Hebrews 2:4
and was affirmed by God through signs, wonders, various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to His will.
Miracles not Needed NowE. Deering, B. D.Hebrews 2:4
Of God's Will in Ordering Works and GiftsW. Gouge.Hebrews 2:4
Of the Miracles Wrought in Confirmation of ChristianityArchbp. Tillotson.Hebrews 2:4
Signs, Wonders, and MiraclesW. Gouge.Hebrews 2:4
The Gifts of the Holy GhostG. Lawson.Hebrews 2:4
An Exhortation Against Drifting Away from the Glorious Son of GodC. New Hebrews 2:1-4
Art Attentive Hearing to be Given to the Gospel of ChristW. Jones, D. D.Hebrews 2:1-4
Diligent Attention to the GospelJ. Owen, D. D.Hebrews 2:1-4
DriftingW. M. Taylor, D. D.Hebrews 2:1-4
Drifting from ChristAlex. Martin, M. A.Hebrews 2:1-4
Drifting from ChristC. New.Hebrews 2:1-4
Earnest Attention to SalvationA. S. Patterson.Hebrews 2:1-4
Fastening the ImpressionJ. B. Thomas, D. D.Hebrews 2:1-4
For the Evening of the Lord's DayHomilistHebrews 2:1-4
How to Keep the Word from Slipping from UsW. Jones, D. D.Hebrews 2:1-4
In Attentive HearersJ. Thornton.Hebrews 2:1-4
Letting the Truth SlipC. M. Jones.Hebrews 2:1-4
Men Ruined by DriftingF. B. Meyer, B. A.Hebrews 2:1-4
Redemptive TruthsHomilistHebrews 2:1-4
Slipping Back PreventedHebrews 2:1-4
Soul DriftingJ. G. Rogers, B. A.Hebrews 2:1-4
Taking HeedE. Deering, B. D.Hebrews 2:1-4
The Glory of the GospelJ.S. Bright Hebrews 2:1-4
The Gospel Demands AttentionEssex Congregational RemembrancerHebrews 2:1-4
The Gospel Requires the More Earthest AttentionW. Gouge.Hebrews 2:1-4
The Influences that Cause Men to Drift Frets ChristA. B, Davidson, LL. D.Hebrews 2:1-4
The More Solemn Responsibilities of ChristiansW. Jones Hebrews 2:1-4
The Superior Privileges of ChristiansW. Jones Hebrews 2:1-4
The True Attitude of the Soul Toward ChristW. L. Watkinson.Hebrews 2:1-4
WatchfulnessBp. WestcottHebrews 2:1-4
The Completeness with Which the Great Salvation is Made KnownD. Young Hebrews 2:3, 4

I. NOTE THE APPEAL TO HISTORY. In the history of the Hebrew people God had shown the validity and seriousness of his messages. Those to whom the message had come had been disposed to slight it, either because of the improbability of the matter, or the mean appearance of the messenger. And behind both of these considerations it might also be that the message was very unpalatable. But however the message might appear to men, it was God's message, therefore necessary to be sent. The steadfast word through the angels we must take with a very wide significance, as including the prophets, though angels are specially mentioned because being so reverently regarded by the Hebrews There was an a fortiori argument as applied to the message that came through the Son.

II. NOTE THE GREAT TRANSGRESSION AND DISOBEDIENCE WE MAY COMMIT. We may be negligent of the great salvation. Our own personality, with its great powers and with the claims which God has upon it, we may allow to go to wreck and ruin, instead of submitting to the process whereby God would save us, and make us capable of glorifying him in a perfect way. The man who in any physical peril should steadily neglect whatever means of escape were put in his way, if he perished, would be held to have in him the spirit of the suicide. He who takes active steps against his own life is held to be committing a crime against society; but he who neglects his physical welfare is also sinning against society, though society cannot define his offence so as to punish him. But God, we know, can specify offences, as we cannot; and here is one, that when a man has spiritual and eternal salvation laid before him he yet neglects it. And the more we study this state of negligence, the more we shall see how great a sin it involves.

III. THE INEVITABLE PUNISHMENT WHICH WILL COME FOR SUCH NEGLECT. How shall we escape it? It is a question parallel to that of Paul in Romans 2:3, "How shalt thou escape the judgment of God?" The question is not of escaping from the danger by some other means than what God has provided. It is as to how we shall get away from God's doom upon us for deliberately and. persistently neglecting his loving provisions. How often New Testament exhortations make us face the thought of the great judgment-seat! We see what a serious thing in the sight of God simple negligence is. It is in heavenly affairs as in earthly, probably more harm is done by negligence of the good than by actual commission of the evil. Let there be strongest emphasis and deepest penitence in the confession, "We have not done the things we ought to have done."

IV. THE EXHORTATION TO ATTENTION. We must give more earnest heed to the things that have been heard. How close this exhortation comes! Things not only spoken but heard. The excuse is not permitted that we have not heard of these things. It is what we have heard, but have failed to treat rightly, to cherish and hold fast which constitutes our peculiar responsibility. Over against actual negligence there is the demand for close, continual attention. The meaning of salvation and the means of salvation are not to be discovered by listless hearts. We are attending too much to the wrong things - things that, in comparison with the so great salvation, are but as the fables and endless genealogies, attention to which Paul contemptuously condemned. And those who have to proclaim this salvation would do well to attend to that other counsel of Paul to Timothy, "Give heed to reading, exhortation, teaching," and so all of us need to be readers, learners, and especially submissive to the παράκλησις of the Holy Ghost. - Y.

With signs and wonders, and with divers miracles.
1. Signs, according to the notation of the word, imply such external visible things as signify and declare some memorable matter which otherwise could not be so well discerned, nor would be believed. "We would see a sign from Thee" say the Pharisees to Christ (Matthew 12:38). And they desired Him that He would "show them a sign" (Matthew 16:1). These two words, "see," "show," imply that a sign is of some external visible thing that may be showed and seen. And extraordinary it must be, because it useth to be for confirmation of s me secret and Divine matter. Thus the Pharisees would have a sign from heaven (Matthew 16:1), which must needs be extraordinary. Thereupon signs and wonders arc oft joined together (John 4:48; Acts 2:43; Acts 4:30; Acts 7:36).

2. The word translated "wonder" is used by all sorts of authors for some strange thing, that may seem to foretell some other thing to come. "I will shew wonders in heaven," saith the Lord (Acts 2:19). Those strange things which by the ministry of Moses were done in Egypt, in the Red Sea, and in the wilderness, are set out under this word "wonders" (Acts 7:36). Our English doth fitly translate the Greek word "wonders," by reason of the effect, they cause wonder; and by reason of the strangeness of them, they are wonderful (Matthew 15:31; Mark 6:51; Acts 3:10). Our English word "miracle," according to the notation of the Latin word, whence it is taken, signifieth a matter of wonder.

3. The Greek word here translated "miracles," properly signifieth powers. It is derived from a verb that signifieth to be able. This word in the singular number is put for a man's ability (Matthew 25:15); for his strength (2 Corinthians 1:8); and also for strength in the sun (Revelation 1:16); and in sin (1 Corinthians 15:56). It is also put for virtue in one (Mark 5:30); and for the power or man (1 Corinthians 4:19); of a prophet (Luke 1:17); of the Spirit (Ephesians 3:16); of Christ (2 Corinthians 12:9); and of God (Matthew 22:29). In the plural number it is put, for angels (Romans 8:38; 1 Peter 3:32), which excel in strength(Psalm 103:20). And for the firm and stable things in heaven (Matthew 24:29); and for extraordinary works. Hereupon they are styled in our English, "mighty deeds" (2 Corinthians 12:12) "mighty works" (Matthew 11:20, 21, 23); "wonderful works" (Matthew 7:21); and frequently, as here in this text "miracles" (Acts 2:22; Acts 19:11; 1 Corinthians 12:10, 28, 29). For miracles cannot be wrought but by an extraordinary power, even the power of God Himself. Fitly, therefore, is this word "powers" used to set out miracles, and fitly is it here, and in other places, translated "miracles."

(W. Gouge.)

Miracles are a Divine testimony given to a person or doctrine.

I. WHAT A MIRACLE IS. The shortest and plainest description I can give of it is this: that it is a supernatural effect, evident and wonderful to sense.

1. That it be a supernatural effect. By a supernatural effect I mean such an effect as either in itself or in its own nature, or in the manner and circumstances of it, exceeds any natural power that we know of to produce it.

2. There is another condition also required to a miracle, that it be an effect evident and wonderful to sense; for if we do not see it, it is to us as if it were not, and can be no testimony or proof of anything, because itself stands in need of another miracle to give testimony to it, and to prove that it was wrought; and neither in Scripture, nor profane authors, nor in common use of speech, is anything called a miracle, but what falls under the notice of our senses; a miracle being nothing else but a thing wonderful to sense; and the very end and design of it is to be a sensible proof and conviction to us of something which we do not see.


1. The entire proof of the Christian doctrine or religion, consisting of many considerations, when taken together, make up a full demonstration of the truth of it, when perhaps no one of them, taken singly and by itself, is a convincing and undeniable proof.

2. But yet miracles are the principal external proof and confirmation of the divinity of a doctrine.

3. Especially if miracles have all the circumstances of advantage given to them which they are capable of; if they be many and great, public and unquestionable, and universal and of long continuance.

4. It cannot be denied, but that God doth sometimes permit miracles to be wrought for the countenancing of a false doctrine. So our Saviour tells us that the elect, that is, the true and sincere Christians, should not be deceived by the" signs and wonders of the false Christs and false prophets." And therefore He was not afraid of having the credit of His doctrine weakened by foretelling that false prophets should work miracles; because He knew when the devil had done his utmost, the difference would be apparent enough between the confirmation which He had given to the Christian doctrine, and what the devil should be able to give to his instruments. As —(1) Either the doctrine would be absurd in itself, and such as no miracles can confirm. Or —(2) It would be contrary to that doctrine which had already bad a far greater and more Divine confirmation. Or —(3) The miracles which false prophets work are presently confuted, and upon the spot. Thus Moses confuted and conquered Pharaoh's magicians, by working miracles which they could not work, which forced them to yield the cause, and acknowledge that it was "the finger of God." And so likewise Simon Magus. Or else —(4) The miracles wrought, or pretended to be wrought, to confirm false doctrines, are such as do, some way or other, confute themselves; or if they be real, are sufficiently detected to be the pranks of the devil, and not the great and glorious works of God. Such were the miracles of the heathen deities, wrought so privately and obscurely, and confessedly mixed with so much of imposture, as to bring a just suspicion upon them. that, when they were real, the devil was the author of them. And such were the miracles which are attributed to Mahomet.

1. What hath been said may satisfy us of the truth and divinity of the Christian doctrine, which had so eminent a testimony given t, it from heaven, and did at first so strangely prevail in the world, contrary to all human probability, "not by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit of the Lord."

2. From hence we may judge how groundless the pretences are, which men nowadays make to inspiration and infallibility, because this is not to be proved and made out any other way but by miracles. For either we must believe every pretence of this kind; and then we are at the mercy of every crafty and confident man, to be led by him into what delusions he pleases; or we must only believe those who give Borne testimony of their inspiration; but the evidence of inspiration was always miracles.

3. You see what an immediate testimony from heaven God was pleased to give to the first preachers of the Christian doctrine, to qualify them with any probability of success, to contest with violent and almost invincible prejudices of men educated in a contrary religion, and which had the secular authority and laws on its side. For having this Divine seal given to their commission, they did as it were carry the letters-patents of heaven in their hands, and an authority paramount to that of human laws.

4. The consideration of what has been said, doth justly upbraid us, that our religion, which hath such evident marks of divinity upon it, and comes down to us confirmed by so many miracles, should yet have so little efficacy upon the lives of the greatest part of those who call themselves Christians.Secondly, that God gave testimony to the apostles and first publishers of Christianity, in a very eminent manner.

1. At this time the Holy Ghost descended upon the apostles in miraculous powers and gifts; when this new law was "to come forth out of Zion, and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem." And among these gifts, the first we find mentioned was the gift of tongues, without which the gospel must of necessity have been very slowly propagated in the world.

2. The next miraculous gift I shall mention after the gift of tongues is the gift of prophecy, or foretelling things future, which was always looked upon as an evidence of inspiration.

3. The next gift is that of healing all manner of diseases.

4. The power of raising the dead, which hath always been esteemed one of the greatest and most unquestionable miracles of all other.

5. Another miraculous gift was that of discerning spirits, the principal use of which was to try and judge who were true prophets.

6. And, besides these which I have mentioned, there was likewise a power of inflicting corporal punishments and diseases upon scandalous and obstinate Christians, which in Scripture is called, "a delivering men up to Satan, for the destroying or tormenting of their bodies, that their souls might be saved at last." And of this kind were those diseases which befel the Christians for their disorderly and irregular carriage at the sacrament, of which the apostle speaks (1 Corinthians 11:30).

7. There was the power of casting out devils in the name of Christ, which was common to the meanest Christian, and continued in the Church a long time after most of the other gifts were ceased, as , , and , do most expressly testify concerning their times.

III. THE REASON WHY THESE MIRACLES ARE NOW CEASED IN THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH, and have been for a long time, so that there have been no footsteps of this miraculous power for many ages.


II. THERE IS NOT THE LIKE NECESSITY AND OCCASION FOR THEM THAT THERE WAS BEFORE. They were at first in a great degree necessary to introduce the gospel into the world, which was destitute of all other helps and advantages, to recommend it to the esteem and liking of mankind; to give credit to a new doctrine and religion, so contrary to the inveterate prejudices of men, bred up in another religion very different from this, and so opposite to the lusts and interests of men.

III. I come now TO ANSWER THAT OBJECTION from the innumerable miracles which have been, and still are pretended to be, wrought in the Church of Rome. And so indeed we find that, the Arians and other heretics in former times pretended to miracles, for the confirmation of their errors, a good while after miracles were generally ceased in the Christian Church, which shows that this is no new or strange thing.

1. The most learned and judicious writers of the Roman Church do acknowledge that there is no necessity of miracles, s now, and that Christianity is sufficiently established by the miracles which were wrought at first to give testimony to it; and therefore, not being necessary, without manifest evidence of fact, it, is not necessary to believe that they are continued.

2. The miracles pretended to by the Church of Rome are of very doubtful and suspected credit, even among the wisest persons of their own communion.

3. The miracles of the Church of Rome, supposing several of them to be true, have such marks and characters upon them, as render it very suspicious that they are not operations of God, or good spirits, but the working of Satan.

4. The miracles of the Church of Rome, taking them for true, are very impertinently and unseasonably wrought. When and where there is no need and occasion for them, they are very rife and frequent; but where there is greatest occasion for them and most reason to expect them, they are either not at all, or very rarely so much as pretended to.

5. Be from whom of all persons in that Church we might expect the most and greatest miracles, does not, so far as I can learn, pretend at all to that gift; I mean the head of their church, the Pope.

6. Most of the doctrines in difference between us and the Church of Rome, which they chiefly pretend to confirm by these miracles, are not capable of being confirmed by them. There are three sorts of doctrines, two of which are in their own nature incapable of being confirmed by a miracle, and a third upon supposition of its cent, artery to the Christian doctrine, which hath already had an unquestionable Divine confirmation.(1) No doctrine which is contrary to sense, is capable of being confirmed by a miracle, as transubstantiation.(2) No doctrine that does countenance or enjoin idolatry is capable of being confirmed by a miracle. This is evident from Deuteronomy 13.(3) No doctrine contrary to any part of the Christian doctrine, which hath already received an unquestionable Divine confirmation, is capable of being confirmed by the miracles pretended to in the Church of Rome, if they were real.

7. The chief Prophecies of the New Testament, which are concerning false prophets, and concerning antichrist, have marked Him out by this character, that He should be a great worker of miracles and magnify Himself upon this pretence (Matthew 24:24).

(Archbp. Tillotson.)

Now that the use of miracles is performed unto us and we do believe the gospel, in token that our faith is accepted of God, now He hath taken signs from us which served us before when we were unbelieving. And surely our faith is never so honourable, nor God so well pleased with us, as when we have said both to heaven and earth, we seek no signs from them: when the Word of God hath such a persuasion in our hearts, that we have now taken hold of all the good promises of God. and said unto miracles, get you hence. The Jews seek a sign, saith St. Paul surely we that be Christians seek for none; when they were offered of God, He showed His compassion upon our infirmity; now He hath taken them away, He showed greater mercy that He accepteth our faith, and let us hearken to the Word of Christ; by it we shall live; if we believe it not, we would not believe all miracles in the world, no, though dead men should rise to preach unto us. For great miracles have been already done, not only by the apostles, but by Christ Himself, to confirm His word. If We believe not them it is too much childishness to think we would believe other. Signs were when doctrine was more obscure; now it is so clear the signs are gone. The Son of God once revenged the transgression of His law with the earth opening, with waters, with fire, with whirlwinds, that the people might fear. He doth not so now, because His threatenings have been heard of all flesh: Go ye cursed into eternal fire — a voice that pierceth between the marrow and the bones, with greater fear than the rage of earth or water. And Christ once showed loving signs to make His people put their trust in Him, but now He hath spoken in our hearts: Come ye blessed of My Father into everlasting life — a voice that goeth deeper into the soul and spirit than the hearing of all the miracles, by which Israel was led into the land of Canaan. And we shall do injury to our Saviour Christ if now we will ask that to these words He should add miracles, for if we bring faith to that which is spoken, it will fill our hearts with all fulness, and will sell the sight of all the miracles in the world to buy but one grain of a constant faith in Christ; wherein whosoever shall stumble, let him accuse himself if God give him over to his own blindness, that because he had no love to believe the truth, therefore he should be led with lies and deceivable things.

(E. Deering, B. D.)

Gifts of the Holy Ghost.
Gifts of the Holy Ghost were extraordinary qualities and powers given to such as heard the apostles' doctrine and believed it; as power to heal, to speak in strange languages, to prophecy, to do miracles. They are said to be gifts and effects of the Holy Ghost, because they had them not by nature, or industry, or instruction by man, but from the power of God-Redeemer, and the Spirit of Christ. They are called in the original, "distributions" or "divisions," because they were —

1. Communicated to divers persons.

2. Were many of different kinds.

3. Were given in several degrees. They were distributed according to His own will.


(2)To whom He will.

(3)What gifts He will.

(4)In what measure He will. For there are diversities of gifts (1 Corinthians 12:4).But all these worketh that one and the self-same Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will (ver. 11). The effect of these miracles and gifts was the confirmation of the doctrine of the apostles, which they did confirm by word and deed. For —

1. They did most certainly affirm and assert this doctrine, as baying heard it immediately of Christ, and as having received the immediate knowledge thereof from Him.

2. They did these signs, wonders, and mighty deeds, and upon the imposition of their hands, believers received the extraordinary gifts of the Holy Ghost, yet they neither did these miracles, nor gave these gifts by their own power or holiness. But the works were done, and the graces given by them as instruments, in the name of Christ as risen and glorified and from God. So that the power of God, the merit of Christ, their ministration, did all concur to the production of these glorious effects. God was the principal cause, therefore is it said, that by these God did bear them witness and attest their doctrine to he true, and from Him; so that this confirmation was a giving credibility to the doctrine of the gospel, so far as it was new,. and delivered the positive truths concerning Jesus of Nazareth, dying for our sins, rising again, sitting at the right hand of God, and the dependence of justification before the tribunal of God, and eternal glory upon faith in Him making intercession in heaven. For there was no need thus to cut, firm the ceremonials of Moses, and the covenant of God with Israel before Mount Sinai to the Jew; for these things He made no doubt of, nor was this confirmation needful for to persuade the Gentile of the equity and justice of the morals of the Scripture, for the natural light of reason did approve them. These miracles and gifts were proofs very strong and powerful, for they were no juggling impostures or delusions, but real demonstrations of the Divine will, and clear to the senses.

(G. Lawson.)

According to His own will.
The forementioned diversity of miracles and distribution of gifts, were ordered and disposed according to the will of God. This act of distributing is attributed to God (1 Corinthians 7:17); to His Son (Ephesians 4:7); and to His Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:11). And for kind, number, and measure of gifts, all are ordered by the will of this one God. according to His own will, not another's; the Greek word intends as much. The will of God is that rule whereby all things are ordered that He Himself doth, and whereby all things ought to be ordered that creatures do. Hereupon God's will is distinguished into His secret and revealed will (Deuteronomy 29:29). The secret will of God is called His counsel (Isaiah 46:10); the counsel of His will (Ephesians 1:11); His purpose (Romans 13:28): His pleasure (Isaiah 46:10); His good pleasure (Ephesians 1:9); the good pleasure of His will (Ephesians 1:5). The other is commonly called God's Word, and that after the manner of men, because the ordinary means whereby men make known their minds is the word of their mouth, therefore the revelation of God's will is called God's Word, whether it be by an audible voice from God Himself (Matthew 3:17), or by the ministry of angels (ver. 2), or by the ministry of men (Hosea 1:2). This is also called the good and acceptable and perfect will of God (Romans 12:2). This revealed will of God is that which is principally intended in the second petition of the Lord's prayer. Here God's secret will is meant. This is that supreme and absolute will of God, by which all things are, and without which nothing can be (Psalm 115:3; Ephesians 1:11; Romans 11:34). This is God's only rule; He hath nothing else to regulate any purpose or act of His but His own will. As therefore He disposeth all things, so in special the gifts of the Holy Ghost according to His will. The grounds following do demonstrate the equity hereof.

1. God is the fountain whence all gifts flow (James 1:17). All are His; hereupon He thus presseth His right against such as were not contented with that portion which He gave them (Matthew 20:15).

2. God is the most supreme Sovereign over all. He is the Lord and Master of all; He therefore hath power to order the places and duties and parts of all as He pleaseth, according to His own will (1 Chronicles 28:4, 5).

3. God is the wisest of all. He is wise in heart (Job 9:4); yea, mighty in wisdom (Job 36:5); His understanding is infinite (Psalm 147:5); He is only wise (Romans 16:27). He therefore best knoweth what is fittest for every one, and He is fittest to order it according to His will.

4. God's will is the rule of righteousness. Whatsoever is ordered thereby and agreeable thereto is righteous, and whatsoever cometh from it is altogether righteous. The Lord is righteous in all His ways, His ordering therefore of matters must needs be according to right and equity.

5. The Lord fitteth gifts and functions one to another. Such gifts as are needful for such a function and such a function as is fittest for such gifts (Matthew 25:15; Exodus 31:2, 8). This teacheth us every one to be content with our own measure which God hath proportioned to us, for we may be assured thereupon that it is the fittest and best Jot us. Hast thou a small measure? bear it patiently, that measure is fittest for thee. Hast thou a great measure? use it conscionably, that is fittest for thee. We are exhorted earnestly to covet the best gifts (1 Corinthians 12:31), and to seek to excel (1 Corinthians 14:12), and to grow up in all things (Ephesians 4:15). None of these, nor any such like exhortations are contrary to Christian contentedness.For —

1. Though a man covet a more excellent gift than God hath Ordained for him, yet when he seeth that God hath bestowed such and such a gift upon him less than his desire, he may quietly subject himself to God's wise disposition and rest contented therewith. For the will of God being nosy made known unto him, he may persuade himself that the gift he hath is b,-st for him.

2. Seeking to excel is not ambitiously to strive for the highest places and greatest offices in the Church (as Diotrephes did, 3 John 1:9), but every one to strive in his one place to do most god in God's Church. This, therefore, is the full exhortation: " Seek that you may excel to the edifying of the Church" (1 Corinthians 14:12). So as this teacheth us how to make the bent use of the place wherein God hath set us, and of the parts which He hath given us.

3. A continual growth in grace is no more opposite to Christian contentedness than the growth of the little tinge, is to the place wherein it is set. Growth and contentedness may well stand together, yea, they always go together. Growth in grace received showeth our good liking thereof, and that we think it the fittest for us; and are thereupon stirred up to nourish and cherish it, to keep it from decay, and to increase it more and more.

(W. Gouge.)

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