John 5:42
Jesus is expostulating with the Jews, who refuse to admit his claims, to accept his salvation. The course of his argument and censure is somewhat thus: "You revere and examine the canonical Scriptures. You profess to think of them so highly that you regard them as the source of eternal life for men. Yet you will not yield faith and allegiance to me. What inconsistency is here! The true value of the Scriptures lies just in this, that they bear witness to me, that they are intended to lead you and all who read them to me. The fact is, that you rest in the Scriptures, instead of being led by the Scriptures to me, who am Life Eternal. Thus the Word fails to fulfil in your case its intended purpose."

I. THE SCRIPTURES WITNESS TO JESUS AS THE CHRIST.

1. This is so with the Old Testament, which was in our Lord's mind when he used this language. In the Old Testament there are recorded some explicit and direct predictions which are fulfilled in Jesus; whilst the symbols, sacrifices, and services of the old economy in many instances point to him who should come. No Christian can read certain of the psalms, or certain passages from the writings of Isaiah and of Daniel, without tracing prophetic outlines of the sufferings and of the reign of the Messiah.

2. It is obvious that this is still more strikingly the case with the New Testament, to which, of course, our Lord could not be referring here, but which we are bound to search, and in which we are sure to find abundant witness to Jesus as the Christ of God and the Saviour of men. The Gospels and Epistles are full of Christ; they relate facts, they offer doctrinal explanations, they draw practical inferences, all of which have a bearing upon human salvation.

II. THE SCRIPTURES ARE THUS THE MEANS OF ETERNAL LIFE TO MANKIND. By "eternal life," the most comprehensive of all phrases employed to denote spiritual enrichinent and blessing, we are to understand the life of the soul, the life which is Divine. Now, this is a boon which the knowledge of the mere letter of Scripture can never impart. It must be communicated by the quickening Spirit of God, and is conveyed through that Mediator, who is in himself the life of God, and who becomes, by his humiliation, obedience, and sacrifice, the life of man. He himself professed and promised to bestow this boon: "Come unto me, that ye may have life;" "This is life eternal, to know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." If we know Christ in and through the Scriptures, we may be justly said to owe to them the incomparable gift of life eternal.

III. THE SCRIPTURES SHOULD THEREFORE BE STUDIED AND SEARCHED BY EVERY ONE DESIROUS OF SPIRITUAL BLESSING.

1. In what spirit? With a reverent sense of their Divine origin and authority, and with a high conviction of their priceless value.

2. With what intent and view? Not for curiosity's sake, nor for secular ends, but for spiritual improvement.

3. In what manner? Systematically, and not in a desultory fashion; with all accessible human aids, and with prayer for Divine enlightenment and assistance. - T.







Ye have not the love of God in you.
I. WHAT IS IT TO LOVE GOD? Hereunto is required —

1. Knowing of Him.

2. Our choosing Him as our portion and sovereign good (Deuteronomy 26:17; Psalm 16:5; Psalm 73:26).

3. Our exercising all the acts of love towards Him.

(1)Good will.

(2)Desire of union.

(3)Complacency.

II. HOW ARE WE TO LOVE GOD?

1. With all our hearts (Deuteronomy 6:5; Matthew 22:37).

2. Above all things (Matthew 10:37; Luke 14:26).

3. At all times. Because —

(1)Of the infinite perfections of goodness in Himself.

(2)Of His infinite expressions of goodness towards us.

III. HOW DOES IT APPEAR TO BE SIN NOT TO LOVE GOD? Because —

1. God has commanded it (Deuteronomy 6:5).

2. We have so many obligations to love Him.

3. The want of this turns everything else to sin.

IV. WHO ARE GUILTY OF THIS SIN?

1. They that acknowledge Him not.

2. That think not of Him (Psalm 119:97).

3. That long not after Him (Psalm 73:25).

4. That rejoice not in Him.

5. That love anything as much or more than Him (Luke 14:26).

6. That love not His (1 John 4:12; 1 John 5:1).

7. That do not endeavour to be reconciled to Him.

8. That do not obey Him (John 14:15).

V. MOTIVES TO LOVE GOD.

1. It is the first and great command (Matthew 22:38).

2. We can perform no duty aright without it (1 Corinthians 13:1).

3. It will make all other duties easy and pleasant.

4. Consider how infinitely God deserves our love for what He is in Himself; and also for what He is to us. He —

(1)Made us;

(2)Maintains us;

(3)Protects us;

(4)Redeemed us;

(5)Sanctifies us;

(6)Prepares heaven for us.

5. If we love God all things shall work together for our good.

(Bp. Beveridge.)

I. In suggesting various MARKS by which you may ascertain whether you love God or not, I would mention —

1. The general bent and turn of your thoughts when not under the immediate control of circumstances. These afford clear indications of the general temper and disposition. It is impossible that such a Being should be absent long from your thoughts unless you are decidedly indifferent to Divine things; the charge against the ungodly is that "God is not in all their thoughts." Consider this, ye that forget God.

2. How you stand disposed to the exercises of religion: if God is the Object of your love you will gladly avail yourselves of the opportunities for cultivating a closer friendship with Him.

3. How you stand affected towards His Word. We can derive no just thoughts of God but from that. All, therefore, who sincerely love Him study that. "How I love Thy law; it is my meditation all the day." A neglected Bible is an unambiguous sign of an unsanctified heart.

4. With what sentiments do you regard the people of God? If you do not love the image which you see, how can you love the unseen original?

5. Consider the disposition you entertain toward the Son of God. "If ye had loved the Father, ye would have loved Me also."

6. Examine how you are affected by His benefits. These are so numerous and distinguished that they ought to excite our gratitude; and yet are they the only benefits we receive without thankfulness.

7. In what manner are you impressed with a sense of your sins?

8. How are you affected towards this world?

II. Supposing a conviction to be produced that you bare not God's love in you, let me make the proper IMPROVEMENT.

1. It should be accompanied by deep humiliation.

2. Let this humiliation be accompanied with concern and alarm.

3. This is an awful, but not a helpless state. Jesus is the way to the Father's heart.

(Robert Hall.)

There are some charges which cannot be advanced without exciting the strongest feelings, such as cowardice and falsehood. And yet there are graver charges which excite no emotion, or, if perchance the conscience be aroused to the sense of their truth, anodynes are applied and men return to recklessness and indifference. It was so with the Jews and the allegation of the text, and it is so to-day. Observe —

I. THAT THE LOVE OF GOD IS THE PRINCIPLE WHICH OUGHT TO ACTUATE ALL HIS INTELLIGENT CREATURES.

1. Deuteronomy 6:1-6 six times repeated and confirmed by Jesus Christ.

2. God's revelations of His character and proceedings, show the reasonableness of this command, for they show His love for the purpose of making us happy. Contemplate —

(1)Providence.

(2)The scheme of grace.

3. This should lead us to recognize His claim upon our love.

II. THAT THERE ARE MULTITUDES OF THE HUMAN RACE WHO ARE DESTITUTE OF THE LOVE OF GOD.

1. This is proved from Scripture. How multiplied are the charges against men that they forsook God, departed from, hated, denied Him! Christ said, "They have both seen and hated Me and My Father," and Paul, that they are "haters of God."

2. This will always be the case where men are left to the influence of their own minds without the counteracting principle of Divine grace.

3. This accounted for by man's fall, which introduced in the human mind a dislike to God and His commandments (Romans 8:7, 8).

III. THAT THERE ARE SIGNS BY WHICH THE ABSENCE OF THE LOVE OF GOD MAY BE DETECTED.

1. A rejection of the Divine testimony respecting the Person and work of the Son (see the whole context).

2. The infraction of the judicial or moral commandments of the law (John 14:21, etc.).

3. Inordinate desires for and pursuit after worldly gain (Matthew 6:24; Matthew 19:16, etc.; 1 John 2:15-17; James 4:4).

4. Destitution of true practical kindness towards other men (1 John 3:14, etc.; 1 John 4:7,12,19).

IV. THAT THOSE WHO ARE DESTITUTE OF THIS LOVE ARE LIVING IN AN AWFUL STATE WITH REGARD TO THEIR ETERNAL INTERESTS. The absence of the love of God —

1. Abandons man to the dominion of those passions whose uniform tendency is the production of abasement and sorrow.

2. Excludes men from the favour of God and exposes them to future punishment.

(J. Parsons.)

1. Jesus knew what was in man, had a faculty of perceiving what lay under a semblance that would have imposed on other men.

2. In the exercise of this faculty Jesus came forth with the utterance of the text. He saw, in spite of their zeal for the Sabbath and God's honour, that the Jews had not the love of God in them.

3. It is mortifying to the man who possesses many accomplishments of character to be told that the most essential accomplishments of a moral being is that in which he has no share, and wanting it, he wants not merely obedience to the first and greatest commandment, but the impregnating quality of all acceptable obedience.

4. There is no more useful exercise than that of carrying round this conviction amongst all conditions of humanity. The pride of the Pharisees was opposed to such a demonstration, nor do men of taste, feeling, and morality understand how they should require the same treatment in preparing them for immortality with the profligate.

5. But the Bible everywhere groups men into two classes, with one clear line of demarcation between them, and this we can find out to be in accordance with the actual exhibition of human nature. There are men who do and men who do not possess this love of God.

I. TAKE AN EXTREME CASE, A MORAL MONSTER, who, in addition to every other vicious feeling and practice, can steel his heart against the atrocity of murder. We have no difficulty in assigning his place. It were a monstrous supposition that the love of God were to be found in him.

II. DETACH FROM HIM ONE OFFENSIVE FEATURE. He recoils from murder. Has he thereby become a spiritual man? Is the difference assigned to him due to the love of God? Your consciousness will tell you that the heart has constitutional feelings unaccompanied by any reference to even the existence of God.

III. H this natural recoil from murder be experienced by the man who has no love to God, why may it not be carried further and yet the same love be absent? LET THERE BE THEN A FURTHER TRANSFORMATION. Endow the man with natural tenderness and make him a fair every-day character. Still he only constitutionally revolts from crime without any movement of affection towards God.

IV. PROCEED IN THIS WORK. Conceive of an exquisite softening of affection and tenderness over the whole character. Do these refined sensibilities constitute a spiritual man? The feeling heart if unaccompanied by the love of God is no better evidence than the circulation of the blood.

V. GO STILL FURTHER. Let the heart be filled with upright and honourable principles. But there is a principle of honour in the human mind apart altogether from any reference to God.

VI. But it may be asked, WHAT BETTER EVIDENCE CAN BE GIVEN OF OUR LOVE TO GOD THAN THE EXISTENCE AND PRACTICE OF THESE VIRTUES? It takes us to the bottom of this delusion to observe that though the religious principle can never exist without virtuous conduct, yet such conduct may be due —

1. To natural disposition.

2. To a perception of its beauty.

3. To secure friendships.

4. To a perception of it as part of a fashionable deportment.But it is only when he is virtuous, because it is a prescription of Divine law that there is any religion in it. If you do what is virtuous because God tells you, then only do you give an example of the authority of religion over your practice. God cannot reward you in the capacity of Master when His service is not the principle of it, nor as Judge when your virtue has no reference to His law. And the highest sense of duty towards society will not be received as an atonement for wanting a sense of duty to God. He gave you your virtuous faculties and provided a sphere for their exercise, yet you do not love Him. Conclusion:

1. Virtue without religion, from the want of an adequate motive, is at best imperfect and breaks down under the severe pressure of temptation. Christian virtue sustained by the love of God is invincible, perpetual, permanent.

2. If Scripture and all experience are on the side of our text, should not this be turned by each of us to personal account?

3. The love of God may be, and can only be, shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Ghost.

(T. Chalmers, D. D.)

(in conjunction with 1 Corinthians 16:22): — Our Lord is remonstrating with the Jews for their desire to slay Him. By taking His life they would be taking their own (ver. 40). This was attempted under the pretence of love to God. Our Lord here exposes its hollowness. The other verse is a prediction of the inevitable consequence of impenitence. In 1 Corinthians 12:3 Paul tells us that the Jews called Jesus Anathema, i.e., a person devoted to destruction. How He turns their doctrine upon them! "It is not Jesus who shall be destroyed, but those who do not love Him."

I. THE MIND DELIGHTS IN SOME SPECIFIC AND ABSORBING PURSUITS, and the range of its search will widen, and its standard rise in proportion to the purity, reverence, and the devoutness of the desire.

II. THIS TENDENCY FINDS ITS REWARD IN THE CONTEMPLATION OF THE HIGHEST GOOD. Finite intelligence can rest only in its infinite source.

III. THE PATHWAY TO SUCH AN ISSUE IS OPENED IN THE GOSPEL.

1. With unobtrusive step. There is no vulgar ceremonial, no wild or harsh Eureka.

2. With surprising grace.

3. With convincing luminousness. Christ is "the Way, the Truth, and the Life."

4. With unembarrassed access. Willinghood is the only condition. "The Spirit and the Bride say, Come."

IV. THE REVELATION WHICH THE GOSPEL MAKES IS THE GREAT MORAL TRIBUNAL AND TEST.

1. It tries our estimate of law. He who underrates the gospel lowers the standard of the law. A low estimate of moral law means a low estimate of God.

2. It tests our reverence for God. The mind which shrinks from the obligations of the gospel is deficient in its veneration for the Supreme.

3. It tests our susceptibility to transcendent worth. Without a sense of our utter worthlessness there can be no appreciation of Christ. Any sense of personal righteousness detracts from our estimate of His. Just as a man dwindles in His own esteem Christ rises and expands. Christ came not to dower the rich and cleanse the pure, but to enrich the poor and wash the filthy.

V. TO SET THIS GOSPEL AT NAUGHT IS TO BE LEFT WITHOUT EXCUSE.

1. Unless we can find a substitute; but all substitutes hitherto have been like the cup of Tantalus. Read the "Transactions of the British Association" beside a sick bed, or take them as a light to the feet, and where is your consolation?

2. Unless we can silence clouds of witnesses. Could a lie have filled the martyr with new faith?

3. Unless we can do all this without misgiving.

4. But to yield to this gospel is to pass within the range of everlasting love.

(A. Mursell.)

As a man loveth so he is; for the lover is in the thing loved, more properly than in himself: wherefore, if a man love earthly things, he may be called an earthly man; but if he love heavenly things, or God, he may be called an heavenly or a godly man. Therefore love God and heavenly things, for undoubtedly that is the best and most assured love; for they be, and ever shall be, permanent; and all earthly things be soon vanished and ended; and so the love of them is in vain (1 John 2:15-17).

(Dean Colet.)

1. We take delight in pleasing the object of our affection.

2. We delight in the society and conversation of those we love.

3. We naturally prize the approbation of one whom we love.

4. We have reference to the feelings of one whom we love, in all our conduct.

5. We naturally love to think of the object of our affection.

6. We delight in conversing about an object of our affections.

7. We are pained when separated from those we love.

8. We naturally love the friends of the object of our affection.

9. We naturally avoid the enemies of our friends.

10. We are grieved when our best friend is abused in our presence.

11. We are naturally credulous and pleased if we hear any good of those we love.

12. We love to see means used to promote the interest and happiness of those we love.

13. It is difficult for us to believe an evil report of one whom we love.

14. When we are compelled to believe an evil report of the object of our affection, we are careful not to give it unnecessary publicity.

15. We naturally try to put the most favourable construction upon any event that might be injurious to the interest or reputation of a friend whom we love.

16. When any of the friends of one whom we greatly love fall into any conduct that is greatly dishononrable to the object of our affection, it distresses us, and we are disposed, as far as possible, to prevent a repetition of the event.Nothing is more common than for impenitent sinners to affirm that they do love God; and yet nothing is more certain than that they do not love Him.

(C. G. Finney.)

I have been reading Chinese books for more than forty years, and any general requirement to "love God," or the mention of any one as actually "loving Him," has yet to come for the first time under my eye.

(J. Legge, D. D.)

The Evangelist.
I. HERE IS AN AWFUL CHARGE. "Ye have not," etc. To whom does this apply?

1. To those who are habitually .unmindful of Him. Our thoughts as naturally follow the object of our regard as the needle the loadstone. Says David, "I love Thee, O Lord, my strength." Observe what follows: "How precious are Thy thoughts unto me," etc. But of the wicked it is said, "God is not in all their thoughts."

2. To those who do not trust in Him. We cannot confide in one we dislike, and we know not how to distrust one whom we truly esteem.

3. To those who are unconcerned for His honour and interest. Is our friend misrepresented? We naturally stand forth in his defence; we could not see him injured or wronged without pain, and Without endeavouring to have him righted. But what lamentable unconcern do we witness for God and the things of God!

4. To those who are indifferent about His presence and favour. We value the regard of those who are dear to us.

II. CONSIDER THEIR SIN AND DANGER. God has the highest claims to our love, and not to love Him is a sin of no ordinary magnitude.

1. It is a most comprehensive sin. Love is the fulfilling of the whole law, and hence the want of it is a sin which violates the whole law. It is the want of everything that is morally good, the root of all evil, the spring or root of all disobedience.

2. It is a most inexcusable sin. For can any plead want of ability? Is not the passion of love implanted in our nature?

3. It is a most ruinous and destructive sin. All who die without love to God must be excluded from His presence, shut out from His kingdom.Apply the subject —

1. To those who are destitute of this love. Humble yourselves before God.

2. To those whose love to God is low and languid. Let them seek to have it revived and invigorated by a contemplation of the Divine excellencies — grace and love — as displayed in the great Mediator.

3. To those whose love to God is increasing. "If any man love God, the same is known of him."

(The Evangelist.)

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