John 3:31
The One who comes from above is above all. The one who is from the earth belongs to the earth and speaks as one from the earth. The One who comes from heaven is above all.
Sermons
Aenon Near to SalimC. Geikie, D. D.John 3:22-36
All Men May Come to ChristW. Bridge.John 3:22-36
Christ Attracts SinnersT. Watson.John 3:22-36
Christ Sufficient for AllBowden.John 3:22-36
Jesus and John and Their DisciplesBp. Ryle.John 3:22-36
John and JesusG. J. Brown, M. A.John 3:22-36
John First, Then JesusC. S. Robinson, D. D.John 3:22-36
John's Joy FulfilledW. Bridge.John 3:22-36
The Attractive Power of ChristBiblical TreasuryJohn 3:22-36
The Controversy About PurifyingA. Beith, D. D.John 3:22-36
The Masters and the DisciplesA. B. Grosart, D. D.John 3:22-36
The Ministry of JohnBp. Wordsworth.John 3:22-36
An Earthly MindJ. Trapp.John 3:31-36
Christ Above All as a TeacherD. Thomas, D. D.John 3:31-36
Christ is Above AllJ. Donne.John 3:31-36
Christ is God as Well as ManJ. Hamilton, D. D.John 3:31-36
Christ Often RefusedR. Brewin.John 3:31-36
Christ the Divine TeacherH. Bushnell, D. D.John 3:31-36
Christ's Testimony ReceiveJames Stratten.John 3:31-36
Christ's Testimony to be ReceivedA. Beith, D. D.John 3:31-36
Earthly MindednessJohn 3:31-36
Experience the Teacher's Best HelperC. H. Spurgeon.John 3:31-36
Few Hearers SavedTrain.John 3:31-36
John's Last Testimony to ChristA. B. Grosart, D. D.John 3:31-36
Many Men are Deaf to the Charms of the GospelJohn 3:31-36
SealRecovery of Jerusalem.John 3:31-36
Sealed unto ChristG. H. Smith.John 3:31-36
Sealing the TruthJohn 3:31-36
Set to His SealJames Stratten.John 3:31-36
The Best Evidence of the Truth of ChristianityJ. Parker, D. D.John 3:31-36
The Purpose of SealingA. Beith, D. D.John 3:31-36
The Sealed TestimonyW. G. Lewis.John 3:31-36
The Sureness of Christ's Testimony and its RejectionG. Hutcheson., Doddridge.John 3:31-36
The Testimony and the SealJohn 3:31-36
The Testimony of Human Experience to the Divinity of ChristH. W. Beecher.John 3:31-36
Why Men Refuse ChristArchdeacon Hare.John 3:31-36
We have here -

I. A MAN PUTTING SELF IN ITS PROPER. PLACE. John is a man ready to say, "I must decrease." If he had not been a man ready to say it, he would never have got the chance of saying it. Ability to speak in this spirit does not spring up all at once. Much in John's position was very tempting to self. It is easily seen how painful it might have been to hear friends coming to say that the crowds once wont to flock round John were now flocking round Jesus. But John had self well in check and discipline. And we must have the same attainment, or self-humiliation in some shape will assuredly come. The truly humble man never can be humiliated. John must ever have borne himself humbly, not forgetting his own sins while so earnest in denouncing the sins of others. We must be willing to accept any kind el decrease that is for the world's good and Christ's glory. Put self in the proper place; that is, always keep it out of the first place.

II. A MAN PUTTING CHRIST IN HIS PROPER PLACE. The increase of Christ and the decrease of John were all of a piece. John's work was soon done. His message was soon given, and then he could only begin over again. With all his greatness he was only one among the company of witnesses. He did his own work in his own generation, and then passed away. He had his time of increase - disciples increasing, influence increasing, name more widely known; and then Jesus comes on the scene, and there is no room for Jesus and John together. But in his own decrease John can rejoice, for it is a consequence of the increase of Jesus. The day never came when Jesus had to look upon some successor to himself and say, "He must increase, and I must decrease." That is the only satisfactory decrease in any of us which comes by the increase of Christ. He can never have too much authority, never be too much spoken about. As life goes on, the feeling should deepen that we cannot do without him.

III. A MAN PUTTING HIS FELLOW MEN IN THEIR PROPER PLACE. One can see a certain chivalry and nobleness in these disciples of John, a certain intention not to desert their master. But John intimates that going to Jesus in the right spirit is advance and not apostasy. It is going from a lower school to a higher. John can only begin; Jesus must finish. Swearing by human teachers and authorities is a miserable business. It is the Spirit of the Lord Jesus himself who is to lead us into truth. There is no true getting of understanding unless we understand from Jesus what he wishes, what he claims, what he proposes.

IV. A MAN WHOM JESUS WILL PUT IN HIS TRUE PLACE AT LAST. It is only relatively that John decreases. Ceasing to serve in a way that draws great public attention, he yet goes on with real service just as much. Jesus will glorify in his own way those who glorify him, and it will be the best way. Not a servant of Christ, however obscure his sphere, however self-forgetting his life, slips to the grave without his Master's notice. There is a sense in which we are able to say, and bound to say, "He must increase, and I must increase too." - Y.







He that cometh from above is above all.
I. IN THE SUBLIMITY OF HIS ORIGIN (ver. 1). All others, from Enoch to Malachi were "of the earth."

II. IN THE CHARACTER OF HIS DOCTRINES. What does He teach?

1. The realities of which He Himself was conscious (ver. 2) and not speculations.

2. Realities which were moral in their influence upon His hearers. They were not compelled to receive them, so many rejected Him. But those who believed Him had an assured consciousness that God was true (ver. 33).

3. Realities which were pre-eminently Divine (ver. 34): not the sciences, but God Himself, the Root and Branch, Centre and Circumference of all truth.

III. IS THE AFFECTION OF HIS FATHER (ver. 35).

1. No teacher shared so much of the Divine love as Christ. The Father loveth all. All true teachers may expect a special share of this affection. But He loves Christ pre-eminently, and as He presents His Well-beloved He says, "Hear ye Him."

2. No teacher deserved so much of the Divine love as Christ did. He never offended the Father or misrepresented Him in doctrine or conduct.

3. No teacher ever had such demonstrations of Divine love as Christ. "All things," the administration of all blessings and the authority over all souls.

IV. IN THE EXTENT OF HIS ENDOWMENTS (ver. 34). Other teachers had the Spirit in a limited degree; Christ fully. This is clear from the fact that He knew what was in man, and from His miracles. But He had more of the Spirit than the old prophets, as is manifest by comparing —

1. Their theology with His.

2. Their spirit with His.

3. Their lives with His.

V. IS THE NECESSITY OF HIS MISSION. Faith in Him is essential to man's eternal welfare (ver. 36).

1. The faith He requires is faith in HIM: not merely in the facts of His history, or the truth of His prepositions, but in Himself as the Son of God, the Saviour of the world. No other teacher ever required this. To so trust the best of them would be ruin.

2. Faith in Him determines the destiny of the soul.

(1)Those who believe in Him have now everlasting life.

(2)God's wrath abides on the unbeliever.

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

Caesar is not Caesar still, nor Alexander Alexander still: but Jesus is Jesus still, and shall be for ever.

(J. Donne.)

We have seen a copy of the Gospels and Epistles which was warranted free from all trace of the Trinity, but it was not the testament of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. We beheld it and we received instruction. It did not want beauty, for the parables, and the Sermon on the Mount, and many a touching passage were still there. It looked like a coronation tapestry with all the golden threads torn out, or an exquisite mosaic from which some unscrupulous finger had abstracted the gems and left only the common stones. It was a casket without the pearl. It was a shrine without the Shekinah. And yet, after all, it was not sufficiently expurgated; for, after reading it, the thought would recur, How much easier to fabricate a Gnostic testament, exempt from all trace of our Lord's humanity, than a Trinitarian testament ignoring His Divinity.

(J. Hamilton, D. D.)

As ducklings have always their bills in the mud, as swine are ever recking in the mire; like that fish in the gospel, either dumb or with nothing but money in their mouths.

(J. Trapp.)

It is storied of Henry the Fourth of France, asking the Duke of Alva if he had observed the eclipses happening in that year? He answered, that he had so much business on earth, that he had no leisure to look up to heaven. A sad thing it is for men to be so bent, and their hearts so set on the things of this world, as not to cast up a look to the things that are in heaven; nay, not to regard though God brings heaven down to them in His Word and Sacraments. Yet so it is, most men are of this Spanish general's mind; witness the oxen, the farms, the pleasures, the profits and preferments that men are so fast glued unto, that they have hardly leisure to entertain a thought of any goodness.

I. CHRIST'S UNIVERSAL SUPREMACY, WHICH EXCLUDES ALL COMPARISON WITH WHAT IS EARTHLY (ver. 31).

1. Christ was from above. Thence He came to His own. Of Him alone can this be asserted: a glory belonging to Him and not to another.(1) He is pre-eminent; with reference to the whole creation, among all that are illustrious in His Church, all His predecessors who are types of Him and all His followers who are sent by Him.(2) He is invested with universal dominion.(3) John speaks of what He is, not has been or will be, merely.(4) It was true therefore that Christ must increase. There could be no result but progress.

2. John was of the earth —(1) In His origin and condition, as were all His predecessors and all His followers, partaking of weakness and imperfection.(2) In His office and doctrine, receiving both as an earthly teacher, and inferior therefore to Christ as earth was to heaven.

3. Let us be impressed —(1) With Christ's glory and yield the submission and obedience which are His due.(2) With the subordinate place occupied by His ministers yet rejoicing that He employs them.

II. THE DISTINCTIVE CHARACTER OF HIS TEACHING AND ITS GENERAL RESULT (ver. 32).

1. Christ's testimony is of what He has seen and heard (ver. 11). It was direct without the intervention of a third party, as in the case of Moses and the prophets.

2. The general result —(1) Not what might have been expected, but,(2) — sadly true, then and now.

III. THE IMPORTANCE OF RECEIVING HIS TESTIMONY (ver. 33).

1. God thus submits Himself to the judgments of men. They can have a full knowledge of His character in no other way. He demands, therefore, that they shall consider the testimony thus uttered.

2. Those who receive Christ and His doctrine find that they have to do with a true God.

(A. Beith, D. D.)

What He hath seen and heard that He testifieth
I. THE DIVINENESS OF CHRIST'S TESTIMONY (ver. 32).

II. THE UNBELIEF WITH WHICH CHRIST'S TESTIMONY WAS RECEIVED (ver., 82). "All men come to Him! Why no man believes Him!" The emotions aroused by John's preaching of repentance and the Lamb of God had passed off; for were not His disciples setting Him up against His Lord? And it took Christ's chosen ones three years to receive it. How differently a man counts who loves and adores Jesus from a mere hero worshipper. John would have not large crowds merely going after Jesus, but genuine believers.

III. THE APPRECIATION OF THOSE WHO DID BELIEVE IN ANY DEGREE (ver. 33), like Andrew and John (John 1:40). This is a fine and simple account of faith in its nature. Some document is produced having legal authority behind it. Those who, believing in the King as true, will sign their names to it become entitled to certain privileges. Men go forward and append their signatures, realizing in so doing, "The privilege is mine." But here is one who cannot write. He goes forward, seal in hand, and stamps it down, which is as good as signing. That is faith, stamping down one seal, with decisiveness, to that gospel text, saying as we do it, "That is true."

IV. THE DIVINENESS OF CHRIST'S TEACHING REAFFIRMED (ver. 34). "For" is emphatic. The reception and attestation of what Jesus spake was the reception and attestation of what God spake.

V. ANTICIPATION OF THE WORDS OF CHRIST HIMSELF (ver. 35; cf. Matthew 11:27; Matthew 28:18; Luke 10:22; Hebrews 2:8).

VI. WEAL OR WOE (ver. 36).

1. True faith is faith in the true thing. "On the Son" — atonement, resurrection, and glory were yet to come Christ Himself the object of faith.

2. The wrath of God cannot abide in a being who has ceased to be. The Baptist warned men before to "flee from the wrath to come."

3. Our relation or non-relation to Jesus Christ determines where we shall spend our eternity.

(A. B. Grosart, D. D.)

We notice the perfect originality and independence of His teaching. We have a great many men who are original, in the sense of being originators, within a certain boundary of educated thought. But the originality of Christ is uneducated. That He draws nothing from the stores of learning can be seen at a glance. The impression we have in reading His instructions justifies to the letter the language of His contemporaries, when they say, "This man hath never learned." There is nothing in any of His allusions or forms of speech that indicates learning. Indeed, there is nothing in Him that belongs to His age or country — no one opinion, or task, or prejudice. The attempts that have been made, in a way of establishing His mere natural manhood, to show that He borrowed His sentiments from the Persians and the Eastern forms of religion, or that He had been intimate with the Essenes, and borrowed from them, or that He must have been acquainted with the schools and religions of Egypt, deriving His doctrine from them — all attempts of the kind having so palpably failed, as not even to require a deliberate answer. If He is simply a man, as we hear, then He is most certainly a new and singular kind of man, never before heard of; one who visibly is quite as great a miracle in the world as if He were not a man. We can see for ourselves, in the simple directness and freedom of His teachings, that whatever He advances is for Himself. Shakespeare, for instance, whom we name as being probably the most creative and original spirit the world has ever produced, one of the class, too, that are called self-made men, is yet tinged in all his works with human learning. His glory is, indeed, that so much of what is great in history and historic character lives and appears in his dramatic creations. He is the high-priest, we sometimes hear, of human nature. But Christ, understanding human nature so as to address it more skilfully than he, never draws from its historic treasures. He is the High Priest, rather, of the Divine nature, speaking as one that has come out from God, and has nothing to borrow from the world. It is not to be detected by any sign that the human sphere in which He moved imparted anything to Him. His teachings are just as full of Divine nature as Shakespeare's of human.

(H. Bushnell, D. D.)

Among those who stay away from Christ, who will not believe in Him, who will not come to Him, the motive of the chief part has ever been, that they are destitute of the consciousness of sin, and of all thoughts and wishes rising above the objects of the senses, or else that they love their sins, and are determined to cleave to them, in despite of all that God can do to draw them away. Others there are who will not believe in Christ through pride and self-righteousness. Others have involved themselves inextricably in the labyrinthine abstractions of a sceptical understanding. Some will say, in their high-swelling imaginations, that they need no Redeemer, no Ransom, no Reconciler, no Atonement, no Pardon — that they can find the way to God by themselves — that they can build up a tower of their own virtues, a grand and gorgeous tower, virtue above virtue, the top of which shall reach to heaven. Such men there have been more or less in all ages; and the way their devices have been baffled has ever been the same, by the confusion of tongues. They have been unable to understand one another's language. When one of them has asked for bread, his neighbour has given him a stone; when asked for a fish, he has given a serpent; indifference and scorn, instead of sympathy and encouragement. The hand of each has been against his brother. There has been no unity of spirit amongst them, but variance and strife and railing: they have never entered into the bond of peace. This is the other form of sin by which men are kept away from Christ. The great mass stay away because their hearts are paralyzed and crumbled by carelessness and self-indulgence, or rotted by the cankering pleasures of sin; the few, because their hearts are hardened and stiffened by pride.

(Archdeacon Hare.)

A musical amateur of eminence, who had often observed Mr. Cadogan's inattention to his performances, said to him one day, "Come, I am determined to make you feel the power of music; pay particular attention to this piece." It was played. "Well, what do you say now?" "Just what I said before." "What I can you hear this and not be charmed? I am surprised at your insensibility I Where are your ears?" "Bear with me, my lord," replied Mr. Cadogan, "since I too have had my surprise; I have from the pulpit set before you the most striking and affecting truths; I have found notes that might have awaked the dead; I have said, Surely he will feel now; but you never seemed charmed with my music, though infinitely more interesting than yours. I too might have said — 'Where are his ears?'"

Though a gun be discharged at a whole flight of birds, there are but a few killed. Though the net be spread over the whole pond, but a few fishes are taken: so most hearers do busy their heads with their own sensual or worldly thoughts, and so escape the pain of the truth.

(Train.)

It is said of Handel, the great musician, that while composing the well-known oratorio of "The Messiah," he was frequently found in tears, and that one day, while sobbing bitterly, it was found that the words which had broken down his spirit were these three words of the prophet Isaiah, "He was despised." And yet this short saying wag abundantly fulfilled when Jesus came to show us His great love.

(R. Brewin.)

1. It is Christ's prerogative to have the knowledge of Divine truths of Himself from the Father, and to have all others who know anything beholden to His bounty and illumination; for, His doctrine is, "what He hath seen and heard," in a way peculiar to Him.

2. It sets out the bounty of Christ, that He doth not keep this knowledge, but discovereth it, that so sinners may have a sure guide and teacher, and the solemn testimony of an eye and ear witness, on which they may lean; for, "what He hath seen and heard, that He testifieth." It is called a testifying both in respect of the certainty of the matter, and in respect of Christ's earnest persuading of men to embrace it (Acts 18:5).

3. Christ's gracious condescendence in revealing the counsel of God concerning man's salvation, gets but ill entertainment in the world; the most part of men either not hearkening to Him, or not embracing His offer with respect, affection or faith, for no man (that is, very few or none in comparison of them who do otherwise, though some there are, ver. 33) receiveth His testimony. Let them hear it as they will, yet they do not receive nor embrace it as becometh; and therefore also it is called a testimony, as witnessing against them, that they receive not so certain a truth.

4. It ought and will be matter of regret to all the friends and servants of Christ, that His doctrine is so ill received in the world; for, whereas John's disciples complained (ver. 26) that all men came to Christ, He seeth rather cause to complain that no man receiveth His testimony.

(G. Hutcheson.)To Jesus nothing seems more natural and familiar than the heavenly state, when He discourses of it. It is like a prince, who having been educated in a splendid court, could speak with ease of many magnificent things, at the sudden view of which a peasant would be swallowed up in astonishment, and would find himself greatly embarrassed in an attempt to explain them to his equals at home.

(Doddridge.)

He that hath received His testimony hath set to his seal that God is true. —
I. THE SAVIOUR'S TESTIMONY (Isaiah 55:4, cf. John 18:37; Revelation 1:5). Christ came into the world when it was enveloped in ignorance and begirt with the miasma of heathen superstitions and unconsecrated philosophies. Even the Jewish Church had lost its glory and a wretched formalism taken the place of spiritual religion. Christ came to give us a testimony which should be all-sufficient in reference to the way of salvation.

1. Its nature. It included —(1) The revelation of God (John 1:18). The knowledge of God was fast perishing. The spirituality of His nature — the perfection of His attributes — the sovereignty of His government — the boundless depths of His mercy, were rescued from oblivion by Christ and received clearer light and richer illustration. His own life was a revelation of God (John 14:9).(2) The true character of man. Here all heathen sages had failed. They did not know man, his antecedents, requirements, capacities. Hence their specifics fell short of the occasion. Christ discovers the heart of man to Himself (John 2:25).(3) The exposition of the ancient Scriptures. He constantly taught that His life and labours were the fulfilment of prophecy.(4) Many sublime and precious subjects — the dispensation of the Spirit; the nature, worth, and reality of prayer; practical religion; future rewards and punishments; the resurrection of the body.

2. Its manner. Note —

(1)The simplicity of His precepts.

(2)The familiarity of His examples.

(3)The expressiveness of His figures.

(4)The grace of His method.

(5)The gentleness of His language.

(6)The condescension of His temper.

(7)His patience with the ignorant.

(8)His encouragement of the inquiring.

(9)His comfort of the sorrowful.

II. THE RIGHT MODE OF ITS RECEPTION.

1. Divine truth demands admittance into the heart. It first accosts the intellectual faculties, then accosts the conscience, but completely triumphs only when it enters the holiest of all. Human learning appeals only to the intelligence. Christ claims the heart.

2. Its impartation proceeds directly from Christ (Galatians 1:12; John 4:42; 2 Corinthians 10:5). The practical improvement of the process is that which make us solicitous for evidence of the work of God in the soul through the Spirit's effectual conveyance of the Word.

3. We should rejoice in its reception, because the deliverance it works is so great, the blessings it imparts so vast, and the prospect it opens so excellent.

III. THE EFFECT ASCRIBED TO BELIEF IN IT. Just as unbelief is an imputation on the Divine veracity, so cordial, unprejudiced reception is a mark of adoption into His family. It liberates a man from harassments and doubts. The obedience of the heart leads after it conviction of mind (John 7:17). The believer can set his seal over against the promise and affirm that "not one thing hath failed." Many an ancient mark may be seen in the aged saint's Bible showing that the promise has been fulfilled.

(W. G. Lewis.)

I. THE TRUE NOTION OF CHRIST'S DOCTRINE — IT IS A TESTIMONY.

1. The nature of it. A testimony is a sort of proof necessary in matters that cannot otherwise be decided by rational discourse.(1) In matters that depend upon the arbitrary will of another. The gospel cannot be found out by the light of nature, but Christ, who was in the bosom of the Father, knew His heart and hath given testimony how it stands affected to the salvation of men (Matthew 11:27, cf. John 3:16). Salvation proceedeth from the free motion of God's will.(2) In matters of fact. Matters of law are argued by reason, but matters of fact is only proved by credible witnesses. In this sense the gospel is a testimony that Christ came into the world, taught the way of salvation, died for our sins, and rose again to confirm all. The apostles were witnesses of these things (Acts 1:21-22; Acts 2:32; Acts 10:39).

2. The value of Christ's testimony which will appear if we consider —(1) The person witnessing. He who was promised in paradise (Genesis 3:15), shadowed in the sacrifices of the law, and foretold by the prophets (John 5:39); He who was owned of God by a voice from heaven (Matthew 3:17; Matthew 17:5; John 12:28); it is His testimony whom God the Father hath sealed (John 6:27), and to whom He has given the Spirit without measure (ver. 34).(2) The testimony itself.(a) It is such a testimony as men need. Men need a religion that will allay their fears and satisfy their desires. The gospel provides pardon for sin and eternal peace and happiness.(b) It has a fair correspondency with the principles of reason. That there is a wise, good, and powerful God; that men have sinned and become liable to punishment; that there are not hopes of freedom from this punishment but by satisfaction; that the universal soul must have higher and more abiding satisfactions than those afforded by the world.(c) It has a convincing evidence in itself (2 Corinthians 4:2-4).

3. The use of it as a testimony.(1) To bless God that the way of enjoying Him is not left to our uncertain guesses, but is made known in an authentic way by Christ.(2) To show us with what success we may build upon the hopes of the gospel; it is God's testimony (1 John 5:9).(3) Our danger is great if we disbelieve and reject this testimony (Matthew 24:14; cf. Mark 13:9). First, to them, then against them.

II. THE RESPECT THAT IS DUE TO THIS TESTIMONY.

1. Hear it or regard it we must. For us to disregard it is the greatest affront that we can offer God (Matthew 22:5).

2. Understand it we must, or we do not receive it. A man must have it (John 14:21) in his judgment before he can keep it in his memory, heart, and conscience.

3. We must firmly consent to and acquiesce in this testimony (1 Timothy 1:15; John 6:69; John 17:8).

4. To embrace it with all affection (Acts 2:41).

5. To build our hope and confidence thereupon while we continue with patience in well-doing (Psalm 119:166; Luke 18:15).

III. HE THAT THUS RECEIVETH DOTH RATIFY THE TRUTH OF GOD and solemnly bear witness to it.

1. The manner of confirming. Doubtful things we do not confirm, but those things of which we are assured (1 Kings 21:8; Nehemiah 9:38; Esther 8:8; Jeremiah 32:18). But how can we confirm the truth of God? God's truth is the same, and needeth not our confirmation, but He will put this honour upon us that we should honour His truth by our subscription (Romans 3:4). Our sealing is of great use(1) To ourselves. To bind us more firmly to believe that doctrine and life according to it which we have owned by our consent (Isaiah 44:5; Psalm 87:6).(2) To others (Isaiah 43:10). God's people that have such proofs of His power and providence are able to give sufficient testimony for Him, and others are confirmed in the faith of that which we attest when we live in holiness, patient and joyful under the cross (1 Thessalonians 1.5-7).

2. The matter confirmed — that God is true.(1) God's truth is a great prop of faith (Hebrews 11:11). God can do anything, but cannot lie.(2) The honour of His veracity is most pleasing to God (Psalm 138:2), just as men cannot endure the imputation of falsehood.(3) The setting to one's seal that God is true supposeth some precedent obligation. God is engaged by promise to Christ that He will justify, sanctify, and glorify all those who believe in Him (Isaiah 53:10, 11). The soul that receiveth this testimony giveth it under hand and seal that God is as good as His word.

3. The use is to persuade us to so receive Christ's testimony that we put to our seal that God is true.(1) From the honour done to God.(2) The honour put upon us that we should confirm God's promises.(3) The dishonour to God done by discrediting His word (1 John 5:10).Conclusion: In this scaling there are many things implied that most people want.

1. Spiritual evidence (1 Corinthians 2:14; Ephesians 1:17, 18).

2. Some experience of the truth in comforting and changing the heart (1 John 1:1, 2).

3. Confidence in temptations (Job 13:15).

4. Holiness (1 Thessalonians 1:5-7).

(T. Manton, D. D.)

I. THE TESTIMONY THAT HAS BEEN BORNE.

1. The testimony borne to Christ antecedently to the completion of His work.

(1)That of prophecy.

(2)That of the angels and the magi at the incarnation.

(3)That of Anna and Simeon in the temple.

(4)That of the Father at the baptism.

2. The testimony which Christ bore Himself.

(1)As to the nature of His ministry. "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me," etc. "I am come not to be ministered to," etc.

(2)To His Messiahship. "I and My Father are One." "God so loved," etc.

(3)To His own purpose and plans.

(4)To the everlasting awards.

(5)All the truth taught by Christ was on His part a witness.

3. The testimony which came afterwards.

(1)By angels again.

(2)By the apostles.

(3)By the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost.

(4)By Paul.

4. Remark —(1) That knowledge is for the most part derived from testimony. Everything in connection with ancient history, biography, foreign countries. It is easy to ridicule testimony, but without it a great tract of our life would be left in darkness.(2) That the testimony borne to Christ and His salvation comes to us with the clearest signatures and the strongest authentications. It comes to us in a book which is unique in its condemnation of lying.

II. THE RECEPTION OF THE TESTIMONY.

1. It must be examined with precision, so that we may know what it is.

2. This reception embraces the admission of the things contained in it as true. As to the great matters in question, they are true or false; if false, let them be rejected; if true, let them be accepted as true.

3. There must be no hostility to it, because it is very possible that the testimony may be understood and accepted, and yet hated, as it is by the devils, as it was by the Jews. This is of the nature of the sin against the Holy Ghost.

4. There should be appreciation of the value, importance, and dignity of it.

5. It must be loved. "With the heart man believeth unto righteousness."

(1)Love of Christ Himself.

(2)Love of His truth.

6. There is a course of life and conduct to be adopted in accordance with the truth of the testimony.

III. Having received the testimony, we can SET TO OUR SEAL. A seal and signature are intended to authenticate a document and the thing which that document contains. We not calling God a liar, but, attesting the truth of the witness of the Lord Jesus, are said to "set to our seal that God is true." But mark —

1. The truth of God and the testimony of Christ are true irrespective of our seal. God cannot lie; and the matter for amazement is that God should condescend to receive our attestations.

2. Then let the signature be written. Bring in the document. What signatures are already there! Those of apostles, martyrs, etc.

3. If you put your signature to the truth of God, God will put His on thee.

(1)On thy forehead, the mark of His preservation.

(2)On thy heart, the mark of His grace.

(James Stratten.)

I. THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE SEAL. The seal is one of the old legal forms that still survives, and gives a peculiar character to documents on which it is stamped. Let us note some of its characteristics.

1. As a necessity. In many cases an instrument without a seal is of none effect. The lawyer may draw up a will with the utmost care, but until the seal is affixed to the will the lawyer's skill and the legator's resolve count for nothing. So one may hear the gospel preached, but that is not sufficient. He must set to his seal the testimony — receive it, believe it, live in accordance with it.

2. As a personal distinction. In the old times few men knew how to write even their own names. They could do no more than make their mark, which was easily counterfeited; therefore each man who had occasion to use it, if possible possessed his own seal. Joseph was placed in charge of the king's seal, and wherever he affixed it, it carried all the king's authority with it. So religion is an intensely personal matter. Each must settle the great question of salvation for himself. No one can accept Christ for me. I must set to my seal that God is true.

3. As a finality. The ancient seal was often used to denote the conclusion of a matter. Daniel was told to seal up the prophecies — implying that they were finished. He that accepts Christ, accepts Him for all time. We enter into God's service, not for a few years, not merely for a lifetime, but for eternity. "There is no discharge in that war." We have set to our seal that God is true, once for all.

II. THE NATURE OF THE TESTIMONY. It is —

1. An indictment. God charges us with violation of His law, and we are to plead guilty or not guilty. If we deny our guilt we reject the very first proposition with which the Saviour comes to us. Shall any one dare to do this? Nicodemus thought he had kept the law, but the Saviour told him that he must be born again, and Paul felt this when he wrote (Romans 7:9), "I was alive without the law once; but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died."

2. Pardon. After the American civil war, when a general amnesty was offered, each man, to profit by the act, was required first to take the oath of allegiance. We are rebels against God; from Him alone can we look for pardon. Through Christ it is offered to every one, but it must be accepted before it becomes effective. We must set to our seal this testimony of pardon — take the oath of allegiance to God's government.

3. A testament. If property comes into my possession by will, it is necessary that my name and a seal be affixed to the will before the properly is at my disposal. The testimony of the gospel is that God has made a testament for us. He not only grants us pardon, but peace and joy in this life, and in the world to come life eternal. These are offered to each of us freely; but we must set our seal to the testimony by accepting it in faith.

(G. H. Smith.)

The method of sealing seems to have been very ancient. Judah had a signet as well as a bracelet. The document sent to the elders respecting Naboth and his vineyard is said to have been sealed with the king's signature. So was that which commanded the extermination of the Jews in the time of Esther sealed. So in the days of Jeremiah, when his property was sold, the document which contained the account of the sale was sealed and signed. So have we the great seal of England, which affixed to a document authenticates the document. There are the seals and signatures in like manner of foreign potentates. And to make it still more dear and easy, and to bring it nearer home, in many matters of business, in the ordinary transactions between man and man, there is an agreement which is signed and sealed. Being signed, and sealed, and attested, the document stands; it is good and substantial, and has authority and weight in law. When in like manner, I suppose, we are represented as putting our seal and signature to God's great document, authenticating it as far as our belief and our conviction goes as true, this is what is meant. Exactly as in the prophet Isaiah, when it is said by the Almighty, "Ye are My witnesses." We set to our seal that God is true.

(James Stratten.)

The firmness of the venerable in persecution unto death is known to all. Urged by the chief officer to pay religious honours to the emperor, he mildly replied, "I shall not do as you advise me." "Swear, curse Christ, and I release you." "Sixty-eight years have I served Him, and He has done ms nothing but good; how, then, can I curse Him, my Lord and my Saviour?" At the stake, when they were about to bind him, he said, "Leave me as I am. He who has strengthened me to encounter the flames, will enable me to stand firm at the stake."

As there can be no argument in chemistry in proof of odours like a present perfume itself; as the shining of the stars is a better proof of their presence than the figures of an astronomer; as the restored health of his patients is a better argument of skill in a physician than laboured examinations and certificates; as the testimony of the almanac that summer comes with June is not so convincing as the coming of summer itself in the sky, in the air, in the fields, on hill and mountain, so the power of Christ upon the human soul is to the soul evidence of His Divinity based upon a living experience, and transcending in conclusiveness any convictions of the intellect alone, founded upon a contemplation of mere ideas, however just and sound. If Christ is the wisdom of God and the power of God, in the experience of those who trust and love Him there needs no further argument of His Divinity.

(H. W. Beecher.)

As I looked upon the sun this November morning shining through some beautiful clouds, a man called upon me to prove that the sun was, in his judgment, as far as he could make out by "the tables," about sufficient to light the world. He turned over long pages of logarithms, fractions, and decimals, and long precessions of figures. He asked me for a slate and pencil, and he was going to make it out to my satisfaction that the sun was just about sufficient to enlighten a hemisphere at a time. I ordered him off I Why? I saw it! I felt it!

(J. Parker, D. D.)

"Oh I when a truth has broken your heart; when it has afterwards bound it up; when Christ has spoken it to you till you have felt it, then will you speak as men could speak who are ambassadors for God. George Fox was called a Quaker because, when he preached, he often trembled. Was that a folly? No. He had so felt the power of what he spoke that his very body trembled while he delivered that truth to others, and well may you and I tremble at His Word. Whenever that Word, however, comes home to the heart with sweetness, why, then, with what sweetness a man tells it again! There is nobody can speak it like the man who has experienced it. You know the tale of a tale, the report of a report is a very poor thing; but when a man says, 'I saw it, I was there,' then you listen to him. So, if you can say of Christ, 'He is precious, for He is precious to me; He can save, for He has saved me; He can comfort and cheer and gladden, for He has done all that to me,' then you speak with power because Christ has spoken with power to you."

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

The supposed necessity of a seal to attest the signature is shown in the following: "At Jezreel, the chief desired Captain Wilson to make a report to the governor at Jenin, and our dragoman was accordingly directed to write a letter in Arabic, and submit it for signature.... This was duly signed by Captain Wilson; and as the chief insisted on a seal being appended to the signature, an old monogram was cut off a sheet of note paper and affixed to the letter. This was supposed to prove the genuineness of the document, as a man's seal cannot be forged."

(Recovery of Jerusalem.)

In courts of law, in olden times, a witness gave his statement of that which he professed was truth. Having done so, parties present who were cognisant of the veracity of the speaker, or who were in circumstances that they might be expected to be so, when called on to testify their knowledge, in confirmation of what had been asserted, by doing this set to their seal that what had been spoken was true, and that the witness who had spoken was faithful. But parties who, being thus appealed to, and being qualified to testify, declined to speak in corroboration of the testimony delivered, were held, by that declining, to make the witness a liar. To this practice allusion is made in the text. God hath spoken by His Son to the world; He has spoken that which all men may know, that which all men are bound to know to be true, that they may be able to confirm it as His word of truth. Being commanded to become acquainted with the things which are spoken, they are then, as a great duty, commanded to bear testimony to the truth, to the veracity of Him by whom it has been uttered. When they refuse to know what God speaks, they offend against His authority. When they refuse to testify to the truth — to set to their seal that He is true in the Word which has been given to them — they offend against His veracity; they make Him a liar.

(A. Beith, D. D.)

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