But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth. Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.
~ Hebrews 3:13, Proverbs 27:1, Ecclesiastes 9:10
Wherefore then do ye harden your hearts, as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? when he had wrought wonderfully among them, did they not let the people go, and they departed?
~ 1 Samuel 6:6
Yet they hearkened not unto me, nor inclined their ear, but hardened their neck: they did worse than their fathers.
~ Jeremiah 7:26
But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; Who will render to every man according to his deeds:
~ Romans 2:5-6
And the LORD said unto Moses, How long will this people provoke me? and how long will it be ere they believe me, for all the signs which I have shewed among them? Ye shall not tempt the LORD your God, as ye tempted him in Massah.
~ Numbers 14:11, Deuteronomy 6:16
Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents.
~ 1 Corinthians 10:9
A Commentary on Hebrews 3:7-8, by William Gouge. The following contains an excerpt from his work.
§. 73. Of the inserence of that which follows upon that which went before.
Wherefore as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice.
From the beginning of the second verse to this, the Apostle hath largely down Christ’s faithfulnesse in executing his Propheticall Office, and that toward us who are his house; Hereupon he inferreth a disswasion from disrespecting Christ, which is continued to the end of this Chapter.
This first particle, Wherefore, is a note of Inference.
This is the first place in this Epistle where the Greek word is used, yet other Greek words to the same sense have been used, as v. 1. ch. 2. v. 1, 17.
This inference may have reference either to all that hath been spoken before Christ’s excellency and faithfulness, thus; Because Christ was so excellent and faithfull a Prophet, as never any the like; We must therefore take heed that we harden not our hearts against him, nor depart from him: or more immediatly to the clause of the former verse, thus, Because if we hold fast the confidence, &c. give evidence thereby that we are the house of Christ; We ought therefore to heed that we harden not our hearts and depart from Christ.
The former reference sheweth that Christ’s care in executing his Function our good, ought to make us carefull in attending to him and cleaving close him.
The latter reference sheweth that we ought in this respect to take heed that fall not from Christ, because holding fast our confidence is an evidence communion with him, namely, that we are his house, and he our Lord. Hence followeth that means must be used for holding fast confidence.
I take the former reference to be the more proper to this place, and so it the same point that was before noted, § 2.
This note of inference (Wherefore) looking backward may intend either Point that immediatly followeth in the divine testimony, or that which is set v. 12. &c. If thus, then the testimony must be included in a Parenthesis, and particle Wherefore be taken as joyned with the 12th verse, thus, Wherefore heed, &c.
§. 74. Of expressing ones minde in the words of the Holy Ghost.
The Apostle expresseth his minde concerning the use which we are to of Christ’s faithfulnesse in his Office, under the very words of sacred Scripture which questionlesse he doth to make it the more regarded; For to expresse minde in his own words addeth great weight to the Point; The Apostle doth like chap. 2. ver. 6, 7. and in sundry other places of this Epistle; A very great thereof is penned in Scripture words and phrases; For he wrote to the brews who were well exercised in the Old Testament, and had it in high count.
In quoting the testimony he expresseth neither book, nor Psalm, nor verse; this manner of quoting Scripture See more ch. 2. §. 50. but the words of are so expressly set down, as it may be found out where they are; especially by as are so exercised in the Scriptures, as these Hebrews were.
The Apostle faithfully declareth the minde of God therein, though there be little difference in words, especially in their order or joyning together, which shall note in due place.
The testimony continueth from this verse to the 12. and it is taken out of v. 7, 8, 9, 19….
David was the Penman of this as of the other Psalms; Therefore Davids name is sometimes expressed before Texts quoted out of that Book of Psalms, as Ch. 4. 7. Mat. 22. 43. Luk. 20. 42. Act. 2. 25. Rom. 4. 6. & 11. 9.
To shew that the Holy Ghost spake what David uttered in the Psalms, Peter useth this phrase, The Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake, Act. 1. 16. And again, speaking to God thus saith, Who by the mouth of thy Servant David hast said, Act. 4. 25.
The Apostles manner of quoting this testimony thus, The Holy Ghost saith, doth demonstrate sundry principles of our Christian faith, as,
1. The Holy Ghost is true God; For God spake by the mouth of David, Act. 4. 25. where David said, The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, he addeth, The God of Israel said, 2 Sam. 23. 2, 3. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, 2 Tim. 3. 16. And God spake by the Prophets, Heb. 1. . and they spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, 2 Pet. 1. 21.
2. The Holy Ghost is a distinct person; This phrase The Holy Ghost saith, intendeth as much.
3. The Holy Ghost was before Christ was exhibited in the flesh, for he spake byDavid whose Son Christ was many generations after David; Yea mention is made of this Spirit of God to be before any creatures were, Gen. 2. 2. So as the Holy Ghost is God eternal.
4. The Scriptures of the Old Testament are of divine authority, Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, 2 Pet. 1. 21.
Of this Title Holy Ghost, See ch. 2. v. 4. §. 35.
The Apostle useth this particle of resemblance As, to shew that what he delivereth afterwards is agreeable to the minde and words of the Holy Ghost; This particle may have reference to ver. 12. and to expresse the minde of the Apostle more fully, the other particle of resemblance So may be there inserted, thus, As the Holy Ghost saith, So take heed, &c.
Though the testimony quoted were written, yet it is expressed under this word saith to shew that the word is as a Sermon preached, that so we should give the more heed thereto.
Here is not expressed to whom he saith, because it is intended to every one, and everyone should attend unto it as spoken to him in particular.
§. 75. Of the Apostles fit applying a divine testimony.
The main scope of this testimony (as it was first uttered by the Psalmist) is to admonish such as from time to time should live in the Church, to take heed of rebelling against Christ, as the Israelites in the wildernesse had done.
Many Interpreters both a ancient and b modern apply that Psalm to Christ; For this Title, The rock of our Salvation, or, as the LXX render it dOur Saviour, v. 2. doth most properly belong to Christ, and Christ is that Shepherd whose Sheep we are, Luk. 13. 20. And it is expresly said of the Israelites in the wildernesse, that they tempted Christ, 1 Cor. 10. 9. Hereupon this adverb of time eTo day, is applied to f the time of grace wherein God speaks to us by his own Son, ch. 1. v. 2.
In this respect this testimony is most pertinently quoted for the Point in hand; For David fore-knowing that God would send his Sonne to be a Saviour and Shepherd of his Church, exhorteth all the members thereof to rejoyce in him, with all reverence to worship him, and to take heed of being like to the rebellious Israelites in the wildernesse.
Now because the Apostle had set forth the faithfulnesse of the said Son of God in his Prophetical Office; He fitly putteth the Hebrews in minde of that seasonable admonition of the Psalmist, to keep them from being like their Fore-fathers, and to quicken them up to a more diligent heeding of Christ’s word which is the Gospel.
§. 76. Of taking the first opportunity of grace
The first word of the foresaid divine Testimony, To day, is diversly taken as was shewed, ch. 1. v. 5. §. 61.
Here it signifieth the time present, yet so as it includes a continuance of a time present; As that present time wherein David lived was to him, and to those that then lived, To day; So that present time wherein the Apostle and other Christians with him lived, was to them, To day, and the time wherein we now live, is to To day.
This word then To day intends that instant wherein God affords an opportenity of getting grace or obtaining any blessing. It may here have reference to that which immediatly followeth of hearing Christ’s voice, as if he had said, If ye will now hear his voice while he speaketh unto you.
Or it may have reference to the inhibition of not hardening their heart, as if he had said, If ye will hear Christ’s voice then harden not your heart in this time, that he is speaking unto you.
In the Greek there is a comma put after this word, To day, whereby is intended the latter reference.
In the generall, both references tend to the same scope, which is, that the present opportunity of God’s offering grace must be taken; we must hearken to him while he speaketh, and we may not harden our hearts against him when he speaketh; When Samuel though he were but a childe understood that the Lord called him, he presently answered, Speak, for thy Servant heareth, 1 Sam. 3. 10. Ruth was but a young woman, yet she understanding that the God of Naomi was the only true Lord, saith to her Mother in Law, Thy God shall be my God, and thereupon would needs go with her to be among the people of that God, Ruth 1. 16. &c. Zacheus in his man-age coming to know Jesus to be the promised Messiah, readily entertained him, Luk. 19. 5, 6. The penitent thief at the time of his death knowing Christ to be the promised King, beleeved on him, and confessed him, . 23. 41, 42. Thus in what estate of our age soever means of calling us to Christ are afforded, we must even then without delay, To day, take that opportunity: I make haste and delaied not, saith the Psalmist, Psa. 119. 60. When Christ called , he made haste and came down, Luk. 19. 6. When Christ called Simon and Andrew, they straightway left their nets, and followed him, Mat. 4. 20. When it pleased God reveal his Son in Paul, immediatly he preached him, Gal. 1. 16.
1. It is God which worketh in us both to will and to do, Phil. 2. 13. and no man come to Christ except the Father draw him, Joh. 6. 44. Is it not then a point of wisedome to yeeld when God draws? The Church promiseth as much, saying, me, I will run after thee, Cant. 1. 3. If we harden our hearts and hear not speaking to us to day, how can we expect that he should hear us to morrow? They shall call upon me but I will not answer, saith Wisedom, Pro. 1. 28.
2. Thou knowest not what a day may bring forth; Therefore put not off the grace that is offered thee to day: Boast not thy self of to morrow, Pro. 27. 1. The fool that thought to enjoy his goods many years, was taken from them that night, Luke 12. 19, 20.
3. By putting off an opportunity men make themselves more unfit for another opportunity; For sin the longer it groweth, the stronger it groweth, and the heart useth to be more hardened by putting off means of softening.
As they who had received grace were exhorted to persevere therein, §. 69. So they who have not yet attained grace are to be exhorted to accept the means grace…To day; Even now, while the Word soundeth in your ears, hear, and harden not your hearts, Behold, now is the accepted time, Behold, now is the by of salvation, 2 Cor. 6. 2. Put not off to day, much lesse let childehood put off youth, or youth to man-age, or man-age to old-age, or old-age to death-bed.
Of the common allegation of the thiefs repentance on the Crosse, See the Armour of God, on Eph. 6. 14. Treat. 2. Part. 4. §. 12.
§. 77. Of hearing aright.
THis phrase, If ye will hear his voice, containeth in the substance of it the most principall and proper duty that is required of Christians in relation to Christ’s Propheticall Office. In the manner of setting it down it implies a forcible motive against hardning our hearts: For they who harden their hearts cannot hear Christ’s voice as they should.
Some expound this conditionall conjunction if, with a conjunction of the time, thus, When ye will hear his voice, harden not your heart.
Which way soever we take it, it intendeth a duty; and such a duty as compriseth much more then the bare hearing the sound of a voice with the outward ear. For he whose heart is hardened may so hear. Pharaoh himself whose heart was exceedingly hardened, so heard the voice of God. Where Christ saith, He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith, (Rev. 2. 7.) implieth that a man may hear the Spirit inwardly speaking to the soul, as well as an outward audible voice.
Of that inward spirituall hearing there are three acts.
1. To understand what is outwardly heard by the ears of the body. Where the Prophet rebukes the people for being without understanding, he saith, They haveears, and hear not: that is, understand not; and thereupon adviseth them to hear, Jer. 5. 21.
2. To beleeve what they understand. Where Christ reproveth the Jews for not beleeving, he addeth, He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not (that is, ye beleeve them not) because ye are not of God, Joh. 8. 46, 47. And where he said, Ye beleeve not because ye are not of my sheep, he addeth, my sheep hear my voice, that is, beleeve it, Joh. 10. 26, 27.
3. To obey it. Where the Israelites upon hearing the Law in great terrour delivered, thus said to Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear, (Exod. 20. 19.) In another place it is thus expressed, We will hear it, and do it, Deut. 5. 27.
In all these senses is this word hear to be taken in this Text, and Isa. 55. 3. and Matth. 17. 5.
To hear only with the ears of the body, and not to understand, beleeve or obey; is so farre from a full duty, and true vertue, as it makes us liable to judgement.
To hear and not to understand is to be like the path way upon which the corn is cast: but because it is not covered with earth, the fowls pick it up, and it doth not sructifie, Matth. 13. 19.
To hear and not beleeve, makes us like to them, whom the Word preached did not profit, not being mixed, with faith, Heb. 4. 2.
To hear and not to do, is to be like a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand, Matth. 7. 26, 27.
It is therefore our duty when the Word of God is preached,
1. To open the ears of our head; for they are the doors to let in God’s Word. This is one main end why ears are given to us: and they cannot be better used.
2. So to heed the Word heard and meditate thereon, so as we may understand the minde of God therein. This is it which Christ requireth, Matth. 15. 10. For this end the Apostle prayeth for the spirit of wisdom and revelation, Eph. 1. 17. This grace is promised to the wise, but denied to the wicked, Dan. 12. 10.
3. Mix faith with hearing: else the word will lose its power. For it is the power of God unto salvation, to every one that beleeveth, Rom. 1. 16. God gives Preachers, that men should hear the word and beleeve, Act. 15. 7.
4. Adde obedience: All blessing is annexed to this, Luk. 11. 28. This giveth evidence of our right understanding the Word and beleeving the same.
They who thus hear have hearing ears: such ears to hear as Christ requireth, Matth. 13. 9. Rev. 2. 7. And they who thus hear, will be kept from hardness of heart. This supposition, If ye will hear, and the consequence inferred thereupon, harden not your hearts, doth evidently demonstrate, that a right hearing will prevent hardness of heart: especially hearing of Christ’s voice, that is the Gospel. It is the Gospel that maketh and keepeth a soft heart. See Chap. 2. v. 3. §. 20, 21. See also The whole Armour of God, Treat. 2. Part. 5. on Eph. 6. 15. §. 4, 5, 6. Ib•…l Part. 6. on Eph. 6. 16. §. 21.
§. 78. Of Christ’s voice.
The particular object of hearing, as aforesaid, is Christ’s voice. For this relative, HIS, hath reference to Christ.
We shewed before, §. 75. that the Psalmist spake of Christ. More evident it is that the Apostle speaketh of Christ in all the precedent verses: so as without all question Christ’s voice is here meant; namely his Word, which in the daies of his flesh he uttered by his own lively voice, and afterwards by the voice of his Apostles. The substance of all being written and registred, is further made known by the voice of his Ministers age after age. Thus may we still hear Christ’s voice. See Chap. 2. v. 12. §. 112.
In generall, by Christ’s voice is meant the Word of God, which is the only proper object of a saving hearing; of hearing to life, Joh. 5. 25.
In particular, the Gospel is intended under Christ’s voice. See Chap. 2. v. 3. §. 20, 21, 22, 23, 24.
We may not, in regard of this particular reference to Christ, put difference betwixt the Word of God, of Christ, and of the Spirit; for they are all one. Therefore Christ blameth them who hear not God, Joh. 8. 47. And God commandeth to hear his Sonne, Matth. 17. 5. And Christ commandeth to hear Spirit, Rev. 2. 7.
But there is a direct difference betwixt the Word of God and the word of man, as man. To teach for doctrines the commandments of men, is blameable, 15.
Only God’s Word is the ground of faith and rule for obedience; and that in regard of God’s high supream Soveraignty (who hath power to promise command what he will) and also in regard of the perfection and purity of his Word.
The Turks Alcheron, the Jews Cabala, the Papists Traditions, the Dicta•…es Philosophers or Poets, or any other inventions of men which are by ignorant foolish persons made the grounds for their faith, and rules for their obedience, are with indignation to be detested: especially when they are obtruded instead Christ’s voice. Let us learn to try the spirits, whether they are of God, 1 Joh. 4. 1. It is the note of Christ’s sheep to know the voice of their shepherd, Joh. 10. 4. this end be well exercised in Christ’s Word: Search the Scriptures, Joh. 5. 39. and pray for the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Christ, Eph. 1. 17.
§. 79. Of the Heart.
Harden not your hearts.—
TO prevent an hinderance of a right hearing Christ’s voice; The Apostle adviseth those to whom he wrote, Harden not your hearts.
Here just occasion is given to consider what the heart is: and what it is harden.
The heart properly taken is a little fleshy piece, within the breast of the body, under the left pap, triangular, broad at the top, and sharp at the bottom. It is the fountain of life: the root whence all the spirits sprout forth: that which first, and last dieth in man.
Heart metaphorically is attributed to the Creator, and to sundry creatures.
1. To the Creator, to set out the greatness of his liking or disliking a David is said to be a man after God’s own heart, 1 Sam. 13. 14. Act. 13. 22. He was one whom God well liked and approved. On the other side, concerning the men of the old world, it is said, It grieved the Lord at his heart, that had made man, Gen. 6. 6. He much disliked and disapproved the men that lived.
2. Heart is attributed to sensless creatures, to set out the innermost part, or midst of them; because the heart is within a man’s body, even almost in the midst thereof. Thus it is said, The depths were congealed in the heart of the sea, Exod 15. 8. And Christ was three daies and three nights in the heart of the earth, Matth. 12. 40.
3. Heart is ascribed to reasonable creatures, to signifie sometimes the whole soul, and sometimes the severall faculties appertaining to the soul.
1. It is frequently put for the whole soul, and that for the most part when it it is set alone: as where it is said, Serve the Lord with all your heart, 1 Sam. 12. 20.
2. For that principall part of the soul which is called the minde or understanding. I gave my heart to know wisdom, Eccles. 1. 17. In this respect darknesse and blindnesse are attributed to the heart, Eph. 4. 18. Rom. 1. 21.
3. For the will: as when heart and soul are joyned together, the two essentiall faculties of the soul are meant, namely the minde and will. Soul put for the Minde: Heart for the Will. Serve the Lord with all your heart, and with all your soul, Deut. 11. 13.
4. For the memory: I have hid thy word in my heart, saith the Prophet, Psal. 119. 11. The memory is that faculty wherein matters are laid up and hid.
5. For the conscience: It is said that Davids heart smote him, that is, his conscience, 1 Sam. 24. 5. 2 Sam. 24. 10. Thus is heart taken, 1 Joh. 3. 20, 21.
6. For the affections: as where it is said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy minde, Matth. 22. 37. By the minde is meant the understanding faculty: By the soul, the will: by the heart, the affections.
Here in this Text the heart is put for the whole soul, even for minde, will and affections. For blindness of minde, stubbornness of will, and stupidity of affections go together.
§. 80. Of hardning the heart.
THere are two words used in the New Testament to set out the act of hardning, as it hath reference to the heart.
One is taken from a a Greek root, that signifieth an hard brawny skin which fasteneth together broken bones: or that flesh and skin on the hand or feet which is made hard and insensible by much labour or travell. It signifieth also blind. See §. 87.
Hence is derived a word oft used in the New Testament, and translated hardness, Mark 3. 5. and a verb which signifieth cto harden, Joh. 12. 40. Mark 6. 52.
The foresaid d Greek root doth also signifie a stone somewhat like white Marble: and e the Verb thence derived, signifieth to turn into a stony hardness.
This is a sit metaphor to express the sense of the point in hand. For an hard heart is like to brawny flesh and skin, which is not sensible of any smart, though it be prickt or cut. Nor threats, nor judgements move an hard heart: witness Pharaoh’s disposition. Yea further, an hard heart is resembled to a stone, (Ezek. 11. 19.) A stone will sooner be broken all to pieces, then softned by blows: so a man of an hard heart will sooner be utterly confounded by God’s judgments, then brought to yield to them.
The other word used in Scripture to set out an hard heart, is taken from another f Greek root which signifieth to dry up, or draw out the juyce or moisture of a thing, whereby it comes to be hard: for moisture makes things soft: driness makes them hard. Hence is derived an g Adjective which signifieth hard through driness.
Metaphorically this Epithete is in Scripture added to sundry things: as an hard speech, Joh. 6 60. Jude v. 15. An hard Master, Matth. 25. 24. hard or fierce windes, Iam. 3. 4. an hard or difficult matter, Act. 9. 5. h A Substantive also is thence derived which signifieth hardness. Rom. 2. 5. and a i Verb which signifieth to harden, Rom. 9. 18. Act. 19. 9. From the foresaid root there is k a compound which signifieth hardness of heart, Matth. 19. 8. Mar. 16. 14. and another l compound which signifieth hard or stiff-necked, Act. 7. 51. Phisitians use a word, derived from the foresaid Verb, to set out such m drugges or medicines as have a force of hardning.
This later metaphor is here used by the Apostle; and again, ver. 13, 15. and Chap. 4. v. 7. It is as fit a metaphor as the former: and implieth that an hard heart is dry and destitute of all grace, of all spirituall moisture, sense and life.
The Apostle here sets down this act of hardning as a man’s own act, and that upon nhimself: thus speaking unto them, Harden not your heart. I think it meet hereupon to declare,
1. What hardness of heart is.
2. What are the ordinary causes thereof.
3. How man hardneth his own heart.
4. What is the danger and dammage of a hard heart.
5. How hardness of heart may be discerned.
6. How hardness of heart may be prevented or redressed.
§. 81. Of Hardness of Heart, what it is.
1. Hardness of heart is an insensibleness of such means as are afforded to one from wickedness: or rather a wilful obstinacy against them: for without man’s will the heart cannot be hardened. Therefore here and in sundry other places, (as Exod. 9. 34. 1 Sam. 6. 6. 2 Chron. 36. 13.) this act is applied to himself; for the Will is free, and cannot be compelled or forced: take away freedom from the Will, and you take away the nature of the Will. Therefore God himself, when he converteth a sinner worketh in him both to a will, and to do: first to will, then to do, Phil. 2. 13.
That we may the better discern how wilfulness causeth the hardness of heart spoken of, we are to consider hardness of heart in a double respect: as it is natural, and as it is habituall.
1. Naturall hardness of heart is in all men: as other corruptions seized on nature by Adams fall, so hardness of heart. Man by nature is given to withstand, and oppose against all means afforded to keep him from sinne, and in this opposition to remain obstinate, so as to be confounded rather then yield. This is the stony heart that is in man by nature, Ezek. 11. 19.
2. Habituall hardness of heart is an increase of the former, and that by further wilfulness. All mankinde in Adams loins, as he was a publique person, wilfully opposed against God: and every one in his own person is given by more and more to oppose; but some more obstinately and impenitently then others. In such the Apostle joyneth hardness, and an impenitent heart together, and sheweth that such treasure up to themselves wrath, Rom. 2. 5. Adams first sinne wilfulness in it: so as there is wilfulness in man’s naturall hardness. Much more there wilfulness in his habituall hardness.
Object. Against this it is Objected, that God, and Satan, and other men do harden a man’s heart.
Answ. In generall I answer, that none of those do free a man from in that hardness of heart which seizeth on him: so as in this respect we may say•… him that is of an hard heart, O man, thou hast destroyed thy self, Hos. 13. 9.
To clear this point more fully, I will distinctly, shew, how God, how Satan, other men are said to harden a man’s heart.
God doth it in justice, Satan in malice, other men in wilfulness.
§. 82. Of God’s hardning man’s heart.
God is said to harden as a Judge, inflicting hardness of heart as a Rom. 1. 24. Now because man wittingly did that which deserves that moment, he hardens his own heart: even as a thief, who is condemned by the may be said to hang himself.
That God’s justice may in this point be mere clearly manifested, observe the particular respects wherein God is said to harden man’s heart. They are these.
1. In that all actions and motions (as they are actions and motions) come from God, as our very being doth. For in him we live and move and have our being. Act. 17. 28. But the pravity of the action or motion cometh from man: Therefore man properly hardneth himself.
2. In that God hinders not men from doing that which hardneth: but God is the most high supream Soveraign▪ there is none above him to bind him to do any thing. He being not bound to hinder men from doing what they do, who can, who shall blame him? Matth. 20. 15. Man himself doth the very deed.
3. In that he withholdeth or withdraweth his softning spirit. For man’s own spirit is a resisting spirit, Act. 7. 51. It must be a higher and stronger spirit which keepeth man’s spirit in compass. But God’s withholding, or withdrawing his Spirit is in justice for some sin of man.
4. In that God offereth the occasions whereby man’s heart is hardened: as, his Word, Sacraments, Mercies, Judgements, Miracles and such like. But these occasions are in themselves good, their proper end is to soften. It is by man’s perverting them that they harden; man in this case is like the spider that sucketh poyson out of sweet flowers.
5. In that God giveth over to Satan, who hardneth man’s heart. But God doth this as a just Judge: Satan being his executioner. Man himself brings this judgement upon himself.
§. 83. Of Satans, and other mens hardning ones heart.
AS for Satan, though he may enter into a man as he entered into Judas, (Joh. 13. 27.) and provoke men to sinne, as he David, (1 Chron. 21. 1.) and beguiled them through his subtilty, as he beguiled Eve, (2 Cor. 11. 3.) and sift them as he Peter, Luke 22. 31.) yet he cannot force man’s will to sin. See The Whole Armour of God, on Eph. 6. 12. Treat. 1. Part. 3. §. 17.
As for other men, they can less force man’s Will then Satan. What they do is either by counsell, as the Sorcerers hardned Pharaoh’s heart, (Exod. 7. 11.) or by expostulation, as Jezabel hardened Ahab’s heart, (1 King. 21. 7.) or by perswasion, as the Princes hardned Zedekiah’s heart, Jer. 38. 4, 5, 25. or by example, as the four hundred Prophets hardened one another; or were all hardened by Zedekiahs example, 1 King. 22. 11, 12. If a man himself yield not, all that other men can do will not harden him. Therefore man properly hardneth himself.
It will stand a man in no stead to put off the blame of this sin from himself to any other. This is it that keeps men from being duly humbled, and from true repentance, whereby the heart comes to be more hardened: yet too prone are men so to do. Some impute their hardness to God, as Adam: Some to Satan, as Eve, Gen. 3. 12, 13. others to other men, as Saul, 1 Sam. 15. 21.
Would we lay the blame on our selves, as we ought, we might be brought to such a sense of the burden that lieth on us, as Christ would be moved to ease us, Matth. 11. 28.
§. 84. Of the Causes of hardness of heart.
II. The ordinary causes of hardness of heart are such as these.
1. Natural hardness. This is the originall cause of habituall hardness. If that be not taken away, this will accompany it: both will be mixed together. In this respect it is said on the unconverted Gentiles, that they were past feeling. This is set down as an effect of naturall hardness, (Eph. 4. 18, 19.) for the word going before translated ablindnesse, doth also signifie hardnesse: as is shewed, §. 87.
2. Unbelief. This makes men disrespect promises, threatnings, mercies, judgements, and all other means which are of use to soften, or break mens hearts. This was the great sinne of the Israelites, who hardned their hearts in the wildernesse, Deut. 1. 32. & 9. 25. Psal. 78. 22, 32. Therefore the Apostle, to prevent hardnesse Page 324 of heart, admonisheth those to whom he wrote, to take heed of unbelief, v. 12, 13. See §. 120.
3. Hypocrisie. By this men cover and hide their sinne, whereby they wax bold in sinning. It is said of obdurate sinners, that they lurk privily, (Prov. 1. 18.) and say no eye shall see us, Job 24. 15.
4. Pride. For this is ordinarily joyned with scorn, disdain, and such like vices as make men refuse and reject the means, which might mollifie their hearts: Thus was Pharaoh’s heart hardened, Exod. 5. 2. and the heart of the Jews, Jer. 44. 16.
5. Presumption. When sinnes are committed against knowledge, conscience, light of nature, and motions of the Spirit, they are as heavy weights that out all spirituall sense and life. As a great blow so stuns one, as it makes him senslesse; so a presumptuous sinne will make a man’s spirit senslesse. After that Zedekiah had broken his oath with the King of Babylon, (Ezek. 17. 16.) his heart was hardned against all the good councell that the Prophet Jeremiah gave him, Jer. 38. 17, &c.
6. Oft committing, or long lying in the same sinne. Many small knocks or long continued, do in time as much as a great blow at once. Mens hands and heels use to be hardened by much work and long travell.
7. Relapse. To return to sinne after a man hath manifested solemn repentance, (as the swine after it is washed returneth to the mire) especially if it be to the same sinne, (as the dog licketh up the vomit he had formerly cast out) is to make way for the devils re-entry; whereby a man’s heart will be so hardned, as his later end will be worse then his beginning, 2 Pet. 2. 20, &c. Matth. 12. 43, &c. Against this doth Christ give prudent caveats, Joh. 5. 14. & 8. 11.
8. Lewd company. Lewd companions will by evil counsell, bad example, encouragement, make men impudent and obstinate in sinning. The wise man therefore much disswadeth from such company, Prov. 1. 10, &c.
9. Superstuity of the things of this world: as of wealth, honour, ease, pleasure, applause, and other such things as men by nature delight in. These are like , thorns and briers, which draw out the moisture of the earth, and make it dry and hard: or as weights that presse out the juyce of fruits, and make them . These make the things of the Spirit of life to be nothing at all regarded. This cause of hardning is then most prevalent, when men are raised from a mean estate to•… great one: or from a troublesom estate to a quiet and pleasing estate. If iron be taken out of the fire, and put into cold water, it waxeth hard.
10. Multitude of Crosses not sanctified. These are as many blows upon the Smiths anvill. King Ahaz in the time of his distresse did trespasse yet more against the Lord, 2 Chron. 28. 22. The wrath of God came upon Israel, and slew the them: for all that they sinned still, Psal. 78. 31, 32.
III. Man hardneth himself two waies.
1. Privatively: by refusing or rejecting means whereby his might be softned.
Means of softning a man’s heart are Publique, Private, and Secret.
1. Publique means are publique Ordinances of God: as the Word read preached, the Sacraments, Praying and Praising God: yea also God works, and those both of mercy and judgement, whether ordinary or extraordinary.
2. Private means are, Reading and expounding God’s Word in private places private praying and praising God, repeating Sermons, private instruction, holy conference, and such like.
3. Secret means, Reading the Word and other good books alone, praying praising God alone, meditation and examination of ones self.
The Jews in the Apostles time hardned their hearts by putting away from the Word of God, Act. 13. 46. and in John Baptists time, they rejected the sell of God against themselves, being not baptised of John, Luk. 7. 30. They refused to subject themselves to that Ordinance. In Christ’s time they hardned their hearts by opposing against his miraculous works, Matth. 12. 24. Joh. 15. 24.
About means which are to soften mens hearts, men divers waies beguile themselves, so as they harden their hearts thereby: As
1. By putting off for the present such means as might soften them, to another time, as he that said to Paul, Go thy way for this time, when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee, (Act. 24. 25.) But that season never came.
2. By thinking they have done enough, when it is but little that they have done: yet can say, Behold what a wearinesse is it? Mal. 1. 13.
3. By resting in the outward work, as they who said, Wherefore have we fasted, and thou seest not? Isa. 58. 3.
4. By doting upon humane ordinances, as they who in vain worshipped God, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men, Matth. 15. 9.
2. Positively: Men harden themselves by a slavish yielding to the causes of hardning mens hearts, mentioned §. 84. This they do by nourishing their naturall hardnesse: by opposing against God’s truth in his promises and threatnings, by hiding their sinne, by pride, by presumption, by long lying in sin, by returning to sin after repentance, by setting their hearts too much on the things of this world, by perverting God’s chastisements.
In that hardnesse of heart ariseth from ones self, even from his own wilfulnesse, it nearly concerns us to be the more watchfull over our selves, and to withstand the very beginning of hardnesse: For Satan is very subtle, and seeks to beguile a man by degrees, and sinne is deceitfull, and of a bewitching nature. It soaks into a man insensibly: and we of our selves are very foolish: like the silly fish that with a fair bait is soon taken. Hence it is that from small beginnings many come to this high pitch, even to be hardned in heart.
When men are tempted to sinne,
1. There is a thought of committing it, Gen. 38. 15.
2. A plain consent to yield to it, Psal. 50. 18.
3. An actuall committing of it, 2 Sam. 11. 4.
4. An iteration of it, Iudg. 16. 1, 4.
5. A custom therein, 1 Sam. 2. 13.
6. An excusing of it, 1 Sam. 15. 15.
7. A justifying it, Isa. 5. 23. Luk. 16. 15.
8. A glorying in it. Psal. 52. 1.
9. An habit that they can scarce do otherwise, Jer. 13. 23.
10. Hardnesse of heart, Rom. 2. 5.
By these degrees it cometh to passe that sinne which upon the first temptation seemed horrible, and upon the first committing thereof much perplexed the soul, and seemed to be an insupportable burden, making the sinner thus to complain, Mine iniquities are gone over my head: as an heavy burden they are too heavy for me, (Psal. 38. 4.) appears in time not to be so burdensome, but rather light and easie: yea so unsensible as they can scarce perceive it: like him that saith, They have stricken me, and I was not sick: they have beaten me, and I felt it not: I will seek it yet again, Prov. 23. 35. Yea further, it comes by degrees to be pleasing and delightfull: So sweet in his mouth as he hides it under his tongue, Job 20. 12.
§. 86. Of the danger and dammage of hardnesse of heart.
IV. The danger whereinto men fall by hardnesse of heart, and the dammage which they receive is greater then can be expressed. It brings a man into the most desperate case that in this world a man can be brought into by any other thing, except it be by the sinne against the Holy Ghost; whereunto hardnesse of heart makes a great way. Shame, grief, fear may be means to keep men that are not hardened, from running on in their desperate courses: but hardnesse of heart is a spirituall senslesnesse, and keeps from such passions, as shame, grief and fear.
It makes men audacious in sinning: A troubled conscience casts a man into a woeful plight, But a hardened heart is farre worse then a perplexed soul. The troubled conscience may for the present seem more bitter, but if the issue of the one and the other be duely considered, we shall finde that there is no comparison betwixt them, but that the hard heart is far the worst. The troubled conscience by accusing, gauling, perplexing, and not suffering a man to be quiet, may so deject him as to restrain him from sinne, and bring him to repentance. But an hard heart puts on a man more and more to sin, and that with greedinesse, Eph. 4. 18. whereby his condemnation is encreased. In this respect it were better for a man to with a troubled conscience and despairing heart, then with a seared conscience and a hard heart.
§. 87. Of the signs whereby a hard heart may be discerned.
V. Hardnesse of heart is accompanied with blindenesse of minde, Therefore there is one a Greek Nown that is put for both; Answerably it is sometimes translated hardnesse; Mar. 3. 5. and sometimes blindenesse, Rom. 11. 25. Eph. 4. 18.
There is also b a Verb coming from the same root that is translated sometimes to harden, as cMar. 6. 52. and 8. 17. Sometimes to blind, as Rom. 11. 7. d 2 Cor. 3. 14 In that hardnesse of heart and blindenesse of minde go together, he that hath hard heart cannot well discern it, but yet by others it may be observed, and by the effects thereof.
There are two especiall effects that do discover an hard heart,
1. Carelesse Security, when men are senselesse, and as senselesse persons lie in sinne: where there is no sense commonly there is no life. A living man that a stone in his kidney or bladder will certainly feel it and complain of it…hard heart is an heart of stone; had he spirituall life in him he would certainly it and complain of it; Senselesnesse therefore shews that a man’s heart is so hardened as he hath no spirituall life in him.
From this carelesse security proceedeth both a dissolute negligence and also a blockish stupidity.
1. Dissolute negligence makes men consider nothing, nor lay any thing heart, The righteous perisheth and no man laieth it to heart, and mercifull taken away; None considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil come, Isa. 57. 1. This is spoken of men of hard hearts. Such men let all passe whether matters of rejoycing or matters of mourning, without any inquiring after the cause, end, and use thereof, Mat. 11. 17.
2. Blockish stupidity makes men lie under those judgements which fall ever upon their pates, like beasts: When Nabal heard of the danger wherein he been by refusing to relieve David and his Souldiers, His heart died within and he became as a stone, 1 Sam. 25. 37. Though they be overpressed even on measure above their strength, yet have they no heart to pray for release ease.
2. Willful obstinacy is another effect which discovers an hard heart, makes men,
1. To oppose against all the means which God affordeth to reclaim then As his Word, Works, &c.
2. To resist the very motions of God’s Spirit, as the hard-hearted Jews alwaies done, Act. 7. 51. From hence proceedeth malice against those that the image of God, as the Scribes and Pharisees hated the Son of God, and that beleeved in him, Joh. 9. 22. and the Apostles, and them that beleeved through their word, Act. 4. 5. &c. yea, such as be hard-hearted come to be hated of God himself, and endeavour to put out the very light of nature, Rom. 28, 30.
§. 88. Of Remedies for preventing or redressing hardnesse of heart.
VI. Hardnesse of heart being such as hath been set out, it is very requisite that remedies be prescribed for preventing or redressing it; They are such as these.
I. Take heed of all and every of those causes whence hardnesse of heart ariseth. These are distinctly set down, §. 84. Take away the cause and the effect will follow; where the cause remaineth the effect also will remain; Withall endeavour to get such vertues and graces as are contrary to the fore-mentioned causes of hardnesse, for one contrary will expell one another.
As light being contrary to darknesse keep eth out or expelleth darknesse, so vertues contrary to the causes of hardnesse will prevent or redresse the same. Those graces are these that follow.
1. Regeneration; Hereby natural hardnesse is removed.
2. Faith, Hereby unbelief is redressed.
3. Sincerity, This keeps out hypocrisie.
4. Humility, Hereby pride and other like vices are kept down.
5. A fear of God, This will withhold us from grosse sins.
6. Christian prudence, This will make men wary of multiplying sins and long lying therein.
7. Spirituall watchfulnesse, This will uphold in such a course as will preserve us from relapse.
8. Holy jealousie, lest we should by company be drawn aside.
9. Contempt of this world, and of the things thereof, that we be not ensnared and overcome thereby.
10. Patience under all crosses, as laid on us by our heavenly Father for our good.
II. Labour to feel the heavy burthen of sin, as he did that said, My sinnes are are too heavy for me, Psa. 38. 4. For this end consider,
‘1. That sin destroied all mankinde, it poysoned Adam and all his posterity,Rom. 5. 12.
2. That it made Paradise too hot for Adam to abide in it, Gen. 3. 23, 24.
3. That it caused all the fearfull judgements that have been executed from the beginning of the world.
4. That when Saints apprehend it unpardoned their conscience is a very rack unto them.
5. That when impenitents feel the burden of it, it makes their very life a burthen unto them; Instance Judas, Mat. 27. 45.
6. That it makes the damned in hell weep and gnash their teeth, Mat. 25. 30. For their torment is endless, easeless, merciless, remediless.
7. That it holds the Angels that fell in everlasting chains under darkness, Iude ver. 6.
8. That albeit Christ had no sin in himself, yet when the burthen of our sinne as a Surety lay upon him, it cast him into a bitter agony, and made his sweat as it were great drops of bloud falling down to the ground, Luke 22. 44. There is no Looking glasse that can so to the life set out the horrour of sinne as this of Christ.
3. When thou art overtaken with a sinne, speedily return from it and repent; So did Peter, so soon as by hearing the cock crow, and discerning his Lord’s beck, he was put in minde of his sinne, he presently repented, He went out and wept bitterly, Luk. 22. 60, 61, 62. The longer sin continues the stronger it groweth; it will fester like a canker, and eat up the life of the soul; Therefore put not off Repentance.
4. After thou hast repented be more watchfull over thy self that thou fall not into a relapse. If after the hand be blistered and healed a man use the hammer again it will wax the harder.
5. Be constant in using means sanctified for softening the heart; Among other means hearing the Gospel is an especiall one to keep or drive off hardness of heart See 77. in the end of it. Therefore suffer the Word to work on thee as it did Iosiah. 2 Kin. 22. 19. Neither put it off as Felix did, Act. 24. 26. nor mock at it the Jews did, Act. 2. 13. nor blaspheme it as other Jews did, Act. 13. 45….means adde private, yea, and secret too.
6. Walk continually before God as Enoch did, Gen. 5. 24. This will keep from yeelding to temptations even in secret, Gen. 39 9.
7. Apply judgments on others to thy self, and by judgements on thy self…to examine thy self, and to humble thy soul before God: Joseph’s brethren this means were brought to sight of their sin, Gen. 42. 21.
8. Learn to number thy daies aright; This will make thee account every day last, and make thee live as if it were the last day thou shouldst live on earth, and will make thee think more frequently of that account thou art to give to God.
9. At the end of every day examine thy self, and consider what sins have passed from thee. This may be a means of renewing repentance, and keeping thee from hard heart.
10. While thy heart is soft, pray against hardnesse of heart, and desire other to pray for thee.