Hebrews 12* An exhortation to be constant and persevere, The example ofChrist is set forth, and the gracious design of God in all thesufferings believers endured. (1-11) Peace and holiness arerecommended, with cautions against despising spiritualblessings. (12-17) The New Testament dispensation shown to bemuch more excellent than the Old. (18-29)1-11 The persevering obedience of faith in Christ, was the raceset before the Hebrews, wherein they must either win the crownof glory, or have everlasting misery for their portion; and itis set before us. By the sin that does so easily beset us,understand that sin to which we are most prone, or to which weare most exposed, from habit, age, or circumstances. This is amost important exhortation; for while a man's darling sin, be itwhat it will, remains unsubdued, it will hinder him from runningthe Christian race, as it takes from him every motive forrunning, and gives power to every discouragement. When weary andfaint in their minds, let them recollect that the holy Jesussuffered, to save them from eternal misery. By stedfastlylooking to Jesus, their thoughts would strengthen holyaffections, and keep under their carnal desires. Let us thenfrequently consider him. What are our little trials to hisagonies, or even to our deserts? What are they to the sufferingsof many others? There is a proneness in believers to grow weary,and to faint under trials and afflictions; this is from theimperfection of grace and the remains of corruption. Christiansshould not faint under their trials. Though their enemies andpersecutors may be instruments to inflict sufferings, yet theyare Divine chastisements; their heavenly Father has his hand inall, and his wise end to answer by all. They must not make lightof afflictions, and be without feeling under them, for they arethe hand and rod of God, and are his rebukes for sin. They mustnot despond and sink under trials, nor fret and repine, but bearup with faith and patience. God may let others alone in theirsins, but he will correct sin in his own children. In this heacts as becomes a father. Our earthly parents sometimes maychasten us, to gratify their passion, rather than to reform ourmanners. But the Father of our souls never willingly grieves norafflicts his children. It is always for our profit. Our wholelife here is a state of childhood, and imperfect as to spiritualthings; therefore we must submit to the discipline of such astate. When we come to a perfect state, we shall be fullyreconciled to all God's chastisement of us now. God's correctionis not condemnation; the chastening may be borne with patience,and greatly promote holiness. Let us then learn to consider theafflictions brought on us by the malice of men, as correctionssent by our wise and gracious Father, for our spiritual good. 12-17 A burden of affliction is apt to make the Christian'shands hang down, and his knees grow feeble, to dispirit him anddiscourage him; but against this he must strive, that he maybetter run his spiritual race and course. Faith and patienceenable believers to follow peace and holiness, as a man followshis calling constantly, diligently, and with pleasure. Peacewith men, of all sects and parties, will be favourable to ourpursuit of holiness. But peace and holiness go together; therecan be not right peace without holiness. Where persons fail ofhaving the true grace of God, corruption will prevail and breakforth; beware lest any unmortified lust in the heart, whichseems to be dead, should spring up, to trouble and disturb thewhole body. Falling away from Christ is the fruit of preferringthe delights of the flesh, to the blessing of God, and theheavenly inheritance, as Esau did. But sinners will not alwayshave such mean thoughts of the Divine blessing and inheritanceas they now have. It agrees with the profane man's disposition,to desire the blessing, yet to despise the means whereby theblessing is to be gained. But God will neither sever the meansfrom the blessing, nor join the blessing with the satisfying ofman's lusts. God's mercy and blessing were never soughtcarefully 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 muchin outward and earthly things. The gospel state is kind andcondescending, suited to our weak frame. Under the gospel allmay come with boldness to God's presence. But the most holy mustdespair, if judged by the holy law given from Sinai, without aSaviour. The gospel church is called Mount Zion; there believershave clearer views of heaven, and more heavenly tempers of soul.All the children of God are heirs, and every one has theprivileges of the first-born. Let a soul be supposed to jointhat glorious assembly and church above, that is yetunacquainted with God, still carnally-minded, loving thispresent world and state of things, looking back to it with alingering eye, full of pride and guile, filled with lusts; sucha soul would seem to have mistaken its way, place, state, andcompany. It would be uneasy to itself and all about it. Christis the Mediator of this new covenant, between God and man, tobring them together in this covenant; to keep them together; toplead with God for us, and to plead with us for God; and atlength to bring God and his people together in heaven. Thiscovenant is made firm by the blood of Christ sprinkled upon ourconsciences, as the blood of the sacrifice was sprinkled uponthe altar and the victim. This blood of Christ speaks in behalfof sinners; it pleads not for vengeance, but for mercy. See thenthat you refuse not his gracious call and offered salvation. Seethat you do not refuse Him who speaketh from heaven, withinfinite tenderness and love; for how can those escape, who turnfrom God in unbelief or apostacy, while he so graciouslybeseeches them to be reconciled, and to receive his everlastingfavour! God's dealing with men under the gospel, in a way ofgrace, assures us, that he will deal with the despisers of thegospel, in a way of judgment. We cannot worship God acceptably,unless we worship him with reverence and godly fear. Only thegrace of God enables us to worship God aright. God is the samejust and righteous God under the gospel as under the law. Theinheritance of believers is secured to them; and all thingspertaining to salvation are freely given in answer to prayer.Let us seek for grace, that we may serve God with reverence andgodly fear.
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