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ought. We may briefly name the seasons wherein, and the ways whereby, the hearts and minds of men are made like “leaking vessels,” (contrary to the use for which they were made) to pour out, or let slip, the word of truth.
(1.) Some lose it in a time of peace and prosperity. That is a season which slays the foolish. “Jeshurun waxed fat, and kicked.” According to men's pastures, so are they filled, and then forget the Lord. They fill their lusts, until they loath the word; and thus quails often make a lean soul. A prosperous outward estate hath stifled many a promising conviction, yea, and weakens faith and obedience often in many of the saints. The warmth of prosperity breeds swarms of apostates, as the heat of the sun doth insects in the spring
(2.) Some lose it in a time of persecution. “When persecution ariseth," saith our Savior, “they fall away.” Many go on apace in profession, until they come to see the cross.
The sight of this puts them to a stand, and turns them quite out of the way. They thought not of it, and do not like it.
(3.) Some Jose it in a time of temptation. It pleaseth God, in his wisdom and grace, to suffer sometimes an hour of temptation to come upon
the church for trial, Rev. iii, 10; that the members may be made thereby conformable to Christ their head, who had his special hour of temptation. In this trying state, many lose the word. They have been cast into a negligent slumber, by the secret power of temptation, and when they awake, and look about them, the whole efficacy of the word is lost and gone.
$7. The ways and means, also, whereby this woful effect is produced are various, yea, innumerable. For instance, the love of this present world. This made Demas a “leaking vessel,” 2 Tim. iv, 10; and this choked one fourth part of the seed in the parable, Matt. xiii. Many might have been rich in grace, had they not made it their end and business to be rich in this world, Tim. vi, 9. Again, the love of sin. A secret lust cherished in the heart will make it (plenum rimarum,) "full of chinks," so that it will never retain the showers of the word; and it will assuredly open those chinks again as fast as convictions may stop them. Moreover, false doctrines, false worship, and superstitious fancies will do the same.
I place these things together, as those which work in the same kind upon the curiosity, vanity, and darkness of the human mind. These break the vessel, and at once pour out all the benefits received.
$8. Obs. 3. The gospel heard is not lost without great sin; as well as the inevitable ruin of the souls of
And lost it certainly is, when it is not “mixed with faith,” when we receive it not into "good and honest hearts,” and when the end of it is not accomplished in us. But this, undoubtedly, befalls us not without our sin, and woful neglect of duty. The word, of its own nature, is apt to abide, to incorporate itself with us, and to take root; but we cast it out, and pour it forth from us. Surely, then, they have a woful account to make, on whose souls (Oh shuddering thought!) the enormous guilt thereof shall be found at the last day.
$9. Obs. 4. It is in the nature of the gospel to water dry and barren hearts, and to make them fruitful unto God. Where this word comes, it makes “the parched ground a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water," Isa. XXXV, 7. These are the waters of the sanctuary, that heal the barren places of the earth, and make them fruitful,” Ezek. xlvii, 7; the "river that makes glad the
city of God,” Psal. xlvi, 7; that “river of living water that comes forth from the throne of God," Rev. xxii, 1; and the places and persons which are not healed or benefited by those waters, are left to barrenness and burning for evermore, Ezek. xlvii, 11; and Heb. vi, 8. With the dew hereof doth God water his church every moment, Isa. xxvii, 3; and then doth it “grow as a lily, and cast forth its roots as Lebanon," Hos. xiv, 5–7. Abundant fruitfulness to God follows a gracious receiving of this dew from him; and blessed are they who have it distilling on them every morning, who are watered as the garden of God, or as a land for which he careth.
$10. Obs. 5. The consideration that the gospel is revealed by the Son of God himself, is a powerful motive to that diligent attention which is here inculcated. This is the apostle's inference, which he pursues through the greatest part of the ensuing chapter. And the Divine requisition, that “we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard,” is most reasonable upon many accounts,
(1.) Because of the authority wherewith Christ spake the word. Others spake and delivered their message as servants, he as the Lord over his own house, chap. iii, 6. The Father himself proclaimed from heaven, that if any one would have any thing to do with God, they were “to hear him.” Matt. xvii, 10; 2 Pet. i, 17. The whole authority of God was with him; for him did God the Father seal, or upon him did he put the stamp of all his authority. It cannot then be neglected, without the contempt of all the incontestable authority of God; which cannot be but. a sore and tremendous aggravation of the sins of unbelievers and apostates at the last day.
(2.). Because of the love that is in it. There is in it the love of the Father in sending the Son; and there is also in it the love of the Son himself, condescending to teach and instruct the sons of men, who, by their own fault, were cast into error and darkness. What greater love (except his dying for us) could the eternal Son of God'manifest unto us, than that he should undertake in his own person, to become our instructor: See 1 John v, 20. He that shall consider the brutish ignorance and stupidity of the generality of mankind in the things of God; the miserable, fluctuating, and endless uncertainties of the more inquiring part of them; and withal the importance of their being brought into the knowledge of the truth, cannot bui in some measure, see the greatness of the love of Christ in revealing to us the whole counsel of God. Hence his words are said to be “gracious,” Luke iv, 22; and grace is said to be poured into his lips, Psal. xlv, 2; and this is no small motive to our earnest attention to the gospel.
(3.) The fulness of his revelation is also of the greatest importance. He came not to declare merely a part, but the whole will of God; all that we should know, all that we should do, and all that we should believe. In him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, Col. ii, 3. He opened all the dark sentences of the will of God, hidden from the foundation of the world. There is in his doctrine all wisdom, all knowledge, as all light is in the sun, and all water in the sea. Now if every word of God be excellent, if every part of it, delivered by his servants of old, was to be attended to upon penalty of extermination out of the number of his people; how much more miserable will our condition be, and how much more deplorable is our blindness and obstinacy, if we have not a heart to attend to this full revelation of himself and his will!
(4.) Because it is final. “Last of all, he sent his Son." No new, no farther revelation of God, is to be expected in this world but what is made by Jesus Christ. To this only we must attend, or (dreadful, yet equitable alternative!) we are lost for ever! In short, the true and only way of honoring Christ, as the Son of God, is by diligent attention and cheerful obedience to his gospel. The apostle having evidenced his glory as the Son of God, draws this as the most important inference from it. Thus also he himself; "If ye love me, keep my commandments.” Where there is no obedience to the word, there is no faith in, nor love to Jesus Christ.
VERSES 2.-4. For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every trans,
gression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will.
$1. Connexion and scope of the words. 82---9. (I.) Their exposition. $10. (II.) Observations. 1. Threatenings are evangelical, and of singular use. $11. This farther proved. $12, 13. 2. All punishments are effects of vindictive justice, $14. 3. The concernments of the law and gospel are to be weighed by believers. $15. 4. Divine revelation is stedfast. $16.--22. 5 The gospel being a great salvation, whosoever neglecteth it shall therefore unavoidably perisha. şi. In these verses the apostle prosecutes his exhortation laid down in that foregoing, with the addition of many peculiar enforcements. If a disregard to the law was attended with a sure and sore revenge, how much more must the neglect of the gospel be so. The words consist of two general parts; a description of the law; and, a description of the gospel,
$2. “For if the word spoken by angels was sted, fast.” The law is called, by a periphrasis, “the word spoken, or pronounced, by angels.” The Greek word