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have joy in us, and our joy in him to be full ? “ These things," ---namely respecting their fruitfulness as branches in the vine, their keeping his commandments, their loving one another," these things have I spoken unto you that my joy in you might remain, and that your joy might be full,”' verse 11.* How are we to know that we are amongst the friends of Jesus? “ Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you," verse 14.
It is true that Jesus. hath said and blessed be his name for having said and for having recorded it! -" him that cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out.” Yes: he receives into his friendship,_"receives graciously and loves freely,” every sinner who comes to him in simplicity of heart, and casts himself unreservedly upon his mercy. But this bears no sort of resemblance to a case with which it has been compared-weakly and strangely compared; namely, a man's writing on a slip of paper, in presence of another, the following words Whoever receives from my hand this paper and this declaration, I hold him for my friend,” and then, having put his name to it, presenting it to the indi
* " That my joy in you might remain, and that your joy might be full." The arrangement of the words in the first clause by our translators is ambiguous,-"that my joy inight remain in you." The English reader is apt to connect the words “in you" with the verb do remain," as if the joy of which the Saviour spoke was a joy possessed by them, and of which he wished the continuance in their hearts. But he evidently intends to express the idea of a mutual or reciprocal joy-his joy in them, and their joy in him: and he teaches them that if they adhered to his will, in faithful, and impartial, and persevering obedience, his joy in thein should remain, and their own joy in him should be full.--I have not thought it necessary to say any thing in the way of proof on the verses preceding--because it is so very obvious, that “abiding in his love" signifies abiding, not in the exercise of their love to him, but in the enjoyment of his love to thom.
Is it by any
vidual, and saying to him" Receive this from my hand, and believe my testimony, for I am a creditable person.” Who does not, at one glance, perceive the fallacy of this comparison ? What is there in it at all analogous to the case which it is designed to illustrate? That which, in the latter, corresponds to the written paper must, it is presumed, be the written word of God. Is it then, by his having this word put into his hand, that any sinner is assured of his being a friend of Christ ? such external sign that the Saviour gives any individual such assurance? No, verily. Such a transaction as the one described amounts to the very same thing as naming the individual, name and sur
It is puerile to say, there is no name in the paper. The act of writing it in his
presence, and putting it into his hand, is as effectual a singling of him out, as if the name had been written, and a distinctive description annexed to it. But it is not by having the word of the Lord put into his hand that any sinner can know his reconciliation to God, or his being one of the friends of Christ. Were that the case, we should only require to present a man with a New Testament, in order to his being so, and being assured of it; and all must be the friends of Jesus into whose hands his word has come. But it is not so. The sinner requires not merely to receive the divine testimony into his hand, but to receive it by faith into his heart, in order to his being reconciled to God, and reckoned amongst the true friends of Christ :-and those friends, having received his testimony, are to be distinguished by its practical influence : “ Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you."
* The comparison referred to in the text is taken from the little tract by Dr. Malan, before cited. I have reason to know, that the
It is not enough, then, for a man to say-" He that believeth shall be saved ; I am conscious of believing; therefore I know I am saved :" or~" He
Dr. occasionally had recourso, when in this country, to the very method he describes in the tract. Lest any, however, should suspect that the allusion I have made to his comparison is not sufficient to do it impartial justice, I give the whole in its connexion ;-I only wish I could have done it the justice of quoting the original, or of re translating it:
" Pastor. "He who believes in Jesus Christ, has eternal life ;' John iii. 36. do you not know this declaration of the word of God ? Very well, but you appear to think it obscure or equivocal. Juhn. Never, I do not believe that. Yes, all those who say-I believe in Jesus Christ, are the elected of God, bought of the Lord, with saved souls. All the world are then chosen, for there are many people who dare say that they believe in the Son of God. Pastor. You observe, that the word does not say, that those who say they believe, or pratend to believe, in Jesus Christ, or who imagine falsely that they believe, have eternal life; but this infallible word says, that those who believe in effect and really, have this life; so then, the multitude in Christian nations who profess to believe in Jesus Christ, is not proof that they believe in effect; but if this multitude believe in effect on the Saviour, certainly they will have eternal life. John. Thus, then, sir, whoever is able to assure himself that he believes on the Saviour, then he will be certain that he has actually the life eternal, and that he is also elected.-(The minister took a little bit of paper and wrote upon it these words :) “Whoever receives from my hand this paper, and this declaration, I hold him for my friend : (he put his name to these words, and presenting it to John, he said to him,) Receive this from my hand, and believe my testimony, for I am a creditable person :' (John took the paper and read what the minister had written.) Pastor. How am I to regard you, Joho, after this testimony that I have given you ? John. I have for a friend the minister. Pastor. Is it from you to me that this friendship flows, or is it from me to you? John. It is from you to me. Pastor. Do you hesitate to say that 1 am your friend, and that you have become mine? John. If I said I did not believe you, I would tell you a lie. Pastor. Do you, then, look with affection towards me, or is it I with affection towards you ? for you are assured that I am your friend, and that I regard you as mine. John I regard nothing but your good-will in my affairs. Pastor. And how are you assured that this good will is addressed to you? John. Because you have been pleased to say it, and I do not doubt your veracity. Pastor. I am sure that I have not written your name, as my friend; why then do you know that I bave mentioned you in particular? John. You have written with your own hand, that whoever receiveth this paper, you shall bave him for a friend; and because I have received this paper, and because I know that you Rre of good authority, I have no doubt at all upon the subject. Pastor. That is, then, because you have been certain on the one hand
that believeth on the Son of God hath everlasting life; I am conscious to myself that I do believe on the Son of God; therefore I am sure I have everlasting life." It may be perfectly true. The consciousness may regard the true testimony of the gospel ; and the conclusion may be in accordance with fact, that is, with the real character and con. dition of him who draws it. But if it be so, there will be, along with the consciousness of believing, an additional consciousness—the consciousness of loving, and the consciousness of desiring and endeavouring to keep God's commandments; a con. sciousness of the inward symptoms of that spiritual life, which uniformly commences at the same moment that the sinner, believing in Christ, passes from condemnation to acceptance and life in the eye of law. -True, indeed, there will at the same time be a consciousness of failure,-of incessant and universal failure,--of offending in many things, and of imperfection in all. This is a consciousness as indispensable as the other. He who flatters himself into the fancy that he has “already attained, or is already perfect,” is a miserable self-deceiver. How, then do you ask, is peace to be maintained in the soul ? How is it possible, that, with this unceasing consciousness of failure, the believer should ever enjoy it? I answer in the same way in which that Apostle enjoyed it, who says of himself—“I delight in the law of God after the inward man: but I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank' God, through Jesus Christ our Lord."* “ The peace of God, keeping the heart and mind through Christ Jesus," is not incompatible with the inward struggle between the opposite principles of the flesh and the Spirit. If it were, of what bosom on earth could that peace be the cheering inmate? Whilst with the consciously sincere desire and erideavour to “ glorify God in our body and spirit which are God's," there mingles a consciousness of sin and shortcoming in every act and word and thought, this latter consciousness should just lead the believer to the same source of peace from which he originally derived it. It should keep alive upon his mind a constant and deep impression of the necessity of such recurrence. The beginning of his confidence must be held fast unto the end. He is not to gather something of his own in the course of his progress in the divine life, to be associated with the work of Christ as the ground of his confidence. The work of Christ must stand alone, gloriously alone; infinitely sufficient in itself, and dishonoured and contaminated by every association of it with the very best of human service. Even to the end, Christ must be to the believing soul “ all its salvation, and all its desire.” The last prayer must be the same with the first, “ God be merciful to me, a sinner!" The whole experience of the spiritual conflict must give increasing simplicity as well as fervency to his glorying in the cross; his growing sensibility to his own unworthiness making him feel the more the entireness of his dependence on grace. This is the view given of the matter in 1 John i. 9, 10, with ii. 1, 2. “ If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just
of having received this paper from my hand, and on the other hand, that I am of good authority, that you are certain of possessing, at the present, my affection. John. I do not think that I am able to speak stronger upon this point, without insulting your veracity."