(Calvin, Paul to the Hebrews. part 17) =====> 11:35 Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: 11:36 And others had trial of [cruel] mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: 11:37 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; 11:38 (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and [in] mountains, and [in] dens and caves of the earth. 11:39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: 11:40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect. =====> 11:35. "Women received", &c. He had already mentioned instances in which God had remunerated the faith of his servants, he now refers to examples of a different kind, - that saints, reduced to extreme miseries, struggled by faith so as to persevere invincible even to death. These instances at the first view widely differ: some triumphed gloriously over vanquished enemies, were preserved by the Lord through various miracles, and were rescued by means new and unusual from the midst of death; while others were shamefully treated, were despised by almost the whole world, were consumed by want, were so hated by all as to be compelled to hide themselves in the coverts of wild beasts, and lastly, were drawn forth to endure savage and cruel tortures: and these last seemed wholly destitute of God's aid, when he thus exposed them to the pride and the cruelty of the ungodly. They seem then to have been very differently treated from the former ones; and yet faith ruled in both, and was alike powerful in both; nay, in the latter its power shone forth in a much clearer light. For the victory of faith appears more splendid in the contempt of death than if life were extended to the fifth generation. It is a more glorious evidence of faith, and worthy of higher praise, when reproaches, want, and extreme troubles are borne with resignation and firmness, than when recovery from sickness is miraculously obtained, or any other benefit from God. The sum of the whole is, that the fortitude of the saints, which has shone forth in all ages, was the work of faith; for our weakness is such that we are not capable of overcoming evils, except faith sustains us. But we hence learn, that all who really trust in God are endued with power sufficient to resist Satan in whatever way he may assail them, and especially that patience in enduring evils shall never be wanting to us, if faith be possessed; and that, therefore, we are proved guilty of unbelief when we faint under persecutions and the cross. For the nature of faith is the same now as in the days of the holy fathers whom the Apostle mentions. If, then, we imitate their faith, we shall nearer basely break down through sloth or listlessness. "Others were tortured", &c. As to this verb, |etumpanisthesan|, I have followed Erasmus, though others render it "imprisoned." But the simple meaning is, as I think, that they were stretched on a rack, as the skin of a drum, which is distended. By saying that they were "tempted", he seems to have spoken what was superfluous; and I doubt not but that the likeness of the words, |epristhesan| and |epeirasthesan|, was the reason that the word was added by some unskilful transcriber, and thus crept into the text, as also Erasmus has conjectured. By "sheepskins" and "goatskins" I do not think that tents made of skins are meant, but the mean and rough clothing of the saints which they put on when wandering in deserts. Now though they say that Jeremiah was stoned, that Isaiah was sawn asunder, and though sacred history relates that Elijah, Elisha, and other Prophets, wandered on mountains and in caves; yet I doubt not but he here points out those persecutions which Antiochus carried on against God's people, and those which afterwards followed. "Not accepting deliverance", &c. Most fitly does he speak here; for they must have purchased a short lease of life by denying God; but this would have been a price extremely shameful. That they might then live forever in heaven, they rejected a life on earth, which would have cost them, as we have said, so much as the denial of God, and also the repudiation of their own calling. But we hear what Christ says, that if we seek to save our lives in this world, we shall lose them for ever. If, therefore, the real love of a future resurrection dwells in our hearts, it will easily lead us to the contempt of death. And doubtless we ought to live only so as to live to God: as soon as we are not permitted to live to God, we ought willingly and not reluctantly to meet death. Moreover, by this verse the Apostle confirms what he had said, that the saints overcome all sufferings by faith; for except their minds had been sustained by the hope of a blessed resurrection, they must have immediately failed. We may hence also derive a needful encouragement, by which we may fortify ourselves in adversities. For we ought not to refuse the Lord's favour of being connected with so many holy men, whom we know to have been exercised and tried by many sufferings. Here indeed are recorded, not the sufferings of a few individuals, but the common persecutions of the Church, and those not for one or two years, but such as continued sometimes from grandfathers even to their grandchildren. No wonder, then, if it should please God to prove our faith at this day by similar trials; nor ought we to think that we are forsaken by him, who, we know, cared for the holy fathers who suffered the same before us. =====> 11:38. "Of whom the world was not worthy", &c. As the holy Prophets wandered as fugitives among wild beasts, they might have seemed unworthy of being sustained on the earth; for how was it that they could find no place among men? But the Apostle inverts this sentiment, and says that the world was not worthy of them; for wherever God's servants come, they bring with them his blessing like the fragrance of a sweet odour. Thus the house of Potiphar was blessed for Joseph's sake, (Gen. 39: 5;) and Sodom would have been spared had ten righteous men been found in it. (Gen. 18: 32.) Though then the world may cast out God's servants as offscourings, it is yet to be regarded as one of its judgments that it cannot bear them; for there is ever accompanying them some blessing from God. Whenever the righteous are taken away from us, let us know that such events are presages of evil to us; for we are unworthy of having them with us, lest they should perish together with us. At the same time the godly have abundant reasons for consolation, though the world may cast them out as offscourings; for they see that the same thing happened to the prophets, who found more clemency in wild animals than in men. It was with this thought that Hilary comforted himself when he saw the church taken possession of by sanguinary tyrants, who then employed the Roman emperor as their executioner; yea, that holy man then called to mind what the Apostle here says of the Prophets; - "Mountains and forests," he said, "and dungeons and prisons, are safer for me than splendid temples; for the Prophets, while abiding or buried in these, still prophesied by the Spirit of God." So also ought we to be animated so as boldly to despise the world; and were it to cast us out, let us know that we go forth from a fatal gulf, and that God thus provides for our safety, so that we may not sink in the same destruction. =====> 11:39. "And these all", &c. This is an argument from the less to the greater; for if they on whom the light of grace had not as yet so brightly shone displayed so great a constancy in enduring evils, what ought the full brightness of the Gospel to produce in us? A small spark of light led them to heaven; when the sun of righteousness shines over us, with what pretence can we excuse ourselves if we still cleave to the earth? This is the real meaning of the Apostle. I know that Chrysostom and others have given a different explanation, but the context clearly shows, that what is intended here is the difference in the grace which God bestowed on the faithful under the Law, and that which he bestows on us now. For since a more abundant grace is poured on us, it would be very strange that we should have less faith in us. He then says that those fathers who were endued with so remarkable a faith, had not yet so strong reasons for believing as we have. Immediately after he states the reason, because God intended to unite us all into one body, and that he distributed a small portion of grace to them, that he might defer its full perfection to our time, even to the coming of Christ. And it is a singular evidence of God's benevolence towards us, that though he has shown himself bountifully to his children from the beginning of the world, he yet has so distributed his grace as to provide for the well-being of the whole body. What more could any of us desire, than that in all the blessings which God bestowed on Abraham, Moses, David, and all the Patriarchs, on the Prophets and godly kings, he should have a regard for us, so that we might be united together with them in the body of Christ? Let us then know that we are doubly and treble ungrateful to God, if less faith appears in us under the kingdom of Christ than the fathers had under the Law, as proved by so many remarkable examples of patience. By the words, that they received not the promise, is to be understood its ultimate fulfilment, which took place in Christ, on which subject something has been said already. Chapter 12 =====> 12:1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset [us], and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of [our] faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. 12:3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. =====> 12:1. "Wherefore, seeing we also", &c. This conclusion is, as it were, an epilogue to the former chapter, by which he shows the end for which he gave a catalogue of the saints who excelled in faith under the Law, even that every one should be prepared to imitate them; and he calls a large multitude metaphorically a "cloud", for he sets what is dense in opposition to what is thinly scattered. Had they been a few in number, yet they ought to have roused us by their example; but as they were a vast throng, they ought more powerfully to stimulate us. He says that we are so surrounded by this dense throng, that wherever we turn our eyes many examples of faith immediately meet us. The word "witnesses" I do not take in a general sense, as though he called them the martyrs of God, and I apply it to the case before us, as though he had said that faith is sufficiently proved by their testimony, so that no doubt ought to he entertained; for the virtues of the saints are so many testimonies to confirm us, that we, relying on them as our guides and associates, ought to go onward to God with more alacrity. "Let us lay aside every weight", or every burden, &c. As he refers to the likeness of a race, he bids us to be lightly equipped; for nothing more prevents haste than to be encumbered with burdens. Now there are various burdens which delay and impede our spiritual course, such as the love of this present life, the pleasures of the world, the lusts of the flesh, worldly cares, riches also and honours, and other things of this kind. Whosoever, then, would run in the course prescribed by Christ, must first disentangle himself from all these impediments, for we are already of ourselves more tardy than we ought to be, so no other causes of delay should be added. We are not however bidden to cast away riches or other blessings of this life, except so far as it they retard our course for Satan by these as by toils retains and impedes us. Now, the metaphor of a race is often to be found in Scripture; but here it means not any kind of race, but a running contest, which is wont to call forth the greatest exertions. The import of what is said then is, that we are engaged in a contest, even in a race the most celebrated, that many witnesses stand around us, that the Son of God is the umpire who invites and exhorts us to secure the prize, and that therefore it would be most disgraceful for us to grow weary or inactive in the midst of our course. And at the same time the holy men whom he mentioned, are not only witnesses, but have been associates in the same race, who have beforehand shown the way to us; and yet he preferred calling them witnesses rather than runners, in order to intimate that they are not rivals, seeking to snatch from us the price, but approves to applaud and hail our victory; and Christ also is not only the umpire, but also extends his hand to us, and supplies us with strength and energy; in short, he prepares and fits us to enter on our course, and by his power leads us on to the end of the race. "And the sin which does so easily beset us", or, stand around us, &c. This is the heaviest burden that impedes us. And he says that we are entangled, in order that we may know, that no one is fit to run except he has stripped off all toils and snares. He speaks not of outward, or, as they say, of actual sin, but of the very fountain, even concupiscence or lust, which so possesses every part of us, that we feel that we are on every side held by its snares. "Let us run with patience", &c. By this word "patience", we are ever reminded of what the Apostle meant to be mainly regarded in faith, even that we are in spirit to seek the kingdom of God, which is invisible to the flesh, and exceeds all that our minds can comprehend; for they who are occupied in meditating on this kingdom can easily disregard all earthly things. He thus could not more effectually withdraw the Jews from their ceremonies, than by calling their attention to the real exercises of faith, by which they might learn that Christ's kingdom is spiritual, and far superior to the elements of the world. =====> 12:2. "Who for the joy that was set before him", &c. Though the expression in Latin is somewhat ambiguous, yet according to the words in Greek the Apostle's meaning is quite clear; for he intimates, that though it was free to Christ to exempt himself from all trouble and to lead a happy life, abounding in all good things, he yet underwent a death that was bitter, and in every way ignominious. For the expression, "for joy", is the same as, instead of joy; and joy includes every kind of enjoyment. And he says, "set before him", because the power of availing himself of this joy was possessed by Christ, had it so pleased him. At the same time if any one thinks that the preposition |anti| denotes the final cause, I do not much object; then the meaning would be, that Christ refused not the death of the cross, because he saw its blessed issue. I still prefer the former exposition. But he commends to us the patience of Christ on two accounts, because he endured a most bitter death, and because he despised shame. He then mentions the glorious end of his tenth, that the faithful might know that all the evils which they may endure will end in their salvation and glory, provided they follow Christ. So also says James, "Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and ye know the end." (James 5: 11.) Then the Apostle means that the end of our sufferings will be the same with those of Christ, according to what is said by Paul, "If we suffer with him, we shall also reign together." (Rom. 8: 17.) =====> 12:3. "For consider him", &c. He enforces his exhortation by competing Christ with us; for if the Son of God, whom it behaves all to adore, willingly underwent such severe conflicts, who of us should dare to refuse to submit with him to the same? For this one thought alone ought to be sufficient to conquer all temptations, that is, when we know that we are companions or associates of the Son of God, and that he, who was so far above us, willingly came down to our condition, in order that he might animate us by his own example; yea, it is thus that we gather courage, which would otherwise melt away, and turn as it were into despair. =====> 12:4 Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. 12:5 And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: 12:6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 12:7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? 12:8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. =====> 12:4. "Ye have not yet, resisted unto blood", &c. He proceeds farther, for he reminds us, that even when the ungodly persecute us for Christ's sake, we are then contending against sin. Into this contest Christ could not enter, for he was pure and free from all sin; in this respect, however, we are unlike him, for sin always dwells in us, and afflictions serve to subdue and put it to flight. In the first place we know that all the evils which are in the world, and especially death, proceed from sin; but this is not what the Apostle treats of; he only teaches us, that the persecutions which we endure for the Gospel's sake, are on another account useful to us, even because they are remedies to destroy sin; for in this way God keeps us under the yoke of his discipline, lest our flesh should become wanton; he sometimes also thus checks the impetuous, and sometimes punishes our sins, that we may in future be more cautious. Whether then he applies remedies to our sins, or anticipates us before we sin, be thus exercises us in the conflict with sin, referred to by the Apostle. With this honour indeed the Son of God favours us, that he by no means regards what we suffer for his Gospel as a punishment for sin. It behoves us still to acknowledge what we hear from the Apostle in this place, that we so plead and defend the cause of Christ against the ungodly, that at the same time we are carrying on war with sin, our intestine enemy. Thus God's grace towards us is twofold - the remedies he applies to heal our vices, he employs for the purpose of defending his gospel. But let us bear in mind whom he is here addressing, even those who had joyfully suffered the loss of their goods and had endured many reproaches; and yet he charges them with sloth, because they were fainting half way in the contest, and were not going on strenuously to the end. There is therefore no reason for us to ask a discharge from the Lord, whatever service we may have performed; for Christ will have no discharged soldiers, but those who have conquered death itself. =====> 12:5. "And ye have forgotten", &c. I read the words as a question; for he asks, whether they had forgotten, intimating that it was not yet time to forget. But he enters here on the doctrine, that it is useful and needful for us to be disciplined by the cross; and he refers to the testimony of Solomon, which includes two parts; the first is, that we are not to reject the Lord's correction; and in the second the reason is given, because the Lord loves those whom he chastises. But as Solomon thus begins, my "Son", the Apostle reminds us that we ought to be allured by so sweet and kind a word, as that this exhortation should wholly penetrate into our hearts. Now Solomon's argument is this: - If the scourges of God testify his love towards us, it is a shame that they should be regarded with dislike or hatred. For they who bear not to be chastised by God for their own salvation, yea, who reject a proof of his paternal kindness, must be extremely ungrateful. =====> 12:6. "For whom the Lord loveth, &c. This seems not to be a well-founded reason; for God visits the elect as well as the reprobate indiscriminately, and his scourges manifest his wrath oftener than his love; and so the Scripture speaks, and experience confirms. But yet it is no wonder that when the godly are addressed, the effect of chastisements which they feel, is alone referred to. For however severe and angry a judge God may show himself towards the reprobate, whenever he punishes them; yet he has no other end in view as to the elect, but to promote their salvation; it is a demonstration of his paternal love. Besides, the reprobate, as they know not that they are governed by God's hand, for the most part think that afflictions come by chance. As when a perverse youth, leaving his father's house, wanders far away and becomes exhausted with hunger, cold, and other evils, he indeed suffers a just punishment for his folly, and learns by his sufferings the benefit of being obedient and submissive to his father, but yet he does not acknowledge this as a paternal chastisement; so is the case with the ungodly, who having in a manner removed themselves from God and his family, do not understand that God's hand reaches to them. Let us then remember that the taste of God's love towards us cannot be had by us under chastisements, except we be fully persuaded that they are fatherly scourges by which he chastises us for our sins. No such thing can occur to the minds of the reprobate, for they are like fugitives. It may also be added, that judgment must begin at God's house; though, then, he may strike aliens and domestics alike, he yet so puts forth his hand as to the latter as to show that they are the objects of his peculiar care. But the previous one is the true solution, even that every one who knows and is persuaded that he is chastised by God, must immediately be led to this thought, that he is chastised because he is loved by God. For when the faithful see that God interposes in their punishment, they perceive a sure pledge of his love, for unless he loved them he would not be solicitous about their salvation. Hence the Apostle concludes that God is offered as a Father to all who endure correction. For they who kick like restive horses, or obstinately resist, do not belong to this class of men. In a word, then, he teaches us that God's corrections are then only paternal, when we obediently submit to him. =====> 12:7. "For what son is he", &c. He reasons from the common practice of men, that it is by no means right or meet that God's children should be exempt from the discipline of the cross; for if no one is to be found among us, at least no prudent man and of a sound judgment, who does not correct his children - for without discipline they cannot be led to a right conduct - how much less will God neglect so necessary a remedy, who is the best and the wisest Father? If any one raises an objection, and says that corrections of this kind cease among men as soon as children arrive at manhood: to this I answer, that as long as we live we are with regard to God no more than children, and that this is the reason why the rod should ever be applied to our backs. Hence the Apostle justly infers, that all who seek exemption from the cross do as it were withdraw themselves from the number of his children. It hence follows that the benefit of adoption is not valued by us as it ought to be, and that the grace of God is wholly rejected when we seek to withdraw ourselves from his scourges; and this is what all they do who bear not their afflictions with patience. But why does he call those who refuse correction bastards rather than aliens? Even because he was addressing those who were members of the Church, and were on this account the children of God. He therefore intimates that the profession of Christ would be false and deceitful if they withdrew themselves from the discipline of the Father, and that they would thus become bastards, and be no more children. =====> 12:9 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected [us], and we gave [them] reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? 12:10 For they verily for a few days chastened [us] after their own pleasure; but he for [our] profit, that [we] might be partakers of his holiness. 12:11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. =====> 12:9. "Furthermore, we have had fathers of our flesh", &c. This comparison has several parts: the first is, that if we showed so much reverence to the fathers from whom we have descended according to the flesh, as to submit to their discipline, much more honour is due to God who is our spiritual Father; another is, that the discipline which fathers use as to their children is only useful for the present life, but that God looks farther, having in view to prepare us for an eternal life; and the third is, that men chastise their children as it seems good to them, but that God regulates his discipline in the best manner, and with perfect wisdom, so that there is nothing in it but what is duly ordered. He then, in the first place, makes this difference between God and men, that they are the fathers of the flesh, but he of the spirit; and on this difference he enlarges by comparing the flesh with the spirit. But it may be asked, Is not God the Father also of our flesh? For it is not without reason that Job mentions the creation of men as one of the chief miracles of God: hence on this account also he is justly entitled to the name of Father. Were we to say that he is called the Father of spirits, because he alone creates and regenerates our souls without the aid of man, it might be said again that Paul glories in being the spiritual father of those whom he had begotten in Christ by the Gospel. To these things I reply, that God is the Father of the body as well as of the soul, and, properly speaking, he is indeed the only true Father; and that this name is only as it were by way of concession applied to men, both in regard of the body and of the soul. As, however, in creating souls, he does use the instrumentality of men, and as he renews them in a wonderful manner by the power of the Spirit, he is peculiarly called, by way of eminence, the Father of spirits. When he says, "and we gave them reverence", he refers to a feeling implanted in us by nature, so that we honour parents even when they treat us harshly. By saying, "in subjection to the Father of spirits", he intimates that it is but just to concede to God the authority he has over us by the right of a Father. By saying, "and live", he points out the cause or the end, for the conjunction "and" is to be rendered "that", - "that we may live." Now we are reminded by this word "live", that there is nothing more ruinous to us than to refuse to surrender ourselves in obedience to God. =====> 12:10. "For they verily for a few days", &c. The second amplification of the subject, as I have said, is that God's chastisements are appointed to subdue and mortify our flesh, so that we may be renewed for a celestial life. It hence appears that the fruit or benefit is to be perpetual; but such a benefit cannot be expected from men, since their discipline refers to civil life, and therefore properly belongs to the present world. It hence follows that these chastisements bring far greater benefit, as the spiritual holiness conferred by God far exceeds the advantages which belong to the body. Were any one to object and say, that it is the duty of parents to instruct their children in the fear and worship of God, and that therefore their discipline seems not to be confined to so short a time; to this the answer is, that this is indeed true, but the Apostle speaks here of domestic life, as we are wont commonly to speak of civil government; for though it belongs to magistrates to defend religion, yet we say that their office is confined to the limits of this life, for otherwise the civil and earthly government cannot be distinguished from the spiritual kingdom of Christ. Moreover when God's "chastisements" are said to be profitable to make men "partners of his holiness", this is not to be so taken as though they made us really holy, but that they are helps to sanctify us, for by them the Lord exercises us in the work of mortifying the flesh. =====> 12:11. "Now no chastening", &c. This he adds, lest we should measure God's chastisements by our present feelings; for he shows that we are like children who dread the rod and shun it as much as they can, for owing to their age they cannot yet judge how useful it may be to them. The object, then, of this admonition is, that chastisements cannot be estimated aright if judged according to what the flesh feels under them, and that therefore we must fix our eyes on the end: we shall thus receive the "peaceable fruit of righteousness". And by the "fruit of righteousness" he means the fear of the Lord and a godly and holy life, of which the cross is the teacher. He calls it "peaceable", because in adversities we are alarmed and disquieted, being tempted by impatience, which is always noisy and restless; but being chastened, we acknowledge with a resigned mind how profitable did that become to us which before seemed bitter and grievous. =====> 12:12 Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; 12:13 And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. 12:14 Follow peace with all [men], and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: 12:15 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble [you], and thereby many be defiled; 12:16 Lest there [be] any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. 12:17 For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears. =====> 12:12. "Wherefore, lift up", &c. After having taught us that God regards our salvation when he chastises us, he then exhorts us to exert ourselves vigorously; for nothing will more weaken us and more fully discourage us than through the influence of a false notion to have no taste of God's grace in adversities. There is, therefore, nothing more efficacious to raise us up than the intimation that God is present with us, even when he afflicts us, and is solicitous about our welfare. But in these words he not only exhorts us to bear afflictions with courage, but also reminds us that there is no reason for us to be supine and slothful in performing our duties; for we find more then we ought by experience how much the fear of the cross prevents us to serve God as it behoves us. Many would be willing to profess their faith, but as they fear persecution, hands and feet are wanting to that pious feeling of the mind. Many would be ready to contend for God's glory, to defend what is good and just in private and in public, and to do their duties to God and their brethren; but as danger arises from the hatred of the wicked, as they see that troubles, and those many, are prepared for them, they rest idly with their hands as it were folded. Were then this extreme fear of the cross removed, and were we prepared for endurance, there would be nothing in us not fitted and adapted for the work of doing God's will. This, then, is what the Apostle means here, "You have your hands," he says, "hanging down and your knees feeble, because ye know not what real consolation there is in adversity; hence ye are slow to do your duty: but now as I have shown how useful to you is the discipline of the cross, this doctrine ought to put new vigour in all your members, so that you may be ready and prompt, both with your hands and feet, to follow the call of God." Moreover, he seems to allude to a passage in Isaiah, (Isa. 35: 3;) and there the Prophet commands godly teachers to strengthen trembling knees and weak hands by giving them the hope of favour; but the Apostle bids all the faithful to do this; for since this is the benefit of the consolation which God offers to us, then as it is the office of a teacher to strengthen the whole Church, so every one ought, by applying especially the doctrine to his own case, to strengthen and animate himself. =====> 12:13. "And make straight paths", &c. He has been hitherto teaching us to lean on God's consolations, so that we may be bold and strenuous in doing what is right, as his help is our only support; he now adds to this another thing, even that we ought to walk prudently and to keep to a straight course; for indiscreet ardour is no less an evil than inactivity and softness. At the same time this straightness of the way which he recommends, is preserved when a man's mind is superior to every fear, and regards only what God approves; for fear is ever very ingenious in finding out byways. As then we seek circuitous courses, when entangled by sinful fear; so on the other hand every one who has prepared himself to endure evils, goes on in a straight way wheresoever the Lord calls him, and turns not either to the right hand or to the left. In short, he prescribes to us this rule for our conduct, - that we are to guide our steps according to God's will, so that neither fear nor the allurements of the world, nor any other things, may draw us away from it. Hence be adds, "Lest that which is lame be turned out of the way", or, lest halting should go astray; that is, lest by halting ye should at length depart far from the way. He calls it halting, when men's minds fluctuate, and they devote not themselves sincerely to God. So spoke Elijah to the double-minded who blended their own superstitions with God's worship, "How long halt ye between two opinions?" (1 Kings 18: 21.) And it is a befitting way of speaking, for it is a worse thing to go astray than to halt. Nor they who begin to halt do not immediately turn from the right way, but by degrees depart from it more and more, until having been led into a diverse path to they remain entangled in the midst of Satan's labyrinth. Hence the apostle warns us to strive for the removal of this halting in due time; for if we give way to it, it will at length turn us far away from God. The words may indeed be rendered, "Lest halting should grow worse," or turn aside; but the meaning would remain the same; for what the Apostle intimates is, that those who keep not a straight course, but gradually though carelessly turn here and there, become eventually wholly alienated from God. =====> 12:14. "Follow peace", &c. Men are so born that they all seem to shun peace; for all study their own interest, seek their own ways, and care not to accommodate themselves to the ways of others. Unless then we strenuously labour to follow peace, we shall never retain it; for many . (continued in part 18...) ---------------------------------------------------- file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-3/epl-01: calhb-17.txt .