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HEBREWS xiii. 8.
Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.
The exhortation, which the Apostle gives the Christian Hebrews in the verse preceding this, is to remember and follow the good instructions, and examples of their ministers, “Remember them who have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God; whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.” The last part of this exhortation is to follow their faith. By following their faith, the Apostle seems to intend adhering to the Christian faith, and those wholsome doctrines which their pastors taught them, and not depart from them, as many in that day had done, to heretical tenets. And the enforcement of the doctrine is in these words, “ Considering the end of their conversation, Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, to-day and forever." Christ is the end of their conversation, he is the end of their conversation in their office, the end of the doctrines which they taught, and the end of all their administrations, and all their labours in all their work. And as he was so, they ought to follow their faith, or cleave steadfastly to the doctrines they had taught them, and not depart to other doctrines; for Jesus Christ was the same, yesterday, to-day, and for ever.
If they still professed to be Christians or the followers of Jesus Christ, then they should still cleave to the same doctrines that they were taught in their first conversion; they should still follow the faith of them, who had first indoctrinated them in Christianity; for Jesus Christ was the same now that he was then, and therefore, Christianity was obviously the same thing. It was not one thing now and another when they were first converted, or even like to any other thing than it always had been. Surely therefore, when Christ and Christianity were thus unchangeable, he would therefore have them not fickle and changeable in their faith, not depart from their former faith, nor
be carried about with divers and strange doctrines, as it follows in the next verse.
When it is said that Christ is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever, by yesterday is meant all time past; by to-day, the time present; and by for ever, all that is future, from the present time to eternity.
Doctrine. Jesus Christ is the same now that he ever has been and ever will be.
Christ is thus unchangeable in two respects.
I. In his divine nature. As Christ is one of the the Trinity, he is God, and so hath the divine nature, or the Godhead dwelling in him, and all the divine attributes belong to him, of which immutability or unchangeableness is one. Christ in his human nature was not absolutely unchangeable, though his human nature, by reason of its union with the divine, was not liable to those changes to which it was liable, as a mere creature; as for instance, it was indestructible and imperishable. Having the divine nature to uphold it, it was not liable to fall and commit sin, as Adam and the fallen angels did, but yet the human nature of Christ, when he was upon earth, was subject to many changes. It had a beginning; it was conceived in the womb of the Virgin; it was in a state of infancy, and afterwards changed from that state to a state of man hood, and this was attended not only with a change on his body, by his increasing in stature, but also on his mind; for we read that he not only increased in stature but also in wisdom. Luke ii. 52. And the human nature of Christ was subject to sorrowful changes, though not to sinful ones. He suffered hunger, and thirst, and cold; and at last he suffered dreadful changes by having his body tortured and destroyed, and his soul poured out unto death; and afterwards became subject to a glorious change at his resurrection and ascension. And that his human nature was not liable to sinful changes, as Adam's or the angels', was not owing to any thing in his human nature, but to its relation to the divine nature which upheld it. But the divine nature of Christ is absolutely unchangeable, and not liable to the least alteration or variation in any respect. It is the same now as it was before the world was created. It was the same after Christ's incarnation as before, when Christ was born in a stable, and laid in a manger, and underwent many changes on earth, and at last suffered that dreadful agony in the garden, and suffered on the cross; it made no real alteration in the divine nature; and afterwards when Christ was glorified, and sat on the right hand of the majesty on high, it made no alteration in his divine nature.
II. Christ is unchangeable in his office. He is unchangeable
as the Mediator and Saviour of his church and people. That unchangeableness of Christ in his office of Mediator, appears in several things.
1. This office never ceases to give place to any other to come in his room : Christ is the only Mediator between God and man, that ever has been or ever shall be. He is an everlasting Saviour. There have been typical mediators many, that have continued but a little while, and then have passed away, and others have come in their room; but the great antitype continues for ever. There have been prophets, that have been raised up, and these have died, and others have succeeded them. Moses was not suffered to continue by reason of death; and the dispensation which he introduced was abolished, to give place to another which Christ should introduce. Moses gives place to Christ, but Christ never gives place to any other. John the Baptist was a great prophet. He was Christ's forerunner; like the morning star, the forerunner of the sun, he shone bright a little while, but his ministry by degrees ceased, and gave way to the ministry of Christ, as the morning star by little and little goes out as the sun rises. John iii. 30. John the Baptist says, “ He must increase, but I must decrease." But Christ's ministry never ceases. So the ancient legal priests, they had but a changeable and short-lived priesthood. Aaron died, and his son Eleazar succeeded in his room; and so there were many priests, one after another; but Christ continues a priest for ever. Heb. vii. 23, 24. And they truly were many priests; and they were not suffered to continue by reason of death ; but Christ, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood." These legal priests succeeded one another by inheritance; the father died and the son succeeded him, and then he died and his son succeeded him; but it is observed that Christ, in bis priesthood,"is without father and without mother, without descent." He had no ancestor that went before him in his priesthood, or any posterity that should succeed him in it. la that respect, Melchizedeck is a type of Christ, of whom the scriptures give us an account, that he was a priest, but seems not to have been a priest by inheritance, as the sons of Aaron were: as Heb. vii. 3: “ without father, and without mother, and without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life, but made like unto the Son of God, abideth a priest continually:" and therefore it is said of Christ, Psalm cx. 4, “The Lord hath sworn and will not repent. Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedeck.” Those things that appertain to Christ's priesthood are everlasting. The tabernacle at which the priests of old officiated, was a tabernacle that men pitched, and therefore a tabernacle that was taken down.
It was the holy of holies of old; but Christ is a minister of the true tabernacle and the true sanctuary which the Lord hath built, and not man. Heb. v. 2. The holy of holies he entered into was hearen; he is priest in a tabernacle, which shall never be taken down, and in a temple that shall never be demolished. So the altar on which he offers incense, the priestly garments or robes in which he officiates, are not of a corruptible nature.
And so Christ is everlasting with reference to his kingly office. David and Solomon were great kings, and eminent types of Christ : but death put an end to their kingdom and greatness. Earthly monarchies that ever have been, those that have ruled over the bigger part of the known world, as particularly the Grecian and Roman monarchies, they have come to an end, but Christ's is an everlasting kingdom, bis throne is for ever and ever. Heb. i. 3. “ Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever; a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Though all other kingdoms shall be demolished, Christ's kingdom shall stand for ever.” Dan. vii. 13, 14.
2. Christ is at all times equally sufficient for the office he hath undertaken. He undertook the office from eternity, and he was sufficient for it from eternity. He has been in the exercise of his office from the fall of man, and remains equally sufficient throughout all ages. His power and his wisdom, his love, bis excellency, and worthiness, is at all times equally sufficient for the salvation of sinners, and for the upholding and glorifying of believers. He is for ever able to save, because he lives for ever. His life is an endless and unchangeable life. He is made not aster the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life. Heb. vii. 16. He is at all times equally accepted as a Mediator in the sight of the Father, who is ever well pleased in him. He is always equally worthy and lovely in his eyes. He is daily his delight, rejoicing always before him. The sacrifice that he has offered, and the righteousness that he has performed, is at all times equally sufficient. His blood is as sufficient to cleanse away sin now, as when it was warm from his wounds.
3. He is now, and ever will be, the same that he ever has been, in the Disposition and Will which he exercises in his office. He is not changeable in his disposition, as men are that are called to any office or business, which causes them to appear and act very differently in their offices at some times, from what they do at others. But Jesus Christ is, in this respect, the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever. He is ever disposed to execute bis office in a holy manner. He ever has been, still is, and ever will be, disposed to execute it so as to glorify his Father, to discountenance sin, and to encourage holiness. He ever exercised the same grace VOL. VIII.
and mercy in his office. He undertook the office of a Mediator from eternity with delight. He then delighted in the thoughts of saving sinners, and he still delights in it; he never has altered from the disposition to accomplish it. When man actually fell and became a rebel and an enemy, an enemy to his Father and himself; still it was his delight to do the part of a Mediator for him. And when he came into the world, and came to bis last agony; when the bitter cup that he was to drink was set before bim, and he had an extraordinary view of it, so that the sight of it made “ his soul exceeding sorrowful even unto death," and caused him to “ sweat as it were great drops of blood;" still he retained his disposition to do the part of a Mediator for sinners, and delighted in the thoughts of it; so, even when he was enduring the cross, the salvation of sinners was a joy set before him. Heb. xii. 2. And he never alters from bis readiness to receive and embrace all that do in faith come to bim; he is always equally willing to receive such. His love is unchangeable; he loved from eternity: Jer. xxxi. 3: he loved with an everlasting love ; and it will be lo eternity. John xiii. 1. “Having loved his own he loved them unto the end."
4. Christ is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever, as to the End which he aims at in his office. His supreme end in it is the glory of God; as particularly in vindicating the honour of bis majesty, justice, and holiness, and the honour of his holy law. For this end did he undertake to stand as a Mediator between God and man, and to suffer for men, viz. that the honour of God's justice, majesty, and law may be vindicated in his sufferings. And he also undertook the office to glorify the free grace of God; and his special end in his undertaking was the salvation and happiness of the elect. These two ends he has in his eye in all parts of the work of his office; and these two ends he unchangeably aims at. These he sought on entering into covenant with the Father from eternity. These he has sought from the beginning of the world to this time, and these he ever will seek. He does not sometimes pursue one end, and then alter his mind and pursue another; but he ever pursues the same ends.
5. Christ ever acts by the same Rules in the execution of his mediatorial office.
The rules that Christ acts by, in the execution of his office, are contained in a two-fold covenant.
(1.) The Covenant of Redemption, or the eternal covenant that was between the Father and the Son, wherein Christ undertook to stand as Mediator with fallen man, and was appointed thereto of the Father. In that covenant, all things concerning Christ's execution of his mediatorial office, were agreed between