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men were astonished at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth :”—that “ he taught as one having authority, and not as the scribes." And yet they received him not.
The reason was not in him, but in themselves. He came in a particular character.
He came as a Saviour. He was announced as such by the angels.
Unto you is born this day a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” For this he was promised, predicted, sent; for this he took our nature, ministered, and died; that he might redeem a lost world, and deliver a race which sin had ruined. Now, to receive one who comes in this character, and purports to be such a Saviour, requires a certain state of mind in those who so receive him. To receive one who offers deliverance, implies a sense of danger, a sense of destitution and helpless
To receive redemption through Christ Jesus, was to acknowledge a state of bondage and condemnation. To receive eternal life as the gift of God for his sake, was to cast themselves on his mercy, to abandon all personal claim, to renounce all procuring merit in themselves.
The Jewish people perceived this ; against this their pride and their self-complacency revolted ; and for this cause they received him not. So St. Paul expressly shows, arguing to the Jews themselves in his epistle to the Romans. They lost, he says, the blessing offered them; they did not become the sons of God, because they persisted in trusting to themselves, and refused to rely on Jesus as a Saviour. They being igno
norant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God." The fifth chapter of this Gospel (ver. 39) supplies an example, where we find our Lord reasoning with the Jews around him. “ Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” Here he addresses them as expecting eternal life, and thinking that they had it in their Scriptures ; but not rightly interpreting the Scriptures, and therefore not having salvation, because they refused it through him who is the author of it. 66 Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” Ye will not come to the fountain, or ye might be cleansed. Ye withdraw yourselves from the physician, or ye might be healed. Ye will not seek the appointed door, or ye might enter in. Thus they maintained their self-dependence. They would not receive salvation“ of grace.” They would not humble themselves, that they might be exalted ; but they would exalt themselves, and therefore they remained abased before God. They did not receive him, because of their proud, unhumbled, self-confident, self-justifying heart. They trusted in themselves, that they were righteous, and had need of nothing
But more than this :-Jesus came as a Saviour not only from the guilt, but from the power of sin. .
3 Rom. x. 3.
- Thou shalt call his name Jesus ; for he shall save his people from their sins. While he invited them to receive eternal life, he also required them to repent; for
“ the wages of sin is death ;"—to “ bring forth fruits meet for repentance."
And here, again, they stumbled. A deliverer from foreign yoke, a deliverer from Herod or the Romans, they would have gladly followed. But a deliverer from sin had no inducement for them. That yoke they had not felt heavy. They did not grudge the tribute which they paid to Satan.
We meet with an example in the eighth chapter of this Gospel. There our Lord, discoursing in the presence of a large company, said to some who believed on him,
continue in my
ye word, then are ye my disciples indeed ; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” This saying offended his hearers. They answer, “ We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man : how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?” They would not understand, it did not suit them to understand,—that “ whosoever committeth sin, is the servant of sin.” They did not understand, -nor care to understand, that he alone who could renew the heart in righteousness and true holiness, could make them “ free indeed.”
To receive him who required them to be, and who would make them, “
poor in spirit,” and pure in heart," and lovers of righteousness, and merciful, and meek,—was to lay aside their pride, and their sensuality, and their love of this present world, and their covetousness. And therefore they received him not. And this was their condemnation : that light was come into the world; but they loved darkness •rather than light, because their deeds were evil. This was their condemnation, that when He came unto his own, his own received him not.
They rejected him, because of their proud, unhumbled, unsubdued, self-confident, selfjustifying heart. They depended on themselves that they were righteous, and “had need of nothing; and knew not that they were wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.”'
Let their error be our warning; their loss, our security. Let us learn to feel our own wretchedness, that we may gladly welcome deliverance; let us acknowledge our helplessness, that we may gladly lean on him who is “ mighty to save. “ Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God.”
4 See Rev. iii, 17.
THE PRIVILEGES OF THOSE WHO RECEIVE THE WORD, AS SENT OF GOD FOR THEIR SALVATION.
John i. 12, 13.
12. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name :
13. Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
It has been already stated, that when the Son of od came, he did not meet with acceptance. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. It was necessary, in the divine counsels, that the word of God should be first spoken to the Jews : but “ they put it from them, and counted themselves unworthy of eternal life.” Yet not all. There were those who said, “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life.” These opened their eyes to the evidence which proved him to be the Messiah. These neither opposed his doctrines, nor revolted from the redemption which he offered them. They closed with the mercy of God; they believed in his name; they received him; and, with him, they received the privilege which he alone can give, the “ adoption of children,” and became the sons of God.