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John, chap. VI. From the 44th to the 51st verses, inclusive. 44 No man can come to me, except the Father, which has
sent me, draw him : and I will raise him up at the last day. 45 It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught
of God. Every man, therefore, that hath heard, and hath
learned of the Father, cometh unto me. 46 Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is
of God, he hath seen the Father. 47 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath
everlasting life. 48 I am that bread of life. 49 Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are
dead. 50 This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a
man may eat thereof and not die. 51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If
any man eat of this bread he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.
The sole object of this text is, to teach us the nature of Christian faith, and to stimulate us to the exercise of it : and, indeed, the general tenor of the Gospel of John, goes but little farther than to instruct us, how we must believe on the Lord Jesus Christ; and that such a faith as is grounded on the true promise of God made to Christ, will save us ; as the text under consideration plainly declares. Those, therefore, who teach any other way or means to obtain righteousness, are here considered as ignorant of the true way. For whatsoever is the invention of men, can.avail them nothing towards obtaining salvation. Although a man may exercise the duties of godliness, although his external works may appear holy before men, yet he will not be able to attain unto heaven, unless God, through his word, proffer him his divine grace, and enlighten his understanding, that he may walk in the way of life.
Now the way of life, is the Lord Jesus Christ; and he that seeketh another way, as those most cer
tainly do, who trust in their own works, erreth from the right and true way; for Paul saith, Gal. ii. “If righteousness be by the law,” (that is, by the works of the law,) “then Christ died without a cause." Therefore, I say, a man must be, as it were, bruised and broken by the Gospel; he must be humbled from the bottom of his heart; he must feel himself weak and frail, and wholly unable to do any thing of himself. He must fall prostrate before God, and cry, Help me, O omnipotent God, merciful Father, I am not able to help myself! Help, O Lord Christ, mine own help is nothing !
Christ, in Luke xx. 18. speaking of the chief corner stone, which was rejected of the builders, saith : " Whosoever shall fall upon that stone, shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.” Now this stone is Christ; therefore, we must either fall upon him through a sense of our imbecility and weakness, and so be broken, or he will fall upon us in his righteous judgement, and we shall be crushed under the weight of our own sins.
Christ saith in the text, “ No man can come to me, except the Father which has sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.” The conclusion therefore is, that he whom the Father draweth not, and who cometh not to the Son, shall surely perish; for he is the only name given unto us whereby we can be saved ; and without him there is no salvation : if he help not, our case is most miserable. Of him Peter also speaketh in the Acts of the Apostles, chap. iv.“ This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other : for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” Where then is the doctrine of those divines and schoolmen, who have taught, that by many works we must attain
unto righteousness? How is the doctrine of that great master, Aristotle, confounded, who taught that reason instructeth men to do the best things, and is always ready to direct them in the right way! For this doctrine Christ doth here disprove; and doth positively assert, that unless the Father draw us to him, we shall perish forever. Hence all men must confess their imbecility and slowness to good things ; for if any man persuade himself that he is able to do any good work by his own strength, truly he accuseth Christ of falsehood; and with great arrogance, presumeth to come to heaven, although he is not drawn of the Father.
The word of God, wherever it is soundly preached; casteth down whatsoever things are high and great; it maketh mountains even with vallies, and overthroweth all hills; as the prophet Esaias saith, " that all hearts hearing the word may despair of themselves, otherwise they cannot come unto Christ.” The works of God are such, that while they kill, they make alive; while they condemn they save; as Hannah, the mother of Samuel, singeth of the Lord : • The Lord killeth and maketh alive; bringeth down to the grave, and setteth up again. The Lord maketh poor, and maketh rich ; bringeth low, and heaveth up on high.'
Wherefore, if a man be so stricken of God in his heart, that he acknowledgeth himself such a one as ought for his sins to be condemned, he surely is that very man whom God by his word has stricken, and by this stroke hath fastened upon him the bond of his divine grace, whereby he draweth him, that he may provide for his soul, and take care of him. At first, he could find within himself no help nor support, neither did he desire any; but now he hath found the special consolation and promise of God, which is this : “ He that asketh receiveth, he that
seeketh findeth, and to him that knocketh it is
By such a promise, manis more and more comforted in mind, and conceiveth a greater trust and confidence in God: for as soon as he heareth that this is the work of God alone, he desireth of him, as at the hand of his merciful father, that he will vouchsafe to draw him. He is also encouraged to lay hold on the promises of God, he trusteth in his word, and hereby he obtaineth a certain testimony, that he is one whom God hath drawn: as John saith in his first Epistle, v. 10.“ He that believeth on the Son of God, hath the witness in himself.”
He that is thus taught of God, he that hath this witness in himself, will find God no other than a helper, a comforter, and a Saviour. It therefore follows, that if we believe aright, God will ever be to us a comforter, and a giver of every good and perfect gift: he will require nothing of us, but will freely bestow upon us whatsoever things may be for our good; as he himself saith, in Psalms vüi. “ I am the Lord thy God who brought thee out of the land of Egypt; open thy mouth wide and I will fill it.” Who would not love such a God; a God who is so loving and kind to us, and who so readily offereth us his divine grace and goodness ?
They who do unadvisedly neglect so great grace as is offered to them by God, shall in no wise escape his severe and eternal judgement; as is said in the epistle to the Hebrews : “ If they that transgressed the law of Moses escaped not unpunished, but died without mercy, how much more grievously shall God punish them who count the blood of the testament as an unholy thing, and tread under foot the Son of God.”
How diligent is Paul in all his epistles to teach how the true knowledge of God may be obtained ! How ardently doth he wish that men may possess this
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knowledge! the language of his soul is, if ye only knew and understood what God is, ye would then be safe: then ye would love him, and do all things that are approved of him. How desirous is he also that those who have obtained this knowledge should increase in it! Thus he saith, Col. i. not to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, that ye might walk worthy of the Lord, pleasing unto all, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and long suffering with joyfulness, giving thanks unto the Father, who made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light."
Thus we learn from the first part of the text, that the knowledge of God cometh from the Father :that it is necessary he should lay the foundation of our building, in order that our labour may not be in vain. This God effecteth through the preaching of his word, by those ministers whom he hath taught and sent forth to make known unto us the way of salvation. For St. Paul saith, Rom. x.
“ Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” And first, we have preached unto us the law whereby we learn that all the deeds and actions of our lives, although they may have appeared righteous before men, are of no estimation before God; nay, that they are even abhorred and loathed of him ; and that it is utterly impossible for us to obtain salvation thereby. Afterwards, we have the preaching of grace, which teacheth us, that although we cannot be saved by our own works of righteousness, yet it has pleased God to make provision for us, in order that we may not be utterly condemned and cast off ; that he will receive us in the name of his beloved Son, whom he has given unto us as a mea