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4. A Sabbath Rest for God's People
1Let us fear therefore, lest haply, a promise being left of entering into his rest, any one of you should seem to have come short of it. 2For indeed we have had good tidings preached unto us, even as also they: but the word of hearing did not profit them, because it was not united by faith with them that heard. 3For we who have believed do enter into that rest; even as he hath said,
As I sware in my wrath,
They shall not enter into my rest:
although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4For he hath said somewhere of the seventh day on this wise, And God rested on the seventh day from all his works; 5and in this place again,
They shall not enter into my rest.
6Seeing therefore it remaineth that some should enter thereinto, and they to whom the good tidings were before preached failed to enter in because of disobedience, 7he again defineth a certain day, To-day, saying in David so long a time afterward (even as hath been said before),
To-day if ye shall hear his voice,
Harden not your hearts.
8For if Joshua had given them rest, he would not have spoken afterward of another day. 9There remaineth therefore a sabbath rest for the people of God. 10For he that is entered into his rest hath himself also rested from his works, as God did from his. 11Let us therefore give diligence to enter into that rest, that no man fall after the same example of disobedience. 12For the word of God is living, and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and quick to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13And there is no creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and laid open before the eyes of him with whom we have to do. 14Having then a great high priest, who hath passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15For we have not a high priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but one that hath been in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. 16Let us therefore draw near with boldness unto the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy, and may find grace to help us in time of need.
10. For he that is entered into his rest, or, For he who has rested, etc. This is a definition of that perpetual Sabbath in which there is the highest felicity, when there will be a likeness between men and God, to whom they will be united. For whatever the philosophers may have ever said of the chief good, it was nothing but cold and vain, for they confined man to himself, while it is necessary for us to go out of ourselves to find happiness. The chief good of man is nothing else but union with God; this is attained when we are formed according to him as our exemplar.
Now this conformation the Apostle teaches us takes place when we rest from our works. It hence at length follows, that man becomes happy by selfdenial. For what else is to cease from our works, but to mortify our flesh, when a man renounces himself that he may live to God? For here we must always begin, when we speak of a godly and holy life, that man being in a manner dead to himself, should allow God to live in him, that he should abstain from his own works, so as to give place to God to work. We must indeed confess, that then only is our life rightly formed when it becomes subject to God. But through inbred corruption this is never the case, until we rest from our own works; nay, such is the opposition between God’s government and our corrupt affections, that he cannot work in us until we rest. But though the completion of this rest cannot be attained in this life, yet we ought ever to strive for it. 7070 Many, like Calvin, have made remarks of this kind, but they are out of place here; for the rest here mentioned is clearly the rest in heaven. — Ed. Thus believers enter it but on this condition, — that by running they may continually go forward.
But I doubt not but that the Apostle designedly alluded to the Sabbath in order to reclaim the Jews from its external observances; for in no other way could its abrogation be understood, except by the knowledge of its spiritual design. He then treats of two things together; for by extolling the excellency of grace, he stimulates us to receive it by faith, and in the meantime he shows us in passing what is the true design of the Sabbath, lest the Jews should be foolishly attached to the outward rite. Of its abrogation indeed he does expressly speak, for this is not his subject, but by teaching them that the rite had a reference to something else, he gradually withdraws them from their superstitious notions. For he who understands that the main object of the precept was not external rest or earthly worship, immediately perceives, by looking on Christ, that the external rite was abolished by his coming; for when the body appears, the shadows immediately vanish away. Then our first business always is, to teach that Christ is the end of the Law.