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IV. His immutability towards those whom he intends
[Man is often alienated from the object of his affections, either by means of some unexpected evil he has discovered, or through his own fickleness and inconstancy. But God changeth not. Whom he loveth he loveth to the end. He hateth putting away. And, as he loved his people from eternity," and chose them without any reference to good either seen or foreseen in them, so will he not forsake them on account of their infirmities. He will indeed punish their transgressions with all needful severity;" but his gifts and callings are without repentance; nor will he cast off the people, whom he has chosen in Christ, and given to him."] USES-In this glorious character of God we may see
1. The evil of sin
[Sin, under whatever circumstances it may be committed, is directly levelled against him. And, if our consciences be not seared as with an hot iron, the thought of having so often committed that, which militates against the honour, the authority, and the very existence of such a God, must render us loathsome in our own eyes, and cause us to abhor ourselves in dust and ashes.a
2. The danger of dying in an unconverted state.
[Those to whom our Lord preached, and amongst whom he wrought his miracles, had a far heavier condemnation than they would have received, if they had never enjoyed such advantages. And will it be no aggravation of our guilt in the day of judgment to have despised such a loving and gracious God? Surely, he will then shew himself mighty to destroy such obdurate rebels; and will feel an abiding satisfaction in vindicating the honour of his insulted majesty, as he now would in displaying the riches of his mercy. It will be "a fearful thing to fall into his hands" under such aggravated guilt.]
3. The obligation that lies upon believers to serve the Lord.
[Have you been selected by God as objects of his unmerited love? Have you been redeemed with the blood of
• Mal. iii. 6. Jam. i. 17. r Jer. xxxi. 3.
P John xiii. 1. 1 Mal. ii. 16. • Deut. vii. 7, 8. and ix. 5, 6. " Ps. lxxxix. 30-34.
Isai. liv. 7-10.
y 1 Sam. xii. 22. Hos. ii. 19, 20.
* Rom. xi. 29. 7. Gen. xxxix. 9. Ps. li. 4. a Ezek. xxxvi. 28, 31. Job xlii. 6 b John. xv. 22. Matt. xi. 20-24. Luke xii. 20. Prov. i. 24-30. Deut. xxviii. 58, 63.
his dear Son? And have you a good hope, that you shall be made eternal monuments of his power and grace? What should you render to the Lord for such benefits? O love him; rejoice in him with joy unspeakable; and rest in your love to him; having no end, no aim, no wish, but to please and honour the God of your salvation.]
CCCCLXXIX. THE BLESSEDNESS OF THOSE WHO ARE INTERESTED IN CHRIST'S INTERCESSION.
John xvii. 24. Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory which thou hast given me.
THERE is an height, and depth, and length, and breadth in the love of Christ, which can never be explored-His assumption of our sinful nature, and his submission to the accursed death of the cross for our sake, will fill the universe with wonder to all eternity-Next to those unparelled instances of his love, we cannot but notice the concern which he expressed for his people's welfare in the last hours of his life-Well did he know all that was coming upon him: yet instead of being occupied, as might have been expected, about his own sufferings, he was intent only on the salvation of others— Having prayed in the hearing of his disciples that they, and all his followers to the end of the world, might be preserved and sanctified, he adds the petition which we have now read; in discoursing on which we shall
I. Explain the petition
There is something peculiar in the manner in which it is expressed
[It is generally considered as an authoritative demand, which he made in consequence of the right he had in them, and with a more especial view to their comfort-Certain it is that, as his people had been "given him by the Father," and as he was now about to confirm his title to them by the surrender of his own life in their stead, he might justly claim the blessings which he asked in their behalf-But the same expression is elsewhere used where nothing more is intended. than great earnestness in the request; and this seems to be the
real import of the words before us-Our Lord had come down from heaven to rescue his people from destruction; nor could he endure the thought of returning thither without first securing them to himself as the trophies of his victory-Hence was there an extraordinary emphasis laid on this petition, because, if that should not be granted, all which he had done and suffered for them would be in vain-]
The petition itself represents the final glorification of all his disciples
[Jesus was now going to his Father in heaven-He was already in heaven as to his divine nature; but his human nature also was speedily to be removed thither-A short separation from them was necessary, in order that he might prosecute his mediatorial work in heaven, and they discharge their apostolic office on earth-But he had promised that, "where he was, there should also his servants be;" and that, as he was going to prepare mansions for them, so he would surely come again and receive them to himself, that they might be with him for ever-Besides, he had already given them a glimpse of his glory, which they had seen through the vail of his flesh;d and had taught them to expect that what they had beheld in the dawn, should be revealed to them in its meridian splendor
These expectations he would never disappoint-Hence in his intercession he gave them an additional assurance, that they should in due time possess the promised bliss-At the same time he taught them by his example, that the promises of God were not to supersede, but to encourage prayer: and that, however secure they might feel themselves in knowing the eternal purposes of God, they were never to relax their earnestness in prayer till every decree of God should be finally accomplished]
As we cannot conceive any petition more important, we shall proceed to
II. Shew the blessedness of those who are interested in it
There are two things suggested in the text which may well elucidate this subject--We may observe
1. The security of their souls
[The saints are frequently, especially in this intercessory prayer, spoken of as "given to Christ by the Father"-And when were they given him, but from all eternity?8-Nor was it merely in his personal, but also in his official character,
b John xii. 26.
d John i. 14. 2 Pet. i. 16, 17.
To the same effect see Jer. xxix. 11, 12. and Ezek. xxxvi. 37. ¤ Eph. i. 4.
c John xiv. 3.
e Matt. xix. 28.
as the head and representative of his elect, that "the Father loved Christ from before the foundation of the world"h-Can we suppose then that they were given to Christ, and that if was left uncertain whether he should ever enjoy the gift? Has not our Lord himself repeatedly declared, that they should never perish, and that none should ever pluck them out of his hand? Further, it was for them that Jesus prayed; and "we know that him the Father heareth always"-For them too he is carrying on his intercession in heaven; and is not he an all-prevailing Advocate? yea, is not his intercession. for them a ground of assurance, that he both can and will save them to the uttermost?" Fear not then, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom"
Rejoice in your security, and know that "having loved you, our Lord will love you to the end;"'m having "bought you with a price," he will never suffer himself to be deprived of "his purchased possession"—}
2. The greatness of their salvation
[It is the glory of Christ which irradiates heaven, and makes it what it is; "the glory of God doth lighten it, and. the Lamb is the Light thereof"-Hence the apostle speaks of "being with Christ," and "being present with the Lord," as terms equivalent with the glorification of his soul: yea, he mentions it as that which conveys the most consoling idea of heaven"-Now if we only consider what unspeakable joy arises from a view of Christ, through the medium of the written word, we may well conceive that an immediate vision - of his unvailed glory constitutes the felicity of heaven-And this, believer, is thy portion: it is reserved for thee, and thou for it-Thou shalt behold him face to face-Though now thou canst not endure the splendor of the meridian sun, thou shalt soon have thine organs of vision strengthened to gaze on him, who is "the brightness of the Father's glory and the express image of his person"-What felicity must this be! If the Queen of Sheba, enraptured with the glory of Solomon, exclaimed, "Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants who stand before thee, and that hear thy wisdom," what must be the happiness of those who behold "the Lamb upon his throne," and enjoy that beatific vision without weariness or intermission?-O that we might all aspire after this honour! O that not one of us might come short of it!-]
h Isai. xlii. 1.
i John x. 28, 29. in John xiii. 1. PI Kings x. $.
k Heb. vii. 25.
n 1 Thess. iv. 18.'
We shall conclude the subject with proposing two
1. Am I interested in this prayer?
[This surely is an important enquiry: it is, in fact, to ask, Shall I behold my Saviour's face with joy, or shall I behold it only at an unapproachable distance, a wretched outcast from heaven, an hopeless monument of God's displeasure? -Let us enter into this enquiry with fear and trembling-But it may be asked, Is it not presumptuous to attempt an answer to such an enquiry? for who can specify the persons that have been given to Christ? who hath looked into the book of God's decrees, that he shall undertake to answer such a question as this? We answer, That the question may easily be resolved, without presuming to pry into the secrets of GodThe point may be determined by asking, Have I given myself to Christ? Have I as a guilty, helpless, and undone creature given up myself to Christ, to be washed in his blood, and to be sanctified by his Spirit? Have I done this repeatedly, with deep humiliation, with fervent prayer, with faith unfeigned? If our consciences bear witness that we have indeed done this, then do we know that the Father gave us to him from all eternity; for "we love him because he first loved us;" and we chose him only in consequence of our having before been chosen of him-Hither then let our researches be directed; nor let us ever conclude ourselves his, till we have shewn ourselves willing and desirous to be his-]
2. How shall I obtain an interest in this prayer?
[We are not to conclude that, because we have no evidence of an interest in it yet, our case is altogether hopeless -We may give ourselves to Christ at this very hour, provided we feel a disposition to do so-Christ is willing to receive us, and assures us, that, if we go to him, he will in no wise cast us out-As for "secret things, they belong to God:" our conduct is not to be regulated by them, but by the written word" I beseech you then by the mercies of God that you give up yourselves as living sacrifices to him"-Maintain fellowship with Christ here by prayer and faith, and doubtless ye shall be with him hereafter-Be daily surveying his glory now, and you shall assuredly behold it in the world to come His prayer was offered not for his immediate disciples only, but "for all who should believe on him through their word"— Be ye of this number, and all the glory of heaven shall be yours]
1 John iv. 19.
John xv. 16.
8 Rem. xii. 1.