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[For the truth of this he appeals to his own Disciples: they had seen how justly he was characterized by the prophet, as one whom man despised, and whom the nation abhorred "." They had seen how ill he had been treated, notwithstanding his unerring wisdom, his spotless piety, his unbounded benevolence.
Now, if He, our Head and Chief, was so hated by an ungodly world, how can we hope to escape their enmity? We have in him an indisputable proof, that no wisdom, no prudence, no perfection of character, can enable us to obtain the approbation of worldly men: on the contrary, the more entirely we resemble him, the more shall we be hated by his enemies.
And may we not find in this abundant consolation? If we were not so treated, we should have reason to doubt whether we were "walking as he walked:" but if we are reviled and persecuted as he was, then have we an evidence that we belong to him; and we have reason to "rejoice, inasmuch as we are partakers of his sufferings."]
2. He has forewarned us to expect no other treatment than that which he himself received
[We might well suppose, that, if HE was so treated, we should meet with similar treatment: for reason itself teaches us that the servant ought not to expect a better reception than his lord. But our Saviour himself also has told us this, and particularly calls upon us to "remember" his words. Indeed, if we only remembered what he has spoken to us, we should never be surprised at any thing that we meet with; seeing that he has so plainly forewarned us of it. He has even told us, that the persecutions we meet with shall "turn unto us for a testimony." Being then forewarned, we should be forearmed. This was the consideration with which St. Paul endeavoured to comfort the Thessalonians, when they were startled at the greatness and multitude of his afflictions': and, in truth, if the Scriptures be fulfilled in us, as they were in Christ, we may well be reconciled to whatever an ungodly world may inflict upon us.]
1. Those who are afraid of incurring the hatred of the world
[Doubtless the hatred of the world is not to be desired: we should rather, if it could be, that they should love us: but, if the friendship of the world be incompatible with fidelity to
h Isai. xlix. 7.
i 1 Pet. iv. 12, 13.
Godm, then may we very cheerfully forego it. If we be apprehensive of consequences, what is there to fear"? Man, at the utmost, can only kill the body; whereas God can kill the soul: and therefore God only and exclusively should be the object of our fear.]
2. Those who have braved and borne the enmity of the world
[Do you repent of what you have done? Has not God made up to you all that you ever suffered for his sake? Do you think that you will ever feel regret, when you come to heaven, that you suffered so much in your way thither? Are you not even ashamed that you ever for a moment accounted the cross of Christ heavy, or that you groaned under its weight? Sure I am, that " you shall receive an hundredfold even in this life, with persecutions;" and that one moment's enjoyment of your Saviour's presence will abundantly repay all that you endured for his sake. Be not careful then what men may do against you: only seek to cut off occasion from those who seek occasion; and determine through grace, that they "shall find no occasion against you, except concerning the law of your God."]
m Jam. iv. 4. n Isai. li. 12, 13.
• Luke xii. 4, 5.
THE GREAT SIN OF REJECTING CHRIST.
John xv. 22. If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin but now they have no cloke for their sin. EVERY sin is committed against an infinitely good and gracious God: yet the stoical doctrine of the equality of sins is not therefore true. Guilt may be aggravated or diminished by a variety of circumstances. Hence our Lord denounced peculiar woe against Chorazin and Bethsaida. To the same effect he speaks concerning the Jews in the text.
I. How greatly aggravated the sin of the Jews was in rejecting Christ—
Sin admits of so many degrees of malignity, that one may be considered as no sin in comparison of another; not that any man can be absolutely without
sin3, nor is any man really excusable in the sight of God; but comparatively some may be said to "have no sin." Thus it was with those of whom our Lord spake. If he had not come to them, they might have pleaded a want of the necessary means of salvation : but our Lord's preaching rendered them wholly inexcusable. They could not plead any want of Instruction
[Our Lord often spake in parables. This was the means of inflicting judicial blindness on the proud; but it was well calculated for the instruction of the humble. livered many things in the simplest terms.]
Besides, he de
[Our Lord wrought many and stupendous miracles. performed them by a touch, a word, and even at a distance. His miracles were as benevolent as they were open and undeniable. Those who wished to discredit them, imputed them to the agency of Satan. Our Lord mentions them as aggravating the guilt of those who rejected him.]
[There was no want of fidelity on our Lord's part. He warned the people in the plainest and most awful manner.] Encouragement—
[Every one that thirsted for his benefits was invited by him. He offered to give spiritual life to all who would come to him. He promised also to crown them with eternal happiness and glory.]
If they were thus without excuse, it becomes us to consider,
II. How much more inexcusable we are if we reject him
Christ has come and preached to us by his word and ministers, and many reject him after the example of the unbelieving Jews. Though we be not avowed infidels, we practically reject Christ, when we do not receive him for all the ends and purposes for which he was sent; and if we do so, our guilt is peculiarly aggravated.
a 1 John. i. 8.
b Rom. i. 19-21.
h John vii. 37, 38.
c John ix. 41.
f John viii. 21, 24.
i John xii. 26.
We have not any Jewish prejudices to encounter[The Jews had received their law from God; they had been accustomed to expect a temporal Messiah, yet they saw a man altogether destitute and despised, and beheld the law of Moses superseded by a new religion. His works indeed should have obviated all these difficulties: but we have not these difficulties to contend with. We profess that the Gospel is from God. We profess that Christ's kingdom is of a spiritual nature. We profess that his cross is his own glory, and his Church's hope.]
We see the whole design of God unfolded
[The Jews had only partial and contracted views: they could not reconcile many seeming contrarieties. The Disciples, even after Christ's resurrection, were at a loss to account for the occurrences they had seen. But we behold the counsels of God completed; the various prophecies are all accomplished; the characters and offices of Christ are opened; the great ends of his incarnation and death are effected; the glory of God, as shining in his face, is fully displayed.]
We have witnessed the success of the Gospel
[Those to whom our Lord spake, saw his ministry despised: the great and learned of their nation rejected him. His followers were only a few, and those of the lowest class: but we have seen the "grain of mustard become a large tree:" the Gospel has spread to the remotest corners of the earth; it has triumphed over the prejudices and passions, the interests and powers, of the world; its influence is yet daily exhibited before our eyes.]
How heinous then must be our guilt if we reject him! Surely our "sin must be of a crimson or a scarlet die."
1. Those who make excuses for their neglect of Christ
[With what foolish and weak excuses do men deceive themselves!! Surely God will not be deceived by these.
k Luke xxiv. 21.
1 We may notice a few: "I have not time." For what is time given ?—" I am not able." Do you do what you can?" It is time enough yet." Shall you certainly live, and have the grace you now slight offered you again?" I have the majority on my side." Are you not then in the broad road? and will associates mitigate your pain?" Professors are hypocrites." Is that a reason you should not be sincere?" God is merciful." To whom? the impenitent?
What cloak for your sin will you find when he shall call you to account? Will you plead a want of instruction, evidence, warning, or encouragement? Know that in that day you will be speechless. Your love of sin and hatred of the light are the true causes of your rejecting Christ", and this will be the ground of a more aggravated condemnation.]
2. Those who desire to attain the saving knowledge of him
[It is a great mercy to have such a desire formed in the heart; but beware of cloking or extenuating your sin. Remember that awful yet encouraging declaration - Confess your sin with all its aggravations. There is a virtue in the blood of Jesus to cleanse you from it all.]
n John v. 40.
m Matt. xxii. 12.
q 1 John i. 7.
o John iii. 19.
HATRED OF CHRIST IS HATRED OF THE FATHER.
John xv. 23. He that hateth me hateth my Father also.
MEN are ever disposed to palliate their sins, and, by representing them under some specious name, to conceal their real enormity; but God calls every sin by its proper name, and speaks of it with just abhorrence. Covetousness in his eyes is not prudence, but idolatry a disregard of his presence is not mere inadvertence, but a denial of his most essential attributes and a contempt of his Gospel is not a venial ignorance or inattention, but an absolute hatred both of Christ and of the Father. To confirm this truth we will endeavour to shew,
I. Who they are that hate Christ
It may be thought that none but Jews can be guilty of hating Christ, and that the bearing of his name is a sufficient testimony of our regard for him. But there are too many who, notwithstanding they have been baptized into his name, are yet "enemies to him in their minds." Certainly we must number among his enemies,
Eph. v. 5.
b Ps. x. 11, 13.