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reference to the literary celebration, in which this history originated. In September, 1836, the two hundredth anniversary of the founding of Harvard University was observed at Cambridge, with appropriate ceremonies; and the discourse delivered by President Quincy on that occasion, much enlarged, and accompanied with many valuable original documents, forms the contents of these volumes. At this celebration it was our good fortune to be present. Never was any plan of a pageant better devised, or more successfully executed. Every thing was appropriate to the place, the occasion, and to the character of those, who took a part in the exercises of the day. The perfect order maintained, the correct deportment of the under-graduates, the civility and hospitality of the several officers of instruction and government, were all in unison with the reputation which Harvard has so long maintained. Among the graduates of Yale College, who were present, but one voice was heard ; all joined in high praise of the University, whose birth they were celebrating; and appeared to pride themselves on the relation in which they stood to Harvard; since they were from an institution, which was the first off-shoot from so venerable a stock. They stopped not to inquire for failings and defects; but in view of the great benefits which had flowed, and were still flowing from this ancient and copious fountain, united in the general aspiration, which without doubt they will continue to repeat, Esto perpetua.
EXPOSITION OF HEBREWS 6: 4-6.
By Rev. Silas M'Keen, Pastor of the First Cong. Church in Belfast, Maine.
For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.
In looking for the meaning of this remarkable, and, as it is generally esteemed, difficult passage of Scripture, it seems natural to inquire: “ Who are the persons here spoken of? What is supposed respecting them ? And what is affirmed concerning them, in case the thing supposed should occur ?"
When we can answer these questions correctly, we shall, of course, understand what the Apostle intended to express, when he wrote this impressive and terrible warning against apostasy from the Christian faith. That the general scope of the passage is to give such a warning, is admitted by all.
I. WHO ARE THE PERSONS HERE SPOKEN OF ? Are they true Christians, regenerated persons ? Or are they those only who have been favored with special religious privileges, convictions, impressions and perhaps miraculous powers, but have never been truly renewed in heart? As thorough an examination of the passage as we have been able to make, has convinced us fully, that the persons spoken of are true believers in Christ. What is said of them fairly implies this; and it is most agreeable to the context that the passage should be thus understood. Observe the several characteristics of these persons definitely stated by the apostle.
1. They had been once enlightened. In John 1:9, it is said: “That was the true light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” If by this we are to understand, as many do, that Christ does, in some way and measure, enlighten the minds of all men, it is obvious that the expression in the text
mame sense enlight them from othebeen enlightenethe Apostle's
must not be taken in that general sense; for the Apostle's design, in saying that these had been enlightened, manifestly was to distinguish them from others who had not been in the same sense enlightened. We must also understand something more than being enlightened with the common light of the gospel. For very many on whom this light shines are still declared in the Scriptures to be in darkness. They are so mentally. “ This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.” John 39: 19, 20. The light shines around them; but as they have either no eyes to behold it, or close their eyes against it, they are not illuminated; but, like the naturally blind, grope at noonday as in the night. The meaning is not that those, who are said to be in darkness under the light of the gospel, have no more information with respect to religious subjects than they would have if the light of the gospel did not shine upon them ; but that they still remain without any true knowledge of divine things. They do not perceive their importance, consistency and exceeding glory. “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Cor. 2: 14.
The term gorio tévtas, enlightened, appears to be used occasionally in the New Testament, in a peculiar sense, to designate such as have been inwardly illuminated by the Spirit of God, so as to behold and appreciate the glory and loveliness of divine things. Thus, in the tenth chapter, verse 32, of this epistle, the writer says to his brethren : “ Call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions.” This, being addressed to the Hebrews, was spoken of persons who had been always favored with divine revelation; and yet the Apostle refers to some particular time when they were illuminated. They were doubtless true believers, regenerated persons, and their illumination is mentioned as an evidence of the fact. With what is here said the language of the Apostle in the text perfectly coincides; and evidently refers to the same sort of persons. The same Apostle, addressing the saints at Ephesus, observes that he ceased not to make mention of them in his prayers, “ that the eyes of their understanding being enlightened, they might know what is
the hope of Christ's calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.” Eph. 1: 18. Here again he refers to that inward, spiritual illumination which is peculiar to the people of God. Of the wicked he says: “ The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” But in the same connection he says of himself and his fellow Christians: “God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts (npòo patiquòv) to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ.” 2 Cor. 4: 6. Here we see that this illumination affects not only the understandings but the hearts of men, and that it brings them to behold the glory of God as it shines in the face of Jesus Christ. This surely is peculiar to those who are born of the Spirit, created anew in righteousness and true holiness, and called out of darkness into God's marvellous light. Others, having no relish for moral excellency, cannot perceive the Saviour's glory, but despise and reject him.
2. The persons here spoken of are said—yɛvoquévous tɛ rñs dwpeãs tñs znovqavioủ,--to have tasted of the heavenly gift. But what is meant by the heavenly gift? One expositor replies : “ the Lord's Supper ;” another: “ freedom from the yoke of the law of Moses, and the grievous superstitions of heathenism.” Several of the Greek fathers, quoted by Whitby, understood it to mean the rernission of sins conferred in baptism. Drs. Scott and Owen considered the phrase to express what the Apostle afterwards calls being made partakers of the Holy Ghost, who is signally the gift of God. And in confirmation of this interpretation the last named author expresses his belief that the term dwped, when God is the giver, is never used in the New Testament in any other sense. This opinion does not, however, appear to be supported. In the epistle to the Romans, 5 : 15, we read: “If through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God and the gift (ń dwged) by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.” Here God is the giver; the term in question stands for the thing given; and yet not the Holy Ghost particularly, but the offer of eternal life appears to be the thing intended. In verse 17, of the same chapter, the Apostle speaks of της δωρεάς της δικαιοσύνης, the gift of righteousness, which refers to pardon, justification and acceptance with God. Again, in his second epistle to the Corinthians, 9: 15, he says: “ Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.” As there is nothing in the text itself or in its connection to show that by the “ unspeakable gift” of God the Holy Ghost was intended, it seems more reasonable to understand the phrase, as most commentators do, of Christ ; in consequence of whose death for us all, the Holy Spirit, and every other blessing of the Christian dispensation are bestowed upon the world. Christ is indeed an unspeakable gift; a gift that includes in itself all others which God ever has bestowed, or ever will bestow on fallen man. Another similar passage we find in John 4: 10, where our Saviour says to the Samaritan woman : “If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink, thou wouldst have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.” On this passage, Dr. Scott remarks, that“ the gift of God may either mean, in general, his free mercy and grace to sinners, or the gift of his own Son to be their Saviour, and to procure for them all spiritual blessings.” Pool likewise observes : “Many by the gift of God here understand Christ, whom God gave to the world, and who is the greatest gift that God ever gave to the world ; so that the latter words, “and who it is that saith to thee,” expound the former.”
How, then shall we understand the phrase in our text? It is evident that by “ the heavenly gift,” the Apostle meant some gift from heaven which was so great, so distinguished from all others, that he did not judge it necessary to state particularly what it was. What, in this view of the matter, can be more reasonable than to suppose that he means Christ himself, who is surely the chief gift of God, under the gospel dispensation,-a gift without which neither the Holy Spirit nor the offer of eternal life would ever have been made. This interpretation is suggested by the phraseology used; it agrees with the context, and is supported by all those passages in which the sacred writers speak with so much astonishment of the love of God, manifested in giving his Son to make propitiation for sin by his death on the cross. “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3: 16. “He spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all.” Rom. 8: 32. Besides, to explain the passage to mean the Holy Ghost, as some