John 8:38
I speak of what I have seen in the presence of the Father, and you do what you have heard from your father."
A Glorious LiberatorSunday School TimesJohn 8:31-59
Bondage and DeliveranceW. Arnot, D. D.John 8:31-59
Bondage and FreedomJohn 8:31-59
Christ Sets Free the SinfulC. H. Spurgeon.John 8:31-59
Constancy a Severe Test of PietyJ. Spencer.John 8:31-59
Continuous Piety is Piety IndeedJ. Trapp.John 8:31-59
Disciples IndeedT. G. Horton.John 8:31-59
Evidence of DiscipleshipH. C. Trumbull.John 8:31-59
Freedom Aided by GodJohn 8:31-59
Freedom and ResponsibilityH. W. Beecher.John 8:31-59
Freedom by the TruthF. W. Robertson, M. A.John 8:31-59
Freedom by the TruthW. Birch.John 8:31-59
Freedom by the TruthJ Todd.John 8:31-59
Freedom by the TruthP. N. Zabriskie, D. D.John 8:31-59
Freedom Only to be Found in GodR. S. Barrett.John 8:31-59
Glorious LibertyW. Jay.John 8:31-59
Jesus and AbrahamH. A. Edson, D. D.John 8:31-59
LibertyW. Arnot, D. D.John 8:31-59
Moral BondageD. Thomas, D. D.John 8:31-59
No Place for the WordW. M. H. Aitken, M. A., G. S. Bowes.John 8:31-59
Sin is Spiritual SlaveryProf. Shedd.John 8:31-59
Spiritual and Scientific TruthAubrey L. Moore, M. A.John 8:31-59
Spiritual EmancipationJ. M. King, D. D.John 8:31-59
Spiritual FreedomC. H. Spurgeon.John 8:31-59
Spiritual LibertyCanon Stowell.John 8:31-59
Spiritual LibertyH. W. Beecher.John 8:31-59
The Best Service is ConstantJohn 8:31-59
The Effects of the Rejection and the Reception of the WordThe Leisure HourJohn 8:31-59
The English SlaveS. S. Times.John 8:31-59
The Freedom Which Christ GivesJohn Howe.John 8:31-59
The Grace of ContinuanceA. T. Pierson, D. D.John 8:31-59
The Great LiberatorC. H. Spurgeon.John 8:31-59
The Hour of EmancipationHeroes of Britain.John 8:31-59
The Kingdom of the TruthC. S. Robinson, D. D.John 8:31-59
The Liberty of BelieversJohn 8:31-59
The Method of Christian FreedomW. Arnot.John 8:31-59
The Progress of the Lost Soul to DestructionBp. Samuel Wilberforce.John 8:31-59
The Servant Abideth not in the House ForeverA. Maclaren, D. D.John 8:31-59
The Son and the Slave ContrastedArchdeacon Watkins.John 8:31-59
The Spiritual Slavery of ManT. Binney.John 8:31-59
The Vain Boast of the JewsAbp. Trench.John 8:31-59
True FreedomO. F. Gifford.John 8:31-59
True LibertyCanon Liddon.John 8:31-59
Truth and LibertyH. Bonar, D. D.John 8:31-59
Truth and LibertyH. G. Trumbull, D. D.John 8:31-59
Ye Shall be Free IndeedArchdeacon Watkins.John 8:31-59
Because I Tell You the Truth, Ye Believe Me NotF. Godet, D. D.John 8:38-47
Children of the DevilW. Baxendale.John 8:38-47
Christ's Challenge to the WorldArchbishop Trench.John 8:38-47
Christ's ClaimJ. Parker, D. D.John 8:38-47
Christ's Language About SinW. S. Wood, M. A.John 8:38-47
Conditions of Belief of the TruthF. W. Robertson, M. A.John 8:38-47
Does Christ Here Assert His Own SinlessnessW. S. Wood, M. A.John 8:38-47
He is a Liar and the Father ThereofS. S. Times.John 8:38-47
He that is of God Heareth God's WordsFamily ChurchmanJohn 8:38-47
He was a Murderer from the BeginningArchdeacon Watkins.John 8:38-47
Hereditary and Spiritual Interest in the CovenantBp. Lake.John 8:38-47
If We Love God We Shall Receive ChristC. H. Spurgeon.John 8:38-47
Love of the Truth Essential to its ReceptionJ. Parker, D. D.John 8:38-47
Love to Jesus the Great TestC. H. Spurgeon.John 8:38-47
Men Hate the TruthSenhouse., R. Smith.John 8:38-47
Men Ought to Love Christ as Coming from GodC. H. Spurgeon.John 8:38-47
Noble Minds Welcome the TruthJ. Fletcher.John 8:38-47
Nominal Christians -- Real InfidelsC. H. Spurgeon.John 8:38-47
Now Ye Seek to Kill MeF. Godet, D. D.John 8:38-47
Pious Relatives or Friends Cannot Save UsJ. Trapp.John 8:38-47
Standing in the TruthNewman Smyth, D. D.John 8:38-47
The Absolute Sinlessness of ChristCanon Liddon.John 8:38-47
The Children of God and of SatanJ. L. Hurlbut, D. D.John 8:38-47
The Children of the DevilJ. Brown, D. D.John 8:38-47
The Christ of History the Revelation of the Perfect ManArchdeacon Farrar.John 8:38-47
The Courage and Triumph of TruthH. H. Dobney.John 8:38-47
The Devil a Liar and a MurdererThos. FullerJohn 8:38-47
The Fate of the Truth TellerJohn 8:38-47
The Folly of UnbeliefH. W. Beecher., C. C. Liddell.John 8:38-47
The Hearer of God's WordJ. Slade, M. A.John 8:38-47
The Inner Life of ChristJ. Parker, D. D.John 8:38-47
The Marks of Divine and Diabolic RelationshipJ. Fawcett, M. A.John 8:38-47
The Need of Spiritual Insight to the Discernment of the TruthJ. Parker, D. D.John 8:38-47
The Perfect Character of Jesus ChristD. Trinder, M. A.John 8:38-47
The Rationale of UnbeliefD. Thomas, D. D.John 8:38-47
The True Children of GodD. Gregg.John 8:38-47
The Works of Abraham and the Works of the JewsJohn 8:38-47
Unbelief, its CauseT. Carlyle.John 8:38-47
Unregenerate Souls Do not Love the TruthS. Charnock.John 8:38-47
We be not Born of FornicationF. Godet, D. D., T. Whitelaw, D. D.John 8:38-47

Our Lord Christ, who brings truth to the understanding and love to the heart, brings also the highest freedom to the active nature and life of man, and thus secures the prevalence of holiness, of willing and cheerful obedience to God.

I. THE BONDAGE IS PRESUMED WHICH RENDERS NECESSARY THE ADVENT OF THE DIVINE LIBERATOR. Man is by nature, whilst in this fallen state, under bondage to law, to sin, to condemnation.

II. PRETENDED FREEDOM, OF WHICH SINFUL MEN ARE FOUND TO BOAST, IS EXPOSED. The Jewish leaders, our Lord's contemporaries, asserted a certain liberty. Relying upon their descent from Abraham, and their consequent privileges in connection with the old covenant, the Jews claimed to be free men. The worst cases of bondage are those where there is the pretence of liberty, and nothing but the pretence. Free-thinkers, free-livers, are names given to classes who are utter strangers to real liberty, who are in the most degrading bondage to error and to lust.


1. It is deliverance from spiritual chains and bondage.

2. It is liberty which reveals itself in the willing choice of the highest and noblest service. They are spiritually free who recognize the supreme claims of the Divine Law, who evince a preference for the will of God above their own pleasure or the example of their fellow men.

IV. THE SON OF GOD DECLARES HIMSELF THE DIVINE LIBERATOR. As such be has all the requisite authority, and all the requisite wisdom and grace. Political freedom may be secured by a human deliverer; but in order to enfranchise the soul a Divine interposition is necessary. Christ has the mastery of all spiritual forces, and can accordingly set free the bound and trammelled soul. He smites the tyrant who lords it over the spiritual captives; he cancels our sentence of slavery; he breaks our fetters; he calls us freemen, and treats us as such; he animates us with the spirit of liberty.

V. THE BLESSED RESULTS OF FREEDOM ARE PROMISED. The enfranchised from Satan's service become God's willing bondmen. Then, from being God's servants, they become his sons. As his sons, they are his heirs, and being such, they in due time enjoy the inheritance. This is liberty indeed - to pass from thraldom unto Satan into the "glorious liberty of the sons of God." - T.

I speak that which I have seen with My Father; and ye do that which ye have seen with your Father.
Christ had admitted (ver. 37) that the Jews were the seed of Abraham: He now proceeds to show that they had another Father. Those who degenerate from a virtuous stock forfeit the honours of their race. "These are your forefathers if you show yourselves worthy of them."


1. Hatred of the truth (vers. 40, 44-47). This was the real ground of their unbelief. They disliked Christ's doctrines. Had He spoken so as to gratify their pride, they might have been disposed to accept Him. The same principle operates in all opponents of the gospel. The tendency of Christ's truth is still to humble, and so it is still hated. The Jews said, "We are Abraham's seed; we are no idolaters." And so many think it sufficient to belong to a pure Church, to be outwardly moral; hence where the necessity of Christ and His salvation?

2. Enmity against God and His people. The Jews were not content with rejecting Christ; they went about to kill Him. In every age he who is born after the flesh persecutes him who is born after the Spirit. Stephen asked the Jews which of the prophets their fathers had not persecuted. They themselves murdered the Just One; and as they treated the Master so they treated His servants. The heathen followed their example, and these, again, were succeeded by the persecutors of Popery. And in spite of the Reformation, the offence of the Cross has not ceased. Godly persons in the nineteenth century find foes in their own households, and that their religion stands in the way of worldly advancement.


1. Hearing the Word of God. This the Jews could not do, because they were prejudiced against it. But those who are born of God do not dictate to Him what He should say; but, conscious of their own ignorance, they gladly listen to and learn from Divine teaching.

2. Doing the works of Abraham. His distinguishing work was faith. He believed God, and it was counted to Him for righteousness. And what a practical faith it was! Obedient, he left his father's house and offered his only son. Faith expressed in obedience is the special characteristic of the child of God.

3. Loving Christ —(1) Because the Father loves Him. Can the children of God do otherwise than love whom their Father loves.(2) For what He is in Himself — the altogether lovely.

(J. Fawcett, M. A.)

Abraham is our father If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham.
Abraham believed God; they disbelieved God's testimony on behalf of Christ. Abraham was just and merciful; they strove to compass the death of One whose only offence was that He told them the truth. Abraham honoured Melchisedec; they insulted, rejected, and killed Him of whom Melchisedec was a type. Abraham interceded for Sodom; they shut the kingdom of God against men.

The Jew was to have a double being in the covenant, an hereditary, a possessary; the hereditary was nothing but the birthright, which gave him jus ad rem; he, that lineally descended from Abraham, might claim to be admitted into the covenant which God made with him. The possessary consisted in his personal grace, which gave him jus in re, when he did not only descend from Abraham, according to the flesh, but communicated also with him in the graces of the Spirit. These two beings in the covenant were to concur in every Jew; and they could not be severed without danger, danger not to the covenant, but to the Jew (Romans 2:25-29; Galatians 3:9, 29).

(Bp. Lake.)

We have our spiritual affinities, and these determine our true relations and standing. The Jews were not the children of Abraham's good qualities; they were not the children of faith and love; they were the children of the spirit of untruth and murder. These were qualities of the devil and not of Abraham. The devil is the father of untruth. He lied to Eve in the garden of Eden and to Christ on the mountain of temptation. The devil is the father of the spirit of murder. He tried to murder the whole human race spiritually. The disposition which the Jews manifested toward Christ was altogether un-Abrahamic; it was Satanic, and Christ told them so. He traced their pedigree back to Satan and then He offered them freedom from the Satanic. True family likeness consists in character and in actions, not in bearing the same name. Sometimes descendants are a spiritual burlesque upon ancestors. The life which they live makes the name which they bear a laughable farce. Think of a puny sickly dwarf bearing the name of Goliath! Think of a man bearing the name of Jonathan Edwards writing an exultant treatise upon the decline of Calvinism and sending it broadcast through New England! Think of a man bearing the honoured name of Stephen or Paul or James, men who died for the Church, and yet living outside of the Church and despising it! We often burlesque the names we wear; by our lives and principles and characters we often slander the men whom we delight to call our fathers. We are often un-Abrahamic, while we boast that we are the children of Abraham. Let me ask a practical question at this point. Just what is the liberty which Christ gives men through the truth? Paul may be chosen as an answer to the question. As we become acquainted with Paul's life through his words, we find it full to overflowing with the spirit of freedom. He had freedom from false theologies, and from the condemnation of the law, and from the fear of death, and from anxieties with regard to the things of this life, and from caste prejudices, and from the tyranny of the world, and from the power of evil habits, and from low and carnal views of the Christian's privileges and of the Christian's Christ. Now this is not picture painting, this is not declamation, this is simply the assertion of fact taken from the life of Paul. Here is the life of Paul, full and broad and manly, built up after magnificent ideals, replete with the peace of God, beautiful with the reproduction of Christly characteristics, and magnificent with noble sacrifices for the elevation of the human race. The Jews thought that they were already free, they were not. This is the mistake which many in the Christian Church make. Are you free? Your Christian profession says, Yes. But what does your life say? How do you perform the duties of the Christian life? To the free Christian, every. thing is a privilege; church going, Bible reading, prayer, religious contributing. There is a great difference between doing things under compulsion and doing the same things because they are privileges. Privileges are duties transfigured.

(D. Gregg.)

I. THE CHILDREN OF GOD (vers. 31-36). What do these verses teach us concerning the children of God? God has His children in this world, and some of their traits are here presented to our notice.

1. They believe in Christ (ver. 3). To believe in Christ is more than simply to conclude in a general way that He is worthy of credence. It means belief, confidence, submission, obedience, all in one. This believing is the condition of all blessings under the gospel.

2. They abide in Christ's word (ver. 31). They manifest their faith by their fidelity. There is no "six weeks' religion" during a warm revival, dropping into coldness and deadness when the meetings cease. It is a continued service proceeding from a constant faith.

3. They know the truth (ver. 32). The word in the original for "know" is the verb meaning "to have full knowledge." He who learns the truth by fellowship with Christ receives it at fountainhead, and understands it thoroughly.

4. They have freedom (vers. 32-36). Every sinner is a slave, for a power outside of himself directs his action. The drunkard says, "I can't help myself; an appetite drives me to drink." The passionate man says, "I am not my own master when I get angry." Are they not slaves to a power above their own will? The free man is the disciple of Christ.

II. THE CHILDREN OF SATAN. Then there is a devil who would make men believe that he is not, and that consequently they need not fear him. The Scriptures are as clear concerning the existence of Satan as they are concerning the existence of God. The traits of Satan's children, as here set forth, are —

1. They are slaves (vers. 33-36).

2. They are enemies of Christ (ver. 37). These slaves of Satan were ready to kill Christ.

3. They show a likeness to their father (vers. 39-44). These Jews claimed to be the children of Abraham. "Not so," said Jesus. "If you were the children of Abraham, you would be like Abraham. But you show the traits of your true father, the devil."

4. They have no affinity with God. (vers. 45-47). They do not like God's truth (ver. 45); they will not hear God's words (ver. 47). Just as oil and water will not mix, so the children of Satan have an aloofness of nature with respect to God.

(J. L. Hurlbut, D. D.)

It was poor comfort to Dives, in flames, that Abraham called him "son"; to Judas that Christ called him "friend"; or to the rebellious Jews that God called them His people.

(J. Trapp.)

Notice here the gradation.

1. To kill a man.

2. A man who is an organ of the truth.

3. Of the truth which comes from God.

(F. Godet, D. D.)

When the Egyptians first conquered Nubia, a regiment perished thus: The desert was long, water failed, and men were half-mad with thirst. Then arose the mirage, looking like a beautiful lake. The troops were delighted, and started to reach the lake to slake their thirst in its delicious water; but the guide told them that it was all a delusion. Vainly he appealed to them and warned them. At last he threw himself in the way, and pointing with his finger in another direction, said, "That is the way to the water"; but they answered him with blows, and leaving him dead on the sand, rushed after the phantom lake. Eagerly they pressed on for several days, when their goal disappeared and mocked them. One by one they died — far from the path on which their faithful guide lay murdered.

The nature of the soil must be changed before the heavenly plant will thrive. Plants grow not upon stones, nor this heavenly plant in a stony heart. A stone receives the rain upon it, not into it. It falls off or dries up, but a new heart, a heart of flesh, sucks in the dew of the Word, and grows thereby.

(S. Charnock.)

As the friar wittily told the people that the truth he then preached unto them seemed to be like holy water, which everyone called for apace, yet when it came to be east upon them, they turned aside their faces as though they did not like it. Men love truth when it only pleads itself: they would have it shine out into all the world in its glory, but by no means so much as peep out to reprove their own errors.

(Senhouse.)The thief hates the break of day; not but that he naturally loves the light as well as other men, but his condition makes him dread and abhor that which, of all things, he knows to be the likeliest means of his discovery.

(R. Smith.)

If Archimedes, upon the discovery of a mathematical truth, was so ravished that he cried out," I have found it, I have found it!" what pleasure must the discovery of a Divine truth give to a sanctified soul! "Thy words wore found of me," says Jeremiah, "and I did eat them; and Thy word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart." Truth lies deep, as the rich veins of gold do: if we will get the treasure, we must not only beg, but dig also.

(J. Fletcher.)

The Jews, having nothing effectual to object, take advantage of the moral sense in which Jesus had spoken of parentage, and try to cite it in their own favour: If Thou wilt have it so, we will leave off speaking of Abraham; for after all in that spiritual sphere, of which it seems Thou art thinking, God is our Father. To understand these words, which have been so variously interpreted, it must be remembered that marriage with a heathen woman was, after the return from Babylon (see Nahum and Malachi), regarded as impure, and the children of such marriage as illegitimate, as belonging through one parent to the family of Satan, the god of the heathen. The Jews, then, meant to say: "We were born under perfectly legal conditions; we have no idolatrous blood in our veins; we are Hebrews, born of Hebrews (Philippians 3:5), and are hence by our very birth protected from all pagan and diabolic affiliation." As truly as they are pure descendants of Abraham, so certainly do they believe themselves to be descended, in a moral point of view, from God alone; and even when rising with our Lord to the moral point of view, they are incapable of freeing themselves from their own idea of natural parentage.

These words have been explained as signifying that the Jews were not descended, like Ishmael, from any secondary marriage like that of the patriarch with Hagar — which, however, could scarcely be called "fornication" — or from Sarah through another man than her lawful husband; but are probably to be understood as asserting that their pure Abrahamic descent had been corrupted by no admixture of heathen blood, or better, that their relation of sonship to Jehovah had not been rendered impure by the worship of false gods, in which case they had been "children of whoredom" (Hosea 2:4), but that, as they were physically Abraham's seed, so were they spiritually God's children. This interpretation seems to be demanded by the next words: "We have one Father even God." By this they signified, not that "God alone" in opposition to heathen divinities was their Father, but that spiritually as well as corporeally, they traced their descent back to one parentage, as in the latter case to Abraham, so in the former case to God (Malachi 2:10).

(T. Whitelaw, D. D.)

If God were your Father ye would love Me
The order of salvation is first to believe in Christ. By this we become sons of God, and the proof of our sonship is loving what God loves — Christ.

I. LOVE TO CHRIST IS IN ITSELF ESSENTIAL. The absence of this love is —

1. The loss of the greatest of spiritual pleasures. What a loss is that of the sense of taste and smell? The fairest rose cannot salute the nostrils with its perfume, nor the most dainty flavour delight the palate. But. it is infinitely more terrible not to perceive the fragrance of the name of Jesus, and to taste the richness of the bread and wine of heaven.

2. A sign of very grievous degradation. It is the mark of an animal that it cannot enter into intellectual pursuits, and when man loses the power to love his God he sinks to a level with the brutes. We greatly pity those poor creatures who cannot reason, but what shall we think of these who cannot love? Yet not to love Jesus reveals a moral imbecility far worse than mental incapacity, because it is wilful and involves a crime of the heart.

3. A clear proof that the whole manhood is out of order.(1) The understanding, were it well balanced, would judge that Christ is before all, and give Him the preeminence.(2) If the heart were what it should be it would love the good, the true, the beautiful, and nothing is more so than Jesus.

4. A sure token that we have no part in His salvation.(1) The very first effect of salvation is love to Jesus.(2) This love is the mainspring of the Spiritual life. It "constraineth us," and is the grand power which keeps us back from evil and impels us towards holiness.(3) Without this love we incur the heaviest condemnation — "If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ," etc.

II. LOVE TO CHRIST IS THE TEST OF SONSHIP. Our Lord plainly declares that God is not the Father of those who do not love Him. The Jews were by nature and descent, if any were, the children of God. They were the seed of Abraham, God's chosen, had observed God's ceremonies, bore the mark of His covenant, were the only people who worshipped one God, and incurred the greatest obloquy in consequence — yet as they did not love Christ they were no sons of God.

1. The child of God loves Christ because he loves what his Father loves: his nature, descended from God, runs in the same channel, and since God loves Christ supremely so does he.

2. He sees God in Jesus — the express image of His Person.

3. He is like Christ. Every man loves what is like himself. If you are born of God you are holy and true and loving, and as He is all that you must love Him.

4. He is essentially divine. "I proceeded and came forth," etc.

5. Of His mission —(1) We must love that which comes from God if we love God. It matters not how small the trifle, you prize it if it comes from someone you revere. How much more should we love Him who came from God; and came not as a relic or memorial, but as His living, loving voice.(2) Remember the message Christ brought — a message of pardon, restoration, acceptance, eternal life and glory.

6. He came not of Himself. When a man lives only to serve himself our love dries up. But Jesus' aims were entirely for the Father and for us — so our heart must go out towards Him.

III. THIS TEST IT IS IMPORTANT FOR US TO APPLY NOW. Do you love Him or no? If you do then, you will —

1. Trust Him and lean on Him with all your weight. Have you any other hope besides that which springs from His Cross?

2. Keep His Word. How about your neglected Bible? How about those parts of Scripture you have never understood, because afraid they were different from the creed of your church and family?

3. Keep His commandments. Do you obey Christ? If His commands are of little importance, then your heart is not with Him.

4. Imitate Him. It is the nature of love to be imitative. Are you trying to be Christ-like?

5. Love His people — not because they are sweet in their tempers or belong to your denomination, but because they are His.

6. Sympathize with His objects. Whenever we love another we begin to love the things which he loves. He delights to save men, do you?

7. Serve His cause. Love that never leads to action is no love at all. Are you speaking for Him, giving to Him?

8. Desire to be with Him.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

If a child were far away in India, and he had not heard from home for some time, and he at last received a letter, how sweet it would be! It comes from father. How pleased he is to get it! But suppose a messenger should come and say, "I come from your father," why, he would at once feel the deepest interest in him. Would you shut your door against your father's messenger? No: but you would say, "Come in, though it be in the middle of the night, I shall always have an ear for you." Shall we not thus welcome Jesus?

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I know when I left the village where I was first pastor, and where I had loved the people much and they had loved me, I used to say that if I saw even a dog which came from that parish, I should be glad to see him for I felt a love to everybody and everything coming from that spot. How much more should we love Christ because He came from God!

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I proceeded forth and came from God.
Notwithstanding the multitude of books written on the life of Christ we want one more. We have outward lives more than enough that tell us about places and date and occurrences. We want an inner "life" of thoughts, purposes, feelings. Until we study this inner life, all the outward life will be a plague to our intellect and a mortification to our heart. The inward always explains the outward.

1. Suppose we saw one of the miracles of Christ, the raising of the dead. Here is the dead man, there the living Christ, yonder the mourning friends; presently the dead man rises. But how? Is it trick or miracle — an illusion or a fact? I cannot determine, because my eyes have been so often deceived. I saw a man get up — but the conjuror comes along and says, "I will show you something equally deceiving." I see his avowed trick; it does baffle me; and if then he says, "It was just the same with what you thought the raising of the dead," he leaves me in a state of intellectual torment. Then what am I to do? Leave the outward. Watch the miracle Worker — listen to Him. If His mental triumphs are equal to His physical miracles, then admire, trust, and love Him. Take the conjuror: when on the stage he seems to be working miracles, but when he comes off and talks on general subjects I feel my equality with him rising and asserting itself. So when I go to Christ as a mere stranger and see His miracles, I say, "This Man may be but the cleverest of the host." But when He begins to speak His words are equal to His works. He is the same off the platform as on. I am bound to account fur this consistency. All other men have been manifestations of self-inequality. We know clever men who are fools, strong men who are weak, etc., and this want of self-consistency is a proof of their being merely men. But if I find a Man in whom this inequality does not exist, who says that if I could follow Him still higher I should find Him greater in thinking than is possible for any mere man to be in acting, then I have to account for this consistency, which I have found nowhere else, and listen to His explanation of it. "I proceeded forth and came from God." That explanation alone will cover all the ground He permanently occupies.

2. It will be interesting to make ourselves as familiar with His thoughts as we are with His works. We shall then come to value His miracles as He did. Did He value them for their own sake? Sound a trumpet and convoke a mighty host to see them? Never. He regarded them as elementary and introductory — examples and symbols. Why? Because He was greater within than without. Had He performed them with His fingers only, He might have been proud of them, but when they fell out of the infinity of His thinking they were mere drops trembling on the bucket. We might as well follow some poor breathing of ours, and say, "How wonderful that sighing in the wind!" It is nothing because of the greater life. It is very remarkable that this Man once said, "Greater works than these shall ye do," but never "Greater thoughts than these shall ye think." Let us look at this inner life of Christ from two or three points.

I. I watch this man, struck with wonder at His power, and the question arises, WHAT IS THE IMPELLING SENSE OF HIS DUTY? He answers, "I must be about My Father's business." Never did prophet give that explanation before. In working from His Father's point of view, He gives us His key. Put it where you like, the lock answers to it; and is no credit to be given to a speaker, who at twelve years of age, put the key into the hands of inquirers, and told them to go round the whole circle of His life with that key. Can he keep up that strain? Listen, "My Father worketh hitherto and I work." Can He sustain that high key when He is in trouble? "Father, into Thy hands I commend my Spirit."

II. Arguing from that point, if this Man is about His Father's business, WHAT IS HIS SUPREME FEELING? Concern for the dignity of the law? Jealousy for the righteousness of God! No; from beginning to end of His life He is "moved with compassion," and when people come to Him they seemed to know this sympathetically, for they cried, "Have mercy on us." He speaks like a Son and is thus faithful to His Father's message. What explanation does He give of His own miracles, "Virtue hath gone out of Me." He did not say "I have performed this with My fingers" — no trickster, but a mighty sympathizer. Whatever He did took something out of Him. Behold the difference between the artificial and the real. The healing of one poor sufferer took "Virtue out of Him." What did the redemption of the world take out of Him when He said, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" The last pulse is gone and He is self — consistent still.

III. TO WHAT ARE ALL HIS TRIUMPHS EVENTUALLY REFERRED? Not to intellectual ability, skill of finger or physical endurance, but to His soul — "He shall see of the travail of His soul," etc. You know the meaning of the word in some degree. One man paints with paint, another with His soul. One man speaks with his tongue, another with his soul; they are the same words, but not the same, as the bush was not the same before the fire came into it. Thus Christ shall see the travail of His soul, etc. He was often wearied with journeying, when was He wearied with miracles? His bones were tired, when was His mind enfeebled — when did the word ever come with less than the old emphasis — the fiat that made the sun?

(J. Parker, D. D.)


1. God announced Himself to Moses as "I AM" — a marvellous name, which seemed as if it were going to be a revelation; but suddenly it returned upon itself and finished with "THAT I AM," as if the sun were just about to come from behind a great cloud, and suddenly, after one dazzling gleam, hide itself before one denser still — God's "hour" was not yet. He had said "I am," but what He did not say.

2. Does Jesus connect Himself with this mysterious name? We cannot read His life without constantly coming across it, but He adds to the name simple earthly words, everything that human fancy ever conceived concerning strength, beauty, sympathy, tenderness, and redemption — "I am the vine." What a stoop! Could any but God have taken up that figure? Forget your familiarity with it and then consider that One has said without qualification, "I am the Vine," "I am the Light." We know what that is: it is here, there, everywhere — takes up no room, yet fills all space; warms the plants, yet does not crush a twig. The "I am" fell upon us like a mighty thundering, "I am the Light" came to us like a child's lesson in our mother's nursery. "I am the Door." That is not a mean figure, if we interpret it aright, a door is more than a deal arrangement swinging on hinges. It is welcome, hospitality, home, honour, sonship. "I am the Bread, the Water, the Good Shepherd, the Way, the Truth, the Life." How any man could be a mere man, and yet take up these figures, it is impossible to believe. It is easier to say "My Lord and My God."

II. WHAT DOES HE CLAIM FROM MAN? Everything. In mean moods I have wondered at His Divine voracity. Once a woman came to Him who had only one box of spikenard and He took it all. Would your humanity have allowed you to do it? Surely you would have said, "Part of it; I must not have it all." And another woman — she might have touched His heart, for she wore widows' weeds. I expected Him to say, "Poor soul, I can take nothing from you." But He took her two mites — all that she had. He is doing the same to day. How many things has that only boy been in his father's dreams! One day the mother feels that something is going to happen, and what does happen is a proposal that the boy should become a missionary! He must go. Humanity would have spared him — but Christ takes him.

III. HOW DID THE BETTER CLASS OF HIS CONTEMPORARIES REGARD HIM. Here is a typical man — a man of letters and of local renown — who says, "Rabbi, Thou art a teacher come from God." Evidence of that kind must not go for nothing. Send men of another type — shrewd, keen men of the world: what say they? "Never man spake like this Man." Here are women coming back from having seen the Lord: what will they say? Never yet did women speak one word against the Son of God! Mothers, women of pure souls! sensitive as keenest life: what saw ye? "The holiness of God." Pass Him on to a judge — cold, observant, not easily hoodwinked. What sayest thou? "I find no fault in Him." What is that coming? A message from the judge's wife, "Have thou nothing to do with this just person. Let Him go." Crucify Him; will anybody speak about Him now? The centurion, accustomed to this sight of blood, said, "Truly this was the Son of God." Put these testimonies of observers, accumulate them into a complete appeal, and then say whether it be not easier for the imagination and judgment and heart to say, "My Lord and my God," than to use meaner terms.


1. Extemporaneousness. He cannot want time to make His sermons, or He is not what He claims to be. Does He retire and compose elaborate sentences and come forth a literary artist, leaving the impression that He has wasted the midnight oil? No; His is simple graphic talk.

2. Instantaneousness of reply. God cannot want time to think what He will say? Does Christ? He answers immediately and finally. He had just thrown off the apron; rabbinical culture He had none, and yet there was an instantaneousness about Him to which there is no parallel but in the "Let there be light, and there was light." Give every man credit for ability, and give this Man credit for having extorted from His enemies, "Never man spake like this Man."

3. What do I find in Christ's teaching? Incarnations of the Spiritual. He Himself was an incarnation. He had to embody the kingdom of God, and hence He said, "It is like unto" — To embody the bodiless was the all-culminating miracle of the Peasant of Galilee.

4. Christ's is seminal teaching — that which survives all the changes of time. Where are the grand and stately sermons of the great Doctors? Gone into the stately past.

V. DID THIS MAN LIVE UP TO HIS own principles? Some people say that the teaching of Jesus conveyed high theories, but too romantic to be embodied in actual behaviour. What said He? "Bless them that persecute you." Did He do it? "When He was reviled He reviled not again." What said He? "Pray for them that despitefully use you." Did He do it? "Father forgive them," etc.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

Ye are of your father the devil.
I. WHO IS THE DEVIL? With regard to that remarkable being termed elsewhere "Satan," "the tempter," "the old serpent," "the destroyer," our information, though limited, is distinct. He is a being of the angelic order, formed, like all intelligent beings, in a state of moral integrity, who, at a period anterior to the fall, in consequence of violating the Divine law, in a manner of which we are not particularly informed, was (along with a number of other spirits who, in consequence of being seduced by him, were partakers in his guilt) cast out of heaven, placed in a state of degradation and punishment, and reserved to deeper shame and fiercer pains, at the Judgment. Through his malignity and falsehood man, who was innocent, holy, and happy and immortal, became guilty, depraved, miserable and liable to death. Over the minds of the unregenerate he exercises a powerful, though not irresistible, influence, and hence is termed "the prince," "the god of this world," etc., who leads men captive at his will. He exerts himself, by his numerous agents, in counterworking the Divine plan for the salvation of men, throwing obstacles of various kinds in the way of their conversion, and spreading his snares for, and aiming his fiery darts at, those who have thrown off his yoke. Error, sin, and misery, in all their forms, are ultimately his works; and his leading object is to uphold and extend the empire of evil in the universe of God.

II. WHAT IS MEANT BY HIS BEING THE JEWS' FATHER. The term is figurative. That being is, in a moral point of view, my father, under whose influence my character has been formed, and whose sentiments and feelings and conduct are the model after which mine are fashioned. These Jews instead of having a spiritual character formed under divine influence, had one formed under a diabolical influence; and instead of being formed in God's likeness, or in the likeness of Abraham his friend, they resembled the grand enemy of God and man.

III. WHAT IS IT TO BE OF THE DEVIL? "Of" expresses a relation of property. To be "of the world," is to be the world's own. "The world loves its own " — those who are "of it." To be "of God," or "God's," is to belong to God, to be God's property and possession. To be "of Christ," or "Christ's," is to belong to Him. To be "of the devil," or "the devil's," is to belong to him, to be, as it were, his property. All created beings are, and must be, in the most important sense, God's property. The devil himself is God's, subject to His control, and will be made to serve His purpose. But in another sense, the Jews, and all who possess the same character, are the property of the wicked one,"" they practically renounce their dependence on God; they deny His proprietorship, and they practically surrender themselves to the wicked one, yielding themselves his slaves. It is as if our Lord had said, "Ye say that ye are God's peculiar people, but ye are really the devil's self-sold slaves."

IV. WHAT ARE THE LUSTS OF THE DEVIL? "Lust" signifies not merely desire, properly so called, but the object of desire. "The lust of the eye" is a general name for those things which, contemplated by the eye, excite desire — what is splendid or beautiful. "The lusts of the devil" are to be understood in this way, not of his individual desires or longings — for how could the Jews do these? — but of the things which are the object of his desires — such as the establishment and permanence of error, vice, and misery among men — whatever is calculated to gratify his impious malignant mind, a mind of which, as Milton powerfully expresses it, "evil is the good." To do the things which the devil desires is to oppose truth and to increase sin and misery. These things the Jews did — habitually did.

V. WHAT IS IT TO WILL THOSE LUSTS? The term "will" is not here the mere sign of futurition — it denotes disposition, determination, choice. "Ye will do the evil things which your infernal father wishes for." It is a phrase of the same kind as: "If any man will be My disciple" (John 7:17). The Jews were not merely occasionally by strong temptation induced to do what is in accordance with the devil's desires, but their desires were so habitually consentaneous with his, that in seeking to gratify themselves they produced the result which he desired. They were cheerful servants — voluntary slaves.

(J. Brown, D. D.)

It is said of Mr. Haynes, the coloured preacher, that, some time after the publication of his sermon on the text, "Ye shall not surely die," two reckless young men having agreed together to try his wit, one of them said, "Father Haynes, have you heard the good news?" "No," said Mr. Haynes, "what is it?" It is great news indeed, said the other; and, if true, your business is gone. What is it? again inquired Mr. Haynes. Why, said the first, the devil is dead." In a moment the old gentleman replied, lifting up both hands, and placing them on the heads of the young men, and in a tone of solemn concern, "Oh, poor fatherless children! what will become of you?"

(W. Baxendale.)

, Thos. Fuller.
King Canute promised to make him the highest man in England who should kill King Edmund, his rival; which, when he had performed, and expected his reward, he commanded him to be hung on the highest tower in London. So Satan promises great things to people in pursuit of their lusts, but he puts them off with great mischief. The promised crown turns to a halter, the promised comfort to a torment, the promised honour into shame, the promised consolation into desolation, and the promised heaven turns into a hell. The lusts of your father ye will do. — It is a frightful "will," and as frightful a "must," which governs the soul of an ungodly man. Such a soul either is a slave of the "must," or a free agent of the "will"; and the most fearful feature of all is that it is guilty as being a free agent, and the more guilty it is so much the more enslaved, and therefore the more it is free to will by so much the more enslaved.

( Augustine.)Satan hath no impulsive power; he may strike fire till he be weary (if his malice can weary); except man's corruption brings the tinder, the match cannot be lighted (Acts 5:4; James 1:13-16).

(Thos. Fuller.)

He was a murderer from the beginning (comp. Wisd. 2:23, 24; Romans 5:12). — The Fall was the murder of the human race; and it is in reference to this, of which the fratricide in the first family was a signal result, that the tempter is called a murderer from the beginning (comp. 1 John 3:8-12, where the thought is expanded). The reference to the murderer is suggested here by the fact that the Jews had been seeking to kill our Lord (ver. 40). They are true to the nature which their father had from the beginning.

(Archdeacon Watkins.)

He abode
1. This chapter shows Jesus' power of bringing men out of their fictions of life, and of discovering the essential thing in life. Here He discloses the condition under which it is possible for a created being to stand in the truth. It is no little thing to stand in the truth. You may have stood on some rare evening upon a mountain top. The mists had been lifted from the valleys, the villages, etc., were etched on the map before you; on the far horizon sea and sky met, the few lingering clouds showed their upper edges turned to gold, while the whole air seemed to have become some clear crystal to let the sun shine through. So it is to stand in the truth, and to do so were worth the effort of a lifetime. So without long climbing Jesus stood.

2. Thus more is meant than is suggested to us by "stand fast in the truth." Men may only mean by that — Be obstinate on our side, standing steadfastly in some limited conception of truth; or merely to stand where we are without inquiring how the mind is to find its place, sure, serene, and sunny in the truth; or when men are debating it may be some battle call to fight for some truth at the expense of abiding in all truth.

3. Jesus shows the real thing to be desired in our anxiety to stand in the truth — the truth must be in us. Having no truthfulness within the Evil One lost his standing in the truth of God's universe without. This extremest case illustrates the whole process of descent of some from truth.

I. THIS UNIVERSE IS A MORAL UNIVERSE AND A MAN TO STAND IN IT MUST BE MORALLY SOUND. An immoral man can have no permanent standing in a moral universe.

1. There is no untruthfulness, dishonesty, or vice in the constitution of things. Nature invariably gives the same answer. The creation made in truth continues in truth. The ocean tides keep true time and measure; the sun is steadfast; Nature throughout is one piece of honest work, and its veracity lies at the foundation of our industries. Every rail. road is built upon it, and every man works in faith that earth and sky will keep their primal covenant.

2. Now when a man born to stand here takes up some lie into his soul, what happens? That fate which befell the father of lies. He cannot stand. Suppose a man conceives a fraudulent thought and says I will succeed in my business with that fraud in my mind, what is the end? Defaulters behind prison bars might answer. Defalcations always begin in a man himself, sometimes years, before they begin at the office. The fall began when he let some falsehood come into his life; when he sought to keep up an appearance that was not true. At last men were shocked to discover that he stood not in the truth because the truth was not in him.

3. Perhaps the end has not come yet, and men who are not truthful within seem to stand as though the universe were in their favour. Nevertheless, sooner or later, the end of inward untruthfulness is as certain as the law of gravitation. The moral universe can be relied upon to throw out eventually every immoral man. "Without is everyone that loveth and maketh a lie." And we do not have to wait till the last day.(1) A man cannot stand long in the world's credit if the truth of personal integrity is not in him.(2) A rich or popular man cannot stand always in good society if his heart is becoming rotten — in the end it must cast him out.(3) Even in polities many a leader has not stood in the truth of the people's final judgment because the truth was not in him.(4) The same condition pertains to the realm of science. Nature wants character in her pupil even when teaching her laws of numbers. Clerk Maxwell's character was part of his fitness for high scientific work.(5) And certainly this same law has been confirmed over and over again in the history of literature. What a poet for the coming years Byron might have been, had there been in him higher and holier truth!

II. THE UNIVERSE IS A DIVINE UNIVERSE AND NO MAN CAN STAND IN ITS TRUTH WHO WISHES TO SAY IN HIS HEART, "THERE IS NO GOD." There is some Divine reality behind all these shifting appearances of things. There is an expression of Divine intelligence playing over the face of Nature. And what is seen and touched is not half of the glory of the kingdom of God. Faith is standing in this Diviner glory. We would all like to stand in this truth, but John says, "If a man says, 'I love God,' and hateth his brother, he is a liar." When a man is thinking a hateful thought, he does not then believe in God, though he be making an argument to prove one, and saying, "Lord, Lord!" And it is no avail for any of us to try and believe in God or the unseen universe simply by thinking about them or discussing their natural probabilities, unless we are first eager to have some truth of God in ourselves, and so by the truth within us find that we stand in the Divine truth of the world. Live like a brute, and believe like a son of God? Never. Does any man want to prove the existence of God? Let bin search the book of his life, and if he finds that he did some truth of God, then find God and worship Him.

III. THIS UNIVERSE IS A CHRISTIAN UNIVERSE, AND IF A MAN HAS NOT THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST, HE CANNOT STAND IN ITS FULL, FINAL CHRISTIANITY. All things were made by Christ, and in Him all things consist. The universe is Christian because created for Christ, and reaching its consummation in Him; because God has shown Himself to be Christian in His eternal thought and purpose towards the world, and because its last great day shall be the Christian judgment. Hence if we would stand in this full and final truth, we must have some Christian truth in us which shall answer to the Christian character of the universe. If we should fail of this, how could we hope to stand when whatever is not Christian must eventually be cast out, for Christ must reign until all enemies be put under His feet. Sin must go, and death, and all uncharitableness, and all deceit, to make room for a new heaven and a new earth.

(Newman Smyth, D. D.)

S. S. Times.
Lying is well-nigh universal in the East. It is not only practised, but its wisdom is defended by Orientals generally. "Lying is the salt of a man," say the Arabs. The Hindoos say that Brahma lied when there was no gain in lying; and so far they are ready to follow Brahma's example. Yet Orientals recognize the truth that lying is essentially sinful, however necessary it may seem. The Arabs today will trust a Christian's word when they would not believe each other. They also admit that a liar cannot long prosper. And the Hindoos have a saying that the telling of a lie is a greater sin than the killing of a Brahman. It was an appeal to the innermost consciences of His Oriental hearers when Jesus charged them with showing in their practice that they were children of the father of lies.Generally, the reason why a man is believed is that he speaks the truth. But the experience of Jesus was, in the case of the Jews, the opposite. They were so ruled by the lies with which their father had blinded their hearts, that it was just because He spoke the truth that He obtained no credence from them.I. REPUGNANCE TO THE TRUTH (ver. 45). Had He given them popular dogmas or speculative disquisitions, they might have believed Him; but He gave them truth that addressed itself with imperial force to their central being. They were living in falsehood, appearances, and shams, far away from the awful region of spiritual realities. The truth came in direct collision with their prepossessions, pride, interests, habits; and they would not have it. This repugnance —

1. Reveals man's abnormal condition. His soul is as truly organized for truth as his eyes for light. Truth is its natural atmosphere, scenery, food.

2. Suggests his awful future. The soul and truth will not always be kept apart. The time must come when the intervening falsehoods shall melt away and the interspacing gulfs bridged over, and when the soul shall feel itself in conscious contact with moral realities.

II. THE PURITY OF CHRIST (ver. 46). Christ is the Truth, and His invincible intolerance of all sin repels the depraved heart. "Men love darkness," etc. The first beams of the morning are not half so repulsive to a burglar as the rays of Christ's truth are to a depraved heart. Purity makes the hell of depravity.

III. ESTRANGEMENT FROM GOD (ver. 47). Divine filial sympathies are essential to true faith. The more a child loves his parent, the more he believes in his word. Unregenerate men have not this sympathy, hence their unbelief. They do not like to retain God in their thoughts. "He that loveth not knoweth not God."

IV. PRIDE OF INTELLECT (ver. 48). They had said this before, and here they pride themselves on their sagacity. "Say we not well?" Are we not clever? What an insight we have into character! Infidels have ever been too scientific to believe in miracles, too philosophic to require a revelation, too independent to require Christ, too moral to need inward reformation. "Say we not well?" is their spirit. It comes out in their books, lectures, converse, daily life. "We are the wise men, and wisdom will die with us." This pride is essentially inimical to true faith. "Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child," etc.

V. UNCHARITABLENESS OF DISPOSITION (ver. 48). Suppose He was a Samaritan, are they all bad? Yes, said they, and because thou art a Samaritan thou hast a devil. This uncharitable reasoning has ever characterized infidelity. All Christians are hypocrites, all preachers crafty mercenaries, all churches nurseries of superstition; hence we will have nothing to do with it.

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

Which of you convinceth Me of sin?
This sinlessness of Jesus stands alone in history in that —

I. JESUS CLAIMED IT FOR HIMSELF. Even those who have rejected His Divinity admit that He was preeminently holy; yet no ether man has ever claimed or had claimed for him this sinlessness. On the contrary, in proportion to a man's saintliness he realizes the exceeding sinfulness of sin. It is the guiltiest who do not feel guilt. The cry of the sin-wounded heart is wrung from a David, not from a Herod; from a Fenelon, not from a Richelieu. We hear its groaning in the poems of a Cowper, not of a Byron; in the writings of a Milton, not of a Voltaire. That Jesus should have claimed to be sinless, and to have acted all through on that assumption, can never be explained except upon the ground of His Godhead. Ii He were not sinless and Divine, He would be lower than His saints, for then He would have made false claims, and been guilty of presumptuous and dishonouring self-exaltation.


1. The Jews could not meet His challenge. It was not from want of desire. There is a vein of natural baseness in fallen natures which delights in dragging down the loftiest. Whom has not envy striven to wound? And has it not ever been at the very highest that the mud is thrown? Even , , Whitefield, did not escape the pestilent breath of slander. Yet, though Jesus lived in familiar intercourse with publicans and sinners, not even His deadliest enemies breathed the least suspicion of His spotless innocence. They said, in their coarse rage, "Thou art a Samaritan," etc., but none said, "Thou art a sinner." "Have nothing to do with that just Man," exclaimed the Roman lady. "I find no fault in Him," declared the bloodstained Pilate. "There is no harm in Him," was the practical verdict of Herod. "This Man has done nothing amiss," moaned the dying malefactor. "I have shed innocent blood," shrieked the miserable Judas. His most eager accusers stammered into self-refuting lies; and the crowds around the cross, smiting on their breasts, assented to the cry of the heathen centurion, "Truly this was the Son of God."

2. Subsequent ages have conceded this sinlessness. The fierce light of unbelief and anger has been turned upon His life, and the microscope of historical criticism and the spectrum analysis of psychological inquiry, without finding one speck on the white light of His holiness. The Talmud alludes to Him with intensest indignation, yet dares not invent the shadow of a crime. Outspoken modern rationalists seem as they gaze at Him in dubious wonder to fall unbidden at His feet. Spinoza sees in Him the best symbol of heavenly wisdom, Kant of ideal perfection, Hegel of union between the human and the Divine. Rousseau said that, if the death of Socrates was that of a sage, the death of Jesus was that of a God. His transcendent holiness moved the flippant soul of Voltaire. Strauss wrote whole volumes to disprove His Divinity, yet he calls Him "the highest object we can imagine with respect to religion; the Being without whose presence in the mind religion is impossible." Comte tried to find a new religion, yet made a daily study of the "Imitation of Christ." Renan has undermined the faith of thousands, yet admits "His beauty is eternal, and His reign will never end." How can all this admiration be justified if He, of all God's children, claimed a sinlessness which, if He were not Divine, was a sin to claim?

III. MIGHT NOT HIS VOICE ASK US ACROSS THE CENTURIES, "TO WHOM WILL YE LIKEN ME AND SHALL I BE EQUAL?" I do not ask what religion you would prefer to Christianity. Christianity is the true religion, or there is none. No man would dream of matching the best thoughts of the world's greatest thinkers, or the highest truths of the best religion, with Christianity. Not, certainly, the senile proprieties of Confucianism, the dreary, negatious, and perverted bodily service of Buddhism, or the mere retrograde Judaism of the Moslem; and if not these, certainly no other.

1. But compare the founders of these religions with our Lord, The personality of Sakya Mouni is lost in a mass of monstrous traditions; but his ideal, as far as we can disentangle it, was impossible and unnatural. The life of Confucius is tainted with insincerity; and he not only repudiated perfection, but placed himself below other sages. Mohammed stands self-condemned of adultery and treachery. Socrates and Marcus Aurelius were the noblest characters of secular history, but those who know them best confess that the golden image stands on feet of clay.

2. If you turn to sacred history, which will you choose to compare with Him whom, in dim Messianic hope, they saw afar off? Adam? but he lost us Paradise. Moses? but he was not suffered to enter the promised land. David? but does not the ghost of Uriah rise again?

3. But are there not in the long Christian centuries some as sinless as He, since they have had His example to follow and His grace to help? Look up to the galaxy of Christian examples, and it is but full of stars, of which each one disclaims all glory save such as it derives from the sun. Many have caught some one bright colour, but in Him only you see the sevenfold perfection of undivided light. And none have been able to appreciate the many sided glory. All see in Him the one excellence they most admire. The knights saw in Him the model of all chivalry, the monks the model of all asceticism, the philosophers the source of all enlightenment. To Fenelon He was the most rapt of mystics, to Vincent de Paul the most practical of philanthropists, to an English poet "The first true gentleman that ever breathed." His life was the copy over which was faintly traced the biography of all the greatest saints, but each of them presented but a pale image of His Divine humanity. The wisdom of apostles, the faith of martyrs, the self-conquest of hermits, were but parts of Him. In the tenderness of Francis, the thunderings of Savonarola, the strength of Luther, the sincerity of Wesley, the zeal of Whitefield, the self-devotion of Howard, we but catch the single gleams of His radiance. His life was not the type of any one excellence, but the consummation of all. No mind has been large enough to comprehend its glorious contradictions — its clinging friendship and its sublime independence; its tender patriotism and humanitarian breadth; its passionate emotion and unruffled peace; its unapproachable majesty and childlike sweetness.

IV. WE HAVE NOT FOUND HIS EQUAL — CAN WE IMAGINE OR INVENT IT? Has this ever been done? The greatest poets and thinkers have striven to picture characters faultlessly ideal. Have they — Homer, Sophocles, Virgil, Dante, Shakespeare, Milton — done so? No. Why? Because the ideal of every man must be stained more or less with his own individuality, and therefore imperfection. Had the evangelists invented the character of Jesus, it must have been so in their case, too. Christ transcends the utmost capacity of the combined apostles. In the apocryphal gospels invention and forgery were at work — and with what result? The "Imitatio Christi" is a precious and profound work, yet even that realizes but one phase of the Redeemer's holiness.

(Archdeacon Farrar.)

The persons thus challenged would have been glad enough to accept the challenge had the least hope existed of their being able to convict of sin, or even of fault, one whom they so thoroughly hated. Surely in no respect were the aged Simeon's words more true respecting our Lord than this: Christ's moral and religious character is "a light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of God's people Israel."

1. In the first place, we may notice its gradual even growths. Like the gentle unfolding the bud or blossom of a tree, even in spite of obstacles, Jesus went on from day to day, and year to year, showing more and more of that inward perfection of heart and mind which won for Him the approbation first of His earthly guardians, then of His Heavenly Father, and, in the end, of those who condemned and executed Him. What, we ask, was the one quality which marks every period of His life, and which secured this marvellous agreement in His praise and favour? It was innocence — simple, guileless, childlike innocence. He is everywhere, and at all times the same, "in malice a child," "the Lamb of God," gentle, pure, and innocent. But with this innocence, this simplicity, what strength, what manliness, what courage are combined! In word and deed, in teaching and in conduct, the tenderest soul that ever drew the breath of heaven, the man whom children loved, and the common people delighted to listen to, and the sick welcomed, and publicans and sinners were attracted by; was also forward and energetic in action, unceasing in labour, inured to hardship, bold in declaring truth, uncompromising in speech, fearless in opposing wrong. How are we to account for this remarkable union of qualities which general experience has shown to be so rare that men had come to think it incredible? Next to this comes another and a deeper aspect of this part of His character on the side of religion. For

2. whereas in all ordinary cases repentance forms a great part of religion, Jesus owns to no sin, breathes no word of repentance, and on no occasion expresses, however faintly, the least consciousness of imperfection in His relations and behaviour towards God His Father. Advancing a step, we shall be able to observe how there is exhibited in the person and character, the works and teaching of Jesus Christ, a kind of universality, which connects Him with mankind generally. By race He is a Jew, reared up in the traditions and hopes of Israel, bred up from infancy to Jewish customs, steeped in the spirit of Hebrew literature; nevertheless, He does not reflect the peculiar dispositions of the Jew. But in Him there blend all the common traits of humanity. The Gentile finds his true ideal in Jesus Christ equally with the Jew. And, what is more, the men of every race and clime, and of every degree of culture and civilization not only may, but have regarded and do regard Him as their own, recognize Him as their brother, and follow Him as their guide. Nor ought we to forget the words which Christ Himself has spoken respecting His proper relation to mankind in general; words which, while they give emphasis to that aspect of His moral character and teaching which I have dwelt upon, do in effect state claims of the widest extent (see John 6:51; John 8:12; John 12:32; John 14:6; John 16:28; John 17:3; Matthew 10:37; Matthew 11:28). Now these sayings, with many others of like nature, have a two-fold bearing. In the first place, they assert claims so exalted, so imperial, so exacting, that nothing short of the most literal and entire correspondence, in fact, can be admitted in justification of their being laid down. Either they are simply, literally, exactly, and absolutely true, or they must be regarded as the ravings of a maniac or the blasphemies of an impostor. They can only be true on condition that the utterer is truly a Divine person. On the other hand, such sayings, being at the time of their utterance entirely novel in themselves and admitted to be hard to accept, must certainly have excited in the minds of all who heard them a keen curiosity respecting the private life and character of Jesus, both amongst His disciples and His opponents. And both these classes enjoyed abundant opportunities for scrutiny. What, then, is the result? All the watching of His adversaries can detect no flaw in His life or conversation. The banquet hall and the synagogue, the mountain top and the seashore, the market and the Temple, are searched in vain for a just record against Him. On the contrary, the better He is known by His friends, the more highly is He appreciated. That familiarity which scorches and shrivels so many reputations in the estimate of those who are admitted to close intimacy left His untouched with damage. No little weaknesses took off the edge of His grand public discourses. No infirmities of temper lowered His just claims to men's admiring homage. He shared human pain but not human impatience. A calm evenness of soul accompanied Him everywhere, the offspring not so much of self-restraint as of a perpetual sunshine beaming with love and devotion. Hardship fails to ruffle Him. The most factious opposition provokes Him indeed to a holy severity, but a severity entirely free from personal resentment or bitterness. The terrible knowledge that one of His own chosen companions is ready to betray Him haunts and oppresses His spirit, but He has no threatenings. Even the tortures of the cross extracted no complaints from those sacred lips, but only prayers for His murderers, and the cry of His extreme desolation is blended with a holy confidence and subsides into hopeful resignation. Looking back upon this poor outline of the character of Jesus Christ, we are entitled to ask of all who admit the facts, How do you account for such a phenomena? under what classification will you bring it? Is it of the earth, earthy? or is it superhuman, supernatural, heavenly? The Catholic Church, with her doctrine of incarnation, points to her Lord's character, as delineated in the Gospels, with triumphant certainty. All who share that belief experience no difficulty in discerning a Divine personality through the veil of His human perfection. Jesus is Divine.

(D. Trinder, M. A.)

The doctrine of Christ's sinlessness rests on foundations far too strong to be shaken by the removal of one stone which has been generally supposed to form part of them. When we read concerning Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15; Hebrews 7:26; 1 John 3:5), what need have we to demand further documentary demonstration of a truth so explicitly stated, and so implicitly believed by every genuine Christian? It has been held, however, with considerable unanimity that in this passage Christ Himself bears witness to, and calls upon His adversaries, the Jews, to impugn, if they can, that sinlessness of His. Yet I would submit that this is not the meaning of our Lord's question. The whole argument is concerned, not with action, but with speech. In ver. 43, Jesus says: "Why do ye not apprehend My language? Because ye cannot hear My word." Then, describing the devil, He declares: "There is no truth in him; when he speaks falsehood, he draws out of his own store, for he is a liar and the father of it (falsehood). But as for Me, because I say the truth, ye do not believe Me." Then comes the question under consideration, with the words immediately following (vers. 46, 47): "If I say truth, why do ye not believe Me? He who is of God hears the words of God; therefore ye hear not, because ye are not of God." And so the discourse for the moment closes. And we see that it is the language of Jesus which is on the rack; that truth which, as God's Prophet, He declares to unwilling ears, and tries to drive home to sin-hardened hearts. They will not listen to Him that they may have life. They cannot confute, yet they cavil. Though He tells them the truth, and they cannot deny it, they wilfully refuse to believe Him, for to do so was to condemn themselves.

(W. S. Wood, M. A.)

"Which of you proves Me mistaken in My language about sin?" What had He said of sin? It is the prophet's place to rouse the conscience of the sinner, to show him his guilt in its true light. And this Jesus had done. He had striven, alas! for the most part in vain, to clear away the film from the eyes and hearts of these self-righteous, self-deceived Jews, who would have all men to be sinners save themselves. He had charged them, using the pitiless logic of facts, with being neither true descendants of upright Abraham, nor genuine children of God, but in reality the devil's brood, and the natural heirs of his false and murderous disposition and designs. For sin is of the devil; and "the works of your father ye do" (ver. 41). Moreover, He had spoken to them of sin's necessary issues. Like an echo of the old prophet's sentence (Ezekiel 18:4, 20), had rung out His awful warning, "By (means of) your sin ye shall die"; and "Ye shall die by your sins; for if ye believe not that I am He, ye shall die by your sins" (vers. 21, 24). But not only had He warned them. He had also made known to them the one possible means of escape from the threatened fate (vers. 34-36). Sin brings death in its train. Freedom from sin, and so from death, is the gift of Jesus Christ to all who put their trust in Him. It is with such declaration as to sin, its nature and genesis, its consequences, its cure, still sounding in their ears, and their own self-accusing conscience ready, unless silenced, to bear Him witness, that Christ asks the Jews: Which of you proves Me wrong in My account and judgment of sin? If I say truth, why do ye not believe Me?" No answer to this appeal is possible. They know that He is right, but decline to own that they are wrong.

(W. S. Wood, M. A.)

He who was the Word of God never spoke words which involved consequences so momentous as these. This challenge was uttered in the presence of those who had known Him from the first; of others who had walked up and down with Him every day since His ministry began; of not a few who were watching for His halting. But one and all were silent. This was much, but there lay in the challenge not merely a confidence that He had given no occasion which any man could take hold of, but His consciousness that He had no sin. We cannot suppose that He took advantage of the partial acquaintance of His hearers with the facts of His life to claim for Himself freedom from all sin, which prerogative they could not impugn, but which all the time He knew was not rightfully His own. In this challenge He implicitly declared that, being conformed in everything else to His brethren, He was not conformed to them in this; that He was holy, harmless, undefiled, and, in the matter of sin, separate from all his fellow men. He everywhere asserts the same. He teaches His disciples to say, "Forgive us our trespasses"; but no word implying that He needed forgiveness ever escaped His lips. Many words and acts, on the contrary, are totally irreconcilable with any such assumption. He gives His life a ransom for many, which it could not be if a life forfeited. He forgives sins, and that not in another's name, but in His own. He sets Himself at the central point of humanity, an intolerable presumption, had He differed from others only in degree, not in kind. In every other man of spiritual eminence there reveals itself a sense of discord and dissatisfaction. He sees before him heights of which he has fallen infinitely short. If he has attained to any exemplary goodness, it has only been through failure and error; he is at best a diamond which, if polished at all, has been polished in its own dust. And the nobler the moral elements working in any man's life, so much the more distinct and earnest are confessions of sin and shortcoming. But no lightest confession ever falls from His lips. There is in Him a perfect self-complacency. He is, and is perfectly, and has always been, all which He ought to be, or desires to be. Christ presented Himself to the world as the absolutely sinless One, demanded to be recognized as such by all, and bore Himself as such, not merely to men, but to God.

I. WHAT ARE THE EXPLANATIONS OF THIS? Three only are possible.

1. That He had sin and did not know it. But this sets Him infinitely below the saints of the New Testament, of whom one of the saintliest has declared, "If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves"; below the saints of the Old Testament who cried out with anguish when in the presence of the Holy One; below any of the sages of this world, for which of these has not owned and lamented the conflict of good and evil within him!

2. That conscious of His identity, in this matter, with other men He concealed it; nay, made claims on His own behalf which were irreconcilable with this consciousness; and, setting Himself forth as the exemplar to all other men in their bearing to God, omitted altogether those humiliations which every other man has felt at the best moments of his life to constitute the truest, indeed the only, attitude which he can assume in His presence. You will hardly admit this explanation.

3. But then, if you can accept neither the one nor the other of these explanations, you are shut up by a blessed necessity to that which the Holy Catholic Church throughout all the world has accepted, that which it utters in those words of adoration and praise, "Thou only art holy, Thou only art the Lord; Thou only, O Christ, with the Holy Ghost, art most high in the glory of God the Father."


1. Are any of us prepared to render unto Christ every homage short of this, to honour Him with an affection and a reverence yielded to no other, to recognize Him as nearer to moral perfection than every other, with sin reduced in Him to a minimum, the greatest religious reformer, the most original religious genius, the man most taught of God whom the world has ever seen; but here to stop short. There is no standing ground here. If the Gospels are a faithful record, and unless in all their main features they are so, the whole superstructure of Christian faith has no foundation whatever — they leave no room for any such position as this, halfway between the camps of faith and unbelief, which now divide the world. When the question of questions, "What think ye of Christ?" presents itself, and will not go without an answer, you must leave this equivocal position and declare that He was much more than this, or that He was much less.

2. You will not deny that He said He was much more. If this He was not, then in saying this, He deceived others, or else that He Himself was deceived. But allowing to Him what you do, you have no choice but to reject them both. Take Him, then, for that which He announced Himself to be, the one Man who could challenge all the world, "Which of you conceiveth Me of sin?" the one champion who entering the lists, and having no blot on his own scutcheon, no flaw in his own armour, could win the battle which every other man had lost; the one physician who could heal all others, inasmuch as He did not need Himself to be healed; sole of the whole Adamic race who had a right to say, "The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in Me."

(Archbishop Trench.)

1. It has been inferred from the context that "sin" here means intellectual rather than moral failure. But the word means the latter throughout the New Testament; and our Lord is arguing from the absence of moral evil in Him generally to the absence of a specific form of that evil — viz., falsehood. As they cannot detect the one they must not credit Him with the other.

2. It has been also thought that He only challenges the detective power of the Jews. But the challenge would hardly have been made unless the Speaker had been conscious of something more than guiltlessness of public acts which might be pointed out as in some measure sinful. Sin is not merely a series of acts which may be measured and dated; it is a particular condition of the will and its presence is perceptible where there is no act of transgression. Our Lord then claims to be sinless in a very different sense from that in which a man might defy an opponent to convict him in a court of law.

3. But is sinlessness possible? It has been affirmed that experience says no, as does Scripture also. But this is not at variance with the existence of an exception to the rule. And man's capacity for moral improvement leads up to the idea of one who has reached the summit. That God should have given man this capacity points to a purpose in the Divine mind of which we should expect some typical realization. Now —

I. ALL THAT WE KNOW ABOUT OUR LORD GOES TO SHOW THAT HE WAS SINLESS. The impression that He was so was produced most strongly on those who were brought into closest contact with Him.

1. After the miraculous draught of fishes St. Peter exclaims, "Depart from me, for I am" — not a weak and failing, but — "a sinful man." It is not Christ's power over nature but His sanctity that awes the apostle. Again, after the denial, a look from Jesus sufficed to produce the keenest anguish. Had St. Peter been able to trace one sinful trait, he might have felt in the tragedy the presence of something like retributive justice. It was his conviction of Christ's absolute purity which filled him with remorse.

2. This impression is observable in the worldly and time-serving Pilate, in the restless anxiety of his wife, in the declaration of the centurion, and above all in the remorse of Judas, who would gladly have found in his three years' intimacy something that could justify the betrayal.

3. In the hatred of the Sanhedrists the purity of Christ's character is not less discernible. It is the high prerogative of goodness and truth that they cannot be approached in a spirit of neutrality. They must repel where they do not attract. The Pharisees would have treated an opposing teacher in whom there was any moral flaw with contemptuous indifference. The sinless Jesus excited their implacable hostility.

4. This sinlessness is dwelt upon by the apostles as an important feature of their message. St. Peter's earliest sermons are full of it. The climax of Stephen's indictment was that they had murdered the Just One, the very title that Ananias proclaimed to the blinded Saul. In his epistles St. Paul is careful to say that God sent His Son in the "likeness" of sinful flesh. St. Peter dwells on our Lord's sinlessness as bearing on His example and atoning death. In St. John Christ's sinlessness is connected with His intercession (1 John 2:1); with His regenerating power (1 John 2:29); with the real moral force of His example (1 John 3:7). Especially is this sanctity connected in the Epistle to the Hebrews with His priestly office. Although tempted as we are it was without sin. Holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners.


1. By the condition of the development of His life as man.(1) He learned obedience by the things that He suffered, and consequently it has been argued must have progressed from moral deficiency to moral sufficiency. But it does not follow that such a growth involved sin as its starting point. A progress from a less to a more expanded degree of perfection is not to be confounded with a progress from sin to holiness.(2) A more formidable difficulty, it is urged, is presented by the temptation. A bona fide temptation, it is contended, implies at least a minimum of sympathy with evil which is incompatible with perfect sinlessness. Either, therefore, Jesus was not really tempted, in which case He fails as an example; or the reality of His temptation is fatal to His literal sinfulness. But the apostles say, "He was tempted in all points without sin." What is temptation? An influence by which a man may receive a momentum in the direction of evil. This influence may be an evil inclination within, or a motive presented from without. The former was impossible in the case of Christ; but the motive from without could only have become real temptation by making a place for itself in the mind. How could that be while leaving sinlessness intact? The answer is that an impression on thought or sense is possible short of the point at which it produces a distinct determination of the will towards evil, and it is only when this point is reached that sinlessness is compromised. So long as the will is not an accomplice the impressions of the tempter do not touch the moral being, and it is perfectly clear in both temptations that our Lord's will throughout maintained a steady attitude of resistance.

2. By particular acts, such as —(1) His cursing the barren fig tree. But that our Lord betrayed irritation is disposed of by prophetic character of the act — the tree being a symbol of the fruitless Jewish people.(2) His expulsion of the buyers and sellers from the temple was not the effect of sudden personal passion, but strictly in the prophetical and theocratic spirit.(3) His driving the devils into the swine was an interference with the rights of property only on the denial that Jesus is God's plenipotentiary, and of His right to subordinate material to moral interests.(4) His relation to Judas, it is said, shows a want of moral penetration to say nothing of superhuman knowledge; or if not, why was He chosen? The answer is that Christ was acting as God acts in providence, not only permitting it but overruling it for final good.

3. By His denial, "Why callest thou Me good," etc. But this was merely a rejection of an offhand, unmeaning compliment. God alone is good: but the Divinity of Jesus is a truth too high for mastery by one whose eyes have not been turned away from beholding vanity. But Christ again and again places Himself in the position of this "good God," and claims man's love and obedience as such. This claim, indeed, would be unjustifiable unless well grounded. But the ground of it is His proved sinlessness, and words and works such as we should expect a superhuman sinless one to speak and do.


1. The want of an ideal. No man can attempt a sculpture, a painting, without an ideal; and an ideal is no whit more necessary in art than in conduct. If men have not worthy ideals, they will have unworthy ones. Each nation has its ideals, each family, profession, school of thought, and how powerfully these energetic phantoms of the past can control the present is obvious to all. There is no truer test of a man's character than the ideals which excite his genuine enthusiasm. And Christendom has its ideals, But all these, great as they are, fall short in some particular. There is One, only One, beyond them all who does not fail. They, standing beneath His throne, say, "Be ye followers of us as we are of Christ"; He, above them all, asks each generation of His worshippers and His critics, "Which of you convinceth Me of sin?"

2. The want of a Redeemer. He offers Himself as such, but the offer presupposes His sinlessness. Let us conceive that one sin could be charged upon Him; and what becomes of the atoning character of His death? How is it conceivable that being consciously guilty, He should have willed to die for a guilty world? He offered Himself without spot to God — the crowning act of a life which throughout had been sacrificial; but had He been conscious of inward stain, how could He have dared to offer Himself to free a world from sin? But His absolute sinlessness makes it certain that He died as He lived, for others.

3. As our ideal and Redeemer, Christ is the heart and focus of Christendom.

(Canon Liddon.)

If I say the truth, why do ye not believe Me?
We mourn over the professed unbelief of the age, but the practical unbelief of professed Christians is more dangerous and lamentable. This is seen in the number of theoretical believers who are still an. converted, and in those Protestant Churches who say, "The Bible alone is our religion," and yet adopt practices which are not found in it or which it condemns. To deal with the former class:

I. THE TEXT SETS FORTH YOUR INCONSISTENCY. If you say,I am not converted because I do not believe in the mission of Christ and in the inspiration of Scripture, your position is consistent though terrible, but where you believe in both and remain unconverted, your position is extraordinarily inconsistent. Remember that —

1. Christ has revealed your need —

(1)Of regeneration.

(2)Of conversion.

(3)Of returning to God. And you believe it all. Why, then, not act upon it?

2. Christ has set forth His claims. He demands:

(1)Repentance — change of mind with reference to sin, holiness, Himself.

(2)Faith which will accept Him as the sole Saviour and possessor of the soul. Are these demands hard? If they be just, why not accede to them?

3. Christ provides the remedy for your soul. He did not preach a gospel out of the reach of sinners, but a real, ready and available salvation. You profess this is true. Why not then receive it? The medicine offered will cure you, and you will not receive it, although you know its healing virtue.

4. Christ reveals the freeness of His grace. You say Yes." Why then stand shivering and refusing to lay hold? If the gospel were hedged with thorns or guarded with bayonets, you would do well to fling yourself upon them, but when the door is opened and Christ woos you to come, how is it you do not enter?

5. Christ points out the danger of unregenerate souls. No preacher was ever so awfully explicit on future punishment. You do not suspect Him of exaggeration. Why then do ye not believe Him? Ye do not; that is clear. You would not sit so quietly if you really believed that in an instant you might be in hell.

6. Christ has brought life and immortality to light. What glowing pictures does the Word of God give of the state of the blessed. You believe that Jesus has revealed what eye hath not seen, etc. If you believed it you would strive to enter into the straight gate. If Christ's word be no fiction, how can you remain as you are?


1. "I do not feel myself entitled to come to Christ, because I do not feel my need as I should." This is no excuse. In matters relating to the body we feel first, and then believe. My hand smarts, and therefore I believe it has been wounded. But in soul matters we believe first and feel afterwards. A mother cannot feel grief for the loss of her child till she believes she has lost it, and it is impossible for her to believe that and not to weep. So if you believed in your heart sin to be as dreadful as God says it is, you would feel conviction and repentance necessary.

2. "I do not see how faith can save me." Here, again, is no excuse. Who says that faith saves? The Bible says Christ saves whom faith accepts.

3. You think the good things promised too good to be true; that conscious of being a lost sinner you have not the presumption to believe that if you were to trust Christ now you would be forgiven. What is this but to think meanly of God? You think He has but little mercy, whereas the Book which you allow to be true tells you that "though your sins be as scarlet," etc.

4. You are not quite sure that the promise is made to you. But God did not send you the Bible to play with you, and do not the invitations say, "Whosoever will?"

5. You will think of this, but the time has not yet come. If you believed as the Bible describes that life is short, death certain, and eternity near, you would cry out, "Lord, save, or I perish."

III. THE REAL REASON WHY SOME DO NOT BELIEVE (ver. 45). Some of you do not believe the truth.

1. Simply because it is the truth. Some make it because it is too severe, e.g., "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap."

2. The Pharisees hated God's truth deliberately. You say, "I do not do that." But how long does it take to make an action deliberate. Some of you have heard the gospel forty years, and prove that you hate the truth by living in sin. You, young man, were impressed the other Sunday that you must yield to God. A companion meets you, and you did deliberately choose your own damnation when you chose sin.

3. But the Pharisees scoffed at it. Yes; and is your silent contempt any better. Conclusion: If these things be true, why not believe in them? What hinders?

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Truth has nothing to fear from the fullest investigation. Error may well deprecate all searching and sifting processes; but truth, like gold, can not only stand any fitting test, but welcome it. He who fears for Truth has scarcely so much as gazed on her majestic countenance, nor does he know the might of that more than diamond mirror which she flashes on the mental eye that is not willingly closed to her light. Give but a fair field, and then when Truth and Error encounter, what loyal heart can fear for the result.

(H. H. Dobney.)

The condition of arriving at truth is not severe habits of investigation, but innocence of life and humbleness of heart. Truth is felt, not reasoned out; and if there be any truths which are only appreciable by the acute understanding, we may be sore at once that these do not constitute the soul's life.

(F. W. Robertson, M. A.)Some men are physically incapacitated for perceiving the truth. A man who is colour blind, e.g., is unable to distinguish the red rays of the spectrum. A danger signal on the railway would convey no warning to a man so constituted, and a rose for him would have little beauty. There is an analogue to this in the moral world. While the converted man perceives the warning of God's judgments and the beauty of the Rose of Sharon, the carnally-minded perceives neither.

"Any tyro can see the facts for himself if he is provided with those not rare articles — a nettle and a microscope." These words are Mr. Huxley's. But why the microscope? Suppose the tyro should be provided with a nettle only? These inquiries point in a direction which materialists are not willing to pursue. The introduction of the microscope is an admission that even the keenest eyes cannot see certain substances, forms and movements, and great store must be set by it. It requires in material investigation precisely what is demanded in spiritual inquiry. Suppose anyone should insist upon examining the nettle without the aid of the microscope, and should declare that he is unable to verify Mr. Huxley's observations. Mr. Huxley would properly reply that the inner structure and life of the nettle could not be seen by the naked eye for they are microscopically discerned. Nor can the inquirer into spiritual truth discern and understand without a spiritual organ adapted to the investigation.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

To whom will nature reveal herself? To the clown or the poet? The poet gets something out of "the meanest flower that blows." The wise man hears music in the wind, the stream, the twitter of birds. What does the clown hear, or the sordid man? Noises — tongues unknown and uninterpreted. Nature says precisely what Christ says: "I will manifest myself to Him that loveth me."

(J. Parker, D. D.)

Scepticism is not intellectual only, it is moral also — a chronic atrophy and disease of the whole soul. A man lives by believing something, not by debating and arguing about many things. A sad case for him when all he can manage to believe is something he can button in his pocket — something he can eat and digest. Lower than that he will not get.

(T. Carlyle.)

What would you think if there were to be an insurrection in a hospital, and sick men should conspire with sick men, and on a certain day they should rise up and reject the doctors and nurses? There they would be — sickness and disease within, and all the help without! Yet what is a hospital compared to this fever-ridden world, which goes on swinging in pain through the centuries, where men say "we have got rid of the Atonement and the Bible?" Yes, and you have rid yourselves of salvation.

(H. W. Beecher.)Can you tell me anything about the revision of the Bible? asked an intelligent working man the other day. "Because I've been told they're taking out all the contradictions in it." The same man another day expressed his inaptitude for faith in these words: "Why, to look at them stars and think they're all worlds, and to believe there's something beyond all that again — it's more than I can believe." Could the attitude of unbelief have expressed itself better? The very sight that to some minds forces home the conviction that a God exists — the sight of the star-sown fields of heaven — was to this man only a stumbling block and rock of offence.

(C. C. Liddell.)

Family Churchman.
I. HEARING GOD'S WORDS. What is implied?

1. Attention of the body.

2. Intention of the mind.

3. Retention of the memory.


1. Some defiantly refuse to come where they may hear.

2. Others intend to disregard, loving the present world (2 Timothy 4:10).

3. Others hear for a while, but continue not in well doing.

(1)Truth is rejected, but it does not keep silence.

(2)Truth is reviled, but it wearies not.

(3)Truth is persecuted, but it does not yield.

III. THE TEST. "Not of God." "Of God."

1. He loves God, and so loves His Word.

2. He is in sympathy with the Word, and so delights to hear it.

3. He wants to obey the Word, and so listens to it. But the carnal mind cannot receive the things of God. The Word rebukes him, threatens him; he hates it.

(Family Churchman.)

The word "hear" signifies serious attention and regard (Matthew 17:5; Leviticus 16:29; John 10:3: Revelation 2:3). It is clear that all other hearing must be unprofitable, and in respect to the Word of God condemnatory. When man speaks, to hear without attending is useless; when God speaks, sinful.

I. WHO THEY ARE WHO HEAR THE WORD. "He that is of God."

1. All God's true children. Not all who are brought into covenant with God, for such were the Pharisees. Holy ordinances do not necessarily convey the continuance of sonship.

2. All who are girded and governed by God's Spirit (Romans 8:14).

3. All who love God (Luke 10:27).


1. It is not merely because they know them to be words of wisdom and life, bringing happiness here and hereafter: there is rooted in their hearts an intense desire for all good and holy things, a profound respect for all that belongs to God. It would be repugnant to their new nature to do otherwise.

2. Their own mind immediately draws a distinction between the Word of God and that of man. The latter has to be considered before it is received; the former permits no consideration.

3. Nor can there be the least evasion or compromise, no distinguishing between great and small.

4. There is no consultation of flesh and blood. It is the Word, and that is sufficient (1 Thessalonians 2:13).


1. It condemns many worldly pursuits and pleasures, and insists upon self-denial and the daily cross. Assuredly none who are not of God will listen to this, and follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth.

2. They do not understand the nature of spiritual truth; its promises and threatenings appeal to them in vain (1 Corinthians 2:14).

3. In proportion as men are governed by natural maxims and feelings and principles, and by their own self-will, they deprive themselves of the capacity of appreciating God's Word.

(J. Slade, M. A.)

Jesus, Disciples
Jerusalem, Mount of Olives
Father's, Learnt, Presence, Speak
1. Jesus delivers the woman taken in adultery.
12. He declares himself the light of the world, and justifies his doctrine;
31. promises freedom to those who believe;
33. answers the Jews who boasted of Abraham;
48. answers their reviling, by showing his authority and dignity;
59. and slips away from those who would stone him.

Dictionary of Bible Themes
John 8:38

     1513   Trinity, mission of
     2078   Christ, sonship of
     6022   sin, causes of

John 8:31-41

     5724   offspring

John 8:33-41

     5078   Abraham, significance

Ascension Day
Eversley. Chester Cathedral. 1872. St John viii. 58. "Before Abraham was, I am." Let us consider these words awhile. They are most fit for our thoughts on this glorious day, on which the Lord Jesus ascended to His Father, and to our Father, to His God, and to our God, that He might be glorified with the glory which He had with the Father before the making of the world. For it is clear that we shall better understand Ascension Day, just as we shall better understand Christmas or Eastertide,
Charles Kingsley—All Saints' Day and Other Sermons

December 18 Evening
Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.--JOHN 8:32. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.--The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.--If the Son . . . shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. Brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.--Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified
Anonymous—Daily Light on the Daily Path

September 15 Morning
Sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.--ROM. 6:14. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.--My brethren, ye . . . are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.--Being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ.--The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.
Anonymous—Daily Light on the Daily Path

February 27 Evening
God . . . giveth . . . liberally, and upbraideth not.--JAS. 1:5. Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more. The grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many . . . The free gift is of many offences unto justification. God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened
Anonymous—Daily Light on the Daily Path

December 10 Evening
The perfect law of liberty.--JAS. 1:25. Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.
Anonymous—Daily Light on the Daily Path

February 28 Evening
The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord.--PROV. 20:27. He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her . . . And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last. Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? To him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.--If our heart condemn us, God is greater than our
Anonymous—Daily Light on the Daily Path

April 9. "I do Always those Things that Please Him" (John viii. 29).
"I do always those things that please Him" (John viii. 29). It is a good thing to keep short accounts with God. We were very much struck some years ago with an interpretation of this verse: "So every one of us shall give an account of himself to God." The thought conveyed to our mind was, that of accounting to God every day of our lives, so that our accounts were settled daily, and for us judgment was passed, as we lay down on our pillows every night. This is surely the true way to live. It is the
Rev. A. B. Simpson—Days of Heaven Upon Earth

The Light of the World
'... I am the light of the world: he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.'--JOHN viii. 12. Jesus Christ was His own great theme. Whatever be the explanation of the fact, there stands the fact that, if we know anything at all about His habitual tone of teaching, we know that it was full of Himself. We know, too, that what He said about Himself was very unlike the language becoming a wise and humble religious teacher. Both the prominence given to His own personality,
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

'Never in Bondage'
'We... were never in bondage to any man: how gayest Thou, Ye shall be made free!'--JOHN viii. 33. 'Never in bondage to any man'? Then what about Egypt, Babylon, Persia, Syria? Was there not a Roman garrison looking down from the castle into the very Temple courts where this boastful falsehood was uttered? It required some hardihood to say, 'Never in bondage to any man,' in the face of such a history, and such a present. But was it not just an instance of the strange power which we all have and exercise,
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Three Aspects of Faith
'Many believed on Him. Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on Him....'--JOHN viii. 30,31. The Revised Version accurately represents the original by varying the expression in these two clauses, retaining 'believed on Him' in the former, and substituting the simple 'believed Him' in the latter. The variation in two contiguous clauses can scarcely be accidental in so careful a writer as the Apostle John. And the reason and meaning of it are obvious enough on the face of the narrative. His purpose
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

July the Fifth the Discipleship that Tells
"He that followeth Me." --JOHN viii. 12-20. Yes, but I must make sure that I follow Him in Spirit and in truth. It is so easy to be self-deceived. I may follow a pleasant emotion, while all the time a bit of grim cross-bearing is being ignored. I may be satisfied to be "out on the ocean sailing," singing of "a home beyond the tide," while all the time there is a piece of perilous salvage work to be done beneath the waves. To "follow Jesus" is to face the hostility of scribes and Pharisees, to
John Henry Jowett—My Daily Meditation for the Circling Year

On the Words of the Gospel, John viii. 31, "If Ye Abide in My Word, Then are Ye Truly My Disciples," Etc.
1. Ye know well, Beloved, that we all have One Master, and are fellow disciples under Him. Nor are we your masters, because we speak to you from this higher spot; but He is the Master of all, who dwelleth in us all. He just now spake to us all in the Gospel, and said to us, what I also am saying to you; but He saith it of us, as well of us as of you. "If ye shall continue in My word," not of course in my word who am now speaking to you; but in His who spake just now out of the Gospel. "If ye shall
Saint Augustine—sermons on selected lessons of the new testament

Believing on Jesus, and Its Counterfeits
The Lord Jesus also told the contradicting sinners that the day would come when cavillers would be convinced. Observe how he put it: "When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself." Cavillers may have a fine time of it just now; but they will one day be convinced either to their conversion or their confusion. Let us hope that many will see the truth before they die--early enough to seek and find a Saviour. But many in our Lord's day who discovered
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 37: 1891

Sermon for the Fourth Sunday in Lent
Of the power of the Word of God, of fiery desires, and the essence of self-renunciation. John viii. 47.--"He who is of God heareth the words of God." DEAR children, ye ought not to cease from hearing or declaring the word of God because you do not alway live according to it, nor keep it in mind. For inasmuch as you love it and crave after it, it will assuredly be given unto you; and you shall enjoy it for ever with God, according to the measure of your desire after it. There are some people who,
Susannah Winkworth—The History and Life of the Reverend Doctor John Tauler

Morgan -- the Perfect Ideal of Life
George Campbell Morgan, Congregational divine and preacher, was born in Tetbury, Gloucestershire, England, in 1863, and was educated at the Douglas School, Cheltenham. He worked as a lay-mission preacher for the two years ending 1888, and was ordained to the ministry in the following year, when he took charge of the Congregational Church at Stones, Staffordshire. After occupying the pulpit in several pastorates, in 1904 he became pastor of the Westminster Congregational Chapel, Buckingham Gate, London,
Various—The World's Great Sermons, Volume 10

The Truth shall make you free.... Whosoever committeth sin, is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.--John viii. 32, 34-36. As this passage stands, I have not been able to make sense of it. No man could be in the house of the Father in virtue of being the servant of sin; yet this man is in the house as a servant, and the house in which he serves is not the house of sin,
George MacDonald—Unspoken Sermons

Of the Imitation of Christ, and of Contempt of the World and all Its Vanities
He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness,(1) saith the Lord. These are the words of Christ; and they teach us how far we must imitate His life and character, if we seek true illumination, and deliverance from all blindness of heart. Let it be our most earnest study, therefore, to dwell upon the life of Jesus Christ. 2. His teaching surpasseth all teaching of holy men, and such as have His Spirit find therein the hidden manna.(2) But there are many who, though they frequently hear the Gospel,
Thomas A Kempis—Imitation of Christ

Tobacco wastes the body. It is used for the nicotine that is in it. This peculiar ingredient is a poisonous, oily, colorless liquid, and gives to tobacco its odor. This odor and the flavor of tobacco are developed by fermentation in the process of preparation for use. "Poison" is commonly defined as "any substance that when taken into the system acts in an injurious manner, tending to cause death or serious detriment to health." And different poisons are defined as those which act differently upon
J. M. Judy—Questionable Amusements and Worthy Substitutes

Messianic Claims Met by Attempt to Stone Jesus.
(Jerusalem. October, a.d. 29.) ^D John VIII. 12-59. ^d 12 Again therefore Jesus spake unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life. [The metaphor of light was common, and signified knowledge and life; darkness is opposed to light, being the symbol of ignorance and death.] 13 The Pharisees therefore said unto him, Thou bearest witness of thyself; thy witness is not true. [They perhaps recalled the words of Jesus
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

The time was when there was no sin in this world. At that time it was an Eden. By man transgressing God's holy law sin entered this world. "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned." Rom. 5:12. This is the origin of sin in this world and the awful consequence. God's design was that his creation be sinless and pure, but by disobedience sin has marred the scene of God's creative purity. The following texts will
Charles Ebert Orr—The Gospel Day

The Course of the World.
Unmistakably there exists a wide gulf of separation between the children of God and the children of the world. Christ is the only avenue of escape from the world. The wide, open door of salvation is the exit. He who would return from the blissful shores of Christianity to the beggarly elements of the world can do so only on the transporting barges of Satan. As a tree is known by its fruits, so is a true follower of Christ. The fruit borne by a Christian is directly opposite in its nature to the fruit
Charles Ebert Orr—The Gospel Day

The First Chapter: Imitating Christ and Despising all Vanities on Earth
HE WHO follows Me, walks not in darkness," says the Lord (John 8:12). By these words of Christ we are advised to imitate His life and habits, if we wish to be truly enlightened and free from all blindness of heart. Let our chief effort, therefore, be to study the life of Jesus Christ. The teaching of Christ is more excellent than all the advice of the saints, and he who has His spirit will find in it a hidden manna. Now, there are many who hear the Gospel often but care little for it because they
Thomas À Kempis—The Imitation of Christ

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