« הקודםהמשך »
to their minister and their teacher, that they may learn “ the wonders of his law,” and neither forget him through ignorance, nor offend him through self-will! And as age advances, the case is commonly still worse; evil habits then remove the man still further from God than the carelessness of the child.
There is nothing in this, that can lead to life eternal. Those surely must have the knowledge of God, who are to dwell with him through eternity.
Therefore to give them this knowledge, was manifest in the flesh.” Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent, brings them to know the true God : to “the knowledge of him who hath called them to glory and virtue."5 And not only to the knowledge of him in the greatness of his glorious majesty, but in the exercise of his wonderful mercy.
To know him only as “ the high and Holy One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy,” would be a knowledge full of fear and despair, rather than of joy or comfort. But to know him, as we do know him through Jesus Christ whom he hath sent, is a knowledge that gives life. It is to know him, as the God who “ dwelleth with them that are poor and of a contrite spirit :" who “ forgiveth iniquity, transgression and sin ;” and because he can in no wise “clear the guilty,” has “ found a ransom" which man could never find, and now “ commandeth all men every where to repent,” and “ believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins.” And thus to know the
5 2 Pet. i. 3.
only true God, and Jesus Christ whom he hath sent, is eternal life. Such knowledge is as a seed planted in the heart, which springs up unto everlasting life. It leads to the love of God, who has first loved us : it leads to obedience to his will, which has been so firmly sanctioned : it leads to an union with him, an habitual dependence upon him. And all these are the beginnings here, of that eternal kingdom which is revealed to us. Perfect knowledge, perfect love, perfect union, perfect conformity between the everlasting God and his reasonable creatures, is the clearest idea which we can form of heaven, where we are told that “the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be, and that his servants shall serve him, and they shall reign for ever and ever."6
Now, then, we must acquire the elements of that knowledge which is to be completed hereafter in “ the spirits of just men made perfect.” And to possess it, is the proof for which we must search in ourselves, as evidence of having been given to Christ.
To know God with a real and spiritual knowledge, is so to know his justice, as to feel that it condemns us; so to know his mercy, as to seek it for ourselves ; so to know his power, as to fear offending him ; so to know his holiness, as to aspire towards it, and make it the object of our imitation. And the real knowledge of Jesus Christ, is to see in him the “one mediator between God and man; between the justice of God, and the rebellious ini6 Rev. xxii. 3--5.
quity of his creatures : to know him as the Redeemer, who having so loved us, has a title to our love; as the Lord, who having bought us with a price, has a right to our service and allegiance. Such was the knowledge which St. Paul expresses, when he says, “ I know in whom I have believed, and that he is able to keep what I have committed to him.” And such was the knowledge which those had of whom St. Peter speaks : “ Christ Jesus, whom not having seen, ye love; and in whom, though ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable.”
This is life eternal. And ever remember the important truth which is here implied : Without this is not life eternal.
THE LAST PRAYER OF CHRIST TO THE FATHER.
HE INTERCEDES FOR THE APOSTLES.
JOHN xvii. 4-10.
4. I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.
5. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world
The opening chapter of this Gospel reveals to us that “ in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God.' From this glory he descended, “ was made flesh, and dwelt among us, that he might fulfil the will of God. That will had been performed; the work of redemption done. And now, as he was returning to the glory which he had with the Father before the world was, he looks back upon his finished work with a satisfaction which he alone, of all who have ever borne the form of man, could justly claim. I have glorified thee on earth; I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.
One part of that work was to select and prepare a company of men, who should carry on God's gracious purpose, and announce the “ gospel of peace.” These are the principal subjects of that communion of the Son with the Father, which is here disclosed for our admiration and instruction.
6. I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.
Out of the world at large, and out of the general inhabitants of Judea, a certain number had been chosen, and given to the Lord Jesus as his apostles, that they might attend him during his ministry, and afterwards " be witnesses unto him both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth.” These were God's. All souls are his : “ we are all his offspring;” in him “ we live, and move, and have our being." He had given them to Jesus : who now says, Thine they were, and thou gavest them me ; and they have kept thy word. When we read the account of the calling of the several apostles ; how, at a word, they “ left all, and followed him ;” we cannot avoid seeing that they were in an especial manner given to our Lord. The preparation of all hearts is from above, and whoever at any time becomes a follower of Christ, is drawn to become so by the Spirit of God. But independently of ordinary means, independently of the usual operations of divine grace, these had a more evident and immediate call.
Thus far their case was peculiar, but no farther : for what the Lord proceeds to say concerning them, belongs to every one who believes in Christ through their word.
7. Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee.
8. For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me: and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.
9. I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me ; for they are thine.
10. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine ; and I am glorified in them.
Here our Lord, in mercy to our weakness and natural fears, has left us an example of that “ intercession,” which, says St. Paul, “ he ever liveth to make” for his people. The high priest, under the Jewish law, was appointed to make such intercession: and Christ Jesus, whose office had been