(Calvin, Paul to the Hebrews. part 6)

is the duty of a good shepherd, in watching over the whole flock so to
care for every sleep that no one may be lost; nay, we ought also so to
feel for one another that every one should fear for his neighbours as
well as for himself
    But the fear which is here recommended is not that which shakes the
confidence of faith but such as fills us with such  concern that we grow
not torpid with indifference. Let us then fear, not that we ought to
tremble or to entertain distrust as though uncertain as to the issue, but
lest we be unfaithful to God's grace.
    By saying "Lest we be disappointed of the promise left us", he
intimates that no one comes short of it except he who by rejecting grace
has first renounced the promise; for God is so far from repenting to do
us good that he ceases not to bestow his gifts except when we despise his
calling. The illative "therefore", or then means that by the fall of
others we are taught humility and watchfulness according to what Paul
also says, "These through unbelief have fallen; be not thou then high-
minded, but fear." (Rom. 11: 20.)
=====> 4:2. "For to us", &c. He reminds us that the doctrine by which God
invites us to himself at this day is the same with that which he formerly
delivered to the fathers; and why did he say this? That we may know that
the calling of God will in no degree be more profitable to us than it was
to them, except we make it sure by faith. This, then, he concedes, that
the Gospel is indeed preached to us; but lest we should vainly glory, he
immediately adds that the unbelieving whom God had formerly favoured with
the participation of so great blessings, yet received from them no fruit,
and that therefore we also shall be destitute of his blessing unless we
receive it by faith. He repeats the word "hear" for this end, that we may
know that hearing is useless except the word addressed to us be by faith
    But we must here observe the connection between the word and faith.
It is such that faith is not to be separated from the word, and that the
word separated from faith can confer no good; not indeed that the
efficacy or power of the word depends on us; for were the whole world
false, he who cannot lie would still never cease to be true, but the word
never puts forth its power in us  except when faith gives it an entrance.
It is indeed the power of God unto salvation, but only to those who
believe. (Rom. 1: 16.) There is in it revealed the righteousness of God,
but it is from faith to faith. Thus it is that the word of God is always
efficacious and saving to men, when viewed in itself or in its own
nature; but no fruit will be found except by those who believe.
    As to a former statement, when I said that there is no faith where
the word is wanting, and that those who make such a divorce wholly
extinguish faith and reduce it to nothing, the subject is worthy of
special notice. For it hence appears evident that faith cannot exist in
any but in the children of God, to whom alone the promise of adoption is
offered. For what sort of faith have devils, to whom no salvation is
promised? And what sort of faith have all the ungodly who are ignorant of
the word? The hearing must ever precede faith, and that indeed that we
may know that God speaks and not men.

=====> 4:3 For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As
I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the
works were finished from the foundation of the world.
4:4 For he spake in a certain place of the seventh [day] on this wise,
And God did rest the seventh day from all his works.
4:5 And in this [place] again, If they shall enter into my rest.
4:6 Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they
to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief:
4:7 Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so
long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not
your hearts.
4:8 For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have
spoken of another day.
4:9 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.
4:10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his
own works, as God [did] from his.

    He now begins to embellish the passage which he had quoted from
David. He has hitherto taken it, as they say, according to the letter,
that is, in its literal sense; but he now amplifies and decorates it; and
thus he rather alludes to than explains the words of David. This sort of
decoration Paul employed in Rom. 10: 6, in referring to these words of
Moses, "Say not, who shall ascend into heaven!" &c. Nor is it indeed
anything unsuitable, in accommodating Scripture to a subject in hand, to
illustrate by figurative terms what is more simply delivered. However,
the sum of the whole is this, that what God threatens in the Psalm as to
the loss of his rest, applies also to us, inasmuch as he invites us also
at this day to a rest.
    The chief difficulty of this passage arises from this, that it is
perverted by many. The Apostle had no other thing in view by declaring
that there is a rest for us, than to rouse us to desire it, and also to
make us to fear, lest we should be shut out of it through unbelief He
however teaches us at the same time, that the rest into which an entrance
is now open to us, is far more valuable than that in the land of Canaan.
But let us now come to particulars.
=====> 4:3. "For we which have believed do enter into rest", or, for we
enter into the rest after we have believed, &c. It is an argument from
what is contrary. Unbelief alone shuts us out; then faith alone opens an
entrance. We must indeed bear in mind what he has already stated, that
God being angry with the unbelieving, had sworn that they should not
partake of that blessing. Then they enter in where unbelief does not
hinder, provided only that God invites them. But by speaking in the first
person he allures them with greater sweetness, separating them from
    "Although the works," &c. To define what our rest is, he reminds us
of what Moses relates, that God having finished the creation of the
world, immediately rested from his works and he finally concludes, that
the true rest of the faithful, which is to continue forever, will be when
they shall rest as God did. And doubtless as the highest happiness of man
is to be united to his God, so ought to be his ultimate end to which he
ought to refer all his thoughts and actions. This he proves, because God
who is said to have rested, declared a long time after that he would not
give his rest to the unbelieving; he would have so declared to no
purpose, had he not intended that the faithful should rest after his own
example. Hence he says, "It remaineth that some must enter in:" for if
not to enter in is the punishment of unbelief, then an entrance, as it
has been said, is open to believers.
=====> 4:7. But there is some more difficulty in what he immediately
subjoins, that there is another today appointed for us in the Psalm,
because the former people had been excluded; but the words of David (as
it may be said) seem to express no such thing, and mean only this, that
God punished the unbelief of the people by refusing to them the
possession of the land. To this I answer, that the inference is correct,
that to us is offered what was denied to them; for the Holy Spirit
reminds and warns us, that we may not do the same thing so as to incur
the same punishment. For how does the matter stand? Were nothing at this
day promised, how could this warning be suitable, "Take heed lest the
same thing happen to you as to the fathers." Rightly then does the
Apostle say, that as the fathers' unbelief deprived them of the promised
possession, the promise is renewed to their children, so that they may
possess what had been neglected by their fathers.
=====> 4:8. "For if Jesus had given them rest", or, had obtained rest for
them, &c. He meant not to deny but that David understood by rest the land
of Canaan, into which Joshua conducted the people; but he denies this to
be the final rest to which the faithful aspire, and which we have also in
common with the faithful of that age; for it is certain that they looked
higher than to that land; nay, the land of Canaan was not otherwise so
much valued except for this reason, because it was an image and a symbol
of the spiritual inheritance. When, therefore, they obtained possession
of it, they ought not to have rested as though they had attained to the
summit of their wishes, but on the contrary to meditate on what was
spiritual as by it suggested. They to whom David addressed the Psalm were
in possession of that land, but they were reminded of the duty of seeking
a better rest.
    We shell see how the land of Canaan was a rest; it was indeed but
evanescent, beyond which it was the duty of the faithful to advance. In
this sense the Apostle denies that that rest was given by Joshua; for the
people under his guidance entered the promised land for this end, that
they might with greater alacrity advance forward towards heaven.
    And we may hence easily learn the difference between us and them; for
though the same end is designed for both, yet they had, as added to them,
external types to guide them; not so have we, nor have we indeed any need
of them, for the naked truth itself is set before our eyes. Though our
salvation is as yet in hope, yet as to the truth, it leads directly to
heaven; nor does Christ extend his hand to us, that he may conduct us by
the circuitous course of types and figures, but that he may withdraw us
from the world and raise us up to heaven. Now that the Apostle separates
the shadow from the substance, he did so for this reason, - because he
had to do with the Jews, who were too much attached to external things.
    He draws the conclusion, that there is a sabbathizing reserved for
Gods people, that is, a spiritual rest; to which God daily flails invites
=====> 4:10. "For he that is entered into his rest", or, For he who has
rested, &c. This is a definition of that perpetual Sabbath in which there
is the highest felicity, when there will be a likeness between men and
God, to whom they will be united. For whatever the philosophers may have
ever said of the chief good, it was nothing but cold and vain, for they
confined man to himself, while it is necessary for us to go out of
ourselves to find happiness. The chief good of man is nothing else but
union with God; this is attained when we are formed according to him as
our exemplar.
    Now this conformation the Apostle teaches us takes place when we rest
from our works. It hence at length follows, that man becomes happy by
self-denial. For what else is to cease from our works, but to mortify our
flesh, when a man renounces himself that he may live to God? For here we
must always begin, when we speak of a godly and holy life, that man being
in a manner dead to himself, should allow God to live in him, that he
should abstain from his own works, so as to give place to God to work. We
must indeed confess, that then only is our life rightly formed when it
becomes subject to God. But through inbred corruption this is never the
case, until we rest from our own works; nay, such is the opposition
between God's government and our corrupt affections, that he cannot work
in us until we rest. But though the completion of this rest cannot be
attained in this life, yet we ought ever to strive for it. Thus believers
enter it but on this condition, - that by running they may continually go
    But I doubt not but that the Apostle designedly alluded to the
Sabbath in order to reclaim the Jews from its external observances; for
in no other way could its abrogation be understood, except by the
knowledge of its spiritual design. He then treats of two things together;
for by extolling the excellency of grace, he stimulates us to receive it
by faith, and in the meantime he shows us in passing what is the true
design of the Sabbath, lest the Jews should be foolishly attached to the
outward rite. Of its abrogation indeed he does expressly speak, for this
is not his subject, but by teaching them that the rite had a reference to
something else, he gradually withdraws them from their superstitious
notions. For he who understands that the main object of the precept was
not external rest or earthly worship, immediately perceives, by looking
on Christ, that the external rite was abolished by his coming; for when
the body appears, the shadows immediately vanish away. Then our first
business always is, to teach that Christ is the end of the Law.

=====> 4:11 Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man
fall after the same example of unbelief.
4:12 For the word of God [is] quick, and powerful, and sharper than any
twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit,
and of the joints and marrow, and [is] a discerner of the thoughts and
intents of the heart.
4:13 Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but
all things [are] naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have
to do.

    Having pointed out the goal to which we are to advance, he exhorts us
to pursue our course, which we do, when we habituate ourselves to
self-denial. And as he compares entering into rest to a straight course,
he sets falling in opposition to it, and thus he continues the metaphor
in both clauses, at the same time he alludes to the history given by
Moses of those who fell in the wilderness, because they were rebellious
against God. (Num. 26: 65.) Hence he says, "after the same example",
signifying as though the punishment for unbelief and obstinacy is there
set before us as in a picture; nor is there indeed a doubt but that a
similar end awaits us, if there be found in us the same unbelief.
    Then, "to fall" means to perish; or to speak more plainly, it is to
fall, not as to sin, but as a punishment for it. But the figure
corresponds as well with the word to "enter", as with the sad overthrow
of the fathers, by whose example he intended to terrify the Jews.
=====> 4:12. "For the word of God is quick", or living, &c. What he says
here of the efficacy or power of the word, he says it, that they might
know, that it could not be despised with impunity, as though he had said,
"Whenever the Lord addresses us by his word, he deals seriously with us,
in order that he may touch all our inmost thoughts and feelings; and so
there is no part of our soul which ought not to be roused."
    But before we proceed further, we must inquire whether the Apostle
speaks of the effect of the word generally, or refers only to the
    It indeed appears evident, that the word of God is not equally
efficacious in all. For in the elect it exerts its own power, when
humbled by a true knowledge of themselves, they flee to the grace of
Christ; and this is never the case, except when it penetrates into the
innermost heart. For hypocrisy must be sifted, which has marvelous and
extremely winding recesses in the hearts of men; and then we must not be
slightly pricked or torn, but be thoroughly wounded, that being prostrate
under a sense of eternal death, we may be taught to die to ourselves. In
short, we shall never be renewed in the whole mind, which Paul requires,
(Eph. 4: 23,) until our old man be slain by the edge of the spiritual
sword. Hence Paul says in another place, (Phil. 2: 17,) that the faithful
are offered as a sacrifice to God by the Gospel; for they cannot
otherwise be brought to obey God than by having, as it were, their own
will slain; nor can they otherwise receive the light of God's wisdom,
than by having the wisdom of the flesh destroyed. Nothing of this kind is
found in the reprobate; for they either carelessly disregard God speaking
to them, and thus mock him, or glamour against his truth, and obstinately
resist it. In short, as the word of God is a hammer, so they have a heart
like the anvil, so that its hardness repels its strokes, however powerful
they may be. The word of God, then, is far from being so efficacious
towards them as to penetrate into them to "the dividing of the soul and
the spirit". Hence it appears, that this its character is to be confined
to the faithful only, as they alone are thus searched to the quick.
    The context, however, shows that there is here a general truth, and
which extends also to the reprobate themselves; for though they are not
softened, but set up a brazen and an iron heart against God's word, yet
they must necessarily be restrained by their own guilt. They indeed
laugh, but it is a sardonic laugh; for they inwardly feel that they are,
as it were, slain; they make evasions in various ways, so as not to come
before God's tribunal; but though unwilling, they are yet dragged there
by this very word which they arrogantly deride; so that they may be fitly
compared to furious dogs, which bite and claw the chain by which they are
bound, and yet can do nothing, as they still remain fast bound.
    And further, though this effect of the word may not appear
immediately as it were on the first day, yet it will be found at length
by the event, that it has not been preached to any one in vain. General
no doubt is what Christ declares, when he says, When the Spirit shall
come, he will convince the world, (John 16: 8 9.) for the Spirit
exercises this office by the preaching, of the Gospel.
 And lastly, though the word of God does not always exert its power on
man, yet it has it in a manner included in itself. And the Apostle speaks
here of its character and proper office for this end only, - that we may
know that our consciences are summoned as guilty before God's tribunal as
soon as it sounds in our ears, as though he had said, "If any one thinks
that the air is beaten by an empty sound when the word of God is
preached, he is greatly mistaken; for it is a living thing and full of
hidden power, which leaves nothing in man untouched." The sum of the
whole then is this, - that as soon as God opens his sacred mouth, all our
faculties ought to be open to receive his word; for he would not have his
word scattered in vain, so as to disappear or to fall neglected on the
ground, but he would have it effectually to constrain the consciences of
men, so as to bring them under his authority; and that he has put power
in his word for this purpose, that it may scrutinize all the parts of the
soul, search the thoughts, discern the affections, and in a word show
itself to be the judge.
    But here a new question arises, "Is this word to be understood of the
Law or of the Gospel?" Those who think that the Apostle speaks of the Law
bring these testimonies of Paul, - that it is the ministration of death,
(2 Cor. 3: 6, 7,) that it is the letter which killeth, that it worketh
nothing but wrath, (Rom. 4: 15,) and similar passages. But here the
Apostle points out also its different effects; for, as we have said,
there is a certain vivifying killing of the soul, which is effected by
the Gospel. Let us then know that the Apostle speaks generally of the
truth of God, when he says, that it is living and efficacious. So Paul
testifies, when he declares, that by his preaching there went forth an
odour of death unto death to the unbelieving, but of life unto life to
believers, (2 Cor. 2: 16,) so that God never speaks in vain; he draws
some to salvation, others he drives into ruin. This is the power of
binding and losing which the Lord conferred on his Apostles. (Matt. 18:
18.) And, indeed, he never promises to us salvation in Christ, without
denouncing, on the other hand, vengeance on unbelievers,; who by
rejecting Christ bring death on themselves.
    It must be further noticed, that the Apostle speaks of God's word,
which is brought to us by the ministry of men. For delirious and even
dangerous are those notions, that though the internal word is
efficacious, yet that which proceeds from the mouth of man is lifeless
and destitute of all power. I indeed admit that the power does not
proceed from the tongue of man, nor exists in mere sound, but that the
whole power is to be ascribed altogether to the Holy Spirit; there is,
however, nothing in this to hinder the Spirit from putting forth his
power in the word preached. For God, as he speaks not by himself, but by
men, dwells carefully on this point, so that his truth may not be
objected to in contempt, because men are its ministers. So Paul, by
saying, that the Gospel is the power of God, (Rom. 1: l6.) designedly
adorned with this distinction his own preaching, though he saw that it
was slandered by some and despised by others. And when in another place,
(Rom. 10: 8,) he teaches us that salvation is conferred by the doctrine
of faith, he expressly says that it was the doctrine which was preached
We indeed find that God ever commends the truth ad ministered to us by
men, in order to induce us to receive it with reverence.
    Now, by calling the word "quick" or living he must be understood as
referring to men; which appears still clearer by the second word,
"powerful", for he shows what sort of life it possesses, when he
expressly says that it is efficacious; for the Apostle's object was to
teach us what the word is to us. The "sword" is a metaphorical word often
used in Scripture; but the Apostle not content with a simple comparison,
says, that God's word is "sharper than any sword", even than a sword that
cuts on both sides, or two-edged; for at that time swords were in common
use, which were blunt on one side, and sharp on the other. "Piercing even
to the dividing asunder of the soul and spirit", or to the dividing of
the soul and spirit, &c. The word "soul" means often the same with
"spirit"; but when they occur together, the first includes all the
affections, and the second means what they call the intellectual faculty.
So Paul, writing to the Thessalonians, uses the words, when he prays God
to keep their spirit, and soul, and body blameless until the coming of
Christ, (I Thess. 5: 23,) he meant no other thing, but that they might
continue pure and chaste in mind, and will, and outward actions. Also
Isaiah means the same when he says, "My soul desired thee in the night; I
sought thee with my spirit." (Isa. 26: 9.) What he doubtless intends to
show is, that he was so intent on seeking God, that he applied his whole
mind and his whole heart. I know that some give a different explanation;
but all the sound-minded, as I expect, will assent to this view.
    Now, to come to the passage before us, it is said that God's word
"pierces", or reaches to the dividing of soul and spirit, that is, it
examines the whole soul of man; for it searches his thoughts and
scrutinizes his will with all its desires. And then he adds "the joints
and marrow", intimating that there is nothing so hard or strong in man,
nothing so hidden, that the powerful word cannot pervade it. Paul
declares the same when he says, that prophecy avails to reprove and to
judge men, so that the secrets of the heart may come, to light. (I Cor.
14: 24.) And as it is Christ's office to uncover and bring to light the
thoughts from the recesses of the heart, this he does for the most part
by the Gospel.
    Hence God's word is a "discerner", (|kritikos|, one that has power to
discern,) for it brings the light of knowledge to the mind of man as it
were from a labyrinth, where it was held before entangled. There is
indeed no thicker darkness than that of unbelief, and hypocrisy is a
horrible blindness; but God's word scatters this darkness and chases away
this hypocrisy. Hence the separating or discerning which the Apostle
mentions; for the vices, hid under the false appearance of virtues, begin
then to be known, the varnish being wiped away. And if the reprobate
remain for a time in their hidden recesses, yet they find at length that
God's word has penetrated there also, so that they cannot escape God's
judgement. Hence their glamour and also their fury, for were they not
smitten by the word, they would not thus betray their madness, but they
would seek to elude the word, or by evasion to escape from its power, or
to pass it by unnoticed; but these things God does not allow them to do.
Whenever then they slander God's word, or become enraged against it, they
show that they feel within its power, however unwillingly and
=====> 4:13. "Neither is there any creature", &c. The conjunction here,
as I think, is causal, and may be rendered "for"; for in order to confirm
this truth, that whatever is hid in man is discerned and judged by God's
word, he draws an argument from the nature of God himself. There is no
creature, he says, which is hid from the eyes of God; there is,
therefore, nothing so deep in man's soul, which cannot be drawn forth
into light by that word that resembles its own author, for as it is God's
office to search the heart, so he performs this examination by his word.
    Interpreters, without considering that God's word is like a long
staff by which he examines and searches what lies deep in our hearts,
have strangely perverted this passage; and yet they have not relieved
themselves. But all difficulty disappears when we take this view, - that
we ought to obey God's word in sincerity and with cordial affection,
because God, who knows our hearts, has assigned to his word the office of
penetrating even into our inmost thoughts. The ambiguous meaning of the
last words has also led interpreters astray, which they have rendered,
"Of whom we speak;" but they ought, on the contrary, to be rendered,
"With whom we have to do". The meaning is, that it is God who deals with
us, or with whom we have a concern; and that, therefore, we ought not to
trifle with him as with a mortal man, but that whenever his word is set
before us, we ought to tremble, for nothing is hid from him.

=====> 4:14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed
into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast [our]
4:15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the
feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as [we
are, yet] without sin.
4:16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may
obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

=====> 4:14. "Seeing then that we have", or, Having then, &c. He has been
hitherto speaking of Christ's apostleship, But he how passes on to his
second office. For we have said that the Son of God sustained a twofold
character when he was sent to us, even that of a teacher and of a priest.
The Apostle, therefore, after having exhorted the Jews obediently to
embrace the doctrine of Christ, now shows what benefit his priesthood has
brought to us; and this is the second of the two points which he handles.
And fitly does he connect the priesthood with the apostleship, since he
reminds us that the design of both is to enable us to come to God. He
employs an inference, "then"; for he had before referred to this great
truth, that Christ is our high priest; but as the character of the
priesthood cannot be known except through teaching, it was necessary to
prepare the way, so as to render men willing to hear Christ. It now
remains, that they who acknowledge Christ as their teacher, should become
teachable disciples, and also learn from his mouth, and in his school,
what is the benefit of his priesthood, and what is its use and end.
    In the first place he says, "Having a great highpriest, Jesus Christ,
let us hold fast our profession", or confession. Confession is here, as
before, to be taken as a metonymy for faith; and as the priesthood serves
to confirm the doctrine, the Apostle hence concludes that there is no
reason to doubt or to waver respecting the faith of the Gospel, because
the Son of God has approved and sanctioned it; for whosoever regards the
doctrine as not confirmed, dishonours the Son of God, and deprives him of
his honour as a priest; nay, such and so great a pledge ought to render
us confident, so as to rely unhesitantly on the Gospel.
=====> 4:15. "For we have not", &c. There is in the name which he
mentions, "the Son of God", such majesty as ought to constrain us to fear
and obey him. But were we to contemplate nothing but this in Christ, our
consciences would not be pacified; for who of us does not dread the sight
of the Son of God, especially when we consider what our condition is, and
when our sins come to mind? The Jews might have had also another
hindrance, for they had been accustomed to the Levitical priesthood; they
saw in that one mortal man, chosen from the rest, who entered into the
sanctuary, that by his prayer he might reconcile his brethren to God. It
is a great thing, when the Mediator, who can pacify God towards us, is
one of ourselves. By this sort of allurement the Jews might have been
ensnared, so as to become ever attached to the Levitical priesthood, had
not the Apostle anticipated this, and showed that the Son of God not only
excelled in glory, but that he was also endued with equal kindness and
compassion towards us.
    It is, then, on this subject that he speaks, when he says that he was
"tried by our infirmities", that he might condole with us. As to the word
sympathy, (|sumpatheia|), I am not disposed to indulge in refinements;
for fivolous, no less than curious, is this question, "Is Christ now
subject to our sorrows?" It was not, indeed, the Apostle's object to
weary us with such subtilties and vain speculations, but only to teach us
that we have not to go far to seek a Mediator, since Christ of his own
accord extends his hand to us, that we have no reason to dread the
majesty of Christ since he is our brother, and that there is no cause to
fear, lest he, as one unacquainted with evils, should not be touched by
any feelings of humanity, so as to bring us help, since he took upon him
our infirmities, in order that he might be more inclined to succour us.
    Then the whole discourse of the Apostle refers to what is apprehended
by faith, for he does not speak of what Christ is in himself, but shows
what he is to us. By the "likeness", he understands that of nature, by
which he intimates that Christ has put on our flesh, and also its
feelings or affections, so that he not only paroled himself to be real
man, but had also been taught by his own experience to help the
miserable; not because the Son of God had need of such a training, but
because we could not otherwise comprehend the care he feels for our
salvation. Whenever, then, we labour under the infirmities of our flesh,
let us remember that the son of God experienced the same, in order that
he might by his power raise us up, so that we may not be overwhelmed by
    But it may be asked, What does he mean by "infirmities"? The word is
indeed taken in various senses. Some understand by it cold and heat;
hunger and other wants of the body; and also contempt, poverty, and other
things of this mind, as in many places in the writings of Paul,
especially in 2 Cor. 12: 10. But their opinion is more correct who
include, together with external evils, the feelings of the souls such as
fear, sorrow, the dread of death, and similar things.
    And doubtless the restriction, "without sin", would not have been
added, except he had been speaking of the inward feelings, which in us
are always sinful on account of the depravity of our nature; but in
Christ, who possessed the highest rectitude and perfect purity, they were
free from everything vicious. Poverty, indeed, and diseases, and those
things which are without us, are not to be counted as sinful. Since,
therefore, he speaks of infirmities akin to sin, there is no doubt but
that he refers to the feelings or affections of the mind, to which our
nature is liable, and that on account of its infirmity. For the condition
of the angels is in this respect better than ours; for they sorrow not,
nor fear, nor are they harassed by variety of cares, nor by the dread of
death. These infirmities Christ of his own accord undertook, and he
willingly contended with them, not only that he might attain a victory
over them for us, but also that we may feel assured that he is present
with us whenever we are tried by them.
    Thus he not only really became a man, but he also assumed all the
qualities of human nature. There is, however, a limitation added,
"without sin"; for we must ever remember this difference between Christ's
feelings or affections and ours, that his feelings were always regulated
according to the strict rule of justice, while ours flow from a turbid
fountain, and always partake of the nature of their source, for  they are
turbulent and unbridled.
=====> 4:16. "Let us therefore come boldly", or, with confidence, &c. He
draws this conclusion, - that an access to God is open to all who come to
him relying on Christ the Mediator; nay, he exhorts the faithful to
venture without any hesitation to present themselves before God. And the
chief benefit of divine teaching is a sure confidence in calling on God,
as, on the other hand, the whole of religion falls to the ground, and is
lost when this certainty is taken away from consciences.
    It is hence obvious to conclude, that under the Papacy the light of
the Gospel is extinct, for miserable men are bidden to doubt whether God
is propitious to them or is angry with them. They indeed say that God is
to be sought; but the way by which it is possible to come to him is not
pointed out, and the gate is barred by which alone men can enter. They
confess in words that Christ is a Mediator, but in reality they make the
power of his priesthood of none effect, and deprive him of his honour.
    For we must hold this principle, - that Christ is not really known as
a Mediator except all doubt as to our access to God is removed; otherwise
the conclusion here drawn would not stand, "We have a high priest Who is
willing to help us; therefore we may come bold and without any hesitation
to the throne of grace." And were we indeed fully persuaded that Christ
is of his own accord stretching forth his hand to us, who of us would not
come in perfect confidence? It is then true what I said, that its power
is taken away from Christ's priesthood whenever men have doubts, and are
anxiously seeking for mediators, as though that one were not sufficient,
in whose patronage all they who really trust, as the Apostle here directs
them, have the assurance that their prayers are heard.
    The ground of this assurance is, that the throne of God is not
arrayed in naked majesty to confound us, but is adorned with a new name,
even that of grace, which ought ever to be remembered whenever we shun
the presence of God. For the glory of God, when we contemplate it alone,
can produce no other effect than to fill us with despair; so awful is his
throne. The Apostle, then, that he might remedy our diffidence, and free
our minds from all fear and trembling, adorns it with "grace," and gives
it a name which can allure us by its sweetness, as though he had said,
"Since God has affirmed to his throne as it were the banner of 'grace'
and of his paternal love towards us, there are no reasons why his majesty
should drive us away."
    The e import of the whole is, that we are to call upon God Without
fear, since we know that he is propitious to us, and that this may be
done is owing to the benefit conferred on us by Christ, as we find from
Eph. 3: 12; for when Christ receives us under his protection and
patronage, he covers with his goodness the majesty of God, which would
otherwise be terrible to us, so that nothing appears there but grace and
paternal favour.
    "That we may obtain mercy", &c. This is not added without great
reason; it is for the purpose of encouraging as it were by name those who
feel the need of mercy, lest any one should be cast down by the sense of
his misery, and close up his way by his own diffidence. This expression,
"that we may obtain mercy", contains especially this most delightful
truth, that all who, relying on the advocacy of Christ, pray to God, are
certain to obtain mercy; yet on the other hand the Apostle indirectly, or
by implication, holds out a threatening to all who take not this way, and

(continued in part 7...)

file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-3/epl-01: calhb-06.txt