RPM, Volume 18, Number 36, August 28 to September 3, 2016

Sermons on John 17

Sermon XXXVI

By Thomas Manton

That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent, me.—John 17:21.

Secondly, I am now to handle the second branch, the pattern of this unity, 'As then, Father, art in me, and I in thee.' It is elsewhere compared three times in this chapter: ver, 11, \~ina\~ \~wsin\~ \~en\~, \~kaywv\~ \~hmeiv\~, 'that they may be one, as we are;' ver. 22, \~kaywv\~ \~hmeiv\~ \~en\~ \~esmen\~, 'that they may be one as we are one;' and here, \~kaywv\~ \~su\~ \~pater\~ \~en\~ \~emoi\~, \~kwgw\~ \~en\~ \~soi\~, 'as thon, Father, art in me, and I in thee.' They are not only one, but in one another. It is that which divines call \~pericwrhsiv\~, the intimate inhabitation or indwelling of the persons in one another, without any confusion of the several subsistences. Such is the unity of the divine essence, that the Father dwelleth in the Son, the Son subsisteth in the Father, and the Holy Spirit in both, without any confusion of the personalities. Now this is propounded as the pattern and original exemplar of the mystical union. The Arjans conclude, out of this place, that there is not a unity of essence among the divine persons, but only a unity of love and concord, such [Pg. 33] as is between ns and Christ, and among believers one with another; \~omoiousia\~, not \~omoousia\~. As doth not imply an exact equality, but only a similitude or answerable likeness. In the mystical union there is a kind of shadow and adumbration of that unity which is between the persons of the Godhead. So when man is said to be made after the similitude and likeness of God, it doth not imply a universal and exact equality, but only some conformity and similitude of men to God. So, 'Be ye holy, as I am holy;' 'Be ye perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect' It is good to note that in the letter of the text Christ separateth his own unity with the Father from that of the creatures. He doth not say,' Let us be all one;' but,' Let them be all one.' Again, he doth not say,' As thou art in us, and we in thee;' but, 'As thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee.' Hic suam potentiam, et Patris a nobis secerneret. Again, in the next clause, he doth not say, One with us,' but 'in us.' There is no common union wherein he and we agree. The note is

Doct. That, the mystical union carrieth some resemblance with the union that is between the Father and the Son.

Here I shall show—(1.) The unity between God and Christ; (2.) Wherein the resemblance standeth.

First, The unity between God and Christ There is a twofold union between God and Christ God is in him, and one with him, as the second person of the Trinity, and one in him as mediator.

1. As he is the second person of the Trinity, there is a unity of essence, intimated by this \~pericwrhsiv\~, or mutual inhabitation. Christ is not the Father, but in the Father; to confound the persons is Sabellianism; to divide the natures is Arianism. He doth not only say, 'The Father is in him,' but,' He is in the Father.' to note a consubstantial unity, that they both communicate in the same essence. At once he showeth the distinction that is between the Father and the Son, and the unity of essence that is between them. And as they are one in essence, so one in power: John x. 28-30, 'I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father which gave them me is greater than all, and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. I and my Father are one.' They work by the same power. They are one in will and operation, their actions are undivided; what the Father doeth, the Son doeth, though by an operation proper to each person: John v. 19, 'What things soever the Father doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.' They are one in love; the Son lay in the bosom of the Father: John i. 18, 'No man hath seen God at any time; the only-begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.' It is a phrase that expresseth intimacy. There is a mutual complacency and delight in one another. They are equal in dignity and power, and must not be severed in worship: John v. 23, 'That all men should honour the Son as they honour the Father: he that hononreth not the Son, honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.' Thus God and Christ are one, as Christ is the second person. This is the great mystery, three and one, and one and three. Men and angels were made for this spectacle; we cannot comprehend it, and therefore must admire it 0 luminosissimea tenebrea! Light, [Pg. 34] darkness! God dwelleth in both; in light, to show the excellency of his nature; and in darkness, to show the weakness of our apprehension. The Son is begotten by the Father, yet is in the Father, and the Father in him; the Spirit proceedeth from them both, and yet is in both; all in each, and each m all. They were the more three because one, and the more one because three. Were there nothing to draw us to desire to be dissolved but this, it were enough: John xiv. 20, 'At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.' It is no small part of our portion in heaven. For the present, how much cause have we to bless God for the revelation of this mystery! Let us adore it with a humble faith, rather than search into it by the bold inquiries of reason. It is enough for us to know that it is so, though we know not how it is. God were not infinitely great if he were not greater than our understanding.

2. Christ and God are one as mediator. There is a personal union of the two natures. The Father may be said to be in him, because the divine nature is in him; he is Emmanuel. In Christ there are two natures, but one person. His blood could not be the blood of God if the human nature were not united to the second person of the Trinity. It is so united that the human nature is the instrument. As the hand is man's instrument, not separated from the communion of the body, as a pen or knife; it is man's instrument, but yet a part of himself; so is Christ's human nature joined to his divine nature, and made use of as the great instrument in the work of redemption. So that the human nature is a temple 'in which the fulness of the Godhead dwelleth bodily,' Col. ii. 9. Now because of that union, the natures are in one another, and dwell in one another, as the soul dwelleth in the body, and the body is acted and enlivened by the soul. Hence the flesh of Christ is called the flesh of God, and the blood of Christ is called the blood of God: Acts xx. 28,' Feed the Church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.' God was made man, but not man made God; because God was a person of himself, that assumed flesh, and united it to himself. All his actions are the actions of God-man, and so have a merit and a value. The human nature is a passive instrument, but the divine nature giveth it a subsistence, necessary gifts, and honour. Besides all this, there is a union and consent of will in the work of redemption; the Father's acts and Christ's acts are commensurable; God loveth Christ, and Christ obeyeth God.

Secondly, The resemblance between the mystical union and the unity of the persons in the divine nature The Spirit is indissolubile trinitatis vtnculum, as one saith, the eternal bond of the Trinity. So among believers, it is the Holy Ghost who joineth us to Christ. Christ, as one with the Father, liveth the same life that the Father doth; so do we, as one with Christ: John vi. 57, 'As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.' It is a close union, beyond conception, but yet real; ours is also close, hard to be understood: John xiv. 20, 'At that day ye shall know that I am in the Father, and yon in me, and I in you.' There is the highest love wherewith the Father and the Son love one another. Believers have a room in Christ's [Pg. 35] heart, as Christ in the Father's bosom; they love Christ again, that loved them first. The union is everlasting, for in the divine nature there can be no change; Christ's mystical body cannot lose a joint. It is a holy union; be one as we are one, holy as we are holy; so must ours be with one another. An agreement in evil is like that of Herod and Pilate, who shook hands against Christ In the divine persons there is order and distinction; the unity of the Trinity doth not confound the order of the persons; they are one, and still three, the Father, the Word, and the Spirit, from whom, in whom, and to whom are all things; they keep their distinct personalities, and distinct personal operations. The unity of the church doth not confound the order of it; there are diversity of gifts and ministrations, but one body. The persons of the Godhead mutually seek the glory of one another; the election of the Father maketh way for the redemption of the Son; and the redemption of the Son for the application of the Holy Spirit, and so upward: John xvi. 14, 'He snail glorify me, for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you;' and John xiv. 13, 'And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son;' Phil. ii. 9, 'Wherefore God hath highly exalted him, and given him a name above every name.' So in the spiritual union, Christ puts honour on the church, and the church honours Christ; they throw their crowns at the Lamb's feet, and the members are careful of one another: 1 Cor. xii. 25, 'That there be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care one of another.' To endear us one to another, Christ did not only leave us the relation of brethren, but of fellow-members; we are not only in the same family, but in the same body. Brothers that have issued from the same womb, and been nursed with the same milk, have defaced all the feelings of nature, and been divided in interests and affections; Cain and Abel, Jacob and Esau, are sad precedents; but there is no such strife between members of the same body. Who would use one hand to cut off another? or divide those parts which preserve the mutual correspondence and welfare of the whole? At least, brothers have not such a care for one another; each liveth for himself, a distinct life apart, and studieth his own profit and advantage; but it is not so in the body, each member liveth in the whole, and the whole in all the members, and they all exercise their several functions for the common good.

And the resemblance between the mystical and the personal union. In the hypostatical union, our nature is united with Christ's nature; in the mystical union, our person with his person. In the hypostatical union, Christ matched into our family; in the mystical union, the soul is the bride. It is an honour to the whole kindred when a great person matcheth into their line and family, but more to the virgin who is chosen and set apart for his bride. Thus Christ first honoured our nature, and then our persons; first he assumeth our nature, and then espouseth our persons. In the hypostatical union, two diverse substances are united into one person; in the mystical union, many persons are united into one body. In the hypostatical union, Christ was a person before he assumed the human nature; the body is a passive instrument, &c.; in the mystical union, on Christ's [Pg. 36] part active, on ours passive. Christ is in us, in that he liveth in us, governeth us, maketh us partakers of his righteousness, life and spirit; we are in him, as branches in the tree, rays in the sun, rivers in the fountain: The divine nature is a person by itself, and can subsist of itself; the other is only taken into the communion of his person. The human nature communicates nothing to the divine, but only serveth it as an instrument; so we communicate nothing to Christ, but receive all from him. Both are wrought by the Spirit; the body natural of Christ was begotten by the overshadowing of the Holy Ghost, so this union is wrought by God's Spirit By the first, Christ is bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh; by the second, we are bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh; there cometh in the kindred by grace: Heb. ii. 11, 'For both he that sanctifieth and they that are sanctified are all of one; for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren.' He is of the same stock with all men, but he calleth none brethren but those that are sanctified; none else can claim kindred of Christ, he will own no others. The hypostatical union is indissoluble; it was never laid aside, not in death; it was the Lord of glory that was crucified, it was the body of Christ in the grave So it is in the mystical union; Christ and we shall never be parted. In death, the union is dissolved between the body and the soul, but not between us and Christ; our dust and bones are members of Christ In the hypostatical union, the natures are not equal; the human nature is but a creature, though advanced to the highest privileges that a creature is capable of; the divine nature assumed the human by a voluntary condescension and gracious dispensation; and being assumed, it always upholdeth it and snstaineth it; so there is a mighty difference between us and Christ between the persons united. Christ, as head and prince, is pleased to call us into communion with himself, and to sustain us, being united. In the hypostatical union, the human nature can do nothing apart from the divine; no more can we out of Christ: John xv. 5, ? am the vine, ye are the branches; he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without me ye can do nothing.' In the hypostatical union, God dwelleth in Christ \~swmatikwv\~, Col. ii. 9, 'In him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.' In the mystical union, God dwelleth in us \~pneumatikwv\~, 1 John iv. 4, 'Greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.' The hypostatical union is the ground of all that grace and glory that was bestowed on the human nature, without which, as a mere creature, it would not be capable of this exaltation; so the mystical union is the ground of all that grace and glory which we receive. By the hypostatical union, Christ is made our brother, he contracted affinity with the human nature; by the mystical union he is made our head and husband, he weddeth our persons. As by the hypostatical union there is a communion of properties, so here is a kind of exchange between us and Christ: 2 Cor. v. 21, 'For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.' As the honour of the divinity redoundeth to the human nature, so we have a communion of all those good things which are in Christ Use 1. Let us strive to imitate the Trinity in our respects both to the [Pg. 37] head and our fellow-members, that you may neither dishonour the head nor dissolve the union between the members. Christ useth this expression to draw us up to the highest and closest union with himself and one another.

1. In your respects to the head.

[l.] Let your union with him be more close and sensible, that you may lie in the bosom of Christ, as Christ doth in the bosom of God. Is Christ in us as God is in Christ? are we made partakers of the divine nature as he is of ours? that you may say to him, as Laban to Jacob, Gen. xxix. 14, 'Surely thou art my bone and my flesh;' that you may feel Christ in you: Gal. ii. 20,' I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me, and the life which I live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.' This mystery is not only to be believed, but felt.

[2.] In your care not to dishonour your head: 1 Cor. vi. 15,' Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid!'

[3.] By your delight and complacency. You should make more of the person of Christ: Cant i. 13, 'A bundle of myrrh is my beloved unto me; he shall lie all night between my breasts.' Keep Christ close to the heart, delight in his company, and in frequent thoughts of him. This should be the holy solace of the soul.

[4.] By your aims to glorify him. The Father studieth the honour of Christ, so doth the Spirit Thou art his, and all thine is his. Christ hath a title to thy wit, wealth, estate, strength, to all thou hast or canst do in the world. Dost thou spend thy estate as if it were not thine, but Christ's? use thy parts as if they were not thine, but Christ's? Use thy parts as Christ's.

2. To your fellow-members. Walk as those that are one, as Christ and the Father are one, seeking one another's welfare, rejoicing in one another's graces and gifts, as if they were our own; contributing counsel, assistance, sympathy, prayers for the common good, as if thy own case were in hazard; living as if we had but one interest This is somewhat like the Trinity.

Use 2. Let it put us upon thanksgiving. No other union with us would content Christ but such as carrieth some resemblance with the Trinity, the highest union that can be. In love to our friends we wear their pictures about our necks; Christ assumed our nature, espouseth our persons; how should, we be ravished with the thought of the honour done us I We were separated by the fall, and became base creatures; yet we are not only restored to favour, but united to him.

Thirdly, The ground of this union, 'One with us.' By the mystical union we are united to the whole Trinity. Our communion with the Father is spoken of, 1 John i. 3,' That ye also may have fellowship with us, and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.' Communion with the Son: 1 Cor. i. 9,' God is faithful, by whom we are called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.' And communion with the Spirit: 2 Cor. xiii. 14, 'The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the [Pg. 38] communion of the Holy Ghost be with you all. Amen.' To distinguish them accurately is very hard, only thus in general. We must have communion with all or none. There is no coming to the Father but by the Son: John xiv. 6, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh to the Father, but by me.' None can come to the Son but by the Father: John vi. 44, 'No man can come to me, except the Father, which hath sent me, draw him.' And none can come to both but by the Spirit. Unity is his personal operation: Eph. iv. 3, 'Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.' The Father hath a hand in it, Christ hath a hand, the Spirit hath a hand.

Well, then, let us bless God that we have such a complete object for our faith as Father, Son, and Spirit. The Father bestoweth Christ on us, and us on Christ, as marriages are made in heaven. The meritorious cause of this union is Christ the mediator, by his obedience, satisfaction, and merit; otherwise the Father would not look upon us; and the Spirit is sent from the Father and the Son to bring us to the Father by the Son. The Spirit worketh this union, continueth it, and manifests it All the graces of God are conveyed to us by the Spirit; the Spirit teacheth, comforteth, sealeth, sanctifieth; all is by the Holy Ghost And so are all our acts of communion; we pray by the Spirit; if we love God, obey God, believe in God, it is by the Spirit, that worketh faith, love, and obedience We can want nothing that have Father, Son, and Spirit; whether we think of the Father in heaven, the Son on the cross, or feel the Spirit in our hearts. Election is of the Father, merit by the Son, actual grace from the Holy Ghost: 1 Peter i. 2, 'Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience, and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ' Our salvation standeth on a sure bottom; the beginning is from God the Father, the dispensation through the Son, the application by the Spirit It is free in the Father, sure in the Son, ours in the Spirit We cannot be thankful enough for this privilege.

Fourthly, The end and issue, 'That the world may believe that thou hast sent me.' By the world is not meant the unconverted elect, for Christ had comprehended all the elect in these words,' Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe in me through their word,' ver. 20. The matter of his prayer is,' That they may be one,' Ac.; and the reason,' That the world may believe that thou hast sent me.' So that by the world is meant the reprobate lost world, who shall continue in final obstinacy. By believing is meant not true saving faith, but common conviction, that they may be gained to some kind of faith, a temporary faith, or some general profession of religion; as John ii. 23,24, 'Many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did; but Jesus would not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men;' and John xii. 42, 43, 'Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him, but because of the pharisees, they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.' There believing is taken for being convinced of the truth of hie religion, which he had established, though they had no mind to profess it; or if so, yet they did not come under the full power of it [Pg. 39]

But how is this the fruit of the mystical union? The fruits of the mystical union are four, to this purpose:

1. Holiness: 'Whosoever is in Christ is a new creature,' 2 Cor. v. 17. Sanctification is a fruit of union: 1 Cor. i. 30, 'For of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.' And it is a means to convince the world: Mark v. 16,' Let your light so shine before men, that they, seeing your good works, may glorify your Father which is in heaven;' 1 Peter ii. 12,' Having your conversation honest amongst the Gentiles, that whereas they speak evil of you as of evil-doers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation;' 1 Peter iii. 1, 'Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands, that if any obey not the word, they also may, without the word, be won by the conversation of the wives.'

2. Unity: 1 Cor. xii. 13, 'For by one Spirit we are all baptized into one body.' To endear us to himself, and to one another as fellow-members, Christ would draw us into one body: John xiii. 35,' By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.' Aspice ut se mutuo diligunt christiani! Oh! the mighty charity that was among the primitive Christians: Acts iv. 32,' And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul.' Divisions in the church breed atheism in the world.

3. Constancy in the profession of the truth: Jude 1, 'To them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called.' We are preserved in Christ as wine in the hogshead, being in the cabinet where God's jewels are kept Now this is taking with the world.

4. Special care of God's providence. God keepeth them as the apple of his eye: Dan. ii. 47, 'Of a truth it is that your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, seeing he could reveal unto you this secret;' 1 Cor. xiv. 25, 'And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest, and so falling down on his face, he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth;' Dan. iii. 28, 'Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshech, and Abednego, who hath sent his .angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king's word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God;' Dan. vi. 27, 'He delivereth and rescueth, and he worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth, who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions;' Josh. ii. 11, 'And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you; for the Lord your God is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath;' Acts v. 12-14, 'And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people, and they were all with one accord in Solomon's porch; and of the rest durst no man join himself to them: but the people magnified them, and believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.'

Doct. That the general conviction which the lost world hath of the truth of Christianity is a very great blessing to the church. Christ here prays for it,' Let them be one;' and why? that the lost world, who are left out of his prayer,' may believe that thou hast sent me:' that [Pg. 40] they might not count Christ to be an impostor, nor the doctrine of the gospel a fable. And what Christ prayed for he had promised before; fur as good men of old did suit their prayers to their foregoing sermons, so did our Lord Jesus Christ suit this prayer to his foregoing sermon made to his apostles. What did he promise to them? John xvi. 8-11, 'If I depart, I will send the Comforter unto you; and when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment Of sin because they believe not on me. Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more. Of judgment because the prince of this world is judged.' This is a difficult place; the meaning is this:—In the context you will find the apostles were troubled about Christ's departure, and their going out into the world to preach the gospel, for they apprehended their service difficult; their master (for whom they stood) despised, and looked upon as a seducer and mock king among the Jews, their message very unpleasant as contrary to the carnal interests of men. Now for a few weak men to be left to the hatred and opposition of a proud, malicious, ambitious world, they that were to preach a doctrine contrary to the lusts and interests of men, and go forth in the name of a master that was despised and hanged on a tree, what shall they do? 'Be not troubled,' saith our Saviour. He lays in many comforts, and among them, that the world shall be convinced: 'The Spirit shall convince the world of sin,' &c. Observe

1. The act,' He shall convince.'

2. The object,' The world.'

3. The particulars, what he shall convince them of,' Of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment'

4. The means,' By the Spirit'

5. The effects of this, and how this was accomplished, and what a mighty confirmation this was of the apostles' testimony.

1. Consider the act,' He shall reprove, or convince;' not convert, but convince; whereby is meant not only his offering or affording sufficient means which might convince men, but his actual convincing them thereby; even the reprobate world shall be so convinced as they were put to silence, that they shall not easily be able to gainsay the truth; nay, some of them shall obtain the profession of it And yet the Holy Ghost goeth no further with them than fully to convince them; the work stoppeth there, they are not effectually converted to God. As many carnal men, that remain in an unregenerate condition to the last, may have many temporal gifts bestowed on them, whereby they may be made useful to the real and true believers, and have strange changes and flashes of conscience for a while, yet it went no further; therefore the apostle saith, Heb. vi. 4, 5, 'They were enlightened, and had tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost; and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come.'

2. The object of this work of the Spirit Whom shall he convince? 'The world.' It is notable the church is not spoken of, but the world. Now the world is either the unregenerate and unconverted world, or else the reprobate and lost world, who finally persist in their unbelief or want of saving faith. This mad raging world shall be convinced, and so their opposition taken off, or their edge blunted, and they made [Pg. 41] more easy and kind to his people, though they are hut convinced, and continue still in a state of nature. Nay, some of them shall join with them, and be made greatly useful to them; therefore they need not fear though all the power and learning in the world were against them at that time.

3. The particulars whereof they are convinced, Of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment.' Grotins and other interpreters observe there were three sorts of causes of actions among the Jews, \~peri\~ \~amartiav\, concerning criminal matters, or \~peri\~ \~dikaiosunhv\~, in defending the just and upright, or \~peri\~ \~krisewv\~, in urging the law of retaliation for damage done. Sometimes there was a suit commenced to know whether a man were a criminal or no; at other times, if any man had been wronged, there was a suit commenced concerning righteousness and innocency, and the man was acquitted in court Sometimes there was an action concerning judgment, and that was concerning retaliation, giving eye for eye, tooth for tooth, recompensing the party wronged concerning damage done. So here, the Holy Ghost at his coming should be the advocate of Christ against the world, who had rejected and crucified him. One action that he should put in against the world was concerning sin, whether Christ or the despisers of his grace were guilty of a crime. It would appear in the issue that not to believe in him was a sin, as well as to transgress the moral or natural law. The second action was concerning righteousness, to vindicate his innocency, though he suffered among them as a malefactor, in that he was owned by God, and taken up into heaven, as a clear testimony of his innocency. The third action was that of judgment, or punishing injurious persons by way of retaliation; that those which struck out another's eye or tooth were to lose their own, or he that had wronged another man in his substance should lose as much of his own. This action he had against Satan, who with his instruments had put Christ to death; now 'the prince of this world shall be judged;' retaliation shall be done upon him, his kingdom destroyed, his idols and oracles battered down, and put to silence and under disgrace. And thus the Spirit should come to convince the world that it was a sin not to believe in Christ, who was a righteous and innocent person; and the devil, which did the wrong, should have right done upon him, that he should be destroyed, and his kingdom demolished. All these we have, Acts v. 30, 31, 'The God of our lathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew, and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a prince and a saviour, to give repentence to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.' The first question was concerning sin, whether Christ died as a malefactor, or whether he was a true prophet? and whether it was not a sin in the Jews not to receive him? That was the point in controversy between the apostles, in preaching the gospel, and the world that denied this. The next question was concerning righteousness, whether Christ was a righteous person? Now, Christ being exalted at God's right hand, was thereby owned to be a righteous person, that though he was hanged on the tree, yet he was justified and exalted at the right hand of God. The other controversy was concerning judgment, whether Christ were a base person, or one exalted to be a prince and a saviour, exalted above Satan, and all things that are called god in the world? Now [Pg. 42] the Spirit shall convince the world 'that the prince of this world is condemned.' and that Christ is the prince and saviour, and he must be owned and exalted, and his kingdom set up everywhere. Thus when poor men were to bait the devil, and hunt him out of his territories, and oppose themselves against the tradition of the nation, there is a mighty Spirit set up, and he shall convince the world; those that are not really and heartily gained, he shall convince them of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment

[1.] 'Of sin, because they believe not in me.' The Spirit shall convince them that Christ is the Son of God, the great prophet and true Messiah; and so it is a sin to reject him and his doctrine; that unbelief is a sin as well as the breach of the moral law; and that the Lord Jesus Christ is to be owned as a mediator, as well as God as a lawgiver. All will grant that a breach of the law of God is a sin; but the Spirit shall convince that a transgression against the gospel is a sin, as well as against the law.

[2.] 'Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye shall see me no more. That Christ did not remain in the state of the dead, but rose again, and ascended, and liveth with the Father in glory and majesty; and therefore that he was not a seducer, but that righteous one; and so, however he was rejected! by men, yet he was owned and accepted by God, and all his pretensions justified, and so might sufficiently convince the world that it is blasphemy to oppose him as a malefactor, and his kingdom and interest in the world: there needeth no more to persuade men that he was that holy and righteous one.

[3.] 'Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.' The devil is the prince of this world: Eph. vi. 12, 'The ruler of the darkness of this world;' and he was condemned by virtue of Christ's death, and judgment executed upon him by the Spirit: John xii. 31, 'Now shall the prince of this world be cast out.' He was foiled and vanquished by Christ, and by the power of the gospel; was to be vanquished more and more, by silencing his oracles, destroying his kingdom, recovering poor captive souls, translating them out of the kingdom of darkness into a state of holiness, liberty, light, and life; the usurped power he had over the blind and guilty world is taken from him; now his judgment shall be executed.

4. The way and means whereby this should be brought about, by the coming of the Spirit, or the sending the comforter. When he came, the disciples and messengers of Christ had large endowments, whereby they were enabled to speak powerfully and boldly to every people in their own tongue, and to endure their sufferings and ill-usage with great courage and fortitude, and to work miracles, as to cure diseases, cast out devils, to confer extraordinary gifts, to silence Satan's oracles, and to destroy the kingdom and power of the devil, and to establish a sure way of the pardon of sins, and bring life and immortality to light, preaching that truth which should establish sound holiness, and helping to restore human nature to its rectitude and integrity. And by this means he should convince the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment

5. Consider the effects, suitable both to his promise and prayer. The Acts of the Apostles are a comment on this. Many of the elect [Pg. 43] were converted. At the first sermon after the pouring out of the Spirit, all that heard the apostles discoursing that Jesus was appointed to be Lord and Christ, were 'pricked in their hearts.' and convinced, Acts ii. 37, 38. This was not conversion, for they cried out, 'What shall we do? And Peter said, 'Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.' Three thousand were converted by this sermon, and five thousand at another time, Acts iv. 4, when they preached boldly in the name of Jesus; yet others were only convinced, pricked in heart, though they had not yet attained to evangelical repentance; some that remained 'in the gall of bitterness and bond of iniquity;' yet they admired the things the apostles did, and desired to share with them in their great privileges: Acts viii. 18, 19, 'When Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.' Yea, and some that were upon the benches and thrones, and sat as judges, were almost persuaded to be Christians by a prisoner in a chain; as Felix: Acts xxiv. 25, 'As Paul reasoned of righteousness, and temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled.' And Agrippa: Acts xxvi. 28,' Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian. Some were forced to magnify them, who had not a heart to join with them: Acts v. 13, 'And of the rest durst no man join himself to them, but the people magnified them.' Some would have worshipped them, who were yet pagans: Acts xiv. 11, 'And when the people saw what Paul had done, they said, The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men.' Some were astonished at what was done by the apostles: Acts viii. 13,' Then Simon himself believed also; and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the signs and miracles which were done.' Some marvelled at their boldness: Acts iv. 13, 'Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled, and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.' What is this cowardly Peter, that was foiled with the weak blast of a damsel? Nay, their bitterest enemies were nonplussed in their resolutions, when they had to do with them, and were afraid to meddle with them: Acts iv. 16, 'What shall we do to these men? for that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it.' So far the bridle of conviction was upon the reprobate world.

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