Hebrews 12

* An exhortation to be constant and persevere, The example of

Christ is set forth, and the gracious design of God in all the

sufferings believers endured. (1-11) Peace and holiness are

recommended, with cautions against despising spiritual

blessings. (12-17) The New Testament dispensation shown to be

much more excellent than the Old. (18-29)

1-11 The persevering obedience of faith in Christ, was the race

set before the Hebrews, wherein they must either win the crown

of glory, or have everlasting misery for their portion; and it

is set before us. By the sin that does so easily beset us,

understand that sin to which we are most prone, or to which we

are most exposed, from habit, age, or circumstances. This is a

most important exhortation; for while a man's darling sin, be it

what it will, remains unsubdued, it will hinder him from running

the Christian race, as it takes from him every motive for

running, and gives power to every discouragement. When weary and

faint in their minds, let them recollect that the holy Jesus

suffered, to save them from eternal misery. By stedfastly

looking to Jesus, their thoughts would strengthen holy

affections, and keep under their carnal desires. Let us then

frequently consider him. What are our little trials to his

agonies, or even to our deserts? What are they to the sufferings

of many others? There is a proneness in believers to grow weary,

and to faint under trials and afflictions; this is from the

imperfection of grace and the remains of corruption. Christians

should not faint under their trials. Though their enemies and

persecutors may be instruments to inflict sufferings, yet they

are Divine chastisements; their heavenly Father has his hand in

all, and his wise end to answer by all. They must not make light

of afflictions, and be without feeling under them, for they are

the hand and rod of God, and are his rebukes for sin. They must

not despond and sink under trials, nor fret and repine, but bear

up with faith and patience. God may let others alone in their

sins, but he will correct sin in his own children. In this he

acts as becomes a father. Our earthly parents sometimes may

chasten us, to gratify their passion, rather than to reform our

manners. But the Father of our souls never willingly grieves nor

afflicts his children. It is always for our profit. Our whole

life here is a state of childhood, and imperfect as to spiritual

things; therefore we must submit to the discipline of such a

state. When we come to a perfect state, we shall be fully

reconciled to all God's chastisement of us now. God's correction

is not condemnation; the chastening may be borne with patience,

and greatly promote holiness. Let us then learn to consider the

afflictions brought on us by the malice of men, as corrections

sent by our wise and gracious Father, for our spiritual good.
12-17 A burden of affliction is apt to make the Christian's

hands hang down, and his knees grow feeble, to dispirit him and

discourage him; but against this he must strive, that he may

better run his spiritual race and course. Faith and patience

enable believers to follow peace and holiness, as a man follows

his calling constantly, diligently, and with pleasure. Peace

with men, of all sects and parties, will be favourable to our

pursuit of holiness. But peace and holiness go together; there

can be not right peace without holiness. Where persons fail of

having the true grace of God, corruption will prevail and break

forth; beware lest any unmortified lust in the heart, which

seems to be dead, should spring up, to trouble and disturb the

whole body. Falling away from Christ is the fruit of preferring

the delights of the flesh, to the blessing of God, and the

heavenly inheritance, as Esau did. But sinners will not always

have such mean thoughts of the Divine blessing and inheritance

as they now have. It agrees with the profane man's disposition,

to desire the blessing, yet to despise the means whereby the

blessing is to be gained. But God will neither sever the means

from the blessing, nor join the blessing with the satisfying of

man's lusts. God's mercy and blessing were never sought

carefully and not obtained.
18-29 Mount Sinai, on which the Jewish church state was formed,

was a mount such as might be touched, though forbidden to be so,

a place that could be felt; so the Mosaic dispensation was much

in outward and earthly things. The gospel state is kind and

condescending, suited to our weak frame. Under the gospel all

may come with boldness to God's presence. But the most holy must

despair, if judged by the holy law given from Sinai, without a

Saviour. The gospel church is called Mount Zion; there believers

have clearer views of heaven, and more heavenly tempers of soul.

All the children of God are heirs, and every one has the

privileges of the first-born. Let a soul be supposed to join

that glorious assembly and church above, that is yet

unacquainted with God, still carnally-minded, loving this

present world and state of things, looking back to it with a

lingering eye, full of pride and guile, filled with lusts; such

a soul would seem to have mistaken its way, place, state, and

company. It would be uneasy to itself and all about it. Christ

is the Mediator of this new covenant, between God and man, to

bring them together in this covenant; to keep them together; to

plead with God for us, and to plead with us for God; and at

length to bring God and his people together in heaven. This

covenant is made firm by the blood of Christ sprinkled upon our

consciences, as the blood of the sacrifice was sprinkled upon

the altar and the victim. This blood of Christ speaks in behalf

of sinners; it pleads not for vengeance, but for mercy. See then

that you refuse not his gracious call and offered salvation. See

that you do not refuse Him who speaketh from heaven, with

infinite tenderness and love; for how can those escape, who turn

from God in unbelief or apostacy, while he so graciously

beseeches them to be reconciled, and to receive his everlasting

favour! God's dealing with men under the gospel, in a way of

grace, assures us, that he will deal with the despisers of the

gospel, in a way of judgment. We cannot worship God acceptably,

unless we worship him with reverence and godly fear. Only the

grace of God enables us to worship God aright. God is the same

just and righteous God under the gospel as under the law. The

inheritance of believers is secured to them; and all things

pertaining to salvation are freely given in answer to prayer.

Let us seek for grace, that we may serve God with reverence and

godly fear.

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