But you have not so learned Christ;
The portion of our text on which we would fix mainly your attention is, the description of truth as made known by revelation. Now, we shall take truth under two principal divisions, and compare it as it is in Jesus with what it is out of Jesus. We shall refer, first, to those truths which have to do with God's nature and character; secondly, to those which have to do with man's condition.
I. We turn, then, to the TRUTHS WHICH HAVE TO DO WITH THE NATURE AND CHARACTER OF GOD. We begin with the lowest element of truth, namely, that there is a great First Cause, through whose agency hath arisen the fair and costly fabric of the visible universe. But take the truth of the existence of a God as it is out of Jesus, and then take that truth as it in Jesus, and let us see whether in the two cases the same truth will not bear very different aspects. Apart from revelation, I can believe that there is a God. I look upon the wonder workings by which I am encompassed; and I must sacrifice all that belongs to me as a rational creature, if I espouse the theory that chance has been parent to the splendid combinations. But what can be more vague, what more indefinite, than those notions of Deity which reason, at the best, is capable of forming? The evil which is mixed up with good in the creation; the disordered appearances which seem to mark the absence of a supreme and vigilant government; the frequent triumph of wickedness, and the correspondent depression of virtue; these, and the like stern and undeniable mysteries, will perplex me in every attempt to master satisfactorily the unity of the Godhead. But let me regard Jesus as making known to me God, and, straightway, there succeeds a calm to my confused and unsettled imaginings. He tells me by his words, and shows me by his actions, that all things are at the disposal of one eternal and inscrutable Creator. Putting forth superhuman ability, alike in the bestowment of what is good, and in the removal of what is evil, He furnishes me with the strictest demonstration that there are not two principles which can pretend to hold sway in the universe; but that God, a Being without rival, and alone in His majesties created whatsoever is good, and permitted whatsoever is evil. Thus, the truth, the foundation truth, of the existence of a God takes the strength, and the complexion, of health, only in the degree that it is truth as it is in Jesus.
II. Let us turn, now, from the nature of God to HIS ATTRIBUTES. We take, for example, the justice of God. We night obtain, independently on the scheme of redemption, a definite and firm-built persuasion, that God is a just God, taking cognizance of the transgressions of His creatures. What, then, shall we do with this truth of God's justice? We reply, we must make it truth as it is in Jesus. We send a man at once to the cross of Christ. We bid him gaze on the illustrious and mysterious Victim, stooping beneath the amazing burden of human transgression. We ask him whether the agonies of the garden, and the terrors of the crucifixion, furnish not a sufficient and thrilling demonstration that God's justice, when it takes in hand the exaction of punishment, does the work thoroughly — so that no bolt it too ponderous to be driven into the soul, no offence too minute to be set down in the reckoning? So, then, we may count it legitimate to maintain that the truth of God being a just God is appreciated truth, and effective truth, only in the degree that it is truth as it is in Jesus; and we add, consequently, new witness to the fact, that the definition of our text describes truth accurately under its influential and life-giving forms. We may pursue much the same line of argument in reference to the truth of the love of God. We may confess that he who looks not at this attribute through the person and work of the Mediator, may obtain ideas of it which shall, in certain respects, be correct. Yet there is no property of the Creator concerning which it is easier to fall into mistake. We have no standard by which to estimate Divine affections, unless one which we fashion out of the results of the workings of human. So that, whilst we have not before us a distinct exhibition of God's love, we may fall naturally into the error of ascribing an effeminate tenderness to the Almighty, and reckon, exactly in proportion as we judge the love amazing, that it will never permit our being given over to torment. Hence, admitting it to be truth, yea, most glorious and blessed truth, that the creature is loved by the Creator, this truth must be viewed through a rectifying medium, which shall correct the distortions which a depraved nature produces. Now, we maintain again that this rectifying medium must be the person and work of the Saviour. In other words, we must make the truth of God's love truth as it is in Jesus, and then, at one and the same time, we shall know how ample is the love, and be guarded against abusing it.
III. We proceed, further, to affirm, in reference to THE CONDITION OF MAN, that truth, if rightly understood, or thoroughly influential, must be truth as it is in Jesus. Man's moral disability is not to be described, or understood, theoretically. We want some bold, definite, and tangible measurements. But we shall find these only in the work of Christ Jesus. I learn the depth to which I have sunk, from the length of the chain let down to updraw me. I ascertain the mightiness of the ruin by examining the machinery of restoration. Thus the truth of human apostasy, of human corruption, of human helplessness, how shall this be truth understood and effective? We answer, simply through being truth as it is in Jesus. We add, that the law of God, which has been given for the regulation of our conduct, is a wonderful compendium of truth. There is not a single working of wickedness, be it the lightest and most secret, which escapes the denouncements of this law; so that the statute book proves itself truth by delineating, with an unvarying accuracy, the whole service of the father of lies. But who knows anything of this truth, unless acquainted with the law as expounded and fulfilled by Christ? Christ in His discourses expanded every precept, and in His obedience exhibited every demand. Knowledge of the law would crush a man, if unaccompanied by the consciousness that Christ obeyed the law in his stead. So that truth as it is in Jesus, this is knowledge, and this is comfort. And, finally, for we must hurry over ground where there is much which might tempt us to linger, look at the context of the words under review, and you will find that truth, as it is in Jesus, differs from truth, as it is out of Jesus, in being a sanctifying thing.
(H. Melvill, B. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But ye have not so learned Christ;