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you with unutterable joy. I grant, your enemies are mighty, and your corruptions great, and your temptations manifold: but still I boldly adopt the appeal in my text, and ask, How shall you not escape, if you seek this salvation? Look at others, and see how they have escaped. See in those who crucified the Lord of glory, how speedy and effectual was the change wrought on them. See what has been already done for that multitude whom no man can number, and who are already enjoying that salvation around the throne of God. Soon shall ye be of that happy number. Only let the Gospel salvation be sought by you as the one thing needful, and you shall never feel the want of it in time or eternity. Give yourselves thoroughly to the attainment of it; and " shall not be in vain in the Lord."]
CHRIST'S SUPERIORITY TO ANGELS.
Heb. ii. 6-8. One in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him? Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands: thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet.
OUR blessed Lord has said, "Search the Scriptures; for they are they which testify of me." Hence it appears, that the Jews were highly privileged; because, if they would only look up to God for the illumination of their minds, they had within their reach an infallible directory in their way to heaven. But we are still more highly privileged, in that we have a multitude of passages pointed out to us by men, who were themselves inspired of God to discern and to explain the meaning of them. If we had been left to ourselves, we might have doubted whether our interpretations of the Scripture were just but, when holy men of God are moved by the Holy Ghost, to open and apply those very words to Christ, which the prophets, under the influence of the same Spirit, spake of him, we proceed without any fear of error or delusion.
In the Epistle to the Hebrews, the types and prophecies of the Old Testament are more fully opened
to us, than in any other part of the apostolic writings. That epistle was evidently written on purpose to point out the connexion between the Jewish and Christian dispensations; to shew their perfect correspondence with each other, and the completion of Judaism in Christianity. It would be profitable to trace this through the whole epistle: but we must content ourselves with noticing only the passage before us.
Let us then consider,
I. The testimony here adduced
The manner in which the Apostle speaks of this passage of Holy Writ is somewhat remarkable: at first it appears as if he himself did not recollect the author, or the part of Scripture where the passage occurred; but the fact is, that the Jews were so conversant with their Scriptures, as not to need any thing more than the mere citation of the words: the writer of them, and the place, were sufficiently known to all. What its import is, we can be at no loss to determine.
[David, contemplating the starry heavens, and the perfections of God as displayed in them, breaks out into a devout acknowledgment of the condescension of God, in noticing so poor and abject a creature as man; and his goodness in having subjected to man the whole animal creationa. This is the primary meaning of the text: and, if we had not been instructed by God himself to look for any thing further, we should have rested in that as its full and only import. But we know on infallible authority, that there was a prophetic meaning in the psalm; and that it referred to the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. Having this clew given us, we find, that the mystical sense of the passage is, if we may so speak, by far the most literal. The words, in fact, are inexplicable, as referred to man, whether in his innocent or fallen state: for Adam was not reduced from a higher state in order to be made lower than the angels: nor is man, in his fallen state, "a little lower than they, but a great deal lower. Moreover, fallen man was not crowned with glory and honour;" nor are all the creatures in a state of subjection to him. The very words themselves therefore lead our thoughts to Christ, b ἠλάττωσας conveys this idea.
a Ps. viii. 3—8.
in whom alone they ever received their accomplishment: and the manner in which the Apostle quotes them, shews, that the Jews themselves had interpreted them in that very sense in which he quoted them: for he is arguing with the Jews, to shew them the superiority of Christ to Moses, their great lawgiver, and to the angels, by whose ministration their law was given: and, if he had quoted passages from their writings which did not bear directly on his point, or had put a construction upon them which had not been generally received, they would have denied his interpretation of the passages he adduced: and consequently his whole argument would have immediately fallen to the ground.
If any thing further were wanted to shew that the testimony is here properly adduced, we might observe, that our blessed Lord himself quotes the very words before the text as applicable to himself, and as being generally understood to refer to the Messiah.]
Having ascertained the meaning of the testimony, let us consider,
II. The points established by it
Some interpreters understand the text as quoted only in an accommodated sense: but the words themselves, and the scope of the Apostle's argument, prove that we must understand it as a prophecy that has been strictly and literally fulfilled. In this view it contains much respecting the Lord Jesus: It proves, I. The dignity of his person
[The scope of the Apostle's argument in the two first. chapters of this epistle is, to shew that Christ is superior to the heavenly hosts, and "hath by inheritance a more excellent name than they." Him the Father acknowledges as his only-begotten Sond: and commands all the angels to adore hime. Him he addresses as the Creator and Governor of all things, the eternal, immutable Jehovah', to whom all adverse powers shall assuredly be subjected: to whom also the Christian dispensation ("of which St. Paul speaks," and which he designated as the "world to come,") is altogether committed, that he may order every thing relating to it according to his sovereign will and pleasure. As for angels, he has never spoken such things concerning them, or committed such power
c Ps. ii. 2. with Matt. xxi. 15, 16.
d Heb. i. 5.
8 Heb. i. 13.
h Heb. ii. 5.
to them. They are the fellow-servants of the saints, united with them as part of the Church over which Christ presides', and appointed to minister unto them in the capacity of servants m. However venerable therefore they are in themselves, and whatever honour God put upon them in the giving of the law, they are infinitely below the Lord Jesus, who is their Creator, their Governor, and their God. In his human nature he was "made a little lower than they;" but in his pre-existent nature he was infinitely above them. O that we may have worthy conceptions of his Divine Majesty, and ever be ready to address him in the words of Thomas, "My Lord, and my God!"]
2. The truth of his Messiahship
[Here is a prophecy that must receive an accomplishment: there must be a person superior to the angels in his own nature, and made lower than they by the assumption of our nature. He must submit to this humiliation " for the purpose of suffering death," as the penalty due to the sins of men. Having "tasted death for every man," he must be raised, and "crowned with glory and honour," and must " have all things in heaven, earth, and hell, put under his feet." Now then we ask, In whom has this, or any part of it, been fulfilled? Who has experienced either the humiliation or the exaltation which are here predicted? That Jesus has fulfilled the prophecy, we know: for, "being in the form of God, and accounting it no robbery to be equal with God, he made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant: and having submitted to death, even the death of the cross, he has been exalted, and has had a name given him above every name, that every knee should bow to him, and every tongue confess him to be the Lord, to the glory of God the Father"." Is there any one else of whom these things, or any one of them, can be spoken? Assuredly not: "But we see Jesus" thus humbled, and thus exalted: and, consequently, Jesus is, beyond all doubt, "the Christ, the Saviour of the world."] 3. The certainty of his triumphs
[When he was on earth "he was crucified through weakness; but now he liveth by the power of God." He is not only" crowned with glory and honour," as his followers will be, but is "set far above all principality and power, and
i Heb. ii. 5.
1 Eph. i. 10.
n Phil. ii. 6—11. τωσας in the text.
。 ver. 9.
k Rev. xix. 10. and xxii. 9.
m Heb. i. 14.
where ékévwoɛ in ver. 7. corresponds with λár
might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: and being constituted Head over all things to the Church, he filleth all in all," supplying every member of it with light and life, even as the sun does in the material world". The Apostle indeed justly observes," We see not yet all things put under him." But we see enough to assure us, that all things shall in due time be put under him. See to what a state he himself was reduced, when he lay sealed up, and guarded in the silent tomb! but he rose triumphant, and ascended up to heaven, and "sits as King upon God's holy hill of Zion." See how quickly he triumphed over all the lusts and prejudices of mankind, and subdued millions to the obedience of faith; and this through the instrumentality of a few poor fishermen! See how he carries on his victories yet daily through the world! Indeed every saint is a living witness for him, and a pledge to the world that nothing in the universe shall finally withstand his power.]
Surely this SUBJECT is full,
1. Of consolation to the godly
[You are weak; and your enemies are mighty: but is this any ground for despondency. If an angel had been set at the head of the Church, you might well be afraid'; but under the care of Jesus you have nothing to fear. Think with yourselves, is not the Lord Jesus possessed of " all power, both in heaven and earth?" Is there not a fulness treasured up in him,” on purpose that " you may receive out of it, even grace for grace? Does not all the fulness of the Godhead dwell in him bodily?" and has he not said, "My grace is sufficient for you?" Fear not, then; but " be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus." Adopt the triumphant language which the prophet has put into your mouth; and "say, In the Lord have I righteousness and strength." Fear not, I say; for "through His strength you shall be enabled to do all things," and "be more than conquerors through Him that loved you."]
2. Of terror to the ungodly
[Because you behold not many signal interpositions of his power, you think that you may rebel against him with impunity. But see whether this prophecy has not been so far fulfilled already, as to give you reason to expect its full accomplishment! God has even "sworn that every knee