubtless many of the people during their wanderings in the wilderness had great desires that they might at least see the place promised for a habitation to their posterity, and wherein all their future interests were to be stated. So in particular had Moses. He prayed, saying, “I pray thee, let me go over, and see the good land that is beyond Jordan, that goodly mountain, and Lebanon,” Deuteronomy 3:25.

    So, doubtless, did many others of them pray and desire. But the sentence is passed, — they shall not now so much as enter into it, nor set one foot within its borders. [2.] In the expression of the object denied there lieth another aggravation.

    He doth not say that they shall not enter into the land of Canaan, no, nor yet into the promised land; but he describes it by such an adjunct as may let them see the greatness of their sin and their punishment, and of his displeasure. “They shall not,” saith he, “enter into my rest;” — ‘It is my rest, the place where I will dwell, where I will fix my worship and make myself known: you shall not enter into my rest.’

    And so have we passed through this passage of this chapter; on which though it may be we have seemed to dwell somewhat long, yet, as I suppose, not longer than the matter doth require, nor indeed so long as we should and would have done, but that sundry concerns of it will again occur unto us, both in this and the next chapter. Some few observations from the last clause of the words we may yet touch upon; as, — Obs. 31. When God expresseth great indignation in himself against sin, it is to teach men the greatness of sin in themselves.

    For that end is he said here to “swear in his wrath.” There are expressions in Scripture about God’s respect unto the sins of men that are strangely emphatical; as, — sometimes he is said to be “pressed under them as a cart is pressed that is laden with sheaves sometimes, that he is “made to serve with sin, and wearied with iniquity;” sometimes to be “broken” with the whorish heart of a people, and “grieved at the heart” that he had ever made such a creature as man; sometimes, that the sins of men are a “fume in his nostrils,” that which his soul loatheth; commonly, to be “angry,” “vexed,” and “grieved,” to be “wrathful,” “stirred up to fury,” and the like.

    Now, all these things, taken properly, do include such alteration, and consequently imperfections and weaknesses, as the pure, holy, perfect nature of God can by no means admit of. What is it, then, that God intends by all these expressions, by these ascriptions of that unto himself which really is not in him, but might indeed justly befall that nature whereof we are partakers, on the supposition of the like occasions? As was said, it is all to express what indeed sin doth deserve, and that a recompence of revenge is to be expected, or that it is of so great a demerit as to excite all the perturbations mentioned in the nature of God, were it any way capable of them. So doth he make use of all ways and means to deter us from sin.

    And there is much of love, tenderness, and care in all these expressions of anger, wrath, and displeasure. So he is pleased to teach us, and such teachings do we stand in need of. Again, — Obs. 32. God gives the same firmitude and stability unto his threatenings that he doth unto his promises.

    He swears to them also, as he doth in this place. Men are apt secretly to harbor a supposition of a difference in this matter. The promises of God they think, indeed, are firm and stable; but as for his threatenings, they suppose one way or other they may be evaded. And this deceit hath greatly prevailed in and inflamed the minds of men ever since the first entrance of sin. By this deceit sin came into the world, — namely, that the threatenings of God either would not be accomplished, or that they were to be understood after another manner than was apprehended. ‘ Hath God said so, that you shall die if you eat? Mistake not; that is not the meaning of the threatening; or, if it be, God doth not intend to execute it; it will be otherwise, and God knows it will be otherwise.’ This gave sin its first entrance into the world; and the same deceit still prevails in the minds of men. ‘Hath God said that sinners shall die, shall be cursed, shall be cast into hell? Yea, but sure enough it will be otherwise; there will be one way or other of escape. It is good to affright men with these things, but God intends not so to deal with them. Whatever the threatenings be, many things may intervene to prevent their execution. What God promiseth, indeed, that shall come to pass; we may expect it and look for it; but as for these threatenings, they depend on so many conditions, and may so easily at any time be evaded, as that there is no great fear of their execution.’ But what is the ground of this feigned difference between the promises and threatenings of God, as to their stability, certainty, and accomplishment?

    Where is the difference between the two clauses in that text, “He that believeth shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be damned ?” Are not the holiness of God and his faithfulness as much concerned in the comminatory part as in the promissory part of his word? Would not a failure in the one be as prejudicial to his glory as in the other? The principles from which his threatenings proceed are no less essential properties of his nature than those which are the springs of his promises; and his declaration of them is no less accompanied with the engagement of his veracity and faithfulness than that of the other; and the end aimed at in them is no less necessary to the demonstration of his glory than that which he designeth in his promises. And we see in this particular instance that they are also confirmed with the oath of God, even as his promises are.

    And let none think that this was an extraordinary case, and concerned only the men of that generation. This oath of God is part of his law, it abides for ever; and all that fall into the like sin with them, attended with the like circumstances, do fall under the same oath of God, — he swears concerning them, that they shall not enter into his rest. And we little know how many are even in this world overtaken in this condition, the oath of God lying against them for their punishment, and that eternal. Let men take heed of this great self-deceiving; and let not men be mockers in this matter, lest their bands be made strong; for, — Obs. 33. When men have provoked God by their impenitency to decree their punishment irrevocably, they will find severity in the execution. “They shall not enter,” — no, not so much as enter. “Behold,” saith our apostle, “the severity of God: on them which fell, severity,” Romans 11:22. Men will find that there is severity in the execution who despised the threatening, and that “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” When sinners shall see the whole creation on fire about them, hell open under them, and the glorious, dreadful Judge of all over them, they will begin to have a due apprehension of his terror. But then cries, outcries, repentings, and wailings, will be of no use. This is the time and place for such considerations, not when the sentence is executed, — no, not when it is irrevocably confirmed.

    Obs. 24. It is the presence of God alone that renders any place or condition good or desirable. “They shall not,” saith God, “enter into my rest.” This makes heaven to be heaven, and the church to be the church; — everything answers the manner and measure of the presence of God. And without this, Moses expressly preferred the wilderness before Canaan.

    VERSES 12-14.

    In the close of this chapter the apostle makes application of the example which he had produced out of the psalmist unto his present purpose; namely, to dehort the Hebrews from that sin which in them would answer unto the unbelief and disobedience of their forefathers, from the pernicious and destructive event which befell them thereon. And it must be still remembered that he presseth on them the consideration of that season of trial which they were then under, and which directly answered unto that time of trial which their fathers had in the wilderness And there are three parts of that discourse of the apostle which ensueth unto the end of this chapter: — First, An exhortation, built upon what he had before laid down and. given evidence of, with confirmation unto it by the example produced out of the psalmist, verses 12-14. Secondly, An especial consideration and improvement, unto the end aimed at, of sundry parts of the example insisted on, verses 15-18; and therein many enforcements of the exhortation laid down are contained. Thirdly, A general conclusion is drawn out of his whole previous discourse, and laid down as the ground of his future progress, verse 19.

    The first part of this discourse comes now under consideration in the ensuing words:— Ver. 12-14. — Ble>pete , ajdelfoi< , mh> pote e]stai e]n tini uJmw~n kardi>a ponhra< ajpisti>av , ejn tw~| ajposth~nai ajpo< Qeou~ zw~ntov? jAlla< parakalei~te eJautousthn hJme>ran , a]criv ou= to< sh>meron kalei~tai , i[na sklhrunqh~| tiv ejx uJmw~n ajpa>th| th~v ajmarti>av . Me>tocoi ganamen tou~ Cristou~ , eja>nper thsewv me>cri te>louv bezai>av kata>scwmen .

    Mh> pote . Pote> is omitted or neglected in many translations, as the Syriac, Arabic, Ethiopic; “ne sit,” “that there be not,” “let there not be.” Vulg.

    Lat., “ne forte,” “lest haply;” with respect unto the uncertainty of the event; some, “ne quando,” “ne ullo tempore,” “lest at any time,” “that at no time,” with respect unto the season of such event. ]En tini uJmw~n , “in aliquo vestrum,” so the Vulg. Lat. Ar.; “in ullo vestrum,” Beza, more properly; so we “in any of you.” ˆWkn]me vn;aBe , “in homine ex vobis,” “in a man,” “in any man of you.” Arab., “in corde ullius vestrum,” “in the heart of any of you;” taking in the word “heart” out of the next clause which there it supples by adding “wickedness,” “the wickedness of unbelief.”

    Kardi>a ponhra< ajpisti>av , “cor malum incredulitatis; so the Vulg. Lat., — a an evil heart of unbelief.” ˆmæy]hæm] al;D] av;yBi ab;le “cor malum quod non fidele sit,” “an evil heart that is not faithful” or “believing.” Others, “cor malum et incredulum,” “an evil and unbelieving heart.” jEn tw~| ajposth~nai . Ar., “in discedere.” Vulg. Lat., “dicedendi.” Beza, “ut desciscatis.” Properly “descisco” is “to depart unlawfully,” “to withdraw wickedly;” that is, to apostatize from an engagement of duty. Syr., ˆWqr]p]t,w] “and you should withdraw,” or “draw back.”

    Parakalei~te . Vulg. Lat., “adhortamini vosmetipsos,” “exhort yourselves.” Eras., “vos invicem,” to the same purpose. Beza, “exhortamini alii alios,” “exhort one another:” as we also. Syr., ˆWkv]p]næ ˆme W[B] al;a, , “sed postulate ab anima vestra,” “but ask” (or “require”) “it of your soul;” that is, of yourself. Tremel., “sed examinate vos ipsos,” “but examine yourselves;” that is, by inquiry. This expresseth somewhat another duty as to the manner of its performance, but to the same purpose.

    Kaq j eJka>sthn hJme>ran . Arias, “per unumquemque diem.” Vulg. Lat., “per singulos dies,” “every day;” that is, “sigillatim,” “separately and distinctly considered, Syr., at;m;w]yæ ˆWhl]Ku , “omnibus diebus,” “always.”

    Beza, “quotidie;” that is, as ours, “daily,” “every day.” ]Acriv ou= sh>meron kalei~tai . Vulg. Lat., “donec hodie cognominatur;” Arias, “usque quo;” Beza, “quoad dies appellatur hodiernus,” — “whilst it is called the present day, to-day.” an;m;w]yæ areq]t]m,D] am;W]yæl a;m d[æ , “until the day which is called to-day,” or, “this day.” It is uncertain what day is intended by that translator. It seems to be the day of death; which answers the “omnibus diebus” before; that is, “hujus vitae,” “all the days of this life.” [Ina mh< sklhrunqh~| ejx ujmw~n . Vulg. Lat., “ut non obduretur quis ex vobis;” Beza, “nequis ex vobis;” — “lest any of you be hardened.” The Ethiopic adds, “that there be none that may say that any one of them is hardened in any sin.” jApa>th| is rendered by some “deceptio,” by some “seductio,” — “a seducing deceit.”’ Rhemists, “that none of you be obdurate with the fallacy of sin;” most darkly and corruptly.

    Me>tocoi gego>namen tou~ Cristou~ , “Christi participes facti, effecti sumus,” Beza; “consortes.” Syr., ˆfælæjæt]a, , “commixti sumus Christo,” — “we are immixed with Christ;” that is, as I suppose, “united unto him.”

    Ethiop., “we are as Christ.” jEa>nper . Vulg. Lat., “si tamen;” but pe>r is not exceptive. Beza, “si modo,” “if so be.” The Syriac takes no notice of it; nor we in our translation, “if.” jArchsewv . Vulg. Lat., “initium substantiae ejus;” adding” ejus” to the text and corrupting the sense. Beza, “principium illud quo sustentamur,” — “that beginning” (or “the beginning”)” of that whereby we are supported.” We, “the beginning of our confidence.” Rhemists, “yet so as if we keep the beginning of his substance firm.” Castalio, “hoc argumentum ab initio ad finem usque,” — “ this argument” (or “evidence”) “from the beginning unto the end.” Syr., “if from the beginning unto the end we abide in this firm substance” or “foundation.” Ethiop, “if we persevere to keep this new testament.” All to the same purpose.

    Ver. 12-14. — Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing [wickedly] from the living God. But exhort one another [yourselves] daily [every day] whilst it is called To-day; lest any of you [among you] be hardened through the [seducing] deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if so be we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end.

    In these three verses there are three things in general proposed by the apostle: — First, An exhortation unto the avoidance of an evil, even that which it is his principal design to caution them against, and to dissuade them from, verse 12. Secondly, A proposal of one useful means whereby they may be assisted in its avoidance, verse 13. Thirdly, An enforcement of the exhortation from that evil, and unto the use of that means, from sundry considerations, is added, verse 14.

    In theFIRST of these we may consider what is included in it, namely, — 1. The dependence of this exhortation on the discourse foregoing. 2. The compellation used by the apostle in this renovation of an especial address unto the Hebrews, “Brethren.” 3. The duty he exhorts them unto; and that, (1.) As to the act of it, “Take heed ;” (2.) “As to the persons concerned, “Lest there be in any of you;” (3.) As to object of it, or the evil dehorted from, “An evil heart of unbelief;” which is further described by its effects, “In departing from the living God.”\parSECONDLY, 1. The means of the prevention of the evil dehorted from is presented, verse 13; and this in general is by exhortation against it, “Exhort:” which hath a treble qualification, — (1.) As to the persons by whom it is to be performed or the means used, “One another;” (2.) The season of its performance, which also includes the manner of it, “Every day;” (3.) With a limitation of that season, “Whilst it is called To-day.” 2. An especial enforcement of this preventive duty from the danger of their condition, which would be increased by a neglect thereof. And this is described, — (1.) From the cause of it, “The deceitfulness of sin;” (2.) From its tendency and effects, “Lest any be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.”\parTHIRDLY, There is a general enforcement of the whole, both as to the evil to be avoided and the means to be used for that purpose; and this is taken from their state and condition on supposition of the avoidance of the one and observance of the other, verse 14. And this is, — 1. Expressed, “For we are partakers of Christ;” and, 2. Declared as to its dependence on the preceding exhortation, “If so be we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end.”

    In the exhortation proposed, in the first place, there is included, — 1. A dependence on the discourse foregoing. Some suppose a hyperbaton in the words, and that this “take heed” depends immediately on the “wherefore” which is in the beginning of verse 7, as was intimated on that place. So the following words are introduced only as an instance to enforce the exhortation by. In this sense the reference here is to be taken immediately from the authority of Christ over his house, and the necessity of our perseverance to the securing of our interest in that house, as verses 5,6; “Wherefore, take heed, brethren.” But the truth is, the matter of this exhortation is educed so directly and immediately out of the foregoing example, that we must in it own a respect thereunto; for the words are a plain inference from that discourse, though the note of illation be omitted.

    As if the apostle had said, ‘Seeing it is thus, seeing our forefathers, who were our types, and are proposed for an example unto us, did so miscarry under a dispensation of God representing that which he exerciseth now towards us, let us take heed.’ This is the dependence of the words. 2. The apostle returning unto the Hebrews with an especial address and exhortation, renews his former affectionate compellation, “Brethren.” This hath been spoken unto, verse 1 of this chapter, where the reader may find the reason of it., and what is contained in it. Only the cause wherefore he repeats it again seems to be, that it might appear that he had no commotion of spirit upon him in his pressing the severe instance and example insisted on. A minister must be ejpieikh>v , 1 Timothy 3:3, “meek,” “patient,” not easily provoked; mh< orjgi>lov , Titus 1:7, “not soon angry” with his flock, or any of them. And tenderness, gentleness, demonstrations of love and care towards them with whom we have to do, secretly soften them, and open their ears and hearts to let in a word of instruction and exhortation. JO h[liov to>n a]nemou ejni>khse . Besides, he obviates any suspicion that might arise as though he insinuated a fear of such an evil in them, and might make them think that he had hard thoughts of them. By this appellation he removes all such jealousies, and lets them know that the best of saints had need be cautioned sometimes against the worst of evils. 3. The manner of the performance of the duty exhorted unto, and, (1.) The act of it, is expressed in the first word, ble>pete , “Take heed.” ble>pete is firstly and properly “to see” and “behold,” as that is an act of sense; then “to take heed,” or “beware,” an act of the mind; — by an easy translation, first “video,” then “caveo.” And when it is used for “to see” as an act of sense, it commonly hath respect unto expectation, either of some good to be received, or of some inconvenience to be watched against. And because men look out or about them to beware of dangers, the word is used for “to take heed” or “beware.” In this sense it is often used in the New Testament, yea, so far as I have observed, it is peculiar unto the sacred writers; especially it is frequently used by our apostle, as 1 Corinthians 1:26, 10:18; Philippians 3:2; Ephesians 5:15; Colossians 2:8. And sometimes it is used transitively affecting the object, merely for “to consider:” 1 Corinthians 1:26, ble>pete th1 Corinthians 10:18, ble>pete torka , — “Consider Israel according to the flesh.” Sometimes it hath a reciprocal pronoun joined with it, ble>pete eJautou>v , 2 John 1:8, “Consider” or “look well to yourselves.” Sometimes it is used absolutely, as here, and signifies to beware of somewhat; but in this sense it hath often rip, joined with it; as Mark 8:15, Ble>pete ajpo< th~v zu>mhv tw~n Farisai>wn : which in Matthew 16:6 is prose>cete , “take heed of” (beware of) “the leaven of the Pharisees.” And ajpo> is sometimes omitted, as Philippians 3:2, ble>pete tounav , ble>pete toutav , ble>pete thn , and so of the rest; — “Take heed of dogs, take heed of evil workers, take heed of the concision,” ‘that ye neither join with them nor be hurt by them.’ This is here the use of the word; “care,” “heedfulness,” “circumspection with respect to danger and opposition, and those imminent or near,” is that which the word imports: whence observe that, — Obs. 1. There is need of great care, heedfulness, watchfulness, and circumspection, for a due continuance in our profession, to the glory of God and advantage of our own souls.

    A careless profession will issue in apostasy open or secret, or great distress, Matthew 13:5,6, Song of Solomon 3:1, 5. Our course is a warfare; and those who take not heed, who are not circumspect in war, will assuredly be a prey to their enemies. Be their strength never so great, one time or other they will not avoid a fatal surprisal.

    And there is a necessity of this heedful attendance in us, from the manifold duties that, in all things and at all times, are incumbent on us. Our whole life is a life of duty and obedience. God is in every thing to be regarded by us. So that we are to be attentive unto our duty on all occasions, Psalm 16:8; Genesis 17:1. If we fail in matter or manner, what lies in us we spoil the whole; for “bonum oritur ex integris, malum ex quolibet defectu.”

    Any one defect is enough to denominate an action evil; but unto that which is good there must be a concurrence of all necessary circumstances. See Ephesians 5:15,16. And who is sufficient for these things? God alone by his Spirit and grace can enable us hereunto. But he works these things by us as well as in us, and gives heedful diligence where he gives success.

    But it is with especial reference unto difficulty, oppositions, dangers, temptations, that this caution is here given us to be cautious. And who can reckon up the number or dispose into order these things, and that whether we consider those that constantly attend us or thee that are occasional?

    Among oppositions, snares, and dangers, that we are constantly exposed unto, and which without heedfulness we cannot avoid, the apostle here instanceth in one, namely, that of “an evil heart of unbelief,” which must be spoken unto. And he giveth an instance in those that are occasional, Ephesians 5:15,16, “Walk circumspectly,… because the days are evil.”

    There is an especial evil in the days wherein we live, which we cannot avoid without great circumspection. Now this taking heed consisteth, — [1.] In a due consideration of our danger. He that walks the midst of mares and serpents, and goes on confidently, without consideration of his danger, as if his paths were all smooth and safe, will one time or other be entangled or bitten. Blind confidence in a course of profession, as if the whole of it were a dangerless road, is a ruining principle, 1 Peter 1:17; Proverbs 28:14; “A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself; but the simple pass on, and are punished,” Proverbs 22:3. It is the highest folly not to look out after dangers, and which usually ends in sorrow, trouble, and punishment. Fear is necessary in continual exercise; not a fear of distrust or diffidence, of anxious scrupulosity, but of care, duty, and diligence. Continually to fear dangers in all things, brings a useless, perplexing scrupulosity, where men’s principle of duty is only a harassed, convinced conscience, and the rule of it is the doctrines and traditions of men. But where the principle of it is the Spirit of grace, with all this fear there is liberty; and where the rule of it is the Word, there is safety, peace, and stability. Men at sea that are in the midst of rocks and shelves, and consider it not, will hardly avoid a shipwreck. Livy tells us that Philopoemen, that wary Grecian commander, wherever he went, though he were alone, he was still considering all places that he pained by, how an enemy might possess them and lay ambushes in them to his disadvantage, if he should command an army in those places. Hereby he became the most wary and expert captain of his age. So should a Christian do: he should always consider how, where, by what means, his spiritual adversaries may ensnare or engage him, and so either avoid them or oppose them; and not be like the simple, pass on heedlessly and be punished, Ephesians 6:11,12, etc. [2.] In a due consideration of the especial nature of those and dangers that we are exposed unto. It is not enough that in general we know and reckon on it that we are obnoxious unto dangers, but we must learn what are the especial dangers, as things are circumstanced in our lives, callings, ways, times, and seasons, that are apt easily to beset us. To know and continually ponder their nature and advantages, this is wisdom, the greatest wisdom we can exercise in the whole course of our walking and profession, 1 Peter 5:8. He that takes heed in this will not likely fail in any other instance. But here custom, security, false-pleasing, confidence of our own strength, negligence, and sloth, all put in to delude us And if we are here imposed on, that we weigh not aright the nature and efficacy of our own peculiar snares and temptations, we assuredly at one time or another fail and miscarry in the course of our obedience. This was David’s wisdom when “he kept himself from his own iniquity,” Psalm 18:23.

    God would have us cast all our care about earthly things on him, but be watchful ourselves, through his grace, about spiritual. But we are apt to fail on both hands. [3.] It is so to heed them as to endeavor to avoid them, and that in all their occasions, causes, and advantages, in their whole work and efficacy. We are not only to consider them when they assault us, but to watch against all ways whereby they may so do. This is the duty of a man that stands armed on his guard. He is very regardless of his enemy who never seeks to avoid him but when he sees him or feels him. Men will consider the lion’s walk, so as not without good means of defense to be found in it. The lion is in all the especial oppositions we are exercised with. We had need continually to be “fenced with iron and the staff of a spear,” as 2 Samuel 23:7, and yet to avoid them what we are able. God expresseth his great dislike of them that “walk contrary, to him,” as we have rendered the words, Leviticus 26:21, yriq, yMi[i Wkl]Te µaiw] ; — ‘If you walk with me at a peradventure, or at all adventures, carelessly, negligently, without due consideration of your duty and your danger,’ — this God will not bear. [4.] Consider them so as to oppose them. And this consisteth in these things: — 1st . In being always ready armed and standing on your guard, Ephesians 6:13; Mark 13:37; 2 Samuel 23:7. 2dly . In calling in help and assistance, Hebrews 2:18, 4:16. 3dly . In improving the supplies granted us with faith and diligence, Hebrews 12.

    And these are some of the things that belong unto this duty; and they are but some of them, for it is diffused through the whole course of our profession, and is indispensably required of us, if we would abide in the beauty and glory of it unto the end. And therefore the negligence and sloth of many professors can never enough be bewailed. They walk at all adventure, as if there were no devil to tempt them, no world to seduce, ensnare, or oppose them, no treachery in their own hearts to deceive them.

    And hence it is that many are sick, and many are weak, and some are fallen asleep in sin. But what our Savior said to all of old, he says still to us all, “Watch,” Mark 13:37. (2.) There are the persons concerned in this duty, Mh> pote e]stai e]n tini uJmw~n , — “Lest there be in any of you.” Mh> pote is somewhat more emphatical than the “lest,” whereby alone we render it. “Ne forte,” say some translations, — “Lest perchance,” with respect unto a dubious event.

    Others,” quando,” — “Lest there be at any time,” “lest so, that there should be,” e]n tini uJmw~n , “in any of you.” The apostle doth not seem in these words strictly to intend every individual person, as if he had said, ‘ Let every one of you look to himself and his own heart, lest it be so with him;’ but he speaks unto them collectively, to take care that there be none such amongst them, — that none be found amongst them with such a heart as he cautions them against. And this, consequently, falls on every individual; for where all are spoken unto, every one is concerned. The same kind of expression is used to the same purpose, Hebrews 12:15,16, jEpiskopou~ntev mh> tiv uJsterw~n , — “Watching,” overseeing mutually, “with diligence, lest any” among you “fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau.” Here the caution is evidently given unto the whole church, and the duty of the whole is expressed thereon. So is it likewise in this place, as appears from the direction that he gives for the right performance of this duty, in and by mutual watchfulness and exhortation, in the next verse. This, then, is proposed, [1.] To the whole church, to the whole society, and consequentially to every member thereof; so that we may hence observe, — Obs. 2. Godly jealousy concerning, and watchfulness over the whole body, that no beginnings of backsliding from Christ and the gospel be found amongst them, is the duty of all churches of believers.

    He that first put in an exception to this rule was the first apostate from God, who did it to cover a former sin. YkinOa; yjia; rmevohæ says Cain, Genesis 4:9, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” — ‘Is it my duty to look after him, to take care of him, or what becomes of him?’ God proposed the question so unto him as it was apt in its own nature to lead him to confession and repentance. But he was now hardened in sin, and having quarrelled with God and slain his brother, he now casts off all the remaining dictates of the law of nature, accounting that one brother is not bound to take care of the welfare of another. Mutual watchfulness over one another by persons in any society is a prime dictate of the law of our creation, which was first rejected by this first murderer; and every neglect of it hath something of murder in it, 1 John 3:11,12,15. In a church relation the obligation unto this duty is ratified by institution. Upon the officers of the church it is incumbent by the way of office; on all believers, as members of the church, in a way of love: Leviticus 19:17, “Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart; thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbor, and not suffer sin upon him.” He that doth not watch over his brother to prevent his sin, or recover him from it, as much as lies in him, he hates him, and is so far a murderer. And the necessity of this duty is expressed in the word used to declare it, and the manner of its usage: jæykiwOT jækewOh — “rebuking thou shalt rebuke him;” that is, plainly and effectually, and that with such rebukes as consist in arguings, reasonings, and pleadings, to bring on a conviction. So the word signifies, and is used as to the pleadings or reasonings of men with God to prevail with him: Job 13:3, “Surely I would speak to the Almighty, I desire laeAla, jækewOh ,” “to reason” (argue, plead) “with God, until I can prevail with him.” And it is used of God’s pleading with men, to bring them to conviction, Isaiah 1:18, an;Awkl] hj;k]W;niw] — “Go to” (or “come now”), “and let us plead together.” So that an effectual dealing with a brother about sin is included. And this is enforced in the latter clause of the words, wyl;[; aV;tiAaOliw] af]je ; which may well be rendered, “And thou shalt not bear iniquity for him,” — that is, make thyself guilty of his sin, by not reproving him. And for that jealousy which is to accompany this watchfulness, and the effects of it, our apostle gives in an example in himself, 2 Corinthians 11:2,3, “I am jealous over you with godly jealousy:… for I fear,” (mh> pwv , as here mh> pote ,) “lest by any means… your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.”

    This belongs to their watch, as they watch for the souls of their people, “as they who must give account,” Hebrews 13:17. The discharge of this duty will be required of them on the account of their office, and that when, I fear, some will be hard put to it for an answer. For the Scripture is full of threatenings and denunciations of sore judgments against those that shall be found neglective herein. But doth this excuse other believers, members of churches, from a share and interest in this duty? No, doubtless, unless it renders them Cains, — that is, transgressors against the light of nature, and who, as to the institutions of Christ, manifest themselves not to be members of the same mystical body with them that really believe. For in the observation of this and the like duties of their common interest doth the preservation of that body consist. Christ is the head, “from whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body, unto the edifying of itself in love,” Ephesians 4:16. Every joint, every part in this mystical body that receives influences of life from Christ, the head, and so holds of him, is to work effectually, and to give out the supplies which it receives from Christ, unto the preservation, increase, and edification of the whole.

    There is, indeed, a causeless suspicion that some are apt to indulge unto, instead, of this watchful jealousy. But this is the bane of churches and of love, as that is the preservation of them both. The apostle placeth uJpo>noiav ponhrav ,”evil surmises,” or “suspicions,” among the works of “men of corrupt minds,” 1 Timothy 6:4, and that deservedly; but this godly, watchful jealousy, is that which he commends unto others in the example of himself. And whatever appearance they may have one of the other, they may be easily distinguished. Jealousy is a solicitous care, proceeding from love; suspicion, a vain conjecturing, proceeding from curiosity, vanity, or envy. He that hath the former, his heart is ruled by love towards them concerning whom he hath it. From thence he is afraid lest they should miscarry, lest any evil should befall them; for love is the willing of all good unto others, that they may prosper universally.

    Suspicion is an effect of curiosity and vanity of mind; whence commonly there is somewhat of envy, and secret self-pleasing in the miscarriages of others, mixed with it, — a fault too often found amongst professors. And this vice puts forth itself in vain babbling and unheedful defamations; whereas the other works by love, tenderness, prayer, and mutual exhortation, as in the next verse. Again, this jealous watchfulness hath for its end the glory of Christ and his gospel, with the good of the souls of others, This is that which the apostle aims to ingenerate and stir up in the Hebrews, as is evident from his discourse; when vain suspicion hath no end but the nourishing of the lusts from whence it doth proceed. The foundation whereon this duty is built is the common concernment of all believers in the same good or evil, which are the consequents of men’s abiding in Christ or departing from him, in reference whereunto this jealous watch is to be ordered. “Take heed lest there be among you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.” The good that will ensue on the avoidance of this evil is twofold: the glory of Christ, and the salvation of the souls of them who make profession of his name. And have we not a concernment in these things? Is it not our concernment that Christ be glorified by the professed subjection of the souls of men unto him, and their perseverance therein? that his name, his grace, his power, be glorified, in the holiness, fruitfulness, and stability in profession, of all that are called by his name? If we are not concerned in these things, if we are not deeply concerned in them, we are none of his.

    In like manner, are we not concerned that the members of the same body with us should be kept alive, kept from putrefying, from being cut off and burned before our eyes? Are we not concerned that an eye doth not go out, that an arm doth not wither, that a leg be not broken, yea, that a finger be not cut? If it be so, we are not ourselves members of the body. The like may be said of the evil that ensues on the sin of apostasy, which in this duty we labor to obviate and prevent. That which principally of this kind might be insisted on, is the troublesome, defiling infection wherewith apostasy in any is attended; which our apostle speaks unto, Hebrews 12:15. The failing of one is commonly the infection and defiling of many.

    There is a filthy leaven in apostasy, which if not carefully heeded may leaven the whole lump. Ofttimes also it springs from or accompanied with some word of error that eats like a gangrene. “Principiis obsta” is the great rule in these cases. And the duty spoken unto is one signal means of the prevention of this evil. And herein lies our concernment; as also in the preventing of that punishment that may befall the whole for the sins of some, Joshua 22:18,20. And it is the defect which is in this and the like kind of duties which manifests and makes naked that miserable degeneracy which Christians in general, in these latter evil days, are fallen into. Who almost hath any regard unto them? Instead of these fruits of spiritual love, men for the most part follow “divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.” The practical duties of Christianity are amongst many derided. To watch over one another, to warn, to exhort one another, are looked on as things, if possible, beneath contempt. And it is a shame to mention or report the ways and means of dealing with and about the sins of men, which by some are substituted in the room of those appointed in the gospel unto their utter exclusion. But the rule is stable, and will in due time, through the strength of Christ, prevail against the lusts of men. Obs. 3. [2.] It is the duty of every individual believer to be intent on all occasions, lest at any time, or by any means, there should be found in him “an evil heart of unbelief.”

    This, as was showed, follows on the former, and is a necessary consequence of it. But this so directly falls in with what will be offered from the next clause that thereunto we refer it. (3.) The evil thus earnestly cautioned against is expressed, [1.] In the principle of it, and that is, Kardi>a ponhra< th~v ajpisti>av : and, [2.] In the work or effect of that principle, in these words, jEn tw~| ajposth~nai ajpo< Qeou~ zw~ntov . [1.] The principle of the evil is “an evil heart of unbelief.” What is meant by kardi>a , “the heart,” in the sense wherein it is here used, was declared on the verses preceding; what is meant by ponhra> , “evil,” shall be showed in its proper place. In special, it is said to be an evil heart th~v ajpisti>av , — of unbelief;” that is, say most, a]pistov , “cor malum et incredulum,” “an evil heart, and incredulous,” or “unbelieving,” — an evil and unbelieving heart. So the genitive case of the substantive is put for the adjective, — ajpisti>av for a]pistov , by a Hebraism not unusual. In this sense “unbelieving” is either exegetical, declaring what is meant by the “evil heart” in this place, even an unbelieving heart; or it is additious, and so a heart is signified which in general is evil, and in particular unbelieving.

    But there seems to me to be more in this expression; and that ajpisti>av here is “genitivus efficientis,” — denoting the principal efficient cause rendering the heart so evil as that it should “depart from the living God.”

    Kardi>a ajpisti>av , then, “a heart of unbelief,” is more than kardi>a a]pistov , “an unbelieving heart ;” for this latter word is sometimes used to express a defect in believing, and not unbelief absolutely. So John 20:27, Mh> gi>nou a]pistov , ajlla< pisto>v , —”Be not unbelieving, but believing.”

    They are the words of Christ unto Thomas, who, though he failed in his faith, yet was not absolutely without faith. I confess the word is generally used in Scripture to express a negative unbeliever, or an infidel; but there is something peculiar in this expression, “A heart of unbelief,” — that is, under the power of it, principled by it in its actings. What this unbelief is, and how the heart is rendered ponhra> , “evil,” thereby, we must now inquire.

    As for unbelief, it is usually distinguished into that which is negative and that which is privative. 1st . Negative unbelief is whenever any man or men believe not, or have not faith, although they never had the means of believing granted unto them.

    For when men believe not, they are unbelievers, whether they have had any means of believing or no, or whether their unbelief be culpable or no, whatever may be the nature or degree of its demerit. So the apostle calls him an unbeliever who comes in accidentally to the assembly of the church, who never heard the word preached before, 1 Corinthians 14:23,24. In this sense, all those persons and nations who have never had as yet the gospel preached unto them are infidels, or unbelievers; that is, they are so negatively, — they believe not, but yet cannot be said to have in them “an evil heart of unbelief.” 2dly . It is privative , when men believe not, although they enjoy the means of faith or believing. And herein consists the highest acting of the depraved nature of man. And it is on many accounts the greatest provocation of God that a creature can make himself guilty of. For it is, as might be manifested, an opposition unto God in all the properties of his nature, and in the whole revelation o£ his will Hence the gospel, which is a declaration of grace, mercy, and pardon, though it condemns all sin, yet it denounceth the final con-detonation of persons only against this sin: “He that believeth shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned,” Mark 16:16.

    Now this privative unbelief is twofold: — (1st.) In refusing to believe when it is required; (2dly.) In rejecting the faith after it hath been received (1st.) The first is, when the object of faith, or that which is to be believed, is according unto the mind of God, and in the way of his appointment proposed unto men; when sufficient evidence is given unto the truth and goodness of what is so proposed; and when the authority is made known on which faith is required; yet they refuse to believe. For these three things, — a revelation of the things to be believed made known in the way of God, sufficient evidence given unto the truth proposed, and a just assertion of the authority of God requiring faith and obedience, — do render the unbelief of men privative. Now, as this hath its root in the natural darkness, blindness, and depravedness of the minds of men, so it is educed and acted not without new sinful prejudices, and stubbornness of the will, refusing to attend unto and consider the evidences that are given unto the truth proposed, or the goodness and excellency of the things themselves contained in the propositions of truth; nor without signal effects of hardness of heart, love of sin and pleasure, keeping men off from the obedience required. Some instances may clear these particulars: — [1st .] The root of this unbelief is in the original depravation of our natures, with that spiritual impotency and enmity to God wherein it doth consist.

    There is such an impotency in us by nature, that no man of himself, by his own strength, can believe, can come to Christ. So himself informs us, John 6:44, “No man,” saith he, “can come to me, except the Father draw him;” — that is, none can believe unless they are in an especial manner “taught of God,” as he explains himself, verse 45. Again, by nature that “carnal mind” is in all men, which is “enmity against God,” which is “not subject unto his law, neither indeed can be,” Romans 8:7. Hereunto may be referred all that is spoken about the death of men in sin, their blindness and distrust, their alienation from God and obstinacy therein. This is the root and remote cause of all unbelief. Men in the state of nature neither can nor will believe the gospel; but, — [2dly .] Besides this general cause of unbelief, when it comes unto particular instances, and the gospel is proposed unto this or that man for his assent and submission unto it, there is always some especial corruption of mind or will, voluntarily acted, if the soul be kept off from believing; and on the account thereof principally and not merely of original impotency and enmity against God, is the guilt of unbelief reflected upon the souls of the sinners. There is the same fundamental remote cause of unbelief in all that refuse the gospel; but the next immediate proper cause of it is peculiar to every individual unbeliever: — First, some are kept off from believing the gospel by inveterate prejudices in their minds, which they have taken in upon corrupt principles and interests. This shut up of old most of the Jews under their unbelief. They had received many prejudices against the person of Christ, which on all occasions they expressed; and so were offended at him and believed not.

    That he was poor, that he came out of Galilee, that the rulers and teachers of the church rejected him, were their pleas against him. So also they had against his doctrine, and that principally on two false principles; — one of justification by the works of the law, as our apostle directly declares, Romans 9:31,32, 10:3; the other, of the perpetuity or unchangeableness of the institutions of Moses, with which the apostle deals in this epistle.

    And these prejudices arose partly from their pride in seeking after righteousness by the works of the law, and partly from a corrupt desire of earthly things, riches, dominion, and wealth, which they expected with and by their Messiah, whereof I have treated elsewhere at large. These were in many the immediate causes of their unbelief, as is everywhere manifest in the gospel. And so is it with many at all times. Prejudices against the preachers of the gospel on sundry accounts, and against their doctrine, as either useless, or false, or unintelligible, or somewhat they know not what, which they do not like, keep them off from attending to the word and believing. See John 5:44.

    Secondly, An especial obstinacy of will from those prejudices offereth itself in this matter. So our Savior tells the Pharisees, John 5:40, “Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” It is not the perverseness and obstinacy that is in the wills of all men by nature that our Savior here intendeth, but an especial perverseness in them, arising out of an especial envy unto and hatred of him and his doctrine. Hence they did not only not receive him, — which might be charged on their natural impetency, — but they put forth a positive act of their wills in refusing and rejecting him.

    And on this account the guilt of men’s unbelief is absolutely resolved into their own wills. And whether it be discovered or no, this is the condition with many in all times and seasons.

    Thirdly, Love of sin is with some the immediate cause of their actual unbelief: John 3:19, “This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”

    The light of the gospel is brought unto a place or people; they come so near it as to discover its end and tendency; but so soon as they find that it aims to part them and their sins, they will have no more to do with it. And on this account doth condemnation follow the preaching of the gospel, though its own proper end be salvation and that only. And this is the common way of the ruin of souls: they like not the terms of the gospel, because of their love of sin; and so perish in and for their iniquities.

    Fourthly, Stupid ignorance, arising from the possessing of the minds of men with other things, inconsistent with the faith and obedience of the gospel, through the craft and subtilty of Satan, is another cause hereof. So our apostle tells us, 2 Corinthians 4:4, that “the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”

    It is when the minds of men are beamed into with the light of the gospel that they do believe; for by that light, is faith produced. How is this hindered, how is it obstructed? It is by the darkness and blindness of their minds. What darkness is this, — that which is natural and common unto all? No, but that which is in a peculiar manner brought and reflected on the minds of some men by the craft and deceits of the god of this world; that is, through his temptations and suggestions, he so fills and possesses their minds with the things of this world (whence he is here peculiarly called “the god of this world”, that they are kept in a stupid and brutish ignorance of spiritual things, And this keeps them off from believing.

    These are a few of the many instances that might be given of the immediate causes of their privative unbelief, which consists in the rejecting or not receiving the truths of the gospel, when they are proposed in a due manner unto the minds of men.

    And this fully clears the holiness and righteousness of God in his judgments against final and impenitent unbelievers to whom the gospel is preached; for as that impotency which is in them naturally is culpable, — and it is no excuse for them for not believing because of themselves they could not so do, seeing it is by their own default that they are brought into that condition, — so every one in his own person who believeth not doth, by a voluntary act of his will, reject the gospel, and that on such corrupt principles as none can deny to be his sin. (2dly.) There is an unbelief that consists in a rejection of the truth of the gospel after that it hath been admitted, acknowledged, and professed.

    Some, after they have been convinced of the truth, and made profession of it, yet, through the temptations of the world, the corruption of their own hearts, love of sin, or fear of persecution, do suffer their convictions to wear off, or do cast them out, and reject the faith they have owned. Hereof is frequent mention made in the gospel, and no less frequent caution given against it. And this in general is the highest aggravation of this sin. For although the former kind of privative unbelief will certainly prove destructive to them that continue in it, and it may be said that this can do no more, yet this hath two great evils attending it that the other hath no concernment in.

    The first is, the difficulty that there is in being recovered out of this condition. He who hath already withstood the efficacy of the only remedy for his distempers, who hath rejected and despised it, what can cure him?

    This he who never received the gospel, be he never so bad or sinful, is not obnoxious unto. He hath not as yet, as it were, made a trial of what it is; and is free from that contempt cast upon it which is done by the other, who declares that he hath made trial of it, and valueth it not. This, on many reasons, renders his recovery difficult, almost impossible.

    Again, There is a degree of this unbelief which puts a soul absolutely into an irrecoverable condition in this world. For wherein-soever the formality of the sin against the Holy Ghost that shall not be pardoned doth consist, yet this is the matter of it, and without which it is impossible that any one should be guilty of that sin. There must be a renunciation of truth known and professed, or the guilt of that sin cannot be contracted. Now this, be they never so wicked, they are free from who never received, admitted, or professed the truth. The sin against the Holy Ghost is a sin peculiar unto them who have made profession. And from this ariseth an especial aggravation of their punishment at the last day. So the apostle Peter determines this matter: “It had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them,” 2 Peter 2:21.

    Again, This unbelief in rejecting the gospel is either notional and practical, or practical only. [1st .] If it be notional it will also be practical. If men once reject their profession of the truth of the gospel, quenching their light into it and understanding of it, their practice of sin will be answerable thereunto.

    Renegadoes from the gospel are the greatest villains in the world. Neither do men voluntarily renounce the light, but to give themselves up to the deeds of darkness. [2dly. ] It may be practical only. So is it in them who “profess that they know God, but in works deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate,” Titus 1:16, — men who walk in some kind of profession, yet “their end is destruction,’’ and that because “their god is their belly, and their glory is their shame, who mind earthly things,” Philippians 3:19. The corruptions of such men do absolutely prevail over their convictions, and the power of sin in their wills and affections casts off all influencing light from their minds or understandings. Such men as these, although they do not in words deny the truth of the gospel, yet they yield no obedience unto it. They neither expect any good from its promises, nor fear any great evil from its threatenings, which formerly had made some more effectual impressions upon them. And this is the condition of unspeakable multitudes in the world.

    Now, the unbelief here intended by the apostle is this privative unbelief, consisting in the rejection of the truth of the gospel after it. hath been received and professed. And this also may be considered two ways: — [1st .] Initially, as to some degrees of it; [2dly .] As it may be finished and completed.

    Of these our apostle treateth severally and distinctly. Of the former in this place, and Hebrews 4:11-13, Hebrews 12:15,16; of the latter, Hebrews 6:4-6, Hebrews 10:26,27. The first consists in any declension of heart from Christ and the gospel. This may be in various degrees and on several accounts. The latter is a total renunciation of the gospel, of which we spake before. It is the former that the apostle here intends, and therein a prevention of the latter: and therefore concerning it we must consider two things: — [1st .] Wherein it consists, or what are the ways of its entrance into and prevailing upon the minds of men. [2dly .] By what means it renders the heart evil when it is brought under the power thereof. [1st .] It consists in the soul’s receiving impressions from arguments and reasonings against profession, in the whole or any degrees of it. Satan is and will be casting “fiery darts” at the soul, but when the “shield of faith” is held up constantly and steadfastly, they are immediately quenched, Ephesians 6:16; yea, it is the work of faith to arm the soul on all hands, that assaults make no impression upon it. If that fail, if that faint, more or less they will take place. And when or wherein the soul is brought but to parley with an objection, then and therein unbelief is at work, whether it be as unto a particular fact or as unto our state. It was so with our first parents in the very entry of their treaty with Satan, in giving a considering audience unto that one question, “Hath God said so?” Our great Pattern hath showed us what our deportment ought to be in all suggestions and temptations. When the devil showed him “all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them,” to tempt him withal, he did not stand and look upon them, viewing their glory, and pondering their empire, though he was fully assured that after all he could despise and trample upon the offer, and him that made it; but instantly, without stay, he cries, “Get thee hence, Satan,” and further strengthens his own authority with a word of truth, which was his rule, Matthew 4:10. Innumerable are the inclinations, objections, temptations, that lie against the profession of the gospel, especially in times of difficulty, particularly against steadfastness and preciseness in profession. That the whole of it be laid aside, or the degrees of it be remitted, is the great design of Satan, the world, and the flesh. To hearken unto what Satan suggests, though but under a pretense of seeing what is in it, to reason with the world, to consult with flesh and blood, contains the first actings of unbelief towards corrupting the heart in order unto a departure from God. [2dly .] It consists in or acts itself by a secret dislike of something, notionally or practically, in the gospel . This was a common thing in the hearers of our Savior. They disliked this or that in his doctrine or teaching, and that sometimes in things concerning faith, sometimes in things concerning obedience. So did those with whom he treated, John 6:Whilst he taught them in general of the “bread of God that came down from heaven,” they were pleased with it, and cried, “Lord, evermore give us this bread,” verse 34; but when he began to acquaint them in particular that he himself was that bread, that his flesh was meat, and his blood was drink, — that is, that they were the spiritual nourishment of the souls of men, especially as given for them in his death, — they began to be offended and to murmur, they disliked it, crying, “This is an hard saying; who can hear it?” verses 60,61. And what was the effect of this dislike? Plain and open apostasy: verse 66, “From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.” And whence did this dislike and murmuring arise? It was merely the acting of their unbelief, as our Lord declared, verses 63,64, ‘My words, which you so dislike, are spirit and life, “but there are some of you that believe not.” You pretend exceptions against my words, apprehended in your gross and carnal manner, but the true reason of the dislike of them is your own unbelief. God,’ saith he, ‘hath not as yet given faith unto you; for I told you before, that “no man can come unto me” (that is, believe in me and the gospel) “except it were given unto him of my Father” (verse 65); and in this doth your unbelief act itself.’ This was in matter of faith; and we have an instance unto the same purpose in the matter of obedience. The young man mentioned, Matthew xix., had a great respect unto the teaching of the Lord Christ, for he comes unto him to be instructed in the way to eternal life. And this he did with so much zeal and sincerity, according to his present light, that our Savior approved them in him; for it is said he looked on him and “loved him,” Mark 10:21. And he likes his first lesson or instruction, according to his understanding of it, very well; but when the Lord Jesus proceeded to make a particular trial of him in an especial instance, bidding him sell what he had and give it to the poor, and follow him, this he liked not, but went away sorrowful, verses 21,22.

    Now, there are three things in the gospel and the profession of it about which unbelief is apt to act itself by this dislike; which if not obviated, will prove a beginning of turning away from the whole: — First, The purity and spirituality of its worship; secondly, The strictness and universality of its holiness or obedience; and, thirdly, The grace and mystery of its doctrine.

    First, It acts itself in dislike against the purity, simplicity, and spirituality of its worship. This was that wherein our apostle had principally to do with the Jews. They were apt, all of them, to admire the old, glorious, pompous worship of the temple, and so to dislike the naked simplicity of gospel institutions. And in like manner was he jealous over the Corinthians, “lest they should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ,” 2 Corinthians 11:3; that is, in the worship of God as instituted and appointed by him. This was always a great offense unto all unbelievers, Hence the Pagans of old objected unto the Christians, that they had a religion, or a worship of God, without temples, altars, images, or pompous ceremonies; whence they looked on them as mere atheists. And this dislike of the purity and simplicity of the gospel worship is that which was the rise of, and gave increase or progress unto the whole Roman apostasy. And this is that which, through the unbelief of men, keeps the gospel in other nations under so much reproach, contempt, and persecution at this day. Men like not the plain, unspotted institutions of Christ, but are pleased with the meretricious Roman paint, wherewith so great a part of the world hath been beguiled and infatuated.

    Secondly, The severity and universality of obedience which it requireth is another thing that unbelief prevails to put forth dislike against. It makes use of the flesh to this purpose. Something or other it would be gratified in, within doors or without, or at least be spared, and not in all things pursued as the gospel requires. To be always, and in all things, private and public, personal and in all relations, mortified, crucified, and denied, to have no rest given unto it, the flesh likes it not; and unbelief makes use of its aversation to bring the whole soul into a dislike of that doctrine whereby all this is required. Thus Peter tells us of some that “turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them,” 2 Peter 2:21. He gives us not only the nature of the sin of them whom he blames, — that they turn away from the commands of Christ in the gospel; but he gives us also the reason why they do so, — it is because of their holiness. They turn aside from the “holy commandment.” Many professors have been wearied out with an observance of that holiness which this profession doth require.

    Hence commonly there are most apostates from the strictest ways of profession. The more universally holiness is pressed, the more weary will prevailing unbelief make men of their ways.

    Thirdly, It worketh accordingly with respect unto the grace and mystery of the gospel. Of old time it prevailed with many to look upon the whole of it as folly. The “preaching of the cross” was “foolishness” unto them that believed not; that is, the saving of sinners by the substitution of Christ in their room, and the atonement he made by his death and blood-shedding, was so. Now, this being a matter of great importance, I shall crave a little to digress from our immediate work and design, whilst I demonstrate that a secret dislike of the principal mysteries of the gospel is the original and cause of most of the degeneracies, backslidings, and apostasies that are found amongst professors in these latter days.

    Our apostle tells us that the “preaching of the cross” was “foolishness to them that perished,” 1 Corinthians 1:18; and they perished merely on that account, — it was foolishness unto them, they liked not the mystery of it, they saw no wisdom in it. And this he said with respect unto Jews and Gentiles, as is manifest in that place. To confirm this, I shall instance in some of the principal heads of the doctrine of the gospel, and show how unbelief prevails with men to dislike them, to reject them, and to look on them as folly. (First,) And the first is this, — That Jesus of Nazareth, poor and contemptible as he was in the world, generally esteemed by the men of those days wherein he lived to be a seducer, a glutton, a blasphemer, a turbulent person, hated of God and man, being taken as a thief, and hanged upon a tree, and so slain by the consent of the world, Jews and Gentiles, as a malefactor, was the Son of God, the Savior of the world, and is both Lord and Christ.

    This is the beginning of the gospel, which the apostle preached to the Jews and Gentiles, Acts 2:22-24, “Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles, and wonders, and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: whom God hath raised up.”

    That is, ‘This Jesus of Nazareth which we preach, him whom you remember well enough, he was among you but the other day, and preached unto you, and wrought signs and miracles among you; and you may further remember him by an infallible token, for with wicked hands you crucified and slew him.’ ‘Well, and what of this Jesus whom we slew and crucified ?’ ‘Why,’ saith the apostle, Jajsfalw~v ginwske>tw , “Let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God hath made him both Lord and Christ,”’ verse 36. ‘Him! who is that? an appearance of the eternal Word dispensation of grace appearing in him? the Light of God in man?’ ‘No, no; but tou>ton tosate , — “that same Jesus whom ye crucified.” That same man whom about eight weeks ago you crucified, him hath he made “both Lord and Christ;” or in his resurrection and exaltation declared so to be.’ And this the Holy Ghost lays a sure foundation of in his expression of his incarnation and birth. The angel tells Mary his mother, Sullh>yh| ejn gastri< , Luke 1:31, “Thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son,” — conceive him by the power of the Most High, and bear him after the manner of women. And then, verse 35, To< gennw>menon a[gion , etc., “That holy thing, that shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God.” That “holy thing” was the child which she conceived, afterwards called Jesus of Nazareth. And it was termed a “holy thing,” because it was ajnupo>staton , not a person of itself, as conceived by her, had not a personal subsistence in, by, and of itself, but subsisted in the person of the Son of God; on which account it was called “The Son of God.” And when he was born, the angel tells the shepherds, that that day was born “a Savior, Christ the Lord,” Luke 2:11; who, he tells them in the next verse, was bre>fov ejsparganwme>non kei>menon ejn th~| fa>tnh| , “the infant that was wrapped in swaddlingclothes, and placed in the manger.” To this purpose do the apostles declare themselves again: Acts 3:13-15, “The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go. But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you, and killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead.”

    Still they direct them to the man whom they saw, and knew, and dealt wickedly and injuriously withal. And this man, he tells them, this Christ, must be received in the heavens “until the restitution of all things,” when he shall come again, verses 19-21. So himself lays this as the foundation of all his preaching, John 8:24, “If,” saith he, “ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins,” — ‘That I, Jesus of :Nazareth, that speak unto you, and converse with you, am the Messiah, the Savior of the world, you shall die and perish for evermore.’ This, I say, is one, and one of the first fundamental principles of the gospel; and I shall a little manifest how unbelief dislikes this principle, and by that dislike prevails with men unto an apostasy from the gospel itself.

    I might insist upon the great instance hereof in the nation of the Jews, unto whom he was sent first and in an especial manner; but I have done this at large in the first part of our Prolegomena unto this work, whereunto I refer the reader. Only we may mind him how this was fore-expressed concerning them by the prophet Isaiah 53:2, “He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.”

    They could not see or discern any thing in him for which they should receive him, or believe in him, as to the end for which he was sent of God.

    As Hiram, king of Tyre, when he saw the cities which Solomon had given him, they displeased him, and he called them “Cabul,” and so he rejected them, 1 Kings 9:13; so did the Jews, when they came to see the Lord Christ, they were displeased with him, and reproaching him with many opprobrious terms, utterly rejected him; under the power of which unbelief they yet reject him. I might also insist on the pagans of old, who derided the crucified God of the Christians; but I will leave them under the conquest which the gospel obtained against them. Mention also might be made of the Gnostics, and other ancient heretics, with their endless genealogies and fables, making him to be only an appearance of a man; and though himself said he was a man, and his friends said he was a man, and God himself saith he was a man, and that he “sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,” though he lived and’ died a man, yet they would not acknowledge him so to be. But these are long since gone off the stage, although we have yet to do with their offspring under several forms and shapes. The popish figment also of transubstantiation, springing from the same root, utterly overthrowing the human nature of Christ, and our salvation wrought therein, might be on this account remarked. And so also might the imagination of the Mennonites, who will not grant that the man of whom we speak took flesh of the substance of the virgin, but that his flesh was spiritual, as they speak, brought from heaven, and only passing through the womb of the Virgin, that he might appear to be a man. And so said some of old; concerning whom Tertullian says, that according to their opinion, “Mafia non filium gestabat in utero, sed hospitem,” — “Mary bare not her son in her womb, but a guest.” For they utterly dislike it, that one partaker of flesh and blood like ourselves should be this Son of God.

    And therefore this figment, which overthrows the covenant of God with Abraham, and all the promises of the Messiah, that he should be of his seed, and of the seed of David, at once rejecting the whole Old Testament, and turning the stories of the genealogy of Christ, recorded to manifest the faithfulness of God in his promises, into fables, must be exalted in the room and place of that truth which is so fully, so frequently asserted in the gospel, and which is the prime foundation of all our profession. All these oppositions unto and apostasies from the gospel sprang from this especial cause, or the dislike of unbelief against this principle of the mystery of its doctrine. But I shall particularly instance in two sorts of persons, that are of nearer concernment unto us than any of these: — And the first is of them whom they call Quakers. It is strange to think into how many forms and shapes they have turned themselves to darken the counsel of God in this matter, and to hide their own apprehension from the light. At their beginning in the world they made (many of them) no scruple plainly to affirm, that all that is spoken concerning Christ was a mere dispensation of God, and an appearance of the Light; but as for such a man as we have described, they had no regard of him. This at first served their turns, and they intended no more by Christ but that which they call the Light of God within them. But what shall we say unto these things? If all the testimonies that we have given unto “the man Christ Jesus,” if all that is spoken of him in the gospel, all that he did, all that he suffered, what he now doth in heaven by intercession, what he shall do at the day of judgment, all that is required of us towards him, in faith, love, and obedience, be not enough to prove him a real individual man, we may certainly be all of us in a mistake as to what we ourselves are in this world, — we may be all dispensations, who have hitherto taken ourselves to be the sons and daughters of men. But it is some while since they seem to have forsaken this imagination, being driven from it by the common expostulations of every ordinary Christian, “What do you think of Jesus that died at Jerusalem?” They have begun in words to acknowledge his person, but yet continue strangely to obscure their thoughts concerning him, and to confound it, or the presence of God in and with him, with their own pretended light. And whence doth this arise? It is merely from the secret dislike that unbelief hath of this mystery of God. Hence they cannot see that “form and comeliness” in him for which he should be desired.

    Again, others there are who grant that all we have spoken concerning the human nature of Christ is true, — that he was so born, that he so died, and he was so a man, as we have declared. And this man, say they, was justly called, and is so, the Son of God, because God employed and exalted him unto all power in heaven and earth. But that he should be the eternal Son of God, that the eternal Word should be made flesh, that a divine person should receive the human nature into subsistence with itself, this they utterly reject. This is the way of the Socinians. The testimonies being so many, so plain, so uncontrollable, that are given in the Scripture unto this truth, what is it that can carry men to advance a contradiction unto them to their own ruin? Why, unbelief doth not like this mystery of “God manifested in the flesh.” This insensibly alienates the soul from it; and what men pretend to receive by the conduct of reason and argument, is indeed nothing but prejudices imposed on their minds by the power of unbelief. (Secondly,) Another main fundamental principle of the gospel is, that by the obedience unto God, death, and blood-shedding of this same Jesus, who was crucified and slain, are redemption, forgiveness of sins, deliverance from the wrath to come, righteousness, and acceptation with God, to be obtained, and by him only.

    The other proposition respected the person of Christ, this doth his mediation. And this, in the second place, was insisted on in the first preaching of the gospel That this is the sum of the doctrine of the Scriptures concerning him, himself taught his disciples, Luke 24:45-47, “Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, and said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name.” And this the apostles jointly express, exclusively unto all other mediums as to the end proposed, Acts 4:12, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”

    The great inquiry of men in the world, convinced of an immortal condition, is that which we have expressed, Acts 16:30, “What. must we do to be saved?” This lies in their thoughts more or less all their days, and is rolled in their hearts under that severe notion, Isaiah 33:14, “Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?”

    And of this inquiry there are two parts: — [First,] How they may obtain forgiveness of sin: Micah 6:6, “Wherewith shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt-offerings, with calves of a year old? will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”

    When a real sense of the guilt of sin is by any means brought upon the soul, it is vehement and urgent, and will give them in whom it is no rest, until they can fix on some way of relief. [Secondly,] What they shall do for a righteousness, upon the account whereof they may obtain acceptance with God. For it is not enough that men may be one way or other acquitted from sin, but they must be made righteous also. In this case, the Jews sought for righteousness “as it were by the works of the law,” Romans 9:32; for a righteousness they knew they must have, and “being ignorant of God’s righteousness, they went about to establish their own righteousness,” Romans 10:3.

    Now, this head of the gospel that we have mentioned is a direct answer unto these two questions. For in answer unto the first it declares, that by this Jesus Christ alone is forgiveness and remission of sins to be obtained. “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins,” Ephesians 1:7. See Hebrews 9:l2-14. This was, as the gospel declares, the design of God the Father, Romans 3:24,25; and of his own love and good-will, Revelation 1:5. And this the apostles preached ejn prw>toiv , “amongst the chiefest things” of their message to the world, Corinthians 15:3. And to the second it answers, that by the obedience and suffering of Christ alone is the righteousness inquired after to be obtained: for by his obedience, “the obedience of one,” are “many made righteous,” Romans 5:19. For not only “by him is preached unto us the forgiveness of sins,” but “by him all that believe are justified,” Acts 13:38,39. See Philippians 3:8,9; 1 Corinthians 1:30.

    This is another important part of the mystery of the gospel, and that which unbelief greatly dislikes; that is, it is apt to beget in the soul a dislike of it. And a great instance we have in the world of its power and efficacy to draw men off from the gospel; for unbelief in this matter is the real foundation of the whole Papacy. They cannot rest in Christ alone for righteousness and forgiveness of sins. Hence hath sprung their sacrifice of the mass for the quick and dead; hence their indulgences from the treasures of the church; hence their penances and works satisfactory for sin; hence their purgatory, religious houses, pilgrimages, intercession of saints and angels, confessions and absolutions, with the remainder of their abominations. All these things spring from no other root but this, — namely, that from the power of their unbelief, men think it a foolish thing to look for pardon and righteousness solely from other, and not to trust to themselves in anything. And the reason why they have multiplied instances to the same purpose is, cause they can indeed find rest and satisfaction in none, and do therefore please and deceive their souls with this variety. And what is it that hath driven a company of poor deluded souls amongst ourselves to trust unto a fancied light within them, and a feigned perfection in their ways? They cannot think it wise, prudent, safe, they like it not, to rest, to trust for their all upon one who lived and died so long ago. Men make sundry pretences, use divers arguings and pleas, for their turning aside unto their crooked paths, — endeavor by all means possible to justify themselves; but the bottom of all lies here, that this doctrine of the cross is foolishness unto them, and they are under the power of their unbelief, which dislikes the mysteries of it. (Thirdly,) Another principle of the same mystery is, That the way and means whereby forgiveness of sin, righteousness, and acceptance with God for sinners, are attained by this Jesus Christ, is, that by the sacrifice of himself, his death, and blood-shedding, with the punishment for sin which he voluntarily underwent, God was atoned, his justice satisfied, and his law fulfilled; and that because he had ordered, in his infinite wisdom and sovereignty, with the will and consent of Christ himself, to charge all the sins of all the elect upon him, and to accept of his obedience for them, he undertaking to be their Surety and Redeemer. To clear this principle the gospel teacheth, — [First,] That notwithstanding all that was visibly done unto Jesus by the Jews and others, yet the hand and counsel of God were in the whole business, designing him thereunto. See Acts 2:22,23; Romans 3:25. [Secondly,] That his own merciful and gracious goodness concurred herein. However the Jews seemed to hale him up and down as a malefactor, and violently to slay him, yet if his own will had not been in the work, unto another end than what they had in design, they had had no power over him, John 10:18. But he came on set purpose to lay down his life a ransom, Matthew 20:28, and to offer himself a sacrifice for sinners; which he performed accordingly, Ephesians 5:2; Galatians 2:20; Revelation 1:5; Hebrews 1:3. [Thirdly,] That the end of all this was that which we before laid down, namely, that he might be “made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him,” 2 Corinthians 5:21. So also, Galatians 3:13; Isaiah 53:4-6,11; 1 Peter 1:18,19.

    And against this principle also unbelief riseth up with great power and efficacy in many, and that on sundry accounts; for, — [First,] That God should comply as it were, and have a hand in that work, for any end of his, wherein Satan, and men as wicked as ever the sun shone upon, did execute the fullness of their rage and villany, and for which he afterwards utterly and miserably destroyed those murderers, is folly to some. Hence were a thousand fables raised of old about the passion of Christ: some turned the whole story into an allegory; some said it was acted only in show and appearance, and not in reality and truth; some, that he was conveyed away, and Barabbas crucified in his stead, with sundry other such foolish abominations. [Secondly,] Some of late, refusing to see the wisdom, holiness, and righteousness of God in this matter, in bringing about his own counsels, and doing his own work, notwithstanding the interposition of the sins of the worst of men, deny that God determined any thing herein, but left it wholly unto the liberty of the Jews, on the determination of whose wills the whole work of salvation was suspended. [Thirdly,] Some reject the whole matter itself. That the just should suffer for the unjust, the innocent undergo the punishment due to the guilty, that one should sin and another suffer, — that he whom God loved above all should undergo his wrath for them and their deliverance whom he had grounds of righteousness to hate and destroy, is a foolish thing unto them.

    This all the Socinians in the world despise. And it is rejected by the Quakers amongst ourselves, and variously corrupted by the Papists and others. And there is none of all these but will plead reasons and arguments for their opinions. But this that we insist on is the true and real ground of their miscarriages. They are under the power of that unbelief which acts itself by a dislike of the mysteries of the gospel. Pretend what they will, it is unbelief alone that is the cause of their apostasy. I might instance in other principles of the like nature and importance, but I should dwell too long on this digression. [3dly .] It works by and consists in a growing diffidence of the promises and threatenings of the gospel. The great work and duty of faith is to influence the soul unto universal obedience and an abstinence from all sin, out of a regard unto the promises and threatenings of God. So our apostle directs in 2 Corinthians 7:1. And when the efficacy of this influence begins to wear off and decay, it is from the prevalency of unbelief. And there are many ways whereby it works and produceth this effect, to take off the soul from a due regard to the promises and threatenings of the gospel. A sense, liking, love of, and satisfaction in present things, with carnal wisdom, arising from an observation of strange promiscuous events in the world, give a principal contribution hereunto; but these things are not here to be insisted on.

    And these things have been spoken to discover the nature and the work of that unbelief, which the apostle here warns and cautions all professors concerning; and we have especially considered it as to its entrance towards a departure from God. And hence we may observe that, — Obs. 4. The root of all backsliding, of all apostasy, whether it be notional or practical, gradual or total, lies in unbelief.

    I have dwelt long already on this matter of unbelief; and I had reason so to do, for this is the bingo on which the discourses of the apostle in this chapter and the next do turn. The nature of it, with its causes, ways and means of prevalency, with its danger and means of prevention, are the things which he lays before them. But I shall confine my discourse within due bounds, and therefore speak unto this proposition only with reference unto that influence which unbelief hath on the heart to render it evil: “Take heed, lest there be in you an evil heart of unbelief,” — kardi>a ponhra> , “cor malum.” This is the only place in the New Testament where a disapproved heart hath this adjunct of “evil,” “an evil heart.” It is in other places termed sklhro>v , “hard,” and ajmetano>htov , “impenitent,’’ Romans 2:5, but here only “evil.” In the Old Testament it is sometimes said to be [ræ , “evil,” as Jeremiah 3:17, 7:24, 11:8, 16:12, 18:12. This the LXX. renders by ponhro>v , — that is, “malus,” “perversus,” “scelestus,” “improbus;” one that is “wicked” and “flagitious.” The original of the word would denote one that is industriously wicked; for it is from pe>na , by pone>w , “to labor diligently and with industry, though conflicting with difficulties.” Hence the devil, because he is industriously and maliciously wicked, is called oJ ponhro>v , “the wicked one:” “When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh oJ ponhro>v ,” — “the wicked one,” Matthew 13:19. So are we taught to pray, JRu~sai hJma~v ajpo< tou~ ponhrou~ , Matthew 6:13, “Deliver” (or “rescue”) “us from that evil one.” And it is said, that “the whole world lieth ejn tw~| ponhrw~ ,” 1 John 5:19, — “under the power of that wicked one.” When, therefore, any heart is said to be ponhra> , an evil, wicked, flagitious frame is intended.

    Our present inquiry is only how the heart is gradually brought under this denomination by the power and efficacy of unbelief, and that with especial respect unto that particular sin of departing from God. And this is done several ways:— [1st.] Unbelief sets all the corrupt lusts and affections of the heart at liberty to act according to their own perverse nature and inclination. The heart of man is by nature evil; all the thoughts and imaginations of it are “only evil continually,” Genesis 6:5. It is full of all “corrupt affections,” which act themselves and influence men in all they do. The gospel cometh in a direct opposition unto these lusts and corrupt affections, both in the root and in the fruit of them; for “the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared unto us, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world,” Titus 2:11,12. There is no greater duty that it chargeth our souls withal than the mortification, crucifying, and destruction of them, and this indispensably, if we intend to be made partakers of the promises of it, Colossians 3:5-8; Romans 8:13. Moreover, it is the first proper work of that faith whereby we believe the gospel, in and upon our own souls, to cleanse them from these lusts and affections. It is the work of faith to purify the heart, being the great means or instrument whereby God is pleased to effect it: “Purifying our hearts by faith,” Acts 15:9. For, receiving the promises, it teacheth, persuadeth, and enableth us to “cleanse ourselves from all uncleannesses of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God,” 2 Corinthians 7:1.

    Now, these two, faith and the gospel, make up our profession, — the one being that wherewith or whereby we profess, the other that which we do profess. And they both concur in this design, namely, the purifying of the heart. So far as these prevail upon us or in us, that work is successful. And where there is no weakening of the lusts of the heart, no restraint laid upon them, no resistance made unto them, there is no profession at all, there is nothing of faith or gospel that takes place; for “they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts,” Galatians 5:25. They have done so actually in some measure or degree. All, then, who have taken upon them the profession of the gospel in reality, although it be only upon the account of light and conviction, have restrained and have curbed them, and taken upon themselves a law of resistance unto them. Hence all of them proceed so far at least as to “escape the pollutions of the world, through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” 2 Peter 2:20.

    Those who attain not hereunto are in no sense to be esteemed such as profess the gospel. But now whenever unbelief beginneth to influence the heart towards the flame described, it sets in the first place these corrupt lusts and affections at liberty to act themselves according to their own nature. And this it doth two ways: — First, With respect unto the gospel and its efficacy for the mortification of them; for it takes off, weakens, and disarms those considerations which the gospel tenders unto the souls of men for that end. The way and means whereby the gospel of itself worketh towards the mortification of the lusts of the heart is by the proposition of its promises and threatenings unto the minds of men. These work morally upon them; for the consideration of them causeth men to set themselves against all those things which may cause them to come short of the one, or make them obnoxious unto the other, 2 Corinthians 7:1 Now all influence upon the soul unto this end from hence is intercepted by unbelief. Its proper nature and work lies in begetting a disregard of gospel promises and threatenings through a diffidence of them. And hereof we have examples everyday. Men are in a constant way wrought upon by the preaching of the word; that is, their minds are influenced by a taste of the good things proposed and promised in it, and are brought under a sense of the terror of the Lord in its threatenings. The first proper effect hereof in themselves, is the resistance of their lusts and the reformation of their lives thereon. But we see that many of these, losing, through unbelief, a sense of that impression that was on them from the word, have all their lusts let loose unto rage and violence; and so return again like “the dog to his vomit, and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire,” as 2 Peter 2:22.

    Secondly, With respect unto faith itself. This is evident from the nature of the thing; for where unbelief thrives or grows, there faith must decay and wax weak. But especially it impedes and hinders faith in the work before described, by depriving it of the means and instruments whereby it works, which are care, watchfulness, or vigilancy against sin; for its great design lies in making the soul negligent, careless, and slothful in the opposition of sin. Where this is attained, the whole work of faith is defeated, and lust is set at liberty. And where this is so, it immediately returns to act according to its own corrupt and perverse nature; which, as we have elsewhere at large declared, is “enmity against God.” And this consists both in an aversation from God and an opposition unto him. Look, then, whatever approaches a man in his profession hath made towards God, the work of these lusts and corruptions, now at liberty, is to incline him to withdraw and depart from them. This renders the heart evil, and disposeth it unto an utter departure from the living God. [2dly .] It renders the heart evil by debasing it, and casting all good, honest, ingenuous, and noble principles out of it. The gospel furnisheth the mind of man with the best and highest principles towards God and man that in this world it is receptive of. This might easily be evinced against all the false and foolish pretences of the old philosophy or present atheism of the world. Whatever there is of faith, love, submission, or conformity unto God, that may ingenerate a return into that image and likeness of him which we fell from by sin and apostasy; whatever is of innocency, righteousness, truth, patience, forbearance, that may render us fruitful, and useful in or needful unto the community of mankind; whatever is pure, lovely, peaceable, praiseworthy, in a man’s own soul and the retirements of his mind, is all proposed, taught, and exhibited by the word of the gospel. Now, principles of this nature do lively ennoble the soul, and render it good and honorable. But the work of unbelief is to cast them all out, at least as to their especial nature communicated unto them by the gospel, which alone brings with it an impress of the image and likeness of God. And when this is separated from any of the things before mentioned, they are of no value. This, then, renders the heart base and evil, and gives it an utter dislike of communion or intercourse with God. [3dly .] It accumulates the heart with a dreadful guilt of ingratitude against God, which before profession it was incapable o£ When a person hath been brought unto the knowledge of the gospel, and thereby vindicated out of darkness, and delivered from the sensuality of the world; and hath moreover, it may be, “tasted of the good word of God, and of the powers of the world to come;” for such a one to draw back, to forsake the Lord and his ways, through the power of unbelief, there is a great aggravation attending his sin, 2 Peter 2:20,21. And when once the heart is deflowered by this horrible sin of ingratitude, it will prostitute itself of its own accord unto all manner of abominations. And for us, it is good to have this spring of all our danger in the course of our profession continually in our eye. Here it lies, the root of it is here laid open; and if it be not continually watched against, all our other endeavors to persevere blameless unto the end are and will be in vain. [2.] The next thing in the words is that especial evil which the apostle cautions the Hebrews against, as that which a heart made evil by the prevalency of unbelief would tend unto, and which is like to ensue if not prevented in the causes of it; and that is, “departing from the living God:” jEn tw~| ajposth~nai ajpo< Qeou~ zw~ntov .

    Jen tw~| : that is, say some, eijv to> , — the sense whereof would be, “so that you should depart.” But ejn tw~| is more significant [ j jEn tw~| ] and no less proper in this language. And the article thus varied with the infinitive mood denotes a continued act, — “that it should be departing;” — “that the evil heart should work and operate in a course of departing from God.” jEn tw~| ajposth~nai . jAfi>sthmi is a word ejk tw~n me>swn , of an indifferent signification in itself, and is used to express any kind [ jAposth~nai .] of departure, physical or moral, from a person or thing, a place or a principle.

    Sometimes it is expressive of a duty: 2 Timothy 2:19, “Whosoever nameth the name of Christ, ajposth>tw ajpo< ajdiki>av ,” — “let him depart from iniquity.” So also 1 Timothy 6:5. Sometimes it denotes the highest sin: 1 Timothy 4:1, “The Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter season ajposth>sontai tinestewv ," — “some shall depart from the faith.” And the departure here prophesied of is signally termed hJ ajpostasi>a , “the departure,” or “apostasy, 2 Thessalonians 2:3. So that the word is to be expounded from the subject-matter treated of, and the especial object of it. And it is a word in its moral sense oftener used by our apostle than by all the other sacred writers besides. Once in the gospel it is used absolutely for a sinful falling away, Luke 8:13: “They believe for a season, kai< ejn kairw~| peirasmou~ ajfi>stantai ,” — “in the time of persecution they fall away,” they turn apostates. And from this word are the common names of apostates and apostasy taken; that is, the great sin of forsaking or departing from the profession of the gospel. “In discedendo,” say interpreters; Beza, “in desciscendo,” properly. It is, in an evil sense, a revolting, a treacherous defection from truth and duty. It answers unto rWs , which is used in an indifferent sense, to. depart from any thing, good or evil, and sometimes is applied unto a perverse departure from God; as Hosea 7:14. And in this especial sense it expresseth rræs; , which is to be perverse, stubborn, and contumacious in turning away from God, or that which is good and right in any kind, so as to include a rebellion in it, as the departure here intended doth; that is, to revolt.

    The object of this departure is by our apostle in this place particularly expressed, ajpo< Qeou~ zw~ntov , — “ from the living God.” It is plain that it is apostasy from the profession of the gospel which is intended; and we must inquire into the reasons why the apostle doth thus peculiarly express it, by a departure from the living God. I shall propose those which to me seem most natural: — 1st . It may be that these Hebrews thought nothing less than that their departure from the profession of the gospel was a departure from the living God. Probably they rather pretended and pleaded that they were returning to him; for they did not fall off unto idols or idolatry, but returned to observe, as they thought, the institutions of the living God, and for a relinquishment whereof the blaspheming and persecuting part of them traduced our apostle himself as an apostate, Acts 21:28. To obviate this apprehension in them, and that they might not thereby countenance themselves in their defection, which men are apt to do with various pretences, the apostle lets them know that after the revelation of Christ and profession of him, there is no departure from him and his institutions but that men do withal depart from the living God. So John positively declares on the one hand and the other, 2 John 1:9, “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.”

    In a recession from the gospel or doctrine of Christ, God himself is forsaken. He that hath not the Son, he hath not the Father; as, on the other side, continuance in the doctrine of the gospel secureth us an interest not in the Son only, but in the Father also. He, then, that rejects Christ in the gospel, let him pretend what he will of adhering unto one God, he hath forsaken the living God, and cleaves unto an idol of his own heart; for neither is the Father without the Son, nor is he a God unto us but in and by him. 2dly . It may be he would mind them of the person and nature of him from whom he would prevent their departure, namely, that however in respect of his office, and as he was incarnate, he was our mediator, our apostle, and high priest, yet in his own divine person he was one with his Father and the blessed Spirit, the living God. 3dly . (which either alone or in concurrence with these other reasons is certainly in the words), That he might deter them from the sin he cautions them against by the pernicious event and consequent of it; and this is, that therein they would depart from him who is the great, terrible, and dreadful God, the living God, who is able to punish and avenge their sin, and that to all eternity. And this appears to be in the words, in that he again insists on the same argument afterwards; for to the same purpose he tells them that “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God,” Hebrews 10:31. And as this property of life, as it is in God essentially and causally, whence he is called “The living God,” is exceedingly and eminently accommodated to encourage us unto faith, trust, confidence, and affiance in him, in all straits and difficulties, whilst we are in the way of our duty, — as our apostle declares, 1 Timothy 4:10, “For therefore we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God;” or, ‘This is that which encourageth us unto and supporteth us in all our laborings and sufferings, namely, because he whom we trust in, whom we expect assistance from here, and a reward hereafter, is the living God:’ so it is that which deservedly casts the greatest awe and terror upon the minds of men in their sins and rebellion against him. For as this life of God includes in it the notion and consideration of all those properties which hold out encouragements unto us in things present and to come; so it doth also that of those dreadful attributes of his power, holiness, and eternity, which sinners have reason to bethink themselves of in their provocations of him.

    Thus he frequently prefaceth expressions of his severity against stubborn sinners with ynia; yjæ , “I live, saith the LORD;” as it were bidding of them to consider what thence they were to expect. And this seems to me the principal reason why the apostle thus states the sin of their apostasy, that it is a departure from the living God. 4thly . He may also so express it, at once to intimate unto them the greatness and folly of their sin. They thought, it may be, it was but the leaving of these or those observances of the gospel; but, saith he, it is a departure, a flagitious defection and revolt, from the living God. And who knows not this to be the greatest sin and highest folly imaginable? To depart from him who will be so great a reward unto them that obey him, and so severe a judge of them that forsake him, what greater guilt or folly is the nature of man capable of?

    And this is the evil which the apostle here cautions professors against, which I have insisted on the longer, because it is directly opposite unto that great duty which it is the general design of the epistle to press them unto. And we shall take such observations from this last clause of the verse as the words and the reasons of using them do present unto us; and the first is, that, — Obs. 5. The malignity and venom of sin is apt to hide itself under many, under any shades and pretences.

    I speak not of the evasions and pretexts wherewith men endeavor to cover or countenance themselves in their miscarriages in the world, and unto others, but of those pleas and pretences which they will admit of in their minds, partly to induce their wills and affections unto sin, and partly to relieve and countenance their consciences under sin. Amongst those reasonings which these Hebrews had in themselves about a relinquishment of the gospel and its institutions, they never considered it as an apostasy from the living God. They looked upon it as a peculiar way of worship, attended with difficulties and persecutions, which perhaps they might please God as well in the omission of. By this means did they hide from themselves that mortal malignity and poison that was in their sin. And so it is in every sin. The subtlety and deceit of lust doth still strive to conceal the true and proper nature of sin whereunto it enticeth or is enticed. When Naaman the Syrian would, notwithstanding his conviction, abide in his idol-worship, because of his secular advantage, it is but a going with his master into the house of Rimmon, and bowing there, not that he intended to have any other God but the God of Israel, 2 Kings 5:18; — so long ago had he practically learned that principle which men had not until of late the impudence doctrinally to advance in the world, namely, that an arbitrary rectifying of men’s intentions alters the nature of their moral and spiritual actions. Hence they say, that if one man kill another, not with an intention to kill him, but to vindicate his own honor by his so doing, it is no sin, or at least no great sin, or much to be regarded. And what is this but directly to comply with the deceitfulness of sin, which we have laid down? for none sure is so flagitiously wicked as to make the formal nature of sin their object and end; nor, it may be, is human nature capable of such an excess and exorbitancy, from itself and its concreated principles, but still some other end is proposed by a corrupt design and incitation of the mind, which is a blind unto its wickedness. But of this deceit of sin I have treated at large in another discourse. Therefore, — Obs. 6. The best way to antidote the soul against sin, is to represent it unto the mind in its true nature and tendency.

    The hiding of these was the way and means whereby sin first entered into the world. Thereby did Satan draw our first parents into their transgression. Hiding from them the nature and end of their sin, he ensnared and seduced them. In the same way and method doth he still proceed. This caused our apostle here to rend off the covering and vain pretences which the Hebrews were ready to put upon their relinquishment of the gospel. He presents it here naked unto them, as a fatal defection and apostasy from the living God; and therein gives them also to understand its end, which was no other but the casting of themselves into his revenging hand unto eternity. So dealt Samuel with Saul in the matter of Amalek.

    Saul pretended that he had only brought fat cattle for sacrifice; but Samuel lets him know that there was rebellion in his disobedience, abhorred of God like the sin of witchcraft, Indeed, if not all, yet the principal efficacy of temptation consists in hiding the nature and tendency of sin, whilst the mind is exercised with it; and therefore the discovery and due consideration of them must needs be an effectual means to counterwork it and to obviate its prevalency. And this is the principal design of the Scripture, in all that it treats about sin. It establisheth the command against it, by showing what it is, the iniquity, folly, and perversity of it; as also what is its end, or what in the righteousness of God it will bring the sinner unto. Hence the great contest that is in the mind, when it is hurried up and down with any temptation, is, whether it shall fix itself on these right considerations of sin, or suffer itself at the present to be carried away with the vain pleas of its temptation in its attempt to palliate and cover it.

    And on this contest depends the final issue of the matter. If the mind keep up itself unto the true notion of the nature and end of sin, through the strength of grace, its temptation will probably be evaded and disappointed.

    So it was with Joseph. Various suggestions he had made to him, but he keeps his mind fixed on that, “How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” which preserved him and delivered him, Genesis 39:9.

    But if the mind be prevailed with to admit of those representations of sin which are made unto it in its temptations, sin in the perpetration of it will ensue. And this is the principal part of our wisdom about sin and temprations, namely, that we always keep our minds possessed with that notion and sense of the nature and end of sin which God in his word represents unto us, with a complete watchfulness against that which the deceit of lust and the craft of Satan would suggest. Again, — Obs. 7. Whoever departs from the observation of the gospel and the institutions thereof, doth in so doing depart from the living God; or, an apostate from the gospel is an absolute apostate from God.

    This the apostle expressly teacheth the Hebrews in this place. Men think it almost a.matter of nothing to play with gospel institutions at their pleasure. They can observe them or omit them as seems good unto themselves. Nay, some suppose they may utterly relinquish any regard unto them, without the least forfeiture of the favor of God. But this will appear to be otherwise; for, — 1st . In their so doing, the authority of God over their souls and consciences is utterly rejected, and so consequently is God himself; for where his authority is not owned, his being is despised. Now, there are various ways whereby God puts forth and manifests his authority over men. He doth it in and by his works, his law, by the consciences or inbred notions of the minds of men. Every way whereby he reveals himself, he also makes known his sovereign authority over us; for sovereign power or authority is the very first notion that a creature can have of its Creator. Now, all these ways of revealing the authority of God are recapitulated in the gospel, God having brought all things unto a head in Christ Jesus, Ephesians 1:10. “All power in heaven and in earth,” — that is, as to the actual administration of it, — is given into his hand, Matthew 28:18; and he is “given” or “appointed to be head over all things,” Ephesians 1:20-22, as we have at large declared on the third verse of the first chapter: God, therefore, doth not put forth or exercise the least of his power but in and by Christ; for “the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son,” John 5:22. Now, the Lord Christ exerciseth this power and authority principally by the gospel, which is the “rod of his power,” <19B002> Psalm 110:2. Hereunto, then, are reduced all other ways whatever whereby the authority of God is exerted over the souls and consciences of men. And if this be rejected, the whole authority of God is utterly cast off. This, therefore, is done by all who reject, relinquish, or despise the gospel; they forsake God himself, the living God, and that absolutely and utterly. God is not owned where his monarchy is not owned. Let men deal so with their rulers, and try how it will be interpreted. Let them pretend they acknowledge them, but reject the only way, all the ways they have, for the exercise of their authority, and it will doubtless be esteemed a revolt from them. 2dly . There is no other way or means whereby men may yield any obedience or worship unto God but only by the gospel, and so no other way whereby men may express their subjection unto him or dependence upon him; and where this is not done, he is necessarily forsaken. Whatever men may say, or do, or pretend, as to the worship of God, if it be not in and by the name of Christ, if it be not appointed and revealed in the gospel, it is not performed unto the living God, but to an idol of their own hearts; for the only true God is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and therefore by what act or acts soever men may design to give honor unto God, and to own their dependence on him, if it be not done in Christ, according to the gospel, it is all an abomination unto him. He says of all such worship, as he did of the sacrifices of the Israelites, when their hearts went after their idols, Amos 5:26, it is all to Moloch and Chiun, and not to him. Such, I say, is all the worship that men design to offer unto the living God, when not according to the gospel; such was the worship of the Samaritans of old, as our Savior testified; and such is the worship of the Jews and Mohammedans at present. Their pretense of owning one God will not free them from offering their sacred services to Moloch and Chiun, images and stars of gods which they have framed unto themselves.

    When, therefore, any depart from the gospel, they depart from the living God; because they have no way left unto them whereby they may glorify him as God, and he that doth not so renounceth him. And therefore our apostle, speaking of those heathens who had those notions of one God which some boast of at this day and choose to rest in, affirms plainly that they were ejn tw~| ko>smw| , Ephesians 2:12, — “atheists whilst they were in the world.” They knew not how to glorify God by any acceptable worship: and as good not to own God at all as not to glorify him as God; for after God in the first precept hath required that we should have him for our God, and none else, that we may do so, and know how to do so, he required in the second, with the same authority, that we worship and glorify him according unto his own mind and prescription. 3dly . There is no other way whereby we may obtain the least encouraging intimation of the favor or good-will of God towards us, no way whereby his grace or his acceptance of us may be firmed and assured unto us, but this only; and where there is not a sufficient ground hereof, no man can abide with God in a due manner. If men have not a stable foundation to apprehend God to be good, and gracious, and willing to receive them, they will no otherwise respect or esteem him but as the poor Indians do the devil, whom they worship that he may do them no harm. I do know that men have strange presumptions concerning the goodness and inclination of God unto sinners; and according unto them they pretend highly to love God and delight in him, without respect unto the Lord Christ or the gospel: but it were an easy thing to divest their notions of all those swelling words of vanity wherewith they dress them, and manifest them to be mere presumptions, inconsistent with the nature of God and all the revelation that he hath made of himself. Whatever may be apprehended in God of this nature or to this purpose is either his crhsto>thv , his natural goodness, kindness, benignity, and love; or his filanqrwpi>a , which includes all the free acts of his will towards mankind for good. And our apostle affirms that the ejpifanei>a , the revelation, declaration, and appearance of both these, is merely from and by the gospel, or the grace of God by Jesus Christ, Titus 3:4-7; and without this it is impossible but that men will abide in their apostasy from God, or return unto it. 4thly . There is no other way wherein we may look for a reward from God, or hope to come unto the enjoyment of him, but only by the gospel. And this also is necessary, that we may honor him as God, as the living God.

    This is the end whereunto we were made: and if we leave the pursuit hereof, we cast off all regard unto God; for if God be not considered as “a rewarder of them that diligently seek him,” as in himself an “exceeding great reward,” he is not considered as God. And whoever doth not pursue a design of coming to the enjoyment of God, he hath forsaken him. Now, there is no direction herein or hereunto but the gospel, as Acts 4:12.

    And this will discover the great multitude of practical atheists that are in the world. Many there are who have been educated in some observance of the gospel, and some who have been brought under great conviction by the word of it, who do yet, by the power of their lusts and temptations in the world, come to renounce and despise all the institutions, ordinances, and worship of the gospel, and consequently the author of it himself; for it is a vain thing to pretend love or honor unto Christ, and not to keep his commandments However, they would not be reckoned among atheists, for they still acknowledge one, or the one God. But they do herein but industriously deceive their own souls Then they forsake the living God, when they forsake the gospel of his Son.

    And let us all know what care and reverence becomes us in the things of the gospel. God is in them, even the living God. Otherwise he will be neither known nor worshipped. His name, his authority, his grace, are enstamped on them all. Obs. 8. When a heart is made evil by unbelief, it is engaged in a course of sinful defection or revolt from the living God. So that word imports, ejn tw~| ajposth~nai , the sense whereof was explained before.

    Ver. 13. — “But exhort one another daily [everyday ], whilst it is called To-day, lest any of you [among you ] be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”

    Here lies one means of preventing the evil mentioned in the verse foregoing. And we have in it, as was showed, the duty itself, and the persons concerned in it, the manner and season of its performance, with a limitation of that season, and an especial enforcement from the danger of its neglect, as we shall see in our opening of the words.

    First, the duty intended is expressed in the first word, parakalei~te is “to exhort,” “entreat,” “beseech;” and also “to comfort,” “to refresh,” “to relieve:” and parakale>omai is constantly “to receive comfort” or “consolation,” “to be comforted.” Para>klhsiv is used in the same variety, sometimes for “comfort” or “consolation,” as Luke 2:25; Acts 9:31, 15:31; Romans 15:5; 2 Corinthians 1:3-5; — sometimes for “exhortation,” Acts 13:15; Romans 12:8; 1 Timothy 4:13; 2 Corinthians 8:4,17. Sometimes interpreters are in doubt whether to render it by “exhortation” or “consolation,” as Acts 15:31; Thessalonians 4:18. In this very epistle it is used in both these senses: for “consolation,” Hebrews 6:18; for “exhortation,” Hebrews 12:5, 13:22. Hence the Holy Ghost, in the writings of John the apostle, is called oJ para>klhtov in the Gospel, John 14:16,26, 15:26, 16:7; and the Lord Christ himself, 1 John 2:1; and this, from the ambiguity of the application of the word, we render in the first place “a comforter,” in the latter “an advocate.”

    The first and principal signification of parakale>w is “to exhort,” “to desire,” “to call in,” and so it is constantly used in Greek authors, and scarce otherwise; and it is secondarily only “to comfort.” But there is a near affinity between these things; for the way of administering consolation is by exhortation: 1 Thessalonians 4:18, “Comfort one another with these words, — parakalei~te ajllh>louv . That is, ‘Exhorting and persuading with one another, by these words administer unto each other mutual consolation. And all exhortation ought to be only by consolatory words and ways, to render it acceptable, and so effectual.

    So it is observed of Barnabas, who was “a son of consolation,” that he had a great excellency in exhorting men also: Acts 11:23,24, “When Barnabas came, and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord. For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith.”

    The word intimates a very prevalent way of exhorting in Barnabas: and that because he was ajnhv , “a good man;” not in the ordinary sense, a holy, just man; but one that was benign, kind, condescending, apt to comfort and refresh them with whom he had to do. In this sense is ajnhv used, Romans 5:7. Parakalei~n , therefore, “to exhort,” is to persuade with good, meek, and comfortable words, upon grounds of consolation, and unto that end that men may be comforted. This is incumbent on some by virtue of office, Romans 12:8, “He that exhorteth, on exhortation;” and on all believers as occasion doth require, as the next words manifest, declaring the persons concerned in this duty.

    JEautoubear that sense. But eJautou>v “yourselves,” is put for ajllh>louv , that is, “one another,” as also it is Colossians 3:16; Ephesians 4:32; 1 Thessalonians 5:13; — “vos invicem,” “alii alios.”

    This is incumbent on all believers, mutually to exhort, and to bear the word of exhortation.

    The season of the performance of this duty is adjoined, which includeth also the manner of it: Kaq j eJka>sthn hJme>ran . “Daily,” say we, or “every day.” A day is often taken for a season; so that to do a thing daily is to do it in its season. To do it sedulously, heedfully, in every proper season, is to do it daily; for although the expression denotes every day distinctly and separately, yet the sense is not that no natural day be omitted wherein we do not actually discharge this duty towards one another. But plainly two things are intended; — 1. A constant readiness of mind, inclining, inducing, and preparing anyone for the discharge of this duty; 2. An actual discharge of it on all just occasions, which are to be watched for and willingly embraced. So we are commanded to “pray ajdialei>ptwv ,” 1 Thessalonians 5:17, “indesinenter;” that is, without remitting the habitual inclination of the mind unto prayer, or omitting any meet occasion or opportunity for it. So also it is said that we ought pa>ntote proseu>cesqai , Luke 18:1, — “to pray always;” which is interpreted, Colossians 4:2, by th~| proseuch~| proskarterei~te , — “abide” (or “persevere”) “in prayer against all opposition.” In Hebrew, µwOYhæAlK; dymiT; , as Isaiah 51:13, — “continually every day.” Kaq j ejka>sthn hJme>ran , is “sedulously and constantly,” both as to the frame of our hearts and opportunities of actual performance of this duty. And this these Hebrews now stood in an especial need of, because of the manifold temptations and seductions wherewith they were exercised.

    Hereunto is added a limitation of the season of this duty as to its continuance: ]Acriv ou= to< sh>meron kalei~tai , — “Whilst it is called Today; that is, ‘Be sedulous in the discharge [ ]Acriv ou= to< sh>meron kalei~tai .] of this duty whilst the season of it doth continue.’ The occasion of this expression is taken from what was before discoursed of.

    There was a day proposed unto the people of old, a season that was called µwOYhæ or sh>meron , “to-day.” And two things are included in it; — 1. An opportunity as to advantage; 2. A limitation of that opportunity as to duration or continuance. 1. A day of opportunity is intended. The word in the psalm, µwOYhæ , had, as was judged on good ground, respect unto some solemn feast wherein the people assembled themselves to celebrate the worship of God; it may be the feast of tabernacles, which was a great representation of the dwelling of the Lord Christ amongst us, John 1:14. This was a season which they were to improve whilst they did enjoy it. But it was typical only. The apostle now declares to these Hebrews that the great day, the great season, of old shadowed out unto their forefathers, was now really and actually come upon them. It was justly called “To-day” with them whilst they enjoyed the gospel. 2. There is a limitation of this day of opportunity included in the words, “Whilst it is called To-day; — ‘whilst the time wherein you live is such a season as to be called a day, that is, a day of grace whilst that season was continued unto them which was prefigured in the day before mentioned.

    The apostle saw that the day or season of these Hebrews was almost ready to expire. It continued but a few years after the writing of this epistle. This he secretly minds them of, and withal exhorts them to improve their present advantages, and that especially in and unto the discharge of the great duty of mutual exhortation; that so they might prevent among them the great evil of departing from the living God, and that which tends thereunto, in the hardening of their hearts through the deceitfulness of sin. For herein lies the enforcement of the exhortation unto the duty insisted on, namely, from the pernicious consequent of its neglect; wherein first occurs, — The persons concerned: Timutual watchfulness and exhortation unto all, even the meanest of the church.

    Secondly, The spring or cause of the evil that is to be feared in the neglect intimated, and that is sin: JJAmarti>a , — a general name for all or any sin.

    Our apostleconstantly useth it to express original sin, the sin of our nature, the root on which all other sins do grow. And this is the sin here intended; the sin that by nature dwelleth in us, that is present with us when we would do good, to hinder us, and is continually working to put forth its venomous nature in actual sins or transgressions. This he calls elsewhere a “root of bitterness,” which springs up unto defilement, Hebrews 12:15.

    Thirdly, There is the way or means whereby this sin worketh to produce the effect expressed, and that is by deceit: jApa>th| th~v ajmarti>av . Vulg.

    Lat., “fallacia peccati;” and the Rhemists thence, “the fallacy of sin,” — somewhat improperly, considering the ordinary use of that word, being taken only for a caption or deceit in words. But yet there is a fallacy in every sin; it imposeth paralogisms or false arguings on the mind, to seduce it. jApa>th is “deceit,” and signifies both the faculty of deceiving, the artifice used in deceiving, and actual deceit, or deceiving itself. The derivation of the word gives some light unto the nature of the thing itself. jApata>w is from aj privative, and pa>tov , as Eustathius and the Etymologist agree. Pa>tov ; is “via trita,” “a beaten way,” “a path.” So that ajpata>w is to “draw any one out of the right way,” the proper beaten path. And it is well rendered by “seduco,” that is, “seorsum duco,” “to lead aside,” “to seduce.” But it is of a larger sense, or “by any ways or means to deceive,” And ajpa>th principally denotes an innate faculty of deceiving rather than deceit itself. jApa>th tou~ plou>tou , Matthew 13:22, “the deceitfulness of riches;” and ajpa>th th~v ajdiki>av , Thessalonians 2:10, “the deceitfulness of unrighteousness;” is that aptitude that is in riches and unrighteousness, considering the state and condition of men in this world, and their temptations, to deceive them with vain hopes, and to seduce them into crooked paths. Once it is put for sin itself: Ephesians 4:22, Kata< taav th~v ajpa>thv , — “According to the lusts of deceit:” that is, of sin, which is deceitful; unless it may be rendered by the adjective, ajpathlou~v , or ajpath>touv , as it is done by ours, “deceiving” (or “deceitful”) “lusts.” See 2 Peter 2:13.

    Here, as it is joined with “sin,” as an adjunct of it, it denotes not its acting primarily, but that habitual deceit that is in indwelling sin, whereby it seduceth men and draweth them off from God.

    Lastly, The evil itself particularly cautioned against is expressed in that word sklhrunqh~| , “should be hardened;” of the sense and importance whereof we have spoken fully on the foregoing verses. The design, then, of this verse is to prescribe a duty unto the Hebrews, with the manner of its performance, and the season they had for it, which might prevent their departure from God through an evil heart of unbelief, by preserving it from being hardened by the deceitfulness of sin; our concernment wherein will be manifest in the ensuing deductions from it: — Obs. 1. Sedulous mutual exhortation is an eminent means to obviate and prevent the design of the deceitfulness of sin.

    The apostle having declared the pernicious consequence of departing from God through the deceitfulness of sin, and the danger that professors are in of so doing, singles out this duty as a signal means of its prevention. And hereby, as great weight is laid upon it, so great honor is done unto it. We may, therefore, do well to consider both the nature of it and the manner of its performance; for its efficacy unto the end proposed depends merely on its institution. There are many practical duties that are neglected because they are not understood; and they are not understood because they are supposed to have no difficulty in them, but to be exposed to every lazy and careless inquiry. High notions, curious speculations, with knotty controversies, are thought to deserve men’s utmost diligence in their search and examination; but for these practical duties, it is generally supposed that they are known sufficiently at a word’s speaking, if they were but practiced accordingly. Yet it will be found that the great wisdom of faith consists in a spiritual acquaintance with the true nature of these duties; which indeed are therefore practically neglected because they are not doctrinally understood. I shall therefore offer somewhat here briefly towards the right understanding of the nature of this duty and the manner of its performance; and to this purpose some things we are to observe with respect unto the persons that are to perform it, and some thing with respect unto the duty itself: — First, For the persons concerned, this duty of exhortation is incumbent on some by virtue of especial office, and on others by virtue of especial love. 1. Some it is expected from upon the account of their office; so it is of all ministers of the gospel The duty of constant exhortation, — that is, of persuading the souls of men unto constancy and growth in faith and obedience, unto watchfulness and diligence against the deceitfulness of sin, and that from the word of truth, in the name and authority of Christ, — is the most important part of their ministerial office. This are they diligently to attend unto: jO parakalw~n , ejn th~| paraklh>sei , Romans 12:8; — “Let him that exhorteth” (his office taketh name from this part of his work) “attend unto” (or “abide in”) “exhortation.” This is it which is required of him, and will be expected from him. So our apostle distributes the whole ministerial work into three parts, enjoining their observance unto his son Timothy: 1 Timothy 4:13, “Diligently attend,” saith he, th~| ajnagnw>sei , “to reading;” that is, studying and meditating on the holy Scriptures, for his own information and growth, — which ministers ought to do all their days, and not to sit down lazily with a pretense of their attainments: and secondly, th~| paraklh>sei , “to consolatory exhortation,” — the duty before us; and lastly, th~| didaskali>a| , “to doctrinal instruction,” for the enlightening and informing of the minds of his disciples. These are the principal duties of an evangelical minister. So he again conjoins teaching and exhortation, as the two main parts of preaching, 1 Timothy 6:2. And these he would have a minister to be instant in, or insist upon, eujkai>rwv , ajkai>rwv , “in and out of season,” 2 Timothy 4:2, — a proverbial expression denoting frequency and diligence. Where this is neglected by any of them, they deal treacherously with God and the souls of men. But this ministerial work is not that which is here intended. But, 2. There is that which is mutual among believers, founded in their common interest, and proceeding from especial love. And this especial love is that which distinguisheth it from another duty of the same nature in general with this, which we owe unto all mankind; for the eternal law of nature binds us to love our neighbor as ourselves. Now, we neither do nor can love any without endeavoring of their good, and effecting of it according to our power. And herein is comprised a persuading of men unto what is good for them, and a dehorting them from that which is morally evil and pernicious, as occasions and opportunities are offered. Titus dealt Lot with the Sodomites; whom the Holy Ghost therefore commends, though they reviled him as a pragmatical intruder into their concernments. So God and the world have very different measures and touchstones of moral duties. But there is somewhat special in the duty here intended; for it is confined unto them who are brethren in the same fellowship of professing the gospel, verse 1, and proceeds from that mutual love which is wrought in them by the Spirit of Christ, and required of them by the law of Christ.

    And this differs from that philanthropy, or love to mankind in general, which ought to be in us; for they have different principles, different motives, different effects, and different ways of expression. The one is an inbred principle of the law of nature, the other an implanted grace of the Holy Ghost; the one required from a common interest in the same nature, the other from an especial interest in the same new nature. In brief, the one is a general duty of the law, the other an especial duty of the gospel. I say, this especial love is the spring of this mutual exhortation.

    Secondly, And to the right performance of it the things ensuing do appertain: — 1. That they who perform it find in themselves an especial concernment in the persons and things with whom and about which they treat in their exhortations. It will not admit of any pragmatical curiosity, leading men to interpose themselves in matters wherein they are no way concerned. “Knowing,” saith the apostle, tozon tou~ Kuri>ou , ajnqrw>pouv pei>qomen , 2 Corinthians 5:11; — ‘The reason why we exhort men, or persuade them to their duty, is because of our compassion towards them, inasmuch as we know the terror or dread of God, with whom in this matter they have to do, and that it is fozeroHebrews 10:31. If men find not themselves really concerned in the glory of God, and their hearts moved with compassion towards the souls of men, whether they are in office in the church or not, it will be their wisdom to abstain from this duty, as that which they are no way fitted to discharge. 2. An especial warranty for the particular exercise of this duty is required of us. Our duty it is in general to exhort one another, by virtue of this and the like commands; but as unto the especial instances of it, for them we must look for especial warranty. Those who shall engage into this or any other duty at adventures will but expose themselves and it to contempt.

    Now this especial warranty ariseth from a due coincidence of rule and circumstances. There are sundry particular eases wherein direct and express rule requires the discharge of this duty; as (1.) In ease of sin; Leviticus 19:17, “Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbor, and not suffer sin upon him.”

    For even rebukes belong to this general head of exhortation, nor are they ever to be without it. (2.) Of ignorance in the truth: so dealt Priscilla and Aquila with Apollos when they instructed him in the way of God, Acts 18:24-26. And many the like cases are instanced in. Add unto such rules a due consideration of circumstances, relating unto times, seasons, persons, and occasions, and it will form the warranty intended. 3. Especial wisdom, understanding, and ability, are hereunto required. It is an easy thing to spoil the best duty in the manner of its performance: and as other things may spoil a duty, so a defect in spiritual skill for the performance of it can never suffer it to be right. If men, then, have not a sound judgment and understanding of the matter about which this mutual exhortation is to be exercised, and of the way whereby it is to be managed, they may do well to leave it unto them who are better furnished with “the tongue of the learned to know how to speak a word in season;” — I mean as to the solemn discharge of it; otherwise occasional mutual encouragements unto faith and obedience are the common and constant duties of all believers. And the apostle speaks of the generality of Christians in those primitive times, that they were so “filled with all knowledge” as that they were “able to admonish one another,” Romans 15:14; wherein as he requires an ability for it, so he ascribes it unto them And unto them it belongs to see, — (1.) That it be done with words of truth. It is truth alone that in things of this nature is accompanied with authority, and attended with efficacy. If there be any failure in this foundation, the whole superstructure will sink of itself. Those, then, who undertake this duty must be sure to have a word of truth for their warrant, that those who are exhorted may hear Christ speaking in it; for whatever influence other words or reasonings may have on their affections, their consciences will be unconcerned in them. And this should not only be virtually included in what is spoken, but also formally expressed, that it may put forth its authority immediately and directly. As exhortations that fail in truth materially (as they may, for men may exhort and persuade one another to error and false worship) are pernicious, so those which are not formally spirited or enlivened by an express word of Scripture are languid, weak, and vain. (2.) That it may be managed, unless especial circumstances require some variation, with words good and comfortable, words of consolation and encouragement. The word here used, as hath been shown, signifies to comfort as well as to exhort. Morose, severe expressions become not this duty, but such as wisdom will draw out from love, care, tenderness, compassion, and the like compliant affections. These open and soften the heart, and make the entrance of the things insisted on smooth and easy into it. (3.) That it be accompanied with care and diligence for a suitable example in the practice and walking of the persons exhorting. An observation of the contrary will quickly frustrate the weightiest words that look another way.

    Exhortation is nothing but an encouragement given unto others to walk with us or after us in the ways of God and the gospel. “Be followers of me,” saith our apostle, “as I am of Christ.” And these are some of the heads on which we might discourse of this duty; which in that great degeneracy of Christianity whereinto the world is fallen, were not unnecessary to do, but I must not too much enlarge upon particulars: — Obs. 2. Gospel duties have an especial efficacy attending them in their especial seasons: “While it is called To-day.” Every thing hath its beauty, order, and efficacy from its proper season. Again, — Obs. 3. We have but an uncertain season for the due performance of most certain duties. How long it will be called “To-day,” we know not.

    The day of our lives is uncertain. So is the day of the gospel, as also of our opportunities therein. The present season alone is ours; and, for the most part, we need no other reason to prove any time to be a season for duty but because it is present. Obs. 4. The deceit which is in sin, and which is inseparable from it, tends continually to the hardening of the heart. This is that which is principally taught us in these words; and it is a truth of great importance unto us, which might here be properly handled, but having at large discoursed of the whole of the deceitfulness of sin in another treatise, I shall not here resume the discussion of it.

    Ver. 14. — “For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence firm unto the end.”

    This is the last part of this fourth perioch> , or section of this chapter. As to its coherence with the verses foregoing, it containeth an enforcement of the general exhortation unto perseverance, and the avoidance of backsliding or apostasy in all the causes and tendencies unto it, as also of the particular duties which the apostle had now proposed as effectual means unto those ends: for he lets them know that all their interest in Christ, and all the benefits they did expect or might be made partakers of by him, did depend upon their answering his exhortation unto constancy and perseverance in their profession; and, moreover, that whereas men are apt to wax weary and faint, or to grow slothful in the course of their profession, sometimes so soon almost as they are entered into it, unless they continue the same diligence and earnestness of endeavors as at the first, so as to abide steadfast unto the end, they would have no benefit either by Christ or the gospel, but rather fall assuredly under that indignation of God which he had newly warned them of. This in general is the design of the words.

    In the particulars there are: — 1. A state and condition expressed from whence the force of the argument is taken. “We are made partakers of Christ.” 2. An application of that condition unto ourselves, as to the way whereby it may be declared and evidenced: “If we hold fast the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end.” The causal connection, ga>r , “for,” shows the respect of these words unto those foregoing, according as we have declared it; and it manifests that the apostle induceth an enforcement of his preceding exhortation.

    The state and condition intimated is expressed in these words, Me>tocoi gego>namen tou~ cristou~ . Gego>namen denotes some time past, “We have been made:” which excludes one application of the words, namely, unto a future participation of Christ in glory, which here should be promised, but suspended upon the condition of our holding steadfast the beginning of our confidence unto the end; as if it were said, ‘We are made partakers of Christ,’ that is, we shall be so hereafter, ‘in case we continue constant and persevere;’ which sense (if it be so) is embraced by those who are ready to lay hold on all appearing advantages of opposing the assurance and perseverance of believers. But a present state is here declared, and that which is already wrought and partaken of. And, indeed, the consideration of this word doth rightly state the relation of the several parts of the words mentioned: “We are made partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our confidence;” that is, we are so thereby, either causally and formally, or interpretatively and declaratively. If in the first sense, then our participation of Christ depends on our perseverance unto the end, nor can we come unto the one until we have attained the other. But this is contrary to the text, which supposeth us actually instated in that participation, as the words necessarily require. If it be in the latter sense, then our perseverance is enjoined as an evidence of our participation of Christ, that whereby it may be tried whether it be true and genuine, — which if it be, it will be producing this effect; as James requires that we should try or evidence and manliest our faith by our works, of what sort it is.

    We are made me>tocoi tou~ Cristou~ , “partakers of Christ.” This expression is nowhere used but only in this place. The word me>tocov itself is but once used in the New Testament, but only by our apostle; and mete>cw , from whence it comes, not at all but by him. And he interprets it by “communion,” or “ participation:” for affirming that “the bread which we break is koinwni>a tou~ sw>matov tou~ Cristou~ , “the communion of the body of Christ,” 1 Corinthians 10:16, he adds, Pa>ntev ejk tou~ eJnocomen , verse 17, “We all partake of that one bread;” which is a sacramental expression of the same thing here intended. Most expositors suppose the name Christ to be here taken metonymically for the benefits of his mediation, in grace here, and right to future blessedness. Some suppose it to be only an expression of being a disciple of Christ, and so really to belong unto him. But the true and precise importance of the words may be learned from the apostle in his use of those of an alike signification with reference unto Christ himself, Hebrews 2:14: “Because the children are partakers of flesh and blood,” — that is, because those whom he was to redeem were men, partakers of human nature, — kai< aujtowv mete>sce tw~n aujtw~n , “He himself in like manner took part of the same.” He was partaker of us, partook of us.

    How? By taking flesh and blood, that is, entire human nature, synecdochically so expressed, to be his own, as he expresseth it, verse 16, “He took not on him the nature of angels, but he took on the seed of Abraham;” that is, the nature of man derived from the loins of Abraham, according to the promise made unto him. How, then, are we partakers of him, partakers of Christ? It is by our having an interest in his nature, by the communication of his Spirit, as he had in ours by the assumption of our flesh. It is, then, our union with Christ that is intended, whereby we are made “members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones,” Ephesians 5:30. A participation of the benefits of the mediation of Christ is included in these words, but not firstly intended, only as a consequent of our intimate union with him. And this the Syriac translation seems to have understood, reading the words by aj;yvim] µ[æ ryNe ˆmælæt]a, , — “We are mingled” (or “mixed”) “with Christ;” that is, joined with him, united unto him. And this is that which the apostle puts to the trial, as the hinge on which their present privileges and future happiness did entirely depend. And this is the sense which Chrysostom and the Greeks that follow him do fix upon. Saith he, Ti> ejsti me>tocoi gego>namen tou~ Cristou~ ; mete>comen aujtou~ , fhsin? e[n ejgenosswmoi . [En sw~ma> ejsmen , ejk th~v sarkown aujtou~ — “What is it to be ‘partakers of Christ?’ He and we are made one; he the head, we the body, co-heirs and incorporated with him. We are one body with him, as he speaks, of his flesh and bones.”

    So he. The trial and evidence hereof is declared in the last words, jEa>nper thsewv me>coi te>louv bezai>an kata>scwmen — “If so be that we hold fast” (or “steadfast”) “the beginning of our confidence unto the end.”

    So we. It is by all agreed, that, for the substance of it, the same matter is here intended as in verse 6; and that that which is there called kau>chma th~v elpi>dov , “the glorying of hope,” is here termed ajrch< th~v uJposta>sewv , “the beginning of confidence;” because it is said of each of them that they are to be “kept steadfast unto the end.” But the expression here used is singular, and hath left an impression of its difficulty on most translations and expositions. Hence hath arisen that great variety that is amongst them in rendering and expounding of these words, “Initium substantiae ejus,” saith the Vulgar; and the Rhemists from thence, “The beginning of his substance,” adding “his” to the text. Arias Montan. and Erasmus, “Principium substantive;” — “The beginning of substance.”

    Beza, “Principium illud quo sustentamur;” — “That beginning” (or “principle”) “whereby we are sustained.” Castalio, “Hoc argumen-turn ab initio ad finem usque;” — “This argument from the beginning to the end.”

    Syriac, “From the beginning unto the end, if we abide in this substance,” or “foundation.” Ethiopic, “If we persevere to keep this new testament.” We, “The beginning of our confidence.” By which variety it appears that some know not how to express the words, as not well understanding of them, and that others were not satisfied with the conjectures of their predecessors. Neither are expositors more agreed about the meaning of the words. Some by ajrch< th~v uJposta>sewv understand the gospel, some faith, some hope, some confidence, some Christ himself. Most fix on faith to be intended, which they say is termed uJpo>stasiv , or “substance,” because it is that which supports us, causeth us to subsist in Christ, as the just do live by faith. But it may not be amiss to inquire a little more exactly into the proper emphasis and importance of this expression.

    JUpo>stasiv properly signifies “substance.” It is applied unto somewhat distinct in the being of the Deity, Hebrews 1:3, where it is said that the Son is the “express image of the Father’s hypostasis;” and there it can signify nothing but an especial manner of existence or subsistence in the divine ture, — that is, a person; whence the eastern church first, and after the western, agreed in three hypostases in the divine nature, — that is, as we speak, three persons, or three different manners of the subsistence of the same individual being. In things human it denotes acts, and not substances. And as it is used only by our apostle, so it is used by him variously; as for confidence, 2 Corinthians 9:4, j jEn th~| uJposta>sei tau>th| th~v kauch>sewv , — In this confidence of boasting; whence ours have translated it in this place “confidence.” And it may be the rather, because as it is there.joined with kau>chsiv , so he maketh use of kau>cghma in the same subject with this, verse 6. But the uJpo>stasiv of the apostle in that place was not a confidence of boldness, but that infallible certainty which he had of his apostleship wherein he gloried.

    That was it which he stood firmly on. 2 Corinthians 11:1 of this epistle, the apostle maketh use of it in the description he gives of faith; yet so as to denote an effect of it, and not its nature: ]Esti de< pi>stiv , ejlpizome>nwn uJpo>stasiv , — “Faith is the hypostasis of things hoped for;” “Illud quo extant quae sperantur,” — “That whereby the things that are hoped for do exist.” Things that are absolutely in themselves future, absent, unseen, are, as unto their efficacy, use, benefit, fruits, and effects, made by faith present unto the soul, and have a subsistence given them therein. It is not, then, faith itself, but an effect of it, that is there described by the apostle.

    If, then, by “the beginning of our substance,” “subsistence,” or “confidence,” faith is intended, it is because it is that which gives us all these things by our interest in Christ and the benefits of his mediation. But I confess the expression is abstruse in this sense, and difficult to be understood.

    It may therefore be understood of the gospel itself, which is called “the beginning of our confidence,” because it is the means of begetting faith in us, and producing that profession wherein we are to persevere; and this sense is embraced by some expositors.

    There seems yet to me that there is another more genuine sense of the word, suited to the scope of the place and design of the apostle, without wresting it from its native signification. We have showed that our partaking of Christ is our being united unto him; and the uJpo>stasiv , “hypostasis,” which on that union we are bound to preserve and maintain, is our subsistence in Christ, our abiding in him, as the branches in the vine.

    So the word signifies, and so it is here used. And although Chrysostom supposes that it is faith which is intended, yet it is on the account of this effect of our subsistence in those things that he so judgeth: Ti> ejstin ajrch< th~v uJposta>sewv ; thstin le>gei d j h=v uJpe>sthmen , kai< gegenh>meqa kai< sunousiw>qhmen , wJv a]n tiv ei[poi? — “He speaks of faith, by which we subsist” (in Christ), “and are begotten, and, as I may so say, consubstantiated with him;” that is, solidly, substantially united unto him.

    Now, our subsistence in Christ is twofold: — 1. By profession only, which is the condition of the branches in the vine that bear no fruit, but are at length cut off and cast into the fire; 2. By real union. And the trial of which of these it is that we are partakers of, depends on our perseverance.

    Thsewv . Beza, “Principium illud quo sustentamur,” — “That principle” (or “beginning”) “whereby we are sustained.” But this I do not understand; for it makes ajrch> , “the beginning,” to denote the thing itself recommended unto us, and which we are to preserve, whereof the hypos-tasis mentioned is only an effect, or that whereby the work of the beginning is expressed. But ajrch> is nowhere used in any such sense, nor doth it appear what should be intended by it. Besides, it is plainly here an adjunct of our subsistence in Christ; — the beginning of it. And this may be considered two ways; — 1. Absolutely, it is begun in profession or reality, and it is to be continued; 2. Emphatically, for the usual attendancies of our faith and profession at their beginning. The beginning of our engagement’ unto Christ is for the most part accompanied with much love, and other choice affections, resolution, and courage; which without great care and watchfulness we are very ready to decay in and fall from. And in this sense it is here used.

    The remainder of the words, me>cri te>louv bezai>an kata>scwmen , “Hold steadfast unto the end,” have been opened on verse 6, and we need not again insist upon them.

    I shall only add, that the apostle joining himself here with the Hebrews in this matter, “We are partakers, if we hold fast,” he shows that this is a general and perpetual rule for professors to attend unto, and the touchstone of their profession, by which it may be tried at the last day.

    And hence are the ensuing observations: — Obs. 1. Union with Christ is the principle and measure of all spiritual enjoyments and expectations.

    The apostle sums up all, both what we do enjoy by the gospel at present, and what right unto or expectation we have of future blessedness and happiness, in this one expression, “We are partakers of Christ.” That our union with him is thereby intended hath been declared in the exposition of the words. The nature of this union, and wherein it doth consist, I have elsewhere manifested and vindicated; I shall therefore here only confirm the proposition laid down. It is the principle and measure of all spiritual enjoyments. For as Christ is unto us “all, and in all,” Colossians 3:11, so “without him we can do nothing,” we are nothing, John 15:5; for whereas we live, “it is not we, but Christ liveth in us,” Galatians 2:20.

    And the truth hereof appears, — First, Because it is itself, in the order of nature, the first truly saving spiritual mercy, the first vital grace that we are made partakers of; and that which is the first of any kind is the measure and rule of all that ensues in that kind. As is the root, so are the branches and the fruit. They do not only follow the nature of it, but live upon its supplies. All our grace is but a participation of the root, and therein of the fatness of the olive tree; and we bear not the root, but the root bears us, Romans 11:17,18. Whatever precedes this is not true saving grace; and whatever follows it proceeds from it: — 1. Whatever work of excision or cutting off there may be of a branch from the wild olive, it is its incision into the true olive which communicates unto it life and fruit-bearing; for after it is cut off from the wild olive and dressed, it may either be cast away or left to wither. Whatever work of conviction by the word of the law, or of illumination by the word of the gospel, or of humiliation from both by the efficacy of the Spirit in all, there may be wrought in the minds and souls of men, yet there is nothing truly saving, vital, and quickening in them, until they be implanted into Christ.

    Under any other preceding or preparatory work, however it be called, or whatever may be the effects of it, they may wither, die, and perish. Men may be so cut off from the old stock of nature as not to have sin grow or flourish in them, not to bear its blossoms, nor visible fruit, and yet have no principle of grace to bring forth fruit unto holiness. And 2. That whatever grace follows it proceeds from it, is evident from the nature of the thing itself. For our uniting unto Christ consisteth in or immediately ariseth from the communication of his Spirit unto us; for “he that is joined to the Lord is one Spirit,” 1 Corinthians 6:17. Our conjunction unto him consists in our participation of the same Spirit with him. And by this Spirit is Christ himself, or the nature of Christ, formed in us, 2 Peter 1:4. And if all the grace that we are or can be made partakers of in this world be but that nature, in the several parts and acts of it, that from whence it proceeds, whereby it is formed in us, must needs in order of nature be antecedent unto it. No grace we have, or can have, but what is wrought in us by the Spirit of Christ. Whence else should we have it?

    Doth it grow naturally in our own gardens? or can other men plant and water it, and give it life and increase? Nay, but all grace is the fruit and effect of the Spirit, as the Scripture everywhere declares. See Galatians 5:22,23. It implies, then, a contradiction, that any one should have any lively saving grace., and not antecedently in order of nature receive the Spirit of grace from Christ: for he is the cause, and grace is the effect; or, as he is savingly bestowed, according to the promise of the covenant, he is the spring and fountain, or efficient cause, of all grace whatever. Now, our union with Christ, our participation of him, consists in the inhabitation of the same Spirit in him and us; and the first work of this Spirit given unto us, bestowed upon us, is to form Christ in us, whereby our union is completed. But it will be asked, whether the Spirit of Christ doth come into a soul that hath no grace? — if so, then he may be in a graceless person. I answer, that although this in order of nature is consequent unto the communication of the Spirit unto us, as the effect is and must be to the cause, as light and heat in the beam are unto the sun, yet it hath a simulty of time with it; as Austin speaks well of the original of the soul, “Creando infunditur, et infuudendo creatur.” God doth not first create a soul, giving it an existence of its own, without union with the body, but creates it in and by its infusion. So the Spirit doth not come unto us, and afterward quicken or sanctify us; but he doth this by his coming unto us, and possessing our hearts for and with Christ. This the apostle calls the forming of Christ in us, Galatians 4:19, [Acriv ou= morfwqh~| Cristochild is fashioned or formed in the womb; that is, ‘ until the whole image and likeness of Christ be imparted unto and implanted upon your souls.’ This is the new creature that is wrought in every one that is in Christ; that every one is who is in Christ: for the introduction of this new spiritual form gives denomination unto the person. He that is “in Christ Jesus is a new creature,” 2 Corinthians 5:17. And this is “Christ in us, the hope of glory,” Colossians 1:27. 1. It is “Christ in us:” for, (1.) It is from him, he is the author of it, and thence he is said to be “our life,” Colossians 3:4. (2.) It is like him, it is his image, and by and through him the image of God, 2 Corinthians 3:18; Ephesians 4:23,24. (3.) It is that which gives us a spiritual continuity unto Christ; for being united unto him as members unto the head, there must be a constant communicative motion of blood and spirit between him and us, which is hereby, Ephesians 4:16; Colossians 2:19.

    And without this we are without Christ, or so separated from him as that we can do nothing, John 15:5; for suppose a believer to stand “seorsum,” alone by himself, cwridistance from Christ, without a course and recourse of spiritual supplies from him, and he can do nothing but die. Cut off a member from the body, dissolve its natural continuity to the head, and all the world cannot fetch life into it. Take a member., suppose a hand, lay it as near the head as you will, bind it to it, yet if it hath not a natural continuity with the head, it will not live. It is so here. A member separated from Christ hath no life. Let it seem to lie near the Head by profession and many engagements, if it have not this spiritual continuity unto Christ, it hath no life in it. 2. It is the “hope of glory,” — (1.) as the kernel is the hope of fruit; (2.) as a pledge or earnest is the hope of the whole contract. In this forming of Christ in us are we made partakers of all grace and holiness in the principle and root of them, for therein doth this image of God in Christ consist. Now, this proceeding from our union, the latter is, and must be, before it in order of nature, and so be the rule, measure, and cause of all that ensues.

    Secondly, It is the first in dignity; it is the greatest, most honorable, and glorious of all graces that we are made partakers of. It is called “glory,” Corinthians 3:18. The greatest humiliation of the Sou of God consisted in his taking upon him of our nature, Hebrews 2:8,9. And this was “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich,” — rich in the eternal glory, the glory that he had with the Father before the world was, John 17:5, as being in himself “God over all, blessed for ever,” Romans 9:5, — “for our sakes he became poor,” 2 Corinthians 8:9, by taking on him that nature which is poor in itself, infinitely distanced from him, and exposed unto all misery; which our apostle fully expresseth, Philippians 2, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.” There was indeed great grace and condescension in all that he did and humbled himself unto in that nature, as it follows in that place, “And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross,” verse 8; but his assumption of the nature itself was that whereby most signally eJautonwse , he “emptied” and “humbled himself, and made himself of no reputation.” On this all that followed did ensue, and on this it did depend. From hence all his actings and sufferings in that nature received their dignity and efficacy. All, I say, that Christ, as our mediator, did and underwent in our nature, had its worth, merit, use, and prevalency from his first condescension in taking our nature upon him; for from thence it was that whatever he so did or suffered, it was the doing and suffering of the Son of God. And, on the contrary, our grace of union with Christ, our participation of him and his nature, is our highest exaltation, the greatest and most glorious grace that we can be made partakers of in this world. He became poor for our sakes, by a participation of our nature, that we through his poverty may be rich in a participation of his, 2 Corinthians 8:9. And this is that which gives worth and excellency unto all that we may be afterwards intrusted with. The grace and privileges of believers are very great and excellent, but yet they are such as do belong unto them that axe made partakers of Christ, such as are due to the quickening and adorning of all the members of his body; as all privileges of marriage, after marriage contracted, arise from and follow that contract. For being once made co-heirs with Christ, we are made heirs of God, and have a right to the whole inheritance. And, indeed, what greater glory or dignity can a poor sinner be exalted unto, than to be thus intimately and indissolubly united unto the Son of God, the perfection whereof is the glory which we hope and wait for, John 17:22,23. Saith David, in an earthly, temporary concern, “What am I, and what is my father’s family, that I should be sonin- law unto the king, being a poor man, and lightly esteemed?” How much more may a sinner say, ‘ What am I, poor, sinful dust and ashes, one that deserves to be lightly esteemed by the whole creation of God, that I should be thus united unto the Son of God, and thereby become his son by adoption!’ This is honor and glory unparalleled. And all the grace that ensues receives its worth, its dignity, and use from hence. Therefore are the graces and the works of believers excellent, because they are the graces and works of them that are united unto Christ. And as without this men can have no inward, effectual, saving grace; so whatever outward privileges they may lay hold of or possess, they are but stolen ornaments, which God will one day strip them naked of, unto their shame and confusion.

    Thirdly, It is the first and principal grace, in respect of causality and efficacy. It is the cause of all other graces that we are made partakers of; they are all communicated unto us by virtue of our union with Christ.

    Hence is our adoption, our justification, our sanctification, our fruitfulness, our perseverance, our resurrection, our glory. Hence is our adoption; for it is upon our receiving of him that this right and privilege is granted unto us of becoming the sons of God, John 1:12. No man can be made the adopted son of God but by an implantation into him who is the natural Son of God, John 15:1-6, 20:17. And thence also are the consequent privileges that attend that estate; for “because we are sons, God sends forth the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, Abba, Father,” Galatians 4:6, — that is, to own God, and address ourselves unto him under the consideration of the authority and love of a father. And hence is our justification: for, — 1. Being united unto Christ, we are interested in that acquitment from the condemning sentence of the law which was granted unto himself when he satisfied it to the utmost, Romans 1:3,4; Isaiah 50:8,9. For he was acquitted as the head and surety of the church, and not on his own personal account, for whereas he did no sin, he owed no suffering nor satisfaction to the law; but as “he suffered for us, the just for the unjust,” so he was acquitted as the representative of his whole church. By our union, therefore, unto him, we fall under the sentence of acquitment, which was given out towards whole Christ mystical, head and members. 2. Our union with him is the ground of the actual imputation of his righteousness unto us; for he covers only the members of his own body with his own garments, nor will cast a skirt over any who is not “bone of his bones, and flesh of his flesh.” And so he is “of God made unto us righteousness,” 1 Corinthians 1:30. Hence also is our sanctification, and that both as to its principle in a new spiritual nature, and as unto its progress in fruitfulness and holiness. The principle of it is the Spirit itself of life, holiness, and power. This God sheds on us through Jesus Christ, Titus 3:6, or on the account of our interest in him, according to his promise, John 7:38,39. And for this cause is he said to be “our life,” Colossians 3:4, because in him lie the springs of our spiritual life, which in and by our regeneration, renovation, and sanctification is communicated unto us. And its progress in fruitfulness is from thence alone. To teach this, is the design of the parable used by our Savior concerning the vine and its branches, John 15; for as he showeth our abiding in him to be as necessary unto us, that we may bear fruit, as it is unto a branch to abide in the vine to the same purpose; so without our so doing we are of no more use, in the ways of God, than a branch that is cut off and withered, and cast aside to burn. And men do but labor in the fire, who, in the pursuit of their convictions, endeavor after holiness or the due performance of good works, without deriving strength for them from their relation unto Christ; for all that they do is either nothing in itself, or nothing as unto acceptation with God. “We are the workmanship of God, created in Christ Jesus unto good works,” Ephesians 2:10.

    Becoming new creatures by our inbeing in him, 2 Corinthians 5:17, we are thereby enabled unto those good works, or fruits of holiness, which God hath ordained that we should walk and abound in. And hence on many accounts is our perseverance; for, 1. By virtue hereof we are interested in the covenant, which is the great means of our preservation, God having engaged therein so to write his law in our hearts as that we shall not depart from him, Jeremiah 31:33. Now, this covenant is made with us under this formal consideration, that we are the children and seed of Abraham, which we are not but by our union with Christ, the one seed, to whom the promises of it were originally made, as our apostle declares, Galatians 3:16. 2. His care is peculiar for the members of his body: for as “no man hateth his own flesh, but loveth and cherisheth it,” nor will suffer any of his members to perish, if by any means he can prevent it; so is the heart of Christ towards those that are united to him, and therein are “members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones,” Ephesians 5:29,30. And therefore, 3. The care of giving out supplies unto us for assistance against opposition and strength for duties, which is the grace of perseverance, is incumbent on him. Our resurrection also depends on this union, — I mean, a blessed resurrection in joy and glory unto light and life eternal; for this resurrection is nothing but the entire gathering up together of the whole body of Christ unto himself, whereof he gave us a pledge, example, and assurance, in his own person. So the apostle assures us, Romans 8:11, “If the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you” (which, as hath been showed, is the means of our union with him), “he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.” And this he expressly proveth at large, 1 Corinthians 15. And this lands us in eternal glory; which, as was observed before, is nothing but the consummation and perfection of this union with Christ.

    And hence it appears on how many accounts it is the principle and measure of all other graces and privileges whatever.

    And we may see hence how great our concernment is to inquire diligently into this foundation of all grace, mercy, and glory. If we fail here, as too many seem to do, we do but run in vain, and build in vain, and boast in vain, for all will be lost and perish. We may do well to remember what became of the house that was built on the sand, when its trial came: it fell, and its fall was great and irreparable. Such will be the end of the profession of men that doth not spring and arise from union with Christ. Many ways there are whereby this may be put to the trial, on which all our peace, satisfaction, and assurance of spirit in the things of God, do depend. I shall only consider that which our apostle here proposeth, and that in the ensuing observation: — Obs. 2. Constancy and steadfastness in believing is the great touchstone, trial, and evidence of union with Christ, or a participation of him.

    So it is here proposed by the apostle. We are “partakers of Christ,” — that is, declared, manifested, and evidenced so to be, — “if we hold fast the beginning of our subsistence in him firm unto the end.” So our Savior, describing the great trials of men’s faith that shall befall them, adds that in the close, as the certain note of discrimination: “He that endureth to the end shall be saved,” Matthew 10:22. It is enduring faith that is true faith, and which evidenceth us indeed to be partakers of Christ. And he gives it as a mark of a false profession, that it “but dureth for a while,” Matthew 13:21. Further to explain, evince, and improve this truth, it may be observed, — First, That there are many appearing evidences of union with Christ that may and do fail. The blade is an appearing evidence of well-rooted corn, but it often fails, and that for want of root, Matthew 13:21. Now, by such an appearance I do not intend a pretense, or that there is therein a show made of what is not; only there is something which appears to be that which it is not; or it is somewhat, but not what it appears to be. And so it is a failing sign, not a tekmh>rion , or assured, infallible token. Things of this nature may be such as to satisfy them in whom they are that they are really united unto Christ; but this through their own darkness and mistakes. And they may be such as others may, nay ought to be satisfied in, to the same purpose concerning them, as not being able to evince them to be otherwise by any rule or word of truth. So was it with many that are mentioned in the gospel. They professed themselves to belong unto Christ.

    This they did on some grounds that were satisfactory to themselves. They were also accepted by others as such, and that judging according to rule and as they ought. And yet, after all, they were either discovered to be hypocrites, or declared themselves apostates. Now, these kinds of signs must extend so far, as [that] there is nothing whereby union with Christ may be evidenced, nothing that is required according to rule thereunto, but there must be something in those who are thus deceived and do deceive that shall make an appearance and resemblance thereof. They must have mo>rfwsin th~v eujsezei>av , 2 Timothy 3:5, a complete “delineation of holiness” upon them, or they can have no pretense unto any such plea.

    They must be able to give an account of a work of conviction, humiliation, illumination, conversion, and of closing with Christ; as also of affections someway suitable unto such a work. If they utterly fail herein, however any out of darkness and self-love may flatter and deceive themselves, yet others have a rule to judge them by. But this now we have in daily experience, as there was the same also from the first preaching of the gospel, — men may give such an account of the work of the grace of God in them as themselves may believe to be saving, and such as others who have reason to be concerned in them may rest in and approve; in this apprehension they may walk in a course of profession many days, it may be all their days, and yet at last be found utter strangers from Christ. But yet this happens not from the nature of the thing itself, as though our union with Christ in this life were absolutely indiscernible, or at least attended with such darkness and inextricable difficulties, as that it is impossible to make a true and undeceiving judgment thereof; but mistakes herein proceed from the blindness of the minds of men, and the deceitfulness of sin, with some secret inclination to rest in self or sin, thet is in them. And these are such effectual causes of self-deceivings in this matter, that the Scripture abounds in commands and cautions for our utmost diligence in our search and inquiry, whether we are made partakers of Christ or no, or whether his Spirit dwell in us or no: which argue both the difficulty of attaining an assured confidence herein, as also the danger of our being mistaken, and yet the certainty of a good issue upon the diligent and regular use of means unto that purpose; for, — Secondly, There may be certain and undeceiving evidences of a present participation of Christ; or, which is all one, men may have a certainty sufficient at present to support and comfort them in their obedience, and which in the issue will neither fail them nor make them ashamed, that they are “partakers of Christ.” And this in our passage must necessarily be briefly confirmed. We speak of them who are really believers, who have received saving faith as a gift from God. “Now faith is ejlpizome>nwn uJpo>stasiv , pragma>twn e]legcov ouj blepome>nwn ,” Hebrews 11:1. It is that which gives subsistence unto the things believed in our minds, and is such an argument of them as will not deceive. There is nothing can possibly give the mind a more undeceiving assurance than that which causeth its object to subsist in it, which unites the mind and the truth believed in one subsistence. This faith doth in spiritual things. Hence our apostle ascribes unto it, as its effect, parjrJhsi>an kai< prosagwghsei , Ephesians 3:12, — a “grounded boldness,” with a “confident trust ;” which are the highest expressions of the mind’s assurance. And if this be not enough, he asserts a plhrofori>a , as that which it may be regularly improved into, Hebrews 6:11, 10:22; that is, such a persuasion as fills the mind with all the assurance that the nature of it is capable of. For as a ship can have no impression from the wind further than it is able to receive in its sails, no more are we capable of any impression of the certainty of divine truths or things believed other than the nature of our minds can admit of; which is, that there must still be an allowance of some doubts and fears, by reason of its own imperfection.

    But if the expressions before used may fail us, it is certain that we can be certain of nothing, — no, not of this that we are certain of nothing; for they are expressions of the highest certainty and assurance that the mind of man is capable of. It is, then, in the nature of faith itself, rightly exercised and improved, to evidence this matter unto our souls.

    Again, The Holy Ghost himself, who neither can deceive nor be deceived, gives peculiar testimony to our sonship or adoption, which is a consequent of our union with Christ; for none have any power to become the sons of God but such as are united unto him, John 1:12. This testimony is asserted, Romans 8:15,16, “Ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirits, that we are the children of God.” And wherein soever this testimony doth consist, or by what means soever it be granted unto us, — concerning which I shall not here dispute, — it is a testimony sure and infallible in itself, and bringing assurance to the mind to which it is granted, sealing unto it its son-ship, adoption, and union. And when the Holy Spirit giveth this “new name,” of a son of God, unto any believer, he knows it, though others understand it not, Revelation 2:17; for he makes his own testimony evident unto us, without which his care and love towards us would be lost, and the end of our peace and comfort be frustrated. Hence we are said to “receive the Spirit which is of God, that we may know the things that are freely given to us of God,” 1 Corinthians 2:12.

    It is the Spirit of God whereby the good things mentioned are bestowed on us and wrought in us; but this is but part of his work and office towards us, — he doth moreover distinctly satisfy and assure us that we are indeed made partakers of those good things.

    Moreover, we have in this matter the examples of those who have gone before us in the faith, proposed unto our imitation and for our consolation.

    They had that evidence and assurance of an interest in Christ which we insist upon. So our apostle declares in the name of all believers, Romans 8:38,39: “I am persuaded,” saith he, “that nothing shall separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” And the rejoicing, yea, triumphant man-her wherein, he expresseth this his persuasion manifests his full satisfaction in the truth which he proposed. And so the apostle John tells us, that we both “perceive the love of God” towards us, and that “we know that we have passed from death unto life,” 1 John 3:14,16; both which depend on our union with Christ, and which by them is made evident and sure unto us. See Psalm 23:6. Hereon is founded that great command, that we should “give diligence to make our calling and election sure,” 2 Peter 1:10; that is, unto our own souls, for in themselves they are unalterable. And if this, in the use of means, may not be effected, there were no room left for this precept or exhortation.

    This is also confirmed unto us from the nature and use of the sacraments; which I know not what they think of who deny this truth. In the one of them God sets his seal unto our initiation into Christ: for it is, as circumcision was of old, the “seal of the righteousness of faith,” Romans 4:11; which, as I have showed, we obtain not but by a participation of Christ and initiation into him. And therefore is there required in us the restipulation of a good conscience, to answer the testimony of God therein, 1 Peter 3:21. The other expressly confirms our participation of Christ, and our interest in the pardon of sins through his blood; being appointed of God as the way whereby mutually is testified his grace unto us and our faith in him. See 1 Corinthians 10:16,17. And if we may not, if we ought not, to rest assured of what God testifies unto us and sets his seal unto, it cannot but be our duty sometimes to make God a liar; for so we do when we believe not his testimony,1 John 5:10. But to prevent any hesitation in this matter, he hath not left this under a bare testimony, but hath also confirmed it by his oath; and that to this end, that we might have “strong consolation,” — which, without an undeceiving assurance, we cannot obtain, Hebrews 6:17,18. It is therefore certain that there may be, and there are, infallible evidences of a present participation of Christ.

    But yet observe further, that, — Thirdly, No grace, no sign or mark, will any longer or any further be an evidence or testimony in this matter, but only as the soul is effectually influenced unto perseverance thereby. If any grace whatever once lose its efficacy in or upon the soul, unto all such acts of obedience as are required unto constancy and persistency in our profession, it loseth all its evidencing power as to our present state and condition. For instance, faith, as unto the nature of it, and as unto its main effect, of our adherence unto Christ, may abide in us, when yet, by reason of the power of temptation or prevalency of corruptions, it may not act effectually unto spiritual experience for the constant performance of all such duties as are required unto our persistency in Christ in a due manner, nor as unto such an abstinence from all sin as is required thereunto. But when it doth so fail, it can no longer evidence our union with Christ, but the soul wherein it is will be left unto many disquietments and uncertainties. It is faith only that is effectual, by love and in universal obedience, and only as it is so, will give in this evidence. Although, therefore, perseverance is not of the essence of faith, but is a grace superadded thereunto, yet the evidencing power of faith in this case is taken from its efficacy towards that end, namely, as it is experimentally subservient unto the power of God to preserve us unto salvation. Hence, before the completing of our perseverance, which is not to be before the full end of our course, it is the principal evidence of our union with Christ, in the ways and means whereby itself is continued and preserved.

    Fourthly, It is an evidence of union, in that it is an effect of it; and there is a good demonstration of a cause from its proper and peculiar effect. Where an effect is produced that cannot be wrought but by such a cause, it is declared and manifested thereby; as even the magicians concluded from the miracles of Moses, that “the finger of God” was in them. Now, our constancy and perseverance, as I have showed, are an effect of our union with Christ, and from no other original can they be educed. And this doth most eminently appear in the time and case of trials and oppositions, such as was the season and condition that the Hebrews were under at present.

    When a believer shall consider what difficulties, distresses, and spiritual dangers he hath passed through, and been delivered from, or hath prevailed against; and withal that he hath in himself no power, strength, or wisdom, that should procure for him such a success, but rather that on the contrary he hath been often ready to faint, and to let go the “beginning of his confidence ;” it will lead him to a discovery of those secret springs of supplies that he hath been made partaker of; which are nothing but this union with Christ, and participation of him. Besides, this perseverance is the due issue and exsurgency of grace constantly exercised, with an improvement and growth thereby. And all growth in grace, in what kind soever it be, is an emanation from this one foundation of our union with Christ, which is therefore manifested thereby.

    Fifthly, This also may be added, — Whatever profession hath by any been made, whatever fruits of it have been brought forth, whatever continuance in it there hath been, if it fail totally, it is a sufficient evidence that those who have made it were never “partakers of Christ.” So our apostle, having declared that some of great name and note were apostatized and fallen off from the gospel, adds that yet “the foundation of God standeth sure,” that “the Lord knoweth them that are his,” 2 Timothy 2:17-19; manifesting that those who did so, notwithstanding their profession and eminency therein, were never yet owned of God as his in Christ. And another apostle tells us, that those who went out from them, by a defection from the faith, were in truth none of them, or really united unto Christ with them, 1 John 2:19. And where there are partial decays in faith and profession, it gives great ground of suspicion and jealousy that the “root of bitterness” is yet remaining in the heart, and that Christ was never formed in it. Let not men, therefore, please themselves in their present attainments and condition, unless they find that they are thriving, growing, passing on towards perfection; which is the best evidence of their union with Christ. Obs. 3. Persistency in our subsistence in Christ unto the end is a matter of great endeavor and diligence, and that unto all believers.

    This is plainly included in the expression here used by the apostle, jEa>nper thstasin bezai>an kata>scwmen . The words denote our utmost endeavor to hold it fast, and to keep it firm and steadfast. Shaken it will be, opposed it will be; kept it will not, it cannot be, without our utmost diligence and endeavor. It is true our persistency in Christ doth not, as to the issue and event, depend absolutely on our own diligence. The unalterableness of our union with Christ, on the account of the faithfulness of the covenant of grace, is that which doth and shall eventually secure it.

    But yet our own diligent endeavor is such an indispensable means for that end, as that without it it will not be brought about; for it is necessary to the continuance of our subsistency in Christ, both “necessitate praecepti,” as that which God hath commanded us to make use of for that end, and “necessitate medii,” as it is in the order and relation of spiritual things one to another ordained of God to effect it. For our persistence in our subsistence in Christ is the emergency and effect of our acting grace unto that purpose. Diligence and endeavors in this matter are like Paul’s mariners, when he was shipwrecked at Melita. God had beforehand given him the lives of all that sailed with him in the ship, Acts 27:24; and he believed that it should be even as God had told him, verse 25. So now the preservation of their lives depended absolutely on the faithfulness and power of God. But yet when the mariners began to flee out of the ship, Paul tells the centurion and the soldiers that unless those men stayed they could not be saved, verse 31. But what need he think of shipmen, when God had promised and taken upon himself the preservation of them all?

    He knew full well that he would preserve them, but yet that he would do so in and by the use of means. If we are in Christ, God hath given us the lives of our souls, and hath taken upon himself in his covenant the preservation of them; but yet we may say with reference unto the means that he hath appointed, when storms and trials arise, unless we use our own diligent endeavors, “we cannot be saved.” Hence are the many cautions that are given us, not only in this epistle wherein they abound, but in other places of Scripture also, that we should take heed of apostasy and falling away; as, “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall;” and, “Take heed that we lose not those things which we have wrought;” and, “Hold fast that thou hast, lest another take thy crown,” with the like innumerable.

    These warnings are not given merely to professors in general, whose condition is dubious whether they are true believers or no; nor unto those that are entering only on the ways of Christ, lest they should recoil and desert them; but they are given unto all true believers, those of the greatest growth and attainments, Philippians 3:11-13, that they may know how indispensably necessary, from the appointment of God and the nature of the thing itself, our watchful diligence and endeavors are unto our abiding in Christ. And they are thus necessary, — First, Upon the account of the opposition that is made thereunto. In this one thing, namely, to separate us from Christ, is laid out all the skill, power, and craft of our spiritual adversaries. For this end are the “gates of hell” — that is, the power, counsel, and strength of Satan — peculiarly engaged. His great design is to cast them down and prevail against them who are built upon the Rock; that is, who are united unto Christ. Our Savior, indeed, hath promised that he shall not prosper, Matthew 16:18; but it is that he shall not “prevail;” which argues a disappointment in a fight or contest. So the “gates of hell shall not prevail;” but we are to watch and contend that they may not. This also is the principal design of the world upon us and against us. It sets all its engines on work to separate us from Christ. Our apostle reckons them up, or at least gives a catalogue of the principal of them, Romans 8:35,36; and gives us assurance that they shall never be able to attain their end, or to dissolve the union between Christ and us, But yet he lets us know that our success is a conquest, a victory, which is not to be won without great care and watchfulness, undergoing many difficulties, and going through many hazards, verse 37. And, which is worst of all, we fight against ourselves; we have lusts in us that “fight against our souls,” 1 Peter 2:11, and that in good earnest. Yea, these are the worst enemies we have, and the most dangerous, as I have elsewhere declared. This opposition to our persistency in Christ makes our diligence for the continuance and preservation of it necessary.

    Again, It is necessary upon the account of our peace, consolation, and fruitfulness in this world. And these belong to our subsistence in Christ.

    Without the two former we have no satisfaction in ourselves, and without the latter we are of no use to the glory of God or good of others. Now, as our eternal happiness depends on this diligence as the means of it, so do these things as their condition; which if we fail in, they also will fail and that utterly. It is altogether in vain to expect true peace, solid consolation, or a thriving in fruitfulness, in a slothful profession. These things depend wholly on our spiritual industry. Men complain of the fruit, but will not be persuaded to dig up the root. For all our spiritual troubles, darkness, disconsolations, fears, doubts, barrenness, they all proceed from this bitter root of negligence, which springs up and defiles us. Those, then, that know how to value these things may do well to consider how the loss of them may be obviated. Now this spiritual diligence and industry consisteth, — 1. In a watchful fighting and contending against the whole work of sin, in its deceit and power, with all the contribution of advantage and efficacy that it hath from Satan and the world. This the apostle peculiarly applies it unto, in the cautions and exhortations given us, to “take heed” of it, that we be not “hardened” by it, seeing its whole design is to impair or destroy our interest and persistency in Christ, and so to draw us off “from the living God.” 2. In a daily, constant cherishing and laboring to improve and strengthen every grace by which we abide in Christ. Neglected grace will wither, and be “ready to die,” Revelation 3:2; yea, as to some degrees of it, and as to its work in evidencing the love of God unto us, or our union with Christ, it will utterly decay. Some of the churches mentioned in the Revelation had lost their “first love,” as well as left their “first works.” Hence is that command that we should “grow in grace;” and we do so when grace grows and thrives in us. And this is done two ways: — (1.) When any individual grace is improved: when that faith which was weak becomes strong, and that love which was faint and cold becomes fervent and is inflamed; which is not to be done but in and by the sedulous exercise of these graces themselves, and a constant application of our souls by them to the Lord Christ, as hath been before declared. (2.) By adding one grace unto another: 2 Peter 1:5, “And besides this, giving all diligence, add to your faith, virtue; and to virtue, knowledge.”

    This is the proper work of spiritual diligence, namely, to add one grace unto another. This is the nature of gospel graces, because of their concatenation in Christ, and as they axe wrought in us by one and the selfsame Spirit, that the exercise of one leads us to the stirring up and bringing in the exercise of another into the soul. And the graces that in order of practice lie as it were behind, will not be taken notice of or known, but by the due improvement of those whose practice is antecedaneous unto them.

    Hence some good men live all their days and never come to the actual exercise of some graces, although they have them in their root and. principle. And the reason is, because way is not made unto them by the constant improvement of those other graces from out of whose exercise they do spring.

    And is it any wonder if we see so many either decaying or unthrifty professors, and so many that are utterly turned off from their first engagements? For consider what it is to abide in Christ; — what watchfulness, what diligence, what endeavors are required thereunto! Men would have it to be a plant that needs neither watering, manuring, nor pruning, but that which will thrive alone of itself; but what do they then think of the opposition that is continually made unto it, the endeavors that are used utterly to root it out? Certainly, if these be not watched against with our utmost industry, decays, if not ruin, will ensue. We may also add here, that, — Obs. 4. Not only our profession and existence in Christ, but the gracious beginnings of it also, are to be secured with great spiritual care and industry. The substance whereof may be spoken unto in another place.

    VERSES 15-19.

    There is some difficulty about these verses, namely, whether they appertain unto and depend upon the discourse foregoing, or whether they are the beginning of another, on which the exhortation in the first verse of the next chapter doth depend. Chrysostom, with the Greeks that follow him, as Theophylact and OEcumenius, asserts the latter. And therefore they suppose a hyperbaton in the words, and that all that discourse which is between the 15th verse of this chapter and the 1st of the next is an occasional digression; as if the sense of the apostle ran to this purpose: ‘Seeing it is said, Today, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation; let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.’ But there is no necessity of such a long trajection of the sense, nor of feigning the hyperbaton intimated. The genuine sense and proper contexture of the apostle’s discourse requires their connection with what went before. And the exhortation in the first verse of the next chapter is taken from what he immediately after argueth and proveth. And I shall not insist upon the division of the chapters, which is arbitrary and of no authority. I shall therefore, in the first place, rightly state the coherence of these discourses, and then proceed to the exposition of the words.

    Three things the apostle hath stated in his preceding arguing and exhortation: — First, The evil which he would have the Hebrews carefully to avoid under the preaching of the gospel unto them, or their hearing of the voice of God; and that is the “hardening of their hearts.” Secondly, The cause hereof, which he persuades them diligently to obviate; which is the “deceitfulness of sin.” Thirdly, The effect and consequent of that evil; which is apostasy, or a “departing from the living God.” Hereunto he subjoins one special means for the prevention of this evil in its causes and consequents; and that is mutual exhortation. Now, whereas he had drawn all the parts of his discourse from an example recorded in Moses, and resumed by David in the Psalms, with an intimation that it was by the Holy Ghost in him put over unto the use of the church under the gospel, and therein in an especial manner of the present Hebrews, he returns to show, that his discourse was fully warranted from that example as recorded originally by Moses, and repeated by the Holy Ghost in the Psalms. Moreover, there were yet remaining some circumstances of the example insisted on, which the Holy Ghost would have us observe for our instruction, which lay not in the way of his former discourse to collect and observe. These here he gathereth up, and in them gives a great confirmation to the grounds and reasons of his exhortation. This is his general design.

    The parts of his discourse are as followeth: — 1. He calls over the example and his own improvement of it summarily again, to lay it as a foundation of what he had further to infer from it, verse 15. 2. He makes a tacit comparison between them who came out of Egypt under the conduct of Moses, which part of it is expressed, and those who were then called to the profession of the gospel, which is implied, verse 16. 3. The former sort he expressly distributes into two kinds. The first whereof he describes, (1.) By their sin: — [1.] In general, they hardened their hearts and provoked God, verse 16. [2.] In particular, this their sin was their unbelief, verses 18,19. (2.) By the respect that God had towards them, which also is twofold: — [1.] That he was “grieved” with them. [2.] That he “sware in his wrath” against them, verses 17,18. (3.) By their punishment, which in like manner is expressed two ways: — [1.] Positively, that “their carcasses fell in the wilderness,” verse 17. [2.] Negatively, that “they did not enter into God’s rest,” verses 18,19. By all which instances the apostle manifests that his exhortation of them from this example was well founded therein, especially seeing the psalmist had in a spirit of prophecy prepared it for the use of those days and these; for justly ought they to be jealous over themselves, lest any of them should fall into the like sin, and fall by the same punishment. 4. He manifests that he doth not insist only on the danger of the sin dehorted from, and the penalty annexed unto it, as though the nature of this example were merely comminatory or threatening; but he declares also, partly expressly and partly by just consequence, the blessed success which they obtained who fell not into the sins of infidelity and apostasy from God; and so strengthens his exhortation from the promises of God and his faithfulness in them. This he doth in these words, “Howbeit not all that came out of Egypt,” verse 16; that is, [all] did not provoke God; which is but one head of the antithesis between the two several sorts mentioned, which is to be understood and preserved in all the other instances. As if he should have said, ‘Some on the other side “hardened not their hearts,” “provoked not God,” but believed and obeyed his voice; hence God was “not angry with them,” “sware not against them,” their “carcasses fell not in the wilderness,” but they “entered into the rest of God.” And thus will it be with them who shall continue to believe and obey the gospel.’ 5. He adds a general conclusion, as the sum of what he had evinced out of the words of the psalm; which also he intended further to improve, as he doth in the next chapter, verse 19.

    Ver. 15-19. — jEn tw~| le>gesqai? Sh>meron , ejashte? mh< sklhru>nhte taav uJmw~n , wJv ejn tw~| parapikrasmw~| . Tinesantev parepi>kranan , ajll j ouj pa>ntev oiJ ejxelqo>ntev ejx Aijgu>ptou dia< Mwuse>wv . Ti>si de< prosw>cqise tessarako>nta e]th ; oujci< toi~v aJmarth>sasin , w=n ta< kw~la e[peson ejn th~| ejrh>mw| ; Ti>si de< w]mose mh< eijseleu>sesqai eijv thpausin aujtou~ , eij mh> toi~v ajpeiqh>sasi ; Kai< ble>pomen , o[ti oujk hjdunh>qhsan eijselqei~n di j ajpisti>an .

    Some few differences there are amongst translations; such as may, some of them, give light into the sense of the words may be remarked.

    Ver. 15. — jEn tw~| le>gesqai . Beza, “interim dum dicitur,” — “in the meantime, while it is said.” “Interim dum,” are not amiss supplied, if that be the sense of the words which generally is supposed so to be. Erasmus, “in quod dicitur,” — “ in this that is said,” or, “whereas it is said;” which suited unto the trajection of the words supposed by the Greeks before mentioned. Syriac, rymiaDæ anOkæyae , “sicut dictum est,” — “as it is said,” respecting repetition of the testimony, “again.” Arias, “in dici,” that is, “in dicendo,” — “in saying;” so the Arabic, Vulgar Lat., “dum dicitur;” and so we, “while it is said.” I had rather, for reasons after to be mentioned, render the words, “whereas it is said;” which also is the proper sense of ejn tw~| le>gesqai , — the infinitive with a preposition being often to be construed by the subjunctive mood. jEn tw~| parapikrasmw~| . Beza and the Vulg. Lat., “quemadmodum in exacerbatione,” — “as in that provocation;” expressing the article which Erasmus and most translators omit: neither is it needful to be expressed, it being a mere repetition of the words, and not a reference unto them, that the apostle hath hand. Syriac, “harden not your hearts to provoke him,” or “that you provoke him,” “to anger,” “execrate him;” respecting the sin feared in them, when it is the past sin of their forefathers that is intended.

    Ethiopic, “Because he saith, To-day, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, for they voked him who heard.”

    Ver. 16. — Tinesantev parepi>kranan . The Syriac begins here the interrogatory part of this discourse: “For who are they that when they have heard provoked him?” But tinewords manifest, for the process is not by a redditive pronoun, but an exceptive adverb.

    Dia< Mwuse>wv , jveRm ryæB] — “By the hands of Moses;” a frequent Hebraism for guidance or conduct.

    Ver. 17. — Ti>si de< prosw>cqise ; Beza, “quibus infensus fuit?” — “with whom he angry,” or “provoke?’ Vulg. Lat., “infensus est,” in the present tense; which h blamed by Erasmus, and corrected by Vatablus and Arias, as that which gards what was long since past. Arabic, as before, “whom did he curse?” Syr., “who were a weariness to him?’ Of the ground of which variety spake before, on verse 10. [Wn ta< kw~la e]peson . Beza, “quorum artus conciderant,” — “whose members fell;” Vulg. Lat., “quorum cadavera prostrata sunt,” — “whose carcasses were cast down;” Erasmus, “quorum membra;” Syr., ˆWhy]mær]gæw] , — “and their bones:” whose members, bodies, bones, carcasses, fell in the wilderness. Of the proper signification of the word I shall speak afterwards.

    Ver. 18. — Eij mh< toi~v ajpeiqh>sasi . Beza and Erasmus, “nisi iis qui non obe-dierunt,” — “but unto them who obeyed not.” Arias, “si non incredulis,” — “not unto the unbelievers.” Vulg. Lat., “iis cui increduli fuerunt;” which our Rhemists rends, “but unto them which were incredulous.” Syr., “qui non acquieverunt,” “qui assensum non praebuerunt,” — “who gave not assent,” that is, to the word or voice of God which they heard. f7 Ver. 15. — Whereas it is said, To-day, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.

    The introduction unto the ensuing dispute is in these first words, jEn tw~| le>gesqai , “Whilst it is said;” so we, after the Vulgar Latin, and sundry other interpreters, “dum dicitur,” or to that purpose, as was observed.

    Thus these words are a reintroduction of the former exhortation; and therefore some supply uJmi~n or hJmi~n , unto them, “to you,” or “to us,” — Whilst it is said to you” (or “us”), “To-day, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts:” and so this exhortation is enforced, with new considerations, unto the end of the chapter. But this seems not to be the meaning of the apostle, and so not the due connection or construction of the words. For the same exhortation being before laid down from the psalmist, and applied unto the Hebrews, verses 7,8, with a full improvement of it in the verses following, it is not reasonable to think that he should immediately again repeat it, and that in the same words, only somewhat more obscurely expressed. For in this way the meaning of the words must be, ‘While it is day with you, while you enjoy the season that is so called, harden not your hearts.’ But this is far more clearly expressed, verse 13, — “Exhort one anotherDAILY, while it is called To-day,” with respect to what was before spoken, verses 7,8. Other, therefore, as Erasmus, render the words by “In hoc quod dicitur,” — “In this that,”or, “Whereas it is said.” And so a new exhortation should be intended, whose application, after a digression in a long hyperbaton unto the end of this chapter, is laid down in the first verses of the next. But this sense also we rejected in opening the general design of these verses. The words, therefore, are to be taken simply and absolutely, so as to indicate a repetition of the former testimony, and its improvement unto some further ends and purposes. jEn tw~\\ le>gesqai , rymiaDæ , “Whereas it is said,” — ‘Whereas these words are used in the psalmist, and are recorded for our instruction.’ And herein the apostle intends, — 1. Not only the repetition of the precise words here mentioned, but by them calls over again the whole story that depends upon them, which is usual in such quotations. Out of the whole he intends now to take new observations unto his purpose in hand; for there are yet remaining some particular circumstances of the matter of fact insisted on of great importance, and much conducing unto his design, and to the establishment of the conclusion that he lays down, verse 19, which the apostle, in his first view of the words, had not yet considered or improved, as not lying in the way of his discourse then in hand. For their sakes doth he give this review unto the whole. 2. As of the story, so of his own exhortation upon it, the apostle lays down these words as a recapitulation, which gives influence unto the process of his discourse, — “For some,” saith he, “when they had heard, did provoke,” verse 16. As if he had said, ‘Consider what hath been spoken, that the same befall not you as did them who provoked and perished.’ And we may see hence, — Obs. 1. That every circumstance of the Scripture is instructive.

    The apostle having before urged the authority of the psalm, and the example recorded in it unto his purpose, here he again resumes the words before insisted on, and from sundry circumstances of them, with the matter contained in them, further argues, reasons, and carrieth on his exhortation. For he considers, — 1. Who they were that sinned and provoked God; wherein he observes that it was “some” of them, and not absolutely all who came out of Egypt: which how useful it was unto his purpose we shall afterwards declare. 2. What became of them who so sinned. “Their carcasses,” saith he, “fell in the wilderness;” which circumstance doth not a little set forth the indignation of God against their sin, and his severity against their persons. 3. He presseth in particular the consideration of the oath of God, and manifests its exact accomplishment, that none who shall fall under the same condition may ever expect or hope for an escape. Lastly, From the consideration of the whole, he collects what was evidently the direct and especial sin that procured so great a destruction, and peremptorily excluded that people out of that rest of God, namely, their “unbelief.’

    These are the paraleipo>mena that the apostle gathers up in these verses, which, belonging unto the subject he insisted on, fell not before orderly under his consideration. Obs. 2. God hath filled the Scripture with truth.

    Whence one said well, “Adoro plenitudinem Scripturarum,” — “I reverence the fullness of the Scriptures.” <19D802> Psalm 138:2, “He hath magnified his word above all his name;” or made it more instructive than any other way or means whereby he hath revealed himself. For not only doth the whole Scripture contain the whole counsel of God, concerning his own glory and worship, our faith, obedience, and salvation, but also every parcel of it hath in it such a depth of truth as cannot by us be perfectly searched into. <19B918> Psalm 119:18, “Open thou mine eyes,” saith the psalmist, “that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.” There are wonderful things in the word, if God be pleased to give us light to see it. It is like a cabinet of jewels, that when you pull out one box or drawer and search into it, you find it full; pull out another, it is full; and when you think you have pulled out all, yet still there are some secret recesses in the cabinet, so that if you search further you will find more. Our apostle seems to have drawn out all the boxes of this cabinet, but making a second search into the words, he finds all these things treasured up, which he had not before intimated nor touched upon. It was said by some of old, that the “Scripture hath fords where a lamb may wade, and depths where an elephant may swim.” And it is true in respect of the perspicuity of some places, and the difficulty of others. But the truth is also, that God hath in his grace and wisdom so ordered its concernments, that, — 1. What from the nature of the things themselves, which are suited unto the various states, conditions, and apprehensions of the minds of men; 2. What from the manner of their expression, on which a character of divine wisdom is impressed; 3. What from the authority of God putting itself forth in the whole and every particular; 4. What from its being not only “propositio veritatis,” but “vehiculum gratiae;” many, most, yea, all the particular places of it and passages in it, are such as through which a lamb may wade safely, and an elephant swim without danger of striking against the bottom. Let any lamb of Christ come, in that order, with that reverence unto the reading or hearing the word of God (the Scripture itself I mean) which is required, and he will find no place so dark or difficult but that it will yield him that refreshment which is suited unto him and safe for him, and something of God he will obtain; for either he will find his graces excited, or his mind enlightened, or his conscience peculiarly brought into a reverence of God. And let the wisest, the most learned and experienced person, that seems like an elephant in spiritual skill and strength amongst the flock, come to the plainest place, to search out the mind and will of God in it, if he be humble as well as learned, — which if he be not he is not wise, — he will scarce boast that he hath been at the bottom of it, and hath perfectly comprehended all that is in it, seeing whatever we know, “we know but in part.” And they may all of them, elephants and lambs, meet at the same passages of this river that makes glad the city of God, these waters of rest and quietness, Psalm 23:2, where the lambs may wade safely, and the elephants swim together. The poorest of the flock, in the right use of means, may take enough for themselves, even suitable direction and refreshment, from those very places of Scripture whose depths the learnedest guides of the church are not able to sound or fathom. Not only in several places, but in the same place, text, or testimony of Scripture, there is food meet for the several ages of Christians, whether babes and children or strong men; with light and direction for all sorts of believers, according to the degrees of their own inward light and grace. It is like manna, which, though men gathered variously according to their strength and appetite, yet every one had that proportion which suited his own eating. When a learned man, and one mighty in the Scriptures, undertakes the consideration of a place of Scripture, and finds, it may be, in the issue, that with all his skill and industry, with all his helps and advantages, though attended in the use of them with fervent prayer and holy meditation, he is not able to search it out unto perfection, let him not suppose that such a place will be of no advantage unto them who are not sharers in his advantages, but rather are mean and unlearned; for they may obtain a useful portion for themselves where he cannot take down all. If any one look on this river of God like behemoth on Jordan, “trusting that he can draw it up into his mouth,” or take up the whole sense of God in it, he of all others seems to know nothing of its worth and excellency. And this ariseth, as was observed, principally from the things themselves treated of in the Scripture. For, divine and spiritual truths having God not only as their immediate fountain and spring, but also as their proper and adequate object, there is still somewhat in them that cannot be searched out unto perfection. As he said, “Canst thou by searching find out God? canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection?” Job 11:7, yDævæ tylik]TæAd[æ ax;m]Ti , — “find him out to a perfect comprehension,” or “to a consummation of knowledge,” that it should be perfect. This neither the nature of God nor our condition will admit of. We do at best but “follow after,” that we may in our measure “apprehend that for which we also are apprehended of Christ Jesus,” Philippians 3:12. And these things are so tempered by divine wisdom unto the faith and light of believers, and therein unto the uses of their consolation and obedience, that something hereof is plainly exhibited to every spiritual eye: always provided that their search and inquiry be regulated according to the will of God, in a due use of the means; for to this purpose not only the private endeavors of men are required, but the use also of the public ministry, which is ordained of God to lead men gradually into continual further acquaintance with the will of God in the Scripture.

    Some think that it belongs unto the fullness of the Scripture that each place in it should have various senses, — some say three, some four. But this, indeed, is to empty it of all fullness; for if it have not everywhere one proper determinate sense, it hath none at all. This it hath; but the things which the words of it are signs of and are expressed by, are so great, deep, and mysterious, and have such various respects unto our light, faith, and obedience, as that it is unsearchably instructive unto us. “The commandment is exceeding broad,” <19B996> Psalm 119:96, daom] hb;j;r] ; — the word used to express the wideness of the sea, <19A425> Psalm 104:25, lwOdG; µYhæ µyidæy; bjær]W, — “The great sea,” that hath “wide and large arms,” which it stretcheth out to comprehend the whole earth. So doth the command widen and stretch out its arms, to comprehend the whole church of God, to water it and to make it fruitful God having enstamped his authority and wisdom upon it, every concernment of it, every consequence from it, every circumstance reported in it, hath its authority in and upon the consciences of men for the end whereunto it is designed. Hence we may observe, that in the quotations of testimonies out of the Old Testament in the New, it is very seldom that the principal aim and intendment of any place is insisted on, but rather some peculiar specialty that is either truly included in the words or duly educed by just consequence from them.

    And this may teach men what diligence they ought to use in searching and studying of the Scripture. Slight, inadvertent considerations will be of little use in this matter. Especially is this incumbent on them whose duty and office it is to declare and expound them unto others. And there is amongst many a great miscarriage in these things, and that both in some that teach, and some that only privately read or meditate on the word. Some men preach with very little regard to the Scripture, either as to the treasury and promptuary of all the truth they are to dispense, or as to the rule whereby they are to proceed. And some are ready to coin notions in their own minds, or to learn them from others, and then attempt to put them upon the Scripture. or obtain countenance from thence unto them: and this is the way of men who invent and vent false opinions and groundless curiosities, which a previous due reverential observance of the word might have delivered them from. And some again, and those too many, superficially take up with that sense of the words which obviously presents itself unto their first consideration, which they improve to their own purpose as they see cause. Such persons as these see little of the wisdom of God in the word; they enter not into those mines of gold; they are but passengers, they do not “stand in the counsel of God, to hear his word,” Jeremiah 23:22. It is certain that the diligent search into the Scriptures which is commended unto us, which the worth of them and the things contained in them requires, and which that fullness and comprehension of truth that is in them doth make necessary, is by most neglected. And the same may be observed in multitudes of commentators and expositors. They express things otherwise one than another, but for the most part directly the same.

    Seldom any one ventures into the deep one step beyond what he sees his way beat before him, and, as he supposes, his ground secure; though a diligent inquirer may often find the most beaten path either to turn away from the fountain, or at least to end and fail before it comes there. I would not speak any thing to encourage men in bold adventures, groundless conjectures, and curious pryings into things hidden, secret, and marvelous; but it is humble diligence, joined with prayer, meditation, and waiting on God for the revelation of his will, in the study of the Scripture, upon the account of the fullness of its treasury, and the guiding, instructive virtue wherewithal its concerns are accompanied, that I would press after. And hence I am persuaded that the church of God hath, through his care and faithfulness, had great advantage from their opposition unto the truth who, to countenance their own errors, have searched curiously into all the concernments of the words of many testimonies given unto the truth. For though they have done this to their own destruction, yet “out of this eater there hath come forth meat;” for they have not only given an. occasion unto, but imposed a necessity upon us to search with all diligence into every concernment of some most material passages in the Scripture, and that to the clearing of the truth and the stablishing of the minds of many.

    That which I would press from these considerations, grounded on the precedent before us, wherein the apostle, from sundry latent circumstances of the text, draws out singular useful observations in reference unto our faith and obedience, is, that our utmost diligence, especially in them who are called unto the instruction of others, is required in this neglected, yea despised work of searching the Scriptures. And as a consequent of the neglect hereof, I cannot but say that I have observed a threefold defect amongst sundry teachers, that was in general intimated before; as, first, When men scarce at any time make use of the Scripture in their preaching any further than to make remarks and observations on the obvious sense of any place, neither entering themselves, nor endeavoring to lead their hearers into the secret and rich recesses of them. And secondly, which is worse, When men without the Scripture design their subjects, and project the handling of them, and occasionally only take in the words of the Scripture, and that guided more by the sound than the sense of them. And thirdly, which is worst of all, When men by their own notions, opinions, curiosities, and allegories, rather draw men from the Scripture than endeavor to lead them unto it. The example of our great apostle will guide us unto other ways of proceeding in our work.

    Ver. 16. — For some, when they heard [the word ], provoked; howbeit not all who came out of Egypt by Moses.

    The intention of the apostle in this and the ensuing verses, as hath been observed, is to confirm his preceding exhortation from the example proposed unto them, and that on the consideration of the various events that befell their forefathers in the wilderness, with respect, on the one hand, unto the promises and threatenings of God, and on the other, to their faith and disobedience. To this end, in this verse he makes a distribution of the persons who came forth of Egypt under.the conduct of Moses, and heard the voice of God in the wilderness: — They all “came out of Egypt,” they all “heard” the voice of God; howbeit all did not “provoke,” hut only “soma” Two things, then, are affirmed of them all in general; — First, That they “all came out of Egypt by Moses;” Secondly, That they all “heard” the voice of God. And the limitation respects one instance only, — some of these all “provoked,” and some did not, The first thing in general ascribed unto them is, that they “came out of Egypt by Moses.” A few words, but comprehensive of a great story; a work wherein God was exceedingly glorified, and that people made partakers of greater mercies and privileges than ever any before them from the foundation of the world: the pressing whereof upon the minds and consciences of the people is one main end of the Book of Deuteronomy. Moses sums up much of it, Deuteronomy 4:34: “Did ever God assay to go and take him a nation from the midst of another nation, by temptations, by signs, and by wonders, and by war, and by a mighty hand, and by a stretched-out arm, and by great terrors, according to all that the LORD your God hath done for you?” “Tantae molis erat Judaeam condere gentem.” And besides the other circumstances that the apostle expressly insists upon, this is mentioned here to intimate what obligation was on this people to attend unto the voice of God, in that he brought them up out of Egypt; and therefore it pleased God to preface the whole law of their obedience with the expression of it, “I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt,” Exodus 20:2.

    Dia< Mwuse>wv , “By Moses.” “By the hand of Moses,” saith the Syriac.

    That is, either under his conduct and guidance, or through the prevalency of the miraculous works which God wrought by him. Both these senses the prophet expresseth, Isaiah 63:11,12: “Then he remembered the days of old, Moses, and his people, saying, Where is he that brought them up out of the sea with the shepherd of his flock? where is he that put his Holy Spirit within him? that led them by the right hand of Moses with his glorious arm, dividing the water before them, to make himself an everlasting name?”

    Both the conduct of Moses, and the miracles that God wrought by him, are comprised in their coming up “by Moses.” And, by the way, it may be observed, that in this preparation and consultation, as it were, about new mercies to be bestowed on that people, there are several persons in the Deity introduced treating about it, and calling to remembrance their former actings towards them. He that speaks is the person of the Father, whose love and compassion are celebrated, verses 7-9, as they are everywhere peculiarly ascribed unto that person. And he that is spoken of, and as it were inquired after to appear again in the work of their salvation, which peculiarly belongs unto him, he is called the “Angel of his presence,” verse 9, and the LORD himself, verse 14; that is, the person of the Son, unto whom the actual deliverance of the church in every strait doth belong, and he is therefore here, as it were, inquired after. And with reference unto this work by Moses it is said, “And by a prophet the LORD brought Israel out of Egypt, and by a prophet was he preserved,” Hosea 12:13.

    And this belongeth unto the whole people, none excepted.

    Secondly, This also is ascribed to them, that they “heard:” for whereas it is said, “Some, when they heard, provoked,” it is not meant that some only heard, and provoked; but of them that heard, some only provoked. What they heard was declared before, — the voice of God, as it is said, “To-day, if ye will hear his voice.” And this may be taken either strictly, for the heating of the voice of God at the giving of the law on mount Sinai, when the whole congregation heard twOlwOq , those voices of God in thundering and dreadful agitations of the mount wherewith it was accompanied, and the voice of God himself whereby the law was pronounced, — that is, an audible voice framed for that purpose by the ministry of angels; or it may be taken more largely, for a participation in all those instructions which God granted unto them in the wilderness. There seems, indeed, to be an especial respect unto the giving of the law, though not merely the promulgation of the ten words on Sinai, but the whole system of precepts and ordinances of worship that attended; for therein “they were evangelized, even as we,” Hebrews 4:2. And also, their hearing is spoken of as that which was past (“ When they had heard”) before their provoking, which yet signally happened in the second year after their coming out of Egypt. This, then, was the voice of God which they heard.

    The sin which is appropriated unto some of them who thus “came out of Egypt,” and “heard,” is that parepi>kranai , they “provoked,” — that is, God, whose voice, or word, or law they heard. The meaning of this word, and the nature of the sin expressed by it, have been spoken to before. I shall add one place that explains it: Hosea 12:15, µyræWrm]Tæ µyiræp]a, µy[ik]hi , “Ephraim hath provoked bitternesses;” that is, very bitterly.

    Great provocations have a “bitterness” in them, as the word here denotes, which causeth God to loathe the provokers.

    By these considerations doth the apostle enforce his exhortation before insisted on, and show the necessity of it. This is, that they would diligently attend unto the word of the gospel, and steadfastly continue in the profession thereof. ‘For,’ saith he, ‘when the people of old heard the voice of God in that dispensation of his law and grace which was suited unto their condition, some of them provoked him; whereas they may do so also who hear his voice in the dispensation of the gospel, therefore doth it highly concern them to take care that this be not the event of their mercy therein.’

    Lastly, The apostle adds expressly a limitation, with respect to the persons who heard and provoked: “Howbeit not all.” In his preceding discourse he had expressed the sin and punishment of the people indefinitely, so as at first view to include the whole generation in the wilderness, without exception of any. Here, out of the story, he puts in an exception of some even of them who came up out of Egypt under the conduct of Moses. And there are three sorts of persons who lay claim to an interest in the privilege: — 1. Those who, being under twenty years of age, were not numbered in the wilderness of Sinai, in the second year after their coming up out of Egypt, Numbers 1:1-3; for of those that were then numbered there was not a man left, save Caleb and Joshua, when the people was numbered again in the plains of Moab by Moses and Eleazar, Numbers 26:63,64. These are they who died because of their provocation; those who before were under twenty years old being now the body of the people that was numbered. 2. The tribe of Levi: for the threatening and oath of God were against all of them that were numbered in the wilderness of Sinai, Numbers 14:29, and the account is accordingly given in of the death of the numbered ones only, Numbers 26:63,64; but in the taking of that first muster-roll Moses was expressly commanded not to take the number of the Levites, Numbers 1:47-49. However, I much fear, by the course of the story, that the generality of this tribe fell also. 3. Caleb and Joshua; and it is certain that these are principally, if not solely intended. Now, the reason why the apostle expresseth this limitation of his former general assertion is, that he might enforce his exhortation with the example of them who believed and obeyed the voice of God, and who thereon both enjoyed the promises and entered into the rest of God; so that he takes his argument not only from the severity of God, — which at first view seems only to be represented in his instance and example, — but also from his faithfulness and grace, which are included therein. And we may now a little further consider what is contained in these words for our instruction; as, — Obs. 1. Many hear the word or voice of God to no advantage, but only to aggravate their sin.

    Their hearing renders their sin provoking unto God, and destructive to their own souls. “Some, when they heard, provoked.” Daily experience is a sufficient confirmation of this assertion. The word of God is preached unto us, the voice of God sounds amongst us. As our apostle speaks, Hebrews 4:2, “Unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them;” and that with many advantages on our part. They heard the gospel indeed, but obscurely, and in law language, hard to be understood; we have it plainly, openly, and without parables, declared unto us. They heard the voice of him that spake on earth; we, his who speaks from heaven. But what is the issue of God’s thus dealing with us? Plainly, some neglect the word, some corrupt it, some despise it, — few mix it with faith, or yield obedience unto it, The dispensers of it may for the most part take up the complaint of the prophet, “Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?” Isaiah 53:1.

    And unto many, after their most serious and sedulous dealing with them in the name of God, they may take up the apostle’s close with the unbelieving Jews, Acts 13:41, “Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish.” Most of them unto whom our Savior preached perished. They got nothing by hearing his doctrine, through their unbelief, but an aggravation of their sin and the hastening of their ruin. So he told Capernaum and the rest of the towns wherein he had wrought his miracles, and to whom he preached the gospel. His presence and preaching for a while brought them into a condition above that of Jerusalem, — they were “lifted up unto heaven;” but their unbelief under it brought them into a condition worse than that of Sodom, — they were “brought down to hell,” Matthew 11:21-24. It is, I confer, a great privilege, for men to have the word preached unto them and to hear it, <19E719> Psalm 147:19,20; but privileges are as men use them. In themselves they are of worth and to be prized; but unto us they are as they are used. Hence the gospel becomes unto some “a savor of death unto death,” 2 Corinthians 2:16. Yea, Christ himself, in his whole ministry, was “a stone of stumbling and rock of offense to both the houses of Israel, a gin and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem,” Isaiah 8:14, Luke 2:34.

    And the enjoyment of any part of the means of grace is but a trial. And when any rest therein they do but boast in the putting on of their harness, not knowing what will be the end of the battle. And let none mistake unto whom the word of God comes, as it did unto this people in the wilderness.

    They are engaged; and there is no coming off but conquerors, or ruined. If they receive it not, it will be the aggravation of their sins, the eternal destruction of their souls. The reasons why it will do so I have insisted on in the exposition of Hebrews 2:1-3. Obs. 2. In the most general and visible apostasies of the church, God still preserves a remnant unto himself, to bear witness unto him and for him by their faith and obedience: “They provoked; howbeit not all.”

    They were indeed many who provoked, but not all A few they were, but yet some there were who inherited the promise. The professing church in, the world was never nearer ruin than at this time. Once, had Moses stood out of the way, had he not with all his might of faith and zeal abode in the breach, God had disinherited them all, and utterly destroyed them, and reserved him only for a new stock or spring, Exodus 32:9-14; <19A623> Psalm 106:23. God had indeed at this time a great secret people, in the children of that generation; but the visible professing church consisted principally in the men that were numbered, — and it is not to be supposed that their wives were much behind their husbands in their murmuring, being more naturally than they, in straits and difficulties, prone to such miscarriages, by reason of their fears. And, “quantillum abfuit,” how near was this whole church to destruction! how near to apostasy! How many soever retained their faith, only Caleb and Joshua retained their profession. When God of old brought a flood upon the world for their wickedness, the professing church, that had been very great and large in the posterity of Seth, was reduced to eight persons, and one of them a cursed hypocrite.

    And once Elijah could see no more in Israel but himself. There were indeed then seven thousand latent believers, but scarce another visible professor.

    And it is not hard to imagine how little true faith, regularly professed, there was in the world when Christ was in the grave. And under the fatal apostasy foretold in the Revelation, those that “kept the testimony of Jesus” are reduced to so small a number as that they are spoken of under the name of “two witnesses.” But yet in all these hazardous trials and reductions of the number of professors, God always hath maintained, and ever will, a remnant, true, faithful, pure, and undefiled, unto himself- This he hath done, and this he will do, — 1. To maintain his own kingdom in the world. Satan, by his temptations and the entrance of sin, had greatly defaced the beauty, glory, and order of that kingdom which God first erected in the world, to be governed by the law of creation. But God still retains his sovereignty and authority in it and over it, in all its disorder, by his all-disposing providence; but that he might lose nothing by this attempt of his adversary, as not in power or interest, so neither in honor or glory, he erected in the first promise a new kingdom of grace. Unto this kingdom he gives his Son to be the head, — “the head over all things to the church,” Ephesians 1:22; and it unto him, to have therein an “everlasting dominion,” enduring through all ages, so that of the increase of his rule and government therein there should be no end, Isaiah 9:7. Now, this kingdom cannot be thus preserved, unless some be always, by real saving grace, and the profession of it, kept and maintained as subjects thereof. The kingdom of providence, indeed, under all its alterations, is natural unto God, and necessary. It implies a contradiction that there should be a creature, and God not the sovereign Lord of it. But this kingdom of grace depends on the purpose and faithfulness of God. He hath taken upon himself the continuance and preservation of it unto the end. Should it at any time totally fail, Christ would be a king without a kingdom, a head without a body, or cease to be the one and the other. Wherefore God will secure some, that neither by the abuse of their own liberty, nor by the endeavors of the gates of hell, shall ever be drawn off from their obedience. And this God, in his grace, power, and faithfulness, will effect, to make good his promises unto Christ, which he multiplied unto that purpose from the foundation of the world. 2. Should all faith utterly fail in the earth, should all professors provoke God and apostatize from him, all gracious intercourse between the Holy Spirit and mankind in this world would be at an end. The work of the Spirit is to convert the souls of men unto God, to sanctify them to be temples for himself to dwell in, to guide, teach, lead, and comfort them, by supplies of his grace. Suppose, then, that no saving grace or obedience should be left in the earth, this work of the Spirit of God must utterly fail and cease. But this consisteth not with his glorious immutability and power: he hath undertaken a work, and he will not faint in it, or give it over one moment, until it be accomplished, and all the elect brought unto God.

    If, therefore, the natural children of Abraham fail, he will out of the stones and rubbish of the Gentiles raise up a living temple unto God, wherein he may dwell, and provide a remnant for him on the earth. 3. God will do this for the work that he hath for some of his in all ages and seasons to do in the world. And this is great and various. He will have some always to conflict with his adversaries and overcome them, and therein give testimony to the power of his grace and truth. Could sin and Satan drive all true grace, faith, and obedience out of the world, they would complete their victory; but so long as they have any to conflict withal, against whom they cannot prevail, themselves are conquered. The victory is on the other side, and Satan is sensible that he is under the curse.

    Wherever true faith is, there is a victory,1 John 5:4. By this doth God make his remnant as a “brazen wall,” that his enemies shall fight against in vain, Jeremiah 15:20. Be they, therefore, never so few, they shall do the work of God, in conquering Satan and the world through the “blood of the Lamb.” 4. God will always have a testimony given to his goodness, grace, and mercy. As in the ways of his providence he never “left himself without witness,” Acts 14:17, no more will he in the ways of his grace. Some he will have to give testimony to his goodness, in the calling, pardoning, and sanctifying of sinners; which who shall do if there be none on earth made partakers of that grace? They are proper witnesses who testify what they know and have experience of.

    And lastly, God will always have a revenue of especial glory out of the world in and by his worship. And this also must necessarily cease and fail, should not God preserve to himself a remnant of them that truly fear him.

    And if this be the way of God’s dealing, we may see what becomes sometimes of that which the Papists make a note of the church, — namely, number and visibility. He that would choose his party by tale would scarce have joined himself with Caleb and Joshua, against the consent of about six hundred thousand men, who cried out to stone them because they were not of their mind. God’s way, indeed, is always to preserve some; but sometimes his way is to reserve but a few, — as we have seen in sundry instances before mentioned.

    Again, It is evident from whence it is that the church of God hath passed through so many trials, hazards, and dangers, and yet hath not to this day at any time utterly been prevailed against. It escaped of old when Cain slew Abel; when “all flesh had corrupted its ways,” and God brought the flood upon ungodly men, it escaped then in the family of Noah; as it did afterwards in that of Abraham; so it did in the wilderness by the fidelity of Moses, Caleb, and Joshua. Since the establishment of the Christian church, it is known what dreadful opposition it hath been exercised withal Once the world groaned, admiring to see itself surprised into Arianism; afterwards all “wondered after the beast,” and none were suffered to live that received not his mark, — a high renunciation of the authority of Jesus Christ. Yet from the jaws of all these hazards, these deaths, hath the church been preserved, and triumphed against all oppositions. God hath undertaken its preservation, and he will make it good to the uttermost. He hath given the Lord Christ power and authority to secure his own interest and concerns in the earth. And he sends the Spirit to convert and sanctify his elect, and will so do until the consummation of all things. A thread of infinite wisdom, care, and faithfulness, hath run along in this matter from the beginning hitherto, and it shall not be cut off or broken. And this may also give us satisfaction and security for the future as to that remnant of Jacob which lies in the midst, in the bowels of many nations, — it shall be preserved. He spake proudly who encouraged the pilot in a storm with “Caesaris fortunam vehis,” — “Fear not, thou carriest the fortune of Caesar;” which, though not then, yet soon after failed him. Believers are engaged in a bottom that hath Christ in it, and his interest, and the faithfulness of God, to secure its safe arrival in the harbor of eternal rest and peace. There is at this day a dreadful appearance of an opposition to the city of God. Paganism, Mohammedanism, Popery, Atheism, with sundry gross heresies, are in combination, as it were, against it, The contribution also of strength and craft which they have from the lusts and worldly interests of men is incredible. But yet we see that in the midst of all these storms and fears the Lord is pleased to preserve a remnant to himself, neither themselves nor their adversaries knowing how; and upon the grounds mentioned he will assuredly continue to do so to the end. Obs. 3. God lays a few, a very few ofttimes, of his secret ones in the balance against the greatest multitude of rebels and transgressors.

    They that provoked God were about six hundred thousand men, and upon the matter two only opposed them. But, in the language of the Holy Ghost, all that great multitude were but “some,” — some, not “all;” the principal part was preserved in those who were obedient. They were his portion, his inheritance, his jewels, dear to him as the apple of his eye, and deservedly preferred unto the greatest heap of chaff and rubbish.

    In the two next verses the apostle proceedeth to evince the necessity and enforce the use of his preceding exhortation, from the circumstances of the example insisted on; and this he doth by way of interrogation. He proposeth in them questions on the matter of fact, and answers them from what is either directly expressed, or undeniably included in the words insisted on.

    Ver. 17,18. — But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcasses fell in the wilderness? And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not?

    The kind of arguing here used by the apostle is not simply interrogatory, but it is that which is said to be by interrogation and subjection; that is, when a question is drawn, and an answer substituted out of the same matter; which hath such an efficacy for conviction and persuasion, that the great Roman orator seldom omits it in any of his orations. And it is so especially when the question proposed is “interrogatio rei,” an inquiry into a matter of fact; and the answer returned is “interrogatio le>xewv ,” in form of speech an interrogation, but really an answer. Such is the apostle’s manner of arguing here. The interrogation, verse 17, “With whom was he grieved forty years?” is “interrogatio rei;” and the answer returned is in an interrogatory form of speech, — “Was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcasses fell in the wilderness?”

    The words of the interrogation were explained on verse 10, whereunto the reader is referred. In this repetition of them, the design of the apostle is to fix on the minds of the Hebrews the consideration of the people’s sin, and God’s dealing with them thereon.

    The answer unto this first inquiry consists in a double description of them with whom God was so long grieved or displeased, — First, By their sin, “Was it not with them that sinned?” Secondly, By their punishment, “Whose carcasses fell in the wilderness.”

    And we may consider first what is included, and then what is expressed in this answer. For the first, It is plainly included that God was not thus displeased with them all. Let not any apprehend that God took a causeless distaste at that whole generation, and so cast them off and destroyed them promiscuously, without distinction. As they were some only, and not all, that provoked; so it was with some only, and not all, that God was displeased. And two things do thence necessarily ensue to his purpose and advantage: — First, That his exhortation is enforced by showing that it was not an ordinary promiscuous event that befell their fathers in the wilderness, but that they passed under a distinguishing dispensation of God towards them, according to their deportment, as they also were like to do. Secondly, That they might also consider that with those who sinned not, who provoked not, God was not displeased, but according to his promise they entered into his rest; which promise in a more excellent sense still remains for their benefit, if they were not disobedient.

    The first thing expressed in the words, or the first part of the description of them with whom God was displeased, is their sin: “Was it not with them that sinned?” Their sin is first mentioned in general, and then the particular nature of it is afterwards declared. There were three sorts of sins that the people were guilty of in the wilderness: — 1. They were universally guilty of personal sins in their distinct capacities.

    And these may justly be supposed to be great and many. But these are not they which are here intended; for if in this sense God should mark iniquity, none could stand, <19D003> Psalm 130:3. Neither were they free from sins of this nature who are here exempted from being objects of God’s displeasure. 2. Especial provocations, wherein great numbers of the people were engaged, but not the whole congregation. Such was the rebellion of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, with their accomplices, who were many and great, even “two hundred and fifty princes, famous in the congregation, men of renown,” Numbers 16:2; the idolatry and adulteries of Peor, which infected many of the princes and people, with the like instances. 3. General sins of the whole congregation; which consisted in their frequent murmurings and rebellions, which came to a head as it were in that great provocation upon the return of the spies, Numbers 14, when they not only provoked God by their own unbelief, but encouraged one another to destroy those two persons, Joshua and Caleb, who would not concur in their disobedience: “All the congregation bade stone them with stones,” verse 10. This distinction was observed by the daughters of Zelophehad in their address for an inheritance among their brethren: “Our father,” say they, “died in the wilderness, and he was not in the company of them that gathered themselves together against the LORD in the company of Korah; but died in his own sin,” Numbers 27:3.

    They acknowledge him guilty of personal sins, and deny not but that he joined in the general provocation of the whole congregation, but only that he had a hand in those especial provocations which God fixed an eminent mark of his displeasure upon, by cutting off the provokers with fearful, sudden, and signal judgments; whereas others were gradually consumed by death in a natural way. But it is this last kind of sin, in the guilt whereof the whole congregation was equally involved, that the apostle intends in this expression, “Was it not with them that sinned?” Observe, — Obs. 1. God is not displeased with any thing in his people but sin; or, sin is the only proper object of God’s displeasure, and the sinner for sin’s sake: ‘With whom was he displeased, but with them that sinned?’

    I need not set up my candle in the sun of this truth. I wish it were as seriously considered practically as it is confessed and acknowledged notionally. Every revelation of God, by his word or works, bears witness hereunto; and every man hath that witness hereof in himself as will not admit him to doubt of it. The nature of God, the law of God, the light of conscience, the sense that is in all of a judgment, at present fixed, and certainly future, testify unto it. And doubtless great is the power of sin and the craft of Satan, which prevail with most to continue in sin, notwithstanding this uncontrollable conviction. Obs. 2. Public sins, sins in societies, are great provocations of God.

    It was not for their private and personal sins that God was thus provoked with this people, but for their conspiracy, as it were, in sin. The reasons hereof are manifest, and I shall not insist upon them. God help cities and nations, especially such as hear the voice of God, well to consider it, and all of us, to take heed of national prevailing sins!

    Secondly, The apostle describes these persons by their punishment: “Whose carcasses fell in the wilderness.” Kw~la , — how variously this word is rendered by translators I have showed before. That which the apostle intendeth to express, is the words of God unto the people, Numbers 14:29: Wlp]yi hZ,hæ rB;d]MiBæ µk,yreg]pi ; — “In this wilderness shall your carcasses fall.” Which is emphatically repeated, verse 32, hZ,hæ rB;d]Mibæ WlP]y µt,aæ µk,yreg]pi ; — “Your carcasses, you, shall fall in this wilderness.” µT,aæ , “you,” is emphatically added, as to apply the threatening to their persons immediately, so to show them it should be their lot and not their children’s, as they murmured; as also to express a pa>qov and indignation in the delivery. Rg,p, is from rgæp; , to be “weary,” “faint,” “cold,” “frigore enecari” (whence is that word), “slothful.” Thence is rg,p, , “peger,” “a dead carcass,” a thing cold, without life, heat, or motion. It is used sometimes for the carcass of a beast, commonly called hl;ben] , “That which is fallen,” so Genesis 15:11; most frequently for the carcasses of men. Elias Levita supposeth that it denotes only the carcasses of wicked men. And indeed it is most commonly, if not always, so used.

    See Amos 8:3; Isaiah 14:19, 34:3, 66:24; Jeremiah 33:5; Ezekiel 43:9. There seems to be an exception unto this observation of Elias, from Jeremiah 41:9: “And the pit whereinto Ishmael cast µyvin;a\h; yreg]pAlK; tae ,” — “all the carcasses of the men whom he slew.” But whether this be of force against the observation of Elias I know not. Those men might be wicked for aught that appears in the text. Now, this word the LXX. render sometimes by sw~ma , “a body,” Genesis 15:11; sw~ma nekro>n , “a dead body,” Isaiah 37:36; — sometimes by nekro>v , “a dead person,” 2 Chronicles 20:25, Jeremiah 33:5; ptw~ma , “cadaver,” “a carcass,” Ezekiel 6:5; but most frequently by kw~lon , the word here used by the apostle, as Numbers 14:29,32,33, the place here referred unto. Kw~lon is a “member,” “membrum,” or “artus;” which words are of the same importance and signification; and the whole compages of them is the same with the body. As Tydeus in Statius, Theb. 8:739: — “—— Odi artus, fragilemque hunc corporis usum.” And the same author again, of AgyIleus, ibid. 6:841: — “Luxuriant artus, effusaque sanguine laxo Membra natant.” Hence interpreters promiscuously render the word here by “membra” or “artus.” Kw~la are principally “crura” and “lacerti;” the greater members of the body, arms, legs, and thighs, whose bones are greatest and of longest duration. In the singular number, therefore, it signifies not the whole body, but some distinct member of it; and thence it is translated into the use of speech, and denotes a part of a sentence, a sub-distinction. But kw~la , in the plural number, may denote the whole carcass. I suppose the µyrig;p] , or “carcasses” of the people, may here be called their kw~la , their “members” or their “bones,” as Suidas renders the word; because probably in those great plagues and destructions that befell them, their rebellious carcasses were many of them left on the ground in the wilderness, where consuming, their greater bones lay scattered up and down. So the psalmist complains that it befell them at another season: <19E107> Psalm 141:7, “Our bones are scattered at the grave’s mouth, as when one cutteth and cleaveth wood upon the earth.”

    In such a work, pieces of the hewed or cleft wood will lie scattered up and down, here and there, in some places covering the earth, — so did their bones; and said to be at the mouth of the grave, because the opening of the earth is that which gives a grave to the carcasses of men. The appearance and spectacle hereof the Roman historian represents in the carcasses, or bones rather, of the legions cut off by Herminius in Germany with Quintilius Varus, and left in the open field, when six years after Germanicus brought his army to the same place: — “ In medio campi albentia ossa (kw~la ) ut fugerant, ut restiterant, disjecta vel aggerata; adjacebant fragmina telorum, equorumque artus,” Tacit. Ann., lib. 1:; — “In the midst of the field, bones grown white, scattered or heaped, as they had fled, or resisted; by them lay pieces of broken weapons, with the members of horses.” A great and sore destruction or judgment this is accounted amongst men, and therefore is it made a representation of hell, Isaiah 66:24, “They shall go forth, and look upon the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against me; for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.”

    Some of the Jews refer these words to the victory they fancy that they shall have against Gog and Magog, when they come to fight against their Messiah. It is literally much more true concerning the believing Gentiles, whose calling is expressly foretold and prophesied of in the foregoing verses, who saw the severe judgment of God on the unbelieving Jews, when, in the fatal destruction of their city and temple, their carcasses were truly cast out on the earth, and were “an abhorring unto all flesh.” But here is also a representation of the final judgment of the last day, and everlasting punishment of the wicked; whereunto some of the words are applied, Mark 9:44; which the Targum on the place also applies them unto. The casting out, therefore, of carcasses to be beheld and abhorred is a sore judgment. And the Jews suppose that all those who died under God’s displeasure in the wilderness were shut out of heaven or the world to come, Tractat. Sanhed. Perek. 10. They inquire expressly who shall and who shall not be saved; and at once they deal pretty liberally with themselves: abh µlw[l qlj µhl çy laçy lk , — “All Israel shall have a part in the world to come:” which they prove out of these words of the prophet, “Thy people shall be all righteous,” Isaiah 60:21; which indeed would do it to the purpose, could they prove themselves all to be the people there intended. But afterwards they lay in many exceptions to this rule, and among the rest qlj µhl µya rbdmh rwd abh µlw[l ; — “The generation in the wilderness have no portion in the world to come.” And they add their reason: wmty hzh rbdmb anç wtwmy µçw ; — “Because it is said, ‘In the wilderness shall ye be consumed, and there shall ye die.’” The redoubling of the expression, “ye shall be consumed,” “ye shall die,” they would have to signify first temporal death, then eternal.

    Their carcasses e]peson ; “prostrata sunt,” say some, — “were cast down ;” properly “ceciderunt,” “fell,” that is, penalty, — an aggravation of their destruction. He doth not say, they “died,” but their carcasses “fell;” which intimates contempt and indignation; and so do the words denote in the story itself. And this is the second part of the description that is given of those with whom God was displeased for their sin, “Their carcasses fell in the wilderness;” the use whereof to the apostle’s purpose hath been declared. And we may see that, — Obs. 3. God sometimes will make men who have been wickedly exemplary in sin righteously exemplary in their punishment. “They sinned,” saith the apostle, “and provoked God; and their carcasses fell in the wilderness.” To what end is this reported? It is that we might take heed that we “fall not after the same example of unbelief,” Hebrews 4:11. There is an example in unbelief, and there is an example in the fall and punishment of unbelievers. This subject our apostle handles at large, Corinthians 10:5, 8-11. The substance of his discourse in that place is, that God made the people in the wilderness, upon their sinful provocations, examples of his severity unto them that should afterwards live ungodly.

    And the apostle Peter declares the same truth in the instances of the angels that sinned, the old world, and Sodom and Gomorrah, 2 Peter 2:4-6.

    God made them uJpo>deigma , an express “example” and “representation” of what should be done in others. And in the law of old, the reason why punishment was to be indispensably inflicted on presumptuous sinners, was that others might “hear and fear, and do so no more.” Besides, in that government of the world by his providence which God is pleased to continue, all ages and stories are full of instances of exemplary judgments and punishments, befalling and inflicted on such as have been notorious in their provocations; he thereby “revealing his wrath from heaven against the ungodliness of men,” Romans 1:18. And oftentimes those judgments have had in them a direct testimony against and discovery of the nature of the sins revenged by them. Our Savior, indeed, hath taught us that we are not to fix particular demerits and sins, by our own surmises, on persons that may be overtaken with dismal providences in the world, merely because they were so overtaken. Such was the condition of the “Galileans whose blood Pilate mingled with their sacrifices,” and the “eighteen upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them;” of whom he denies that, from what befell them, we have any ground to judge that they were “greater sinners” than others, Luke 13:1-5. This only in such cases may be concluded, namely, that such persons were sinners as all are, and therefore righteously obnoxious at any time unto any severe judgment of God.

    And the reason of God’s singling them out in such a manner is that mentioned in the same place by our Savior, namely, to declare and proclaim unto others in the like condition with themselves, that “unless they repented, they should all likewise perish.” And so it befell this people, who neglected these instructive examples. Within a few years, thousands and tens of thousands of them had their blood, as it were, mingled with their sacrifices, being slain by multitudes in the temple, the place of their offerings; and no less number of them perishing in the fall and ruin of their walls and buildings, battered down by the Romans. But in such cases God takes out men to be instructive in their sufferings unto others in a way of sore-reignty, as he caused the man to be bern blind, without any respect unto particular demerit in himself or his parents, John 9:2,3. But yet this hinders not but that when men’s sins are visible, they are, an the apostle speaks, “open beforehand, going before to judgment,” 1 Timothy 5:25. They are pro>dhloi , “manifest” to the judgment of all men, before they come to be laid open at the last day. And they “go to judgment” before the sinners themselves are brought thither.

    And with respect unto such as these, God may and doth oftentimes, so connect provoking sins and extraordinary judgments or punishments, that men cannot but see and own the relation that is between them. Such were the sins of the old world and the flood, of Sodom and the fire, of Dathan and the earth opening its mouth to receive him, with the rest of the instances frequently enumerated in the Scripture. Such are all stories and reports of time in the world filled withal; and our own days have abounded with pregnant instances to the same purpose. And God will do thus, — First, To bear witness to his own holiness and severity. In the ordinary course of the dispensation of his providence, God gives constant testimony unto his goodness and patience. “He maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust,” Matthew 5:45.

    He “never left himself without witness, in that he did men good, and gave them rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling their hearts with food and gladness,” Acts 14:17.

    This constant testimony doth God give unto his goodness and patience amongst men; and his design therein is to bring them to an acknowledgment of him, or to leave them in their wickedness utterly without excuse. For under the enjoyment of these things he leaves the generality of mankind; by whom for the most part they are abused, and God in them is despised.

    But things will not end so. tie hath appointed a day wherein he will call them over again; and will require his corn, and wine, and oil, his health, his peace, his plenty, his prosperity, at the hands of men. Yet, though this be his ordinary way of proceeding, he doth not absolutely commit over his severity and indignation against sin to be manifested and asserted by his written threatenings and commi-nations of things future. He will sometimes “rise up to his work, his strange work; his act, his strange act,” Isaiah 28:21; — that is, to execute great and fearful present judgments on sinners; which though it be and seem a “strange work,” seldom coming to pass or effected, yet it is “his work,” a work that becomes him, and whereby he will manifest his holiness and severity. He reveals his judgments from heaven against the ungodliness of men, Romans 1:18; and this he doth by exemplary punishments on exemplary sinners.

    Secondly, God doth thus to check and control the atheism that is in the hearts of men. Many, whilst they see wicked men, especially open and profligate sinners, prospering in a constant course, are ready to say in their hearts that there is no God, or that he hath forsaken the earth; or with Job, Job 9:24, “The earth is given into the hand of the wicked: “if not, where, and who is he?” — ‘Where is he, or who is he, that should punish them in or for all their enormous provocations?’ or, as they, Malachi 2:17, “Where is the God of judgment?” And this encourageth men in their wickedness, as the wise man expressly tells us: “Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil,” Ecclesiastes 8:11.

    The consideration hereof makes them cast off all regard of God, and to pursue the lusts of their hearts according to the power of their hand. To stay men in this course, God sometimes hurls a thunderbolt amongst them, — casts out an amazing judgment in a way of vengeance on some notable transgressors. When men have long traveled, or have been long upon a voyage at sea, if they meet with nothing but smiles of sun and wind, they are apt to grow careless and negligent, as though all must needs be smooth to their journey’s end. But if at any time they are surprised with an unexpected clap of thunder, they begin to fear lest there be a storm yet behind. The language of nature upon such judgments as we speak of is, “Est profecto Dens, qui haec videt et gubernat;” or as the psalmist expresseth it, “Verily there is a reward for the righteous: verily there is a God that judgeth in the earth.” And were it not that God doth sometimes awe the world with his “strange work” of vengeance, which he executes at his pleasure, so that great sinners can never be secure one moment from them, it is to be feared that the atheism that is in the hearts of men would bring them everywhere to the condition of things before the flood, when the “whole earth was filled with violence,” and “all flesh had corrupted its ways.” But these judgments do secretly influence them with that dread and terror which prescribe some bounds to the lusts of the worst of men.

    Thirdly, God will do thus for the encouragement of them whom he hath designed to bear witness to himself in the world against the wickedness of men. The principal work of the servants of God in the world is to bear witness unto God, his being, his holiness, his righteousness, his goodness, his hatred of sin. For this cause are they for the most part mocked, despised, and persecuted in the world. So saith our apostle: “For therefore we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God,” Timothy 4:10. And sometimes they are ready to faint in their trials. It is unto them like “a sword in their bones,” while their enemies say unto them, “Where is your God?” Psalm 42:10. They have, indeed, a sure word of promise to trust unto and to rest upon, and that which is able to carry them safely and quietly through all temptations and oppositions; but yet God is pleased sometimes to relieve and refresh their spirits by confirming their testimony from heaven, bearing witness to himself and his holiness by his visible, tremendous judgments upon openly notorious provokers. So saith the psalmist: “God shall take them away as with a whirlwind, both living, and in his wrath;” — in the midst of their days he shall bring judgment and destruction upon them, fearfully, suddenly, unexpectedly, unavoidably, like a whirlwind. And what then? “The righteous shall rejoice when he seeth the vengeance; he shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked,” Psalm 58:9,10; — that is, God’s executing of dreadful judgments on wicked men to their destruction, shall justify them in their testimony and profession, and wash off all aspersions cast upon them; which shall cause them to “rejoice,” or cleanse their own ways upon the example set before them, and the mouth of iniquity shall at least for a season be stopped.

    The use hereof is, — 1. That which Hannah proposeth, 1 Samuel 2:3, “Talk no more so exceeding proudly; let not arrogancy come out of your mouth; for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.”

    Let men take heed how they arrogantly boast themselves in their sin and wickedness, — which is too common with provoking sinners; for God is a God of knowledge and judgment. If they regard not the judgment that is for to come, but put the evil day far away from them, yet let them take heed lest God single them out unto some signal vengeance in this world, to make them examples unto those that shall afterwards live ungodly. It is to me strange, that some men, considering their course and ways, should be so stupidly secure as not to fear every moment lest the earth should open and swallow them up, as it did Dathan and Abiram, or that thunder or lightning from heaven should consume them as it did Sodom, or that one judgment or other should overtake them as they are acting their villanies. But they are secure, and will cry “peace,” until they are surprised with “sudden destruction.” 2. Let us learn to glorify God because of his righteous judgments. The saints in heaven go before us in this work and duty, Revelation 11:15-18, 15:3,4, 19:1,2. So they did of old in the earth; as in that signal instance of the song of Moses upon the destruction of the Egyptians in the Red Sea, Exodus 15:1-19. And God requires it at our hands. Not that we should rejoice in the misery of men, but we should do so in the vindication of the glory of God, which is infinitely to be preferred before the impunity of profligate sinners. Obs. 4. Great destructions, in a way of judgment and vengeance, are instituted representations of the judgment and vengeance to come.

    I dare not say, with the Jews, that all this provoking generation perished eternally, and that none of them shall have a blessed lot or portion in the world to come. They might repent of their sins and provocations. The oath of God was as to their temporal punishment, not their eternal ruin. There is a repentance which may prevail for the removal, or at least deferring, of a temporal judgment threatened and denounced, if not confirmed by oath, which yet is not prevalent to free the sinner from eternal ruin. Such was the repentance of Ahab, and probably that of Nineveh. And there is a repentance and humiliation that may free the soul from eternal ruin, and yet not take off a temporal judgment threatened against it. Such was the repentance of David upon his adultery. The Lord put away the guilt of his sin, and told him that he should not die penally, but would not be entreated to spare the life of the child, nor him in those other sore afflictions which afterwards befell him on the same account. And thus might it be with some, yea, with many of those Israelites. God might give them repentance to make way for the pardon and forgiveness of their persons; nevertheless he would so far take vengeance on their inventions as to cause their carcasses to fall in the wilderness. But yet this must be acknowledged, that their punishment was a great representation of the future judgment, wherein ungodly unbelievers shall be cast off for ever; for, as they fell visibly under the wrath and displeasure of God, and their carcasses were cast out in the wilderness as a loathsome abomination, so their judgment overtook them under this formal consideration, that they were excluded out of the rest of God. And these things together give an evident resemblance of the judgment to come, when sinners shall perish eternally under the wrath of God, and be for ever excluded out of his rest.

    So Jude affirms the same of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, verse 7. And hence many of God’s great judgments in this world are set out under such expressions, as that the teaching of the dread of the final judgment at the last day seems principally to be intended in them. See Isaiah 34:1-5; Daniel 7:9-11; Matthew 24:29; Hebrews 10:26,27; 2 Peter 3:5-7; Revelation 6:12-17.

    Ver. 18. — The apostle pursues his design yet further, in making application of the example laid down and insisted on unto the Hebrews, by way of interrogation, as to one circumstance more. And hereunto an answer is returned by him, and that such as is evidently supplied out of the story itself. Here also he discovers what was that particular sin which was the ground of all their other transgressions and miscarriages, the declaration of the danger and guilt whereof he principally intends: “And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not?”

    The question proposed is annexed unto that foregoing, and declared to be designed unto the same purpose, by the respective copulative de< , which we render “and,” “And to whom.” The words of this question have been explained before on verse 11. Only here is one thing added. For whereas it is there said only that “God swam in his wrath that they should not enter into his rest,” — that is, he sware so concerning them, — it is here intimated, that for their greater terror, and the manifestation of his wrath and indignation, he sware so to them: Ti>si w]mose , “To whom did he swear.” And so it appears to have been from the story. For though the words of the Lord were repeated unto the people by Moses and Aaron, yet the people themselves are proposed as they unto whom he spake and sware: “As ye have spoken in mine ears, so will I do to you: your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness,” Numbers 14:28,29.

    This inquiry the apostle makes upon that typical example wherein the present condition of the church of the Hebrews was represented.

    The answer which he returns hereunto, which is evidently collected from the whole matter, contains the instruction intended by him: Eij mh< toi~v ajpeiqh>sasi ; The word, as I have showed, is variously rendered; — by some, “obeyed not;” by some, “believed not;” by some, “assented not,” “acquiesced not.” Pei>qw is “to persuade,” by words, or any other means.

    And ajpeiqe>w is properly, “not to be persuaded,” so as to do the thing that the persuasion leads unto. And if that persuasion be with authority, that dissent is “to be disobedient or contumacious`” And these are varied according as the proposal of the persuasion which they respect hath been.

    For it may sometimes be by an exhortation in general, and sometimes it may be attended with commands, promises, and threatenings, which vary, if not the kind, yet the degree of the sin intended. jApei>qeia is usually “inobedientia,” “contumacia,” and sometimes “rebellio;” — “disobedience,” “stubbornness,” or “rebellion.” But the same words are often in the New Testament rendered by “unbelief,” “infidelity,” “incredulity,” “not to believe;” — as indeed the word pi>stiv itself, or “faith,” is from pei>qw , “to persuade;” and in other authors is nothing but that persuasion of mind which is begotten in any man by the arguments and reasons that are proposed unto him for that purpose. But the promiscuous rendering of that word by “disobedience” or “unbelief,” seeing these things formally differ, is not so safe, and ought to be reduced unto some certain rule. This, for aught I can perceive, interpreters have not done, but have indifferently rendered it by the one word or the other. jApeiqeia , we render “unbelief,” Romans 11:30,32, Hebrews 4:11; and by “disobedience,” Ephesians 2:2, 5:6, Colossians 3:6; but for the most part we place the other word in the margin: ajpeiqe>w , commonly, by “believe not,” Romans 11:30,31, 15:31, Acts 14:2, 17:5, 19:9; sometimes by “obey not,” Romans 2:8, 10:21, 1 Peter 2:7,8, 3:20, 4:17: and ajpeiqh>v everywhere by “disobedient,” Luke 1:17, Acts 26:19, Romans 1:30, 2 Timothy 3:2, Titus 1:16, 3:3. And the like variety may be observed in other interpreters, I suppose, as was said, that the translation of this word may be reduced unto some certain rule. j jApei>qeia and ajpeiqe>w do certainly denote a denial of the proper effect of pei>qw : the effect of persuasion is not produced. Now, this persuasion is not merely and solely an exhortation by words, but whatever it is that hath, or ought to have, a moral power to prevail with the mind of a man to do or not to do any thing, it hath the virtue of a persuasion. Thus in commands, in promises, in threatening, there is a persuasion. This is common to them all, that they are fitted and suited to prevail with the minds of men to do or not to do the things which they do respect. But there is some peculiar adjunct whereby they are distinguished as to their persuasive efficacy, — as authority in commands, faithfulness in promises, severity in threatenings, power and holiness in all. That which is persuasive in commands, as formally such, is authority and power; that which is so in promises, is faithfulness and power; and so of threatenings. Look, then, in any place what is the formal reason of the persuasion whose disappointment is expressed by ajpeiqe>w and ajpei>qeia , and we shall understand what it is that firstly and directly is intended by them. That whereby we answer a command is obedience, because of the authority wherewith it is attended, and our not being persuaded or prevailed on thereby is disobedience; that whereby we answer a promise is faith, or trust, or believing, and our failing herein is unbelief. Not that these things can be separated from one another, as though we could obey and not believe, or believe and not obey, but that they are thus distinguished one from another. Wherever, then, these expressions occur, we must consider whether they directly express the neglect of the command of God or of his promise. If it be of the former, they are duly rendered by “disobeying” and “disobedience;” if the latter, by “unbelief,” “incredulity,” and the like.

    Now, because these things are of a near alliance and cannot be separated, wherever one is expressed, the conjunction of the other is also understood; as in this place. Their ajpei>qeia did principally respect the promise of God to give them the land of Canaan, and his power to effect it, so that unbelief is firstly and principally intended, — they would not believe that he would or could bring them into that land; but yet because they were also under the command of God to go up and possess it, their unbelief was accompanied with disobedience and rebellion. This, then, is the meaning of these words in this place,’“ To whom did he swear that they should not enter into his rest?” It was unto them to whom the promise of it being made, and a command given that they should be ready to go up and possess it, they would not, they did not acquiesce in the faithfulness and power of God, believed not his word, and thereupon yielded not obedience unto his command. And this was sufficient both to provoke and justify the severity of God against them in his oath, and the execution of it. Obs. 1. All unbelief is accompanied with contumacy and rebellion.

    It is ajpei>qeia , and those in whom it is are not persuaded to comply with the mind and will of God. I intend that privative unbelief which hath been before explained. When the object or thing to be believed is sufficiently proposed and made known unto any person, which renders it his duty actually to believe, especially when it is proposed in the way and manner prescribed by God in the gospel, — that is, with the highest reasons, motives, and persuasive induce ments conceivable, — if such a person mix not the word spoken with faith, his unbelief is privative, and ruinous to his soul; and that because it hath contumacy and rebellion accompanying of it.

    Now, two things concur in disobedience, contumacy, and rebellion (for I use them in the same general sense, as those which agree in the same general nature, for they denote only distinct aggravations of the same sin):

    First, An unpersuadableness of mind, and that against evident convincing reasons. When a man is persuaded by such as have right, or whose duty it is so to deal with him unto the doing of any thing, or the belief of any truth, with and by the use of such arguments as are suited in such cases to work and prevail with the minds of men, and he have nothing to object to what is proposed unto him, and yet complieth not in a way of obedience or assent, we say such an one is obstinate and perverse, one not persuaded by reason; he is “contumax. ” See Proverbs 1:23-25. Secondly, A positive act of the will in opposition unto and in rejection of the things proposed unto it, as those which it likes not, it approves not of, but rather despiseth, Isaiah 30:15. Now, if among the arguments used to prevail with the mind, that of supreme authority be one, then rebellion is added unto disobedience and stubbornness, Romans 10:21. And both these concur in unbelief. Unbelievers may pretend, may plead other things, why they do not believe, or they may profess that they do believe when they are utter strangers from it; but the true reason of this abode in their state and condition is the unpersuadableness of their minds, and the disobedience of their wills, both attended with contumacy and rebellion against God. To evince this we may consider, — 1. That the gospel requiring faith in the promises, doth obviate or take away all objections that can be made against it on any account whatever.

    Objections against believing may arise either, — (1.) On the part of him who is the author of the things proposed to be believed; — and that either, [1.] as unto his power and faithfulness; or, [2.] as unto his will, goodness, and grace. Or, (2.) They may arise on the part of the things themselves proposed to be believed; — as that they are either, [1.] not good and desirable in themselves; or, [2.] not needful; or, [3.] not adequate or suited unto the end for which they are proposed. Or, (3.) On the part of the persons themselves required to believe; — as that they are not things for them, but that they are either [1.] too hard and difficult for them to attain; or [2.] too good for them to expect; or [3.] too far above them to understand. But now all these objections are obviated and prevented in the gospel And no ground is left unto any sinner whereon he may manage any of them against the exhor-rations and commands of it to believe` This hath been so well evidenced in particular by sundry holy and learned persons, that I shall not need to insist thereon. 2. The gospel makes it appear that its commands and exhortations to believe are most reasonable in themselves, and most reasonably to be accepted by sinners; and that on all accounts of reason whatever: as, (1.) Upon the account of righteousness in him that requires faith or belief of men. He that doth so may do so, and that justly. He requires no more but what is due unto him, and which cannot be denied him without the highest sin, folly, and disorder. This the gospel fully declares. It is God who requires faith in us; and it is so far from being unrighteous that he should so do, that it is of infinite grace and love that he will (2.) On the account of necessity on the part of them who are required to believe. This also the gospel lays open and naked before the eyes of men.

    It doth not leave them to flatter themselves with vain hopes, as though they might do well enough without answering the command of God in this matter, or might find out some other way for their help and relief; but it plainly and frequently declares that without the due performance of this duty they must perish, and lie under the wrath of God to eternity. (3.) On the account of the goodness, grace, and condescension that are in the proposal of the object of faith, and the command of believing. The things themselves are excellent and precious, and our advantage by an interest in them so great and unspeakable, as that they are everywhere in the gospel manifested to be the effects of infinite grace and love. (4.) Of safety: an end is proposed to be aimed at, and that deliverance from sin, death, hell, and vengeance everlasting; with the attainment of rest, peace, and blessedness, in the enjoyment of God. This end all convinced persons aim at; and there is a secret preparation in the seeds of natural light to incline the minds of men to seek after this end. Now, the gospel proposeth the things which it requires to be believed as the only way and means for the attaining this end; and that this way is safe and secure, that never any one miscarried in it, or shall do so for ever, it gives all the assurance that the word, pro-raise, covenant, and oath of God can yield or afford. On all which it follows that it is a reasonable thing that we should believe. 3. Consider the manner how the gospel proposeth unto us the object of faith, or the things which it requireth us to believe. It doth not do this by a mere naked revelation or declaration of them unto us, attended with a severe command. It adds entreaties, exhortations, reasonings, encouragements, promises, threatenings; every way it proceedeth that is meet and suited to prevail on the minds of rational creatures. All the things of our own eternal concernment are proposed unto us with that gentleness, tenderness, condescension, that love, that earnestness, that evidence of a high concern in us and our good, that patheticalness and compassionate affection, as will assuredly aggravate the guilt of rejecting the tender which it makes. 4. All these things the gospel proposeth, urgeth, presseth upon us in the name and authority of God. It requireth, exacteth, and commandeth faith in men, in a way of obedience unto the supreme authority of God.

    Now, if these things, and sundry others of the like consideration, do concur in the proposals and commands of the gospel, it is evident that sinners’ unbelief must have disobedience, contumacy, and rebellion accompanying of it. For can a man refuse that which is so proposed unto him, upon such reasons and considerations, in the way and manner intimated, all enforced with the authority of God, but that he must contract the guilt of the highest rebellion against him? And hence it is that the Scripture everywhere layeth the cause of men’s unbelief on their wills, their love of sin, their obstinacy and hardness of heart, as hath been before declared. And hence it will follow, that, — Obs. 2. Unbelief not only justifies but glorifies the greatest severities of God against them in whom it prevails.

    The apostle having declared the severity of God towards the people in the wilderness, adds this as the reason of it, — it was because of their “unbelief.” They provoked him by their unbelief, and therefore were so severely destroyed as he had declared. And besides, his principal intention is to manifest that those who follow them in the same sin, now under the gospel, would in like manner perish, and that eternally; and that in their destruction God will glorify himself. The truth of this proposition is sufficiently evinced from what hath been discoursed on that foregoing; for if there be that contumacy and rebellion attending unbelief which we have manifested, it will undeniably follow that God is exceeding righteous and glorious in his greatest severities against them who abide in the guilt of it; in this, that “he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him,” John 3:36. I shall add only one consideration more for the further evidencing of this truth: The design of God in the gospel, in and by the things proposed unto our faith, is to glorify himself and all the holy attributes of his nature. And this is the effect of his counsel and wisdom, after that many of them were, as it were, obscured by sin, unto the eternal ruin of sinners: God, I say, in the gospel, through the mediation of Christ, the principal subject of all the promises and immediate object of our faith, designeth to manifest and glorify his righteousness and holiness, Romans 3:24-26; his power and wisdom, 1 Corinthians 1:18,23,24; his mercy, grace, and goodness, Ephesians 1:6; his patience and forbearance, 2 Peter 3:9; his faithfulness and bounty in rewarding believers with eternal life, Romans 6:23. In sum, by this way and means he hath designed that manifestation of himself, his nature, his will, his goodness, his wisdom and counsel, wherein he will be admired, adored, and glorified by angels and men unto eternity, Thessalonians 1:10. This is the design of God in and by the gospel. And it is that which becomes him, because it is natural and necessary unto him in all things to will his own glory. Now, unbelief is nothing but the attempt of sin and Satan to frustrate the whole design of God, to make him a liar,1 John 5:10, to keep him from being owned, acknowledged, and worshipped, as God only wise, infinitely righteous, holy, faithful, gracious, and bountiful. And this upon the matter is to oppose the being of God. It is to deny that he was righteous and holy in requiring the punishment due to sin of our Sponsor or Mediator, — that is, in punishing sin; to deny that he was infinitely wise and gracious in sending his Son to save that which was lost; to deny that the way which he hath provided for the salvation of sinners is good, sufficient, and safe; to deny his faithfulness in the accomplishment of his promises, and his truth and veracity about what he hath affirmed concerning the salvation of sinners by Jesus Christ. And where, then, is the glory of God? or what is left unto him for which he should be glorified or worshipped? And can this atheistical, rebellious attempt be too severely revenged? Is not God not only justified in that decretory sentence, “He that believeth not shall be damned,” but doth it not in the hearts of all the creation cry aloud for the vindication of his glory from this great contempt cast upon it, and horrible attempt to frustrate his design for the advancement of it? As sure as God is God, unbelief shall not go unpunished. Yea, from the gracious salvation of believers, and righteous condemnation of them who will not believe, doth arise that great and triumphant glory wherein God will be admired and adored by the whole rational creation unto eternity. And this further appears; for, — Obs. 3. The oath of God is engaged against no sin but unbelief.

    As God hath given his oath for the confirmation and consolation of believers, both as to the things which they are to believe and as to their assented safety on their believing, and to nothing else directly in a way of grace, for it is annexed unto his covenant; so he hath in a way of justice engaged his oath against no sin but that of unbelief, and to the exclusion of unbelievers from eternal rest. “To whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not?” Other sins there are that have great provocations in them, — so had the murmurings of the people in the wilderness; but it is their relation unto unbelief, their growing upon that stock or root, that gives them such a height of provocation, as that God at any time enters a caveat against them by his oath. Arid in this sense it is not said amiss, that unbelief is the only damning sin; because as there is no other sin but may be, but shall be, remitted or pardoned unto men upon believing, so the formal consideration on which other sins fall under judgment, in them to whom the gospel is preached, is unbelief.

    These things I shall put together, to represent the apostle’s exhortation, with the grounds and reasons of it, as unto our own concernment therein.

    For these things belong unto us, and they may be improved unto the use of all sorts of persons; as, — 1. Unto them who have never much considered their duty or concernment in this matter. I intend not open and profligate sinners, though the terror hereof will one day reach them in particular. “This is their condemnation, that light is come into the world, and they love darkness more than light, because their deeds are evil.” But it is them whom I aim at, whose consciences are so far awakened as that they would abstain from sin, and do good, with respect unto their latter end. They would be saved from “the wrath to come,” but as to believing, or mixing the promise of the gospel with faith, they have not endeavored after it, or do not at all understand it. But this is the hinge on which their eternal condition doth turn. They may do well, therefore, to consider what hath been said from the apostle in this matter, and what is their concern therein, to examine their hearts what hath passed between God and them. For with whom is God provoked? concerning whom doth he thus swear that they shall not enter into his rest? Is it not against you, and such as you are, who believe not, whilst you continue in that state and condition? 2. Unto those who are in doubt whether they should believe or no; not notionally and indefinitely, but practically and in particular. This is the state of many in their minds and consciences, which causeth them to fluctuate all their days. But what is it that they doubt of in this matter? Is it whether it be their duty to believe or no? — it is indispensably required of them, by the command of God; so that not to do so is the greatest height of disobedience that they can make themselves guilty of. Is it whether they may do so or no, and whether they shall find acceptance with God in their so doing? — this calls the righteousness and faithfulness of God in question; it is no otherwise, where to believe is our duty by virtue of his command, to question our acceptance in the performance of that duty. Is it because of the many objections which they find arising up in themselves against themselves, which leave them no hope of a personal participation of the good things promised? — but what are all their objections before those evidences that are tendered in the gospel unto the contrary, which we have touched upon? The truth is, if men will not believe, it is out of love to sin, and a dislike of the design of God to glorify himself by Jesus Christ; and what will be the issue thereof hath been declared. If, then, it be a question with you whether you shall believe or not, consider what will be the