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and her son Ishmael being cast out as bondservants, while Isaac the son and heir abode in the house. He wished to impress on His hearer's minds, that he desired them, like Isaac, to have the privilege of sons for ever, and to be free to all eternity. Keeping this thought in view, and regarding the verse as a parenthesis, its difficulties are not insuperable.
Chrysostom says, “Abideth not' means 'hath not power to grant favours, as not being master of the house ;' but the Son is master of the house.” The Jewish priests were the servants, and Christ was the Son. The priests had no power to set free, the Son of God had. Theophylact and Euthymius take the same view.
Maldonatus calls attention to the expression in Hebrews, where Moses and Christ are put in contrast, and each in connection with the word “house,” Moses as a servant, Christ as a Son. St. Paul
certainly seems there to refer to this passage. (Heb. iii. 2, 5, 6.) 36. [If the Son shall make you free, etc.] In this verse our Lord
explains what He had meant by freedom. It was a freedom from sin, its guilt, and power, and consequences, which believers in Him were to receive. “If I, the Son of man make you free, in the sense of delivering you from the burden of sin, then you will be free indeed!” This was the freedom that He wished them to obtain. Here, as elsewhere, our Lord carefully avoids saying anything to bring on Himself the charge of rebelling against constituted authorities, and of heading a popular rise for liberty.
The word rendered “indeed” here is not the word so rendered at the 31st verse. Here it means “really, in reality,” from the participle of the verb “to be.” There it means “truly.”
Let us not forget in these days that the only liberty which is truly valuable in God's sight is that which Christ gives. All political liberty, however useful for many purposes, is worthless, unless we are children of God, and heirs of the kingdom, by faith in Jesus. He only is perfectly free who is free from sin. All beside are slaves. He that would be free in this fashion has only to apply to Christ for freedom. It is the peculiar office and privilege of the Lord Jesus, to enfranchise for ever all who come to Him.
Augustine carries the freedom here promised far into the future. He remarks, “When shall there be full and perfect liberty? When there shall be no enemies, when the last enemy shall be destroyed, even death."
JOHN VIII. 37–47.
37 I know that ye are Abraham's) proceeded forth and came from God; seed; but ye seek to kill me, because neither came I of myself, but he sent my word hath no place in you.
me. 38 I speak that which I have seen 43 Why do ye not understand my with my Father : and ye do that which speech ? even because ye cannot hear my ye have seen with your father.
word. 39 They answered and said unto him, 44 Ye are of your father the devil, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith , and the lusts of your father ye will do. unto them, If ye were Abraham's chil- | He was a murderer from the beginning, dren, ye would do the works of Abra- |
, and abode not in the truth, because
there is no truth in him. When he 40 But now ye seek to kill me, a man speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own : that hath told you the truth, which I for he is a liar, and the father of it. have heard of God : this did not Abra- 45 And because I tell you the truth, ham.
ye believe me not. 41 Ye do the deeds of your father. 46 Which of you convinceth me of Then said they to him, We be not born | sin ? And if I say the truth, why do ye of fornication; we have one Father, not believe me? even God.
47 He that is of God heareth God's 42 Jesus said unto them, If God were words : ye therefore hear them not, beyour Father, ye would love me: for I cause ye are not of God.
THERE are things taught in this passage of Scripture which are peculiarly truth for the times. Well would it be for the Churches if all Christians would ponder carefully the matter which it contains.
We are taught for one thing the ignorant self-righteousness of the natural man. We find the Jews pluming themselves on their natural descent from Abraham, as if that must needs cover all deficiencies,—“ Abraham is our father.” We find them going even further than this, and claiming to be God's special favourites and God's own family,—" we have one Father, even God.” They forgot that fleshly relationship to Abraham was useless, unless they shared Abraham's grace. They forgot that God's choice of their father to be head of a favoured nation, was never meant to carry salvation to the children, unless they walked in their father's footsteps. All this in their blind self-conceit they refused to see. “We are Jews. We are God's children. We are the
true Church. We are in the covenant. We must be all right.” This was their whole argument !
Strange as it may seem, there are multitudes of socalled Christians who are exactly like these Jews. Their whole religion consists of a few notions neither wiser nor better than those propounded by the enemies of our Lord. They will tell you “that they are regular church people ; they have been baptized; they go to the Lord's table;”—but they can tell you no more. Of all the essential doctrines of the Gospel they are totally ignorant. Of faith, and grace, and repentance, and holiness, and spiritual mindedness they know nothing at all. But, forsooth! they are Churchmen, and so they hope to go to heaven! There are myriads in this condition. It sounds sad, but unhappily it is only too true.
Let us settle firmly in our minds that connection with a good Church and good ancestors is no proof whatever that we ourselves are in the way to be saved. We need something more than this. We must be joined to Christ himself by a living faith. We must know something experimentally of the work of the Spirit in our hearts. “Church principles,” and “sound Churchmanship,” are fine words and excellent party cries. But they will not deliver our souls from the wrath to come, or give us boldness in the day of judgment.
We are taught, for another thing, the true marks of spiritual sonship. Our Lord makes this point most plain by two mighty sayings. Did the Jews say, “We have Abraham to our father”? He replies, “If ye were Abraham's children ye would do the works of Abraham.” -Did the Jews say, “ We have one Father, even God”? He replies, “If God were your Father ye would love Me."
Let these two sayings of Christ sink down into our hearts. They supply an answer to two of the most mischievous, yet most common, errors of the present day. What more common, on one side, than vague talk about the universal Fatherhood of God? “All men,” we are told, “are God's children, whatever be their creed or religion: all are finally to have a place in the Father's house, where there are many mansions." -What more common, on another side, than highsounding statements about the effects of baptism and the privileges of Churchmembership? “By baptism,” we are confidently told, “all baptized people are made children of God; all members of the Church, without distinction, have a right to be addressed as sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty.”
Statements like these can never be reconciled with the plain language of our Lord in the passage before us. If words mean anything, no man is really a child of God, who does not love Jesus Christ. The charitable judgment of a baptismal service, or the hopeful estimate of a catechism, may call him by the name of a son, and reckon him among God's children. But the reality of sonship to God, and all its blessings, no one possesses who does not love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. (Ephes. vi. 24.) In matters like these we need not be shaken by mere assertions. We may well afford to despise the charge of undervaluing the sacraments. We have only to ask one question : “What is written? What saith the Lord ?" And with this saying before us, we can only come to one conclusion : “Where there is no love to Christ, there is no sonship to God.”
We are taught, lastly, in these verses, the reality and character of the devil. Our Lord speaks of him as one whose personality and existence are beyond dispute. In solemn words of stern rebuke He says to His unbelieving enemies, “ Ye are of your father the devil,”— led by him, doing his will, and showing unhappily that you are like him. And then He paints His picture in dark colours, describing him as a “murderer” from the beginning, as a “liar" and the father of lies.
There is a devil! We have a mighty invisible enemy always near us,—one who never slumbers and never sleeps-one who is about our path and about our bed, and spies out all our ways, and will never leave us till we die.—He is a murderer! His great aim and object is, to ruin us for ever and kill our souls. To destroy, to rob us of eternal life, to bring us down to the second death in hell, are the things for which he is unceasingly working. He is ever going about, seeking whom he may devour.—He is a liar! He is continually trying to deceive us by false representations, just as he deceived Eve at- the beginning. He is always telling us that good is evil and evil good,—truth is falsehood and falsehood truth,—the broad way good and the narrow way bad. Millions are led captive by his deceit, and follow him, both rich and poor, both high and low, both learned and unlearned. Lies are his chosen weapons. By lies he slays many.