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deceitful lusts; and must put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness."'3
Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
But all this was utterly distasteful to the scribes and Pharisees and other opposers of our Lord. That he required holiness, and rebuked ungodliness, was the real objection against him. He demanded the worship “ of spirit and of truth :” they assumed a “form of godliness,” pretended to outward sanctity, while within they were “full of hypocrisy and iniquity.' How could such stand “before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple ?” So base was their state of heart, that they took no interest in the conversion of sinners, or the restoration of health to wretched sufferers. How could such dwell with him, whose character it is to be “ full of compassion and mercy, long suffering and of great goodness ?” They “shut up the kingdom of heaven against men, and would not suffer them that were entering to go in :"6 how should they be admitted into it themselves? They were unjust and violent, and extortionate and cruel : how could they have place with him who loves justice and mercy? They exalted themselves and despised others : where was that meek and contrite spirit which God receives and approves, because it is the only state which befits a frail and guilty man?
3 Eph. iv. 22. 5 Rev, vii. 15.
4 Mat. xxiii. 28. 6 Mat. xxiii. 13,
Here then was a second reason, why they must be for ever excluded from that “new heaven and new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” Their dispositions, their characters, were a barrier against them. They were from beneath, he was from above : they were of this world; he was not of this world. So that where he was, they could not A moral gulf
gulf lay between them and him. He was now offering to lead them across it, and to place them on the side of heaven : but they rejected the hand which he stretched out; and they would soon find the barrier impassable for ever. If ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in
This was not more seriously important to the Pharisees than it is to ourselves. “Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle, who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart: in whose eyes a vile person is contemned; but he honoureth them that fear the Lord.” In those who are to dwell in heaven, there must be a suitableness to the nature of heaven. “For what fellowship hath light with darkness ?” what communion has that which is from beneath, with that which is from above? that which is of this world, with that which is not of this world? Though it is not the will of God “ that any should perish,” we cannot but perceive that the character of the wicked excludes them from heaven : and their character remains what it is, because they
7 Ps. xv.
“ hate to be reformed,” and “cast the words of God behind them."
Too late, there may be a time of sorrow and remorse. Jesus said unto them, I go my way, and ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins.
sins. The accepted time must be seized, the day of salvation not neglected. Such is the awful warning elsewhere pronounced to these same people. “When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye shall begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; he shall answer and say unto you,
I know you not whence ye are. Where I am, ye cannot come.
DISCOURSE WITH THE JEWS CONTINUED. FREE
DOM IS PROMISED TO THE DISCIPLES OF CHRIST.
JOHN viii. 25-32.
25. Then said they unto him, Who art thou ? And Jesus saith unto them, Even the same that I said unto you from the beginning.
26. I have many things to say and to judge of you : but he that sent me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of him.
8 Luke xiii. 25.
27. They understood not that he spake to them of the Father.
28. Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Falher has taught me, I speak these things.
29. And he that sent me is with me : the Father hath not left me alone ; for I do always those things that please him.
Many proofs had Jesus given already, that he was the expected and predicted Deliverer. But the great and irresistible proof was yet to come. When
ye know that I am he. They should lift him up on the cross, intending to degrade him to the lowest infamy: but in so doing, they should really exalt him to the glory which belonged to him. He would burst the bonds of death, and his resurrection should be the seal of his truth. Therefore he looks onward to this, and to the more plentiful influence of the Holy Spirit which should follow. When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall that I am he. And a divine power accompanied his words, which many were unable to resist.
30. As he spake these words, many believed on him.
31. Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed ;
32. And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. The truth shall make you free.
Such is the effect which Jesus here ascribes to the words which he had delivered, to the doctrines which he came to reveal. They confer FREEDOM.
ye know We are hardly aware, how far the world in general is from being free. The Jews were not aware of the bondage in which they were held, as appears by their answer, which will afterwards come to be considered. They did not perceive that they were servants of sin. They did not perceive that Satan was their master, and kept them beneath his yoke. That yoke has many branches. Open and indulged sin is one : the first, from which the TRUTH, “the truth as it is in Jesus,” releases man.
But there is another chain by which men are tied and bound till they have obtained the same deliverance. They are enslaved by the power of
The cares, the treasures, the honours, the manners of the world, keep multitudes in a state, which may be justly termed a state of bondage. They are harassed by apprehensions that their store should grow less instead of greater : lest themselves, or their children, or their families, should be reduced to a worse condition than they were born to. Or they are in bondage to the opinions of men, and the customs which prevail: deterred from what they feel to be right, or seduced into what they feel to be wrong, or at least restrained from seeking first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, through dread of their friends, their neighbours, their companions. Can such be called free? Nicodemus was not free; when, though convinced that Jesus came from God by the mighty works he did, he dared not openly consult him, but sought him at night, that he might not offend his brethren the