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lasting destiny; and the eternal life into which the righteous enter, is explained in the verse which records the invitation—“Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” Here the kingdom prepared for them from the beginning of the world is the eternal life into which they enter. The eternal life here spoken of, therefore, is given to believers, and to them exclusively is a condition of immortal happiness.
III. This eternal life, or this condition of immortal happiness, God the Father testifies and even records his testimony, is in his Son..
What does this expression mean?
Persons who are in the habit of taking superficial views of Scripture truth, even if those superficial views should in the main be correct, are in danger of misapprehending the completeness of God's scheme. For instance, on a superficial view, it is supposed by many that the expression, “eternal life is in his Son Jesus Christ,” means no more than it is in consequence of the mediation of our Lord Jesus Christ sinners receive the benefit of the pardoning mercy and the sanctifying grace of God. The doctrine here announced is unquestionably true, but it stops far short of the importance and the intensity of the meaning of the text. It is a most precious doctrine, that the whole mercy of God flows down to sinners through the mediation of his dear Son. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ is the meritorious cause of that justification of the sinner which not only delivers him from present condemnation and future wrath, but in consequence of the grant annexed
to the sacrifice, invests him with a title to everlasting life. Hence we are said to live through him“In this was manifested the love of God towards us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.”
But to every individual who seriously reflects upon the minuteness and perfection of divine truth, there will appear an obvious difference between living through, or by means of Christ, and having eternal life in him. This is the peculiarity of the expression of the text, not that believers live through Christ, though this is a truth unquestioned, but that they have eternal life in him, a form of expression which is far more intense. I purpose to show, therefore, the peculiarity of this expression, by enlarging on the following particulars, which are necessarily included in the idea.
1. The Son of God, as Mediator, has in himself full possession of that life which is given.
2. That he is the sole source or fountain from which it flows to the sinner. And
3. That in consequence of being in him, it is secured to those who believe. These three considerations involve topics of the most immense and vital import.
1. Subjects of the kind here specified, are to be decided only by the Scripture; they are beyond the scope of philosophical investigation, inasmuch as they concern matters, which without a revelation from God, would be entirely inaccessible to the human mind. To go through any process of reasoning, therefore, which is not essentially built upon the basis of Scripture, would be to darken counsel by words without knowledge. On my proposition, therefore—“ they have eternal life in him," I resort alone to the law and the testimony-the word of God. In the commencement of his Gospel, John says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” “ And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth."* Our Saviour followed this up with his own declaration, “ For as the Father hath life in himself, so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself.”+ The Apostles take precisely the same view. Thus St. Paul, speaking of the Son or second person of the Trinity in his official character as Head of the Church, thus writes to the Colossians, “For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell.”ť
And lest there should be any possibility of making a mistake as to what he meant by the word fulness, he takes special care to explain it in the next chapter. The expression, therefore, that
, this eternal life is in his Son, means that he is the proprietor of it; that it resides in him essentially. It is for this reason, I presume, that the remarkable expression is used in the 20th verse 5th chapter, from which my text is taken; viz:-“This the true God and eternal life," as if eternal life were so perfectly incorporated in Jesus Christ, that it might be used as one of his appropriate titles : for the Apostle uses the terms, “'True God, and eternal life,” as interchangeable. This, i. e. Jesus Christ, is the true God; this Jesus Christ is eternal life. But 2. This eternal life is in Jesus Christ, because it
* John i. 1. 14.
† John v. 26.
Colosians i. 19.
flows to sinners only from him as the mediator. As life was in the Son essentially, as well as in the Father, so it was committed to him especially as mediator, in order that he might impart it to whomsoever he would. “For as the Father raiseth
the dead and quickeneth them, even so the Son quickeneth whom he will."* Our Lord, in his sacerdotal prayer, recognizes the same truth—“ As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. And this is eternal life, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”+ He takes this honour to himself when he says, as in a passage already quoted, “I give unto them eternal life." In the very interesting conversation which he held with Martha at the grave of Lazarus, our Lord calls himself by a title which claims both the possession and the sole power of dispensing life. “ Jesus said unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. Martha said unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live : And whosoever liveth, and believeth in me, shall never die. Believest thou this? She saith unto him, Yea, Lord : I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world."
3. The next idea conveyed in the expression, that eternal life is in his Son Jesus Christ is, that it is in him secured to believers. A very singularly gifted divine expresses the idea very forcibly.
very forcibly. Jesus
• Joba v. 21.
† Joha xvii. 2, 3.
John xi. 23—27.
Christ is not only the proprietor of life, not only the dispenser, but the guardian. Another form of expression for this idea is, that eternal life, or happiness which is given to those who believe, is given in Christ as a security that they shall get it. If it were not so, even a true believer would have no security. Eternal life was given to Adam in paradise, but it was given to him in such a way, that he himself was the guardian of it; it was entrusted to his keeping. Being thus entrusted to his keeping, he lost it himself through the devices of the great adversary. And if eternal life was given to believers precisely in the same way in which it was given to Adam, such is the fallen condition of man, there is no security that he could preserve it for an hour. He would be robbed of it more speedily than Adam was. But the eternal life which is given to believers, is declared to be in his Son Jesus Christ; therefore the Lord Jesus Christ is the guardian of that life which is imparted to believers; and while they sustain the relation of believers in him, it is safe. Observe, I say—lest I should be supposed as advocating a doctrine, which, whether I entertain or not, viz: the perseverance of the saints, is not the subject of the present remarksobserve, I say, while they sustain the character of believers, it is one of the sources of a most blessed consolation, that the security of his soul is not entrusted to the faithlessness of his own arm. There are very remarkably strong expressions of Scripture to this effect. Thus, in the epistle to the Colossians, "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affections on things above, and not on things on the earth. For ye are dead,