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an immortal existence or deserve to be condemned to punishment, is a very interesting or alarming prospect, according to the characters of the persons by whom it is entertained. To those who have done good it is the ground of joy and exultation: for it is the period when the excellence of their characters will be established by an authority which no one can dispute; when their labours in the service of God and of mankind will receive a glorious reward; when they will meet again their beloved relatives and friends, who have been fellow-labourers with them in the same cause; together with the wise and good of every quarter of the globe and of every period of time, to enjoy their society for ever. To those who have done evil it furpishes ground of serious alarm and painful apprehension: for it directs their thoughts to a time when their evil deeds will be exposed and condemned, by one of the wisest and best of the human race; who feels for them all the partialities of a benevolent heart and of a kindred nature; when they will suffer the punishment which their crimes have merited, but which the present state of being afforded no opportunities of inflicting. It becomes all, therefore, who wish to save themselves from such dreadful evils, and to realize such delightful prospects, to keep these events continually in view, as the most powerful motives to aspire after conformity to the gospel of Jesus, by which their conduct will hereafter be tried, and which promises everlasting life to all by whom it is believed and obeyed, and threatens the punishment of the second death to those by whom it is neglected.
John v. 32. to the end. 32. There is another that beareth witness of me, and I know that the witness which he witnesseth of me, “ beareth of me," is true, Vol. 2.)
33. Ye sent unto John, and he bore witness unto the truth.
There were three sorts of evidence to which Christ appeals in this chapter for the truth of his divine mission: for that is all he endeavours to establish, and not his being the Messiah. His own testimony, that of John, and the testimony of his Father. Having just mentioned his own testimony, when he says, If I bear witness of myself is not my witness true? he proceeds to that of his forerunner. This he says he knows to be true, referring probably to the experience which he had had of the Divine spirit or power, communicating instruction to his mind and working miracles by him. Of the message of the Jews by the priests and Levites, you have an account John i. 19. In his answer, John informs them that the object of his mission was to die rect their attention to another prophet, who was to succeed hiin, and be his superior.
34. But I receive not testimony from man, but these things I say that ye might be saved.
That is, I rest not my claim upon the testimony of men only : for I have that which is greater, even the testimony of God; but I appeal to that of John, because he was regarded as a prophet by yourselves, and I know that his testimony is respected by you; for I am willing to employ arguments of inferior force, where I think that they will induce you to believe in me, and hereby prove the means of delivering you from the evils which await you for your sins.
35. He was a burning and shining light, and ye were willing, for a season, to rejoice in his light.
This is with much propriety said of John, who was a distinguished prophet and well received, for a time, among the Jews: afterwards they suffered him to be imprisoned and beheaded without concern. Jesus
next refers to his miracles as proofs of his divine mission.
36. But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, “ to perform," the same works that I do bear witness of me that the Father hath sent me.
37. And the Father, or “ so the Father,” himself, which hath sent me, hath born witness of me.
The miracles I perform are the testimony of the Father in my favour, and the strongest proof that he hath sent me: for the course of nature being established by him, it can be controlled by no other power; and since he hath altered it in the present case, it is to sanction my character as a divine teacher. But although God speaks to you in these works, you pay no attention to his voice, any more than your fathers.
Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape, or, “ ye have neither listened to his voice at any time, nor seen his form.”
Hearing God's voice is a familiar phrase in scripture for obeying his will, and seeing him, for observing his hand in the acts of his power. Neither of these things had the Jews done as they ought, which their history abundantly testified ; and their conduct is therefore justly urged against them by Christ as matter of reproach. If the words are taken literally, they are not true: for God had spoken more than once to the Jews in an audible voice, and appeared to them in a visible form*.
* See Wakefield's translation and notes.
38. And ye have not his word a. biding in you: for whom he hath sent him ye believe not.
The maxims of former revelations have no place in your minds, and produce no proper effect upon your conduct, as appears by your rejecting him who has the clearest testimonials of heaven in his favour. ..
39. Search the scriptures: for in them ye think ye have eternal life, that is, directions for attaining to eternal life; and they are they which testify of me.
40. And ye will not come to me that ye might have life.
Some persons choose to translate the first clause of these two verses not in the form of a command, but as containing a description of their conduct. “Ye search the scriptures;” and it is evident that this form corresponds better with the rest of this discourse, in which Jesus reproaches them for their behaviour, rather than gives them directions. And the ground of accusation here is that while they searched the scriptures, they were so stupid as not to perceive that he was described there; and that while they were desirous of eternal life, they would not come to him who was authorized to assure them of a future life, and to show them the way to it.
41. I receive not honour from men. My object is not to acquire worldly honour, and therefore I do not assume that temporal power, as the Messiah, which would procure me a welcome reception among you, but appear in that humble form which exposes me to contempt, and causes me to be rejected.
42. But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you.
Although you search the scriptures, and profess.a
high regard to the authority of God, yet you have not that sincere respect for him which will incline you to submit to the intimations of his will, when contrary to your own expectations and wishes; as is the case in regard to the Messiah. This verse seems to interrupt the sense where it occurs, and therefore has been thought by some to have been misplaced, through the error of some transcriber, and to have stood originally between the thirty-ninth verse and the fortieth*.
Thus ye are searching the scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life, and they are they which testify of me: but I know you that ye have not the love of God in you, and ye will not come to me that ye might have life.” It must be owned that the conjecture is plausible, but I pretend not to decide whether it be well founded.
43. I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not.
I come in that humble form which my Father has prescribed, and on that account you reject me.
If another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive.
If another shall assume the character of the Messiah, and that temporal power and grandeur which are agreeable to his own wishes, and supposed to belong to that character, you will admit his pretensions: that they did so appears from the history of the Acts of the apostles, v. 36, 37, and from their own historian, Jo-, sephus, who tells us that before the destruction of the city, there were many pretenders to the character of the Messiah, and that they had numerous followers.
44. How can ye believe, who receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only ? Nothing can induce any one to believe in me but a
• Theological Repository, Vol. i. p. 56.