Let us open the Epistle to the Hebrews, with an aim simple and altogether practical for heart and for life. Let us take it just as it stands, and somewhat as a whole. We will not discuss its authorship, interesting and extensive as that problem is. We will not attempt, within the compass of a few short chapters, to expound continuously its wonderful text. Rather, we will gather up from it some of its large and conspicuous spiritual messages, taken as messages of the Word of God "which liveth and abideth for ever."
No part of Holy Scripture is ever really out of date. But it is true meanwhile that, as for persons so for periods, there are Scripture books and Scripture truths which are more than ordinarily timely. It is not that others are therefore untimely, nor that only one class of book or one aspect of truth can be eminently timely at one time. But it seems evident that the foreseeing Architect of the Bible has so adjusted the parts of His wonderful vehicle of revelation and blessing that special fitnesses continually emerge between our varying times and seasons on the one hand and the multifold Word on the other.
The Epistle to the Hebrews is in some remarkable respects a book timely for our day. It invites to itself, if I read it aright, the renewed attention of the thoughtful Christian, and not least of the thoughtful Christian of the English Church, as it brings him messages singularly in point to some of the main present needs of his spiritual life and its surroundings. It was written manifestly in the first instance to meet special and pressing current trials; it bears the impress of a time of severe sifting, a time when foundations were challenged, and individual faith put to even agonizing proofs, and the community threatened with an almost dissolution. Such a writing must have a voice articulate and sympathetic for a period like ours.
We will take into our hands then, portion by portion, this wonderful "open letter," and listen through it to some of the things which "the Spirit saith" to the saints and to the Church.
We now contemplate in this sense the first two chapters. We put quite aside a host of points of profound interest in detail, and ask ourselves only what is the broad surface, the drift and total, of the message here. As to its climax, it is Jesus Christ, our "merciful and faithful High Priest" (ii. 17). As to the steps that lead up to the climax, they are a presentation of the personal glory of Jesus Christ, as God the Son of God, as Man the Son of Man, who for us men and our salvation came, suffered, and prevailed.
Who that reads the Bible with the least care has not often noted this in the first passages of the Hebrews, and could not at once so state the matter? What is the great truth of Hebrews i.? Jesus Christ is God (ver. 8); the Son (ver. 2); absolutely like the Father (ver. 3); Lord of the bright Company of Heaven, who in all their ranks and orders worship Him (ver. 6); creative Originator of the Universe (ver....