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APPENDIX S

Chapter 6:1 Therefore leaving, etc Authors differ as to the character of this passage, whether it be hortatory or didactic, that is, whether the Apostle, putting himself as it were with them, exhorts them to advance in knowledge, or, discharging the office of a teacher, he intimates the course which he means to pursue. Stuart and some others, as well as Calvin, take the first view, as though the Apostle had said, “As the perfect or grown up are alone capable of receiving strong food, it behooves us to quit the state of childhood and to advance into the state of manhood, so as to attain perfect knowledge.” It is said that this view comports better with what follows, “for it is impossible,” etc.

But there are especially two things in the passage which militate against this view, first, “not laying the foundation,” etc. which refers evidently to teaching; and secondly, the third verse, which also refers to teaching.

It is usual with the Apostle to speak of himself in the plural number: see, for instance, the 9th verse. “Therefore” is a general inference from what he had been saying, and not from a particular clause, as though he had said, “Such being the case with you, let me now therefore, in order to draw you onward, leave the first principles, and proceed to state things which are suitable to advanced Christians: it is not my purpose now to preach repentance and faith in which you have been already taught, and to do this is unavailing as to those who have fallen away; ‘for it is impossible,’” etc. His object was not to convert them to the faith, but to confirm and advance them in it.

Or the whole argument may be more fully stated thus, — “What I design now to do is not to call you to repentance and faith, to require you to be baptized that you might receive the miraculous gift of the Holy Ghost, and to teach you the doctrine of the resurrection as confirmed by our Savior’s resurrection, and of the day of judgment, when a sentence shall be pronounced on the just and unjust which shall never be reversed; for all these things have been long known to you, and you have made a long profession of them: there is therefore no need of taking such a course, nor is it of any benefit, for if you fall away, it is impossible to restore you again to repentance.” But instead of making the case personal to them, he states it generally. He thus most powerfully stimulated them to make advances in the knowledge of divine truths; for not to advance is to retrograde, and to retrograde is the direct way to apostasy.

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