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THE GLORY WHICH CHRIST GIVES TO HIS PEOPLE.
John xvii. 22. The glory which thou gavest me I have given them.
THE dignity of human nature is a favourite subject with many: nor, if man be considered in his primeval state, can it be estimated too highly. But man is a fallen creature, and reduced to the most abject condition. The Scriptures speak of him in the most humiliating terms: nevertheless, through the grace of the Gospel, he is restored to his primitive honours: he in some respects is elevated even above the angels of heaven. No words can express his dignity more fully than those of the text. Do we inquire what that glory is which the Father gave to Christ, and Christ gives to his Church and people? We will specify it in five particulars :
I. The glory of manifesting the Divine power
Angels have been used as instruments of Divine power both for the preservation and destruction of mankind; but it is peculiar to Christ and his people to manifest the Divine power in conflicts with their enemies.
Christ had this glory given him—
[He had innumerable enemies, both men and devils"; but he conquered sin, Satan, death, and hell. This he did through the support and influence of his Father.]
This glory has Christ given us—
[His people are in a state of warfared: but the very weakest of them triumph at last through Christ. acknowledges this to the praise of his Divine Master'.] II. The glory of displaying the moral perfections of the Deity
The material world displays the natural perfections of God; but not even the angels in heaven can set forth all his moral perfections
a Ps. ii. 2. Luke xxii. 53.
e Isai. xlii. 1.
e Rom. viii. 37.
b Col. ii. 15. Eph. iv. 8.
d Eph. vi. 12.
f 2 Cor. xii. 9.
[Never having been injured, they cannot exercise mercy, forbearance, love of enemies.]
This is the peculiar prerogative of Christ—
[Christ manifested the most wonderful compassion. In so doing he displayed the Father's perfections. This honour he himself received of the Father'.]
His people however are made to share this glory with him
[They, as stars in their several spheres, reflect the beams of the Sun of Righteousness. How strongly was his character delineated in the life of Paul and in the death of Stephen! Every one of them endeavours to "walk as he walked." They are enabled to do this by Christ himself.]
III. The glory of being sons of God
The angels are sometimes called sons of God; but they bear this relation to him only as creatures. Christ has this honour in an infinitely higher
[Christ is the Son of God both in his divine and human nature. He is emphatically called by the Apostle "God's dear Sonm."]
The same honour has Christ conferred on us
[Every believer is brought into this relation to God". This astonishing mercy may well excite wonder and admiration. It is bestowed on the believer by Christ himself3.] IV. The glory of being united to God
The Scriptures often speak of the union that subsists between Christ and the Father
[Our Lord himself affirmed that he and the Father were one. St. Paul declares that all the fulness of the Godhead dwelt in Christ'. What our Lord did as man, is attributed to him as God'.]
A similar, though not the same, union subsists between Christ and his people.
[Our Lord represents them as branches of the living vinet: he compares their union with him to his with the
g Luke xix. 41. and xxiii. 34. and xxiv. 47.
Father": he declares not only that he himself is the author of this union, but that it is a part of that glory which he has given us.]
V. The glory of reigning with God
Both the good and evil angels are called principalities and powers, but they are never said to "reign" with God.
Our Lord however has received this honour of his Father
[All power in heaven and in earth is committed to him3. He is exalted far above all principalities and powers". It is decreed that every soul shall submit to Jesus.]
This honour also has Christ vouchsafed to his people
[The victorious saints will exercise a kind of dominion over the ungodly at the last day: they will sit with Christ as assessors in judgment over men and devils: they have a kingdom appointed to them even now: they will be formally invested with it at the last day: they will receive it as a special grant from Christ himself.]
1. What an exalted character is the true Christian!
[Christians are despised by the unbelieving world: but the Scriptures describe their dignity in most exalted terms. How can we ever estimate aright the glory given them by their Lord! What glory can the earth afford in comparison of this! Let us not then act unworthy of this high character.] 2. How marvellous is Christ's love to his people!—
[Every thing, which he himself has received of the Father, he gives to them: he even bought it with his blood, that he might bestow it upon them. How incomprehensible is this love! Let us entertain worthy conceptions of it: let us be constrained by it to love and serve him.]
John xvii. 24. Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me.
THERE is an height, and depth, and length, and breadth in the love of Christ, which can never be explored. His assumption of our sinful nature, and his submission to the accursed death of the cross for our sake, will fill the universe with wonder to all eternity. Next to those unparalleled instances of his love, we cannot but notice the concern which he expressed for his people's welfare in the last hours of his life. Well did he know all that was coming upon him; yet instead of being occupied, as might have been expected, about his own sufferings, he was intent only on the salvation of others. Having prayed in the hearing of his Disciples that they, and all his followers to the end of the world, might be preserved and sanctified, he adds the petition which we have now read; in discoursing on which we shall consider,
I. The subject-matter of the petition
The manner in which it is expressed is worthy of notice.
[It is generally considered as an authoritative demand, which he made in consequence of the right he had in them, and with a more especial view to their comfort. Certain it is that, as his people had been "given him by the Father," and as he was now about to confirm his title to them by the surrender of his own life in their stead, he might justly claim the blessings which he asked in their behalf. But the same expression is elsewhere used where nothing more is intended than great earnestness in the request; and this seems to be the real import of the words before us. Our Lord had come down from heaven to rescue his people from destruction; nor could he endure the thought of returning thither without first securing them to himself as the trophies of his victory. Hence was there an extraordinary emphasis laid on this petition, because, if that should not be granted, all which he had done and suffered for them would be in vain.]
a Mark vi. 25. and x. 35.
The petition itself represents the final glorification of all his Disciples
[Jesus was now going to his Father in heaven. He was already in heaven as to his divine nature; but his human nature also was speedily to be removed thither. A short separation from them was necessary, in order that he might prosecute his mediatorial work in heaven, and they discharge their apostolic office on earth. But he had promised that, "where he was, there should also his servants beb;" and that, as he was going to prepare mansions for them, so he would surely come again and receive them to himself, that they might be with him for ever. Besides, he had already given them a glimpse of his glory, which they had seen through the veil of his flesh; and had taught them to expect that what they had beheld in the dawn, should be revealed to them in its meridian splendoure. These expectations he would never disappoint. Hence in his intercession he gave them an additional assurance, that they should in due time possess the promised bliss. At the same time he taught them by his example, that the promises of God were not to supersede, but to encourage prayer: and that, however secure they might feel themselves in knowing the eternal purposes of God, they were never to relax their earnestness in prayer till every decree of God should be finally accomplished.]
As we cannot conceive any petition more important, we shall proceed to mark,
II. The blessedness of those who are interested in itThere are two things suggested for their comfort, 1. Their security in this world—
[The saints are frequently, especially in this intercessory prayer, spoken of as "given to Christ by the Father." And when were they given him, but from all eternitys? Nor was it merely in his personal, but also in his official character, as the head and representative of his elect, that "the Father loved Christ from before the foundation of the world." Can we suppose then that they were given to Christ, and that it was left uncertain whether he should ever enjoy the gift? Has not our Lord himself repeatedly declared, that they should never perish, and that none should ever pluck them out of his handi? Further, it was for them that Jesus prayed; and we
b John xii. 26.
d John i. 14. 2 Pet. i. 16, 17.
c John xiv. 3.
f To the same effect see Jer. xxix. 11, 12. and Ezek. xxxvi. 37.
Eph. i. 4.
i John x. 28, 29.
h Isai. xlii. 1.