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order the more explicitly to declare what are the only means of obtaining the gift of God in the Gospel. Until the Son be in some sense ours, our possession, our property; we have no share in his blessings, nor any title to his salvation. All who are in the city of refuge, derive from it the protection which it affords; but they who have not entered this city, remain exposed to the destruction which impended over them. God has given to us eternal life; but it has pleased him to constitute his Son the only medium of obtaining it. Those, therefore, who receive the testimony of God and have the Son, enjoy the proffered benefit; while those who have not the Son, have not the life which is laid up in him.
It is obvious, then, who are the persons, that are here said not to have the Son. Assuredly it is not necessary to observe, that the infidel who denies the truth of the Scripture generally, or who impugns particularly the several great doctrines revealed in it, has not the Son. Those who deny the mission, or the glory, or the atonement, or the intercession of the Son of God, can never possess the Saviour whom they contemn. But it is more generally important in a Christian country to remark, that the vicious also and the profligate, who serve their own lusts, and live in the contempt of true godliness, who trample on the laws of God, and
riot in the gratification of sensual pleasure, have not the Son. Nor have those the Son, who live in a vain and giddy circle of folly and inconsistency, though free from gross immoralities. Nor has the grave and calculating worldling, whose God is his gain. Nor the proud and formal professor of Christianity, who, relying on his own works, and establishing a presumptuous claim to life, secretly disdains to be saved by grace as the free gift of God in Jesus Christ. Nor yet again has the speculative adherent to an orthodox creed, who, with loud claims to religion, disgraces by his spirit and conduct the doctrine he ought to adorn. All these, and an endless variety of similar characters, are included in this awful sentence; THEY HAVE NOT THE SON. They have not repented of their sins, have not returned to God, have not received his testimony, have not believed in Christ for everlasting life, have not obtained the gift of righteousness, have not partaken of the renewing grace of the Holy Ghost. Whatever else therefore they may have, they have not the Son of God. They may have worldly wisdom, learning, and philosophy; they may have well-defined notions of religion; they may have forms, and confidence; they may have a speculative and presumptuous faith; they may have credit with a party and in
fluence over the minds of others: but nothing of this kind will avail them as to the salvation of their souls. Without a true living faith, there can be no interest in Christ. If, indeed, we were treating of subjects relating to this life, and the respect due to a merely reputable religion or a fair social conduct, such persons might have some claim to notice; but when we speak of pardon, holiness, and eternal life, nothing can be a substitute for Having the Son.
All such characters HAVE NOT LIFE; they are dead in sin and under condemnation. They are still under the curse of the law, still exposed to the eternal death they have merited, still without either a title or meetness for the inheritance of the saints in light. He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; but he that believeth not the Son, shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him. Nay, the very circumstance of having rejected the greatest gift of God, and despised his offers of mercy in his beloved Son, will fearfully aggravate, instead of lightening, their doom. This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. He that believeth not, is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
Awake then, sinner, to a conviction of your awful condition. Receive with faith the testimony of God as to the only way of life, and as to the condemnation which will overtake those who have not the Son of God. Let no delusions of your own mind, or any fascinating errors of the world, persuade you that you can be safe in your present state. Observe, I entreat you, what was noticed at the beginning of this discourse, THE SOLEMN RECORD which God has delivered on this subject. He condescends to attest, to depose, to bear especial witness to this fundamental truth. All the doctrines of Scripture are, indeed, in a general sense a part of the record of God. They come with divine authority, and challenge our implicit belief: but the commanding truth of my text is ushered in with a solemnity which is designed to awaken our most intense regard. There are three, observes the sacred writer, that bear record in heaven-to this one leading truth, that eternal life is in the Son of God, and in him only -the FATHER, by repeated declarations from heaven the WORD, by his revelation of himself to the dying Stephen, to Saul on his way to Damascus, and to the beloved disciple in the isle of Patmos: the HOLY GHOST, by his descent like a dove on the incarnate Saviour.*
* I am well aware of the controversy on this text, and have attentively weighed, so far as I have been able, the arguments
And there are three that bear witness in earth to the same truth: the Spirit, in the Holy Scriptures and in his gracious operations on the heart; the water of baptism appointed as one of the sacraments of the Christian dispensation; and the blood represented by the consecrated element of wine in the other. And to what do these witnesses bear record? What is it that is introduced with such circumstances of authority? What is it that all the testimonies of heaven and earth, all the declarations of the Almighty, at the first promulgation of the Gospel, and all its standing memorials in every subsequent age-what is it that they attest? What is the truth which is taken out, as it were, from the surrounding topics of divine revelation, and placed alone for our separate contemplation? It is this, THAT GOD HATH
GIVEN TO US ETERNAL LIFE, AND THIS LIFE
IS IN HIS SON; HE THAT HATH THE SON HATH LIFE, AND HE THAT HATH NOT THE SON OF GOD, HATH NOT LIFE.
Now, if we receive the testimony of men, and
on either side. I incline, however, to the opinion of Dr. Hey, the late Norrisian Professor, that the text is genuine; and, with this impression, do not scruple to adduce it in this place. I observe, also, that the late Mr. Milner of Hull, a man of sound learning, and whose judgment was eminently discriminating, comes to the same conclusion.-See Milner's Sermons, vol. ii. on 1 John v. 14, 15.