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they may "by their good works which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation."
But there is a still stronger motive, that by this alone can they PROVE THEMSELVES CHRIST'S DISCIPLES. "Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit, so SHALL YE BE MY DISCIPLES." There is and can be no other testimony. What other evidence can the world have concerning us. They know not our hearts. To read them is the prerogative of God alone; and if we cannot show our faith by our works, it will be to little purpose that we lay claim to it. The world will call us hypocrites, and they will call us by our right names; for this is the just title of all who "in words profess Christ, but in works deny him." Thus only can we prove ourselves believers here, branches in the living vine, if we are bearing those fruits which spring out of union with Christ, and bear the stamp of the source from which they are derived. And it is this, doubtless, that will be the testimony hereafter. We may rest assured that none will be suffered to appear hereafter among the disciples of Christ, whose fruits will not evidence them as such. Many indeed shall seek admission as such, but their unholy lives will confute their pretensions. Many shall say unto him in that day, "Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name done many wonderful works?" and then he will profess unto them "I never knew you, depart from me all ye that work iniquity." Blessed are the dead which die in
4 1 Peter ii. 12.
the Lord from henceforth, yea, saith the Spirit that that they may rest from their labours, and their works do follow them," even into the presence of God, to bear public witness before men and angels to the sincerity and the reality of their union with Christ. We place no limit upon God's mercy, nor upon the hour and season of conversion; it may be in the eleventh hour. But whenever it occurs, be the interval between that act and death smaller or greater, the fruit will be seen. With the penitent thief the interval was short, but in that short space. he did bring forth fruit, and that fruit largely to the glory of God. In that day, then, I doubt not when the Lord shall "make up his jewels," and "shall come to be glorified in his saints," it will be clearly shown that while the gospel brought free salvation, the gospel also brought quickening and sanctifying grace, and that the redeemed of Jesus, were made the disciples of Jesus, the followers of the holy Saviour; and that they who enter with Him into his glory, because they are washed in his blood, and clothed in his righteousness, will enter with Him renewed by his Spirit, and bearing a conformity to him in their lives; and that while they are saved and called not according to their works, but according to his own purpose and grace given them in Christ Jesus before the world began, they were nevertheless called with a holy calling: and that they only are transplanted into the paradise of God above, who have borne fruit in the vineyard of God below.
ST. JOHN xvii. 11.
AND NOW I AM NO MORE IN THE WORLD, BUT THESE ARE IN THE WORLD, AND I COME TO THEE. HOLY FATHER, KEEP THROUGH THINE OWN NAME THOSE WHOM THOU HAST GIVEN ME; THAT THEY MAY BE ONE, AS WE ARE.
WE lately took occasion to notice the love of Jesus as proved by the circumstances connected with the raising of Lazarus. Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus, not only with that love to which private friendship would have given birth, but with that love which he bears towards his own people, for such they assuredly were. The conversation that took place between the sisters and himself, as well as what we read of the nature of his intercourse with that family on another occasion, when Mary sat at his feet,1 proves most clearly that they had altogether received him as the Messiah. We now turn to another instance of the same love, evinced in that prayer which is contained in the chapter from which my text is taken, and of which it forms the commencement.
1 Luke x. 32.
It was one of the last acts of our blessed Lord before his death, and therefore is not an unsuitable subject for our present consideration, this day being the last on which we shall assemble within these walls, previous to the day which is appropriated to the peculiar consideration of his death. "Having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end," not only in dying for them, but previously to this, in instructing them and interceding for them. In this respect, as in every other, may "the same mind be in us which was also in Christ Jesus," and may it be our anxious endeavour to train up those for whom we are interested, in the knowledge of God and of his truths, and to bear them upon our hearts before God, trusting to the further intercession of Him, who will present our prayers in behalf of others in his own name, and support them with the prevailing argument of his own most precious blood.
I have chosen the first verse of this beautiful prayer, although unwilling to separate it from the rest, with which it stands connected not only in the train of words but of ideas.
Time, however, not allowing me to consider any large portion of it, I shall endeavour to draw your attention to these three points :
I. THE BLESSINGS WHICH OUR SAVIOUR asks for
II. THE MEANS THROUGH WHICH HE EXPECTS THAT THEY SHALL BE REALIZED. And, lastly,
2 Preached the Sunday before Easter.
III. THE ARGUMENT ON WHICH HE FOUNDS HIS
I. THE BLESSINGS he asks for, are two, PRESERVATION and UNION. First he asks the Father to He does not ask to have them removed out of the world; and that for several obvious reasons. They had a most important place to fill in it; and this was the case not only with his own apostles in behalf of whom more immediately the prayer may have been offered, but likewise with regard to all his disciples, not only of that time, but of all subsequent periods; in whose favour it extended likewise, as may be most clearly seen in our Lord's words "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word." Whether therefore we regard the apostles or Christians generally, we may see that there was much reason to pray that they might be kept, that is, preserved from evil, but none that they might be removed. Their presence was good FOR OTHERS. Their great object was, and still is, to be "the light of the world," to be "the leaven that leaveneth the lump," to be" the salt of the earth ;" and if they were to be removed from the world it would tend only to deprive men of that secondary light which should guide them to the true light; it would be only to deprive the mass of sin and wickedness, for "the whole world lieth in wickedness," of that which might be the medium in God's hands to impart the quickening power of divine grace.
3 John xvii. 20.
41 John v. 19.