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life was spent in teachiný; whose only business in the world was to save those, many of whom are too busy to hear him. He condescended to the ignorance of the poor; was compassionate to sinners; argued patiently with the perverse and obstinate; and accom, modated himself to the wants of all. At last hé tasted death for every man; for you that hear, and for me that speak; and by his exaltation after his sufferings hath shewed us the encouragement we have, and the reward we shall receive, if we follow his example. Nothing but hardness of heart can hinder us from partaking of the benefits of our heavenly calling; as it hindered the people in the wilderness from reaching the promised land. We are therefore to take heed, as the Apostle forewarns us, lest there be in any of us an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God. This Egypt, this wicked world, in which we live, must not withdraw our affections, and put us out of humour with the manner and the way of trial, by which God shall be pleased to carry us forward in our progress through this wilderness. And we are to exhort one another against the deceitfulness of sin*. We can see how grossly the disobedient Ísraelites were deceived, in preferring Egypt to Canaan; and we wonder at them, that they should be so perverse and brutish: let us then not be cheated as they were beguiled of their inheritance? They did not believe the promises of God; and if we are deceived it must be for the same reason. The rest of Canaan was better than the bondage of Egypt; and the service of God is better to us now than the bondage of sin; which can only interrupt the happiness of the servants of God, and fill them with disappointnienť

Hab. iii. 13.

and bitterness. Miserable is the situation of a Christian, who does not look forward, and press forward, to the promised Rest. He has left Egypt; and there is no better entertainment in this wilderness, than the hope of getting well out of it. But if instead of this, he is only looking back and wishing for the world which he has renounced; he is that double minded man, who is unstable in all his ways; neither a man of the world, nor a Christian ; neither easy with God, nor without him. There cannot be a more unprofit. able and unhappy character, It is said of the Israelites in the wilderness, that their heart was not rohole with God, neither continued they stedfast in his covenant. How many fall under the same censure! they give a portion of their heart to God, and another much greater to the world.

When the Apostle is entering upon the more mysterious parts of this Epistle, he upbraids the Hebrews with their unskilfulness in the word of God. They contented themselves with the first elements of Christian instruction, and neglected the mysteries of the scriptures; living, as children do, upon milk, with little appetite and strength to admit more solid nourishment * Some think they are learned enough, if they never get beyond their catechism : some never get so far. And it is common to plead in excuse, that little as their knowledge is, they know more good than they do, and have already more learning than they practise: not considering that the scripture abounds with many great and excellent mysteries, which have nothing practical in them, but so far only as they elevate the mind, and by bringing our affections nearer to God, dispose us to do his will with more love and chearfulness; and consequently to do more of it, and to better effect: which is a matter of infinite importance, and now too little attended to. The Christian must be progressive; he must go on from the beginning of knowledge to the perfection* of it. He ought to know more of God every day; otherwise he may think of him less, till he totally forgets him : and then he is in danger of falling into that state, out of which men cannot be renewed unto repentance. When the gospel, which a man had received, has not power to lead him forward, there is no new gospel to awaken him : when the most powerful medicine God ever made hath lost its effect, what other can we apply?

* See chap. v. 12, 13.

So long as the soul is in a growing state, the blessing of heaven continues with it, and the grace of God brings it on to farther improvement: but if it is out of culture, thorns and briars get possession of it, and its end is to be burned. When thorns and briars shall be planted in Paradise, then such careless Christians may expect to be admitted into heaven.

From the consideration of Christ's Priesthood we are exhorted to draw near with faith, and partake of his blessing, by attending upon his church and his ordinances; not forsaking the assembling ourselves together as the manner of some is t. The Jews, I fear, in the worst of times, were more zealous in attending their public services and sacrifices, than some of those who call themselves Christians. In the best days of the Church, it was always the manner of some few to absent themselves from the religious assemblies of the Christians : but what would St. Paul have said, if he had lived to these times, when perhaps not one half of the people are at the public prayers ; not one quar* Chap. vi. 1.

† Chap. x. 22, &c.

ter of them at the sacrament? and they have no persecution to fear, as the primitive Christians had ; who attended their worship at the hazard of their lives. It must be owing to mere idleness and indifference; for however business may be pleaded on the ordinary days of the week, it cannot be pleaded on a Sunday. This truth I must suppose them to know; that if their Saviour is a Priest, they must partake of the sacrifice he offers for their salvation. But there is another dreadful truth, which they do not think of; that, to those, who do not partake of this sacrifice for sin, there remaineth no other; but a certain fearful woking fer of judgment and fery indignation, which shail devour the adversaries. If he wlio despised Mo sesluw died without mercy, of how much sorer punishment shall they be thought worthy, who do this despite to the spirit of grace *, by neglecting the great atonement that was made by Christ himself for the sins of the world? It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living Godt, and be made an example of divine vengeance : and what else can they expect, who refuse to accept of the sacrifice of Christ, by which alone the fiery indignation of God can be turned away froin their own persons? No words are sufficient to express their danger : 0 that they could see it themselves, and would consider of it, and not trust to such frivolous excuses as will stand them in no stead in the day of visitation !

To encourage us in our christian warfare, the Apostle sets before us at large the examples of the Saints of old, who were all saved by leading a life of faith I: enduring every trial and conquering every enemy, on this great principle. There never was

* Chap. x. 26, &c. + Chap. x. 31, 1 See chap. xi. of this Epistle.

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any other way of salvation from the beginning of the world, but this way of faith. All the Saints of God who found acceptance with him, depended upon his word and promise for such things as they could not sce; and either forsook the pleasures of the world, or contradicted its errors, and endured its reproaches, for his sake. We may plead the business of life, and the cares of life; but they had their business and their cares as well as we; yet they loved God, and made it their first care to be saved. The race we are to run may

have its difficulties: indeed, if it is a race, it cannot be without them: but we are encompassed with a cloud of witnesses *, all testifying that this RACE may be run, and the prize obtained; because they did actually perform it, and are entitled to the crown of victory. What hinders us from doing the same; but that we are retarded by some weight, which we are not careful to divest ourselves of and lay aside? We do not strive against that sin, whatever it may be, which most easily besets us, and is never to be subdued but by faith, and prayer, and self-denial; faith in better things than this world can bestow; and prayer for that grace which may assist us in doing what our strength will never accomplish.

Great is the influence which the example of God's faithful servants will have upon our minds, if we meditate upon it. They were men of like passions with ourselves, and were not without their weaknesses: Sin put on the same deceitful appearance to them as to us : and they had the scorn of an over. bearing world to resist, as we have now. Their example, while it instructs, will animate and encourage

But greater than all is the example of our blessed Saviour himself: therefore we are directed to look


• Chap. xii. i.

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