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what he had been long striving to do in vain. And that he did it, was the proof of his cure. And such may be, and such must be, the case with the heart which is pardoned and reconciled to God through faith in Christ Jesus.
It must give proof of the change wrought in it. It must rise“ from the death of sin to the life of righteousness.” It must leave in the pool where it has been washed, its unruly passions, its unsanctified desires, all that is displeasing to God and unfit for heaven : and it must take up, instead, the various graces which adorn the doctrine of Christ; must “add to faith, virtue, and knowledge, and temperance, and patience, and godliness, and brotherly kindness, and charity.”
Indeed, what happened to this cripple at Bethesda, must happen, in substance, to all who partake of the benefit of the redemption which is in Christ Jesus. He had felt his wretchedness : had thought within himself, how he might obtain relief; and at last received it through the mercy of the Saviour.
So must every Christian reflect within himself : I have offended against Almighty God, and cannot appear before him in judgment. My nature is corrupt : so that “the good that I would, I do not; but the evil which I would not, that I do.” How can I obtain remission of sins past? How can the stony heart be taken away, and be replaced by the tender heart which feels the love of God and holiness? One method alone is pointed out. " There is one Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.” He must recover me.
He must wash me from my sinfulness. He must strengthen me. He must lift me above the dust of this world, and enable me to keep the paths of righteousness : he must engraft upon me the fruits of the Spirit, approved of God, but not natural to the heart of man.
So it was with those to whom the gospel was first made known, and who had been living in all the evil of our unrenewed nature. 66 Some of you,” says St. Paul to the Corinthians, (1 Cor. vi. 9—11,) were once adulterers, and thieves, and covetous, and drunkards, and revilers, and extortioners.” But now, he proceeds, “ ye are washed, ye are sanctified, ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” In the name of the Lord Jesus they had laid aside their evil habits ; had risen above the darkness in which they had been lying, and become able to walk before God in righteousness and holiness.
The difficulty is to feel the need of this; so to feel it, as to seek and apply the remedy. The cripple felt his need, but he had no hope of remedy. Lord, I have no one, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool. For surely I would be made whole ; but in my helpless, miserable state, what hope is there?
When any one feels this in respect to his soul, angels begin to rejoice over him. When any one feels—I would, indeed, gladly be cleansed from my sin : I do not cling to it, though it still adheres to me.
But I have no one who shall enable me to overcome the evil dispositions of my heart, and the
evil habits of my life. - The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, so that I cannot do the things that I would.” “ Wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death ?”
This is the state of mind when the offer of Jesus Christ, as conveyed in the gospel, is indeed glad tidings. He says, Wilt thou be made whole ? He promises deliverance : he engages to supply all our need. And when the heart is convinced that " without holiness no man can see the Lord,” and that without “ the Spirit of God in Christ Jesus” no man can attain unto holiness, we shall eagerly close with the offer, and “ thank God for his unspeakable gift.” Wilt thou be made whole ? That is my earnest desire. My earnest desire is to be purified from the corruption which I derived from Adam, and to become a child of God through the adoption that is in Christ Jesus.
Christ approves of the heart which thus moves towards him, and accepts his gracious invitation. He said to the diseased cripple, “ Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.” He says to the believing penitent, “ Rise, thy sins are forgiven thee.” The stain of thy guilt is washed away. Being justified by faith, thou art at peace with God. Behold, thou art made whole ; but go, and sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon thee. The apostle says, “It had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than after they have known it to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them."i Go, then, and for the remainder of thy life walk before God in righteousness and holiness. Take thy affections from things below, and raise them to things above. Rise beyond the trifling concerns of this world, or rather so carry them on, as to make them serve towards thy eternal interests. This must be the proof of thy soul's health ; as the strength with which he rose, took up his bed, and walked, was the proof that the cripple was healed who had lain so long in the porches of Bethesda.
1 2 Peter ii. 21.
JESUS REASONS WITH THE JEWS, CONCERNING
HIS AUTHORITY AND SPIRITUAL POWER.
JOHN v. 15–27.
15. The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole.
16. And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day.
17. But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.
Such is the reason which our Lord alleges for healing on the sabbath-day. My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. The Father does not restrain the operations of his providence, but sends his rain and his sun on the sabbath as on other days, that the comfort and welfare of man may be promoted. I do the same.
I do not allow a blind man to continue in despair, or a diseased cripple to languish unrelieved, because it is the sabbath day. I bid them anoint their eyes with clay, and they receive their sight; I bid them carry home the bed on which they have been lying, and they carry it: these works of mercy I perform, and the sabbath is no more profaned by them than by the shining of the sun.
By this argument he virtually affirmed, what he affirms elsewhere in plain terms, that he and the Father are one. So the people perceived, and were indignant.
18. Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill hin, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.
19. Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.
20. For the Father loveth the Son, and showeth him all things that himself doeth ; and he will show him greater works than these, that ye may marvel.
21. For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will.
22. For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son:
23. That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son, honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.