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cause, many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. See also verse 34. The word αιώνιος, which we have · rendered eternal, I take, to respect not the time to come, but the time past, and to signify ancient, or past long ago. That the word is thus used without any respect to eternity, we may see, Rom. xvi. 25; 2 Tim. i..9 ; Titus i. 2. See also these places in the LXX., Psalm lxxvii. 5; Prov. xxii. 29; Jer. xviji. 15 ; Ezek. xxxvi. 2. , According to this account of the words, we may consider the Jewish, religion as established by the ancient and tremendous judgments, of the execution of which, the books of Moses give an account ; such as the deluge, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and more especially, the drowning of Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea, and perhaps the judgments of God upon the Israelites in the wilderness for their impenitence and unbelief: Of this last he had indeed treated before, but not as a foundation of the Jewish religion, but as an example by which Christians might be warned."*
LXXVII. “ For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.” Heb. vi. 4-6.
We avail ourselves in part of the thoughts of a friend on this passage, published several years since..
We will now seek the true meaning of the text, which may be discovered by the smallest capacity, unbiased by the prejudices of education. And it appears manifest that the text must mean either, 1st. That God himself cannot possibly, renew those “ who were once enlightened,” &c., to repentance; or, 2nd. That they themselves cannot repent, or, 3d. That the apostle
* See “ Paraphrase and Notes on the Epistles,” &c., by the late Reverend and learned Mr. Jas. Peirce, of Exon. London. 1733.
Paul, by his labors with them, could not possibly renew them to repentance.
1. With reference to the first position we think it evident, that Paul did not mean that the Almighty Ruler of the world could not possibly renew them to repentance. For the Scriptures teach that all things are possible with God. - Moreover, his supreme power is undisputed throughout the world. And all parts of nature show forth the infinity and omnipotence of Jehovah. We cannot think there will be controversy on this point; but that all will admit that God can do any thing which does not involve in itself a necessary contradiction or impossibility.
2. That the apostates themselves cannot possibly repent,
If man becomes incapable of repentance, he will be no longer a moral agent ; nor will he be under any obligation to do that which he cannot do ; and we submit the serious question, whether it would not be more consistent with our views of the character of God, to suppose he would give the sinner a disposition to repent, rather than to give him an inability to repent ? . Further, it would seem, if the Divine Being became satisfied with the everlasting existence of sin, that all good beings should be also satisfied with it; and repentance being no longer the object of any good desire, would then cease to be a virtue.
3. There remains, therefore, but the last position which can be rationally supported, and which is, that Paul only meant; that it was impossible for him, by his preaching to apostate Christians, to renew them again to repentance. This pious and faithful apostle of Christianity was speaking of his labors and ministry, and those who might espouse șis doctrine and feel the power and energy of Christ, repent and live in obedience to those divine precepts for a time, but fall away and thus crucify the Son of God afresh and put him to an open shame, by rejecting the cause they had espoused and loved. The apostle seems to think, that, as
he had preached repentance unto them, and had once been instrumental in bringing them through repentance to the love and enjoyment of the Gospel, and as they had once tasted the saving bread of God, and the prelibations of a glorious immortality, if they should fall away, it would be impossible for him to add any thing to what he had already said to them on the subject, or to bring them back again to the faith and fellowship of the Gospel. Hence, he opens the subject in these words," therefore, leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith towards God.” He then proceeds to give the words of our text as the reason why he would go on, and not lay again the foundation of repentance, because it was impossible (for him by preaching) to renew them, &c.
It was impossible for him, because he could add nothing to what they already knew on that subject; and now, after they had been once enlightened into the divine and glorious principles of our Saviour's moral kingdom ; after they had tasted the riches of a Father's love, and had sweetly anticipated the incorruptible joys of his glorious kingdom, if they would now turn to the beggarly elements of the world and renounce these heavenly hopes and joys for the paltry pleasures and evanescent follies of sin, he could have no hope to reclaim them. But we cannot suppose this apostle meant, that the Almighty Sovereign of the universe could not warm their hearts and bring them again to “ look on him they pierced and mourn,” for he has declared, that every tongue shall confess to God, and that every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Let this text, then, be understood in accordance with reason, with the Scriptures generally, and with its context; and it involves no absurdity, but clearly corresponds with the adorable character of our heavenly Father, and all his merciful designs ; with all the vast and ar
dent desires of Divine humanity. So that, notwithstanding this text, we may all have hope in God, and a triumphant faith in the final renovation of the moral universe, and the purity, glory, and immortality of the intelligent creation. Amen.
LXXVIII. "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, and after this the judgment, Heb. ix. 27.
The correct view of this passage, which we have here partly quoted, is given, as we view it, in the following extract from a pamphlet published many years since, by Rev. David Pickering, then of Hudson, New York.
"The other passage which was quoted for the same purpose, is recorded in Heb. ix. 27. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment," The hearer will readily discover that something is wanting in this sentence to complete the sense, and as this is supplied in the next words of the apostle, we will read the whole in connexion. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.'
"Now be careful to observe, that as it was appointed unto men once to die, and after this the judgment, so, that is, in like manner, Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; or of the multitudes. How was Christ once offered? Answer, as a sacrifice for sin. By whom was he offered? Answer, he offered himself; because he was the High Priest of a better testament than that which preceded it. See verses 11, 14, 15. The way is now open for an easy and consistent explanation of this text. The apostle has devoted four chapters of this epistle to a comparison of the priesthood of Aaron, and that of Christ; beginning with the seventh, and closing with the tenth. In the chapter, of which the words under consideration are a part, he
treats the priesthood of Aaron and its ceremonies, as a shadow of the priesthood of Christ; and informs`us, that the Jewish high priest went alone once every year into the second tabernacle, but not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people. This, he tells us, was a figure, and that the gifts and sacrifices that were thus offered, could not render him perfect who performed the service. Verses 7, 9. For, *saith he, it is not possible, that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. Chap. x. 4.
"Let it be distinctly understood, that the high priest. offered the blood (which is the life) of the sacrifices, by which himself and the whole house of Israel were cer•emonially purified. By ceremonial purification, I mean to be understood, that God was pleased, through the offering of the sacrifice, to accept both the high priest and all the people. Without shedding of blood, is no remission.' Verse 22. Hence, the high priest under the law, is represented as being slain, that is, (by proxy) in those sacrifices that were offered. After being thus slain, the high priest entered into the holy place beyond the veil, and presented his offering before the mercy-seat, while all the congregation of Israel were anxiously waiting without, for the token of their acceptance with God.
"When they heard the sound of the golden bells, that were attached to the garment of the high priest, the whole multitude shouted aloud for joy, knowing that this was the signal of the acceptance of their high priest, and with him, all the congregation, whom he represented. This, the apostle considers, as a figure. of the sacrifices and priesthood of Christ; and, therefore, uses the following language: Verses 24-28. "Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place once a year with blood of others; for then must he often have suffered since the