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"from darkness to light, from the power of Satan unto God:" multitudes have given up their sinful practices and their worldly desires, and have laid them at the foot of the cross, and have "received the gift of the Holy Ghost," so as to become "a peculiar people," living to the glory of God, and adorning the doctrine of the Saviour. Men "see their good works, see "their light shining; and they behold in this a testimony, a glorious evidence of the gospel. A testimony was given which it was impossible to resist, when as Saul was on his way to Damascus, a light shone suddenly from heaven "above the brightness of the sun,' and struck the persecutor with blindness. But a few days after, was Saul himself a less convincing spectacle, when praying for direction to him whom he had so lately persecuted, and preaching the doctrine which before he destroyed? The voice which came out of the cloud was astonishing, when it said, "This is my beloved Son, hear him.' But the dying voice of the Christian Stephen was equally convincing, when, under the influence of the Holy Ghost, he knelt down and prayed, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge!" "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!" 5
These, however, are extraordinary cases. We need not go so far back, we need not appeal to extraordinary interpositions of divine power, to see proofs of the glory of Christ, or to be convinced by the evidence which it supplies. Every member of the fold of Christ bears about him testimony to 5 Acts vii. 59, 60.
4 See Acts ix. 3-22.
his Shepherd's faithfulness, and truth, and power. I know not what evidence can be stronger. When we see an individual of the Jewish nation, we see an undeniable proof of the truth of the Bible history, and of the prophecies it contains. So when we behold a true and consistent Christian, we possess the same evidence of all that the gospel says of the mercy of God, the divinity of Christ, and the power of the Spirit. What can be a greater miracle, than one who has his dealings here on earth, and his conversation in heaven : who is dead to the things with which he is daily and hourly conversant, and whose "life is hid with Christ in God?" Surely this is not natural. Especially when we remember the temptations of that world to which he is crucified, and the corruption of that heart which he is subduing, and the rebellious lusts of the flesh which he habitually mortifies.
We have reason to be thankful, that these evidences of the glory of Christ have never failed. We may see them, in those around us; nay, we may possess them in ourselves: and let none be satisfied unless he does possess this inward testimony. Every one possesses it, who, through faith in the Son of God, is renewed after the image of God in righteousness and true holiness, and enabled to escape the corruption which is in the world. And God has put this proof within the power of every one: "He that believeth on the Son of God, hath the witness in himself:" has it in the consciousness of his heart, and the obedience
of his life.
This is a sure record; and this is the true faith, and eternal life.
I conclude with a single reflection: The Word was made flesh. For what purpose? "For us men and for our salvation." He descended to our nature, that he might exalt us to his. He was made flesh, that we might be raised above the flesh, and become "partakers of the divine nature." He became the Son of man, that we might become the sons of God. But to what end, if we still remain carnal, earthly, sensual? Know ye not that the unrighteous, the unholy, the ungodly, "shall not inherit the kingdom of God?" If it could be so, if an unsanctified, unrenewed nature, could be admitted to the presence of God and the glory of his power, what need was there that the Word should be made flesh and dwell amongst us?
Therefore "cleanse yourselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord." Mortify your members which are upon the earth :" and "glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's." For "if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die; but if ye, through the Spirit, do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live;" live for ever.
THE SUFFICIENCY OF THE SON OF GOD TO SUPPLY ALL THE WANTS OF HIS DISCIPLES.
JOHN i. 15, 16.
15. John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me; for he was before me.
16. And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.
The purpose of John the Baptist's mission was to prepare the way for him of whom he spake. He of whom he spake was come, and was now ready to enter upon his ministry. John therefore must be superseded, and retire before the presence of Jesus, of whom he was the forerunner: just as the morning star, which shines so brightly before dawn, disappears when the sun rises in the heavens.
And now the evangelist proceeds to describe the benefits of his light; his blessed influence upon the world. His divine nature, his eternal existence, his omnipotence, had been before declared. "In the beginning was the Word; and the Word was with God; and the Word was God." But this might be, and yet no advantage be derived to man. The mine may be rich; full of gold or precious stones: but what is this, unless the mine open to us, and we have access to the treasure?
To the treasure which is laid up in Christ, all who believe in him have access. The apostles had already proved this; and St. John speaks his own experience, when he writes, of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.1
It was from his fulness that these unlearned and ignorant men had received a mouth and wisdom," which all their "adversaries had not been able to resist." 2 He had supplied their answer to the high priest and elders. It was not their own strength, which had been proved weakness: but in the might of their Master they had said, (Acts iv. 19,) "Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard."
It was from his fulness that they had been enabled to perform works exceeding the power of man: as Peter declared (Acts iii. 16,) after the healing of the cripple, "His name, through faith in his name, hath made this man strong: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all."
It was from the supply of his fulness that Paul could dare to say, (1 Cor. i. 4, 5,) "I thank God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ: that in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge."
1 Χαριν ἀντι A double measure of grace; grace inχαριτος. creasing by successive degrees.
2 Luke xxi. 15.