« PreviousContinue »
them in their hearts, and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people. And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.”
THE REDEMPTION BY JESUS CHRIST, AND THE MEANS
OBTAINED TO FINISH THE CREATION OF MANKIND IN
HIS OWN SPIRITUAL IMAGE.
Having traced the fall of mankind by the malignant passions, of which we have all partaken; and shewn that without the regeneration of our souls by the Holy Spirit of God, we must have remained in the ignorance and degradation of our natural state ; we now come to the period of the world, that recorded the most important event that can possibly concern us; namely, the fulfilment of the original promise, that the seed of the woman should bruise the head of the serpent that beguiled her, or, in other words, the Word of God overcoming the spirit of evil, by the fulfilment of the law in our nature, which the first created did not do: and by giving himself up as the sacrifice, for the justification of all mankind, he obtained the means of finishing the work of creating us in his own spiritual image—“ to purify unto himself a peculiar people zealous of good works.”
But before his death on the cross, his words John xvii. 1. were—“ Father, the hour is come, glorify thy Son,
that thy son also may glorify thee; as thou hast
Titus ii, 14.
given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him: and this is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent. I have glorified thee on the earth; I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do; and now, O Father! glorify thou me with thine own self, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.”
The difference our Saviour made between those people who had received the grace of the Holy Spirit through him, and those who had not received it, will best lead to the illustration of this most important event.
“ Then came the Jews round about him, and John 1. 24. said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly? Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness of me: but ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave
is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my
Father's hand.” And the reason is clear, from the explanation given us of his own nature,—“I and my Father are one” spirit. And as his disciples were, by grace, of the same Spirit, they understood his words, and followed him; but the others, being
John vi. 63.
of a depraved and different spirit, they could not understand the meaning of his words, and, therefore, did not follow him.
The same Jews also expressed surprise when he John vi. 38. said, “ I came down from heaven. They said, Is
not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know ? how is it then that he saith, I
came down from heaven? His reply gave the reason John viii. 15. of their ignorance of him. “Ye judge after the
flesh :” for it was the Holy Spirit of God—the Word—which spake to them in that body: and they were previously informed that “ It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing; the words that I speak unto you are spirit, and are life.”
But the question of our Saviour to Simon Peter, makes manifest the importance of the knowledge
given him by grace, and the blessedness of it, above Matt. xvi. 15. the depraved spirit of the natural man.
whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona, for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven.”
And this is in accordance with his words already given. “ This is life eternal, to know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.” Upon this knowledge he, therefore, builds his church, with the assurance, that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
Now that he did descend from heaven, John bore witness, that all nations through him might believe ; and said, “He that sent me to baptize with water, John i. 33. the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending and remaining on him, the same is he that baptizeth with the Holy Ghost: and looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!” And this descent of the Holy Spirit is recorded in the following words.
“ And it Mark i. 9. came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan : and straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him. And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
That John, however, might be certain that Jesus was the Christ, on hearing of the miracles, “he sent two of his disciples to Jesus, saying, Art thou Luke vii. 19. he that should come, or do we look for another?And in the same hour he cured many of their infirmities, and plagues, and of evil spirits ; and unto many that were blind he gave sight. Then Jesus answering, said unto them, Go your way, and tell