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But there is an obvious difference between living through, or by means of Christ, and having life in Christ; which last is the form of expression in my text. Nothing less can be meant by a phrase of such intense signification, than 1st. That the Son, as Mediator, is in full possession of all that life which is the gift of the Father; 2dly. That he is the sole fountain or source from whence life flows to sioners of mankind; and, 3dly. That in him life is so effectually secured for all who believe on his name, that no adverse power shall be able to deprive them of it. And if we consult the lively oracles of truth, we shall find each of these particulars not only implied, but asserted, in the clearest and strongest terms.
The first is written as with a sun-beam on almost every page of this sacred book. “ The Word was made flesh," saith our Apostle, in the 1st chapter of his gospel, at the 14th verse, “and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace, and truth:--and of bis fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.” It was our Lord's own declaration, (John v. 26.) that “as the Father hath life in himself, so hath he given to the Son' to have life in himself.” · Accordingly, St. Paul, speaking of the Son in his official character as head of the church, thus writes to the Colossians, (Coloss. i. 19.) “ It pleased the Father, that in him should all fulness dwell.” And that none might mistake the nature of that fulness, he explains it by another passage in that same epistle, (Coloss. ii. 9.) “ In him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodi. ly.” To wbich he subjoins these emphatical words, 6. Ye are complete in him." It is written, (John iii. 35.) “ The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand." This was the testimony of John the
Baptist concerning him; who informs us in particular, that the Spirit, by which the dead sinner is quickened, and born into a new world," was not given by measure unto him.” And we are further assured, that he is now in possession of that heavenly kingdom, where the spiritual life, begun at the new birth in the hearts of his
people, shall arrive at full maturity, and be enjoyed in perfection through all eternity. Thus it appears, that the Son, as Mediator, is possessed of all that life which is the Father's gift to sinners of mankind.
2dly. We are taught with equal plainness, that the Son hath the entire disposal of life, and is the sole fountain or source from whence it flows. Thus our Lord said to the Jews, (John v. 21.) “ As the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them, even sb the Son quickeneth whom he will." In his conference with Martha at the sepulchre of her brother Lazarus, he styl. ed himself the resurrection and the life; and added, 66 He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth, and believeth on me, shall never die.” The manner of imparting this life he illustrates by the similitude of a vine and its branches. “ I,” said he, “ am the vine, and ye are the branches. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me: For without me (or separated from me) ye can do nothing.” Accordingly he gets the name of the head, from which all the body, by joints and bands baving nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God. The closeness of this union is thus expressed, (1 Cor. vi. 17.) “ He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit.” And the apostle Paul, in describing his own life as “a man in Christ,” (Gal. ii. 20.) after having said, “ I am crucified with Christ,” he im
mediately subjoins “nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved
bimself for me.” And this leads te the
3d Particular I mentioned, as included in that strong expression, This life is in his Son; namely, That in him it is effectually secured for all that believe on him, so that no adverse power sball be able to deprive them of it. Nothing can be more explicit upon this bead than our Lord's own words, (Johạ x. 27. et seq.) “ my sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. And I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand. My Father which gave them me is greater than all; and none is able to pluck them out of my Father's band. I and my Father are one." It is probable that Paul had this declaration in his eye, when he thus wrote to the Christians at Colosse, (Coloss. iii. 3.) “ your life is hid (that is, safely lodged) with Christ in God.” Indeed the treasure was too precious to be committed to any creature. Of this, the example of Adam, in his greatest perfection, affords a striking proof. How soon was his own life, and the life of all his posterity, forfeited in his hands? Not the highest seraph, none other but Immanuel, God in our nature, was equal to the trust. But with him it is in absolute safety. He is able to keep that which the Father hath committed to him; and therefore, “because he liveth, all who have fled to him for refuge shall live also;" and may be fully assured, that “when he who is their life shall appear, then shall they likewise appear with him in glory.” Accordingly, the Apostle subjoins to my text, He that hath the Son hath life. He doth not say, he shall have life at some distant period,
but he hath it already in present possession. And well might he say so, when he recollected these words of our Lord, which his own pen had recorded in the 6th chap. ter of his gospel, “I am the bread of life. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever. As the living Father bath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.” For how can he die who feedeth upon that which giveth life? and he surely must have life in all its extent and perfection, whose sustenance or aliment is no other than essential life itself.
Hence it appears, how much they mistake the gospel. constitution, who represent eternal life as a distant reward, suspended upon the performance of certain conditions on the part of the creature: whereas salvation through Christ, though perfected in heaven, is a present salvation; of wbich the various particulars, which are commonly styled terms of acceptance with God, are in truth constituent parts, suited to the present state of Christians; and ought therefore to be considered as the genuine actings, and consequently the proper
evidences of life received from Christ, but not as the conditions or means of obtaining it. That our Apostle viewed the mat. ter in this light is evident from the 13th verse of this chapter; where, in the review of the large account he had given of the special duties that belong to believers, and the characters by which they are distinguished, he thus concludes: “ These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God, (not that ye may obtain, but) that ye may know that ye have eternal life," by the free gift of the Father, in consequence of your union with his blessed Son, who hath the fulness of life in bis hand, as the proprietor, the dispenser, and the
guardian thereof. For eternal life doth really commence at that happy moment, when, by the new birth, we enter into the family of God, and become his children through faith in Christ Jesus.
Thus far bave I endeavoured to illustrate the record that God hath given concerning his Son. Permit me then to ask, after all you have been hearing, in what light doth the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ now appear to you? Is be that object of terror which the jea. lousy of an evil conscience is apt to paint him? Can you rationally conclude, or is there even room to suspect, that he is an enemy to your happiness? Oh! with what
eyes do they read this sacred volume, who are capable for a moment of entertaining such a thought. Is it not the obvious tendency, as well as the declared purpose of every thing contained in the Scriptures of truth, to prove what the Apostle twice repeats in the preceding chapter, GOD IS LOVE,
What kind of evidence would satisfy you? It is my earnest desire that the question should be fully tried. My interest in the decision is equal to yours: none bath more to gain or to lose than I have.
Devise the security that you esteem most valid : let nothing be omitted that you can suppose would be of avail for binding the most artful and fallacious of your fellow-men; and when you bave done, I challenge you to mention one article among them all that is wanting in the security wbich God hath freely afforded you.
When a bare declaration of one's good intention doth not satisfy us, we may ask a promise; and if doubts still remain, we may proceed to require the interposition of an oath ; but there we must rest as to verbal security : * An oath for confirmation is an end of all strife.” Need I remind you, thát without your solicitation, God hath