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quarter of the globe, and however hidden from mortal eyes, are visible to him b All future events, whomsoever they concern, even the eternal states of all that ever shall be born, are known by him with as much certainty as if they were already accomplished-— —]
2. All men-
[The actions of men are not only noticed by him, but weighed in a most perfect balance a. Their words are all distinctly heard by him, and recorded before him. Their very thoughts, how secret or transient soever they be, are also marked, and written by him in the book of his remembrance
--The priests, when inspecting the sacrifices that had been flayed and cut asunder, did not so infallibly discern any blemish that might be found, either on their external part or in their inwards, as God discerns "every imagination of the thoughts of our hearts" —
That we may not give our assent to this truth without being suitably affected with it, let us consider,
II. The concern we have in it—
The words of the text include a double interpretation
We shall include both senses by observing,
1. "We have to do with God" in every transaction of our lives
[The law of God extends to the whole of our conduct: every action therefore, with every word and thought, is an act of obedience to him or of disobedience: there is not a possibility of detaching ourselves from him for an instant, so as to assert our independence in the least respect. Our minds should be constantly full of love to him; and our every purpose and desire should have respect to his glory. How deeply then are we interested in approving ourselves to him! If we had merely to do with our fellow-creatures, it might suffice to have our actions right, even though there were some defect in our motives and principles; but when we have to do with the heart-searching God, we should be careful that every motion of our hearts be agreeable to his mind and will.]
b Job xxviii. 24.
d 1 Sam. ii. 3. Job xxxi. 4.
f Ezek. xi. 5. Gen. vi. 5.
c Isai. xlvi. 9, 10. Acts xv. 8.
e Ps. cxxxix. 4. 2 Kings vi. 12.
8 Γυμνὰ καὶ τετραχηλισμένα. This may be further illustrated by Ps. xi. 4. "his eye-lids try," &c.
h1 Cor. x. 31.
2. We must "give an account to Godi" of all that we do
[Every thing we do is noticed by God, in order that it may be recompensed at the day of judgment. The book of his remembrance will assuredly be opened in that day'; and every action, word, and thought, during our whole lives, will have an influence on his decision. However trivial any thing may be in our eyes, or even imperceptible by us, it will enhance our happiness or misery to all eternity: how anxious then should we be to walk as in God's sight! and how should we labour daily to lay up an increasing weight of glory, instead of" treasuring up wrath against the day of wrath m!" We may IMPROVE this subject,
1. For the awakening of the careless—
[You may think, like those of old, that God does not see or regard your ways"; but, if Achan was detected and punished by God's immediate interference in this world, how much more shall you be in the day of righteous retribution!]
2. For the encouragement of the sincere—
[If God notices the defects of his people, he both makes allowance for them, and observes also their excellencies P: nor have they so much as a good desire, which he does not mark with special approbation. Let all then stir up their hearts to seek and serve him': so, notwithstanding their defects, they shall receive his plaudit in the day of judgment.]
1 Πρὸς ὃν ἡμῖν ὁ λόγος. k Jer. xvii. 10.
1 Rev. xx. 12.
n Ps. xciv. 7.
ENCOURAGEMENT DERIVED FROM THE CHARACTER OF
Heb. iv. 15, 16. We have not an High-priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
NOTWITHSTANDING the excellency of the Christian religion, when compared with that of the
Jews, there were not wanting many specious objections, which a Jew might bring against it, and which, on a wavering and ill-instructed mind, might operate with considerable force. A Jew might, with some appearance of truth, say, 'We know that our religion is from heaven: we know that the sacrifices which we offer are of divine appointment: we see the priest actually making an atonement for us: we behold the high-priest carrying the blood of the sacrifice within the vail and we hear him pronouncing the very benediction which God put into his mouth. You Christians lose all these advantages, and rely on mere notions of your own, which have nothing visible, nothing real.' But to these objections the Christian may reply, 'We have a better sacrifice, and a greater High-priest than you: and though we see neither the sacrifice nor the High-priest with our bodily eyes, we know he is entered into a better tabernacle, that is, into heaven itself, "there to appear in the presence of God for us:" and therefore do we "hold fast our profession," yea, and will hold it fast, whatever menaces, or whatever allurements, be employed to turn us from it.'
But if the greatness of our High-priest be sufficient to determine us, what will not the consideration of his goodness be? Let us but contemplate that, and we shall need nothing further to keep us steadfast even to the end: for we shall have a perfect assurance that we shall never want any thing that is requisite either for our spiritual or eternal welfare.
This is the idea suggested in the text; from whence we are naturally led to notice,
I. The character of our great High-priest
Though he was "the Son of God," "Jehovah's Fellow," "the brightness of his Father's glory, and the express image of his person," yet "He was in all points tempted like as we are."
[In bodily sufferings, he was tried with hunger and thirst, and weariness and pain; and had not even a place where to lay his head. As for persecutions from men, no human being
was ever pursued with such bitter unrelenting animosity as he. No terms were too vile to be applied to him: he was called a glutton and a wine-bibber," a deceiver and blasphemer, a Samaritan and a devil: and the whole nation rose against him with that indignant cry, " Crucify him, crucify him." Of his assaults from Satan, what shall we say? What words can express the conflicts he maintained with all the powers of darkness, in the wilderness, and in the garden of Gethsemane, when through the agonies of his soul his whole body was bathed in a bloody sweat? From the hidings of his Father's face also, and from a sense of his wrath, when, as we are told, "it pleased the Lord to bruise him," his sufferings infinitely surpassed all that any created imagination can conceive. When his soul was sore troubled, even unto death, he prayed indeed for the removal of the bitter cup, yet drank it, when put into his hands, without complaint: but when he was called to endure the consummation of his misery in the hidings of his Father's face, he could not forbear pouring forth that heartrending complaint, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Thus was he foremost in almost every trial that we can possibly be called upon to sustain; and notwithstanding in him was no sin, he was, far beyond any of the sinners of mankind, "a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief."]
Having experienced in his own person all that we can feel, he sympathizes with us in all our trials
[The double negation in our text is very expressive; and imports much more than a simple affirmation. Our Highpriest is most assuredly a tender sympathizing Friend: and one great end for which he submitted to be tempted like us, was, that he might learn to appreciate aright our sufferings, and "be able to succour us in our temptations"." He now can say, more emphatically than heretofore, "I know their sorrows" and more justly may it be said of him, "His soul is grieved for the misery of Israel." So acutely does he feel for all his members, that "whoso persecuteth them, persecutes him ";" and "whoso toucheth one of them, toucheth the apple of his eye." What he felt when he wept at the grave of Lazarus, he still feels, as it were, when he beholds his sorrowing and afflicted people. From whatever quarter their troubles arise, from men or devils, from body or from mind, yea, or even from the hand of God himself, his compassion is the same, and his sympathy is ready to exert itself for their relief.]
Such being indisputably the character of our Highpriest, let us contemplate,
II. The encouragement to be derived from it in all our addresses at the throne of grace
The thought of having such an High-priest passed into the heavens to further our cause in the presence of his God, emboldens us to come to God himself,
1. Without fear, as arising from a sense of our own unworthiness
[Had we not such an Advocate, it would be impossible for us to draw nigh to God with any hope of acceptance. To such unholy creatures as we, God would be nothing but " a consuming fire." But, when we recollect what a sacrifice our great High-priest has offered, and that "he is entered into heaven with his own blood," and that he pleads the merit of that blood in behalf of his believing people, how can we doubt of acceptance through his prevailing intercession? Be it so, our sins have been most heinous: yet are we assured, that "his blood will cleanse from all sin," and that they who are washed in it, shall be as wool, and their crimson sins be white as snow. Had we the guilt of the whole world accumulated on our own souls, still need we not despair, since he who is our Advocate is also "a Propitiation for us, and not for our sins only, but also for the sins of the whole world'." If the blood of bulls and goats prevailed for Israel to the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who, through the Eternal Spirit, offered himself without spot to God, purge our conscience from dead works to serve the living Gods. With such an Advocate we have nothing to fear. We are sure that "him the Father heareth always:" and that "he is able to save to the uttermost all who come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them." He has the names of all his people on his breastplate, and on his heart: and the chief of sinners may be as confident of acceptance through him, as those who have comparatively little to be forgiven1.]
2. Without doubt, as arising from the greatness of the things we have to ask
[All that we can need is comprehended in two things, "mercy and grace;" the one, for the pardon of our past transgressions; the other, for the preservation of our souls from sin
f 1 John i. 2.
h Heb. vii. 25.
Heb. ix. 13, 14.