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the Lord Jesus, that he is able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by him.] BEHOLD then here, 1. The true nature of the Gospel —
[The Gospel is a remedy. The whole world are sick: and in Christ Jesus there is all that every sinner needs a . --] 2. The blessedness of those who truly receive it,
[All are in one great hospital: and those who submit not to the physician die: but those who take his prescriptions live. True, they are not cured at once: it is possible too that they may suffer occasional relapses for a little season: but through the care of their heavenly Physician, their recovery is progressive; and when the good work is perfected within them, they are removed to that happy world, of which "no inhabitant will ever have occasion to complain that he is sick." And what a witness will the believer have within himself at that day! At that day there will be amongst all the millions of the saints but one feeling of perfect health, and but one ascription of praise " to him who loved them, and washed them from their sins, and made them kings and priests unto their God and Father for ever and ever."]
a 1 Cor. i. 30.
THE GOSPEL RECORD.
1 John. v. 11, 12. This is the record, that God hath given to
us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.
IN matters that are established by human testimony, we necessarily proportion our assent to the number and credibility of the witnesses. And if we will act in the same manner towards the Holy Scriptures, we shall not entertain a doubt, either of their Divine authority in general, or of the way of salvation contained in them. Moses and all the prophets concur with the Apostles in directing our eyes to Christ as the only Saviour of the world : but in the words before us we have the testimony of One whose information cannot be doubted, and whose veracity cannot be impeached; of One who is too good to deceive, and too wise to be deceived. This witness is no other than Jehovah himself.
Let us then consider, I. His testimony concerning his Son, and concerning
the way of salvation through himThis record embraces two points; and asserts, 1. That “God hath given to us eternal life”—
[Since the fall of Adam, man has lost all right to life. In him we died, and through him condemnation is come upon us all. Moreover, we have all increased our guilt and condemnation by our own personal transgressions. But God willed not that we should perish, and therefore sent his only dear Son to deliver us: and, having opened a way for our return to him through the blood and righteousness of his Son, he has published the glad tidings, and offered freely to give eternal life to as many as would receive it in his appointed way. He has not tendered it to us as a blessing to be earned or merited, but as a free unmerited gift to be receiveda.] 2. That “ this life is in his Son”—
[This life, comprehending all the blessings of grace and glory, is in Christ as the Proprietor, the Dispenser, and the Guardian of it". He is the Proprietor of it. As the light is primarily in the sun, so is all good originally and essentially in Christ. “ In him was life," says St. John; " and the life was the light of men." The same writer says of him again at the conclusion of the chapter from whence the text is taken, “ This is the true God, and eternal life d.” He also is the Dispenser of it. As life was in him essentially as well as in the Father, so was it committed to him officially, in order that he might impart it to whomsoever he woulde. He himself arrogates to himself this honour'; and all his Apostles acknowledge themselves indebted to him for all that they possessed *. He is moreover the Guardian of it. When life was entrusted to Adam, he, though perfect, and in Paradise, was soon robbed
. See Rom. vi. 23. Eph. ii. 8, 9. Tit. ii. 5.
For this just and elegant mode of expressing this idea, the Author is indebted to that very judicious author, Mr. Robert Walker, of Edinburgh ; whose four volumes of Sermons are well worthy of every man's perusal. c John i. 4.
ver. 20. • Col. i. 19. John v. 21, 26. and xvii. 2. f John X. 28. & John i. 16.
of it through the devices of Satan. And if it were now committed to us, we in our present fallen state should not be able to preserve it one single hour. God has therefore graciously committed it to his dear Son, that, by being “ hid with Christ in God"," it might be inaccessible to our subtle enemy. By this mysterious, this merciful dispensation, “our souls are bound up, as it were, in the bundle of life with the Lord our Godi.” Christ “ lives in usk," and " is our very lifel:" and hence, “because he liveth," and as long as he liveth, “we shall live also m."]
Thus has God testified, that eternal life is to be sought as a free gift from him, and to be only in, and through, and for the sake of, the Lord Jesus Christ. But to see the full importance of this record, we must consider, II. The declaration grounded upon it
A more solemn declaration is not to be found in all the inspired volume. But let us consider, 1. What is meant by “ having the Son of God ?”
[The more simply this is explained, the more intelligible it will appear. Christ is represented as God's gift to man": and we then receive that gift when we believe in Christ; or, in other words, when we receive him for all the ends and purposes for which he is given. This is the explanation which St. John himself gives uso: and consequently we may then be said to “have" Christ, when we have received him, and are making use of him, as the source and substance of our spiritual life.]
2. What depends on our “having” the Son of God
[Behold! nothing less than everlasting happiness or misery depends on this point.
He that has felt a desire after eternal life; and has sought it earnestly through Christ; and has received it from God as a free unmerited gift; and is looking to Christ to impart it to him yet "more abundantly P,” and to preserve it in his soul; he who thus “ lives by faith in the Son of God,” has both a title to life, and the very beginning and earnest of eternal life in his soul. He can claim eternal life upon the footing of God's word. He can plead the promises of God"; and may be fully assured that he shall not be disappointed of his hope'.
k Gal. ii. 21.
h Col. iii. 3.
1 Sam. xxv. 29. 1 Col. iii. 4.
m John xiv. 19.
o John i. 12.
Indeed he has eternal life already begun in his soul. He was once dead like others; but now he “ is passed from death unto lifet.” The very act of living by faith in the Son of God proves to a demonstration, that he is alive, and that Christ liveth in him". He may not indeed have a comfortable sense and assurance of his happy state; but he really liveth, and shall live for ever.
On the other hand, he that hath not so received and lived upon the Lord Jesus Christ, has no life in his soul: he is yet “dead in trespasses and sins ;” and, so far from having any title to life, he is under a sentence of condemnation, and " the wrath God abideth on him." “Not having the Son of God, he hath not life.” Whatever he may have, he hath not life. He may have learning, riches, honour, and even morarily itself, according to the general acceptation of the term, but he has not life: and if he die in his present state, he must perish for ever: yea, if he were the first monarch upon earth, he would in this respect be on a level with the meanest of his subjects; he would descend from his pinnacle of honour to the lowest abyss of shame and misery.] INFER1. How plain is the way of salvation !
[Supposing the way of salvation to be such as has been already stated, how can words express it more clearly than it is expressed in the text? There is no learning requisite to explain it: it is level with the comprehension of the most unlettered man in the universe. Nothing is requisite for the understanding of it but humility of mind, and a willingness to be indebted for every thing to the free grace of God in Christ Jesus. If there be any difficulty, it arises only from the pride of our hearts that would mix something of our own with the finished work of Christ. The fact is, that salvation by faith alone is so plain and simple, that we are offended at it on account of its plainness and simplicity y. But let the weak rejoice, that what is hid from the wise, is revealed to them?.] 2. How suitable is the way of salvation !
[If salvation had been to be merited and earned by our good works, who amongst us could have entertained a hope? If our works, imperfect as they are, were only to have eked out the merits of Christ, who could tell us the precise quantity and quality of the works that would have sufficed? In what doubt and suspense must we have been held all our days !
: John vi. 47.
t John v. 24.
And how would this way of salvation have suited persons in the situation of the dying thief, who are called away without having sufficient time to make up their tale of bricks?” But a gift is suitable to all: a free salvation commends itself to all : and the more humbled we are under a sense of our own guilt and weakness, the more suitable will it appear, that we should receive all from Christ, and give all the glory of our salvation to him.]
3. What infatuation is it to substitute any other plan of salvation in the place of that which God has offered us!
[Suppose for one moment (though it is a horrid and blasphemous supposition) that we were wiser than God, and that we knew better than he did what was fit for him to do ; still are we also “stronger than he ?” and can we oblige him to alter his decrees? Vain hope! We may entertain as strong prejudices as we will, and load the Gospel with opprobious names; still that will be true and irreversible, “ He that hath the Son, hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God, hath not life.” Let all of us then cease to weave a spider's web, and accept with gratitude “the salvation that is in Christ Jesus.")
USE OF THE SCRIPTURES TO BELIEVERS.
1 John v. 13. These things have I written unto you that believe
on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
THE Scriptures of the New Testament were written doubtless for the whole world. Yet perhaps we may say, that the Gospels were written more immediately for unbelievers, in order to convince them of the Messiahship of Jesus; and that the epistles were written rather for believers, to bring them to a life becoming their high and holy calling. This idea seems to be sanctioned by St. John: for, at the end of his Gospel, he says, “ These are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that, believing, ye might have life through his namea." But, at the end of this epistle, he says,
a John xx. 31.