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of creation had taken place, “ He was in the beginning with God." How perfect, how guarded, how blessed å marking out of the peculiar separateness, which had, in the beginning, belonged to Him whom men counted, in their gracelessness, the friend of publicans and sinners.
Thus, His eternal, His divine competency for all work, for every exigence, is shown. The Son, Himself the intelligence and the expression of God. From and of everlasting ;- without beginning-God; and dwelling with God, for what work was not He competent and
equal to ?
Next, we have: 5thly. “ All things were made by Him; and without Hin was not anything made that was made.”
First, the statement that “all things were made by Him, the Word, and Secondly, the guard put upon the statement, so as to enforce its absoluteness, and without Him was not anything made that was made."
But if the eternal power and godhead were witnessed in Creation; if He spake and it was done; if creation was thus the expression of His own mind yet was there another and a higher glory to be noted, viz.
6thly. " In Him was life." Creation below, Creation around Him, but “in Him was life,” and
7thly. “The life was the light of men.”
Things might spring up into existence around Him and below, themselves originating in His perfect wisdom, coming into existence at His bidding, themselves the expressions of His own wisdom and power in their measure—but this was not the life that was in Him.
That Creation was not apart from Him, as the Living One in its origin and testimony, is clear, from the verse already quoted from the epistle to the Romans, (i. 20)But as the works of a master show his existence and are proofs of his skill, yet fall altogether below, and are easily to be distinguished from, the life which he has; so, though in an infinitely higher degree, while Creation wide showed the existence of its Author, and was and is a witness of His eternal power and godhead; at first fully so in all its parts, and after the fall, still doing the same
in measure, though itself a ruin—still the statement in Him was Life, goes altogether beyond Creation. He had a Life of His own, and that life was the light of men. In Him was Life: and this life had moral character, certain traits and ways habitual to it wherever it displayed itself, which constituted the light of men. Alas! the Spirit of God has to add: “And the light shineth in darkness and the darkness comprehended it not."
Three things have now been brought before us as marking the competency of the One who is the subject of testimony for any work on God's behalf among men; ; viz. Ist, His personal essential competency before God, (ver. 1, 2).
2nd, His competency relative to creation wide (ver. 3.)
And 3rd, His competency in essential character (ver. 4), however little men might be able to appreciate that, (ver. 5.)
Here ends, in one aspect of it, the first part of our chapter: blessed and precious setting forth of the essential glory, -dignity, -and moral character of Him with whom we Christians have eternally and for eternity to do in Jesus of Nazareth.
The next part, which begins with ver. 6, and ends with ver. 25, gives us the state of things in John the Baptist's days, as ushering in his testimony. Each fragment of it, however, glitters with some honour to be rendered to the self-same Jesus, or with some glory to be recognized in Him. The life who was the light of man-in coming into this world had a herald to usher His coming. Thus:
8th. “ There was a man sent from God whose name was John,"
Among men he might be great—but in nothing did he boast of greatness in himself': no higher honour did he know than to be the unpretending herald sent from God
• Clearly, in their nature, the life and the light are essentially inseparable. They were so to the Divine mind. Every acting too of that life was light, and so, I suppose, that in one sense the light is found in creation and providence, as also in the earthly people and in the church on earth. But there is a limitation in the expression“ in Him was life,”—for, in this sense which is the most important, the abiding place of life was in Him. All that stands, stands in Him, John xv., 1 Tim. v. 21.
to announce Him that was to come. “ The same came for a witness of the Light, that all, through him, might believe. He was not that light but (was sent) to bear witness of that Light,” (ver. 7, 8.) It was meet
, and right, and worthy that such a Light should be announced, and most gracious, too, that man's inability to recognise and appreciate it of himself should be met. If the darkness comprehended it not, there was one that did and could speak of it, and did so faithfully, and the contrast is drawn between him and the light.
He was not that light, but had the honour of being the witness to it. "That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” How ineffable the grace and gracious purpose of Him who sent John as a messenger: "that all through him might believe.”
Alas! the honour and glory of the Lord was not only marked thus, as we have said (8thly) by having such a fore-runner, but also as we see here by the power of detecting and making manifest man's darkness. Yes;
9th. All glory is His, so, among the rest, that one of being the Detector and Manifestor of man's moral evil. And, alas! it was not only thus generally that the light shining on men, men comprehended it not, but also in particular He made manifest Israel's state of alienation from God.
The Magi of the East, as coming to greet the new, born babe—Egypt, as giving Him a shelter-seemed more to comprehend that there was light, than did his own people, Israel. For the former could give Him some honour though it was written (9th). 6. He was in the world and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not,” (v. 10.)—but the latter, though not only His by creation and upholding, but His in government and worship, knew him not. “ He came unto His own and His own received Him not,” (v. 11.) He came in the hour of their extremity, in every way in the hour of their affliction; He came full of power, and visdom, and grace: offered Himself just as He was to them just as they were; for He sought not theirs, but them—but they received Him not.
His truthfulness to God in a world of evil was a glory, VOL.XII.PT.I.
and will prove, hereafter, a bud germinating with blessing, and blessed consequences, to the ends of the earth, and som
10th. His full sustainment of Messiah's character and place at His first coming - in associating Himself with God, where God was in the end of that time, was His glory and honour, and will prove to Israel hereafter a fountain teeming forth every Messianic and Jehova blessing. Had He not been true to Israel's God and Saviour in the days of His humiliation, Israel would not have been detected in its state of evil: if one had come in His own name they would have received him: but because He came as the Servant of God they received Him not: but then, blessed be God for the unspeakable benefit! if He thus proved, that in the kingdom of Israel there was none righteous, no not one; none that could cleave to the King—that King stood forth then, faithful amid unfaithfulness-mid darkness only light-and the King abides yet to be and show Himself the glory of the house of Israel as well as a light to lighten their dark
Oh how sweet amid all the failure of man-amid all the ruin of the creature-is it to find this blessed precious One, at once showing why there is no stability in us, even because of our untruthfulness to God; and yet, at the very same time, that the contrast in Him which humbles the broken heart in the dust, is a contrast full of light, and peace, and blessing for the poor
and needy. And here (v. 12) comes out, another glory. His light not only as shining among men (9thly) detects their darkness, and shows it to be what it will be in blessing to the earth hereafter, the Sun of righteousness rising with healing in its wings: nor (10thly) does it, as the Star of Israel's hope, let Israel reject it and remain in its own sphere to return and bless Israel hereafter; but
11th. It shows forth its own wealth of glory and re
If there to try and prove man wanting; if there to proffer help to Israel and to be rejected by Israel-He was there also with new truth and truth of a higher order and character than pertained to Israel.
Israel was the channel of promises from Abraham only. Government in the world, under God, was their blessing. He knew about the heart of God and the sons God would adopt, and He came to give power to as many as received Him; to whomsoever might believe in Him to become Sons of God.
The wisdom of God is perfect. Man and Israel cannot wound the heart of the blessed One without, at the same time, thrusting Him, as it were, home upon God.
And this was indeed not only His glory, but, in a certain sense, God's reply through Him, but to a thankless world non-appreciating Him, and to a non-receiving house of Israel—even this precious grace in Him--the eleventh brightness I have noted: “As many as received him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.”
The world of darkness comprehended not the light, Israel, as such, received Him not—but whosoever did receive Him, to them gave He power to become sons of God.
“Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God (v. 13.)d God knew how to secure His glory in securing rich eternal blessing, relationship to Himself to as many as received Him to them that believed in His name. It was in Him to give power to become sons of God, and though a thoughtless and senseless world might not trouble itself at the thought of rejecting its Maker, nor Israel in rejecting its prophet, priest, and king, as well as Jehovah-to those that did receive Him He gave power to become sons of God. This object of His coming, when once announced, introduces, most naturally, more truth about Himself, and the Word is referred to in the double glory of what was found in Him: He was a man -yet the only begotten Son of the Father, and the effect of this was to set aside Law and Moses, and freely communicate grace and truth. “And the Lord was made flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His
& No words could well be used better than these in a quiet way to trace out to man's mind the entirely new character of people that were His, than either Jew or Gentile as such : their connection was not with earth but heaven, their origin not from a human source, but from that which was divine.