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to the great congregation, faith in his name for the remission of sins. In him let us believe, and him let us obey. Let us follow the example he has left us, and "prove what is the good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God." And " may the Lord direct our hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ'."
OUR LORD'S REASONINGS, ON THE EVIDENCE ARISING FROM THE WITNESS OF JOHN, ADDRESSED TO THE RULERS, TO THE MULTITUDES, TO JOHN'S DISCIPLES, AND TO HIS OWN.
St. JOHN V. 31-35.
If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true. There is another that beareth witness of me; and I know that the witness which he witnesseth of me is true. Ye sent unto John, and he bare witness unto the truth. But I receive not testimony from man; but these things I say, that ye might be saved. He was a burning and a shining light; and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light.
THESE are the words of him, whom we revere as "the faithful and true witness;" who needed not that any should testify to him either concerning man, or concerning himself; who knew full well man's original disposition, and necessities; who knew also whence he himself came, all things that should in this world come upon him, and whither he went; and whose record, even when he bare witness of himself, was true. Yet as he came
to purchase for us, and to offer to us, salvation, he condescended to exhibit to us his heavenly credentials; and, in appealing to our understandings, he lowers himself to our capacities, by reasoning with us upon our own principles. This he did, not for his own sake, but for ours, "that we might be saved;" that we might be enabled to recognize his divine commission, and become acquainted with his benevolent designs, and "be saved from wrath through him."
That particular department of the Christian argument, upon which our Lord reasons in our text, was one peculiarly adapted for the conviction of his contemporaries. For they had attended personally on John's ministry, and had heard his testimony so soon afterwards confirmed by the proceedings, character, and doctrine, of our Saviour, and by the great events of the Gospel history. To us, also, it is both intelligible and important. For we have in the Gospels a record of the principal facts and statements of John's ministry, which, although concise, is yet sufficiently copious to supply us with the materials. upon which we may reason, so as to come to a satisfactory decision. And whether it be our object to ascertain the doctrines of the Gospel, the nature and design of the sacrament of baptism, the method in which the Gospel was promulgated, or the evidences of its divine original, it will be
found advantageous in all these cases to attend particularly, and, if we follow the plan of the New Testament, primarily, to the ministry of John. By omitting to do so, we shall have neglected to employ an important portion of the materials provided for us; I had almost said, a portion, without a due attention to which, we shall probably entertain imperfect, if not erroneous, views. We propose not only to consider, in this Lecture, the words of our Lord in the text, but also to take occasion from them, to embody and arrange all the discourses, in which our Lord refers to the witness of John, principally with the view of leading his hearers to attend to the evidence which it afforded in proof of his divine mission and Messiahship. We shall notice,
1. Those addressed to the persons in authority among the Jews, of which our text is one.
a The author has not included in this course a particular review of the baptismal doctrines and predictions of John, and of the connection between the missions and ministrations of John and Jesus, because, only a few months before the delivery of these Lectures, he had discussed the subject at large, as select Preacher for December 1820. He has therefore, in this Lecture, confined himself to the view more immediately suggested by the text. The message of the Baptist to Jesus is more largely considered in Lecture IX; and Lecture XI, also takes some notice of the evidence arising from the miraculous, and other, circumstances attendant on the births of John and Jesus.
2. His conferences on the same subject with the multitudes, with the disciples of John, and with his own disciples.
I. We have already observed, that the discourse, the heads of which we are examining in detail, was delivered before the Jewish Sanhedrim. In the former and concluding clauses of our text, our Lord refers them, generally, to the testimony of John, as corroborating that which he advanced respecting himself. Some of them, at least, had probably acquainted themselves with the general tenor of John's instructions, by a personal attendance as his hearers. At any rate, they had certainly heard it from others, who had done so ; and, in fact, they were so fully aware, from what they had thus heard, of his remarkable appearance, teaching, and proceedings, and of the attention which he had excited among the people, who believed him to be a prophet, that they had conceived it necessary to send priests and Levites from Jerusalem, to ask him, who he was, and in what character he adopted such a line of conduct? It was, indeed, the acknowledged duty and prerogative of the Sanhedrim to enquire into the justice of the pretensions of those, who assumed the prophetic character; and to this exercise of their public duty, our Lord specially refers in the third
b John i. 19-27.