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REMARKS ON THE PRAYER OF JESUS IN THE SEVENTEENTU
CHAPTER OF JOHN.
To the Editor of the Freethinking Christians' Magasine.
SIR, THE more we examine the New Testament, the less ground 1 shall we find in it for those doctrines which form the creeds of the Orthodox, so called. This consideration renders it'the duty of every Christian, who is in any measure adequate to the task, to place the truths contained in that book in such a light, as may most effectually expose the danger and absurdity of those systems, by which the minds of so many thousands in this country are enslaved, and which all pretend to be the genuine offspring of Divine Revelation.
Did those who take upon them the right of forming religious creeds, present them to us as the mere productions of their own fancy, we could indeed bear with their weakness; but when we are told, that we must either believe them, or for ever be excluded from the Divine favour; when the allmerciful Deity is introduced as sanctioning schemes diametri. cally opposed to the present and future happiness of his creatures; when the meek and lowly Jesus is represented as teaching the horrible doctrine of reprobation, silence becomes a crime.
By the advocates of the doctrines of election and reproba. tion, the prayer of Jesus, contained in this chapter, is considered as an unanswerable reply to all that can be said against their system.'
A little attention, however, to the scope of the passage will shew, that instead of this being the case, there is not, from the beginning to the end of it, the most distant reference to any thing of the kind.
There are evidently three distinct classes of characters mentioned by Jesus in the course of the prayer. The first of these is thus described by him " As many as thou hast given him," ver. 2. “The men which thou gavest me out of the world; thine they were, and thou gavest them me, and they have kept thy word,” ver. 6. For these the prayer of Jesus was in the first instance made ; nor, from the very nature of
things, could it have a reference to others. Hence, he says, “ I pray for them; I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me, for they are thine." ver. 9.
The second class is thus described -“ Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word ; that they all may be one, as thou, Father art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us." ver. 2.
The third class is denominated - The Vorld,” and is repeatedly mentioned in the course of the chapter.
The first of these are the twelve apostles, as appears from the following circumstances. Jesus, as the Messiah, was sent into the world, that through him men might have eternal life, The Son of man had power on earth to forgive sins ; or, in other words, to proclaim to men the mercy of bis Father. This prayer anticipates his rising from the dead, and sitting down at the right hand of his father. Then all power, or 6 power over all flesh,” was given to him. This power, the power of declaring the forgiveness of sins, Jesus delegated to the apostles. “Whose sins soever ye remit, they are remitted unto tiem; and whose sins soever ye retain, they are retained.” This Jesus calls giving eternal life to those whoin bis Father had given him, ver. 2 ; and, as his Father sent him into the world, to manifest to it this life so be sent them. “ As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world,” ver. 18. This exactly corresponds with what is elsewhere said of the twelve-"6 Ye have not chosen me but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit,” John xv. 16. 6 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” With these agree the words of Peter, (Acts x. 40). 56 Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly; not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead.” Again, ove of these characters, namely Judas, whom Jesus styles " the son of perdi. tion,” fell from his office by transgression. He was one of those who were given to Jesus, and had obtained part of the . ministry with the other disciples. Having, from remorse, destroyed himself, it became necessary to complete the number of the apostles by electing one in his room.
Two were immediately appointed as candidates; the matter was decided by lot; the lot fell on Matthias ; he was the man whom God had chosen, and he was numbered with the eleven and ordained to be, with them, “a witness of the, resurrec. tion of Jesus." Here then was an instance of the nature