The Passover, the Offering of First-Fruits — Leviticus 23:4–14

The feast of the Passover was to con­tinue seven days; not idle days, spent in sport, as many that are called Chris­tians spend their holy-days. Offer­ings were made to the Lord at his altar; and the peo­ple were taught to employ their time in prayer, and praise, and godly med­i­ta­tion. The sheaf of first-fruits was typ­i­cal of the Lord Jesus, who is risen from the dead as the First-fruits of them that slept. Our Lord Jesus rose from the dead on the very day that the first-fruits were offered. We are taught by this law to hon­our the Lord with our sub­stance, and with the first-fruits of all our increase, Proverbs 3:9 KJV Hon­our the LORD with thy sub­stance, and with the first­fruits of all thine increase: They were not to eat of their new corn, till God’s part was offered to him out of it; and we must always begin with God: begin every day with him, begin every meal with him, begin every affair and busi­ness with him; seek first the king­dom of God.
 
Leviti­cus 23:4–14 KJV These are the feasts of the LORD, even holy con­vo­ca­tions, which ye shall pro­claim in their sea­sons.  (5)  In the four­teenth day of the first month at even is the LORD’S passover.  (6) And on the fif­teenth day of the same month is the feast of unleav­ened bread unto the LORD: seven days ye must eat unleav­ened bread.  (7)  In the first day ye shall have an holy con­vo­ca­tion: ye shall do no servile work therein.  (8)  But ye shall offer an offer­ing made by fire unto the LORD seven days: in the sev­enth day is an holy con­vo­ca­tion: ye shall do no servile work therein.  (9)  And the LORD spake unto Moses, say­ing,  (10)  Speak unto the chil­dren of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the har­vest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the first­fruits of your har­vest unto the priest:  (11)  And he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted for you: on the mor­row after the sab­bath the priest shall wave it.  (12)  And ye shall offer that day when ye wave the sheaf an he lamb with­out blem­ish of the first year for a burnt offer­ing unto the LORD.  (13)  And the meat offer­ing thereof shall be two tenth deals of fine flour min­gled with oil, an offer­ing made by fire unto the LORD for a sweet savour: and the drink offer­ing thereof shall be of wine, the fourth part of an hin.  (14)  And ye shall eat nei­ther bread, nor parched corn, nor green ears, until the self­same day that ye have brought an offer­ing unto your God: it shall be a statute for ever through­out your gen­er­a­tions in all your dwellings.
 
The yearly feasts, the passover, and the feast of unleav­ened bread, to which was annexed the offer­ing of the sheaf of firstfruits.
 
Here again the feasts are called the feasts of the Lord, because he appointed them. Jeroboam’s feast, which he devised of his own heart, 1 Kings 12:33 KJV So he offered upon the altar which he had made in Bethel the fif­teenth day of the eighth month, even in the month which he had devised of his own heart; and ordained a feast unto the chil­dren of Israel: and he offered upon the altar, and burnt incense. was an affront to God, and a reproach upon the peo­ple. These feasts were to be pro­claimed in their sea­sons, Leviti­cus 23:4 KJV These are the feasts of the LORD, even holy con­vo­ca­tions, which ye shall pro­claim in their sea­sons. and the sea­sons God chose for them were in March, May and Sep­tem­ber (accord­ing to our present com­pu­ta­tion), not in win­ter, because trav­el­ling would then be uncom­fort­able, when the days were short, and the ways foul; not in the mid­dle of sum­mer, because then in those coun­tries they were gath­er­ing in their har­vest and vin­tage, and could be ill spared from their coun­try busi­ness. Thus gra­ciously does God con­sult our com­fort in his appoint­ments, oblig­ing us thereby reli­giously to regard his glory in our obser­vance of them, and not to com­plain of them as a burden.
 
The solem­ni­ties appointed them were, many and returned fre­quently, which was intended to pre­serve in them a deep sense of God and reli­gion, and to pre­vent their inclin­ing to the super­sti­tions of the hea­then. God kept them fully employed in his ser­vice, that they might not have time to hear­ken to the temp­ta­tions of the idol­a­trous neigh­bour­hood they lived in. They were most of them times of joy and rejoic­ing. The weekly sab­bath is so, and all their yearly solem­ni­ties, except the day of atone­ment. God would thus teach them that wisdom’s ways are pleas­ant­ness, and engage them to his ser­vice by encour­ag­ing them to be cheer­ful in it and to sing at their work. Seven days were days of strict rest and holy con­vo­ca­tions; the first day and the sev­enth of the feast of unleav­ened bread, the day of pen­te­cost, the day of the feast of trum­pets, the first day and the eighth of the feast of taber­na­cles, and the day of atone­ment: here were six for holy joy and one only for holy mourn­ing. We are com­manded to rejoice ever­more, but not to be ever­more weeping.
 
Here is, a rep­e­ti­tion of the law of the passover, which was to be observed on the four­teenth day of the first month, in remem­brance of their deliv­er­ance out of Egypt and the dis­tin­guish­ing preser­va­tion of their first-born, mer­cies never to be for­got­ten. This feast was to begin with the killing of the paschal lamb, Leviti­cus 23:5 KJV In the four­teenth day of the first month at even is the LORD’S passover. It was to con­tinue seven days, dur­ing all which time they were to eat sad bread, that was unleav­ened, Leviti­cus 23:6 KJV And on the fif­teenth day of the same month is the feast of unleav­ened bread unto the LORD: seven days ye must eat unleav­ened bread. and the first and last day of the seven were to be days of holy rest and holy con­vo­ca­tions, Leviti­cus 23:7–8 KJV In the first day ye shall have an holy con­vo­ca­tion: ye shall do no servile work therein.  (8)  But ye shall offer an offer­ing made by fire unto the LORD seven days: in the sev­enth day is an holy con­vo­ca­tion: ye shall do no servile work therein. They were not idle days spent in sport and recre­ation (as many that are called Chris­tians spend their holy days), but offer­ings were made by fire unto the Lord at his altar; and we have rea­son to think that the peo­ple were taught to employ their time in prayer, and praise, and godly meditation.
 
An order for the offer­ing of a sheaf of the first-fruits, upon the sec­ond day of the feast of unleav­ened bread; the first is called the sab­bath, because it was observed as a sab­bath, Leviti­cus 23:11 KJV And he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted for you: on the mor­row after the sab­bath the priest shall wave it. and, on the mor­row after, they had this solem­nity. A sheaf or hand­ful of new corn was brought to the priest, who was to heave it up, in token of his pre­sent­ing it to the God of Heaven, and to wave it to and fro before the Lord, as the Lord of the whole earth, and this should be accepted for them as a thank­ful acknowl­edg­ment of God’s mercy to them in cloth­ing their fields with corn, and of their depen­dence upon God, and desire towards him, for the pre­serv­ing of it to their use. For it was the expres­sion both of prayer and praise, Leviti­cus 23:11 KJV And he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted for you: on the mor­row after the sab­bath the priest shall wave it. A lamb for a burnt-offering was to be offered with it, Leviti­cus 23:12 KJV And ye shall offer that day when ye wave the sheaf an he lamb with­out blem­ish of the first year for a burnt offer­ing unto the LORD.
 
As the sac­ri­fice of ani­mals was gen­er­ally attended with meat-offerings, so this sac­ri­fice of corn was attended with a burnt-offering, that bread and flesh might be set together on God’s table. They are for­bid­den to eat of their new corn till this hand­ful was offered to God; for it was fit, if God and Israel feast together, that he should be served first. And the offer­ing of this sheaf of first-fruits in the name of the whole con­gre­ga­tion did, as it were, sanc­tify to them their whole har­vest, and give them a com­fort­able use of all the rest; for then we may eat our bread with joy when we have, in some mea­sure, per­formed our duty to God, and God has accepted our works, for thus all our enjoy­ments become clean to us.
 
Now, this law was given now, though there was no occa­sion for putting it in exe­cu­tion till they came to Canaan: in the wilder­ness they sowed no corn; but God’s feed­ing them there with bread from heaven obliged them here­after not to grudge him his share of their bread out of the earth. We find that when they came into Canaan the manna ceased upon the very day that the sheaf of first-fruits was offered; they had eaten of the old corn the day before, Joshua 5:11 KJV And they did eat of the old corn of the land on the mor­row after the passover, unleav­ened cakes, and parched corn in the self­same day. and then on this day they offered the first-fruits, by which they became enti­tled to the new corn too, Leviti­cus 23:12 KJV And ye shall offer that day when ye wave the sheaf an he lamb with­out blem­ish of the first year for a burnt offer­ing unto the LORD. so that there was no more occa­sion for manna.
 
This sheaf of first-fruits was typ­i­cal of our Lord Jesus, who has risen from the dead as the first-fruits of those that slept, 1 Corinthi­ans 15:20 KJV But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first­fruits of them that slept. That branch of the Lord Isa­iah 4:2 KJV In that day shall the branch of the LORD be beau­ti­ful and glo­ri­ous, and the fruit of the earth shall be excel­lent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel. was then pre­sented to him, in virtue of the sac­ri­fice of him­self, the Lamb of God, and it was accepted for us. It is very observ­able that our Lord Jesus rose from the dead on the very day that the first-fruits were offered, to show that he was the sub­stance of this shadow.
 
We are taught by this law to hon­our the Lord with our sub­stance, and with the first-fruits of all our increase, Proverbs 3:9 KJV Hon­our the LORD with thy sub­stance, and with the first­fruits of all thine increase: They were not to eat of their new corn till God’s part was offered to him out of it, Leviti­cus 23:14 KJV And ye shall eat nei­ther bread, nor parched corn, nor green ears, until the self­same day that ye have brought an offer­ing unto your God: it shall be a statute for ever through­out your gen­er­a­tions in all your dwellings. for we must always begin with God, begin our lives with him, begin every day with him, begin every meal with him, begin every affair and busi­ness with him; seek first the king­dom of God.
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The Feasts of the Lord, the Sabbath — Leviticus 23:1–3

In this Leviti­cus chap­ter 23 we have the insti­tu­tion of holy times; many of which have been men­tioned before. Though the yearly feasts were made more remark­able by gen­eral atten­dance at the sanc­tu­ary, yet these must not be observed more than the Sab­bath. On that day they must with­draw from all busi­ness of the world. It is a Sab­bath of rest, typ­i­fy­ing spir­i­tual rest from sin, and rest in God. God’s Sab­baths are to be reli­giously observed in every pri­vate house, by every fam­ily apart, as well as by fam­i­lies together, in holy assem­blies. The Sab­bath of the Lord in our dwellings will be their beauty, strength, and safety; it will sanc­tify, build up, and glo­rify them.
 
Leviti­cus 23:1–3 KJV And the LORD spake unto Moses, say­ing,  (2) Speak unto the chil­dren of Israel, and say unto them, Con­cern­ing the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall pro­claim to be holy con­vo­ca­tions, even these are my feasts.  (3)  Six days shall work be done: but the sev­enth day is the sab­bath of rest, an holy con­vo­ca­tion; ye shall do no work therein: it is the sab­bath of the LORD in all your dwellings.
 
Hith­erto the levit­i­cal law had been chiefly con­ver­sant about holy per­sons, holy things, and holy places; in this chap­ter we have the insti­tu­tion of holy times, many of which had been men­tioned occa­sion­ally before, but here they are all put together, only the new moons are not men­tioned. The first of feasts of the Lord is, the weekly feast of the Sabbath.
 
Here is, a gen­eral account of the holy times which God appointed, Leviti­cus 23:2 KJV Speak unto the chil­dren of Israel, and say unto them, Con­cern­ing the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall pro­claim to be holy con­vo­ca­tions, even these are my feasts. and it is only his appoint­ment that can make time holy; for he is the Lord of time, and as soon as ever he had set its wheels a-going it was he that sanc­ti­fied and blessed one day above the rest, Gen­e­sis 2:3 KJV And God blessed the sev­enth day, and sanc­ti­fied it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God cre­ated and made.
 
Man may by his appoint­ment make a good day, Esther 9:19 KJV There­fore the Jews of the vil­lages, that dwelt in the unwalled towns, made the four­teenth day of the month Adar a day of glad­ness and feast­ing, and a good day, and of send­ing por­tions one to another. but it is God’s pre­rog­a­tive to make a holy day; nor is any thing sanc­ti­fied but by the stamp of his insti­tu­tion. As all inher­ent holi­ness comes from his spe­cial grace, so all adher­ent holi­ness from his spe­cial appointment.
 
Now, con­cern­ing the holy times here ordained, observe, they are called feasts. The day of atone­ment, which was one of them, was a fast; yet, because most of them were appointed for joy and rejoic­ing, they are in the gen­eral called feasts. Some read it, These are my assem­blies, but that is co-incident with con­vo­ca­tions. I would rather read it, These are my solem­ni­ties; so the word here used is trans­lated, Isa­iah 33:20 KJV Look upon Zion, the city of our solem­ni­ties: thine eyes shall see Jerusalem a quiet habi­ta­tion, a taber­na­cle that shall not be taken down; not one of the stakes thereof shall ever be removed, nei­ther shall any of the cords thereof be bro­ken. where Zion is called the city of our solem­ni­ties: and, read­ing it so here, the day of atone­ment was as great a solem­nity as any of them.
 
They are the feasts of the Lord (my feasts), observed to the hon­our of his name, and in obe­di­ence to his command.
 
They were pro­claimed; for they were not to be observed by the priests only that attended the sanc­tu­ary, but by all the peo­ple. And this procla­ma­tion was the joy­ful sound con­cern­ing which we read, Blessed are the peo­ple that know it, Psalms 89:15 KJV Blessed is the peo­ple that know the joy­ful sound: they shall walk, O LORD, in the light of thy countenance.
 
They were to be sanc­ti­fied and sol­em­nized with holy con­vo­ca­tions, that the ser­vices of these feasts might appear the more hon­ourable and august, and the peo­ple the more unan­i­mous in the per­for­mance of them; it was for the hon­our of God and his insti­tu­tions, which sought not cor­ners and the purity of which would be best pre­served by the pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion of them; it was also for the edi­fi­ca­tion of the peo­ple in love that the feasts were to be observed as holy convocations.
 
A rep­e­ti­tion of the law of the Sab­bath in the first place. Though the annual feasts were made more remark­able by the gen­eral atten­dance at the sanc­tu­ary, yet these must not eclipse the bright­ness of the Sab­bath, Leviti­cus 23:3 KJV Six days shall work be done: but the sev­enth day is the sab­bath of rest, an holy con­vo­ca­tion; ye shall do no work therein: it is the sab­bath of the LORD in all your dwellings. They are here told, that on that day they must with­draw them­selves from all the affairs and busi­ness of the world. It is a Sab­bath of rest, typ­i­fy­ing our spir­i­tual rest from sin, and in God: You shall do no work therein. On other holy days they were for­bid­den to do any servile work, Leviti­cus 23:7 KJV In the first day ye shall have an holy con­vo­ca­tion: ye shall do no servile work therein. but on the Sab­bath, and the day of atone­ment (which is also called a Sab­bath), they were to do no work at all, no, not the dress­ing of meat.
 
On that day they must employ them­selves in the ser­vice of God.
 
It is a holy con­vo­ca­tion; that is, “If it lie within your reach, you shall sanc­tify it in a reli­gious assem­bly: let as many as can come to the door of the taber­na­cle, and let oth­ers meet else­where for prayer, and praise, and the read­ing of the law,” as in the schools of the prophets, while prophecy con­tin­ued, and after­wards in the syn­a­gogues. Christ appointed the New Tes­ta­ment Sab­bath to be a holy con­vo­ca­tion, by meet­ing his dis­ci­ples once and again (and per­haps oftener) on the first day of the week.
 
“Whether you have oppor­tu­nity of sanc­ti­fy­ing it in a holy con­vo­ca­tion or not, yet let it be the Sab­bath of the Lord in all your dwellings. Put a dif­fer­ence between that day and other days in your fam­i­lies. It is the Sab­bath of the Lord, the day on which he rested from the work of cre­ation, and on which he has appointed us to rest; let it be observed in all your dwellings, even now that you dwell in tents.”
 
Note, God’s Sab­baths are to be reli­giously observed in every pri­vate house, by every fam­ily apart, as well as by many fam­i­lies together in holy con­vo­ca­tions. The Sab­bath of the Lord in our dwellings will be their beauty, strength, and safety; it will sanc­tify, edify, and glo­rify them.
 
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God Overruled the Jews Unbelief by Making the Gentiles Partakers of Gospel Privileges — Romans 11:11–21

Romans 11-11-21The gospel is the great­est riches of every place where it is. As there­fore the right­eous rejec­tion of the unbe­liev­ing Jews, was the occa­sion of so large a mul­ti­tude of the Gen­tiles being rec­on­ciled to God, and at peace with him; the future receiv­ing of the Jews into the church would be such a change, as would resem­ble a gen­eral res­ur­rec­tion of the dead in sin to a life of right­eous­ness. Abra­ham was as the root of the church. The Jews con­tin­ued branches of this tree till, as a nation, they rejected the Mes­siah; after that, their rela­tion to Abra­ham and to God was, as it were, cut off. The Gen­tiles were grafted into this tree in their room; being admit­ted into the church of God. Mul­ti­tudes were made heirs of Abraham’s faith, holi­ness and blessed­ness. It is the nat­ural state of every one of us, to be wild by nature. Con­ver­sion is as the graft­ing in of wild branches into the good olive. The wild olive was often ingrafted into the fruit­ful one when it began to decay, and this not only brought forth fruit, but caused the decay­ing olive to revive and flour­ish. The Gen­tiles, of free grace, had been grafted in to share advan­tages. They ought there­fore to beware of self-confidence, and every kind of pride or ambi­tion; lest, hav­ing only a dead faith, and an empty pro­fes­sion, they should turn from God, and for­feit their priv­i­leges. If we stand at all, it is by faith; we are guilty and help­less in our­selves, and are to be hum­ble, watch­ful, afraid of self-deception, or of being over­come by temp­ta­tion. Not only are we at first jus­ti­fied by faith, but kept to the end in that jus­ti­fied state by faith only; yet, by a faith which is not alone, but which wor­keth by love to God and man.

Romans 11:11–21 KJV  I say then, Have they stum­bled that they should fall? God for­bid: but rather through their fall sal­va­tion is come unto the Gen­tiles, for to pro­voke them to jeal­ousy.  (12)  Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the dimin­ish­ing of them the riches of the Gen­tiles; how much more their ful­ness?  (13)  For I speak to you Gen­tiles, inas­much as I am the apos­tle of the Gen­tiles, I mag­nify mine office:  (14)  If by any means I may pro­voke to emu­la­tion them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.  (15)  For if the cast­ing away of them be the rec­on­cil­ing of the world, what shall the receiv­ing of them be, but life from the dead?  (16)  For if the first­fruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches.  (17)  And if some of the branches be bro­ken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them par­tak­est of the root and fat­ness of the olive tree;  (18)  Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bear­est not the root, but the root thee.  (19)  Thou wilt say then, The branches were bro­ken off, that I might be graffed in.  (20)  Well; because of unbe­lief they were bro­ken off, and thou stand­est by faith. Be not high­minded, but fear:  (21)  For if God spared not the nat­ural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.

Another thing which qual­i­fied this doc­trine of the rejec­tion of the Jews was that though they were cast off and unchurched, yet the Gen­tiles were taken in, which he applies by way of cau­tion to the Gentiles.

The rejec­tion of the Jews made room for the recep­tion of the Gen­tiles. The Jews’ leav­ings were a feast for the poor Gen­tiles: Romans 11:11 KJV  I say then, Have they stum­bled that they should fall? God for­bid: but rather through their fall sal­va­tion is come unto the Gen­tiles, for to pro­voke them to jeal­ousy. Have they stum­bled that they should fall? Had God no other end in for­sak­ing and reject­ing them than their destruc­tion?” He star­tles at this, reject­ing the thought with abhor­rence, as usu­ally he does when any thing is sug­gested which seems to reflect upon the wis­dom, or right­eous­ness, or good­ness of God: God for­bid! no, through their fall sal­va­tion is come to the Gen­tiles. Not but that sal­va­tion might have come to the Gen­tiles if they had stood; but by the divine appoint­ment it was so ordered that the gospel should be preached to the Gen­tiles upon the Jews’ refusal of it. Thus in the para­ble, Matthew 22:8–9 KJV  Then saith he to his ser­vants, The wed­ding is ready, but they which were bid­den were not wor­thy.  (9)  Go ye there­fore into the high­ways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the mar­riage. Those that were first bid­den were not wor­thy — Go ye there­fore into the high­ways, Luke 14:21 KJV  So that ser­vant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the mas­ter of the house being angry said to his ser­vant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.

And so it was in the his­tory: Acts 13:46 KJV  Then Paul and Barn­abas waxed bold, and said, It was nec­es­sary that the word of God should first have been spo­ken to you: but see­ing ye put it from you, and judge your­selves unwor­thy of ever­last­ing life, lo, we turn to the Gen­tiles. It was nec­es­sary that the word of God should first have been spo­ken to you; but, see­ing you put it from you, lo, we turn to the Gen­tiles; so Acts 18:6 KJV  And when they opposed them­selves, and blas­phemed, he shook his rai­ment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean: from hence­forth I will go unto the Gentiles.

God will have a church in the world, will have the wed­ding fur­nished with guests; and, if one will not come, another will, or why was the offer made? The Jews had the refusal, and so the ten­der came to the Gen­tiles. See how Infi­nite Wis­dom brings light out of dark­ness, good out of evil, meat out of the eater, and sweet­ness out of the strong. To the same pur­port he says, Romans 11:12 KJV  Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the dimin­ish­ing of them the riches of the Gen­tiles; how much more their ful­ness? The fall of them was the riches of the world, that is, it has­tened the gospel so much the sooner into the Gen­tile world. The gospel is the great­est riches of the place where it is; it is bet­ter than thou­sands of gold and sil­ver. Or, The riches of the Gen­tiles was the mul­ti­tude of con­verts among them. True believ­ers are God’s jew­els. To the same pur­port: Romans 11:15 KJV  For if the cast­ing away of them be the rec­on­cil­ing of the world, what shall the receiv­ing of them be, but life from the dead? The cast­ing away of them is the rec­on­cil­ing of the world. God’s dis­plea­sure towards them made way for his favour towards the Gen­tiles. God was in Christ rec­on­cil­ing the world, 2 Corinthi­ans 5:19 KJV  To wit, that God was in Christ, rec­on­cil­ing the world unto him­self, not imput­ing their tres­passes unto them; and hath com­mit­ted unto us the word of reconciliation.

And there­fore he took occa­sion from the unbe­lief of the Jews openly to dis­avow and dis­own them, though they had been his pecu­liar favourites, to show that in dis­pens­ing his favours he would now no longer act in such a way of pecu­liar­ity and restric­tion, but that in every nation he that feared God and wrought right­eous­ness should be accepted of him, Acts 10:34–35 KJV  Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I per­ceive that God is no respecter of per­sons:  (35)  But in every nation he that feareth him, and wor­keth right­eous­ness, is accepted with him.

The use that the apos­tle makes of this doc­trine con­cern­ing the sub­sti­tu­tion of the Gen­tiles in the room of the Jews.

As a kins­man to the Jews, here is a word of excite­ment and exhor­ta­tion to them, to stir them up to receive and embrace the gospel-offer. This God intended in his favour to the Gen­tiles, to pro­voke the Jews to jeal­ousy, Romans 11:11 KJV  I say then, Have they stum­bled that they should fall? God for­bid: but rather through their fall sal­va­tion is come unto the Gen­tiles, for to pro­voke them to jeal­ousy. and Paul endeav­ours to enforce it accord­ingly: Romans 11:14 KJV  If by any means I may pro­voke to emu­la­tion them which are my flesh, and might save some of them. If by any means I might pro­voke to emu­la­tion those who are my flesh. “Shall the despised Gen­tiles run away with all the com­forts and priv­i­leges of the gospel, and shall not we repent of our refusal, and now at last put in for a share? Shall not we believe and obey, and be par­doned and saved, as well as the Gen­tiles?” See an instance of such an emu­la­tion in Esau, Gen­e­sis 28:6–9 KJV  When Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob, and sent him away to Pada­naram, to take him a wife from thence; and that as he blessed him he gave him a charge, say­ing, Thou shalt not take a wife of the daugh­ters of Canaan;  (7)  And that Jacob obeyed his father and his mother, and was gone to Pada­naram;  (8)  And Esau see­ing that the daugh­ters of Canaan pleased not Isaac his father;  (9)  Then went Esau unto Ish­mael, and took unto the wives which he had Maha­lath the daugh­ter of Ish­mael Abraham’s son, the sis­ter of Neba­joth, to be his wife.

There is a com­mend­able emu­la­tion in the affairs of our souls: why should not we be as holy and happy as any of our neigh­bours? In this emu­la­tion there needs no sus­pi­cion, under­min­ing or coun­ter­min­ing; for the church has room enough, and the new covenant grace and com­fort enough, for us all. The bless­ings are not less­ened by the mul­ti­tudes of the shar­ers. — And might save some of them. See what was Paul’s busi­ness, to save souls; and yet the utmost he promises him­self is but to save some. Though he was such a pow­er­ful preacher, spoke and wrote with such evi­dence and demon­stra­tion of the Spirit, yet of the many he dealt with he could but save some. Min­is­ters must think their pains well bestowed if they can but be instru­men­tal to save some.

As an apos­tle to the Gen­tiles, here is a word of cau­tion for them: “I speak to you Gen­tiles. You believ­ing Romans, you hear what riches of sal­va­tion are come to you by the fall of the Jews, but take heed lest you do any thing to for­feit it.” Paul takes this, as other occa­sions, to apply his dis­course to the Gen­tiles, because he was the apos­tle of the Gen­tiles, appointed for the ser­vice of their faith, to plant and water churches in the Gen­tile nations. This was the pur­port of his extra­or­di­nary mis­sion, Acts 22:21 KJV  And he said unto me, Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gen­tiles. I will send thee far hence unto the Gen­tiles; com­pare, Acts 9:15 KJV  But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a cho­sen ves­sel unto me, to bear my name before the Gen­tiles, and kings, and the chil­dren of Israel:

It was like­wise the inten­tion of his ordi­na­tion, Gala­tians 2:9 KJV  And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pil­lars, per­ceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barn­abas the right hands of fel­low­ship; that we should go unto the hea­then, and they unto the cir­cum­ci­sion. Com­pare Acts 13:2 KJV  As they min­is­tered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Sep­a­rate me Barn­abas and Saul for the work where­unto I have called them.

It ought to be our great and spe­cial care to do good to those that are under our charge: we must par­tic­u­larly mind that which is our own work. It was an instance of God’s great love to the poor Gen­tiles that he appointed Paul, who in gifts and graces excelled all the apos­tles, to be the apos­tle of the Gen­tiles. The Gen­tile world was a wider province; and the work to be done in it required a very able, skil­ful, zeal­ous, coura­geous work­man: such a one was Paul. God calls those to spe­cial work whom he either sees or makes fit for it. — I mag­nify my office. There were those that vil­i­fied it, and him because of it. It was because he was the apos­tle of the Gen­tiles that the Jews were so out­ra­geous against him, Acts 22:21–22 KJV  And he said unto me, Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gen­tiles.  (22)  And they gave him audi­ence unto this word, and then lifted up their voices, and said, Away with such a fel­low from the earth: for it is not fit that he should live. and yet he thought never the worse of it, though it set him up as the butt of all the Jew­ish rage and mal­ice. It is a sign of true love to Jesus Christ to reckon that ser­vice and work for him truly hon­ourable which the world looks upon with scorn, as mean and con­temptible. The office of the min­istry is an office to be mag­ni­fied. Min­is­ters are ambas­sadors for Christ, and stew­ards of the mys­ter­ies of God, and for their work’s sake are to be esteemed highly in love. — My office; tēn diakon­ian moumy min­istry, my ser­vice, not my lord­ship and domin­ion. It was not the dig­nity and power, but the duty and work, of an apos­tle, that Paul was so much in love with.

Now two things he exhorts the Gen­tiles to, with ref­er­ence to the rejected Jews: 

To have a respect for the Jews, notwith­stand­ing, and to desire their con­ver­sion. This is inti­mated in the prospect he gives them of the advan­tage that would accrue to the church by their con­ver­sion, Romans 11:12 KJV  Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the dimin­ish­ing of them the riches of the Gen­tiles; how much more their ful­ness? Romans 11:15 KJV  For if the cast­ing away of them be the rec­on­cil­ing of the world, what shall the receiv­ing of them be, but life from the dead? It would be as life from the dead; and there­fore they must not insult and tri­umph over those poor Jews, but rather pity them, and desire their wel­fare, and long for the receiv­ing of them in again.

To take heed to them­selves, lest they should stum­ble and fall, as they Jews had done.

Here observe, First, The priv­i­lege which the Gen­tiles had by being taken into the church. They were grafted in, Romans 11:17 KJV  And if some of the branches be bro­ken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them par­tak­est of the root and fat­ness of the olive tree; as a branch of a wild olive into a good olive, which is con­trary to the way and cus­tom of the hus­band­man, who grafts the good olive into the bad; but those that God grafts into the church he finds wild and bar­ren, and good for noth­ing. Men graft to mend the tree; but God grafts to mend the branch.

The church of God is an olive-tree, flour­ish­ing and fruit­ful as an olive, Psalms 52:8 KJV  But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God: I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever. Hosea 14:6 KJV  His branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive tree, and his smell as Lebanon. the fruit use­ful for the hon­our both of God and man, Judges 9:9 KJV  But the olive tree said unto them, Should I leave my fat­ness, where­with by me they hon­our God and man, and go to be pro­moted over the trees?

Those that are out of the church are as wild olive-trees, not only use­less, but what they do pro­duce is sour and unsavoury: Wild by nature, Romans 11:24 KJV  For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed con­trary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the nat­ural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree? This was the state of the poor Gen­tiles, that wanted church priv­i­leges, and in respect of real sanc­ti­fi­ca­tion; and it is the nat­ural state of every one of us, to be wild by nature.

Con­ver­sion is the graft­ing in of wild branches into the good olive. We must be cut off from the old stock, and be brought into union with a new root.

Those that are grafted into the good olive-tree par­take of the root and fat­ness of the olive. It is applic­a­ble to a sav­ing union with Christ; all that are by a lively faith grafted into Christ par­take of him as the branches of the root — receive from his ful­ness. But it is here spo­ken of a vis­i­ble church-membership, from which the Jews were as branches bro­ken off; and so the Gen­tiles were grafted in, autoisamong those that con­tin­ued, or in the room of those that were bro­ken off. The Gen­tiles, being grafted into the church, par­take of the same priv­i­leges that the Jews did, the root and fat­ness. The olive-tree is the vis­i­ble church (called so Jere­miah 11:16 KJV  The LORD called thy name, A green olive tree, fair, and of goodly fruit: with the noise of a great tumult he hath kin­dled fire upon it, and the branches of it are bro­ken.); the root of this tree was Abra­ham, not the root of com­mu­ni­ca­tion, so Christ only is the root, but the root of admin­is­tra­tion, he being the first with whom the covenant was so solemnly made. Now the believ­ing Gen­tiles par­take of this root: he also is a son of Abra­ham, Luke 19:9 KJV  And Jesus said unto him, This day is sal­va­tion come to this house, for­so­much as he also is a son of Abra­ham. the bless­ing of Abra­ham comes upon the Gen­tiles, Gala­tians 3:14 KJV  That the bless­ing of Abra­ham might come on the Gen­tiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. the same fat­ness of the olive-tree, the same for sub­stance, spe­cial pro­tec­tion, lively ora­cles, means of sal­va­tion, a stand­ing min­istry, insti­tuted ordi­nances; and, among the rest, the vis­i­ble church-membership of their infant seed, which was part of the fat­ness of the olive-tree that the Jews had, and can­not be imag­ined to be denied to the Gentiles.

Sec­ondly, A cau­tion not to abuse these privileges.

“Be not proud: Romans 11:18 KJV  Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bear­est not the root, but the root thee. Boast not against the branches. Do not there­fore tram­ple upon the Jews as a repro­bate peo­ple, nor insult over those that are bro­ken off, much less over those that do con­tinue.” Grace is given, not to make us proud, but to make us thank­ful. The law of faith excludes all boast­ing either of our­selves or against oth­ers. “Do not say: Romans 11:19 KJV  Thou wilt say then, The branches were bro­ken off, that I might be graffed in. They were bro­ken off that I might be grafted in; that is, do not think that thou didst merit more at the hand of God than they, or didst stand higher in his favour.” “But remem­ber, thou bear­est not the root, but the root thee. Though thou art grafted in, thou art still but a branch borne by the root; nay, and an engrafted branch, brought into the good olive con­trary to nature, Romans 11:24 KJV  For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed con­trary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the nat­ural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree? not free-born, but by an act of grace enfran­chised and nat­u­ral­ized. Abra­ham, the root of the Jew­ish church, is not beholden to thee; but thou art greatly obliged to him, as the trustee of the covenant and the father of many nations. There­fore, if thou boast, know (this word must be sup­plied to clear the sense) thou bear­est not the root but the root thee.

“Be not secure: Romans 11:20 KJV  Well; because of unbe­lief they were bro­ken off, and thou stand­est by faith. Be not high­minded, but fear: Be not high-minded, but fear. Be not too con­fi­dent of your own strength and stand­ing.” A holy fear is an excel­lent preser­v­a­tive against high-mindedness: happy is the man that thus feareth always. We need not fear but God will be true to his word; all the dan­ger is lest we be false to ours. Let us there­fore fear, Hebrews 4:1 KJV  Let us there­fore fear, lest, a promise being left us of enter­ing into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. The church of Rome now boasts of a patent of per­pet­ual preser­va­tion; but the apos­tle here, in his epis­tle to that church when she was in her infancy and integrity, enters an express caveat against that boast, and all claims of that kind. — Fear what? “Why fear lest thou com­mit a for­fei­ture as they have done, lest thou lose the priv­i­leges thou now enjoyest, as they have lost theirs.” The evils that befall oth­ers should be warn­ings to us. Go (saith God to Jerusalem Jere­miah 7:12 KJV  But go ye now unto my place which was in Shiloh, where I set my name at the first, and see what I did to it for the wicked­ness of my peo­ple Israel.), and see what I did to Shiloh; so now, let all the churches of God go and see what he did to Jerusalem, and what is become of the day of their vis­i­ta­tion, that we may hear and fear, and take heed of Jerusalem’s sin. The patent which churches have of their priv­i­leges is not for a cer­tain term, nor entailed upon them and their heirs; but it runs as long as they carry them­selves well, and no longer.

Con­sider, “How they were bro­ken off. It was not unde­servedly, by an act of absolute sov­er­eignty and pre­rog­a­tive, but because of unbe­lief.” It seems, then, it is pos­si­ble for churches that have long stood by faith to fall into such a state of infi­delity as may be their ruin. Their unbe­lief did not only pro­voke God to cut them off, but they did by this cut them­selves off; it was not only the mer­i­to­ri­ous, but the for­mal cause of their sep­a­ra­tion. “Now, thou art liable to the same infir­mity and cor­rup­tion that they fell by.” Fur­ther observe, They were nat­ural branches, Romans 11:21 KJV  For if God spared not the nat­ural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. not only inter­ested in Abraham’s covenant, but descend­ing from Abraham’s loins, and so born upon the premises, and thence had a kind of tenant-right: yet, when they sunk into unbe­lief, God did not spare them. Pre­scrip­tion, long usage, the faith­ful­ness of their ances­tors, would not secure them. It was in vain to plead, though they insisted much upon it, that they were Abraham’s seed, Matthew 3:9 KJV  And think not to say within your­selves, We have Abra­ham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up chil­dren unto Abra­ham. John 8:33 KJV  They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?

It is true they were the hus­band­men to whom the vine­yard was first let out; but, when they for­feited it, it was justly taken from them, Matthew 21:41 KJV  They say unto him, He will mis­er­ably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vine­yard unto other hus­band­men, which shall ren­der him the fruits in their sea­sons. Matthew 21:43 KJV  There­fore say I unto you, The king­dom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bring­ing forth the fruits thereof. This is called here sever­ity, Romans 11:22 KJV  Behold there­fore the good­ness and sever­ity of God: on them which fell, sever­ity; but toward thee, good­ness, if thou con­tinue in his good­ness: oth­er­wise thou also shalt be cut off.

God laid right­eous­ness to the line and judg­ment to the plum­met, and dealt with them accord­ing to their sins. Sever­ity is a word that sounds harshly; and I do not remem­ber that it is any where else in scrip­ture ascribed to God; and it is here applied to the unchurch­ing of the Jews. God is most severe towards those that have been in pro­fes­sion near­est to him, if they rebel against him, Amos 3:2 KJV  You only have I known of all the fam­i­lies of the earth: there­fore I will pun­ish you for all your iniq­ui­ties. Patience and priv­i­leges abused turn to the great­est wrath. Of all judg­ments, spir­i­tual judg­ments are the sor­est; for of these he is here speak­ing, Romans 11:8 KJV  (Accord­ing as it is writ­ten, God hath given them the spirit of slum­ber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day.

“How thou stand­est, thou that art engrafted in.” He speaks to the Gen­tile churches in gen­eral, though per­haps tac­itly reflect­ing on some par­tic­u­lar per­son, who might have expressed some such pride and tri­umph in the Jews’ rejection.

“Con­sider then,” “By what means thou stand­est: By faith, which is a depend­ing grace, and fetches in strength from heaven. Thou dost not stand in any strength of thy own, of which thou might­est be con­fi­dent: thou art no more than the free grace of God makes thee, and his grace is his own, which he gives or with­holds at plea­sure. That which ruined them was unbe­lief, and by faith thou stand­est; there­fore thou hast no faster hold than they had, thou stand­est on no firmer foun­da­tion than they did.”

Christ’s Prayer for Those that are His — John 17:11–23

John 17-11-23Christ does not pray that they might be rich and great in the world, but that they might be kept from sin, strength­ened for their duty, and brought safe to heaven. The pros­per­ity of the soul is the best pros­per­ity. He pleaded with his holy Father, that he would keep them by his power and for his glory, that they might be united in affec­tion and labours, even accord­ing to the union of the Father and the Son. He did not pray that his dis­ci­ples should be removed out of the world, that they might escape the rage of men, for they had a great work to do for the glory of God, and the ben­e­fit of mankind. But he prayed that the Father would keep them from the evil, from being cor­rupted by the world, the remains of sin in their hearts, and from the power and craft of Satan. So that they might pass through the world as through an enemy’s coun­try, as he had done. They are not left here to pur­sue the same objects as the men around them, but to glo­rify God, and to serve their gen­er­a­tion. The Spirit of God in true Chris­tians is opposed to the spirit of the world.

Christ next prayed for the dis­ci­ples, that they might not only be kept from evil, but made good. It is the prayer of Jesus for all that are his, that they may be made holy. Even dis­ci­ples must pray for sanc­ti­fy­ing grace. The means of giv­ing this grace is, “through thy truth, thy word is truth.” Sanc­tify them, set them apart for thy­self and thy ser­vice. Own them in the office; let thy hand go with them. Jesus entirely devoted him­self to his under­tak­ing, and all the parts of it, espe­cially the offer­ing up him­self with­out spot unto God, by the eter­nal Spirit. The real holi­ness of all true Chris­tians is the fruit of Christ’s death, by which the gift of the Holy Ghost was pur­chased; he gave him­self for his church, to sanc­tify it. If our views have not this effect on us, they are not Divine truth, or we do not receive them by a liv­ing and a work­ing faith, but as mere notions.

Our Lord espe­cially prayed, that all believ­ers might be as one body under one head, ani­mated by one soul, by their union with Christ and the Father in him, through the Holy Spirit dwelling in them. The more they dis­pute about lesser things, the more they throw doubts upon Chris­tian­ity. Let us endeav­our to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, pray­ing that all believ­ers may be more and more united in one mind and one judg­ment. Thus shall we con­vince the world of the truth and excel­lence of our reli­gion, and find more sweet com­mu­nion with God and his saints.

John 17:11–23 KJV  And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.  (12)  While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdi­tion; that the scrip­ture might be ful­filled.  (13)  And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy ful­filled in them­selves.  (14)  I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.  (15)  I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.  (16)  They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.  (17)  Sanc­tify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.  (18)  As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.  (19)  And for their sakes I sanc­tify myself, that they also might be sanc­ti­fied through the truth.  (20)  Nei­ther pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;  (21)  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.  (22)  And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:  (23)  I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made per­fect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

And in this see, the par­tic­u­lar peti­tions he puts up for them that they might be kept; that they might be sanc­ti­fied; and that they might be united.

After the gen­eral pleas with which Christ rec­om­mended his dis­ci­ples to his Father’s care fol­low the par­tic­u­lar peti­tions he puts up for them; and, they all relate to spir­i­tual bless­ings in heav­enly things. He does not pray that they might be rich and great in the world, that they might raise estates and get prefer­ments, but that they might be kept from sin, and fur­nished for their duty, and brought safely to heaven.

Note, The pros­per­ity of the soul is the best pros­per­ity; for what relates to this Christ came to pur­chase and bestow, and so teaches us to seek, in the first place, both for oth­ers and for our­selves.

They are such bless­ings as were suited to their present state and case, and their var­i­ous exi­gen­cies and occa­sions.

Note, Christ’s inter­ces­sion is always per­ti­nent. Our advo­cate with the Father is acquainted with all the par­tic­u­lars of our wants and bur­dens, our dan­gers and dif­fi­cul­ties, and knows how to accom­mo­date his inter­ces­sion to each, as to Peter’s peril, which he him­self was not aware of, Luke 22:32 KJV  But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art con­verted, strengthen thy brethren. I have prayed for thee.

He is large and full in the peti­tions, orders them before his Father, and fills his mouth with argu­ments, to teach us fer­vency and impor­tu­nity in prayer, to be large in prayer, and dwell upon our errands at the throne of grace, wrestling as Jacob, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.

Now the first thing Christ prays for, for his dis­ci­ples, is their preser­va­tion, in these verses, in order to which he com­mits them all to his Father’s cus­tody. Keep­ing sup­poses dan­ger, and their dan­ger arose from the world, the world wherein they were, the evil of this he begs they might be kept from.

Now observe, the request itself: Keep them from the world. There were two ways of their being deliv­ered from the world: 

By tak­ing them out of it; and he does not pray that they might be so deliv­ered: I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world; that is, “I pray not that they may be speed­ily removed by death.” If the world will be vex­a­tious to them, the read­i­est way to secure them would be to has­ten them out of it to a bet­ter world, that will give them bet­ter treat­ment. Send char­i­ots and horses of fire for them, to fetch them to heaven; Job, Eli­jah, Jonah, Moses, when that occurred which fret­ted them, prayed that they might be taken out of the world; but Christ would not pray so for his dis­ci­ples, for two rea­sons: Because he came to con­quer, not to coun­te­nance, those intem­per­ate heats and pas­sions which make men impa­tient of life, and impor­tu­nate for death. It is his will that we should take up our cross, and not out­run it. Because he had work for them to do in the world; the world, though sick of them, Acts 22:22 KJV  And they gave him audi­ence unto this word, and then lifted up their voices, and said, Away with such a fel­low from the earth: for it is not fit that he should live. and there­fore not wor­thy of them, Hebrews 11:38 KJV  (Of whom the world was not wor­thy:) they wan­dered in deserts, and in moun­tains, and in dens and caves of the earth. yet could ill spare them. In pity there­fore to this dark world, Christ would not have these lights removed out of it, but con­tin­ued in it, espe­cially for the sake of those in the world that were to believe in him through their word. Let not them be taken out of the world when their Mas­ter is; they must each in his own order die a mar­tyr, but not till they have fin­ished their tes­ti­mony.

Note, First, The tak­ing of good peo­ple out of the world is a thing by no means to be desired, but rather dreaded and laid to heart, Isa­iah 57:1 KJV  The right­eous per­isheth, and no man layeth it to heart: and mer­ci­ful men are taken away, none con­sid­er­ing that the right­eous is taken away from the evil to come. Sec­ondly, Though Christ loves his dis­ci­ples, he does not presently send for them to heaven, as soon as they are effec­tu­ally called, but leaves them for some time in this world, that they may do good and glo­rify God upon earth, and be ripened for heaven. Many good peo­ple are spared to live, because they can ill be spared to die.

I pray not that they may be totally freed and exempted from the trou­bles of this world, and taken out of the toil and ter­ror of it into some place of ease and safety, there to live undis­turbed; this is not the preser­va­tion I desire for them.” Non ut omni moles­tia liberati otium et deli­cias colant, sed ut inter media per­ic­ula salvi tamen maneant Dei aux­ilio — Not that, being freed from all trou­ble, they may bask in lux­u­ri­ous ease, but that by the help of God they may be pre­served in a scene of dan­ger; so Calvin. Not that they may be kept from all con­flict with the world, but that they may not be over­come by it; not that, as Jere­miah wished, they might leave their peo­ple, and go from them, Jere­miah 9:2 KJV  Oh that I had in the wilder­ness a lodg­ing place of way­far­ing men; that I might leave my peo­ple, and go from them! for they be all adul­ter­ers, an assem­bly of treach­er­ous men. but that, like Ezekiel, their faces may be strong against the faces of wicked men, Ezekiel 3:8 KJV  Behold, I have made thy face strong against their faces, and thy fore­head strong against their fore­heads. It is more the hon­our of a Chris­t­ian sol­dier by faith to over­come the world than by a monas­ti­cal vow to retreat from it; and more for the hon­our of Christ to serve him in a city than to serve him in a cell.

Another way is by keep­ing them from the cor­rup­tion that is in the world; and he prays they may be thus kept, John 17:11 KJV  And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. John 17:15 KJV  I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.

Here are three branches of this peti­tion: Holy Father, keep those whom thou hast given me. Christ was now leav­ing them; but let them not think that their defence was departed from them; no, he does here, in their hear­ing, com­mit them to the cus­tody of his Father and their Father.

Note, It is the unspeak­able com­fort of all believ­ers that Christ him­self has com­mit­ted them to the care of God. Those can­not but be safe whom the almighty God keeps, and he can­not but keep those whom the Son of his love com­mits to him, in the virtue of which we may by faith com­mit the keep­ing of our souls to God, 1 Peter 4:19 KJV  Where­fore let them that suf­fer accord­ing to the will of God com­mit the keep­ing of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faith­ful Cre­ator. 2 Tim­o­thy 1:12 KJV  For the which cause I also suf­fer these things: nev­er­the­less I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am per­suaded that he is able to keep that which I have com­mit­ted unto him against that day.

First, He here puts them under the divine pro­tec­tion, that they may not be run down by the mal­ice of their ene­mies; that they and all their con­cerns may be the par­tic­u­lar care of the divine Prov­i­dence: “Keep their lives, till they have done their work; keep their com­forts, and let them not be bro­ken in upon by the hard­ships they meet with; keep up their inter­est in the world, and let it not sink.” To this prayer is owing the won­der­ful preser­va­tion of the gospel min­istry and gospel church in the world unto this day; if God had not gra­ciously kept both, and kept up both, they had been extin­guished and lost long ago.

Sec­ondly, He puts them under the divine tuition, that they may not them­selves run away from their duty, nor be led aside by the treach­ery of their own hearts: “Keep them in their integrity, keep them dis­ci­ples, keep them close to their duty.” We need God’s power not only to put us into a state of grace, but to keep us in it. See, John 10:28–29 KJV  And I give unto them eter­nal life; and they shall never per­ish, nei­ther shall any man pluck them out of my hand.  (29)  My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. 1 Peter 1:5 KJV  Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto sal­va­tion ready to be revealed in the last time.

The titles he gives to him he prays to, and them he prays for, enforce the peti­tion.

First, He speaks to God as a holy Father. In com­mit­ting our­selves and oth­ers to the divine care, we may take encour­age­ment, 1. From the attribute of his holi­ness, for this is engaged for the preser­va­tion of his holy ones; he hath sworn by his holi­ness, Psalms 89:35 KJV  Once have I sworn by my holi­ness that I will not lie unto David. If he be a holy God and hate sin, he will make those holy that are his, and keep them from sin, which they also hate and dread as the great­est evil. From this rela­tion of a Father, wherein he stands to us through Christ. If he be a Father, he will take care of his own chil­dren, will teach them and keep them; who else should?

Sec­ondly, He speaks of them as those whom the Father had given him. What we receive as our Father’s gifts, we may com­fort­ably remit to our Father’s care. “Father, keep the graces and com­forts thou hast given me; the chil­dren thou hast given me; the min­istry I have received.

Keep them through thine own name. That is, keep them for thy name’s sake; so some. “Thy name and hon­our are con­cerned in their preser­va­tion as well as mine, for both will suf­fer by it if they either revolt or sink.” The Old Tes­ta­ment saints often pleaded, for thy name’s sake; and those may with com­fort plead it that are indeed more con­cerned for the hon­our of God’s name than for any inter­est of their own.

Keep them in thy name; so oth­ers; the orig­i­nal is so, en tō ono­mati. “Keep them in the knowl­edge and fear of thy name; keep them in the pro­fes­sion and ser­vice of thy name, what­ever it cost them. Keep them in the inter­est of thy name, and let them ever be faith­ful to this; keep them in thy truths, in thine ordi­nances, in the way of thy com­mand­ments.”

Keep them by or through thy name; so oth­ers. “Keep them by thine own power, in thine own hand; keep them thy­self, under­take for them, let them be thine own imme­di­ate care. Keep them by those means of preser­va­tion which thou hast thy­self appointed, and by which thou hast made thy­self known. Keep them by thy word and ordi­nances; let thy name be their strong tower, thy taber­na­cle their pavil­ion.”

Keep them from the evil, or out of the evil. He had taught them to pray daily, Deliver us from evil, and this would encour­age them to pray. “Keep them from the evil one, the devil and all his instru­ments; that wicked one and all his chil­dren. Keep them from Satan as a tempter, that either he may not have leave to sift them, or that their faith may not fail. Keep them from him as a destroyer, that he may not drive them to despair.” “Keep them from the evil thing, that is sin; from every thing that looks like it, or leads to it. Keep them, that they do no evil,” 2 Corinthi­ans 13:7 KJV  Now I pray to God that ye do no evil; not that we should appear approved, but that ye should do that which is hon­est, though we be as repro­bates. Sin is that evil which, above any other, we should dread and dep­re­cate.

Keep them from the evil of the world, and of their tribu­la­tion in it, so that it may have no sting in it, no malig­nity;” not that they might be kept from afflic­tion, but kept through it, that the prop­erty of their afflic­tions might be so altered as that there might be no evil in them, noth­ing to them any harm.

The rea­sons with which he enforces these requests for their preser­va­tion, which are five: 

He pleads that hith­erto he had kept them: John 17:12 KJV  While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdi­tion; that the scrip­ture might be ful­filled. While I was with them in the world, I have kept them in thy name, in the true faith of the gospel and the ser­vice of God; those that thou gavest me for my con­stant atten­dants I have kept, they are all safe, and none of them miss­ing, none of them revolted nor ruined, but the son of perdi­tion; he is lost, that the scrip­ture might be ful­filled.”

Observe, Christ’s faith­ful dis­charge of his under­tak­ing con­cern­ing his dis­ci­ples: While he was with them, he kept them, and his care con­cern­ing them was not in vain. He kept them in God’s name, pre­served them from falling into any dan­ger­ous errors or sins, from strik­ing in with the Phar­isees, who would have com­passed sea and land to make pros­e­lytes of them; he kept them from desert­ing him, and return­ing to the lit­tle all they had left for him; he had them still under his eye and care when he sent them to peach; went not his heart with them? Many that fol­lowed him awhile took offence at some­thing or other, and went off; but he kept the twelve that they should not go away. He kept them from falling into the hands of per­se­cut­ing ene­mies that sought their lives; kept them when he sur­ren­dered him­self, John 18:9 KJV  That the say­ing might be ful­filled, which he spake, Of them which thou gavest me have I lost none. While he was with them he kept them in a vis­i­ble man­ner by instruc­tions till sound­ing in their ears, mir­a­cles still done before their eyes; when he was gone from them, they must be kept in a more spir­i­tual man­ner. Sen­si­ble com­forts and sup­ports are some­times given and some­times with­held; but, when they are with­drawn, yet they are not left com­fort­less. What Christ here says of his imme­di­ate fol­low­ers is true of all the saints while they are here in this world; Christ keeps them in God’s name.

It is implied, that they are weak, and can­not keep them­selves; their own hands are not suf­fi­cient for them. That they are, in God’s account, valu­able and worth the keep­ing; pre­cious in his sight and hon­ourable; his trea­sure, his jew­els. That their sal­va­tion is designed, for to this it is that they are kept, 1 Peter 1:5 KJV  Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto sal­va­tion ready to be revealed in the last time. As the wicked are reserved for the day of evil, so the right­eous are pre­served for the day of bliss. That they are the charge of the Lord Jesus; for as his charge he keeps them, and exposed him­self like the good shep­herd for the preser­va­tion of the sheep.

The com­fort­able account he gives of his under­tak­ing: None of them is lost.

Note, Jesus Christ will cer­tainly keep all that were given to him, so that none of them shall be totally and finally lost; they may think them­selves lost, and may be nearly lost (in immi­nent peril); but it is the Father’s will that he should lose none, and none he will lose; John 6:39 KJV  And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose noth­ing, but should raise it up again at the last day. so it will appear when they come all together, and none of them shall be want­ing.

A brand put upon Judas, as none of those whom he had under­taken to keep. He was among those that were given to Christ, but not of them. He speaks of Judas as already lost, for he had aban­doned the soci­ety of his Mas­ter and his fellow-disciples, and aban­doned him­self to the devil’s guid­ance, and in a lit­tle time would go to his own place; he is as good as lost. But the apos­tasy and ruin of Judas were no reproach at all to his Mas­ter, or his fam­ily; for, he was the son of perdi­tion, and there­fore not one of those that were given to Christ to be kept. He deserved perdi­tion, and God left him to throw him­self head­long into it. He was the son of the destroyer, as Cain, who was of that wicked one. That great enemy whom the Lord will con­sume is called a son of perdi­tion, because he is a man of sin, 2 Thes­sa­lo­ni­ans 2:3 KJV  Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdi­tion; It is an awful con­sid­er­a­tion that one of the apos­tles proved a son of perdi­tion. No man’s place or name in the church, no man’s priv­i­leges or oppor­tu­ni­ties of get­ting grace, no man’s pro­fes­sion or exter­nal per­for­mances, will secure him from ruin, if his heart be not right with God; nor are any more likely to prove sons of perdi­tion at last, after a plau­si­ble course of pro­fes­sion, than those that like Judas love the bag; but Christ’s dis­tin­guish­ing Judas from those that were given him (for ei mē is adver­sa­tive, not excep­tive) inti­mates that the truth and true reli­gion ought not to suf­fer for the treach­ery of those that are false to it, 1 John 2:19 KJV  They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have con­tin­ued with us: but they went out, that they might be made man­i­fest that they were not all of us.

The scrip­ture was ful­filled; the sin of Judas was fore­seen of God’s coun­sel and fore­told in his word, and the event would cer­tainly fol­low after the pre­dic­tion as a con­se­quent, though it can­not be said nec­es­sar­ily to fol­low from it as an effect. See Psalms 41:9 KJV  Yea, mine own famil­iar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me. Psalms 69:25 KJV  Let their habi­ta­tion be des­o­late; and let none dwell in their tents. Psalms 109:8 KJV  Let his days be few; and let another take his office. We should be amazed at the treach­ery of apos­tates, were we not told of it before.

He pleads that he was now under a neces­sity of leav­ing them, and could no longer watch over them in the way that he had hith­erto done: John 17:11 KJV  And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. “Keep them now, that I may not lose the labour I bestowed upon them while I was with them. Keep them, that they may be one with us as we are with each other.” We shall have occa­sion to speak of this, John 17:21 KJV  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.

But see here, with what plea­sure he speaks of his own depar­ture. He expresses him­self con­cern­ing it with an air of tri­umph and exul­ta­tion, with ref­er­ence both to the world he left and the world he removed to. “Now I am no more in the world. Now farewell to this pro­vok­ing trou­ble­some world. I have had enough of it, and now the wel­come hour is at hand when I shall be no more in it. Now that I have fin­ished the work I had to do in it, I have done with it; noth­ing remains now but to has­ten out of it as fast as I can.”

Note, It should be a plea­sure to those that have their home in the other world to think of being no more in this world; for when we have done what we have to do in this world, and are made meet for that, what is there here that should court our stay? When we receive a sen­tence of death within our­selves, with what a holy tri­umph should we say, “Now I am no more in this world, this dark deceit­ful world, this poor empty world, this tempt­ing defil­ing world; no more vexed with its thorns and bri­ars, no more endan­gered by its nets and snares; now I shall wan­der no more in this howl­ing wilder­ness, be tossed no more on this stormy sea; now I am no more in this world, but can cheer­fully quit it, and give it a final farewell.”

Now I come to thee. To get clear of the world is but the one half of the com­fort of a dying Christ, of a dying Chris­t­ian; the far bet­ter half is to think of going to the Father, to sit down in the imme­di­ate, unin­ter­rupted, and ever­last­ing enjoy­ment of him.

Note, Those who love God can­not but be pleased to think of com­ing to him, though it be through the val­ley of the shadow of death. When we go, to be absent from the body, it is to be present with the Lord, like chil­dren fetched home from school to their father’s house. “Now come I to thee whom I have cho­sen and served, and whom my soul thirsteth after; to thee the foun­tain of light and life, the crown and cen­tre of bliss and joy; now my long­ings shall be sat­is­fied, my hopes accom­plished, my hap­pi­ness com­pleted, for now come I to thee.

With what a ten­der con­cern he speaks of those whom he left behind: “But these are in the world. I have found what an evil world it is, what will become of these dear lit­tle ones that must stay in it? Holy Father, keep them; they will want my pres­ence, let them have thine. They have now more need than ever to be kept, for I am send­ing them out fur­ther into the world than they have yet ven­tured; they must launch forth into the deep, and have busi­ness to do in these great waters, and will be lost if thou do not keep them.”

Observe here, that, when our Lord Jesus was going to the Father, he car­ried with him a ten­der con­cern for his own that are in the world; and con­tin­ued to com­pas­sion­ate them. He bears their names upon his breast-plate, nay, upon his heart, and has graven them with the nails of his cross upon the palms of his hands; and when he is out of their sight they are not out of his, much less out of his mind. We should have such a pity for those that are launch­ing out into the world when we are got almost through it, and for those that are left behind in it when we are leav­ing it.

That, when Christ would express the utmost need his dis­ci­ples had of divine preser­va­tion, he only says, They are in the world; this bespeaks dan­ger enough to those who are bound for heaven, whom a flat­ter­ing world would divert and seduce, and a malig­nant world would hate and per­se­cute.

He pleads what a sat­is­fac­tion it would be to them to know them­selves safe, and what a sat­is­fac­tion it would be to him to see them easy: I speak this, that they may have my joy ful­filled in them­selves, John 17:13 KJV  And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy ful­filled in them­selves.

Observe, Christ earnestly desired the ful­ness of the joy of his dis­ci­ples, for it is his will that they should rejoice ever­more. He was leav­ing them in tears and trou­bles, and yet took effec­tual care to ful­fil their joy. When they thought their joy in him was brought to an end, then was it advanced nearer to per­fec­tion than ever it had been, and they were fuller of it.

We are here taught, to found our joy in Christ: “It is my joy, joy of my giv­ing, or rather joy that I am the mat­ter of.” Christ is a Christian’s joy, his chief joy. Joy in the world is with­er­ing with it; joy in Christ is ever­last­ing, like him. To build up our joy with dili­gence; for it is the duty as well as priv­i­lege of all true believ­ers; no part of the Chris­t­ian life is pressed upon us more earnestly, Philip­pi­ans 3:1 KJV  Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not griev­ous, but for you it is safe. Philip­pi­ans 4:4 KJV  Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. To aim at the per­fec­tion of this joy, that we may have it ful­filled in us, for this Christ would have.

In order here­unto, he did thus solemnly com­mit them to his Father’s care and keep­ing and took them for wit­nesses that he did so: These things I speak in the world, while I am yet with them in the world. His inter­ces­sion in heaven for their preser­va­tion would have been as effec­tual in itself; but say­ing this in the world would be a greater sat­is­fac­tion and encour­age­ment to them, and would enable them to rejoice in tribu­la­tion.

Note, Christ has not only trea­sured up com­forts for his peo­ple, in pro­vid­ing for their future wel­fare, but has given out com­forts to them, and said that which will be for their present sat­is­fac­tion. He here con­de­scended in the pres­ence of his dis­ci­ples to pub­lish his last will and tes­ta­ment, and (which many a tes­ta­tor is shy of) lets them know what lega­cies he had left them, and how well they were secured, that they might have strong con­so­la­tion. Christ’s inter­ces­sion for us is enough to ful­fil or joy in him; noth­ing more effec­tual to silence all our fears and mis­trusts, and to fur­nish us with strong con­so­la­tion, than this, that he always appears in the pres­ence of God for us; there­fore the apos­tle puts a yea rather upon this, Romans 8:34 KJV  Who is he that con­dem­neth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh inter­ces­sion for us. And see Hebrews 7:25 KJV  Where­fore he is able also to save them to the utter­most that come unto God by him, see­ing he ever liveth to make inter­ces­sion for them.

He pleads the ill usage they were likely to meet with in the world, for his sake: John 17:14 KJV  I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I have given them thy word to be pub­lished to the world, and they have received it, have believed it them­selves, and accepted the trust of trans­mit­ting it to the world; and there­fore the world hath hated them, as also because they are not of the world, any more than I.”

Here we have, the world’s enmity to Christ’s fol­low­ers. While Christ was with them, though as yet they had given but lit­tle oppo­si­tion to the world, yet it hates them, much more would it do so when by their more exten­sive preach­ing of the gospel they would turn the world upside down. “Father, stand their friend,” says Christ, “for they are likely to have many ene­mies; let them have thy love, for the world’s hatred is entailed upon them. In the midst of those fiery darts, let them be com­passed with thy favour as with a shield.” It is God’s hon­our to take part with the weaker side, and to help the help­less. Lord, be mer­ci­ful to them, for men would swal­low them up.

The rea­sons of this enmity, which strengthen the plea. It is implied that one rea­son is because they had received the word of God as it was sent them by the hand of Christ, when the great­est part of the world rejected it, and set them­selves against those who were the preach­ers and pro­fes­sors of it.

Note, Those that receive Christ’s good will and good word must expect the world’s ill will and ill word. Gospel min­is­ters have been in a par­tic­u­lar man­ner hated by the world, because they call men out of the world, and sep­a­rate them from it, and teach them not to con­form to it, and so con­demn the world. “Father, keep them for it is for thy sake that they are exposed; they are suf­fer­ers for thee.” Thus the psalmist pleads, For thy sake I have borne reproach, Psalms 69:7 KJV  Because for thy sake I have borne reproach; shame hath cov­ered my face.

Note, Those that keep the word of Christ’s patience are enti­tled to spe­cial pro­tec­tion in the hour of temp­ta­tion, Rev­e­la­tion 3:10 KJV  Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temp­ta­tion, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. That cause which makes a mar­tyr may well make a joy­ful suf­ferer.

Another rea­son is more express; the world hates them, because they are not of the world. Those to whom the word of Christ comes in power are not of the world, for it has this effect upon all that receive it in the love of it that it weans them from the wealth of the world, and turns them against the wicked­ness of the world, and there­fore the world bears them a grudge.

He pleads their con­for­mity to him­self in a holy non-conformity to the world: John 17:16 KJV  They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. “Father, keep them, for they are of my spirit and mind, they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” Those may in faith com­mit them­selves to God’s cus­tody, who are as Christ was in this world, and tread in his steps. God will love those that are like Christ. Who do not engage them­selves in the world’s inter­est, nor devote them­selves to its ser­vice.

Observe, that Jesus Christ was not of this world; he never had been of it, and least of all now that he was upon the point of leav­ing it. This inti­mates, First, His state; he was none of the world’s favourites nor dar­lings, none of its princes nor grandees; worldly pos­ses­sions he had none, not even where to lay his head; nor worldly power, he was no judge nor divider. Sec­ondly, His Spirit; he was per­fectly dead to the world, the prince of this world had noth­ing in him, the things of this world were noth­ing to him; not hon­our, for he made him­self of no rep­u­ta­tion; not riches, for, for our sakes he became poor; not plea­sures, for he acquainted him­self with grief. See John 8:23 KJV  And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world.

That there­fore true Chris­tians are not of this world. The Spirit of Christ in them is oppo­site to the spirit of the world. First, It is their lot to be despised by the world; they are not in favour with the world any more than their Mas­ter before them was. Sec­ondly, It is their priv­i­lege to be deliv­ered from the world; as Abra­ham out of the land of his nativ­ity. Thirdly, It is their duty and char­ac­ter to be dead to the world. Their most pleas­ing con­verse is, and should be, with another world, and their pre­vail­ing con­cern about the busi­ness of that world, not of this. Christ’s dis­ci­ples were weak, and had many infir­mi­ties; yet this he could say for them, They were not of the world, not of the earth, and there­fore he rec­om­mends them to the care of Heaven.

The next thing he prayed for; for them was that they might be sanc­ti­fied; not only kept from evil, but made good.

Here is the peti­tion: John 17:17 KJV  Sanc­tify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. Sanc­tify them through thy truth, through thy word, for thy word is truth; it is true — it is truth itself. He desires they may be sanc­ti­fied, as Chris­tians. Father, make them holy, and this will be their preser­va­tion, 1 Thes­sa­lo­ni­ans 5:23 KJV  And the very God of peace sanc­tify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be pre­served blame­less unto the com­ing of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Observe here, the grace desired — sanc­ti­fi­ca­tion. The dis­ci­ples were sanc­ti­fied, for they were not of the world; yet he prays, Father sanc­tify them, that is, “Con­firm the work of sanc­ti­fi­ca­tion in them, strengthen their faith, inflame their good affec­tions, rivet their good res­o­lu­tions.” “Carry on that good work in them, and con­tinue it; let the light shine more and more.” “Com­plete it, crown it with the per­fec­tion of holi­ness; sanc­tify them through­out and to the end.”

Note, First, It is the prayer of Christ for all that are his that they may be sanc­ti­fied; because he can­not for shame own them as his, either here or here­after, either employ them in his work or present them to his Father, if they be not sanc­ti­fied. Sec­ondly, Those that through grace are sanc­ti­fied have need to be sanc­ti­fied more and more. Even dis­ci­ples must pray for sanc­ti­fy­ing grace; for, if he that was the author of the good work be not the fin­isher of it, we are undone. Not to go for­ward is to go back­ward; he that is holy must be holy still, more holy still, press­ing for­ward, soar­ing upward, as those that have not attained. Thirdly, It is God that sanc­ti­fies as well as God that jus­ti­fied, 2 Corinthi­ans 5:5 KJV  Now he that hath wrought us for the self­same thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. Fourthly, It is an encour­age­ment to us, in our prayers for sanc­ti­fy­ing grace, that it is what Christ inter­cedes for; for us.

The means of con­fer­ring this grace — through thy truth, thy word is truth. Not that the Holy One of Israel is hereby lim­ited to means, but in the coun­sel of peace among other things it was set­tled and agreed, that all need­ful truth should be com­prised and summed up in the word of God. Divine rev­e­la­tion, as it now stands in the writ­ten word, is not only pure truth with­out mix­ture, but entire truth with­out defi­ciency. That this word of truth should be the out­ward and ordi­nary means of our sanc­ti­fi­ca­tion; not of itself, for then it would always sanc­tify, but as the instru­ment which the Spirit com­monly uses in begin­ning and car­ry­ing on that good work; it is the seed of the new birth, 1 Peter 1:23 KJV  Being born again, not of cor­rupt­ible seed, but of incor­rupt­ible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. and the food of the new life, 1 Peter 2:1–2 KJV  Where­fore lay­ing aside all mal­ice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speak­ings,  (2)  As new­born babes, desire the sin­cere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:

As min­is­ters. “Sanc­tify them, set them apart for thy­self and ser­vice; let their call to the apos­tle­ship be rat­i­fied in heaven.” Prophets were said to be sanc­ti­fied, Jere­miah 1:5 KJV  Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanc­ti­fied thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.

Priests and Levites were so. Sanc­tify them; that is, “Qual­ify them for the office, with Chris­t­ian graces and min­is­te­r­ial gifts, to make them able min­is­ters of the New Tes­ta­ment.” “Sep­a­rate them to the office, Romans 1:1 KJV  Paul, a ser­vant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apos­tle, sep­a­rated unto the gospel of God, I have called them, they have con­sented; Father, say Amen to it.” “Own them in the office; let thy hand go along with them; sanc­tify them by or in thy truth, as truth is opposed to fig­ure and shadow; sanc­tify them really, not rit­u­ally and cer­e­mo­ni­ally, as the Levit­i­cal priests were, by anoint­ing and sac­ri­fice. Sanc­tify them to thy truth, the word of thy truth, to be the preach­ers of thy truth to the world; as the priests were sanc­ti­fied to serve at the altar, so let them be to preach the gospel.” 1 Corinthi­ans 9:13–14 KJV  Do ye not know that they which min­is­ter about holy things live of the things of the tem­ple? and they which wait at the altar are par­tak­ers with the altar?  (14)  Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.

Note, Jesus Christ inter­cedes for his min­is­ters with a par­tic­u­lar con­cern, and rec­om­mends to his Father’s grace those stars he car­ries in his right hand. The great thing to be asked of God for gospel min­is­ters is that they may be sanc­ti­fied, effec­tu­ally sep­a­rated from the world, entirely devoted to God, and exper­i­men­tally acquainted with the influ­ence of that word upon their own hearts which they preach to oth­ers. Let them have the Urim and Thum­mim, light and integrity.

We have here two pleas or argu­ments to enforce the peti­tion for the dis­ci­ples’ sanc­ti­fi­ca­tion:

The mis­sion they had from him: John 17:18 KJV  As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. As thou hast sent me into the world, to be thine ambas­sador to the chil­dren of men, so now that I am recalled have I sent them into the world, as my del­e­gates.”

Now here, Christ speaks with great assur­ance of his own mis­sion: Thou hast sent me into the world. The great author of the Chris­t­ian reli­gion had his com­mis­sion and instruc­tions from him who is the ori­gin and object of all reli­gion. He was sent of God to say what he said, and do what he did, and be what he is to those that believe on him; which was his com­fort in his under­tak­ing, and may be ours abun­dantly in our depen­dence upon him; his record was on high, for thence his mis­sion was.

He speaks with great sat­is­fac­tion of the com­mis­sion he had given his dis­ci­ples “So have I sent them on the same errand, and to carry on the same design;” to preach the same doc­trine that he preached, and to con­firm it with the same proofs, with a charge like­wise to com­mit to other faith­ful men that which was com­mit­ted to them. He gave them their com­mis­sion John 20:21 KJV  Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. with a ref­er­ence to his own, and it mag­ni­fies their office that it comes from Christ, and that there is some affin­ity between the com­mis­sion given to the min­is­ters of rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and that given to the Medi­a­tor; he is called an apos­tle, Hebrews 3:1 KJV  Where­fore, holy brethren, par­tak­ers of the heav­enly call­ing, con­sider the Apos­tle and High Priest of our pro­fes­sion, Christ Jesus; a min­is­ter, Romans 15:8 KJV  Now I say that Jesus Christ was a min­is­ter of the cir­cum­ci­sion for the truth of God, to con­firm the promises made unto the fathers: a mes­sen­ger, Malachi 3:1 KJV  Behold, I will send my mes­sen­ger, and he shall pre­pare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall sud­denly come to his tem­ple, even the mes­sen­ger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts. Only they are sent as ser­vants, he as a Son. Now this comes in here as a rea­son, why Christ was con­cerned so much for them, and laid their case so near his heart; because he had him­self put them into a dif­fi­cult office, which required great abil­i­ties for the due dis­charge of it.

Note, Whom Christ sends he will stand by, and inter­est him­self in those that are employed for him; what he calls us out to he will fit us out for, and bear us up in.

Why he com­mit­ted them to his Father; because he was con­cerned in their cause, their mis­sion being in pros­e­cu­tion of his, and as it were an assign­ment out of it. Christ received gifts for men, Psalms 68:18 KJV  Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led cap­tiv­ity cap­tive: thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebel­lious also, that the LORD God might dwell among them. and then gave them to men, Eph­esians 4:8 KJV  Where­fore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led cap­tiv­ity cap­tive, and gave gifts unto men. and there­fore prays aid of his Father to war­rant and uphold those gifts, and con­firm his grant of them. The Father sanc­ti­fied him when he sent him into the world, John 10:36 KJV  Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanc­ti­fied, and sent into the world, Thou blas­phemest; because I said, I am the Son of God? Now, they being sent as he was, let them also be sanc­ti­fied.

The merit he had for them is another thing here pleaded: John 17:19 KJV  And for their sakes I sanc­tify myself, that they also might be sanc­ti­fied through the truth. For their sakes I sanc­tify myself. Here is, Christ’s des­ig­na­tion of him­self to the work and office of Medi­a­tor: I sanc­ti­fied myself. He entirely devoted him­self to the under­tak­ing, and all the parts of it, espe­cially that which he was now going about — the offer­ing up of him­self with­out spot unto God, by the eter­nal Spirit. He, as the priest and altar, sanc­ti­fied him­self as the sac­ri­fice. When he said, Father, glo­rify thy name — Father, thy will be done — Father, I com­mit my spirit into thy hands, he paid down the sat­is­fac­tion he had engaged to make, and so sanc­ti­fied him­self. This he pleads with his Father, for his inter­ces­sion is made in the virtue of his sat­is­fac­tion; by his own blood he entered into the holy place, Hebrews 9:12 KJV  Nei­ther by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, hav­ing obtained eter­nal redemp­tion for us. as the high priest, on the day of atone­ment, sprin­kled the blood of the sac­ri­fice at the same time that he burnt incense within the veil, Leviti­cus 16:12 KJV  And he shall take a censer full of burn­ing coals of fire from off the altar before the LORD, and his hands full of sweet incense beaten small, and bring it within the vail: Leviti­cus 16:14 KJV  And he shall take of the blood of the bul­lock, and sprin­kle it with his fin­ger upon the mercy seat east­ward; and before the mercy seat shall he sprin­kle of the blood with his fin­ger seven times.

Christ’s design of kind­ness to his dis­ci­ples herein; it is for their sakes, that they may be sanc­ti­fied, that is, that they may be mar­tyrs; so some. “I sac­ri­fice myself, that they may be sac­ri­ficed to the glory of God and the church’s good.” Paul speaks of his being offered, Philip­pi­ans 2:17 KJV  Yea, and if I be offered upon the sac­ri­fice and ser­vice of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all. 2 Tim­o­thy 4:6 KJV  For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my depar­ture is at hand. What­ever there is in the death of the saints that is pre­cious in the sight of the Lord, it is owing to the death of the Lord Jesus.

But I rather take it more gen­er­ally, that they may be saints and min­is­ters, duly qual­i­fied and accepted of God. The office of the min­istry is the pur­chase of Christ’s blood, and one of the blessed fruits of his sat­is­fac­tion, and owes its virtue and value to Christ’s merit. The priests under the law were con­se­crated with the blood of bulls and goats, but gospel min­is­ters with the blood of Jesus. The real holi­ness of all good Chris­tians is the fruit of Christ’s death, by which the gift of the Holy Ghost was pur­chased; he gave him­self for his church, to sanc­tify it, Eph­esians 5:25–26 KJV  Hus­bands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave him­self for it;  (26)  That he might sanc­tify and cleanse it with the wash­ing of water by the word, And he that designed the end designed also the means, that they might be sanc­ti­fied by the truth, the truth which Christ came into the world to bear wit­ness to and died to con­firm. The word of truth receives its sanc­ti­fy­ing virtue and power from the death of Christ. Some read it, that they may be sanc­ti­fied in truth, that is, truly; for as God must be served, so, in order to this, we must be sanc­ti­fied, in the spirit, and in truth. And this Christ has prayed for, for all that are his; for this is his will, even their sanc­ti­fi­ca­tion, which encour­ages them to pray for it,

Next to their purity he prays for their unity; for the wis­dom from above is first pure, then peace­able; and amity is ami­able indeed when it is like the oint­ment on Aaron’s holy head, and the dew on Zion’s holy hill.

Observe, who are included in this prayer: John 17:20 KJV  Nei­ther pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; Not these only, not these only that are now my dis­ci­ples” (the eleven, the sev­enty, with oth­ers, men and women that fol­lowed him when he was here on earth), “but for those also who shall believe on me through their word, either preached by them in their own day or writ­ten by them for the gen­er­a­tions to come; I pray for them all, that they all may be one in their inter­est in this prayer, and may all receive ben­e­fit by it.”

Note, Here:

Those, and those only, are inter­ested in the medi­a­tion of Christ, that do, or shall, believe in him. This is that by which they are described, and it com­pre­hends all the char­ac­ter and duty of a Chris­t­ian. They that lived then, saw and believed, but they in after ages have not seen, and yet have believed.

It is through the word that souls are brought to believe on Christ, and it is for this end that Christ appointed the scrip­tures to be writ­ten, and a stand­ing min­istry to con­tinue in the church, while the church stands, that is, while the world stands, for the rais­ing up of a seed.

It is cer­tainly and infal­li­bly known to Christ who shall believe on him. He does not here pray at a ven­ture, upon a con­tin­gency depend­ing on the treach­er­ous will of man, which pre­tends to be free, but by rea­son of sin is in bondage with its chil­dren; no, Christ knew very well whom he prayed for, the mat­ter was reduced to a cer­tainty by the divine pre­science and pur­pose; he knew who were given him, who being ordained to eter­nal life, were entered in the Lamb’s book, and should undoubt­edly believe, Acts 13:48 KJV  And when the Gen­tiles heard this, they were glad, and glo­ri­fied the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eter­nal life believed.

Jesus Christ inter­cedes not only for great and emi­nent believ­ers, but for the mean­est and weak­est; not for those only that are to be employed in the high­est post of trust and hon­our in his king­dom, but for all, even those that in the eye of the world are incon­sid­er­able. As the divine prov­i­dence extends itself to the mean­est crea­ture, so does the divine grace to the mean­est Chris­t­ian. The good Shep­herd has an eye even to the poor of the flock.

Jesus Christ in his medi­a­tion had an actual regard to those of the cho­sen rem­nant that were yet unborn, the peo­ple that should be cre­ated, Psalms 22:31 KJV  They shall come, and shall declare his right­eous­ness unto a peo­ple that shall be born, that he hath done this. the other sheep which he must yet bring. Before they are formed in the womb he knows them, Jere­miah 1:5 KJV  Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanc­ti­fied thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. and prayers are filed in heaven for them before­hand, by him who declar­eth the end from the begin­ning, and cal­leth things that are not as though they were.

What is intended in this prayer: John 17:21 KJV  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. That they all may be one. The same was said before, John 17:11 KJV  And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. that they may be one as we are, and again, John 17:22 KJV  And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:

The heart of Christ was much upon this. Some think that the one­ness prayed for in John 17:11 KJV  And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. has spe­cial ref­er­ence to the dis­ci­ples as min­is­ters and apos­tles, that they might be one in their tes­ti­mony to Christ; and that the har­mony of the evan­ge­lists, and con­cur­rence of the first preach­ers of the gospel, are owing to this prayer. Let them be not only of one heart, but of one mouth, speak­ing the same thing. The unity of the gospel min­is­ters is both the beauty and strength of the gospel inter­est. But it is cer­tain that the one­ness prayed for in John 17:21 KJV  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. respects all believ­ers. It is the prayer of Christ for all that are his, and we may be sure it is an answered prayer — that they all may be one, one in us, John 17:21 KJV  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. one as e are one, John 17:22 KJV  And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: made per­fect in one, John 17:23 KJV  I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made per­fect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

It includes three things: That they might all be incor­po­rated in one body. “Father, look upon them all as one, and rat­ify that great char­ter by which they are embod­ied as one church. Though they live in dis­tant places, from one end of heaven to the other, and in sev­eral ages, from the begin­ning to the close of time, and so can­not have any per­sonal acquain­tance or cor­re­spon­dence with each other, yet let them be united in me their com­mon head.” As Christ died, so he prayed, to gather them all in one, John 11:52 KJV  And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the chil­dren of God that were scat­tered abroad. Eph­esians 1:10 KJV  That in the dis­pen­sa­tion of the ful­ness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:

That they might all be ani­mated by one Spirit. This is plainly implied in this — that they may be one in us. Union with the Father and Son is obtained and kept up only by the Holy Ghost. He that is joined to the Lord in one spirit, 1 Corinthi­ans 6:17 KJV  But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. Let them all be stamped with the same image and super­scrip­tion, and influ­enced by the same power.

That they might all be knit together in the bond of love and char­ity, all of one heart. That they all may be one, in judg­ment and sen­ti­ment; not in every lit­tle thing — this is nei­ther pos­si­ble nor need­ful, but in the great things of God, and in them, by the virtue of this prayer, they are all agreed — that God’s favour is bet­ter than life — that sin is the worst of evils, Christ the best of friends — that there is another life after this, and the like. In dis­po­si­tion and incli­na­tion. All that are sanc­ti­fied have the same divine nature and image; they have all a new heart, and it is one heart. They are all one in their designs and aims. Every true Chris­t­ian, as far as he is so, eyes the glory of God as his high­est end, and the glory of heaven as his chief good. They are all one in their desires and prayers; though they dif­fer in words and the man­ner of expres­sions, yet, hav­ing received the same spirit of adop­tion, and observ­ing the same rule, they pray for the same things in effect. All one in love and affec­tion. Every true Chris­t­ian has that in him which inclines him to love all true Chris­tians as such. That which Christ here prays for is that com­mu­nion of saints which we pro­fess to believe; the fel­low­ship which all believ­ers have with God, and their inti­mate union with all the saints in heaven and earth, 1 John 1:3 KJV  That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fel­low­ship with us: and truly our fel­low­ship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. But this prayer of Christ will not have its com­plete answer till all the saints come to heaven, for then, and not till then, they shall be per­fect in one, John 17:23 KJV  I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made per­fect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. Eph­esians 4:13 KJV  Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowl­edge of the Son of God, unto a per­fect man, unto the mea­sure of the stature of the ful­ness of Christ:

What is inti­mated by way of plea or argu­ment to enforce this peti­tion; three things:

The one­ness that is between the Father and the Son, which is men­tioned again and again, John 17:11 KJV  And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. John 17:21–23 KJV  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.  (22)  And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:  (23)  I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made per­fect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

It is taken for granted that the Father and Son are one, one in nature and essence, equal in power and glory, one in mutual endear­ments. The Father loveth the Son, and the Son always pleased the Father. They are one in design, and one in oper­a­tion. The inti­macy of this one­ness is expressed in these words, thou in me, and I in thee. This he often men­tions for his sup­port under his present suf­fer­ings, when his ene­mies were ready to fall upon him, and his friends to fall off from him; yet he was in the Father, and the Father in him. This is insisted on in Christ’s prayer for his dis­ci­ples’ one­ness, as the pat­tern of that one­ness, show­ing how he desired they might be one.

Believ­ers are one in some mea­sure as God and Christ are one; for, First, The union of believ­ers is a strict and close union; they are united by a divine nature, by the power of divine grace, in pur­suance of the divine coun­sels. Sec­ondly, It is a holy union, in the Holy Spirit, for holy ends; not a body politic for any sec­u­lar pur­pose. Thirdly, It is, and will be at last, a com­plete union. Father and Son have the same attrib­utes, prop­er­ties, and per­fec­tions; so have believ­ers now, as far as they are sanc­ti­fied, and when grace shall be per­fected in glory they will be exactly con­so­nant to each other, all changed into the same image.

As the cen­tre of that one­ness; that they may be one in us, all meet­ing here. There is one God and one Medi­a­tor; and herein believ­ers are one, that they all agree to depend upon the favour of this one God as their felic­ity and the merit of this one Medi­a­tor as their right­eous­ness. That is a con­spir­acy, not a union, which doth not cen­tre in God as the end, and Christ as the way. All who are truly united to God and Christ, who are one, will soon be united one to another.

As a plea for that one­ness. The Cre­ator and Redeemer are one in inter­est and design; but to what pur­pose are they so, if all believ­ers be not one body with Christ, and do not jointly receive grace for grace from him, as he has received it for them? Christ’s design was to reduce revolted mankind to God: “Father,” says he, “let all that believe be one, that in one body they may be rec­on­ciled”, Eph­esians 2:15–16 KJV  Hav­ing abol­ished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of com­mand­ments con­tained in ordi­nances; for to make in him­self of twain one new man, so mak­ing peace;  (16)  And that he might rec­on­cile both unto God in one body by the cross, hav­ing slain the enmity thereby: which speaks of the unit­ing of Jews and Gen­tiles in the church; that great mys­tery, that the Gen­tiles should be fellow-heirs, and of the same body, Eph­esians 3:6 KJV  That the Gen­tiles should be fel­lowheirs, and of the same body, and par­tak­ers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: to which I think this prayer of Christ prin­ci­pally refers, it being one great thing he aimed at in his dying; and I won­der none of the expos­i­tors I have met with should so apply it. “Father, let the Gen­tiles that believe be incor­po­rated with the believ­ing Jews, and make of twain one new man.” Those words, I in them, and thou in me, show what that union is which is so nec­es­sary, not only to the beauty, but to the very being, of his church. First, Union with Christ: I in them. Christ dwelling in the hearts of believ­ers is the life and soul of the new man. Sec­ondly, Union with God through him: Thou in me, so as by me to be in them. Thirdly, Union with each other, result­ing from these: that they hereby may be made per­fect in one. We are com­plete in him.

The design of Christ in all his com­mu­ni­ca­tions of light and grace to them: John 17:22 KJV  And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: The glory which thou gavest me, as the trustee or chan­nel of con­veyance, I have accord­ingly given them, to this intent, that they may be one, as we are one; so that those gifts will be in vain, if they be not one.”

Now these gifts are either, those that were con­ferred upon the apos­tles, and first planters of the church. The glory of being God’s ambas­sadors to the world — the glory of work­ing mir­a­cles — the glory of gath­er­ing a church out of the world, and erect­ing the throne of God’s king­dom among men — this glory was given to Christ, and some of the hon­our he put upon them when he sent them to dis­ci­ple all nations. Or, those that are given in com­mon to all believ­ers. The glory of being in covenant with the Father, and accepted of him, of being laid in his bosom, and designed for a place at his right hand, was the glory which the Father gave to the Redeemer, and he has con­firmed it to the redeemed. This hon­our he says he hath given them, because he hath intended it for them, set­tled it upon them, and secured it to them upon their believ­ing Christ’s promises to be real gifts. This was given to him to give to them; it was con­veyed to him in trust for them, and he was faith­ful to him that appointed him.

He gave it to them, that they might be one. First, to enti­tle them to the priv­i­lege of unity, that by virtue of their com­mon rela­tion to one God the Father, and one Lord Jesus Christ, they might be truly denom­i­nated one. The gift of the Spirit, that great glory which the Father gave to the Son, by him to be given to all believ­ers, makes them one, for he works all in all, 1 Corinthi­ans 12:4 KJV  Now there are diver­si­ties of gifts, but the same Spirit. Sec­ondly, To engage them to the duty of unity. That in con­sid­er­a­tion of their agree­ment and com­mu­nion in one creed and one covenant, one Spirit and one Bible — in con­sid­er­a­tion of what they have in one God and one Christ, and of what they hope for in one heaven, they may be of one mind and one mouth. Worldly glory sets men at vari­ance; for if some be advanced oth­ers are eclipsed, and there­fore, while the dis­ci­ples dreamed of a tem­po­ral king­dom, they were ever and anon quar­relling; but spir­i­tual hon­ours being con­ferred alike upon all Christ’s sub­jects, they being all made to our God kings and priests, there is no occa­sion for con­test nor emu­la­tion. The more Chris­tians are taken up with the glory Christ has given them, the less desirous they will be of vain-glory, and, con­se­quently, the less dis­posed to quar­rel.

He pleads the happy influ­ence their one­ness would have upon oth­ers, and the fur­ther­ance it would give to the pub­lic good. This is twice urged: John 17:21 KJV  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. That the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And again: John 17:23 KJV  I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made per­fect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. That the world may know it, for with­out knowl­edge there can be no true faith. Believ­ers must know what they believe, and why and where­fore they believe it. Those who believe at a ven­ture, ven­ture too far.

Now Christ here shows, His good-will to the world of mankind in gen­eral. Herein he is of his Father’s mind, as we are sure he is in every thing, that he would have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowl­edge of the truth, 1 Tim­o­thy 2:4 KJV  Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowl­edge of the truth. 2 Peter 3:9 KJV  The Lord is not slack con­cern­ing his promise, as some men count slack­ness; but is long­suf­fer­ing to us-ward, not will­ing that any should per­ish, but that all should come to repen­tance. There­fore it is his will that all means pos­si­ble should be used, and no stone left unturned, for the con­vic­tion and con­ver­sion of the world. We know not who are cho­sen, but we must in our places do our utmost to fur­ther men’s sal­va­tion, and take heed of doing any thing to hin­der it.

The good fruit of the church’s one­ness; it will be an evi­dence of the truth of Chris­tian­ity, and a means of bring­ing many to embrace it.

In gen­eral, it will rec­om­mend Chris­tian­ity to the world, and to the good opin­ion of those that are with­out. First, The embody­ing of Chris­tians in one soci­ety by the gospel char­ter will greatly pro­mote Chris­tian­ity. When the world shall see so many of those that were its chil­dren called out of its fam­ily, dis­tin­guished from oth­ers, and changed from what they them­selves some­times were, — when they shall see this soci­ety raised by the fool­ish­ness of preach­ing, and kept up by mir­a­cles of divine prov­i­dence and grace, and how admirably well it is mod­elled and con­sti­tuted, they will be ready to say, We will go with you, for we see that God is with you. Sec­ondly, The unit­ing of Chris­tians in love and char­ity is the beauty of their pro­fes­sion, and invites oth­ers to join with them, as the love that was among those primo-primitive Chris­tians, Acts 2:42–43 KJV  And they con­tin­ued sted­fastly in the apos­tles’ doc­trine and fel­low­ship, and in break­ing of bread, and in prayers.  (43)  And fear came upon every soul: and many won­ders and signs were done by the apos­tles. Acts 4:32–33 KJV  And the mul­ti­tude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: nei­ther said any of them that ought of the things which he pos­sessed was his own; but they had all things com­mon.  (33)  And with great power gave the apos­tles wit­ness of the res­ur­rec­tion of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.

When Chris­tian­ity, instead of caus­ing quar­rels about itself, makes all other strifes to cease, — when it cools the fiery, smooths the rugged, and dis­poses men to be kind and lov­ing, cour­te­ous and benef­i­cent, to all men, stu­dious to pre­serve and pro­mote peace in all rela­tions and soci­eties, this will rec­om­mend it to all that have any thing either of nat­ural reli­gion or nat­ural affec­tion in them.

In par­tic­u­lar, it will beget in men good thoughts, First, Of Christ: They will know and believe that thou hast sent me, By this it will appear that Christ was sent of God, and that his doc­trine was divine, in that his reli­gion pre­vails to join so many of dif­fer­ent capac­i­ties, tem­pers, and inter­ests in other things, in one body by faith, with one heart by love. Cer­tainly he was sent by the God of power, who fash­ions men’s hearts alike, and the God of love and peace; when the wor­ship­pers of God are one, he is one, and his name one. Sec­ondly, Of Chris­tians: They will know that thou hast loved them as thou hast loved me.

Here is, the priv­i­lege of believ­ers: the Father him­self loveth them with a love resem­bling his love to his Son, for they are loved in him with an ever­last­ing love. The evi­dence of their inter­est in this priv­i­lege, and that is their being one. By this it will appear that God loves us, if we love one another with a pure heart; for wher­ever the love of God is shed abroad in the heart it will change it into the same image. See how much good it would do to the world to know bet­ter how dear to God all good Chris­tians are. The Jews had a say­ing, If the world did but know the worth of good men, they would hedge them about with pearls. Those that have so much of God’s love should have more of ours.

 

Christ the Good Shepherd — John 10:10–18

John 10-10-18Christ is a good Shep­herd; many who were not thieves, yet were care­less in their duty, and by their neglect the flock was much hurt. Bad prin­ci­ples are the root of bad prac­tices. The Lord Jesus knows whom he has cho­sen, and is sure of them; they also know whom they have trusted, and are sure of Him. See here the grace of Christ; since none could demand his life of him, he laid it down of him­self for our redemp­tion. He offered him­self to be the Sav­iour; Lo, I come. And the neces­sity of our case call­ing for it, he offered him­self for the Sac­ri­fice. He was both the offerer and the offer­ing, so that his lay­ing down his life was his offer­ing up him­self. From hence it is plain, that he died in the place and stead of men; to obtain their being set free from the pun­ish­ment of sin, to obtain the par­don of their sin; and that his death should obtain that par­don. Our Lord laid not his life down for his doc­trine, but for his sheep.

John 10:10–18 KJV  The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abun­dantly.  (11)  I am the good shep­herd: the good shep­herd giveth his life for the sheep.  (12)  But he that is an hireling, and not the shep­herd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf com­ing, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catch­eth them, and scat­tereth the sheep.  (13)  The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.  (14)  I am the good shep­herd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.  (15)  As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.  (16)  And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shep­herd.  (17)  There­fore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.  (18)  No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This com­mand­ment have I received of my Father.

Christ’s par­a­bol­i­cal dis­course con­cern­ing him­self as the shep­herd of the sheep.

Pre­cious promises to those who observe this direc­tion. They shall be saved here­after; this is the priv­i­lege of their home. These sheep shall be saved from being dis­trained and impounded by divine jus­tice for tres­pass done, sat­is­fac­tion being made for the dam­age by their great Shep­herd, saved from being a prey to the roar­ing lion; they shall be for ever happy.

In the mean time they shall go in and out and find pas­ture; this is the priv­i­lege of their way. They shall have their con­ver­sa­tion in the world by the grace of Christ, shall be in his fold as a man at his own house, where he has free ingress, egress, and regress. True believ­ers are at home in Christ; when they go out, they are not shut out as strangers, but have lib­erty to come in again; when they come in, they are not shut in as tres­passers, but have lib­erty to go out. They go out to the field in the morn­ing, they come into the fold at night; and in both the Shep­herd leads and keeps them, and they find pas­ture in both: grass in the field, fod­der in the fold. In pub­lic, in pri­vate, they have the word of God to con­verse with, by which their spir­i­tual life is sup­ported and nour­ished, and out of which their gra­cious desires are sat­is­fied; they are replen­ished with the good­ness of God’s house.

Christ is the shep­herd, John 10:11 KJV  I am the good shep­herd: the good shep­herd giveth his life for the sheep. He was proph­e­sied of under the Old Tes­ta­ment as a shep­herd, Isa­iah 40:11 KJV  He shall feed his flock like a shep­herd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gen­tly lead those that are with young. Ezekiel 34:23 KJV  And I will set up one shep­herd over them, and he shall feed them, even my ser­vant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shep­herd. Ezekiel 37:24 KJV  And David my ser­vant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shep­herd: they shall also walk in my judg­ments, and observe my statutes, and do them. Zechariah 13:7 KJV  Awake, O sword, against my shep­herd, and against the man that is my fel­low, saith the LORD of hosts: smite the shep­herd, and the sheep shall be scat­tered: and I will turn mine hand upon the lit­tle ones.

In the New Tes­ta­ment he is spo­ken of as the great Shep­herd, Hebrews 13:20 KJV  Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shep­herd of the sheep, through the blood of the ever­last­ing covenant, the chief Shep­herd, 1 Peter 5:4 KJV  And when the chief Shep­herd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. the Shep­herd and bishop of our souls, 1 Peter 2:25 KJV  For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shep­herd and Bishop of your souls. God, our great owner, the sheep of whose pas­ture we are by cre­ation, has con­sti­tuted his Son Jesus to be our shep­herd; and here again and again he owns the rela­tion. He has all that care of his church, and every believer, that a good shep­herd has of his flock; and expects all that atten­dance and obser­vance from the church, and every believer, which the shep­herds in those coun­tries had from their flocks.

Christ is a shep­herd, and not as the thief, not as those that came not in by the door. Observe, the mis­chie­vous design of the thief: John 10:10 KJV  The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abun­dantly. The thief cometh not with any good intent, but to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. First, Those whom they steal, whose hearts and affec­tions they steal from Christ and his pas­tures, they kill and destroy spir­i­tu­ally; for the here­sies they priv­ily bring in are damnable. Deceivers of souls are mur­der­ers of souls. Those that steal away the scrip­ture by keep­ing it in an unknown tongue, that steal away the sacra­ments by maim­ing them and alter­ing the prop­erty of them, that steal away Christ’s ordi­nances to put their own inven­tions in the room of them, they kill and destroy; igno­rance and idol­a­try are destruc­tive things. Sec­ondly, Those whom they can­not steal, whom they can nei­ther lead, drive, nor carry away, from the flock of Christ, they aim by per­se­cu­tions and mas­sacres to kill and destroy cor­po­rally. He that will not suf­fer him­self to be robbed is in dan­ger of being slain.

The gra­cious design of the shep­herd; he is come, First, To give life to the sheep. In oppo­si­tion to the design of the thief, which is to kill and destroy (which was the design of the scribes and Phar­isees) Christ saith, I am come among men, that they might have life. He came to put life into the flock, the church in gen­eral, which had seemed rather like a val­ley full of dry bones than like a pas­ture cov­ered over with flocks. Christ came to vin­di­cate divine truths, to purify divine ordi­nances, to redress griev­ances, and to revive dying zeal, to seek those of his flock that were lost, to bind up that which was bro­ken, Ezekiel 34:16 KJV  I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was dri­ven away, and will bind up that which was bro­ken, and will strengthen that which was sick: but I will destroy the fat and the strong; I will feed them with judg­ment. and this to his church is as life from the dead. He came to give life to par­tic­u­lar believ­ers. Life is inclu­sive of all good, and stands in oppo­si­tion to the death threat­ened; Gen­e­sis 2:17 KJV  But of the tree of the knowl­edge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eat­est thereof thou shalt surely die. that we might have life, as a crim­i­nal has when he is par­doned, as a sick man when he is cured, a dead man when he is raised; that we might be jus­ti­fied, sanc­ti­fied, and at last glo­ri­fied.

That they might have it more abun­dantly, kai peris­son echōsin. As we read it, it is com­par­a­tive, that they might have a life more abun­dant than that which was lost and for­feited by sin, more abun­dant than that which was promised by the law of Moses, length of days in Canaan, more abun­dant than could have been expected or than we are able to ask or think. But it may be con­strued with­out a note of com­par­i­son, that they might have abun­dance, or might have it abun­dantly. Christ came to give life and peris­son ti - some­thing more, some­thing bet­ter, life with advan­tage; that in Christ we might not only live, but live com­fort­ably, live plen­ti­fully, live and rejoice. Life in abun­dance is eter­nal life, life with­out death or fear of death, life and much more.

Sec­ondly, To give his life for the sheep, and this that he might give life to them: John 10:11 KJV  I am the good shep­herd: the good shep­herd giveth his life for the sheep. The good shep­herd giveth his life for the sheep. It is the prop­erty of every good shep­herd to haz­ard and expose his life for the sheep. Jacob did so, when he would go through such a fatigue to attend them, Gen­e­sis 31:40 KJV  Thus I was; in the day the drought con­sumed me, and the frost by night; and my sleep departed from mine eyes. So did David, when he slew the lion and the bear. Such a shep­herd of souls was St. Paul, who would gladly spend, and be spent, for their ser­vice, and counted not his life dear to him, in com­par­i­son with their sal­va­tion. But, it was the pre­rog­a­tive of the great Shep­herd to give his life to pur­chase his flock, Acts 20:28 KJV  Take heed there­fore unto your­selves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you over­seers, to feed the church of God, which he hath pur­chased with his own blood. to sat­isfy for their tres­pass, and to shed his blood to wash and cleanse them. Christ is a good shep­herd, and not as a hireling. There were many that were not thieves, aim­ing to kill and destroy the sheep, but passed for shep­herds, yet were very care­less in the dis­charge of their duty, and through their neglect the flock was greatly dam­aged; fool­ish shep­herds, idle shep­herds, Zechariah 11:15 KJV  And the LORD said unto me, Take unto thee yet the instru­ments of a fool­ish shep­herd. Zechariah 11:17 KJV  Woe to the idol shep­herd that leaveth the flock! the sword shall be upon his arm, and upon his right eye: his arm shall be clean dried up, and his right eye shall be utterly dark­ened.

In oppo­si­tion to these, Christ here calls him­self the good shep­herd, John 10:11 KJV  I am the good shep­herd: the good shep­herd giveth his life for the sheep. and again John 10:14 KJV  I am the good shep­herd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. ho poimēn ho kalos - that shep­herd, that good Shep­herd, whom God had promised. Note, Jesus Christ is the best of shep­herds, the best in the world to take the over-sight of souls, none so skil­ful, so faith­ful, so ten­der, as he, no such feeder and leader, no such pro­tec­tor and healer of souls as he.

He proves him­self so, in oppo­si­tion to all hirelings. Where observe, First, The care­less­ness of the unfaith­ful shep­herd described; John 10:12–13 KJV  But he that is an hireling, and not the shep­herd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf com­ing, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catch­eth them, and scat­tereth the sheep.  (13)  The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. he that is a hireling, that is employed as a ser­vant and is paid for his pains, whose own the sheep are not, who has nei­ther profit nor loss by them, sees the wolf com­ing, or some other dan­ger threat­en­ing, and leaves the sheep to the wolf, for in truth he careth not for them. Here is plain ref­er­ence to that of the idol-shepherd, Zechariah 11:17 KJV  Woe to the idol shep­herd that leaveth the flock! the sword shall be upon his arm, and upon his right eye: his arm shall be clean dried up, and his right eye shall be utterly dark­ened. Evil shep­herds, mag­is­trates and min­is­ters, are here described both by their bad prin­ci­ples and their bad prac­tices.

Their bad prin­ci­ples, the root of their bad prac­tices. What makes those that have the charge of souls in try­ing times to betray their trust, and in quiet times not to mind it? What makes them false, and tri­fling, and self-seeking? It is because they are hirelings, and care not for the sheep. That is, the wealth of the world is the chief of their good; it is because they are hirelings. They under­took the shep­herds’ office, as a trade to live and grow rich by, not as an oppor­tu­nity of serv­ing Christ and doing good. It is the love of money, and of their own bel­lies, that car­ries them on in it. Not that those are hirelings who, while they serve at the altar, live, and live com­fort­ably, upon the altar. The labourer is wor­thy of his meat; and a scan­dalous main­te­nance will soon make a scan­dalous min­istry. But those are hirelings that love the wages more than the work, and set their hearts upon that, as the hireling is said to do, Deuteron­omy 24:15 KJV  At his day thou shalt give him his hire, nei­ther shall the sun go down upon it; for he is poor, and set­teth his heart upon it: lest he cry against thee unto the LORD, and it be sin unto thee. See 1 Samuel 2:29 KJV  Where­fore kick ye at my sac­ri­fice and at mine offer­ing, which I have com­manded in my habi­ta­tion; and hon­ourest thy sons above me, to make your­selves fat with the chiefest of all the offer­ings of Israel my peo­ple? Isa­iah 56:11 KJV  Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shep­herds that can­not under­stand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quar­ter. Micah 3:5 KJV  Thus saith the LORD con­cern­ing the prophets that make my peo­ple err, that bite with their teeth, and cry, Peace; and he that put­teth not into their mouths, they even pre­pare war against him. Micah 3:11 KJV  The heads thereof judge for reward, and the priests thereof teach for hire, and the prophets thereof divine for money: yet will they lean upon the LORD, and say, Is not the LORD among us? none evil can come upon us.

The work of their place is the least of their care. They value not the sheep, are uncon­cerned in the souls of oth­ers; their busi­ness is to be their broth­ers’ lords, not their broth­ers’ keep­ers or helpers; they seek their own things, and do not, like Tim­o­thy, nat­u­rally care for the state of souls. What can be expected but that they will flee when the wolf comes. He careth not for the sheep, for he is one whose own the sheep are not. In one respect we may say of the best of the under-shepherds that the sheep are not their own, they have not domin­ion over them not prop­erty in them (feed my sheep and my lambs, saith Christ); but in respect of dear­ness and affec­tion they should be their own. Paul looked upon those as his own whom he called his dearly beloved and longed for. Those who do not cor­dially espouse the church’s inter­ests, and make them their own, will not long be faith­ful to them.

Their bad prac­tices, the effect of these bad prin­ci­ples, John 10:12 KJV  But he that is an hireling, and not the shep­herd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf com­ing, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catch­eth them, and scat­tereth the sheep. See here, How basely the hireling deserts his post; when he sees the wolf com­ing, though then there is most need of him, he leaves the sheep and flees.

Note, Those who mind their safety more than their duty are an easy prey to Satan’s temp­ta­tions.

How fatal the con­se­quences are! the hireling fan­cies the sheep may look to them­selves, but it does not prove so: the wolf catches them, and scat­ters the sheep, and woe­ful havoc is made of the flock, which will all be charged upon the treach­er­ous shep­herd. The blood of per­ish­ing souls is required at the hand of the care­less watch­men.

Sec­ondly, See here the grace and ten­der­ness of the good Shep­herd set over against the for­mer, as it was in the prophecy: Ezekiel 34:21–22 KJV  Because ye have thrust with side and with shoul­der, and pushed all the dis­eased with your horns, till ye have scat­tered them abroad;  (22)  There­fore will I save my flock, and they shall no more be a prey; and I will judge between cat­tle and cat­tle. I am the good Shep­herd. It is mat­ter of com­fort to the church, and all her friends, that, how­ever she may be dam­aged and endan­gered by the treach­ery and mis­man­age­ment of her under-officers, the Lord Jesus is, and will be, as he ever has been, the good Shep­herd. Here are two great instances of the shepherd’s good­ness.

His acquaint­ing him­self with his flock, with all that belong or in any wise apper­tain to his flock, which are of two sorts, both known to him: He is acquainted with all that are now of his flock, John 10:14–15 KJV  I am the good shep­herd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.  (15)  As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. as the good Shep­herd: John 10:3–4 KJV  To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he cal­leth his own sheep by name, and lead­eth them out.  (4)  And when he put­teth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep fol­low him: for they know his voice. I know my sheep and am known of mine.

Note, There is a mutual acquain­tance between Christ and true believ­ers; they know one another very well, and knowl­edge notes affec­tion.

Christ knows his sheep. He knows with a dis­tin­guish­ing eye who are his sheep, and who are not; he knows the sheep under their many infir­mi­ties, and the goats under their most plau­si­ble dis­guises. He knows with a favourable eye those that in truth are his own sheep; he takes cog­nizance of their state, con­cerns him­self for them, has a ten­der and affec­tion­ate regard to them, and is con­tin­u­ally mind­ful of them in the inter­ces­sion he ever lives to make within the veil; he vis­its them gra­ciously by his Spirit, and has com­mu­nion with them; he knows them, that is, he approves and accepts of them, as Psalms 1:6 KJV  For the LORD knoweth the way of the right­eous: but the way of the ungodly shall per­ish. Psalms 37:18 KJV  The LORD knoweth the days of the upright: and their inher­i­tance shall be for ever. Exo­dus 33:17 KJV  And the LORD said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spo­ken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name.

He is known of them. He observes them with an eye of favour, and they observe him with an eye of faith. Christ’s know­ing his sheep is put before their know­ing him, for he knew and loved us first, 1 John 4:19 KJV  We love him, because he first loved us. and it is not so much our know­ing him as our being known of him that is our hap­pi­ness, Gala­tians 4:9 KJV  But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beg­garly ele­ments, where­unto ye desire again to be in bondage? Yet it is the char­ac­ter of Christ’s sheep that they know him; know him from all pre­tenders and intrud­ers; they know his mind, know his voice, know by expe­ri­ence the power of his death. Christ speaks here as if he glo­ried in being known by his sheep, and thought their respect an hon­our to him. Upon this occa­sion Christ men­tions John 10:15 KJV  As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. the mutual acquain­tance between his Father and him­self: As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father.

Now this may be con­sid­ered, either, First, As the ground of that inti­mate acquain­tance and rela­tion which sub­sist between Christ and believ­ers. The covenant of grace, which is the bond of this rela­tion, is founded in the covenant of redemp­tion between the Father and the Son, which, we may be sure, stands firm; for the Father and the Son under­stood one another per­fectly well in that mat­ter, and there could be no mis­take, which might leave the mat­ter at any uncer­tainty, or bring it into any haz­ard. The Lord Jesus knows whom he hath cho­sen, and is sure of them, John 13:18 KJV  I speak not of you all: I know whom I have cho­sen: but that the scrip­ture may be ful­filled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me. and they also know whom they have trusted, and are sure of him, 2 Tim­o­thy 1:12 KJV  For the which cause I also suf­fer these things: nev­er­the­less I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am per­suaded that he is able to keep that which I have com­mit­ted unto him against that day. and the ground of both is the per­fect knowl­edge which the Father and the Son had of one another’s mind, when the coun­sel of peace was between them both.

Or, Sec­ondly, As an apt simil­i­tude, illus­trat­ing the inti­macy that is between Christ and believ­ers. It may be con­nected with the fore­go­ing words, thus: I know my sheep, and am known of mine, even as the Father knows me, and I know the Father; com­pare John 17:21 KJV  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.

As the Father knew the Son, and loved him, and owned him in his suf­fer­ings, when he was led as a sheep to the slaugh­ter, so Christ knows his sheep, and has a watch­ful ten­der eye upon them, will be with them when they are left alone, as his Father was with him.

As the Son knew the Father, loved and obeyed him, and always did those things that pleased him, con­fid­ing in him as his God even when he seemed to for­sake him, so believ­ers know Christ with an obe­di­en­tial fidu­cial regard.

He is acquainted with those that are here­after to be of this flock: John 10:16 KJV  And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shep­herd. Other sheep I have, have a right to and an inter­est in, which are not of this fold, of the Jew­ish church; them also I must bring.

Observe, the eye that Christ had to the poor Gen­tiles. He had some­times inti­mated his spe­cial con­cern for the lost sheep of the house of Israel; to them indeed his per­sonal min­istry was con­fined; but, saith he, I have other sheep. Those who in process of time should believe in Christ, and be brought into obe­di­ence to him from among the Gen­tiles, are here called sheep, and he is said to have them, though as yet they were uncalled, and many of them unborn, because they were cho­sen of God, and given to Christ in the coun­sels of divine love from eter­nity. Christ has a right, by virtue of the Father’s dona­tion and his own pur­chase, to many a soul of which he has not yet the pos­ses­sion; thus he had much peo­ple in Corinth, when as yet it lay in wicked­ness, Acts 18:10 KJV  For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much peo­ple in this city. “Those other sheep I have,” saith Christ, “I have them on my heart, have them in my eye, am as sure to have them as if I had them already.” Now Christ speaks of those other sheep, First, To take off the con­tempt that was put upon him, as hav­ing few fol­low­ers, as hav­ing but a lit­tle flock, and there­fore, if a good shep­herd, yet a poor shep­herd: “But,” saith he, “I have more sheep than you see.” Sec­ondly, To take down the pride and vain-glory of the Jews, who thought the Mes­siah must gather all his sheep from among them. “No,” saith Christ, “I have oth­ers whom I will set with the lambs of my flock, though you dis­dain to set them with the dogs of your flock.”

The pur­poses and resolves of his grace con­cern­ing them: “Them also I must bring, bring home to God, bring into the church, and, in order to this, bring off from their vain con­ver­sa­tion, bring them back from their wan­der­ings, as that lost sheep,Luke 15:5 KJV  And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoul­ders, rejoic­ing. But why must he bring them? What was the neces­sity? First, The neces­sity of their case required it: “I must bring, or they must be left to wan­der end­lessly, for, like sheep, they will never come back of them­selves, and no other can or will bring them.” Sec­ondly, The neces­sity of his own engage­ments required it; he must bring them, or he would not be faith­ful to his trust, and true to his under­tak­ing. “They are my own, bought and paid for, and there­fore I must not neglect them nor leave them to per­ish.” He must in hon­our bring those with whom he was entrusted.

The happy effect and con­se­quence of this, in two things: — First, “They shall hear my voice. Not only my voice shall be heard among them (whereas they have not heard, and there­fore could not believe, now the sound of the gospel shall go to the ends of the earth), but it shall be heard by them; I will speak, and give to them to hear.” Faith comes by hear­ing, and our dili­gent obser­vance of the voice of Christ is both a means and an evi­dence of our being brought to Christ, and to God by him. Sec­ondly, There shall be one fold and one shep­herd. As there is one shep­herd, so there shall be one fold. Both Jews and Gen­tiles, upon their turn­ing to the faith of Christ, shall be incor­po­rated in one church, be joint and equal shar­ers in the priv­i­leges of it, with­out dis­tinc­tion. Being united to Christ, they shall unite in him; two sticks shall become one in the hand of the Lord.

Note, One shep­herd makes one fold; one Christ makes one church. As the church is one in its con­sti­tu­tion, sub­ject to one head, ani­mated by one Spirit, and guided by one rule, so the mem­bers of it ought to be one in love and affec­tion, Eph­esians 4:3–6 KJV  Endeav­our­ing to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  (4)  There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your call­ing;  (5)  One Lord, one faith, one bap­tism,  (6)  One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

Christ’s offer­ing up him­self for his sheep is another proof of his being a good shep­herd, and in this he yet more com­mended his love. He declares his pur­pose of dying for his flock: John 10:15 KJV  As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. I lay down my life for the sheep. He not only ven­tured his life for them (in such a case, the hope of sav­ing it might bal­ance the fear of los­ing it), but he actu­ally deposited it, and sub­mit­ted to a neces­sity of dying for our redemp­tion; tithēmi - I put it as a pawn or pledge; as purchase-money paid down. Sheep appointed for the slaugh­ter, ready to be sac­ri­ficed, were ran­somed with the blood of the shep­herd. He laid down his life, huper tōn probatōn, not only for the good of the sheep, but in their stead. Thou­sands of sheep had been offered in sac­ri­fice for their shep­herds, as sin-offerings, but here, by a sur­pris­ing reverse, the shep­herd is sac­ri­ficed for the sheep. When David, the shep­herd of Israel, was him­self guilty, and the destroy­ing angel drew his sword against the flock for his sake, with good rea­son did he plead, These sheep, what evil have they done? Let thy hand be against me, 2 Samuel 24:17 KJV  And David spake unto the LORD when he saw the angel that smote the peo­ple, and said, Lo, I have sinned, and I have done wickedly: but these sheep, what have they done? let thine hand, I pray thee, be against me, and against my father’s house. But the Son of David was sin­less and spot­less; and his sheep, what evil have they not done? Yet he saith, Let thine hand be against me. Christ here seems to refer to that prophecy, Zechariah 13:7 KJV  Awake, O sword, against my shep­herd, and against the man that is my fel­low, saith the LORD of hosts: smite the shep­herd, and the sheep shall be scat­tered: and I will turn mine hand upon the lit­tle ones. Awake, O sword, against my shep­herd; and, though the smit­ing of the shep­herd be for the present the scat­ter­ing of the flock, it is in order to the gath­er­ing of them in.

He takes off the offence of the cross, which to many is a stone of stum­bling, by four con­sid­er­a­tions: That his lay­ing down his life for the sheep was the con­di­tion, the per­for­mance of which enti­tled him to the hon­ours and pow­ers of his exalted state: John 10:17 KJV  There­fore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. There­fore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life. Upon these terms I am, as Medi­a­tor, to expect my Father’s accep­tance and appro­ba­tion, and the glory designed me — that I become a sac­ri­fice for the cho­sen rem­nant.” Not but that, as the Son of God, he was beloved of his Father from eter­nity, but as God — man, as Immanuel, he was there­fore beloved of the Father because he under­took to die for the sheep; there­fore God’s soul delighted in him as his elect because herein he was his faith­ful ser­vant; Isa­iah 42:1 KJV  Behold my ser­vant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judg­ment to the Gen­tiles. there­fore he said, This is my beloved Son. What an instance is this of God’s love to man, that he loved his Son the more for lov­ing us! See what a value Christ puts upon his Father’s love, that, to rec­om­mend him­self to that, he would lay down his life for the sheep. Did he think God’s love rec­om­pence suf­fi­cient for all his ser­vices and suf­fer­ings, and shall we think it too lit­tle for ours, and court the smiles of the world to make it up? There­fore doth my Father love me, that is, me, and all that by faith become one with me; me, and the mys­ti­cal body, because I lay down my life.

That his lay­ing down his life was in order to his resum­ing it: I lay down my life, that I may receive it again. First, This was the effect of his Father’s love, and the first step of his exal­ta­tion, the fruit of that love. Because he was God’s holy one, he must not see cor­rup­tion, Psalms 16:10 KJV  For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; nei­ther wilt thou suf­fer thine Holy One to see cor­rup­tion. God loved him too well to leave him in the grave. Sec­ondly, This he had in his eye, in lay­ing down his life, that he might have an oppor­tu­nity of declar­ing him­self to be the Son of God with power by his res­ur­rec­tion, Romans 1:4 KJV  And declared to be the Son of God with power, accord­ing to the spirit of holi­ness, by the res­ur­rec­tion from the dead: By a divine strat­a­gem (like that before Ai, Joshua 8:15 KJV  And Joshua and all Israel made as if they were beaten before them, and fled by the way of the wilder­ness.) he yielded to death, as if he were smit­ten before it, that he might the more glo­ri­ously con­quer death, and tri­umph over the grave. He laid down a vil­i­fied body, that he might assume a glo­ri­fied one, fit to ascend to the world of spir­its; laid down a life adapted to this world, but assumed one adapted to the other, like a corn of wheat, John 12:24 KJV  Ver­ily, ver­ily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.

That he was per­fectly vol­un­tary in his suf­fer­ings and death: John 10:18 KJV  No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This com­mand­ment have I received of my Father. “No one doth or can force my life from me against my will, but I freely lay it down of myself, I deliver it as my own act and deed, for I have (which no man has) power to lay it down, and to take it again.

First, See here the power of Christ, as the Lord of life, par­tic­u­larly of his own life, which he had in him­self. He had power to keep his life against all the world, so that it could not be wrested from him with­out his own con­sent. Though Christ’s life seemed to be taken by storm, yet really it was sur­ren­dered, oth­er­wise it had been impreg­nable, and never taken. The Lord Jesus did not fall into the hands of his per­se­cu­tors because he could not avoid it, but threw him­self into their hands because his hour was come. No man taketh my life from me. This was such a chal­lenge as was never given by the most dar­ing hero.

He had power to lay down his life. He had abil­ity to do it. He could, when he pleased, slip the knot of union between soul and body, and, with­out any act of vio­lence done to him­self, could dis­en­gage them from each other: hav­ing vol­un­tar­ily taken up a body, he could vol­un­tar­ily lay it down again, which appeared when he cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost. He had author­ity to do it, exou­sian. Though we could find instru­ments of cru­elty, where­with to make an end of our own lives, yet Id pos­sumus quod jure pos­sumus — we can do that, and that only, which we can do law­fully. We are not at lib­erty to do it; but Christ had a sov­er­eign author­ity to dis­pose of his own life as he pleased. He was no debtor (as we are) either to life or death, but per­fectly sui juris.

He had power to take it again; we have not. Our life, once laid down, is as water spilt upon the ground; but Christ, when he laid down his life, still had it within reach, within call, and could resume it. Part­ing with it by a vol­un­tary con­veyance, he might limit the sur­ren­der at plea­sure, and he did it with a power of revo­ca­tion, which was nec­es­sary to pre­serve the inten­tions of the sur­ren­der.

Sec­ondly, See here the grace of Christ; since none could demand his life of him by law, or extort it by force, he laid it down of him­self, for our redemp­tion. He offered him­self to be the Sav­iour: Lo, I come; and then, the neces­sity of our case call­ing for it, he offered him­self to be a sac­ri­fice: Here am I, let these go their way; by which will we are sanc­ti­fied, Hebrews 10:10 KJV  By the which will we are sanc­ti­fied through the offer­ing of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. He was both the offerer and the offer­ing, so that his lay­ing down his life was his offer­ing up himself.

Blessings Promised — Isaiah 56:3–8

Isaiah 56-3-8Unbe­lief often sug­gests things to dis­cour­age believ­ers, against which God has expressly guarded. Spir­i­tual bless­ings are unspeak­ably bet­ter than hav­ing sons and daugh­ters; for chil­dren are a care, and may prove a grief and shame, but the bless­ings we par­take of in God’s house, are com­forts which can­not be made bit­ter. Those who love the Lord truly, will serve him faith­fully, and then his com­mand­ments are not griev­ous. Three things are promised. Assis­tance: I will not only bid them wel­come, but incline them to come. Accep­tance, and com­fort: though they came mourn­ing to the house of prayer, they shall go away rejoic­ing. They shall find ease by cast­ing their cares and bur­dens upon God. Many a sor­row­ful spirit has been made joy­ful in the house of prayer. The Gen­tiles shall be one body with the Jews, that, as Christ says, John 10:16 KJV  And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shep­herd. there may be one fold and one Shep­herd. Thanks be to God that none are sep­a­rated from him except by wil­ful sin and unbe­lief; and if we come to him, we shall be accepted through the sac­ri­fice of our great High Priest.

Isa­iah 56:3–8 KJV  Nei­ther let the son of the stranger, that hath joined him­self to the LORD, speak, say­ing, The LORD hath utterly sep­a­rated me from his peo­ple: nei­ther let the eunuch say, Behold, I am a dry tree.  (4) For thus saith the LORD unto the eunuchs that keep my sab­baths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant;  (5) Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name bet­ter than of sons and of daugh­ters: I will give them an ever­last­ing name, that shall not be cut off.  (6)  Also the sons of the stranger, that join them­selves to the LORD, to serve him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be his ser­vants, every one that keep­eth the sab­bath from pol­lut­ing it, and taketh hold of my covenant;  (7) Even them will I bring to my holy moun­tain, and make them joy­ful in my house of prayer: their burnt offer­ings and their sac­ri­fices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all peo­ple.  (8)  The Lord GOD which gath­ereth the out­casts of Israel saith, Yet will I gather oth­ers to him, beside those that are gath­ered unto him.

Great encour­age­ment given to strangers that were wil­ing to come under the bonds of the covenant, assur­ing them of the bless­ings of the covenant.

The prophet is here, in God’s name, encour­ag­ing those that were hearty in join­ing them­selves to God and yet laboured under great dis­cour­age­ments.

Some were dis­cour­aged because they were not of the seed of Abra­ham. They had joined them­selves to the Lord, and bound their souls with a bond to be his for ever (this is the root and life of reli­gion, to break off from the world and the flesh, and devote our­selves entirely to the ser­vice and hon­our of God); but they ques­tioned whether God would accept them, because they were of the sons of the stranger, Isa­iah 56:3 KJV  Nei­ther let the son of the stranger, that hath joined him­self to the LORD, speak, say­ing, The LORD hath utterly sep­a­rated me from his peo­ple: nei­ther let the eunuch say, Behold, I am a dry tree. They were Gen­tiles, strangers to the com­mon­wealth of Israel and aliens from the covenants of promise, and there­fore feared they had no part nor lot in the mat­ter. They said, “The Lord has utterly sep­a­rated me from his peo­ple, and will not own me as one of them, nor admit me to their priv­i­leges.” It was often said that there should be one law for the stranger and for him that was born in the land, Exo­dus 12:49 KJV  One law shall be to him that is home­born, and unto the stranger that sojour­neth among you. and yet they came to this melan­choly con­clu­sion.

Note, Unbe­lief often sug­gests things to the dis­cour­age­ment of good peo­ple which are directly con­trary to what God him­self has said, things which he has expressly guarded against.

Let not the sons of the stranger there­fore say thus, for they have no rea­son to say it.

Note, Min­is­ters must have answers ready for the dis­qui­et­ing fears and jeal­ousies of weak Chris­tians, which, how unrea­son­able soever, they must take notice of.

Oth­ers were dis­cour­aged because they were not fathers in Israel. The eunuch said, Behold, I am a dry tree. So he looked upon him­self, and it was his grief; so oth­ers looked upon him, and it was his reproach. He was thought to be of no use because he had no chil­dren, nor was ever likely to have any. This was then the more griev­ous because eunuchs were not admit­ted to be priests, Leviti­cus 21:20 KJV  Or crook­backt, or a dwarf, or that hath a blem­ish in his eye, or be scurvy, or scabbed, or hath his stones bro­ken; nor to enter into the con­gre­ga­tion, Deuteron­omy 23:1 KJV  He that is wounded in the stones, or hath his privy mem­ber cut off, shall not enter into the con­gre­ga­tion of the LORD. and because the promise of a numer­ous pos­ter­ity was the par­tic­u­lar bless­ing of Israel and the more valu­able because from among them the Mes­siah was to come. Yet God would not have the eunuchs to make the worst of their case, nor to think that they should be excluded from the gospel church, and from being spir­i­tual priests, because they were shut out from the con­gre­ga­tion of Israel and the Levit­i­cal priest­hood; no, as the tak­ing down of the par­ti­tion wall, con­tained in ordi­nances, admit­ted the Gen­tiles, so it let in like­wise those that had been kept out by cer­e­mo­nial pol­lu­tions. Yet, by the reply here given to this sug­ges­tion, it should seem the chief thing which the eunuch laments in his case is his being writ­ten child­less.

Now suit­able encour­age­ments are given to each of these.

To those who have no chil­dren of their own, who, though they had the hon­our to be the chil­dren of the church and the covenant them­selves, yet had none to whom they might trans­mit that hon­our, none to receive the sign of cir­cum­ci­sion and the priv­i­leges secured by that sign.

Now observe, what a good char­ac­ter they have, though they lie under this ignominy and afflic­tion; and those only are enti­tled to the fol­low­ing com­forts who in some mea­sure answer to these char­ac­ters.

They keep God’s sab­baths as he has appointed them to be kept. In the prim­i­tive times, if a Chris­t­ian were asked, “Hast thou kept holy the Lord’s day?” He would read­ily answer, “I am a Chris­t­ian, and dare not do oth­er­wise.”

In their whole con­ver­sa­tion they choose those things that please God. They do that which is good; they do it with a sin­cere design to please God in it; they do it of choice, and with delight. If some­times, through infir­mity, they come short in doing that which pleases God, yet they choose it, they endeav­our after it, and aim at it. Note, What­ever is God’s plea­sure should with­out dis­pute be our choice.

They take hold of his covenant, and that is a thing that pleases God as much as any thing. The covenant of grace is pro­posed and prof­fered to us in the gospel; to take hold of it is to con­sent to it, to accept the offer and come up to the terms, delib­er­ately and sin­cerely to take God to be to us a God and to give up our­selves to him to be to him a peo­ple. Tak­ing hold of the covenant denotes an entire and res­olute con­sent to it, tak­ing hold as those that are afraid of com­ing short, catch­ing at it as a good bar­gain, and as those that are resolved never to let it go, for it is our life: and we take hold of it as a crim­i­nal took hold of the horns of the altar to which he fled for refuge.

What a great deal of com­fort they may have if they answer to this char­ac­ter, though they are not built up into fam­i­lies: Isa­iah 56:5 KJV  Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name bet­ter than of sons and of daugh­ters: I will give them an ever­last­ing name, that shall not be cut off. Unto them will I give a bet­ter place and name. It is sup­posed that there is a place and a name, which we have from sons and daugh­ters, that is valu­able and desir­able. It is a pleas­ing notion we have that we live in our chil­dren when we are dead. But there is a bet­ter place, and a bet­ter name, which those have that are in covenant with God, and it is suf­fi­cient to coun­ter­bal­ance the want of the for­mer. A place and a name denote rest and rep­u­ta­tion; a place to live com­fort­ably in them­selves, and a name to live cred­itably with among their neigh­bours; they shall be happy, and may be easy both at home and abroad. Though they have not chil­dren to be the music of their house, or arrows in their quiver, to keep them in coun­te­nance when they speak with their ene­mies in the gate, yet they shall have a place and a name more than equiv­a­lent.

For, God will give it to them, will give it to them by promise; he will him­self be both their habi­ta­tion and their glory, their place and their name.

He will give it to them in his house, and within his walls; there they shall have a place, shall be planted so as to take root, Psalms 92:13 KJV  Those that be planted in the house of the LORD shall flour­ish in the courts of our God. shall dwell all the days of their life, Psalms 27:4 KJV  One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his tem­ple. They shall be at home in com­mu­nion with God, as Anna, that departed not from the tem­ple night nor day. There they shall have a name. A name for the good things with God and good peo­ple is a name bet­ter than that of sons and daugh­ters. Our rela­tion to God, our inter­est in Christ, our title to the bless­ings of the covenant, and our hopes of eter­nal life, are things that give us in God’s house a blessed place and a blessed name.

It shall be an ever­last­ing name, that shall never be extinct, shall never be cut off; like the place and name of angels, who there­fore marry not, because they die not. Spir­i­tual bless­ings are unspeak­ably bet­ter than those of sons and daugh­ters; for chil­dren are a cer­tain care and may prove the great­est grief and shame of a man’s life, but the bless­ings we par­take of in God’s house are a sure and con­stant joy and hon­our, com­forts which can­not be embit­tered.

To those that are them­selves the chil­dren of strangers.

It is here promised that they shall now be wel­come to the church, Isa­iah 56:6–7 KJV  Also the sons of the stranger, that join them­selves to the LORD, to serve him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be his ser­vants, every one that keep­eth the sab­bath from pol­lut­ing it, and taketh hold of my covenant;  (7) Even them will I bring to my holy moun­tain, and make them joy­ful in my house of prayer: their burnt offer­ings and their sac­ri­fices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all peo­ple. When God’s Israel come out of Baby­lon, let them bring as many of their neigh­bours along with them as they can per­suade to come, and God will find room enough for them all in his house.

And here, (as before) we may observe, upon what terms they shall be wel­come. Let them know that God’s Israel, when they come out of Baby­lon, will not be plagued, as they were when they came out of Egypt, with a mixed mul­ti­tude, that went with them, but were not cor­dially for them; no, the sons of the strangers shall have a place and a name in God’s house pro­vided, that they for­sake other gods, all rivals and pre­tenders what­so­ever, and join them­selves to the Lord, so as to become one spirit, 1 Corinthi­ans 6:17 KJV  But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.

That they join them­selves to him as sub­jects to their prince and sol­diers to their gen­eral, by an oath of fidelity and obe­di­ence, to serve him, not occa­sion­ally, as one would serve a turn, but to be con­stantly his ser­vants, entirely sub­ject to his com­mand, and devoted to his inter­est.

That they join them­selves to him as friends to his hon­our and the inter­ests of his king­dom in the world, to love the name of the Lord, to be well pleased with all the dis­cov­er­ies he has made of him­self and all the memo­ri­als they make of him. Observe, Serv­ing him and lov­ing him go together; for those that love him truly will serve him faith­fully, and that obe­di­ence is most accept­able to him, as well as most pleas­ant to us, which flows from a prin­ci­ple of love, for then his com­mand­ments are not griev­ous, 1 John 5:3 KJV  For this is the love of God, that we keep his com­mand­ments: and his com­mand­ments are not griev­ous.

That they keep the sab­bath from pol­lut­ing it; for the stranger that is within thy gates is par­tic­u­larly required to do that.

That they take hold of the covenant, that is, that they come under the bonds of it, and put in for the ben­e­fits of it.

To what priv­i­leges they shall be wel­come, Isa­iah 56:7 KJV  Even them will I bring to my holy moun­tain, and make them joy­ful in my house of prayer: their burnt offer­ings and their sac­ri­fices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all peo­ple. Three things are here promised them, in their com­ing to God:

Assis­tance: “I will bring them to my holy moun­tain, not only bid them wel­come when they come, but incline them to come, will show them the way, and lead them in it.” David him­self prays that God by his light and truth would bring them to his holy hill, Psalms 43:3 KJV  O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy taber­na­cles. And the sons of the stranger shall be under the same guid­ance. The church is God’s holy hill, on which he hath set his King, and, in bring­ing them to Zion Hill, he brings them to be sub­jects to Zion’s King, as well as wor­ship­pers in Zion’s holy tem­ple.

Accep­tance: “Their burnt-offerings and their sac­ri­fices shall be accepted on my altar, and be never the less accept­able for being theirs, though they are sons of the stranger.” The prayers and praises (those spir­i­tual sac­ri­fices) of devout Gen­tiles shall be as pleas­ing to God as those of the pious Jews, and no dif­fer­ence shall be made between them; for, though they are Gen­tiles by birth, yet through grace they shall be looked upon as the believ­ing seed of faith­ful Abra­ham and the pray­ing seed of wrestling Jacob, for in Christ Jesus there is nei­ther Greek nor Jew, cir­cum­ci­sion nor uncir­cum­ci­sion.

Com­fort. They shall not only be accepted, but they them­selves shall have the plea­sure of it: I will make them joy­ful in my house of prayer. They shall have grace, not only to serve God, but to serve him cheer­fully and with glad­ness, and that shall make the ser­vice the more accept­able to him; for, when we sing in the ways of the Lord, then great is the glory of our God. They shall go away and eat their bread with joy, because God now accepts their works, Eccle­si­astes 9:7 KJV  Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart; for God now accepteth thy works. Nay, though they came mourn­ing to the house of prayer, they shall go away rejoic­ing, for they shall there find such ease, by cast­ing their cares and bur­dens upon God, and refer­ring them­selves to him, that, like Han­nah, they shall go away and their coun­te­nance shall be no more sad. Many a sor­row­ful spirit has been made joy­ful in the house of prayer.

It is here promised that mul­ti­tudes of the Gen­tiles shall come to the church, not only that the few who come drop­ping in shall be made wel­come, but that great num­bers shall come in, and the door be thrown open to them: My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peo­ple. The tem­ple was then God’s house, and to that Christ applies these words, Matthew 21:13 KJV  And said unto them, It is writ­ten, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves. but with an eye to it as a type of the gospel church, Hebrews 9:8–9 KJV  The Holy Ghost this sig­ni­fy­ing, that the way into the holi­est of all was not yet made man­i­fest, while as the first taber­na­cle was yet stand­ing:  (9) Which was a fig­ure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sac­ri­fices, that could not make him that did the ser­vice per­fect, as per­tain­ing to the con­science; For Christ calls it his house, Hebrews 3:6 KJV  But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the con­fi­dence and the rejoic­ing of the hope firm unto the end.

Now con­cern­ing this house it is promised, that it shall not be a house of sac­ri­fice, but a house of prayer. The reli­gious meet­ings of God’s peo­ple shall be meet­ings for prayer, in which they shall join together, as a token of their united faith and mutual love.

That it shall be a house of prayer, not for the peo­ple of the Jews only, but for all peo­ple. This was ful­filled when Peter was made, not only to per­ceive it him­self, but to tell it to the world, that in every nation he that fears God and works right­eous­ness is accepted of him, Acts 10:35 KJV  But in every nation he that feareth him, and wor­keth right­eous­ness, is accepted with him.

It had been declared again and again that the stranger that comes nigh shall be put to death, but Gen­tiles shall now be looked upon no longer as strangers and for­eign­ers, Eph­esians 2:19 KJV  Now there­fore ye are no more strangers and for­eign­ers, but fel­low­c­i­t­i­zens with the saints, and of the house­hold of God;

And it appears by Solomon’s prayer, at the ded­i­ca­tion of the tem­ple, both that it was pri­mar­ily intended for a house of prayer and that strangers should be wel­come to it, 1 Kings 8:30 KJV  And hear­ken thou to the sup­pli­ca­tion of thy ser­vant, and of thy peo­ple Israel, when they shall pray toward this place: and hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place: and when thou hear­est, for­give. 1 Kings 8:41 KJV  More­over con­cern­ing a stranger, that is not of thy peo­ple Israel, but cometh out of a far coun­try for thy name’s sake; 1 Kings 8:43 KJV  Hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and do accord­ing to all that the stranger cal­leth to thee for: that all peo­ple of the earth may know thy name, to fear thee, as do thy peo­ple Israel; and that they may know that this house, which I have builded, is called by thy name.

And it is inti­mated here Isa­iah 56:8 KJV  The Lord GOD which gath­ereth the out­casts of Israel saith, Yet will I gather oth­ers to him, beside those that are gath­ered unto him. that when the Gen­tiles are called in they shall be incor­po­rated into one body with the Jews, that (as Christ says, John 10:16 KJV  And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shep­herd.) there may be one fold and one Shep­herd; for, God will gather the out­casts of Israel. Many of the Jews that had by their unbe­lief cast them­selves out shall by faith be brought in again, a rem­nant accord­ing to the elec­tion of grace,Romans 11:5 KJV  Even so then at this present time also there is a rem­nant accord­ing to the elec­tion of grace.

Christ came to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, Matthew 15:24 KJV  But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. to gather their out­casts, Psalms 147:2 KJV  The LORD doth build up Jerusalem: he gath­ereth together the out­casts of Israel. to restore their pre­served, Isa­iah 49:6 KJV  And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my ser­vant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the pre­served of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gen­tiles, that thou mayest be my sal­va­tion unto the end of the earth. and to be their glory, Luke 2:32 KJV  A light to lighten the Gen­tiles, and the glory of thy peo­ple Israel.

He will gather oth­ers also to him, besides his own out­casts that are gath­ered to him. Or, though some of the Gen­tiles have come over now and then into the church, that shall not serve (as some may think) to answer the extent of these promises; no, there are still more and more to be brought in: “I will gather oth­ers to him besides these; these are but the first-fruits in com­par­i­son with the har­vest that shall be gath­ered for Christ in the nations of the earth, when the ful­ness of the Gen­tiles shall come in.”

Note, The church is a grow­ing body: when some are gath­ered to it we may still hope there shall be more, till the mys­ti­cal body be com­pleted. Other sheep I have.

The Effects of Christ’s Conversation with the Woman of Samaria — John 4:27–42

The dis­ci­ples won­dered that Christ talked thus with a Samar­i­tan. Yet they knew it was for some good rea­son, and for some good end. Thus when par­tic­u­lar dif­fi­cul­ties occur in the word and prov­i­dence of God, it is good to sat­isfy our­selves that all is well that Jesus Christ says and does. Two things affected the woman. The extent of his knowl­edge. Christ knows all the thoughts, words, and actions, of all the chil­dren of men. And the power of his word. He told her secret sins with power. She fas­tened upon that part of Christ’s dis­course, many would think she would have been most shy of repeat­ing; but the knowl­edge of Christ, into which we are led by con­vic­tion of sin, is most likely to be sound and sav­ing. They came to him: those who would know Christ, must meet him where he records his name.
 
Our Mas­ter has left us an exam­ple, that we may learn to do the will of God as he did; with dili­gence, as those that make a busi­ness of it; with delight and plea­sure in it. Christ com­pares his work to harvest-work. The har­vest is appointed and looked for before it comes; so was the gospel. Harvest-time is busy time; all must be then at work. Harvest-time is a short time, and harvest-work must be done then, or not at all; so the time of the gospel is a sea­son, which if once past, can­not be recalled. God some­times uses very weak and unlikely instru­ments for begin­ning and car­ry­ing on a good work. Our Sav­iour, by teach­ing one poor woman, spread knowl­edge to a whole town. Blessed are those who are not offended at Christ. Those taught of God, are truly desirous to learn more. It adds much to the praise of our love to Christ and his word, if it con­quers prej­u­dices. Their faith grew. In the mat­ter of it: they believed him to be the Sav­iour, not only of the Jews but of the world. In the cer­tainty of it: we know that this is indeed the Christ. And in the ground of it, for we have heard him ourselves.
 
John 4:27–42 KJV And upon this came his dis­ci­ples, and mar­velled that he talked with the woman: yet no man said, What seek­est thou? or, Why talk­est thou with her?  (28)  The woman then left her water­pot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men,  (29) Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ? (30)  Then they went out of the city, and came unto him.  (31) In the mean while his dis­ci­ples prayed him, say­ing, Mas­ter, eat. (32) But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of. (33) There­fore said the dis­ci­ples one to another, Hath any man brought him ought to eat?  (34)  Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to fin­ish his work.  (35)  Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh har­vest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to har­vest.  (36)  And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gath­ereth fruit unto life eter­nal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.  (37)  And herein is that say­ing true, One soweth, and another reapeth.  (38)  I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours.  (39)  And many of the Samar­i­tans of that city believed on him for the say­ing of the woman, which tes­ti­fied, He told me all that ever I did.  (40)  So when the Samar­i­tans were come unto him, they besought him that he would tarry with them: and he abode there two days.  (41)  And many more believed because of his own word;  (42)  And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy say­ing: for we have heard him our­selves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Sav­iour of the world.
 
The notice which the woman gave of him to the city. Christ’s talk with his dis­ci­ples in the mean­time. The good effect of this among the Samaritans.
 
We have here the remain­der of the story of what hap­pened when Christ was in Samaria, after the long con­fer­ence he had with the woman.
 
The inter­rup­tion given to this dis­course by the dis­ci­ples’ com­ing. It is prob­a­ble that much more was said than is recorded; but just when the dis­course was brought to a head, when Christ had made him­self known to her as the true Mes­siah, then came the dis­ci­ples. The daugh­ters of Jerusalem shall not stir up nor awake my love till he please.
 
They won­dered at Christ’s con­verse with this woman, mar­velled that he talked thus earnestly (as per­haps they observed at a dis­tance) with a woman, a strange woman alone (he used to be more reserved), espe­cially with a Samar­i­tan woman, that was not of the lost sheep of the house of Israel; they thought their Mas­ter should be as shy of the Samar­i­tans as the other Jews were, at least that he should not preach the gospel to them. They won­dered he should con­de­scend to talk with such a poor con­temptible woman, for­get­ting what despi­ca­ble men they them­selves were when Christ first called them into fel­low­ship with himself.
 
Yet they acqui­esced in it; they knew it was for some good rea­son, and some good end, of which he was not bound to give them an account, and there­fore none of them asked, What seek­est thou? or, Why talk­est thou with her? Thus, when par­tic­u­lar dif­fi­cul­ties occur in the word and prov­i­dence of God, it is good to sat­isfy our­selves with this in gen­eral, that all is well which Jesus Christ saith and doeth. Per­haps there was some­thing amiss in their mar­veling that Christ talked with the woman: it was some­thing like the Phar­isees being offended at his eat­ing with pub­li­cans and sin­ners. But, what­ever they thought, they said noth­ing. If thou hast thought evil at any time, lay thy hand upon thy mouth, to keep that evil thought from turn­ing into an evil word, Proverbs 30:32 KJV If thou hast done fool­ishly in lift­ing up thy­self, or if thou hast thought evil, lay thine hand upon thy mouth. Psalms 39:1–3 KJV I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bri­dle, while the wicked is before me.  (2)  I was dumb with silence, I held my peace, even from good; and my sor­row was stirred.  (3)  My heart was hot within me, while I was mus­ing the fire burned: then spake I with my tongue, The notice which the woman gave to her neigh­bours of the extra­or­di­nary per­son she had hap­pily met with, John 4:28–29 KJV The woman then left her water­pot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men,  (29)  Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?
 
Observe here, how she for­got her errand to the well, John 4:28 KJV The woman then left her water­pot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, There­fore, because the dis­ci­ples were come, and broke up the dis­course, and per­haps she observed they were not pleased with it, she went her way. She with­drew, in civil­ity to Christ, that he might have leisure to eat his din­ner. She delighted in his dis­course, but would not be rude; every thing is beau­ti­ful in its sea­son. She sup­posed that Jesus, when he had dined, would go for­ward in his jour­ney, and there­fore has­tened to tell her neigh­bours, that they might come quickly. Yet a lit­tle while is the light with you. See how she improved time; when one good work was done, she applied her­self to another. When oppor­tu­ni­ties of get­ting good cease, or are inter­rupted, we should seek oppor­tu­ni­ties of doing good; when we have done hear­ing the word, then is a time to be speak­ing of it. Notice is taken of her leav­ing her water-pot or pail.
 
She left it in kind­ness to Christ, that he might have water to drink; he turned water into wine for oth­ers, but not for him­self. Com­pare this with Rebecca’s civil­ity to Abraham’s ser­vant, Gen­e­sis 24:18 KJV And she said, Drink, my lord: and she hasted, and let down her pitcher upon her hand, and gave him drink. and see that promise, Matthew 10:42 KJV And whoso­ever shall give to drink unto one of these lit­tle ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a dis­ci­ple, ver­ily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.
 
She left it that she might make the more haste into the city, to carry thither these good tid­ings. Those whose busi­ness it is to pub­lish the name of Christ must not encum­ber or entan­gle them­selves with any thing that will retard or hin­der them therein. When the dis­ci­ples are to be made fish­ers of men they must for­sake all.
 
She left her water-pot, as one care­less of it, being wholly taken up with bet­ter things.
 
Note, Those who are brought to the knowl­edge of Christ will show it by a holy con­tempt of this world and the things of it. And those who are newly acquainted with the things of God must be excused, if at first they be so taken up with the new world into which they are brought that the things of this world seem to be for a time wholly neglected. Mr. Arthur Hilder­sham (1563–1631), in one of his ser­mons on this verse, from this instance largely jus­ti­fies those who leave their worldly busi­ness on week-days to go to hear sermons.
 
How she minded her errand to the town, for her heart was upon it. She went into the city, and said to the men, prob­a­bly the alder­men, the men in author­ity, whom, it may be, she found met together upon some pub­lic busi­ness; or to the men, that is, to every man she met in the streets; she pro­claimed it in the chief places of con­course: Come, see a man who told me all things that ever I did. Is not this the Christ?
 
Observe, how solic­i­tous she was to have her friends and neigh­bours acquainted with Christ. When she had found that trea­sure, she called together her friends and neigh­bours (as Luke 15:9 KJV And when she hath found it, she cal­leth her friends and her neigh­bours together, say­ing, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost.), not only to rejoice with her, but to share with her, know­ing there was enough to enrich her­self and all that would par­take with her.
 
Note, They that have been them­selves with Jesus, and have found com­fort in him, should do all they can to bring oth­ers to him. Has he done us the hon­our to make him­self known to us? Let us do him the hon­our to make him known to oth­ers; nor can we do our­selves a greater hon­our. This woman becomes an apos­tle. Quae scor­tum fuerat egressa, regred­i­tur mag­is­tra evan­gel­ica — She who went forth a spec­i­men of impu­rity returns a teacher of evan­gel­i­cal truth, saith Aretius. Christ had told her to call her hus­band, which she thought was war­rant enough to call every body. She went into the city, the city where she dwelt, among her kins­folks and acquain­tance. Though every man is my neigh­bour that I have oppor­tu­nity of doing good to, yet I have most oppor­tu­nity, and there­fore lie under the great­est oblig­a­tions, to do good to those that live near me. Where the tree falls, there let it be made useful.
 
How fair and ingen­u­ous she was in the notice she gave them con­cern­ing this stranger she had met with.
 
She tells them plainly what induced her to admire him: He has told me all things that ever I did. No more is recorded than what he told her of her hus­bands; but it is not improb­a­ble that he had told her of more of her faults. Or, his telling her that which she knew he could not by any ordi­nary means come to the knowl­edge of con­vinced her that he could have told her all that she ever did. If he has a divine knowl­edge, it must be omni­science. He told her that which none knew but God and her own con­science. Two things affected her: — First, the extent of his knowl­edge. We our­selves can­not tell all things that ever we did (many things pass unheeded, and more pass away and are for­got­ten); but Jesus Christ knows all the thoughts, words, and actions, of all the chil­dren of men; see Hebrews 4:13 KJV Nei­ther is there any crea­ture that is not man­i­fest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do. He hath said, I know thy works. Sec­ondly, The power of his word. This made a great impres­sion upon her, that he told her, her secret sins with such an unac­count­able power and energy that, being told of one, she is con­vinced of all, and judged of all. She does not say, “Come, see a man that has told me strange things con­cern­ing reli­gious wor­ship, and the laws of it, that has decided the con­tro­versy between this moun­tain and Jerusalem, a man that calls him­self the Mes­sias;” but, “Come see a man that has told me of my sins.” She fas­tens upon that part of Christ’s dis­course which one would think she would have been most shy of repeat­ing; but exper­i­men­tal proofs of the power of Christ’s word and Spirit are of all oth­ers the most cogent and con­vinc­ing; and that knowl­edge of Christ into which we are led by the con­vic­tion of sin and humil­i­a­tion is most likely to be sound and sav­ing.
 
She invites them to come and see him of whom she had con­ceived so high an opin­ion. Not barely, “Come and look upon him” (she does not invite them to him as a show), but, “Come and con­verse with him; come and hear his wis­dom, as I have done, and you will be of my mind.” She would not under­take to man­age the argu­ments which had con­vinced her, in such a man­ner as to con­vince oth­ers; all that see the evi­dence of truth them­selves are not able to make oth­ers see it; but, “Come, and talk with him, and you will find such a power in his word as far exceeds all other evidence.”
 
Note, Those who can do lit­tle else towards the con­vic­tion and con­ver­sion of oth­ers may and should bring them to those means of grace which they them­selves have found effec­tual. Jesus was now at the town’s end. “Now come see him.” When oppor­tu­ni­ties of get­ting the knowl­edge of God are brought to our doors we are inex­cus­able if we neglect them; shall we not go over the thresh­old to see him whose day prophets and kings desired to see?
 
She resolves to appeal to them­selves, and their own sen­ti­ments upon the trial. Is not this the Christ? She does not peremp­to­rily say, “He is the Mes­siah,” how clear soever she was in her own mind, and yet she very pru­dently men­tions the Mes­siah, of whom oth­er­wise they would not have thought, and then refers it to them­selves; she will not impose her faith upon them, but only pro­pose it to them. By such fair but forcible appeals as these men’s judg­ments and con­sciences are some­times taken hold of ere they are aware.
 
What suc­cess she had in this invi­ta­tion: They went out of the city, and came to him, John 4:30 KJV Then they went out of the city, and came unto him. Though it might seem very improb­a­ble that a woman of so small a fig­ure, and so ill a char­ac­ter, should have the hon­our of the first dis­cov­ery of the Mes­siah among the Samar­i­tans, yet it pleased God to incline their hearts to take notice of her report, and not to slight it as an idle tale. Time was when lep­ers were the first that brought tid­ings to Samaria of a great deliv­er­ance, 2 Kings 7:3 KJV And there were four lep­rous men at the enter­ing in of the gate: and they said one to another, Why sit we here until we die? They came unto him; did not send for him into the city to them, but in token of their respect to him, and the earnest­ness of their desire to see him, they went out to him. Those that would know Christ must meet him where he records his name.
 
Christ’s dis­course with his dis­ci­ples while the woman was absent. See how indus­tri­ous our Lord Jesus was to redeem time, to hus­band every minute of it, and to fill up the vacan­cies of it. When the dis­ci­ples were gone into the town, his dis­course with the woman was edi­fy­ing, and suited to her case; when she was gone into the town, his dis­course with them was no less edi­fy­ing, and suited to their case; it were well if we could thus gather up the frag­ments of time, that none of it may be lost. Two things are observ­able in this discourse: 
 
How Christ expresses the delight which he him­self had in his work. His work was to seek and save that which was lost, to go about doing good. Now with this work we here find him wholly taken up.
 
For, He neglected his meat and drink for his work. When he sat down upon the well, he was weary, and needed refresh­ment; but this oppor­tu­nity of sav­ing souls made him for­get his weari­ness and hunger. And he minded his food so lit­tle that, His dis­ci­ples were forced to invite him to it: They prayed him, they pressed him, say­ing, Mas­ter, eat. It was an instance of their love to him that they invited him, lest he should be faint and sick for want of some sup­port; but it was a greater instance of his love to souls that he needed invi­ta­tion. Let us learn hence a holy indif­fer­ence even to the need­ful sup­ports of life, in com­par­i­son with spir­i­tual things. He minded it so lit­tle that they sus­pected he had had meat brought him in their absence: John 4:33 KJV There­fore said the dis­ci­ples one to another, Hath any man brought him ought to eat? Has any man brought him aught to eat? He had so lit­tle appetite for his din­ner that they were ready to think he had dined already. Those that make reli­gion their busi­ness will, when any of its affairs are to be attended, pre­fer them before their food; as Abraham’s ser­vant, that would not eat till he had told his errand, Gen­e­sis 24:33 KJV And there was set meat before him to eat: but he said, I will not eat, until I have told mine errand. And he said, Speak on. and Samuel, that would not sit down till David was anointed, 1 Samuel 16:11 KJV And Samuel said unto Jesse, Are here all thy chil­dren? And he said, There remaineth yet the youngest, and, behold, he keep­eth the sheep. And Samuel said unto Jesse, Send and fetch him: for we will not sit down till he come hither.
 
He made his work his meat and drink. The work he had to do among the Samar­i­tans, the prospect he now had of doing good to many, this was meat and drink to him; it was the great­est plea­sure and sat­is­fac­tion imag­in­able. Never did a hun­gry man, or an epi­cure, expect a plen­ti­ful feast with so much desire, nor feed upon its dain­ties with so much delight, as our Lord Jesus expected and improved an oppor­tu­nity of doing good to souls. Con­cern­ing this he saith, That it was such meat as the dis­ci­ples knew not of. They did not imag­ine that he had any design or prospect of plant­ing his gospel among the Samar­i­tans; this was a piece of use­ful­ness they never thought of.
 
Note, Christ by his gospel and Spirit does more good to the souls of men than his own dis­ci­ples know of or expect. This may be said of good Chris­tians too, who live by faith, that they have meat to eat which oth­ers know not of, joy with which a stranger does not inter­med­dle. Now this word made them ask, Has any man brought him aught to eat? so apt were even his own dis­ci­ples to under­stand him after a cor­po­ral and car­nal man­ner when he used similitudes.
 
That the rea­son why his work was his meat and drink was because it was his Father’s work, his Father’s will: My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, John 4:34 KJV Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to fin­ish his work.
 
Note, First, The sal­va­tion of sin­ners is the will of God, and the instruc­tion of them in order there­unto is his work. See 1 Tim­o­thy 2:4 KJV Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowl­edge of the truth. There is a cho­sen rem­nant whose sal­va­tion is in a par­tic­u­lar man­ner his will. Sec­ondly, Christ was sent into the world on this errand, to bring peo­ple to God, to know him and to be happy in him. Thirdly, He made this work his busi­ness and delight. When his body needed food, his mind was so taken up with this that he for­got both hunger and thirst, both meat and drink. Noth­ing could be more grate­ful to him than doing good; when he was invited to meat he went, that he might do good, for that was his meat always. Fourthly, He was not only ready upon all occa­sions to go to his work, but he was earnest and in care to go through it, and to fin­ish his work in all the parts of it. He resolved never to quit it, nor lay it down, till he could say, It is fin­ished. Many have zeal to carry them out at first, but not zeal to carry them on to the last; but our Lord Jesus was intent upon fin­ish­ing his work. Our Mas­ter has herein left us an exam­ple, that we may learn to do the will of God as he did; With dili­gence and close appli­ca­tion, as those that make a busi­ness of it. With delight and plea­sure in it, as in our ele­ment. With con­stancy and per­se­ver­ance; not only mind­ing to do, but aim­ing to fin­ish, our work.
 
See here how Christ, hav­ing expressed his delight in his work, excites his dis­ci­ples to dili­gence in their work; they were work­ers with him, and there­fore should be work­ers like him, and make their work their meat, as he did. The work they had to do was to preach the gospel, and to set up the king­dom of the Mes­siah. Now this work he here com­pares to har­vest work, the gath­er­ing in of the fruits of the earth; and this simil­i­tude he pros­e­cutes through­out the discourse.
 
Note, gospel time is har­vest time, and gospel work har­vest work. The har­vest is before appointed and expected; so was the gospel. Har­vest time is busy time; all hands must be then at work: every one must work for him­self, that he may reap of the graces and com­forts of the gospel: min­is­ters must work for God, to gather in souls to him. Har­vest time is oppor­tu­nity, a short and lim­ited time, which will not last always; and har­vest work is work that must be done then or not at all; so the time of the enjoy­ment of the gospel is a par­tic­u­lar sea­son, which must be improved for its proper pur­poses; for, once past, it can­not be recalled.
 
The dis­ci­ples were to gather in a har­vest of souls for Christ. Now he here sug­gests three things to them to quicken them to diligence: 
 
That it was nec­es­sary work, and the occa­sion for it very urgent and press­ing: John 4:35 KJV Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh har­vest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to har­vest. You say, It is four months to har­vest; but I say, The fields are already white. Here is, a say­ing of Christ’s dis­ci­ples con­cern­ing the corn-harvest; there are yet four months, and then comes har­vest, which may be taken either gen­er­ally — “You say, for the encour­age­ment of the sower at seed-time, that it will be but four months to the har­vest.” With us it is but about four months between the barley-sowing and the barley-harvest, prob­a­bly it was so with them as to other grain; or, “Par­tic­u­larly, now at this time you reckon it will be four months to next har­vest, accord­ing to the ordi­nary course of prov­i­dence.” The Jews’ har­vest began at the Passover, about Easter, much ear­lier in the year than ours, by which it appears that this jour­ney of Christ from Judea to Galilee was in the win­ter, about the end of Novem­ber, for he trav­elled all weath­ers to do good. God has not only promised us a har­vest every year, but has appointed the weeks of har­vest; so that we know when to expect it, and take our mea­sures accordingly.
 
A say­ing of Christ’s con­cern­ing the gospel har­vest; his heart was as much upon the fruits of his gospel as the hearts of oth­ers were upon the fruits of the earth; and to this he would lead the thoughts of his dis­ci­ples: Look, the fields are already white unto the har­vest. First, Here in this place, where they now were, there was har­vest work for him to do. They would have him to eat, John 4:31 KJV In the mean while his dis­ci­ples prayed him, say­ing, Mas­ter, eat. “Eat!” saith he, “I have other work to do, that is more need­ful; look what crowds of Samar­i­tans are com­ing out of the town over the fields that are ready to receive the gospel;” prob­a­bly there were many now in view. People’s for­ward­ness to hear the word is a great excite­ment to min­is­ters’ dili­gence and live­li­ness in preach­ing it. Sec­ondly, In other places, all the coun­try over, there was har­vest work enough for them all to do. “Con­sider the regions, think of the state of the coun­try, and you will find there are mul­ti­tudes as ready to receive the gospel as a field of corn that is fully ripe is ready to be reaped.” The fields were now made white to the har­vest, by the decree of God revealed in the prophe­cies of the Old Tes­ta­ment. Now was the time when the gath­er­ing of the peo­ple should be to Christ, Gen­e­sis 49:10 KJV The scep­tre shall not depart from Judah, nor a law­giver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gath­er­ing of the peo­ple be. when great acces­sions should be made to the church and the bounds of it should be enlarged, and there­fore it was time for them to be busy. It is a great encour­age­ment to us to engage in any work for God, if we under­stand by the signs of the times that this is the proper sea­son for that work, for then it will prosper.
 
By the dis­po­si­tion of men. John Bap­tist had made ready a peo­ple pre­pared for the Lord, Luke 1:17 KJV And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the chil­dren, and the dis­obe­di­ent to the wis­dom of the just; to make ready a peo­ple pre­pared for the Lord. Since he began to preach the king­dom of God every man pressed into it, Luke 16:16 KJV The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the king­dom of God is preached, and every man pres­seth into it. This, there­fore, was a time for the preach­ers of the gospel to apply them­selves to their work with the utmost vigour, to thrust in their sickle, when the har­vest was ripe, Rev­e­la­tion 14:15 KJV And another angel came out of the tem­ple, cry­ing with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the har­vest of the earth is ripe. It was nec­es­sary to work now, pity that such a sea­son should be let slip. If the corn that is ripe be not reaped, it will shed and be lost, and the fowls will pick it up. If souls that are under con­vic­tions, and have some good incli­na­tions, be not helped now, their hope­ful begin­nings will come to noth­ing, and they will be a prey to pre­tenders. It was also easy to work now; when the people’s hearts are pre­pared the work will be done sud­denly, 2 Chron­i­cles 29:36 KJV And Hezekiah rejoiced, and all the peo­ple, that God had pre­pared the peo­ple: for the thing was done sud­denly. It can­not but quicken min­is­ters to take pains in preach­ing the word when they observe that peo­ple take plea­sure in hear­ing it.
 
That it was prof­itable and advan­ta­geous work, which they them­selves would be gain­ers by: John 4:36 KJV And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gath­ereth fruit unto life eter­nal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together. He that reapeth receiveth wages, and so shall you.” Christ has under­taken to pay those well whom he employs in his work; for he will never do as Jehoiakim did, who used his neighbour’s ser­vice with­out wages, Jere­miah 22:13 KJV Woe unto him that buildeth his house by unright­eous­ness, and his cham­bers by wrong; that useth his neighbour’s ser­vice with­out wages, and giveth him not for his work; or those who by fraud kept back the hire of those par­tic­u­larly who reaped their corn-fields, James 5:4 KJV Behold, the hire of the labour­ers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, cri­eth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth. Christ’s reapers, though they cry to him day and night, shall never have cause to cry against him, nor to say they served a hard Mas­ter. He that reapeth, not only shall but does receive wages. There is a present reward in the ser­vice of Christ, and his work is its own wages. Christ’s reapers have fruit: He gath­ereth fruit unto life eter­nal; that is, he shall both save him­self and those that hear him, 1 Tim­o­thy 4:16 KJV Take heed unto thy­self, and unto the doc­trine; con­tinue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thy­self, and them that hear thee. If the faith­ful reaper save his own soul, that is fruit abound­ing to his account, it is fruit gath­ered to life eter­nal; and if, over and above this, he be instru­men­tal to save the souls of oth­ers too, there is fruit gath­ered. Souls gath­ered to Christ are fruit, good fruit, the fruit that Christ seeks for; Romans 1:13 KJV Now I would not have you igno­rant, brethren, that often­times I pur­posed to come unto you, (but was let hith­erto,) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gen­tiles. it is gath­ered for Christ; Song of Solomon 8:11–12 KJV Solomon had a vine­yard at Baal­ha­mon; he let out the vine­yard unto keep­ers; every one for the fruit thereof was to bring a thou­sand pieces of sil­ver.  (12) My vine­yard, which is mine, is before me: thou, O Solomon, must have a thou­sand, and those that keep the fruit thereof two hun­dred. it is gath­ered to life eter­nal. This is the com­fort of faith­ful min­is­ters, that their work has a ten­dency to the eter­nal sal­va­tion of pre­cious souls. They have joy: That he that sows and they that reap may rejoice together. The min­is­ter who is the happy instru­ment of begin­ning a good work is he that sows, as John Bap­tist; he that is employed to carry it on and per­fect it is he that reaps: and both shall rejoice together.
 
Note, First, Though God is to have all the glory of the suc­cess of the gospel, yet faith­ful min­is­ters may them­selves take the com­fort of it. The reapers share in the joy of har­vest, though the prof­its belong to the mas­ter, 1 Thes­sa­lo­ni­ans 2:19 KJV For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoic­ing? Are not even ye in the pres­ence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?
 
Sec­ondly, Those min­is­ters who are var­i­ously gifted and employed should be so far from envy­ing one another that they should rather mutu­ally rejoice in each other’s suc­cess and use­ful­ness. Though all Christ’s min­is­ters are not alike ser­vice­able, nor alike suc­cess­ful, yet, if they have obtained mercy of the Lord to be faith­ful, they shall all enter together into the joy of their Lord at last.
 
That it was easy work, and work that was half done to their hands by those that were gone before them: One soweth, and another reapeth, John 4:37–38 KJV And herein is that say­ing true, One soweth, and another reapeth.  (38)  I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours. This some­times denotes a griev­ous judg­ment upon him that sows, Micah 6:15 KJV Thou shalt sow, but thou shalt not reap; thou shalt tread the olives, but thou shalt not anoint thee with oil; and sweet wine, but shalt not drink wine. Deuteron­omy 28:30 KJV Thou shalt betroth a wife, and another man shall lie with her: thou shalt build an house, and thou shalt not dwell therein: thou shalt plant a vine­yard, and shalt not gather the grapes thereof. Thou shalt sow, and another shall reap; as Deuteron­omy 6:11 KJV And houses full of all good things, which thou filledst not, and wells digged, which thou diggedst not, vine­yards and olive trees, which thou plant­edst not; when thou shalt have eaten and be full; Houses full of all good things, which thou filledst not. So here. Moses, and the prophets, and John Bap­tist, had paved the way to the gospel, had sown the good seed which the New Tes­ta­ment min­is­ters did in effect but gather the fruit of. I send you to reap that whereon you bestowed, in com­par­i­son, no labour. Isa­iah 40:3–5 KJV The voice of him that cri­eth in the wilder­ness, Pre­pare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a high­way for our God.  (4)  Every val­ley shall be exalted, and every moun­tain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain:  (5)  And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spo­ken it.
 
This inti­mates two things con­cern­ing the Old Tes­ta­ment min­istry: — First, That it was very much short of the New Tes­ta­ment min­istry. Moses and the prophets sowed, but they could not be said to reap, so lit­tle did they see of the fruit of their labours. Their writ­ings have done much more good since they left us than ever their preach­ing did. Sec­ondly, That it was very ser­vice­able to the New Tes­ta­ment min­istry, and made way for it. The writ­ings of the prophets, which were read in the syn­a­gogues every sab­bath day, raised people’s expec­ta­tions of the Mes­siah, and so pre­pared them to bid him wel­come. Had it not been for the seed sown by the prophets, this Samar­i­tan woman could not have said, We know that Mes­sias cometh. The writ­ings of the Old Tes­ta­ment are in some respects more use­ful to us than they could be to those to whom they were first writ­ten, because bet­ter under­stood by the accom­plish­ment of them. See 1 Peter 1:12 KJV Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto them­selves, but unto us they did min­is­ter the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into. Hebrews 4:2 KJV For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. Romans 16:25–26 KJV Now to him that is of power to sta­b­lish you accord­ing to my gospel, and the preach­ing of Jesus Christ, accord­ing to the rev­e­la­tion of the mys­tery, which was kept secret since the world began,  (26) But now is made man­i­fest, and by the scrip­tures of the prophets, accord­ing to the com­mand­ment of the ever­last­ing God, made known to all nations for the obe­di­ence of faith:
 
This also inti­mates two things con­cern­ing the min­istry of the apos­tles of Christ. First, That it was a fruit­ful min­istry: they were reapers that gath­ered in a great har­vest of souls to Jesus Christ, and did more in seven years towards the set­ting up of the king­dom of God among men than the prophets of the Old Tes­ta­ment had done in twice so many ages. Sec­ondly, That it was much facil­i­tated, espe­cially among the Jews, to whom they were first sent, by the writ­ings of the prophets. The prophets sowed in tears, cry­ing out, We have laboured in vain; the apos­tles reaped in joy, say­ing, Thanks be to God, who always causeth us to tri­umph.
 
Note, From the labours of min­is­ters that are dead and gone much good fruit may be reaped by the peo­ple that sur­vive them and the min­is­ters that suc­ceed them. John Bap­tist, and those that assisted him, had laboured, and the dis­ci­ples of Christ entered into their labours, built upon their foun­da­tion, and reaped the fruit of what they sowed. See what rea­son we have to bless God for those that are gone before us, for their preach­ing and their writ­ing, for what they did and suf­fered in their day, for we are entered into their labours; their stud­ies and ser­vices have made our work the eas­ier. And when the ancient and mod­ern labour­ers, those that came into the vine­yard at the third hour and those that came in at the eleventh, meet in the day of account, they will be so far from envy­ing one another the hon­our of their respec­tive ser­vices that both they that sowed and they that reaped shall rejoice together; and the great Lord of thee har­vest shall have the glory of all.
 
The good effect which this visit Christ made to the Samar­i­tans (en pas­sant) had upon them, and the fruit which was now presently gath­ered among them. See what impres­sions were made on them, By the woman’s tes­ti­mony con­cern­ing Christ; though a sin­gle tes­ti­mony, and of one of no good report, and the tes­ti­mony no more than this, He told me all that ever I did, yet it had a good influ­ence upon many. One would have thought that his telling the woman of her secret sins would have made them afraid of com­ing to him, lest he should tell them also of their faults; but they will ven­ture that rather than not be acquainted with one who they had rea­son to think was a prophet.
 
And two things they were brought to: To credit Christ’s word: John 4:39 KJV And many of the Samar­i­tans of that city believed on him for the say­ing of the woman, which tes­ti­fied, He told me all that ever I did. Many of the Samar­i­tans of that city believed on him for the say­ing of the woman. So far they believed on him that they took him for a prophet, and were desirous to know the mind of God from him; this is favourably inter­preted as believ­ing on him. Now observe, Who they were that believed: Many of the Samar­i­tans, who were not of the house of Israel. Their faith was not only an aggra­va­tion of the unbe­lief of the Jews, from whom bet­ter might have been expected, but an earnest of the faith of the Gen­tiles, who would wel­come that which the Jews rejected.
 
Upon what induce­ment they believed: For the say­ing of the woman. See here, First, How God is some­times pleased to use very weak and unlikely instru­ments for the begin­ning and car­ry­ing on of a good work. A lit­tle maid directed a great prince to Elisha, 2 Kings 5:2 KJV And the Syr­i­ans had gone out by com­pa­nies, and had brought away cap­tive out of the land of Israel a lit­tle maid; and she waited on Naaman’s wife. Sec­ondly, How great a mat­ter a lit­tle fire kin­dles. Our Sav­iour, by instruct­ing one poor woman, spread instruc­tion to a whole town. Let not min­is­ters be either care­less in their preach­ing, or dis­cour­aged in it, because their hear­ers are few and mean; for, by doing good to them, good may be con­veyed to more, and those that are more con­sid­er­able. If they teach every man his neigh­bour, and every man his brother, a great num­ber may learn at sec­ond hand. Philip preached the gospel to a sin­gle gen­tle­man in his char­iot upon the road, and he not only received it him­self, but car­ried it into his coun­try, and prop­a­gated it there. Thirdly, See how good it is to speak exper­i­men­tally of Christ and the things of God. This woman could say lit­tle of Christ, but what she did say she spoke feel­ingly: He told me all that ever I did. Those are most likely to do good that can tell what God has done for their souls, Psalms 66:16 KJV Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul.
 
They were brought to court his stay among them: John 4:40 KJV So when the Samar­i­tans were come unto him, they besought him that he would tarry with them: and he abode there two days. When they were come to him they besought him that he would tarry with them. Upon the woman’s report, they believed him to be a prophet, and came to him; and, when they saw him, the mean­ness of his appear­ance and the man­i­fest poverty of his out­ward con­di­tion did not lessen their esteem of him and expec­ta­tions from him, but still they respected him as a prophet.
 
Note, There is hope of those who are got over the vul­gar prej­u­dices that men have against true worth in a low estate. Blessed are they that are not offended in Christ at the first sight.
 
So far were they from being offended in him that they begged he would tarry with them; that they might tes­tify their respect to him, and treat him with the hon­our and kind­ness due to his char­ac­ter. God’s prophets and min­is­ters are wel­come guests to all those who sin­cerely embrace the gospel; as to Lydia, Acts 16:15 KJV And when she was bap­tized, and her house­hold, she besought us, say­ing, If ye have judged me to be faith­ful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she con­strained us.
 
That they might receive instruc­tion from him. Those that are taught of God are truly desirous to learn more, and to be bet­ter acquainted with Christ. Many would have flocked to one that would tell them their for­tune, but these flocked to one that would tell them their faults, tell them of their sin and duty. The his­to­rian seems to lay an empha­sis upon their being Samar­i­tans; as Luke 10:33 KJV But a cer­tain Samar­i­tan, as he jour­neyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had com­pas­sion on him, Luke 17:16 KJV And fell down on his face at his feet, giv­ing him thanks: and he was a Samar­i­tan. The Samar­i­tans had not that rep­u­ta­tion for reli­gion which the Jews had; yet the Jews, who saw Christ’s mir­a­cles, drove him from them: while the Samar­i­tans, who saw not his mir­a­cles, nor shared in his favours, invited him to them. The proof of the gospel’s suc­cess is not always accord­ing to the prob­a­bil­ity, nor what is expe­ri­enced accord­ing to what is expected either way. The Samar­i­tans were taught by the cus­tom of their coun­try to be shy of con­ver­sa­tion with the Jews. There were Samar­i­tans that refused to let Christ go through their town, Luke 9:53 KJV And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem. but these begged him to tarry with them.
 
Note, It adds much to the praise of our love to Christ and his word if it con­quers the prej­u­dices of edu­ca­tion and cus­tom, and sets light by the cen­sures of men. Now we are told that Christ granted their request.
 
First, He abode there. Though it was a city of the Samar­i­tans nearly adjoin­ing to their tem­ple, yet, when he was invited, he tar­ried there; though he was upon a jour­ney, and had fur­ther to go, yet, when he had an oppor­tu­nity of doing good, he abode there. That is no real hin­drance which will fur­ther our account. Yet he abode there but two days, because he had other places to visit and other work to do, and those two days were as many as came to the share of this city, out of the few days of our Saviour’s sojourn­ing upon earth.
 
Sec­ondly, We are told what impres­sions were made upon them by Christ’s own word, and his per­sonal con­verse with them; what he said and did there is not related, whether he healed their sick or no; but it is inti­mated, in the effect, that he said and did that which con­vinced them that he was the Christ; and the labours of a min­is­ter are best told by the good fruit of them. Their hear­ing of him had a good effect, but now their eyes saw him; and the effect was, that their num­ber grew: John 4:41 KJV  And many more believed because of his own word; Many more believed: many that would not be per­suaded to go out of the town to him were yet wrought upon, when he came among them, to believe in him.
 
Note, It is com­fort­able to see the num­ber of believ­ers; and some­times the zeal and for­ward­ness of some may be a means to pro­voke many, and to stir them up to a holy emu­la­tion, Romans 11:14 KJV If by any means I may pro­voke to emu­la­tion them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.
 
That their faith grew. Those who had been wrought upon by the report of the woman now saw cause to say, Now we believe, not because of thy say­ing, John 4:42 KJV And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy say­ing: for we have heard him our­selves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Sav­iour of the world.
 
Here are three things in which their faith grew: In the mat­ter of it, or that which they did believe. Upon the tes­ti­mony of the woman, they believed him to be a prophet, or some extra­or­di­nary mes­sen­ger from heaven; but now that they have con­versed with him they believe that he is the Christ, the Anointed One, the very same that was promised to the fathers and expected by them, and that, being the Christ, he is the Sav­iour of the world; for the work to which he was anointed was to save his peo­ple from their sins. They believed him to be the Sav­iour not only of the Jews, but of the world, which they hoped would take them in, though Samar­i­tans, for it was promised that he should be Sal­va­tion to the ends of the earth, Isa­iah 49:6 KJV And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my ser­vant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the pre­served of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gen­tiles, that thou mayest be my sal­va­tion unto the end of the earth.
 
In the cer­tainty of it; their faith now grew up to a full assur­ance: We know that this is indeed the Christ; alēthōstruly; not a pre­tended Christ, but a real one; not a typ­i­cal Sav­iour, as many under the Old Tes­ta­ment, but truly one. Such an assur­ance as this of divine truths is what we should labour after; not only, We think it prob­a­ble, and are will­ing to sup­pose that Jesus may be the Christ, but, We know that he is indeed the Christ.
 
In the ground of it, which was a kind of spir­i­tual sen­sa­tion and expe­ri­ence: Now we believe, not because of thy say­ing, for we have heard him our­selves. They had before believed for her say­ing, and it was well, it was a good step; but now they find fur­ther and much firmer foot­ing for their faith: “Now we believe because we have heard him our­selves, and have heard such excel­lent and divine truths, accom­pa­nied with such com­mand­ing power and evi­dence, that we are abun­dantly sat­is­fied and assured that this is the Christ.” This is like what the queen of Sheba said of Solomon: 1 Kings 10:6–7 KJV And she said to the king, It was a true report that I heard in mine own land of thy acts and of thy wis­dom.  (7) How­beit I believed not the words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the half was not told me: thy wis­dom and pros­per­ity exceedeth the fame which I heard. The one half was not told me. The Samar­i­tans, who believed for the woman’s say­ing, now gained fur­ther light; for to him that hath shall be given; he that is faith­ful in a lit­tle shall be trusted with more. In this instance we may see how faith comes by hear­ing.
 
Faith comes to the birth by hear­ing the report of men. These Samar­i­tans, for the sake of the woman’s say­ing, believed so far as to come and see, to come and make trial. Thus the instruc­tions of par­ents and preach­ers, and the tes­ti­mony of the church and our expe­ri­enced neigh­bours, rec­om­mend the doc­trine of Christ to our acquain­tance, and incline us to enter­tain it as highly probable.
 
But, Faith comes to its growth, strength, and matu­rity, by hear­ing the tes­ti­mony of Christ him­self; and this goes fur­ther, and rec­om­mends his doc­trine to our accep­tance, and obliges us to believe it as undoubt­edly cer­tain. We were induced to look into the scrip­tures by the say­ing of those who told us that in them they had found eter­nal life; but when we our­selves have found it in them too, have expe­ri­enced the enlight­en­ing, con­vinc­ing, regen­er­at­ing, sanc­ti­fy­ing, com­fort­ing, power of the word, now we believe, not for their say­ing, but because we have searched them our­selves: and our faith stands not in the wis­dom of men, but in the power of God, 1 Corinthi­ans 2:5 KJV That your faith should not stand in the wis­dom of men, but in the power of God. 1 John 5:9–10 KJV  If we receive the wit­ness of men, the wit­ness of God is greater: for this is the wit­ness of God which he hath tes­ti­fied of his Son. (10) He that believeth on the Son of God hath the wit­ness in him­self: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son.
 
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The Peace of the Kingdom of Christ — Micah 4:1–8

The nations have not yet so sub­mit­ted to the Prince of Peace, as to beat their swords into ploughshares, nor has war ceased. But very pre­cious promises these are, relat­ing to the gospel church, which will be more and more ful­filled, for He is faith­ful that has promised. There shall be a glo­ri­ous church for God set up in the world, in the last days, in the days of the Mes­siah. Christ him­self will build it upon a rock. The Gen­tiles wor­shipped their idol gods; but in the period spo­ken of, the peo­ple will cleave to the Lord with full pur­pose of heart, and delight in doing his will. The word “hal­teth,” describes those who walk not accord­ing to the Divine word. The col­lect­ing the cap­tives from Baby­lon was an earnest of heal­ing, puri­fy­ing, and pros­per­ing the church; and the reign of Christ shall con­tinue till suc­ceeded by the ever­last­ing king­dom of heaven. Let us stir up each other to attend the ordi­nances of God, that we may learn his holy ways, and walk in them, receiv­ing the law from his hands, which, being writ­ten in our hearts by his Spirit, may show our inter­est in the Redeemer’s righteousness.
 
Micah 4:1–8 KJV But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the moun­tain of the house of the LORD shall be estab­lished in the top of the moun­tains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and peo­ple shall flow unto it.  (2)  And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the moun­tain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.  (3)  And he shall judge among many peo­ple, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plow­shares, and their spears into prun­ing­hooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, nei­ther shall they learn war any more.  (4)  But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the LORD of hosts hath spo­ken it.  (5)  For all peo­ple will walk every one in the name of his god, and we will walk in the name of the LORD our God for ever and ever.  (6)  In that day, saith the LORD, will I assem­ble her that hal­teth, and I will gather her that is dri­ven out, and her that I have afflicted;  (7)  And I will make her that halted a rem­nant, and her that was cast far off a strong nation: and the LORD shall reign over them in mount Zion from hence­forth, even for ever. (8)  And thou, O tower of the flock, the strong hold of the daugh­ter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, even the first domin­ion; the king­dom shall come to the daugh­ter of Jerusalem.
 
Com­par­ing this chap­ter with the close of the fore­go­ing chap­ter, the com­fort­able promises here with the ter­ri­ble threat­en­ings there, we may, with the apos­tle, “behold the good­ness and sever­ity of God,” Romans 11:22 KJV Behold there­fore the good­ness and sever­ity of God: on them which fell, sever­ity; but toward thee, good­ness, if thou con­tinue in his good­ness: oth­er­wise thou also shalt be cut off. towards the Jew­ish church which fell, sever­ity when Zion was ploughed as a field, but towards the Chris­t­ian church, which was built upon the ruins of it, good­ness, great good­ness; for it is here promised, that it shall be advanced and enlarged by the acces­sion of the nations to it. That it shall be pro­tected in tran­quil­ity and peace. That it shall be kept close, and con­stant, and faith­ful to God. That under Christ’s gov­ern­ment, all its griev­ances shall be redressed. That it shall have an ample and flour­ish­ing dominion.
 
It is a very com­fort­able but with which this chap­ter begins, and very reviv­ing to those who lay the inter­ests of God’s church near their heart and are con­cerned for the wel­fare of it. When we some­times see the cor­rup­tions of the church, espe­cially of church-rulers, princes, priests, and prophets, seek­ing their own things and not the things of God, and when we soon after see the des­o­la­tions of the church, Zion for their sakes ploughed as a field, we are ready to fear that it will one day per­ish between both, that the name of Israel shall be no more in remem­brance; we are ready to give up all for gone, and to con­clude the church will have nei­ther root not branch upon earth. But let not our faith fail in this mat­ter; out of the ashes of the church another phoenix shall arise. In the last words of the fore­go­ing chap­ter we left the moun­tain of the house as des­o­late and waste as the high places of the for­est; and is it pos­si­ble that such a wilder­ness should ever become a fruit­ful field again? Yes, the first words of this chap­ter bring in the moun­tain of the Lord’s house as much dig­ni­fied by being fre­quented as ever it had been dis­graced by being deserted. Though Zion be ploughed as a field, yet God has not cast off his peo­ple, but by the fall of the Jews sal­va­tion has come to the Gen­tiles, so that it proves to be the riches of the world, Romans 11:11–12 KJV I say then, Have they stum­bled that they should fall? God for­bid: but rather through their fall sal­va­tion is come unto the Gen­tiles, for to pro­voke them to jeal­ousy.  (12)  Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the dimin­ish­ing of them the riches of the Gen­tiles; how much more their ful­ness? This is the mys­tery which God by the prophet here shows us, and he says the very same in the first three verses of this chap­ter which another prophet said by the word of the Lord at the same time, Isa­iah 2:2–4 KJV And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the moun­tain of the LORD’S house shall be estab­lished in the top of the moun­tains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. (3)  And many peo­ple shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the moun­tain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.  (4)  And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many peo­ple: and they shall beat their swords into plow­shares, and their spears into prun­ing­hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, nei­ther shall they learn war any more. that out of the mouth of these two wit­nesses these promises might be estab­lished; and very pre­cious promises they are, relat­ing to the gospel-church, which have been in part accom­plished, and will be yet more and more, for he is faith­ful that has promised.
 
That there shall be a church for God set up in the world, after the defec­tion and destruc­tion of the Jew­ish church, and this in the last days; that is, as some of the rab­bin them­selves acknowl­edge, in the days of the Mes­siah. The peo­ple of God shall be incor­po­rated by a new char­ter, a new spir­i­tual way of wor­ship shall be enacted, and a new insti­tu­tion of offices to attend it; bet­ter priv­i­leges shall be granted by this new char­ter, and bet­ter pro­vi­sion made for enlarg­ing and estab­lish­ing the king­dom of God among men than had been made by the Old Tes­ta­ment con­sti­tu­tion: The moun­tain of the house of the Lord shall again appear firm ground for God’s faith­ful wor­ship­pers to stand, and go, and build upon, in their atten­dance on him, Micah 4:1 KJV But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the moun­tain of the house of the LORD shall be estab­lished in the top of the moun­tains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and peo­ple shall flow unto it. And it shall be a cen­tre of unity to them; a church shall be set up in the world, to which the Lord will be daily adding such as shall be saved.
 
That this church shall be firmly founded and well-built: It shall be estab­lished in the top of the moun­tains; Christ him­self will build it upon a rock; it shall be an impreg­nable fort upon an immov­able foun­da­tion, so that the gates of hell shall nei­ther over­throw the one nor under­mine the other; Matthew 16:18 KJV And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not pre­vail against it. its foun­da­tions are still in the holy moun­tains, Psalms 87:1 KJV His foun­da­tion is in the holy moun­tains. the ever­last­ing moun­tains, which can­not, which shall not, be removed. It shall be estab­lished, not as the tem­ple, upon one moun­tain, but upon many; for the foun­da­tions of the church, as they are sure, so they are large.
 
That it shall be highly advanced, and become emi­nent and con­spic­u­ous: It shall be exalted above the hills, observed with won­der for its grow­ing great­ness from small begin­nings. The king­dom of Christ shall shine with greater lus­tre than ever any of the king­doms of the earth did. It shall be as a city on a hill, which can­not be hid, Matthew 5:14 KJV Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill can­not be hid. The glory of this lat­ter house is greater than that of the for­mer, Hag­gai 2:9 KJV The glory of this lat­ter house shall be greater than of the for­mer, saith the LORD of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the LORD of hosts. See 2 Corinthi­ans 3:7–8 KJV But if the min­is­tra­tion of death, writ­ten and engraven in stones, was glo­ri­ous, so that the chil­dren of Israel could not sted­fastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his coun­te­nance; which glory was to be done away:  (8)  How shall not the min­is­tra­tion of the spirit be rather glorious?
 
That there shall be a great acces­sion of con­verts to it and suc­ces­sion of con­verts in it. Peo­ple shall flow unto it as the waters of a river are con­tin­u­ally flow­ing; there shall be a con­stant stream of believ­ers flow­ing in from all parts into the church, as the peo­ple of the Jews flowed into the tem­ple, while it was stand­ing, to wor­ship there. Then many tribes came to the moun­tain of the house, to enquire of God’s tem­ple; but in gospel-times many nations shall flow into the church, shall fly like a cloud and as the doves to their win­dows. Min­is­ters shall be sent forth to dis­ci­ple all nations, and they shall not labour in vain; for, mul­ti­tudes being wrought upon to believe the gospel and embrace the Chris­t­ian reli­gion, they shall excite and encour­age one another, and shall say, “Come, and let us go up to the moun­tain of the Lord now raised among us, even to the house of the God of Jacob, the spir­i­tual tem­ple which we need not travel far to, for it is brought to our doors and set up in the midst of us.” Thus shall peo­ple be made will­ing in the day of his power, Psalms 110:3 KJV Thy peo­ple shall be will­ing in the day of thy power, in the beau­ties of holi­ness from the womb of the morn­ing: thou hast the dew of thy youth. and shall do what they can to make oth­ers will­ing, as Andrew invited Peter, and Philip Nathanael, to be acquainted with Christ. They shall call the peo­ple to the moun­tain, Deuteron­omy 33:19 KJV They shall call the peo­ple unto the moun­tain; there they shall offer sac­ri­fices of right­eous­ness: for they shall suck of the abun­dance of the seas, and of trea­sures hid in the sand. for there is in Christ enough for all, enough for each.
 
Now observe what it is, which these con­verts expect to find in the house of the God of Jacob. They come thither for instruc­tion: “He will teach us of his ways, what is the way in which he would have us to walk with him and in which we may depend upon him to meet us graciously.”
 
Note, Where we come to wor­ship God we come to be taught of him.
 
Which they engage to do when they are thus taught of God: We will walk in his paths.
 
Note, Those may com­fort­ably expect that God will teach them who are firmly resolved by his grace to do as they are taught.
 
That, in order to this, a new rev­e­la­tion shall be pub­lished to the world, on which the church shall be founded, and by which mul­ti­tudes shall be brought into it: For the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. The gospel is here called the word of the Lord, for the Lord gave the word, and great was the com­pany of those that pub­lished it, Psalms 68:11 KJV The Lord gave the word: great was the com­pany of those that pub­lished it. It was of a divine orig­i­nal, a divine author­ity; it began to be spo­ken by the Lord Christ him­self, Hebrews 2:3 KJV How shall we escape, if we neglect so great sal­va­tion; which at the first began to be spo­ken by the Lord, and was con­firmed unto us by them that heard him; And it is a law, a law of faith; we are under the law to Christ. This was to go forth from Jerusalem, from Zion, the metrop­o­lis of the Old Tes­ta­ment dis­pen­sa­tion, where the tem­ple, and altars, and ora­cles were, and whither the Jews went to wor­ship from all parts; thence the gospel must take rise, to show the con­nex­ion between the Old Tes­ta­ment and the New, that the gospel is not set up in oppo­si­tion to the law, but is an expli­ca­tion and illus­tra­tion of it, and a branch grow­ing out of its roots. It was in Jerusalem that Christ preached and wrought mir­a­cles; there he died, rose again, and ascended; there the Spirit was poured out; and those that were to preach repen­tance and remis­sion of sins to all nations were ordered to begin at Jerusalem, so that thence flowed the streams that were to water the desert world.
 
That a con­vinc­ing power should go along with the gospel of Christ, in all places where it should be preached: Micah 4:3 KJV And he shall judge among many peo­ple, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plow­shares, and their spears into prun­ing­hooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, nei­ther shall they learn war any more. He shall judge among many peo­ple. Mes­siah, the law­giver, Micah 4:2 KJV And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the moun­tain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. is here the judge, for to him the Father com­mit­ted all judg­ment, and for judg­ment he came into this world; his word, the word of his gospel, that was to go forth from Jerusalem, was the golden scep­tre by which he shall rule and judge when he sits as king on the holy hill of Zion, Psalms 2:6 KJV Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. By it he shall rebuke strong nations afar off; for the Spirit work­ing with the word shall reprove the world, John 16:8 KJV And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of right­eous­ness, and of judg­ment: It is promised to the Son of David that he shall judge among the hea­then, Psalms 110:6 KJV He shall judge among the hea­then, he shall fill the places with the dead bod­ies; he shall wound the heads over many coun­tries. which he does when in the char­iot of his ever­last­ing gospel he goes forth, and goes on, con­quer­ing and to conquer.
 
That a dis­po­si­tion to mutual peace and love shall be the happy effect of the set­ting up of the king­dom of the Mes­siah: They shall beat their swords into plough-shares; that is, angry pas­sion­ate men, that have been fierce and furi­ous, shall be won­der­fully sweet­ened, and made mild and meek, Titus 3:2–3 KJV To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gen­tle, shew­ing all meek­ness unto all men.  (3)  For we our­selves also were some­times fool­ish, dis­obe­di­ent, deceived, serv­ing divers lusts and plea­sures, liv­ing in mal­ice and envy, hate­ful, and hat­ing one another. Those who, before their con­ver­sion, did injuries, and would bear none, after their con­ver­sion can bear injuries, but will do none. As far as the gospel pre­vails it makes men peace­able, for such is the wis­dom from above; it is gen­tle and easy to be entreated; and if nations were but leav­ened by it, there would be uni­ver­sal peace. When Christ was born there was uni­ver­sal peace in the Roman empire; those that were first brought into the gospel church were all of one heart and of one soul; Acts 4:32 KJV And the mul­ti­tude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: nei­ther said any of them that ought of the things which he pos­sessed was his own; but they had all things com­mon. and it was observed of the prim­i­tive Chris­tians how well they loved one another. In heaven this will have its full accomplishment.
 
It is promised, that none shall be quar­rel­some. The art of war, instead of being improved (which some reckon the glory of a king­dom), shall be for­got­ten and laid aside as use­less. They shall not learn war any more as they have done, for they shall have no need to defend them­selves nor any incli­na­tion to offend their neigh­bours. Nation shall no longer lift up sword against nation; not that the gospel will make men cow­ards, but it will make men peaceable.
 
That all shall be quiet, both from evil and from the fear of evil: Micah 4:4 KJV But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the LORD of hosts hath spo­ken it. They shall sit safely, and none shall dis­turb them; they shall sit securely, and shall not dis­turb them­selves, every man under his vine and under his fig-tree, enjoy­ing the fruit of them, and need­ing no other shel­ter than the leaves of them. None shall make them afraid; not only there shall be noth­ing that is likely to frighten them, but they shall not be dis­posed to fear. under the domin­ion of Christ, as that of Solomon, there shall be abun­dance of peace. Though his fol­low­ers have trou­ble in the world, in him they enjoy great tran­quil­lity. If this seems unlikely, yet we may depend upon it, for the mouth of the Lord has spo­ken it, and no word of his shall fall to the ground; what he has spo­ken by his word he will do by his prov­i­dence and grace. He that is the Lord of hosts will be the God of peace; and those may well be easy whom the Lord of hosts, of all hosts, under­takes the pro­tec­tion of.
 
That the churches shall be con­stant in their duty, and so shall make a good use of their tran­quil­lity and shall not pro­voke the Lord to deprive them of it, Micah 4:5 KJV For all peo­ple will walk every one in the name of his god, and we will walk in the name of the LORD our God for ever and ever. When the churches have rest they shall be edi­fied, and con­firmed, and com­forted, and shall resolve to be as firm to their God as other nations are to theirs, though they be no gods. Where we find the fore­go­ing promises, Isa­iah 2:2 KJV And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the moun­tain of the LORD’S house shall be estab­lished in the top of the moun­tains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. it fol­lows, Micah 4:5 KJV For all peo­ple will walk every one in the name of his god, and we will walk in the name of the LORD our God for ever and ever. O house of Jacob! come ye, and let us walk in the light of the Lord; and here, We will walk in the name of the Lord our God. Note, Peace is a bless­ing indeed when it strength­ens our res­o­lu­tions to cleave to the Lord.
 
Observe, how con­stant other nations were to their gods: All peo­ple will walk every one in the name of his god, will own their god and cleave to him, will wor­ship their god and serve him, will depend upon him and put con­fi­dence in him. What­ever men make a god of they will make use of, and take his name along with them in all their actions and affairs. The mariners, in a storm, cried every man to his god, Jonah 1:5 KJV Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god, and cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it of them. But Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship; and he lay, and was fast asleep. And no instance could be found of a nation’s chang­ing its gods, Jere­miah 2:11 KJV Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? but my peo­ple have changed their glory for that which doth not profit. If the hosts of heaven were their gods, they loved them, and served them, and walked after them, Jere­miah 8:2 KJV And they shall spread them before the sun, and the moon, and all the host of heaven, whom they have loved, and whom they have served, and after whom they have walked, and whom they have sought, and whom they have wor­shipped: they shall not be gath­ered, nor be buried; they shall be for dung upon the face of the earth.
 
How con­stant God’s peo­ple now resolve to be to him: “We will walk in the name of the Lord our God, will acknowl­edge him in all our ways, and gov­ern our­selves by a con­tin­ual regard to him, doing noth­ing but what we have war­rant from him for, and openly pro­fess­ing our rela­tion to him.” Observe, Their res­o­lu­tion is peremp­tory; it is not a thing that needs be dis­puted: “We will walk in the name of the Lord our God.” It is just and rea­son­able: He is our God. And it is a res­o­lu­tion for a per­pe­tu­ity: “We will do it for ever and ever, and will never leave him. He will be ours for ever, and there­fore so we will be his, and never repent our choice.”
 
That notwith­stand­ing the dis­per­sions, dis­tress, and infir­mi­ties of the church, it shall be formed and estab­lished, and made very con­sid­er­able, Micah 4:6–7 KJV In that day, saith the LORD, will I assem­ble her that hal­teth, and I will gather her that is dri­ven out, and her that I have afflicted; (7)  And I will make her that halted a rem­nant, and her that was cast far off a strong nation: and the LORD shall reign over them in mount Zion from hence­forth, even for ever.
 
The state of the church had been low, and weak, and very help­less, in the lat­ter times of the Old Tes­ta­ment, partly through the cor­rup­tions of the Jew­ish nation, and partly through the oppres­sions under which they groaned. They were like a flock of sheep that were maimed, wor­ried, and scat­tered, Ezekiel 34:16 KJV I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was dri­ven away, and will bind up that which was bro­ken, and will strengthen that which was sick: but I will destroy the fat and the strong; I will feed them with judg­ment. Jere­miah 50:6 KJV My peo­ple hath been lost sheep: their shep­herds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the moun­tains: they have gone from moun­tain to hill, they have for­got­ten their rest­ing­place. Jere­miah 50:17 KJV Israel is a scat­tered sheep; the lions have dri­ven him away: first the king of Assyria hath devoured him; and last this Neb­uchadrez­zar king of Baby­lon hath bro­ken his bones. The good peo­ple among them, and in other places, that were well inclined, were dis­persed, were very infirm, and in a man­ner lost and cast far off.
 
It is promised that all these griev­ances shall be redressed and the dis­tem­per healed. Christ will come him­self, Matthew 15:24 KJV But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. and send his apos­tles to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, Matthew 10:6 KJV But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. From among the Jews that halted, or that for want of strength, could not go upright, God gath­ered a rem­nant, Micah 4:7 KJV And I will make her that halted a rem­nant, and her that was cast far off a strong nation: and the LORD shall reign over them in mount Zion from hence­forth, even for ever. that rem­nant accord­ing to the elec­tion of grace which is spo­ken of in, Romans 11:7 KJV What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the elec­tion hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded which embraced the gospel of Christ. And from among the Gen­tiles that were cast far off (so the Gen­tiles are described to be, Eph­esians 2:13 KJV But now in Christ Jesus ye who some­times were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. Acts 2:39 KJV For the promise is unto you, and to your chil­dren, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.) he raised a strong nation; greater num­bers of them were brought into the church than of the Jews, Gala­tians 4:27 KJV For it is writ­ten, Rejoice, thou bar­ren that bear­est not; break forth and cry, thou that tra­vailest not: for the des­o­late hath many more chil­dren than she which hath an hus­band. And such a strong nation the gospel-church is that the gates of hell shall never be able to pre­vail against it. The church of Christ is more numer­ous than any other nation, and strong in the Lord and in the power of his might.
 
That the Mes­siah shall be the king of this king­dom, shall pro­tect and gov­ern it, and order all the affairs of it for the best, and this to the end of time. The Lord Jesus shall reign over them in Mount Zion by his word and Spirit in his ordi­nances, and this hence­forth and for ever, for of the increase of his gov­ern­ment and peace there shall be no end.
 
This verse relates to Zion and Jerusalem, Micah 4:8 KJV And thou, O tower of the flock, the strong hold of the daugh­ter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, even the first domin­ion; the king­dom shall come to the daugh­ter of Jerusalem. here called the tower of the flock or the tower of Edor; we read of such a place Gen­e­sis 35:21 KJV And Israel jour­neyed, and spread his tent beyond the tower of Edar. near Beth­le­hem; and some con­jec­ture it is the same place where the shep­herds were keep­ing their flocks when the angels brought them tid­ings of the birth of Christ, and some think Beth­le­hem itself is here spo­ken of, as Micah 5:2 KJV But thou, Beth­le­hem Ephratah, though thou be lit­tle among the thou­sands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from ever­last­ing. Some think it is a tower at that gate of Jerusalem which is called the sheep-gate, Nehemiah 3:32 KJV And between the going up of the cor­ner unto the sheep gate repaired the gold­smiths and the mer­chants. and con­jec­ture that through that gate Christ rode in tri­umph into Jerusalem. How­ever, it seems to be put for Jerusalem itself, or for Zion the tower of David. All the sheep of Israel flocked thither three times a year; it was the strong­hold (Ophel, which is also a name of a place in Jerusalem, Nehemiah 3:27 KJV After them the Tekoites repaired another piece, over against the great tower that lieth out, even unto the wall of Ophel.), or cas­tle, of the daugh­ter of Zion.
 
Now here, we have a promise of the glo­ries of the spir­i­tual Jerusalem, the gospel-church, which is; the tower of the flock, that one fold in which all the sheep of Christ are pro­tected under one Shep­herd: “Unto thee shall it come; that which thou hast long wanted and wished for, even the first domin­ion, a dig­nity and power equal to that of David and Solomon, by whom Jerusalem was first raised, that king­dom shall again come to the daugh­ter of Jerusalem, which it was deprived of at the cap­tiv­ity. It shall make as great a fig­ure and shine with as much lus­tre among the nations, and have as much influ­ence upon them, as ever it had; this is the first or chief domin­ion.” Now this had by no means its accom­plish­ment in Zerub­ba­bel; his was noth­ing like the first domin­ion either in respect of splen­dour and sov­er­eignty at home or the extent of power abroad; and there­fore it must refer to the king­dom of the Mes­siah (and to that the Chaldee-paraphrase refers it) and had its accom­plish­ment when God gave to our Lord Jesus the throne of his father David, Luke 1:32 KJV He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the High­est: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: set him king upon the holy hill of Zion and gave him the hea­then for his inher­i­tance, Psalms 2:6 KJV Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. made him, his first-born, higher than the kings of the earth, Psalms 89:27 KJV Also I will make him my first­born, higher than the kings of the earth. Daniel 7:14 KJV And there was given him domin­ion, and glory, and a king­dom, that all peo­ple, nations, and lan­guages, should serve him: his domin­ion is an ever­last­ing domin­ion, which shall not pass away, and his king­dom that which shall not be destroyed. David, in spirit, called him Lord, and (as Dr. Edward Pocock, 1604–1691 observes) he wit­nessed of him­self, and his wit­ness was true, that he was greater than Solomon, none of their domin­ions being like his for extent and dura­tion. The com­mon peo­ple wel­comed Christ into Jerusalem with hosan­nas to the son of David, to show that it was the first domin­ion that came to the daugh­ter of Zion; and the evan­ge­list applies it to the promise of Zion’s king com­ing to her, Matthew 21:5 KJV Tell ye the daugh­ter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sit­ting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass. Zechariah 9:9 KJV Rejoice greatly, O daugh­ter of Zion; shout, O daugh­ter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and hav­ing sal­va­tion; lowly, and rid­ing upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass. Some give this sense of the words: To Zion, and Jerusalem that tower of the flock, to the nation of the Jews, came the first domin­ion; that is, there the king­dom of Christ was first set up, the gospel of the king­dom was first preached, Luke 24:47 KJV And that repen­tance and remis­sion of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, begin­ning at Jerusalem. there Christ was first called king of the Jews.
 
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Every Enemy of the Church shall be Destroyed, and the Final Ruin of Ungodly Men shall be Seen — Isaiah 66:15–24

A prophetic dec­la­ra­tion is given of the Lord’s vengeance on all ene­mies of his church, espe­cially that of all antichris­t­ian opposers of the gospel in the lat­ter days. Isa­iah 66:19–20 KJV And I will set a sign among them, and I will send those that escape of them unto the nations, to Tarshish, Pul, and Lud, that draw the bow, to Tubal, and Javan, to the isles afar off, that have not heard my fame, nei­ther have seen my glory; and they shall declare my glory among the Gen­tiles.  (20) And they shall bring all your brethren for an offer­ing unto the LORD out of all nations upon horses, and in char­i­ots, and in lit­ters, and upon mules, and upon swift beasts, to my holy moun­tain Jerusalem, saith the LORD, as the chil­dren of Israel bring an offer­ing in a clean ves­sel into the house of the LORD. set forth the abun­dance of means for con­ver­sion of sin­ners. These expres­sions are fig­u­ra­tive, and express the plen­ti­ful and gra­cious helps for bring­ing God’s elect home to Christ. All shall be wel­come; and noth­ing shall be want­ing for their assis­tance and encour­age­ment. A gospel min­istry shall be set up in the church; they would have solemn wor­ship before the Lord. In the last verse the nature of the pun­ish­ment of sin­ners in the world to come is rep­re­sented. Then shall the right­eous and wicked be sep­a­rated. Our Sav­iour applies this to the ever­last­ing mis­ery and tor­ment of impen­i­tent sin­ners in the future state. To the hon­our of that free grace which thus dis­tin­guishes them, let the redeemed of the Lord, with humil­ity, and not with­out holy trem­bling, sing tri­umphant songs. With this affect­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the oppo­site states of the right­eous and wicked, char­ac­ters which include the whole human race, Isa­iah con­cludes his prophe­cies. May God grant, for Christ’s sake, that our por­tion may be with those who fear and love his name, who cleave to his truths, and per­se­vere in every good work, look­ing to receive from the Lord Jesus Christ the gra­cious invi­ta­tion, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the king­dom pre­pared for you from the foun­da­tion of the world.
 
Isa­iah 66:15–24 KJV For, behold, the LORD will come with fire, and with his char­i­ots like a whirl­wind, to ren­der his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire.  (16)  For by fire and by his sword will the LORD plead with all flesh: and the slain of the LORD shall be many.  (17)  They that sanc­tify them­selves, and purify them­selves in the gar­dens behind one tree in the midst, eat­ing swine’s flesh, and the abom­i­na­tion, and the mouse, shall be con­sumed together, saith the LORD.  (18)  For I know their works and their thoughts: it shall come, that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come, and see my glory.  (19)  And I will set a sign among them, and I will send those that escape of them unto the nations, to Tarshish, Pul, and Lud, that draw the bow, to Tubal, and Javan, to the isles afar off, that have not heard my fame, nei­ther have seen my glory; and they shall declare my glory among the Gen­tiles.  (20)  And they shall bring all your brethren for an offer­ing unto the LORD out of all nations upon horses, and in char­i­ots, and in lit­ters, and upon mules, and upon swift beasts, to my holy moun­tain Jerusalem, saith the LORD, as the chil­dren of Israel bring an offer­ing in a clean ves­sel into the house of the LORD.  (21)  And I will also take of them for priests and for Levites, saith the LORD.  (22) For as the new heav­ens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the LORD, so shall your seed and your name remain. (23)  And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sab­bath to another, shall all flesh come to wor­ship before me, saith the LORD(24)  And they shall go forth, and look upon the car­cases of the men that have trans­gressed against me: for their worm shall not die, nei­ther shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhor­ring unto all flesh.
 
The ter­ri­ble vengeance which God will bring upon the ene­mies of his church and peo­ple. The happy estab­lish­ment of the church upon large and sure foun­da­tions, its con­stant atten­dance on God and tri­umph over its ene­mies. And we may well expect that this evan­gel­i­cal prophet, here, in the close of his prophecy, should (as he does) look as far for­ward as to the lat­ter days, to the last day, to the days of eternity.
 
These verses, like the pil­lar of cloud and fire, have a dark side towards the ene­mies of God’s king­dom and all that are rebels against his crown, and a bright side towards his faith­ful loyal sub­jects. Prob­a­bly they refer to the Jews in cap­tiv­ity in Baby­lon, of whom some are said to have been sent thither for their hurt, and with them God here threat­ens to pro­ceed in his con­tro­versy; they hated to be reformed, and there­fore should be ruined by the calamity; Jere­miah 24:9 KJV And I will deliver them to be removed into all the king­doms of the earth for their hurt, to be a reproach and a proverb, a taunt and a curse, in all places whither I shall drive them. oth­ers were sent thither for their good, and they should have the trou­ble sanc­ti­fied to them, should in due time get well through it and see many a good day after it. Many of the expres­sions here used are accom­mo­dated to that glo­ri­ous dis­pen­sa­tion; but doubt­less the prophecy looks fur­ther, to the judg­ment for which Christ did come once, and will come again, into this world, and to the dis­tinc­tion which his word in both makes between the pre­cious and the vile.
 
Christ will appear to the con­fu­sion and ter­ror of all those that stand it out against him. Some­times he will appear in tem­po­ral judg­ments. The Jews that per­sisted in infi­delity were cut off by fire and by his sword. The ruin was very exten­sive; the Lord then pleaded with all flesh; and, it being his sword with which they are cut off, they are called his slain, sac­ri­ficed to his jus­tice, and they shall be many. In the great day the wrath of God will be his fire and sword, with which he will cut off and con­sume all the impen­i­tent; and his word, when it takes hold of sin­ners’ con­sciences, burns like fire, and is sharper than any two-edged sword. Idol­aters will espe­cially be con­tended with in the day of wrath, Isa­iah 66:17 KJV They that sanc­tify them­selves, and purify them­selves in the gar­dens behind one tree in the midst, eat­ing swine’s flesh, and the abom­i­na­tion, and the mouse, shall be con­sumed together, saith the LORD.
 
Per­haps some of those who returned out of Baby­lon retained such instances of idol­a­try and super­sti­tion as are here men­tioned, had their idols in their gar­dens (not dar­ing to set them up pub­licly in the high places) and there puri­fied them­selves (as the wor­ship­pers of the true God used to do) when they went about their idol­a­trous rites, one after another, or, as we read it, behind one tree in the midst, behind Ahad or Ehad, some idol that they wor­shipped by that name and in hon­our of which they ate swine’s flesh (which was expressly for­bid­den by the law of God), and other abom­i­na­tions, as the mouse, or some other like animal.
 
But the prophecy may refer to all those judg­ments which the wrath of God, accord­ing to the word of God, will bring upon pro­vok­ing sin­ners, that live in con­tempt of God and are devoted to the world and the flesh: They shall be con­sumed together. From the hap­pi­ness of heaven we find expressly excluded all idol­aters, and whoso­ever wor­keth abom­i­na­tion, Rev­e­la­tion 21:27 KJV And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, nei­ther what­so­ever wor­keth abom­i­na­tion, or maketh a lie: but they which are writ­ten in the Lamb’s book of life. Rev­e­la­tion 22:15 KJV For with­out are dogs, and sor­cer­ers, and whore­mon­gers, and mur­der­ers, and idol­aters, and whoso­ever loveth and maketh a lie. In the day of vengeance secret wicked­ness will be brought to light and brought to the account; for, Isa­iah 66:18 KJV For I know their works and their thoughts: it shall come, that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come, and see my glory. I know their works and their thoughts. God knows both what men do and from what prin­ci­ple and with what design they do it; and there­fore is fit to judge the world, because he can judge the secrets of men, Romans 2:16 KJV In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ accord­ing to my gospel.
 
He will appear to the com­fort and joy of all that are faith­ful to him in the set­ting up of his king­dom in this world, the king­dom of grace, the earnest and first-fruits of the king­dom of glory. The time shall come that he will gather all nations and tongues to him­self, that they may come and see his glory as it shines in the face of Jesus Christ, Isa­iah 66:18 KJV For I know their works and their thoughts: it shall come, that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come, and see my glory. This was ful­filled when all nations were to be dis­ci­pled and the gift of tongues was bestowed in order there­unto. The church had hith­erto been con­fined to one nation and in one tongue only God was wor­shipped; but in the days of the Mes­siah the partition-wall should be taken down, and those that had been strangers to God should be brought acquainted with him and should see his glory in the gospel, as the Jews had seen it in the sanc­tu­ary.
 
As to this, it is here promised, that some of the Jew­ish nation should, by the grace of God, be dis­tin­guished form the rest, and marked for sal­va­tion: I will not only set up a gath­er­ing ensign among them, to which the Gen­tiles shall seek (as is promised, Isa­iah 11:12 KJV And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assem­ble the out­casts of Israel, and gather together the dis­persed of Judah from the four cor­ners of the earth.), but there shall be those among them on whom I will set a dif­fer­enc­ing sign; for so the word sig­ni­fies. Though they are a cor­rupt degen­er­ate nation, yet God will set apart a rem­nant of them, that shall be devoted to him and employed for him, and a mark shall be set upon them, with such cer­tainty will God own them, Ezekiel 9:4 KJV And the LORD said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the fore­heads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abom­i­na­tions that be done in the midst thereof. The ser­vants of God shall be sealed in their fore­heads, Rev­e­la­tion 7:3 KJV Say­ing, Hurt not the earth, nei­ther the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the ser­vants of our God in their fore­heads. The Lord knows those that are his. Christ’s sheep are marked.
 
That those who are them­selves dis­tin­guished thus by the grace of God shall be com­mis­sioned to invite oth­ers to come and take the ben­e­fit of that grace. Those that escape the power of those prej­u­dices by which the gen­er­al­ity of that nation is kept in unbe­lief shall be sent to the nations to carry the gospel among them, and preach it to every creature.
 
Note, Those who them­selves have escaped the wrath to come should do all they can to snatch oth­ers also as brands out of the burn­ing. God chooses to send those on his errands that can deliver their mes­sage feel­ingly and exper­i­men­tally, and warn peo­ple of their dan­ger by sin as those who have them­selves nar­rowly escaped the danger.
 
They shall be sent to the nations, sev­eral of which are here named, Tarshish, and Pul, and Lud, etc. It is uncer­tain, nor are inter­preters agreed, what coun­tries are here intended. Tarshish sig­ni­fies in gen­eral the sea, yet some take it for Tar­sus in Cili­cia. Pul is men­tioned some­times as the name of one of the kings of Assyria; per­haps some part of that coun­try might like­wise bear that name. Lud is sup­posed to be Lydia, a war­like nation, famed for archers: the Lydi­ans are said to han­dle and bend the bow, Jere­miah 46:9 KJV Come up, ye horses; and rage, ye char­i­ots; and let the mighty men come forth; the Ethiopi­ans and the Libyans, that han­dle the shield; and the Lydi­ans, that han­dle and bend the bow. Tubal, some think, is Italy or Spain; and Javan most agree to be Greece, the Iones; and the isles of the Gen­tiles, that were peo­pled by the pos­ter­ity of Japhet, Gen­e­sis 10:5 KJV By these were the isles of the Gen­tiles divided in their lands; every one after his tongue, after their fam­i­lies, in their nations. prob­a­bly are here meant by the isles afar off, that have not heard my name, nei­ther have seen my glory. In Judah only was God known, and there only his name was great for many ages. Other coun­tries sat in dark­ness, heard no the joy­ful sound, saw not the joy­ful light. This deplorable state of theirs seems to be spo­ken of here with com­pas­sion; for it is a pity that any of the chil­dren of men should be at such a dis­tance from their Maker as not to hear his name and see his glory.
 
In con­sid­er­a­tion of this, those that are sent to the nations shall go upon God’s errand, to declare his glory among the Gen­tiles. The Jews that shall be dis­persed among the nations shall declare the glory of God’s prov­i­dence con­cern­ing their nation all along, by which many shall be invited to join with them, as also by the appear­ances of God’s glory among them in his ordi­nances. Some out of all lan­guages of the nations shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, entreat­ing him to take notice of them, to admit them into his com­pany, and to stay a lit­tle while for them, till they are ready, “for we will go with you, hav­ing heard that God is with you,Zechariah 8:23 KJV Thus saith the LORD of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all lan­guages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, say­ing, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you. Thus the glory of God was in part declared among the Gen­tiles; but more clearly and fully by the apos­tles and early preach­ers of the gospel, who were sent into all the world, even to the isles afar off, to pub­lish the glo­ri­ous gospel of the blessed God. They went forth and preached every where, the Lord work­ing with them, Mark 16:20 KJV And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord work­ing with them, and con­firm­ing the word with signs fol­low­ing. Amen.
 
That many con­verts shall hereby be made, Isa­iah 66:20 KJV And they shall bring all your brethren for an offer­ing unto the LORD out of all nations upon horses, and in char­i­ots, and in lit­ters, and upon mules, and upon swift beasts, to my holy moun­tain Jerusalem, saith the LORD, as the chil­dren of Israel bring an offer­ing in a clean ves­sel into the house of the LORD.
 
They shall bring all your brethren (for pros­e­lytes ought to be owned and embraced as brethren) for an offer­ing unto the Lord. God’s glory shall not be in vain declared to them, but they shall be both invited and directed to join them­selves to the Lord. Those that are sent to them shall suc­ceed so well in their nego­ti­a­tion that there­upon there shall be as great flock­ing to Jerusalem as used to be at the time of a solemn feast, when all the males from all parts of the coun­try were to attend there, and not to appear empty.
 
Observe, the con­ve­niences that they shall be fur­nished with for their com­ing. Some shall come upon horses, because they came from far and the jour­ney was too long to travel on foot, as the Jews usu­ally did to their feasts. Per­sons of qual­ity shall come in char­i­ots, and the aged, and sickly, and lit­tle chil­dren, shall be brought in lit­ters or cov­ered wag­ons, and the young men on mules and swift beasts. This inti­mates their zeal and for­ward­ness to come. They shall spare no trou­ble nor charge to get to Jerusalem. Those that can­not ride on horse­back shall come in lit­ters; and in such haste shall they be, and so impa­tient of delay, that those that can shall ride upon mules and swift beasts. These expres­sions are fig­u­ra­tive, and these var­i­ous means of con­veyance are heaped up to inti­mate (says the learned Mr. Thomas Gataker, divine, died 1593) the abun­dant pro­vi­sion of all those gra­cious helps req­ui­site for the bring­ing of God’s elect home to Christ. All shall be wel­come, and noth­ing shall be want­ing for their assis­tance and encouragement.
 
The char­ac­ter under which they shall be brought. They shall come, not as for­merly they used to come to Jerusalem, to be offer­ers, but to be them­selves an offer­ing unto the Lord, which must be under­stood spir­i­tu­ally, of their being pre­sented to God as liv­ing sac­ri­fices, Romans 12:1 KJV I beseech you there­fore, brethren, by the mer­cies of God, that ye present your bod­ies a liv­ing sac­ri­fice, holy, accept­able unto God, which is your rea­son­able ser­vice. The apos­tle explains this, and per­haps refers to it, Romans 15:16 KJV That I should be the min­is­ter of Jesus Christ to the Gen­tiles, min­is­ter­ing the gospel of God, that the offer­ing up of the Gen­tiles might be accept­able, being sanc­ti­fied by the Holy Ghost. where he speaks of his min­is­ter­ing the gospel to the Gen­tiles, that the offer­ing up, or sac­ri­fic­ing, of the Gen­tiles might be accept­able. They shall offer them­selves, and those who are the instru­ments of their con­ver­sion shall offer them, as the spoils which they have taken for Christ and which are devoted to his ser­vice and hon­our. They shall be brought as the chil­dren of Israel bring an offer­ing in a clean ves­sel, with great care that they be holy, puri­fied from sin, and sanc­ti­fied to God. It is said of the con­verted Gen­tiles Acts 15:9 KJV And put no dif­fer­ence between us and them, puri­fy­ing their hearts by faith. that their hearts were puri­fied by faith. What­ever was brought to God was brought in a clean ves­sel, a ves­sel appro­pri­ated to reli­gious uses. God will be served and hon­oured in the way that he has appointed, in the ordi­nances of his own insti­tu­tion, which are the proper vehi­cles for these spir­i­tual offer­ings. When the soul is offered up to God the body must be a clean ves­sel for it, pos­sessed in sanc­ti­fi­ca­tion and hon­our, and not in the lusts of unclean­ness; 1 Thes­sa­lo­ni­ans 4:4–5 KJV That every one of you should know how to pos­sess his ves­sel in sanc­ti­fi­ca­tion and hon­our;  (5) Not in the lust of con­cu­pis­cence, even as the Gen­tiles which know not God: and con­verts to Christ are not only purged from an evil con­science, but have their bod­ies also washed with pure water, Hebrews 10:22 KJV Let us draw near with a true heart in full assur­ance of faith, hav­ing our hearts sprin­kled from an evil con­science, and our bod­ies washed with pure water.
 
Now, this may refer, to the Jews, devout men, and pros­e­lytes out of every nation under heaven, that flocked together to Jerusalem, expect­ing the king­dom of the Mes­siah to appear, Acts 2:5–6 KJV And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.  (6)  Now when this was noised abroad, the mul­ti­tude came together, and were con­founded, because that every man heard them speak in his own lan­guage. Acts 2:10 KJV Phry­gia, and Pam­phylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and pros­e­lytes, They came from all parts to the holy moun­tain of Jerusalem, as an offer­ing to the Lord, and there many of them were brought to the faith of Christ by the gift of tongues poured out on the apos­tles. Methinks there is some cor­re­spon­dence between that his­tory and this prophecy. The eunuch some time after came to wor­ship at Jerusalem in his char­iot and took home with him the knowl­edge of Christ and his holy religion.
 
To the Gen­tiles, some of all nations, that should be con­verted to Christ, and so added to his church, which, though a spir­i­tual acces­sion, is often in prophecy rep­re­sented by a local motion. The apos­tle says of all true Chris­tians that they have come to Mount Zion, and the heav­enly Jerusalem, Hebrews 12:22 KJV But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the liv­ing God, the heav­enly Jerusalem, and to an innu­mer­able com­pany of angels, which explains this pas­sage, and shows that the mean­ing of all this parade is only that they shall be brought into the church by the grace of God, and in the use of the means of that grace, as care­fully, safely, and com­fort­ably, as if they were car­ried in char­i­ots and lit­ters. Thus God shall per­suade Japhet and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem, Gen­e­sis 9:27 KJV God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.
 
That a gospel min­istry shall be set up in the church, it being thus enlarged by the addi­tion of such a mul­ti­tude of mem­bers to it: Isa­iah 66:21 KJV And I will also take of them for priests and for Levites, saith the LORD. I will take of them (of the pros­e­lytes, of the Gen­tile con­verts) for priests and for Levites, to min­is­ter in holy things and to pre­side in their reli­gious assem­blies, which is very nec­es­sary for doc­trine, wor­ship, and dis­ci­pline. Hith­erto the priests and Levites were all taken from among the Jews and were all of one tribe; but in gospel times God will take of the con­verted Gen­tiles to min­is­ter to him in holy things, to teach the peo­ple, to bless them in the name of the Lord, to be the stew­ards of the mys­ter­ies of God as the priests and Levites were under the law, to be pas­tors and teach­ers (or bish­ops), to give them­selves to the word and prayer, and dea­cons to serve tables, and, as the Levites, to take care of the out­ward busi­ness of the house of God, Philip­pi­ans 1:1 KJV Paul and Tim­o­theus, the ser­vants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bish­ops and dea­cons: Acts 6:2 KJV Then the twelve called the mul­ti­tude of the dis­ci­ples unto them, and said, It is not rea­son that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. The apos­tles were all Jews, and so were the sev­enty dis­ci­ples; the great apos­tle of the Gen­tiles was him­self a Hebrew of the Hebrews; but, when churches were planted among the Gen­tiles, they had min­is­ters set­tled who were of them­selves, elders in every church, Acts 14:23 KJV And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fast­ing, they com­mended them to the Lord, on whom they believed. Titus 1:5 KJV For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are want­ing, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: which made the min­istry to spread the more eas­ily, and to be the more famil­iar, and, if not the more ven­er­a­ble, yet the more accept­able; gospel grace, it might be hoped, would cure peo­ple of those cor­rup­tions which kept a prophet from hav­ing hon­our in his own coun­try. God says, I will take, not all of them, though they are all in a spir­i­tual sense made to our God kings and priests, but of them, some of them. It is God’s work orig­i­nally to choose min­is­ters by qual­i­fy­ing them for and inclin­ing them to the ser­vice, as well as to make min­is­ters by giv­ing them their com­mis­sion. I will take them, that is, I will admit them, though Gen­tiles, and will accept of them and their min­is­tra­tions. This is a great hon­our and advan­tage to the Gen­tile church, as it was to the Jew­ish church that God raised up of their sons for prophets and their young men for Nazarites, Amos 2:11 KJV And I raised up of your sons for prophets, and of your young men for Nazarites. Is it not even thus, O ye chil­dren of Israel? saith the LORD.
 
That the church and min­istry, being thus set­tled, shall con­tinue and be kept up in a suc­ces­sion from one gen­er­a­tion to another, Isa­iah 66:22 KJV For as the new heav­ens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the LORD, so shall your seed and your name remain.
 
The change that will be made by the set­ting up of the king­dom of the Mes­siah is here described to be, a very great and uni­ver­sal change; it shall be a new world, the new heav­ens and the new earth promised before, Isa­iah 65:17 KJV For, behold, I cre­ate new heav­ens and a new earth: and the for­mer shall not be remem­bered, nor come into mind. Old things have passed away, behold all things have become new, 2 Corinthi­ans 5:17 KJV There­fore if any man be in Christ, he is a new crea­ture: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. the old covenant of pecu­liar­ity is set aside, and a new covenant, a covenant of grace, estab­lished, Hebrews 8:13 KJV In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and wax­eth old is ready to van­ish away. We are now to serve in new­ness of the spirit, and not in the old­ness of the let­ter, Romans 7:6 KJV But now we are deliv­ered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in new­ness of spirit, and not in the old­ness of the let­ter. New com­mand­ments are given relat­ing both to heaven and earth, and new promises relat­ing to both, and both together make a New Tes­ta­ment; so that they are new heav­ens and a new earth that God will cre­ate, and these a prepar­a­tive for the new heav­ens and new earth designed at the end of time, 2 Peter 3:13 KJV Nev­er­the­less we, accord­ing to his promise, look for new heav­ens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.
 
A change of God’s own mak­ing; he will cre­ate the new heav­ens and the new earth. The change was made by him that had author­ity to make new ordi­nances, as well as power to make new worlds.
 
It will be an abid­ing last­ing change, a change never to be changed, a new world that will be always new, and never wax old, as that does which is ready to van­ish away: It shall remain before me unal­ter­able; for the gospel dis­pen­sa­tion is to con­tinue to the end of time and not to be suc­ceeded by any other. The king­dom of Christ is a king­dom that can­not be moved; the laws and priv­i­leges of it are things that can­not be shaken, but shall for ever remain, Hebrews 12:27–28 KJV And this word, Yet once more, sig­ni­fi­eth the remov­ing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which can­not be shaken may remain.  (28) Where­fore we receiv­ing a king­dom which can­not be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God accept­ably with rev­er­ence and godly fear: It shall there­fore remain, because it is before God; it is under his eye, and care, and spe­cial protection.
 
It will be main­tained in a seed that shall serve Christ: Your seed, and in them your name, shall remain — a seed of min­is­ters, a seed of Chris­tians; as one gen­er­a­tion of both passes away, another gen­er­a­tion shall come; and thus the name of Christ, with that of Chris­tians, shall con­tinue on earth while the earth remains, and his throne as the days of heaven. The gates of hell, though they fight against the church, shall not pre­vail, nor wear out the saints of the Most High.
 
That the pub­lic wor­ship of God in reli­gious assem­blies shall be care­fully and con­stantly attended upon by all that are thus brought as an offer­ing to the Lord, Isa­iah 66:23 KJV And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sab­bath to another, shall all flesh come to wor­ship before me, saith the LORD. This is described in expres­sions suited to the Old Tes­ta­ment dis­pen­sa­tion, to show that though the cer­e­mo­nial law should be abol­ished, and the tem­ple ser­vice should come to an end, yet God should be still as reg­u­larly, con­stantly, and accept­ably wor­shipped as ever. Hereto­fore only Jews went up to appear before God, and they were bound to attend only three times a year, and the males only; but now all flesh, Gen­tiles as well as Jews, women as well as men, shall come and wor­ship before God, in his pres­ence, though not in his tem­ple at Jerusalem, but in reli­gious assem­blies dis­persed all the world over, which shall be to them as the taber­na­cle of meet­ing was to the Jews. God will in them record his name, and, though but two or three come together, he will be among them, will meet them, and bless them. And they shall have the ben­e­fit of these holy con­vo­ca­tions fre­quently, every new moon and every sab­bath, not, as for­merly, at the three annual feasts only. There is no neces­sity of one cer­tain place, as the tem­ple was of old. Christ is our tem­ple, in whom by faith all believ­ers meet, and now that the church is so far extended it is impos­si­ble that all should meet at one place; but it is fit that there should be a cer­tain time appointed, that the ser­vice may be done cer­tainly and fre­quently, and a token thereby given of the spir­i­tual com­mu­nion which all Chris­t­ian assem­blies have with each other by faith, hope, and holy love. The new moons and the sab­baths are men­tioned because, under the law, though the yearly feasts were to be cel­e­brated at Jerusalem, yet the new moons and the sab­baths were reli­giously observed all the coun­try over, in the schools of the prophets first and after­wards in the syn­a­gogues, 2 Kings 4:23 KJV And he said, Where­fore wilt thou go to him to day? it is nei­ther new moon, nor sab­bath. And she said, It shall be well. Amos 8:5 KJV Say­ing, When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell corn? and the sab­bath, that we may set forth wheat, mak­ing the ephah small, and the shekel great, and fal­si­fy­ing the bal­ances by deceit? Acts 15:21 KJV For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the syn­a­gogues every sab­bath day. accord­ing to the model of which Chris­t­ian assem­blies seem to be formed. Where the Lord’s day is weekly sanc­ti­fied, and the Lord’s sup­per monthly cel­e­brated, and both are duly attended on, there this promise is ful­filled, there the Chris­t­ian new moons and sab­baths are observed.
 
See, here, that God is to be wor­shipped in solemn assem­blies, and that it is the duty of all, as they have oppor­tu­nity, to wait upon God in those assem­blies: All flesh must come; though flesh, weak, cor­rupt, and sin­ful, let them come that the flesh may be mor­ti­fied. In wor­ship­ping God we present our­selves before him, and are in a spe­cial man­ner in his pres­ence. For doing this there ought to be stated times, and are so; and we must see that it is our inter­est as well as our duty con­stantly and con­sci­en­tiously to observe these times.
 
That their thank­ful sense of God’s dis­tin­guish­ing favour to them should be very much increased by the con­sid­er­a­tion of the fear­ful doom and destruc­tion of those that per­sist and per­ish in their infi­delity and impi­ety, Isa­iah 66:24 KJV And they shall go forth, and look upon the car­cases of the men that have trans­gressed against me: for their worm shall not die, nei­ther shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhor­ring unto all flesh. Those that have been wor­ship­ping the Lord of hosts, and rejoic­ing before him in the good­ness of his house, shall, in order to affect them­selves the more with their own hap­pi­ness, take a view of the mis­ery of the wicked.
 
Observe, who they are whose mis­ery is here described. They are men that have trans­gressed against God, not only bro­ken his laws, but bro­ken covenant with him, and thought them­selves able to con­tend with him. It may be meant espe­cially of the unbe­liev­ing Jews that rejected the gospel of Christ.
 
What their mis­ery is. It is here rep­re­sented by the fright­ful spec­ta­cle of a field of bat­tle, cov­ered with the car­cases of the slain, that lie rot­ting above ground, full of worms crawl­ing about them and feed­ing on them; and, if you go to burn them, they are so scat­tered, and it is such a noi­some piece of work to get them together, that it would be end­less, and the fire would never be quenched; so that they are an abhor­ring to all flesh, nobody cares to come near them. Now this is some­times accom­plished in tem­po­ral judg­ments, and per­haps never nearer the let­ter than in the destruc­tion of Jerusalem and the Jew­ish nation by the Romans, in which destruc­tion it is com­puted that above two mil­lions, first and last, were cut off by the sword, besides what per­ished by famine and pesti­lence. It may refer like­wise to the spir­i­tual judg­ments that came upon the unbe­liev­ing Jews, which St. Paul looks upon, and shows us, Romans 11:8 KJV (Accord­ing as it is writ­ten, God hath given them the spirit of slum­ber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day. They became dead in sins, twice dead. The church of the Jews was a car­case of a church; all its mem­bers were putrid car­cases; their worm died not, their own con­sciences made them con­tin­u­ally uneasy, and the fire of their rage against the gospel was not quenched, which was their pun­ish­ment as well as their sin; and they became, more than ever any nation under the sun, an abhor­ring to all flesh. But our Sav­iour applies it to the ever­last­ing mis­ery and tor­ment of impen­i­tent sin­ners in the future state, where their worm dies not, and their fire is not quenched; Mark 9:44 KJV Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. for the soul, whose con­science is its con­stant tor­men­tor, is immor­tal, and God, whose wrath is its con­stant ter­ror, is eter­nal.

What notice shall be taken of it. Those that wor­ship God shall go forth and look upon them, to affect their own hearts with the love of their Redeemer, when they see what mis­ery they are redeemed from. As it will aggra­vate the mis­eries of the damned to see oth­ers in the king­dom of heaven and them­selves thrust out, Luke 13:28 KJV There shall be weep­ing and gnash­ing of teeth, when ye shall see Abra­ham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the king­dom of God, and you your­selves thrust out. so it will illus­trate the joys and glo­ries of the blessed to see what becomes of those that died in their trans­gres­sion, and it will ele­vate their praises to think that they were them­selves as brands plucked out of that burn­ing. To the hon­our of that free grace which thus dis­tin­guished them let the redeemed of the Lord with all humil­ity, and not with­out a holy trem­bling, sing their tri­umphant songs.

 

 

 

 
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God’s Care of His Church and People — Isaiah 62:1–5

The Son of God here assures his church of his unfail­ing love, and his plead­ing for her under all trails and dif­fi­cul­ties. She shall be called by a new name, a pleas­ant name, such as she was never called by before. The state of true reli­gion in the world, before the preach­ing of the gospel, no man seemed to have any real con­cern for. God, by his grace, has wrought that in his church, which makes her his delight. Let us thence learn motives to holi­ness. If the Lord rejoices over us, we should rejoice in his service.
 
Isa­iah 62:1–5 KJV For Zion’s sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until the right­eous­ness thereof go forth as bright­ness, and the sal­va­tion thereof as a lamp that bur­neth. (2) And the Gen­tiles shall see thy right­eous­ness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the LORD shall name.  (3) Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the LORD, and a royal dia­dem in the hand of thy God.  (4) Thou shalt no more be termed For­saken; nei­ther shall thy land any more be termed Des­o­late: but thou shalt be called Hep­hz­ibah, and thy land Beu­lah: for the LORD delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be mar­ried.  (5)  For as a young man mar­ri­eth a vir­gin, so shall thy sons marry thee: and as the bride­groom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee.
 
The busi­ness of prophets was both to preach and pray. In this, the prophet deter­mines to apply closely and con­stantly to this busi­ness. The church shall be made hon­ourable in the eyes of the world. It shall appear to be very dear to God, pre­cious and hon­ourable in his sight. 
 
The prophet here tells us, what he will do for the church. A prophet, as he is a seer, so he is a spokesman. This prophet resolves to per­form that office faith­fully, Isa­iah 62:1 KJV For Zion’s sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until the right­eous­ness thereof go forth as bright­ness, and the sal­va­tion thereof as a lamp that bur­neth. He will not hold his peace; he will not rest; he will mind his busi­ness, will take pains, and never desire to take his ease; and herein he was a type of Christ, who was inde­fati­ga­ble in exe­cut­ing the office of a prophet and made it his meat and drink till he had fin­ished his work. Observe here, what the prophet’s res­o­lu­tion is: He will not hold his peace. He will con­tinue instant in preach­ing, will not only faith­fully deliver, but fre­quently repeat, the mes­sages he has received from the Lord. If peo­ple receive not the pre­cepts and promises at first, he will incul­cate them and give them line upon line. And he will con­tinue instant in prayer; he will never hold his peace at the throne of grace till he has pre­vailed with God for the mer­cies promised; he will give him­self to prayer and to the min­istry of the word, as Christ’s min­is­ters must, Acts 6:4 KJV But we will give our­selves con­tin­u­ally to prayer, and to the min­istry of the word. who must labour fre­quently in both and never be weary of this well-doing. The busi­ness of min­is­ters is to speak from God to his peo­ple and to God for his peo­ple; and in nei­ther of these must they be silent.
 
What is the prin­ci­ple of this res­o­lu­tion — for Zion’s sake, and for Jerusalem’s, not for the sake of any pri­vate inter­est of his own, but for the church’s sake, because he has an affec­tion and con­cern for Zion, and it lies near his heart. What­ever becomes of his own house and fam­ily, he desires to see the good of Jerusalem and resolves to seek it all the days of his life, Psalms 122:8–9 KJV For my brethren and com­pan­ions’ sakes, I will now say, Peace be within thee.  (9)  Because of the house of the LORD our God I will seek thy good. Psalms 118:5 KJV I called upon the LORD in dis­tress: the LORD answered me, and set me in a large place. It is God’s Zion and his Jerusalem, and it is there­fore dear to him, because it is so to God and because God’s glory is inter­ested in its prosperity.
 
How long he resolves to con­tinue this impor­tu­nity — till the promise of the church’s right­eous­ness and sal­va­tion, given in the fore­go­ing chap­ter, be accom­plished. Isa­iah will not him­self live to see the release of the cap­tives out of Baby­lon, much less the bring­ing in of the gospel, in which grace reigns through right­eous­ness unto life and sal­va­tion; yet he will not hold his peace till these be accom­plished, even the utmost of them, because his prophe­cies will con­tinue speak­ing of these things, and there shall in every age be a rem­nant that shall con­tinue to pray for them, as suc­ces­sors to him, till the promises be per­formed, and so the prayers answered that were grounded upon them. Then the church’s right­eous­ness and sal­va­tion will go forth as bright­ness, and as a lamp that burns, so plainly that it will carry its own evi­dence along with it. It will bring hon­our and com­fort to the church, which will here­upon both look pleas­ant and appear illus­tri­ous; and it will bring instruc­tion and direc­tion to the world, a light not only to the eyes but to the feet, and to the paths of those who before sat in dark­ness and in the shadow of death.
 
What God will do for the church. The prophet can but pray and preach, but God will con­firm the word and answer the prayers.
 
The church shall be greatly admired. When that right­eous­ness which is her sal­va­tion, her praise, and her glory, shall be brought forth, the Gen­tiles shall see it. The tid­ings of it shall be car­ried to the Gen­tiles, and a ten­der of it made to them; they may so see this right­eous­ness as to share in it if it be not their own fault. “Even kings shall see and be in love with the glory of thy right­eous­ness”, Isa­iah 62:2 KJV And the Gen­tiles shall see thy right­eous­ness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the LORD shall name. shall over­look the glory of their own courts and king­doms, and look at, and look after, the spir­i­tual glory of the church as that which excels.
 
She shall be truly admirable. Great names make men con­sid­er­able in the world, and great respect is paid them there­upon; now it is agreed that honor est in hon­o­rantehon­our derives its value from the dig­nity of him who con­fers it. God is the foun­tain of hon­our and from him the church’s hon­our comes: “Thou shalt be called by a new name, a pleas­ant name, such as thou wast never called by before, no, not in the day of thy great­est pros­per­ity, and the reverse of that which thou wast called by in the day of thy afflic­tion; thou shalt have a new char­ac­ter, be advanced to a new dig­nity, and those about thee shall have new thoughts of thee.” This seems to be alluded to in that promise Rev­e­la­tion 2:17 KJV He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that over­cometh will I give to eat of the hid­den manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name writ­ten, which no man knoweth sav­ing he that receiveth it. of the white stone and in the stone a new name, and that Rev­e­la­tion 3:12 KJV Him that over­cometh will I make a pil­lar in the tem­ple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name. of the name of the city of my God and my new name. It is a name which the mouth of the Lord shall name, who, we are sure, mis­calls noth­ing, and who will oblige oth­ers to call her by the name he has given her; for his judg­ment is accord­ing to truth and all shall con­cur with it sooner or later. Two names God shall give her:
 
He shall call her his crown: Isa­iah 62:3 KJV Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the LORD, and a royal dia­dem in the hand of thy God. Thou shalt be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, not on his head (as adding any real hon­our or power to him, as crowns do to those that are crowned with them), but in his hand. He is pleased to account them, and show them forth, as a glory and beauty to him. When he took them to be his peo­ple it was that they might be unto him for a name, and for a praise, and for a glory: Jere­miah 13:11 KJV For as the gir­dle cleaveth to the loins of a man, so have I caused to cleave unto me the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah, saith the LORD; that they might be unto me for a peo­ple, and for a name, and for a praise, and for a glory: but they would not hear. “Thou shalt be a crown of glory and a royal dia­dem, through the hand, the good hand, of thy God upon thee; he shall make thee so, for he shall be to thee a crown of glory, Isa­iah 28:5 KJV In that day shall the LORD of hosts be for a crown of glory, and for a dia­dem of beauty, unto the residue of his peo­ple, Thou shalt be so in his hand, that is, under his pro­tec­tion; he that shall put glory upon thee shall cre­ate a defence upon all that glory, so that the flow­ers of thy crown shall never wither nor shall its jew­els be lost.”
 
He shall call her his spouse, Isa­iah 62:4–5 KJV Thou shalt no more be termed For­saken; nei­ther shall thy land any more be termed Des­o­late: but thou shalt be called Hep­hz­ibah, and thy land Beu­lah: for the LORD delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be mar­ried.  (5)  For as a young man mar­ri­eth a vir­gin, so shall thy sons marry thee: and as the bride­groom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee. This is a yet greater hon­our, espe­cially con­sid­er­ing what a for­lorn con­di­tion she had been in.
 
Her case had been very melan­choly. She was called for­saken and her land des­o­late dur­ing the cap­tiv­ity, like a woman reproach­fully divorced or left a dis­con­so­late widow. Such as the state of reli­gion in the world before the preach­ing of the gospel — it was in a man­ner for­saken and des­o­late, a thing that no man looked after nor had any real con­cern for.
 
It should now be very pleas­ant, for God would return in mercy to her. Instead of those two names of reproach, she shall be called by two hon­ourable names.
 
First, She shall be called Hephzi-bah, which sig­ni­fies, My delight is in her; it was the name of Hezekiah’s queen, Manasseh’s mother, 2 Kings 21:1 KJV Man­asseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and reigned fifty and five years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Hep­hz­ibah. a proper name for a wife, who ought to be her husband’s delight, Proverbs 5:19 KJV Let her be as the lov­ing hind and pleas­ant roe; let her breasts sat­isfy thee at all times; and be thou rav­ished always with her love. And here it is the church’s Maker that is her hus­band: The Lord delights in thee. God by his grace has wrought that in his church which makes her his delight, she being refined, and reformed, and brought home to him; and then by his prov­i­dence he does that for her which makes it appear that she is his delight and that he delights to do her good.
 
Sec­ondly, She shall be called Beu­lah, which sig­ni­fies mar­ried, whereas she had been des­o­late, a con­di­tion opposed to that of the mar­ried wife, Isa­iah 54:1 KJV Sing, O bar­ren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not tra­vail with child: for more are the chil­dren of the des­o­late than the chil­dren of the mar­ried wife, saith the LORD. Thy land shall be mar­ried, that is, it shall become fruit­ful again, and be replen­ished.” Though she has long been bar­ren, she shall again be peo­pled, shall again be made to keep house and to be a joy­ful mother of chil­dren, Psalms 113:9 KJV He maketh the bar­ren woman to keep house, and to be a joy­ful mother of chil­dren. Praise ye the LORD.
 
She shall be mar­ried, for, her sons shall heartily espouse the land of their nativ­ity and its inter­ests, which they had for a long time neglected, as despair­ing ever to have any com­fort­able enjoy­ment of it: Thy sons shall marry thee, that is, they shall live with thee and take delight in thee. When they were in Baby­lon, they seemed to have espoused that land, for they were appointed to set­tle, and to seek the peace of it, Jere­miah 29:5–7 KJV Build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gar­dens, and eat the fruit of them;  (6)  Take ye wives, and beget sons and daugh­ters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daugh­ters to hus­bands, that they may bear sons and daugh­ters; that ye may be increased there, and not dimin­ished.  (7)  And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be car­ried away cap­tives, and pray unto the LORD for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace. But now they shall again marry their own land, as a young man mar­ries a vir­gin that he takes great delight in, is extremely fond of, and is likely to have many chil­dren by. It bodes well to a land when its own natives and inhab­i­tants are pleased with it, pre­fer it before other lands, when its princes marry their coun­try and resolve to take their lot with it.
 
Her God (which is much bet­ter) shall betroth her to him­self in right­eous­ness, Hosea 2:19–20 KJV And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in right­eous­ness, and in judg­ment, and in lov­ingkind­ness, and in mer­cies.  (20)  I will even betroth thee unto me in faith­ful­ness: and thou shalt know the LORD. He will take plea­sure in his church: As the bride­groom rejoices over the bride, is pleased with his rela­tion to her and her affec­tion to him, so shall thy God rejoice over thee: he shall rest in his love to thee; Zepha­niah 3:17 KJV The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing. he shall take plea­sure in thee, Psalms 147:11 KJV The LORD taketh plea­sure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy. and shall delight to do thee good with his whole heart and his whole soul, Jere­miah 32:41 KJV Yea, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will plant them in this land assuredly with my whole heart and with my whole soul. This is very applic­a­ble to the love Christ has for his church and the com­pla­cency he takes in it, which appears so brightly in Solomon’s Song, and which will be com­plete in heaven.
 
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