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An Exposition Of the Epistles Of Saint Paul And Of The Catholic Epistles Volumes 1&2

Analysis

The Hebrews, it would appear, were not sufficiently impressed with the importance and necessity of faith, and were, therefore, in danger of losing it by apostasy. They were taught to look upon it as a mode of justifying wholly unknown to the saints of the Old Testament; and to these false notions, with which they were imbued, might be traced their fatal facility, in deserting it under the pressure of persecution. The Apostle (10:38) takes occasion from the words of the Prophet Habacuc, to confute this pernicious error. Before making the application of it, in this chapter, to the sainted heroes of old, he first gives a description of faith, describing it by two of its qualities, best accommodated to the circumstances of those, whom he addresses (verse 1).

In the next place, applying this faith to the saints of old, he shows that it was owing to it, the most distinguished among them obtained justification (2–39).

He, finally shows the great advantage which we, in the New Law, possess over the ancients. We can, at once, enter on the possession of the promised blessings, while they were obliged to wait for our time to enjoy them in common with us; and, surely, we should display no less heroism in the cause of faith, of which the blessings and promise are present, than they did, for whom the fulfilment of the promise was distant.

Paraphrase

1. (As, then, the just man lives by faith, [10:38] it is of importance for us to know the nature of this virtue, which is the spiritual life of our souls). Faith is the foundation of the blessings we hope for; or, the subsistence in our intellect of the things we hope for; it is the fullest convincing argument of the existence of these things, which are neither the immediate object of our sight nor perceived by reason, but which we still more firmly believe than if we saw them.

2. For, it was by this faith in God’s promises, holding out distant and, humanly speaking, unattainable goods, that the ancient fathers were distinguished, and obtained from God an illustrious testimony of their sanctity.

3. Such a faith is as necessary for us, as for them, for understanding the very first principles of revealed religion; for, by faith we learn that creation was moulded into its present harmonious and perfect form, by the command of God, so that from being an invisible shapeless mass or chaos, it assumed its present visible perfect appearance.

4. It was owing to his being animated with a lively faith that Abel offered a more choice and more excellent sacrifice than did Cain (who made no selection in the gifts offered), by means of which sacrifice offered through faith he obtained the testimony of being just, God himself testifying the acceptance of his gifts by some external sign; and even after his death, he sends forth a cry for redress, which God listened to in consideration of his faith and justice.

5. It was by faith Henoch was translated into some place of rest, to escape death, and he was not found, because God had translated him (Genesis, 5:24). That his translation was owing to his faith is clear; for, before his translation, the Scripture bears testimony, that he pleased God.

6. Now, without faith it is impossible to please God; for, in order to come to God, i.e., to worship and please him, one must believe that he exists, and that he is a rewarder of those who seek and serve him (in which it is implied that he punishes those who offend, and disobey him).

7. It was by faith, that is to say, by his firm reliance on the divine veracity, holding out threats and promises, that Noe, seized with religious awe, after having been admonished by the divine oracle respecting the things still hidden in the womb of futurity, built with great labour, for his own salvation and that of his family, the ark, by which ark built through faith, he sealed the condemnation of an incredulous world, who scoffingly disregarded his preparation against the coming deluge, and was made the abundant participator and inheritor of the justice of faith.

8. It was by faith that he who, from Abram or high father, was called Abraham, or father of a multitude, went forth in obedience to the divine call into the inheritance he was about to receive, not knowing in what particular part of the promised land he was to fix his abode.

9. It was by faith that he lived in the land of promise, as in a strange land, dwelling in moveable tens; the co-heirs of his promise, Isaac and Jacob, did the same.

10. It was by faith he did so; for, assured of the divine promises, he firmly expected and anxiously longed for a city immoveably fixed and founded (not like the tents), the artificer of which was God himself.

11. It was through faith that Sara herself, notwithstanding the twofold obstacle of barrenness and old age, received strength to conceive a son, believing him to be faithful, who promised.

12. Wherefore there sprung from one man only (and he was dead as to the powers of propagation), a posterity, countless as the stars of heaven, or the sand on the sea shore.

13. In faith, these Patriarchs died, without receiving the promises, only beholding them from afar, and saluting them, and confessing themselves to be strangers and pilgrims on earth.

14. For, by professing themselves to be strangers, they showed they were anxiously in search of some country different from that of Chanaan, in which they were sojourning, as pilgrims and strangers.

15. It cannot be Chaldea, their native land, from whence they came; for, if so, they had leisure to return to it, and an opportunity of doing so, its distance from Chanaan—where they sojourned—being so short.

16. It is, therefore, evident that the object of their longing desires was a better, that is to say, a heavenly country; and because they sought God and heaven; hence, God was not ashamed to be called, in a particular way, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, since he prepared for these as his chosen friends a fixed abode in the heavenly Jerusalem, where they shall reign with him for ever.

17. It was by faith that Abraham determined to offer up his son Isaac, when, to test him, God commanded him to do so, and he who received the promises, offered up his only begotten son:

18. To whom it was said: In Isaac, shall thy seed be reckoned.

19. It was through faith he did so; firmly believing that God could, if he wished, raise up Isaac from the dead (and would do so, if necessary, for the realization of his promises), whence it came to pass that he received him back in figure or type of some future great mystery, i.e., of the resurrection of Christ, as well as of the general resurrection of all men, from the tomb.

20. It was through faith, that Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau, promising the future blessings which he could not see, but which were known to him from revelation.

21. It was through faith that Jacob, on his death-bed, blessed each of the sons of Joseph—preferring the younger Ephraim to the elder Manasses—and worshipped the top of his rod.

22. It was through faith in God’s promises, regarding the deliverance of his people, that Joseph, on his death-bed, made mention of the future egress of the children of Israel out of Egypt; and gave orders to have his bones transferred to the land of promise.

23. It was through faith that the parents of Moses, struck with the more than natural comeliness of the infant, disregarding the king’s edict, concealed him for three months.

24. It was under the influence of the same faith (grounded probably on the revelation made to his parents, or some inspiration imparted to himself), that Moses, when he grew up, disdained to be reputed the son of Pharaoh’s daughter;

25. Preferring a share in the afflictions of God’s people, before the transitory enjoyments of temporal and sinful gratification;

26. Setting greater value on the reproachful sufferings, which, as a Hebrew, he was to undergo for his people, in type of the future sufferings of Christ, than on all the riches of the Egyptians; for, with the eye of faith, he kept in view the future remuneration of his labours in heaven.

27. By faith, he left Egypt as the leader of God’s people, not fearing the fierceness of the king; for, beholding the invisible God, as if visible, he bore the crosses and dangers attendant on his ministry.

28. It was by faith, he celebrated the Pasch, performed the ceremony of sprinkling with blood the door-posts of the Israelites, that the destroying angel, who slew the Egyptian first-born, might not touch any of his people (Exodus, 12).

29. By faith, the Israelites entered the Red Sea, and passed through it as if through dry land, whilst the unbelieving Egyptians were swallowed up in the waters in attempting to follow them (Exodus, 24).

30. It was owing to the faith of Josue and the Jews, that the walls of Jericho fell down on the seventh day after Josue and his army had gone round them seven times, once-a-day, for seven days, relying on the divine promises (Josue. 6).

31. It was by her faith, that Rahab, the harlot, was saved from the common ruin of the incredulous Chanaanites in the destruction of Jericho, having treated the Hebrew spies, in a friendly and peaceful manner (Josue, 2).

32. What need I adduce any further examples on this subject? In truth, time would fail me, were I fully to detail the prodigies of faith performed by Gedeon, Barac, Samson, Jephthe, David, Samuel, and the Prophets:

33. Who, through faith, overcame kingdoms, performed good works, that conferred justice and increased it; obtained the promises, in the belief of which their faith was exercised; closed the mouths of lions;

34. Passed unhurt through the raging flames; escaped the edge of the sword; recovered from their maladies; became valiant in war; put to flight the armies of foreigners.

35. Owing to whose faith, women received back their sons raised from the dead. Supported by faith, they endured the greatest tortures and sufferings. Some were racked, and would not accept of a liberation on the infamous terms proposed to them, having in view a better life, a more glorious resurrection.

36. Others were exposed to mockery, and subjected to the lash; others cast into chains, and thrust into prison.

37. They were stoned; cut asunder; tempted; put to death by the sword; wandered about in sheep skins, in goat skins, being in want, distressed, afflicted;

38. Of whom the world was not worthy, wandering in deserts, in mountains, in dens, and in caves of the earth.

39. And all these died without receiving the promised inheritance of eternal life; although they were proved to be just men by the splendid testimony which their works and sufferings rendered to their faith,

40. God in the exercise of his Providence in the present order of things, so favouring us, that they could not enjoy perfect happiness of soul or body till the time had arrived, when they should enjoy it in common with us.

Commentary

1. “Now faith is the substance of things to be hoped for.” In order to render more clear the application of faith to the examples he is about adducing, the Apostle commences with a description of faith, and he describes it, by two of its leading qualities, First—“It is the substance of things to be hoped for,” to which words, some, with St. Augustine give this construction, “it is the substance of those who hope.” These attach an active signification to the middle verb in the Greek, ελπιζομενων ὑπόστασις, corresponding to the words in our version, “to be hoped for.” Ours is the more probable construction. “The substance,” i.e., the basis and foundation, on which rest the blessings of salvation we hope for. For, it is, “the root and foundation of all justification.” (Council of Trent, SS. 6, c. viii.) Without faith we could no more obtain justification than we could build a house without a foundation, or have an accident, ordinarily speaking, without a substance. Or, the word “substance” (in Greek, ὑπόστασις) more probably means, subsistence, of the things to be hoped for; inasmuch as, faith makes the future goods of the life to come, so to exist in our apprehension, as if we actually possessed them. It gives these things, we hope for, a new and anticipated existence in our minds.

Secondly—It is “the evidence of things that appear not” (οὐβλεπομένων), i.e., of things that are neither visible to the senses, nor perceived by reason. This by no means appears to be an adequate or reciprocal definition of faith; for, things to be dreaded form subjects of faith no less than “things to be hoped for” (v.g.) hell’s torments; so did Noe’s deluge (verse 7). Neither does it appear that obscurity essentially belongs to subjects of faith; for, if so, how could the Blessed Virgin Mary or the Apostles have faith in many of the miraculous works of our Divine Redeemer, which they witnessed? Do we not believe in death, although sensibly taking place, and its universality confirmed by experience? Do we not believe in God, as Creator of heaven and earth, an evident natural truth? This definition, cannot exclude the application of faith to things clear; because, although such things be naturally evident, we can abstract from their natural evidence, and believe them like every point of faith, on the authority of God, whose revelation is necessary in order that they should become subjects of faith. Moreover, in the present obscured state of the human intellect, there are but few things so evident as not to be susceptible of confirmation, and of greater subjective certainty, from the authority of God, upon which all faith must be based. The opinion, therefore, of the Thomists requiring obscurity in an object to be necessary, in order to become a point of faith, appears improbable; because, the principal ground of this opinion, viz., that the Apostle here gives a reciprocal definition of faith, is unfounded. The Apostle only describes faith by two of its qualities, the most praiseworthy, viz., its giving the things to be hoped for, an anticipated existence in our minds; and its making certain for us, things that are obscure and inevident—two qualities best accommodated to the circumstances of those whom he addresses, who possessed not, and could, therefore, only “hope for” the invisible blessings of the life to come; neither did they clearly see them, because they “appear not.” These men were to be animated to patient suffering, with the prospect of the same blessings in hope.

2. Some interpreters connect this verse immediately with verse 38 of last chapter, “the just man liveth by faith, … for by this the ancients obtained,” &c. Others, with preceding verse, as in the Paraphrase.

It is not undeserving of remark, that the faith commended by the Apostle in this chapter, is not the special faith of Protestants, in reference to each man’s justification and salvation; but, as is clear from the entire chapter, a firm belief in the things revealed by God, which all the examples quoted clearly demonstrate.

3. The Apostle, before applying the faith now described to the saints of old, shows that even in reference to the Hebrews whom he addresses, it is “the evidence of things that appear not;” because, creation, the first truth proposed to the Jews in Genesis, was not known from any other source than faith; for, the ancient philosophers, one of whose favourite axioms was, ex nihilo nihil fit, derided it. “That the world was framed by the word of God,” this some understand of the first creation or education out of nothing; others, more probably of the arrangement into its present form, of the matter of creation already educed from nothing into existence; “that from invisible things,” i.e., from the pre-existent dark, confused or shapeless mass of matter, this the word “invisible” means in Genesis; (for, instead of the words, “the earth was void and empty”—Genesis 1:2.—the Septuagint version, followed all through, by St. Paul in this Epistle, has, Ἡ δὲ γῆ ἦν αορατος και ακατασκευαστος, the earth was invisible and confused) it would become visible in its present perfect form. Of course, the creation of matter from nothing is supposed in this arrangement or last finish given to it, referred to here by the Apostle.

4. It was his faith that made Abel select the choicest portions of his flock to offer them in sacrifice, while Cain heeded not to make any selection: he is not commended in Genesis for making any choice in the fruits of the earth which he offered—“by which” faith or sacrifice, or perhaps both; that is to say, his sacrifice offered through faith, “God giving testimony to his gifts” by some sensible sign, commonly said to be his sending fire from heaven to consume them, while no such sign was exhibited in the case of Cain. “And by it being dead he still speaketh,” which some understand of his blood crying to God (vide Paraphrase). Others say, he speaks by the force of his good example.

5. “Was translated” into some seat of rest, or, as in Ecclesiasticus (chap. 40:4), “into paradise,” in order to escape death. The common opinion of the Holy Fathers is, that he still lives in some place of rest expressed by the general term of “paradise,” whence he and Elias will come at the end of the world to war with Antichrist, “and he was not found, because God had translated him.” These are the words of Genesis (chap. 5:24), according to the Septuagint, from which the Apostle proves Henoch’s translation. In the Vulgate version of Genesis, by St. Jerome, the words are, “he was seen no more, because God took him.” And that it was owing to faith he was translated, the Apostle proves thus—for, before his translation, the Scriptures testify that he pleased God, “he walked with God,” (Gen. 5:22), and, therefore, pleased Him.

6. But, without faith no one can please God; it was, therefore, through the merits of faith, Henoch pleased him. The Apostle proves that without faith no one can please God; for, in order to please God, a man must approach him, “must come to him,” but no one can approach or come to him, without first believing “that he exists, and that he is a rewarder to them that seek him.” In these latter words, it is implied, that he punishes those who disobey him; the words, “come to God,” mean, to pay him due worship. The Greek for “rewarder,” μισθαποδοτης, means, that God gives a reward due to merit; hence, an argument in favour of the Catholic doctrine of merit, it is a point of faith, that a reward is strictly due to merit. The two articles now referred to were of indispensable necessity for salvation at all times and under every dispensation, the explicit faith in them being a necessary means of salvation. This is clear, from the universal assertion made regarding them by the Apostle without limitation either as to time or place—“it is impossible;” and also from his asserting it in reference to Henoch, who lived long before the written law was given to Moses. In addition to these two articles, the explicit faith in the Trinity and Incarnation, also, is now commonly considered by Divines to be necessary, as they term it, necessitate medii, that is to say, necessary as a means of salvation, after the promulgation of the gospel, so that be the ignorance of them vincible, or invincible, there can be no justification for the sinner; and consequently, no salvation without them; they are necessary means for the justification of a sinner; without them, the end of salvation can, in no case, be secured by adults, requiring justification. From the very creation, God communicated his supernatural knowledge to man by revelation, without which, in the present order of things, the supernatural end cannot be attained. The Gentiles could have the necessary faith, through the primitive revelations made to Adam, which were transmitted among them from father to son. In the above, there is question of responsible beings, attaining the use of reason.

7. “Concerning those things which as yet were not seen.” This shows that faith is “the evidence of things that appear not,” (verse 1). “Moved with fear,” shows that besides “things to be hoped for,” things to be dreaded also form subjects of faith. “Framed the ark” &c.; the building of the ark, in consequence of its magnitude and the number of its compartments, must have been very laborious; and hence, a great proof of his faith. “By which,” some refer to “faith,” others to “the ark;” it may refer to both; by which ark, built through faith, he condemned by word and work an incredulous world (1 Peter, 3), “and was instituted heir,” i.e., the abundant participator in “the justice of faith,” or, the inheritor of the justice of his fathers, Henoch, Seth, &c., “which is by faith.” This latter interpretation is grounded on the strict signification of the word “heir,” which implies the possession of an inheritance transmitted from father to son. On the last day, those who, with simplicity and with unhesitating faith in God’s promises, work out their salvation in the practice of good works, will condemn the world which scoffs and derides their simplicity. “Nos insensati, vitam illorum estimabamus insaniam,” &c.—(Wisdom, 5:4).

“He that is called.” The Greek copy, followed by the Vulgate, had, ὁ καλουμενος. This is also the reading of the Alexandrian Manuscript. In this reading, allusion is made to the change of name in Abraham (Genesis, 17:3). The article (ὁ) is omitted in the ordinary Greek copies, and the words are rendered, Abraham, when called, obeyed to go, &c., in which rendering the participle “called,” which in the Greek, is the present tense, receives a past signification. Our reading is, however, the better sustained.

9. He dwelt as a pilgrim in the land of promise where he did not occupy a foot of ground, as his fixed habitation, “with Isaac and Jacob:” “with” has the meaning of as well as, it denotes parity of circumstances. Though it might be said that he dwelt in tents with Isaac and Jacob; for, Jacob was fifteen years old at Abraham’s death, the former meaning, viz.: they, as well as Abraham, dwelt successively in tents; is the more probable.

10. “For, he looked for a city,” &c. In this verse, the Apostle proves that it was owing to faith that Abraham dwelt as a stranger in moveable tents in the land of promise, because he looked forward to the heavenly city of eternal stability, firmly fixed and founded by God himself. What an idea of the condition of man here below is conveyed to us, in the faith of the Patriarch!—like him, we are here but strangers in this foreign land; heaven is our true home, our eternal dwelling-place, on which our thoughts and affections should be fixed. Our conversation should be in heaven, whither we are tending.

11. “Being barren.” These words are omitted in the ordinary Greek copies, but they are found in the Alexandrian and other Manuscripts.

OBJECTION.—Was not Sara rebuked by the angel for laughing from incredulity?—(Genesis, 23:15).

ANSWER.—Although Sara smiled at first, still, on discovering the dignity of him who made the promise, she believed. Some, among whom is Estius, by “faith” understand the faith of Abraham himself, which the Apostle would appear to be specially commending, and in consideration of which, Sara conceived; in the same way, the walls of Jericho are said to have fallen by faith, i.e., the faith of the Jews, and the following verse in some measure favours this opinion. However, the following words, “She believed,” are in favour of the other interpretation. “To conceive seed;” to which the Greek adds, and brought forth.

12. “As the stars … as the sand,” &c. These are hyperboles easily understood, signifying a very numerous progeny. They may refer to carnal Israel, in the first place, and to spiritual Israel, or to all Christians, in the second.

13. “All these,” i.e., the three last mentioned Patriarchs, to whom were made the promises, “died according to faith,” i.e., persevered till death in faith, believing in God’s promises, although they did not receive the promises, nor did they enjoy them immediately themselves. This is true, whether the promises be referred to the occupation of Chanaan by their innumerable offspring, or to heaven, which was closed until after the ascension of Christ; they confessed themselves, on ali occasions, to be foreigners and sojourners on earth; “but beholding them from afar, and saluting them,” like sailors, who, after a dangerous and distant voyage, on descrying land for the first time, joyously salute it. After the words, “beholding them afar off,” are added in some Greek copies, being persuaded of them. But, this addition is generally rejected by critics, as unsupported by the authority of the chief Manuscripts. The Apostle refers to the promises, which the Patriarchs themselves did not obtain during life, in order to show the firmness of their faith, and thus to animate the Hebrews, of his own day, to perseverance under affliction, although the promised goods of heaven in store for them, were distant and invisible; for, they had been still more so, for the Patriarchs.

14. Having observed in the preceding verse, that the Patriarchs died without obtaining the promises, the Apostle shows what the promises regarded, at least, so far as they themselves were to enjoy them; surely, not the possession by them of the land of Chanaan; for, by saying they saluted them from afar, there could not be question of the place where they actually dwelt. Moreover, by calling themselves pilgrims, they showed that they were in search of some permanent country, and Chanaan was not their country.

15. Nor was there question of Chaldea; for, if so, they might have returned, as it was not more than fifty leagues distant from Chanaan.

16. Then, it follows, they were in search of a better, that is to say, their heavenly country; hence it is, that God, though God of all mankind, calls himself their God in particular, as if rendering them equal value with the rest of creation.

17. Some interpreters make the words, “he who had received the promises,” refer to Isaac, thus: he offered up his only begotten son, who had received the promises. The former construction, which refers it to Abraham’s receiving the promises, is more probable, as appears from the following verse. “Offered Isaac,” i.e., was about offering him, and would have done so if he were not prevented; he did so in heart and will.

18. The seed promised him was to come only through Isaac. Hence, the heroic firmness of Abraham’s faith in sacrificing him.

19. Abraham was firmly persuaded through faith, that if the resuscitation of Isaac from the dead were necessary for the realization of God’s promise of giving him seed in Isaac, God would raise him. “Whereupon also he received him for a parable,” i.e., according to some, as a memorable example and prodigy of faith, worthy of being celebrated by future ages.

20. This blessing is remarkable for the circumstances of his conferring on Jacob, the younger, the fulness of the paternal benediction.

21. “Blessed each of the sons of Joseph,” preferring Ephraim, the younger, to Manasses, the older, “and adored the top of his rod,” και προσεκυνησε επι τον ακρον της ῤαβδου αὐτου. After having obtained from Joseph a promise that his bones would be carried out of Egypt, and deposited in the grave of his fathers, he “adored the top of his (Joseph’s) rod.” In the Protestant versions of the Bible, these latter words are read differently from our Vulgate. In one version (1562–1579), they run thus, leaning on the end of his staff, he worshipped God: the words, leaning, and God, are unwarrantable additions, not found in the original text; in a later edition (A.D. 1683), and worshipped, leaning oil the end of his staff (vide Ward’s Errata). The Protestants reject the Vulgate reading; because, it furnishes some grounds for the relative worship of sacred images. The only grounds they have for their version of the words is, the interpretation of St. Augustine, peculiar to him alone; they substitute a mere interpretation—man’s word—for God’s own inspired word in the sacred Scripture; and thus, unwarrantably, make additions to the sacred text, contrary to the common interpretation of the Holy Fathers. They also lay some stress on the Greek word, “επι,” which they translate, upon. The Catholic and Vulgate version has the sanction of the ancient Fathers, St. Augustine excepted. And as for the particle, “επι,” it frequently has the meaning of, ad, it has no force except to show the case of the following word, as, “oravit ad Dominum” (Kings, 1:10), i.e., oravit Dominum. It also signifies against or opposite (Psalm 5:8), adorabo ad templum, i.e., versus templum; and, so little importance did the Holy Fathers attach to “επι,” that they inferred from the passage not only adoration towards the rod; but, of the rod itself; ought not the Greek Holy Fathers be better judges of the meaning of a Greek particle, than our modern reformers could be? The Vulgate version of St. Jerome, translated from the Hebrew, has it (Genesis, 47:31), “Israel, adored God turning to the bed’s head.” The Hebrew word, according to the difference of vowel points, signifies either a rod or a bed. St. Jerome gave it the latter meaning; the seventy-two interpreters, from whose version St. Paul quotes in this Epistle, have given it the former meaning of, rod. Both versions are canonical; it is likely that Israel did both, that is, “turning to the bed’s head,” he adored the royal staff of Joseph, referring it, in a spirit of prophecy, to the future Messiah, whom Joseph—called by Pharaoh, the Saviour of the world (Genesis, 41:45)—represented, and of whose kingly power, the staff given to Joseph was a figure. The Greek for “his,” αὑτου, not aspirated, in the words, “his rod,” shows that it refers not to Jacob’s staff, but to Joseph’s sceptre or rod.

23. Where was the revelation upon which the parents of Moses acted in concealing him, without which there could be no faith?

It may refer to the faith in the general promise of God to liberate the Hebrews, towards the fulfilment of which promise they concurred, as far as they could, by preserving Moses. Moreover, Josephus expressly states, that a revelation was made to Amram, the father of Moses, regarding his future ministry (lib. 2, Antiq., c. 10), and the supernatural “comeliness,” by which it was shown that “he was acceptable to God” (Acts, 7:20), confirmed this revelation.

24. Pharaoh’s daughter, called, according to Josephus (ut supra), Thermutis, was his sole heiress; being herself without issue, she adopted Moses. Philo says she feigned pregnancy, and pretended that Moses was her son.

25. “The pleasure of sin for a time.” The enjoyment of the opulence and pleasures of a most wealthy and magnificent court (such as Pharaoh’s was at that time) is almost always attended with sin, and in the present instance, it would be particularly sinful in Moses, who knew the designs of God on him, as the future liberator of his people, which he would resist by remaining in Pharaoh’s court; he should, moreover, take a share in the execution of the king’s cruel edicts.

26. “The reproach of Christ” may also mean the sufferings he was to undergo in conformity and union with the future sufferings of Christ. “For he looked unto the reward” in store for him in heaven. “The treasure of the Egyptians;” in Greek, των εν Αιγυπτω θησαυρων, the treasures in Egypt.

27. “He endured,” the fierce animosity of Pharaoh, and the crosses he had to encounter in the ministry of leading forth God’s people. “Seeing him that is invisible.” Keeping the mandates of the invisible God always in view. Oh! what a stimulus to deeds of heroic virtue, to walk always in God’s holy presence and keep him before our eyes!

30. It was owing to the faith of Josue and of the army in the assurances of the Lord, that at the end of seven days, the period foretold by God, the walls of Jericho fell down.

31. “Rahab,” being formerly a “harlot,” went by this name, even after her conversion. In her, the future chosen of God were typified.

But how could she have faith?—what revelation was made to her?

The revelation made, and the faith conceived, must regard the giving up of the promised land to the Jews, which revelation was publicly—spread through the Chanaanite nations—hence, their fears; and this revelation confirmed by miracles, Rahab believed.—(Josue. chap. 2).

32. “Gedeon,” believing in God’s promises, with a few of his entire army, routed and entirely destroyed the Madianites.—(Judges, 7) “Barac,” who lived before Gedeon, was distinguished for his victory over the Chanaanites under Sisara. He firmly believed in the promises of God, made known to him by Debora, the prophetess.—(Judges, 4) “Samson’s” stupendous exploits against the Philistines are recorded (Judges, 14, 15, &c.) In all his encounters with the Philistines it is said that “he invoked the Lord,” also, that “the Spirit of God rushed upon him.” “Jephthe” who, in point of time, was anterior to Samson, was distinguished for his victory over the Ammonites—(Judges, 11). The histories of Samuel and David, recorded in the first book of Kings, are known to all. The Apostle, in his enumeration of the heroes of faith, two by two, sets the more distinguished first, though posterior in point of time.

33. “Who by faith conquered kingdoms.” This relates to the victories of the heroes of faith: “obtained promises,” (v.g.) Isaac’s birth, also the promised victories referred to. This does not regard the promise (verse 39); for, there, reference is made to the promise of heaven; here, to particular promises. “Closed the mouths of lions,” (v.g.) as was done by David, Samson, and Daniel.

34. “Quenched the violence of fire,” regards three children, Sidrach, Misaac, and Abdenago, in the Babylonian furnace; “escaped the edge of the sword,” David, persecuted by Saul; Elias, by Jezebel; “recovered from their infirmity,” Ezechias, Tobias, Job; “became valiant in war,” refers to the leaders of the people, and particularly to Samson, Judith, and the Machabees; “put to flight the armies of foreigners,” refers to Gedeon, Jonathan, with his armour bearer.

35. “Women received their dead,” &c. The woman of Serephta received back her son, owing to the faith of Elias; and the woman of Sunam received her’s, owing to the faith of Elizeus.—(3 Kings, 17; 4 Kings, 4)

“But others were racked, not accepting deliverance,” &c., (v.g.) the Machabees, the aged Eleazar. “Racked;” what the nature of this rack or torture is, cannot be well determined. The Greek word, ετυμπανισθησαν, means that they were tortured with the instrument called, the tympanon, commonly supposed to be a kind of knout or flogging instrument. There is allusion here, very probably, to the punishment of Eleazar.—2 Machabees, 6:30.

36. Samson was mocked by the Philistines; Elizeus, by wicked boys. The Israelites were scourged by the Egyptians (Exodus, 5). Joseph, Micheas, and Jeremias, were cast into chains, and into prison.—(3 Kings; Jeremias, 20, 37)

37. Naboth, and Zacharias, son of Joida, “were stoned” (3 Kings, 21; 2 Paral. 24); and so was the Prophet Jeremias, according to a Hebrew tradition, as we are informed by Tertullian (adversus Gnostics, cap. 8); by St. Jerome, (lib. 2, contra Jovinianum). Isaias was cut “asunder,” he was sawn in two. Job was “tempted;” the prophets persecuted by Jezebel, and a great many innocent persons, persecuted by the impious Manasses, “were put to death by the sword.” “Wandered about in sheep skins and goat skins,” Elias and the prophets of his day.

38. “Of whom the world was not worthy,” i.e., the world was not worth, or of equal value with them; or, was not worthy of possessing holy men like these who would ward off the merited anger of God. For, no doubt, the prayers and merits of the just avert the anger and heavy vengeance of God from the guilty; in proof of this we have only to refer to the destruction of Sodom, which the possession of a certain number of just souls would have averted.—(Genesis, 18:32).

39. “And all these being approved by the testimony of faith,” i.e., testimony being borne to the heroic firmness of their faith, owing to the works they performed and the sufferings they endured for it, “received not the promise” of eternal life. If they held out, though the promises were distant, why should not Christians, who immediately after death, may be admitted to the enjoyment of the merited happiness of heaven? This is the conclusion drawn by the Apostle, in the next chapter (verse 1).

40. From which arrangement of Providence, is clearly seen, the special advantage which we enjoy under the New Law over them, who could not enjoy these blessings till our time, when they shall be enjoyed by them in common with us; for, they were not admitted to the beatific vision of God; nor could they finally receive consummate felicity of soul and body in the general resurrection, except in common with us.








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