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out of Him, so communicated unto us—"and grace for
Whichever way we render this, whether grace distributively for every grace in Him,” (so connecting the divine nature communicated to us, in its traits and characteristics, with that which He has as Son of man,) or " grace piled up upon grace,” (so connecting the first touch of His blessing which gives life with all the free-gift blessings which follow on the first), the clause is surely a most remarkable one, and one pregnant with blessing. Oh, what a portion Jesus is to those who know Him! But there is another thing to be noticed, viz.
19th. The personal connection of the testimony with Himself.
First, in contrast with the Law which was given through Moses, He was à servant, and handed out what was given to him to give. But grace and truth came as inseparable from the person of Jesus Christ. In Him was life, and the life was light, and He could not but tell what He was in Himself-grace and truth Moses had told of the Creator's righteous requirements from the creature-Not so Jesus Christ, when He was there, grace and truth in unlimited fulness was there, and it shined out from Him. This, however, was connected with another thing, viz.
20th. No man hath seen God at any time ; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him.
That fulness of grace and truth which His presence brought with it, not only declared itself but declared God and the Father. For “ He that was present was the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father.” € Blessedly interwoven with these glories, we have the
It is difficult to present divine things correctly in human language
. I am aware of this—but I may just state here, that I question whether some have not overlooked that this expression "In the bosom of the Father,” refers to His place as Son of the Father. If we made it to refer to the incarnation, we should, I think, be defective in our views of this truth. The Son of the Father's place is the bosom of the Father. The Son of God came down from heaven to become Son of man, Seed of the Virgin, and as Son of man to be The Anointed One.
so I am
Baptist's testimony brought forward. John the Baptist's heart was true; and one cannot but believe fully, that that which he counted his own high calling was the having been set apart and called of God to be the immediate harbinger of the Christ of God. His greatness was to be little, but to do God's bidding and usher in a greater one. It is remarkable how he, in his testimony, gets rid of every thing save of being a voice, and nothing but a voice. “ Who art thou” said the Jews to him, through the Priests and Levites from Jerusalem (ver.19.) “I am not the Christ” (ver. 20), was his bold answer. "What then? (said they) art thou Elias?” not,” said John. “ Art thou then the Prophet?” (said they). “No,” is his simple reply (ver. 21). "And, when pressed by them, that they might give an answer to those who sent them, and they rejoin, “ Who art thou? What sayest thou of thyself?" (ver. 22), he said, “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord, as said the Prophet Esaias" (ver. 23).
But if John had little to say for himself, and that little negative in character—not the Christ, nor Elias, nor the Prophet, though he was baptising (ver. 25)., he had a testimony to give to them. I baptising with water, what is that when “there standeth one among you, whom ye know
not; He it is, who coming after me is prepared before me, whose shoe-latchet I am not worthy to unloose" (vers. 26, 27). And not only thus, generally, but also he had to bear a specific yet blessed testimony to give to his Master, to the personal distinctions that were His, and to the great and new works He ad come to do.
This positive testimony to the Lord by John the Baptist, extends from ver. 28 down to the end of ver. 34.
It contains glories of the Lord to which we must look in detail. But they are glories which attach to the works which the Lord came to do-works of so arduous and overwhelming a character, that if He had not been ushered in with all that glorious power and grace that goes before, no heart could trust its all to Him: but as to whom, having seen Him to be such an one as He is, the believing heart not only says, the works are not above Him whom my soul loveth; but, it can add, what riches of grace and love in Him that being such an one as I have
seen Him to be, He should undertake these works, and do these things for us. The four things we have to notice are, as to His works.
Ist. Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world ; and,
2nd. He it is which baptiseth with the Holy Ghost. And then as to the honour God put upon Him, 1st, before John, in marking Him out by the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon Him. And, 2nd, by the testimony given thereupon by John, that this is the Son of God.
The works to be accomplished, were the removal of sin as connected with the old things, and the gift of the Holy Ghost as introducing new things altogether.
The first of these two statements is very little appreciated in its fulness. “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.” Atonement or forgiveness through the knowledge of the blood shed on Calvary, is not here the point. From the fall, downwards, sin had been upon the whole system of this world. And whenever the world or anything connected with it came before the Divine mind, sin was the first thought; Adam and Eve, to whom it had all been given and entrusted, had rebelled against God and sold themselves and it under sin. Now it is this redemption of the system as a whole, which is referred to here. Some will here, in time of the redemption, prize and rejoice in forgiveness: others may hear of the blood of God's Son and trample it under foot; but the system, as a whole, is claimed by God, and quite apart from the believer's joy in forgiveness or the
judgment of the wicked who will be cast out of it into the lake of fire prepared for the Devil and his angels—the system will be set free from sin—the world will be set free-there will be a new heaven and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. The Lamb once slain, alive again upon the throne, though sin may yet remain in detail, is the guarantee of this. And the scope of redemption is seen in this, the seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head. Now this is the work the Lamb of God had to do, viz., to introduce it to God in another connection than as of sin being upon it --and eventually to remove every mark of sin from it. Sure I could trust no one but Jesus for my own forgiveness of sins through His blood: surely He alone has loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood —but the work referred to here is of a wider
than that of a conscience purged and made perfect by His blood. Behold the Lamb of God, whose office is to take away the sin of the world. But the undoing of the evil brought into this system by sin, was not all; nor was it enough for the Son of God. The positive blessing is in the baptising with the Holy Ghost. This was the act of One, and one alone to do. Who but He who is the Life-giving Spirit could do so? Here again, as in the taking away sin, the thing is not looked at in its bearing upon individuals as such, but in its sphere. Had the blessing to the individual been in question we should have had the new birth (as in John iii.); the nature and ways of the new gift (as in John iv. 14), “The water that I shall give Him shall be in Him, a well of water springing up into everlasting life”; its full expression (as in John vii. 37) “Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water": but we have none of these nor of other most blessed and precious truths brought before us ; but in contrast, though connected therewith, we have the same truth as is brought before us in the Acts of the Apostles, “Wait for the promise of the Father, which (saith He), ye have heard of me. For John truly baptised with water, but ye shall be baptised with the Holy Ghost not many days hence” (Acts i: 4,5). This, as He explains it afterwards, “ Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me,” etc., (ver. 8). The new birth; the new nature with its ways and world of its own; and its full expression all of primary importance to man as an individual, and all, together with the rich vein full of blessing in which they lie, expressions as they are of the almighty power and grace of Him of whom we speak, are not the same thing as His being
able to give a power which shall form a system where God can dwell and which shall be associated with Himself in His works. Such is He as He that baptiseth with the Holy Ghost. Two things are connected with this revelation of Him to John the
Baptist. John found Him not out by his own wisdom, but by this gracious and glorious mark, and John knew too well in what his own glory consisted, to hide this. “And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon Him, and I knew Him not: but He that sent me to baptise with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, the same is He which baptiseth with the Holy Ghost” (ver. 33). This was the mark given from heaven; a simple one, yet one that had its deep full meaning as to the Lord Himself
, who was holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners; and it was honour to John Baptist to have been thus singled out as the announcer of this Blessed One.
Attendant hereon, and closely connected too, with every part of the subject, is the glory which John announced as to the Lamb that taketh away the sin of the world; the one alone that baptiseth with the Holy Ghost-And I saw and bare record that this is the Son of God. And this title is a different one from that of Son of the Father—though both centre in one and the same person. That there is a difference will be readily felt, if we consider that the Jews knew of God, and that the expression, Son of God, is found once and again in the Old Testament, Dan. iii. 25; Prov. viii. comp. xxx. 4. But of the Father and the Son of the Father, they had heard nothing—even an apostle somewhile after John the Baptist's testimony, and after he had been with Jesus, could say: “ Lord show us the Father, and it sufficeth us” (John xiv. 3). And the Jews never could make out who Jesus meant by the Father.
These four truths connected with John the Baptist's distinct testimony contain these four more glorious confessions about Jesus, which we might add to the twenty previously noticed, viz.
21st. The Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world.