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1. Those who disregard his Gospel
[The Gospel of Christ ought to be universally received as "glad tidings of great joy:" but the greater part of mankind feel an aversion to it. Some dislike its fundamental doctrine of salvation by faith, and represent it as injurious to the interests of morality. Others hate the duties it enjoins, and traduce it as requiring a state of mind totally incompatible with the discharge of our offices in social and civil life. Many even of those who approve of the Gospel in their judgment, are yet very far from experiencing its power in their souls. They enjoy not its promises, they fulfil not its precepts, they know not its renovating, sanctifying effects. It may be asked, Are all these persons haters of Christ? Let Christ himself answer that question. He states, that a practical renunciation of his authority is a proof, that they are enemies to him in their hearts, and will cause them to be treated as his enemies in the day that he shall judge the world.]
2. Those who neglect his ordinances—
[Our Lord has promised his peculiar presence to us while we seek him in the ordinances of his own appointment. Should not then the hope of enjoying his presence endear the ordinances to us, and make us regard them as our most inestimable privilege? But how are they regarded by the generality amongst us? Does not worldly business or pleasure often detain us needlessly from the house of God? And when we are assembled for worship, do not our thoughts rove to the very ends of the earth, so that, though we "draw nigh to God. with our lips, our hearts are far from him?" Are not almost
all persons cold and remiss in secret prayer? And is not family religion either banished altogether, or conducted with such formality as to render it irksome and unprofitable? Our Lord left it as his dying command that we should often partake of bread and wine in remembrance of his body broken and his blood shed for us. Yet is not his table either shamefully deserted, or else profaned by impenitent, unsanctified communicants? And what construction must we put on such conduct? Our Lord plainly tells us, that he considers them as his enemies, and that none of those who thus despise his invitations, shall ever taste of his supperd.]
3. Those who persecute his people—
[Persecution is not carried now to the same extent that it has been in former ages. But has it ceased? Experience proves that there is the same enmity in the hearts of men against the faithful servants of God as ever there was. There
c Luke xix. 14, 27.
d Luke xiv. 18, 24.
are many at this day who are true descendants of Cain and Ishmael; and, as long as there shall be an unconverted man upon earth, it will be found, that they, who are born after the flesh, will persecute those who are born after the Spirite. If they do not kill the saints, they will "revile them, and separate them from their company, and say all manner of evil against them falsely for Christ's sake." And are not such persons enemies to Christ? Yes; he considers himself as the real butt of their malice. Saul thought he was justly punishing some wild fanatics when he dragged the Christians to prison and to death; but Jesus said to him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou met? And the prophet tells us that whosoever toucheth the Lord's people, toucheth the apple of his eyes.]
The extreme enormity of their conduct appears in this,
II. That the hatred of Christ is, in fact, a hatred of the Father also
Christ is essentially
one with the Father ;" and as "whosoever had seen Christ, had seen the Father," so, "whosoever hateth Christ must of necessity hate the Father also." But it is evident in other points of view that they hate the Father; for they hate,
1. His authority
[God commands all men to believe in his Son, to "kiss him" with holy reverence, and to honour him even as they honour the Father". But the unequivocal language of those who comply not with his command is, "We will not have this man to reign over us;" "Who is the Lord that we should obey him? we know not the Lord, neither will we obey his voice." Whatever they may pretend, they are not deceived through unavoidable ignorance, or impelled by irresistible force to reject Christ; they do it from a rooted aversion to the Father himself, and evince by their conduct the truth of that declaration, "The carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be."]
2. His image
[The word, the ordinances, and the people of God, all bear upon them the impression of God's holiness: and this is the very ground of that aversion which rises against them in the hearts of the ungodly. The Gospel is disliked as requiring so much purity and self-denial. The worship of God could be
e Gal. iv. 29.
f Acts ix. 4.
h Ps. ii. 12. John v. 23.
g Zech. ii. 8.
i Rom. viii. 7.
easily tolerated, if an outward form would suffice; but the spirituality and devotion necessary to an acceptable performance of this duty, causes the carnal heart to revolt from it as irksome. If the saints too would countenance the world in its sinful practices, the offence of the cross would cease: but they "make their light to shine before men;" and on this account they, whose deeds are evil, hate, revile, and persecute them. Now this clearly proves, that holiness itself is their aversion, and consequently that the image of God, which principally consists in holiness, is hateful to them. Will any say, It is hypocrisy that they hate, and not holiness? Wherefore then were Christ and his Apostles so universally the objects of cruel persecution? Was there any guile in him? Was he not "the brightness of his Father's glory, and the express image of his person?" and walked not his Disciples in his steps? It is certain, not only that the image of God is hated by the enemies of Christ, but that every thing that bears his image is hated by them on that very account, and in proportion as it exhibits a resemblance of him.]
3. His very existence
[It is vain indeed to entertain the thought that God could be annihilated: but, if we could suppose for a moment that it were declared from heaven, "There is no God;" would not the tidings excite a general satisfaction? Would not all the haters of Christ congratulate themselves that there was no God to call them to an account, none to punish them for their iniquities? Would they not look forward to an unrestrained indulgence of their lusts with pleasure, instead of weeping for the loss of their best and dearest Friend? Yes; as the enemies of Christ exulted in his crucifixion, so would all who hate him rejoice, if the Father also were utterly extinct. That this is no fanciful idea will appear from the declaration of God himself, "The fool hath said in his heart, No God!"]
1. How desperate is the wickedness of the human heart!
[Wherefore is it that men are so full of enmity against Christ and his Father? Is it for having given us his dear Son that they hate the Father; or do they hate Christ for laying down his life for us? Many good things has he done; for which of them do we reject him? Olet" the haters of God," as the Apostle calls all of us in our unconverted state', blush and be confounded; let them abhor themselves for all their
k Ps. xiv. 1.
Rom. i. 30.
iniquities and abominations: for what our Lord says of us is strictly true, "We have hated both him and his Fatherm."]
2. What a dreadful place must hell be!
[Here the wickedness of men is restrained by the preventing grace of God: but in hell it will rage without controul. How will all the miserable spirits then vent their malice! How will they gnaw their tongues, and blaspheme their God"! May we never know this by bitter experience!]
3. How astonishing is the tender mercy of our God!
[One would suppose that God should feel nothing but indignation against such an ungrateful world. But behold! he "waiteth to be gracious unto them;" he sends them offers of pardon; he even entreats and "beseeches them to be reconciled to him. O let his goodness lead us to repentance! Let us cast away the weapons of our rebellion, and bow to the sceptre of his grace. So shall we yet be numbered among the friends of God, and be lively monuments of his mercy to all eternity.]
m ver. 24.
n Rev. xvi. 9.
o 2 Cor. v. 20.
THE PERSONALITY AND OFFICE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.
John XV. 26. When the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me.
THE characters of the most holy men may suffer from envy and malevolence; but their righteousness often shines forth the brighter afterwards, as the sun obscured for awhile by an intervening cloud. According to all human appearances, our Lord's name must either have sunk into speedy oblivion, or been handed down with infamy to the latest posterity. It scarcely seemed possible that the ignominy of his cross could ever be so obliterated as to be succeeded by respect and honour: but our Lord knew that the testimony of the Spirit would assuredly effect this. While therefore he consoled both himself and his Disciples with the reflection, that the causeless enmity of his countrymen was nothing more than a completion of the prophecies, he taught them to look forward to
the time, when the Spirit of God should come down visibly from heaven, and by the most indubitable testimony efface every stain, and rectify the mistaken apprehensions of the world respecting him.
Let us consider,
I. Our Lord's description of his promised messengerIn speaking of the inscrutable mysteries of our religion, we are constrained to represent heavenly things in terms, not strictly just perhaps, but such as are best accommodated to our own feeble apprehensions. We observe then respecting the messenger whom Jesus undertook to send, that,
He is a distinct person
[Many deny the distinct personality of the Spirit, and affirm that he is only a virtue or quality belonging to the Father: but our text clearly shews, that this is not a just and scriptural idea: the names here given to the Spirit, as "the Comforter," and "the Spirit of Truth," import that he is a distinct person. And the circumstance of his mission leaves no doubt upon the subject; for he "proceeds from the Father," is "sent" by the Son, and comes down to us. Besides, the very end of his mission implies the same; for he comes to testify," that is, to be a witness.]
Yet, though distinct from the Father, he is, in his essential properties, equal to him—
[He is sent to testify to all persons, in all places, at the very same instant of time: and does not the execution of such an office require both omnipresence and omniscience? Must he not know what every person needs to be instructed in, and be every where present to hear and grant their requests? And are there any attributes more appropriate to the Deity than these? Yet these the Spirit has in common with the Father: David says respecting him, "Whither shall I go then from thy Spirit? If I go up to heaven, thou art there; if I go down to hell, thou art there also:" and St. Paul observes that "the Spirit searcheth all things, even the deep things of God"." Nor are these testimonies unsupported by others that are yet more direct and clear: for the Spirit is constantly joined both with the Father and the Son as equally worthy of the highest honour, and equally a source of the richest blessings. Indeed he is expressly and repeatedly called GOD. They who lied unto
a Ps. cxxxix. 6, 7.
b 1 Cor. ii. 10.