« ÎnapoiContinuă »
and lying customs, in which they were entangled by the fall, from all the deceitful and wicked ways of satan and to bring them to the acknowledgment of the truth. By truth, Jesus here means the truths contained in the gospel. It was not our blessed Saviour's concern to propose philosophical, mathematical, or political truths. The truth, to the knowledge of which he was to bring mankind, was of a much sublimer nature. It was a truth unknown to human reason; a truth which his heavenly Father had declared by Moses and the prophets in types and figures, by promises and predictions. The substance of this great truth, is, that as no man can be justified, and consequently entitled to eternal happiness, by the works of the law, God, out of his infinite love to mankind, has given his son as the Saviour and reconciler of the world, to the end that all who acknowledge their inability, believe on the name of the great mediator, and give themselves up to be renewed by the spirit in the image of God, may not perish, but have everlasting life.
This doctrine of the gospel is emphatically stiled the truth, not only as it derives its origin from God, who is truth itself, but likewise as it is a well-grounded, infallible truth, and worthy of all acceptation.
Of this great truth, the blessed Jesus was to bear witness both in his words and actions; and therefore he is called the faithful witness,' (Rev. i. v.)— And the Father has declared, saying 'Behold I have given him for a witness to the people.' (Isaiah iv. 4.) He has likewise all the qualifications, which can be justly required in a witness. If it be necessary, that a witness should have heard or seen the things which he testifies, in order to have a certain knowledge of them; the son of God was himself present at the eternal reconciliatory council of the Father, in which it was graciously determined, that the world should be redeemed by the son. Jesus had voluntarily promised to take on himself the work of redemption, and his Almighty Father in return had
promised him, that he would anoint and establish him in the human nature he was to assume, as a king over the human race. Therefore, he might justly say, 'We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen,' (John iii. 11.) Hence also, John the Baptist says of him, 'He that cometh from above is above all; and what he hath seen and heard that he testifieth,' (John iii. 31, 32.)
Moreover, our blessed Lord subjoins with a peculiar energy that for this end he was born, and that he came into the world, as the great ambassador of God to bear witness unto the truth. These words presuppose his prior existence, and that he was in possession of his regal dignity before he became visible in in the world. Hence he intimates, that he came into the world with no other view than to convince mankind of these great truths, that he is the only sacrifice for the sins of the world; that whoever will be saved must believe on his name; and by such testimony, to free mankind from the dominion and tyranny of the spirit of lies and error, to enlighten them with the light of truth, and to fit them for the service of God, that they might worship him in spirit and in truth. These are the royal transactions of Jesus Christ; which it must be owned, bear but little resemblance to the political transactions and warlike exploits of earthly kings whose business is to enact salutary laws for the support of their kingdom and the external welfare of their subjects, and to enforce obedience to them, by punishing the refractory and disobedient. Our blessed saviour likewise, in these words, describes,
2. The distinguishing character of his subjects: Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.' These words exhibit to us both the characteristic and duty of the subjects of Christ.
Their characteristic is this, 'they are of the truth.' As to be of God, (John viii 47) signifies the same thing as to be born of God,' (1 John ii.29.) so 'to
be of the truth,' is of the same import as 'to be born of the truth, (James i. 18.) or to be begotten of God, [the self-existent truth] with the word of truth,' (James i. 18.) That is, in other words to reeeive the testimony which God has given of his son, and which the Son himself has given of the truth, so far as to be enlightened, converted, and from the heart to hate all deceitful ways; and to obey and bear an affectionate love to the truth; as if it was the parent that begot us.
The duty of the subjects of Christ is this, namely; that they hear his voice: 'Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice, i. e. acknowledges me for his sovereign and instructor, and obeys my precepts and injunctions from the heart. When I say, 'repent and believe the gospel !' he hears this voice not only with his ears, but likewise attends to it with an obedient heart. When I say, 'Whoever will be my disciple, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me !' he does as I enjoin him. When I say, 'love your enemies; do good to them that hate you!' he treats his enemies with kindness, gen'tleness, and humanity, Lastly, since I say, 'render unto Cæsar the things that are Cæsar's, and unto God the things that are God's!' he omits no opportunity of complying with this my command. From all this Pilate might have been convinced, that the doctrines of Christ instead of encouraging rebellion made the best of subjects, that the Jews were his enemies for no other reason, but for telling them the truth, which their mutinous and haughty spirit could by no means bear.
This was, indeed, such discourse, as had never before been heard in Pilate's hall of judgment. By this testimony of the truth, Christ further intended, not only to remove Pilate's unnecessary apprehensions that he instigated the emperor's subjects to a revolt; but likewise indirectly to make an impression on his heart to insinuate an awakening, but whole
some, sting into his conscience, and to inspire hími with the love of truth. Notwithstanding all this, we shall see in the sequel, that Pilate soon made light of this kind admonition, and precluded his heart against this testimony of the truth. Let us therefore take care, that this discourse of the blessed Jesus may bring forth more fruit in our hearts; and to this end we shall make the following observations on this subject.
1. Our blessed Saviour, by owning his dignity, has publicly owned us for his subjects and established his kingdom over all.
We must approve ourselves his subjects, by overcoming the world and its evil customs, as he overcame the world; and by overcoming the lust of the flesh, to which the most powerful monarchs are often slaves.
If Christ our king declared, that he was born and came into the world to bear witness unto truth; so should we likewise be thoroughly persuaded, that the end of our being born again is, that we may love the truth, and bear witness to it in our words and actions.
2. As the kingdom of Jesus Christ is a kingdom of truth, no one is to be admitted into it, who loveth or maketh a lie.
Satan is in scripture called the father of lies, (John viii. 44.) and the account given of his subjects by St. John, (Rev. 22, 15.) is, that they love and take a pleasure in forging lies. In satan's kingdom there is nothing but falsity and dissimulation, delusive appearances, and vain deceptions. He infatuates men by giving them false ideas of God, whom they falsely imagine to be like themselves. Hence God says to the wicked man, Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such a one as thyself, (Psa. 1. 21.) As thou makest it thy supreme felicity to live in mirth and festivity, and to enjoy the sinful pleasures of the world, thou vainly thinkest that this is what I shall easily connive at, and that I am not at all displeased with a man who gives himself up to sensuality and voluptuousness. Satan infatuates men with false
ideas of repentance: Hence they imagine it consists only in saying with the mouth, that they are miserable sinners; that they are sorry for their misdoings; and that they will amend their lives; while the heart, in the mean time, is not touched, nor is there any change likely to be wrought in it. He infatuates men with false ideas of faith: Hence they vainly imagine, that if they do but stedfastly and earnestly rely on the merits of Christ, that faith infallibly will save them; whereas they continue under the dominion of sin, and never shew forth this ideal presumptuous faith of theirs by works of love, and habits of virtue. He infatuates men with most false ideas of eternal felicity; for carnal men are apt to form to themselves base and groveling ideas of the joys of eternal life, and think that in heaven they shall have such enjoyments as are unworthy of that glorious place, the abode of purity and holiness. Such is the power of the lying spirit of darkness over the understanding of those, whom he hath fatally blinded. But no less is his fascinating influence over the perverse wills of those, whom he has, as it were, bound and fettered with the bonds of falsehood, hypocrisy, and dissimulation, so that nothing less than the infinite power of God can break them asunder. But all these chains fall off, when a man is, as it were, born of God, and transplanted into the kingdom of Jesus Christ, which is the kingdom of truth. Then he' learns to look on the things which belong to the spirit of God in a different light from what he did before. Then he is sensible what a childish, absurd, and unworthy idea he had entertained of God, of repentance, of faith, and eternal felicity; for his understanding being now irradiated by the light of the Holy spirit, he acquires a more perfect knowledge of these things. Now, the light of truth rises in his understanding; by the lustre of which error, prejudice, and false conceptions of spiritual things, are dissipated like mists before the sun. The true image which is in