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crites and formal Jews among his hearers, who did all this, and were nevertheless as far from the kingdom of heaven as the vilest publican present, answered, to their great surprise, “This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he has sent.'_ This is the work of God that we believe! Why, this is a new doctrine, (thought some of them ;) how can faith be the work of God? That man with his doctrine of faith will set aside good works, and then what will become of the law and the prophets.' "_This doctrine of salvation by faith never was, and never will be, understood by the world, because all the children of the world are selfconfident, proud, boasters, as St. Paul says, (Rom. i.) thinking that they can do good works before their heart is washed and changed by faith in Christ Jesus, and little suspecting that what they call their good works are only their least iniquities. “Without me,' says our Saviour, you can do nothing :' 'If I give all my goods to feed the poor, and have not love,' true faith, working by love, says St. Paul, • I am nothing. And now what good works can the best moralists do, what good fruit can the most flourishing bramble produce, till grafted in Christ the true Vine? Must not faith make us one with Jesus Christ, the Tree of Life, before we can bring forth fruit unto God ; and is not this the work of God, that we believe on him whom he has sent, that we come to Christ by faith, to have our hearts changed, and made fruitful in all good words and works ? But this our Lord's hearers did not like. Some, no doubt, blamed him for discouraging people from doing, as they thought, good works ; and others could not bear to hear him declare that they had not the true faith, and that therefore their best works were only the fruit of their virtuous and hypocritical pride.
In the 51st verse, our Savio'r goes deeper yet, and tells the Jews, I am the Bread of Life; if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever.' They could not conceive what he meant by the bread of life, if he did not mean the manna which their fathers had eaten in the wilderness. So in our days, thousands cannot conceive what our church means by bidding us feed upon Christ in our heart by faith; they believe that it means just kneeling at the communion-table, hold. ing out their hand to receive the bread, and eating it with the mouth of the body; and they are ready to quarrel with ministers if they insist upon an inward, spiritual, sensible feeding, in the heart, on the heavenly virtue of Christ's hidden flesh, and of Christ's blood, whereby the soul is refreshed and strengthened, as the body by bread and wine. Nor could the Jews make any thing of that repeated invitation to come to our blessed Lord, in verses 37 and 65, «He that cometh unto me shall never hunger ; he shall live for ever. No man can come unto me, except the Father draw him,' &c.
Strange doctrine ! Some murmured at it, no doubt, and were ready to interrupt the heavenly Teacher by such words as these: “Why, what do you mean by coming to you? Are not we come to you, and some of us from far ? Do not we now throng round you? We follow you by land and by water, and yet you say, no man can come unto you except the Father draw him : What unintelligible stuff!” Just so it is in our days. If ministers enforce the duty of coming to Jesus for salvation, of coming spiritually by an inward and con. stant motion of the heart towards Christ, they are accounted enthusiastic, or, at least, are supposed to affect new and strange methods of leading their flocks out of the beaten track. And if they go farther, and declare that all going to church and going to the Lord's table, without this spiritual coming of the soul to Christ, is nothing but an empty form, a round of Pharisaical, hypocritical duties, which, like broken reeds, will pierce the souls of those that lean on them; the complaints run higher, and their hearers openly murmur against them, as the Jews did against our Saviour for the same
But the indignation of our Lord's disciples rose higher still, when he added, in verse 53, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.'
Except you get a divine life, a life begun and preserved by feeding in an unspeakable manner upon my body which shall be broken for you, and by drinking spiri. tually my blood which shall be shed for you, you will remain dead to God, as you are dead in trespasses and sins, and ready for the second death, for you have no life in you. At this saying, many could no longer contain themselves, and went away, complaining of the harshness of the Lamb of God, and the severity of his heavenly doctrine. How many do the same in our days, when we tell them, as our Lord did his followers, that they are dead, if out of Christ ; that they have no life in them, till they get a heavenly power to feed upon Christ in their hearts by faith; that though we enjoy an animal life, as the beasts of the field, and a rational life as the prince of the air and his angels, yet till we are joined to Christ in one spirit, we are dead to God, and condemned already to the second death! But it is a comfort to us, under the opposition which we may meet with in enforcing this fundamental doctrine, to see that herein we only sip the cup which our blessed Lord and Master did before us; for the Evangelist observes in the 60th verse, that many of our Lord's disciples, when they heard that we are spiritually dead, that there is no life in us, till we live upon him by faith, said, * This is a hard saying, who can bear it ?' Here some expect, perhaps, that our Saviour, seeing many of his hearers offended, and ready to leave him, began to pal. liate the matter, to preach to them in a smoother strain, and to indulge a little their carnal and worldly notions. Just the reverse: He stands to his doctrine, and enforces it more than ever, though all should forsake him and flee. Does this offend you ? says he; what if ye shall see the Son of Man ascend up where he was before, how much more incredible will it then appear to you that he should give you his flesh to quicken your dead soul ? And what was the consequence ? The text in. forms us: •From that time,' says the Evangelist, many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.' And are we above our blessed Lord ? No, dear Jesus, we are not above thee: And if, because thou didst speak the plain truth, many of thy disciples, even those who, the day before, would have made thee a king, went back, and left thee, what can we expect of sinners who despise thee, thy ordinances, and thy word! But O leave us not to ourselves, lest we betray both thee and thy gospel; help us to stand to thy truth, though many of our friends and acquaintance should forsake us for it; yea, help us to resist even unto blood, if thy Providence call us to set to our seal that thy word is the word of truth !
II. Having thus showed what offended so much many of our Saviour's disciples, that they departed and walked no more with him; by the assistance of the Lord, I am to prove next, that as, out of Christ, there is nothing but eternal death for sinners, so in Christ there is eternal life for the chief, of sinners. But these points of doctrine are contained in St. Peter's answer to our Lord. When Jesus saw that many of his disciples were gone, he said unto the twelve, “Will ye also go away ? Then Simon Peter answered him, To whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of everlasting life.'
That expression - To whom shall we go ?'-shows that man is helpless as well as wretched, and that he is both spiritually dead, and incapable to raise himself to spiritual life, since he must go to another for it. “To whom shall we go ?'_here also appears an utter despair of finding relief, not only in one's self, but also in any creature, thing, or means under heaven, but in Jesus Christ. To instance in some particulars
1. To whom shall we go for salvation and eternal life ? Shall we go to Bishops, Priests, or Deacons ? Shall we go to the apostles themselves ? No, no: They can only point us to Christ the Way, the Truth, and the Life: They are neither the way, the truth, nor the life : They are but men, and what says the scripture ? «Cursed is he that putteth his trust in man.' (Jer. xvii. 5.) It is not so with Christ, for though he is the Son of Man he is also Jehovah God, blessed over all; in him, therefore, we may safely trust.
2. Shall we go to the Pope, the pretended successor of St. Peter ? Behold, St. Peter himself says, "To whom shall we go, but unto thee, O Lord ? Lord, save, or I perish.' And how can St. Peter's pretended successor help us, if Peter cannot help himself ?
3. Shall we go to any one denomination of Christians, to the Church of England, to the Church of Rome, to the Baptists, Presbyterians, Independents, or Quakers ? Behold, the twelve disciples, the founders of all Christian churches, the sacred college of the apostles, declare, with one consent, by the mouth of Peter,- Salvation is not in us: To whom shall we go, but to Christ? If, therefore, the purest church that ever was or ever will be, a church composed of apostles only, must go to Christ for salvation, how mistaken are those who trust to the denomination they belong to, as if a Protestant out of Christ was a hair's breadth beyond a Christless Papist, a Turk, or a Jew! In the Revelation, our Saviour compares the seven purest churches of Asia to seven golden candlesticks. Now, you know that a golden candlestick is as useless without a light as a brazen one. Christ alone is the light that is or ought to be placed in all churches; he is alone the light which shines in darkness, though the darkness comprehends it not: There is then no more salvation in the purest church, if Christ does not shine in our hearts, than there is light in a candlestick of purest gold, when the taper is put out.
What are, then, the greatest preachers in the world, what is Paul himself, who spake with the tongues of men and angels, when compared to Christ the living way ? Just as much as a finger-post to a traveller, and no more; as the finger-post is not the way, but shows the right way, so Paul and all the preachers in the world are nothing, but as they point us to Christ the Way.
4. Shall we go to the Virgin Mary, with the Roman Catholics ? Behold,' says she, my soul rejoiceth in God my Saviour;' therefore, she stood in need of Christ,