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be comprehended, how the mystery of his incarnation is food to the believing soul; how his blood shed upon the cross is as a cordial to the penitent heart, or how faith can produce such an union between the redeemed and the Redeemer, that he dwelleth in them and they in him. The whole mystery of godliness must be developed, before this could be rightly conceived or fully imbibed : and the Spirit must descend, and give life to the words which spake of these secret things.
Were, then, those disciples justified, who from that time went back, and walked no more with him? Surely not. They had seen what might have taught them to trust in him. They should have continued to attend to his instruction, and listen to his warnings; and might have assumed that what they knew not then, they should come to know hereafter.
Indeed it commonly happens that the doctrines of the gospel are gradually comprehended: open by degrees upon the soul, as the rising sun when it disperses the shades and mists of night, and discovers first one distant and obscure object, and then another, till the whole prospect is made clear. Is then a man at liberty to turn his back upon these doctrines, because he cannot at first perceive their truth and excellence? Should he not rather study, inquire, examine: compare together the different parts of Scripture, and observe how all lead to one point, and form one great argument? And when he has done this, the eyes of his understanding being enlightened, he will learn
to comprehend those things which might once appear hard sayings: he will learn to feed on the mercy of the incarnation, to seek nourishment in the precepts of the gospel, and to find, in the blood of the cross, refreshment to his soul. He will understand that HE is justly termed the bread of life, who gives the soul a new existence, and enables it to breathe a purer air, and to have its conversation in heaven.
This was the case with the apostles themselves. At the time, they did not comprehend the full scope of the words spoken, any more than those who left the Lord's company, and walked no more with him. It was the work of the Spirit afterwards to impart the purpose of his coming in the flesh, and explain the real nature of his kingdom. But this they had seen, that the power which he exercised must be the power of God. They had heard too with astonishment the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth his spiritual precepts approved themselves to their hearts. They felt that to be " poor in spirit" is suitable to man; that holiness must be needful for those who would "see God:" that meekness, and mercy, and charity, and moderation, are excellent virtues, and he who inculcated them, worthy of being listened to:-this their reason perceived, though they might not yet perceive how they might attain these qualities through dependence on him who recommended and prescribed them. But what they did know and understand, made them desire to know more; what they did believe, in
clined them to believe more; Jesus taught them "as one who had authority;" and therefore they adhered to him, even though many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.
67. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?
68. Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.
69. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.
70. Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?
71. He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve.
It is possible therefore to hear the words of eternal life, and be constantly under their sound, and yet remain unmoved or unconverted by them. How needful to take heed, "lest the heart be hardened," as that of Judas, "through the deceitfulness of sin."
The use to be made of this, and every other instance of hypocrisy or apostasy, of going away from Christ, or walking unworthily of his faith,is to show us our own weakness and danger. We, like the apostles, say by our profession, that we believe and are sure that he is that Christ, the Son of the living God. And yet, how prone are we to go away from him? While he was on earth, to come to him, was to join his party, to attend his personal instructions; and to go away, was to walk no more with him. Now that he is in heaven, to come to him is a movement of the heart,
and to remain his disciples, is to take his precepts as the rule of our life and conversation. So that those may be justly said to go away from Christ, who in their practice disavow their baptismal obligations; who neglect what he has taught, and expect eternal life on other terms than those which the gospel lays down. And of these, alas! how great the number! How lamentably is the prediction verified, Many are called, but few chosen !" Yet at that time when many went back and walked no more with him, there were others who, notwithstanding that evil example, and other sore temptations, still adhered to him as the Christ, the Son of the living God. It is the same still. And we are as much obliged to choose between those who go away, and those who remain stedfast in the faith, as they were. May God incline us to choose aright!
For well is it said, To whom shall we go? To whom instead of him, who spoke that which he knew, and testified that which he had seen? To whom instead of him, whom God the Father hath sealed, that he might give eternal life to as many as believe in him? To whom instead of him, who bore our sins in his own body, that he might bring us to God? To whom instead of him, whom God hath made unto us wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption? Will ye also go away? Let us reply in the conviction of our heart, and affirm it by the devotion of our lives, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.
A DISCOURSE BETWEEN JESUS AND HIS
JOHN vii. 1-8.
1. After these things Jesus walked in Galilee: for he would not walk in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill him.
2. Now the Jews' feast of tabernacles was at hand.1
3. His brethren therefore said unto him, Depart hence, and go into Judea, that thy disciples also may see the works that thou doest.
4. For there is no man that doeth any thing in secret, and he himself seeketh to be known openly.
these things, shew thyself to the world.
5. For neither did his brethren believe in him.
If thou do
We find the brethren of Jesus afterwards, (Acts i. 14,) together with Mary, and the faithful women who accompanied him, so occupied, and so described, as shows them to have been then believers
1 ἡ σκηνοπηγία. Lev. xxiii. 3343. "And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the feast of tabernacles for seven days unto the Lord. Ye shall dwell in booths seven days; that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God."