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know that him the Father heareth always." For them too he is carrying on his intercession in heaven; and is not he an all-prevailing Advocate? yea, is not his intercession for them a ground of assurance, that he both can, and will, save them to the uttermost?"Fear not then, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom'." Rejoice in your security, and know that "having loved you, our Lord will love you to the endm;" having bought you with a price," he will never suffer himself to be deprived of " his purchased possession."]
2. Their felicity in the world to come
[It is the glory of Christ which irradiates heaven, and makes it what it is; "the glory of God doth lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof." Hence the Apostle speaks of "being with Christ," and "being present with the Lord," as terms equivalent with the glorification of his soul: yea, he mentions it as that which conveys the most consoling idea of heaven". Now if we only consider what unspeakable joy arises from a view of Christ, through the medium of the written word, we may well conceive that an immediate vision of his unveiled glory constitutes the felicity of heaven. And this, believer, is thy portion: it is reserved for thee, and thou for it. Thou shalt behold him face to face. Though now thou canst not endure the splendour of the meridian sun, thou shalt soon have thine organs of vision strengthened to gaze on him, who is "the brightness of the Father's glory and the express image of his person." What felicity must this be! If the Queen of Sheba, enraptured with the glory of Solomon, exclaimed, "Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants who stand before thee, and that hear thy wisdom"," what must be the happiness of those who behold" the Lamb upon his throne," and enjoy that beatific vision without weariness or intermission? O that we might all aspire after this honour, and that not one of us might ever come short of it!]
1. Let every one of us now inquire, Am I interested in this prayer?
[This surely is an important inquiry: it is, in fact, to ask, Shall I behold my Saviour's face with joy, or shall I behold it only at an unapproachable distance, a wretched outcast from heaven, an hopeless monument of God's displeasure? Let us enter into this inquiry with fear and trembling. But it may be asked, Is it not presumptuous to attempt an answer to such
k Heb. vii. 25.
1 Luke xii. 32.
m John xiii. 1.
an inquiry? for who can specify the persons that have been given to Christ? who hath looked into the book of God's decrees, that he shall undertake to answer such a question as this? We answer, that the question may easily be resolved, without presuming to pry into the secrets of God. The point may be determined by asking, Have I given myself to Christ? Have I as a guilty, helpless, and undone creature, given up myself to Christ, to be washed in his blood, and to be sanctified by his Spirit? Have I done this repeatedly, with deep humiliation, with fervent prayer, with faith unfeigned? If our consciences bear witness that we have indeed done this, then do we know that the Father gave us to him from all eternity; for we love him because he first loved us;" and we chose him only in consequence of our having before been chosen of him. Hither then let our researches be directed; nor let us ever conclude ourselves his, till we have shewn ourselves willing and desirous to be his.]
2. Let us all live as those who are looking for a speedy answer to it
[How worthless would all earthly vanities appear, if we were looking daily for the glory that shall be revealed! and how effectually would death be disarmed of its sting! Methinks, we should be "looking for and hasting to the coming of that day:" we should be "desiring to depart, that we may be with Christ," and that "mortality," with all its cares or pleasures," may be swallowed up of life." Let this be your state, brethren, and you have nothing to fear. Only maintain habitual fellowship with Christ here, and doubtless ye shall be with him hereafter. Be daily surveying his glory now, and you shall assuredly behold it in the world to come. His prayer was offered not for his immediate Disciples only, but "for all who should believe on him through their word." Be ye of this number, and all the glory of heaven shall be yours.]
q 1 John iv. 19.
r John xv. 16.
CHRIST'S ENEMIES SMITTEN DOWN BY A WORD.
John xviii. 4-9. Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye? They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am he. And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them. As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground. Then asked he them again, Whom seek ye? And they said, Jesus of Naza
reth. Jesus answered, I have told you that I am he: if therefore ye seek me, let these go their way: that the saying might be fulfilled, which he spake, Of them which thou gavest me have I lost none.
THE cross of Christ has been an offence and a stumbling-block to both Jews and Gentiles in every age they think it absurd to expect salvation from one who saved not himself, and life from one who was made subject unto death. But every step of his humiliation was accompanied with circumstances which abundantly attested the dignity of his person, and counterbalanced the ignominy of his low and suffering condition. When he lay in a manger, he was pointed out to the Eastern Magi by an extraordinary star; when he agonized in the garden, there came an angel from heaven to strengthen him; and when he was apprehended as a thief, he beat down the whole band of his enemies by a word of his mouth. This miraculous exertion of his power, though not recorded in the other Evangelists, is a very interesting and instructive part of our Lord's history. I wish you to notice,
I. The particular incidents here related.
1. His successful resistance to his enemies
[Our Lord went forth boldly to meet his enemies. Many from amongst ourselves will go forth to face danger, and will manifest great boldness in the midst of it, because they hope to escape the troubles that threaten them, and to overcome the enemies that oppose them. But if they could look into futurity and see the sufferings which they would be called to endure, they would not be so precipitate; they would be glad, if possible, to avoid the evil, especially if they found that their submission to it would entail on them nothing but disgrace. Not so our blessed Lord: "he knew all things that should come upon him :" he had already tasted of the bitter cup, and knew that he was about to drink it even to the very dregs; he knew all that he should endure from men, from devils, and from his heavenly Father; yet he went forth unappalled, enduring the cross and despising the shame."
He shewed them, however, how vain would be their attempts to apprehend him, if he chose to stand in his own defence. Inquiring calmly whom they sought, and being told, “Jesus of Nazareth," he answered, "I am he." Here were no reproaches
(for though reviled, he reviled not again), but a plain acknowledgment that he was the object whom they wanted. But with what a glorious power were his words accompanied! No sooner were they uttered, than all the band of soldiers, with Judas at their head, were struck as with lightning, and staggering backward, they fell to the ground. This miracle, though at first sight it may appear vindictive, was, in fact, as replete with mercy as any that Jesus ever wrought. It was calculated to shew them their guilt and danger, and thereby to lead them to repentance. The chief priests and elders in particular, (for they also were close at handa,) could scarce fail to call to mind the signal vengeance that had been inflicted on two bands of soldiers who went to apprehend Elijah, and to contrast with that the mercy they had received. The recollection of this might have convinced them that they were at this instant monuments of God's forbearance, and that Christ, if he had chosen, could have struck them all dead upon the spot. Happy would it have been for them if they had indulged such obvious and suitable reflections.
But his hour being come, he satisfied himself with merely shewing them what he could do, if he pleased; and that they could no otherwise apprehend him than by,]
2. His willing surrender—
[Notwithstanding this most awful warning, they still persisted in their intention to apprehend Jesus. If the eyes be blinded and the heart hardened, it is in vain to expect any great benefit either from judgments or mercies. Like Pharaoh we may be affected for a moment, but shall soon "return with the dog to his vomit." No sooner had they recovered a little from their surprise, than they resumed their purpose. But O! who would have conceived that the ministers of religion should be so employed, and that an Apostle too should be found standing in such company, and on such an occasion? Contemplate him one moment as rising from the ground, and instantly leading on again the murderous band; what an awful picture of human depravity! Lord, what is man! What a monster of iniquity, if left to follow the dictates of his own heart.
Our Lord, having thus demonstrated his power to resist, surrendered up himself into their hands. Our Lord had before affirmed that no man could take away his life, but that he would lay it down of himself. Before his hour was come he repeatedly withdrew himself both from injudicious friends and from incensed enemies". But now he proceeded to fulfil his word, and willingly gave up himself into the hands of his
a Luke xxii. 52.
b2 Kings. i. 9-14.
d Luke iv. 29, 30. and John vi. 15.
enemies. As, when first he undertook our cause, he said to the Father, Lo, I come, I delight to do thy will, O Gode; so now, at the close of his undertaking, he went up to his enemies again, and asked, Whom seek ye? and replied again as before to the answer given him. Now he suffered himself to be bound as a criminal, and yielded up himself to all those indignities and miseries, which, as our surety, it became him to endure. This voluntary surrender of himself was necessary in order to his being a sacrifice for us; and it was one principal circumstance that rendered his sacrifice so peculiarly acceptable to God; "He loved us," says the Apostle," and gave himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God of a sweet-smelling savourf." Nevertheless, even while he thus humbled himself, he further evinced his power by,]
3. His dignified capitulation
[He did not see fit to let his Disciples participate yet in his bitter cup. He had ordained that they should be conformed to him in their death as well as in their life. But they were yet but weak in the faith, and not able to encounter great difficulties. A premature discouragement might prove fatal to them. Our Lord therefore would "not put new wine into old bottles," or suffer his Disciples to be tried beyond their strength. On this account he stipulated with his enemies that they should not molest any of his adherents. He did not make a request to his enemies, for there was no probability that they would listen to it for one moment. He imposed it on them with authority, that they should let his Disciples go; and, by his invisible agency, he constrained them to obey him. And so effectual was his command, that they could not even retaliate upon Peter, whose temerity had exposed both himself and his fellow-disciples to most imminent hazard. Jesus had just before declared to his heavenly Father, that he had preserved all whom the Father had committed to him. He was therefore peculiarly solicitous for their welfare in the hour of danger: and shewed that, though he saved not himself, he was both able and determined to save those who had put their trust in him.] From these striking incidents we shall be led to notice,
II. The light which they cast on the general character of our Lord
Behold him here,
1. As a surety for sinners
[What he did on this occasion is precisely what he has done with respect to all the enemies of our salvation. Does
e Ps. xl. 7, 8.
f Eph. v. 2.
g John xvii. 12.