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Verse 18. For ye are not come. To enforce the considerations already urged, the apostle introduces this sublime comparison between the old and new dispensations, Heb 12:18-24. The object, in accordance with the principal scope of the epistle, is to guard them against apostasy. To do this, he shows that under the new dispensation there was much more to bind them to fidelity, and to make apostasy dangerous, than there was under the old. The main point of the comparison is, that under the Jewish dispensation everything was adapted to awe the mind, and to restrain by the exhibition of grandeur and of power; but that under the Christian dispensation, while there was as much that was sublime, there was much more that was adapted to win and hold the affections. There were revelations of higher truths. There were more affecting motives to lead to obedience. There was that of which the former was but the type and emblem. There was the clear revelation of the glories of heaven, and of the blessed society there, all adapted to prompt to the earnest desire that they might be our own. The considerations presented in this passage, constitute the climax of the argument so beautifully pursued through this epistle, showing that the Christian system was far superior, in every respect, to the Jewish. In presenting this closing argument, the apostle first refers to some of the circumstances attending the former dispensation, which were designed to keep the people of God from apostasy, and then the considerations of superior weight existing under the Christian economy.

The mount that might be touched. Mount Sinai. The meaning here is, that that mountain was palpable, material, touchable—in contradistinction from the Mount Zion to which the church had now come, which is above the reach of the external senses, Heb 12:22. The apostle does not mean that it was permitted to the Israelites to touch Mount Sinai—for this was strictly forbidden, Ex 19:12; but he evidently alludes to that prohibition, and means to say that a command forbidding them to "touch" the mountain, implied that it was a material or palpable object. The sense of the passage is, that every circumstance that occurred there was fitted to fill the soul with terror. Everything accompanying the giving of the law, the setting of bounds around the mountain which they might not pass, and the darkness and tempest on the mountain itself, was adapted to overawe the soul. The phrase, "the touchable mountain"—if such a phrase is proper —would express the meaning of the apostle here. The "Mount Zion" to which the church now has come, is of a different character. It is not thus visible and palpable. It is not enveloped in smoke and flame, and the thunders of the Almighty do not roll and re-echo among its lofty peaks as at Horeb; yet it presents stronger motives to perseverance in the service of God.

And that burned with fire. Ex 19:18. Comp. De 4:11; 33:2.

Nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest. See Ex 19:16.

{*} "voice" "sound" {a} "which voice" Ex 20:18,19

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