14–18. A fuller statement of the moral fitness of Christ’s participation in human sufferings
14. are partakers of flesh and blood] Rather, “have shared (and do share) in blood and flesh,” i.e. are human. They are all inheritors of this common mystery. This is implied by the perfect tense. “Blood and flesh,” as in Eph_6:12.
likewise] This word furnished the Fathers with a strong argument against the Docetae who regarded the body of Christ not as real but as purely phantasmal.
took part of the same] Because, as he goes on to intimate, it would otherwise have been impossible for Christ to die. Comp. Php_2:8. The aorist implies the one historic fact of the Incarnation.
he might destroy] Rather, “He may bring to nought,” or “render impotent.” See 2Ti_1:10, “Jesus Christ … hath abolished death;” 1Co_15:51-57; Rev_1:18. The word occurs 28 times in St Paul, but elsewhere only here and in Luk_13:7, though sometimes found in the LXX.
him that had the power of death] Rather, “him that hath,” i.e. in the present condition of things. But Christ, by assuming our flesh, became “the Death of death,” as in the old epitaph,
“Mors Mortis Morti mortem nisi morte dedisset
Aeternae vitae janua clausa foret;”
which we may render
“Had not the Death of death to Death by death his death-blow given,
For ever closèd were the gate, the gate of life and heaven.”
It is, however, possible that the phrase, “the power of death,” does not imply that the devil can, by God’s permission, inflict death, but that he has “a sovereignty, of which death is the realm.”
that is, the devil] This is the only place in this Epistle in which the name “Devil” occurs. It is nowhere very frequent in the N.T. The English reader is liable to be misled by the rendering “devils” for “demons” in the Gospels. Satan has the power of death, if that be the meaning here, not as lord, but as executioner (comp. Rev_9:11); his power is only a permissive power (Joh_8:44; Rev_12:10; Wis_2:24, “Through envy of the devil came death unto the world).” The manner in which Christ shall thus bring Satan to nought is left untouched, but the best general comments on the fact are in 1 Corinthians 15 and the Apocalypse. Nor does this expression encourage any Manichean or dualistic views; for, however evil may be the will of Satan, he can never exercise his power otherwise than in accordance with the just will of God. The Jews spoke of an Angel of Death, whom they called Sammael, and whom they identified with Satan (Eisenmenger, Entd. Judenth. ii. p. 821
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Heb_2:14. He himself likewise. The Greek word here is not easily rendered. It implies great likeness without absolute identity; very closely like, and absolutely like so far as flesh and blood are concerned. He partook in the main of our nature. His was an actual incarnation—Jesus Christ in the flesh (1Jn_4:2), but with the difference which His personal sinlessness implied. The word rebukes the Doketism (the mere appearance of a human nature) of the early heresies, the mythical dreams of Strauss and other modern inquirers, but without admitting that He was in every respect as man is, still less that He was only man.
Forasmuch then – Since; or because.
As the children – Those who were to become the adopted children of God; or who were to sustain that relation to him.
Are partakers of flesh and blood – Have a human and not an angelic nature. Since they are men, he became a man. There was a fitness or propriety that he should partake of their nature; see the 1Co_15:50 note; Mat_16:17 note.
He also himself, … – He also became a man, or partook of the same nature with them; see the notes at Joh_1:14.
That through death – By dying. It is implied here:
(1) That the work which he undertook of destroying him that had the power of death, was to be accomplished by “his own dying;” and,
(2) That in order to this, it was necessary that he should be a man. An angel does not die, and therefore he did not take on him the nature of angels; and the Son of God in his divine nature could not die, and therefore he assumed a form in which he could die – that of a man. In that nature the Son of God could taste of death; and thus he could destroy him that had the power of death.
He might destroy – That he might “subdue,” or that he might overcome him, and “destroy” his dominion. The word “destroy” here is not used in the sense of “closing life,” or of “killing,” but in the sense of bringing into subjection, or crushing his power. This is the work which the Lord Jesus came to perform – to destroy the kingdom of Satan in the world, and to set up another kingdom in its place. This was understood by Satan to be his object: see the Mat_8:29 note; Mar_1:24 note.
That had the power of death – I understand this as meaning that the devil was the cause of death in this world. He was the means of its introduction, and of its long and melancholy reign. This does not “affirm” anything of his power of inflicting death in particular instances – whatever may be true on that point – but that “death” was a part of his dominion; that he introduced it; that he seduced man from God, and led on the train of woes which result in death. He also made it terrible. Instead of being regarded as falling asleep, or being looked on without alarm, it becomes under him the means of terror and distress. What “power” Satan may have in inflicting death in particular instances no one can tell. The Jewish Rabbis speak much of Sammael, “the angel of death” – מלאך המות mal’aak hamuwt – who they supposed had the control of life, and was the great messenger employed in closing it.
The Scriptures, it is believed, are silent on that point. But that Satan was the means of introducing “death into the world, and all our woe,” no one can doubt; and over the whole subject, therefore, he may be said to have had power. To “destroy” that dominion: to rescue man; to restore him to life; to place him in a world where death is unknown; to introduce a state of things where “not another one would ever die,” was the great purpose for which the Redeemer came. What a noble object! What enterprise in the universe has been so grand and noble as this! Surely an undertaking that contemplates the annihilation of death; that designs to bring this dark dominion to an end, is full of benevolence, and commends itself to every man as worthy of his profound attention and gratitude. What woes are caused by death in this world! They are seen everywhere. The earth is “arched with graves.” In almost every dwelling death has been doing his work of misery. The palace cannot exclude him; and he comes unbidden into the cottage. He finds his way to the dwelling of ice in which the Esquimaux and the Greenlander live; to the tent of the Bedouin Arab, and the wandering Tartar; to the wigwam of the Indian, and to the harem of the Turk; to the splendid mansion of the rich, as well as to the abode of the poor. That reign of death has now extended near 6,000 years, and will travel on to future times – meeting each generation, and consigning the young, the vigorous, the lovely, and the pure, to dust. Shall that gloomy reign continue forever? Is there no way to arrest it? Is there no place where death can be excluded? Yes: heaven – and the object of the Redeemer is to bring us there.
them who] Lit. “those, as many as,” i.e. “all who.”
through fear of death] This was felt, as we see from the O.T., far more intensely under the old than under the new dispensation. Dr Robertson Smith quotes from the Midrash Tanchuma, “In this life death never suffers man to be glad.” See Num_17:13; Num_18:5; Psalms 6, 30, &c., and Isa_38:10-20, &c. In heathen and savage lands the whole of life is often overshadowed by the terror of death, which thus becomes a veritable “bondage.” Philo quotes a line of Euripides to shew that a man who has no fear of death can never be a slave. But, through Christ’s death, death has become to the Christian the gate of glory. It is remarkable that in this verse the writer introduces a whole range of conceptions which he not only leaves without further development, but to which he does not ever allude again. They seem to lie aside from the main current of his views.
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Heb_2:15. Through death. The Fathers and the later commentators (Bengel notably) delight in marking how Christ destroyed death by dying, and cast out the prince of the world—the king of death—on the cross, the weakness Droving as often to be the power of God.
He might destroy is too strong; abolish, bring to nought, render of none effect, neutralize the power of, permanently paralyze, take away the occupation of, are all nearer the meaning. It is a favourite word of St. Paul, who uses it twenty-five times in his acknowledged Epistles. It occurs, besides, only here and in Luk_13:7.
Subject to bondage. Aristotle calls death ‘the most fearful of all fearful things; and ancient believers often looked upon it with dread. Even now Christians are freed from this dread only by a firm faith in Christ’s victory over it, and by a clear insight into the significancy of His dying. Christ died not for His own sins, but for ours. If by faith we are one with Him, death is no longer the penalty of sin: it is only the completion of our holiness and the way into the blessed life above.
And deliver them – Not all of them “in fact,” though the way is open for all. This deliverance relates:
(1) To the dread of death. He came to free them from that.
(2) From death itself – that is, ultimately to bring them to a world where death shall be unknown. The dread of death may be removed by the work of Christ, and they who had been subject to constant alarms on account of it may be brought to look on it with calmness and peace; and ultimately they will be brought to a world where it will be wholly unknown. The dread of death is taken away, or they are delivered from that, because:
(a) The cause of that dread – to wit, sin, is removed; see the notes at 1Co_15:54-55.
(b) Because they are enabled to look to the world beyond with triumphant joy.
Death conducts them to heaven. A Christian has nothing to fear in death; nothing beyond the grave. In no part of the universe has he any thing to dread, for God is his friend, and he will be his Protector everywhere. On the dying bed; in the grave; on the way up to the judgment; at the solemn tribunal; and in the eternal world, he is under the eye and the protection of his Saviour – and of what should he be afraid?
Who through fear of death – From the dread of dying – that is, whenever they think of it, and they think of it “so often” as to make them slaves of that fear. This obviously means the natural dread of dying, and not particularly the fear of punishment beyond. It is that indeed which often gives its principal terror to the dread of death, but still the apostle refers here evidently to natural death – as an object which people fear. All men have, by nature, this dread of dying – and perhaps some of the inferior creation have it also. It is certain that it exists in the heart of every man, and that God has implanted it there for some wise purpose. There is the dread:
(1) Of the dying pang, or pain.
(2) Of the darkness and gloom of mind that attends it.
(3) Of the unknown world beyond – the “evil that we know not of.”
(4) Of the chilliness, and loneliness, and darkness of the grave.
(5) Of the solemn trial at the bar of God.
(6) Of the condemnation which awaits the guilty – the apprehension of future wo. There is no other evil that we fear so much as we do death – and there is nothing more clear than that God intended that we should have a dread of dying.
The reasons why he designed this are equally clear:
(1) One may have been to lead people to prepare for it – which otherwise they would neglect.
(2) Another, to “deter them from committing self-murder” – where nothing else would deter them.
Facts have shown that it was necessary that there should be some strong principle in the human bosom to prevent this crime – and even the dread of death does not always do it. So sick do people become of the life that God gave them; so weary of the world; so overwhelmed with calamity; so oppressed with disappointment and cares, that they lay violent hands on themselves, and rush unbidden into the awful presence of their Creator. This would occur more frequently by far than it now does, if it were not for the salutary fear of death which God has implanted in every bosom. The feelings of the human heart; on this subject were never more accurately or graphically drawn than in the celebrated Soliloquy of Hamlet…
…God planned that man should be deterred from rushing uncalled into His awful presence, by this salutary dread of death – and his implanting this feeling in the human heart is one of the most striking and conclusive proofs of a moral government over the world. This instinctive dread of death can be overcome only by religion – and then man does not need it to reconcile him to life. He becomes submissive to trials. He is willing to bear all that is laid on him. He resigns himself to the dispensations of Providence, and feels that life, even in affliction, is the gift of God, and is a valuable endowment. He now dreads “self-murder” as a crime of deep dye, and religion restrains him and keeps him by a more mild and salutary restraint than the dread of death. The man who has true religion is willing to live or to die; he feels that life is the gift of God, and that he will take it away in the best time and manner; and feeling this, he is willing to leave all in his hands. We may remark:
(1) How much do we owe to religion! It is the only thing that will effectually take away the dread of death, and yet secure this point – to make man willing to live in all the circumstances where God may place him. It is possible that philosophy or stoicism may remove to a great extent the dread of death – but then it will be likely to make man willing to take his life if he is placed in trying circumstances. Such an effect it had on Cato in Utica; and such an effect it had on Hume, who maintained that suicide was lawful, and that to turn a current of blood from its accustomed channel was of no more consequence than to change the course of any other fluid!
(2) In what a sad condition is the sinner! There are thousands who never think of death with composure, and who all their life long are subject to bondage through the fear of it. They never think of it if they can avoid it; and when it is forced upon them, it fills them with alarm. They attempt to drive the thought away. They travel; they plunge into business; they occupy the mind with trifles; they drown their fears in the intoxicating bowl: but all this tends only to make death more terrific and awful when the reality comes. If man were wise, he would seek an interest in that religion which, if it did nothing else, would deliver him from the dread of death; and the influence of the gospel in this respect, if it exerted no other, is worth to a man all the sacrifices and self-denials which it would ever require.
All their life-time subject to bondage – Slaves of fear; in a depressed and miserable condition, like slaves under a master. They have no freedom; no comfort; no peace. From this miserable state Christ comes to deliver man. Religion enables him to look calmly on death and the judgment, and to feel that all will be well.
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Heb_2:16. Verily is feeble, as is even assuredly. The word means, it is known, admitted, and admitted everywhere; it is nowhere questioned.
He took not on him; rather, ‘on angels (or in later English, of angels) He laid not hold,’ but on the seed of Abraham He laid hold, i.e to help and save them (see the same word in Heb_8:9). It is not angels whom Christ delivers (Heb_2:15), nor is it angels He succours (Heb_2:18), but the seed of Abraham, the theocratic name of the people of God peculiar to Paul. This is now generally accepted as the meaning of the verse. In the early Church the phrase ‘took not on Him’ was applied pretty generally, as in the Authorized Version, to the assumption of a human nature, and so it was understood by Calvin, Luther, Owen, and others. The active voice of the same Greek verb (here it is in the middle) is used by Greek writers in the sense of assuming a nature. But the tense is present, the voice is middle, and the word ‘nature’ is not expressed, and can hardly be supplied, so that we seem shut up to the meaning which is admittedly found in Heb_8:9, and in other sixteen places where it is used in N. T., including 1Ti_6:19, and seven passages in the Acts.
For verily he took not on him the nature of angels] Rather, “for assuredly it is not angels whom He takes by the hand.” The word δήπου, “certainly,” “I suppose,” occurs here only in the N. T. or LXX., though common in Philo. In classic Greek it often has a semi-ironic tinge, “you will doubtless admit that,” like opinor in Latin. All are now agreed that the verb does not mean “to take the nature of,” but “to take by the hand,” and so “to help” or “rescue.” Beza indeed called it “execrable rashness” (exsecranda audacia) to translate it so, when this rendering was first adopted by Castellio in 1551; but the usage of the word proves that this is the only possible rendering, although all the Fathers and Reformers take it in the other way. It is rightly corrected in the R. V. (comp. Isa_49:9-10; Jer_31:32; Heb_8:9; Mat_14:31; Wis_4:11, “Wisdom … takes by the hand those that seek her”). To refer “he taketh not hold” to Death or the Devil is most improbable.
the seed of Abraham] i.e. He was born a Hebrew. He does not at all mean to imply that our Lord came to the Jews more than to the Gentiles, though he is only thinking of the former.
Wherefore] The Greek word ὅθεν, “whence,” common in this Epistle, does not occur once in St Paul, but is found in Act_26:19, in a report of his speech, and in 1Jn_2:18.
in all things] These words should be taken with “to be made like.”
it behoved him] Stronger than the “it became Him” of Heb_2:10. It means that, with reference to the object in view, there lay upon Him a moral obligation to become a man with men. See Heb_5:1-2.
that he might be] Rather, “that he might become” or, “prove Himself.”
a merciful and faithful high priest] Merciful, or rather, “compassionate” to men; “faithful” to God. In Christ “mercy and truth” have met together. Psa_85:10. The expression “a faithful priest” is found in 1Sa_2:35. Dr Robertson Smith well points out that the idea of “a merciful priest,” which is scarcely to be found in the O.T., would come home with peculiar force to the Jews of that day, because mercy was a quality in which the Aaronic Priests had signally failed (Yoma, f. 9. 1), and in the Herodian epoch they were notorious for cruelty, insolence and greed (see my Life of Christ, ii. 329, 330). The Jews said that there had been no less than 28 High Priests in 107 years of this epoch (Jos. Antt. xx. 10) their brief dignity being due to their wickedness (Pro_10:27). The conception of the Priesthood hitherto had been ceremonial rather than ethical; yet it is only “by mercy and truth” that “iniquity is purged.” Pro_16:6. The word “High Priest,” here first introduced, has evidently been entering into the writer’s thoughts (Heb_1:3, Heb_2:9; Heb_2:11; Heb_2:16), and is the most prominent conception throughout the remainder of the Epistle. The consummating steps in genuine high priesthood are touched upon in Heb_5:10, Heb_6:20, Heb_9:24.
high priest] The Greek word is comparatively new. In the Pentateuch the high priest is merely called “the Priest” (except in Lev_21:10). In later books of Scripture the epithet “head” or “great” is added. The word occurs 17 times in this Epistle, but not once in any other.
in things pertaining to God] Comp. Heb_5:1. The phrase is found in the LXX. of Exo_18:19.
to make reconciliation for the sins of the people] More literally, “to expiate the sins of the people.” Christ is nowhere said in the N. T. to “expiate” or “propitiate” God or “the wrath of God” (which are heathen, not Christian, conceptions), nor is any such expression found in the LXX. Nor do we find such phrases as “God was propitiated by the death of His Son,” or “Christ propitiated the wrath of God by His blood.” God Himself fore-ordained the propitiation (Rom_3:25). The verb represents the Hebrew kippeer, “to cover,” whence is derived the name for the day of Atonement (Kippurim). In Dan_9:24 Theodotion’s version has ἐξιλάσαθαι ἀδικίας. We are left to unauthorised theory and conjecture as to the manner in which and the reason for which “expiation,” in the form of “sacrifice,” interposes between “sin” and “wrath.” All we know is that, in relation to us, Christ is “the propitiation for our sins” (1Jn_2:2; 1Jn_4:10; Rom_3:25). Accepting the blessed result as regards ourselves we shall best shew our wisdom by abstaining from dogmatism and theory respecting the unrevealed and transcendent mystery as it affects God.
the people] Primarily the Jewish people, whom alone the writer has in mind. Angels, so far as we are told, did not need the Redemptive work.
Wherefore in all things – In respect to his body; his soul; his rank and character. There was a propriety that he should be like them, and should partake of their nature. The meaning is, that there was a fitness that nothing should be wanting in him in reference to the innocent propensities and sympathies of human nature.
It behoved him – It became him; or there was a fitness and propriety in it. The reason why it was proper, the apostle proceeds to state.
Like unto his brethren – Like unto those who sustained to him the relation of brethren; particularly as he undertook to redeem the descendants of Abraham, and as he was a descendant of Abraham himself, there was a propriety that he should be like them. He calls them brethren; and it was proper that he should show that he regarded them as such by assuming their nature.
That he might be a merciful and faithful high priest –
(1) That he might be “merciful;” that is, compassionate. That he might know how to pity us in our infirmities and trials, by having a nature like our own.
(2) That he might be “faithful;” that is, perform with fidelity all the functions pertaining to the office of high priest. The idea is, that it was needful that he should become a man; that he should experience as we do the infirmities and trials of life, and that by being a man, and partaking of all that pertained to man except his sins, he might feel how necessary it was that there should be “fidelity” in the office of high priest. Here was a race of sinners and sufferers. They were exposed to the wrath of God. They were liable to everlasting punishment. The judgment impended over the race, and the day of vengeance hastened on. “All now depended on the great high priest.” All their hope Was in his “fidelity” to the great office which he had undertaken. If he were faithful, all would be safe; if he were unfaithful, all would be lost. Hence, the necessity that he should enter fully into the feelings, fears, and dangers of man; that he should become one of the race and be identified with them, so that he might be qualified to perform with faithfulness the great trust committed to him.
High priest – The Jewish high priest was the successor of Aaron, and was at the head of the ministers of religion among the Jews. He was set apart with solemn ceremonies – clad in his sacred vestments – and anointed with oil; Exo_29:5-9; Lev_8:2. He was by his office the general judge of all that pertained to religion, and even of the judicial affairs of the Jewish nation; Deu_17:8-12; Deu_19:17; Deu_21:5; Deu_33:9-10. He only had the privilege of entering the most holy place once a year, on the great day of expiation, to make atonement for the sins of the whole people; Lev_16:2, etc. He was the oracle of truth – so that when clothed in his proper vestments, and having on the Urim and Thummim, he made known the will of God in regard to future events. The Lord Jesus became in the Christian dispensation what the Jewish high priest was in the old; and an important object of this Epistle is to show that he far surpassed the Jewish high priest, and in what respects the Jewish high priest was designed to typify the Redeemer. Paul, therefore, early introduces the subject, and shows that the Lord Jesus came to perform the functions of that sacred office, and that he was eminently endowed for it.
In things pertaining to God – In offering sacrifice; or in services of a religious nature. The great purpose was to offer sacrifice, and make intercession; and the idea is, that Jesus took on himself our nature that he might sympathize with us; that thus he might be faithful to the great trust committed to him – the redemption of the world. Had he been unfaithful, all would have been lost, and the world would have sunk down to wo.
To make reconciliation – By his death as a sacrifice. The word used here – ἱλα ́σκομαι hilaskomai – occurs but in one other place in the New Testament Luk_18:13, where it is rendered “God be merciful to me a sinner;” that is, reconciled to me. The noun (ἱλασμος hilasmos – “propitiation”) is used in 1Jo_2:2; 1Jo_4:10. The word here means properly to “appease,” to reconcile, to conciliate; and hence, to “propitiate” as to “sins;” that is, to propitiate God in reference to sins, or to render him propitious. The Son of God became a man, that he might so fully enter into the feelings of the people as to be faithful, and that he might be qualified as a high priest to perform the great work of rendering God propitious in regard to sins. How he did this, is fully shown in the subsequent parts of the Epistle.
For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted] These words have been taken, and grammatically may be explained, in eight or nine different ways. One of the best ways is that here given by the A. V. and endorsed by the R. V. This method regards the Greek ἐν ᾦ as equivalent to the Hebrew ba-asher, which means “in so far as.” “By His Passion,” says Bp. Wordsworth, “He acquired compassion.” Of other possible ways, the most tenable is that which takes ἐν ᾦ quite literally. “In that sphere wherein He suffered by being tempted”—the sphere being the whole conditions of human life and trial (comp. Heb_6:17; Rom_8:3). But the first way seems to be the better. Temptation of its own nature involves suffering, and it is too generally overlooked that though our Lord’s severest temptations came in two great and solemn crises—in the wilderness and at Gethsemane—yet Scripture leads us to the view that He was always liable to temptation—though without sin, because the temptation was always repudiated with the whole force of His will throughout the whole course of His life of obedience. After the temptation in the wilderness the devil only left Him “for a season” (Luk_4:13). We.must remember too that the word “temptation” includes all trials.
he is able to succour them that are tempted] Rather, “that are under temptation” (lit. “that are being tempted,” i.e. men in their mortal life of trial). This thought is the one so prominent throughout the Epistle, viz. the closeness of Christ’s High-Priestly sympathy, Heb_4:15, Heb_5:1-2.
For in that he himself … – “Because” he has suffered, he is able to sympathize with sufferers.
Being tempted – Or, being “tried.” The Greek word used here is more general in its meaning than the English word “tempted.” It means to “put to the proof;” to try the nature or character of; and this may be done either:
(1) By subjecting a person to “afflictions” or “sufferings” that his true character may be tried – that it may be seen whether he has sincere piety and love to God; or.
(2) By allowing one to fall into “temptation,” properly so called – where some strong inducement to evil is presented to the mind, and where it becomes thus a “trial” of virtue.
The Saviour was subjected to both these in as severe a form as was ever presented to people. His sufferings surpassed all others; and the temptations of Satan (see Matt. 4) were presented in the most alluring form in which he could exhibit them. Being “proved” or “tried” in both these respects, he showed that he had a strength of virtue which could bear all that could ever occur to seduce him from attachment to God; and at the same time to make him a perfect model for those who should be tried in the same manner.
He is able to succour … – This does not mean that he would not have had “power” to assist others if he had not gone through these sufferings, but that he is now qualified to sympathize with them from the fact that he has endured like trials.
“He knows what sore temptations mean,
For he has felt the same.”
The idea is, that one who has himself been called to suffer is able to sympathize with those who suffer; one who has been tempted, is able to sympathize with those who are tempted in like manner. One who has been sick is qualified to sympathize with the sick; one who has lost a child, can sympathize with him who follows his beloved son or daughter to the grave; one who has had some strong temptation to sin urged upon himself can sympathize with those who are now tempted; one who has never been sick, or who has never buried a friend, or been tempted, is poorly qualified to impart consolation in such scenes. Hence, it is that ministers of the gospel are often – like their Master – much persecuted and afflicted, that they may be able to assist others. Hence, they are called to part with the children of their love; or to endure long and painful sicknesses, or to pass through scenes of poverty and want, that they may sympathize with the most humble and afflicted of their flock. And they should be willing to endure all this; because:
(1) Thus they are like their Master (compare Col_1:24; Phi_3:10); and,
(2) They are thus enabled to be far more extensively useful.
Many a minister owes a large part of his usefulness to the fact that he has been much afflicted; and for those afflictions, therefore, he should unfeignedly thank God. The idea which is here expressed by the apostle – that one is enabled to sympathize with others from having himself suffered, was long since beautifully expressed by Virgil:
“Me quoque per multos similis fortuna labores,
Jactatam, hac demum voluit consistere terra.
Non ignara mali, miseris succurrere disco.
Aeneid I. 628.
“For I myself like you have been distressed,
Till heaven afforded me this place of rest:
Like you, an alien in a land unknown,
I learn to pity woes so like my own.
Jesus is thus able to alleviate the sufferer. In all our temptations and trials let us remember:
(1) That he suffered more – infinitely more – than we can do, and that in all our sorrows we shall never reach what he endured. We enter no region of trial where he has not gone beyond us; we tread no dark and gloomy way where he has not gone before us.
(2) That he is to us “a brother,” for he “is not ashamed to call us brethren.” He had a nature like ours; he condescended to appear as one of our race, with all the innocent propensities and passions of a man. What matchless condescension! And what an honor for us to be permitted to address him as an “older brother,” and to know that he feels a deep sympathy in our woes!
(3) Let us then, in all times of affliction, look to him. Go not, suffering Christian, to philosophy; attempt not to deaden your feelings by the art of the Stoic; but go at once to the Saviour – the great, sympathizing High Priest, who is able to succour you – and rest your burdens on him….