Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Hebrews 6:11-20 - The need for fervour

The second half of Hebrews 6 stresses the continuity between the Old and New Testaments:
11-12 And we desire that every one of you shew forth the same carefulness to the accomplishing of hope unto the end: That you become not slothful, but followers of them, who through faith and patience shall inherit the promises.
 Cupimus autem unumquemque vestrum eamdem ostentare sollicitudinem ad expletionem spei usque in finem: ut non segnes efficiamini, verum imitatores eorum, qui fide, et patientia hæreditabunt promissiones.
Aquinas:

The need for care: ...it is clear that carefulness is required for doing acts of godliness: ‘Martha, Martha, you are careful’ and for one’s own salvation: ‘Carefully study to present yourself approved unto God’. Any why? To realize the full assurance of hope, namely, that by fulfilling what you have begun, you may obtain what you hope: ‘Hope confounds not’. And this, until the end: ‘For he that shall persevere to the end, he shall be saved’.

The danger of laziness: ...For laziness is the fear of a future good action, because one fears that he may fail or not repent: ‘The slothful man says: There is a lion in the way’. Hence, slothful persons always allege obstacles as an excuse...Be you, therefore, imitators of those who through faith, without which it is impossible to please God and patience against adversity, inherit the promises. For by formed faith and patience the promised inheritance is obtained: ‘The saints by faith conquered kingdoms, wrought justice, obtained promises’.

The example of the prophets: ...As if to say: Be not slothful, but rather imitate the example of the prophets: ‘For an example of suffering evil, of labor and of patience, take the prophets’; and of other saints, namely the apostles: ‘Be you followers of me, as I also am of Christ’. Be you, therefore, imitators of those who through faith, without which it is impossible to please God and patience against adversity, inherit the promises. For by formed faith and patience the promised inheritance is obtained: ‘The saints by faith conquered kingdoms, wrought justice, obtained promises'.
13-17 For God making promise to Abraham, because he had no one greater by whom he might swear, swore by himself, Saying: Unless blessing I shall bless thee, and multiplying I shall multiply thee. And so patiently enduring he obtained the promise. For men swear by one greater than themselves: and an oath for confirmation is the end of all their controversy. Wherein God, meaning more abundantly to shew to the heirs of the promise the immutability of his counsel, interposed an oath: 
Abrahæ namque promittens Deus, quoniam neminem habuit, per quem juraret, majorem, juravit per semetipsum, dicens: Nisi benedicens benedicam te, et multiplicans multiplicabo te.  Et sic longanimiter ferens, adeptus est repromissionem.  Homines enim per majorem sui jurant: et omnis controversiæ eorum finis, ad confirmationem, est juramentum.  In quo abundantius volens Deus ostendere pollicitationis hæredibus, immobilitatem consilii sui, interposuit jusjurandum: 
Aquinas:

The promise to Abraham: ‘To Abraham were the promises made and to his seed’. The reason for this is that by faith we adhere to God; consequently, by faith we obtain the promise. For the first example of faith was found in Abraham, and this because he was the first to withdraw from associating with unbelievers: ‘Go forth out of your country, and from your kindred, and out of your father’s house’; secondly, because he was the first to believe something above nature: ‘Who against hope believed in hope’. Hence, Genesis: ‘Abraham believed God and it was reputed to him unto justice.’ For he was the first to receive the seal of faith, namely, circumcision.

Genesis 12: 1-4 - 
Meanwhile, the Lord said to Abram, Leave thy country behind thee, thy kinsfolk, and thy father’s home, and come away into a land I will shew thee. Then I will make a great people of thee; I will bless thee, and make thy name renowned, a name of benediction;  those who bless thee, I will bless, those who curse thee, I will curse, and in thee all the races of the world shall find a blessing. So Abram went out, as the Lord bade him... 
Genesis 15:1-6 - 
...The Lord sent word to Abram in a vision, Have no fear, Abram, I am here to protect thee; thy reward shall be great indeed. But Abram answered, Lord God, what can this gift of thine be? I must go the way of childless men; Damascus here, the son of Eliezer, is but the son of my steward; to me (Abram added) thou hast given no children, so that all the heir I have is a slave born in my house. Whereupon the Lord sent word to him, This man shall not succeed thee; thou shalt have an heir sprung from thy own body. Then he took him out of doors, and said to him, Look up at the sky, and count, if thou canst, the stars in it; thy race, like these, shall be numberless. So Abram put his faith in God, and it was reckoned virtue in him.
 Hebrews 6:
18-20 That by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we may have the strongest comfort, who have fled for refuge to hold fast the hope set before us.  we have as an anchor of the soul, sure and firm, and which entereth in even within the veil; Where the forerunner Jesus is entered for us, made a high priest for ever according to the order of Melchisedech.
ut per duas res immobiles, quibus impossibile est mentiri Deum, fortissimum solatium habeamus, qui confugimus ad tenendam propositam spem,  quam sicut anchoram habemus animæ tutam ac firmam, et incedentem usque ad interiora velaminis, ubi præcursor pro nobis introivit Jesus, secundum ordinem Melchisedech pontifex factus in æternum.
The anchor of faith: Then when he says, we have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, he shows that faith will obtain that promise; and he makes use of a simile. For he compares hope to an anchor, which just as it secures ship in the sea, so hope secures the soul in God in this work, which is, as it were, a kind of sea: ‘So is this great sea, which stretches wide its arms’ (Ps. 103:25); hence, it is made of iron: ‘I know whom I have believed and I am certain’. Also it should be firm, so that is it is not easily removed from the ship; thus a man should be held fast to that hope as an anchor and hope is that the anchor is fixed to a low place, but hope is fixed in the highest, namely, to God. For nothing in the present life is so firm that the soul could be secure and at rest; hence, it says in Genesis that the dove found no place where her foot might rest.

The church and the tabernacle:  For the Apostle understand the present condition of the Church by the holy things that were in the tabernacle; but by the holy of holies, which was separated from the saints by a veil, he understands the state of future glory. Therefore, he wills that the anchor of our hope be fixed in that which is now veiled from our eyes: ‘The eye has not seen, O God, besides thee, what things you have prepared for them that wait for you’; ‘How great is the multitude of your sweetness, O Lord, which you have hidden for them that fear you!’.

Christ has entered behind the veil: This, our forerunner, who has entered there, has fixed there; hence, it says in John: ‘I go to prepare a place for you.’ He shall go up that shall open the way before them’. Therefore, he says that Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf within the veil and has fixed our hope there, as it says in the collect of vigil and of Ascension day. Yet because the high priest alone was permitted to enter within the veil, he says that Jesus has entered on our behalf, having become a high priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek. Notice how elegantly the Apostle returns to his main theme. For he had begun to speak of the priesthood and then digressed; but now he returns to it, as is obvious.

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