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THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN.
LECTURE I. IMMEDIATELY after the account given by St. Matthew of the beginning of our Lord's ministry, (iv. 17,) he proceeds to tell us, that Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, after calling Simon Peter and his brother Andrew, “saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee (whose wife was Salome) and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them : and they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.”
John therefore was with the Lord from the first, and had every opportunity of hearing him. He was one of the three (James his brother and Peter being the others) who were chosen to attend him on many particular occasions : they witnessed, for instance, his agony in the garden, and his transfiguration. He is also distinguished as “the disciple whom Jesus loved :” whom he honoured with his particular confidence : so that, during the last supper, Peter suggests that he should be the person to ask who it was that " should betray him." To him,
too, from the cross, Jesus recommended the care of his surviving mother.
These circumstances give to the Gospel of St. John a particular interest. We cannot read it without perceiving that he wrote with a different object from the other three Evangelists. Many secret things, which they had very slightly touched upon, God has been pleased to reveal to us by the pen of St. John. We have much need to pray, and to pray earnestly, that “the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto us the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him : the eyes of our understanding being enlightened ; that we may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance. "l
THE DIVINITY OF THE WORD, OR SON OF GOD,
John i. 143. 1. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2. The same was in the beginning with God.
3. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
The disciples of Christ had been already furnished, by the other writers of his history, with a sufficient account of his birth, and ministry, and the various circumstances of his life. These had described his miracles, had related his dis
1 Eph. i. 17, 18.
courses : not all he did, nor all that he said ; but all that the Holy Spirit knew to be needful, that every sincere inquirer might be satisfied with truth, and instructed in doctrine: might possess all things “that pertain to life and godliness.”
But it still remained to "show, WHO HE WAS, who had said and done these things. They who believed in him, considered him to be the expected Messiah, the Son of God, the King of Israel. The apostles had from the first perceived and acknowledged this : “ Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” But who, and of what nature, was THE CHRIST ? Was he a created being, like the angel which appeared to Daniel and to Mary? And in what sense is that term to be understood, THE Son of God? For even Adam is so called, as having had no earthly father. 2
Here, however, St. John plainly declares, that He who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, was no created being : is not called the Son of God in any ordinary sense ; but was possessed, in his own nature, of all the properties which essentially belong to God. It might have been otherwise, for any thing that appears. The Almighty might have endued with such a spirit as Jesus possessed, or with power like that which he displayed, another being who should be born as Jesus was born :-nothing resembling it ever had been seen, but there is nothing incredible in supposing it ;—and men might have supposed
? « Enos was the son of Seth, who was the son of Adam, who was the son of God.” Luke iii. 38.
it, and some probably did suppose it. St. John here assures us in clear terms that it was not so. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. In the beginning of all things, in the beginning of time, from all eternity-he was, he existed, who had now taken upon himself the nature of man. Wherever God was, he was : partaking of the same everlasting, uncreated nature. And therefore he is here described under a new term, the Word. That which passes our comprehension, because we have never seen or known the like, must be expressed to us by some term which is familiar to us, and we do understand. And therefore the Son of God is here represented as the Word of God. The word of a man discloses his thoughts, explains his mind, declares his will. The thoughts, the mind, the will of God and of his “beloved Son,” are one. And accordingly Christ may properly be represented as the Word of God. For it is he who makes known to us God's counsels and purposes, and has been to us as his word."
But we are told more still. All things were made by him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. All things were made by him, not independently of the Father, but in union with the Father. We know, from the book of
3 The plainest reason why this essential Son of God is styled the Word, seems to be this : that as our words are the interpretation of our mind to others, so was the Son of God sent to reveal his Father's mind to the world.- Whitby.
Genesis, that “in the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” And we are here informed that in this exercise of his power the agent, the counsellor, was the Son, the Word, “who is the brightness of his glory and the express image of his person.” “The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do : for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.” And so the apostle understands it : saying to the Ephesians and Hebrews, that “God created all things by Jesus Christ :" " whom he hath appointed heir of all things, and by whom also he made the worlds."
Here we can know nothing, beyond what God reveals to us. Our reason tells us, that there must have been one from the beginning, ONE “before all things, and by whom all things consist.” Our reason agrees with the words of the Psalmist, “ Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of thy hands.” But more than this we know not. We cannot “ by searching find out ” the nature or person of the Creator : and we can do no more than bow before him, and say, “ Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory, and honour, and power ; for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” Thou hast created all things for thy pleasure. Yet would any have supposed this, who looked at the state of the world when Jesus came? who saw the thing made, ignorant of him who made it ; who saw the