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4. All the persecution that Christians had hitherto met with had been from the Jews; and they had very seldom the power of punishing with death ; and about this time, when they were on the point of coming to an open rupture with the Romans, they were too much occupied with their own affairs to give much attention to the Christians.
The allusion seems to be to the combats of gladiators, who fought at first with weapons that could not give mortal wounds, but which were afterwards changed for a sword. The antagonist was sin.
8. The education of bastards was, of course, much neg. lected, and no proper discipline administered to them.
11. The peaceable fruit, means the happy fruit; peace being generally used to denote happiness.*
14. Remove from the path every thing that may obstruct you and others in the Christian race, lest those who are weak or lame should be induced to leave it; but rather let them be healed and strengthened, so as to be enabled to proceed along with
you. Here is a change of the metaphor from running in a race, at least against competitors, to walking in a path with others who are to keep us company.
15. That we should attend to others as well as to ourselves. With a very slight alteration, it would be, lest any root bitter as gall spring up:
6. The word which is used Deut. xxix. 18," to which this is an allusion, “ properly signifies an infectious kind of plant, which taints other vegetables which grow near it.”+
Instead of springing up, it should probably be, as Mr. Wakefield conjectures, as gall. A slight alteration will make it so, and then it will agree with Deut. xxix. 18. I
17. Who sought the blessing with tears.
18. Here the apostle observes, that Christians have more encouragement to virtue than Jews. The dispensation we are under is not terrifying, but inviting; as different from that of Moses, as Mount Sion, which was in Jerusalem, was from Mount Sinai, from which the law was given in thunder and lightning. He also supposes the Christians to be the inhabitants of a Jerusalem ; but to distinguish it from that which was in Judea, he calls it (ver. 22] the heavenly Jerusalem, still using strong figures of speech. As Mount Sinai
* “ Possibly alluding to the crowns of olive, given to the victor, in the Olympic games, which was an emblem of peace.” Doddridge. + Doddridge. (P.) See N.T. 1729; Wakefield. Lest any
root of bitterness be springing up in wrath, and many be thereby defield." Whithy in Bowyer,
| On ver. 16, see Theodoret and Beausobre in Lardner, XI. p. 333.
was not to be approached when God spake from it, I should suspect the negative particle was dropped by some early transcriber. * If the present reading be right, all that can be said in defence of it, is that, though the mountain might be touched, it was extremely hazardous.
21. It does not appear, from the narrative, that Moses was at all afraid, but the people were. E.xod. xx. 18—20: “ And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking ; and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off. And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear, but let not God speak with us, lest we die. And Moses said unto the people, Fear not, for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not."
23. By this is not to be understood the state of good men in a future world; for to this they were not arrived, but to that greater perfection of character, and the superior privi. leges, which the gospel enables them to attain. Agreeably to this, our Saviour, speaking of John the Baptist, whom he represented as superior to any of the preceding prophets, says, that the least in the kingdom of heaven was greater than het
24. The blood of Abel I called for vengeance, but that of Jesus, which God is represented as giving in order to rescue men from a state of sin and wickedness, speaks forgiveness
25. In the giving of the gospel, as well as of the law, the speaker was, in fact, upon the earth ; and in both cases the speakers came from heaven, or were sent of God. But in the giving of the law, God is represented as speaking from Mount Sinai; whereas, in the gospel, the voices that were heard in attestation of the mission of Jesus were from the region of the air; and therefore, to appearance, more directly from heaven. Or the phrase may only be intended to denote the superiority of the mission of Jesus; which was what John meant when he represented himself [John iii, 31] as speaking from the earth, and Jesus from heaven.
* « To the mountain which was not to be touched, see Exod, sis. Deut. v." Wall in Bowyer. See Doddridge. + See Matt. xi. 11; Luke vii. 28; Sykes; Impr. Ver.
This “ was so holy and reverend a thing, in the sense and reputation of the old world, that the men of that time used to swear by it. So the learned Master Selden.-In the Arabic Catena, I observe that they used to say their prayers in the name of this blood." Gregory, pp. 119, 120.
26. When God spake from Mount Sinai, that mountain, and probably all the neighbouring places, shook, but the prophet Haggai (ii. 6, 7) speaks of another shaking, which had not then taken place : “ Thus saith the Lord of Hosts, Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; and I will shake all nations; and the desire of all nations shall come, and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of Hosts.” As this refers to some event that was to take place after the Jewish dispensation, the apostle applies it to the times of the gospel. It is, however, almost certain, that it relates to those great convulsions of states and kingdoms which are to precede the setting up of the proper kingdom of Christ ;* convulsions which seem to be taking place at this very time; and to which we ought, therefore, to be particularly attentive.
28. † Having quoted a passage of Scripture in bich mention is made of a shaking, the apostle is led to extend the figure, and to consider some things as liable to be thrown down by shaking, while others were not. Such is the kingdom of Christ, which shall not be removed, according to Daniel, (vii. 14,] but remain for ever.
XIII. The apostle'concludes his epistle with a number of miscellaneous, but most affectionate and eamest exhortations, some of which respect the Judaizing teachers and Gnostics.
2. Alluding to the case of Abraham. I
4. Here is an allusion to the Gnostics, who considered marriage as a state of pollution, unworthy of those who aimed at perfection.
8. By Jesus Christ, in this place, as in some others, is meant not the person of Christ, but his gospel, which the apostle says is the same, and does not vary with the opinions of men ;|| alluding to the novel doctrine of the Gnostics, mentioned in the next verse. Jesus himself used the same
• See Vol. XII. pp. 388—990. “In the prophetic language, the heavens are put for the higher powers, and those who enjoy great dignities and honours ; aud the earth is put for the lower people, who are subject to the others. The sea and the dry land signify people of many nations, or bodies-politick.-In this commotion, the gorernors
, as well as the people, are all to be put in commotion. New laws are to be made; a new society is to be formed under the government of the Messiah, and this is promised to last for ever." Sykes. See Doddridge. + Let us have grace.
“* Let us be thankful.' So Luke xvii. 7; 2 Tim. i. S; Phil. 7." Sykes. See Impr. Vers.
See Gen. xviii. xix.; Doddridge ; Sykes.
See Aets v. 42; 1 Cor. i. 24; 2 Cor. iv. 5. i Şee Clarke (S. V.), 662; Sykes; Wakefield's Enguiry, pp. 266, 267; Belsbam's Inquiry, pp. 162, 163.
figurative language, when he said that he himself, nay, his flesh and blood, were to be eaten, in order to obtain everlasting life ; meaning, no doubt, that his doctrine was to be received and practised.
9. The doctrines of the Gnostics were not immediately introduced into the Christian churches, and therefore would appear new and strange; and as the first Gnostics were Jews, they taught conformity to the Jewish law, and the distinction of meats there prescribed; the uselessness of which observances the apostle shews in the character and conduct of these Jews, who were the most strict observers of their ritual.
10. Here the apostle reverts to the object of a great part of his epistle, which was to shew those who made a boast of the Jewish ritual, that there are in Christianity things that, though by a figure of speech they may bear the same name, are of a much superior kind. Thus in Christianity he found a priest and a sacrifice, and here he finds an allar, to which the unconverted Jews had no access.
11,* 12. As the Jewish sin-offerings were burned without the camp in the Wilderness, and afterwards without the gates of Jerusalem, so Jesus, the Christian sin-offering, suffered without the gates of that city.
13. In imitation of him, let us not hesitate to suffer as he did, however reproachful, as well as painful, such sufferings may be.
14. + All that we can suffer here is of little consequence, life itself being short and uncertain, not to be compared with the glorious and happy state which is destined for those who continue patient in well-doing, and, if occasion be, in suffering also.
15. Here again the apostle adopts the Jewish phraseology. I Let us bring our offerings, not the produce of our fields, or our flocks, but of our lips, in praise and thanksgiving to God.
18. That is, reputably, so as not to disgrace our profession in the eyes of strangers.
19. The apostle was still a prisoner, though expecting to be released.
20. We see an allusion to the Jewish ritual in the whole
* “ Something seems wanting between these two verses (10, 11) to make the connexion.". Bowyer.
“ Ceci regarde ceux qui pouvoient être trop attachés à Jerusalem, et qui n'en sortoient qu'avec peine." Le Clerc.
See Isaiah lvii. 19; Hosea xiv. 2; Vol. XII. pp. 206, 355; Sykes.. VOL. XIV.
of this epistle, with notices of the superiority of the Christian system. Thus the covenant of God with Christians is called everlasting, in contradistinction to that made by Moses, which he represents as introductory to it. Mr. Wakefield renders it, that shepherd of the sheep, become great by the blood of an everlasting covenant. The exaltation of Christ is always ascribed to the merit of his sufferings.
23. The manner in which the writer of this epistle here mentions Timothy, makes it almost certain that it was Paul who wrote it. We know of no person, a prisoner at Rome at this time, who can be supposed to have written in this manner.
The seven epistles, which, in the usual order of the books of the New Testament, follow those of Paul, soon obtained the title of Catholic, or General Epistles, on account of most of them being directed not to particular persons, or particular churches, but to Christians in general. I
The first in order was written by James, commonly called the brother of Jesus, probably a near relation, and the same who is called the son of Alpheus, or Cleopas, which is the same name differently written. He was one of the apostles, presided in the church at Jerusalem, and was a person of the greatest respectability, being highly esteemed even by the unbelieving Jews. He soon obtained the appellation of the Just, on account of his exemplary piety and virtue. He lived till A. D. 62, very near to the breaking out of the Jewish war, and suffered martyrdom | in a tumult in or near the Temple. This epistle was probably written not long before his death ; and it is addressed to the Jews in general, believers or unbelievers; and the object of it is to enforce the practice of moral duties. I
* See his Note. Thus Sykes ; Harwood, N. T. See Doddridge.
See ibid. pp. 465-468. “ Among these epistles no more than two are of the class of the ouoroyovvero, or writings acknowledged by the whole church. These are the first of Śt. Peter and of St. John.—However, St. James's epistle is received by most of the ancient churches, which rejected the other three. Nor can I conceive any end an impostor could have iu forging these epistles." Michaelis's Introd. Lect. (Sect. cxlvi.), p. 316.
§ See Lardner, VI. p. 495.
Vi « The account of it is mixed with many circumstances fabulous and incredible. See Euseb. Eccles. Hist. L. ii. C. xxiii.” Harwood, I. p. 154. See Eusebirs translated, with remarks by Lardner, VI. pp. 480-490.
9 See N. T. 1729, pp. 878-875; Lardner, VI. pp. 502-509; Doddridge's Introd. VI.