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in stature, and in favour with God and man.76 It is only by the teaching of the Holy Spirit that sinful and ignorant creatures can know effectually the things that belong to their everlasting peace. For the things of God knoweth no man, but as he is taught them by the Spirit of God.

May the Spirit which is of God be vouchsafed to us, that we may know the things that are freely given to us of God 377 that, being taught by the Holy Ghost, we may receive the instructions of His holy word, not only with the understanding, but with our whole hearts; that the salvation of Christ may be prized by us, as the one thing needful above all others; that through Christ we may have access by the Spirit unto the Father ;78 may walk humbly with our God, and circumspectly before Him, as His obedient children, in holiness and righteousness day by day, while we live in this world; and may hereafter “come to those unspeakable joys which He hath prepared for them that unfeignedly love Him.”

76 Luke ii. 52. 77 | Corinthians ii. 11, 12. 78 Ephesians ii. 18.

SERMON XXIII.

FOR

THE FIFTH SUNDAY IN LENT.

THE SELF-EXISTENCE OF JESUS CHRIST.

John viii. 58.

JESUS SAID UNTO THEM, VERILY, VERILY, I

SAY UNTO YOU, BEFORE ABRAHAM WAS,
I AM.

The manner in which the Jews acted towards our blessed Saviour when He had spoken these words, shows plainly what was the meaning which they attached to them. Then took they up stones to cast at Him. And when they were asked the reason of their conduct, they answered Him, saying, For a good work we stone Thee not, but for blasphemy, and because that Thou, being a man, makest Thyself God. It is evident then, that our Saviour meant to assert by these words,

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that He, having existed before Abraham, was the eternal God, the self-existent Being, who was before all worlds; for He did not deny that they were correct in their interpretation of His words.

The Gospel for this day begins with a challenge given by Him to His enemies, Which of you convinceth Me of sin? He had brought against them the grievous charge of being the children of the devil; the truth of which they manifested by their wicked conduct. And He boldly asked them in return, if they could bring home the same charge to Himself. But they were utterly unable to substantiate any thing of the kind against the Holy One of God. For He did no sin,79 He knew no sin ,80 though He was made in the likeness of sinful flesh, 81 He was without sin.se This being His real character, He expostulated with them on the unreasonableness of their conduct in rejecting the testimony which He had given of Himself, in the twelfth verse of this chapter, I am the Light of the world, he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. As He could not be convicted of sin, the sinless perfection of His character and conduct afforded full evidence that what He declared must be true, since He could not assert a falsehood. He therefore asked them, If I say the truth, why do ye not believe Me?

79 | Peter ii. 22. 80 2 Cor. v. 21. 81 Rom. viii. 3. 82 Heb. iv. 15.

What He had declared, it was for their benefit to believe. But they loved darkness, they loved sin, and therefore they were indisposed to give credit to that most important truth which He had spoken to them. They did not want to come to the Light, lest their deeds should be reproved, and they should be put to shame, or be obliged to leave off the evil practices which they loved.

As they had boasted, We have one Father, even God; He showed them what was the true character of the children of God. He that is of God, heareth God's words ; that is, he listens to them with attention; believing that what God enjoins upon His people, it is good for them to obey. He is solicitous to love what God hath commanded, and to desire what He hath promised. The persons whom our Saviour addressed, did not thus hear the words of God. He consequently tells them, Ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God. This is a test which it becomes us to apply to ourselves, that we may ascertain our own character in the sight of God. Those who refuse to hear the word of God altogether, which is the case, alas! with too many, even in our own country, declare plainly to all around them that they are not the children of God. But are there not many also, who, although they outwardly hear the word of God, yet do not receive the truth in the love of it? An attendance

on the means of grace, so as outwardly to hear the word of God is of importance. It may produce some good effect, at least upon the general conduct. But in order to derive permanent benefit from hearing the word of God, we must believe it; we must treasure it up in our hearts, so as to be led to obey from the heart that form of doctrine, or form of sound words, which is delivered83 to us; we must be cast into the mould of the word of God, so as to be conformed to it in heart and mind, in life and conduct. Faith cometh by hearing: 8+ If this effect be not produced, we fail of receiving the blessing which the word of God sets before us.

The declaration of our blessed Saviour that the persons whom He addressed were not of God, notwithstanding their high profession of being His peculiar people, and their confident assertions on the subject, so enraged them, that then answered the Jews, and said unto Him, Say we not well, that Thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil? A Samaritan was in their estimation the most opprobrious name that they could give Him. It was to call Him an enemy to their nation. Their enmity against these people was carried to such a pitch, that although they were living in the same country, the Jews would have no dealings with the Samaritans,85 would receive no

83 Roinans vi. 17.

84 Romans x. 17.

85 John iv. 9.

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