(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 gnawed. "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 people. 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 God. "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 used. 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 joy. 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 firmness. 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 nature. 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 appear. 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 .