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Let us ask ourselves, What good does our profession of religion do to us? Does it lead us to walk humbly with our God in communion and fellowship with Ilim; and to endeavour to walk circumspectly before Him, desiring in all things to follow His holy will and commandments, which He has given to be the rule of our conduct? If we do not know God by the enjoyment of intercourse with Him, if the desires of our souls are not to His name and to the remembrance of Him, our religious profession is of no avail. They that know God are known of Him. The Apostle John says, If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin. May it be our happiness to enjoy this blessed knowledge of God, to the glory of His holy name, and to our own benefit and salvation.
After having charged the Jews with ignorance of the most deplorable kind, while they boasted of their religious privileges, our Saviour was pleased to give them a view of His own exalted character. While their profession of having the God and Father of heaven for their God was vain, He declared respecting Himself, But I know Him. And if I should say, I know Him not, I shall be a liar like unto you. But I know Him, and keep His saying. His obedience to the will of His heavenly Father was the proof which was given that He knew Him. All reli
gious profession which is unaccompanied with obedience to the word and will of God is vain. The extent of His knowledge of God was declared by our Saviour at another time. He said, As the Father knoweth Me, even so know I the Father.89 Of the intimate knowledge of the Father which the Son possessed, in His human nature, we may form some idea from His prayer contained in the seventeenth chapter of this Gospel according to St. John, in which we see the utmost familiarity of intercourse, and the most complete union of will and affection.
On the occasion before us, He thought it needful to vindicate His own character in the presence of His enemies. As they charged Him repeatedly with having a devil, He appealed to His works as affording evidence of His knowledge of God. And He declared that if He were to acquiesce in their judgment of Him, He should show Himself to be like to them. The Apostle John afterwards enlarged upon this proof which our Saviour gave of His having a right knowledge of God; I know Him, and keep His saying. The Apostle says, Hereby we do know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth His word, in him verily is the love
89 John x. 15.
of God perfected. Hereby know we that we are in Him.90 This is the way in which we may ascertain for ourselves whether we know God or not. If we know Him, we shall maintain intercourse with Him; we shall live as in His presence continually, as under His all-seeing eye; we shall endeavour to walk in obedience to His holy word and will in all things. If our profession of religion does not lead to this, it is merely an outside show, since it does not produce the practical result which ought to follow from it.
The Jews having brought forward their ancestor Abraham, as one of the greatest and best of men, and most favoured by God, in order to set him up in opposition to the claims of the Lord Jesus; our Saviour proceeded to tell them still more plainly than before who He was, that He was indeed the Messiah, to whose coming into the world for the deliverance of mankind from the ruin of the fall, Abraham had anxiously looked forward. He said, Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day: and he saw it, and was glad. So likewise He said to His disciples at another time, Many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them ; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them. 91 Abraham was enraptured with the prospect with which
90 ) John ii. 3–5.
91 Luke x. 24.
he was favoured of the Messiah's descent from him. He fell on his face and laughed for joy, when he was informed that Sarah his wife should bear to him a son, and that the promise would therefore in reality be fulfilled, which had been made to him in Ur of the Chaldees, that in him all families of the earth should be blessed. When he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar, this promise was renewed to him: In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed ; because thou hast obeyed my voice.92 St. Paul informs us, that to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy Seed, which is Christ.93 The manner in which he saw Christ is described as being by faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off'; so that he was persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that he was a stranger and pilgrim on the earth.94 Like his grandson Jacob he waited for the salvation of God. He leaped for joy, as it were, at the prospect of the coming of the Redeemer of mankind. He hailed the appearing of the Saviour of sinners with the most lively anticipation of the blessings to be derived from it. If such were the feelings of Abraham at the prospect of the advent of the Messiah, what joy ought to fill the hearts of believers in the Lord Jesus Christ in considering that the work of redemption has been accomplished; and that all the blessings of the covenant of grace are now set before us, to be enjoyed through faith in our Divine Redeemer.
92 Genesis xii, 4. xvii. 17. xxii. 18. 93 Gal. iii. 16. 94 Heb. xi. 13. 95 Exodus iii. 14, 15.
The declaration of Jesus respecting Abraham's knowledge of Him astonished his hearers. Then said the Jews unto Him, Thou art not yet fifty years oll, and hast Thou seen Abraham? They could not comprehend how this could be. Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I AM. Here He asserted, in the most solemn words and manner, not only His existence before His appearance in the world, but also His self-existence; that He was the God of Abraham, who afterward appeared as such to His servant Moses, and said unto him, I AM THAT I AM. Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you ; the Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. This is my name for ever, and this is My memorial unto all generations.95 Our Saviour had said to the Jews before, If ye believe not that I AM, ye shall die in your sins.96 Here He explained Himself in a way which they could not any longer mistake; and the effect produced upon them was, Then took they up stones to cast at Him; but Jesus
96 Jolin viii. 24.