Hebrews 2

CHAPTER II.

The use we should make of the preceding doctrine, and the danger

of neglecting this great salvation, 1-4.

The future world is not put in subjection to the angels, but all

is under the authority of Christ, 5-8.

Jesus has tasted death for every man, 9.

Nor could he accomplish man's redemption without being

incarnated and without dying; by which he destroys the devil,

and delivers all that believe on him from the fear of death and

spiritual bondage, 10-15.

Christ took not upon him the nature of angels, but the nature of

Abraham, that he might die, and make reconciliation for the

sins of the people, 16-18.

NOTES ON CHAP. II.

Verse 1. Therefore] Because God has spoken to us by his Son;

and because that Son is so great and glorious a personage; and

because the subject which is addressed to us is of such infinite

importance to our welfare.

We ought to give the more earnest heed] We should hear the

doctrine of Christ with care, candour, and deep concern.

Lest at any time we should let them slip.] μηποτεπαραρρυωμεν.

"Lest at any time we should leak out." This is a metaphor taken

from unstanch vessels; the staves not being close together, the

fluid put into them leaks through the chinks and crevices.

Superficial hearers lose the benefit of the word preached, as the

unseasoned vessel does its fluid; nor can any one hear to the

saving of his soul, unless he give most earnest heed, which he

will not do unless he consider the dignity of the speaker, the

importance of the subject, and the absolute necessity of the

salvation of his soul. St. Chrysostom renders it μηποτε

απολωμεθαεκπεσωμεν, lest we perish, lest we fall away.

Verse 2. If the word spoken by angels] The law, (according to

some,) which was delivered by the mediation of angels, God

frequently employing these to communicate his will to men. See

Ac 7:53; and Ga 3:19. But the apostle probably means those

particular messages which God sent by angels, as in the case of

Lot, "Ge 19:12" &c., and such like.

Was steadfast] Was so confirmed by the Divine authority, and so

strict, that it would not tolerate any offence, but inflicted

punishment on every act of transgression, every case in which the

bounds laid down by the law, were passed over; and every act of

disobedience in respect to the duties enjoined.

Received a just recompense] That kind and degree of punishment

which the law prescribed for those who broke it.

Verse 3. How shall we escape] If they who had fewer privileges

than we have, to whom God spoke in divers manners by angels and

prophets, fell under the displeasure of their Maker, and were

often punished with a sore destruction; how shall we escape wrath

to the uttermost if we neglect the salvation provided for us, and

proclaimed to us by the Son of God? Their offence was high; ours,

indescribably higher. The salvation mentioned here is the whole

system of Christianity, with all the privileges it confers;

properly called a salvation, because, by bringing such an

abundance of heavenly light into the world, it saves or delivers

men from the kingdom of darkness, ignorance, error, superstition,

and idolatry; and provides all the requisite means to free them

from the power, guilt, and contamination of sin. This salvation

is great when compared with that granted to the Jews: 1. The

Jewish dispensation was provided for the Jews alone; the Christian

dispensation for all mankind. 2. The Jewish dispensation was full

of significant types and ceremonies; the Christian dispensation is

the substance of all those types. 3. The Jewish dispensation

referred chiefly to the body and outward state of man-washings and

external cleansings of the flesh; the Christian, to the inward

state-purifying the heart and soul, and purging the conscience

from dead works. 4. The Jewish dispensation promised temporal

happiness; the Christian, spiritual. 5. The Jewish dispensation

belonged chiefly to time; the Christian, to eternity. 6. The

Jewish dispensation had its glory; but that was nothing when

compared to the exceeding glory of the Gospel. 7. Moses

administered the former; Jesus Christ, the Creator, Governor, and

Saviour of the world, the latter. 8. This is a great salvation,

infinitely beyond the Jewish; but how great no tongue or pen can

describe.

Those who neglect it, αμελησαντες, are not only they who oppose

or persecute it, but they who pay no regard to it; who do not

meddle with it, do not concern themselves about it, do not lay it

to heart, and consequently do not get their hearts changed by it.

Now these cannot escape the coming judgments of God; not merely

because they oppose his will and commandment, but because they sin

against the very cause and means of their deliverance. As there

is but one remedy by which their diseased souls can be saved, so

by refusing to apply that one remedy they must necessarily perish.

Which at the first began to be spoken] Though John the Baptist

went before our Lord to prepare his way, yet he could not be

properly said to preach the Gospel; and even Christ's preaching

was only a beginning of the great proclamation: it was his own

Spirit in the apostles and evangelists, the men who heard him

preach, that opened the whole mystery of the kingdom of heaven.

And all this testimony had been so confirmed in the land of Judea

as to render it indubitable; and consequently there was no excuse

for their unbelief, and no prospect of their escape if they should

continue to neglect it.

Verse 4. God also bearing them witness] He did not leave the

confirmation of these great truths to the testimony of men; he

bore his own testimony to them by signs, wonders, various

miracles, and distributions of the Holy Ghost, πνευματοςαγιου

μερισμοις. And all these were proved to come from himself; for no

man could do those miracles at his own pleasure, but the power to

work them was given according to God's own will; or rather, God

himself wrought them, in order to accredit the ministry of his

servants.

For the meaning of signs, wonders, &c.,

See the note on "De 4:34".

Verse 5. The world to come] That olam habba, the

world to come, meant the days of the Messiah among the Jews, is

most evident, and has been often pointed out in the course of

these notes; and that the administration of this kingdom has not

been intrusted to angels, who were frequently employed under the

law, is also evident, for the government is on the shoulder of

Jesus Christ; he alone has the keys of death and hell; he alone

shuts, and no man opens; opens, and no man shuts; he alone has the

residue of the Spirit; he alone is the Governor of the universe,

the Spirit, Soul, Heart, and Head of the Church: all is in his

authority, and under subjection to him.

But some think that the world to come means future glory, and

suppose the words are spoken in reference to the Angel of God's

presence, Ex 23:20, who introduced the Israelites into the

promised land, which land is here put in opposition to the

heavenly inheritance. And it is certain that in this sense also

we have an entrance into the holiest only by the blood of Jesus.

Dr. Macknight contends for this latter meaning, but the former

appears more consistent with the Jewish phraseology.

Verse 6. But one in a certain place] This one is David; and

the certain place, Ps 8:4-6. But why does the apostle use

this indeterminate mode of quotation? Because it was common thus

to express the testimony of any of the inspired writers;

amar hahu kethab, thus saith a certain scripture. So Philo,

De Plant. Noe: ειπεγαρπου, he saith somewhere; ειπεθαπτις,

a certain person saith. Thus even the heathens were accustomed

to quote high authorities; so Plato, Tim.: ωςεφητις, as a

certain person saith, meaning Heraclitus. See in Rosenmuller.

It is such a mode of quotation as we sometimes use when we speak

of a very eminent person who is well known; as that very eminent

person, that great philosopher, that celebrated divine, that

inspired teacher of the Gentiles, the royal psalmist, the

evangelical prophet, hath said. The mode of quotation therefore

implies, not ignorance, but reverence.

What is man] This quotation is verbatim from the Septuagint;

and, as the Greek is not as emphatic as the Hebrew, I will quote

the original: mah enosh ki

thizkerennu, uben Adam ki thiphkedennu; What is miserable man,

that thou rememberest him? and the son of Adam, that thou visitest

him? The variation of the terms in the original is very emphatic.

Adam, , is the name given to man at his creation, and

expresses his origin, and generic distinction from all other

animals. Enosh, , which signifies sick, weak, wretched, was

never given to him till after his fall. The son of Adam means

here, any one or all of the fallen posterity of the first man.

That God should remember in the way of mercy these wretched

beings, is great condescension; that he should visit them,

manifest himself to them, yea, even dwell among them, and at last

assume their nature, and give up his life to ransom them from the

bitter pains of eternal death, is mercy and love indescribable and

eternal.

Verse 7. Thou madest him a little lower than the angels] We

must again have recourse to the original from which this quotation

is made: vattechasserehu meat meelohim. If

this be spoken of man as he came out of the hands of his Maker, it

places him at the head of all God's works; for literally

translated it is: Thou hast made him less than God. And this is

proved by his being made in the image and likeness of God, which

is spoken of no other creature either in heaven or earth; and it

is very likely that in his original creation he stood at the head

of all the works of God, and the next to his Maker. This

sentiment is well expressed in the following lines, part of a

paraphrase on this psalm, by the Rev. C. Wesley:-

"Him with glorious majesty

Thy grace vouchsafed to crown:

Transcript of the One in Three,

He in thine image shone.

Foremost of created things,

Head of all thy works he stood;

Nearest the great King of kings,

And little less than God."

If we take the words as referring to Jesus Christ, then they must

be understood as pointing out the time of his humiliation, as in

Heb 2:9;

and the little lower, βραχυτι, in both verses, must mean for a

short time, or a little while, as is very properly inserted among

our marginal readings. Adam was originally made higher than the

angels, but by sin he is now brought low, and subjected to death;

for the angelic nature is not mortal. Thus, taking the words in

their common acceptation, man in his present state may be said to

be lessened below the angels. Jesus Christ, as the eternal Logos,

or God with God, could not die, therefore a body was prepared for

him; and thus βραχυτι, for a short while, he was made lower than

the angels, that he might be capable of suffering death. And

indeed the whole of the passage suits him better than it does any

of the children of men, or than even Adam himself in a state of

innocence; for it is only under the feet of Jesus that all things

are put in subjection, and it was in consequence of his

humiliation that he had a name above every name, that at the name

of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in

earth, and things under the earth, Php 2:9-11. Therefore he must

be infinitely higher than the angels, for they, as well as all the

things in heaven, bow in subjection to him.

Thou crownedst him with glory and honour] This was strictly

true of Adam in his state of innocence, for he was set over all

things in this lower world; all sheep and oxen, the beasts of the

field, the fowl of the air, the fish of the sea, and whatsoever

passeth over the paths of the seas, Ps 8:7, 8. So far all this

perfectly applies to Adam; but it is evident the apostle takes all

in a much higher sense, that of universal dominion; and hence he

says, he left nothing that is not put under him. These verses,

collated with the above passage from the Epistle to the

Philippians, mutually illustrate each other. And the crowning

Christ with glory and honour must refer to his exaltation after

his resurrection, in which, as the victorious Messiah, he had all

power given to him in heaven and earth. And although we do not

yet see all things put under him, for evil men, and evil spirits,

are only under the subjection of control, yet we look forward to

that time when the whole world shall be bowed to his sway, and

when the stone cut out of the mountain without hands shall become

great, and fill the whole earth. What was never true of the first

Adam, even in his most exalted state, is true of the second Adam,

the Lord Jesus Christ; and to him, and to him alone, it is most

evident that the apostle applies these things; and thus he is

higher than the angels, who never had nor can have such dominion

and consequent glory.

Verse 9. Should taste death for every man.] In consequence of

the fall of Adam, the whole human race became sinful in their

nature, and in their practice added transgression to sinfulness

of disposition, and thus became exposed to endless perdition. To

redeem them Jesus Christ took on him the nature of man, and

suffered the penalty due to their sins.

It was a custom in ancient times to take off criminals by making

them drink a cup of poison. Socrates was adjudged to drink a cup

of the juice of hemlock, by order of the Athenian magistrates:

πινειντοφαπμακοναναγκαζοντωντωναρχοντων. The sentence was

one of the most unjust ever pronounced on man. Socrates was not

only innocent of every crime laid to his charge, but was the

greatest benefactor to his country. He was duly conscious of the

iniquity of his sentence, yet cheerfully submitted to his

appointed fate; for when the officer brought in the poison, though

his friends endeavoured to persuade him that he had yet a

considerable time in which he might continue to live, yet, knowing

that every purpose of life was now accomplished, he refused to

avail himself of a few remaining moments, seized the cup, and

drank off the poison with the utmost cheerfulness and alacrity;

επισχομενοςκαιμαλαευχερωςκαιευκολωςεξεπιε. Plato, Phaed.

sub. fin. The reference in the text seems to point out the whole

human race as being accused, tried, found guilty, and condemned,

each having his own poisoned cup to drink; and Jesus, the

wonderful Jesus, takes the cup out of the hand of each, and

chearfully and with alacrity drinks off the dregs! Thus having

drunk every man's poisoned cup, he tasted that death which they

must have endured, had not their cup been drunk by another. Is

not this the cup to which he refers, Mt 26:39:

O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me? But

without his drinking it, the salvation of the world would have

been impossible; and therefore he cheerfully drank it in the place

of every human soul, and thus made atonement for the sin of the

whole world: and this he did, χαριτιθεου, by the grace, mercy, or

infinite goodness of God. Jesus Christ, incarnated, crucified,

dying, rising, ascending to heaven, and becoming our Mediator at

God's right hand, is the full proof of God's infinite love to the

human race.

Instead of χαριτιθεου, by the grace of God, some MSS. and the

Syriac have χωριςθεου, without God, or God excepted; i.e. the

manhood died, not the Deity. This was probably a marginal gloss,

which has crept into the text of many MSS., and is quoted by some

of the chief of the Greek and Latin fathers. Several critics

contend that the verse should be read thus: "But we see Jesus, who

for a little while was made less than angels, that by the grace of

God he might taste death for every man, for the suffering of death

crowned with glory and honour." Howsoever it be taken, the sense

is nearly the same: 1. Jesus Christ was incarnated. 2. He

suffered death as an expiatory victim. 3. The persons in whose

behalf he suffered were the whole human race; every man-all human

creatures. 4. This Jesus is now in a state of the highest glory

and honour.

Verse 10. For it became him] It was suitable to the Divine

wisdom, the requisitions of justice, and the economy of grace, to

offer Jesus as a sacrifice, in order to bring many sons and

daughters to glory.

For whom-and by whom] God is the cause of all things, and he is

the object or end of them.

Perfect through sufferings.] Without suffering he could not

have died, and without dying he could not have made an atonement

for sin. The sacrifice must be consummated, in order that he

might be qualified to be the Captain or Author of the salvation

of men, and lead all those who become children of God, through

faith in him, into eternal glory. I believe this to be the sense

of the passage; and it appears to be an answer to the grand

objection of the Jews: "The Messiah is never to be conquered, or

die; but will be victorious, and endure for ever." Now the

apostle shows that this is not the counsel of God; on the

contrary, that it was entirely congruous to the will and nature of

God, by whom, and for whom are all things, to bring men to eternal

glory through the suffering and death of the Messiah. This is the

decision of the Spirit of God against their prejudices; and on the

Divine authority this must be our conclusion. Without the passion

and death of Christ, the salvation of man would have been

impossible.

As there are many different views of this and some of the

following verses, I shall introduce a paraphrase of the whole from

Dr. Dodd, who gives the substance of what Doddridge, Pearce, and

Owen, have said on this subject.

-Verse 10. For it became him, &c.] Such has been the conduct

of God in the great affair of our redemption; and the beauty and

harmony of it will be apparent in proportion to the degree in

which it is examined; for, though the Jews dream of a temporal

Messiah as a scheme conducive to the Divine glory, it well became

him-it was expedient, that, in order to act worthy of himself, he

should take this method; Him, for whom are all things, and by whom

are all things-that glorious Being who is the first cause and last

end of all, in pursuit of the great and important design he had

formed, of conducting many, whom he is pleased to adopt as his

sons, to the possession of that inheritance of glory intended for

them, to make and constitute Jesus, his first-begotten and well

beloved Son, the Leader and Prince of their salvation, and to make

him perfect, or completely fit for the full execution of his

office, by a long train of various and extreme sufferings, whereby

he was, as it were, solemnly consecrated to it. -Verse 11. Now,

in consequence of this appointment, Jesus, the great Sanctifier,

who engages and consecrates men to the service of God, and they

who are sanctified, (i.e. consecrated and introduced to God with

such acceptance,) are all of one family-all the descendants of

Adam, and in a sense the seed of Abraham; for which cause he is

not ashamed to call them, whom he thus redeems, and presents to

the Divine favour, his brethren. -Verse 12. Saying, in the

person of David, who represented the Messiah in his sufferings and

exaltation, I will declare thy name to my brethren; in the midst

of the Church will I praise thee. -Verse 13. And again, speaking

as a mortal man, exposed to such exercises of faith in trials and

difficulties as others were, he says, in a psalm which sets forth

his triumph over his enemies: I will trust in him, as other good

men have done in all ages; and again, elsewhere in the person of

Isaiah: Behold I, and the children which my God hath given me, are

for signs and for wonders. -Verse 14. Seeing then those whom he

represents in one place and another, as the children of the same

family with himself, were partakers of flesh and blood, he himself

in like manner participated in them, that thereby becoming capable

of those sufferings to which, without such a union with flesh,

this Divine Sanctifier could not have been obnoxious, he might, by

his own voluntary and meritorious death, abolish and depose him

who, by Divine permission, had the empire of death, and led it in

his train when he made the first invasion on mankind; that is, the

devil, the great artificer of mischief and destruction; at the

beginning the murderer of the human race; who still seems to

triumph in the spread of mortality, which is his work, and who may

often, by God's permission, be the executioner of it. -Verse 15.

But Christ, the great Prince of mercy and life, graciously

interposed, that he might deliver those miserable captives of

Satan-mankind in general, and the dark and idolatrous Gentiles in

particular, who, through fear of death, were, or justly might have

been, all their lifetime, obnoxious to bondage; having nothing to

expect in consequence of it, if they rightly understood their

state, but future misery; whereas now, changing their lord, they

have happily changed their condition, and are, as many as have

believed in him, the heirs of eternal life."

Verse 11. For both he that sanctifieth] The word οαγιαζων

does not merely signify one who sanctifies or makes holy, but one

who makes atonement or reconciliation to God; and answers to the

Hebrew caphar, to expiate. See Ex 29:33-36. He that

sanctifies is he that makes atonement; and they who are sanctified

are they who receive that atonement, and, being reconciled unto

God, become his children by adoption, through grace.

In this sense our Lord uses the word, Joh 17:19:

For their sakes I sanctify myself; υπεραυτωνεγωαγιαζωεμαυτον,

on their account I consecrate myself to be a sacrifice. This is

the sense in which this word is used generally through this

epistle.

Are all of one] εξενοςπαντες. What this one means has given

rise to various conjectures; father, family, blood, seed, race,

nature, have all been substituted; nature seems to be that

intended, see Heb 2:14; and the conclusion of this verse confirms

it. Both the Sanctifier and the sanctified-both Christ and his

followers, are all of the same nature; for as the children were

partakers of flesh and blood, i.e. of human nature, he partook of

the same, and thus he was qualified to become a sacrifice for man.

He is not ashamed to call them brethren] Though, as to his

Godhead, he is infinitely raised above men and angels; yet as he

has become incarnate, notwithstanding his dignity, he blushes not

to acknowledge all his true followers as his brethren.

Verse 12. I will declare thy name] See Ps 22:22. The

apostle certainly quotes this psalm as referring to Jesus Christ,

and these words as spoken by Christ unto the Father, in reference

to his incarnation; as if he had said: "When I shall be

incarnated, I will declare thy perfections to mankind; and among

my disciples I will give glory to thee for thy mercy to the

children of men." See the fulfilment of this, Joh 1:18:

No man hath seen God at any time; the ONLY-BEGOTTEN SON, which is

in the bosom of the Father, HE HATH DECLARED HIM. Nor were the

perfections of God ever properly known or declared, till the

manifestation of Christ. Hear another scripture, Lu 10:21, 22:

In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O

Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things

from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes, &c.

Thus he gave praise to God.

Verse 13. I will put my trust in him.] It is not clear to what

express place of Scripture the apostle refers: words to this

effect frequently occur; but the place most probably is Ps 18:2,

several parts of which psalm seem to belong to the Messiah.

Behold I and the children which God hath given me.] This is

taken from Isa 8:18. The apostle does not intend to say that the

portions which he has quoted have any particular reference, taken

by themselves, to the subject in question; they are only

catch-words of whole paragraphs, which, taken together, are full

to the point; because they are prophecies of the Messiah, and are

fulfilled in him. This is evident from the last quotation: Behold

I and the children whom the Lord hath given me are for signs and

for wonders in Israel. Jesus and his disciples wrought a

multitude of the most stupendous signs and wonders in Israel.

The expression also may include all genuine Christians; they are

for signs and wonders throughout the earth. And as to the 18th

Psalm, the principal part of it seems to refer to Christ's

sufferings; but the miracles which were wrought at his

crucifixion, the destruction of the Jewish state and polity, the

calling of the Gentiles, and the establishment of the Christian

Church, appear also to be intended. See among others the

following passages: SUFFERINGS-The sorrows of death compassed

me-in my distress I called upon the Lord. MIRACLES at the

crucifixion-The earth shook and trembled-and darkness was under

his feet. DESTRUCTION of the Jewish state-I have pursued mine

enemies and overtaken them; they are fallen under my feet.

CALLING of the GENTILES-Thou hast made me head of the heathen; a

people whom I have never known shall serve me; as soon as they

hear of me-they shall obey me, &c., &c. A principal design of the

apostle is to show that such scriptures are prophecies of the

Messiah; that they plainly refer to his appearing in the flesh in

Israel; and that they have all been fulfilled in Jesus Christ, and

the calling of the Gentiles to the privileges of the Gospel. To

establish these points was of great importance.

Verse 14. The children are partakers of flesh and blood] Since

those children of God, who have fallen and are to be redeemed, are

human beings; in order to be qualified to redeem them by suffering

and dying in their stead, He himself likewise took part of the

same-he became incarnate; and thus he who was God with God,

became man with men. By the children here we are to understand,

not only the disciples and all genuine Christians, as in

Heb 2:13, but also the whole human race; all Jews and all

Gentiles; so Joh 11:51, 52:

He prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; and not for

that nation only, but also that he should gather together in one

the CHILDREN of GOD that were scattered abroad; meaning,

probably, all the Jews in every part of the earth. But collate

this with 1Jo 2:2, where: the evangelist explains the former

words: He is the propitiation for our sins, (the Jews,) and not

for ours only, but for the sins of the WHOLE WORLD. As the

apostle was writing to the Hebrews only, he in general uses a

Jewish phraseology, pointing out to them their own privileges; and

rarely introduces the Gentiles, or what the Messiah has done for

the other nations of the earth.

That through death] That by the merit of his own death, making

atonement for sin, and procuring the almighty energy of the Holy

Spirit, he might counterwork καταργηση, or render useless and

ineffectual, all the operations of him who had the power,

κρατος, or influence, to bring death into the world; so that

death, which was intended by him who was a murderer from the

beginning to be the final ruin of mankind, becomes the instrument

of their exaltation and endless glory; and thus the death brought

in by Satan is counterworked and rendered ineffectual by the death

of Christ.

Him that had the power of death] This is spoken in conformity

to an opinion prevalent among the Jews, that there was a certain

fallen angel who was called malak hammaveth, the angel

of death; i.e. one who had the power of separating the soul from

the body, when God decreed that the person should die. There were

two of these, according to some of the Jewish writers: one was the

angel of death to the Gentiles; the other, to the Jews. Thus Tob

haarets, fol. 31: "There are two angels which preside over death:

one is over those who die out of the land of Israel, and his name

is Sammael; the other is he who presides over those who die in the

land of Israel, and this is Gabriel." Sammael is a common name

for the devil among the Jews; and there is a tradition among them,

delivered by the author of Pesikta rabbetha in Yalcut Simeoni,

par. 2, f. 56, that the angel of death should be destroyed by the

Messiah! "Satan said to the holy blessed God: Lord of the world,

show me the Messiah. The Lord answered: Come and see him. And

when he had seen him he was terrified, and his countenance fell,

and he said: Most certainly this is the Messiah who shall cast me

and all the nations into hell, as it is written Isa 25:8,

The Lord shall swallow up death for ever." This is a very

remarkable saying, and the apostle shows that it is true, for the

Messiah came to destroy him who had the power of death. Dr. Owen

has made some collections on this head from other Jewish writers

which tend to illustrate this verse; they may he seen in his

comment, vol. i., p. 456, 8vo. edition.

Verse 15. And deliver them who through fear of death] It is

very likely that the apostle has the Gentiles here principally in

view. As they had no revelation, and no certainty of immortality,

they were continually in bondage to the fear of death. They

preferred life in any state, with the most grievous evils, to

death, because they had no hope beyond the grave. But it is also

true that all men naturally fear death; even those that have the

fullest persuasion and certainty of a future state dread it:

genuine Christians, who know that, if the earthly house of their

tabernacle were dissolved, they have a house not made with hands,

a building framed of God, eternal in the heavens, only they fear

it not. In the assurance they have of God's love, the fear of

death is removed; and by the purification of their hearts through

faith, the sting of death is extracted. The people who know not

God are in continual torment through the fear of death, and they

fear death because they fear something beyond death. They are

conscious to themselves that they are wicked, and they are afraid

of God, and terrified at the thought of eternity. By these fears

thousands of sinful, miserable creatures are prevented from

hurrying themselves into the unknown world. This is finely

expressed by the poet:-

"To die,--to sleep,--

No more:--and, by a sleep, to say we end

The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks

That flesh is heir to,--'tis a consummation

Devoutly to be wished. To die,--to sleep,--

To sleep!--perchance to dream;--ay, there's the rub;

For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,

When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,

Must give us pause:--There's the respect

That makes calamity of so long life:

For who could bear the whips and scorns of time,

The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,

The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,

The insolence of office, and the spurns

That patient merit of the unworthy takes,

When he himself might his quietus make

With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear

To grunt and sweat under a weary life;

But that the dread of something after death,--

The undiscovered country from whose bourn

No traveller returns,--puzzles the will;

And makes us rather bear those ills we have,

Than fly to others that we know not of?

Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;

And thus the native hue of resolution

Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought;

And enterprises of great pith and moment,

With this regard, their currents turn awry

And lose the name of action."

I give this long quotation from a poet who was well acquainted

with all the workings of the human heart; and one who could not

have described scenes of distress and anguish of mind so well, had

he not passed through them.

Verse 16. For verily he took not on him the nature of angels]

ουγαρδηπουαγγελωνεπιλαμβανεταιαλλασπερματοςαβρααμ

επιλαμβανεται. Moreover, he doth not at all take hold of angels;

but of the seed of Abraham he taketh hold. This is the marginal

reading, and is greatly to be preferred to that in the text Jesus

Christ, intending not to redeem angels, but to redeem man, did not

assume the angelic nature, but was made man, coming directly by

the seed or posterity of Abraham, with whom the original covenant

was made, that in his seed all the nations of the earth should be

blessed; and it is on this account that the apostle mentioned the

seed of Abraham, and not the seed of Adam; and it is strange

that to many commentators should have missed so obvious a sense.

The word itself signifies not only to take hold of, but to help,

succour, save from sinking, &c. The rebel angels, who sinned and

fell from God, were permitted to fall downe, alle downe, as one of

our old writers expresses it, till they fell into perdition: man

sinned and fell, and was falling downe, alle downe, but Jesus laid

hold on him and prevented him from falling into endless perdition.

Thus he seized on the falling human creature, and prevented him

from falling into the bottomless pit; but he did not seize on the

falling angels, and they fell down into outer darkness. By

assuming the nature of man, he prevented this final and

irrecoverable fall of man; and by making an atonement in human

nature, he made a provision for its restoration to its forfeited

blessedness. This is a fine thought of the apostle, and is

beautifully expressed. Man was falling from heaven, and Jesus

caught hold of the falling creature, and prevented its endless

ruin. In this respect he prefers men to angels, and probably for

this simple reason, that the human nature was more excellent than

the angelic; and it is suitable to the wisdom of the Divine Being

to regard all the works of his hands in proportion to the dignity

or excellence with which he has endowed them.

Verse 17. Wherefore in all things] Because he thus laid hold

on man in order to redeem him, it was necessary that he should in

all things become like to man, that he might suffer in his stead,

and make an atonement in his nature.

That he might be a merciful and faithful high priest] ινα

ελεημωνγενηται. That he might be merciful-that he might be

affected with a feeling of our infirmities, that, partaking of our

nature with all its innocent infirmities and afflictions, he might

know how to compassionate poor, afflicted, suffering man. And

that he might be a faithful high priest in those things which

relate to God, whose justice requires the punishment of the

transgressors, or a suitable expiation to be made for the sins of

the people. The proper meaning of ιλασκεσθαιταςαμαρτιας is to

make propitiation or atonement for sins by sacrifice.

See the note on this word, "Lu 18:13", where it is particularly

explained. Christ is the great High Priest of mankind; 1. He

exercises himself in the things pertaining to GOD, taking heed that

God's honour be properly secured, his worship properly regulated,

his laws properly enforced, and both his justice and mercy magnified.

Again, 2. He exercises himself in things pertaining to MEN, that

he may make an atonement for them, apply this atonement to them,

and liberate them thereby from the curse of a broken law, from the

guilt and power of sin, from its inbeing and nature, and from all

the evils to which they were exposed through it, and lastly that

he might open their way into the holiest by his own blood; and he

has mercifully and faithfully accomplished all that he has

undertaken.

Verse 18. For in that he himself hath suffered] The maxim on

which this verse is founded is the following: A state of suffering

disposes persons to be compassionate, and those who endure most

afflictions are they who feel most for others. The apostle argues

that, among other causes, it was necessary that Jesus Christ

should partake of human nature, exposed to trials, persecutions,

and various sufferings, that he might the better feel for and be

led to succour those who are afflicted and sorely tried. This

sentiment is well expressed by a Roman poet:-

Me quoque per multas similis fortuna labores

Jactatam hac demum voluit consistere terra:

Non ignara mali, miseris succurere disco.

VIRG. AEn. i., v. 632.

"For I myself like you, have been distress'd,

Till heaven afforded me this place of rest;

Like you, an alien in a land unknown,

I learn to pity woes so like my own."

DRYDEN.

"There are three things," says Dr. Owen, "of which tempted

believers do stand in need: 1. Strength to withstand their

temptations; 2. Consolations to support their spirits under them;

3. Seasonable deliverance from them. Unto these is the succour

afforded by our High Priest suited; and it is variously

administered to them: 1. By his word or promises; 2. By his

Spirit; (and, that, 1. By communicating to them supplies of grace

or spiritual strength; 2. Strong consolation; 3. By rebuking

their tempters and temptations;) and 3. By his providence

disposing of all things to their good and advantage in the issue."

Those who are peculiarly tempted and severely tried, have an

especial interest in, and claim upon Christ. They, particularly,

may go with boldness to the throne of grace, where they shall

assuredly obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

Were the rest of the Scripture silent on this subject, this verse

might be an ample support for every tempted soul.

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