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way of salvation, which is peculiarly suited for your comfort: “And a highway shall be there, and it shall “ be called the way of holiness; the wayfaring men, “though fools, shall not err therein*.”
3. Have you been notorious open sinners? Then you are in the less danger of trusting to your own righteousness. And as to the rest, if you are sick of sin, if you sincerely desire to be freed, as well from the power as from the guilt of it, you stand as fair for salvation as the most sober and regular person upon the earth. St. Paul, speaking to those who had been partakers of the saving grace of God, after he had made an enumeration of the blackest sins which man can be guilty of, adds, “ And such were some of you:
but “ washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified, “ in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our Godt."
IV. In this way the salvation of believers is sure. If it depended on any thing in man, it might miscarry. Man's boasted wisdom is soon changed. A few hours of a fever, a small blow on the head, may change a wise man into a fool. “ But it is of grace, to the end " that the promise might be sure to all the seedt." Adam had a stock of wisdom, yet when he was trusted with his own happiness, he could not preserve it. But the second Adam is all-sufficient. Our dependence is upon him. To those who are babes, he is wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and all that they want. If this concern had been left to the wisdom of man, it is most probable that Christ would have lived and died in vain, without a single real disciple. But now the dispensation of grace is in his hands, we are sure that
* Isa. xxxv. 8.
† 1 Cor. vi. 11.
Rom. iv. 16.
some will believe in him; and we are likewise sure, that those who truly do so shall never be ashamed of their hope.
Now, from what has been said,
1. Inquire what is the temper of your minds with regard to this appointment. Our Lord rejoiced in it as the wise and holy will, the good pleasure, of his heavenly Father. If you are displeased at it, is it not a proof that you have not the mind which was in Christ Jesus? If God wills one thing, and you will another, where must the contention end? To what purpose, or with what pretence, can you use that expression in the
Thy will be done,” when in effect your hearts rise with enmity against it? This is one topic from whence we may confirm the declaration of Scripture, that man by nature is not only a transgressor of the law, but an enemy, yea enmity itself, against God*. They may pay some profession of regard to the power that made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and the fountains of water, while they worship they know not what, according to their own vain and dark imaginations. But the attributes and characters of God revealed in Scripture, his holiness, justice, truth, and sovereignty, they cannot bear. They are enemies to the declared strictness of his moral government, and enemies to the methods by which he has proposed to communicate bis grace. But he is God, and who can control bim? Who can say unto him, What hast thou done? You must either submit to his golden sceptre in time, or his rod of iron will fall upon you for ever.
2. Does it not appear from hence, that the doctrine of free sovereign grace is rather an encouragement to awakened and broken-hearted sinners than otherwise? If you are most unworthy of mercy, and destitute of every plea, should you not be glad to hear, that the Lord does not expect worthiness in those whom he saves; but that he himself has provided the only plea which he will accept, and a plea which cannot be overruled, the righteousness and mediation of his well-beloved Son ?
* Rom. viii. 7.
All things are delivered unto me of my Father : and no man
knoweth the Son, but the Father : neither knoveth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsocver the Son will reveal him.
The two preceding verses have led us to consider grace, (if I may so speak,) in the unfathomable depths of the sovereign will and good pleasure of God. In this verse, our Lord calls us to the contemplation of his own glorious person, authority, and fulness. In him grace is treasured up as in a repository for communication, to be dispensed to needy perishing sinners.
When an ambassador is deputed from an earthly prince, to transact some concern of great importance, he produces his commission and authority, without which all he could propose would be little regarded; and those are most honoured and attended to, who are intrusted with full powers, that is, with a li
berty to act and propose as occasions offer, without further instructions, and with full security that the king will ratify and confirin whatever they agree to, in the same manner as if he had done it in his own person. Thus, (if we may presume to compare small things with great,) our Lord Jesus Christ, the great messenger of the Father's love, before he invites every weary heavyladen sinner to come to him with a gracious assurance that he will receive, and pardon, and save them all, he condescends in this verse, (as it were,) to open his commission, to instruct us in his own personal dignity, and to communicate to us the ample and unlimited authority which he has received from God to treat with rebels. He knows what hearts of unbelief we have; how greatly an awakened conscience is terrified with guilt; how busy Satan is to urge us to question either his ability or his willingness to save; and therefore he would leave nothing undone that might encourage us to come to him, and find rest for our souls. May his gracious Spirit enable me to speak aright, and so open your hearts to understand what may be said upon this high subject, that we may have joy and peace in believing.
The words contain a threefold declaration.
1. Of his person: “No man knoweth the Son, but “ the Father ; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son." 2. Of his authority: “ All things are delivered to me of my Father."
3. Of his office: summarily intimated in the expression, “ He to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.”
To treat these points in their proper extent, would be a subject more than equal to the abilities and life of
Much would be left unsaid at last. We cannot VOL. II.
order our speech by reason of darkness. This is a theme fit for an angel's tongue; the most exalted angel, or all the angels in heaven, would be unable to comprehend it, for it is infinite, as our text declares. None knows the Son but the Father. Here we are too prone to think highly of our own knowledge; but when we arrive in yonder world of light, to see him as he is, we shall be ashamed of the highest conceptions we had of him, and of our most laboured attempts to express them, while we were imprisoned in this distant land. Then we shall say with the queen of Sheba, "Behold the half, the "thousandth part, was not told us." In the mean time, he is pleased to accept our imperfect stammerings, to assist our feeble inquiries, and does not disdain, (as he justly might,) to hear us take his name upon our polluted lips.
I. The inconceivable dignity of his person is pointed out by two expressions.
1. "No man," (or rather, as it might be rendered here and in many other places, "No one*,) knoweth "the Son, but the Father." No one
First, Not the wisest man in a state of nature. Various degrees of knowledge there are amongst the sons of men. There is a great difference between man and man; between one who knows not his letters, or any thing beyond the bounds of his own village; and another who has a large acquaintance with arts and sciences, history and languages, and has surveyed the manners and boundaries of many nations. But, with regard to the knowledge of Christ, the philosopher and the shepherd, the king and the beggar, are just upon a level.