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Our Lord himself puts it beyond question, that receiving him, means receiving or believing the doctrine of the apoftles, John xiii. 20. Matth. X. 40.
" He that receiveth you, receiveth me, " and he that receiveth me, receiveth him that “ fent me,” i. e. He that acknowledgeth you as my embassadors, 1 Cor. iv. I. and regards your message as the word of the living God, 1 Theff. ii. 13. receiveth me, and the Father that lent
Hence unbelievers are represented as putting from them the word of God, Acts xii. 46. And rejecting Christ is explained, John xii. 48. as a not receiving his words. Consequently to accept Chrift, is to receive these words.
I acknowledge the generality of Calvinifts, have considered the consent of the will as included in receiving Christ. Nor will I peremptorily deny, that in some Scriptures receiving Christ may fignify, the heart chufing, and the affections embracing and cleaving to Christ as our Prophet, Priest, and King; and the whole soul confenting to, approving of, and delighting in the Saviour, and in the gospel scheme of salvation through him. But then, in these Scriptures, it denotes fomething different from faith, though I readily allow intimately connected with, inseparably attending, or neceffarily flowing from faith, and therefore effential to the Christian character. Every believer is acquainted with these actings of soul. They are not faith. Yet that is no reason for treating them Judicrously. There may be ground for the censure passed by the learned Mr. Riccaltown, Sober Enquiry, c.5. “ Some feem
to speak, as if Christ was like a material gift, which cannot be given, unless it change
“ Mafters, nor received without a formal taking “ it into one's custody and possession, as part of “ his goods and utensils; an absurdity so obvi
ous, that one would think to mention it were
to confute it.” Yet I am persuaded, that venerable divine will agree with me, that the improper stile in which a good thing has been fometimes represented, and the wrong name that has been given it, will not vindicate those, whether Calvinifts or Arminians, who have lately dressed it in a fool's coat. Even wise and good men, by immoderate care to guard against one extreme, are often apt to fall into another no less pernicious.
$ 3. There is still less difficulty in explaining these Scriptures, in which faith seems to be represented by eating or drinking, and, particularly by eating Christ's Aesh and drinking his blood.
Any thing that either improves or comforts the mind, is termed its food. Cicero lays of Demetrius Phalereus, l. 5. de fin. 6 Animi cultus erat "ei quafi cibus.' Wickedness is represented as the food of the ungodly, Job. xx. 14. And the graces of faints and the conversion of the wicked is represented as our Saviour's food, Cant. iv. 16. V. 1. Rev.si. 20. John iv. 32, 34. because he rejoices in thefe. That which is not bread, Isa. Iv. 2. is that which can afford the soul no real improvement, no solid and fubitantial pleasure.
But with peculiar propriety, truth is represented as meat and drink to the soul, and knowing, believing, and considering the truth, as eating and drinking. Thus Petronius Arbiter Satyric.
“ Mæoniumque bibat fælici pectore fontem,
And it was common among the Jews, instead of saying, Master, we come to be thy scholars, to say, Mafter, we come to drink waters from thy well (h). Hence, waters are often a symbol of the gospel revelation, l. g. Psal. xlvi. 4. Isa. xliv. 3. Zech. xiv. 8. Joel iii. 18. Ezek. xlvii. 1. and eating and drinking often denote, faith joyfully afsenting to and contemplating the word of grace. See Prov. ix. 5. Cant. v. 1. Isa. lv. 1. Ixv. 13. Jer. xv. 16. John vi. 50. vii. 37. Rev. xxii. 17. The glad tidings of salvation published to all nations are the accomplishment of that promise, Isa. xxv. 6. " And in this moun" tain shall the Lord of hosts make unto all “ people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines “ on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of 66 wines on the lees well refined.” When these glad tidings are understood and believed, the meek do eat and are satisfied, Psal. xxii. 27. they taste and see that the Lord is good, Psal. xxxiv.
Chrift's fruit is sweet to their taste, Cant. ii. 3. yea, with joy they draw water out of these wells of salvation, Isa, xii. 3. and this affords an easy interpretation of what our Lord says, John vi. 54, 55. “ Who fo eateth my “'Alesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal “ life, and I will raise hiin up at the last day. 6. For
my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is u drink indeed.” It is the doctrine of Christ crucified, not the material Aleth and blood of Christ, which is here asserted to be the food of the foul. Hence, our Lord adds, ver. 63. “ It “ is the spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth
(b) See Schottgenii horæ Hebraicæ in John iv, 14. and Universal History, 8vo. edit. vol. III. 227.
« nothing: the words that I speak unto you, " they are spirit, and they are life.”. The scope of that discourse, as is intimated, ver. 29. was to recommend faith ; and through the whole of it believing and eating are synonymous expresiions, and have the same things ascribed to them. Thus what is asserted of believing, ver. 40. is asserted in almost the same words of eating Christ's Aesh and drinking his blood, ver. 54.
In consequence of this spiritual eating and drinking, Christ the bread of life, i. e. the doctrine of the person, offices and sufferings of Christ, abides John vi. 56; xv. 4. 7. lives Gal. ii. 20. dwells Eph. iii. 17. (i) in believers; and is in
(i) If this interpretation of Christ's abiding, living, and dwelling in the soul, appears ill grounded to any, let them attend to what follows. Christ abiding in us, and his words abiding in us, are used as fynonymous expresions, John xv. 5, 7. Parallel to these are the expressions 3 John ii. 24, 27, of that abiding in Chriftians which they had heard from the beginning; and of that anointing which teacheth them all things abiding in them. The essential presence of Christ as God is every where. And as man, the heavens must receive him till the time of the rescitution of all things. But he is present with his people in a gracious manner, by the words of his gospel, accompanied by the influence of his spirit. These are the seed of the new birth, by which Christ is formed in men,
1 Pet. 1 John iii. 9. And where these are habitualiy conlidered and believed, they are also the grand means of advancing real Christians in conformity to God's image. 2 Tim. iij. 17. Hence we are often reminded, how im. portant it is to continue in Christ's words, John viii. 31. to abide in the doctrine of Christ, 2 John 9. and to continue in the things we have learned. i Tim. jii. Christ crucified is not only the way, the alone medium of access to God, and acceptance with him, the truth firmly believed by every Chriftian, but the life, the doctrine which iinparts spiritual strength and vigour to the soul.
them the hope of glory, Col. i 27. and strength of their life. P. xxvii. 1. Nay, divine truth thus received, becomes in the foul a well of living water, springing up into eternal life, John iv. 14. or as it is expressed John vii. 38. rivers of living water. So that believers, especially public teachers, are as so many fountains or rivers, to convey to others these falutary streams, Pr. Ixxxvii. 7. Prov. x. 11; xviii. 4. 11. xxxv. 7. 2 Pet. ii. 17. Rev. viii. 10. Only observe, that it is not they that drink; their example, eloquence, or christian experience, but the water that is in them, that is, the truths of the gofpel, firft believed by themselves, and then inparted to their hearers, which become to these hearers, spiritual drink, or the means of nourishing them up in
faith, holiness and comfort. Sondet
4. Coming to Chrift, of which we read Ir. xlv. 24 ; lv. 1. 3. John vi. 35% 37, 44, 45; vii. 37; xiv. 6 ; v. 40. is the immediate fruit of faith, rather than faith itself. It is the seeking all spiritual and heavenly bleffings only in the way of union and communion with Christ, from
John xii. 49, 50.
" The Father which sent me gave me a “ commandinent, and I know that his commandment is “ life everlasting.” The doctrine of Christ not only brings to light life and immortality, and the way that leads to them, but is the means in the hand of the fpirit, to begin, preferve and strengthen that spiritual life, which shall at last be compleated in a life of glory. With the utmost justice therefore, did Peter say to our Lord, John vi. 68. « Thou hast the words of eternal life." And Chrift himself addressing the Father, John xvii. 3. says: “ This is life eternal to know thee the only true God, “ and Jefus Christ whom thou hast sent." Job speaks xix. 28. of the root of the word being found in him, and John 1. ep. iii. 9. defcribes Christians as having Godis leed, i. e, word remaining in them.