RPM, Volume 18, Number 38, September 11 to September 17, 2016

Sermons on John 17


By Thomas Manton

And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one.—John 17:22.

Christ had prayed for the union of believers in one mystical body: here is an argument to enforce that request, 'The glory which thou hast given me, I have given them,' &c. His act is urged as a reason, because of that consent of will that is between him and the Father; Christ would have his gift ratified by the Father's consent, as if he had said, Deny not what I have granted them.

For the meaning of the words, all the difficulty is, what is meant by the glory here spoken of? Some say by glory is meant the power of working miracles, that is called the glory of God: John xi. 40, 'Said I not, If thou wouldst believe, thou shalt see the glory of God? 'that is, a glorious miracle wrought by him. When Christ wrought a miracle, John ii. 11, 'He manifested forth his glory.' And so they limit it to the apostles, who had gifts of miracles, and were fitted to succeed Christ upon earth: thus many of the ancients. By the glory of God is sometimes meant the image of God: Rom. iii. 23, 'All have sinned, and fallen short of the glory of God;' so 2 Cor. iii. 18, 'We all with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to glory.' That glory which we lost in Adam and want by nature is restored to us in Christ. Some by glory understand the Spirit, who is called 'a Spirit of glory,' and was given to Christ without measure, and from him to us, as a means of union between us and Christ, and between us and believers. Others understand it of the honour of filiation; as Christ was a son by nature, so are we by grace: John i. 14, 'We beheld his glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father;' and ver. 12, 'As many as received him, to them gave he, \~exousian\~, power to become the sons of God.' It is an honour: it is a means of union. Adoption maketh way for union with Christ, and Christ left us the relation of brethren, that we might love one another, for we are brethren. But by glory I suppose is meant rather the happiness of the everlasting state, which is usually called glory in scripture; and so it is taken, ver. 24, 'Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me, may be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory which thou hast given me.' And there is the most perfect union with Christ; and we that expect one heaven, should not fall out by the way. Eph. iv. 4, one of the bonds is 'one hope.' All the difficulty is, how was this given them? The disciples were upon the earth, and the greatest part of believers were not then in being. Ans. Christ acquired a right, and left us a promise; he would not go to heaven till he had made it sure to us by deed of gift; this then I conceive to be the meaning. It is not good to straiten the sense of scripture; yet some one is more proper: adoption, gift of the spirit, new nature, eternal life, you may comprise all.

1. Observe, Christ's care to make us every way like himself, as far as our capacity will bear; like, but not equal. The reiteration showeth his care, 'Let them be as we are;' and 'The glory which thou hast given me, I have given them.' [Pg. 55]

What resemblance is there between us and Christ?

1. Between us and Christ as the eternal Son of God.

2. Between us and Christ as mediator.

First, Between us and Christ as the eternal Son of God. Christ is the essential image of the Father, therefore called 'the image of the invisible God.' Col. i. 15, and the character or 'express image of his person,' Heb. i. 3; and we are God's image by reflection. If there be two or three suns appear, one or two are but a reflection. There are some strictures in us. Christ is one with the Father, and we with him; a poor Christian, though never so mean, is one with Christ. Christ is called 'God's fellow,' Zech. xiii. 7, and every saint is Christ's fellow: Ps. xlv. 7, 'God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.' The Father loveth him because he is the express image of his person, and the Father delights in the saints because they are the image of Christ: 'The Father himself loveth you,' John xvi. 28. A man that loveth another, he loveth head and members with the same love. Christ is the Son of God, so are we; it was his eternal right and privilege; our title cometh by him: John xx. 17, 'I ascend unto my Father, and your Father.' First, he is Christ's father, and then ours; his by nature, ours by adoption, otherwise we could not have it.

2. But this likewise chiefly respects the glory that was given to Christ as mediator. As God communicateth himself to Christ as mediator, so doth Christ communicate himself to his members. Christ, as man, was begotten by the Holy Ghost; and the same Spirit begetteth us to the life of faith. The new nature is formed in us by the Spirit, as Christ was formed in the virgin's womb: Gal. iv. 19, 'My little children, of whom I travail in birth again, until Christ be formed in you.' All his moral excellences are bestowed on the saints: 2 Cor. iii. 18, 'We all beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.' If a picture be well taken, it makes us know him whom it represents; we see the lineaments of his face as if he were present; so doth a Christian express and show forth the virtues of Christ: 1 Peter ii. 9, 'Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.' There is an answerable impression to his mediatory actions, and a spiritual conformity to them: Rom. vi. 4, 'Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death, that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life;' Phil. iii. 10, 'That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;' Eph. ii. 6, 'And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus;' a dying in his death, a living in his life, an ascending in his ascension; dying to sin, rising to newness of life; our ascension is by thoughts, hopes, and resolutions. We resemble him in his afflictions, it is a part of our conformity: 2 Cor. iv. 10, 'Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Christ might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.' An afflicted innocence [Pg. 56] and meek patience is a resemblance of Christ. And as in this life we resemble Christ in his actions and passions, so that a Christian is as it were a spiritual Christ, so in the life to come we resemble him in glory. Christ, after he died, rose again, and so do we; the same spirit raiseth us that raised Christ. He ascended into heaven accompanied with angels; so are we carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom. In heaven he liveth blessedly and gloriously, so do we; Christ hath a kingdom, so have we: Luke xii. 32, 'Fear not, little flock; it is your Father's pleasure to give you the kingdom.' At the last day his human nature will be brought forth with a majesty and glory suitable to the dignity of his person: 'So shall he 'be admired in his saints,' 2 Thee. i. 10. Then the mystery of his person shall be disclosed; so shall the mystery of our life: Col. iii. 3, 4, 'For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.' Christ judgeth the world; so do the saints: 1 Cor. vi. 2, 'Know ye not that the saints shall judge the world? 'Mat. xix. 28, 'Ye which have followed me, in the regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.' 'The second time Christ shall appear without sin unto salvation,' Heb. ix. 28. So we shall be then disburdened of all the fruits and effects of sin, 'which shall be blotted out when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.' Acts iii. 19. We are like him in his offices, kings, priests, and prophets, but in a spiritual manner, to rule our lusts, to minister in holy things, and to instruct our hearts. Thus you see there is a conformity in grace and glory.

Now Christ is thus earnest to make us like himself, partly out of his own love; he cannot satisfy his heart with giving us any inferior privilege. Whatever he had and was, it was for our sakes; as man, he received it for us: Ps. lxviii. 18, 'Thou hast received gifts for men;' compared with Eph. iv. 8, 'He gave gifts unto men.' His life, righteousness, and glory is for our sakes. Wherefore doth Christ make himself like unto us, but that we might be like unto him? Partly in obedience to God's counsels and decrees: Rom. viii. 29, 'For whom he did foreknow he also did predestinate, to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the first-born among many brethren.' There is wisdom in it, primum in unoquoque genere eat prccstantissimum. Christ is the example and pattern set forth by God, and that in our nature; he is the second Adam, a new root, and it is meet that head and members should suit, otherwise it is monstrous.

Use 1. It showeth who are Christ's, they that are like him; there is a conformity between them and Christ, first in grace, and then in glory. Here we are like him in soul, in regard of disposition and moral excellences, and in body, in regard of afflictions and weaknesses. Hereafter we shall be like him in soul and body in a glorious manner; here in holiness, hereafter in happiness. He beginneth with the change of the soul; the resurrection is pa????e?es?a, a regeneration, Mat. xix. 28. Then we shall be perfectly renewed; our carnality is done away by grace, our corruption and mortality by glory. All things are there made new, new bodies, new souls. Glory, it is but the full period of the present change and transformation into Christ's image: [Pg. 57] 2 Cor. iii. 18, 'We are changed into the same image, from glory to glory.' Glory is but the consummation of grace, or our full conformity to Christ, or that final estate which is suitable to the dignity of the children of God. Therefore every one that looketh for eternal life in Christ, must be like him in this life; they are partakers with him of glory hereafter, because followers of him here. Therefore see, art thou like Christ? hast thou the image of Christ? that is our title. Alas! many are not conformable, but contrary to Christ. Christ spent whole nights in prayer, they in gaming and filthy excess; it was meat and drink to him to do his Father's will, but it is your burden. Christ was humble and meek, you are proud and disdainful, vain in apparel and behaviour. Were you ever changed? Till you resemble Christ here, you shall never be like him hereafter.

Use 2. It presseth us to look after this conformity and likeness unto Christ. It is the ground of hope; you cannot otherwise think of death and judgment to come without horror: 1 John iv. 17, 'Herein is love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as he is, so are we in the world.' David was not ashamed to own his followers when he was crowned at Hebron, so neither will Christ be ashamed of us if we have followed him. If you profess Christ, and be not like him, Christ will be ashamed of you: 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 not ashamed to own the saints: if one of your name were stigmatised, and branded with a mark of infamy, you would be ashamed to own him. To this end:

[1.] Eye your pattern. Christ's life should be ever before your eyes, as the copy is before the scholars: Heb. xii. 2, 'Looking unto Jesus,' &c. He hath set forth himself in the word to this end and purpose.

[2.] Often shame thyself that thou comest so much short: Phil. iii. 12. 'I follow after, if I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Jesus Christ' Alas! we do but lag behind; Christ is a great way before. We have so excellent a pattern, that we may never want matter for humiliation and imitation. It is a good sign to desire to come nearer the copy every day.

2. Observe our glory for substance is the same that Christ's is. In the degree there is a difference, according to the difference that is between head and members. The head weareth the crown and badge of honour, and the eldest son had a double portion. So doth Christ \~prwtinein\~, excel in degrees of everlasting glory, but the substance is the same; therefore we are said to be 'co-heirs with Christ,' and 'to be glorified with Christ.' Rom. viii. 17. Christ and we hold the same heaven: 2 Tim. ii. 11, 12, 'If we be dead with him, we shall also live with him. If we suffer, we shall also reign with him.' More particularly, our bodies are like his glorious body: Phil. iii. 21, 'Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able to subdue all things to himself.' When the sun ariseth, the stars vanish, their glory is obscured; but it is not so here. Christ's coming doth not eclipse, but perfect our glory; the more near Christ is, the more we shine. And so for our souls, they see God and enjoy him; though not in that same [Pg. 58] latitude and degree which Christ doth, yet in the same manner they solace themselves in God: 'We shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is,' 1 John iii. 2. When we behold him in the glass of the gospel we are transformed, much more when we see him as he is. As the iron held in the fire is all fire, so we, being in God and with God, arc more like him, have higher measures of the divine nature. So our privileges are the same with Christ's: Rev. iii. 21, 'To him that over-cometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.' We sit upon his throne as he doth upon his Father's; there are two thrones mentioned for our distinct conceiving of the matter; as God is over all, so is Christ, and then we next. Use 1. It is a great comfort:

1. Against abasement Will any one believe that these poor creatures, that are so slighted, and so little esteemed in the world, shall have the same glory that Christ hath? 1 John iii. 2, 'Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be.' The world thinketh meanly and contemptibly of the condition of Christians; in the world we are like him in afflictions, by that means we hold forth the life of Christ: 2 Cor. iv. 10, 'Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.'

2. Against weaknesses and infirmities of the flesh; those saints that have now so many infirmities shall be made like Christ, and crowned with perfection. There is nothing less than grace at the beginning, it is as a grain of mustard-seed, a little leaven; but it groweth still, as a child groweth in favour more and more, and as the light increaseth to the perfect day. This should comfort us against all our weaknesses and infirmities: Ps. xvii. 15, 'As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake with thy likeness.'

Use 2. It informeth us:

1. That our condition in Christ is in this regard better than our condition would have been if Adam had stood in innocency. Adam could only convey to us what he had received; but Christ is a better root; we have in Christ whatever we lost in Adam, the first root, and more, more than we lost Christ, being God-man, must needs have the image of God in greater perfection; now we are not renewed to the image of the first Adam, but of the second. Oh! the depth of the divine mercy and wisdom, that hath made our fall to be a means of our preferment I

2. It informeth us what we may look for, even for what Christ is in glory; we have a glimpse of it in his transfiguration, in his giving the law. Let our thoughts be more explicit about this matter.

Use 3. It is an engagement to holiness. We expect to be as Christ is, therefore let us not carry ourselves sordidly, like swine wallowing in the mire: 1 John iii. 3, 'And he that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.' We expect a sinless state, not a Turkish paradise. That body that is made an instrument of whoredom and drunkenness, shall it be like Christ's glorious body? Those affections that shall be ravished with the enjoyment of God, shall they be prostituted to the world? and that mind which is made for the [Pg. 59] sight of God, serve only to make provision for the flesh? shall it be filled with chaff and vanity?

3. Observe that glory is the fruit of union, as well as grace. The spiritual union is begun here, but it is accomplished in the next life. Here we are crucified, quickened, ascend, and sit down with Christ in heavenly places: Eph. ii. 5, 6, 'Even when we were dead in sins hath he quickened us together with Christ, and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus;' Col. i. 27, 'Christ in you the hope of glory.' Christ in us will not leave till he bringeth us to heaven. In this life we cannot come to him; the state of mortality is a state of absence; therefore Christ will come to us, but with an intent to bring us to himself, that we may be where he is: ver. 24, 'Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory.' He cometh to us where we are, that at length we may be where he is. It is the Lord's method to bring us from death to life, from misery to happiness, by degrees; thousands of years cannot make up that which was lost in an hour; till the resurrection all is not perfected, we do not fully discern the fruits of our union with Christ.

Use 1. To help us to conceive of the mystery of union. Some men fancy that as soon as we are united to Christ we are actually glorified in this life. It is true Christ is equally united to them upon earth as to them in heaven; he that reigneth with the church triumphant fighteth with the church militant; but there is a difference in the degree of influence and dispensation. In the blessings that he conferreth upon them, he respects their different condition, and poureth out of his own fulness as they are able to bear. The reason of this different influence is, because they are conveyed to us voluntarily, not by necessity: Phil. ii. 13, 'It is God which worketh in you, both to will and to do, of his good pleasure.' He gives more or less comfort, grace, joy, as he pleaseth; his grace floweth into his members, not by a necessity of nature, but according to his own pleasure. Give him leave to handle his mystical body as he handled his natural body. His natural body grew by degrees, and the capacity of his human soul was enlarged by degrees, else how could he 'increase in wisdom as well as stature'? Luke ii. 40. There was a perfect union between the divine and human nature at first, yet the divine nature manifested itself by degrees, not in such a latitude in childhood as in grown age. So though there is a perfect union between Christ and the soul at first conversion, yet the influence of grace and comfort is given out according to the measure of our capacity. All believers upon earth are united to Christ, yet all have not a like degree of manifestation and influence. As all the members of the body are united to the same head, and animated by the same soul, yet all the members grow according to the measure of a part; we cannot expect a finger should be as big as an arm. So all that are united to Christ receive influences according to their capacities; those that are glorified, glorious influences; those that are militant, influences proper to their state..

Use 2. It serveth to quicken those that are united to Christ to look for greater things than they do yet enjoy: John i. 50, 'Thou shalt see greater things than these:' another manner of union and [Pg. 60] communion with God through Christ. There is a mighty difference between our communion with God here and there. The saints in heaven have union with God by sight, as the saints on earth by faith: 2 Cor. v. 7, 'For we walk by faith, not by sight;' and faith cannot go so high as feeling and fruition. Now we are unfit for converse with God, because of our blindness and darkness, as men of weak parts are not fit company for the strong. But then our faculties are more enlarged. Grace regulates the faculty, but it doth not alter and change the faculty. God's communications are more full and free, and we are more receptive. Here we have dark souls and weak bodies; the old bottles would break if filled with the new wine of glory. At Christ's transfiguration, 'the disciples were astonished, und fell on their faces.' Mat. xvii. 6; but in heaven, the sight of Christ's glory will be ravishing, no terror. Here we are amazed at the sight of an angel; but there is a perfect suitableness between us and God, and therefore· a more perfect union and communion. God more delighteth in the saints, as having more of his image; and the saints more delight in God, as being freed from sin. God loveth to look on what he hath made when he hath raised a worm to such an excellency. It is there continued without interruption; here our communion with God is sweet, but short, it cometh by glimpses; but there it is for ever and ever, not only in regard of duration, but continuance without ceasing. The Spirit of God came on Samson at times. In heaven there is nothing to divert us from the sight of God; we are withdrawn from all other objects, that we may study him alone without weariness.

Use 3. It directeth us in what order we should seek these things; first grace, then glory: Ps. lxxxiv. 11, 'The Lord will give grace and glory;' Ps. lxxiii. 24, 'Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterwards receive me to glory;' Eph. v. 26, 27, 'That he might sanctify and cleanse it by the washing of water, by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish.' Here the first lineaments are drawn by the Spirit of sanctification, whilst the soul remaineth in the body, as a pledge of a more perfect state: 'God hath called us to glory and virtue,' 2 Peter i. 3. As they were to go through the temple of virtue to the temple of honour.

4. Observe, there is no privilege which we have but what Christ enjoyed first. Christ had it all, and from him we have it; he was the purchaser and the natural heir; it is in us at the second-hand; we are elected, sanctified, glorified in and through him. Whatever is in us that are members, it is in our head first; first God, then Christ as mediator, and then we. All good is first in Christ, he receiveth it, and conveyeth it. We ascend; why? because he ascended first; we sit in heavenly places, because he did first.

Use 1. In times of desertion, when we see nothing in ourselves, look upon Christ as a depositary, the first receptacle of grace; he is justified, sanctified, ascended, glorified; and encourage thyself to take hold of Christ, that thou mayest have all these things in him.

Use 2. To be thankful to God for Christ: 'Blessed be the God [Pg. 61] and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ,' Eph. i. 3. Let us never bless God for what we enjoy, but still remember Christ.

Use 3. It presseth us to get a union with Christ: 1 Cor. iii. 22, 23, 'All are yours, for you are Christ's, and Christ is God's;' that we may not look on Christ as an abstracted head. All that Christ hath, he hath it for us.

5. Observe from those words, ? have given them;' it may be objected that we see no such matter; Christ's members are poor despicable dust and ashes, more afflicted than others. How then can it be said, This glory ? have given them'? Ans. Christ hath acquired a right. Observe, the glory that is given to us by Christ is as surely ours as if we were in the actual possession of it: John iii. 36, 'He that believeth on the Son of God hath everlasting life.' How hath he it?

[1.] He hath it in capite: it is done in regard of Christ, with whom we make one mystical body. The most worthy part of the body is in heaven, the head is there: Eph. ii. 6, 'And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ.' We are already glorified in Christ, though not in ourselves. Christians take possession in their head, as Christ hath taken possession in their names,

[2.] They have it in the promises. The promise is the root of the blessing; you have a fair charter to show for it God standeth bound in point of promise. God is very tender of his word; you will see it in all the other promises when you put him to trial. The promise of God is but the declaration of his purpose: Heb. vi. 17, 18, 'Wherein God willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, ye may have strong consolation.' You have a lease to show for it; a man doth not carry his inheritance upon his back.

[3.] They have the first-fruits of it, which differ only in degree from glory: Rom. viii. 23, 'And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the first-fruits of the Spirit; even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.' We have the earnest in hand. That portion of the Spirit which we have received is given us for security. Wherefore this fitting and preparing, these groans, are grounds of confidence. If a vessel be formed, it is for some use. All this would else be lost. And do you think God will lose his earnest? The beginnings we have here are a taste and pledge; here we sip, and have a foretaste of the cup of blessing. Union with Christ, joys of the Spirit, peace of conscience, are the beginnings of heaven. They that live in the provinces next to Arabia have a strong scent of the odours and sweet smells of the spices that grow there; so the church is the suburbs of heaven; the members of it begin to smell the upper paradise. The comfortable influences of the Spirit are the taste, and the gracious influences are the pledge and earnest, of our future inheritance.

Use 1. Let us bless God aforehand: 1 Peter i. 3-5, 'Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which, according to his [Pg. 62] abundant mercy, hath begotten us again unto a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for us, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.' The inheritance is kept for us, and we for it. We can never want matter to bless God; if we have nothing in hand, yet we have much in hope.

2. Let us wait with more confidence; we have no cause to doubt; we have God's word and pawn; as sure as Christ is in heaven, we shall be there.

3. Let us be there in affection, in earnest groans and desires, in frequent thoughts: Rom. viii. 30, 'Whom he did predestinate, them he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

4. Let us not fear changes; all changes will end in that which is best for us.

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