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God is used eleven times in this chapter in its proper sense; and it is not reasonable to conceive that it should be here used in an improper sense, in which this word in the singular number is never used throughout the whole New Testament: Dr. Whitby. Learn hence, That eternity, the personality, and the divinity of Christ, are of necessity to be believed, if we will worship him aright, Christ tells us, John v. 23, that we must worship the Son even as we worship the Father. Now unless we acknowledge the eternity and divinity of Christ, the second Person, as well as of God the Father, the first Person, we honour neither the Father nor the Son. There is this difference between natural things and supernatural: Natural things are first understood, and then believed; but supernatural mysteries must be first believed, and then will be better understood. If we will first set reason on work, and believe no more than we can comprehend, this will hinder faith: but if after we have assented to gospel mysteries, we set reason on work, this will help faith. 3 All things were made by him: and without him was not any thing made that was made.
Observe here, The argument which St. John uses to prove Christ to be God; it it is taken from the work of creation. He that made all things, is truly and really God; but Christ made all things, and nothing was made without him ; therefore is Christ truly and really God. Here observe, 1. An affirmation of as large and vast an extent as the whole world. All things were made by him; not this or that particular being, but all created beings received their existence and being from Christ. Observe, 2. That to prevent the least imagination of any thing's having another author than Christ, here is the most positive and particular negation that can be: that without him was not any thing made that was made; not without him as an instrument, but without him as an agent, Christ being a co-worker with the Father and the Spirit in the work of creation. He was an Author of the creation, not an instrument in creating. Learn thence, that Christ, as God, being the Creator and Maker of all things himself, is excluded from being a creature, or any thing that was made.
4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
Here we have a farther proof of Christ's divinity, and an evidence that he had a being as God, before his incarnation: foras much as life is centred in him, communicated by him, and derived from him. In him was life, formaliter et causaliter. Life was formally in Christ, as the subject of it; and also causally in him as the fountain of it. Learn, 1. That Christ is Author and Dispenser of all life unto his creatures. He is the original life in the order of nature, because by him man was created, Gen. i. 26. He is spiritual life in the order of grace, John xiv. 6. I am the way, the truth, and the life. He is eternal life in the order of glory, 1 John v. 20. This is the true God, and eternal life. Learn, 2. That all creatures receiving light and life from Christ, not as an instrument, but as the fountain from whence it floweth, and in which it is preserved, is an evident proof of his divinity, and an argument that he is truly and really God. In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. 8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 9 That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
Here the evangelist proceeds in declaring Christ to be really God, because he was that original, that essential light, which had no beginning, suffers no decay, but is so diffusive, and in some kind and in some measure or other, to enlighten every man that cometh into the world. Some of the Jews had a conceit, that John the Baptist was the promised Messiah, as appears by Luke iii. 15. The people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John whether he were the Christ or not. ere therefore, to undeceive the Jews, the evangelist adds, that John was not that light; John was a great light, a burning and a shining light, but not such a light as the Messias was to be. John was a light instrumentally, Christ efficiently John was a light enlightened, Christ was a light enlightening; John's light was by derivation and participation, Christ's was essential and original ; John's light was the light of a candle in a private house, in and among the Jews only : but Christ's light was as the light of the sun, spreading over the face of the whole earth. This is the true light, that lighteth every man that cometh into the world; that is, he enlightens all mankind with the light of reason, and is the Author of all spiritual illumination in them that receive it. Christ is called a light in regard of his office, which was to manifest and declare that salvation to his church which lay hid before in the purpose of God; and he is called the true light, not so much in opposition to all false lights, but as opposed to the types and shadows of the Mosaical dispensation. Learn, 1. That every man and woman that comes into the world is enlightened by Christ in some kind and measure or other. All are enlightened with the light of reason and natural conscience: some with the light of grace and supernatural illumination. Learn, 5. That Christ being the essential, original, and eternal Light, enlightening and enlivening the whole creation, is an evident and undeniable demonstration that he is truly and really God.
10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. 11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
He was in the world, that is, he that was God from eternity, made himself visible to the world in the fulness of time. The evangelist repeats it again, that the world was made by him, to show his omnipotency and divinity; and then adds, that the world knew him not, as an evidence of the world's blindness and ingratitude. Learn hence, That notwithstanding the eternal Son of God appeared in the world, and the world was made and created by him, yet the generality of the world did not know him ; that is, did not own and acknowledge him, did not receive and obey him. They neither knew him as creator, nor accepted of him as mediator. Yea, he came to his own ; that is, his own kindred and country, the church and people of the Jews; but the generality of them gave him cold entertainment. It was the sin of the Jewish nation, that though they were Christ's own peculiar people, his own by choice, his own by purchase, his own by covenant, by kindred, yet the generality of them did reject him, and would not own him for the true and promised Messias. Learn hence, That the Lord Jesus Christ met with manifest and shameful rejection even at the hands of those that were nearest to him by flesh and nature, John xi. 5. Neither did his brethren believe on him.
12 But as many as received him,
to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
That is, although multitudes reject him, yet some received and owned him for the true Messias; and those that did so, he advanced to the high dignity of adoption and sonship, giving them power, that is, right or privilege, to become the sons of God. Here note, 1. The nature of justifying faith declared, As many as received him. Now this receiving of Christ implies these three things, 1. The assent of the understanding to that divine testimony which the scripture gives of Christ. 2. The consent of the will to submit to this Jesus as Lord and King. 3. The affiance and trust of the heart in Christ alone for salvation; for faith is not a bare credence, but a divine affiance, and such an affiance in Christ, and reliance upon him, as is the parent and principle of obedience to him. Note, 2. That it is the high and honourable privilege of all such as receive Christ by faith, to become the sons of God by adoption. This is a precious privilege, a free privilege, an honourable privilege, an abiding privilege, and calls for all possible returns of gratitude and thankfulness, of love and service, of duty and obedience, of submission and self resignation.
13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
Because the bragging Jews did much boast of their natural birth and descent from Abraham, as being his blood and offspring, therefore it is here asserted, that men become not the children of God by natural propagation, but by spiritual regeneration: They are not born of blood. Grace runs not in the blood, piety is not hereditary. Religious parents propagate corruption, not regeneration. Were the conveyances of grace natural, good parents would not be so ill-suited with children as sometimes they are. No person then whatsoever has the gracious privilege of adoption by the first birth. They are not born of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, that is, no man by the utmost improvement of nature can raise himself up to this privilege of adoption, and be the author and efficient cause of his own regeneration. Learn hence, That man in all his capacities is too weak to produce the work of regeneration in himself. They, says Dr. Hammond, who by the influence of the highest rational principles, live most exactly ac
cording to the rule of rational nature, that Saviour's incarnation for us, so his life
is, of unregenerated morality, are the
14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the onlybegotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
The evangelist having asserted the divinity of Christ in the foregoing verses, comes now to speak of his humanity and manifestation in our nature: The word was made flesh. Where note, 1. Our Saviour's incarnation for us. 2. His life and conversation here among us. He dwell or tabernacled for a season with us. In the incarnation or assumption of our nature, observe, 1. The person assuming, The Word, that is, the second person subsisting in the glorious Godhead. Observe, 2. The nature assumed, flesh; that is, the human nature, consisting of soul and body. But why is it not said, The Word was made man 2 but, The Word was made flesh. Ans. To denote and set forth the wonderful abasement and condescension of Christ; there being more of vieness and weakness, and opposition to spirit, in the word fesh, than in the word man. Christ's taking flesh implies, that he did not only take upon him the human nature, but all the weaknesses and infirmities of that nature also, (sinful infirmities and personal infirmities excepted,) he had nothing to do with our sinful flesh. Though Christ loved souls with an infinite and insuperable love, yet he would not sin to save a soul. And he took no personal infirmities upon him, but such as are common to the whole nature, as hunger, thirst, weariness. Observe, 3.1
and conversation among us ; He dwelt, or tabernacled amongst us. The tabernacle was a type of Christ's human nature. 1. As the outside of the tabernacle was mean, made of ordinary materials, but its inside glorious; so was the Son of God. 2. God's special presence was in the tabernacle; there he dwelt, for he had a delight therein. In like manner dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily in Christ; and the glory of his divinity shined forth to the eye and view of his disciples; for they beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, that is, whilst Christ appeared as a man amongst us, he gave great and glorious testamonies of his being the Son of God. Learn hence, That in the day of our Saviour's incarnation, the divinity of his person did shine forth through the veil of his flesh, and was seen by all then that had a spiritual eye to behold it, and a mind disposed to consider it. We beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father. 15 John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. 16 And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. 17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. 18 No man hath seen God at any time; the only-begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him. Here we have John Baptist's first testimony concerning Christ the promised Messiah ; and it consists of four parts. 1. John prefers Christ before himself, as being surpassingly above himself. He that cometh after me is preferred before me, that is, in the dignity of his person, and in the eminency of his office, as being the eternal God. Now amongst them that were
The assumption itself. He was made flesh; born of women, there was not a greater than that is, he assumed the human nature ||John the Baptist; if Christ then was into an union with his Godhead, and so I greater than John, it was in regard of his became a true and real man by that as- being God. He is therefore preferred besumption. Learn hence, That Jesus Christ fore him, because he was before him, as did really assume the true and perfect being God from all eternity. Learn
patmre of man, into a personal union with his divine nature, and still remains true God, and true Man, in one person, for ever, O blessed union 0 thrice happy conjunction . As Man, Christ had an experimental sense of our infirmities and wants; as God, he can support and supply them all. Note farther, 2. As our
hence, That the dignity and eternity of
Christ's person as God, sets him up above
all his ministers; yea, above all creatures, how excellent soever. He that coneth after me in time, is preferred before me in dignity; for he was before me, even from all eternity. 2. John prefers Christ before all believers, in point of fulness and sufficiency of divine grace: Of his fulness do they receive. They have their failings, Christ has his fulness; theirs is the fulness of a vessel, his is the fulness of a fountain: their fulness is derivative, his fulness is original, yet also ministerial, on purpose in him to give out to us, that we may receive grace for grace; that is, grace answerable for kind and quality, though not for measure and degree. As a child in generation receives from its parent member for member, or as the paper in the printing-press receives letter for letter, and the wax under the seal receives print for print; so in the work of regeneration, whatever grace is in Christ, there is the like for kind stamped upon the Christian's soul. All the members of Christ being made plentiful partakers of his spiritual endowments. Learn hence, That all fulness of grace, by way of supply for believers, is treasured up in Christ, and communicated by him, as their wants and necessities do require : his sulness is inexhaustible, it can never be drawn low, much less drawn dry: Of his fulness do we receive grace for grace: that is, grace freely, grace plentifully; God grant that none of us may receive the grace of Christ in vain. John prefers Christ before Moses, whom the Jews doted so much upon. The law was given by Moses, not as the author, but as the dispenser of it. Moses was God's minister, by whom the law which reveals wrath, was given to the Jews; but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. Grace, in opposition to the condemnatory curse and sentence of the law; and truth, in opposition to the types, shadows, and ceremonies of the legal administration. Learn hence, That all grace for the remission of sin, and for performance of duty, is given from Christ, the Fountain of grace : Grace came by Jesus Christ. The grace of pardon and reconciliation; the grace of holiness and sanctification; the grace of love and adoption ; even all that grace that fits us for service here, and glory hereafter. Christ is both the Dis
enser and the Author of it. Grace came
y Jesus Christ. Again, 4. John the Baptist here (ver. 18,) doth not only prefer Christ before himself, before Moses, before all believers, but even before all persons whatsoever, in point of knowing and revealing the mind of God. No man hath seen God at any time; that is, no mere man hath ever seen God in his essence, whilst he was in this mortal state. Here God’s invisibility is asserted: next Christ's intimacy with the Father, is declared. The only-begotten Son, that is in
the bosom of the Father. This expression implies three things, 1. Unity of natures; the bosom is the child's place, who is part of ourselves, and of the same nature with ourselves. 2. Dearness of affection. None lie in the bosom, but the person that is dear to us. A bosom friend is the dearest of friends. 3. It implies communication of secrets. Christ's lying in his Father's bosom intimates his being conscious to all his Father's secrets, to know all his counsels, and to understand his whole will and pleasure. Now as Christ's lying in his Father's bosom implies unity of nature, it teaches us to give the same worship to Christ which we give to God the Father, because he is of the same nature with the Father. As it implies dear. ness of affection betwixt the Father and the Son, it teaches us to place our chief love upon Christ the Son, because God the Father doth so : he, who is the Son of God's love, should be the object of our love; as God hath a bosom for Christ, so should we have also; the noblest object challenges the highest affection. Again, as Christ's lying in the Father's bosom implies the knowledge of his mind and will, it teaches us to apply ourselves to Christ, to his word and Spirit, for illumination. Whither should we go for instruction, but to this great Prophet; for direction, but to this wonderful Counsellor? We can never be made wise unto salvation, if Christ, the wisdom of the Father, doth not make us so.
19 And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou? 20 And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed. I am not the Christ. 21 And they asked him, What then f art thou Elias ( And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No. 22 Then said they unto him, Who art thou ? that we may give an answer to them that sent us: what sayest thou of thyself? 23 He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias. 24 And they which were sent were of the Pharisees. 25 And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet? 26 John answered them, saying, I baptize with water; but there standeth one among you, who ye know not; 27 He it is, who, coming after me, is preferred before me, whose shoes' latchet I am not worthy to unloose. 28 These things were done in Bethabara, beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing.
In these verses we have a second testimony which John the Baptist gave of our Saviour Jesus Christ. The Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem, saying, Who art thou ? That is, the Sanhedrim, or great council at Jerusalem, to whom it belonged to judge who were true prophets, sent messengers to the Baptist to know, Whether he was the Messiah or not? John refuses to take this honour to himself, but tells them plainly, he was his harbinger and forerunner, and that the Messias himself was just at hand. From hence note, How very cautious, and exceeding careful, this messenger of Christ was, and all the ministers of Christ ought to be, that they do not assume or arrogate to themselves any part of that honour which is due to Christ; but set the crown of praise upon Christ's own head, acknowledging him to be all in all. 1 Cor. iii. 5. Who is Paul 2 and who is Apollos 2 but ministers by whom ye believed? Observe farther, In this testimony of John the Baptist, these two things: 1. A negative declaration, who he was not; 1 am not, says he, the Messiah whom ye look for, nor Elias, nor that prophet you expect: not Elias, that is, in your sense, not Elias the Tishbite; not Elias for identity of person, but Elias for similitude of gifts, office, and calling. John came, though not in the person, yet in the power and spirit, of Elias. He denies farther, that he was that prophet: that prophet which Moses spake of Deut. xviii. 15. nor any of the old prophets risen from the dead; nay, strictly speaking, he was not any prophet at all; but more than a prophet : The Old Testament prophets prophesied of Christ to come; but John pointed at, showed, and declared a Christ already Come; and in this sense he was no mere prophet, but more than a prophet. 2. We have here the Baptist's positive affirmation who he was; namely, Christ's herald in the wilderness, his usher, his forerunner to prepare the people for receiving of the Messias, and to make them ready for the entertaining of the gospel, by preaching the doctrine of repentance to them. From hence learn, That the preaching of the
doctrine of repentance is indispensably necessary, in order to the preparing of the hearts of sinners tor the receiving of Jesus Christ. Observe lastly, The great and exemplary humility of the holy Baptist, the mean and lowly opinion he had of himself. Although John was the greatest among them that were born of a woman, and so much esteemed by the Jews, and had the honour to go before Christ in the exercise of his office and ministry; yet he judges himself unworthy to carry Christ's shoes after him : He that cometh after me is preferred before me, whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose. Learn hence, That the more eminent gifts the ministers of the gospel have, and the more ready men are to honour and esteem them, the more they will abase themselves, if they be truly gracious, and account themselves highly honoured in doing the meanest offices of love and service for Jesus Christ. Thus doth the holy Baptist here: His shoes' latchet I am not worthy to unloose. 29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. 30 This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. This is John the Baptist's third testimony concerning Christ; in which he points out Christ as the true Sacrifice for the expiation of sin. Behold the lamb of God: the Lamb of God’s appointing, to be an expiatory sacrifice; the Lamb of God's election; the Lamb of God's affec|tion; the Lamb of God's acceptation; the Lamb of God's exaltation; who, by the sacrifice of his death, has taken away the sin of the world. The sin, not sins, (in the plural number.) to denote original sin, as some think; or, as others, to show, that Christ hath universally taken upon himself the whole burden of our sin and guilt. And there seems to be a secret antithesis in the word world. In the Levitical sacrifices, only the sins of the Jews were laid upon the sacrificed beast; but this Lamb takes away the sin both of Jew and Gentile. The Lord has caused to meet on him the iniquity of us all. And the word, taketh away, being in the present tense, denotes a continued act, and it intinates to us thus much, viz. That it is the daily office of Christ to take away our
sin, by presenting to the Father the
memorials of his death. Christ takes
away from all believers the guilt and punishment of their sins, the filth and