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for warning. The temporal consequences of sin do not in themselves create godly sorrow. But they often lead to godly sorrow; they prepare the soil for receiving the good seed of the word. And therefore this woman is dismissed with a caution not to tempt God further, lest her "last state be worse than her first:" but to "seek the Lord while he may be found:" to return unto him, that he might "abundantly pardon."
For this, we should observe, is the object of all God's mercy and forbearance. It is exercised, that men may not perish, but have everlasting life. And that they may have everlasting life, he calls them to repentance and the knowledge of the truth. The great purpose of the gospel, in which "the grace of God which bringeth salvation appeared unto all men," is, that "denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, they should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world." And this, which was the purpose of the grand scheme of man's redemption, is also the purpose of every individual case of pardon, that they who have received mercy, should sin no more, but "let their light shine before men, to the glory of God and the benefit of the world.
Let these two things be always kept together: the compassion of the Redeemer, and the purpose of that compassion. No compassion for sin has ever been like his, because no one like him ever understood the consequences of sin. But that compassion was shown in the only way of true mercy, by the conversion of the sinner. How emphatically
St. Paul asks, "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?" "Let no man deceive you with vain words; for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them."5 holiness no man shall see the Lord."
JESUS DISCOURSES FURTHER WITH THE JEWS, AND SHEWS CAUSE WHY THEY OUGHT TO RECEIVE HIM; AND WHAT MUST BE THE END OF THEIR REJECTING HIM.
JOHN viii. 12-24.
12. Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
13. The Pharisees therefore said unto him, Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true.
14. Jesus answered and said unto them, Though I bear record of myself, yet my record is true; for I know whence I came, and whither I go: but ye cannot tell whence I come, and whither I go.
5 1 Cor. vi. 9. Eph. v. 6.
15. Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man.
16. And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me.
17. It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true.1
18. I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me.
19. Then said they unto him, Where is thy Father? Jesus answered, Ye neither know me, nor my Father: if ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also.
20. These words spake Jesus in the treasury, as he taught in the temple; and no man laid hands on him; for his hour was not yet come.
Every reasonable proof was given to the Jews that they were bound to receive Jesus as the Messiah. He asserts himself to be the light of the world. He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. They make an objection, that the testimony which a man gives of himself, and in his own favour, is not worthy of credit. Thou bearest record of thyself: thy record
is not true. He replies, that he must needs bear record of himself, because he alone could understand whence he came, and to what end: I know whence I came, and whither I go: but ye cannot tell whence I came, and whither I go. For, according to the prophecy, "Who shall declare his generation?" But then he adds, that his testimony was
1 Deut. xix. 15. "One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth : at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established."
2 Is. liii. 8.
not alone, not unsupported: their law allowed that the testimony of two witnesses should be received as true; and here was the testimony of two; here was his own testimony, and his Father's testimony. His Father had borne witness to him by a voice from heaven: "This is my beloved Son." His Father was daily repeating the same testimony by the power which Jesus exercised as he said, "The works which I do in my Father's name, these bear witness of me:" " if ye believe not me, believe the works." So that there was no defect of proof, had the mind been open and unprejudiced. No proof will avail, when that is closed against conviction.
21. Then said Jesus again unto them, I go my way, shall seek me, and shall die in your sins: whither I go, ye cannot come.
22. Then said the Jews, Will he kill himself? because he saith, Whither I go, ye cannot come.
23. And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world.
24. I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your
Here was an awful consideration, little understood. Jesus was looking forward to that time, not now far distant, when he should ascend again to the glory which he had with the Father "before the world was:" to that presence where is "fulness of joy:" to that place where is" pleasure for evermore. And there are those who shall be with him there. He has assured us, that
where he is, there also shall his servant be: and that to him that overcometh, he will grant to sit with him on his throne. But to these who now opposed and rejected him, he openly declares, "Ye shall seek me, but ye shall not find me."
Whither I go, ye cannot come.
For two plain reasons. They had refused to seek admission in the way that God proposed. And they were in their characters unfit for the kingdom of heaven.
1. They had rejected the offer made them. Jesus had expressly said, "Whoso believeth on me, I will raise him up at the last day." But they denied the authority of his words, set aside the testimony of his miracles, treated him with disdain and scorn, instead of respectful inquiry, and now went about to kill him. "Therefore he said, Ye will not come unto me, that ye might have life.” And if they would not come unto him, who is the "author of eternal life,'
where was their hope? against themselves.
They had closed the door
To them, and to all, there is but one mode of access to the place where the Lord Jesus is, and will for ever be. He is "the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father but by him."
2. Such is the Father's will. But there is a reason for it. They who are to dwell in heaven, must be prepared for heaven. Their evil nature must be renewed and purified.
They must "put
off the old man, which is corrupt according to the