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whom ye know not. But I know him; for I am from him, and he hath sent me. Then they sought to take him: but no man laid hands on him, because his hour was not yet come. And many of the people believed on him, and said, When Christ cometh, will he do more miracles than these which this man hath done? The Pharisees heard that the people murmured such things concerning him; and the Pharisees and the chief priests sent officers to take him. Then said Jesus unto them, Yet a little while am I with you, and then I go unto him that sent
Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me ; and where I am, thither ye cannot come. Then said the Jews among themselves, Whither will he go, that we shall not find him ? will he go unto the dispersed among the Gentiles, and teach the Gentiles? What manner of saying is this that he said, Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me; and, where I am, thither ye cannot come?
So confident is error in its own decisions, and so vain in its self applauses ! These unhappy people, every way mistaken, censure their rulers for a supposed credulity, in seeming, as it were to acquiesce in Christ's claim to be the Messiah; and imagined themselves, no doubt, exceeding wise in rejecting him, while they blindly took it for granted he was the son of Joseph, and had not patience to wait for the authentic story of his miraculous conception. Surely men had need to look well to the force of those arguments, on which they venture their souls by rejecting the gospel.
Our Lord answered their secret reasoning, in a manner which might justly have alarmed them, charging them with ignorance of that God, whom they pretended to know, and whom, with a presumptuous confidence, they claimed as theirs. And oh, that it may not be found at last, that many who have appeared most confident of their interest in God, neither know him, nor are known by him !
The blessed Jesus, who is the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his Person, has the completest knowledge of the Father. May we be so wise and happy as to seek instructions from him, that the eyes of our understandings may be enlightened, and the temper of our hearts proportionably regulated, by all the discoveries of the Divine Being which he makes !
How obstinate and desperately hardened were the hearts of those, who, notwithstanding all the proofs that Jesus gave of his Divine mission, were yet so far from hearkening to him, as to seek opportunities to destroy him! So dangerous and fatal is the prevalence of error in such as like not to retain God in their knowledge, that they will even venture on the greatest wickedness, when once they are given over to a reprobate mind, (Rom. i. 28.)—May God preserve us from a spirit of delusion, and fill us with that wisdom, that we may know the things belonging to our peace, and, being ready to receive the truth in the love of it, may we acknowledge and attend to Christ as sent of God!
May we learn this heavenly wisdom in time, since the hour is approaching, when Christ will be sought in vain, and all correspondence between him and sinners will be finally cut off: Where he is, they cannot then come; and to be excluded from him will at length appear insupportable misery, even to those, who, with proud folly and fatal self-sufficiency are now most ready to say unto him, Depurt from us, for we desire not the knowledge of thee or thy ways. (Job xxi, 14.)
John vii. 37–53. In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath saith, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given : because that Jesus was not yet glorified.) Many of the people, therefore, when they heard this saying, said, Of a truth this is the prophet. Others said, This is the Christ. But some said, Shall Christ come out of Galilee? Hath not the scripture said, That Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was? So there was a division among the people because of him. And some of them would have taken him: but no man laid hands on him. Then ca
the officers to the chie
Pharisees; and they said unto them, Why have ye not brought him? The officers answered, Never man spake like this man. Then answered them the Pharisees, Are ye also deceived ? Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him? But this people who knoweth not the law are cursed. Nicodemus saith unto them, (he that came to Jesus by night, being one of them,) Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth? They answered and said unto him, Art thou also of Galilee? Search, and look : for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet. And every man went unto his own house.
With what delight and thankfulness should we hear this gracious proclamation of Christ, which he now made in the temple, and a while after repeated from the throne of his glory! If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink ; yea, whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely. (Rev. xxii. 17.) Blessed Jesus, had we been allowed to have prescribed to thee a form of words, in which thy kind purposes towards us should have been expressed, what could we have invented more pathetic, more condescending, or more reviving !—May we thirst for the blessings of thy grace, and in the confidence of faith apply unto thee for them; and particularly for these communications of thy Spirit, which are so highly excellent and desirable, and indeed so necessary for us! Supply us with them, we intreat thee, in so rich an abundance, that we, in our different spheres, may supply others, and from us there may flow rivers of living water !
Well might such gracious words as these disarm the rage of enemies and persecutors. Let us add our testimony to theirs, and say, Never man spake as Jesus speaks. Let us hear him with calm and thankful attention, while his voice still sounds in his word. Happy are those that know the joyful sound! (Psalm lxxxix. 15 ) The Pharisees, like deaf adders, stopped their ears against the voice of the Charmer ; and, while they proudly censured the populace as a brutal herd, and gloried in their own superior wisdom, rejected the counsel of God; rashly judging without serious inquiry, and weakly borne down by vulgar senseless prejudices against names and places, which is all the senate of Israel opposes to the solid argument of Nicodemus! That good man, already considerably improved by his interview with Jesus, was undoubtedly confirmed in his adherence to him, by observing the methods of their opposition: and where magistrates arm their authority to overbear argument, they will probably, in the judg. ment of impartial men, produce a suspicion, at least, that they know their cause to be incapable of a rational defence.
JOHN VIII. 1—11. Jesus went unto the mount of Olives. And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them. And the Scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, they say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none bụt the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers ? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin
The devout retirements of Christ, and his early renewed labours, so often come in view, that, after having made some progress in his history, we are ready to pass them over as things of course. But let us remember, that in some degree they call upon us to go and do likewise ; and will another day condemn those, who, while they call themselves his dise
are given up to ease and luxury, and suffer every little amusement or sensual gratification to lead them into an omission of their duty to God and their fellow-creatures ; an omission especially aggravated in those, whom he has appointed to be teachers of others, and who have therefore so many peculiar errands to the throne of grace, and so many engagements in the morning to sow, or to prepare the seed of religious instruction, and in the evening not to withhold their hand from dispensing it. (Eccles. xi. 6.)
While Jesus is teaching, his enemies address him, not only as an instructor, but as a judge ; and yet, by this specious form of honour and respect, they sought only to insnare and destroy him. So unsafe would it be always to judge of men's intentions by the first appearances of their actions ! But our Lord, in his answer, united, as usual, the wisdom of the serpent with the innocence and gentleness of the dove ; and in his conduct to this criminal shewed at once that tenderness and faithfulness, which might have the most effectual tendency to impress and reclaim her; if a heart capable of such infidelity and wickedness could be impressed and reclaimed at all. Go thy way, said he to this adultress, and sin no more. Perhaps the charge may have little weight with such abandoned transgressors as she; but let all learn to improve their escapes from danger, and the continued exercise of Divine patience towards them, as an engagement to speedy and thorough reformation.
Let the force of conscience, and the power of Christ over it (both which so evidently appeared in this instance), teach us to reverence the dictates of our own minds, and to do nothing to bring them under a sense of guilt; which, through the secret energy of our Redeemer, wrought so powerfully on these Pharisees, that, hypocritical and vain glorious as they were, they could not command themselves so far as even to save appearances; but the eldest and gravest among them were the first to confess their guilt, by withdrawing from the presence of so holy a Prophet, from the temple of God, and from the criminal whom they came to persecute. A like consciousness of being ourselves to blame will abate the bold. ness and freedom of our proceedings with others for their faults, if, while we judge them, we are self-condemned ; nor will the authority of a superior age or station of life bear us out against these inward reproaches.