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above each other. There is vegetable life: the meaning is, that life leans on it for sup this is superior to dead matter, as a tree is port. And our Saviour is all that is neces more excellent than a stone. There is ani- sary to the life of God in the soul;" “ I am mal life: this is superior to vegetable, as a come,” says he, “ that they might have life, bird is more excellent than a tree. There is and that they might have it the more abunrational life: this is superior to animal, as a dantly. For the bread of God is he which man is more excellent than a beast. His cometh down from heaven, and giveth life form and his powers proclaim his pre-emi- unto the world." nence, and prove him lord of this lower world. Bread corn is bruised. The grain passes But there is a life superior to human, and through a process which seems likely to de which “the natural man understandeth not, stroy it before it becomes our food. And what because it is spiritually discerned.” It is means our Saviour when he says, “The called “the life of God.” Of this man bread that I will give you is my flesh, which was originally possessed; from this he has I will give for the life of the world ?" Some fallen by sin; to this he is restored by divine tell us that he refers to his doctrine only. It grace.
is admitted that instruction may be called the And there are some who are proofs of the food of the mind—but why does our Lord repossibility of this restoration. They have fer to his flesh? And what master ever passed from death unto life.” Though alive spake of his disciples eating himself? "My to other things, they were once dead to the flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink things of God. They had no spiritual sensi- indeed. Ile that eateth my flesh and drinketh bility : but they now feel. They had no spi- my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him." ritual appetite; but they now - hunger and What can this imply but a truth so fully rethirst after righteousness.” They had no vealed in the Scripture—That he becomes spiritual senses, “ to discern both good and our Saviour by being our sacrifice, and that evil;" but they now hear his voice, see his we live by his death ! glory, and a taste that the Lord is gracious.” His language leads us to another reflecThey had no spiritual energy or action ; but tion, which is not the less important because they now "strive to enter in at the strait it is common. It is this: Bread is nothing gate, walk in the way everlasting,” and “ la- to us however prepared, or presented, or posbour, that, whether present or absent, they sessed, unless it be eaten. You may perish may be accepted of him.” These disposi- with bread in your house, and even in your tions may be imperfect, and these exertions hand—it is only by admitting it into the animay be weak; but they could not make the mal system that it can become nourishment
. one, nor be conscious of the other—unless “ I am the living bread that came down from they were alive.
heaven; if any man eat of this bread he shall The Scripture loves to present religion to live for ever. Except ye eat the flesh of us under the notion of life; and it is a very the Son of God, and drink his blood, ye hare important and distinguishing one. In a pic- no life in you. He that eateth me, eren he ture there is likeness, and how striking does shall live by me.” Is not this saying that a the resemblance sometimes appear ! But Saviour unapplied will profit you nothing? what a difference is there between the sha- He may have in himself every thing you dow and the substance; between the image need; he may be nigh you; he may be proand the original. It seems to speak ; but it posed to you in the gospel--and all this is is silent. The “ breathing canvass” is not true; but he must be received by faith. For life. A figure may be formed equal to the to vary the image, “To as many as received size of a man; and ingenuity may add mo- him, to them gave he power to become the tion to likeness : but it is not self-moved; its sons of God, even to them that believe on movements, few and senseless, result from his name." foreign force or skill. And mechanism, how- This brings us to remark, ever tine or finished, is not life. How many II. THE WAY IN WHICH WE DERIVE ADthings that look like religion fall short of it. VANTAGE FROM HIM. It is by coming to him; How many have the form of godliness, while by believing on him. “He that cometh to they deny the power thereof. How many, me shall never hunger; and he that believeth destitute of all inward principle, are actuated on me shall never thirst." And here we are in duty by external motives only; and whose not suppose that two different characters devotion begins and ends with the operation are intended, of which the one comes to our of the circumstances producing it! But God Lord, and the other believes on him. The puts his Spirit within us, and causes us to expressions designate the same person; and walk in his ways, and to keep his statutes. are explanatory of each other. So that if
Now observe the relation in which the you ask, What is coming to him? you are Lord Jesus stands to this life. “ I ann," says told, that it is believing on him. And if you he, “ the bread of life.” Bread often stands ask, What is believing on him? you are told, for all that nourishes and sustains our bodies; it is coming to him. and hence we read of the “ staff of bread :" The case is this. Since so much depends
on real faith, it is necessary for us to know Let us notice, what it is: but as we have more to do with III. THE HAPPINESS HIS FOLLOWERS SHALL the uses of things than with their nature; and ENJOY: “He that cometh to me shall never as they are more obviously known by their hunger, and he that believeth on me shall operations and effects, than by their physical never thirst.”. This assurance admits of seand abstract qualities, the Scripture holdsforth veral explanations. faith by its office, and in its actings. It tells First. The follower of Jesus shall never us what faith does in the man who is the pos- hunger nor thirst again after the world. sessor of it: it “works by love;" it "over. This distinguishes him from all unrenewed comes the world;" it "purifies the heart;" men; for they hunger and thirst after noit brings a man to Christ. He that believeth thing else. And this was once his own case. on him, comes to him. This representation But having tasted the provisions of God's of faith is very instructive.
house, his language now is, “ Lord, evermore First. It reminds us that the Lord Jesus give me this bread.” Having seen the glory is accessible. In the days of his flesh he of the only begotten of the Father, full of was approachable in his bodily presence; and grace and truth, nothing else allures or many went to him and implored relief; and charms: “Whom,” says he, “whom have I none ever implored in vain. In this sense in heaven but thee? and there is none upon we can no longer approach him; in this earth that I desire beside thee.” Endeavours sense he is “no more in the world.” But will be made to draw off the soul from this unless he is accessible under another and a sovereign good. The world will present its higher view, how can he verify the promise; riches, honours, pleasures, and prospects; “Where two or three are gathered together and often ask, “What is thy Beloved more in my name, there am I in the midst of than another beloved ?" But these syren songs them?” Did he appoint his disciples to meet will be sung in vain. All believers indeed him in Galilee after his resurrection; and are not equally mortified to earthly things; did they go down and find him there? So but as far as grace prevails in the soul, they he has ordained means, in the use of which will, they must lose their influence : as far as if we are found, he will be found. For he is pre- we are 6 after the Spirit,” we shall “mind sent among the assemblies of his people, and the things of the Spirit.” And no real Chris in his house, and at his table, and in his word, tian, who walks by faith, and not by sight, and upon his throne; there dispensing mercy can so seek after the world again as to make and grace to help us in every time of need. it his portion, or to place his happiness in it.
Secondly. It teaches us that faith is not a A covetous, ambitious, sensual, pleasure-tanotion, but a principle; and is always at- king Christian is a character the Scripture tended with an application of the soul to the knows nothing of. Redeemer. Under the influence of it I can- Secondly. He shall not hunger and thirst not rest without him ; but from a conviction in vain. The new creature has wants and of my perilous and perishing case, and a per- appetites, but ample provision is made to resuasion of his power, appointment, and rea- lieve and indulge them; and the believer diness to succour and to save me, I go to him knows where to go for those blessings; and is and address him. I throw myself at his feet, not liable to disappointment in seeking for and cry, “Lord, save, I perish.” I see him them. He no longer runs to and fro, asking, as the only refuge, and I seek to enter him. Who will show me any good ? He has I view him as the Lord my righteousness found the source of satisfaction, and derives and strength, and pray to be found in him. supplies from it. It is adequate to the imOn this foundation I begin to build : from this mensities of his desires. More than the “con“ fulness I receive, and grace for grace." solation of Israel” he does not long for, though And let it be remembered, that this appli- he
does long for more of it. But cation which always distinguishes genuine Thirdly. He shall not hunger and thirst faith from false, is not a single address, but a always. The days of imperfect enjoyment renewed, a continued exercise. He that be will soon be over. Then every power will lieveth on him is not one that came and trans- be filled; every hope accomplished; every acted an affair with him, and then had no wish realized. Then, says David, “I shall be thing more to do with him-no—but one that satisfied when I awake with thy likeness." cometh. Peter has the same thought, and The subject thus briefly explained, is equally excludes those whose religion is an A standard by which we may estimate action; instead of a course of action, instead Christ. What a life have we been speaking of a habit, instead of a life—“ to whom com- of! But the higher and nobler this life is, the ing as unto a living stone." He will be ne- more does it glorify him for he is “the cessary to the last: as long as we contract bread of life.” There is nothing men so value fresh guilt; as long as we are called to bear as life. Even this vain life, which we spend new trials and discharge new duties ; as long as a shadow—even this suffering life, which as we are in the body of this deathso long we find to be a series of cares, losses, pains, must we come to him.
and troubles—how we cleave to it! how concerned we are to secure and continue it; | under the same dispensation-yea, under su how readily we pay the physician that reco-perior advantages, we are no better than vers it; how highly we prize the food that sus- they. tains it; and pressed with want, what exer- When Hosea exercised his ministry, the tions and sacrifices are we not willing to volume of Scripture was not complete. The make to obtain relief! Surely we are not additions of several of the prophets, and of all sensible of our spiritual necessitics; surely the New Testament writings, were wanting we have no desires after the life of our souls, --whereas we have these additions; the sys eternal life, or we should above all esteem tem of revelation is now perfect; and the Him by whom alone it is to be attained; and man that adds to the words of this book is acnot urge his compassionate heart to complain, cursed, as well as the man that takes away • Ye will not come unto me that ye might from it. Thus our privilege is much enhave life."
larged, and, alas! our guilt is increased along The subject is a standard by which we with it; and what God said of Ephraim apmay estimate fuith. Why does the apostle plies to us with equal truth, and with greater call faith precious ? Because he that be- aggravation; "I have written to him the lieveth on the Son hath everlasting life: and great things of my law, but they were counted he that believeth not the Son shall not see as a strange thing." These words lead us life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” to consider three things with regard to the It is indispensable to our salvation. It is the Scriptures. I. TIER AUTHOR. II. THEIR medium of all our intercourse with the Re- SUBJECT. III. THEIR RECEPTION. deemer of sinners. If faith be nothing with- I. Observe THEIR AUTHOR.-" ," says out Christ, Christ is nothing without faith. God, “ I have written to him the great things
The subject is a standard by which to es- of my law.” This fact it would be well for timate the Christian. The world knoweth us to remember whenever we read or hear him not: it knew not his lord and master-it; for the manner in which the Scripture and why should the servant wish to be above affects us will always depend upon our perhis master, or the disciple above his lord ? suasion of this truth. If we eonsider it as a He may be poor and afflicted; but a man is cunningly devised fable, we shall treat it as a not to be judged of by outward things, but by delusion. If we believe it to be the word of the state of luis mind, and by his future state. man, we shall receive it as a human produeA Christian without pride, may pity philoso- tion. But if we are convinced that it is in"phers and kings. He is safe. He is happy. deed the word of God, we shall feel it to b His happiness is not only insured but com- divine, and it will work powerfully in Es, as menced. He hears nothing but complaints it does in those who believe. in the world; and no wonder, since they are Now in favour of these writings we ad. seeking the living among the dead ;-but he vance a Divine claim. “All Scripture," has found rest; he feels satisfaction. He has says the apostle, “is given by inspiration of much in hand, and more in hope. The Sa- God.” So that whoever was the penman,
he viour is now with him; and soon he will be was the author. I hope I need not labour to for ever with the Lord.
prove this. I hope you have not found it “ Blessed are the people that are in such a necessary to deny it, by indulging in a vicious case."
course of life. “For this is the condemna" Look thou upon me, and be merciful unto tion, that light is come into the world, but me, as thou usest to do unto those that love men love darkness rather than light, because thy name." Amen.
their deeds are evil.” They are infidel because they are wicked, and pretend to quarrel
with the doctrines of revelation because they DISCOURSE LIX.
hate the practice. The charaeter of its ene
mies has always been a strong recommendaTHE SCRIPTURE DESPISED.
tion of the Scripture.
We pass by the proofs derived from propheI have written to him the great things of my cies and miracles; from the number and
law, but they were counted as a strange competency of the original witnesses of the thing.--Hosea viii, 12.
Gospel; from its success in the world; from The history of the Jews is not only won the convictions of the wise, and the sufferderful but instructive. It shows us what Godings of the good—and remark only at preis, and what man is. In every page we see sent, the internal evidence there is to prove the goodness of the one, and the wickedness that this book was written by God. When of the other.
we survey the works of nature, we discern For it is in vain to imagine that the de- impressions of perfection and effects of coll. pravity of this people was peculiar to them- trivance, so as to urge the examiner to exselves. They were fair specimens of human claim, " This is the finger of God." Now nature; and we have no reason to believe opening these leaves, we find a resemblance that we should have been better than they, I that reminds us of the same agent
perceive in the book of Scripture, as in the tion; how the guilty are made righteous; book of Creation, the same degree of plain- how the unholy are made pure; how the ness and obscurity intermixed; the same weak are rendered equal to every duty and difference between the nature and the use of difficulty of the Christian life.—The subjects things, the one eluding research, and the are not addressed to our fancies and opinions, other level to common apprehension; the but to our consciences. They relate to the şame order, and the same sublime irregulari- soul, to eternity. They include " exceeding ty; some parts peculiarly prominent, while great and precious promises;” and which inthe whole equally rejects all attempts com- finitely surpass all the offers of the world. pletely to systematize it. We see that the Great in their efficacy. They have awakenScripture is adapted to the actual state of ed the most secure consciences; they have man; that it is suited to his wants and weak- softened the hardest hearts; they have comnesses in every period, whether he be young forted the greatest sufferers; they have enaor old; in every condition, whether he be bled them to glory in tribulation, and to prosperous or afflicted; in every relation, triumph in death. Plato complained that he whether he be a master or servant, a father could not bring over the inhabitants of even or child, a citizen of this world, or an heir one village to live by the rules of his philoof immortality. The book understands my sophy. But how many millions have been fears, and meets my hopes; and were I to reforined and renewed by the doctrines of find it by accident, and had never read it be- the Cross! “ The words that I speak unto fore, I must, upon perusing it, confess, that it you,” says our Saviour, “ they are spirit, and could only have been produced by one who they are life.” “I am not ashamed of the perfectly knew my misery, and was infinitely gospel of Christ,” says Paul, “ for it is the concerned for my welfare—that is, God. "I power of God unto salvation to every one that have written to him”-What? Observe, believeth.” It bringeth salvation, not only
II. THE CONTENTS—" the great things of as to the discovery, but the experience of it; my law." We naturally judge of an author and teaches us what nothing else ever did, or by his work; but there are cases in which ever will teach, to “deny all ungodliness and we judge of a work by the author. What I worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteousmean is this; we have such a knowledge of ly, and godly, in the present world; looking some men, and such a confidence in them, for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearthat we are sure they cannot write impro- ing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus perly; and conclude even beforehand, that Christ.” And where it does not save, it what they send forth must be worthy of our civilizes; and it has done more in taming the purchase and our perusal. And as soon as fierceness and savageness of the multitude, we learn that God himself is the author of in raising the tone of morals, in securing the this book, we may approach it confidently, welfare of the community, than all the civil expecting to find in it a greatness becoming institutions in the world. his glorious Name.
In a word, the greatest thing we have upon Nor shall we be disappointed. We here earth is the Gospel. It dignifies every counfind great things.
try in which it is found; and the poorest cotGreat in number. What other book ever tage that contains a Bible is rendered unlaid open such a boundless multiplicity of speakably more valuable than a heathen pasubjects, and gave rise to such an infinity of lace. This gave the Jews their pre-eminence thoughts?
over all other nations; “to them were comGreat in profundity. What other book mitted the oracles of God.” No wonder could bear thousands of writers and preach- therefore that the prophet should consider ers to be always explaining and improving the loss of this mercy as the greatest judgit? What other book would bear daily and ment that could ever befall a people. “ Behourly reading and reviewing ?-Yet we al- hold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that ways find something fresh and interesting; I will send a famine in the land ; not a famine and the subjects so far from being exhausted, of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearlead us to pray, “ Open thou mine eyes, that ing the words of the Lord.” I may þehold wondrous things out of thy III. Let us consider THE RECEPTION WHICH law."
Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard. This Divine COMMUNICATION MEETS WITH. neither have entered into the heart of man, “ I have written to him the great things of the things which God hath prepared for them my law, but they were counted as a strange that love him. But God hath revealed them thing." A strange thing here means a unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit search- thing foreign to us; a matter of indifference; eth all things, yea, the deep things of God.” a thing that does not concern us, and cannot
Great in importance. Here we see the affect us; by which we shall gain nothing if way in which God harmonizes all his perfec- we observe it, lose nothing if we despise it; tions in the salvation of man. Here we see a thing unworthy of our attention: the very how he delivers a perishing sinner from the reverse of what Moses said, “ It is not a vain curse of the law and the bondage of corrup- thing for you; because it is your life.” And that men thus in reality treat the Scriptures you after your desert, he would not bear with of truth, is the charge here advanced. Let you a day or an hour. But he is a God of us examine it.
patience; and is longsuffering to us-ward, First; it is a charge the most wonderful. not willing that any should perish. Yet
, lest We should naturally suppose that a book you should suppose that forbearance is conniwritten by God hiinself would engage atten- vance, and that, because he does not immetion. We should reasonably conclude that diately reckon with you, he will never call it would excite no little interest if it only you to account, hear, I beseech you, the fol. professed to be his work; how much more lowing threatenings which he stands solemnly if the probability of this fact was strong; but pledged to execute :--" And if it come to pass
, who would think it possible to disregard it, when he heareth the words of this curse, that if the evidences in its favour were numerous he bless himself in his heart, saying, I shall and undeniable !-All other books, being hu- have peace, though I walk in the imagination man, betray the imperfections of their au- of mine heart, to add drunkenness to thirst: thors; yet they are eagerly bought and read, the Lord will not spare him, but then the anadmired and relished: but here is a book ger of the Lord and his jealousy shall smoke neglected, that is proved to be divine ! against that man, and all the curses that are
People are naturally attracted to a work written in this book shall lie upon him, and that regards themselves. If I were to an- the Lord shall blot out his name from under nounce that a book was published which only heaven.” “ Then shall they call upon me, mentioned your name, it is questionable but I will not answer; they shall seek me whether you would be able to sleep till you early, but they shall not find me: for that had seen it. If you were poor, or if you they hated knowledge, and did not choose were sick and dying, and a publication could the fear of the Lord : They would none of my inform you how to obtain riches, or health, counsel : they despised all my reproof. Thereand cure—you would surely obtain it, and fore shall they eat of the fruit of their own examine it with singular solicitude. But the way, and be filled with their own devices." Scripture speaks of you ; it describes your "How shall we escape if we neglect so great character; it contains the charter of your salvation?” “ He that despised Moses' law privileges; it reveals a deliverance from all died without mercy under two or three wityour woes; and by a method that awakens nesses: of how much sorer punishment, supyour wonder, while it relieves your wants. pose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath The angels desire to look into these things, trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath and study them with intense application; yet counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith angels need no repentance, no redemption. he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath And will you—you who are immediately and done despite unto the Spirit of grace?" eternally interested in them—will you make We could add to the number
of these trelight of them!
mendous denunciations. But surely more A charge, Secondly, the most criminal. than enough has been repeated to rouse all We often err in our estimate of things, espe- your anxiety, and to lead you to inquire, cially those of a moral nature. We have Lord, is it I ?" frequently a wrong standard by which to Yet, Fourthly, the charge is very commonly judge of what is good; hence that which is deserved. Few pay a due regard to the blesshighly esteemed among men, is an abomina- ed word of God. Take infidels, who openly tion in the sight of God. In the same way reject it, and endeavour to make others bewe deceive ourselves with regard to what lieve what it would seem impossible for them is evil. We judge of sin by outward appear to believe themselves, that a system so wise ances, or by the grossness of the action. But in its contrivance, so beneficial in its tendenGod takes into view not only the injury that cy, so holy in its influence, is the work of is done to our neighbour, but the dishonour foolish or wicked men!!--Take apostates that is done to himself; not only what is done, How many, even in our own day, have we but what is omitted: he weighs the state of seen, who once made a flaming profession of the mind, the motives that determine us, the religion, whose hearts have turned back, and good we oppose and hinder; the difficulties whose steps have declined from his ways; we have to overcome, the convictions we have who can laugh at that which once made them to stifle, the reasons that render us inexcus- tremble, and are "so bewitched"—I use the able. And by this rule, nothing can be more words of the Apostle, " that they cannot obey wicked, than to treat with contempt or neg- the truth.”-Take nominal Christians, some lect the means God has provided and reveal- of whom would be much offended if you reed in his infinite goodness and wisdom for fused to consider them as real ones. Yet how our everlasting welfare. It cannot therefore, seldom do they read it! How rarely do they while any thing like justice remains in the hear it! And of those that hear it, often hear world, be done with impunity.
it, hear it dispensed with fidelity and affeeHence, Thirdly, the charge is the most tion, how many are there who are curious dreadful. If indeed God was to deal with hearers, captious hearers, forgetful hearers,