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made acquainted with the doctrine of the Gospel, "there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin." The Jewish sacrifices were done away in Christ, as the apostle had argued in the former part of this epistle. Hence, in order to deter them who put a value on sacrifices from forsaking the sacrifice of Christ, he tells them there remained no other; and if they abandoned this, there remained no sacrifice at all. They might, indeed, again embrace the Christian sacrifice; but, when they rejected that, "there remained no more sacrifice for sins."
V. 27. "But a certain fearful looking for of judgment." As the Jews under the law, if they neglected the regular sacrifices, were exposed to the judgment of God, so in this case, if they rejected the Christian sacrifices, as there was no other, there remained to them nothing but a dreadful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation. This judgment and fiery indignation fell upon them, in the destruction of their city and nation, shortly after. In order to show the justice of punishing those who rejected the Gospel, the apostle refers to the punishment inflicted on those who contemned the law of Moses. See next verse.
V. 28. "He that despised Moses' law died without mercy," &c. That is, judicial mercy, or extenuation or mitigation of punishment, on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Thus Korah, Dathan, and Abiram died. Num. xv. 30. See also Deut. xvii. 6.
V. 29. Of how much sorer punishment shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God," &c. The argument here is, if men were punished with death for despising the law of Moses, how much more severe must be their punishment, who wilfully reject the doctrine of Christ. The punishment of those Jews who rejected the Gospel, in which apostates were also involved, was more dreadful by far than any thing that had ever been inflicted on that nation before. It seems to have been the punishment which was inflicted on the Jews at the time their city was de
stroyed to which the apostle here referred. it not a 66 sorer punishment" than any of the Jews had ever suffered, for despising the law of Moses? Jesus described it so. He said, in view of the approaching misery, "then shall be a time of trouble, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no nor ever shall be." That it was more severe than mere death under the law of Moses, is apparent, because it was death connected with the most cruel torture, death by pestilence, death by starvation. The punishment of the Jews was so dreadful during the siege of the city by the Romans, that they sought death as a refuge. Josephus, speaking of the distress of the city, and of the multitudes who died by famine, says, "As for burying them, those that were sick themselves were not able to do it, and those that were hearty and well were deterred from doing it, by the great multitude of those dead bodies, and by the uncertainty there was how soon they should die themselves; for many died as they were burying others, and many went to their coffins before that fatal hour was come. Nor were there any lamentations made under these calamities, nor were heard any mournful complaints; but the famine confounded all natural passions; for those who were just going to die looked upon those that were gone to their rest before them, with dry eyes and open mouth. A deep silence also, and a kind of deadly night, had seized upon the city; while yet the robbers were still more terrible than the miseries were themselves; for they broke open those houses which were no other than graves of dead bodies, and plundered them of what they had, and, carrying off the coverings of their bodies, went out laughing, and tried the points of their swords in their dead bodies; and, in order to prove what mettle they were made of, they thrust some of those through that still lay alive upon the ground; but for those that entreated them to lend them their right hand and sword to despatch them, they were too proud to grant their requests, and left them to be consumed by
the famine." This, as every one will readily see, was a "sorer punishment," than death inflicted by judicial authority, for despising the law of Moses.
V. 30. "For we know," &c. See Deut. xxxii. 35, 36. The apostates from Christianity need not persecute the steadfast Christians; vengeance belonged to God, he would render a recompense. The Lord shall judge, that is, avenge, his people. He will vindi. cate Christianity against the aspersions of its enemies, and cause the righteous to shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He will pay back most fearfully on these apostates, their persecutions of the faithful disciples.
V. 31. "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God!" To fall into the hands of God, in this instance, is an idiom signifying to fall under the severity of the divine judgments. In one sense we are all in the hands of God; we are the subjects of his power, and he can do by us as he will. This consideration, however, is by no means a fearful one, but is a source of consolation and joy to every believer of the Gospel. But to those who fell under the divine judgments by which Jerusalem was destroyed, it was a fearful thing. They found it so, and they confessed it so. There was then a fearful looking for of judgment. The time was called "the great and dreadful day of the Lord." There was then, as we have shown, a time of trouble, such as had not been since the beginning of the world to that time, and never should be. To fall under the severity of these judgments was indeed a "fearful thing."
But we are also to remember, that it is more safe, and consequently less fearful, to fall into the hands of God than to fall into the hands of men. See 2 Sam. xxiv. 14. The reason is, the mercies of God are great, over all his works; while, compared with his, even the tender mercies of men are cruelty. We may be certain, that while God executes justice upon us, he will so execute it as to accomplish his merciful design
of turning us away from our iniquities, making us partakers of holiness, and causing us to enjoy the peacea ble fruit of righteousness. So that, although the divine judgments seem fearful, when viewed alone, yet, when considered in connexion with the effect they are designed to produce, they lose much of their dreadfulness, and appear to be displays of mercy instead of anger and wrath. Let us, therefore, neither despise the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when we are rebuked by him. Heb. xii. 5-11.
"Women received their dead raised to life again; and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection." Hebrews xi. 35.
That they might obtain a better resurrection,-better than what? Does it mean, that there are two kinds of resurrection into the future state, the one better than the other? We think not; we think the comparison was between the resurrection into the future, and a return to the present life, the former being declared to be better than the latter. We think the natural sense of the passage leads to this interpretation. Mark, 1st. "Women received their dead raised to life again." Here was one resurrection. Adam Clarke, the Methodist, supposes the writer in Hebrews to refer to the case of the woman of Zarephath, (1 Kings xvii. 21,) whose son Elijah raised to life; and to that of the Shunamite, (2 Kings iv. 34.) These women received their dead children raised to life again, that is, the dead children were called back again into this state of existence. 2d. Immediately in connexion with this circumstance, the writer in Hebrews adds, that "others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection." Better than what? Ans. Better than calling the dead back again into this world. The unavoidable inference is, that a resurrection of the dead into the immortal existence is better than to bring them back again into this world; a fact which is well established by Scripture, but which is not very favor
able to the doctrine of punishment after the resurree
Dr. Doddridge's note on this subject is worthy of a place. He says; "Dr. Owen understands this, as if the apostle had meant the better resurrection; that is, the resurrection which is better than the resurrection of the wicked. But it is observed by Jacobus Capellus, that most probably in that case, the article would have been prefixed, τῆς κρείττονος ἀναστάσεως. The opinion of Crellius and Dr. Hammond is, that the word better is to be understood as opposed to a present remission of their torments; and this sense I have adopted in the paraphrase, supposing it bears a respect to the deliverance they would not accept, mentioned in the words immediately preceding. Mr. Hallett is exceedingly clear, that the opposition lies between the resurrection to eternal life, which these martyrs expected, and the resurrection of the dead children to life in this world, mentioned in the first clause of the verse." Other quo tations might be made from eminent orthodox commentators, confirming the view taken by Dr. Doddridge, Crellius, Dr. Hammond, and Mr. Hallett; but we believe, that the passage is itself so clear, and the authority already adduced so respectable, no further confirmation can be desired.
LXXXI. "Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord." Heb. xii. 14.
To see the Lord is, by some, supposed to signify being in his immediate presence, in the immortal world; and it is thought the passage intimates, that some will never thus see him. But, however true it is, that all men must be perfectly holy before they can be perfectly happy in the future life, still the phrase to see God is used, by the Hebrew writers, to denote a state of spiritual honor and enjoyment in the present life. The expression arose from the customs of the eastern kings.
To behold the king's face, was considered an honor and happiness; much more to see it habitually, that is,