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THE GOOD SHEPHERD
John 10:9. I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.
THE importance of sound doctrine cannot be too strongly insisted on. Error, especially in the fundamentals of religion, is as destructive as vice. In innumerable instances, it brings both those who propagate, and those who receive it, into eternal ruin: hence St. Paul denounced anathemas against any one, even though he should be an angel from heaven, who should blend Judaism with Christianity. Our Lord himself also spake of false teachers with indignation. The Pharisees, while they rejected him, taught the people to look for salvation to their own ritual or superstitious observances; Jesus therefore declared them to be only as “thieves and robbers,” who, instead of belonging to the flock of God, sought eventually their destruction, and, in opposition to their false doctrines, affirmed [Note: The affirmation is exceeding strong, ver. 7 and it is repeated in the text.] himself to be the only door of admission into the fold of God.
We shall consider,
The metaphor by which Jesus represents his own character—
He had been delivering “the parable” of “the Good Shepherd [Note: ver. 6, 11.];” in elucidating which, he speaks of himself as “the door of the sheepfold.”
The Church of God is here compared to a sheepfold—
[All men in their natural state are wandering at a distance from God [Note: Isaiah 53:6.]: they neither acknowledge him as their Shepherd, nor feed in his pastures; they are strangers to that flock which is under his immediate care [Note: Ephesians 2:12.]. But in every age God has had “a chosen and peculiar people:” in the days of Moses he brought them into a visible fold; till the time of Christ all his sheep were kept within the pale of the Jewish Church. But our Lord announced his purpose to introduce the Gentiles also into his fold [Note: ver. 16.]. Now all who name the name of Christ are called his sheep. All however who are nominally his, are not really so [Note: Romans 2:28; Romans 9:6.]. It is to be feared that his sincere followers still form but “a little flock;” but the truly upright, of whatever denomination they be, belong to him: they are indeed often ready to cast out each other as aliens; nevertheless they are equally the objects of his superintending care.]
Of this fold Christ is “the door”—
[Parts of Judζa were probably still infested with wolves: the sheepfolds therefore were better secured than ours: perhaps the entrance into them was guarded by a door. Now, what that door was to the fold, that is Christ to the Church: every sheep must enter into it by faith in him [Note: Galatians 3:26.]. We are expressly said to have access unto God through him [Note: Ephesians 2:18.]; nor indeed has there ever been any other way into the fold [Note: John 14:6.]. It was the blood of the sacrifice which procured admission for the high-priest within the vail [Note: Hebrews 9:7; Hebrews 9:25.]. Through that, all believers, from the very beginning, were brought nigh to God [Note: Revelation 13:8. with Ephesians 2:13.]; and, through that, we also have boldness to enter into the holiest [Note: Hebrews 10:19-20.]. Some, it is true, have “climbed up into the fold some other way [Note: ver. 1.]:” they profess to be his without having ever believed in him; but they are regarded by him only as thieves and robbers; nor will they ever be admitted into the fold above.]
This description of Christ is of great importance.
The benefit of receiving him under that character—
There is no benefit which can accrue to a well-attended flock, which does not arise to those who believe in Christ—
Security; “He shall be saved”—
[Protection is of unspeakable benefit to a defenceless sheep: but who can estimate the value of salvation to an immortal soul? Yet, such is the portion of those who enter into the fold aright: they shall be rescued out of the jaws of the devouring lion [Note: 2 Timothy 2:26. 1 Peter 5:8.]: they shall be freed from the curse and condemnation of the law [Note: Romans 8:1.]: death itself, disarmed of its sting, shall have no power to hurt them [Note: 1 Corinthians 15:55-57.]: every kind and degree of penal evil shall be averted from them. He that is empowered, is also engaged, to “save them to the uttermost:” and this benefit he bestows, because they “come unto God by him [Note: Hebrews 7:25.].”]
Liberty; “He shall go in and out”—
[A sheep left to wander on the mountains infested with wolves, might boast of its freedom from restraint; but it would soon find what little reason there was to glory in such a privilege: its truest liberty is to submit itself to the direction of the shepherd. Thus they, who live without God in the world, may boast of their liberty; but their very freedom is, in fact, the sorest bondage: [Note: 2 Peter 2:19.] and every moment they are in danger of everlasting destruction [Note: Psalms 7:12-13.Deuteronomy 32:35; Deuteronomy 32:35.]. It is far otherwise with those who have entered into the fold by Christ. Whether at large by day, or enclosed by night, they feel no restraint. Through Christ they have all the liberty which their souls can desire [Note: John 8:36.]. Secure of God’s favour, “they go in and out” before him in perfect peace [Note: Psalms 25:13.].]
Provision; “He shall find pasture”—
[Good pasture comprises all the wants of a highly favoured flock: and how rich, how abundant is that, which the sheep of Christ partake of! There are “exceeding great and precious promises,” on which they feed. It is utterly their own fault if ever they experience a dearth [Note: Psalms 23:2.]. David from his personal knowledge attests this truth [Note: Psalms 22:26.]; and God confirms it by an express promise to all his people [Note: Ezekiel 34:14.]. This privilege too, no less than the others, is the consequence of entering into the fold by the appointed door [Note: John 6:35.].]
Those who are wandering at a distance from the fold—
[Perhaps, like the silly sheep, you are insensible of your danger; but the more confident you are of safety, the more certain is your ruin. If they only, who enter in by the door, are saved, what can you expect? O consider, that the loss of bodily life, is not to be compared with the doom that awaits you; nor do you know how soon that doom may be inflicted upon you. Blessed be God, however, the door is yet open to all who come, and the Saviour’s declaration is yet sounding in your ears [Note: John 6:37.]— He is even now desirous to bring you home on his shoulders rejoicing [Note: Luke 15:4-6.]. Stay not then till the door be for ever closed upon you. Let the caution given by our Lord stir you up to improve the present moment [Note: Luke 13:25.]—]
Those who are desirous of returning to God—
[It has been already shewn, that they only are saved who enter in at the door. Now our proud hearts are extremely averse to be saved in this way. We would rather come into the fold by some less humiliating means. But our self-righteous attempts will be of no avail. We must come unto God by Christ, or not at all: salvation never was, nor can be, obtained through any other name than his [Note: Acts 4:12.]. Seek then, and that with earnestness, to enter in at the strait gate [Note: Luke 13:24.], and then you shall have that promise fulfilled to you [Note: Isaiah 45:17.]—]
Those who are dwelling in the fold of God—
[What debtors are ye to the grace which brought you to the knowledge of Christ! and what inestimable blessings are you now made to enjoy! Yet these are only an earnest of the blessings that await you hereafter. Rich as your present pastures are, they are not to be compared with those above. Let nothing tempt you then to wander from the fold to which you are brought. Follow not those who are but “goats,” or “wolves in sheep’s clothing.” Let it be your delight to hear your Shepherd’s voice, and to follow his steps: then shall you be separated from the goats in the day of judgment [Note: Matthew 25:33.], and receive from the Chief Shepherd the portion reserved for you [Note: 1 Peter 5:4.].]
LIFE ABUNDANTLY BY CHRIST
John 10:10. I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
THE parables of our blessed Lord, though exceedingly clear and striking, lose much of their force by reason of the difference of our habits from those which obtained amongst the Jews. For instance, the office of a shepherd, though simple in itself, was widely different in Canaan from that which men are called to discharge in our land. In Canaan, where there were beasts of prey, it was attended with danger; and a man was often called to expose his own life for the protection of his flock. Such was the office which Christ undertook for us: only, instead of endangering his own life for the preservation of ours, he actually laid down his life, in order that we might obtain life. He was “the Good Shepherd, who gave his own life for the sheep [Note: ver. 11.];” and who “came, not only that we might have life, but that we might have it more abundantly.”
To elucidate these words, I will shew,
The gracious purpose of our Lord’s advent—
“He came that we might have life.”
We could not, by any means, obtain it for our-selves—
[We were in the state of the fallen angels, so far as respects both guilt and condemnation; and were as incapable of removing these, and of restoring ourselves to the Divine favour, as they — — —]
But Christ came in order that we might be restored to the possession of it—
[He came in order to purchase life for us, and to impart it to us; to purchase it by his blood — — — and to impart it to us by his Spirit — — — And this he has effected, so far, that every one who believes in him has actually a title to life, and the very beginning of it in his soul — — —]
But the text leads us further to consider,
The extent to which he has accomplished it—
“He has come, that we might have life more abundantly.” And, the very instant we believe in him, we have life,
With more abundant evidence than was enjoyed under the Mosaic dispensation—
[The promises given to the Jews were mostly temporal. It is surprising how little is spoken of eternal life in the Old Testament, and especially of the resurrection of the body to a participation of it. And the access which men had to God was very distant. No one could offer sacrifice, except through the instrumentality of the priest; nor could any one but the High Priest go into the holy of holies; and he only on one day in the year; nor could even he go then, without the blood of his sacrifice. But the Lord Jesus Christ has “opened a way for us, a new and living way, into the holiest of all,” with his own blood; and, the vail, having been rent in twain from the top to the bottom, the way is made quite plain, and all his people, as “a royal priesthood,” may go, every one for himself, into the very presence of his God — — — Moreover, “a spirit of adoption” is now given by Christ to his believing people; and every one of his true followers is authorized to claim God as his Father, and to consider himself as possessed of an inheritance which, in body as well as in his soul, he shall enjoy to all eternity — — — Yes, in this sense are “life and immortality brought to light by the Gospel:” nor has any believer now any more doubt respecting either the present acceptance of a saint, or of his future reign with Christ in glory, than he has of the existence of a God. All this, though very partially and indistinctly known under the Mosaic dispensation, is now so clearly revealed, that a little child may see it, and “he who runs may read it” — — —]
In a more abundant measure than it would ever have been enjoyed, if man had never fallen—
[By the Prophet Zechariah, God says, “Turn ye to the strong-hold, ye prisoners of hope: even to-day do I declare that I will render double unto thee [Note: Zechariah 9:12.]:” so Christ here offers to us a double measure of life. Man, if he had never fallen, would have possessed but a creature-righteousness; whereas, through faith in Christ, he becomes possessed of a divine righteousness, and is entitled to address the Saviour himself as “Jehovah, our Righteousness” — — — Moreover, if man had never fallen, he would have had very narrow and contracted views of God, in comparison of those which are revealed to him in and through the Lord Jesus Christ. As a creature, he would have beheld the goodness of God: but he could have formed no conception of the justice, and holiness, and mercy, and truth of God; and much less of the union and harmony of all these attributes, as simultaneously exhibited in the person of a crucified Redeemer — — — I add, too, that had he never fallen, his happiness would have been only the gift of grace; whereas, through the coming of Christ, every blessing that he shall enjoy in the eternal world, will bear upon it a stamp of the price it cost, and will be enjoyed by the soul as the fruit and purchase of the Redeemer’s blood — — — Take this view of the blessedness which Christ has obtained for us; and I hesitate not to say, that it as far exceeds all that man would otherwise have enjoyed, as the noon-day sun exceeds in radiance the morning-star, or the feeble glimmering of the glow-worm — — —]
Let not any of you, then, be satisfied without this light—
[Shall the Son of the living God have left the bosom of his Father, and assumed our nature, and died upon the cross for us, and we be indifferent about the life that he has purchased for us? Would not “the very stones cry out against us?” — — — Tell me, would the apostate spirits, if they were favoured with one such message of mercy as is vouchsafed to you, make light of it as you do? I charge you, then, be in earnest; and, whilst the invitations of the Gospel are yet sounding in your ears, go to this good Shepherd, and seek from him the life which he has come from heaven to bestow — — —]
Let not any be satisfied with a small measure of life—
[Christ came, “that you might have it more abundantly.” O brethren! you should not be content to live; but should seek to live in the richest possible enjoyment of the Divine favour, and in the most perfect meetness for glory. St. Paul, after all his attainments, “forgot what was behind, and reached forward to that which was before.” And that should be the habit of your minds. This is the way to answer the ends of Christ’s first advent; and it will be your best preparation for his future advent, when he shall come to judge the world in righteousness, and to bestow, in all its fulness, the life which he has purchased for you — — —]
VOLUNTARINESS OF CHRIST’S UNDERTAKING
John 10:17-18. Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.
THE subject here insisted on, whilst, at first sight, it appears merely speculative, is really of great importance: for, if the Lord Jesus Christ did not act voluntarily in every part of his mediatorial work, there could be no justice in laying our sins upon him, nor any efficacy in the atonement which he offered for them. It was this willingness of his to endure all which was necessary for our redemption, that put an essential difference between him and all other shepherds. Other shepherds, in countries where their flocks are open to the assaults of wild beasts, have exposed, and even sacrificed, their lives for their flocks: but no one ever undertook the office of a shepherd on purpose that he might die for his sheep. This, however, our blessed Saviour did. He foresaw, from all eternity, that, if he would redeem our souls, he must die in our stead: and of his own mind and will, without any necessity or constraint, except what arose from his own love to us and to his heavenly Father, he undertook our cause, and executed all that was necessary for the accomplishment of that stupendous task. The earnestness with which this fact is asserted in my text, together with the acceptableness of it to his heavenly Father, in whose estimation it so greatly raised him, shew, that the whole subject deserves our most attentive consideration. In fact, we cannot have just conceptions of our Saviour’s mediatorial work, unless we distinctly mark,
Its voluntariness on his part—
It is said, indeed, in my text, “This commandment have I received of my Father.” Now, it must be remembered, that the Lord Jesus Christ, as man, and as Mediator, was the Father’s servant: as says the prophet; “Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth [Note: Isaiah 42:1.].” And hence he is spoken of continually as “sent by the Father to be the Saviour of the world [Note: 1 John 4:9-10.].” But, as God, he was equal with the Father, and voluntarily concurred with the Father in executing the plan that was agreed upon between them. This appears,
At his first undertaking of the work—
[“The counsel of peace was between the Father and the Son [Note: Zechariah 6:13.];” the Son agreeing to “make his soul an offering for sin,” and the Father engaging to give him “a seed who should prolong their days” in happiness for ever and ever [Note: Isaiah 53:10.]. This mysterious transaction is declared by the Psalmist in the plainest terms; and his words are cited by St. Paul in confirmation of it: “Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire: mine ears hast thou opened (boring them, as it were, to the door-post, after the manner of a servant, who voluntarily refused his liberty, and consecrated himself for ever to the service of his master [Note: Exodus 21:5-6.]). Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart [Note: Psalms 40:6-8. with Hebrews 10:4-10.].” And this accords with what our blessed Lord also says, “For their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also may be sanctified through the truth [Note: John 17:19.].”]
In all the progressive steps of its advancement—
[Our blessed Lord foresaw all that should come upon him in the performance of his work. “He knew from the beginning, who should betray him [Note: John 6:64.].” In the prospect of his sufferings, he was quite “straitened till they should be accomplished [Note: Luke 12:50.].” He distinctly and repeatedly foretold all that he was appointed to endure; and, when the time was come for his enduring them, he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem,” for the express purpose that he might endure them [Note: Luke 9:51.]: and, on Peter’s endeavouring to dissuade him from submitting to them, he rebuked him with a severity never manifested on any other occasion, and declared him to be on that occasion an agent and confederate of the devil [Note: Matthew 16:23.]. On the night previous to his crucifixion, he instituted his last Supper; delivering to every one of his Disciples the bread and the wine, as representing his body broken, and his blood shed, for the remission of their sins [Note: 1 Corinthians 11:23-26.].” When Judas, with an armed band, came to apprehend him, he, by a word, beat them all backward to the ground, to shew that, in his subsequent surrender of himself to them, he acted voluntarily, and not from necessity [Note: John 18:6.]. Thus in these, as in a variety of other incidents, he shewed, that neither by fraud nor violence could any man prevail against him; but that, in every part of his work, he freely consented to sustain all that should come upon him.]
At the closing scene of his life—
[“He gave his back to the smiters, and his cheeks to them that plucked off the hair, and went altogether like a lamb to the slaughter.” If it had pleased him, “he could have called to his aid more than twelve legions of angels;” any individual of whom would have been able to defeat his adversaries, even if they had been a thousand times more numerous than they were [Note: Matthew 26:53.]. “But how, then, should the Scriptures be fulfilled?” He had undertaken to save us; and therefore he would not, though he could easily have done it, save himself. And at the very moment that he surrendered up his life, “he cried with a loud voice,” in order to shew that his nature was not exhausted, but that of himself “he had power to lay down his life,” and did lay it down voluntarily, and not by constraint. And this very thing so struck the Centurion who superintended the execution, as to convince him that Jesus “was indeed the Son of God [Note: Luke 23:46-47. with Mark 15:39.].”
That Jesus raised up himself is also true. He had, in the very beginning of his ministry, declared, that “when the Jews should have destroyed the temple of his body, he would raise it up again in three days [Note: John 2:19.]: and accordingly he did rise, as he had said. At the appointed time, also, he ascended up to heaven, and sent down his Holy Spirit to carry on the work on earth, whilst he himself should be carrying it on in heaven. Thus he has proved, that, in every part of his work, he has acted voluntarily, “having loved us, and given himself for us [Note: Galatians 2:20.].”]
Let us now proceed to notice,
Its acceptableness on the Father’s part—
In my text, it is said, “Therefore the Father loveth me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again.” Here again we must observe, that Christ speaks of himself, not personally, as the second Person of the ever-blessed Trinity, but officially, as man and as Mediator. Personally he needed nothing, nor could do any thing, to augment the Father’s love: for “He and the Father are one,” in glory equal, and in majesty co-eternal. But in his office he greatly commended himself to the Father’s love:
In undertaking it so willingly—
[The first intimation of the Father’s wish for the redemption of the world was, as we have seen, assented to by the Son, without the slightest hesitation, notwithstanding the means, by which it was to be accomplished, were so difficult and self-denying. To divest himself of all his glory, to assume the nature that had sinned, to bear in his own person the wrath due to our sins, and to “become a curse for us, in order to redeem us from the curse of God’s broken law [Note: Galatians 3:13.],” all this he willingly undertook; because he saw, that, whilst by this mysterious act of condescension he should save our ruined race, he should glorify his God and Father, in a way, and to an extent, in which he never otherwise could be glorified. God had shewn forth his wisdom and power and goodness in the works of creation: and he had manifested his justice and holiness in the condemnation of the fallen angels: but never had he exhibited any trace of mercy, any more than if it had not been an attribute of his nature, or a perfection which it was possible for a holy and just Being to display. But, by undertaking to die in our place and stead, he has satisfied the demands of justice; and, by working out a righteousness for us, he has rendered our acceptance with God compatible with the rights of holiness; and has thus opened a way for the exercise of mercy, not only in perfect consistency with all the other attributes of the Deity, but to the more glorious display of all; thus glorifying justice in a way of mercy, and mercy in a way of justice; or, as the Psalmist expresses it, causing “mercy and truth to meet together, and righteousness and peace to kiss each other [Note: Psalms 85:10.].” This could not but be pleasing to the Father; and, consequently, well might “the Father love him on account of it.”]
In executing it so completely—
[Never did the Lord Jesus Christ draw back, till he could say “It is finished.” By what he did and suffered for us, all the eternal counsels of the Father were fulfilled, and every thing was effected that could conduce either to the honour of God or the good of man. There was nothing left for either God or man to desire. His atonement fully satisfied Divine justice: his righteousness is fully adequate to our necessities: and now that he has again resumed his life, and has all power committed to him in heaven and in earth, he will complete the work he has begun; and God shall, to all eternity, be glorified in him. In the very prospect of this, when Noah offered up a sacrifice that only shadowed it forth, “God smelled a savour of rest [Note: Genesis 8:21.]:” and much more, when the Lord Jesus Christ offered up himself the true Sacrifice, was the Father well pleased with it! so true is that declaration of St. Paul, that “Christ loved us, and gave himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God of a sweet-smelling savour [Note: Ephesians 5:2.].”]
We see, then, from hence,
How to commend ourselves to the Father’s love—
[If “the Father loved his own Son because of his voluntary services,” he will love us also on the same account. Some would be ready to cry out against this, as a legal sentiment: but I affirm that it is truly evangelical. Hear our blessed Lord’s assertions to this effect: “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father; and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him ..…If a man will love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him; and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him [Note: John 14:21; John 14:23.].” True, God has given us commandments: but it is not as servants, but as sons, that we are to obey them; delighting to do his will, even as our Saviour himself did. We are “to esteem all his commandments concerning all things to be right; and to abhor every false way [Note: Psalms 119:128.].” It is this readiness, this delight in God’s commandments, that constitutes the very summit of evangelical obedience: and in proportion as we abound in it, we hesitate not to say, that God will love us, both in this world and in the world to come. According as with self-denying zeal and diligence we improve our talents for him, he will exalt and magnify us to all eternity [Note: Matthew 25:20-21.].]
What love we owe to the Son of the Father, the Lord Jesus Christ—
[Did the Father, who could receive no benefit from his Son’s work, love him because he laid down his life for us? What, then, should we do, whose happiness, both in time and in eternity, results from that alone? — — — St. Paul says, “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha [Note: 1 Corinthians 16:22.].” And who, amongst us, will hesitate to add his Amen to that? Who does not feel the justice of it? Who does not wonder that it has not long since been executed on himself, for his base ingratitude to the Saviour? And who, if hell were at this moment to open and swallow him up quick, must not justify God, and say, “Righteous art thou, O Lord; and true and just are thy judgments [Note: Revelation 19:2.]?” Sure I am, that however we may attempt to palliate our ingratitude to him now, the time is coming, when “our mouths will be shut [Note: Matthew 22:12.],” and we shall be constrained to acknowledge that “we have received the just reward of our deeds [Note: Luke 23:41.].” But, brethren, “I hope better things of you, and things that accompany salvation [Note: Hebrews 6:9.]:” and most gladly close my subject with that benevolent petition of the Apostle, “Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity! Amen and Amen [Note: Ephesians 6:24.].”
SECURITY OF CHRIST’S SHEEP
John 10:27-28. 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.
WHILST we acknowledge with gratitude the powers of reason in investigations of a speculative or temporal nature, we must be very jealous of its conclusions in matters that are purely spiritual or practical. In whatever relates to God and to the soul, its decisions are apt to be biassed by prejudice, or interest, or passion; and it yields, or withholds, assent, not so much according to the weight of evidence adduced, as according to the dispositions which are called forth into exercise. This was peculiarly manifest amongst the persons who attended on the ministry of our Lord: some were so wrought upon by the greatness of his miracles, and the impressive wisdom of his discourses, that they could not but receive him as the Messiah; whilst others were always complaining of want of evidence, and always cavilling at his words. In the preceding context we are told, that “the Jews came round about him, and said, 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.” He then informs them what the source was of their unbelief; “Ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep:” you are destitute of those gracious qualities which would have fitted you for receiving my word: had you been given to me by the Father, and possessed the dispositions which characterize my sheep, you would have both believed in me, and reaped all the benefits of that faith: “My sheep hear my voice; and I know them, and they follow me,” &c.
In these words our Lord refers to a conversation which he had recently had with them respecting his sheep; and goes on to declare,
This is delineated with great simplicity:
They hear his voice—
[Sheep that are well attended, are always observant of the shepherd’s voice: so is the Christian also of the voice of Christ. Christ speaks to us in his word as truly as ever he spake to his Disciples in the days of his flesh: and it is the delight of all his people to hear and obey his word. The inspired volume is to them a source, an inexhaustible source, of comfort: they read it, they meditate upon it, they pray over it, they “esteem it more than their necessary food.” When they open it, they look up to their Divine Master, and say, “Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth;” “Open thou mine eyes, that I may see wondrous things out of thy law.” Directions, warnings, invitations, promises, are all alike acceptable to them: every thing that conveys to them the mind and will of their good Shepherd, is received with implicit faith, and unreserved obedience.]
They follow his steps—
[In the written word they behold the path their Saviour trod; and wherever they see the traces of his feet, they endeavour to follow. They inquire not whether the way be arduous and self-denying, or perilous and beset with enemies; all that they desire is, to ascertain precisely the path of duty; and then to walk in it with steadiness and perseverance. They plainly see that their Shepherd is gone before them towards Zion, regardless of all dangers, indifferent to all the things of this world, and intent only on executing the will of his heavenly Father; and thither they direct their steps, cultivating in every thing “the mind that was in him,” and endeavouring “to walk as he walked.”]
In proportion as they pursue this path, they augment,
The Lord Jesus Christ regards them with approbation—
[It is true that he “knows them” all by name; nay more, he knows every thing relating to them, their wants, their weaknesses, their fears, their trials, their exertions, their desires. But the word in our text is intended to express the approbation with which their Shepherd notices their well-meant endeavours [Note: See Psa 1:6 and 1 Corinthians 8:3.]. And what can afford them greater happiness than the enjoyment of his favour? “In his favour is life; and his loving-kindness is better than life itself.” Is it asked, How be conveys to them a sense of his favour? I answer, by “the witness of his Spirit,” by “the testimony of their own conscience,” by “shedding abroad his love in their hearts through the Holy Ghost.” It is a certain truth, that “he will manifest himself to them as he does not unto the world:” and he “will give them the white stone, wherein is a new name written, which no man knoweth, saving he that receiveth it [Note: Revelation 2:17.].” In this sense of his love, they have a “peace that passeth all understanding,” and “a joy with which the stranger intermeddleth not.”]
He loads them with his richest benefits—
[Whatever he bestows upon them in this world, it is but a taste before the banquet, a drop before the shower, a pledge and earnest of infinitely richer blessings in the world to come. “He gives unto them eternal life:” he has prepared other pastures for them in heaven, where all his sheep from the commencement to the end of time shall be collected, and form “one fold under one Shepherd.” If their “joys” even here are sometimes “unspeakable,” who shall declare the happiness reserved for them against that day? Never for a moment will they lose sight of their Beloved: they will hear his voice day and night: they will follow him incessantly without any weariness or difficulty: the richest images that can be borrowed from earthly things are incapable of conveying the smallest idea of the felicity that awaits them. And all this is given them; it is given them freely; it is given them now: it is said in our text, not, “I will give them,” but, “I give them:” the very moment that they are brought home to his fold, he bestows it on them: they have instantly a right and title to it; and when they go hence, they go and take possession of it, not as a new gift which shall then be conferred, but as an inheritance, which by the surest of all titles, they have before been enabled to call their own.]
Their ultimate possession of these benefits is insured to them in such a manner, as warrants us to affirm and to rejoice in,
Nothing shall be permitted to rob them of their inheritance—
[Sheep may perish either from internal disorders, or from outward enemies: and it should seem that the sheep of Christ also may fail of attaining eternal blessedness either through the corruptions of their own hearts, or through the assaults of their spiritual enemies. But against both these dangers their Shepherd has engaged to protect them: “they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of his hand.” It is here taken for granted, that they are exposed to things, which, without the intervention of Omnipotence to prevent it, might terminate in their destruction: and every one of them feels that this is really the case. But Jesus guarantees, if I may so say, their safety: he has himself begun the good work in them, and he undertakes to perfect it: he “has laid the foundation in their hearts, and he will finish it, and bring forth the top-stone:” he has reserved heaven for them; and he will keep them for it [Note: 1 Peter 1:4-5.].]
For this Jesus pledges his own veracity and his Father’s power—
[It is not asserted here, that they shall never be tempted: nor is it asserted that they shall never fall: but it is asserted that they shall never perish, nor be plucked out of their Redeemer’s hand. What shall we say then? That they are at liberty to live in sin? No; there is no such licence allowed them. The way in which they shall be kept from perishing, is, by giving them “grace sufficient for them,” by enabling them to “mortify the deeds of the body,” and by sanctifying them throughout “in body, soul, and spirit,” and by “bruising Satan under their feet.” In this way they shall be made “more than conquerors through Him that loved them.” And, because Jesus was about to leave his Disciples, and to commit the keeping of them to his heavenly Father, he pledges himself, that his Father also, who was infinitely above all created Powers, yea, and greater than he himself also, as man, and as Mediator, should effectually preserve them; and that no enemy should prevail against them, unless he should first overcome Jehovah himself. This then being secured to them by a promise that cannot fail, and by a power that cannot he overcome, we may congratulate the sheep of Christ in the words of their good Shepherd; “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”]
Now because of the singular importance of this subject, we shall,
Guard it against abuse—
[By referring the final issue of our warfare to the veracity and power of God, rather than to the faithfulness and diligence of man, it may be thought that we open a door for licentiousness of manners, or at least for carelessness and indifference in our spiritual concerns. But if it be recollected what has been stated as the character of Christ’s sheep, (that “they hear his voice” and “follow his steps;”) and what has been declared as to the manner of perfecting in them the good work, (that God enables them to mortify sin, and to vanquish Satan;) what room can there be for the objection of its tending to licentiousness? If however there be any man disposed to say, ‘God will not suffer me to perish, therefore I will be careless about my walk and conduct,’ he needs nothing more to prove that he is not one of Christ’s sheep; he has not the smallest resemblance to his sheep; he is altogether deaf to the voice of Christ; he walks in a way directly opposite to his; and, instead of vanquishing sin and Satan, he is overcome by them. Whatever therefore he may call himself, he is no other than a wolf in sheep’s clothing. To imagine that he can attain the end without the means, is absurd; for God has ordained not only the end, but the means, and the end BY the means. See how clearly this is stated by St. Paul: “God,” says he, “hath from, the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth [Note: 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14.].” To what hath God chosen us? to enjoy the means of grace? to possess heaven, if we can earn it by our good works? No; he has chosen us to salvation, even “to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” But has he left it to our choice in what way this end shall be attained? No: he has appointed “sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth,” as the way to it: and if we are not proceeding in that way, it is in vain to think of ever attaining that end. If we choose to walk in sin, we may; but it will infallibly lead us to perdition: holiness is the appointed path to heaven; and “without holiness no man shall see the Lord.” To those, therefore, who would take the comfort arising from this subject, we recommend, that they judge of their state by their character and conduct: if they resemble Christ, and are walking truly in his ways, let them confidently trust in Him who “is able to keep them from falling, and to present them faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy:” but let them never entertain the thought of reaching heaven in any other than the appointed way: for, if they resemble “the goats,” it is in vain to hope that they shall have their portion with “the sheep.”]
Defend it against objections—
[Many are the objections confidently urged against the doctrines here maintained: and I most willingly acknowledge that these mysterious truths are to be stated with extreme caution, and that they should occupy only such a space in our general ministrations as they appear to occupy in the Holy Scriptures. Yet we must not keep back any part of divine truth; but, when occasion offers, must “declare the whole counsel of God.” It is true, that many pious men cannot receive these doctrines; and therefore we should, as much as possible, avoid such a statement of them as may wound their minds: still, however, we are not called to suppress the mention of them, but only to concede to others what we claim for ourselves, the right of forming our own judgment, and of being treated with respect and candour by those who differ from us.
It is said that the doctrines before stated are contrary to Scripture, to fact, and to the interests of morality.
The Scripture, it is said, abounds with warnings and exhortations to obedience; in many of which our final enjoyment of God’s favour is actually suspended on our perseverance in his ways. All this is true; and we are grieved, when any, from an undue attachment to human systems, attempt to deny it: but is it not also true that the Scriptures abound with passages of like import with the text [Note: Job 17:9. Isaiah 54:17. Jeremiah 32:40.]? The great fault of those who adopt human systems is, that they will be wise above what is written, and, instead of receiving God’s word as little children, will presume to reject every thing which they cannot reconcile with their own favourite opinions. Who could ever reconcile God’s fore-knowledge with the free-will of man? but who will venture to deny either? So, we may not see how to reconcile God’s determination to keep his people, with his cautions against the danger of apostasy; and yet God’s determinations may exist, without superseding the need of fear and caution on our part; nay, I am persuaded, that they are carried into effect by means of that very fear which his warnings inspire. And this is, I apprehend, the true solution of the difficulty, as far as it can be solved by man. God’s precepts teach us what we ought to do: his exhortations put us upon making every exertion in our power: his threatenings humble us for our short-comings and defects: his promises incline us to look to him for strength: and his covenanted engagements encourage us to “hope even against hope,” and to renew our exertions in an assured expectation of ultimate success. View the different portions of Scripture in this way, and, whatever the heat of controversy may lead men to urge against each other, there will be found no real opposition between them, but a perfect harmony in every part.
But, it may be said, it is contrary to fact that the Lord’s people are so preserved; for the inspired records inform us of many who “make shipwreck of their faith,” and “whose end,” in consequence of their apostasy, was “worse than their beginning.” This also is true: but it disproves not one atom of what is asserted in our text.
Hear what St. John says to this very point: he acknowledges that some had apostatized from the truth: but, says he, “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest, that they were not all of us [Note: 1 John 2:19. See this also confirmed by facts, Luke 22:31-32. Joh 17:12.].” To this it may be replied, that, if apostates are disclaimed as having ever really belonged to Christ, it is impossible to tell who do really belong to him. I readily acknowledge, that no man can know either that he himself belongs to Christ, or that any other person does, except by his works, or in any degree further than he is warranted by his life and conversation. If a man have the mark and character of Christ’s sheep, he may have a good hope that he belongs to Christ; but the very moment that he declines from that character, his evidences of relation to Christ decay, and, together with them, his hope of ultimate acceptance with him. “The foundation of God standeth sure; the Lord knoweth them that are his: but let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”
As to the objection that these doctrines are contrary to the interests of morality, it has been already answered, when we were guarding this subject from abuse. The doctrine that asserts that we shall be kept in the way of holiness, can never be inimical to the interests of holiness. But we would further ask, What must be the effect of denying these doctrines? Will not men be tempted to trust in an arm of flesh? and will not that issue in disappointment? and will not repeated disappointments tend to create despondency? People are apt to dread the idea of despondency as connected with the doctrines of grace: but we will venture to affirm, that, for one instance of despondency arising from a view of the sovereignty of God, and of our entire dependence upon his power and grace, a hundred instances arise from want of just views of this subject. What is the answer which we uniformly receive when we exhort men to walk in the steps of Christ? Is it not this! ‘We cannot: You require more of us, than we are able to perform?’ Of course, in these persons exertion is discouraged; and they remain bond-slaves of Satan, because they conceive it impossible that they should be delivered from his power: whereas, the person who believes that God is all-sufficient and faithful to his promises, is encouraged to renew his application to him from day to day, and, even under the most distressing circumstances, to expect a happy termination of his conflicts. A view of God, as “able to keep us from falling,” and as engaged to “perfect that which concerneth us,” will be a cordial to the drooping soul: and will enable us to adopt the triumphant language of Christ himself; “He is near that justifieth me; who will contend with me? Let us stand together; Who is mine adversary I let him come near to me. Behold, the Lord God will help me; who is he that shall condemn me [Note: Isaiah 50:8-9.]?” And what the effect will be of such a cheering hope as this, I leave you to judge. Only see it realized in the Apostle Paul, and we have no fear about any conclusions that shall be drawn from it [Note: Romans 8:33-39.].]
Improve it for your encouragement—
[What unspeakable encouragement is here afforded to those who are yet ignorant of Christ! Who can hear this saying, and not wish to be numbered amongst his sheep? Methinks the hope of obtaining such security should induce every one to return from his wanderings, and to put himself under his guidance and protection. Where shall we find any such promise made to those who are at a distance from the fold of Christ? Where has God said to them, “Ye shall never perish?” To them belongs rather that tremendous threatening, “Except ye repent, ye shall all perish.” O that all who are going astray might consider this, and “return immediately to the Shepherd and Bishop of their souls!”
To you who have fled to him for refuge, here is indeed strong consolation. You are sensible of manifold corruptions, any one of which is sufficient to destroy your souls. You feel your weakness too, and your utter inability to withstand that roaring lion that seeketh to devour you. What then would you do, if you were left to preserve yourselves by the unassisted efforts of your own strength and resolution 2 To you it is no little joy to be assured, that you are in the hands of an Omnipotent Being, against whom neither earth nor hell shall ever be able to prevail, and who engages in your behalf, that you shall never perish [Note: 1 John 4:4.]. Learn then to “cast your care on Him,” and to commit the keeping of your souls to Him in well-doing, as into the hands of a faithful Creator [Note: 1 Peter 4:19.].”]
CHRIST ONE WITH THE FATHER
John 10:30. I and my Father are one.
IT might well be expected, that, if God should reveal his will to man, there would be many things disclosed by him, which exceed the narrow limits of human reason. This might more particularly be expected in whatsoever related to his own person and character: for, as we can know nothing of him any farther than he is pleased to reveal himself to us; and as we cannot even comprehend our own nature, or discover how the soul is united to the body; it would be strange indeed if we could comprehend the mode of God’s existence, and explain how there should be an union of Three Persons in the God-head. In relation to such a mysterious subject, our wisdom is to ascertain what God has revealed concerning himself, and to receive it on the testimony of his word. This is the office of reason, as well as of faith: for reason requires, that we submit our understanding to the dictates of His wisdom, no less than our wills to the influence of His authority. That a Trinity of Persons in the Godhead is revealed, cannot reasonably be doubted, as long as the baptismal rite shall continue to be administered “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost;” for to imagine, that a creature is here associated with Almighty God in the highest possible act of divine worship, were the height of absurdity, and impiety. The subject before us relates only to the union subsisting between Christ and his Father: to that therefore we shall confine our attention. We begin with considering,
The truth of our Lord’s assertion.
The assertion itself—
[Our Lord says, “I and my Father are one.” Now it must be remembered, that the same expressions are used, as in human compositions, so also in the Holy Scriptures, sometimes in a metaphorical and figurative sense, and sometimes in a plain and literal sense; and their true import must always be judged of by the context. This is particularly the case with respect to the expression before us; which is elsewhere used in reference to the saints, to mark the exalted state to which they are raised by their connexion with Christ, and the mutual interest which they should feel in each other’s concerns: “I pray for them, that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me, I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I iu them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one [Note: John 17:20-23.].” Here the sense is obvious: no one could conceive for a moment that the union here spoken of is personal, as though the saints could be one person with God, or one person ill their collective capacity: it simply means, that the saints are to enjoy an union with God and with each other, as nearly resembling that which subsists between Christ and his Father, as their situation and circumstances will admit of, namely, an union of sentiment, of affection, of will, and of operation. But, in the passage under our consideration, more is evidently intended: in that is implied, not merely a figurative, but a real and personal union, an union of nature and of essence.
In proof of this, we must refer you to the whole scope of the passage. Our Lord is speaking of the security which his sheep enjoyed; that “He gives unto them eternal life, and that they shall never perish, nor shall any one ever pluck them out of his hand.” But, because he was speedily to be taken from them, and might therefore be supposed incapable of fulfilling this promise, he says, that “his Father was confessedly greater than all” created powers, yea, greater than he himself was in his human or Mediatorial capacity; and “that none should ever be able to pluck them out of his Father’s hand.” Yet, that they might know that he would not, on account of his removal from them, remit his care of them, he added, “I and my Father are one;” ‘we are one, as in will, so in power; as in operation, so in nature and in essence: and consequently my sheep have a double pledge of their security.’
This is the plain meaning of the passage; and that it is so, may be clearly seen from the construction which the Jews put upon his words. They took up stones immediately, to stone him: and when he inquired for which of all his good works they were about to stone him, they replied, that it was “not for any good work, but for blasphemy; because that He, who was only a man like themselves, made himself God [Note: ver. 32, 33.].” Now this shews incontestably what meaning they affixed to his words: it was not an ignorant individual, or persons ill acquainted with the received import of the words, that so interpreted them; but the whole audience, who perfectly understood what meaning his expressions were suited to convey.
The Jews were taught by God himself to be particularly jealous on the subject of idolatry; and to put to death any person who should, whether openly or in secret, attempt to seduce them to it. When therefore they heard our Lord arrogate to himself divine honours, they resented it, as they had done repeatedly before, by taking up stones to stone him as a blasphemer [Note: John 5:17-18; John 8:58-59.]. We do not say, that they were right in expressing their abhorrence of idolatry in this way; because they should have had the matter examined before a magistrate, and have acted according to evidence, and not according to the impulse of their blind passions: but we do say, that Jesus was justly accused of blasphemy, if he was not God; and that there was just cause for the indignation which his audience expressed.
But perhaps they were mistaken in their construction of his words: in which case we may be assured that Jesus would carefully rectify their error. But do we find that he did disclaim the assertion which they called blasphemy? No;
In his answers to them we find only,]
His confirmation of it—
[They had just complained that he kept them in suspense; and had desired that he would tell them plainly, who, and what, he was. He, in reply, declares that he had told them, and that they would not believe [Note: ver. 25.]. Had he told them that he was a mere man like themselves, the; would readily enough have believed that: but when he tells them again that he was “one with his Father,” they go about to stone him for blasphemy. Nevertheless, instead of revoking his word, he vindicates his claim; and establishes the justice of it by an appeal to the sacred writings. Magistrates, he tells them, were in the inspired volume frequently dignified with the name of gods [Note: Exodus 7:1; Exodus 22:28.]: and he refers them to one passage in particular, well known to them all, “I have said, Ye are gods [Note: Psalms 82:6.],” Now these were called gods partly, because they were Jehovah’s representatives and vice-gerents upon earth; and partly, because they were types of the Messiah, who was to be really and truly God, even “Emmanuel, god with us [Note: Isaiah 7:14.Matthew 1:23; Matthew 1:23.],” ‘Now,’ says our Lord, ‘if these persons, in order to prepare you for the reception of your incarnate God, were honoured with the name and title of gods, and you readily acquiesced in it, with what reason can you, when your incarnate God appears, accuse him of blasphemy, because he assumes that title, or calls himself by a name which you justly consider as equivalent to it? You are looking for your Messiah; and that Messiah is expressly foretold under the character of “Jehovah’s fellow [Note: Zechariah 13:7.],” who is “David’s Lord, as well as David’s Son [Note: Psa 110:1 with Matthew 22:42-45.]:” such therefore the Messiah must be; for “the Scripture cannot be broken:” why then do you not acknowledge the justice of my claim? If indeed I do not give evidence enough that I am the Messiah, you may justly dispute my title to be regarded as God; but if I do, then you are the blasphemers, who rob me of my proper honour. Know ye then, that I am the Person “whom the Father hath sanctified” and set apart from all eternity to the office, “and now hath sent into the world” to execute it: know also, that, instead of retracting any thing I have said, I repeat my assertions, and demand your acknowledgment of me in my true character,’
Thus our Lord confirms his assertion by an appeal to Scripture. He next proceeds to confirm it by an appeal to his own works. ‘I do not desire to be credited in such an assertion upon my bare unsupported word, without any corroborating evidence;’ says our Lord: ‘ “If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not: but, if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works; that ye may know and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him [Note: ver. 37, 38.].” Consider my works, both the matter, and the manner of them, and see if they do not justify every assertion I have made. Did ever man perform such miracles as I have done, so many, so great, so benevolent, so demonstrative of a divine agency? Moses indeed and the prophets wrought some few miracles: but how? they wrought them uniformly by application to Jehovah for the intervention of his power: but look at my miracles: on some occasions indeed, I also, acting in my mediatorial capacity, have acknowledged my dependence on him, and have acted “in his name,” as his servant [Note: Luke 11:41-43.]; (for as Mediator, I am his servant:) but, as being One with the Father, I have wrought in instances without number by that power and authority which I possess in common with the Father. Whence had I the power to still the elements as I have done [Note: Mark 4:39.]; or to expel Satan [Note: Mark 9:25.], or to raise the dead [Note: Mark 5:41.Luke 7:14; Luke 7:14.]? When the leper justly acknowledged my power to effect whatsoever I would; to whom was I indebted for power to heal him, when I said, “I will, Be thou clean [Note: Matthew 8:3.]?” ’
Such an appeal as this was sufficient to convince the most incredulous: and it receives much additional light from the manner in which the Apostles wrought their miracles: they wrought them invariably in the name of Jesus [Note: Acts 9:34; Acts 16:18.]; and disclaimed all idea of any inherent power in themselves, or even of any goodness on account of which God had wrought by them; so fearful were they, lest by any means they should rob the Lord Jesus of the honour due unto his name [Note: Acts 3:6; Acts 3:12; Acts 3:16. with 4:9, 10, 12.].
Shall it be said that our Lord did not mean in this appeal to assert his true and proper Godhead? Then see both his words, and the sense in which his enraged adversaries continued to understand them: “Though ye believe not me, believe the works; that ye may know and believe, that the Father is in me, and T in him.—Therefore they sought again to take him.” Here are two things demonstrated; first, that his enemies understood him to affect equality with God: and next, that He, knowing that they did so understand him, renewed and confirmed the assertions which they had so interpreted. A clearer explanation of what he affirmed, or a stronger proof of what he is, we cannot reasonably desire.]
We are the more earnest in establishing the Divinity of our blessed Lord, because it is intimately connected with every fundamental truth of our holy religion.
To illustrate more fully the truth asserted, I proceed to mark,
The incalculable importance of it—
This truth established, we behold in the clearest light—
The dignity of his person—
[Because God condescended to take our nature upon him, we requite his love by denying him to be God. But know that Jesus Christ is indeed “the true God [Note: 1 John 5:20.],” “the mighty God [Note: Isaiah 9:6.],” “the great God and our Saviour [Note: Titus 2:13.],” “God over all, blessed for evermore [Note: Romans 9:5.].” He is “the brightness of his Father’s glory, and the express image of his person [Note: Hebrews 1:3.];” yea, in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily [Note: Colossians 2:9.].” Hear what he himself saith unto Philip: Philip, having heard him speaking of the Father, as actually known to his Disciples, and already seen by them, saith, “Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us.” To this Jesus replies, “Have I been so long with you, and hast thou not known me, Philip? He that hath seen me, hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? Believe me, that I am in the Father, and the Father in me; or else believe me for the very works’ sake [Note: John 14:7-11.].” Now, I ask, if Jesus had not been really “one with the Father, would he have dared to use such language as this? And, if his Disciples were guilty of idolatry in worshipping him, was not the fault altogether his? Were not his words and his arguments expressly calculated to mislead and deceive them? But there is no room for doubt on this head. We never can entertain too high thoughts of him; nor can we ever honour him as we ought, unless we “honour him, even as we honour the Father [Note: John 5:23.].”]
The virtue of his sacrifice—
[On the dignity of his person depends the whole value of his atonement. The Apostle justly observes, that “it is not possible for the blood of bulls and of goats to take away sin:” and the same observation may with justice be applied to every creature, however exalted. But when we are assured that it was “God who was manifest in the flesh [Note: 1 Timothy 3:16.],” that it was “the Lord of glory that was crucified [Note: 1 Corinthians 2:8.],” and that it was “God who purchased the Church with his own blood [Note: Acts 20:28.],” we no longer hesitate to declare that his death was “a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world [Note: The Communion Service; and 1 John 2:2.].” He was, it is true, “in the form of a servant; but he was also in the form of God, and thought it not robbery to be equal with God [Note: Philippians 2:6-8.];” and therefore we may be assured that “his blood will cleanse us from all sin [Note: 1 John 1:7.].” The ransom he has paid for us, is fully equal to the redemption of a ruined world: and the righteousness which he has wrought out for us by his obedience unto death, is all that is wanted for the justification of those who trust in it. The very name given him by the prophet declares this; for we are taught to “call him, Jehovah our Righteousness [Note: Jeremiah 33:16.].” Here then “the weary and heavy-laden may find rest unto their souls” — — —]
The sufficiency of his grace—
[If Jesus were only a creature, those who trust in him might be addressed like the worshippers of Baal, “Cry aloud, for he is a god: either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is on a journey; or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked [Note: 1 Kings 18:27.].” He could not attend to the concerns of the whole universe at once; and therefore could not be a suitable object of our trust and confidence. But he is infinitely above all creatures, being “King of kings, and Lord of lords [Note: Revelation 19:16.].” He could truly say to Paul, and to every suppliant in the universe, “My grace is sufficient for thee.” Let not any one then despond, as though his corruptions were irremediable, or his enemies invincible; for “God hath laid help for us upon One that is mighty [Note: Psalms 89:19.]:” and the weakest of the human race that relies on him, may confidently say, “In the Lord have I righteousness and strength [Note: Isaiah 45:24.]:” “The Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation [Note: Isaiah 12:2.]:” “The Lord is my shepherd; therefore can I lack nothing [Note: Psalms 23:1.].”]
The excellency of his salvation—
[If we consider the price that has been paid, we may judge of the value of that redemption which has been purchased for us. Even in relation to the present life, we are told that “eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him [Note: Isa 64:4. 1 Corinthians 2:9-10.].” Under whatever figure they are spoken of, they are represented as exceeding all human apprehension: “the gift of them is unspeakable [Note: 2 Corinthians 9:15.]:” “the riches of them unsearchable [Note: Ephesians 3:8.]:” the peace that is enjoyed by means of them, passeth understanding [Note: Philippians 4:7.];” and “the joy which they produce, is unspeakable and glorified [Note: 1 Peter 1:8.]:” the love that bestowed them has “a height and depth, and length and breadth” that can never be explored [Note: Ephesians 3:18.]. Respecting the future life, we are still further from being able to appreciate the glories of it. The description of heaven, as a city paved with gold, and enriched with every thing magnificent or good, affords but a faint idea of that glorious place [Note: Revelation 21:10-23.]; as the songs and music of its inhabitants very inadequately represent their blessedness and joy [Note: Revelation 5:8-14; Revelation 14:1-3.]. But this we know, that, both on earth and in heaven, the felicity of the saints shall be worthy of the sacrifice that was made to obtain it. Let not any one then seek it in a listless and lukewarm manner, as though it were of little value — — — for it is a “great salvation [Note: Hebrews 2:3.],” which the tongues of men and angels can never worthily describe, nor can the ages of eternity suffice to enumerate its blessings.]
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Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on John 10". Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany