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promised him, that he would anoint and establisha him in the human nature he was to assume, as a king over the human race. Therefore, he might justly say, 'We speak that we do know, and testify
, that we have seen,' (John iii. 11.) Hence also, John the Baptist says of him, 'He that cometh from above is above all, and what he hath seen and heard that he testifieth,' (John iii. 31, 32.)
Moreover, our blessed Lord subjoins with a peculiar energy that for this end he was born, and that he came into the world, as the great ambassador of God to bear witness unto the iruth. These words presuppose his prior existence, and that he was in possession of his regal dignity before he became visible in in the world. Hence he intimates, that he came into the world with no other view than to convince mankind of these great truths, that he is the only sacrifice for the sins of the world ; that whoever will be saved must believe on his name; and by such testimony, to free mankind from the dominion and tyranny of the spirit of lies and error, to enlighten them with the light of truth, and to fit them for the service of God, that they might worship him in spirit and in truth. These are the royal transactions of Jesus Christ; which it must be owned, bear but little resemblance to the political transactions and warlike exploits of earthly kings whose business is to enact salutary laws for the support of their kingdom and the external welfare of their subjects, and to enforce obedience to them, by punishing the refractory and disobedient. Our blessed saviour likewise, in these words, describes,
2. The distinguishing character of his subjects: Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.'
These words exhibit to us both the characteristic and duty of the subjects of Christ.
Their characteristic is this, they are of the truth.” As 'to be of God, (John viii 47) signifies the same thing'as to be born of God,? (1 John ii.29.) so‘to
be of the truth,' is of the same import as “to be born of the truth, (James i. 18.) or to be begotten of God, [the self-existent truth ] with the word of truth,’ (James i. 18.) That is, in other words to receive the testimony which God has given of his son, and which the Son himself has given of the truth, so far as to be enlightened, converted, and from the heart to hate all deceitful ways; and to obey and bear an affectionate love to the truth, as if it was the parent that begot us.
The duty of the subjects of Christ is this, namely; that they hear his voice: 'Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice, i. e. acknowledges me for his sovereign and instructor, and obeys my precepts and injunctions from the heart. When I say, 'repent and believe the gospel !' he hears this voice not only with his ears, but likewise attends to it with an obedient heart. When I say, “Whoever will be my disciple, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me !' he does as I enjoin him. When
love your enemies; do good to them that hate you ! he treats his enemies with kindness, gen
' tleness, and humanity. Lastly, since I say, 'render unto Cæsar the things that are Cæsar's, and unto God the things that are God's!' he omits no oppor: tunity of complying with this my command. From all this Pilate might have been convinced, that the doctrines of Christ instead of encouraging rebellion made the best of subjects, that the Jews were his enemies for no other reason, but for telling them the truth, which their mutinous and haughty spirit could by no means bear
This was, indeed, such discourse, as had never before been heard in Pilate's hall of judgment. By this testimony of the truth; Christ further intended, not only to remove Pilate's unnecessary apprehensions that he instigated the emperor's subjects to a revolt; but likewise indirectly to make an impression on his heart to insinuate an awakening, but whole
some, sting into his conscience, and to inspire him with the love of truth. Notwithstanding all this, we shall see in the sequel, that Pilate soon made light of this kind admonition, and precluded his heart against this testimony of the truth. Let us therefore take care, that this discourse of the blessed Jesus may bring forth more fruit in our hearts; and to this end we shall make the following observations on this subject.
1. Our blessed Saviour, by owning his dignity, has publicly owned us for his subjects and established his kingdom over all.
We must approve ourselves his subjects, by overcoming the world and its evil customs, as he overcame the world; and by overcoming the lust of the flesh, to which the most powerful monarchs are often slaves:
If Christ our king declared, that he was born and came into the world to bear witness unto truth; so should we likewise be thoroughly persuaded, that the end of our being born again is, that we may love the truth, and bear witness to it in our words and actions:
2. As the kingdom of Jesus Christ is a kingdom of truth, no one is to be admitted into it, who loveth or maketh a lie.
Satan is in scripture called the father of lies, (John viii. 44.) and the account given of his subjects by St. John, (Rev. 22, 15.) is, that they love and take a pleasure in forging lies. In satan's kingdum there is nothing but falsity and dissimulation, delusive appearances, and vain deceptions. He infatuates men by giving them false ideas of God, whom they falsely imagine to be like themselves.
Hence God says to the wicked man, ' Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such a one as thyself,' (Psa. l. 21.) - As thou makest it thy supreme felicity to live in mirth and festivity, and to enjoy the sinful pleasures of the world, thou vainly thinkest that this is what I shall easily connive at, and that I am not at all displeased with a man who gives himself up to sensuality and voluptuousness. Satan infatuates men with fatse
ideas of repentance : Hence they imagine it consists only in saying with the mouth, that they are miserable sinners; that they are sorry for their misdoings ; and that they will amend their lives; while the heart, in the meantime, is not touched, nor is there any change likely to be wrought in it. He infatuates men with false ideas of faith : Hence they vainly imagine, that if they do but stedfastly and earnestly rely on the merits of Christ, that faith infallibly will save them; whereas they continue under the dominion of sin, and never shew forth this ideal presumptuous faith of theirs by works of love, and habits of virtue. He infatuates men with most false ideas of eternal felicity; for carnal men are apt to form to
; themselves, base and groveling ideas of the joys of eternal life, and think that in heaven they shall have such enjoy ments as are unworthy of that glorious place, the abode of purity and holiness. Such is the power of the lying spirit of darkness over the understanding of those, whom he hath fatally blinded. But no less is his fascinating influence over the perverse wills of those, whom he has, as it were, bound and fettered with the bonds of falsehood, hypocrisy, and dissimulation, so that nothing less than the infinite power of God can break them asunder. But all these chains fall off, when a man is, as it were, born of God, and transplanted into the kingdom of Jesus Christ, which is the kingdom of truth. Then he learns to look on the things which belong to the spirit of God in a different light from what he did before.
a Then he is sensible what a childish, absurd, and unworthy idea he had entertained of God, of repentance, of faith, and eternal felicity; for his understanding being now irradiated by the light of the Holy spirit, he acquires a more perfect knowledge of these things. Now, the light of truth rises in his understanding; by the lustre of which error, prejudice, and false conceptions of spiritual things, are dissipated like mists before the sun. The true image which is in
Christ Jesus will now be formed in his will; and the spirit of God is now by its sacred influence restoring in his soul the divine resemblance, which consists in wisdom, righteousness, and truth. He now conceives an utter aversion forall falsehood, lies, and hypocrisy. He loveth and speaketh the truth from his heart; and is not ashamed to confess it, though attended with the greatest inconveniencies, insults, and affronts. Hence any one may easily infer, whether he belongs to the kingdom of the father of lies; or to the kingdom of Jesus Christ, and of the truth.
3. When we are called upon to confess the truth, we ought to avoid all evasions and subterfuges.
Among other reasons why St. Paul calls this confession, which Christ made before Pilate, a good confession, (1 Tim. vi. 18.) is, because he clearly and explicitly certified the true nature of his kingdom in these words, without any circumlocution, any vague or ambiguous expression. By this, the Son of God has left a noble example for all true professors, that they may when brought to be tried before the tribunal of Princes, make an unreserved confession of the truth. Therefore, when we are called upon by God to bear testimony to the truth, we must not deviate one step from it, or in the least preju. dice the truth for fear of the cross, or any external sufferings. It is no less than eternal life that lies at stake, (i Tim. vi, 12, 13.) He that cannot take up the cross of Christ will never be owned by him as his disciple, notwithstanding the sublimity of his speculations, or the fluency of his tongue. This spirit of integrity, by which the confessions of chris, tians ought to be influenced, was very visible in the undaunted behaviour of Luther, who made a glorious profession in behalf of oppressed truth. For
. when he was asked, at the diet of worms,
in the presence of the Emperor and the principal states of the empire, whether he would revoke what he hack