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şi. Tre apostle here riseth to the highest encouragement with respect to the same duty, whereof we are capable Hitherto he hath proposed to us their example who had professed the same faith with ourselves; now, he proposeth him who is the “author and finisher” of that faith in us all. His person is proposed to us as a ground of hope and expectation; whilst he is at the same time an universal example of faith and obedience in every kind.
$2. The peculiar prescribed manner of our respect to him, is “Looking to him;" and being put in the present tense, a continual act is intended. In all that we do in our profession and obedience, we are constantly to be looking to Christ. “Looking,” in the scripture, when it respects God or Christ, denotes an act of faith or trust, with hope and expectation. It is not a mere act of the understanding, in consideration of what we look on; but it is an act of the whole soul in faith and trust; see Psalm xxxiv, 4–6; Isa. xlv, 22. Wherefore, the Lord Jesus is not proposed to us as a mere erumple to be considered, but as him also in whom we place our faith, trust, and confidence, with all our expectation of success in our Christian course; without this we shall have no benefit by his example. And the word here used (Copwles) so expresseth a looking to him, as to include a looking off from all other things which might be discouragements to us. Such are the oppositions, persecutions, mockings, evil examples of apostates, &c. Nothing will divert our minds from discouraging views of these things, but faith and trust in Christ. Look not to these things in times of suffering, but look to Christ
The name "Jesus” minds us of him as a Savior and a sufferer, the former by the signification of it,
Matt. i, 21; the latter, in that it was that name alone whereby he was known and called in all his sufferings. Look to him as he was Jesus, that is, both the only Savior and the greatest sufferer.
83. "The author and finisher of our faith.” He by his death and obedience procured this grace for us. It is given to us on his account, Phil. i, 29. And he prays that we may receive it, John xvii, 19, 20; and he works it in us, or bestows it on us by his Spirit, in the beginning and all the increases of it, from first to last. Hence his disciples prayed to him, "Lord increase our faith,” Luke xvii, 5. So he is the author or beginner of our faith, in the efficacious working of it in our hearts by his Spirit; and the finisher of it in all its effects, in liberty, peace, and joy; and all the fruits of it in obedience; for “without him we can do nothing.” Nor is it faith objectively that the apostle treats of, the faith that is revealed, but that which is in the hearts of believers. And he is said to be the author and finisher of the faith treated of in the foregoing chapter; in them that believed under the Old Testament as well as in themselves.
$4. The next thing in the words is, the ground and reason whereon Jesus did and suffered the things, wherein he is proposed as our example for our encouragement; and this was “for the joy that was set before him."
The ambiguous signification of the preposition (avto) before, hath given occasion to a peculiar interpretation of the words. For most commonly it signifies, in the stead of; one thing for another. It denotes here the final moving cause in the mind of Jesus Christ, for the doing what he did. He did it on account of the joy that was set before him.
Joy, is taken for the things in which he rejoiced, and on the account of which he endured the cross
and despised the shame, viz. the glory of God in the accomplishment of all the councils of divine wisdom and grace, and the salvation of all the elect. These were the two things that the mind of Christ valued above life, honor, reputation, and all that was dear to him.
How was this joy set before him? By God the Father, the sovereign Lord of this whole affair. And respect may be had to the eternal constitution of God, the covenant of redemption, between the Father and the Son; all the promises, prophecies, and predictions that were given out by divine revelation from the beginning of the world. And his faith of its accomplishment against oppositions, and under all his sufferings, is illustriously expressed, Isa. 1, 6–9.
$5. "He endured the cross and despised the shame.” Pain and shame are the two constituent parts of all outward sufferings; and they were both eminent in the death of the cross. No death more lingering, painful, and cruel; none so shameful, wherein he that suffered was in his dying hours exposed publicly to the scorn, contempt, and insults of the worst of men. “He endured it;" he patiently endured it, as the word signifies. The invincible patience of our Lord Jesus Christ enduring the cross, was manifested not only in the holy composure of his soul in all his sufferings to the last breath, expressed by the prophet, Isa. liii, 7, but in this also, that during his torments, being so unjustly, so ungratefully, so villanously dealt with by the Jews; he neither reviled, reproached, nor threatened them with that vengeance and destruction which it was in his power to bring upon them every moment; but he pitied them, and prayed for them to the last, that if it were possible their sin might be forgiven, Luke xxiii, 34; 1 Pet, ii, 21-23. Never was any VOL. IY.
such example of patient enduring given in the world, before nor since; nor can any equal to it be given in human nature. To invincible patience he added heroic magnanimity; (croXUwag na de pornoas) “despising the shame,” ignominy, contempt; it denotes shame from reproach and scorn, such as the Lord Jesus in his death was exposed to; an ignominy that the world, both Jews and Gentiles, long made use of to countenance themselves in their unbelief. This he despised, that is, he did not faint because of it; he valued it not, in comparison of the blessed and glorious effect of his sufferings, which was always in his eye.
The blessed frame of mind in our Lord Jesus in all his sufferings is that which the apostle proposeth for our encouragement, and to our imitation. And it is that which contains the exercise of all grace, faith, love, submission to the will of God, zeal for his glory, and compassion for the souls of men in their highest degree.
86. “And is set down at the right hand of the throne of God;" in equal authority, glory, and power with God, in the rule and government of all. For the meaning of the words, see the Exposition on chap. i, 3; chap. viii, 1.
On the whole, we have an exact delineation of our Christian course in a time of persecution;„in the blessed example of it, the sufferings of Christ; the assured consequent of it, eternal glory; in a direction for the right discharge of our duty; which is the exercise of faith on Christ himself for assistance, as a sufferer and a Savior. And how great is our encouragement from the joy and glory that are set before us as the issue of all!
87. Hence observe:
1. The foundation of our stability in faith and gospel profession, in times of trial and suffering, is a con
stant looking to Christ, with expectation of aid and assistance; having encouraged us to our duty by his example. Nor shall we endure any longer than whilst the eye of our faith is fixed on him. From him alone do we derive our refreshments in all our trials.
2. It is a mighty encouragement to constancy and perseverance in believing, that he in whom we believe is the author and finisher of our faith. He both begins it in us, and carries it on to perfection.
3. The exercise of faith on Christ to enable us to persevere under difficulties and persecutions, respects him as a Savior and a sufferer, as the author and finisher of faith itself.
Herein is the Lord Christ our great example, in that he was influenced in all he did and suffered by a continual respect to the glory of God, and the salvation of the church. And,
5. If we duly propose these things to ourselves in all our sufferings, as they are set before us in the scripture, we shall not faint under them, nor be weary of them.
6. This manner of Christ's enduring the cross ought to be continually before us, that we may glorify God in conformity thereto, according to the measure of our attainments, when we are called to sufferings. If we can see the beauty and glory of it, we are safe. 7. 7. If he went victoriously through his suffering, we also may be victorious through his aid, who is the au
and finisher of our faith. And, is. 8. We have the highest instance that faith can conquer both fear and shame. Wherefore,
9. We should neither think strange of them, not fear them on account of our profession of the gospel, seeing the Lord Jesus hath gone before in his conflict with them and conquest over them.