Consider helping today!
During his last illness John Knox was accustomed to hear each day the seventeenth chapter of St. John's Gospel, a chapter of the Epistle to the Ephesians, and the fifty-third of Isaiah. On the last day of his life (Monday, November 24, 1572) a little after noon, 'he caused his wife to read the fifteenth chapter of the First Epistle to the Corinthians, of the Resurrection, to whom he said, "Is not that a comfortable chapter?" A little after, "Now, for the last, I commend my soul, spirit, and body (pointing upon his three fingers) into Thy hands, O Lord!" Thereafter, about five hours, to his wife, "Go, read where I cast my first anchor!" And so she read the seventeenth of St. John's Evangel.'
"Glorify Thy Son."
J. M. Neale writes on this passage: '"Glorify Thy Son'. But, you will say, how wonderful a prayer is this! If it had been, Deliver Thy Son Deliver my soul from the sword Save me from the lion's mouth that would have been what we should have expected. But now our dear Lord, going down into the depth of shame, about to be scourged and mocked and to hang naked on the cross between heaven and earth, to pray " Glorify Thy Son!" Yes, and St. John tells us the same thing in another place. He reminds us how Isaiah said, "He was despised and rejected of men: a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and we hid as it were our faces from Him; He was despised, and we esteemed Him not" and it then goes on, "These things said Esaias, when he saw His glory". We should have said, when he saw His shame. But just as we think an earthly general more glorious when he is in the heat of the battle, covered with blood and sweat and dust, than when he is clothed in purple and in fine linen, and in the midst of his triumph, so our Lord in one sense was more glorious when He was lifted on the cross than ever I say it with all reverence when He rose from the dead.
'"Glorify Thy Son." This prayer, no doubt, also looked on to Easter. The Lord, like Abraham, lift up His eyes, and saw the place of His glory afar off; He, on that Thursday evening, saw the day of suffering, Friday: and the day of rest, Saturday, and the day of glory, Sunday. "Glorify Thy Son," when He shall hang on the cross; when even then, His enemies shall confess Him a king, by putting on Him a purple robe, and bowing the knee before Him, and by setting a writing over the cross "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews"; and when the thief shall acknowledge Him to be God, "Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy Kingdom". "Glorify Thy Son," when He shall rest in the grave, according to that saying, "His rest shall be glorious"; when He shall descend into hell; when He shall tell glad tidings to the spirits in prison. "Glorify Thy Son," when He shall burst the bars of death, because it is not possible that He should be holden of them; when He shall be the death of death, and the destruction of hell; when He shall arise again and become the first fruits of them that sleep. "Glorify Thy Son," when He shall ascend back to Thee, and having spoiled principalities and powers shall make a show of them openly, triumphing over them; when He shall open the way for millions to go up to that place, whence He came alone.'
Sermons in Sackville College Chapel, vol. i. p. 176.
References. XVII. Expositor (4th Series), vol. ix.. p. 99. XVII. 1. C. Kingsley, The Good News of God, p. 12. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxv. No. 1464. H. C. G. Moule, The High Priestly Prayer, pp. 15, 22. C. Stanford, The Evening of our Lord's Ministry, p. 151. XVII. 1, 2. H. C. G. Moule, The High Priestly Prayer, p. 30. XVII. 1-3. J. Clifford, Christian World Pulpit, vol. liii. p. 74. XVII. 1-4. Expositor (6th Series), vol. iv. p. 282. XVII. 1-19. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture St. John, p. 187. XVII. 1-26. Len G. Broughton, The Prayers of Jesus, p. 109. XVII. 2. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. x. No. 566. C. J. Ridgeway, The King and His Kingdom, p. 80. J. M. Neale, Sermons Preached in Sackville College Chapel, vol. i. p. 182. Expositor (6 th Series), vol. vi. p. 246.
Life and Light
These great words are among the profoundest sayings of our Lord. They were spoken by the Son of God, not to Jews or Gentiles, not to human friends or foes, not to the disciples privately or the multitude openly, but directly to God the Father. Let us inquire: I. What is this eternal life? (1) In its nature. It is not simply endless existence, or everlasting duration. It is something nobler, diviner far. We may form some idea of what eternal life is by looking at its opposite spiritual death. When Christ comes to men He finds them in a state of death moral, spiritual death and this consists in enmity against God. The first mission of Christ is to destroy this carnality, to put to death this enmity, to uproot this principle of evil and cast it out. Then, when the power of sin is broken and its rule overthrown, grace enters and reigns. When this great moral change takes place, man is brought under the dominion of a new principle of life. He is renewed in the spirit of his mind. This is what the Bible calls eternal life. (2) Eternal life in its source. How does man become possessed of this life? It is not in man inherently; e is not born with it. The Father hath given the Son authority to bestow this life on all who believe. (3) Eternal life in its practical development When love to God becomes the ruling passion, the controlling principle in the soul, it will reveal itself in the life, touch its possessor at all points, mould his character, and inspire him at every step and in every action. A father sometimes so impresses his character on his child that you cannot fail to see the father reproduced in the child. So when Christ becomes our life by the indwelling spirit, His character is reproduced in us.
II. What is the relation between the possession of eternal life and knowing God and Jesus Christ? Some understand the words to mean, that to know God and Jesus Christ is eternal life, or that eternal life consists in knowing the true God and Jesus Christ. This is undoubtedly true in a very important sense, but it is not the truth taught by the text. The meaning is not that we become possessed of the life by knowing God and Christ, but that we gain the highest knowledge of God in Christ by possessing eternal life. The knowledge spoken of does not refer to the intellect or understanding. It is heart knowledge, not head knowledge; spiritual, not intellectual. In order to know God in this higher sense, you must realise the energies of the Holy Spirit renewing your nature and making you like God. This knowledge of God in Christ is progressive, because the eternal life within us is progressive.
Richard Roberts, My Closing Ministry, p. 140.
References. XVII. 3. W. M. Sinclair, Christ and our Times, p. 91. J. A. Alexander, The Gospel of Jesus Christ, p. 629. R. W. Hiley, A Year's Sermons, vol. iii. p. 334. J. Sadler, Sunday Thoughts, p. 298. R. W. Church, Village Sermons, p. 140. J. S. Bartlett, Sermons, p. 119. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xli. No. 2396. Expositor (5th Series), vol. vii. p. 39; ibid. (6th Series), vol. x. p. 358.
We are each of us sent here by God for a purpose in His good providence, some purpose tending to His glory. What, then, is this work from God in general terms?
I. Our Work here is the Formation of our Character. That is true of all of us. The many sayings of the wise, which so soon become commonplaces, about this life of ours on earth being a place of probation, a state of trial, mean just this, that our natural instincts and natural desires and dispositions are given to us by God as so much material out of which we, for Him, have to fashion our character. This rough material, you may say, is just the warp and woof by means of which we are to make a texture for the great house of God.
II. But that does not Exhaust it. We all have work for others, all of us. Some of us have been entrusted with the most noble and most exacting task, that of bringing up a family in the discipline of Christ, and it is always well for parents to remind themselves that this commission from God is a duty that will not perform itself; but whether we have children or not, every one here has somebody of whose conscience they are the keepers, people who depend on them for guidance, people with whom their word, their pattern weighs, people whom we are day by day moulding into our own likeness our pupils, our apprentices, our clerks, our employés, our juniors. There they are depending upon us, and I say, that should be recognised as part of our lifework for God.
III. There is that Work by which we take our place in the Commonwealth here; this, too, is work for God, because the powers that be are ordained by God, and this should be work for God's glory. Most of you remember, I expect, that wonderful poem of Tennyson, 'The Northern Farmer,' and how the northern farmer consoles himself on his death-bed with the thought that while the parson, year in year out, had done nothing, had read nothing but one sermon a Sunday, he, for his part, had 'stubbed Thurnaby wäaste'. Well, it was a righteous boast so far as he was concerned. There was something he had done 'something attempted, something done' before the night came and he could work no longer. The world was better that he had been born into it. He had left his mark; some waste place had been reclaimed by him, and that satisfaction in work rightly undertaken and successfully carried through, that is a happiness that gives very great good.
IV. What are the Helps and what are the Hindrances to our Work in Life? Just two.
(a) Time is a help, but time is also a hindrance. When we are young especially, time stretches away before us so endlessly long that there seems nothing that we could not do in such length of days, and yet because time seems so endless it slips away without being used, like water that runneth apace. Tomorrow and tomorrow, and tomorrow. Well then, if our time is in our own control and some time is in the control of every one of us the way to make time minister to our life's work is to take more exact account of it. Time then is a help God has given us to do His work.
(b) The second is our circumstances health if it is health, sickness if it is sickness, riches or poverty, our position in society, our chances; these things may hinder us as much as they may help us. The whole power of adverse circumstances to hinder a man has been compressed into that sentence in the book of Proverbs, 'The fool saith, there is a lion in the path'. That means that circumstances only hinder us as long as we are afraid of them. If you go up to your lion you find, like Bunyan's Pilgrim, that it is chained. Consider this: If all our circumstances were as easy as we should like them, what would become of the virtue of the world? If there were no more danger left in life, what would become of courage? Experience teaches us that what we call adverse circumstances are only God's medicines to fashion in us a strong heart.
References. XVII. 4. A. G. Mortimer, The Church's Lessons for the Christian Year, pt. iii. p. 19. Archbishop Plunket, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlvii. p. 326. F. de W. Lushington, Sermons to Young Boys, p. 100. G. D. Herron, Christian World Pulpit, vol. li. p. 56. H. C. G. Moule, The High Priestly Prayer, p. 37. W. J. Henderson, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lii. p. 164, and vol. lvii. p. 106. C. Vince, The Unchanging Saviour, p. 331. F. E. Paget, Helps and Hindrances to the Christian Life, p. 210. Expositor (4th Series), vol. vi. p. 75. XVII. 4, 5. J. Keble, Sermons for Ascension Day to Trinity Sunday, p. 82. XVII. 5. H. C. G. Moule, The High Priestly Prayer, p. 44. Expositor (4th Series), vol. i. p. 144; ibid. (5th Series), vol. ii. p. 252; ibid. vol. iii. p. 452; ibid. vol. iv. p. 261. XVII. 6. H. C. G. Moule, The High Priestly Prayer, p. 51. XVII. 7. Basil Wilberforce, Sanctification by the Truth, p. 1. XVII. 7, 8. H. C. G. Moule, The High Priestly Prayer, p. 58. XVII. 8-11. John Kelman, Ephemera Eternitatis, p. 155. XVII. 9. J. Bannerman, Sermons, p. 177. H. C. G. Moule, The High Priestly Prayer, p. 65. XVII. 9, 10. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxii. No. 2331. XVII. 9-11. F. de W. Lushington, Sermons to Young Boys, p. 30. XVII. 10. H. C. G. Moule, The High Priestly Prayer, p. 72. XVII. 11. P. T. Forsyth, Christian World Pulpit, vol. 1. p. 225. J. Keble, Sermons for Ascension Day to Trinity Sunday, p. 21. H. C. G. Moule, The High Priestly Prayer, pp. 79, 86, 93, 100. Archbishop Temple, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lvi. p. 241. XVII. 11, 12. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxix. No. 1883. H. C. G. Moule, The High Priestly Prayer, p. 107. XVII. 12. S. Cox, Expositions, pp. 331, 348. J. J. Blunt, Plain Sermons (2nd Series), p. 256. R. J. Campbell, New Theology Sermons, p. 164. Expositor (4th Series), vol. iv. p. 167; ibid. (6th Series), vol. xii. p. 107. XVII. 13. H. C. G. Moule, The High Priestly Prayer, p. 114.
What Is a Saint? (For All Saints' Day)
This is All Saints' Day, and these words are spoken of the saints by the Lord: 'They are not of the world'. What a condemnation of the world!
I. What is a Saint? To this question two answers may be given, each of them a true answer. And the first answer is the answer of the New Testament.
(a) Every baptised person is a saint. If you read St. Paul's Epistles you will find that this is his constant use of the word. Even where he writes in stern reproof of those who by open sin, or by selfish jealousies, or by careless conduct are marring the unity of the Church, injuring the cause of Christ, he yet insists on addressing them all as saints. Every baptised person who is not practically denying his baptism by open sin or careless indifference, is in a real sense a saint of God. That is his ideal, that is his possibility, that, to use the Scripture phrase, is his calling.
(b) We must go on to speak of a change which has passed over language. This is not what we mean when we commonly speak of a saint, when we think of the Church calendar of saints, when we commemorate solemnly, as on this day, all the saints. In the infancy of the Church, when persecution from without was the strongest safeguard against lukewarmness and hypocrisy within, then it was far more easy and natural to speak as if every Christian who dared to bear the dangerous and hated name of Christian were really responding to his vocation, recognising his privilege and living up to his ideal. But when the world became so inextricably mingled with the Church, as our Lord in His parable of the wheat and the tares taught us that it would shortly become, and as, in fact, we see today, then it seemed a kind of outrage, an outrage upon truth itself, to call every baptised man a saint, and the use of the word became narrowed and reserved, quite rightly, to those to whom the Church was prepared to point, as fulfilling the ideal which was set before all her children, those who were in some striking way types and patterns of the saintly life.
II. What is this Saintly Character? What is the distinguishing and essential characteristic of a saint? I answer in the words of the text, in the words of Christ Himself, twice repeated in this chapter, 'They are not of the world'.
(a) They come from the world. First of all in the sixth verse we read, 'I have manifested Thy name unto the men which Thou gavest Me out of the world'. Here is a description of the origin of the saints. They come from the world. They are men and women like ourselves, not superior beings with superior powers to our own.
(b) They are in the world. And then again, in the eleventh verse, 'I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to Thee. Holy Father, keep through Thine own Name those whom Thou hast given Me.... I pray not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them.' Here we learn the sphere and the environment of the saintly life. It is in the world, moving up and down with other men, as our Lord went about among them; fulfilling the various responsibilities of daily life as for thirty years our Lord fulfilled them simply in the home of Nazareth, in the world, trained by its joys as well as by its suffering.
(c) They are for the world. And once again we learn not only the region and the sphere of the saints from our Lord's Word, but we learn also their mission. 'As Thou hast sent Me into the world, that the world may believe, that the world may know.' That is to say, they not only have a nature in common with the world and a place in the world, but they have both of these for a great purpose. They are from the world and in the world because they are for the world. Here again is a corrective to false ideals of saintliness. That is not Christian saintliness which merely shuns the world and hides itself lest it should soil its robes with the touch of common men and common things. Mere asceticism is not a qualification for a place among the saints. Christ was not ascetic, and it is in the light of His own life that we must interpret the words, 'Ye are not of the world even as I am not of the world'. That is Christian saintliness which moves among men as the servant of all, living for others, believing that all are called to be saints, and helping on their lives towards their great ideal.
References. XVII. 14. J. M. Gibbon, Christian World Pulpit, vol. li. p. 296. H. C. G. Moule, The High Priestly Prayer, pp. 122, 129. XVII. 14-16. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture St. John, p. 197.
The Splendid Isolation
The evil that is in the world. It is everywhere narrowing, blinding, defiling, destroying. How are we to be kept in a world like this? God saves His people from within rather than from without; and it is to this interior Divine action that we must look for our salvation. He makes us invincible through the soul.
I. God protects His people from the evil that is in the world by giving to them an instinct of peril. Volumes have been written upon the marvellously keen sense of danger with which many of the inferior animals are endowed. But even before we come to animals vegetable life sometimes displays a curious appreciation of peril and a manifest shrinking from it. It seems as though God had given even to inferior life a prophetic sense; it is not delivered to sudden destruction. In this exquisite admonitory instinct lies the salvation of the irrational world, for to be forewarned is to be forearmed. Now God gives to all sincere men a similar instinct for moral peril 'a sensibility of sin, a pain to feel in near'. Men are not saved by their cleverness; that usually brings them into trouble: they are safeguarded by their sensibility. The bloom on a peach, the naturalist tells us, is of the very first consequence to its life and perpetuation; and the best thing about any of us men and women is the fine bloom on our mind, our conscience, our feeling it is more effectual for our salvation than walls of granite or gales of brass.
II. God protects His people through the energy of health. Sound organic health is the prime antiseptic. We are not kept free from deadly infections by disinfectants, fumigations, and quarantines, but by the force of the heart, the richness of the blood, the lustre of the eye, and the rose upon the cheek. Now all this is particularly true in relation to the children of God: they are safe from within. A wise Christian will not unnecessarily expose himself to peril; there is no justification for unwatchfulness and presumption; yet let us not think too much about surroundings, neighbourhoods, and atmospheres. A robust soul is safe anywhere. Spring flowers spring in pestilential marshes.
III. Finally, God saves His people through the power of faith. The apparent environment of a believer is not always his real environment. To the carnal eye he is girded about with worldliness, unbelief, immorality; but in fact his faith creates his real environment. Faith secures the right conditions, reveals the right ideals, pours around the soul the heavenly influences in which alone it can live and thrive. The saint walks by faith, not by sight.
W. L. Watkinson, The Blind Spot, p. 151.
What Is Worldliness?
Not abstraction from the world, but protection from the evil. Our redemption is to be accomplished, not by changing our locality, but by changing the conditions of the heart.
I. What is this world, this ever-present worldliness? We shall never apprehend its significance by dwelling merely in the realm of external conduct, and classifying acts in the two categories of white and black. Conduct will never be safely and faithfully guided by mere attention to labels. Our Puritan forefathers regarded the eating of a mince-pie as an act of abject profanity. It is possible to avoid all the things labelled 'worldly,' and yet to remain incorrigibly worldly, to be steeped through and through with the spirit of this present evil world.
II. Is it possible for men to be in the world and to remain undefiled? Jesus of Nazareth did it. 'Oh, yes,' you say, 'but Jesus was a simple peasant, living among the sweet simplicities of village life.' I am not so sure of the accuracy of our common description of village life, of its sweet and undefiled simplicities. No more terrible and appalling concentration of nastiness is to be found anywhere than in many an English village. Jesus remained undefiled in a world abounding in subtle infection and seduction. What is the spiritual content of that great promise but this that they who 'dwell in the secret place of the Most High 'shall be proof against all things noisome and noxious and venomous.
III. Purity even in the defiling ways of the world is a grand possibility; how can we make it a glorious achievement? If we are to be protected against the pestilence that walketh in darkness, we shall have to be possessed by a plenitude of spiritual life. How is that defensive life to be gained? 'This is life... to know Jesus.' If life is to rise within us like a well it must be because of our intimate fellowship with the Christ.
J. H. Jowett, Apostolic Optimism, p. 47.
References. XVII. 15. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. i. No. 47; vol. xl. No. 2355, and vol. xlvi. No. 2703. H. C. G. Moule, The High Priestly Prayer, p. 136. George Adam Smith, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xliv. p. 44. R. W. Hiley, A Year's Sermons, vol. iii. p. 234. J. T. Bramston, Fratmbus, p. 164. J. Monro Gibson, Christian World Pulpit, vol. li. p. 316. H. Allen, Penny Pulpit, No. 1563, p. 137. J. Bunting, Sermons, vol. ii. p. 1. J. H. Jowett, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lv. p. 136. E. H. Eland, ibid. vol. lxi. p. 334. Expositor (6th Series), vol. i. p. 369.
'It seems little to be perceived,' says De Quincey in his essay on Charles Lamb, 'how much the great Scriptural idea of the worldly and the unworldly is found to emerge in literature as well as in life. In reality, the very same combinations of moral qualities, infinitely varied, which compose the harsh physiognomy of what we call worldliness in the living groups of life, must unavoidably present themselves in books. A library divides into sections of worldly and unworldly, even as a crowd of men divides into that same majority and minority. The world has an instinct for recognising its own; and recoils from certain qualities when exemplified in books, with the same disgust or defective sympathy as would have governed it in real life. From qualities, for example, of childlike simplicity, of shy profundity, or of inspired self-communion, the world does and must turn away its face towards grosser, bolder, more determined, or more intelligible expressions of character and intellect; and not otherwise in literature, nor at all less in literature, than it does in the realities of life.'
References. XVII. 16. H. H. Scullard, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlvii. p. 233. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. ii. No. 78. J. H. Jowett, The Examiner, 5th July, 1906, p. 652. XVII. 16, 17. H. C. G. Moule, The High Priestly Prayer, p. 143. XVII. 17. E. Bersier, Sermons in Paris, p. 41. C. D. Bell, The Saintly Calling, p. 101. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxii. No. 1890. Bishop Westcott, The Incarnation and Common Life, p. 175. XVII. 17-19. Expositor (6th Series), vol. iv. p. 1. XVII. 18. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxvi. No. 2144. XVII. 18, 19. H. C. G. Moule, The High Priestly Prayer, p. 150.
The Sanctifying of the Teacher
I. The deeds and words of Christ are universal, and every order or profession of men can find itself in them. The men and women of learning, the order whose task it is to know and make known, do find themselves in the words 'For their sakes I sanctify self'. Our task is self-culture in things of the mind; but it is self-culture not for the sake of self, but for their sake, those others whom our knowledge shall enable to know, our own immediate scholars it may be, or our own country and race. Here is the basis of our life as the people of learning, those who know, a university: our reason for being is the intellectual good of others, those who will have light upon the ways of life through us. For their sakes we are to sanctify, that is, to consecrate, hallow, offer up to the Divine ourselves.
The Incarnate Son of God, as priest who would offer sacrifice, makes in these words the offering of His life to the Father. In this act, as in all, the disciple must be as His Master, and by imitation of the Christ allow the Christ to be incarnate in him. We disciples, who are the men and women of knowledge, are to let the Christ be incarnate in our profession and way of life even thus: we are to offer up for their sake, those others, our student labour, our teacher skill.
We must be victor, if God grant it, in the encounter in which knowledge is won, and our scholars must watch us and see our way. We must alike in the act of learning and teaching be men of selfsacrifice, of self-dedication; giving ourselves to the truth in God, that by the touch of our self-giving these, our youngers, may have power to sacrifice themselves and know what we have known.
II. It is the vision of the Learned Life lived as a Christ-life, of the Incarnation enacted in the profession of those who know. It is a true and sober certainty that in the profession of the Tradition of Knowledge we may each work out a little part of the work of Christ: our profession may be a mode of that activity by which man fills up what is behind, not, it may be, of the afflictions, but of the travail of Christ Jesus. It, too, is a redemption of the world through sacrifice: the world is by us to be won back from that evil of which the names are ignorance, error, blindness, incompetence, by the self-giving of those who hold the good thing committed to us, the light of science, art", experience, of sacred and of secular knowledge. But the redemption will only be through sacrifice. For their sakes we must sanctify ourselves.
J. Huntley Skrine, Sermons to Pastors and Masters, p. 58.
The Consecration of Jesus
In his instructive and profound book on the Religion of the Semites, Dr. Robertson Smith quotes, as containing the deepest conception of the Atonement, these words of our Lord, uttered as He knelt in prayer by the altar of the supreme sacrifice: 'For their sakes I consecrate Myself, that they also may be consecrated in truth'. Besson writes in his spiritual letters: 'It is in His Passion that the Saviour shows Himself, like the sun at midday, in all the ardour of His love'. And in the shadow of the cross, He who had schooled Himself daily to the repression of feeling spoke the secret of His life and death. He interpreted His whole work as a consecration in the power of love. On the cross He consecrated Himself as the atoning sacrifice the absolute oblation for the sins of the whole world. Here is the first aspect of the cross; its witness to the deep necessity of expiation, to the completeness of Christ's offering for sin. Before the death of Christ came His life, and that was a long selfsacrifice. It was willingly surrendered hour by hour till all the years were full. Then it was completed consummated in death. The consecration was for love of His friends, and it meant not merely self-surrender, but also self-purification. As Bishop Lightfoot has said, it implied the sanctification as well as the chivalry of friendship. For a sacrifice on God's altar must be without blemish. 'The Divine Μωμοσκόπος (I am employing the image of two apostolic fathers) scrutinises the victim with His piercing eye, lays bare the most secret thoughts and intents of the heart, detects the hidden faults which unfit him for a sacrificial victim.' So Christ's pastoral care and religious fellowship began and continued till He was laid at last a pure sacrificial offering on the altar of friendship.
I. The great need of our time is a real consecration, and this must be a consecration after the same manner.
II. In the first instance our duty is to those round us, and among the most favoured children of the world we may find many who, in respect of spiritual care, are as destitute as a man in a lighthouse. A generous friendship may only injure them; it is a consecrated friendship that may save them. A loving parent will not merely save money for his children; he will sanctify himself for their sakes. He will remember that he stands to them as the ideal of goodness and truth, he will realise the awful obligation implied in their pure belief about him, he will remember that he cannot take his own life without taking theirs. What unutterable loss if Christ had even for one moment failed to sanctify Himself! History tells us how wealth, in its hour of danger, has enlisted and exalted the priest, has made haste to shuffle on the cloak of hypocrisy. But no man can in any degree contribute to the salvation of society who does not purify himself. The gift is nothing without the giver. Consecration without sanctification is impossible.
W. Robertson Nicoll, Ten Minute Sermons, p. 235.
The Ministry of Holy Orders (An Ordination Sermon)
There are many thoughts which must present themselves to a Christian mind in a ceremony so special and so sacred as an ordination, but I shall limit myself wholly or mainly this morning to one.
Before the Bishop lays his hands upon you, suffer me to remind you that, as is your privilege, so, too, is your responsibility; as you are called to the most sacred office among men, so must you set yourselves with unfaltering purpose to elevate and consecrate your personal lives. 'For their sakes,' says the Saviour in the text, 'for their sakes I sanctify Myself.'
Such was His holiness, His prerogative of sanctity, yet even this He would not claim or use for Himself; it was His, that He might in a measure transmit it as a sacred influence to others, even to those disciples whom He had trained to be the evangelists of the world. 'For their sakes,' He says, 'I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified through the truth'.
I. All Christian ministry is a reflection of the one perfect Divine ministry which once illuminated the world. He, who then came upon the earth, 'not to be ministered unto, but to minister,' was and described Himself as being 'the Truth'. He came to bear witness to the truth; every one that was of the truth heard His voice. Between the absolute truth impersonate in Jesus Christ and all individual truthful souls there was, and is, a communion of spiritual sympathy. But the paramount credential of His truth was His sanctity. To the Christian conscience many things may seem possible, but one is impossible it is impossible that Jesus Christ should lie. All that He says about Himself is, and must be, true.
You and I have been called to a ministry not unlike His. In our ears, as in the Apostles' of old time, echoes the sacred declaration, 'As My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you'. We are witnesses and commissioners of the truth.
II. A clergyman, in the very nature of his office, is one who should aspire to raise his life above the level of ordinary men. He is set apart by a special act of consecration. He accepts nay, he voluntarily seeks orders which are called holy; he professes that he is moved to seek them by the Spirit of God. He takes upon himself the solemn responsibility of teaching his fellow-men from year to year and from week to week what lives they ought to live. The very dress he wears should remind him that he more than other men needs clean hands and a pure heart, nor should he ever, I think, so far put off that dress as in appearance to discard or disown his clerical character. The very title of 'reverend' which men give him, however conventionally, in addressing him should stamp upon his heart the conviction that to be reverend is properly to be worthy of reverence.
III. It will be an incalculable help to you in holy orders that you should lift yourselves nearer to heaven for the sake of so lifting your congregation. 'For their sakes I sanctify Myself,' said the Saviour. Try to sanctify yourselves, then, for your people's sake; do something that it is hard to do, and do it constantly, that you may walk in His footsteps. You can scarcely estimate as yet what a strength you will gain in the cause of temperance if you are a teetotaler, or in the cause of purity if you are a celibate, or in the cause of philanthropy if you are known to be regardless of personal gain.
The motto, as it were, which I would leave with you for your future ministry shall be that moving Scriptural phrase, 'the beauty of holiness'. Not to be holy alone, although that is an arduous and almost an awful task, but by the beauty of a personal life to make a sinful world enamoured of the holiness which is in Jesus Christ and flows from Him; that is the supreme ideal of the Christian ministry.
Bishop Welldon, The Gospel in a Great City, p. 114.
Christ Sanctifying Himself
I. Let us think of Jesus Christ sanctifying Himself for our sakes. The word 'sanctify' here does not mean what we understand by making holy Jesus Christ was ever holy. Just as in the Old Testament sundry things were set apart for God's use and service, consecrated by being separated for God, thus Jesus Christ speaks of Himself here as sanctified. There are three aspects in which we may look at this life of surrender to the will of God. (1) Think of Christ accepting the condition of utter dependence upon the Father. (2) See, again, how for our sakes He sets Himself apart, concealing His greatness and glory that He may become perfectly one with us. (3) This sanctification, this setting apart, is through the truth. He is set apart by the truth, girt and held by it.
II. Consider His desire for our sanctification. Do you see that life finds its very meaning and worth in this surrender of ourselves for the sake of others? It is the devoted life that is the expanded and enlarged life. We must go out of ourselves to possess ourselves. The fullest life of all and the richest is ours when we set ourselves apart for the service of the Lord Jesus Christ III. How then may this sanctification be curs? This surrender is not to be vague and indefinite. As the train glides along so easily because its wheels are on the fixed and rigid iron rails, so in this setting apart of ourselves for the service of the Lord Jesus Christ we must ever get on the lines which He has laid down. (1) First, a life of simple dependence upon the will of God. (2) Then, too, we are to surrender ourselves to Him for the welfare of others, even as He set Himself apart for us.
IV. This life is to be kept sanctified, separate, set apart by the truth. It means a stern, rigid, unfaltering loyalty to Jesus Christ Sanctified by the truth means this one thing to be true to Jesus Christ.
M. G. Pearse, The Gentleness of Jesus, p. 89.
References. XVII. 19. Archbishop Lang, A Lent in London, p. 186. W. Robertson Nicoll, Sunday Evening, p. 347. XVII. 19-21. C. S. Macfarland, The Spirit Christlike, p. 71. XVII. 20. W. M. Sinclair, Simplicity in Christ, p. 3. J. Bannerman, Sermons, p. 177. A. Duff, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlv. p. 40. C. J. Vaughan, The Prayers of Jesus Christ, p. 105. XVII. 20, 21. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xii. No. 668. H. C. G. Moule, The High Priestly Prayer, p. 157. J. N. Bennie, The Eternal Life, p. 29. F. de W. Lushington, Sermons to Young Boys, p. 114. R. Flint, Sermons and Addresses, p. 11. XVII. 20-22. E. H. Bickersteth, Thoughts in Past Years, p. 229. XVII. 20-26. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture St. John, p. 203. XVII. 21. T. Binney, King's Weigh-House Chapel Sermons (2nd Series), p. 294. H. C. G. Moule, The High Priestly Prayer, p. 164. Expositor (6th Series), vol. v. p. 300. XVII. 21, 22. C. Bigg, The Spirit of Christ in Common Life, p. 222. XVII. 21-23. H. S. Holland, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlv. p. 406. H. C. G. Moule, The High Priestly Prayer, p. 171. XVII. 22. J. R. M. Mitchell, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xliv. p. 11. XVII. 22, 23. W. C. Smith, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xliv. p. 241. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxv. No. 1472. J. A. Robinson, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lv. p. 173. R. W. Dale, Fellowship with Christ, p. 304. XVII. 23. O. Bronson, Sermons, p. 97. Expositor (5th Series), vol. v. p. 33. XVII. 23, 26. Ibid. (6th Series), vol. x. p. 33. XVII. 24. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. iv. No. 188; vol. xxxii. No. 1892, and vol. xl. No. 2376. H. C. G. Moule, The High Priestly Prayer, pp. 175, 185, 192. J. M. Neale, Sermons Preached in a Religious House, vol. i. p. 123. Expositor (5th Series), vol. ix. p. 300. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture St. John, p. 206. XVII. 25. H. C. G. Moule, The High Priestly Prayer, p. 206. Expositor (6th Series), vol. x. p. 358.
The Righteous Father Revealed By Christ
These great words form a part of the High Priestly prayer of our Divine Lord offered immediately before his Gethsemane agony. The fact that they are the closing words of that wonderful prayer invests them with profound and solemn meaning.
I. Our Lord announces Himself as the revealer of the Divine name. 'I have declared, or made known unto them Thy name, and will make it known.'
II. The purpose for which Christ Jesus revealed the Divine name. 'That the love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be in them, and I in them.' (1) The Father's love is confiding. 'The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into His hand' (John 3:35 ). (2) The Father's love was communicative. 'The Father loveth the Son and sheweth Him all things that Himself doeth' (John 5:20 ). (3) The Father's love was distinguished for its constancy. (4) The Father's love to the Son was a love of complacency, of holy delight, of unqualified approval. Strive to obtain a worthy conception of the Father's love to the Son in its height, depth, intensity and constancy, and then judge yourself by this lofty standard.
Richard Roberts, My Jewels, p. 207.
References. XVII. 25, 26. F. J. A. Hort, Village Sermons in Outline, p. 42. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxiii. No. 1378. H. C. G. Moule, The High Priestly Prayer, p. 199. XVII. 26. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxviii. No. 1667. H. C. G. Moule, The High Priestly Prayer, p. 213. E. A. Stuart, Church Family Newspaper, vol. xiv. p. 752. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture St. John, p. 210. XVIII. 1, 2. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xlviii. No. 2767. XVIII. 1-8. G. Body, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlv. p. 193. XVIII. 4. Expositor (5th Series), vol. i. p. 193; ibid. (6th Series), vol. iii. p. 472. XVIII. 6-9. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture St. John, p. 219. XVIII. 8. C. Bosanquet, The Consoler and the Sufferer, p. 161. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xlv. No. 2616. XVIII. 8, 9. Ibid. vol. xii. No. 722, and vol. xl. No. 2368. XVIII. 10. J. W. Burgon, Servants of Scripture, p. 79. Expositor (5th Series), vol. ix. p. 118. XVIII. 11. R. F. Horton, The Hidden God, p. 99. J. Stalker, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlvi. p. 264. C. Bosanquet, The Consoler and the Sufferer, p. 177. S. McPhail, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lix. p. 404. XVIII. 12, 13. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xlix. No. 2820. XVIII. 13. Expositor (4th Series), vol. i. p. 88. XVIII. 15. Ibid. vol. iv. p. 330. XVIII. 15-27. G. Jackson, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lviii. p. 284. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture St. John, p. 230. XVIII. 16, 17. Expositor (5th Series), vol. vi. p. 82. XVIII. 18. Ibid. (4th Series), vol. iii. p. 226; ibid. (5th Series), vol. i. p. 461. XVIII. 19-23. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xlix. No. 2820.
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on John 17". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://www.studylight.org/
the Sixth Week after Easter