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they should be at ease with regard to God. The Jewish people at this time had such a reason. It satisfied them, that they were the posterity of Abraham, whom God had especially blessed and chosen : they were the race which he had “avouched to be his peculiar people, a holy people unto the Lord.” There was among themselves what might keep up a vain confidence. They were consecrated to God by the rite of circumcision : they differed from the other nations of the world, which worshipped idols, and could give no reasonable account of the creation. And to this they trusted. John the Baptist had alluded to their false confidence, saying, (Luke iii. 8,) “Begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father.” Think not thus to shelter yourselves from the wrath of the God of Abraham, And St. Paul assails the same delusion : (Rom. ii. 17:) “Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God, and knowest his will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law. Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking of the law dishonourest thou God? For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh : but he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter ; whose praise is not of men, but of God.”
Our Lord here uses the same language. If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham. He is not a son of Abraham, who is merely one of the nation descended from him ; but he who has the faith and the piety and the virtues of Abraham. “ Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness :” ye refuse the testimony which God has given of his Son. Abraham was just and honourable :-ye neglect the “ weighty matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith.” Abraham honoured Melchizedec, the priest of God :-ye “ kill the prophets, and stone them which are sent unto
This did not Abraham. He pitied those against whom God had declared his anger, and interceded for the guilty inhabitants of Sodom :-ye "shut up the kingdom of heaven against men, discourage the penitent, and scorn the meek and humble. This did not Abraham. And if ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham. There is another parent, to whom your character proves you to belong : even he who is the parent of all sin. “In this the children of God are manifested, and the children of the devil ; whosoever doeth not righteousness, is not of God.”
44. Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
45. And because I tell you the truth, ye believe ine not,
46. Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me?
47. He that is of God heareth God's words : ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.
An awful consideration is involved in these words. There are those who are of God, and those who are not of God : “ children of light,” and children of darkness :" "children of the kingdom,” and “children of the wicked one." These “grow up together until the harvest ;” and then each is gathered into his own place : the children of the wicked one are cast into outer darkness, “the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of the Father.”
Of which family do we form a part? This is the truly important question. And two proofs are given in this discourse, by which the truth may be ascertained. Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me : for I proceeded and came forth from God. This is the first sign. To see Jesus Christ as the object of reverence and affection, is the first proof of a child of God. The apostles make it so. Whosoever loveth the Father, loveth also the Son. ? “ If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema, maranatha.”3 To the children of this world, he is the object of scorn or enmity. Of scorn, because he bids them renounce things temporal for things eternal : and of enmity, because he reproves them of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.” But “ to them that believe he is precious,” because he gives them a hope on which they can depend, foundation on which they may stand secure. His person is precious; for he was wounded for their
21 John v. 1. 3 ] Cor. xvi. 22.
transgressions, and bruised for their inquities. His promises are precious ; for he has declared himself a refuge to all the weary and heavy laden : and has engaged that “whosoever cometh unto him, he will in no wise cast out.” Let men be once taught of God to see their own weakness, sinfulness, nothingness, and Jesus receives all the love which is due to a deliverer, a protector, a friend, a brother.
The second sign of belonging to God's family, is that we receive his words. He that is of God, heareth God's words. The son does not reject the absent father's message ; he studies it, prizes it, desires to fulfil it. “The words of God are verity and judgment; all his commandments are true.” But those do not hearken to them, who are not of God. He requires sincerity, purity, integrity, charity, temperance. He declares that without these qualities no one can enter into his kingdom. This must be distasteful to “ the children of disobedience :” they are of their father the devil, and the lusts of that father they will do. But they that are of God hear these words with reverence, and their hearts answer to them. They respond to them with their reason and conscience; they “ delight in the law of God after the inner man :” and if flesh and blood, if the natural and corrupt elements rebel against it, this attaches them still more closely to him on whose grace they depend, and who “is able to save unto the uttermost.”
Inquire then of yourselves, according to these two tests. Do
unite with the Psalmist, when he says,
“How dear are thy counsels unto me, O God! More to be desired are they than gold ; sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.” Do you agree with the apostle when he describes the feeling of the Christian towards his Saviour ? “Whom having not seen, ye love ; and in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable.” For if ye are “ born of God,” ye love him who proceeded forth and came from God: if ye are the “children of
your Father's words.
DISCOURSE WITH THE JEWS CONTINUED. THEY
ACCUSE HIM OF BLASPHEMY.
John viii. 48–59.
48. Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, 1 and hast a devil?
49. Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me.
1 Here used as a general term of reproach. One who did not agree with themselves on the subject of religion.