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Still if this abundant grace had been poured out upon the apostles only, those who believe in Christ through their word" would read of it with little interest. It would not concern them. But when St. John says, that of his fulness have all we received, he speaks in the name of all successive believers. He means that Christ is the fountain from which all may supply their need. "Ho every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy and eat ; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.' "Whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely." This is expressed in many ways in Scripture. Sometimes Christ is the stem, which furnishes the sap of life to all his branches. Sometimes he is the stream, which pours forth its perpetual supply. Sometimes he is the treasury, in which "it has pleased God that all fulness should dwell:"" in whom are laid up all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge:" and these he dispenses by his Spirit, "dividing to every man severally as he will." Thus he recovers them from their lost estate, and repairs the ruins of the fall.
Observe the richness of the treasure, observe the copiousness of the stream. Do we want pardon? There are none who do not need it: but even where it is most urgently needed, of his fulness it may be received. He has made a full, perfect, and sufficient satisfaction for the sins of all that believe. Even the malefactor upon the 4 Col. i. 19; ii. 3.
3 John xv. 4; vii. 37.
was permitted to find that "the blood of Christ cleanseth from all sin."
Do we require knowledge? He is "the light of the world." He has revealed to us all that is most valuable to learn. He has given us an acquaintance with God, an acquaintance with ourselves; he has told us the nature of this world and the nature of the world to come: he has told us on whom God will have mercy, and on whom he will not have mercy he has abundantly fulfilled the expectation which had gone forth concerning him; "when Messias cometh, which is called Christ, he will tell us all things."
Or do we need a power which we have not in ourselves, to subdue our natural sinfulness, to keep down indwelling sin, and to renew the heart after the image of God? He is the source of all spiritual victory and God would have us trust to the fulness of his strength, that we may receive grace for grace, grace in abundant and increasing measure. Thus living upon him in perpetual dependence, the disciples maintain a continued intercourse with their master, the soldiers with their captain, the servants with their Lord.
Here then must be sought whatever is wanted of grace and spiritual knowledge. Independently of Christ Jesus we have nothing as he himself declares, "Without me ye can do nothing." With him we have every thing. As it is written again,
5 John iv. 25.
"He that abideth in me, the same bringeth forth much fruit:" and as Paul has left on record, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." Let no one boast: for "what hath he which he hath not received?" "Our sufficiency is of Christ." Let no one despair; for who has ever come to him in penitence and faith, and been cast out, or found his truth to fail?
THE OLD AND NEW COVENANT CONTRASTED. THE USE OF THE LAW.
JOHN i. 17.
17. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.
A comparison is here drawn between the first and second dispensation. And the difference is strongly marked by the circumstances attending them.
The law was given by Moses. Moses was a highly favoured servant of God, selected to communicate his will to the chosen nation. Yet he was a man ; one of the fallen race of Adam. But grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. God, having a design
of mercy, sent forth his Son-his well-beloved Son, in whom he was well pleased:-and he, "the mighty Lord," was proclaimed as "the Prince of peace."
Again, when Moses was summoned to receive the declaration of God's purposes, Mount Sinai burned with fire; blackness, and darkness, and tempest surrounded it, and there was heard " 'the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard entreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more and so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake." But the grace and truth which came by Jesus Christ was characterised by its different announcement. All was condescension in God, and comfort to mankind. "Fear not; I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people." 'Glory to God in the highest; on earth peace, good will towards men.
Still it was an advantage which we must not undervalue, that the law was given by Moses to the Israelites. It was an 66 advantage, great every way, that unto them were committed the oracles of God." God did not pass them by: or give them up, like other nations, "to a reprobate mind," ignorant of him and of his will. They were taught his statutes and his judgments, which if a man do, he shall continue in them." And they were many, more than we pretend to number, who were thus led to "do justice, and love mercy, and walk humbly with their God," and to direct
1 Heb. xii. 18-21.
their lives "according to the commandments and ordinances of the law."
What, however, would be the effect of this law of God, if we had no other revelation of his will? What, but to condemn all mankind? As the apostle says, to "conclude all under sin," that 66 every mouth may be stopped, and all the world become guilty before God?" This law, whether given to the Israelites by Moses, or repeated by Jesus in his discourses, may all be summed up, as he has himself summed it up, under these two heads: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart; and thy neighbour as thyself." And who can hold up his hand and affirm, I am guiltless of any transgression against these laws?
If then the terms of the law are these; (and these must be the terms of every law ;) "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all the things which are written in the book of the law to do them "—it is clear that "by the law is the knowledge of sin" that "by the deeds of the law no flesh shall be justified:" and we have eternal reason to be thankful, that grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. The apostle has taught us how to feel and reason: saying, "The strength of sin is the law but thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
It is right to be often reflecting upon this: to call to mind, how many things we have done which we ought not to have done: how many things we have left undone that we ought to have done and that our only comfort must