Divine Remedy for Earthly Hindrances and Discouragements

Hebrews 1-4
" Consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus."
(Read Heb. 1-3:1-4.)
There is only one divine way of raising the hearts of the children of •God above the depressions that arise from the circumstances of trial and sorrow, which are the necessary accompaniments of their journey through this world. It is to have their thoughts tilled with Christ; or, as the apostle expresses it in Ephesians 3:1717That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, (Ephesians 3:17), " to have Christ dwelling in their hearts by faith."
This changes the aspect of everything.
The Hebrews were discouraged in their course through its varied trials and difficulties, and needed to be stimulated to a " patient continuance in well doing," that they might become " followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises." This is the practical bearing of the whole epistle; and is the occasion of its being designated, in its entireness, by the apostle, " the word of exhortation." (Chapter 13:22.)
Wonderful are its disclosures of the glory of Christ-of His person, His offices, His work-but wonderful and far-reaching as they are, they are, in their practical bearing, but the revelations of a God of grace to tried and beleaguered hearts, as a resource against the trials and exercises of their course. They are the basis of the exhortations, and warnings, and encouragements, with which the epistle abounds, and which are designed in their effect to sustain the Hebrews in the position to which they had been introduced by grace and by a reception of the testimony of Christ. They had become, through Christ, " partakers of the heavenly calling," and they needed sustainment against all that was contrary to it in their earthly path. They needed more, it is true. They needed to be raised, in faith and in soul, to the true apprehension of their calling in Christ Jesus; but then this, in its reflex, of necessity acted on their practical position, in detaching them from every claim of Judaism, and in raising them above the trials and temptations of the world by the moral leverage of an object of trust and confidence, and by resources of grace and help, without a limit and without a question, out of the world.
They might have been exhorted on many grounds to patience under trials, and difficulties, and discouragements; but, in having the thoughts thus filled with Christ, they at once find the power of the displacement of them all.
For what is it, I may ask, that occupies the two chapters of this epistle, of which this exhortation, " Consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus," forms the brief summing up? It is the glory of the called; but with a reverent heart to contemplate, as they are disclosed by the light of a divine revelation, the lineaments of Him who, as " the word made flesh," is the central sun of the christian system.- Here I behold a divine Person, so truly man that the affections of the human heart can lay hold upon Him; and so truly God, that the mind through faith, can at all times and in all places be brought into direct contact with Him. Christ, the divine Man, is the great attractive center- the sole gravitating point of a system which owes to Him all its coherence, and which would be but a chaos were He away.
In " the Apostle and High Priest of our profession," it is true our thoughts are directed to the offices which the Lord sustains. But it must be remembered that his official glory hangs on the glory of His person as divine. His offices owe -their proper dignity to Him by whom they are borne, and the value of His work results from the value of the person by whom it was accomplished. What he is imparts its character to what he does.
The bearing and importance of His offices are fully unfolded in the subsequent parts of the epistle, but in these chapters (chap. 1, 2) His full personal glory is brought out.
This, however, is taken up from the opposite point to that in the Gospel or the Epistle of John. It is not a statement of what He was from eternity, before He was manifested in time-what He was " In the beginning with God," before He was " the word made flesh and dwelt among us." He is here presented simply as the continuator of God's communications to Israel, as of old time He had spoken to " the fathers by the prophets." He now in these last days has spoken to us by his Son, or, " in the Son." Having thus introduced Messiah as " the Son," he of necessity supersedes every other, inasmuch as His dignity and claims are paramount. As " the Son" He is at once presented to us as " heir of all things"-Lord and Possessor of that boundless universe which displays the wisdom and the eternal power of God. But this presents Him only in the position of imparted glory. He is " appointed heir of all things." To this heirship and dominion He accedes through worthiness and humiliation and death; however His claims to it are based on the deep foundation that creation, in its widest extent, with all its suns and systems, its order and harmony, reaching out to the vast abysses of worlds and systems yet unexplored, owes its existence to that Messiah-" the Son"-by whom God was now speaking to the Hebrews 1 It is what He was that gives the only adequate foundation for what he was constituted. The mystery of His person must be known in order to understand the possibility of His being the holder of these dignities.
This is taken up in verse 3 and is expressed in a few brief words, which seem to dazzle by their brightness and overwhelm by their illimitable force. "By whom also he made the worlds; who being the brightness of his glory and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the majesty on high." This is the condensed statement of what is unfolded in the remaining parts of the chapter. Beyond it no statement can go; but confirmation of its various parts is now to be drawn from those testimonies which of old had been recognized by the Jews as the oracles of God. " God had spoken"-the Hebrews admitted it-" to the fathers by the prophets," and now these declarations are given in attestation of the claims of Messiah and of His proper glory.
He is exalted, not above prophets, but Above angels-the highest order of created beings, and who held so conspicuous a place in connection with that dispensation which was now passing away by the introduction of Messiah, " the Son." " He is made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they." In divine relationship He holds a place to which no angel could ever aspire. He inherits the name and relationship of " Son." " Ile makes his angels spirits and his ministers a flame of fire." But he does not make the Son anything. He attests that relationship which could alone be His. " Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee." And again, " I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son."
These quotations have a double aspect. The first presents Messiah as God's King, set on his holy hill of Zion." (Psa. 2) " His Son," born into the world, in accordance with Jehovah's ancient decree:-and, so presented, having an inherent title to the name of " Son." Still the title seems only to be fully vindicated in resurrection, as in Rom. 1:44And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead: (Romans 1:4), " Declared the Son of God with power.... by resurrection from the dead."
The second presents Him, with more directness as the heir of David's throne. (2 Sam. 7:1414I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men: (2 Samuel 7:14); 1 Chron. 17:1313I will be his father, and he shall be my son: and I will not take my mercy away from him, as I took it from him that was before thee: (1 Chronicles 17:13).) In both aspects there was the testimony of the prophets-the attestation of God,to Messiah as His Son. His Son, too, such sense that, as no angel ever sustained the relationship, so He could never be called by the name. " To which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son?"
So much more exalted than angels is the Son, that when, as the " firstbegotten" God brings Him into the world, He is presented as the object of angels' worship: " Let all the angels of God worship him."
The same divine testimony is rendered also to His intrinsic glory, as God, as before to His divine relationship of Son.
If Messiah's kingdom is spoken of, its scepter is declared to be in the hands of the Son. But, then, how is the Son addressed in these oracles which speak of his anointing and the perpetuity and glory of his reign? " Thy throne, 0 God, is forever and ever; a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy kingdom," &c.
And, further, if it be as to His claim as Creator, " upholding all things by the word of his power," these oracles are not silent. It is to one who, in humiliation and sorrow, and conscious rejection, when in contemplation of the establishment of Messiah's kingdom, said, (Psa. 102,) " O my God, take me not away in the midst of my days," that the oracle replies, " Thou, Lord, in the beginning halt laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: they shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; and as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail."
The title, then, of Son, in this most exalted sense, as belonging alone to Messiah, is thus sustained. His being the perfect manifestation of the being of God-" the effulgence of his glory, and the exact impression of his subsistence" -,His power in creation, and His sustainment of all things that exist by His powerful word, are by these quotations in a most wonderful manner sustained.. In the last, especially, His eternal duration and absolute power, in contrast with the decay and mutation of all Crated things, is, in the most touching manner conceivable, brought out to view.
But there is another point in which Messiah is contrasted with angels, presented in these verses, (ver. 2, 3,) that is taken up: it is the exalted position. He assumed on the accomplishment of His work. " When he had by himself purged our sins, he sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high." " But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand until I make thine enemies thy footstool." " Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?"
This place at the right hand of God, where no angel ever sat; this exalted position in dispensation, which no angel ever filled, Messiah has taken-as our Lord showed to the Jews by His quotation of Psalm ex-as being at once both David's son and David's Lord. But it is not nakedly His title to this exalted position that is here in question, but the proof of the actuality of His having taken it for Himself-seated Himself there; " when he had by himself," in infinite grace, and love, and power, " accomplished a purification for our sins." The work of redemption accomplished, He is seated at God's right hand until His enemies be made His footstool. But angels are only servants to do His bidding in regard to them who shall be heirs of salvation."
In the exhortation, " Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed," &c., which is interjected between the two latter points of contrast, between Messiah and angels, it is impossible not to notice the divinely living, flexile, character of God's most precious word. Here, as in a moment, all the rays of that glory which is being unfolded are made to converge and concentrate upon the conscience, without a break in the continuity—the divine continuity-of the -subject! For it will be seen that this exhortation looks back for its basis to the statement, " God hath in these last days spoken to us by his Son," and to the majesty and authority of his word by which all creation is upheld. If, then, the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every dereliction of the law which they delivered met with its just retribution, what would be the inevitable consequence of a neglect of the salvation which began to be spoken by " the Lord," and which these Hebrews had seen confirmed by the witness of God and by the concurrent testimony of the Holy Ghost?
But Messiah, " the Son," whose glory is never for a moment lost sight of, unites in the mystery of His person, the Son of God and " Son of man;" and this latter title, with its distinctive honor, remains to be taken up and vindicated. " For unto the angels bath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak," &c.
There is a " world to come "-a future dominion of the habitable earth-that is not to be administered by angels, but by the " Son of man." Power, universal power, is to be in the hands of man. But there is only one man to whom universal dominion can be accorded. For the Son of man, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, this dominion waits. All things are to be put under His feet; concerning which Psa. 8 is cited as the appropriate witness.
How vast and varied are the glories of -that Christ whose grace and love are the daily, only, resting place of our souls I If exalted above angels in glory, he has taken a place below them in humiliation that He might, as the " captain of our salvation," bring all this glory into association with ourselves! For though we see not yet, as the apostle argues, all this dominion subjected to Christ, we see in His being " crowned with glory and honor," when He quitted the field of conflict-a conqueror through death -the certain pledge that ere long " nothing shall be left that is not put under him."
From this point onward it is another aspect in which Messiah is presented. It is His place in association with those who were the subjects of His delivering, power—the many sons whom God, through Him, was bringing to glory. His death was by " the grace of God" -its fruit and wondrous proof. As "the captain of their salvation," He was " made perfect through sufferings." It was becoming the majesty and holiness of God that it should be so. In the sanctification which He wrought, He so identifies Himself with them, and them with Him, that he is not ashamed to call them brethren." Into their condition He, ha infinite grace, came down, and through death He brought deliverance, and destroyed him who wielded its power. And if angels again appear in the argument, it is only to declare that men, not angels, are the objects of the deliverance which Messiah, by His death and sufferings, conjoined with His power and glory, wrought. " He took not hold on angels, but on the seed of Abraham he did take hold."
Hence being made in all things like His brethren, the basis for the exercise of that priesthood which He exercises in grace and faithfulness is laid. So that, as we have said, the tried and beleaguered soul may find in Him, at all times, a sure resource. " For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted he is able to succor them that are tempted."
" Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the apostle and high priest of our profession, Christ Jesus."
It is easy to see what must be the effect on the minds of the Hebrews-those converts from Judaism-of this presentation of Christ, and also its beautiful and heavenly adaptation to their circumstances and position. But " Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and to-day, and forever." And though it is impossible to read this epistle without being struck with the peculiarity of its character and bearing, it is at the same time as evident that none of the force or value of its revelations is lost, because the special circumstances of those to whom it was at first addressed have passed away.
Believers now are " partakers of the heavenly calling;" and though they are not viewed in the epistle to the Hebrews as the church in its position of being " risen with Christ," they are urged by truths no less vital and important, and no less touching to the soul in regard to the infinite displays of divine grace, and the resources that are brought to bear on its exigencies, through the position which is now, through redemption, assumed by Christ.
Simple and effective is the " divine remedy for earthly hindrances and discouragements," which it presents: for if the heart be filled with thoughts of Christ, it becomes not only conscious of infinite help and grace, but at once care and anxiety and discouragement have lost their place.
" Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the apostle and high priest of our profession Christ Jesus." This is not effort; it is not the soul's chiding its own dullness; it is the simple occupation of the thoughts with Christ. But, then, it is not with the Christ of my fancy that I am to be occupied, nor of my reasonings, nor of my unbelief, but with the Christ whose
glory and grace, whose work and worth, whose infinite might and infinite love, we have just seen-though feebly-by the hand of the Spirit here unveiled. If I come forth from the shades and darkness to the sun, I find myself cheered by the warmth of its beams as well as irradiated with its light.
Christianity is a simpler thing than most believe. The resources of grace are more ample than our unbelief suggests, and nearer at hand than our habitual distance from the Lord allows us to perceive.