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the object of it, rois axxogo.si, “the things heard.' Thus the apostle chooseth to express the doctrine of the gospel, with respect unto the way and manner whereby it was communicated unto them, namely, by preaching, for “ faith cometh by hearing, and hearing is of the word preached," Rom. x. '14, 15. And herein doth he magnify the great ordinance of preaching, as every where else he maketh it the great means of begetting faith in men. The Lord Christ himself first preached the gospel, Acts i. 1. and ver. 4. of this chapter. Concerning him it was said from heaven, “ Hear him," Matt. xvii. 5. as he who revealed the Father from his own bosom, John i. 18. From him the gospel became the word heard. When he had finished the course of his personal ministry, he committed the same work unto others, sending them as the Father sent him. They also preached the gospel, and called it the Word, that is, that which they preached. See 1 Cor. i. So in the Old Testament it is called you, Isa. liii. 1. auditus, ' a hearing,' or that which was heard,' being preached. So that the apostle insists on, and commends unto them, not only the things themselves wherein they had been instructed, but also the way whereby they were communicated unto them, namely, by the great ordinance of preaching, as he farther declares, ver. 4. This, as the means of their believing, as the ground of their profession, they were diligently to remember, consider and attend unto.
The duty itself directed unto, and the manner of its performance, are expressed in the word #goorxur, to attend,' or give heed. What kind of attendance is denoted by this word, was in part before declared. An attendance it is, with reverence, assent and readiness to obey. So Acts xvi. 14. • God opened the heart of Lydia, a porixou Tois, de Revuesvols, to attend unto the things that were spoken,' not to give them the hearing only; there was no need of the opening of her heart for the mere attention of her ear: but she attended with readiness, humility and resolution to obey the word.' The effect of which attention is expressed by the apostle, Rom. vi. 17. To attend then unto the word preached,' is to consider the author of it, the matter of it, the weight and concern of it, the ends of it, with faith, subjection of spirit, and constancy, as we shall with our apostle more at large afterwards explain.
The duty exhorted unto being laid down, a motive or enforcement unto it is subjoined, taken from the danger that would ensue from the neglect thereof. And this is either from the sin or punishment that would attend it, according unto the various interpretations of the word tagajouwusy, flow out,' or
fall,' before mentioned. If it signifies to fall or perish, then the punishment of the neglect of this duty is intimated. We shall perish as water that is poured on the earth. Thereunte
is the frail life of man compared, 2 Sam. xiv. 14. This sense of the word is embraced by few expositors, yet hath it great countenance given unto it by the ensuing discourse, ver. 2. and 3. and for that reason is not unworthy of our consideration. For the design of the apostle in those verses is to prove, that they shall deservedly and assuredly perish who should neglect the gospel. And the following particles, so yog, “and if,' in ver. 2. may seem to relate unto what was before spoken, and so to yield a reason why the unbelievers should so perish as he had intimated; which unless it be expressed in this word, the apostle had not before at all spoken unto. And in this sense the caution here given is, that we should attend unto the word of the gospel, lest by our neglect thereof, we bring upon ourselves inevitable ruin, and perish as water that is spilt on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again.
But the truth is, that the word sots prefixed, will not be well reconciled unto this sense and interpretation ; unless we should suppose it to be redundant and insignificative, and so un TOTE Tupapouwuess, lest at any time we should flow out,' should be the same with pon Fragepfuwusy, absolutely, that we fall not." But there is no just reason to render that word so useless. Allow it therefore significative, and it may have a double sense ; 1. To denote an uncertain time; quando, aliquando, at any time. 2. A conditional event; forte, ne forte, lest it should happen. In either of these senses will it allow the words to be expounded of the punishment that shall befal unbelievers, which is most certain both as to the time and the event. Neither doth the apostle in the next verses threaten them that neglect the gospel, that at some time or other they may perish, but lets them know that their destruction is certain, and that from the Lord.
It is then our sinful losing of the word and the benefits thereof, which the apostle intendeth. And in the next verses he doth not proceed to prove what he had asserted in this verse, but goes on to other arguments to the same purpose, taken from the unquestionable event of our neglect of the word, and losing the benefits thereof. The especial reason therefore why the apostle thus expresseth our losing of the doctrine of the gospel by want of diligent attendance unto it, is to be inquired after. Generally the expression is looked on as an allusion unto leaking vessels, which suffer the water that is poured into them one way, to run out many. As he speaks in the Comedian, who denied that he could keep secret some things, if they were communicated unto him. Plenus rimarum sum, huc atque illuc effluo : I am full of chinks, and flow out on every side.' And the word relates unto the persons, not to the things, because it contains a crime. It is our duty to retain the word which we have heard ; and therefore it is uot said that the word
flows out, but that we as it were pour it out. And this erime is denoted by the addition of muqa to puerv. For as the simple verb denotes the passing away of any thing, as water, whether it deserve to be retained or not; so the compound doth the losing of that perversely which we ought to bave retained.
But we may yet inquire a little farther into the reason and nature of the allegory. The word or doctrine of the Scripture is compared to showers and rain, Deut. xxxii. 2. “ My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, as the showers upon the grass.” Hence the same word 0713 signifies a teacher, and rain, so that translators do often doubt of its special sense, as Psal. lxxxiv. 7. 0918 709 71272, the rain filleth the pools,' as in our translation ; others, as Hierome and Arius Montanus render them, benedictionibus operietur docens, the teacher shall be covered with blessings;' both the words being ambiguous. So also Isa. xxx. 20. 70913, which we translate, thy teachers,' is by others rendered, thy showers, or rain. So those words, Joel ii. 23. 77p735 771877 ny s ingay), which our translators render in the text, he hath given you the former rain moderately ;' in the margin they render, ' a teacher of righteousness. And the like ambiguity is in other places. And there is an elegant metaphor in the word. For as the drops of rain falling on the earth do water it and make it fruitful, whilst it takes no notice of it, so doth the doctrine of the word insensibly make fruitful unto God the souls of men, upon whom it doth descend. And in respect unto the word of the gospel, it is, that the Lord Christ is said to “ come down as the showers on the mown grass," Psal. Ixxii. So the apostle calls the preaching of the gospel unto men, the “ watering of them,” 1 Cor. iii. 6, 7. And compares them unto whom it is preached unto “ the earth that drinketh in the rain," Heb. vi. 7. In pursuit of this metaphor it is, that men are said to pour out the word preached unto them, when by their negligence they lose all the benefits thereof. So when our Saviour had compared the same word unto seed, he sets out men's falling from it by all the ways and means whereby seed cast into the earth may be lost, or become unprofitable, Matt. xii. And as he shews that there are various ways and means whereby the seed that is sown may be lost and perish, so there are many times and seasons, ways and means, wherein and whereby we may lose and pour out the water or rain of the word which we have received. And these the apostle regards in that expression, “ lest at any time.”
We are now entered on the practical part of the epistle, and that which is of great importance unto all professors at all times; especially unto such as are by the good providence of God called into the condition wherein the Hebrews were, when
29 Dr these weromsider the tion. And
Paul thus treated with them; that is, a condition of temptation, affliction and persecution. And we shall therefore the more distinctly consider the useful truths that are exhibited unto us in these words, which are these that follow.
I. Diligent attendance unto the word of the gospel is indispensabiy necessary unto perseverance in the profession of it. Such a profession I mean as is acceptable unto God, or will be useful unto our own souls. The profession of most of the world is a mere non-renunciation of the gospel in words, whilst in their hearts and lives they deny the power of it every day. A saving profession is that which expresseth the efficacy of the word unto salvation, Rom. x. 10. This will never be the effect of a lifeless attendance unto the word. And therefore we shall first consider what is required unto the giving heed to the gospel here commended unto us; and there are in it, amongst other things, these that follow.
1. A due valuation of the grace tendered in it, and of the word itself on that account. Ilgorixes denotes such an attendance unto any thing, as proceeds from an estimation and valuation of it answerable unto its worth. If we have not such thoughts of the gospel, we can never attend unto it as we ought.. And if we consider it not as that wherein our chief concern lies, we consider it not as we ought at all. The field wherein is the pearl of price is so to be heeded, as to be valued above all other possessions whatsoever, Matt. xii. 45, 46. They who esteemed not the marriage feast of the king above all avoca.. tions and worldly occasions, were shut out as unworthy, Matt. xxi. 7. If the gospel be not more to us than all the world be-' sides, we shall never continue in an useful profession of it. Fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, wives and children, must all be despised in comparison of it, and competition with it. When men hear the word, as that which puts itself upon them, attendance to which they cannot decline without present or future inconveniencies, without considering that all the concerns of their souls lie bound up in it, they will easily be won utterly to neglect it. According as our esteem and valuation of it is, so is our heeding of it, and attendance unto it, and no otherwise. Hearkening unto the word as unto a song of him that hath a pleasant voice, which may please or satisfy for the present, is that which profits not men, and which God abhors, Ezek. xxxiii. 32. If the ministration of the gospel be not looked on as that which is full of glory, it will never be attended unto. This the apostle presseth, 2 Cor. iii. 8, 9. Conn stant high thoughts then of the necessity, worth, glory and excellency of the gospel, as on other accounts, so especially on account of the author of it, and the grace dispensed in it, is the first step in that diligent heeding of it, which is required of us. Want of this was that which ruined many of the Hebrews to whom the apostle wrote. And without it we shall never keep our faith firm unto the end.
2. Diligent study of it, and searching into the mind of God in it, that so we may grow wise in the mysteries thereof, is another part of this duty. The gospel is the wisdom of God, 1 Cor. i. 24. In it are laid up all the stores and treasures of that wisdom of God, which ever any of the sons of men shall come to an acquaintance with in this world, Col. i. 2, 3. And this wisdom is to be sought for as silver, and to be searched after as hid treasures, Prov. ii 4. that is, with pains and diligence like unto that of those who are employed in that inquiry. Men with indefatigable pains and danger pierce into the bowels of the earth, in the search of those 'hid treasures that are wrapt up in the vast womb of it. Silver and treasures are not gathered by every lazy passenger on the surface of the earth; they must dig, seek and 'search, who intend to be made partakers of them, and they do so accordingly: and so must we do for these treasures of heavenly wisdom. The nrystery of the grace of the gospel is great and deep, such as the “ angels desire to bow down and look into,” 1 Pet. i. 12. which the prophets of old, notwithstanding the advantage of their own especial revelations, inquired diligently after, ver. 11. Whereas now if any pretend, though falsely, to a revelation, they have immediately done with the word, as that which by the deceit of their imaginations they think beneath them, when indeed it is only distant from them, and is really above them. As if a man should stand on tip-toe on a mole-bill, and despise the sun appearing newly above the horizon as one beneath him. Diligent sedulous searching into the word belongs unto this heeding of it, Psal. i. 1. . Or a labouring by all appointed means to become acquainted with it, wise in the mystery of it, and skilled in its doctrine. Without this, no man will hold fast his profession. Nor doth any man neglect the gospel, but he that knows it not, 2 Cor. iv. 3, 4. This is the great principle of apostasy in the world, men have owned the gospel, but never knew what it was, and therefore leave the profession of it foolishly, as they took it up lightly. Studying of the word is the security of our faith.
3. Mixing the word with faith is required in this attention. See chap. iv. 2. As good not hear as not believe. Believing is the end of hearing, Rom. x. 11. And therefore Lydia's faith is called her attention, Acts xvi. 14. This is the life of heeding the word, without which all other exercise about it is but a dead carcase. To hear and not believe, is in spiritual life, what to see meat, and not to eat, is in the natural; it will please the fancy, but will never nourish the soul. Faith alone realiza
tanations ther word, as to a revi