(Calvin, Paul to the Hebrews. part 14)

Christ. And as this cannot be the case with any one except he has been
already enlightened, he says, "If we sin wilfully, after that we have
received the knowledge of the truth"; as though he had said, "If we
knowingly and willingly renounce the grace which we had obtained." It is
now evident how widely apart is this doctrine from the error of Novatus.
    And that the Apostle here refers only to apostates, is clear from the
whole passage; for what he treats of is this, that those who had been
once received into the Church ought not to forsake it, as some were wont
to do. He now declares that there remained for such no sacrifice for sin,
because they had wilfully sinned after having received the knowledge of
the truth. But as to sinners who fall in any other way, Christ offers
himself daily to them, so that they are to seek no other sacrifice for
expiating their sins. He denies, then, that any sacrifice remains for
them who renounce the death of Christ, which is not done by any offense
except by a total renunciation of the faith.
    This severity of God is indeed dreadful, but it is set forth for the
purpose of inspiring terror. He cannot, however, be accused of cruelty;
for as the death of Christ is the only remedy by which we can be
delivered from eternal death, are not they who destroy as far as thee can
its virtue and benefit worthy of being left to despair? God invites to
daily reconciliation those who abide in Christ; they are daily washed by
the blood of Christ, their sins are daily expiated by his perpetual
sacrifice. As salvation is not to be sought except in him, there is no
need to wonder that all those who wilfully forsake him are deprived of
every hope of pardon: this is the import of the adverb |epi|, more. But
Christ's sacrifice is efficacious to the godly even to death, though they
often sin; nay, it retains ever its efficacy, for this very reason,
because they cannot be free from sin as long as they dwell in the flesh.
The Apostle then refers to those alone who wickedly forsake Christ, and
thus deprive themselves of the benefit of his death.
    The clause, "after having received the knowledge of the truth," was
added for the purpose of aggravating their ingratitude; for he who
willingly and with deliberate impiety extinguishes the light of God
kindled in his heart has nothing to allege as an excuse before God. Let
us then learn not only to receive with reverence and prompt docility of
mind the truth offered to us, but also firmly to persevere in the
knowledge of it, so that we may not suffer the terrible punishment of
those who despise it.
=====> 10:27. "But a certain fearful looking for", &c. He means the
torment of an evil conscience which the ungodly feel, who not only have
no grace, but who also know that having tasted grace they have lost it
forever through their own fault; such must not only be pricked and
bitten, but also tormented and lacerated in a dreadful manner. Hence it
is that they war rebelliously against God, for they cannot endure so
strict a Judge. They indeed try in every way to remove the sense of God's
wrath, but all in vain; for when God allows them a short respite, he soon
draws them before his tribunal, and harasses them with the torments which
they especially shun.
    He adds, "fiery indignation", or the heat of fire; by which he means,
as I think, a vehement impulse or a violent ardour. The word "fire" is a
common metaphor; for as the ungodly are now in a heat through dread of
divine wrath, so they shall then burn through the same feeling. Nor is it
unknown to me, that the sophists have refinedly speculated as to this
fire; but I have no regard of their glosses, since it is evident that it
is the same mode of speaking as when Scripture connects fire with worm.
(Isa. 66: 24.) But no man doubts but that worm is used metaphorically to
designate that dreadful torment of conscience by which the ungodly are
    "Which shall devour the adversaries". It shall so devour them as to
destroy, but not to consume them; for it will be inextinguishable. And
thus he reminds us, that they are all to be counted the enemies of Christ
who have refused to hold the place granted them among the faithful; for
there is no intermediate state, as they who depart from the Church give
themselves up to Satan.

=====> 10:28 He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or
three witnesses:
10:29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought
worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the
blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and
hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?
10:30 For we know him that hath said, Vengeance [belongeth] unto me, I
will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his
10:31 [It is] a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

=====> 10:28. "He that despised", &c. This is an argument from the less
to the greater; for if it was a capital offence to violate the law of
Moses, how much heavier punishment does the rejection of the gospel
deserve, a sin which involves so many and so heinous impieties! This
reasoning was indeed most fitted to impress the Jews; for so severe a
punishment on apostates under the Law was neither new to them, nor could
it appear unjustly rigorous. They ought then to have acknowledged that
vengeance just, however severe, by which God now sanctions the majesty of
his Gospels.
    Hereby is also confirmed what I have already said, that the Apostle
speaks not of particular sins, but of the entire denial of Christ; for
the Law did not punish all kinds of transgressions with death, but
apostasy, that is, when any one wholly renounced religion; for the
Apostle referred to a passage in Deut. 27: 2-7, where we find, that if
any one violated God's covenant by worshipping foreign gods, he was to be
brought outside of the gate and stoned to death. 
    Now, though the Law proceeded from God, and Moses was not its author,
but its minister, yet the Apostle calls it the law of Moses, because it
had been given through him: this was said in order to amplify the more
the dignity of the Gospel, which has been delivered to us by the Son of
    "Under two or three witnesses", &c. This bears not on the present
subject; but it was a part of the civil law of Moses that two or three
witnesses were required to prove the accused guilty. However, we hence
learn what sort of crime the Apostle meant; for had not this been added,
an opening would have been left for many false conjectures. But now it is
beyond all dispute that he speaks of apostasy. At the same time that
equity ought to be observed which almost all statesmen have adopted, that
no one is to be condemned without being proved guilty by the testimony of
two witnesses 

=====> 10:29. "Who has trodden under foot the Son of God", &c. There is
this likeness between apostates under the Law and under the Gospel, that
both perish without mercy; but the kind of death is different; for the
Apostle denounces on the despisers of Christ not only the deaths of the
body, but eternal perdition. And therefore he says that a sorer
punishment awaits them. And he designates the desertion of Christianity
by three things; for he says that thus the Son of God is trodden under
foot, that his blood is counted an unholy thing, and that despite is done
to the Spirit of grace. Now, it is a more heinous thing to tread under
foot than to despise or reject; and the dignity of Christ is far
different from that of Moses; and further, he does not simply set the
Gospel in opposition to the Law, but the person of Christ and of the Holy
Spirit to the person of Moses.
    "The blood of the covenant", &c. He enhances ingratitude by a
comparison with the benefits. It is the greatest indignity to count the
blood of Christ unholy, by which our holiness is effected; this is done
by those who depart from the faith. For our faith looks not on the naked
doctrine, but on the blood by which our salvation has been ratified. He
calls it the blood of the covenant, because then only were the promises
made sure to us when this pledge was added. But he points out the manner
of this confirmation by saying that we are sanctified; for the blood shed
would avail us nothing, except we were sprinkled with it by the Holy
Spirit; and hence come our expiation and sanctification. The apostle at
the same time alludes to the ancient rite of sprinkling, which availed
not to real sanctification, but was only its shadow or image.
    "The Spirit of grace". He calls it the Spirit of grace from the
effects produced; for it is by the Spirit and through his influence that
we receive the grace offered to us in Christ. For he it is who enlightens
our minds by faith, who seals the adoption of God on our hearts, who
regenerates us unto newness of life, who grafts us into the body of
Christ, that he may live in us and we in him. He is therefore rightly
called the Spirit of grace, by whom Christ becomes ours with all his
blessings. But to do despite to him, or to treat him with scorn, by whom
we are endowed with so many benefits, is an impiety extremely wicked.
Hence learn that all who wilfully render useless his grace, by which they
had been favoured, act disdainfully towards the Spirit of God.
    It is therefore no wonder that God so severely visits blasphemies of
this kind; it is no wonder that he shows himself inexorable towards those
who tread under foot Christ the Mediator, who alone reconciles us to
himself; it is no wonder that he closes up the way of salvation against
those who spurn the Holy Spirit, the only true guide.
=====> 10:30. "For we know him that hath said", &c. Both the passages are
taken from Deut. 32: 35, 36. But as Moses there promises that God would
take vengeance for the wrongs done to his people, it seems that the words
are improperly and constrainedly applied to the vengeance referred to
here; for what does the Apostle speak of? Even that the impiety of those
who despised God would not be unpunished. Paul also in Rom. 12: 19,
knowing the true sense of the passage, accommodates it to another
purpose; for having in view to exhort us to patience, he bids us to give
place to God to take vengeance, because this office belongs to him; and
this he proves by the testimony of Moses. But there is no reason why we
should not turn a special declaration to a universal truth. Though then
the design of Moses was to console the faithful, as they would have God
as the avenger of wrongs done to them; yet we may always conclude from
his words that it is the peculiar office of God to take vengeance on the
ungodly. Nor does he pervert his testimony who hence proves that the
contempt of God will not be unpunished; for he is a righteous judge who
claims to himself the office of taking vengeance.
    At the same time the Apostle might here also reason from the less to
the greater, and in this manner: "God says that he will not suffer his
people to be injured with impunity, and declares that he will surely be
their avenger: If he suffers not wrongs done to men to be unpunished,
will he not avenge his own? Has he so little or no care and concern for
his own glory, as to connive at and pass by indignities offered to him?"
But the former view is more simple and natural, - that the Apostle only
shows that God will not be mocked with impunity, since it is his peculiar
office to render to the ungodly what they have deserved.
    "The Lord shall judge his people". Here another and a greater
difficulty arises; for the meaning of Moses seems not to agree with what
here intended. The Apostle seems to have quoted this passage as though
Moses had used the word punish, and not judge; but as it immediately
follows by way of explanation, "He will be merciful to his saints," it
appears evident that to judge here is to act as a governor, according to
its frequent meaning in the Hebrew; but this seems to have little to do
with the present subject. Nevertheless he who weighs well all things will
find that this passage is fitly and suitably adduced here; for God cannot
govern the Church without purifying it, and without restoring to order
the confusion that may be in it. Therefore this governing ought justly to
be dreaded by hypocrites, who will then be punished for usurping a place
among the faithful, and for perfidiously using the sacred name of God,
when the master of the family undertakes himself the care of setting in
order his own house. It is in this sense that God is said to arise to
judge his people, that is, when he separates the truly godly from
hypocrites, (Ps. 1: 4;) and in Ps. 125: 3, where the Prophet speaks of
exterminating hypocrites, that they might no more dare to boast that they
were of the Church, because God bore with them; he promises peace to
Israel after having executed his judgment.
    It was not then unreasonably that the apostle reminded them that God
presided over his Church and omitted nothing necessary for its rightful
government, in order that they might all learn carefully to keep
themselves under his power, and remember that they had to render an
account to their judge.
    He hence concludes that "it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands
of the living God". A mortal man, however incensed he may be, cannot
carry his vengeance beyond death; but God's power is not bounded by so
narrow limits; besides, we often escape from men, but we cannot escape
from God's judgment. Who soever then considers that he has to do with
God, must (except he be extremely stupid) really tremble and quake; nay,
such an apprehension of God must necessarily absorb the whole man, so
that no sorrows, or torments can be compared with it. In short, whenever
our flesh allures us or we flatter ourselves by any means in our sins,
this admonition alone ought to be sufficient to arouse us, that "it is a
fearful thing to fall into to hands of the living God;" for his wrath is
furnished with dreadful punishments which are to be forever.
    However, the saying of David, when he exclaimed, that it was better
to fall into Gods hands than into the hands of men, (2 Sam. 24: 14,)
seems to be inconsistent with what is said here. But this apparent
inconsistency vanishes, when we consider that David, relying confidently
on God's mercy, chose him as his Judge rather than men; for though he
knew that God was displeased with him, yet he felt confident that he
would be reconciled to him; in himself, indeed, he was prostrate on the
ground, but yet he was raised up by the promise of grace. As then he
believed God not to be inexorable, there is no wonder that he dreaded his
wrath less, than that of men; but the Apostle here speaks of God's wrath
as being dreadful to the reprobate, who being destitute of the hope of
pardon, expect nothing but extreme severity, as they have already closed
up against themselves the door of grace. And we know that God is set
forth in various ways according to the character of those whom he
addresses; and this is what David means when he says, "With the merciful
thou wilt be merciful, and with the froward thou wilt be froward." (Ps.
18: 27.) 

=====> 10:32 But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye
were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions;
10:33 Partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and
afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so
10:34 For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the
spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a
better and an enduring substance.
10:35 Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great
recompence of reward.

=====> 10:32. "But call to remembrance", &c. In order to stimulate them,
and to rouse their alacrity to go forward, he reminds them of the
evidences of piety which they had previously manifested; for it is a
shameful thing to begin well, and to faint in the middle of our course,
and still more shameful to retrograde after having made great progress.
The remembrance then of past warfare, if it had been carried on
faithfully and diligently under the banner of Christ, is at length useful
to us, not as a pretext for sloth, as though we had already served our
time, but to render us more active in finishing the remaining part of our
course. For Christ has not enlisted us on this condition, that we should
after a few years ask for a discharge like soldiers who have served their
time, but that we should pursue our warfare even to the end.
    He further strengthens his exhortation by saying, that they had
already performed great exploits at a time when they were as yet new
recruits: the more shame then would it be to them, if now they fainted
after having been long tried; for the word "enlightened" is to be limited
to the time when they first enlisted under Christ, as though he had said,
"As soon as ye were initiated into the faith of Christ, ye underwent hard
and arduous contests; now practice ought to have rendered you stronger,
so as to become more courageous." He, however, at the same time reminds
them, that it was through God's favour that they believed, and not
through their own strength; they were enlightened when immersed in
darkness and without eyes to see, except light from above had shone upon
them. Whenever then those things which we have done or suffered for
Christ come to our minds, let them be to us so many goads to stir us on
to higher attainments.
=====> 10:33. "Partly, whilst ye were made, &c. We see who they were whom
he addresses, even those whose faith had been proved by no common trials,
and yet he refrains not from exhorting them to greater things. Let no man
therefore deceive himself by self-flattery as though he had reached the
goal, or had no need of incentives from others.
    Now he says, that they had been "made gazingstocks both by reproaches
and afflictions", or exposed to public shame by reproaches and theatre.
We hence learn that the persecutions which they had sustained were
remarkably severe. But we ought especially to notice the latter clause,
when he says that they became companions or associates of the godly in
their persecutions; for as it is Christ's cause for which all the godly
contend, and as it is what their contend for in common, whatever one of
them suffers, all the rest ought to transfer, as it were, to themselves;
and this is what ought by all means to be done by us, unless we would
separate ourselves from Christ himself.
=====> 10:34. "And took joyfully", &c. There is no doubt but as they were
men who had feelings, the loss of their goods caused them grief; but yet
their sorrow was such as did not prevent the joy of which the Apostle
speaks. As poverty is deemed an evil, the plunder of their goods
considered in itself touched them with grief; but as they looked higher,
they found a cause for joy, which allayed whatever grief they felt. It is
indeed thus necessary that our thoughts should be drawn away from the
world, by looking at the heavenly recompense; nor do I say any other
thing but what all the godly find to be the case by experience. And no
doubt we joyfully embrace what we are persuaded will end in our
salvation; and this persuasion the children of God doubtless have
respecting the convicts which they undertake for the glory of Christ.
Hence carnal feelings never so prevail in overwhelming them with grief,
but that with their minds raised up to heaven they emerge into spiritual
    And this is proved by what he subjoins, "knowing that ye have in
heaven a better and an enduring substance". Joyfully then did they endure
the plundering of their goods, not because they were glad to find
themselves plundered; but as their minds were fixed on the recompense,
they easily forgot the grief occasioned by their present calamity. And
indeed wherever there is a lively perception of heavenly things, the
world with all its allurements is not so relished, that either poverty or
shame can overwhelm our minds with grief. If then we wish to bear
anything for Christ with patience and resigned minds, let us accustom
ourselves to a frequent meditation on that felicity, in comparison with
which all the good things of the world are nothing but refuse. Nor are we
to pass by these words, "knowing that ye have"; for except one be fully
persuaded that the inheritance which God has promised to his children
belongs to him, all his knowledge will be cold and useless.
=====> 10:35. "Cast not away, therefore", &c. He shows what especially
makes us strong to persevere, even the retaining of confidence; for when
that is lost, we lose the recompense set before us. It hence appears that
confidence is the foundation of a godly and holy life. By mentioning
"reward", he diminishes nothing from the gratuitous promise of Salvation;
for the faithful know that their labour is not vain in the Lord in such a
way that they still rest on God's mercy alone. But it has been often
stated elsewhere how reward is not incompatible with the gratuitous
imputation of righteousness.

=====> 10:36 For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the
will of God, ye might receive the promise.
10:37 For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will
not tarry.
10:38 Now the just shall live by faith: but if [any man] draw back, my
soul shall have no pleasure in him.
10:39 But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them
that believe to the saving of the soul.

=====> 10:36. "For ye have need of patience", &c. He says that patience
is necessary, not only because we have to endure to the end, but as Satan
has innumerable arts by which he harasses us; and hence except we possess
extraordinary patience, we shall a thousand times be broken down before
we come to the half of our course. The inheritance of eternal life is
indeed certain to us, but as life is like a race, we ought to go on
towards the goal. But in our way there are many hindrances and
difficulties, which not only delay us, but which would also stop our
course altogether, except we had great firmness of mind to pass through
them. Satan craftily suggests every kind of trouble in order to
discourage us. In short, Christians will never advance two paces without
fainting, except they are sustained by patience. This then is the only
way or means by which we can firmly and constantly advance; we shall not
otherwise obey God, nor even enjoy the promised inheritance, which is
here by metonymy called the "promise". 
=====> 10:37. "For yet a little while", or, for yet a very little time,
&c. That it may not be grievous to us to endure, he reminds us that the
time will not be long. There is indeed nothing that avails more to
sustain our minds, should they at any time become faint, than the hope of
a speedy and near termination. As a general holds forth to his soldiers
the prospect that the war will soon end, provided they hold out a little
longer; so the Apostle reminds us that the Lord will shortly come to
deliver us from all evils, provided our minds faint not through want of
    And in order that this consolation might have more assurance and
authority, he adduces the testimony of the Prophet Habakkuk. (Hab. 2: 4.)
But as he follows the Greek version, he departs somewhat from the words
of the Prophet. I will first briefly explain what the Prophet says, and
then we shall compare it with what the Apostle relates here.
    When the Prophet had spoken of the dreadful overthrow of his own
nation, being terrified by his prophecy, he had nothing to do but to quit
as it were the world, and to betake himself to his watchtower; and his
watchtower was the Word of God, by which he was raised as it were into
heaven. Being thus placed in this station, he was bidden to write a new
prophecy, which brought to the godly the hope of salvation. Yet as men
are naturally unreasonable, and are so hasty in their wishes that they
always think God tardy, whatever haste he may make, he told them that the
promise would come without delay; at the same time he added, "If it
tarries, wait for it." By which he meant, that what God promises will
never come so soon, but that it seems to us to tarry, according to an old
proverb, "Even speed is delay to desire." Then follow these words,
"Behold, his soul that is lifted up is not upright in him; but the just
shall live by his faith." By these words he intimates that the ungodly,
however they may be fortified by defences, should not be able to stand,
for there is no life of security but by faith. Let the unbelieving then
fortify themselves as they please, they can find nothing in the whole
world but what is fading, so that they must ever be subject to trembling;
but their faith will never disappoint the godly, because it rests on God.
This is the meaning of the Prophet.
    Now the Apostle applies to God what Habakkuk said of the promise; but
as God by fulfilling his promises in a manner shows what he is, as to the
subject itself there is not much difference; nay, the Lord comes whenever
he puts forth his hand to help us. The Apostle follows the Prophet in
saying, That it would be shortly; because God defers not his help longer
than it is expedient; for he does not by delaying time deceive us as men
are wont to do; but he knows his own time which he suffers not to pass by
without coming to our aid at the moment required. Now he says, "He that
cometh will come, and will not tarry". Here are two clauses: by the first
we are taught that God will come to our aid, for he has promised; and by
the second, that he will do so in due time, not later than he ought.
=====> 10:38. "Now the just", &c. He means that patience is born of
faith; and this is true, for we shall never be able to carry on our
contests unless we are sustained by faith, even as, on the other hand,
John truly declares, that our victory over the world is by faith. (I John
5: 4.) It is by faith that we ascend on high; that we leap over all the
perils of this present life, and all its miseries and troubles; that we
possess a quiet standing in the midst of storms and tempests. Then the
Apostle announced this truth, that all who are counted just before God do
not live otherwise than by faith. And the future tense of the verb
"live", betokens the perpetuity of this life. Let readers consult on this
subject Rom. 1: 7, and Gal. 3: 11, where this passage is quoted.
    "But if any man draw back", &c. This is the rendering of |oflah|,
elation, as used by the Prophet, for the words are, "Where there shall be
elation or munition, the soul of that man shall not continue right in
him." The Apostle gives here the Greek version, which partly agrees with
the words of the Prophet, and partly differs from them. For this drawing
back differs but little, if anything, from that elation or pride with
which the ungodly are inflated, since their refractory opposition to God
proceeds from that false confidence with which they are inebriated; for
hence it is that they renounce his authority and promise themselves a
quiet state, free from all evil. They may be said, then, to draw back,
when they set up defences of this kind, by which they drive away every
fear of God and reverence for his name. And thus by this expression is
intimated the power of faith no less than the character of impiety; for
pride is impiety, because it renders not to God the honour due to him, by
rendering man obedient to him. From self-security, insolence, and
contempt, it comes that as long as it is well with the wicked, they dare,
as one has said, to insult the clouds. But since nothing is more contrary
to faith than this drawing back, for the true character of faith is, that
it draws a man unto submission to God when drawn back by his own sinful
    The other clause, "He will not please my soul," or as I have rendered
it more fully, "My soul shall not delight in him," is to be taken as the
expression of the Apostle's feeling; for it was not his purpose to quote
exactly the words of the Prophet, but only to refer to the passage to
invite readers to a closer examination of it.
=====> 10:39. "But we are not of them which draw back", &c. The Apostle
made a free use of the Greek version, which was most suitable to the
doctrine which he was discussing; and he now wisely applies it. He had
before warned them, lest by forsaking the Church they should alienate
themselves from the faith and the grace of Christ; he now teaches them
that they had been called for this end, that they might not draw back.
And he again sets faith and drawing back in opposition the one to the
other, and also the preservation of the soul to its perdition.
    Now let it be noticed that this truth belongs also to us, for we,
whom God has favoured with the light of the Gospel, ought to acknowledge
that we have been called in order that we may advance more and more in
our obedience to God, and strive constantly to draw nearer to him. This
is the real preservation of the soul, for by so doing we shall escape
eternal perdition.

Chapter 11

=====> 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence
of things not seen.

=====> 11:1. "Now faith, &c. Whoever made this the beginning of the
eleventh chapter, has unwisely disjointed the context; for the object of
the Apostle was to prove what he had already said -that there is need of
patience. He had quoted the testimony of Habakkuk, who says that the just
lives by faith; he now shows what remained to be proved - that faith can
be no more separated from patience than from itself. The order then of
what he says is this, - "We shall not reach the goal of salvation except
we have patience, for the Prophet declares that the just lives by faith;
but faith directs us to things afar off which we do not as yet enjoy; it
then necessarily includes patience." Therefore the minor proposition in
the argument is this, "Faith is the substance of things hoped for", &c.
It is hence also evident, that greatly mistaken are they who think that
an exact definition of faith is given here; for the Apostle does not
speak here of the whole of what faith is, but selects that part of it
which was suitable to his purpose, even that it has patience ever
connected with it. Let us now consider the words.
    He calls faith the "hypostasis", the substance of things hoped for.
We indeed know that what we hope for is not what we have as it were in
hand, but what is as yet hid from us, or at least the enjoyment of which
is delayed to another time. The Apostle now teaches us the same thing
with what we find in Rom. 8: 24; where it is said that what is hoped for
is not seen, and hence the inference is drawn, that it is to be waited
for in patience. So the Apostle here reminds us, that faith regards not
present things, but such as are waited for. Nor is this kind of
contradiction without its force and beauty: Faith, he says, is the
hypostasis, the prop, or the foundation on which we plant our foot, - the
prop of what? Of things absent, which are so far from being really
possessed by us, that they are far beyond the reach of our understanding.
    The same view is to be taken of the second clause, when he calls
faith the "evidence" or demonstration of things "not seen"; for
demonstration makes things to appear or to be seen; and it is commonly
applied to what is subject to our senses.
    Then these two things, though apparently inconsistent, do yet
perfectly harmonize when we speak of faith; for the Spirit of God shows
to us hidden things, the knowledge of which cannot reach our senses:
Promised to us is eternal life, but it is promised to the dead; we are
assured of a happy resurrection, but we are as yet involved in
corruption; we are pronounced just, as yet sin dwells in us; we hear that
we are happy, but we are as yet in the midst of many miseries; an
abundance of all good things is promised to us, but still we often hunger
and thirst; God proclaims that he will come quickly, but he seems deaf
when we cry to him. What would become of us were we not supported by
hope, and did not our minds emerge out of the midst of darkness above the
world through the light of God's word and of his Spirit? Faith, then, is
rightly said to be the subsistence or substance of things which are as
yet the objects of hope and the evidence of things not seen. Augustine
sometimes renders evidence "conviction," which I do not disapprove, for
it faithfully expresses the Apostle's meaning: but I prefer
"demonstration," as it is more literal.

=====> 11:2 For by it the elders obtained a good report.
11:3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word
of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do
11:4 By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain,
by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his
gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.

=====> 11:2. "For by it the elders," &c. He handles this subject to the
end of the chapter - that the fathers obtained salvation and were
accepted by God in no other way than by faith.
    The Jews indeed had some reasons for paying great deference to the
fathers; but a foolish admiration of the fathers had so prevailed among
them, that it proved a great hindrance to a thorough surrender of
themselves to Christ and to his government. It was occasioned either by
ambition or superstition, or by both. For when they heard that they were
the blessed and holy seed of Abraham, inflated with this distinction they
fixed their eyes on men rather than on God. Then added to this was a
false emulation; for they did not consider what was mainly worthy of
imitation in their fathers. It thus happened that they became attached to
the old ceremonies, as though the whole of religion and perfect holiness
consisted in them. This error the Apostle exposes and condemns; and be
shows what was the chief excellency of the fathers, in order that their
posterity might understand how they might become really like them.
    Let us then bear in mind that the main point and the very hinge on
which the Apostle's argument turns is this, -  That all the fathers from
the beginning of the world, were approved by God in no other way than by
being united to him by faith: and this he shows, that the Jews might know
that by faith alone they could be bound together in holy unity with the
fathers, and that as soon as they renounced faith, they became banished
from the Church, and that they were then no longer the legitimate
children of Abraham, but a degenerate race and bastards.
=====> 11:3. "Through", or by, "faith we understand", &c. This is a most
striking proof of the last verse; for we differ nothing from the brute
creation, if we understand not that the world has been created by God. To
what end have men been endued with understanding and reason, except that
they might acknowledge their Creator? But it is by faith alone we know
that it was God who created the world. No wonder then that faith shone
forth in the fathers above all other virtues.
    But it may be here asked, Why does the Apostle assert that what even
infidels acknowledge is only understood by faith? For the very appearance
of heaven and earth constrains even the ungodly to acknowledge some
Maker; and hence Paul condemns all for ingratitude, because they did not,
after having known God, give him the honour due to him. (Rom. 1: 25.) And

(continued in part 15...)

file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-3/epl-01: calhb-14.txt