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sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.”
And well may we expect that this voice should be heard. For observe the certain inference which we must draw from what the Evangelist reveals concerning the Christ, the Son of God. We learn from it the miserable and ruined state of man: so ruined and miserable, that the same power must redeem life, which had given life : the same divine person must create anew, who had at first created. He without whom nothing was made that was made, now comes to seek and to save that which was lost. Low, indeed, was the condition, which must needs be thus relieved and raised. Utter, surely, must be the ruin which could only be thus recovered. O! believe not, then, a deceived and deceitful world, which would tell you that man may be alienated from God, and yet be happy: unreconciled to his Maker and his Judge, and yet safe from danger. If he, who comes to save, is he who was in the beginning with God, and was God, no other argument is needed to prove the depth of ruini and of misery. We see it in the majesty of the Deliverer. In the greatness of the Saviour we read the greatness of man's necessity. In the vastness of the sacrifice, we learn to calculate the weight of our debt, the burthen of man's sin. And O! learn to measure from it, too, the extent of your obligation. Which will be greatest, the heinousness of guilt, or the extremity of loss, if we put this mercy from us, “count ourselves unworthy of eternal life, and “ neglect so great salvation "?
Rather, may the gracious purpose which was designed, when the Word was made flesh,” be accomplished in us ! " That we may know Him that is true," and “have fellowship with the Father through his Son Jesus Christ."
JOHN THE BAPTIST A WITNESS OF THE SON OF GOD, WHO WAS
REJECTED BY THOSE TO WHOM HE CAME.
JOHN i. 6-11.
(Matt. iii. 1-12; Luke iii. 1-17.) 6. “ There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7. “The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all
men through him might believe. 8. “He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 9. “That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh
into the world.” So great an event as the appearance of the Son of God, the incarnation of the Eternal Word, could not take place without announcement. Many prophecies had gone out respecting him ; expectation had been raised, even beyond the land in which he should be born ; and there was a general idea of One “ that should come, and redeem Israel.” And now that the proper season had arrived, according to the determinate counsel of God, an especial message was intrusted to John the son of Zacharias, that he might call the attention of the people to the time of their visitation :" that he might “prepare the way of the Lord, and make his paths straight. He came to bear witness of the light, which was no longer to shine in darkness, but to be openly held up to view : sufficient and ready to light every man that cometh into the world.
Yet all are not enlightened. From the beginning it had proved so: men close their eyes against the light which they possess. The description is too just which follows. 10. “He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the
world knew him not. 11. “He came unto his own, and his own received him not.”
The wisdom, the power, the goodness of the Creator is manifest to the understandings of men. “ He left
not Himself without witness, in that He did good, and gave us rain and fruitful seasons. Yet the world knew him not. “ The world by wisdom,” by its own wisdom, by rightly exercising the faculties which God had given, had not learnt to know God their Creator.*
The world at large was ignorant respecting Him. The Jewish people, to whom He had been clearly revealed, had better knowledge, had a purer faith ; and when one came to them from the Father whom they professed to please and serve, it might be expected that they would eagerly follow him and hear him gladly. But
He came unto his own, to his chosen nation, his peculiar people, and his own received Him not. The Jewish nation in general, as we know, did not receive Him as their Messiah : and even the people who had listened willingly to his discourses, and been relieved by the merciful exercise of his power, suffered Him to be led to execution, while not a single voice was raised in his favour. “The Son of man goeth, as was determined of Him !”
Let us however inquire on what ground they received Him not. Was it that He did not answer the predictions which had gone forth respecting him? We know that his lineage, his birth, his life, and his death, did fulfil the prophecies and correspond with the types concerning Him, in the most minute and remarkable particulars. Was it that He did not show such signs and wonders and mighty deeds, as were reasonably to be expected from the Messiah? It was acknowledged—“ This man doeth many
miracles ;" -“No man can do the miracles which thou doest, except God be with him ;"_" He saved others,” though Himself he did not save.
Was it that his discourses and his doctrines were not in agreement with the character which he claimed ? It was acknowledged, that “never man spake like this man:"_that “all men were astonished at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth :”—that “ He taught as one having authority, and not as the Scribes. And yet they received Him not.
* 1 Cor. i. 21.
1 Acts xiv. 17.
The reason was not in Him, but in themselves. He came in a particular character. He came as a Saviour. He was announced as such by the angels. “Unto you is born this day a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” For this He was promised, predicted, sent ; for this He took our nature, ministered, and died ; that He might redeem a lost world, and deliver a race which sin had ruined. Now, to receive one who comes in this character, and purports to be such a Saviour, requires a certain state of mind in those who so receive him. To receive one who offers deliverance, implies a sense
of danger, a sense of destitution and helplessness. To receive redemption through Christ Jesus, was to acknowledge a state of bondage and condemnation. To receive
eternal life as the gift of God for his sake, was to cast themselves on his mercy, to abandon all personal claim, to renounce all procuring merit in themselves.
The Jewish people perceived this ; against this their pride and their self-complacency revolted ; and for this cause they received Him not. So St. Paul expressly shows, arguing to the Jews themselves in his Epistle to the Romans. They lost, he says, the blessing offered them; they did not become the sons of God, because they persisted in trusting to themselves, and refused to rely on Jesus as a Saviour. “They, being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God." The fifth chapter of this Gospel (ver. 39) supplies an example, where we find our Lord reasoning with the Jews around Him. “ Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And
ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” Here He addresses them as expecting eternal life, and thinking that they had it in their Scriptures; but not rightly interpreting the Scriptures, and therefore not having salvation, because they refused it through Him who is the author of it.
3 Rom. x. 3.
“ Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” Ye will not come to the fountain, or ye might be cleansed. Ye withdraw yourselves from the physician, or ye might be healed. Ye will not seek the appointed door, or ye might enter in. Thus they maintained their self-dependence. They would not receive salvation“ of grace." They did not receive Him, because of their proud, unhumbled, self-confident, self-justifying heart. They would not humble themselves, that they might be exalted ; but they would exalt themselves, and therefore they remained abased before God.
But more than this:-Jesus came as a Saviour not only from the guilt, but from the power of sin. “Thou shalt call his name Jesus; for He shall save his people from their sins." While He invited them to receive eternal life, He also required them to repent ; for “ the
of sin is death ;” to “ bring forth fruits meet for repentance."
And here, again, they stumbled. A deliverer from foreign yoke, a deliverer from Herod or the Romans, they would have gladly followed. But a deliverer from sin had no inducement for them. That yoke they had not felt heavy. They did not grudge the tribute which they paid to Satan.
We meet with an example in the eighth chapter of this Gospel. There our Lord, discoursing in the presence of a large company, said to some who believed on Him, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed ; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” This saying offended his hearers. They answer,—“We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man : how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?” They would not understand,-it did not suit them to understand,—that “ whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin."