John 5:31
If I testify about Myself, My testimony is not valid.
Sermons
A Search WarrantJohn 5:31-40
Bible FactsW. Baxendale.John 5:31-40
Bible StudyW. H. M. H. Aitken, M. A.John 5:31-40
Blank Pages of the BibleH. J. W. Buxton, M. A.John 5:31-40
Burning and Shining LightsPaxton Hood.John 5:31-40
Burning and Shining LivesVan Doren.John 5:31-40
Children's SermonE. Woods.John 5:31-40
Christ Alone is RejectedC. H. Spurgeon.John 5:31-40
Christ in the BibleD. G. Watt, M. A.John 5:31-40
Christ in the BibleH. J. Wilmot Buxton.John 5:31-40
Christ the Gem of the ScripturesJohn 5:31-40
Christ the Interpreter of the BibleJohn 5:31-40
Christians Must ShineH. W. Beecher.John 5:31-40
Christ's Desertions and ComplaintsW. Arnot, D. D.John 5:31-40
Christ's Lamentation Over Those Who Will not Come to HimE. J. Hartland.John 5:31-40
Christ's WitnessesJ. W. Burn.John 5:31-40
Coming to Christ for LifeT. Gisborne, M. A.John 5:31-40
Coming to Christ the Only Means of SalvationBp. Beveridge.John 5:31-40
Diligent Seeking Will be Rewarded by Joyous FindingDr. Mackay.John 5:31-40
Dr. Johnson's Dying CounselW. Baxendale.John 5:31-40
Have an ObjectClerical AnecdotesJohn 5:31-40
He Scriptures Without CommentJohn 5:31-40
He was a Burning and a Shining LightPaxton Hood.John 5:31-40
Heathen Testimony to the Excellence of the ScripturesJohn 5:31-40
Hindrances to ConversionJohn Edwards.John 5:31-40
How to Come to Christ, and the Great HindranceW. J. Chapman, M. A.John 5:31-40
How to Search the ScripturesJohn 5:31-40
How to Study the BibleJ. Hamilton, D. D.John 5:31-40
How We Should Study the BibleG. D. Boardman, D. D.John 5:31-40
Let Your Light ShineJ. Oswald Dykes, D. D.John 5:31-40
LightW. H. Van Doren, D. D.John 5:31-40
Man's Happiness Dependent on His Coming to ChristT. East.John 5:31-40
Men by Nature Unwilling to Come to ChristJohn 5:31-40
Origin of the Bible SocietyClerical AnecdotesJohn 5:31-40
Playing with the LightF. Godet, D. D., T. Whitelaw, D. D.John 5:31-40
Practical SearchingJ. Donne, D. D.John 5:31-40
Refusing LifeG. Colborne, Ph. D.John 5:31-40
Regeneration Better than AdmirationVan Doren.John 5:31-40
Sacrifice and SubmissionMorgan Dix, D. D.John 5:31-40
Scriptural InvestigationH. J. Newbery, M. A.John 5:31-40
Search the ScripturesJ. Lightfoot, D. D.John 5:31-40
Search the ScripturesJohn 5:31-40
Search the ScripturesC. Hodge, D. D.John 5:31-40
Search the ScripturesPulpit AnalystJohn 5:31-40
Search the ScripturesT. Snell.John 5:31-40
Search the ScripturesJ. Vaughan, M. A.John 5:31-40
Search the ScripturesCharles Graham.John 5:31-40
Shall We Refuse LifeR. Brewin.John 5:31-40
Sinners Will not Come to ChristC. H. Spurgeon.John 5:31-40
Sinners Will not Come to ChristC. H. Spurgeon.John 5:31-40
Superstition Use of the BibleJ. M. Buckley, D. D.John 5:31-40
The Advantage of Unfettered Bible StudyS. A. Brooke, M. A.John 5:31-40
The Benefit of LightH. W. Beecher.John 5:31-40
The Bible FirstJohn 5:31-40
The Bible HandyC. H. Spurgeon.John 5:31-40
The Bible Interpreted by LoveH. M. Scudder, D. D.John 5:31-40
The Bible to be Studied Often and LovinglyC. H. Spurgeon.John 5:31-40
The Bible Worth SearchingJohn 5:31-40
The Duty and Advantage of Searching the ScripturesJ. Bennett, D. D.John 5:31-40
The Great RefusalMarcus Rainsford.John 5:31-40
The Greater WitnessA. Beith, D. D.John 5:31-40
The Importance of Scripture StudyH. M. Scudder, D. D.John 5:31-40
The Inexhaustible Treasures of ScriptureG. D. Boardman.John 5:31-40
The Lamentations of JesusW. Arnot, D. D.John 5:31-40
The Lamp that Burneth and ShinethF. Godet, D. D., T. Whitelaw, D. D.John 5:31-40
The Light and the LampR. Besser, D. D.John 5:31-40
The Necessity of Searching the ScripturesBp. Stillingfleet.John 5:31-40
The Reasons Why Men Do not Come to ChristJ. Venn, M. A.John 5:31-40
The Self-Consuming LifeZeisius.John 5:31-40
The Son's Complaint Against His OwnT. Whitelaw, D. D.John 5:31-40
The Test of TruthJohn 5:31-40
The Testimony of the Scriptures to ChristW. H. Van Doren, D. D.John 5:31-40
The Torch-BearerF. Godet, D. D.John 5:31-40
The Value of LightJohn 5:31-40
The Witness BearerA. Beith, D. D.John 5:31-40
The Witness of the Old Testament Scriptures to Jesus ChristC. M. Hardy, B. A.John 5:31-40
The Witnesses of the SonT. Whitelaw, D. D.John 5:31-40
The Wonders of ScriptureH. W. Beecher.John 5:31-40
The Works Which the Father Hath Given MeCanon Westcott.John 5:31-40
Unwillingness to Come to ChristC. H. Spurgeon.John 5:31-40
Will -- not Violated by GraceC. H. Spurgeon.John 5:31-40
Will, the Seat of InabilityC. H. Spurgeon.John 5:31-40

1. The effect of Christ's preceding discourse on his hearers was wonder. "They marvelled."

2. The teachings and deeds of Christ were well calculated to produce this emotion in all.

3. Each manifestation of his power and glory was only introductory to something greater still. "Marvel not at this," etc. The two resurrections - the resurrection of life and that of judgment. Notice -

I. THEIR SIMILARITY.

1. In the physical condition supposed. The subjects of both are dead, and described as being in their graves. The good die as well as the bad. They lie down and sleep together; their graves are often in close proximity to each other, and their dust is mingled together. They are under the same physical condition, that of mortality and complete dissolution.

2. Both are similar in their wonderful effects. Both are resurrections. There wilt be a quickening into life, into full conscious existence. There will be a reunion of body and soul after a long separation; the physical effects will be similar in both. The good and the bad shall hear, and come forth.

3. Both are the result of the same Divine power.

(1) The Agent is the same in both. "The Son of God." To raise the dead is the prerogative of Divinity, and by the power of the Son of God shall the good and the bad be raised. As the resurrection forms a most important part of the great scheme of redemption, it most befittingly falls to the Redeemer's lot to do it. He has the right and the power; and it will be exercised on this occasion on all, irrespective of character.

(2) The process in both is the same. "Shall hear the voice of the Son," etc. There will be an outward manifestation - a voice - and there will be a response. The same voice can awake the good and the bad. They would sleep on forever unless called by him. The voice of angels would be ineffective. But all will hear and know his voice, and come forth. Even the Son of God never addressed such a vast congregation before at once, and never with such unexceptional success. How many of his sermons missed the mark! But this grand resurrection sermon will not fail in a single instance. All shall hear and come forth.

4. The subjects of both resurrections shall come forth in their own and true character. As good or evil. Neither the sleep of death nor the Divine process of the resurrection can produce any change in character. Whatever a man soweth that shall he reap. The resurrection will not change this law, but help to carry it out. Character will cling to us forever.

5. The subjects of both shall come forth in their true character - according to the character of their deeds. "They that have done good, and they that have done evil." Character in both cases is formed by actions; so that the resurrection will be the same in its process to both classes. It will be fair to both - a faithful reproduction, not merely of the physical and mental, but also of the moral and spiritual self. Identity will be preserved intact. No one will have any reason to complain.

6. Both are similar in their certainty. The resurrection of the good and bad is equally certain. "All that are in the graves shall hear," etc. There is an absolute necessity for both, and there is an adequate power. Divine physical power is irresistible; Divine moral power is not so. What is absolutely necessary must come to pass. The good must be raised for the purposes of grace, the bad for the purposes of justice.

II. IS THEIR DISSIMILARITY.

1. Dissimilar in the character of their subjects. The subjects of one are those who have done good, the subjects of the other are those who have done evil. And between good and evil there is an essential and an eternal difference - a difference which neither eternity nor omnipotence can efface. Good will be good and evil will be evil at the last day, and the difference will be more strikingly seen.

2. Dissimilar in their results.

(1) One is the resurrection of life, the other is that of judgment. Those who have done good will not be raised to judgment, for they have passed from death unto life. Therefore they must rise unto life; the highest, the truest life of the soul - a life like that of Christ himself. The other is the resurrection of judgment, of condemnation - the opposite of life.

(2) The one is a reward, the other is punishment. Life is the natural consequence of goodness and faith in Christ; still it is a reward and a Divine favour. The resurrection and its consequences will be a reward to the good, but punishment to the wicked. It would be mercy to them to let them sleep on; but justice demands their resurrection to receive the wages of sin, which is death.

(3) The one will be followed by a glorious ascension, the other by horrible descent. Those who have done good will come forth to rise forever in the ever-increasing enjoyment of a pure, happy, and endless life; while those who have done evil will rise to sink deeper in spiritual death. The reunion of body and soul to the good must intensify their happiness. To the wicked it must intensify their misery. What a difference there is between the good man being awaked to join his family at the breakfast table and at the mercy seat, and the culprit being awaked in the morning to undergo the terrible sentence of the law! This is but a faint illustration of the difference between the resurrection of life and that of judgment.

LESSONS.

1. We have passed through many important crises, but the most important and marvellous one is yet in store. "The hour is coming," etc. A most important and wonderful hour! Time and eternity in an hour! We should live continually in that hour.

2. The inseparable connection between the present and the future. Our future is in our present, and our present will be reproduced in the future.

3. The importance of well doing in the present. Let us hear the voice of the Son of man, now that we may welcome the voice of the Son of God in that hour. The physical process of the resurrection is entirely future, with which we shall have nothing to do. The spiritual process is going on now, and by Divine help we can shape our own resurrection and determine whether it is to be one of life or of judgment. - B.T.







If I bear witness of Myself My witness is not true. There is another that beareth witness of Me.
I. A GREAT WITNESS, His forerunner. The Baptist as a witness for Christ was —

1. Human (ver. 34; cf. John 3:31).

2. Brilliant. While he lasted he was like the lamp that gave light to the whole household of the Jewish people. So should every Christian in his place as parent, master, teacher, citizen, be a blazing torch, or, at least, a useful lamp, to guide others to Christ (Matthew 5:16; Philippians 2:15).

3. Acceptable. For a time the people buzzed round him like moths round a flame (Luke 3:15). He was therefore a witness of their own selection, and hence one that might be supposed to be impartial.

4. Transcient. So Christ's witnesses can seldom count on protracted popularity (Hebrews 7:23).

5. Yet permanent (ver. 33). A word truly spoken for Christ never dies.

II. A GREATER WITNESS. His works.

1. More exalted in its origin (ver. 34; cf. 3:31). John's was from earth, Christ's from heaven.

2. More direct in its expression. Christ's works, being the Father's, proceeded straight from Him without passing through a subsidiary messenger as John.

3. More conclusive in its significance. John's was necessarily imperfect, he being but human. But Christ's works were such as the Father only could do (John 3:2; John 14:10, 11). The inference from verses 36 and 39 was irresistible that Christ was the Son of God.

III. THE GREATEST WITNESS. His Father.

1. The Scriptures the medium of the Father's testimony (vers. 39, 46).

2. The Scriptures the Father's testimony par excellence. The Father speaks in them by the Holy Ghost. To reject them is to reject the last and highest form of evidence God can give.

(T. Whitelaw, D. D.)

We are not informed whether our Lord's opponents expressed their feelings, but knowing all things, He replied to their secret objections that the testimony was valid, inasmuch as He was not alone in bearing it (ver. 31). Such testimony could not be given by any man (ver. 34); it could be given so as to be on a footing of equality with His own only by "another" such as Himself, viz., the "Father." The testimony was —

1. "Of another," implying distinctness of personality, and yet equality of testimony in value.

2. That of the God of Truth, known to Christ, who is in the bosom of the Father as it cannot be known to men. Consider, then, the Father's testimony to Jesus by John.

I. THEY HAD SENT TO JOHN (ver. 33). Some of them, perhaps, had themselves been deputies (John 1:19). By taking this step they had manifested a high opinion of John's testimony. What authority, then, ought that testimony to have on the subject they had submitted to him?

II. JOHN BORE WITNESS TO THE TRUTH. John repudiated the Messiahship of himself, but announced Jesus as the "Lamb of God." Had they put by this testimony? They were now reminded of it.

III. THE AUTHORITY OF GOD'S TESTIMONY WAS NOT HIS, BUT THAT OF HIM THAT HAD SENT HIM (ver. 34). Man of himself was not equal to the task of witnessing to the glory of Christ. "No man knoweth the Son but the Father." Man may be employed to proclaim what God is pleased to communicate, but the authority is not his, but God's. John was sent from God to bear witness of the light. How vain, then, to speak of the authority of the Church in the Roman sense. It abides in the Word which she is commissioned to proclaim, and in that only.

IV. JOHN'S PLACE AND HONOUR IN SUCH A CAUSE (ver. 35).

1. He was a burning and shining lamp, a vessel prepared and ordained to diffuse light. The oil of grace in his heart was kindled from above, not from below. All ministers of Christ are of a similar character.

2. The Jews had rejoiced in this light, and had acknowledged John as a messenger from God. It was for a season only, however. John's ministry was short, and their willingness to rejoice in it was shorter still. When they found that he was the herald of no political deliverer, when they understood the conditions of entering the kingdom John predicted, and when he pointed to Jesus as the Lamb of God, they gave him up.Lessons:

1. Have we received the gospel as the Word of God? It is only when we hear God in the Word that we hear at all.

2. Were we once more willing to rejoice in the gospel than we are now?

(A. Beith, D. D.)

God alone can testify touching the nature of a Divine relation. Christ has the witness of —

I. THE BAPTIST. His predicted forerunner.

II. HIS MIRACLES.

III. THE FATHER.

1. At His baptism (Matthew 3:17).

2. At His transfiguration (Luke 9:35).

3. In the temple (John 12:29).

IV. THE HOLY SCRIPTURES.

1. Old Testament.

2. New.

V. HIS DISCIPLES in whom He dwells.

VI. HIS ENEMIES, the rancour and persistence of whose opposition is a testimony to His Person and worth.

(J. W. Burn.)

I. They witness to Him BY THE GREAT NEED OF A SAVIOUR, revealed by the lives and expressed in the words of the noblest of men.

II. They witness to Him BY THE UNSATISFYING EXPEDIENTS to which men resorted to meet that need — law, ritual, sacrifice.

III. They witness to Him BY TURNING MEN'S THOUGHTS from the past and the present to the future. The golden age of Israel was ever before her, not behind.

IV. They witness to Him BY THE UNREALIZED IDEALS of Prophet, King, and Priest, which Christ alone fulfilled.

1. As Prophet, He spoke with authority.

2. As King, He wrought with authority.

3. As Priest, He forgave with authority.

(C. M. Hardy, B. A.)

These things I say, that ye might be saved
Clerical Anecdotes.
A minister once had the celebrated Andrew Fuller as a hearer. After service, both were invited to a neighbouring house for refreshment. The preacher, who evidently thought he had made no failure, was desirous to ascertain Mr. Fuller's opinion of his effort. The veteran divine seemed unwilling to be drawn out upon that subject, and for some time took no notice of his younger brother's allusions and hints. At length a remark was made of so inviting a character as that Mr. Fuller could not well avoid making some reply. He said, "I gave close attention to your sermon, and tried to ascertain at what you were aiming it: what was your object?" Several years afterwards that preacher referred to Mr. Fuller's inquiry as a cutting reproof which he deeply felt, and which had the effect of changing essentially the character of both his motives and his labours.

(Clerical Anecdotes.)

I. In the ANALOGY employed by our Lord we have the threefold characteristic of a Christian minister — light, heat, and lustre. Re is a living lantern. "Light in the Lord."

1. The first qualification for a Christian teacher is that he sees. He has heard the voice, "Let there be light," and the voice has divided the light from the darkness.

2. The Christian doctrine is that the world and human nature are dark, and that Christianity is a light shining in a dark place.

3. In harmony with this view, every Christian man, and especially the Christian teacher, should be a light-bringer, none the less so because his temperament and character are called to a different routine of duties, or develop a varied order of excellences. There may be more or less of the red flare of human passion or the beautiful white light of love. Light is one, but it shines through various affecting media. There is light —

(1)In the eye, by which we know sensible objects;

(2)In the understanding, by which we know scientific relations and are able to reason, etc.;

(3)In the will, which affects the whole range of our moral vision;

(4)but we see most clearly when we see through our affections.

4. But the Christian, like John, must be a burning and shining light — the marriage of knowledge and zeal; the white and red lights of life; impetuosity and prudence; Peter and John going up to the temple; the jewels on the high priest's breastplate; the gorgeous red of the ruby, the soft blue of the sardonyx, the cataract splendour of the diamond.

II. Our Lord permits the designation to wear the form of EULOGY. John was an extraordinary teacher every way.

1. When any insist on ecclesiastical authority, I like to point to John the Baptist. How strangely he must have startled the ordinary opinions of his day. To the priests his mission must have appeared most heretical and disorderly. How strange that the conservators of religion are ever the last to learn the meanings of a great revelation. But when the Word of the Lord burns in the heart of a prophet he cannot hold back.

2. John was no dreamer, but never did prophet appear more so, proclaiming the visionary kingdom at hand. In the nature of things the light would not be comprehended by the darkness. Suddenly, in the death state of the Jewish nation, John rose. "The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Repent ye." God's turning to man the plea for man's turning to God — the sum and seal of the gospel lies in that.

III. GENERALIZATIONS. The burning and the shining light was —

1. Before his age. The age was one of formalism and religious apathy. John was the impersonation of reality and earnestness. The most dreadful sight on earth is that of a preaching machine, yet that is often preferred to a prophet.

2. He was banished from society by his convictions. All men who leave the formalism of the present moment must make up their minds for the desert. But it is there we learn our true strength and the meaning of our mission.

3. He died a martyr to his faithfulness.

(Paxton Hood.)

Suppose it were certainly predicted of your child that he should grow up the servant of other men, that he should have none of this world's honours, and that his life should be made up of sacrifice and submission; would you not conceive it a dreary prospect? This prospect was realized in John; but the Master pronounced it grand. The poet sings, "Lives of great men all remind us," etc. Thousands of young people have read these lines with hopefulness; of full-grown persons with misgiving; of the old who have wished that they had never heard them. But what are the elements of a grand life? There are easy, pleasant, showy, restless, plodding, successful, and average lives; but of grand lives two only are possible, both realized in Christ and in those who are like Him.

I. THE LIFE OF SACRIFICE. There are those in this world whom God calls to live for others, and the wants of others are to them the gate of everlasting glory. It may be the poor, sick, penitent, orphan, one's country, church, household, pariah, city, or hamlet. Human want is everywhere. To resolve to live for others, to give time, wealth, prayers, that others not so fortunate may be helped, cared for, taught, and that not grudgingly or of necessity, nor for profession or pay or praise, and on the first motion, and in faith — that is the way to make life sublime. And it is sublime because —

1. It contradicts the desires of the heart, which never go that way by themselves, and involves that most glorious of victories, the conquest of self.

2. Because it is like the life of Christ and of those who have loved Him best.

II. THE LIFE OF HOLY SUBMISSION. In this life there is what is called the inevitable. Often this takes a formidable shape, and seems as if it might wreck the whole life. The wider the range of this enemy of peace, the greater the trial to a sensitive and eager spirit. But submission to the inevitable must take the form of intelligent resignation to the will of God to ennoble life. To this end —

1. The mind must be kept in check by the thought of God.

2. The spirit of complaint be checked.

3. The habit of cheerfulness cultivated.Lessons:

1. One of warning to the prosperous: the one thing in their life which could have given it grandeur is lacking, and failure will be written on it at last without sacrifice and submission.

2. One of consolation to the unfortunate: acceptance of one's lot as from God, and making the best of it, makes it glorious.

3. Put, then, away mock heroic ideas of grandeur. There are lofty lives where the world cannot see, but God can; and noble lives, although covered with this world's tinsel glory, which will one day utterly fade away.

(Morgan Dix, D. D.)

The Word is a hand-lamp. Candles of tallow were first used, then lamps with wicks of flax were universally substituted. The ancients, in the absence of tables, used candlesticks from twelve inches to five feet high, made of wood, bronze, marble, silver and gold, with several branches. That of Antiochus was adorned with jewels set in chains. They were made in the form of lilies, seals, vines, and other figures. Lamps were used in marriage ceremonies, and placed in sepulchres. Olive oil was used, which on festive occasions was highly perfumed. Sometimes the lamps were held by the domestics standing round the table. Emblematically ministers are called candles (Zechariah 4.; Revelation 1., 11:4). The Rabbis were called "Candles of the Law; Lamps of the Light." Light and fire were symbols of God (John 1:4; John 3:20). Lamps are required only in the sun's absence, so at Christ's coming John disappears. The Church is symbolized under the sign of a candlestick (Revelation 1:20). Caravans in the desert at night are preceded by a brilliant lantern, which lights all who follow. Should the bearer be careless, "Let your light shine" sounds from all. Christ was never called, like John, a "light-bearer"; the word light as applied to Him is entirely different.

(W. H. Van Doren, D. D.)

Just as Christ was not a Light, but the Light, so John was not a lamp, but the lamp; he was the friend and servant of the Bridegroom, who was to go before Him with the torch of his testimony. Burning like fire, his call to repentance penetrated into the hearts of men; brightly shining, full of gospel truth, he went before, lighting the way which led to the Lamb of God.

(R. Besser, D. D.)

John was not a permanent sun; he was the torch which cannot burn without consuming itself. Critics have interpreted the article as signifying the torch par excellence, as alluding to Sir. 48:1, "the word (of Elias) shone like a torch," and as comparing John to the well.known retch-bearer who walked before the bridegroom in a nuptial procession; but the article simply means the light, of which there never was more than one in the house,

(F. Godet, D. D.)

The two epithets express the same idea; that of the ephemeral brilliance of a torch which wastes as it gives light. The imperfect "was" proves that the torch is now extinguished. John was imprisoned or dead.

(F. Godet, D. D.)A lamp shines by burning, and burns in shining; the sun wastes not while raying forth its beams.

(T. Whitelaw, D. D.)

Some shine but do not burn; others burn but do not shine. True grace in the soul does both. Basil thundered in his preaching and lightened in his life. Of the martyrs Rogers and Bradford it was difficult to decide whether their eloquence or their holiness shone the brighter.

(Van Doren.)

As I have seen the glowworm at late evening, by the silent side of an empty English lane, mount some tall spike of grass and turn its tiny lamp, content to hang, head downwards, itself unseen, so that the exquisite soft green light which God had given it might be visible in its loveliness; so may one find in this world's lowly and unfrequented paths Christ's light-bearers, who shed each his own sweet love-light round a narrow circle of the dark, that the wayfarer who sees may praise, not his unsightly and, sooth to say, concealed self, but that great Father in heaven who lit this faint taper upon earth, even as He lit the nobler fires which burn far up in heaven. But just as I have shut the poor glowworm in a dark box or under an inverted dish, yet found that it spent all its radiance there unseen, only for sake of love, and because shine it must: so will the true soul, whom his Lord shall chance to imprison from shedding light on any human eye, rejoice no less to let his devout affections and gracious deeds be seen of Him who looks through the densest cover, and knows how to bestow an open reward.

(J. Oswald Dykes, D. D.)

Christians I it is your duty not only to be good, but to shine; and, of all the lights which you kindle on the face, joy will reach furthest out to sea, where troubled mariners are seeking the shore. Even in your deepest griefs, rejoice in God. As waves phosphoresce, let joys flash from the swing of the sorrows of your souls.

(H. W. Beecher.)

The man who carries a lantern in a dark night can have friends all around him, walking safely by the help of its rays, and he not defrauded. So he who has the God-given light of hope in his breast can help on many others in this world's darkness, not to his own loss, but to their precious gain.

(H. W. Beecher.)

A blacksmith can do nothing when his fire is out, and in this respect he is the type of a minister. If all the lights in the outside world are quenched, the lamp which burns in the sanctuary ought still to remain undimmed. For that fire no curfew must ever be rung.

Paul, Peter, James, or John — Luke, Mark, Matthew, or Apollos — Andrew, Philip, Barnabas, or Stephen — each would be a burning and shining light: in one the lustre might dart from the pen, in another from the tongue; from one might flash the lightnings of eloquence, from another the more quiet beam of lucid exposition. St. Bernard may illuminate a court, or Thomas a Kempis a cloister; Wickliffe may lighten a rectory or a kingdom; Luther may blaze over an age; Brainerd and Elliott may spend their fiery light in rousing the latent emotions of Indian tribes; or Williams, in identifying Christianity to savages with the arts of life; Whitfield may be the voice of one crying in the wilderness, echoless as soon as uttered; Madame Chantal, the glorious Elizabeth of Hungary, or the lovely Florence Nightingale, may show how the Tabitha and Dorcas spirit is not confined to any age, to cottage, or to court. But the fact about Christianity is, that it turns all its possessors, all its sound-hearted professors, into burning and shining lights.

(Paxton Hood.)

As a burning and shining light while illuminating others consumes itself, so Christian teachers should sacrifice themselves in the service of God for their fellow-men.

(Zeisius.)

Jesus compares the Jews to children who, instead of taking advantage of the precious moments during which the torch burns to accomplish an indispensable task, do nothing but dance and play the fool in its light till it goes out. It is impossible to characterize better the vain and childish satisfaction which the national pride has found for the moment in the appearance of this extraordinary man, and the absence of the serious fruits of repentance and faith which it was intended to produce. "Instead of being yourselves led to faith by John, you made him an object of curiosity. You pleased yourselves with him." Comp. Luke 7:24, etc., which charges them with making it an amusing spectacle, and closes by comparing them to a group of children playing in the market-place.

Playing with the light: — "All you ever seriously contemplated was to leap, dance, make sport of, like gnats in the twilight, like flies round a lamp, like dancers at a wedding." The phrase marked not the progress of the Baptist's career, but the short-lived character of their favourable mood towards him, or the celerity with which their satisfaction in the radiance emitted by him turned into disgust.

(T. Whitelaw, D. D.)

The Jews were pleased enough with the thrilling excitement of his ministry, and experienced the delight of a new and powerful sensation. But when John struck deep they forsook him, and never mourned when the martyr perished; as children sport with fire till they are burned, then they cast it aside. Thus the Athenians sought profane amusement in Paul's preaching (Acts 17:19), Thus popular preachers are followed by thousands who will the next day be found at the gaming table, the racecourse, or the theatre. Not admiration, but regeneration is what a minister should seek for.

(Van Doren.)

I have greater witness than that of John
Jesus was competent to bear witness to His own glory; so was the Father and the Holy Ghost. Each did, and they alone are competent witnesses. Besides the testimony of the Father through John there were —

I. TWO OTHER FORMS IN WHICH THE FATHER BORE WITNESS.

1. By the works which He gave Jesus to finish (ver 36). John's mission served its end by calling attention to them: the works themselves are now put in evidence.(1) What were they? Not miracles merely, but all that required to be performed for man's salvation.(2) In what sense were they "given" Him?

(a)In the everlasting covenant;

(b)When He was instituted in His mediatorial office;

(c)In token not only of the Father's love for the elect, but for His Son.(3) They were given Him to finish. Not to enter on and fail to accomplish. All heaven and earth were entitled to act on the assurance that there could be but one issue.(4) Yet the works were His, done by His own inherent, personal, almighty power, and of His independent sovereign will.(5) These works bore witness that the Father had sent Him. They were evidences not of an ordinary prophetic, but of an extraordinary Messianic mission.

2. The Father had directly borne witness to Him (ver. 17): Here also was testimony greater than John's.(1) Christ doubtless referred to His baptism. Never had such a testimony been borne before. "Unto which of the angels," etc. The Father's voice was heard; the emblem cf the Spirit was seen; the image of the invisible God was revealed. Thus the triune Jehovah visited the East. It was a descent more glorious than on Sinai. Jesus now appealed to it.(2) The Jews sought after a sign. Here was one. It had not been given in a corner. It bore testimony to the Only Begotten, but notwithstanding, the Jews remained in their unbelief.

3. This constituted their great sin which led ultimately to the cross. Unbelief is no less an evil in us. The evidence that Jesus is the Messiah is complete: who of us believes it unto salvation? What then if we be guilty of crucifying Christ afresh.

II. CHRIST'S APPEAL TO THE JEWS ON THIS SUBJECT FOR THEIR CONVICTION consists of three charges. 1 (ver. 37). The Saviour spoke here of all the ways in which the Father had testified of Him. The Father's voice was uttered through Moses, the prophets, John, at Jordan and through the "works." But to them it was as though it had never spoken. They enjoyed such opportunities as their fathers never enjoyed. Some of these, however, had heard and seen. Abraham, Jacob, Moses. 2 (ver. 38). It was their national boast that they had the Scriptures, and a deep though superstitious regard for them. But they had not the word abiding in them. It was not so with all, however, e.g., Mary, Elizabeth, Simeon, Anna, Andrew, Philip, Nathanael. How common now the former case, how rare the latter, and the consequent acceptance or rejection of Christ. 3 (vers. 39, 40).(1) He praised them for the duty. But how much depends on the spirit and aim of the search. Theirs was fruitless through prejudice.(2) They searched but did not come to the eternal life. Their discovery was an hallucination. How sad to read and hear about Christ and not find Him.

(A. Beith, D. D.)

I. A GRAVE INDICTMENT.

1. Nonacceptance of His Father's ambassador (ver. 38).

2. Unwillingness to partake of His salvation (ver. 40).

3. Rejection of His gracious message (ver. 47).

II. A SUFFICIENT PROOF.

1. They entirely misconceived the nature and use of the Bible (ver. 39). That which had been given them so as to prepare them for Christ they had failed to understand. They beheld in it a sort of superior talisman that endowed them with eternal life. They never dreamed of searching it for light to lead them to the Son. It is possible for a Christian to make a Saviour of the Scriptures rather than of Christ.

2. They were devoid of true love to God. They made much profession of knowledge and zeal for God's law, but had no sincere regard for the Lawgiver. This was evinced by the fact that though they had the law it was not within them (ver. 38).

3. They were wholly out of sympathy with such a Saviour as Christ professed to be (ver. 43). Had He come as a temporal deliverer they would have rallied to His standard; but because He came in His Father's name and with His Father's love, and to do His Father's work, they would have none of Him. What a melancholy tale for that day and for this.

4. They were completely absorbed in their own personal ambitions (ver. 44), and so were incapable of appreciating Christ.

5. They were thoroughly steeped in scepticism even in regard to Moses (ver. 46, 47). Hence their unbelief in Him of whom Moses wrote, though not excusable, was not surprising.

III. A FEARFUL FATE.

1. To be accused to the Father (ver. 45), to be impeached before the high tribunal of heaven as those who had dishonoured the Father's majesty in despising His Son.

2. To be prosecuted by Moses, the very law-giver in whom they had trusted.

3. To be deserted by the Son. Appalling retribution. Lessons:

1. A call to self-examination.

2. A note of warning.

(T. Whitelaw, D. D.)

The declaration of this relation of the Father and the Son is peculiar to St. John. The Father hath given —

I. ALL THINGS INTO HIS HAND (John 3:35; John 13:3).

II. ALL JUDGMENT (vers. 22, 27).

III. TO HAVE LIFE IN HIMSELF (ver. 26).

IV. A COMPANY OF FAITHFUL SERVANTS (John 6:39; cf. 6:65, 7:2, 6, 9, 12, 24).

V. COMMANDMENT WHAT TO SAY (John 12:49) AND TO DO (John 14:31; John 17:4, cf. John 17:7, etc.).

VI. AUTHORITY OVER ALL FLESH (John 17:2).

VII. HIS NAME (John 17:11, etc.).

VIII. HIS GLORY (John 17:24, cf. ver. John 17:22).

(Canon Westcott.)

I rather construe it in the indicative sense, "ye search," upon these reasons —

1. Because of what is said in the verse itself, ye think ye have eternal life in them; in which words our Saviour intendeth not so much to show what they might have in the Scriptures, for then it had been proper to have said, In them ye have eternal life, as He meaneth to touch upon the erroneous conceit of the Jews, who thought they obtained eternal life by the study of the law ex opere operato.

2. Because of the context in the verse following, which lieth fairer in this sense, Ye study the Scriptures scrutinously, and they are they that testify of Me, and yet ye will not borne unto Me — than taken thus: Search ye the Scriptures, for they testify of Me, and ye will not come to Me.Besides, consider —

1. That Christ is speaking to the doctors of the Sanhedrim, the most acute, diligent, and curious searchers of the Scripture of all the nation. Men that made that their glory and employment; and howsoever it was their arrogancy that they thought their skill in Scripture more than indeed it was, yet was their diligence and scrutinousness in it real and constant even to admiration. It was exceedingly in fashion among the nation to be great Scripture men, but especially the great masters of the Sanhedrim were reputed as the very foundations of the law and pillars of instruction, as Maimony styles them in the treatise "Mamrim," cap. 1. And therefore it cannot be proper to think that Christ in this clause sets them to the study of the Scripture, upon which they spent all their wits and time already, as confessing their studiousness, yet showeth them how unprofitably they did it and to little purpose.

2. They did exceeding copiously and accurately observe and take up the prophecies in Scripture that were of the Messias, and though they missed in expounding some particulars concerning Him, yet did they well enough know that the Scriptures did testify of Him abundantly.

3. The word that is used, ἐρευνᾶτε, which betokeneth a narrow search, seemeth to be in. tended purposely to answer the word דרשׁ, which they themselves attribute to themselves in their unfolding of the Scriptures.

(J. Lightfoot, D. D.)

I. WHAT ARE WE TO UNDERSTAND BY THE SCRIPTURES?

1. Man had at first as perfect a knowledge of God as was necessary for him (Ecclesiastes 7:29).

2. This knowledge was impaired by the fall, so that a Divine revelation became requisite for his instruction in duty and the way and means to happiness.

3. Here a God revealed His will to Adam (Genesis 3:15).

4. This was handed down by tradition for 2,500 years, and the long lives of the patriarchs preserved it incorrupt. Methusaleh lived 243 years with Adam, and 98 with Shem, who lived 50 years with Isaac.

5. Man's life being shortened, God wrote His law by Moses (Psalm 90:10).

6. For the clearing of it He inspired prophets continually (Hebrews 1:1; Numbers 27:21).

7. When Christ came' He inspired others to record His works and doctrine (John 14:26).

8. Hence the Scripture is contained in the books of the Old and New Testaments.(1) The Old in number thirty-nine, which the Jews reduced to thirty-two, and they divide them in this manner:

(a)The Pentateuch.

(b)The Prophets.

(c)The Hagiographa.(2) The New Testament consisting of

(a)Gospels,

(b)Acts,

(c)Epistles,

(d)Apocalypse.

9. These are all that make up the canon; and that the Apocrypha is no part thereof is plain (Hebrews 1:1; 2 Peter 1:20, 21; Ephesians 2:20).

(a)Malachi was the last prophet.

(b)From reason. They are neither of the Old nor New Testaments, in many places they contradict both, and they do not speak as from God.

(c)From the Fathers.

II. WHY ARE WE TO SEARCH THE SCRIPTURES?

1. Because they are the Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16; 1 Peter 1:20, 21).(1) Probably —

(a)From their antiquity.

(b)The simplicity of the penmen (Exodus 32.; Numbers 11:11-14; Numbers 12:3).

(c)Their low quality (Amos 7:14; Matthew 9:9; Acts 4:13).

(d)Their high doctrine as Trinity, Creation, Fall, Incarnation, etc.

(e)Fulfilment of prophecy. Genesis 3:15 was given 4,000 years before its fulfilment; Genesis 12:3 almost 2,000; Genesis 15:13, 14, 400. So Daniel 9:24; Genesis 49:10.

(f)Their speaking with so much majesty and authority (1 Corinthians 1:17).

(g)Their efficacy and power to convert (Psalm 19:7, 8; Hebrews 4:12).

(h)The hatred of wicked men against them (John 15:19).(2) Certainly —

(a)If this be not God's word there is none.

(b)God hath attested it by miracles.

(c)If they were not from God, then either from Satan or man. Not from Satan, for they destroy his kingdom (James 4:7). Not from men; good men would not cheat the world, bad men would not condemn themselves.(3) The use. If the Scriptures are the Word of God, then

(a)Here is terror to the wicked (Isaiah 48:22).

(b)Comfort to the godly (Matthew 5:2-4).

(c)Counsel to all. Wherefore: Reverence them; believe them; prize them (Psalm 19:10; Proverbs 2:14, 15); be thankful for them; conform your lives to them; delight in reading them (Psalm 1:2; Psalm 19:10).

2. Because they contain all things necessary to be known and believed, explicitly or implicity; which appears(1) from Scripture.

(a)God is their Author, and therefore they are like Himself — perfect (2 Timothy 3:16).

(b)They furnish the man of God unto all good works (2 Timothy 3:17; Psalm 19:7).

(c)They contain the whole counsel of God (Deuteronomy 4:2; Deuteronomy 12:32; Revelation 22:18, 19; Galatians 1:8, 9).

(d)Christ and His apostles taught nothing but Scripture (Luke 24:27; Acts 17:2; Acts 26:22).(2) From reason. If all things necessary are not in Scripture, then there is something which I have no certainty of, and then the Scriptures would be in vain (John 20:21).

III. ARE ALL BOUND TO SEARCH THE SCRIPTURES? Yes.

1. God commands all (Deuteronomy 31:11, 12; Colossians 3:16).

2. God commends it (Acts 17:11; 2 Corinthians 1:13; 2 Timothy 3:15).

3. They were written to be read of all (Romans 15:4); and were, therefore, first written in the vulgar tongues.

4. The knowledge of the Scriptures keeps from error (Matthew 22:29).

5. All are bound to mind their salvation.

IV. HOW MUST WE SEARCH THE SCRIPTURES?

1. With reverence and devotion.

2. With attention and understanding (Acts 8:30).

3. With affection (Acts 2:37).

4. With fear (2 Kings 22:11-13).

5. With faith (Hebrews 4:2).

6. With delight (Psalm 1:2; Psalm 119:103).

7. To a right and good end.

8. Constantly (Psalm 1:2).

V. USES.

1. Reproof to such as neglect to search the Scriptures.

2. The highest encouragement and motive thereunto.

(1)There is none so ignorant but this will make him wise (2 Timothy 3:15; Psalm 19:7).

(2)There is no heart so sinful but this will cleanse it (Psalm 19:7).

3. No soul so dejected, but here it may find comfort (Psalm 94:19).

4. It is horrible ingratitude not to read what God hath written, and we shall have to answer for it.

(Bp. Beveridge.)

I. WHAT ARE THE SCRIPTURES?

1. The Word of God. In the sense in which the words of man are his, and reveal his thoughts, will, purposes, the Scriptures are the Word of God. He is their Author, and they rest on His authority. This is opposed —

(1)To the Deistical.

(2)To the Rationalistic.

(3)To the Quaker views.

2. From this it follows that they are

(1)infallible;

(2)holy;

(3)powerful;

(4)consistent;

(5)the appointed means of salvation. We are enlightened, begotten, sanctified, and saved by the truth.

3. They are complete, containing all the extant revelation of God.

4. They are plain, so that every one can learn for himself what God says.

II. WE SHOULD KNOW WHAT WE SEEK WHEN WE SEARCH. We should search —

1. For knowledge of God, Christ, truth, duty.

2. For consolation.

3. For holiness.

III. HOW ARE WE TO SEARCH THE SCRIPTURES?

1. Reverently and submissively, with fixed determination to believe every truth they affirm. Everything is right which they affirm, and wrong which they condemn. We are not to sit in judgment on Scripture.

2. With diligence.

(1)Studying them much.

(2)Consecutively.

(3)What they teach on particular subjects.

(4)Availing ourselves of every Aid; fixing right principles, and availing ourselves of All subsidiary means.

3. With dependence; convinced that without Divine guidance we shall obtain neither right speculative knowledge, nor right spiritual views.

4. Therefore with prayer previous and continued.

5. With self-application.

(C. Hodge, D. D.)

Pulpit Analyst.
I. THE DIRECTION.

1. Not merely possess.

2. Nor survey.

3. But search as the woman for the lost piece of silver.

II. THE SUBJECT OF SEARCH. The Scriptures not merely theirs, but ours.

1. Between sixty and seventy writings, composed at intervals of hundreds of years, yet with one chain of truth, one message.

2. The original source of even the nineteenth century's history, biography, and science.

3. The only guide for the soul of man.

III. THE OBJECT OF THE SEARCH

1. May we not search for scientific truth (Acts 17:26).

2. For our own family records from Adam to John.

3. For the Divine message to our individual soul.

4. More especially for the life and the testimony here mentioned. In, through, and by the Scriptures, eternal life is to be had. Life is the joy of every living creature, therefore search for it in the Scriptures that reveal it by testifying of Him who is "the Life."

IV. METHOD OF SEARCH.

1. Fairly, without foregone prepossession.

2. Prayerfully.

3. Regularly.

4. Comprehensively.

(Pulpit Analyst.)

I. WHY.

1. Because it is Divine in its origin.

(1)This it claims to be (Hebrews 1:1, 2; 2 Peter 1:21; 2 Timothy 4:16).

(2)This it can be proved to be from its fulfilled prophecies and its unique teaching.

2. Because it gives us correct ideas of our condition.

(1)Our sinfulness.

(2)The possibility and way of our salvation.

3. Because it makes us acquainted with our enemies and our dangers.

(1)It exposes the wiles of the devil.

(2)It furnishes us with weapons.

(3)It throws light on our dark and perilous way.

II. How?

1. With prayer. Prayer gives insight to the searcher, and opens up the depths.

2. With an upright intention of submitting to the will of God. Not going with the desire to nourish preoccupied fancies; nor as a controversialist for polemical weapons, but to know what God has said.

3. Regularly and diligently.

(1)By ourselves.

(2)With our families.

(T. Snell.)

1. Christ's Scriptures were those of the Old Testament.

2. Of these Christ said, "They contain eternal life." Hence —

(1)If you admit the New you must accept the Old, for Christ endorses it.

(2)In the New it is the same truth and life as in the Old.

3. What a far better Bible is ours. Two witnesses to one Christ — first in figure, then in historical reality.

4. Remember what the Bible really is. God in His love desired to make Himself known to His creatures; so He gave His Son, "the express image of His Person." How could we know the Son? Only by the Holy Ghost, who testifies of Him in the Scriptures. The Scriptures —

I. MAKE KNOWN OURSELVES. With this end, St. James says they are a mirror. There we can see our real selves.

II. REVEAL SELF'S ANTIDOTE. Christ in His saving mission as promised, and as come, and as coming again.

III. PROVIDE AN ORACLE TO RESOLVE DOUBTS; to check difficult questions; to show daily duty.

IV. REND THE VIEW OF FUTURITY. Conclusion: How many of you could pass an examination in the facts and truths of the Bible? Shall a soldier not know the articles of war? Shall a scholar not know his grammar? " Search the Scriptures."

(J. Vaughan, M. A.)

The Bible means the book, the book of books. Scriptures mean writings, the marks them out from all others. Search means hunt, dig. Why search? Because —

I. THEY ARE THE WORD OF GOD. When you are. absent from home you write to your parents, and although they do not see you they know from your handwriting, signature, and expressions that it is yours. God takes strange methods sometimes to convince men that the Bible comes from Him. A young man, an infidel, had to carry a large sum of money through a forest. He lost his way, and was benighted. He came to a cottage and obtained shelter. The owner was a rough-looking man, which made him afraid for his treasure. So he resolved to stay up all night and guard it. By and by the man reached down the Bible, upon which a load was taken from the traveller's mind. He knew he was safe in the house of a Bible reader. This led him to be a Christian.

II. THEY MAKE KNOWN A SAVIOUR. A pious widow had a large family, all of whom became followers of the Saviour but one, a wild lad who went to sea. His mother gave him a Testament, and wrote his name and her own on the back. The ship was lost, and years passed by without any tidings. Eventually a sailor begged at the widow's door, and gave an account of his life. He had been shipwrecked, and with another had been cast on a desert island. His companion read day after day in a little book his mother had given him. "He wept a good deal over his sins, and gave himself up to the Saviour and soon afterwards died, and gave me the book." The book was produced, and it was the very one the widow had given to her boy.

III. THEY TEACH US HOW TO LIVE.

1. As ever in the sight of God. "Thou God seest me."

2. To be obedient and useful.

IV. THEY SHOW US THE WAY TO HEAVEN.

(E. Woods.)

The supreme Authority in religion here sweeps away(1) the dishonourable reflections of the infidel;(2) the servile restraints of the superstitious;(3) the wild fancies of the enthusiast. For how can Christianity be accused of conspiring to keep the world in ignorance when its injunction is, Read and investigate, making it therefore a duty to learn to read and to reason? How can it be charged with enslaving the mind by delivering it over to priestcraft, when its Author commanded a promiscuous audience to search for themselves? How can it be charged with fanaticism, when we are charged to bring all our sentiments and feelings to an inspired standard to be regulated? No! the most formidable foe to ignorance, and the most active stimulant to knowledge; that which best secures for the awakened mind the full enjoyment of its rights and the freedom of its inquiries, and the best safeguard against the perversion of our reason is the Bible.

I. To THE BIBLE Christ points while He says, "Search," etc.

1. The Scriptures are a mine of wealth.

2. We should therefore search them as men digging for hid treasure.(1) This suggests that its discoveries do not all lie on the surface to be obtained by a casual glance. Books partake of the qualities of their author. If the mind be profound, so will be the writing. What depths then may be expected in a volume inspired by God.(2) Yet with all this depth there is the utmost simplicity. The Scriptures first instruct our childhood, and to the last engage the mature reflections of old age; before we can understand any other book we may read this to profit; and after we have exhausted all others, we still find something here to learn.(3) But if searching implies difficulty, then careful and frequent perusal is required; and this should be accompanied with the comparison of one part of Scripture with another, and with the use of every available help and with prayer.(4) This searching does not preclude hearing.

II. The Saviour here points TO OURSELVES and reminds us of our professed principles. "In these Scriptures ye think ye have eternal life." He appeals —

1. To the principle that in the Scriptures we have eternal life. How fondly we cling to life; yet we must soon part with it. We aspire, therefore, to a continuance after this present state, and nothing short of eternity can satisfy our cravings. What then will discover and guarantee this to us? Not the speculations of reason, but the revelation of God. This discloses to us the duration and blessedness of eternal life. What a motive then to search it to find this pearl of great price.

2. To persons, for "you yourselves judge that you have eternal life in the Scriptures":

(1)to those who neglect it altogether;

(2)to those who keep it as a gilded toy;

(3)to those who only read it on Sundays;

(4)to those who pay no more honour to it than they do to their catechism, prayer book, or favourite author;

(5)to those who study it superficially or partially, or for the support of their own private views.

III. The Saviour here points TO HIMSELF as He says, "These Scriptures testify of Me." Note —

1. The fact that we have here the testimony of Jesus. This is declared to be "the spirit of prophecy," or the soul of revelation. As the single principle of gravitation throws light on the whole system of the universe, so the discovery of Christ and His salvation explains the whole record of Scripture.

2. The argument which thence arises —(1) That the Scriptures by testifying of Christ afford us eternal life. He whom they reveal came not only to convince us of the fact and the grandeur of our immortality, "I came that ye might have life," etc.(2) That the Scriptures deserve to be diligently searched. What folly for a man who yearns for heaven to neglect the only means of getting there!

(J. Bennett, D. D.)

Truth must be sought, and that with care and diligence, before we find it. Jewels do not use to lie upon the surface of the earth. Highways are seldom paved with gold. What is worth our finding calls for the greatest search. Prejudice is the wrong bias of the soul, that effectually keeps it from coming near the mark of truth; nay, sets it at the greatest distance from it. They are few in the world, that look after truth with their own eyes; most make use of spectacles of other's making, which causes them so seldom to behold the proper lineaments in the face of truth; which the several tinctures from education, authority, custom, and predisposition do exceedingly hinder men from discerning (John 7:48; St. Luke 11:52).

(Bp. Stillingfleet.)

I dare say none of you ever saw a kind of ink used for secret writing. Common ink, you know, leaves a very plain mark on the paper; but this ink of which I am speaking fades away directly it is used, and the paper seems to be blank. But if that sheet of paper is held to the fire, the writing comes out, and can be read easily. Now to a great many people the pages of the Bible, especially of the Old Testament, seem all blank, without any beauty or interest.. But if you learn to read God's word with care and intelligence, above all, if you pray to God to show you the true meaning, the pages which seemed blank before will be full of interest for you.

(H. J. W. Buxton, M. A.)

Search the Scriptures, not as thou wouldst make a concordance, but an application; as thou wouldst search a wardrobe, not to make an inventory of it, but to find in it something fit for thy wearing.

(J. Donne, D. D.)

1. The Sadducees "erred, not knowing the Scriptures," and this is the source of error all time through.

2. Christ made the Scriptures His constant rule and guide, and so, therefore, should we.

I. IT IS EVERY MAN'S DUTY TO SEARCH THE SCRIPTURES. God's purpose in vouchsafing the Scriptures was in consequence of our fall, and the necessity of a new birth in Christ Jesus; and their characteristic feature is to lead men to a practical knowledge of these two great truths. If man had continued in a state of innocence he would not have needed an outward revelation, because God's law was originally written on his heart; but since his fall, without such a revelation he could never have known how God could be reconciled. This revelation, then, is suited to his wants as a fallen creature, and that is sufficient evidence of its divinity. The infidel desires a sign, but no sign shall be given him but this, and if this is not enough, he would not believe though one rose from the dead.

II. SOME SUITABLE INSTRUCTION WHEREBY THE SCRIPTURES MAY BE STUDIED WITH PROFIT.

1. Have in view the one end for which they were written, to show the way of salvation through Christ. Always look for Christ; in Old Testament prophecies, etc., and in New Testament teaching.

2. Search with a humble disposition, for God hides its meaning from the wise in their own eyes, and reveals it to babes who desire "the sincere milk of the word that they may grow thereby."

3. Search with a sincere intention to put in practice what you read. "If any man will do His will," etc. But to those who read without a desire to keep the commandments, but only for amusement or cavil, God will never reveal Himself although they search to the end of time.

4. Make an application of everything you read, and this will make "all Scripture profitable for reproof," etc.

5. Labour to obtain the influence of their Divine Author. It was for the want of this that the disciples fell into frequent and inexcusable mistakes. Therefore begin by praying that the Spirit who guides into all truth may assist you, and close by praying that He may engraft the truth on your heart.

6. Read diligently, thoroughly, daily.

(H. J. Newbery, M. A.)

In the Dresden gallery of royal gems there is a silver egg: touch a spring, and it opens, disclosing a golden chicken; touch the chicken, and it opens, disclosing a crown studded with gems; touch the crown, and it opens, disclosing a magnificent diamond ring. So it is with the Bible; as we study it, we touch successive springs, disclosing exhaustless treasures.

(G. D. Boardman.)

The Bible should be diligently studied because of —

I. ITS ORIGIN. Divine (2 Timothy 3:10).

II. IT IS FOLLOWED BY THE QUICKENING SPIRIT OF GOD.

III. IT IS FITTED FOR ALL PEOPLE.

1. There is no nation wherever located or however educated for whom it has not just what they need.

2. It is adapted to all varieties of moral development.

IV. THERE IS NOTHING THAT CAN GIVE SO MUCH LIGHT TO THE WORLD.

1. It is like the sun; all other lights are like candles, oil, gas, or electricity.

2. Its effects, like those of the sun, are to kindle all other lights.

3. Like the sun it gives life, beauty, etc.

V. ITS AMPLITUDE REQUIRES CLOSE AND PERSEVERING ATTENTION. Who can study a picture-gallery or inspect a building to profit with one visit? The miner requires years before he can exhaust the mine. So the Bible.

VI. IT WILL ASSIST MORE THAN ANY OTHER BOOK IN FORMING A CLEAR, TERSE LITERARY STYLE. The greatest writers and speakers have been indebted to it.

VII. THE BIBLE IS A LIBRARY IN ITSELF. The fewness of the books is no objection. An old doctor uses few medicines.

VIII. THE STUDY OF THE BIBLE WILL INTRODUCE YOU TO GOOD SOCIETY. Enoch, Abraham, Moses, Elijah, our blessed Lord, etc.

IX. THE BIBLE IS IMMUTABLE.

1. In doctrine.

2. In language.

3. In influence.Persecutors have destroyed it, and infidels argued it out of existence; but it still lives and they are gone.

X. IT IS INEXHAUSTIBLE. All physical growth has a law of limitation, but there is no limit to the growth of the soul. For the expanding needs of our spiritual nature the, Bible has an infinite supply. You can master every other book; the Bible never.

XI. IT TESTIFIES OF GOD.

XII. IT REVEALS ETERNAL LIFE. Sin is the germ of death; the Word plants the seed of never failing vitality.

(H. M. Scudder, D. D.)

I. PERSONALLY. Commentaries and lesson-helps are sometimes a hindrance. We must do our own thinking, evolving for ourselves what God has involved.

1. We must compare Scripture with Scripture, for the Bible is its own best commentator. The Gospels supplement each other; the Acts explain the Epistles; both covenants form one Divine unity.

2. Master the principles which be at the foundation of Hebrew poetry and prophecy, particularly the principle of parallelism; for while our rhyme is that of sound, the Hebrew is that of thought.

3. Learn the geography and natural history of the Bible. A true map is in a sense a part of the Bible.

4. We must put forth all our mental powers to perceive acutely, conceive accurately, reason closely, and express clearly. We must learn how to trace analogies, bring out real points, follow the outline of arguments, detect links, and observe general drifts.

5. We ought to summon the aid of imagination to realize actors and scenes.

6. But let us beware of the old sin of letter worship; that killeth, only the Spirit giveth life. Seek the essential under the incidental, the central under the superficial, the eternal under the transcient.

II. HUMBLY; with docility of spirit; stripping ourselves of preconceptions; searching not for the confirmation of our opinions but for the truth of God. Only the pure in heart, those of unmixed pellucid motives shall see God. "The meek He will guide in judgment."

III. PRAYERFULLY. Scholarship is but a telescope, and telescopes are of no use to the blind or in the dark. The spirit must illuminate our understandings and guide into all the truth.

IV. EXECUTIVELY. Do the truth as well as study it; in fact, this is the only way of knowing and believing it.

(G. D. Boardman, D. D.)

The Bible should be studied —

I. CRITICALLY. We are all possessed of judgment and reason, and God intends us to employ them. A large number of passages have come to be used in a conventional sense, which is not their real sense. It is the latter we ought to find. Make, then, the Greek Testament an object of study; or, if not, a good commentary.

II. CONSECUTIVELY. We do not do the Bible justice if we read a scrap here and a scrap there. The Epistle to the Romans, e.g., as all letters, should be read straight on. If you can only master a few verses keep to them, but do not let the chain be broken.

III. OCCASIONALLY. Carry a little Testament about with you to refresh you as you take a glass of water when you are thirsty between meals..

IV. TOPICALLY. Take the subject of justification and see what Paul says, and then James, and then John. Don't be afraid of controverted subjects. Work them out for yourself, not from treatises or sermons, but God's Word.

V. EXPERIMENTALLY. When you read a passage ask yourself. With what lesson am I impressed? Don't be content with being interested, try and get something for edification.

VI. DEVOTIONALLY. If we want a real feast let us go down upon our knees, spread the Bible open before us, and realize that God is speaking to us. This is where the Jews failed in spite of all their critical care and reverence, "Ye have not His word abiding in you." Many people use their Bibles as superstitiously as any Chinaman uses his praying machine. "I have read my chapter this morning, and my conscience is satisfied." But how much good has it done you? Just as much as counting the beads of a rosary; i.e., none, unless you have found in it a living Saviour.

(W. H. M. H. Aitken, M. A.)

I. As making atonement for sin, and thus providing THE GROUND OF LIFE.

II. As procuring the influences of the Spirit, and thus providing THE MEANS OF LIFE.

III. As exhibiting a perfect humanity, and thus providing THE MODEL OF LIFE.

IV. As overcoming death, and thus providing THE TRIUMPH OF LIFE.

(W. H. Van Doren, D. D.)

To some the Bible is uninteresting and unprofitable because they read too fast. Among the insects which subsist on the sweet sap of flowers there are two very different classes. One is remarkable for its imposing plumage, which shows in the sunbeams like the dust of gems; and as you watch its jaunty gyrations over the fields, and its minuet dance from flower to flower, you cannot help admiring its graceful activity, for it is plainly getting over a good deal of ground. But in the same field there is another worker, whose brown vest and strong straightforward flight may not have arrested your eye. His fluttering neighbour darts down here and there, and sips elegantly wherever he can find a drop of ready nectar; but this dingy plodder makes a point of alighting everywhere, and wherever he alights he either finds honey or makes it. If the flower-cup be deep, he goes down to the bottom; if its dragon mouth be shut, he thrusts its lips asunder; and if the nectar be peculiar or recondite, he explores all about till he discovers it, and then, having ascertained the knack of it, joyful as one who has found great spoil, he sings his way down into its luscious recesses. His rival of the painted velvet wing has no patience for such dull and long-winded details. But what is the end? Why, the one died last October along with the flowers; the other is warm in his hive to-night amidst the fragrant stores which he gathered beneath the bright beams of summer. To which do you belong? — the butterflies or the bees? Do you search the Scriptures or only skim them?

(J. Hamilton, D. D.)

Lord Bacon tells us of a certain bishop who used to bathe regularly twice every day, and on being asked why he bathed thus often, replied, "Because I cannot conveniently do it three times." If those who loved the Scriptures were asked why they read the Bible so often, they might honestly reply, "Because we cannot find time to read them oftener."

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

The Bible is some- times used as a book of magic. Many open it at random, expecting to be guided by the first passage that they see, as Peter was told to open the mouth of the first fish that came up and he would find in it a piece of money. A missionary of high standing was cured of this superstition by consulting the Bible in an important matter of Christian duty, and the passage that met his gaze was, "Hell from beneath is moved to meet thee at thy coming."

(J. M. Buckley, D. D.)

It was a glorious hour in England when the Bible was unchained, when every man could hear and read in his own tongue, wherein he was born, the history it told of the doings of God with man. Freedom sprang to light whenever the book went, and at its touch imagination stirred and awoke to life. A fresh world of thought and feeling, the world of the Oriental heart, opened out its riches to the poet and the philosopher. New blood streamed through the veins of English literature. Not only intellectual, but political freedom deepened wherever its words were heard and its principles received. It gave new force to the struggle against tyranny. It gave fresh impulse to political progress. It made cruelty, injustice, the oppression of the weak, the corruption of the great and the small, more hateful and intolerable. It initiated reform; it was the standard of all noble revolution. Our civil freedom — accelerating as it goes — has always taken much of its impulse from the book of true liberty, true fraternity, true equality. And it is not only intellectual freedom or political freedom which have gained their living force from this book. Higher than the imagination of the poet, the intellect of the philosopher, and the patriotism of the citizen, is the immortal spirit which abides in man. The spiritual being of man lay crippled and unmoved in England, like the lame beggar of old at the beautiful gate of the temple. When the Bible was put into the hands of every man in the country, it came, like Peter and John of old, to the heart of England, and proclaimed the gospel of Christ Jesus. Straightway the soul of England received strength, and entered into the temple of spiritual freedom, walking, and leaping, and praising God. Far and wide the book penetrated into the homes of England, and the fetters which had been bound on the spirits of men mouldered into the dust from whence they came. Religious freedom was the Bible's child.

(S. A. Brooke, M. A.)

You have heard of the story of the blind girl who, when her fingers became callous, cut her finger-tips to make them more sensitive. This, however, only made them harder, and then she could not read her Bible at all. At last, after bitter weeping, she kissed her Bible a farewell. To her intense joy, that kiss revealed to her the fact that she could read the raised words with a touch of her lips. Ever after she kissed into her soul that precious Word.

(H. M. Scudder, D. D.)

I know that men sneer at the idea that Christ is traceable everywhere in the Scriptures. A wealthy man builds and furnishes a house for the reception of his much-loved bride. When she enters it she finds that all the rooms and all the furniture, from the least to the greatest, bear signs that she was thought of. Will she sit patiently under a sneer at her acknowledgment of the forethought of the bridegroom for her needs and tastes? Will she not point out the proofs, above and below, in common and peculiar things, and reassert that she sees the signs of his perfect knowledge and love everywhere? And shall we be frightened by a sneer from affirming that God, who built up all the books of the Bible, saw His end, and made reference to that end in every stage of revelation — that Christ is everywhere? Does not our Lord support the idea when He says to the Pharisees, "Search the Scriptures, for these are they that testify of Me"? And "Ye will not come to Me that ye may have life" is a mournful form in which He explains their utter misconception of the Scriptures. May that saying not be applicable to us! Let us read the Bible to find Christ.

(D. G. Watt, M. A.)

There was once a famous artist who made a wonderful shield, and worked his own name so cleverly into it, that it could not be removed without destroying the shield. The Bible is like that shield, and the name of Jesus is so worked into it that we find it everywhere. Have you ever seen a photographic artist take one of those sun-pictures which are now so common? Well, at first there was no picture, only a piece of glass with a kind of white cloud upon it. But presently, as the artist poured certain chemicals upon it, a picture began to come out of the mist; first one feature, then another, till you saw the likeness of a friend. The Old Testament Scriptures sometimes appear strange and uninteresting to you; there is a mist over them as it were. But as you study the words, or hear them explained, gradually new beauties, new features, come out, and you find a likeness. Whose likeness, my children? The likeness of Jesus Christ. Have you ever seen a kaleidoscope? When you hold it to your eye and turn it round, you see a number of pieces of coloured glass which form all kinds of beautiful patterns, such as stars, and crowns, and fountains, and flowers. The Bible is very like a kaleidoscope. When you look carefully into it, the more you turn over its pages and study them, the more beautiful things you find there; and remember that all these beautiful things will show you something about Jesus. Whether you are reading in the Old Testament or in the New, whether you study the law or the prophets, or read about the Judges or the Kings, you will find something about Jesus. He said, "Search the Scriptures, for they are they which testify of Me." Whenever you read your Bible do so with one object — always read looking for Jesus.

(H. J. Wilmot Buxton.)

In the vision of the apocalyptic book sealed with seven seals, one only out of all on earth or in heaven was able to break the seals and read the scroll: it was He who is alike the Lion of Judah and the Lamb of God. And He is still the only one who is able to interpret His own volume. We must consult Him, then, if we would understand His Word.

It is said of some of the mines of Cornwall that the deeper they are sunk the richer they prove; and though some lodes have been followed a thousand and even fifteen hundred feet, they have not come to an end. Such is the Book of God. It is a mine of wealth which can never be exhausted. The deeper we sink into it, the richer it becomes.

(Charles Graham.)

There is gold in the rocks which fringe the Pass of the Splugen, gold even in the stones which mend the roads, but there is too little of it to be worth extracting. Alas! how like too many books and sermons! Not so the Scriptures; they are much fine gold; their very dust is precious.

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