Hebrews 5:12
Although by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to reteach you the basic principles of God's word. You need milk, not solid food!
Sermons
A Special Hindrance to Christian TruthD. Young Hebrews 5:11, 12
Dullness of Spiritual PerceptionJ.S. Bright Hebrews 5:11-14
Spiritual ObtusenessW. Jones Hebrews 5:11-14
Blameworthy BackwardnessGeo. Peck, D. D.Hebrews 5:12-14
Christian GrowthA. Saphir.Hebrews 5:12-14
Improvement in KnowledgeR. Walker.Hebrews 5:12-14
Knowledge by UseR. South, D. D.Hebrews 5:12-14
Meat for MenC. F. Deems, D. D.Hebrews 5:12-14
Necessity of DiscriminationJ. Gilmour, M. A.Hebrews 5:12-14
Reason in ReligionH. W. Beecher.Hebrews 5:12-14
Religious TeachersM. Henry.Hebrews 5:12-14
Spiritual BabyhoodC. H. Spurgeon.Hebrews 5:12-14
Strong MeatC. H. Spurgeon.Hebrews 5:12-14
The Best Thing Badly UsedHomilistHebrews 5:12-14
The Duty of TeachingU. R. Thomas.Hebrews 5:12-14
The Food that Makes Strong MenC. H. Spurgeon.Hebrews 5:12-14
The Growth of the ConscienceBp. Temple.Hebrews 5:12-14
The Growth of the Spiritual SenseT. C. Edwards, D. D.Hebrews 5:12-14
The Lesson of RipenessM. R. Vincent, D. D.Hebrews 5:12-14
The Nature of ConscienceH. W. Beecher.Hebrews 5:12-14
The Need of CatechisingW. Gouge.Hebrews 5:12-14
The Need of Diversified FoodScientific Illustrations and SymbolsHebrews 5:12-14
The Oracles of GodL. T. Lochee, M. A.Hebrews 5:12-14
The Oracles of GodA. S. Patterson.Hebrews 5:12-14
The Perfection of Christian KnowledgeJ. Saurin.Hebrews 5:12-14
The Powers of the Full-Grown ChristianD. Young Hebrews 5:12-14
The Simple GospelR. W. Dale, LL. D.Hebrews 5:12-14
Unskilful in the Use of ScriptureW. Jay.Hebrews 5:12-14
Wherein it is a Grace or Disgrace to be Like ChildrenW. Gouge.Hebrews 5:12-14
Here is the close analogy between the natural life and the spiritual.

I. THE PROGRESS OF THE NATURAL LIFE. At birth the babe finds food provided for it, without effort, without thought - food exactly suited to its infantile state, and which it makes use of by a kind of instinct. Nothing is expected from it save that which it is certain to do by a law of its nature. But this season, when nothing is expected from it, is only a season of preparing for the day when much will be expected. Nature will not always provide food in this caw, simple fashion. Milk has to make the way for solid food, and, what is even more important, food to be chosen by us. Whenever we are fit to choose, God leaves us to choose, not between the pleasant and the unpleasant, not between that which appeals most powerfully to the taste, and that which is plainer, simpler fare; but, as the writer here emphatically puts it, between the good and the bad. That is the great matter to decide in the choice of food - Is it good or bad? Will it minister to growth, health, energy of function, fullness of life, length of days? God leaves us to settle this. He gives us, without our choice, a suitable food up to the time when our perceptions are sufficiently trained to choose for ourselves. Then he leaves us to freedom and responsibility.

II. THE SIMILAR PROGRESS OF THE SPIRITUAL LIFE. There is the new creature in Christ Jesus, born again, beginning in feebleness, alive to new and heavenly things, and yet hardly knowing for a while what that life is. Needing to be treated with great long-suffering and consideration because of infirmity (1 Corinthians 3:2). But, as in the natural man, there should be growth, development of spiritual perception and grasp, so that the spiritual man may come to discern the difference between the true and the false, the fleshly and the spiritual, the abiding and the temporary, the earthly and the heavenly. Jesus Christ is the Bread of life. Recollect his own words, all important in the present connection: "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed." How many, spiritually considered, are monstrosities to what they ought to be! The natural man, nourished by proper food, full of life, growing and connecting itself with a thousand things around, while the new creature in Christ Jesus within is but a starved and pining babe. There may, perhaps, be much talk of living a life of faith on the Son of God, but no reality. - Y.







Ye ought to be teachers.
I. You ought to have KNOWN enough of the truth of the gospel to ENABLE YOU to be teachers.

II. You ought to have enough INTEREST in others to IMPEL YOU to be teachers.

III. You ought to have enough LOYALTY to Christ to CONSTRAIN YOU to be teachers. Whether or no Be would have us to be teachers, we may gather from —

1. His commands, "Go, teach," &c.

2. His spirit. Ever communicative.

3. His example. "Went about doing good."

(U. R. Thomas.)

I. THAT ALL WHO ARE FAVOURED WITH THE LIGHT OF THE GOSPEL SHALL BE UTTERLY INEXCUSABLE IF THEIR IMPROVEMENTS IN KNOWLEDGE NO NOT BEAR A PROPORTION TO THE TIME THEY HAVE CONTINUED TO ENJOY IT.

II. THAT THOSE WHO ARE NOT CAREFUL TO AND TO THEIR KNOWLEDGE, WILL BE IN GREAT DANGER OF LOSING WHAT THEY HAVE FORMERLY ACQUIRED.

III. THAT WITHOUT A PROPER ACQUAINTANCE WITH THE FIRST PLAIN PRINCIPLES OF RELIGION, MEN ARE UNFIT TO RECEIVE DOCTRINES OF A HIGHER AND MORE SPECULATIVE NATURE.

(R. Walker.)

None should take upon them to be teachers of others but those who have made a good improvement in spiritual knowledge themselves.

(M. Henry.)

Small progress under great privileges is a grievous fault. The scholar who has time, and books, and excellent instructors, and yet learns nothing, is soon given up as incorrigible. He soon loses caste, is degraded, is censured by his friends, and is condemned by all. The man of business who, by negligence or prodigality, loses his customers, and so suffers his business to run down, is despised, and when the pinching hand of poverty seizes him, is unpitied.

(Geo. Peck, D. D.)

They are blamed for being babes, and not "of full age," or perfect. In the Church of Christ there are little children, there are men, there are fathers. It is evident that the apostle refers in our passage to the wisdom of the heart and of life. Christians differ in their measure of understanding and strength, as well as in the gifts of grace, which by the Spirit and according to their natural endowments and providential position are bestowed on them. Those who have only recently been brought into the fold cannot possess the experience and the wisdom of the elder. The Lord, who is the Head of the Church, distributes also gifts and talents according to His good and wise will. Some members of the Church are called to be teachers, lights, and guides, sons of consolation and fathers in the gospel; whereas others will, perhaps, always remain weak, and in need of constant help and guidance. Now the Lord, who Himself is full of tenderness, exhorts the Church to be gentle, patient toward the young and the inexperienced. They that are strong ought not merely to bear the infirmities of the weak, but exercise self-denial in accommodating themselves to their less enlightened brethren. We must exercise a wise and patient discretion, even as Jesus had many things to say to His disciples, but remembered that they could not bear them.

1. The comparison between a newly-converted man and a babe is, like all comparisons, imperfect. For in one sense a Christian is born by the Holy Ghost full-grown; as Adam came into the world a perfect man, full of light and insight, who gave names to all the living creatures, who understood and spake. The newly-converted man is born into the spiritual world, and from the first moment he sees and knows Christ, and has the mind of Christ, the Spirit, so that he can immediately understand all spiritual things. The milk of the Word, as contrasted with strong meat, does not refer to any real and inherent difference between the gospel first preached and afterwards taught. From first to last we present the same truth, the same circle of truths, the whole truth. The babe in Christ (I mean he who is a babe naturally, and not unnaturally through iris own worldiness and indolence), full of love to Jesus, and impressed with the importance and blessedness of heavenly things, learns very easily and very rapidly. He delights in the Word; he is humble and tender; he does not resist truths which condemn the flesh and correct our waywardness; he is unworldly, heavenly-minded, and nine-tenths of the Bible becomes clear, when we are willing to deny ourselves, and take our cross and follow Jesus. Yes, we run well at the commencement. It is apathy, worldliness, conceit, which afterwards render Christians slow of heart to understand all that is written. The lukewarm church must needs be an ignorant church. The divided heart must needs be confused and dim-sighted. It is for this reason that the apostle blames the Hebrews for not having progressed in knowledge. Their senses had not been exercised; that is, they had not walked closely with God. They had not conscientiously applied the knowledge which they had, but allowed it to remain dead and unused.

2. It is not that there is a higher truth or life for the older Christians. All our progress consists in learning more fully the doctrine which at first is preached unto us. Let us beware of entertaining erroneous views as to what is meant by milk and meat. "Milk" designates gospel truth preached simply, so that thereby true nourishment is given, and faith is both called forth, and the new spiritual life strengthened and increased. Hence there is nothing in the term meant to depreciate, but, on the contrary, to exalt the first declaration of saving truth in Christ. The strong meat, the doctrine of Christ's high priesthood in heaven, is also milk, pure and nourishing, simple, and only received by the child-like heart; whereas pride and ambition often call speculative and unprofitable discussions strong meat, though they are of no use to the spiritual man, but minister only unto strife and the exaltation of the flesh. The Hebrews had become as babes. Hence the word, which elsewhere is the sweetest expression of Divine love and favour, is a term of reproach when it intimates an unnatural and dangerous condition of spiritual weakness, the result of a culpable and habitual inertness. It had not always been thus with the Hebrew Christians. For we read that when they were first enlightened they endured a great fight of affliction. Then, although they had many and grievous sufferings, they were strong, and rejoiced in Christ; and why? Because they were heavenly-minded. Then, though young in the faith, they were more fervent, and therefore more spiritual, possessed of clearer knowledge and perception. And therefore the apostle is so anxious to lead them on to perfection, that is, to fix their thoughts on Christ in heaven. Their earthly-mindedness constitutes both the necessity and the difficulty of his task. For the perfection unto which the apostle desires to go is not an esoteric doctrine or method of holiness peculiar to an imaginary second stage of faith. It has nothing to do directly with anything in our heart and conduct. It refers, on the contrary, to heaven, to the High Priest above, to our position in Him who is seated at the right hand of God. It is to know that we are priests, worshippers in spirit and in truth, that, being reconciled to God by the death of Christ, we have now been brought nigh to the Father; and our citizenship, the source of our life and strength, the things which we seek, the blessings with which we are enriched, are no longer on earth, but in heaven.

(A. Saphir.)

Ye have need that one teach you.
I. WEIGHTY REASONS MAY BE GIVEN FOR THE NECESSITY OF CATECHISING.

1. By catechising a good and sure foundation is laid. Now it is necessary that in all buildings a good foundation be laid, lest for want of it the building come to ruin (Matthew 7:26, 27).

2. By catechising people are by degrees made capable of deeper mysteries; as children by learning letters and syllables, and to spell them, are brought on to read distinctly. The most intelligent hearers are such as have been well instructed in the principles of religion.

3. By catechising such as profess the faith are enabled to render a reason of the hope that is in them (1 Peter 3:15). For a catechism well compiled contains the sum and substance of all that a Christian is to believe.

4. By catechising, pastors may know their people's capacity and understanding to and this is requisite in two respects —

(1)That he may the better know whom to admit to the Lord's table.

(2)That he may the better discern how to order his preaching both for matter and manner.

5. The fruits of catechising have ever been observed to be many and great. Thereby have families been made seminaries for the Church.

II. If the question be demanded WHEREIN THE DIFFERENCE LIETH BETWIXT CATECHISING AND PREACHING, I answer, in these particulars especially.

1. By catechising, a foundation is laid (Hebrews 6:1). By preaching, the building is farther reared up, beautified and perfected.

2. By catechizing, many and large points are contracted into brief sums, as in the Ten Commandments, Creed, and Lord's Prayer. By preaching, sundry points are amplified, enlarged, and sundry ways applied.

3. By catechising, weak and ignorant ones are fed, as with milk. By preaching, the strong are further nourished with strong meat. For in catechising the most necessary principles are plainly laid down; but in preaching all sorts of points, the difficult as well as easy, use to be handled; yea, and contrary errors refuted.

4. By catechising, a particular account is taken of the learners, which is not so done by preaching. For catechising is by question and answer; so as the catechised give an account of their proficiency. But preaching is only by a minister's declaring his mind.

5. Catechising is for such as are newly entered into the Church; and that for a time till they may be fitted for the sacrament. But preaching is for all, of all sorts, so long as they live. For though a man had all knowledge, yet is preaching requisite to work upon their affections, and to bring to their mind and memory such things as they know. Preaching is profitable to all those uses that are mentioned (2 Timothy 3:16).

(W. Gouge.)

As in the family, the child, from being taught, gradually grows into a position of authority, from being directed by others, becomes self-determining, and has a voice and an influence in the counsels of men; so, in the great family of God, Christian maturity and its accompaniments are recognised facts — attainments which the gospel treats not merely as privileges, but as obligations. There is a Christian manhood, in short, which is expected and required of the child of God, in which, from being a recipient of gospel influences, he is to become their defender, their illustrator, and their propagator. This is the truth for our consideration. It is embodied in these words of the text, addressed to those who had been for a good while under gospel training: "Ye ought to be teachers."

I. YE, AS FOLLOWERS AND DISCIPLES OF CHRIST, OUGHT TO BE TEACHERS. One reason why Christ found it expedient to go away in person from the world, was that the number of teachingcentres might be multiplied. As plainly as words could speak, He laid the burden of diffusing the gospel upon His Church. "Ye," He said to His disciples, "ye are the salt of the earth. Ye are the light of the world." Men are taught by the gospel that their responsibility does not cease with their own salvation; that they cannot live out their Christian lives simply with reference to God and to themselves; that from the fact of their being members of society, they exert power for good or for evil over other lives; that they cannot be Christians and not teach.

II. BUT THIS DUTY IS HERE URGED BY ONE CONSIDERATION MERELY, TO WHICH WE MAY CONFINE OURSELVES. The familiar rendering, "for the time ye ought to be teachers," entirely obscures the force of the passage. The meaning is, rather, "by reason of the time"; that is, because you have been for a long time under Christian influence, listening to Christian doctrine, versed in Christian experience: by reason of the time which has passed since you became Christian disciples, you ought to be teachers. We do not expect the apprenticed mechanic to be always an apprentice or an underling. Time is needed to teach him how to handle tools, and to make him acquainted with the capacity of materials: but, with the time, we expect to see him a master-workman; we look for him to develop new resources out of his material, and new methods of treating it, and thus to become a teacher to his craft. The man who through all his years is merely acquiring knowledge, and does not come in process of time to give it out, may be a prodigy of learning, but he is also a prodigy of uselessness, no better than so much lumber. And the same principle runs up into the moral and spiritual realm, and prevails there. We have a right to expect, as the result of years, larger and clearer views of truth, better defined conviction, more self-mastery, more practical efficiency, and more consistency of life. It is a sad thing when a man has been before the world for long years as a professed disciple of Christ, and when all he has to show for it is that he is very old. Length of days, be it remembered, is in the right hand of wisdom.

III. And now let us LOOK AT A FEW OF THE POINTS IN WHICH, BY REASON OF TIME, A CHRISTIAN OUGHT TO BE A TEACHER.

1. He ought to be a teacher by reason of a matured faith, and that under three aspects —(1) In respect ,.f his own assurance of Christian truth. The instructive power of the gospel resides very largely in the lives which it shapes and pervades and propels. The life is the light of men. Ye ought to be teachers, but ye will not be if the gospel is still an open question to you. Ye will not be if your attitude towards its foundation-truths is that of suspense.(2) Again, time ought to develop faith in the sense of spiritual discernment — clearer perception of the things o! the unseen world. It is not strange if a young Christian simply believes in the things which are not seen. It is strange if the older Christian does not feel the power of the world to come. It is one thing to assent to the truth that " the things which are not seen are eternal"; it is another thing to apprehend that truth, and to take it into life as a working principle; to realise that the things on which heaven stamps a value — love and faith and purity and truth and good conscience — are the paramount things, and to make everything give way to these. That kind of spiritual seeing has a teaching power. It is of the very essence of all teaching that the man who sees what we do not see, brings us to his feet to learn. When we want to know about the stars we go to the scholar who has the telescope. And the life which one lives by faith in the unseen, teaches. It does what all true leaching must do — it excites attention, it awakens inquiry, it communicates enthusiasm.(3) And time ought to have ripened faith in the sense of restfulness. We count it strange if natural manhood does not bring with it increased composure, tranquillity, balance. Shall we count it any less strange if, with the lapse of time, Christian manhood does not become better poised, more restful and quiet, less easily thrown off its balance?

2. By reason of the time a Christian ought to have been confirmed in the habit of communion with God. Prayer is a subject of discipline. No man learns all its resources at once. I have somewhere seen a little story of a king who had employed some people to weave for him, had supplied them the materials and the patterns, and had told them, that if they were ever in trouble about their work, they were to come to him without fear. Among those at the looms was a child; and one day, when all the rest were distressed at the sight of the tangles in their yarn, they gathered round the child, and asked, "Why are you so happy at your work? These constant tangles are more than we can bear." "Why do you not tell the king? " said the little weaver. "He told us to, and that he would help us." "We do," replied they, "at night and at morning." "Ah!" said the child, "I send directly whenever I have a tangle." We ought to have reached that point by reason or time — that habit of referring everything at once and directly to God; just as, when we are walking with a friend, we naturally refer to him every matter of interest as it comes up. That habit of communion with heaven sets its mark on the life and invests it with a teaching-power.

3. By reason of time a Christian should have become a teacher in the matter of habitual consistency of life, obedience, and docility. It is strange, something is wrong, if we are still committing and repenting of the same old sins which we began to fight long ago. As the lines of that living epistle which we began writing when we entered Christ's service creep farther down the page, they ought to be more fairly and evenly written. In short, though we shall never be perfect men and women, though the nearer we get to Christ, the less we shall be pleased with ourselves — yet we ought to be better men and women by reason of the time, and, by our better living of the gospel, be teachers to those about us.

4. And, by reason of the time, we ought to be broader in our charity. Our own experience ought to have given us an insight into our own weakness and fallibility, and to have made us correspondingly tolerant of the weakness and fallibility of our brother men.

(M. R. Vincent, D. D.)

Philo had already emphasised the distinction between the child in knowledge and the man of full age and mature judgment. St. Paul had said more than once that such a distinction holds among Christians. Many are carnal; some are spiritual. In his writings the difference is not an external one, nor is the line between the two classes broad and clear. The one shades into the other. But, though we may not be able to determine where the one begins and the other ends, both are tendencies, and move in opposite directions. In the Epistle to the Hebrews the distinction resembles the old doctrine of habit taught by . Our organs of sense are trained by use to distinguish forms and colours. In like manner, there are inner organs of the spirit, which distinguish good from evil, not by mathematical demonstration, but by long-continued exercise in hating evil and in loving holiness. The growth of this spiritual sense is connected by our author with the power to understand the higher doctrine. He only who discerns, by force of spiritual insight, what is good and what is evil, can also understand spiritual truths. The difference between good and evil is not identical with "the word of righteousness." But the moral elevation of character that clearly discerns the former is the condition of understanding also the latter.

(T. C. Edwards, D. D.)

The oracles of God.
An oracle is, strictly speaking, an instrument, a mouthpiece of a mighty person who prefers to remain unknown. By oracles future events were declared, perplexities cleared, and doubts solved. Oracles, therefore, or those taken as such, abounded in the world, they especially played a prominent part in Greek society. Celebrated above all the rest, in the very centre of Greece, was the renowned one of Delphi, whither from far and near questioners betook themselves, and went away with perfect faith that they had indeed received answers from a god, to whom the place was sacred, and at whose shrine they laid offerings of worship and gratitude. What then the heathen fondly flattered themselves to have, the Jews really possessed. If the great work of man here is to know God and do His will, the Jews were indeed blessed above all others, since alone of all the inhabitants of the earth they were acquainted with a revelation from the Creator to creatures of His hand, of which no power on earth could rob them. When the ark was gone for ever, and when not one stone upon another of the Temple was left, when the glory was departed from Israel, the Jewish children could still read the Old Testament stories, the Jewish men and women could still learn to do God justice by His Word. Nothing could touch this priceless treasure they had retained unhurt through perils of wars; it would have taught them still as of old, if they themselves had not misused it, and so lost, by their own fault, the blessing which no outward influence was ever able to take away. Thus are all God's gifts to man abused. He chooses to place Himself at such disadvantage, that man may scorn what He is pleased to send. Nor are the Jews, alas I the only people who have done so. Their fate may well cause us anxiety. We have been speaking so highly of the Jewish privileges, of people who had but part, — what of us who have the whole truth and revelation?

(L. T. Lochee, M. A.)

"The oracles of God" is a very arresting and illustrious name. And yet it accurately indicates the real character of what prophets and apostles teach. Heaven's inspiration was poured upon their minds, and guided, as well as animated, their voices and their pens. What they declare Jehovah speaks. Oh with what reverence, and attention, and faith, and obedience, and grateful praises, should we receive and study the heavenly message! and how seriously and vividly, as both a motive and a check in dealing with the Scriptures, should we realise the thought: these are "the oracles of God"! They are, moreover, "the word of righteousness." The Bible clearly, comprehensively, and authoritatively propounds the principles, and prescribes the rules of piety and virtue; and, in the hands of the Holy Spirit, it is the instrument of producing these great attainments in the heart and character of men. What a noble distinction of "the oracles of God"! and how important faithfully to use them in this practical relation! If the knowledge and attainment of " righteousness" be momentous and valuable things, oh, let us highly esteem, and diligently use, what is here significantly called " the word of righteousness." It is suggested in this passage that there is great inequality among professing Christians to whom "the oracles of God " have come. Some, it is here said, are " babes," and others, men; some, such as can digest " strong meat," others, such as "have need of milk"; some, "unskilful in the word of righteousness," others, "by reason of use having their senses exercised to discern both good and evil." In other words, some are comparatively ignorant, inexperienced, and unsettled in religion, while others are comparatively intelligent, vigorous, and accomplished; and while the latter can understand, and appreciate, and apply the more difficult and abstruse doctrines of revelation, the former are more exclusively dependent, for the sustentation and improvement of their souls, on the simpler elements of religious truth. It is suggested still further, that "the oracles of God" have appliances appropriate for both classes. Revelation, as some one has graphically said, "has fords which a lamb can wade and depths which an elephant can swim."

(A. S. Patterson.)

Unskilful in the Word.
I. THE CHARACTER OF THE GOSPEL. "The Word of righteousness."

1. This shows the quality of it.

2. The subject of which it treats.

II. THE FAULT LAMENTED.

1. Some are unskilful in —

(1)Finding,

(2)Quoting,

(3)Defending,

(4)Applying,

(5)Perusing the Scriptures.

2. They use Scripture unskilfully, when they do not use it —

(1)Harmoniously,

(2)Impartially,

(3)Practically.Lessons:

1. Be thankful that you have this Word of righteousness.

2. Pity those who are destitute of it. and be concerned to supply them.

(W. Jay.)

Homilist.
I. THE BEST THING ON EARTH. The gospel is called "the word of righteousness" because it reveals —

1. The true standard of righteousness. God's character is the foundation; God's will the rule.

2. The highest exemplar of righteousness — Christ.

3. The true way to righteousness — following Christ.

II. THE BEST THING ON EARTH BADLY USED. The word is " unskilfully " used when used —

1. Controversially. Fighting for dogmas.

2. Sectarianly. Fighting for sects.

3. Mercenarily. Fighting for money and position.

4. Unlovingly. Lacking the unbounded love and exquisite tenderness of the system.

(Homilist.)

He is a babe.
We have the likenesses of our boys taken on every birthday, and twelve of the annual portraits are now framed in one picture, so that we see them at a glance from their babyhood to their youth. Suppose such photographic memorials of our own spiritual life had been taken and preserved, would there be a regular advance, as in these boys, or should we still have been exhibited in the perambulator? Have not some grown awhile, and then suddenly dwarfed? Have not others gone back to babyhood?

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age.
Scientific Illustrations and Symbols.
There are persons, even in Europe, to whom a muttonchop would be poisonous. Cases are known where animal food has been poisonous to people. Some persons cannot take coffee without vomiting; others are thrown into a general inflammation if they eat cherries or gooseberries. Many persons are unable to eat eggs and cakes or puddings having eggs in their composition produce serious disturbances in such persons; if they are induced to eat them under false assurances of no eggs having been employed, they are soon undeceived by the unmistakable effects. Only gross ignorance of physiology, an ignorance unhappily too widely spread, can argue that because a certain article is wholesome to many it must necessarily be wholesome to all. Each individual organism is specially different from every other. However much it may resemble others, it necessarily in some points differs from them, and the amount of these differences is often considerable. If the same wave of air striking upon the tympanum of two different men will produce sounds to the one which to the other are inappreciable; if the same wave of light will affect the vision of one man as that of red colour, while to the vision of another it is no colour at all, how unreasonable is it to expect that the same substance will bear precisely the same relation to the alimentary system of one man as to that of another! Experience tells us that it is not so.

(Scientific Illustrations and Symbols.)

I believe that if many Christian people of the present day had lived 1800 years ago, and an apostle had told them that he wanted to speak to them about Melchisedec, but found it hard to present the truth in a form sufficiently clear to be quite intelligible, they would have said that they would greatly prefer that he should leave the whole subject untouched; that they liked the simple gospel — the simpler the better; that what they wanted was "milk"; that they had no taste for different questions; that they liked to have their hearts moved; that this doctrinal teaching of which, unfortunately, he and some of his brethren seemed so fond, was quite above them, and did them no good; that there were many things in his sermons "hard to be understood"; that they wished he would be more "obvious"; and that a Christian teacher was bound to be constantly repeating the elementary facts and truths of the Christian faith.

(R. W. Dale, LL. D.)

The importance of cultivating a profound knowledge of the highest and deepest truths may be brought home to us by the following considerations —

1. It is a sin to neglect any part of God's oracles. To select portions for study and obedience is to be disobedient, as it is setting up of our individual private judgment against the wisdom and the will of the infinite Heavenly Father. It furthermore argues a want of love for truth. This love for truth it is indispensable to cultivate. It is really more important than a nervous carefulness to be exact in all our Statements, and accurate in the use of our words.

2. Profound spiritual knowledge is necessary, in order to teach others. Every man is a teacher, whether he will be or not; but every man ought to feel the importance and privilege of being able to give his fellowman some help, however small, out of the darkness into the light.

3. It is necessary to keep us in times when false doctrines are influential. It does not require great acquisitions of worldly learning to become profoundly versed in spiritual things. A simple, obedient, trusting heart, going unaffectedly to the Eternal Spirit of truth, will be led to such knowledge of the key-truth as will enable him to unlock all the caskets as he comes to them.

4. The profounder one's knowledge of the greatest Divine truths, the greater one's humility. If all a man knows of the Bible is the original tongues in which it was written, its history, its chronology, its literature, he may be a self-conceited sciolist: but when he comes to know Him for whom were all things and by whom are all things, he falls naturally into his place, and the things that are seen and temporal will yield in his estimation to the things which are unseen and eternal, and he becomes simple in his love for the truth, especially of the commanding truth of the universe.

5. This profound knowledge of Divine truth increases the lovingness of a man's nature. Knowledge and love are twins. It was a pagan idea that love should be a blind god. No eyes quicker than the eyes of love to see all that is good and sweet in the beloved.

6. Sectarianism owes its existence to a want of knowledge of the highest central truths. Deep knowledge of the highest spiritual things is to all Christians a law of gravitation, keeping them in their orbit.

7. The oracles of God are the instruments of our personal sanctification. We are, through the Spirit, to learn the truth; and this truth will show us what is righteousness, the right; and we are to purify our spirits, not by some supposed act of consecration in a moment of enthusiasm, however honest avid good that enthusiasm may be, but by constant obedience to the truth, by the aid of the Spirit of God.

8. Our surest present enjoyment, and our happiest views of the future of the Church, depend on our knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus. The more a Christian knows of the greatness, and goodness, and wisdom, and love of Jesus, of all the grace that is to come to him in this world, and all She glory that is to come to him in the eternal world, through Jesus, the more his happiness deepens.

(C. F. Deems, D. D.)

I. THE FORMER RESPECTS ARE THESE —

1. Simplicity, honesty, plainness, truth. These graces are implied to be in children (Isaiah 11:8). We have a proverb that children will tell truth.

2. Humility and meekness. Herein doth Christ set forth children as a pattern (Matthew 18:4). So doth the Psalmist (Psalm 131:2).

3. Freedom from rancour, malice, envy, and such like violent and evil passions (1 Corinthians 14:20).

4. Desire of milk whereby they are nourished (1 Peter 2:2).

5. Growing and increasing (1 Peter 2:2). Childhood is a growing age. When men come to man-age they use to stand at a stay.

6. Taking notice of their parents, and depending on them. Lambs, calves, and other young ones know their own dams, and will quickly find them out in a great flock or herd. The prophet showeth that the ox and ass, the most brutish of brutes, know where they are fed (Isaiah 1:3). "Your Heavenly Father knoweth that you have need of these things" (Matthew 6:31). Will you not then depend on Him?

7. Subjection to their parents' will, which is a law to children (1 Peter 1:14), and seeking their parents' honour (Malachi 1:6). Christ hath made Himself a pattern herein (Luke 2:51).

8. Care to imitate their parents, and seeking to be like them (John 8:39; Romans 4:12; 1 Peter 1:16, 17; Ephesians 5:1; Matthew 5:48).

9. Retaining a childlike affection to their parents, and reverencing them, though they correct them (Hebrews 12:9).

10. Returning to them after they have offended them (Luke 15:18). That affection which a child conceiveth to be in his parents towards him, will be in him towards his parents.

II. THE RESPECTS WHEREIN IT IS DISCOMMENDABLE AND DISGRACEFUL TO BE AS CHILDREN, are such as these —

1. Ignorance and want of capacity (1 Corinthians 14:20).

2. Vanity and delighting in toys, as painted pears, rattles, and such like. "When I became a man I put away childish, things" (1 Corinthians 13:11).

3. Levity, inconstancy (Ephesians 4:14). We say of a child that it is won with a nut, and lost with the shell.

4. Disability to manage weighty affairs (Ecclesiastes 10:16; Isaiah 3:4; Jeremiah 1:6).

5. Non-proficiency, and a small measure of knowledge, faith, and other graces. In this respect children are here opposed to men well grown; and babes are counted carnal, and opposed to such as are spiritual. This last respect is here especially meant.

(W. Gouge.)

In most large houses we shall find humanity in all its stages. We shall see the infant in its cradle, children laughing in their play, young men working with vigour, and the old man resting in peace. In such a mansion, if a careful Martha be in charge, provision will be made for all the different ages. Now in our Father's great house His family is always so largo that you will always find believers in all stages of growth. Now it were unfitting to give the milk to the man of full age, and equally improper to present the strong meat to those who are but infants; our Lord has, therefore, been pleased to dictate directions as to the persons for whom the various provisions of His table are intended.

I. Let us, first of all, BRING FORTH SOME OF THIS STRONG MEAT AND SET IT UPON THE TABLE BEFORE YOU.

1. A careful examination of the context will inform you that one form of strong meat Which is only fit for full-grown Christians is the allegorical exposition of Scriptural history. I believe that every book of Scripture has some special lesson beyond its historical import; and perhaps when the history of the world shall have been fully wrought out, we shall see that the books of the Bible were like a prophetic roll sealed to us, but yet fulfilled to the letter.

2. I feel persuaded that the apostle also more particularly referred to those mysterious truths which have respect to the relationships of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to His complex person. The very simplest believer understands that Christ is God and man, that Christ stood as the sinner's surety and paid his debt. But His complex person suggests a thousand thoughts, all of which are too high for comprehension or even consideration until our senses have been exercised.

3. The doctrines of grace are also generally esteemed to be very strong meat. Only they who do business upon the great waters, and have learned the need of solid food, can usually feed on these things with satisfaction.

4. Scarcely need I mention that other dish — the more advanced and inwrought forms of Christian experience.

II. Secondly, let me INVITE THE QUALIFIED PERSONS TO COME TO THE FEAST. Who are they? They are here described as being persons of full age. Understand that there is no reference here at all to the age of a person as to human life. Growth in grace does not run side by side with growth in years. As old Master Brooks says, "There are some few believers who seem to be born with beards"; they are ripe Christians at a very early stage of their spiritual existence; and there are some who, if they tarry at Jericho till their beards be grown, will be long in seeing the King's face. They are always babes, needing the spoon and the rocking-chair, even in old age. The expression in the text, then, has no reference to age, but is used in a spiritual and metaphorical sense But what is meant by men that are full-grown? Well, you know, a babe has the same parts as a man. The babe is perfect in its measure, but it is not perfectly perfect. Those limbs must expand; the little hand must get a wider grasp; the trembling feet must become strong pillars for ripening manhood; the man must swell, and grow, and expand, and enlarge, and be consolidated. Now when we are born to God we have all the parts of the advanced Christian. Faith, hope, love, patience — they are all there, but they are all little, and they must all grow; and he is of full age whose faith is vigorous, whose love is inflamed, whose patience is constant, whose hope is bright, who has every grace, in full fashion. Nor is it only development. The full grown man is stronger than the babe. His sinews are knit; his bones have become more full of solid material; they are no longer soft and cartilaginous, there is more solid matter in them. So with the advanced Christian; he is no longer to be bent about and twisted; his bones are as iron, and his muscles as steel; he moveth himself in stately paces, neither needeth he any upon whom to lean. He can plough the soil, or reap the corn; deeds that were impossible to infancy are simplicities to the full-grown man. But then our text tells us that they have had their senses exercised. The soul has senses as well as the body. Men who have had their senses exercised know how to choose between good and evil. Now, what are these senses? Well, there are our spiritual eyes. Travellers, who go to Switzerland for the first time, soon discover that they have not had their eyes exercised. You think that you can reach the peak of yonder mountain in half-an-hour. There is the top of yonder rock; you dream that a boy might fly his kite to the summit, but it shall take you hours to climb there, and weary limbs alone can bear you to the dizzy height. At a distance, young travellers scarcely know which is mountain and which is cloud. All this is the result of not baying the eyes exercised upon such glorious objects. It is just precisely so in spiritual things, unless Christians have their eyes exercised. I hope you know what it is to see Christ; your eyes, by faith, have looked upon the King in His beauty. You know what it is, too, to see self; you have looked into the depravity of your own heart, and have been amazed. Your eyes have seen the rising and the falling of many deceptions. Your eyes have been tried in waiting for God in many a dark night, or in beholding Him in the midst of many a bright Providence. Thus your eyes have been exercised. Now, when a doctrine is put before you, a strong doctrine, you look at it and say — "All! yes; my eye of faith tells me from what I have seen before that that is healthy food upon which I may feed." But if you detect something in it that is too high, or too low, you at once say — "No, that won't do for me," and you put it by. Hence it is that the man, the eye of whose faith has been tried with bright visions and dark revelations, is qualified to discern between good and evil in those great mysteries which would be too high for unexercised believers. Then there is the ear, &c.

III. I think our apostle meant the text to be a GENTLE REBUKE TO THOSE WHO ARE NOT FULL-GROWN MEN. The apostle says that the Hebrew saints ought to have been teachers, but that they still remained infants. It is very pleasant to see the infant in the house. What joy there is in its tender cry. But suppose that our children were always to remain infants, that would be no happiness to the parent. How long have you been converted to God? Why, I have known some converts that have been in long clothes for thirty years after they were converted, and are babies still. If you asked them to speak for Christ, they could only say a word or two of mere babble; and as for their confession of faith, it was not a reason; they did declare the hope that was in them, but they did not give a reason for it, for they could not give one. Then there are some who grow so slowly that their faith is just as weak now as it was twenty years ago. They go tottering along, and cannot run alone yet. Have I not seen some who ought to have been as patient as Job by this time, as fretful as they can well be. Why not begin to search the Scriptures? Why not try to live nearer to God? Why not pant after a greater conformity to Christ's image? Why, what a Christian you might then be!

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. It is evident from the nature of Christianity that you CAN NEITHER SEE ITS BEAUTIES, NOR REAP ITS BENEFITS, WHILE YOU ATTEND ONLY TO SOME LOOSE PRINCIPLES, AND DO NOT CONSIDER THE WHOLE SYSTEM: for the truths of religion form a system, a body of coherent doctrines, closely connected, and in perfect harmony. I am aware that this grand characteristic of Christianity hath occasioned many mistakes among mankind. Under pretence that a religion proceeding from God must harmonise in its component parts, men have licentiously contrived a chain of propositions to please themselves. They have substituted a phantom of their own imagination, for that body of doctrine which God hath given us in the Holy Scriptures. Hence so much obstinacy in maintaining, after so much rashness and presumption in advancing such phantoms. For of all obstinate people, none excel more in their dreadful kind than those who are prejudiced in favour of certain systems. But if infatuation with systems hath occasioned so many disorders in the Church, the opposite disposition, I mean, the obstinate rejection of all, or the careless composition of some, hath been equally hurtful; for it is no less dangerous, in a system of religion, to omit what really belongs to it, than to incorporate anything foreign from it. Let us be more explicit. There are two sorts of truths in religion: truths of speculation, and truths of practice. Each truth is connected not only with other truths in its own class, but truths of the first class are connected with those of the second, and of these parts thus united is composed that admirable body of doctrine which forms the system of religion. There are in religion some truths of speculation, there is a chain of doctrines. God is holy: this is the first truth. A hot, God can have no intimate communion with unholy creatures: this is a second truth which follows from the first. God, who can have no communion with u holy creatures, can have no communion with men who are unholy creatures: this is a third truth which follows from the second. Thus follow the thread of Jesus Christ's theology, and you will find, as I said, each part that composeth it depending on another, and every one giving another the hand. For, from the loving and merciful inclination of God to relieve a multitude of His creatures from a threatening abyss of the deepest miseries, follows ,he mission of Jesus Christ; because it was fit that the remedy chosen of God to relieve the miseries of men should bear a proportion to the causes which produced it. From the doctrine of Jesus Christ's mission follows the necessity of the Spirit of God: because it would have been impossible for men to have discovered by their own speculations the way of salvation, unless they had been assisted by a supernatural revelation. From the doctrines of the infusion of the Son of God, an, of the gift of the Holy Spirit, follows this most comfortable truth, that we are the objects of the love of God, even of love the most vehement and sincere that can be imagined. In like manner there is a connection between practical truths. The class of practical truths is connected with the class of speculative truths, and each practical truth is connected with another practical truth. Tile class of practical truths is connected with the class of speculative truths. As soon as ever we are convinced of the truth of the doctrines just now mentioned, we shall be thereby convinced that we are under an indispensable necessity to devote ourselves to holiness. All virtues mutually support each other, and there is no invalidating one part of our morality without, on that very account, invalidating the whole. To illustrate this we may compare spiritual with natural things. The more art and ingenuity there is in a machine composed of divers wheels, the more necessary it is to consider it in its whole, and in all its arrangements, and the more does its beauty escape our observation when we confine our attention to a single wheel: because the more art there is in a machine the more essential is the minutest part to its perfection. Now deprive a machine of an essential part and you deface and destroy it. Apply this to spiritual things. In a compact system, in a coherent body of doctrine, there is nothing useless, nothing which ought not to occupy the very place that the genius who composed the whole hath given it. What will become of religion if ye consider any of its doctrines separately? What becomes of religion if ye consider the holiness of God without His justice, or His justice without His mercy?

II. Let us then proceed to inquire WHY SO MANY OF US CONFINE OURSELVES TO A SMALL NUMBER OF RELIGIOUS TRUTHS, AND INCAPACITATE OURSELVES FOR EXAMINING THE WHOLE SYSTEM.

1. The first cause is a party-spirit. This is a disposition that cannot be easily defined, and it would be difficult to include in a definition of it even its genus and species. It is a monstrous composition of all bad genuses and of all bad species. It is an hydra that reproduceth while it seemeth to destroy itself, and which, when one head hath been cut off, instantly produceth a thousand more. This spirit must naturally incapacitate a man for considering the whole of religion; it must naturally incline him to take it only by bits and shreds. On the one hand, it contracts the mind: for how can a soul that harboureth and cherisheth all the phantoms which a party-spirit produceth, study and meditate as religion requires? On the other hand, a party-spirit depraves the heart and eradicates the desire of knowing religion. A man animated with the spirit of party directeth all his attention to such propositions of religion as seem to favour his erroneous opinions, and irregular passions, and diverts it from all that oppose them; his system includes only what strengthens his party, it is exclusive of everything that weakens or opposes it.

2. The second cause of the evil that we would remove is the choice of teachers. In general, we have three sorts of teachers. The first are catechists, who teach our children the principles of religion. The second are ministers. The third prepare the minds of young people for the ministry itself. The carelessness that prevails in the choice of the first sorter teachers cannot be sufficiently lamented. The care of instructing our children is committed to people more fit for disciples than masters, and the meanest talents are thought more than sufficient to teach the first principles of religion. And yet what capacity does it not require to lay the first foundations of the edifice of salvation! What address to take the different forms necessary to insinuate into the minds of catechumens, and to conciliate their attention and love! What dexterity to proportion instruction to the different ages and characters of learners! The pastors of our churches are our second class of teachers. What precaution, and, in some sort, what dread ought to prevail in the choice of an office, which so greatly influences the salvation of those among whom it is exercised! There needs only the bad system of a pastor to produce and preserve thousands of false notions of religion in the people's minds, notions which fifty years' labour of a more wise and sensible ministry will scarcely be able to eradicate. What hath been said on the choice of pastors still more particularly regards the election of tutors, who are employed to form pastors themselves. Universities are public springs, whence rivulets flow into all the Church. On the contrary, place men of evil character at the head of our universities, and they will send out impoisoned ministers, who will diffuse through the whole Church the fatal venom which themselves have imbibed.

3. The third cause, which we have assigned, of the infancy and novitiate of most Christians in religious knowledge, is the multitude of their secular affairs. Far be it from us to aim at inspiring you with superstitious maxims. We do not mean that they who fill eminent posts in society should devote that time to devotion which the good of the community requires. Amidst the most turbulent solicitudes of life, a Christian, desirous of being saved, will devote some time to his salvation.

4. The last cause of the incapacity of so many Christians for seeing the whole of religion in its connection and harmony; the last cause of their taking it only by bits and shreds, is their love of sensual pleasure. We do not speak here of those gross pleasures at which heathens would have blushed, and which are incompatible with Christianity. We attack pleasures more refined, maxims for which reasonable persons become sometimes apologists; persons who, on more accounts than one, are worthy of being proposed as examples; persons who would seem to be the salt of the earth, the flower of society, and whom we cannot justly accuse of not loving religion. Recollect here that genera! notion of religion watch we have laid down: it contains truths of speculation, and truths of practice. Such sensual pleasures, as we have just now mentioned, form invincible obstacles to the knowledge of both.(1) To the knowledge of speculative truths. How is it possible for a man to obtain a complete system of the doctrines of the gospel while he is a slave to sensual pleasures? To obtain a complete system of the doctrines of the gospel there must be a certain habit of thinking and meditating. Tats habit cannot be acquired without exercise, it is unattainable without serious attention and profound application. But how can people devoted to pleasure acquire such a habit? To counterbalance the difficulty of meditation and study there must be a relish for it. But nothing is more capable of disgusting us with the spiritual pleasures of study and meditation than the love of sensual pleasures. To acquire a complete knowledge of religious truths, it is not enough to study them in the closet, in retirement and silence; we must converse with others who study them too. But the love of sensual pleasure indisposes us for such conversations.(2) But, secondly, if the love of sensual pleasure raises such great obstacles to the knowledge of speculative truths, it raiseth incomparably greater still to the truths of practice. There are some Scripture maxims which are never thought of by the persons in question, except it be to destroy them, at least they make no part of their system of morality. In your system of morality, what becomes of this Scripture maxim, "Evil communications corrupt good manners "? Nothing forms connections more intimate, and, at the same time, more extravagant, than an immoderate love of pleasure. In your system of morality, what becomes of those maxims of Scripture which say that we must "confess Jesus Christ before men," that " whosoever shall be ashamed of Him before men, of him will He be ashamed when He cometh in the glory of His Father"? In your system of morality, what become of those Scripture maxims which threaten those with the greatest punishments who injure others? The love of sensual pleasure causeth offences of the most odiums kind; I mean, it betrays your partners in pleasure into vice. Ye do not injure your families; but do ye not occasion other men to injure theirs? Ye are guilty of no fraud; but do ye not tempt others to be fraudulent? What become, in your moral system, of those maxims of Scripture that require us to contribute to the excision of "all wicked doers from the city of the Lord" (Psalm 101:8); to discountenance those who commit a crime as well as to renounce it ourselves? The love of sensual pleasure makes us countenance people of the most irregular conduct. In your system of morality what become of those maxims of Scripture which expostulate with us, when the Lord chastiseth us, to "be afflicted and mourn," to :humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God"; to "enter into our chambers, and shut the door about us, to hide ourselves until the indignation be overpast"; to "examine ourselves before the decree bring forth"; to "prepare ourselves to meet our God"; to "hear the rod and who hath appointed it"; to mourn in sackcloth and ashes; and, while we feel present miseries, to remember those that are past, tremble for those that are to come. and endeavour by extraordinary efforts to avert the anger of Heaven? The love of sensual pleasure turns away people's attention from all these maxims, and represents those who preach them as wild visionaries or dry declaimers. In your system of morality, what become of Scripture exhortations to redeem the time, to know the time of our visitation, to do all that our hands find to do, because there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave whither we go? The love of pleasure inclines mortals, who have so short a time to live and so great a task to perform, to waste a considerable part of this fleeting life in amusements, that obliterate both the shortness of life and the necessity of death.

(J. Saurin.)

The essence of Bible makes moral and spiritual bone. I saw an advertisement the other day — "Thirty tons of bones wanted "and I said to myself, "Yes, mostly backbones." Bibline is the nutriment which makes backbone, muscle, and, above all, heart.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
This verse, like another well-known verse in the same Epistle, seems to contain in few words the solution of a difficulty which accompanies us throughout the writings of St. Paul. For all through St. Paul's teaching a prominent doctrine is what we now call liberty of conscience. The inner principle is always recognised by him as supreme over the man. Now, it is not difficult to see why the apostle thus puts the inner voice above all outer voices whatever. For the inner voice, and that voice alone, speaks personally and individually to the soul. A man's conscience may be mistaken; but if so, obedience to it is a mistake and not a sin, and we know that mistakes are very different from sins. If our conscience be mistaken because we have not taken due trouble to enlighten it, then for that neglect of cultivating our conscience we are responsible. But even then the conscience claims our obedience, and if to obey is a mistake, to disobey is a sin. Mistaken or not, the conscience must rule the life. To do right in disobedience to conscience would be (if it could ever be done) more fatal to the character by far than to do wrong in obedience to it. But nevertheless the apostle feels, and every one must feel in reading what he says, that surely here is a serious difficulty. The difference between making conscience supreme, and making any outer law or authority supreme, depends in fact on this. Which is it that God would have here on earth, good actions or good men? Does His gospel propose to redeem and sanctify men's deeds or their souls? Does He desire to see a series of good acts — acts, that is, regulated in their outward form by His holy Law? or does He desire to see a number of His servants striving to obey His will? If you want a number of right acts, then your business is to lay down a number of fixed rules and get men to obey them. But if you desire to have a number of good men, then it is tolerably plain that you must awake within them a power that shall guide their lives independently of mere rules. The acts of such men may not be quite as good as those of the men who are compelled to walk in a more defined path. But the men are men, and not machines, and as such are truer servants of God. To procure such men, the voice within themselves must be entrusted with the absolute dominion over all their lives. The difficulty is, how far this principle is to apply. Are all consciences in a state to claim this liberty? What will justify a man in relying unreservedly on his conscience? The answer is supplied by the verse in the Epistle to the Hebrews with which I began. Those who, by reason of use, have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil, are fittest to use strong meat. They may trust themselves to decide on their own conduct, to choose their own opinions; not certainly in confidence that they cannot make mistakes, but that their mistakes will not be ruinous to their character, and will, on the contrary, contain ever more good than evil. The conscience, like the other faculties that God gives, is not implanted perfect all at once. It has its infancy, its age of weakness; and it ought to have and can have its age of maturity. When it is full grown, it may and must be trusted unreservedly. This is its claim when it has grown to its full strength, And how, then, does it grow? Will it grow entirely of itself, or does it depend entirely on our own exertions? Its growth is like the growth of all our other faculties, the result of a combination of what is without .with what is within. It will grow partly, on the one hand, by the experience of our lives, by the intercourse of our fellows, by the truth that we learn in our studies, by the new thoughts that flash upon us unbidden we know not whence, by the mere lapse of time and growth of our whole framework, both of body and soul, but, above all and through all, by the constant use of God's Holy Word, without which it would hardly be the same faculty; partly, on the other hand, by our own greater or less co-operation, by the bent which we have given to our wills, by the purposes which we have cherished as the hope of our future days, by the passions and impulses that we have fostered in our secret hearts. On the one hand, every day will probably enable us to see more distinctly the consequences and the bearings of every separate act, the extent and limits of every rule of life, the true meaning Of every precept in the Bible, the application of our Lord's commands, the various doctrines of the gospel of God. And this, to a great extent, without any co-operation on our part at all; simply because we are older and more experienced, and our intellects have attained to greater power. But, on the other band, the power of the gospel, the true nature of sin, the hatefulness of evil in God's sight, the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, — these, and truths like these are quite invisible, except to the soul, which opens to receive the grace that flows into it from on high, and rises to meet the blessings that God is ever giving. The true condition of the growth of the conscience is to live in it. To obey it is not enough, if, by obedience, is meant simply doing what it bids. What is wanted is to live in its spirit. That voice is ever calling us to Him who gave it; to God the Father who created it; to Christ whose gospel redeemed it, purifies it, fills it with power; to the Holy Spirit speaking in the Word of God, and revealing the everlasting truth. The constant habit of referring our lives to the will of Christ, the habit of living in the thought of His presence, of trusting entirely to His love, of feeling an absolute confidence in His protection and care, of doing His will, as far as we know it, cheerfully and resolutely, of opening our hearts for Him to see, of filling our intellects with the lessons which He has written for our learning — this is the life which exercises the senses to discern both good and evil.

(Bp. Temple.)

This is a chiding for want of intelligence. It is a reproach for an indolent use, or rather for the disuse, of reason in the province of duty. The sacred Scripture stands almost alone as a book of religious directions in exhorting to a full, free, and constant use of the reason. The Word of God is an enlightener; and wherever it has been a free Bible, and its influence has really entered into the lives and hearts of men, there intelligence has prevailed, and there the human understanding has unfolded its best works, and developed its best efforts. So that the Word of God is not a tyrant book. It imposes no manacles and no restraints, except those which belong to the nature of the human mind, and the nature of the subjects which the human mind is called to investigate. So, then, it is indispensably necessary that men should think, and that they should think for themselves. It is necessary, in repeated instances, that they should make their own deductions and conclusions, and follow in the lines of conduct which flow from them. But, on the other hand, men cannot, in all things, think for themselves. It is right, it is wise, to accept the thoughts of others. We give and take. In one place a man thinks for yea, and in another place you think for him. There is this interchange of knowledge on the great principle of the faith of man in man. When, therefore, men insist upon it that to be in the full exercise of reason one must throw off the past and lift up his head into an independent sphere, where no man before has been, and think out all things, to him may be applied the words of the proverb: " Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? There is more hope of a fool than of him." Not philosophy, but folly, inheres there. Let us look a little, then, at the elements and the proofs of that reason which men talk so much about, and know so little of. First and lowest, is that which we possess with the whole range of the lower animals perceptive reason — that part of the human understanding which takes cognisance of physical facts and events that are exterior to ourselves — which perceives the existence of things and their various qualities — which recognises whatever belongs to the framework or physical structure of the globe. Now, if any man supposes that there is certainty in this realm, he has given very little consideration to it. Men say, "Do you not believe the sight of your own eyes?" I have nothing better, I admit, by which to see things. But are these instruments so perfect that men may rely upon them implicitly? No. Every court of justice shows that the same event, being looked at by two, by four, by six different men, is not, although they are honest, and mean to state the truth, seen by any two of them alike. The sense of seeing in each one acts imperfectly, and each sees differently from the others, and makes a different report from theirs. The same is true of the sense of hearing. Men do not hear half that is going on, to begin with. Let the leader of a choir or a band hear a semi-tone of discord, and his ear will detect it instantly. Mine does not. That belongs only to the musician, and comes only by education. Hearing is not very accurate as between one man and another. In some it is tar better than in others. It is not very accurate as between one period of a man's life and another. Different statements are given where men listen carefully and report truly what they have heard. The same is true in respect to the sense of touch. The five senses, with the perceptive intellect back of them, are alike in this respect. The sense of colour, the sense of shape, the sense of quality, all the senses, when you apply the test to them, and measure their accuracy, are found to be very unreliable. Nothing is more inaccurate than the reports of a man's perceptive intellect. The genius of knowing even the lowest form of truth is a rare genius; and in respect to the great mass of men the senses are fallible. Though they answer a certain rough use of life, and afford a basis for general confidence, yet, after all, when the question is one of exactitude, there is nothing less to be trusted than the senses, until they have been trained. And there are not many men who are capable of being trained so that their senses shall be irreproachable. This is one of the grounds and signs of the scepticism of science. Men w o are scientific investigators apply to truth the tests of physical investigation. They perceive the mistakes which are made by others and themselves, and they come to have a realising sense, as the old ministers used to say, of the fallibility of man's perceptive reason. When they hear a man reasoning from the Bible, and forming judgments and drawing deductions therefrom, they hold these judgments and deductions in suspicion, and say, "That man is not using his understanding accurately." If you go still higher, to the reflective reason, it is that which recognises the relations of things to the relations of truths. Ordinarily we call the use of this reason philosophy. Where it exists in certain forms, and considers everything in the most abstract way, we call it metaphysics. Now, when we look at the reliableness of this superior reason, has it proved to he a safe ground for trust? Men have been for ages reasoning, drilling, training, accumulating; and, after all, the consciousness of mankind is that the reflective reason, while it has vast advantages, while it supplies a human want and a human necessity, is as far from being infallible as anything can be. No man can afford to lean his whole weight upon it without suspicion, without test, without trial. It partakes of the fallibility, of human nature, Nor does it follow because a great many different minds, in different directions, come together on a truth, that it is more true than it would otherwise be. The fact that things have been accepted from the days of rue patriarchs may create a presumption or probability that they are true, but it is not absolute evidence of their truth; for many things have been believed from the days of the patriarchs that have proved not to be true, and been taken out of the category of truths. When, then, you come to judge of the action of the understandings of men — their perceptive reason and their reflective reason — you will find, that though they have practical serviceableness, they are so crude, so untrained, and so disturbed by the emotions of the mind, that they are not infallible, nor absolute, nor to be depended upon. There is another sphere of the reason — that one in which truths are apprehended in their social and moral relations. We come into the knowledge of truths of fact and matter by the mediation of our senses; but there is a higher realm than that of fact and matter. There is an invisible realm where emotion, where sentiment, where spirituality reside. We come into communion with that realm by the understanding, through the mediation of our personal emotions and feelings. I will illustrate it. Take a little air, or strain, which an organist may give you. It shall be some familiar tune, like "Dundee," or some old carol. Let him, by-and-by, after playing it on one or two small stops, introduce another stop — a hautbois or wood-flute, for instance; and you will see that while the air remains, there is a new quality in it. Now, it is so with the human mind. The intellect is looking at things; and if all the emotions were shut off, and were not allowed to colour them, how barren, how unrich they would be! But you draw one emotion, and instantly the things perceived through the intellect are affected by that emotion. As in playing a tune, every additional stop that is introduced adds a new quality to the sound, so the understanding is modified, changed, enriched, by this or that emotion which is let on. When the intellect is thus electrified, magnetised, polarised, it comes to a recognition of the greater truths of affection and sentiment. Take a man who has no conscience naturally, and let him stand in the midst of actions and presentations, whatever they are, and he will perceive no sense of equity; he will have no fine appreciation of honour, no intense feeling of what is right or wrong; he will be entirely without any such emotion; but others, standing eight by him, and highly constituted in their moral nature, will be sensible to what is right, and true, and noble, and just. Take the emotion of ideality, which we call imagination, fancy, aspiration, yearning, and what not. Where that joins itself to the understanding it makes the orator, the poet, the mystic, the dreamer. It makes men that see truths in regions where they do not outwardly appear. In all such cases the understanding is magnetised by that feeling which brings them in relation to things invisible — to superior truths. Throughout the world the sentiment of benevolence, the sentiment of hope, the sentiment of faith, the sentiment of conscience, the sentiment of love, bring us into relation to spheres of truth which are infinite, Divine, transcendent. When, then, you come to look at what are called moral intuitions in men, what are they but the results of such a highly-organised, sensitive state of mind. that feeling, flashing upon the understanding, brings into the form of knowledge or perception all the truths that belong to the emotion which has coloured, or magnetised, or polarised the understanding? Now, in this realm what style and degree of certainty is there? I think, generally speaking, it may be said that those intuitions which are against nature — using nature in a qualified sense — are more apt to be true than those which are with nature. In other words, the spontaneous feelings which a man has in the direction of the animal sphere — anger, pride, cruelty, and the like — are, generally speaking, more erroneous than those intuitions which go out toward the generous, the noble, the pure, the self-denying. It is more natural for a man to act with those immense swells of feeling which work toward the animal, than to act with those emotions which work toward the spiritual, and yet in that direction he most often acts wrongly. It is only by long practice with reason and feeling that we bare learned to discern the right from the wrong — the good from the bad. It requires education — that is to say, the introduction of the element of habit upon this joint action of the reason and the emotions — to enable us to make just moral distinctions. So far, then, as to the fallibility of men's reason. It would seem, at first thought, in looking over this subject, as though there was a strong argument in favour of having the Church think for men, and tell them what is right and what is wrong; but there is always this fallacy, that where the Church thinks out a truth, and tells it to me, I have to think of it before I can understand it. I meet the same liabilities to error in accepting from the Church what it says as infallible that I do in the exercise of my own thought independent of the Church. The very act of receiving truths from other persons, or from bodies of persons, is attended with as many risks as the act of searching for truths unaided by others. I am liable, in accepting what comes to me from others, to no less limitations and mistakes than I would be if I went forth and gathered my own materials and made my own deductions. Moreover, we have had the experience of ages, which shows us that the truths which are handed down to us by corporate bodies are not any more true than those which are developed by our own individual experiences. Take the household. The father and the mother can think for the children until they are fifteen, or eighteen, or twenty years of age; but then they must think for themselves. Why? Because no child is like its father and mother. All truth is relative to the person by whom it is applied. Then, next, let me speak of the arrogance of those who are throwing aside or attempting to disesteem or to disown all the deductions of the spiritual sense; all tire results of the action of the upper understanding. Shall 1 disown the sounds that fill the air, because, applying my eye to them, I cannot see them? Shall I disown all odours, because, putting my ear to the flower, I cannot smell them? Shall men disown truths because they cannot taste them when they are discoverable, only through the joint action of passion or affection or spiritual emotion, and the higher understanding? Shall men apply the crucible, or the mathematical rule, or any outward measure to things that, if perceived at all, must be perceived through the channel of higher thoughts and feelings, and disown them because they cannot stand the test of the lower reason? The lower reason has its tests, the superior unspiritualised reason has its tests, and the spiritualised reason has its rests; and each must rest on its own ground. One other point. In view of the carefulness required in the investigation of truth; in view of the time and training and discipline that are required; in view of the nature of the mind and the skill required to judge of its actions rightly, I say to all those who are speaking lightly of the faith of their fathers, and of the manners and customs of their childhood; I say to all those who, without any special knowledge, are talking of progress and emancipation, and of the glorious era of reason; I say to all those who are curveling in physical philosophy, as against the higher modes of arriving at the truth, "You are going too fast and too far. No man is wise who leaves his head behind him; and you are travelling faster than your train can go." To bring new thought to the balancing of truth; to put thoughts to thoughts, and to make them march in ranks and train together to term systematic facts and co-operating truths — this is a slow, a cautious, and a difficult process. Knowledge, virtue, morality, spirituality, manhood, can only be acquired by long effort and practice. Men gradually find new elements of truth, or larger proportions of old truths. Be willing to receive new light; but until you ha, e something substantial and clear as crystal to take the place of the old, hold on to what you already have. Nothing is so bad as for a man to be afloat; nothing is so bad as for a man to lose faith in everything. Put in a skiff, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, a babe that knows neither the stars, nor the sea, nor storms, nor sail, nor compass, nor rudder, and what such a child is, that is the young man who drifts through life, contemning all faith, all knowledge of the past, yet without having acquired any knowledge of the present, or gained any intuitions of the future.

(H. W. Beecher.)

It is clearly implied in the context that ignorance confines men to very imperfect guides in life, and that a true religion ought to develop growth in knowledge, not only, but skill in using knowledge as a means of restitude; and still more clearly in the closing verse is it declared that the conscience of men requires education, in order that it may, "by reason of use," "discern both good and evil." Using. exercising, disciplining a man's conscience, according to the conception of this passage, is the method by which it may be made to discern good and evil. First as to the nature of conscience. It is a moral sentiment or emotion subject to all the conditions of all other emotions in the mind of man. It does not differ in that regard from any sentiment or any emotion. All the great moral desires or sentiments are dependent for opportunity and for incitement upon the foregoing action of the intellect. The intellect thinks and perceives for the conscience just as much as it does for hope, for fear, for veneration, or for love. It is the precursor of these elements. Therefore the desires or sentiments are not, in and of themselves, intelligent. There is not a sentiment of hope with a little intellect of hope in it. There is not a sentiment of veneration with a little thinking power in it. There is not a sentiment of conscience with a little thinking mind belonging to it. The intellect belongs to all sentiments. Every sentiment draws its knowledge, and therefore its opportunity and incitement for action, from the common understanding that overspreads all the sentiments. They are dependent upon the reason for light. No man discerns the rightness or the wrongness of anything through his conscience. It is the intellect that sees the agreement or disagreement of conduct with the rule of life. It is conscience that experiences pain or pleasure in itself at this disagreement or agreement. The action of conscience, therefore, is partnership action. What some term "the moral sense" is the co-operative action of the intellect and the sentiment of conscience. No mind, no intelligent conscience. The reason, therefore, stands related to all sentiments — to conscience and the rest — as the keys on the keyboard do to the pipes in an organ. All the pipes have the potentiality of certain sounds, differing one from another; but they do not sound themselves. They never open their throat to speak until the keys are pressed. We open them with our hands. The whole issuing range of harmony from the instrument is determined at the key-board and not behind it. We touch the keys first, and the response comes afterward. So reason is the key-board of the mind; and when it pronounces any course of conduct, or any action, to be right, the conscience approves it — that is, it gives forth the sentiment of pleasure to itself; and when the reason condemns any course of conduct or action, then the conscience gives back to itself the sentiment of pain. But while on the one side it is true that the conscience does not itself think, nor perceive, nor discern, it would be wrong to suppose that it has nothing to do with thinking, perceiving, and discerning. Indirectly it has much to do with them, for, while the emotions of the soul have incitement and opportunity from the intellect, the intellect is not unaffected by them. Strong emotions inspire the intellect with a sensibility peculiar to the truths which belong to those emotions that are acting. Or, if I may so say, figuratively, a feeling gives its colour to the intellect, and makes it susceptible of the kinds of truth which it otherwise would not discern. For example, every kind of sorrow produces in the intellect a sensibility to the peculiar class of truths which are concerned in sorrow. If one be overladen with sorrow, everything he sees becomes Fad, and everything he thinks of has a colour of sadness in it. But if the sorrow be cleared away, and mirth come in the place of it, the intellect no longer sees the shades, nor the low tones or tints of truth. It sees, dancing on every side, all the variable elements of the truths that belong to mirth. There is, then, a cooperative or interchangeable action of the intellect upon the emotions; so that a perfect education of either one requires the education of the other. They work together; and a proportion and balance between thought and feeling is indispensable to thought and indispensable to feeling. Therefore, so far from the intellect, devoid of emotion, being the discerner in regard to the greatest sphere of truth, it is precisely the opposite; the intellect is utterly unable to discern what is true in these higher realms except by the force of underlying feeling, which does not see, but which inspires the intellect with a quality that enables it to see, the truths which belong to these several departments. Secondly, consider the function and scope of conscience. Its function relates, properly, to reason, or intellect; to sensibility, and to truths of rectitude. It inspires the reason with that sensibility by which it discerns all truth, in so far as it relates to the moral conduct of mankind. When right is done, the conscience gives forth pleasurable emotions. When wrong is done, the conscience gives back pain. Thus it approves or condemns. It presides in all the spheres of men — in the household, m the market, in the forum, in government — and makes itself felt in universal law. At the same time it leavens every feeling of the soul, inspiring in each one a sense of truth and righteousness and rectitude in his own sphere. And it is a restraint upon unregulated and extravagant thought and emotion. Thus in all things it brings itself into human experience, whether it be in the form of feeling, or whether it be in the form of action. With this foundation, I remark, first, that we discern in the action of conscience, practically, in a very great number of instances, the variety and intensity of our own judgment. Thou* sands of men are said to be conscientious simply because in the respects in which they have a sense of right and wrong they are intense, though they are not intelligent. Men who have a profound conscience toward God, toward His Book, toward His Church, toward His ministering servants, and toward truths that have in them something of the element of eternity — those men often have almost no conscience in regard to elements which relate to the welfare of mankind. So you shall see an Italian bandit who goes to bed with remorse because he did not pay his vows to the statue of the Virgin Mary, nor say the prayers that he had vowed, but who will wipe the dagger with which he had stabbed a man in the back with a sense of having performed a virtuous action! Ill anything which relates to religion many men are very conscientious; and such men are said to be very religious; but in the things which relate to worldly affairs these same men often have no conscience. Envy, jealousy, anger, hatred, rivalry, supersession, all such things they indulge in innocently, without the least idea that conscience has anything to do with them. They have not a conscience for truth everywhere, but they have a conscience for truth in spots, and of a certain kind. They have a conscience for truth toward the supernatural, for truth toward the supernal, but not for truth toward the human. Multitudes of persons there are who have a conscience about pins, but not about crowbars. They have a conscience about nettles, but not about serpents' teeth. That is to say, they exalt the bottom until it is as high as the top, and the top can be no higher. On the other hand, there are those who, not by feebleness of intellect but by an over-refined process or habit of searching and researching into metaphysical threads and films and gossamers, are perpetually bringing about them insoluble matters and tormenting themselves and their friends with questions in life which have no practical issue, but exist in the bowels of their brain and are being spun out. They weary themselves by excessive addiction to a subtle conscientiousness which works in such channels. Then, next, come mechanical consciences, or consciences that act entirely by rule and custom, and not by determining right or wrong through the reason. A mechanical conscience can only act in reference to cases which have been already determined; for it is a conscience which acts according to precedent or rule. Now, rules are the indispensable eyes of ignorance, as principles are the indispensable eyes of intelligence. They are the resultants of practical experiments in right and wrong through ages, and are not likely to be set aside for any one. It is far more likely that generations of men, as the result of continuous trial, will be right in practical affairs than that any single man will. Where, therefore, we are prone to ignore a custom because we are at liberty to act from original considerations we shall be very likely to substitute conceit for wisdom. For the great mass of mankind, then, conscience must determine right and wrong. That is, their intellect must ask, "What is custom?'" "What is rule?" And they must go by that. Yet it is not the best guide. It is the very thing that is condemned in this passage. Wider civilisation and a higher life are full of things that must of necessity be outside of customs and rules, and for which no precedent can be established; and these must be determined by the application of principles. Hence you will find that the Word of God constantly recognises the propriety of a man determining right and wrong by referring to his original moral feelings. Many a man has trained his conscience to an interpretation of sensibility — that is to say, conscience and the understanding together, which form the moral sense, has been trained in such a way that they interpret right and wrong precisely as musicians interpret right and wrong in music, not as the result of any experience by which they say, "One, two, and three make a discord", but as the result of feeling. A discord hurts the ear of one who is cultivated in music. Now, there is such a training of a man's moral sense that whatever is dishonour-able, whatever is coarse, whatever is wrong in one way or another, hurts him. First comes the feeling of pare, and he has to determine the cause of it afterwards. The intellect and conscience working together are so sensitised that that which is at variance with or unlike moral principles, with truth, with simplicity, with fairness, with honour, with any virtue, is offensive to them. They have been so drilled in things right that the first appearance of a thing that is wrong strikes oppugnance into them. On the other hand, you will find men who are strict Sabbath-keepers, who are strict in the letter of honesty, who are strict in a thousand conventional elements of right and wrong, but who in business spheres, in the development of a campaign, in an enterprise where there is rivalry, where there is some end to be gained by combination, or where there is pressure in one direction or another, are overreaching, and do not hesitate to do wrong, and violate the principles of humanity. They were never in such a case before; they have had no training of conscience which makes them feel that they are transgressing the law of right; and their want of integrity does not trouble them. But there are some men who shrink back instinctively from things that are wrong, and do not themselves know why they are shocked at them. There are many things that we are familiar with, but that we are unconscious of. There are many things that we know without thinking of them. I know the surface of the ground on which I walk without knowing it. I know a hill or a level without knowing it. My foot knows more than my head in these matters. It has been trained respecting them. We get up and sit down, we go backwards and forwards, we do a great many things where the body is concerned automatically. We have come to that point where intantaneity is the law of operation in many physical things. Higher than that, men may come to that state of mind in which, without any conscious intellectual operation, by instinct or moral insight, they shall abhor that which is evil, and in which they shall instinctively seek that which is good. This is the highest form of conscience. I must add one or two remarks. First, I think our times need training in judicial ethics far more than in intensity of spirituality. It is morality that develops spirituality, and not spirituality that develops morality. You cannot put on your roof until you have built your foundation. The lack of training in the principles of honesty and integrity is the weakness of our times. This training, like all real training, should be first in the household. I only add that perhaps more than any other single thing in the training of children, in the family, in the school, and in the preliminary stages of their life, are needed, first, training in what is right and wrong, and second, the development of an instantaneous subjection of thought and action to that which is determined to be right and wrong, and a habit of doing that which is duty instantly without questioning.

(H. W. Beecher.)

A set of half-witted people went to the sea to gather precious stones. Not being well able to discriminate between true and false stones, they took for precious a lot of common pebbles, thinking they must be good because they were of bright colour and heavy. The really precious stones, being of uncertain colour and light weight, they rejected as worthless.

(J. Gilmour, M. A.)

Practical sciences are not to be learned but in the way of action. It is experience that must give knowledge in the Christian profession, as well as in all others. And the knowledge drawn from experience is quite of another kind from that which flows from speculation or discourse. It is not the opinion, but the path of the just, that the wisest of men tells us shines more and more unto a perfect day. The obedient, and the men of practice, are those sons of light that shall outgrow all their doubts and ignorances, that shall ride upon these clouds, and triumph over their present imperfections, till persuasion pass into knowledge, and knowledge advance into assurance, and all come at length to be completed in the beatific vision and a full fruition of those joys which God has in reserve for them whom by His grace He shall prepare for glory.

(R. South, D. D.)

Links
Hebrews 5:12 NIV
Hebrews 5:12 NLT
Hebrews 5:12 ESV
Hebrews 5:12 NASB
Hebrews 5:12 KJV

Hebrews 5:12 Bible Apps
Hebrews 5:12 Parallel
Hebrews 5:12 Biblia Paralela
Hebrews 5:12 Chinese Bible
Hebrews 5:12 French Bible
Hebrews 5:12 German Bible

Hebrews 5:12 Commentaries

Bible Hub
Hebrews 5:11
Top of Page
Top of Page