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therefore it is here asserted, that men become not the children of God by natural propagation, but by spiritual regeneration: They are not born of blood. Grace runs not in the blood, piety is not hereditary. Religious parents propagate corruption, not regnneration. Were the conveyances of grace natural, good parents would not be so illsuited with children as sometimes they are. No person then whatsoever has the gracious privilege of adoption by the first hirth. They are not born of blood, nor of the -willnf the flesh, nor of the will of man; that is, no man by the utmost improvement of nature can raise himself up to this privilege of adoption, and be the author and efficient cause of his own regeneration. Learn hence, That man in all his capacities is too weak to produce the work of regeneration in himself. They, says Dr. Hammond, who by the influence of the highest rational principles, live most exactly according to the rule of rational nature, that is, of unregenerated morality, are the persons here described. Learn, 2. That God alone is the prime efficient Cause of regeneration. He works upon the understanding by illumination, and upon the will by sanctification: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the -will of man, but of God.
14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
The evangelist having asserted the divinity of Christ in the foregoing verses, conies now to speak of his humanity and manifestation in our nature: The word was madeflesh. Where note, 1. Our Savioui's incarnation for us. 2. His life and conversation here among us. He dwelt or tabernacled for a season with us. In the incarnation or assumption of our nature, observe, 1. The person assuming, The Word, that is, the second person subsisting in the glorious Godhead. Observe, 2. Tire nature assumed, flesh; that is, the human nature, consisting of soul and body. But why is it not said, The Word was made man? but, The Word -was made flesh. Ans. To denote and set forth the wonderful abasement and condescension of Christ; there being more of vilenessand weakness , and opposition to spirit, in the word flesh, than in the word man. Christ's takiug flesh implies, that he did not only take
upon him the human nature, but all the weaknesses and infirmities of that nature also, (sinful infirmities and personal infirmities excepted,) he had nothing to do with our sinful flesh. Though Christ loved souls with an infinite and insuperable love, yet he would not sin to save a soul. Arid he took no personal infirmities upon him, but such as are common to the whole nature, as hunger, thirst, weariness. Observe, 3. The assumption itself, He Was made flesh; that is, he assumed the human nature into an union with his Godhead, and so became a true and real man by that assumption. Learn hence, That Jesus Christ did really assume the true and perfect nature of man, into a personal union with his divine nature, and still remains true God, and true Man, in one person, for ever. O blessed union! O thrice happy conjunction! As Man, Christ bad an experimental sense of our infirmities and wants; as God, he can support and supply them all. Note farther, 2. As our Saviour's incarnation for us, so his life and conversation among us; He dwelt, or tabernacled amongst us. The tabernacle wis a type of Christ's human nature. 1. As the outside of the tabernacle was mean, made of ordinary materials, but its inside glorious; so was the Son of God. 2. God's special presence was in the tabernacle; there he dwelt, for he had a delight therein. In like manner dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily in Christ; and the glory of his divinity shined forth to the eye and view of his disciples; for they beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father; that is, whust Christ appeared as a man amongst us, be gave great and glorious testimonies of his being the Son of God. I.tan. hence, That in the day of our Saviour's incarnation, the divinity of his person did shine forth through the veil of his flesh, and was seen by all them that had a spiritual eye to behold it, and a mind disposed to consider it. lI beheld his glory, the glory as of the onbybegotten o f the Father.
15 John bare witness of him, ami cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that coineth after me is preferred before me: for he was before ine. 10 And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. 17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. 18 No man hath seen God at any time; the only-begotteu Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.
Here we have John Baptist's first testimony concerning Christ the promised Messiah: and it consists of four parts. 1. John prefers Christ before himself, as being surpassingly above himself. He that eorneth after me is preferred before me, that is in the dignity of his person, and in the eminency of his office, as being the eternal God. Now amongst them that were born of vomen, there was not a greater than John the Baptist: if Christ then was greater than John, it was in regard of his being God. He is therefore preferred before him, because he was before him, as being God from all eternity. Learn hence, That the dignity and eternity of Christ's person as God, sets him up above all his ministers; yea, above all creatures, how excellent soever. He that cometh after me in lime, is preferred before mc in dignity ; for he was before me, even from all eternity. 2. John prefers Christ before all believers, in point of fulness and sufficiency of divine grace: Of his fulness do they receive. They have their failings, Christ has his fulness: theirs is the fulness of a vessel, his is the fulness of a fountain: their fulness is derivative, his fulness is original, yet also ministerial, on purpose in him to give out to us, that we may receive grace for grace; that is, grace answerable for kind and quality, though not for measure and degree. As a child in generation receives from its parent member for member, or as the paper in the priuting-press receives letter for letter, and the wax under the seal receives print for print; so in the work of regeneration, whatever grace is in Christ, there is the like for kind stamped upon the christian's soul. All the members of Christ being made plentiful partakers of his spiritual endowments. Learn hence, That all fulness of grace, by way of supply for believers, is treasured up in Christ, and communicated by him, as their wants and necessities do require: his fulness js inexhaustible, it can never be drawn low, much less drawn dry: Of his fulness do we receive grace for grace: that is, grace freely, grace plentifully; God grant that none of us may receive the grace of Christ in vain. 3. John prefers Christ before Moses, whom the Jews doted so much upon. The law was given by Moses, not as the author, but as the dispenser of it. Moses
was God's minister, by whom the law, which reveals wrath, was given to the Jews; but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. Grace, in opposition to the condemnatory curse and sentence of the law; and truth, in opposition to the types, shadows, and ceremonies of the legal administration. Learn hence, That all grace for the remission of sin, and for performance of duty, is given from Christ, the Fountain of grace: Grace came by Jesus Christ. The grace of pardon and reconciliation; the grace of holiness and sanctification; the grace of lore and adoption ; even all that grace that fits us for service here, and glory hereafter. Christ is both the Dispenser and the Author of it. Grace came by Jesus Christ. Again, 4. John the Baptist here (ver. 18.) doth not only prefer Christ before himself, before Moses, before all believers, but even before all persons whatsoever, in point of knowing and revealing the mind of God. No man hath seen God at any lime; that is, no mere man hath ever seen God in his essence, whilst he was in this mortal state. Here God's invisihility is asserted: next Christ's intimacy with the Father isdeclared. The only-begotfen Son, that is in the bosom of the lather. This expression implies three things, 1. Unity of natures; the bosom is the child's place, who is part of ourselves, and of the same nature with ourselves. 2. Deamess of affection. None lie in the bosom, but the person that is dear to us. A bosom friend is the dearest of friends. 3. It implies communication of secrets. Christ's lying in his Father's bosom intimates his being conscious to all his Father's secrets, to know all his counsels, and to understand his whole will and pleasure. Now as Christ's lying in the Father's bosom implies unity of nature, it teaches us to give the same worship to Christ which we give to God the Father, because he is of the same nature with the Father. As it implies dearness of affection betwixt the Father and the Son, it teaches us to place our chief love upon Christ the Son, because God the Father doth so: he, who is the Son of God's love, should be the object of our love; as God hath a bosom for Christ, so should we have also; the noblest object challenges the highest affection Again, as Christ's lying in the Father's bosom implies the knowledge of his mind and will, it teaches us to apply ourselves to Christ, to his word and Spirit, for illumination. Whither should we go for instruction, but to this great Prophet; for direction, but to this wonderful Counsellor? We can never be made wise unto salvation, if Christ, the wisdom of the Father, doth not make us so.
19 And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou? 20 And he confessed, and denied not; bnt confessed, I am not the Christ. 21 And they asked him, What then? art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No. 22 Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us: what sayest thou of thyself? 23 He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias. 24 And they which were sent were of the Pharisees. 25 And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet? 26 John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not; 27 He it is, who, coming after me, is preferred before me, whose shoes' latchet I am not worthy to unloose. 28 These things were done in Bethabara, beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing,
In these verses we have a second testimony which John the Baptist gave of our Saviour Jesus Christ. The Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem, saying, Who art thou? That is, the Sanhedrim, or great council at Jerusalem, to whom it belonged to judge who were true prophets, sent messengers to the Baptist to know, Whether he was the Messias or not) John refuses to take this honour to himself, but tells them plainly, he was his harhinger and forerunner, and that the Messias himself was just at hand. From hence note, How very cautious, and exceeding careful, this messenger of Christ was, and all the ministers of Christ ought to be, that they do not assume or arrogate to themselves any part of that honour which is due to Christ; but
set the crown of praise upon Christ's own head, acknowledging him to be all in all. 1 Cor. iii. 5. Who then n Pan/? and -who is Apollos ? but ministers by u hom ye believed? Observe farther, In this testimony of John rtie Baptist, these two things: 1. A negative declaration, who he was not; / am not, says the, the Messiah whom ye look for, nor Elias, northit prophet you expect: not Elias, that is, m your sense, not Elias the Tishbite; not Elias for identity of person, but Elias for similitude of gifts, office, and calling. John came, though not in the person, yet in the power and spirit, of Elias. He denies father, that he was that prophet: that prophet which Moses spake of, Deut. xviii. lS. nor any of the old prophets risen from the dead; nay, strictly speaking, he was not any prophet at all ; but more than a prophet: The Old-Testament prophets prophesied of Christ to come; but John pointed at, showed, and declared a Christ already come j and in this sense he was no mere prophet, but more than a prophet. 2. We have here the Baptist's positive affirmation who he was; namely, Christ's herald m the wilderness, his usher, his forerunner to prepare the people for receiving of the Messias, and to make them ready for the entataining of the gospel, by preaching the doctrine of repentance to them. From hence learn, That the preaching of the doctrine of repentance is indispensably necessary, in order to the preparing of the hearts of sinners for the receiving of Jesus Christ. Obserre lastly, The great and exemplary humihty of the holy Baptist, the mean and lowly opinion he had of himself. Although John was the greatest among them that were born of a woman, and so mocb esteemed by the Jews, and had the honour to go before Christ in the exercise of his office and ministry; yet he judges himseh unworthy to carry Christ's shoes after him: He that comclh after me is preferred hefore me, whose shoes I am not -worlhy * unloose. Learn hence, That the more eminent gifts the ministers of the gospel ba«, and the more ready men are to honour and esteem them, the more will they abase themselves, if they be truly gracious, and *> count themselves highly honoured in domg the meanest offices of love and service ■ Jesus Christ. Thus doth the holy BapW here: His shoes' latchet I am not vtr1>« to unloose.
29 The next day John seeth jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which takcth away the sin of the world. 30 This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me.
This is John the Baptist's third testimony concerning Christ; in which he points out Christ as the true Sacrifice for the expiation of sin. Behold the Lamb of God: the Lamb of God's appointing, to be an expiatory sacrifice; the Lamb of God's election the Lamb of God's affection, the Lamb of God's acceptation ; the Lamb of God's exaltation; who, by the sacrifice of his death, has taken away the sin of the world. The sin, not the sins, (in the plural number,) to denote original sin, as some think; or, as others, to show, that Christ hath universally taken upon himself the whole burden of our sin and guilt. And there seems to be a secret antithesis in the word -world. In the Levitical sacrifices, only the sins of the Jews were laid upon the sacrificed beast; but this Lamb takes away the sin both of Jew and Gentile. The Lord has caused to meet on him the iniquity of us all. And the word, taketh away, being in the present tense, denotes a continued act, and it intimates to us thus much, viz. That it is the daily office of Christ to take away our sin, by presenting to the Father the memorials of his death. Christ takes away from all believers the guilt and punishment of their sins, the filth and pollution of them, the power and dominion that is in them: as St. John called upon the Jews, to behold this Lamb of God with an eye of observation; so it is our duty to behold him now with an eye of admiration; with an eye of gratulation; but especially with an eye of faith and dependence, improving the fruit of his death to our own consolation and salvation, Isa. xlv. 22. Look unto mc, and be saved.
31 And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing w ith water. 32 And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. 33 And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said
unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. 34 And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.
Observe here, 1. That though John the Baptist was a near kinsman of Christ, according to the flesh, yet the providence of God so ordered it, that for thirty years together they did not know one another, nor converse with each other, nor probably ever saw the faces of each other; to be sure, he did not know him to be the Messiah. This, no doubt, was overruled by the wisdom of God to prevent all suspicion, as if John and Christ had compacted together to give one another credit; that the world might suspect nothing of the truth of John's testimony concerning Christ, or have the least jealousy that what he said of Christ was from any hias of mind to his person, therefore he repeats it a second time, ver. 31, 33. I knew him not. Hence wo may learn, That a corporal sight of Christ, and an outward personal acquaintance with him, is not simply needful, and absolutely necessary, for enabling a minister to set him forth, and represent him savingly to the world. Observe, 2. The means declared by which John came to know Christ to be the true Messiah: it was by a sign from heaven, namely, The Holy Ghost descending like a dove upon our Saviour: He that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending and remaining, the same is he. Learn hence, 1. That Christ, taking upon him our nature, did so cover his glory with the veil of our flesh and common infirmities, that he could not be known by bodily sight from another man. Till Iohn had a divine revelation, and an evident sign from heaven, that Christ was the Son of God, he knew him not. Learn, 2. That Christ in his solemn entry upon his office, as Mediator, was sealed unto the work by the descending of the Holy Ghost upon him ; he was sealed by the Holy Ghost's descending, and the Father's testifying, that this was his beloved Son, in whom he was well pleased. Now it was, that God gave not of the Spirit to Christ by measure, for the effectual administration of his mediatorial office; now it pleased the Father, that in Christ should all fulness dwell. He was filled extensively with all kinds of grace, and filled intensively with all degrees of grace, in the day of his inauguration, when the Holy Spirit descended upon him.
35 Again, the next day after, John stood, and two of his disciples; 36 And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!
It is evident that John's disciples were never very willing to acknowledge Jesus for the Messia.% because they thought he did shadow and cloud their Master. See therefore the sincerity of the holy Baptist; he takes every opportunity to draw otf the eyes of his own disciples from himself, and to fix them upon Christ; he saith to two of his disciples, Behold the Lamb of God: as if he had said, " Turn your eyes from me to Christ, take less notice of me his minister; but behold your and my Lord and Master, Behold the Lamb of God." Learn hence, That the great design of Christ's faithful ministers is to set people upon admiring of Christ, and not magnifying themselves. Oh! 'tis their great amhition and desire, that such as love and respect them, and honour their ministry, may be led by them to Christ; to behold and admire him, to accept of him, and to submit unto him: John said to his disciples, Behold the Lamb of God.
37 And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. 38 Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? They said unto him, Rabhi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest thou? 30 He saith unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where he dwelt, and abode with him that day: for it was about the tenth hour. 40 One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. 41 He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, The Christ. 42 And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona J thou shalt be called Cephas, which is, by interpretation, A stone. 43 The day
following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me. 44 Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.
This latter part of the chapter acquaints us with the calling of five disciples; not to the apostleship, for that was afterwards; nor yet simply by conversion, for some of them were John's disciples already, and believed in the Messiah to come; but they are here called to own and acknowledge Jesus Christ to be the true and promised Messiah. The disciples here called were Andrew, Peter, and Philip, mean and obscure persons, poor fishermen, not any of the learned rabhies and doctors among the Jews. Hereby Christ showed at once the freeness of his grace, in passing by the knowing men of the age; the greatness of his power, who by such weak instruments could effect such mighty things; and the glory of his wisdom, in choosing such instruments as should not carry away the glory of the work from him; but cause the entire honour and glory of all their great successes to redound to Christ. As Christ can do, so he chooses to do, great things by weak means, knowing that the weakness of the instrument redounds to the greater honour of the agent; for these persons now called to be disciples, were afterwards sent forth by Christ as his apostles, to convert the world to christianity. Observe farther, The order according to which the disciples were called: first, Andrew, then Peter; (which may make the church of Rome ashamed of the weakness of their argument for Peter's supremacy, that he was first called; whereas Andrew was before him, and Peter was brought to Jesus by him.) Andrew findeth his own brother Simon, and brought him to Jesos. Such as have gotten any knowledge of Christ themselves, and are let into acquaintance with him, will be very diligent to invite, and industrious to bring in, others to him. Peter being brought to Christ, our Saviour names him Cephas, which signifies a stone, a rock; to intimate to him his duty to be firm and steady in the christian profession, full of courage and constancy. Thou shalt be called Cephas, -which is by interpretation, A stone.
4-5 Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him of whom Moses in the law, and the