In this chapter the apostle presses to a constant exercise of faith
and patience, amidst the various afflictions the saints are exercised
with; delivers out several exhortations useful in the Christian life;
and shows the difference between the legal and Gospel dispensations.
Having in the preceding chapter given many illustrious instances and
examples of faith, he makes use of this cloud of witnesses, as he
calls them, to engage the Hebrews to drop their unbelief, and run
with faith and patience the race set before them, \\#Heb 12:1\\, and
which he further urges from the example of Christ; from his concern
in faith, being the author and finisher of it; from what he suffered
when here on earth, both the contradiction of sinners, and the death
of the cross, for the joy of having his people with him in heaven;
and from his glorious state, being set down at the right hand of God.
Whereas, as yet, they had not been called to shed their blood in
their warfare against sin, \\#Heb 12:2-4\\. And that they must
expect chastisement, and should bear it patiently, he cites a passage
of Scripture out of \\#Pr 3:11,12\\ which suggests, that those who
are the children of God, and are loved and received by him, are
chastened and scourged, \\#Heb 12:5,6\\. Wherefore this was no other
than dealing with them as children; and should they not be thus dealt
with, it would be an argument that they were bastards, and not sons,
\\#Heb 12:7,8\\. And next the apostle argues from the right of
parents to chastise their children, and the subjection that is
yielded to them; that if the corrections of them, who were the
fathers of their bodies, were quietly submitted to; then much more
should those of the Father of their souls; and the rather, since the
chastenings of the former are only for temporal good, and according
to their fallible judgments; whereas the latter are for spiritual
profit, and an increase of holiness, \\#Heb 12:9,10\\. And though it
must be allowed, that no chastening, for the present time, is matter
of joy, but of grief; yet the effects of them are the peaceable
fruits of righteousness, to them that are exercised by them,
\\#Heb 12:11\\. Wherefore the apostle exhorts the believing Hebrews to
encourage themselves and others under afflictions; and to behave in
such manner, and carry it so evenly, that they might not be an
occasion of stumbling to weak believers, \\#Heb 12:12,13\\. He
exhorts them in general to follow peace with all men, and
particularly holiness; which is absolutely necessary to the beatific
vision of God, \\#Heb 12:14\\, and to take care that no heresy or
immorality spring up among them, and be connived at, and cherished
by them, to the troubling of some, and defiling of others,
\\#Heb 12:15\\, and particularly, lest the sin of uncleanness, or any
sort of profaneness, should be found among them; of which Esau, the
brother of Jacob, from whence they sprung, was guilty; whose
profaneness lay in selling his birthright for a morsel of meat, and
whose punishment was, that he should be deprived of the blessing;
which decree was irrevocable, notwithstanding his tears,
\\#Heb 12:16,17\\ and to enforce these exhortations, the apostle observes
to these believers, that they were not now under the law, but in a
Gospel church state. The terror of the legal dispensation they were
delivered from is described by the place where the law was given, a
mount burning with fire; by circumstances attending it, blackness,
darkness, and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet; by the matter of
it, a voice of words, which they that heard, entreated they might
hear no more; and by the effect the whole had upon. Moses himself,
who quaked and trembled at what he saw and heard, \\#Heb 12:18-21\\.
The happiness of the Gospel dispensation, or of the Gospel
church state, is expressed by the names of it, called Mount Zion, the
city of the living God, the new Jerusalem; and by the company the
saints have there, and their fellowship with them; angels
innumerable; elect men, whose names are written in heaven, and whose
spirits are made perfectly just; God the Judge of all, and Jesus the
Mediator of the new covenant; whose blood being sprinkled on their
consciences, spoke peace and pardon to them; such as neither Abel's
blood nor sacrifice could speak, \\#Heb 12:22-24\\. From whence the
apostle argues, that care should be taken not to neglect and despise
the voice of Christ, who is now in heaven, and speaks from thence in
his Gospel and ordinances; seeing they escaped not who rejected him
that spoke on earth, at Mount Sinai, which was shaken by his voice;
and the rather, since it appears from a prophecy in \\#Hag 2:6,7\\,
that under the Gospel dispensation, not only the earth but the
heavens would he shaken, \\#Heb 12:25,26\\ which is an emblem of the
shaking and removing the ordinances of the ceremonial law, that
Gospel ordinances might take place, and remain for ever,
\\#Heb 12:27\\. Upon the whole, the apostle exhorts the believing Hebrews,
that seeing they had received the immovable kingdom of grace, and
were admitted into the Gospel dispensation, or church state; that
they would hold fast the Gospel of the grace of God, and serve the
Lord, according to his revealed will, with reverence and godly fear,
which would be acceptable to him; or otherwise he would be a
consuming fire; as he is to all the despisers and neglecters of his
Gospel and ordinances, \\#Heb 12:28,29\\.