Sivut kuvina

And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man, which is in heaven." As if he had said, "I have spoken of things, respecting which the oracles of God, committed to you, are by no means silent. I have described them in phraseology which you yourselves have also employed upon a similar subject. I declare them from my own knowledge and observation. And yet you do not seem disposed to receive my witness respecting them, though you have had evidence that I am a divine teacher; and though that evidence has induced you to think me such. Yet I am sent to reveal truths still more sublime. But if ye believe not what I tell you respecting "earthly things," which relate personally to yourselves, which are attested by your own experience, and which can be illustrated by allusion to terrestrial and familiar objects; "how will ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things," which are so remote from your apprehensions; which none ever yet knew, which none could ever communicate, but the Son of man. For no other man hath ascended into heaven, but he came down from heaven; for heaven is his native and peculiar abode.

III. Having thus adopted, for the first time, the title of the Son of man, in a manner which clearly implied that he applied it to himself, and the prophetic usage of which Nicodemus would

probably recollect", Jesus proceeded further to instruct Nicodemus respecting the method in which the Son of man would accomplish his mission, and alluded, prophetically, to the closing scene of his life. He compared with it the last miracle of the life of Moses, which bore a typical resemblance to it; thereby again stating respecting the kingdom of the Son of man, what would by no means be conformable to the expectations of a Jew. "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Asserting, once and again, the necessity of faith in the Son of man, in order to a reception of the benefits of his mission, Jesus yet more distinctly announced to his disciple the universal extent of the intended mercy, the spiritual nature of the blessings which it conferred, the pure source from whence they flowed, and the divine original of the Son of man, who was sent to reveal, and to communicate them. "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world, to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved."

a Dan. vii. 13, 14.

The truths conveyed in these words are, indeed, familiar to our ears, and memories, and understandings. They are truths in which we have been again and again instructed. We have need, however, to see to it, that, while we do in words, and even in our judgment, acknowledge their certainty, we do not "frustrate the grace of God, and receive it in vain." We have need frequently to call to mind, that as the comforts and prospects which they offer to us, are great and eternal, so the end of them "that obey not the truth in the love of it," and who are not through it "transformed by the renewing of their minds," is a fearful and a hopeless one. I know not what words can more forcibly represent these things to us, more fully represent to us the justice of our condemnation, and more powerfully call upon us to inquire into the real cause of our unbelief, negligence, and disobedience, than the concluding words of our Lord's discourse.

IV. "He that believeth on him is not condemned; but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil. For every one that doeth evil, hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that

doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” Men would fain attribute their unbelief to other causes rather than this. And there are, undoubtedly, "sinful desires of the mind," as well as "of the flesh." There is a perversity of understanding, which can offer plausible apologies for error, both doctrinal, and practical. But we fear that the cause specified in the text is of more general influence than meets the ken of mortal eye. Even when we endeavour to analyze our own principles, we may overlook the love of sin as a primary, though concealed, cause, whether of infidelity, or of perversion of the truth. We must, then, earnestly examine ourselves whether we be in the faith." We must see "that the light that is in us be not darkness; for if it be, how great is that darkness!” how impenetrable! how dismal! and how fatal! And the great danger of such a situation is, not only that we are in darkness, when we walk in the paths of sin, but that we "love darkness rather than light!" For "light is that which makes manifest," and the lamp of God's word shews us the appalling view of our guilt, and condemnation, and danger. We cannot bear such a light, and we therefore hate it. We will not come to it, lest our deeds should be reproved. We become, at length, so habituated to our state, and so reluctant to change it, that as soon might we

[ocr errors]

suppose that one who has been brought up in the depths of a mine, or been immured for years in the darksome dungeon, can bear to emerge at once into the light of the midday sun, as that the man, whose principles and conduct are inconsistent with the dictates of religion, will readily subject them to the text of that word of God, which is "a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Yet the works of darkness are "unfruitful works;" and "the end of them is death;" but, on the contrary, "reproofs of instruction are the way of life." Let us then resolve, to "walk in the light of the Lord;" and to "prove what is the good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God." Let us not defer this resolution: lest our heart become more "hardened through the deceitfulness of sin ;" and we at the same time become so familiar with those truths, which ought to undeceive, reform, and sanctify us, as to disqualify them from giving, and ourselves from receiving, the necessary instruction and conviction. But if we receive the word in an honest and good heart, and press on towards perfection, we shall derive abundantly more satisfaction in the conviction, "that our deeds are wrought in God," than ever the ways of sin could afford. And our security will be as great as our happiness. But those on the contrary, who hate the light of truth, destitute alike of knowledge to direct the steps, and of comfort to rejoice the heart, will walk

« EdellinenJatka »