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him, and that they must take his bare word for it, who could have rested his faith on that testimony? This is the true meaning of John, 5 : 31, "If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true." How so? you will say, does not this contradict what he says, John, 8: 14, "Though I bear record of myself, yet my record is true?" I answer: You must understand the word truth here, not as opposed to reality; but the meaning is, If I had only given you my bare word for it, and not brought other evidence from my Father, my testimony had not been authentic and valid according to human laws; but now all doubting is precluded.
INFERENCE 1. The unreasonableness of infidelity, and how inexcusable are those who reject Christ. You see he hath opened his commission in the Gospel, shown the world his Father's hand and seal to it, given as ample satisfaction as reason itself could desire or expect; yet even his own received him not. John, 1: 11. And he knew it beforehand, and therefore complained by the prophet, "Who hath believed our report ?" &c. Isaiah, 53: 1. Yea, and that he is believed on in the world, is by the apostle put among the great mysteries of godliness. 1 Tim. 3: 16. A man that well considers with what convincing evidence Christ comes, would rather think it a mystery that any should not believe. And it is equally wonderful to see the facility with which men embrace the most foolish imposture. Let a false Christ arise, and he shall deceive many. Matt. 24: 24. Of this Christ complains, and not without great reason; "I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not: if another come in his own name, him will ye receive." John, 5:43. As if he had said, You are incredulous to none but me: every deceiver, every pitiful cheat that has but wit, or rather wickedness enough to tell you the Lord hath sent him, though you must take his own single word for it, he shall obtain and get disciples; but
though I come in my Father's name, showing you a commission signed and sealed by him, doing those works which none but God can do; yet ye receive me not. But in all this we must adore the justice of God in permitting it to be so, giving men up to such unreasonable obstinacy and hardness. It is a sore plague that lies upon the world, and a wonder that we all are not ingulfed in the same infidelity.
2. If Christ was sealed to his work by his Father, how great the sin of rejecting and despising such as are sent and sealed by Jesus Christ. As he came to us in his Father's name, so he hath sent forth, by the same authority, ministers in his name; and as he acts in his Father's, so they in his authority. "As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world." John, 17: 18. "As my Father hath sent me, even so have I sent you." 20: 21. You may think it a small matter to reject a minister of Christ; but in so doing you despise and slight both the Father who sent his Son, and Christ who sent his minister to you. This reverence and submission are not due to them as men, but as Christ's ambassadors. And by the way, this may instruct ministers, that the way to maintain that veneration and respect that is due to them, in the consciences of their hearers, is to keep close to their commission.
3. How great an evil is it to intrude into the office of the ministry without a due call. It is more than Christ himself would do; he glorified not himself; the honors and advantages attending that office have invited many to run before they were sent. But, surely this is an insufferable violation of Christ's order.
4. The blessing there may be in all gospel ordinances duly administered. Christ having received full commission from his Father, and by virtue thereof having instituted and appointed these ordinances in the church,
all the power in heaven is engaged to make them good, to confirm and ratify them. Hence in the censures of the church, you have that great expression, "Whatsoever ye bind or loose on earth, shall be bound or loosed in heaven." Matt. 18: 18. And so for the word and ordinances, "All power in heaven and earth is given unto me. Go therefore," &c. Matt. 28: 18-20. These are not the appointments of men; your faith stands not in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. That very power which God the Father committed to Christ, is the fountain whence all Gospel institutions flow. And he hath promised to be with his officers, not only the extraordinary officers of that age, but with his ministers in succeeding ages to the end of the world. Oh therefore, when ye come to an ordinance, come not with slight thoughts, but with great reverence, and great expectations, remembering Christ is there to make all good.
5. Again, here you have another call to admire the grace and love both of the Father and Son to your souls: it is not lawful to compare them, but it is duty to admire them. Was it not wonderful grace in the Father to seal a commission for the death of his Son, for humbling him as low as hell, and in that method to save you, when you might have expected he should have sealed your doom to hell, rather than a commission for your salvation? He might rather have set his irreversible seal to the sentence of your damnation, than to a commission for his Son's humiliation for you. And no less is the love of Christ to be wondered at, that would accept such a commission as this for us, and receive this seal, understanding fully, as he did, what were the contents of that commission: that the Father delivered him thus sealed, and knowing that there could be no reversing of it afterwards.
Oh, then, love the Lord Jesus, all ye his saints, for still you see more and more of his love breaking forth
for you. I commend to you a sealed Saviour; oh that every one that reads these lines might, in a pang of love, cry out with the enamored spouse, "Set me as a seal upon thy heart, as a seal upon thy arm; for love is strong as death, jealousy is cruel as the grave; the coals thereof are coals of fire, which have a most vehement flame." Cant. 8: 6.
6. Hath God sealed Christ for you, then draw forth the comfort of his sealing for you, and rest not till ye also be sealed by him.
Remember, that hereby God stands engaged, even by his own seal, to allow and confirm whatever Christ hath done in the business of our salvation. And on this ground you may thus plead with God: Lord, thou hast sealed Christ to this office, and therefore I depend upon it, that thou allowest all that he hath done, and all that he hath suffered for me, and wilt make good all that he hath promised me. If men will not deny their own seals, much less wilt thou.
Get your interest in Christ sealed to you by the Spirit, else you cannot have the comfort of Christ's being sealed for you. Now the Spirit seals by working those graces in us which are the conditions of the promises; and also by shining upon his own work, and helping the soul to discern it; which follows the other both in order of nature and of time. The person sealed is the true believer, Eph. 1: 13; and the comfort and aid imparted are ever consonant to the written word. Isaiah, 8:20. The Spirit produces in the sealed soul, great care and caution to avoid sin. Eph. 4: 30. Great love to God. 1 John, 25. Readiness to suffer any thing for Christ. Rom. 5: 3-5. Confidence in addresses to God. 1 John, 5 13, 14; and great humility and self-abasement, as in Abraham, who lay on his face when God sealed the covenant to him. Gen. 17: 1-3. This, oh this brings home the sweet and good of all, when the peace and comfort of all graces of the Spirit are sealed upon the soul.
OF THE SOLEMN CONSECRATION OF THE MEDIATOR.
"And for their sakes I sanctify myself."—John, 17: 19.
Jesus Christ being fitted with a body, and authorized by a commission from the Father, now actually devotes, and sets himself apart to his work: the further advancement of the glorious design of our salvation. He sanctified himself for our sakes. Wherein observe,
1. Christ's sanctifying of himself. The word sanctify is not here to be understood for the cleansing, purifying, or making holy that which was before unclean and unholy, either in a moral sense, as we are cleansed from sin by sanctification; or in a ceremonial sense, as persons and things were sanctified under the law; though here is a plain allusion to those legal rites: but Christ's sanctifying himself imports, his separation, or being set apart as an oblation or sacrifice. So Beza explains it, nempe ut sacerdos et victima, as the priest and sacrifice. It imports, also, his consecration, or dedication of him. self to this holy use and service. So the Dutch annotators, I sanctify myself, that is, I give up myself for a holy sacrifice: I sanctify, that is, I consecrate and voluntarily offer myself a holy and unblemished sacrifice to thee for their redemption. Thus under the law, when any day, person, or vessel, was consecrated and dedicated to the Lord, it was so entirely for his use and service, that to use it afterwards in any common service, was to profane and pollute it. Dan. 5: 3.
2. The end of his so sanctifying himself: "for their sakes," that they might be sanctified. Where you see that the death of Christ wholly respects us; he offered not for himself as other priests did, but for us, that we may be sanctified. Christ is so in love with holiness,