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23. And he said unto them, Ye are
from beneath, "from below;" I am
from above; ye are of this world; I
am not of this world.
The reason why ye refuse to receive me as the Mes* „siah is, that you are men of worldly views, and no' Messiah will please you, but one who appears with external pomp and splendour, suitable to those views: whereas the kingdom which I introduce is of a spiritual nature. When Christ says of himself in this passage, that he is from above, he does not refer to any local descent, but to his being of a spiritual and heavenly character, in opposition to that of the Jews, which was earthly and sensual.
24. I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins; for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.
Being of this worldly character, I have foretold that the majority of your nation will perish; for such must be your punishment, by the determination of heaven, if you do not believe me to be the divine messenger whom I have represented myself to be from the beginning of this discourse.
25. Then said they unto him, Who art thou? and Jesus saith unto them, Even the same that I said unto you from the beginning.
That is, from the beginning of this discourse, wherehe had called himself the light of the world; intending thereby that he was the true Messiah: but he carefully avoided saying this in express words, both on. this and other occasions.
26. I have many things to say, and to judge of you: but he that seat me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of him.
I have many things to say to you, and many charges to bring against you, in the character which I bear; but I content myself at present with saying that I bring a message from a Being who is every way worthy of credit, and that I say nothing in his name but what he directed me to deliver.
27. They understood not that he spake to them of the Father.
Although Christ had made the plainest allusion to his being sent of God, they did not understand to whom he referred.
28. Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lift up the son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself, but as my Father hath taught me I speak these things.
After my death upon the cross and resurrection from the dead, many of you will be convinced that I am the Messiah, and that I teach nothing in God's name but "what I have received from him. Agreeably to this prediction, we find that many thousands of Jews believed in the divine mission of Jesus, when the apostles announced his resurrection from the dead.
29. And he that sent me is with
me. The Father hath not left me a
lone: for I do always those things that
He has not left me to prove my divine commission^ by my own declarations solely, but acts by me in working miracles. This favour I enjoy, because I am wholly devoted to his will.
Jesus having, in the last verse but one, spoken of his being about to be lifted up, some of bis hearers imagined that he spake of some outward splendour that he was about to assume, and concluded thence that he might be the Messiah, inasmuch as he would then correspond with the notions which they had formed of him. . .j
30. As he spake these words, K these things" many believed on him.
31. Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, if ye persevere in believing and practising my doctrine, then are ye my disciples indeed.
32. And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
You shall become acquainted with the whole scheme of the gospel, which, by way of eminence, is called the truth; and the belief and practice of it shall exalt you to a state of dignity and freedom which is unknown to others. It has been conjectured by Sir Isaac Newton, that the jubilee of the Jews fell on this year, and that the time for setting Jewish slaves at liberty was about the time of this feast of tabernacles. If this opinion be well founded, it will show why our Lord mentioned freedom, as the effect of truth, rather than any other, and serve to throw light upon other parts of this discourse. When Jesus declared that the truth would make his disciples free, it implied that they were servants or slaves before. This insinuation offended these new converts.
33. They answered him, We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man. How say est thou, Ye shall be ma de free?
If this be said of the whole nation, it was not tr-ue; for they had been in bondage in Egypt and in Babylon, and were at this time subject to the Romans. It is more probable, therefore, that these men spoke of themselves personally, that they were never in bondage. Jesus informs them that the bondage of which he spoke was of a spiritual, and not of a civil, nature, and that it arose from the subjection of the mind to evil passions and vices.
34. Jesus answered them, Verily, verily I say unto you, Whosoever coramitteth sin is the servant of sin, u the slave of sin."
In this sense you are certainly slaves; for you have been under the dominion of your appetites and passions.
35. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever; but the son abideth ever.
The slave is not sure that he shall always remain in the family of his master; for he may be disposed of to another person; as slaves, therefore, you are liable to be put out of the family of God; but the son has always the privilege of remaining in the house, and, when he succeeds his father, has the power of giving freedom to whomsoever he pleases. If I,- therefore, who sustain the character of the Son of God, give you freedom, you will enjoy it in perfection.
36. If the Son, therefore, shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.
37. I know that ye are Abraham's seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you.
I know that you are the descendents of that excellent person, Abraham; but what wilf that avail you, when you have formed the design of putting me to death, because you dislike my doctrine?
38. I speak that which I have seen with my Father, and ye do that which ye have seen with your Father.
We both indeed follow the directions of our respective instructors; you of your's, and I of mine; but they are quite opposite to each other. From these declarations the Jews suspected that he meant to insinuate that they were not the children of Abraham, and therefore again assert their descent from him.
39» They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham's children, if ye resembled him in disposition, as children are supposed to resemble their parents, ye would do the works of Abraham.
40. But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth which I have heard of God: this did not A-' braham.
Abraham never did any thing like this, but gave a ready reception to all the messages which he received from God, and carefully complied with them.
41. Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one father, even God.
The Jews at length understand Christ to speak not of natural descent, but of a moral and religious one; and in this sense claim a right to be considered as the descendents of Abraham, since they were not born of