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consciousness of guilt are kept in continual bondage through the fear of death, that fear of death, which presents itself in connexion with the divine judgment to the agonizing conscience as something so terrible, and which blasts the cheerful enjoyment of life. When it is affirmed that Christ through death destroyed the kingdom of Satan, who had power over death, and thereby freed men from the bondage in which they were held by the fear of death,-it is presupposed that, by the power of his holy life, he left the grave victoriously at his resurrection, and by this event gave a pledge to his redeemed of a life of eternal happiness. It is said in v. 7, that Christ, who, as he had assumed human nature with all its weakness, sin excepted, was subjected to death, poured forth in his struggle with death fervent prayers and tears to God who could redeem from death, and on account of his perfect resignation to the will of his heavenly Father, and his perfect obedience, was heard, that is, was delivered from death by means of his resurrection. The God of salvation is described in xiii. 20, as he who had brought from the dead the great leader and ruler of the church of God; and in these words it is implied, that Christ by his resurrection became the leader from death to life of the church of God formed by him as the Redeemer, and laid the foundation for its salvation; and therefore God, in raising him from the dead, proved himself to be the God of salvation.
We see, then, that the same view is taken in this epistle as in Paul's writings, of the connexion of the resurrection with the work of redemption. But that the exaltation of Christ to heaven is more frequently adverted to than his antecedent resurrection in this epistle, may be traced to the prevailing form of its representations, in which Christ is compared to the high-priest of the Old Testament economy; for as high-priest, having ascended to heaven and remaining there, he fulfils his office by interceding with God for believers, and bringing them into perpetual communion with God and heaven. A contrast is pointed out between Christ and the Jewish high-priest in this respect, that the latter could enter into the holy of holies in the temple, which was only a symbol of that in heaven, but once a year, and was obliged to leave it again, as he himself had no abiding residence in the most holy place, much less could he obtain an entrance into it for those
on whose account he held the priestly office. It was a necessary consequence of this mode of representation, tl at there was less occasion for mentioning the resurrection, a: a that topic was brought forward more prominently to whi h the resurrection forms an introduction and transition.
But this idea of the high-priesthood of Christ is only a particular form of representing the general Christian idea of Christ as the Mediator, by whom the communion of the human race with God, broken off by sin, is again restored. That the writer of this epistle made use of this form, was principally owing no doubt to the peculiar character of the churches whom he addressed; but in part probably to the peculiarity of his own religious training. This form is indeed borrowed from Judaism. Yet it by no means denotes a transient relation in the historical development of Christianity, but is connected with one of its constant relations to human nature; a relation in virtue of which, under the consciousness of his earthly limitations and his sins, man feels himself in need of a mediation to fill up the infinite chasm that separates him from a holy God. Hence in all religions, and in various stages of civilization, methods have been invented for satisfying this want; a caste of priests, or saints who have attained perfection by an unworldly asceticism, or some kind of mediators the offspring of the imagination, and a multitude of sensible objects, have been made use of, as points of connexion for the religious sentiment in its aspirations after God. Christ has for ever satisfied this undeniable want of human nature, which no human being who stood himself in need of redemption and mediation could satisfy, and consequently all priesthood and sacrificial worship are henceforth superfluous and abolished. The redeemed are dependent on no other being for the purpose of mediating their relation to God. Through him they are brought into a lasting connexion with God and the heavenly holy of holies; through him, as the everliving high-priest, they continually draw nigh to God: it is he who intercedes for them continually with God, and through their relation to him their whole life is consecrated to God and acceptable to him ; vii. 25, 26. Now this is in perfect harmony with what Paul teaches (according to the explanation we have given of his views) respecting the scheme of mediation for believers; respecting the whole Christian life as a thank-offering for the
blessings of redemption, and the free access to God through the mediation of Christ; and from the manner in which he applies to Christianity the Jewish ideas of the temple and the sacrifices and the whole ceremonial worship, we are authorized to infer, that he would make a similar application of the idea of the priesthood.
In order to realize this idea for the benefit of the human race, it was needful that Christ, who, according to his divine nature as Logos, effectuates the derivation of all created existence from God and its connexion with God--should become acquainted with all the weaknesses, sufferings, temptations, and conflicts of those for whom he had to intercede as high-priest, from his own experience, that he might understand the exigencies in which they would require his aid, feel genuine sympathy with their infirmities, and infuse true confidence into their hearts. At the same time, the writer of this epistle considers the sufferings of Christ in the twofold point of view, of active and passive satisfaction, which we have explained in the representation of the Pauline doctrine. Both are here combined in the idea of the all-sufficient sacrifice presented by Christ as high-priest, which effects that for which no human ritual was adequate. The relation of the sufferings of Christ as the Sinless One to the sins of mankind is thus illustrated, that as the sins of the people were symbolically transferred to the victim, (as if it could suffer what the people deserved,) so Christ in his sacrifice had taken upon himself the sins of mankind; his redeeming sufferings were the pledge that their guilt would be no more charged upon them; ix. 28. As to the other part of Christ's work noticed by Paul,—his active obedience, it is in this epistle expressly stated that Christ, according to the divine appointment, having proved himself to be the Holy One in all human temptations, and under the severest death-struggle, gained thereby the dignity of highpriest; v. 7, 8. The sacrifice of Christ obtains its due significance only in this moral connexion, not as an opus operatum, like the sacrifice of animals, but as the act of One who, revealing the eternal divine essence in human nature, and exhibiting the perfect union of the divine and human in a holy human life, verified it also in death, as the consummation of a life which had been the revelation of the eternal Spirit of God in a sinless holy numanity. The significance
of the death of Christ is founded on his having, "by an eternal Spirit, offered himself without spot to God." Thus the Epistle to the Hebrews distinguishes, as we find in Paul, two eras in the life of Christ; his appearance on earth, when he entered into fellowship with mankind, to bear the load of sin and to free them from it; and his life as the Glorified One, which no longer stands in relation to sin, but in which he only exhibits what he obtained by his perfect, holy life, and what those have to expect who are freed by him from sin, and called to the perfect communion of his blessed life; ix. 28.
By what Christ has in this manner accomplished, he has now once for all made objective satisfaction for mankind to the requirements of the holiness of God, of the moral order of the universe. Mankind defiled by sin cannot enter into the heavenly sanctuary.' They must first be purified and consecrated in order to enter into the fellowship of heaven. This work, accomplished objectively by Christ, is now carried on in its consequences, till everything is conquered which opposes the realization of the holy kingdom of God among mankind, till that higher world, first apprehended by faith, becomes an actual reality to the sanctified human race.
Faith is also represented in this epistle as the instrument of appropriating this objective work by individuals, and of accomplishing in them this subjective purification; that faith by which men enter into communion with Christ; iii. 6, 14. It is the confidence of faith which enables men to appropriate purification by the blood of Christ, and purges the heart from the consciousness of guilt; x. 22. We here find the same thing which Paul describes as justification by faith, only with an allusion to sprinkling with the blood of the sacrifices, in accordance with that reference to the Jewish cultus which pervades this epistle. As in Paul's writings, it is here insisted that faith must prove itself genuine by perseverance; x. 36, iii. 14. And we find also the same connexion indicated between Faith, Hope, and Love; x. 23, 24.
In Paul's writings, a general conception of faith lies at the basis of the particular Christian application of the idea, as a
1 By a transference of the subjective to the objective, the writer of this epistle (ix. 25) speaks of a purification of the heavenly sanctuary itself, inasmuch as it would have been defiled by the sins of mankind could they have entered it without a previous purification.
general fundamental direction of the disposition without which no communion with the divine, no religious life can exist; and this idea is expressed in this epistle in a still more general way than when Paul points to justifying faith in the case of Abraham. It is described as being an apprehension of the invisible by the whole direction of the disposition,—a surrender of the spirit to something invisible by an act of inward self-determination, by which man raises himself above the natural connexion of causes and effects, and enters by the direction of his inward life into a higher order of things revealing themselves to him. Faith, according to Heb. xi. 1, is that by which the object of hope already becomes present; by which man is convinced of the reality of what he cannot perceive by the senses. While in the constant succession in the phenomenal world he sees only the visible develop itself from the visible, and one phenomenon from another, and the understanding, cleaving to earthly phenomena, would explain and define everything from this causal connexion ;—faith, on the contrary, rises to an act of creative omnipotence as the original ground of all existence, and acknowledges that the universe was made by the invisible creative word of God; xi. 3. Even here, agreeably to what we have remarked above, there is involved a peculiar Christian application of the general idea of faith, only what Paul distinguishes as justification through faith, is here represented under other forms on account of the references to the Jewish cultus. Moreover, in accordance with the peculiarly hortatory character of this epistle, faith is exhibited in its aspect of perseverance under all the sufferings and conflicts of earthly life ;-faith in its unflinching constancy towards the future, a faith which steadily aims at perfection, and by which those who exercise it are matured for that final aim; (Teλetwors.) By this faith a man follows after Christ, in whom a perfect pattern is exhibited, and who has passed through all temptations and conflicts, with an unwavering constancy of faith, to that state of glory whither all believers must follow him by the same path; xii. 2. But it has been most unjustly attempted to find a contrariety between the idea of faith in this epistle and in Paul's writings, as if in the former it merely implied a reference to something future, a conception of its nature which 1 As Theodoret says, δείκνυσιν ὡς ὑφεστῶτα τὰ μηδέπω γεγενημένα.