THE gospel of the beloved apostle has so much a character of its own, that it is generally treated separately by those who take a synoptical view of the gospels.

In writing his gospel, John is supposed to have had two objects in view; - to record some parts of the Lord's life and teaching which the other evangelists had omitted; and to counteract the influence of Gnosticism, which had even then begun to infect the church, and the tendency of which was, to substitute the visionary embodiment of a time-born AEon for the actual incarnation of the Eternal Word.* There is no reason to doubt that the gospel may have had a special as well as a general use to perform; and that the Divine and the human purpose in writing it may have coincided, since every good intention, like every good and every perfect gift, is from above. Such an opinion is only objectionable so far as it assigns to the gospel a merely human authorship, or reduces the inspiration of Scripture to the super-intending influence of the Holy Spirit. As this is a point of great importance, and as the present Commentary proceeds on the principle that the Scriptures are divinely inspired, I have treated of this subject in an introductory chapter. My object here is to consider the relation which John's gospel has to the others, in reference to the Lord, to the church, and to man in his spiritual character.

* John is believed to have had this in view when he wrote in his epistles: "Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world" (1 Epistle iv. 2). "For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist" (2 Epistle 7).

The Word of God, considered as a series of successive revelations, reflects the character, and is indeed a history, of the human race, as they lived and acted under the several dispensations of the church, to which these revelations were made. As there is an analogy between the, history of the race and that of the individual, these dispensations, which mark the great epochs of man's spiritual history, are analogous to the successive states of human life, from its beginning to the completion of regeneration. The Old Testament describes those states which precede, and are preparatory to, the actual commencement of the regenerate life. The period from Adam to Christ, in the history of the race, is analogous to the period of man's life, from the time of his first, to the time of his second, birth; from the time he is born in the image of the first Adam, who was made a living soul, to the time he is born in the image of the second Adam, who was made a quickening Spirit. * The gospels, therefore, which contain the history of the Lord's life, from his birth to his ascension, and thus describe the entire process of his glorification, also include the period, and describe the process, of man's regeneration, as the effect and image of the Lord's work.

* For a development of this idea see an article, by the author of this work, in the Intellectual Repository for 1846, under the title of "Remains."

While the New Testament has thus a distinct character in relation to the Old, its several parts have a distinct character in relation to each other. Assuming that the existence of four gospels, each containing a history of the Lord's life, is not of man but of God, we may conclude that this originated in a purpose worthy of Divine wisdom. We cannot, therefore, consistently with their Divine authorship, regard the gospels simply as repetitions, sometimes with perplexing variations, nor even as supplements, one of another. True, every gospel contains something that is not to be found in the others; and John's is not the least conspicuous in this respect. To his gospel we owe the Lord's discourse with Nicodemus on the new birth; with the woman of Samaria on the living water, and with the Jews on the bread of life; with Martha on the resurrection; with his disciples on his oneness with the Father; and his sublime prayer that the Father would perfect in him the work of Glorification, as the crowning act of Reconciliation. To it also we are indebted for the record of some of the Lord's beneficent works; as, the cure of the impotent man at the pool of Bethesda; the gift of sight to one born blind; the raising of Lazarus from the dead; and the washing of His disciples' feet. But there are also some particulars in which John's gospel differs from the others in its character as well as in its contents. The other evangelists relate more of the public, he relates more of the private, life and teaching of our Lord; nearly one half of his gospel being occupied with the record of transactions that took place in the presence of the disciples only, most of them of the profoundest nature and of the deepest import. It is admitted by all commentators that John's gospel is more spiritual in its character than the others; that it concentrates our attention more fully upon the single person of the Lord; and that it gives more of the Lord's doctrine than of his history.

What has been remarked respecting the distinctive characters of the two most eminent of the Lord's apostles, that John was a lover of Jesus, and that Peter was a lover of Christ, may be said of the four evangelists. John's gospel is more the history of Jesus; the others are more the history of Christ. John presents the Lord to us more in his personal, the others more in his Messianic, character; he presents Him more in His character of Jesus the Saviour, the others more in His character of Christ the King; he presents Him more in the character of Divine Love, they more in the character of Divine Truth. His gospel presents the Lord's life and teaching, more in their moral than in their intellectual aspect; and as more calculated to make Him the Object of love than of faith to His disciples. Perhaps there is no better view of this subject than that suggested by Noble, * - that Matthew and Mark relate more to the external, Luke and John more to the internal, life of the Lord and his disciples. According to this view, the gospels may be understood to describe the progressive advancement of the Lord's glorification and of man's regeneration. As John's is the last of the gospels, so does it describe the last and most perfect of these states, and eminently, in relation to man, that state in which all lower graces are centred in love to the Lord, the crowning grace of the religious life.

* "Plenary Inspiration," Lect. vi. see. 2.


"ALL Scripture is given by inspiration of God," * for "holy men of old spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit," ** Divine in its origin, Scripture is most holy in its nature, and is, in reality, as well as in name, the Word of God. Looking up to the Majesty on high; we may say, as our Lord when addressing the Father said, THY WORD IS TRUTH: Not simply true, as being free from error, but Truth itself, as emanating from Him "who is Light, and in whom is no darkness at all." ***

* Tim. iii. 16.       

** 2 Peter i. 21.       

*** 1 John i. 5.

But the Truth which the Word is differs from the truth as it outwardly appears. The Word is in the truest sense a revelation of the mind of God, but it is a revelation of the Divine mind, not simply as expressed in the words of human language, but as clothed in the forms of human thought. Revelation has, therefore, two sides - a Divine and a human. On its Divine side it is absolute truth, on its human side it is relative truth. The absolute truth of the Word is, like its Divine Author, eternal, unchangeable, universal; its relative truth, like its human writers, is temporal, variable, local. The absolute truth of Scripture is not, therefore, that which appears in its cosmogony, its science, its history, or even in its ecclesiastical laws and institutions. These are forms of human thought which belong to the periods in which the Word was written, and are but the human vesture in which Divine Truth clothed itself, when it descended from God to the abodes of men. The Old and New Testaments are striking examples of this. In descending into the Hebrew mind, Revelation clothed itself with the forms of Hebrew thought. Much of it, for this reason, consists of the history of that peculiar people, and not a little of its teaching is accommodated to their particular state of mental development and imperfect spiritual discernment. The Hebrew Scriptures contain no direct revelation of the immortality of the soul, and speak of none but temporal rewards and punishments; other laws besides that of divorce were given them for the hardness of their hearts, and their whole system of sacrificial worship was the adaptation of an existing ritual to their carnal state. The New Testament is addressed to a higher condition of mind. Life and immortality are brought to light by the gospel; God, as a Spirit, is to be worshipped in spirit and in truth; the law of ordinances is abolished; and the moral law is raised to a higher standard. While these striking differences are manifest in the letter of the Word, its Divinity and spirituality are everywhere the same; the only difference being that in some parts they are more deeply and completely veiled than in others. All the Lords words are spirit and are life but His spiritual and living words are embodied in literal forms of expression having different degrees of transparency, but which, considered by themselves, are not living, and therefore not life-giving; for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. *

* 2 Cor. iii. 6.

The distinction we have now pointed out must not be confounded with that which some commentators make between certain parts of Scripture which they allow to be of Divine, and others which they deem to be only of human, authority. This theory divides the Word into two separate portions, one of which is inspired, and the other not. The apostolic doctrine is, that all Scripture is given by inspiration; and all is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. The whole Word is Divine, and the whole is human; Divine in its essence, human in its form. Not one part, but one side, of revelation is Divine, and one human.

But even that side of revelation which is formally human is essentially Divine. Although the literal form of the Word is moulded by mans state, it is not determined by his will. The materials for this Temple of the Divine presence have indeed been supplied by man, but its Maker and Builder is God. The stones may even have been rough-hewn in the quarry of the human mind, but no sound of human hammer or of axe has been heard in the Sacred Edifice while building. *

* 1 Kings vi.7.

In this, as in all other respects, the written is like the incarnate Word. When God as the Eternal Word, came down from heaven to tabernacle among men, the humanity, with which he clothed Himself, took its outward form from the nature of the virgin-mother, and its quality from her state, but it was neither originated nor formed by her will. Begotten of God, and therefore inwardly Divine, the humanity was afterwards curiously wrought according to the Divine laws of creation, which are independent both of the will and the power of man. The revealed, like the incarnate Word, is therefore Divinety clothed with humanity. On its Divine side the Word is all that the Lord was as the Son of man. Like the maternal humanity of the Lord, the natural sense of the Word exhibits signs of its human parentage. What is said of the incarnate Word is equally true of the revealed Word. He hath no form or comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. * His visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men. ** The letter of the Word is deficient in the graces of style which men so much admire in human compositions; and it is marred by the moral infirmities of many who have borne a conspicuous part in the events and transactions it records.

* Is.liii.2.

** Is.lii.14.

The Word is no doubt widely different in its outward form and appearance from what it would have been, if the state of mankind at the time it was revealed had been less degraded. The sinfulness of men has caused a change in the outward condition of the Word, analogous to that which the idolatry of Israel produced in the tables of the Decalogue. The commandments, as first delivered to Moses, were written with the finger of God on tables which were the work of God.* But when, on seeing the people dancing round the golden calf, he cast the tables in anger from his hand, and broke them, he was instructed to hew out two other tables, like those he had broken; and on these two human tables God wrote the same Divine words which were on the first tables, which He Himself had formed. So, but for the sinfulness of man the literal sense of the Word would have been the work of God, as the spiritual sense, which is inscribed upon it, is the writing of God. We do not mean to say that the Word would not have been given through the instrumentality of man; but there would have been more of the Divine and less of the merely human in it, more of the heavenly and less of the earthly in its composition. The letter of the Word would have been a more perfect image of its spirit. It would have contained no indications of an angry God; no command to slaughter nations and seize on their heritage; no sanction of concubinage or plurality of wives; no worship of God by offering him the blood of slain beasts.

* Ex. xxxii.10.

We must, however, carefully guard against supposing these to be blemishes, or even imperfections, in the written Word. On the contrary, they are justly to be regarded as evidences of the perfection of Scripture, as a wise means to a beneficent end. A form of revelation more perfect in itself - expressed more in accordance with absolute truth, would have been less suited, or rather, would have been entirely unsuited, to the imperfect nature and degenerate state of man. The Divine Word bears the image of the earthly, in order that, by coming, nearer to man in his earthly state, it may raise him to the image of the Divine and to the state of the heavenly.

While the Word, like those to whom it has come, bears the image of the earthly, it has within itself the means of its own exaltation, or, as we might say, of its own glorification, and thus of the exaltation of those who sincerely follow its teaching. Rude and carnal as some of it appears, it is animated by a spirit as pure and holy as the most perfect form of Revelation would have contained. As the same Divinity dwelt in the Son of Mary that spoke through the angel in the burning bush, or that shone forth from the countenance of the Son of man in the midst of the golden candlesticks; as the same Divine words were written upon the tables which Moses made, that had been written on the tables which were the work of God; so, the Word which we possess is as much the Temple of the Divine presence as if it had been framed more directly by the Divine hand. Take a part as an example of the whole. The history of Israel is but an earthly tablet, on which are written, in characters of light, the Divine history of man's regeneration. His bondage and deliverance, his dangers and escapes, his privations and supplies, his trials and triumphs, his weary pilgrimage and everlasting rest, - these are the Divine revelation which God has inscribed on the literal history of the chosen people as the representatives of a spiritual church.

But it may be asked, and with reason, how are we to discern the Divine essence, which is within, by means of the human form, which is without? what is there to guide us with anything like certainty in our search after this pearl of great price, this heavenly treasure hid in an earthly field ?

If there were no law of inspiration there would be no rule of interpretation. But there is such a law; therefore there is such a rule, When Divine thought clothes itself with the forms of human thought, it assumes such only as are correspondent with itself. The Divine and the human, the spiritual and the natural, are thus joined by Correspondence, and by the law of Correspondence the Divine can be seen in the human, the spiritual in the natural. That Divine Truth clothes itself with corresponding forms of human thought may be seen by one reflection. The natural forms which the Divine Word has put on in revelation, are those which the Eternal Word had put forth in creation. These forms are not less natural, because they have been taken from the human mind. Nature is the basis of all human thought. Natural thoughts are but the mental images of natural things, variously combined and modified.

How, in the inspiration of the Scriptures, Divine Truth clothed itself in the forms of human thought, and expressed itself in the words of human language, it may be necessary to consider. Plenary inspiration implies verbal inspiration. Verbal inspiration implies that the very words used by the sacred writers were pronounced in their ears. But how is this to be understood consistently with the idea that the words of inspiration were supplied by the sacred writers themselves? The laws of the spiritual world explain how Revelation was given. Angels and spirits cannot utter a word of human language, and yet they speak with every man in his own tongue. The angels so spake with the patriarchs; and so, no doubt, did the apostles with the multitude on the day of Pentecost, when every man heard them in his own language. Angelic speech could not be conveyed through a natural atmosphere, and could not therefore come to men by an external way. Angels speak with men by an internal way. They clothe their ideas in the language which they find in the storehouse of the human memory; and thus they speak with every one in his own tongue. This is in accordance with the law of correspondence, by which the spiritual and natural worlds are connected, and by which their inhabitants communicate with each other. When God spoke to the prophets and apostles, it was through the medium of an angel, whom He filled for the time with his presence. And He communicated His Word to the sacred writers according to the same law as that by which angels themselves communicate with men. From this circumstance it is that Divine Truth, not only clothes itself with the forms of human thought that belong to the age in which it is revealed, but that it also assumes the characteristic style and expressions of the individuals through whom the revelation has been given. In these respects the writings of the prophets differ from those of the evangelists, and one prophet and one evangelist differs from another. Every inspired book has something peculiar to itself and characteristic of its writer. No doubt the Lord chooses his instruments; and there is something in the character of the instrument in accordance with the nature of the message he is to deliver, or the truths he is to reveal. And those truths clothe themselves with the language which the mind of the writer contains that correspond with itself.

It may be necessary to explain what we mean by Correspondence, which forms the bond of connection between the letter and the spirit of Scripture, and by means of which we see the spiritual in the literal sense.

Correspondence is the mutual relation of one thing to another. Two things correspond when they bear such a relation that the one exactly answers to the other. There is one peculiarity in the sense in which we employ the term. Correspondence is generally understood to mean the relation existing between two natural objects; we use it to express the relation which exists between spiritual and natural things. There is such a relation between the infinite and the finite, between the spiritual world and the natural, between the soul and the body. There is one condition inseparable from all spiritual correspondence, which distinguishes it from all natural analogies: the thing corresponding derives its existence from that to which it corresponds. Correspondence, therefore, is the relation which exists between a spiritual cause and its natural effect; and the science of correspondence is the knowledge of that relation. The correspondence between the natural and spiritual worlds, and between the natural and spiritual senses of the Word, is grounded in this circumstance, that all natural things have a spiritual cause, the natural world having its proximate cause in the spiritual world, and the natural sense of the Word in its spiritual sense. These are therefore united by correspondence.

The nature of Correspondence, and its difference from all natural analogies, will be best understood by an example. Every one perceives that there is an analogy between the different seasons of the year and the natural divisions of the day, and between these and the natural periods of human life. The morning of the day answers by analogy to the spring of the year, mid-day to summer, evening to autumn, and night to winter. Again, the morning and the spring answer to the season of childhood and youth, mid-day and summer to manhood, evening and autumn to declining years, and night and winter to old age. However exact and beautiful these may be as analogies, they are not in the strict sense correspondences; they all belong to the sphere of nature. They may serve to point a moral, but they teach no spiritual truth. They, however, become spiritual correspondences, and teach a spiritual truth, when they are understood as answering, not to successive periods of man's natural existence, but to the successive states of his spiritual life, as these follow each other in the progress of his regeneration. Under this view morning, spring, and childhood all answer by correspondence to that season of the spiritual life, at whatever period of natural life it may commence, when the soul is first turned in sincerity to God, and the thoughts and affections are opened to receive His light and love, so that the seeds of truth, previously sown in the mind, begin to germinate. Summer corresponds to that state of spiritual maturity when religious knowledge ripens into spiritual intelligence, and the mind rejoices in the splendour of truth, and the prospects which that truth opens to its view. Autumn answers to that state when the splendour of truth has passed into the beauty of holiness, and religion, from having its primary seat in the intellect, has taken up its principal abode in the heart, and its energies are determined to the fruits of a holy life. Here the analogy might seem to end, for no winter can close the year, no night can succeed the day, in the Christian life, but the regenerate soul must be ever advancing to higher and better states of light and love. * The analogy however is still complete, for although, in the spiritual life, the winter and the night do not follow the autumn and the evening, they precede the spring and the morning, of the regenerate life. Even in his primeval state man was in the cold of natural love before he was in the warmth of spiritual love, and in the darkness of ignorance before he received the light of knowledge, for "the evening and the morning were the first day." ** Now, however, his night is not only the darkness of ignorance, but the gross darkness of error; and his winter is not only the absence of spiritual love, but the presence of spiritual hatred. The beginning of re-generation, the spring-time and morning of the new life, is when the Spirit of God moves upon the face of the waters, and the light dispels the darkness, - when the affections are first moved by the influence of Divine Love, and the thoughts are enlightened with the light of Divine Truth. And when the love and light of God are admitted into the mind, and the re-creation of the soul has once commenced, a stedfast and persevering co-operation with the Lord will open up a succession of states increasing in perfection and happiness, and ending in a state and place, where there is no night and no winter, where the light shall increase more and more unto the perfect day, and where, to reverse the figure of the poet, autumn shall pour her treasures into the lap of spring, a spring increasing in freshness and beauty for ever.

* We here speak of night and winter as permanent states. As temporary states, alternating with those of day and summer, in the progress of the regenerate life, we have the assurance of the Divine Word that they shall never cease. Gen. viii. 22.

** Gen. i. 5.





THE introductory part of this gospel (1-14) treats of a subject at once the most profound and the most important: the most profound, since it relates to the infinite nature of God; and the most important, since it relates to God in Christ, whom to know is life eternal. The evangelist brings Jesus before the minds of men first in his Divine character, as he existed from eternity, and afterwards in his human character, as he appeared in time. John's gospel is peculiar in this respect, that it gives precedence and prominence to the subject of the Lord's divinity. Matthew and Luke commence their gospels with an account of the Lord's miraculous conception and birth into the world; John begins his gospel by showing the pre-existence of him who was thus conceived and born of a human mother. They present more of the human, he presents more of the Divine, side of the Lord's dual nature. Both views are needed to give the mind a just conception of the person and work of the Saviour. It was necessary that divinity and humanity should be united in the person of him who was to accomplish the great work of human redemption, comprehending in it the subjugation of the powers of darkness and the restoration and glorification of man's fallen nature, a work which required a human nature and a Divine power. This subject is set forth in the particular statements we have now to consider.

1. The evangelist begins his gospel with the opening words of Genesis:

In the beginning.

In commencing his history of the redemption of the world he goes back to its creation, not so much to connect the work of redemption with the work of creation, as to identify the Redeemer with the Creator. Moses tells us that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth; John tells us that


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 3 in the beginning was the Word, by whom the heavens and the earth were created. When they began their existence he already existed. Pre-existence, in this case, is eternal existence - existence, unlike that of all other beings, underived and independent.

But the language of the evangelist has a deeper meaning than this; which may be gathered from the Lord's declaration respecting himself, when he appeared in his glory to John in Patmos; "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the Ending, the First and the Last, which was, and which is, and which is to come, the Almighty" (Rev. i. 8, 11). He who thus spake existed indeed from eternity, but he existed as the Alpha, the Beginning, the First; after his incarnation he existed also as the Omega, the Ending, the Last. The Lord from eternity was the Word in its first principles - the Word with God, the Son in the bosom of the Father. As such, all things had their beginning from him, and he was in the beginning of all things; but when he became incarnate, all things had their ending in him, and he was in the ending of all things. This is the difference between the Word in its creative and the Word in its redemptive character. As the Creator he is the Beginning, as the Redeemer he is the Ending of all things. Considered in relation to man, who is the crowning work and final cause of creation, this truth may be seen in its true depth and import. Man was so created, that the Lord might dwell with him in the first principles of his uncorrupted nature; and by being thus in the beginning of all his mental activities, of his affections and thoughts, and thence of his words and works, might rule and direct the whole man, as the moral image of his Maker.

THE WORD, the name by which the apostle characterizes him whose incarnation he is about to declare, is a term that had been employed long before the time of John, to express that principle in the Deity which is analogous to reason in man. It is supposed either to have been introduced by early Christian converts from those philosophical sects who used it, or to have been employed by early Christian teachers, to explain to Gentile hearers an important Scripture doctrine by means of a term with which they were already familiar; and that this term, used in a Christian sense, was finally consecrated to the service of the Lord, by being inscribed in the last of the gospels. This is a striking instance of Divine truth clothing itself in the forms of human thought. A term which had become the common sign of a human idea is taken up by an inspired writer, to become henceforward the continent and vehicle of a Divine truth. Yet we are to reflect that heathen thoughts on Divine subjects are not always human


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 4 in their origin, but, when not derived from the contemporary church, are often the fragmentary truths of an ancient revelation, the traditional forms of a primeval faith. Man can take nothing supernatural except it be given him from heaven.

There is a substantial agreement among Christian writers, from the earliest to the present times, respecting the idea intended to be conveyed by the Word, as a name of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Divine Consciousness, Reason, Understanding, Idea, Thought, Wisdom - these are variously given as equivalents for the name by which the eternal Word is here set forth, in his internal relation to God and in his external relation to the world and to man.

While all agree in regarding the Word as the eternal Wisdom, almost all unite in maintaining, that the Word is not an abstract quality but an entity; or, as it would now be generally expressed, is not an attribute but a person. What the Latin Church expressed by the word persona, the Greek Church expressed by the word hypostasis. What was the exact theological meaning of the word persona, at the time it was first employed, or subsequently introduced into the Athanasian Creed, to express the nature of the distinction in the Godhead, is not absolutely certain; nor is it perhaps of much importance, since all sound theologians admit that it is a term of expediency rather than of propriety, and as such is not to be understood, like our word person, to mean a distinct individual being. The Greek word hypostasis means a basis or substance; and is intended to express the idea, that God and the Word are not mere attributes, but are the subjects of attributes.

That there is a real, and not merely a nominal, distinction in the Divine nature, is evident from many parts of Scripture, from none more clearly than the statement we are now considering, which speaks of God and the Word as existing distinctly and unitedly from eternity. While the Scriptures contain the doctrine of a Divine trinity, they emphatically declare the Divine unity; and no doctrine of the trinity can be scriptural, which is not consistent with the absolute oneness of God. There being a trinity in the Divine nature, of what does this trinity consist? In the nature of God there are three Divine essentials, which are Love, Wisdom, and Power. These form a trinity in unity. They can neither be confounded nor divided. Distinct as essentials, they necessarily constitute but one person. Thus understood, the subject involves no conflicting elements of thought. The mind can harmoniously combine the idea of the Divine trinity with that of the Divine unity.



This view may seem liable to the objection, that it makes the Divine trinity a trinity of attributes. But Love, Wisdom, and Power are not mere attributes; they are essentials of the Divine nature, the subjects of attributes. God is sometimes spoken of as a substance, of which Love, Wisdom, and Power are qualities. This is an idea borrowed from the nature of finite beings, and transferred without qualification to the Infinite. Man is an organized form, created for the reception of love and wisdom; but God is Love itself, and Wisdom itself. Love and Wisdom are not mere qualities of the Divine substance, but the Divine substance itself. They are the Divine will and the Divine understanding; for the Divine will can be nothing but infinite love, and the Divine understanding can be nothing but infinite wisdom; and to these, as constituting the Divine mind, nay, the very Divine Essence, all attributes belong: Power, the third essential of the Deity, being Love and Wisdom as the Divine Proceeding, or Operation, which is the Holy Spirit.

While the Scriptures teach that God and the Word are distinct, but co-eternal and co-equal, they also teach that the Word from eternity was from God as well as with God. Understanding God and the Word to be the Divine Love and the Divine Wisdom, we can see the truth of this; for Love is the parent of Wisdom. Love is the eternally begetting, Wisdom is the eternally begotten. Divine Love begets Divine Wisdom as human affection begets human thought; or as the mind expresses itself by words. All intelligent commentators, ancient and modern, substantially agree with this view of the subject. One of the early Fathers treating of the present text speaks thus: - "Now turn thy attention to that Word. If thou canst have a word in thy heart, as it were a design or idea engendered in thy mind, thy mind giving birth to the design, and the design being in thy mind, the offspring, so to speak, of thy mind, the child of thy heart. For, first, the heart gives birth to an idea, suppose, of constructing some work of art, of some vast edifice on the earth: here is the idea already born into existence, and the work not yet finished: thou seest what thou art about to make; but another does not admire thy work until thou hast made and reared the pile, and brought the work to its last shape and finish: then men take note of the admirable workmanship, and admire the idea of the work-master; they marvel at what they see and are delighted with what they do not see: who is there that can see an idea? If then from some great work of art praise is given to the idea of man, wouldest thou see what an Idea of God is our Lord Jesus Christ, that is, the Word of God? See what has been made by the Word, and then wilt thou understand what the


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 6 Word is. Look to these two bodies of the world, the heavens and the earth. What words can express the glorious array of the heavens? What words can express the prolific fruitfulness of the earth?"

Substantially the same view of the subject is presented by modern writers. If we regard the Word, or the Son, as the "eternal thought of Divine love," as expressed by one, and consider the eternal generation of the Son as "God thinking himself," as expressed by another, there can be no reasonable objection to the doctrine of his eternal generation. "For," as a recent author observes, "from the womb of life, only life and being can flow forth, moreover, the original Word, or original thought of the eternal God, can only be the consciousness of himself, and which, as perfect consciousness, is equivalent to God." Some of the early Christian writers compared the eternal generation of the Son by the Father to the issuing of light from the sun. And as it is the very nature of the sun to give forth light, the sun and its light must have been co-existent: so it is the very nature of God to give birth to the Word, which must, therefore, be co-eternal with himself.

These statements and explanations of so profound a subject commend themselves to our reason. But is not the idea of distinct personality, each Divine person having a consciousness of his own, inconsistent with reason, and with every just idea of the nature and unity of God ? Can the thought, idea, or consciousness of God be a distinct person from, or in, God himself ? To make Divine thought a distinct person in God is comparatively as inconsistent as to make human thought a distinct person in man. We have already seen that the wisdom of God is not a mere attribute, but is an essential of the Divine nature; and this agrees with all the teaching of revelation, and satisfies all the demands of reason. The Word of God is the Wisdom of God; and this will be seen more clearly from what John says further respecting the Word which was with God and was God.

2. The same was in the beginning with God.

This is generally understood to be in contrast with the statement that occurs at the fourteenth verse. The Word, which in the beginning was God, in the fulness of time became incarnate, that he might dwell among men. Unless this be the meaning of the apostle, the present statement has much the appearance of being a repetition of that which precedes. In the Word, however, there are no useless repetitions. If there be any difficulty in regard to the literal sense, there is none with respect to the spiritual. The beginning, spiritually considered, means the beginning of regeneration, which is a new creation, the creation of a new heart and a right spirit.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 7 But regeneration has two beginnings. Every state formed in the mind before instruction is a beginning, considered as an initiament of what is good; and every state formed by means of instruction is a beginning considered as a commencement of what is true. The first is the beginning of spiritual life in the will, and the second is the beginning of spiritual life in the understanding. The first forms the germ of spiritual love; the second forms the rudiment of spiritual faith. The first is derived more especially from the Divine love; the second is derived more especially from the Divine wisdom. These are the beginnings which, by the Divine mercy, are made in the mind of every one, and without which regeneration in after life would be impossible. This is a Divine work effected in the interiors of the mind, before the Lord has become manifested and an object of apprehension.

3. All things were made by him, and without him was not anything made that was made.

Creation is a purely Divine work, and can only have been performed by an Almighty Being. Self-evident to most of us as this truth is, it was not so clearly seen at the time John's gospel was written. It was then believed by a philosophical sect, which had partially received and greatly corrupted Christianity, that creation was the work of an inferior and malignant being, and that Christ, a superior and benevolent being, had been sent by the Supreme God to redeem the world from the evil inherent in it by creation. Extravagant as such a notion may seem, it is but another form of the belief that creation, or that preservation which is perpetual creation, is the result of secondary causes, and that redemption is not a purely Divine work. The evangelist, to those who receive his testimony, sets both these questions at rest. Creation and redemption are Divine works, both effected by the same Being.

But these words of John express much more than this. They tell us that creation was not only a work of infinite power, but of infinite love and wisdom. This is not so readily seen from his words as given in our version. The evangelist states that all things were made by means of the Word, or through him as a medium; and this is the invariable testimony of the Scriptures. In creation, as in redemption, the Word was the instrument, God was the agent. In regard to redemption, this is plainly stated by Paul: "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself" (1 Cor. x. 18). The same is declared respecting creation: "God created all things by Jesus Christ" (Gal. iii. 9). "To us there is one God the Father, of whom are all things, and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things" (1 Cor. viii. 6).


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 8 "For by (or through) him were all things created that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible" (Col. i. 16). God, from his infinite love, created all things by his infinite wisdom. Creation had its end in Divine love and its cause in Divine wisdom. Simple yet grand, this truth commends itself to our understandings and appeals to our hearts. It tells us not only that the world in which we live, but that we ourselves who live in it, are by creation all that Divine love, operating by wisdom, could make us, so as to enable us to realize the greatest possible degree of creaturely perfection and happiness. And as creation implies Providence, it assures us that the same infinite love and wisdom that created us watch continually over us for our spiritual and eternal good, and for our temporal welfare also, as subordinate to the final cause of creation. How different and superior is this to the common view of the subject. How can we conceive of one Divine person creating the world by means of another? But admitting it to have been so, what does it teach us respecting creation? It tells us that it is the work of God, but it tells us nothing more; but here we find a revelation both of the Divine purpose in which creation originated and of the Divine intelligence by which it was effected.

4. Of the Word it is said,

in him was life, and the life was the light of men.

There is no word in human language more expressive of Deity, none of more profound significance, than the word Life. The grand distinction between the Creator and the creature is this: the Creator is life, the creature is a recipient of life. I AM is the incommunicable appellation of the Deity; this is his name for ever, and this is his memorial throughout all generations. Of us, on the contrary, it is said, In him we live and move and have our being. Creation, strictly considered, does not include life. Life is not creatable. Organisms are created, life is imparted; organisms are given by creation, life is given by influx. Entirely different was it with the Word. In him was life. It did not flow into him as a stream, but was, and is, in him as its fountain. He has the life which is characteristic of Deity - life in himself, as the Lord declared: "As the Father hath life in himself, so hath he given unto the Son to have life in himself" (chap. v. 26). But the statement of the evangelist has a still more specific meaning than this, which can only be seen when the Word is understood to be the eternal Wisdom, as it existed from eternity in union with eternal Love. Considered in itself, Life is the inmost activity of Divine love and wisdom. But as love is within wisdom, comparatively as heat is within light, life is predicated of love, as light is of wisdom.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 9 Love is the life of wisdom, as wisdom is the light of love. When John says of the Word that in him was life, he reveals this blessed truth, that in the Divine wisdom there ever was, and ever is, the Divine love. The Word that framed the worlds was the infinite wisdom of infinite love; nay, it was love itself as wisdom, life itself as light. Divine wisdom is not a receptacle of Divine love, but love itself existing as wisdom; life putting itself forth as light; the Infinite clothing himself with light as with a garment. Therefore does John say that the life which was in the Word was itself the light of men. The life and light of God, like the heat and light of the sun, may be separated in their finite recipients, but they flow from their source as one. In that "beginning," when man was yet the moral image of his Maker, they were received by their human recipients united. The life was then truly the light of men; for the life of love in the will became the light of wisdom in the understanding. And still, in the inmost of every soul, where life is in its beginning, Divine love as Divine wisdom is the light of men; for there the Lord has his secret habitation, bestowing on all the gift of immortality, on the good the blessing of happiness, and even on the evil the faculties of liberty and reason.

The truth which the evangelist makes known is, that the Word, which became flesh, had in himself that life which the world needed for its revivification, as well as the light it required for its enlightenment. This is well expressed by the same apostle in his first general epistle, "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; for the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested unto us" (i. 1). But how inexpressibly grand and comforting does this truth become to us, when we know that life is love, and thus that the Divine life which was in the Word, and was manifested in the person of Christ, was the Divine love itself. Divine love works ever by Divine wisdom, as human love works by human intelligence; so that in all the Divine works love is the moving, as wisdom is the efficient, cause.

5. And the light shineth in darkness and the darkness comprehended it not.

The state and condition of man, which rendered the manifestation of the Lord as the light necessary, is now described. The light shone in the soul, but such was the darkness of the mind that it did not enlighten.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 10 Originally the human mind was open through all its degrees from the highest to the lowest, and the Divine light which entered through the highest degree of the mind descended through all intermediate degrees to the lowest. By the fall and subsequent declension of the human race the mind became successively closed against the light of truth, which then shone in the darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not. The light of the Divine Sun shines constantly in the human mind, and in every mind alike; but the degree of enlightenment which the mind receives from it depends on the condition of the mind itself. Spiritual, like natural light, only becomes visible when it falls upon and is reflected by suitable objects. The objects of spiritual light are truths that have been acquired from without through the medium of the senses. It is from the perpetual presence of this light that the mind has the faculty of seeing, that is of understanding; but it is only as the mind is supplied with truths that reflect the light that the mind actually sees or understands. The divine light shines in the soul of the new-born infant, but it shines as yet in darkness, and the darkness comprehends it not. As the mind is supplied from without with truths as knowledges, the inner light falls on these as on its proper objects, and in proportion as it is truly and fully reflected, the mind becomes intelligent. When the light falls upon truths relating to nature it becomes the light of science; but when it falls upon truths relating to the spiritual world and the spiritual life it becomes the light of religion. The truths that are the highest objects of this light are those which are revealed in the written Word. When therefore the light of the eternal Word falls upon and is reflected by the genuine truths of the written Word the mind is truly and spiritually enlightened. On the other hand, when the objects with which the mind is supplied are not genuine but apparent truths, the light is imperfectly reflected; but when it falls upon errors instead of truths, or upon truths falsified, the light is turned into darkness. The darkness in which the evangelist tells us the light of life shone, was the darkness both of ignorance and error-ignorance especially among the Gentiles, and error among the Jews. The human mind had become perverted by evil, and the light either shone into emptiness or fell upon objects which absorbed and suffocated all its rays, and so presented nothing to the perceptive faculty but darkness and gloom. Such had become the general state of mankind before the time of the Lord's coming into the world. Two things were required to remedy this helpless and hopeless condition of the human race, a new operation of the eternal Word from within and of the written Word from without. The Baptist represented the written Word, Jesus himself was the eternal Word, and the new operation of these is described in the gospel.



6-8. There was a man sent from God whose name was John.

When the Lord's forerunner is announced by name, one which, like that of the Lord himself, was given him from heaven before his birth, we must regard it as significant of the official and representative character he was to sustain. "John" is a contraction of Johanan, which occurs several times in the Old Testament, and which itself is a contraction of Jehohanan. Like other names of this formation it combines part of the Divine name of Jehovah with a word which has a suitable meaning. John signifies Jehovah graciously gave. Jehovah being the name of God which is most expressive of his love; "John" was a suitable name for one who represented the written Word, as a gift of divine love, and who was to prepare the way of Him who was the Divine Love itself manifest in the flesh.

7, 8. The description which is here given of John answers precisely to his official and representative character.

The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the light, that all men through Him might believe. He was not that light, but was sent to bear witness of that light.

The written Word is the witness of the inward light, because, as we have seen, the inward light is only visible to us when it is reflected by the truths of the written Word as objects existing in our minds. These truths are not themselves the light, but they are witnesses of the light; they are sent and come for a witness, and the purpose of their testimony is, that all men through them may believe. They are the materials of which faith is formed, the life and light of which are immediately from the Lord himself. They form the body of faith, of which he is the soul. John came to prepare the way of the Lord. He did this personally at the time of the Lord's coming into the world, and he does this representatively, when the Lord makes his advent into the mind prepared by repentance for his reception. The way of the Lord, as the inward light, can only be prepared by the teaching of the written Word, when that Word is understood in its true sense. It was, therefore, to teach the truth of the Word, in the church where it had been perverted, that John came as the Lord's forerunner, and it was the Word, thus restored, of which he was the representative.

9. John now delivers his testimony as witness of the light.

That was the true light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.

Jesus is the true light, not only in opposition to all false lights, but the true and actual as distinguished from the shadowy and representative, or as light in its origin is distinguished from light received and reflected.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 12 Before the incarnation this light came to men indirectly, through finite channels, or by the mediation of angels; it had now come to men directly from the Lord, through the mediation of his humanity. This distinction is very clearly set before us in this chapter. In the 17th verse, where John is called a burning and a shining light, another word for light is used, which means a lamp; so that John is spoken of as an instrumental means for giving light, but Jesus as the light itself. The Lord, as the eternal Word, is the true light, because he is the truth itself, which is the everlasting and universal light. The human mind being an organized form, created for the reception of light, it is rather a lamp than a light, having, in itself, no light but that which it receives from above. In the inspired declaration, that Jesus is the true light that lighteth every man, we have the assurance, that divine light shines into every human mind. The Lord is the light of the intellectual world. We could no more see intellectually without this Divine light, than we could see physically without the light of the sun. Indeed, the Lord is, not figuratively but actually, the sun of the spiritual world, by the light of which angels and spirits see; and by the light of which men see intellectually and spiritually; for men, as to their spirits, are in the spiritual world; the only difference between them and angels being, that they are not visibly present there, as those are who have put off the natural body. The light of reason as well as of truth is derived from the Lord as a sun.

Spiritually, every man that cometh into the world is every truth of the revealed Word that is introduced into the mind, from the earliest to the latest period of life. The truths of revelation are not themselves light, but are the receptacles of light, or the objects on which the light falls. The spirit of truth from the Lord, which enters through the interiors of the mind, finds its fitting receptacles in the truths of revelation that have entered through the senses from without. When the spirit of truth enters the thoughts, it enlightens them; when it enters the affections, it animates them. So long as the truths of the Word remain in the natural mind as facts, they are but the dry bones in the valley; it is only when the spirit enters into then that they live, and become an exceeding great army.

10, 11. The Lord, as the light, was in the world and the church before his manifestation in the flesh.

The world was made by him, and the world knew him not.

He came unto his own, and his own received him not.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 13 The Lord, as the Creator and sustainer of the world, was in it, both as the inward light which shone in all minds, and in the manifestations and revelations which he made of himself through angels and men. It is a sign of deep depravity and sinfulness when God is shut out from the world which he has made. God's highest purpose in creating the world was, that he might dwell in the souls of men, whom he had created in his own image and for a state of eternal happiness. The soul of man is peculiarly "his own." He formed it for himself; he created it as his peculiar habitation. The same may be said of the church, which was designed to be his kingdom upon earth. The church is formed by the truth, and enlightened and animated by the spirit of truth. The church, formed by the truths of the Word received into the minds of men, only becomes a living soul when the Lord breathes into it the breath of life. When the Lord comes to the church he comes to his own, because the truths which formed the church are his. But when these truths are perverted or falsified, they reject or suffocate the light; and then when the Lord comes to his own, his own receive him not. A distinction is made between the world that knew him not and his own that received him not. Literally, his own are those who form his visible church, and the world are those who are without the church, or who form the world as distinguished from the church. Spiritually, the world are those who are in the knowledge of truth, and his own are those who are in the knowledge of good, or are those knowledges themselves abstractly considered. Neither in the church nor in the world, neither by those who were in the knowledges of faith or of charity was the Lord, as the light, received. The church and the world equally refused the true light, and therefore lay in darkness. Such was the prevailing state of mankind before the coming of the Lord.

12. Although the rejection of the Lord's light and life had been general, it had not been universal. Some had received him.

And as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.

To receive the Lord is to admit the spirit of his love into the affections, and to believe on his name is to receive the spirit of his truth into the understanding. But it is those only who both receive him and believe in his name, or who unite in themselves good and truth, or love and faith, that receive power to become the sons of God: for it is only such that can be born of God or regenerated. Abstractly considered, those who receive and believe are the truths themselves in the mind into which the spirit of the Lord's love and truth is received, and by the reception of which they receive power to become the sons of God.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 14 All the power of truth is derived from good, as all the power of good is exercised by truth. Spiritual power is not in either separately, but in both unitedly.

13. Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

Two kinds of birth are here mentioned - birth of blood, of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man, and birth of God. In this a most important doctrine is delivered. No one is naturally born for hell. All are born for heaven; and any one dying in the state in which he is born, or before he has confirmed himself in evil, goes to heaven. No one indeed is born in a state fit either for heaven or hell; that is, no one is born heavenly minded or infernally minded; no one is born either a child of God or a child of the devil. A second birth is necessary to make any one either. Heaven consists in the union of goodness and truth, and hell consists in the union of evil and falsity. No one is born in possession, much less in the union, of these principles. Every one, therefore, has to acquire and unite them, before he can enter either heaven or hell. This can only be effected by being born of God on the one hand, or of the devil on the other; man thus becoming either a child of God or a child of the devil. It is sometimes said there are but two states and two places: good and evil, heaven and hell: and that whatever is not good is evil, whatever is not heaven is hell. No doubt the final state and place of every one is either good or evil, heaven or hell. But there is an intermediate state which is neither good nor evil, neither righteous nor wicked. This may be called the state of positive and even of comparative ignorance. All are born into it and remain in it till they come to the age of reason, but all, whatever be their age, are in it who are in comparative ignorance of what is good and true, evil and false, and who have not confirmed and united evil and falsity in themselves. All who die in infancy pass immediately into heaven, and are there placed under the care of angels; but although they are in heaven they are not of heaven, although they are among the angels they are not themselves angels, until they have arrived at the full measure of the stature of angelic life, until, in fact, the union of goodness and truth, or of love and faith has been effected in their minds; this union being heaven.

In the spiritual sense those who are born of blood are they who do violence to charity and profane truth, those who are born of the will of the flesh are they who are in the evils of self-love, and those who are born of the will of man are they who are in the persuasion of what is false;


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 15 but those who are born of the will of God are they who are regenerate by the Lord, and are thence new creatures. These are they who receive the Lord, and who believe in his name, and to whom he gives power to become the sons of God.

14. An event which no human words could adequately describe is set forth in the simplest language:

And the Word was made flesh.

Yet this simple announcement contains an infinity of great ideas. The event itself was the effect and the expression of infinite love, as it was the immediate manifestation of the eternal wisdom. The incarnation was the complement of creation; and a more complete manifestation of the love and wisdom of God than even revelation and Providence. It involved and provided for a new and spiritual creation, without which the purpose of the first would not have been realized. Incredible as it may appear that God should become man, yet it involves no contradiction. Although there is no proportion, there is a relation, between the infinite nature of God and the finite nature of man, which rendered the assumption of humanity, however marvellous, entirely consistent with Divine order. The Word which was made flesh was man's Prototype as well as his Creator. God not only created man, but he made him in his image and likeness. The Divine could not have assumed the human, if it had not been, by creation, a likeness of itself. There was, however, one important peculiarity in the Lord's case, which rendered it possible for God to dwell bodily in the person of Christ. The assumed humanity was not merely the creature but the offspring of the Divinity. Jesus was not merely created, but begotten of God. That, therefore, which every mere man inherits from his human father, and which is both finite and corrupt, the Lord had not; but in its place he had a principle divine and immaculate. This may be called the soul from the Father. The human soul is the inmost receptacle of life from God, but the Lord's soul was life itself, and therefore Divine. The divine soul of the humanity is not to be confounded with the soul which was sorrowful unto death, and which he laid down. This is the rational soul (psyche), which alone could sorrow and die. The humanity of the Lord being thus both of divine and of human extraction, Jesus was at once the Son of God and the Son of Man. From his very birth, his humanity, outwardly of the nature of his finite and sinful mother, was inwardly of the nature of his infinite and perfect Father. In virtue of this, the Lord, unlike every other man, could receive the Spirit without measure, and could make his humanity, not only finitely, but infinitely, perfect. Had not Jesus been begotten of God, all the fulness of the Godhead could not dwell in him.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 16 Nor could it have been said that "the Word was made flesh." And yet this is the grand truth respecting the Lord's incarnation. God became man. The language in which this truth is here expressed has a peculiar significance. Flesh is another name for humanity, but for humanity as it exists in the natural world. Angels are men, but they are spirit and not flesh. When God assumed flesh he became man as man exists on earth. At sundry times God had appeared personally among men; and is sometimes called a man, sometimes an angel. On these occasions the Lord assumed human nature as it is in heaven, by filling an angel with his presence. But these manifestations were only temporary and for special purposes; they had no redemptive effect on the general condition of the race. They did not bring the divine presence down into the fleshly element of human nature, to redeem it from disorder and death. The Lord could indeed have assumed the nature of man as he had assumed the nature of angels, by so filling a man with his presence as to absorb his consciousness and sense of individuality; but neither would this have availed for the redemption and salvation of the race. This required not merely that the Lord should put on flesh, but that he should be made flesh; that he should be born and live and die as a man, and as a man rise from the dead and ascend into heaven. All this implies more than the assumption of human nature; it implies its glorification. Redemption and salvation required not only that God should be made man, but that man should be made God - that the Divine should be made human, and the human Divine. In a certain sense, God became man by incarnation, and man became God by glorification. Such a dual work could not be effected except in a humanity begotten of God and born of a human mother.

But there is a deeper sense than this in which the Word was made flesh. In the Lord the Divine was made human, not only in the womb but in the world - by putting on humanity not only by birth, but by a life of human experience. In the strict, or at least in the full sense, a human being is not a man at his birth; he is but the germ or rudiment of a man; he becomes human by means of human knowledge and experience. Nay, a man is not truly human till he is born again; for then only is he raised to the true condition of humanity. So with the Lord himself as a man. The Word was made flesh, in the absolute sense, and in the supereminent degree, when the flesh itself was no longer of the substance of the mother, but of the substance of the Father. And such it was when the Lord said of his risen body, "Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: a spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see me have."


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 17 That body in which, the door being shut, the Lord stood in the midst of his disciples, was not a material body. But it was not on that account the less substantial. The point, however, which we are now considering, is not so much the glorification as the assumption, of human nature, by which the Word literally dwelt among us. By taking human nature upon him, he who was with God became God with us. He dwelt, or tabernacled, among us. The human nature which he assumed was the tabernacle, of which that in the wildnerness was the type, he being the Shekinah, the ineffable glory, which dwelt in it; or in the language of the Scriptures themselves, he was the Divine NAME which the Lord had placed there - the Word which was incarnate, being the Divine name itself, as revealing and manifesting the otherwise incomprehensible nature of God. As the Word made flesh has a deeper meaning than simple incarnation, his dwelling among us means more than his visible presence in the world. The Lord dwelt among us that he might dwell in us, as indeed the word might be rendered. He made his humanity the temple of his Divinity, that he might make us temples of his Holy Spirit, temples in which he might dwell with the spirit of his love and truth, according to the true sense of his own declaration: "If a man love me he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him and make our abode with him." To dwell with us therefore spiritually means to dwell in us.

By the Lord dwelling among us, we beheld his glory. The glory which shone in Jesus was not the outward splendour which strikes and pleases the senses, but the inward refulgence that penetrates and affects the mind. The glory of Jesus, beheld by those who had eyes to see it, was that which shone forth from his benignity and holiness, from his words of wisdom and works of love.

That which the faithful beheld was the glory

'as of the only begotten of the Father.'

We have already (ver.1) spoken of the eternal relation between the Divine love and the Divine wisdom, as analogous to that between father and son. The actual sonship of the Lord Jesus will be considered when we come to verse 18, where the names Father and Son first occur; and are introduced with strict propriety after the Lord's incarnation has been treated of. Here we observe that the Divine humanity of the Lord was the only begotten of the Father. That which men beheld in Jesus was not the glory itself of the only begotten, but the glory as of the only begotten. The only begotten of the Father was that interior human principle which the Lord derived from the Divine Father, as distinguished from that which he derived from the human mother, indeed, that principle considered as Divine goodness; the divine truth in union with this is called glory, which is the effulgence of divine truth.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 18 The glory of the Lord's paternal humanity was only seen, on ordinary occasions, through the maternal humanity which veiled it. That glory shone forth on the Mount of Transfiguration, when the disciples were exalted into a higher than their ordinary state, and saw with their spiritual eyes the inner glory which the maternal humanity obscured, but did not entirely conceal.


'grace and truth'

of which the Saviour was full, are his divine love and wisdom humanized, and so brought near to men in the Lord's humanity, and freely offered to them for their salvation. The Lord, as God, being Love itself and Wisdom itself, as man, his fulness of grace and truth was without measure. "It pleased the Father that in him all fulness should dwell" (Col. i. 19); and no attribute can be other than infinite in him, "in whom dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily" (ib. ii. 9).

15. It was of this gracious and wise Being that

John bare witness and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me.

John testified to the Lord's priority to himself, both as to rank and time. It is hardly necessary to insist upon the priority of Jesus to John, after the distinct enunciation of the truth, that he was the Eternal Word incarnate. The present declaration has, however, another purpose and a higher meaning. John, we have seen, represented the written Word, Jesus was the Word itself incarnate. John especially represented the Word as written for men, and as understood in the church on earth; the Lord was the Word or the Divine Truth itself, who made and fills all things, the source of life and the fountain of light to angels and men. But it is said of Jesus that, coming after John, he was preferred before him. This is true in every sense. The law which our Lord announced: "The first shall be last, and the last first," was eminently exemplified in the case of John and himself. The written Word comes before, and prepares the way of, the incarnate Word, as the life and light of men, and then takes the last place, Jesus himself taking the first. In like manner, in reference to the revealed Word, apparent truth comes before genuine truth, and the literal sense before the spiritual. We may also say that spiritual truth comes before celestial, and celestial before divine. Yet, in each of these cases, that which comes after is preferred before that which precedes, and, indeed, was before it; for the lower is derived from the higher, and yet is the necessary means by which it is attained.



16. John therefore says of the incarnate Word,

And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.

We have already (v. 14) spoken of the fulness that dwelt in Jesus, as being all fulness, even the fulness of the Godhead. But this term has a peculiarly important meaning in reference to the Word made flesh. By incarnation the Lord became Divine Truth in ultimates, and in ultimates divine truth is in its fulness and in its power. Why is it so important to us that all fulness should dwell in Jesus Christ, or in the Lord's humanity? Because in him the divine perfections are brought nearer, and made more accessible to us. The humanity of the Lord is nearer to us, that is, nearer to our state and condition, than his divinity. In his humanity the fulness of Divine Love and Wisdom is brought into a nearer relation to fallen and frail humanity. The fulness that dwelt, and that dwells, in Jesus, is that out of which all men are supplied. Of his fulness have all we received. His humanity is the fountain which is opened for us, from which flow unfailing streams of love and mercy.

But not only have we all received of his fulness; we have all received grace for grace. This is a peculiar phrase, and has given rise to considerable discussion. From the words of the evangelist, which fol low, the grace must be understood as that which came by Jesus Christ. It has no such meaning, therefore, as substituted grace. The literal sense of the passage, as agreed on by the most eminent commentators, is, grace upon grace, which means abounding grace: "Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound" (Rom. v. 20). As the divine fulness of our Lord is connected with this phrase, we must suppose that both are intended to express his abounding goodness and truth brought near and freely offered to all men, but received only by sincere disciples. Grace is commonly understood to mean divine favour, offered to sinners through Jesus Christ, as the great sacrifice for sin. Rightly understood, there can be no objection to this. Grace is the sister of mercy, and both are the offspring of love. Whether we speak of grace or mercy or love, it is substantially the same. We owe all our salvation and the means of it to the divine love, of which grace is but an adaptation to our necessities. To speak of divine grace as favour purchased for us by the sufferings and righteousness of Christ, is not to speak the language of Canaan, but a language unknown to the true church, and to the Word of God. Abounding grace is abounding love.

17. John comes now to explain the reason of this:

For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 20 The law which was given by Moses and the grace and truth that came by Jesus Christ are related to each other as the Jewish and Christian dispensations, as Judaism and Christianity, as the law and the gospel. These two are in strong contrast, and yet in perfect harmony with each other. They are to each other as type and antitype, shadow and substance, letter and spirit. Between these there is a wide distinction, and yet an intimate relation. Like and unlike, near and yet apart, touching but not uniting, the law and the gospel stand side by side in the Word, as two successive manifestations of the goodness and wisdom of God, in relation to his fallen and sinful creatures. Not only was the law the type but the harbinger of the gospel. "The law was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ." This figure presents the law under the idea of one whose office it is to prepare the mind for receiving the lessons of a higher instructor. Yet the law is very generally regarded as a judge rather than a teacher, and one whose only function it is to pronounce the sentence of condemnation. Singular that such an idea should have entered the minds of men! This is partly owing to confounding the moral with the ceremonial law, and supposing that an eternal law was swept away with the statutes of a temporary dispensation. The moral law must be the rule of life under every dispensation. It is much older than the time of Moses. The commandments which were written with the finger of God on tables of stone, were the same laws of eternal order that had been originally inscribed by the Creator on the tables of the human heart. And all that Christ did, and all that Christianity is to do, is to write them upon the table of the heart again, that man may become what he originally was, and act, not by rules, but from principles. "But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people" (Jer. xxxi. 33; 2 Cora viii. 7-10). The old covenant was established on the letter of the law, the condition being outward obedience; the new covenant is established on the spirit of the law, and thus on inward principle. The grace and truth that came by Jesus Christ were not substitutes for the law, but supplements to it: truth to explain its deep meaning to the understanding, and grace to imprint it deeply on the heart. Grace and truth, in reference to the Lord as their source, are his love and wisdom; and in reference to man, as their recipient, are charity and faith. The Christian graces of charity and faith came by Jesus Christ; and these are the spirit of which the Mosaic law was the letter, the substance of which Judaism was the shadow.

What has been said of the law and the gospel in reference to the church and the race, is true of them in respect to the individual.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 21 Every one must be under the law as a schoolmaster, to bring him to Christ, as the great Teacher. He must learn and obey the law of divine order as a rule, before he can possess and act from it as a principle; he must be a disciple of Moses before he can be a disciple of Jesus; he must be under the law before he can be under grace.

18. Christ is not only the giver of spiritual and saving gifts, but the revealer of their previously hidden source and unseen author.

No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.

Instead of God and the Word, we now hear of the Father and the Son. Not till the time of the Incarnation are these names used to express the nature of the distinction in the Godhead, and then first in reference to it. Then only, indeed, were the names first literally applicable. The humanity begotten of God and born of the Virgin Mary was the actual and only begotten Son of God. But these names, thus used to express the paternal and filial relationship between the begetting Divinity and the begotten humanity, were afterwards applied analogically to express the relation between the Divine Love and Wisdom, or between God and the Word, as they existed from eternity. This distinction, and therefore the names by which it is expressed, are peculiar to the New Testament. Why do the names Father and Son never occur in the Old Testament in reference to this distinction in the Divine nature? Some suppose that these names were suppressed, so to speak, to prevent the Jews who were an external people and prone to idolatry, from falling into polytheism. Certainly many things were but obscurely revealed to them, which are made more clearly known in the gospel; and Christians perceive in the Old Testament various truths which were wisely hid from the children of Israel. But is it not more reasonable to believe that Father and Son, as divine names, never occur in the Old Testament, because the relationship which these names express did not then actually exist? God existed in his triune nature; for this is necessary, and therefore eternal; but the actual distinction of Father and Son had no existence till the Incarnation, when the divine and human natures stood in that relationship to each other. When that relationship came actually to exist, it was entirely consistent to extend the idea and the names to the corresponding distinction in the divine nature, even as it was before the Incarnation. The Word, when made flesh, became the Son, being one with the divinely begotten humanity, in which it dwelt, as the soul of man dwells in his body; and God, or the eternal Love, became the Father, since it was by the power of the Highest that the humanity was begotten.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 22 Indeed, that divine act is ascribed to the Spirit of God as well as to God himself, which makes it evident that the Spirit is not a person distinct from the Father, but is the Divine energy, or Proceeding, by which the Divine Love became active and operative. And here we may remark, that while there is no indication in the Old Testament of the existence of a Divine Father and a Divine Son, there is frequent mention of a Divine Spirit; because, as we may consistently conclude, the Spirit of God then actually existed, and the Son of God did not. He who became the Son existed as the Word, or the divine Wisdom in the bosom of the divine Love, and revealed or brought the Divine Love forth to view in becoming flesh, or the Word in ultimates. The divine love is incomprehensible except as revealed and manifested by that divine wisdom. No one hath seen God, no one hath heard the voice of the Father at any time, nor seen his shape; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, hath made him manifest.

19-22. The power and influence of John's baptism had now excited so much interest and fear among the leaders of the church,

that the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou?

The Jewish church, sunk as it was in darkness and corruption, was yet desirous to know the pretensions of this new teacher and baptizer of men, whom its leaders regarded with no favourable eye. The men of the church are called Jews, as descendants of Judah, when the will principle of the church is spoken of, and Jerusalem signifies the church as to its intellectual principle, or in regard to its doctrines. The Jews sending from Jerusalem signifies the will sending out from the understanding; and what the mind thus sends out, or what issues from it, are its affections and thoughts, which are either good and true or evil and false, and these are meant by priests and Levites. The evangelist introduces this account of the Jews sending messengers by saying "this is the record of John," his witness respecting himself and his mission, and also respecting the Lord. The priests and Levites demand of him, Who art thou? a most important question respecting the character of the revealed Word, when thus demanded of the revealed Word itself, which John represented, and one which the Word itself must answer, for no lower testimony will avail. What, then, is the record of John?

'He confessed, and denied not, but confessed, I am not the Christ.'

He confessed he was not the Messiah, of whom all men were in expectation. Christ is the Divine Truth itself, the Word incarnate. John was not that Word, nor did he, strictly speaking, represent it. He confessed, and denied not, but confessed, he acknowledged both affirmatively and negatively, that he was not the Christ.



'And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? and he saith, I am not.'

It had been predicted that Elijah was to come before the Lord; and when John confessed that he was not the Messiah, the Jews inquired if he was the promised Elijah. In the spirit of the prophecy he was Elijah, in the letter he was not. To the Jews, who believed that Elijah was to rise from the dead, John was not that prophet. And by those who remain in the letter John cannot be seen or received in this character, for he cannot be seen or received by them in his own true character, therefore not in Elijah's, since both John and Elijah represented the written Word. The priests and Levites asked John,

'Art thou that prophet? and he answered, No.'

This is understood to refer to the prophet promised in Deut. xviii. 15; "The Lord will raise up a prophet like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken." That prophet was not the forerunner of the Lord, but the Lord himself; not the written but the incarnate Word. John therefore, was not that prophet, nor his representative. But even if we understand it to refer to an ordinary prophet, John was not one, for, as the Lord declared, he was more than a prophet. A prophet represented the Lord as the Prophet. A prophet also represented doctrine derived from the Word; but John was more than a prophet, for he represented the Word itself. The priests and scribes, then said unto him,

'Who art thou, that we may give an answer to them that sent us? What sayest thou of thyself?'

Their questions hitherto had admitted only of negative answers; now they request him to make some positive declaration respecting himself. The mind cannot be satisfied with pure negatives. If it is in a negative state, the mind wants something positive to object to; if in an affirmative state, it wants something positive to rest upon. But the Lord does not desire to give positive truth to those who only wish to know it that they may deny or profane it; therefore John first answered the Jews negatively. It was for this reason that the Lord himself did not always answer those who questioned him in a positive or open manner, and at his trial did not answer the high priest at all, till he adjured him by the living God whether he were the Christ or no. For the same reason, when he was falsely accused he answered his accusers never a word. We are now to hear what John says of him self.

23, 24. He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias.

John representing the written Word, his coming to prepare the way of Jesus, besides his own work of preparing for the reception and acknowledgment of the Messiah, was for the sake of representing that the preparation of the human mind to receive the Lord is by the teaching of the Word.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 24 It is true that the Lord was in the world before John proclaimed his approach. Historically, John proclaimed his coming before the world as the great Teacher; but before Jesus commenced his public labours he had lived in private and unknown among men. This has its spiritual realization in those who are regenerate. The Lord is present in the interiors of the mind performing a secret work before he descends into the lower region of the mind to become an object of natural apprehension; and before he can do this the teaching of his written Word must prepare the way for his coming. John was sent to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest the Lord should come and smite the earth with a curse. Especially was this preparation effected by repentance and baptism; and these are still the means by which preparation is made for the acknowledgment of the Lord. Repentance and spiritual purification by divine truth remove evils from the natural mind and outward life, and make them admissive of spiritual love and truth. The Lord, as the eternal Word, works from within, while his revealed Word works from without. This Word is the voice crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord. The church was then in a desert state. Individually, every mind is a desert, when the voice of heavenly truth first calls man to repentance, and exhorts him to prepare for the Lord's coming. Repentance makes the way of the Lord straight; for to make the crooked straight is to turn the evil of ignorance into the good of truth.

The evangelist here remarks

'that they which were sent were of the Pharisees.'

In the historical sense this explains the reason of the question which they put to John about his baptizing. But the Pharisees represented those who cleanse the outside, but allow the inside to remain full of corruption, and whose character comes out in the question which these messengers ask.

25. Why baptized thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet?

Washings formed a part of the religious ceremonial service of Israel, although baptism in the Christian sense, that of an introductory rite, is unknown to the Mosaic law. It is considered that they had a traditional faith among them that Elias and the Messiah were to come baptizing. The Pharisees, therefore, demand of John why he baptized, when, according to his own confession, he was neither the Christ nor Elias?


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 25 The Jews baptized Gentiles when converted to Judaism; John baptized both Jews and Gentiles when converted to Christianity - so far as then made known. The Pharisees might, therefore, question John about his right to baptize, he being, according to his own confession, neither the Messiah or Christ, nor Elias, nor a prophet. But the Pharisees are here mentioned to show the repugnance which the natural man has to the purifying process represented by baptism.

26. John answered them, saying,

I baptize with water; but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not.

In Matthew, John's words are: "I indeed baptize with water," to distinguish his baptism from that of Jesus, which was with the Holy Ghost. The distinction is no doubt to be understood here, though not expressed. John meant to tell the Pharisees that his baptism was but preparatory to the coming of one greater than himself; that in the midst of them, and yet unknown to them, was the Christ of whom they had inquired. When John said, "I baptize with water," he meant to say that his baptism was only external, representing the purification of the external man. If the Pharisees objected to John's baptism, what would they say of Jesus, of whose work this water-baptism was but the outward sign? Spiritually, it speaks to us all in corresponding terms. John's baptism with water is the purification effected by the letter of the Word. The water of John's baptism signified the truths of the literal sense, baptism being the purification effected by their application to life. But while this outward baptism is being effected, there standeth one in the midst whom we know not. This unknown one is present in the inmost of every mind. But the purification of the natural man makes him manifest. Jesus can come forth to public view when John has prepared his way. He then comes forth from the inner into the outer mind, and so makes himself manifest to us as the object of our conscious faith and love.

27. Of Jesus the Baptist testifies:

He it is who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose.

How profound and beautiful is John's humility in thus testifying to the Lord's greatness and to his own comparative insignificance! Of the personal priority and greatness of Jesus, we need not further speak, having already (v. 15) considered a similar declaration. His present mode of illustrating this statement is that which invites our attention. His shoe latchet he was not worthy to unloose. In those times the sandal was removed from the foot of the pilgrim when he sought repose after the fatigue of his journey, a service performed by the very lowest domestics. In declaring himself unworthy to perform this humblest service for the Son of man, he acknowledged himself to be immeasurably inferior to his Lord as to rank and perfection.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 26 But the words of the Baptist teach more than a general lesson of humility, which we learn from their spiritual meaning. The foot, especially the sole of the foot, as the lowest part of the body, answers by analogy to the natural principle as the lowest degree of the mind; and the sandal which clothes and protects it answers to the corporeal principle, which consists of material ideas belonging rather to the body than the mind, but serving to cover and protect those which are immaterial and truly spiritual. As the shoe or sandal is symbolical of that which is lowest, the shoe latchet is a symbol of that which is least. "I will not," said Abram to the king of Sodom, "take from a thread even to a shoe latchet." The unloosing of the latchet and the removing of the Lord's sandal point to the completion of his works of redemption and salvation, when he had seen the travail of his soul and was satisfied, and when he put off all the corporeal principle which he inherited from his human parent, or rather those external things which, like the dust of the earth, itself similar in meaning the sandal, clave to his maternal humanity during his pilgrimage on earth. In this work of removing from his humanity all that was corporeal and earthly he had no human or angelic assistance; even John, who was more than a prophet and the greatest among those who were born of women, could have no share. As the Lord trod the winepress alone, and of the people there was none with him, so he alone effected the glorification of his humanity, even to the removal of the last remnant of mortality.

28. The things which the evangelist has just recorded

were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing.

On the best authorities the name of this place should be Bethany. It was on the east side of the Jordan, as the town of Martha and Mary was on the west; but although one was in, and the other was out of, the land of Canaan, the Bethany beyond the Jordan was not strictly speaking out of the region which represented the Church. When the Israelites took possession of the promised land, two tribes and a half chose their inheritance on the other side Jordan. Those on the east of the river represented the external church and the external man, and those in Canaan itself represented the internal church and the internal man; the tribe of Manasseh, half of which was on one side of the Jordan and half on the other, representing the principle of mutual love that forms the conjoining medium between them. Bethany was in the tribe of Reuben, who, among the twelve patriarchs, has the same signification that Peter has among the twelve apostles.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 27 It was here, where John was baptizing, that these things took place. As Reuben, like Peter, represented the grace of faith, and Bethany (the place of date trees) represented a state of the perception of the truths of faith, John there proclaimed and pointed out Jesus as the incarnate Word to the Jews and his disciples; and there he taught the relation which he, as the representative of the written Word, bore to the eternal Word himself, who had come into the world to redeem mankind. As this Bethany was beyond Jordan, these things being done there, teaches us, not only that the truths of faith are implanted in the outer man, and form the external church, but that faith itself has its dwellingplace there, as Reuben had his lot beyond Jordan; love to the Lord being the principle of the internal church and of the inner man, as Judah, its type, had his inheritance in, and indeed in the centre of, the land of Canaan. Where these things took place, John was also baptizing. As John's baptism represented introduction into the church and the purification of the outer man, it was performed on that side of Jordan from which the children of Israel entered, through that river, into the place of their rest; Jordan signifying the truth which instructs and purifies the mind, which baptizes it unto repentance and its works, through which lies the Christian's passage into the church below, as his home on earth, and into the church above, as his home in heaven.

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.

How noble a testimony to Jesus as the Saviour of men! Thirty years had passed since the angel had announced to the shepherds at Bethlehem the birth of a Saviour which was Christ the Lord; and now, when Jesus was about to show himself unto the world, John proclaims him to be the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world. Both the angel and the Baptist were messengers of the Lord; the heavenly messenger preparing the way for the Lord's advent into the heaven of the inner man, and the earthly messenger preparing the way for his descent into the world of the outer man. The Lord had hitherto been engaged in a great work, but it was inward and hidden; more in the inner depths of his human consciousness than in the outward acts of his human life, for the Lord glorified himself, as he regenerates man, first internally, next externally; and more in heaven among the angels than among men on earth, for the Lord redeemed angels as well as men. The stages of the Lord's glorification were coincident with corresponding periods of his life.

The Lord, as to his humanity, is the Lamb of God. This is a name given to him as the great antitype of the Jewish sacrifices, especially of the lamb of the daily sacrifice, and of the paschal lamb, which were types of Jesus, who offered himself as a sacrifice for the sins of the world.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 28 But it is of the first importance to know what is the true meaning of sacrifice. A sacrifice is that which is devoted to the Lord, or consecrated to his service. Christians have come to think of the Lord's sacrifice as consisting in his death, as a penal infliction. This view rests mainly on the mistaken notion that the death of the animal offered on the altar of the Jewish church constituted its sacrifice; and, looking from the type to the antitype, in confounding the Lord's sacrifice with his crucifixion. The death of the animal may indeed be considered analogous to the Lord's death; but neither the death of the type nor of the antitype constituted their sacrifice. The sacrifice consisted in the offering of the animal upon the altar; and the analogy to this, in our Lord's case, was not his death, but his resurrection and ascension; for it was his resurrection body that he presented as a living sacrifice to God, and which became for ever consecrated to the service of his indwelling divinity. The crucifixion and sacrifice of the Lord, so far from being identical, are, in their character, the opposites of each other. Crucifixion is the death of what is old; sacrifice is the consecration of what is new. This distinction is plainly made in the Scriptures. "For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin" (Rom. vi. 5). So in Galatians: "And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts" (v. 24). And in the same epistle: "God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world" (vi. 14). Thus the old man, the body of sin, the flesh with its affections and lusts, the world, are the things we are required to crucify. But never does the apostle speak of sacrificing any of these, and for the simple reason that such sacrifices would be abomination unto the Lord. The sacrifices which alone are acceptable to him are not things dead and unclean, but things pure and living; not the old man with his carnal lusts, but the new man with his heavenly affections. So Paul says, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Rom. xii. 1, 2). In Hebrews we read, "By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 29 But to do good and to communicate forget not, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased" (xiii. 15). In the Old Testament examples of this kind are numerous. The worshipper is exhorted to offer sacrifices of righteousness, of joy, of thanksgiving; all being comprehended in offering the sacrifice of a broken and a contrite heart.

The same law, which is applicable to all the sacrifices offered by men, was fulfilled in the one great sacrifice, which was offered by the Lord, the sacrifice of himself. It was his old man, his frail humanity, that was crucified; it was his new man, his glorified and risen humanity, that was sacrificed (Heb. x. 10). It was in his glorious body that "Christ gave himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour (Eph. v. 2); for Jesus "offered himself without spot to God" (Heb. ix. 14). The Lord's sacrifice was the great anti-type of all the sacrifices that burned for ages on the altar of the Jewish church. Sweet to Jehovah was the savour of that offering; for that which was offered was no less than a sanctified, perfected, glorified Humanity. That was the offering of all offerings: "For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified" (Heb. x. 10-14).

In what way does the Lord's sacrifice take away the sin of the world? Among heathen nations, sacrifices were offered to propitiate the deity. It is natural for men to suppose that God should be offended with them when they sin, and that they should seek to obtain his forgiveness by some acceptable offering as a sign of their penitence. Revelation gives us the true view of this great matter. God is love, and desires the happiness of all his creatures, the only obstacle to which exists in themselves. Man has become God's enemy, but God has never ceased to be man's friend. Man needs therefore to be reconciled to God; God needs not to be reconciled to man. There is indeed an opinion, that while God's love desires the salvation of all, his justice demanded satisfaction for sin; and redemption is considered to include a scheme by which God's justice is reconciled to his mercy. Jesus is believed to have come into the world to live the life of the righteous and die the death of the guilty, to satisfy the demands of the divine law; and having done this, sinners may now be saved, not for anything they can do, but for what Christ has done. So deeply does the idea of substitution enter into the plan of redemption, that many, unable to see any other use in the Lord's Incarnation, will be ready to ask, If Christ did not come into the world to live and die in the room and stead of sinners, what did he come to do?


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 30 We have only to look at the real state of the case, as it was and is between God and man, to obtain a satisfactory answer. Man had forsaken God, and needed to be brought back to God again. "Your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you" (Isa. lix. 2). This was man's state and condition. Alienated from God, he needed to be restored; at enmity with God, he needed to be reconciled. So say the Scriptures. "If when we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more being reconciled we shall be saved by his life" (Rom. v. 10). But how was this reconciliation effected? God assumed man's alienated and rebellious nature, and in his own person reconciled that nature to himself. But how does this reconciliation of man to God, of the human to the Divine, effect the reconciliation of men to God? No truth is more evident than this, that men are saved by being conformed to the image of the Saviour; and equally evident is it that to be conformed to his image, men must live as the Lord lived, suffer as he suffered, die as he died, rise as he rose. Our work is an image of his work, and our glory is an image of his glory; in one word, our regeneration is an image of his glorification. Thus the Lord's work is the cause and pattern of that work which must be wrought in us, if we are to be saved. But how does glorification in the Lord work out regeneration in us? In his perfected humanity the Lord is present with his saving power and efficacy with all men; so that he can perform in every human being the same work, in a finite measure and degree, which he once for all effected in himself. The work which the Lord effected in himself was that very work which was required to be accomplished in man, to fit him for heaven.

We may now look at the words of John in their spiritual meaning. In the spiritual sense the Lord is called the Lamb of God, as being Innocence itself, and the author of innocence to his people. By innocence we do not mean mere blamelessness, but the very perfection of holiness. Therefore the Lord is represented (Rev. v. 6) as the Lamb in the midst of the throne, to teach us that the Lord's humanity is innocence, and that this is the inmost of heaven, which is God's throne. The Lord, as the Lamb of God, takes away the sin of the world, by making the world free from sin, and restoring it to something of the innocence from which it has departed. There is no other way of salvation for the world but this. We cannot be saved by simply believing what Jesus did for us, but by doing as he did, and by being as he is, having the same mind in us which was also in him. We do not, of course, mean that we can ever, even to eternity, arrive at his measure of perfection.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 31 Our perfection must be like his in form, but can never be like it in degree; it is no more than its image. As man was created into the image of his Creator, so is he regenerated into the image of his Saviour.

30. John proceeds to say of Jesus,

This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me; for he was before me.

This declaration, now repeated for the third time, differs from the others in one particular. Jesus is here called a man. It does not of course follow that Jesus was a mere man. He was truly man, as well as truly God. But the Lord was man, not only as the son of Mary, but also as the Son of God; and he is more truly a man since, than he was before, he put off all that he inherited from his human mother. Paul so speaks of him as he now is. "There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" (1 Tim. ii. 5). The Lord is perfect man, because he is a divine man, and therefore a perfect mediator between God and man. We are so much accustomed to think of the human as contrasted with the Divine, that we are apt to forget that the human derives its distinguishing character, not from its unlikeness, but from its likeness, to the Divine. In a high and holy sense God is infinite Man, considered as the prototype of finite man. He is a divine person, not an infinitely extended and formless essence. As such he is the divine, and indeed the only Man; we, as men, being but the faint, because the finite, images of him, as the infinitely perfect. And we become more truly men as we acquire more and more of his image and likeness. Although it is not necessary to suppose that finite man is in all respects the exact copy of the Infinite, yet there can be no reasonable doubt that the divine image extends to man's form as well as to his nature. The human form is not an arbitrary one. It is not constructed but created. It is not built up mechanically as a habitation for the soul, but put forth creatively through the soul as a habitation for itself. It is the human essence concreted into the human shape. No creature can exist in any form but that which is suitable to its nature; that is to say, in its own form; man's form is the form of his nature. God could not have taken man's nature upon him, if that nature had not been homogeneous with his own; he could not have appeared in the human form, if that form had not been the image of his own; the Lord therefore was man before he assumed man's nature. By incarnation he became man in ultimates, having existed from eternity as man in first principles; and the glorified humanity is man in the perfection of the human form, because it is love and wisdom in their own form.



31. And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel.

How was it that the Messiah should have been unknown to him who had been raised up for the purpose of preparing his way? Was it that there might be no appearance of collusion? There must be a higher reason than this. John knew that the Messiah was come; but he was kept in ignorance of Jesus as the Christ, that he might know him through the sign which was to be vouchsafed to him from heaven. John had been, so to speak, working his way up to the Messiah, while preparing his way by preaching and baptizing. He knew what he was working and labouring for, but he knew not him in whose cause and for whose coming he laboured. The object of his mission was, that the Messiah might be made manifest to Israel, and to the church so far as it was animated by the love of truth, which is the spiritual principle that Israel represented; and to the human mind, in which affection for truth exists; for to none but those who are in the love of truth for its own sake can the Lord be savingly manifested or revealed as Christ, the Saviour of the world. Every one in John's condition has John's experience. While we are acquiring a knowledge of the truth and striving to obey it, we are preparing the way of the Lord. We know him, and yet we know him not. We know him theoretically but not practically, potentially but not actually. Only by the heavenly sign, the spirit descending from on high and alighting and abiding on the truth, do we know it as the truth, in and by which the Lord brings salvation to us.

32, 33. The sign by which John was to know Jesus as the Christ was that which took place at his baptism.

I saw the spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him.

If we look at this divine event only from the sensuous side, according to which the literal narrative is written, we shall regard it as teaching not only the distinct but the separate personality of Father, Son, and Spirit. Reason may convince us that the reality is different from the appearance. No reasonable person can suppose that an omnipresent Being can be thus divided and separated, one person in heaven, another on earth, and a third the messenger between them. The appearances spoken of are but the outward visible signs of an inward divine operation, an operation of the Lord's divinity in his humanity. The dove was not the Spirit itself, but a representative appearance of its nature, as the Spirit of infinite love and wisdom, the motion of the dove representing the descent of the Spirit from the Lord's divine into his human nature. In the Lord the descent and operation of the Spirit was constant; but as his glorification advanced not only by continuous but by discrete degrees, there were marked stages where one discrete degree ended and another began.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 33 At one of these stages, marking an epoch in his human life and experience, the Lord's glorification had now arrived; the baptism of John representing the purification and consecration of the external man, followed by the descent into it of the Spirit of love and wisdom of the inner man. This was the stage of the new life to which the Lord had now advanced. The descent of the Spirit into the more ultimate sphere of the Lord's human nature was that which prepared him for entering on his public ministry, in which the indwelling Spirit of his love and wisdom was to be brought out in those wonderful words and works designed to enlighten and bless mankind.

This was the promised sign by which Jesus was made known to John. I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending and remaining on him, the same is he that baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. To look at this subject spiritually in relation to ourselves, the same evidence is given to us that was given to John, by which we know Jesus as our Saviour. As regeneration is in effect an image of the Lord's glorification, and is that by which the Lord is glorified in us, this is given us as a sign by which we come to know the Lord. The descent of the Holy Spirit from the Lord through the will and understanding of the internal man into the baptized and purified life and conversation of the external man is that by which the Lord becomes sensibly known to us; and by which he works out the complete regeneration of the willing and obedient, as he effected the complete glorification of his own humanity. The dove was not only to descend but to remain upon Jesus; so that not a transitory visit but a continued abiding of the spirit was to be the sign. But these words express something more than this. All motion, especially that of birds, is expressive of the activity of thought, and remaining is expressive of a permanent state in regard to the will. The descending of the dove was there-fore symbolical of the operation of the divine wisdom in the Lord's human understanding, and the remaining upon him of the dove was symbolical of the confirmation of divine love as a principle of his human will. These were to be a sign that Jesus was he who was to baptize with the Holy Spirit. This baptism forms a most important contrast to that of John. John's baptism was representative, the Lord's was actual. The difference between them is as the difference between what is dead and what is living. All outward rites and all human agencies are but the forms into which life flows. The baptizing and preaching of men are most useful operations, but they have nothing of vitality in them.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 34 They are like the labors of the husbandman, in cultivating and manuring the soil and in sowing and watering the seed; but all life and growth and fruitfulness are from God alone; even the powers of nature do nothing more than dispose the external of the seed for yielding to the operation of the living force, which comes from the Lord through the sun of heaven. The same may be said of the written Word which John represented. Its truths are the seed of the kingdom; and all that human teachers can do is to sow them in the minds of others and of themselves. All the vitality which they possess is from the presence in them of the divine life; and all that man can do, and all that he is required to do, is to fulfil the outward conditions analogous to those of the husbandman, that these seeds of eternal truth may take root downwards and bear fruit upwards. If men faithfully baptize with water, the Lord will not fail to baptize with the Holy Spirit.

34. John saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.

The Lord, we have seen, was now the Son of God actually, as, before the incarnation, he was potentially. We have also seen that Jesus was more fully the Son of God at his resurrection than at his birth. By birth, he was the Son of Mary as well as the Son of God; by glorification, he became the Son of God only, having put off all the frail humanity he derived from his human mother, and put on a perfect humanity from his divine Father. Although at his birth he was justly entitled to be called the Son of God, yet, strictly speaking, this title was only applicable to that principle of his humanity which he derived from the Father; and as the humanity in which he rose from the dead was wholly divine, this was truly and exclusively the Son of God, he having been "declared to be the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead." The record of Jesus as the Son of God, is the knowledge and acknowledgment, not simply of the Lord's divinity, but of the divinity of his humanity. Those who regard Jesus as the eternal Son of God, and yet deny the divinity of his humanity, do not really acknowledge him to be the Son of God. There was no eternal Son of God. There was a Son born in time and glorified; and this is in very truth the only begotten Son of God. John's testimony respecting Jesus, as being the Son of God, is of great practical as well as doctrinal importance; for faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, as God manifest in the flesh, as that One in whom God is Man and Man is God, is the faith which brings salvation, because it brings the soul into connection with him who has the power to save.



35, 36. Again, the next day after, John stood, and two of his disciples: and looking on Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God.

John had already borne testimony to Jesus as the Word made flesh, as the fulness of grace and truth, as Jehovah whose coming was predicted by Isaiah, as the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world, as the Son of God. He had testified this to the multitude who came to his baptism, and to the priests and Levites sent to ask him who he was, and whether he was the Messiah. He now gives the same testimony before his own disciples. The first disciples of Jesus were, it would appear, disciples of John. So far John had prepared the way of the Lord, not only to the Jews generally, but to his own disciples in particular. And these disciples of John became disciples of Jesus, and one of them became the first of the Lord's apostles. The two disciples to whom John pointed out Jesus as the Lamb of God, and who followed the Lord and became his disciples, represent the two general classes of converts who follow the Lord, those who are in charity and those who are in faith, and abstractly the graces of charity and faith themselves; their leaving John and following Jesus representing the elevation of those principles out of the natural into the spiritual degree of the mind. John and his disciples stood while Jesus walked, a symbol of the completed mission of the one and the commencing mission of the other. John's work may be said to have ended where the Lord's work began. The baptism of Jesus was the crowning act of John's mission. A connection between heaven and earth had been effected by the baptism of men, but heaven itself was opened by the baptism of the Lord. Henceforth the humanity of Jesus became the direct medium of communication between heaven and the church, and between God and man, and the spiritual baptism of regeneration was about to succeed the ceremonial baptism of repentance. The sun having risen in his strength, the star which heralded his approach became hidden in his beams. So John testified of Jesus and of himself: He must increase, but I must decrease. And thus is it with those who pass successfully through the regenerate life. Charity and faith are first the disciples of John. They are received from the written Word as principles of doctrine, and if they are faithfully acted upon as such, they become eventually principles of life; introduced into the mind by the baptism of water, they become quickened by the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and being animated with spiritual and heavenly life are raised from the natural into the spiritual mind.

37. The effect of this exclamation was,

that the two disciples who heard him speak followed Jesus.



Following Jesus, or following the Lord, is frequently mentioned in the New Testament, which historically means becoming his disciples. But following Jesus spiritually and practically is to follow his teaching and example; to follow him as the Truth, and to follow wherever the truth leads. Such only as do this are true followers of the Lord. This the two disciples of John did; and this all true disciples of the letter do, for these not only learn the principles of goodness and truth from the Word, but strive to live according to them; and the life of truth brings them to Jesus as the Spirit of truth, and leads them to follow its higher dictates.

38. Then Jesus turned and saw them following.

The Lord turns himself to us when we turn ourselves to him. "Turn ye unto me and I will turn unto you, saith the Lord." But the real truth is, the Lord turns us to himself; he draws us, we suffer ourselves to be drawn; he leads us, we suffer ourselves to be led. The Lord's turning himself away from us is an appearance; and it is only when he turns us to himself that it seems as if he turned himself to us. We must beware, however, of falling into error, by supposing that we are mere passive objects whom the Lord turns at his pleasure. It is always his pleasure to turn his creatures to himself, and he turns all who of their free will yield to the perpetually operating influences of his Spirit. This turning of the Lord has a spiritual significance. Turning the face to any one means to open the mind inwardly to him; and when the Lord is spoken of as turning to any one, it indicates that he who previously saw the Lord externally and obscurely now sees him inwardly and clearly. And so when it is said that the Lord sees any one, as it is here said that, being turned, he saw the two disciples of John following, we are not to understand any new sight on the Lord's part but on man's. The Lord always sees us, but we do not always see him; and he sees us in the true sense when he enables us to see ourselves. There are two different aspects which the Lord has to men; they see him on the back and they see him on the face. The first is external sight, the second is internal. When the Lord was turned, he asked the two who followed him,

'What seek ye?'

An important and searching question this. When we follow the Lord, we should endeavour to know, not only the Lord whom we follow, but what our object is in following him. The two answered this question by asking him another. Addressing Jesus as Master, a title to which no one is spiritually entitled but himself, he alone having authority in matters of faith and practice, the disciples say unto him,

'Where dwellest thou?'



As dwelling has relation to a state of goodness in the will, where goodness or love has its dwelling-place and its home, this inquiry indicates a desire of the mind to know the nature of the good to which truth leads, the end to which it is a means. The Lord might have answered, "I dwell in the high and holy place; with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit." But the Lord spake according to outward existing states, yet in the language of correspondence. Place signifies state. The question, Where dwellest thou ? asked with a desire to follow him to the place of his abode, is expressive of a spiritual desire to attain the state which is the Lord's state, to participate in his goodness, wisdom, and blessedness.

39. To their question the Lord answered,

Come and see.

To come is an act of the will, to see is an act of the understanding. This, therefore, is an exhortation to them to come to that state themselves, as the best and indeed the only practical way of knowing it. As if the Lord had said, and as he now says to those who occupy the place and have the desire of these disciples, Learn from experience. Follow me to the place of my abode and see for yourselves; it is a state and place I have prepared for you, that where I am ye may be also. My humble dwelling upon earth is the consecrated symbol of my church on earth and of my kingdom in heaven, of my Father's house in which are many mansions, the dwelling place of my love and the home of the loving.

'They came and saw where he dwelt, and abode with him that day.'

Time, like place, signifies state; but place is state in relation to good, and time is state in relation to truth. Place and time thus signify both. Their abiding with Jesus that day signifies a state of good and truth united. The quality of the state on which they had thus entered is expressed by the hour of the day:

'it was about the tenth hour.'

Ten is a number which signifies remains, which are the germs or rudiments of states formed in the mind by the Lord, through the insemination of the truths and goods of his Word. Others may be instrumental in communicating the knowledge of these principles, but the Lord alone can cause them to take root. The implantation of remains is the beginning of the regenerate life. Their impartation is confined to no period, but their implantation is the first day, and is memorable as the day of our being with Jesus in the place of his abode. The states formed under the teaching of John are the beginnings of those perfected under the teaching of Jesus. Reformation is preparatory to regeneration.

40. One of the two which heard John speak and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother.

We are not told who the other disciple was; some suppose it was John himself.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 38 Andrew was the first of the Lord's disciples, and Peter was the first of his apostles. It is a matter of great interest and importance to know the representative character of that disciple, for as the disciples represented all the graces and virtues of religion, he who was first chosen represents that grace which first exists in the mind and is the beginning of all others. Andrew represented the obedience of faith. But the faith, the obedience of which he represents, is what may be called natural faith, the acknowledgment of the leading truths of the gospel, or their admission into the understanding as doctrines. This may be called faith in the understanding, and obedience to this faith consists in shunning the evil and doing the good which it teaches, from a sense of duty rather than from affection. This obedience is indeed of the will, but it is of the will acting from the law as a rule, but not as a principle. There are two kinds of obedience, which belong to two different stages of the regenerate life. There is obedience to the dictates of truth and obedience to the promptings of love. Obedience is the first, and it is also the last, perfection of the regenerate. We begin with obedience and end with obedience. By obedience we enter on and pursue the upward path until we have arrived at a state of love, and when we have attained to a state of love we descend by obedience into the performance of uses. The first obedience is a labour of duty, the second is a labour of love. Andrew represents the first, and John represents the second. And that obedience is the first element of real religion, for intellectual faith has no actual and permanent existence till it is manifested in obedience, for obedience is that which turns truth into good, and brings the will into conformity and conjunction with the understanding.

41. It is said of Andrew that

he first findeth his own brother Simon.

Simon Peter is eminently the representation of the Christian grace of faith. When he is called Simon he represents faith in the will, or that faith which exists in the mind as a general principle; Peter represents the same faith when it exists in the understanding; while Simon Peter is expressive of that faith which is both in the will and in the understanding. The faith represented by Andrew is that which leads to the faith represented by Peter, in other words natural faith leads to spiritual faith, or we should rather say the obedience of natural faith leads to spiritual faith. So it is said of Andrew that he first findeth his own brother Simon, for natural faith is the brother of spiritual faith, and obedience is that which forms the link of connection between them. Andrew saith to him,

'we have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ.'



No doubt to sincere and earnest Israelites this was a great discovery, and happy must the one have been to announce, and the other to hear, the glad tidings. Spiritually, we find the Messiah, when we receive the Lord as the Word made flesh, as the Truth itself by whom we have redemption. Andrew does not say "we have heard of him," but "we have found him," and in their finding him was implied and comprehended the finding of the Saviour and of salvation. Messias, like Christ, means the anointed, and Jesus as the anointed is the divine truth filled with the divine love. The holy oil with which anointings were effected under the representative dispensation of the Jews, was the type or symbol of the holy oil of divine love with which the Father was to anoint the Son, by which the Lord's divinity was to glorify his humanity, by making it divine.

42. Andrew brought Simon to Jesus.

And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon, the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is, by interpretation, a stone.

This recognition of the new inquirer, if not convert, is an instance of the truth of the statement, that Jesus needed not that any should testify of man; for if he knew what was in man, it is not surprising that he should know such outward circumstances as these. But Jesus not only knew what Simon was, but he knew what he would be, and in accordance with this knowledge he gave him at once a new name, that expressed the character which this disciple was to earn for himself. It is worthy of remark that this eminent disciple is, in the brief narrative of his first connection with Jesus, spoken of by all the names by which he is afterwards designated: Simon, Simon Peter, Simon son of Jona. Each has a particular spiritual as well as natural signification. Simon literally means hearing; and he who has ears to hear the truth is one who is inclined to hearken to its lessons of wisdom and precepts of life, and to follow them. Hearing is that sense which communicates more immediately with the will and ministers to the affections, these being affected with sound and its harmony; while sight communicates more immediately with the understanding, and conveys to it impressions of symmetry and beauty. When this disciple is called by the name of Simon, it is in reference to the affection of truth, which disposes and opens the mind to its reception. When he is called Peter, which has the same meaning as Cephas, it is in reference to his character as one whose faith is fixed on the immovable rock of divine truth, and eminently on the Lord as the Truth itself - the Rock of Ages; for Peter, as one strong in the faith, and especially as the one who made the famous confession that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God, is the representative of faith, and also of the church itself, as founded upon a rock, and against which the gates of hell shall not prevail.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 40 But the Lord here salutes him as Simon, son of Jona. Jona means a dove, which, in reference to man, is the emblem of charity, the harmlessness or simplicity of the dove being akin to that innocence of which the lamb is emblematical; and the charity and simplicity of mind which is meant by the dove, is that singleness of heart and singleness of eye, by which the whole body becomes full of light. Such is the Christian grace represented by Peter, as named by the Lord.

43. The day following, Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me.

This part of the narrative will be best understood by some general remarks on its connection with what precedes and follows. As Andrew found his brother Simon, and brought him to Jesus, so Philip did with Nathanael. There is, therefore, a relative connection between them. Little is recorded in the gospels respecting these two disciples, but that little enables us to see their representative characters. The place where Jesus abode, to which Andrew followed and Simon came to him, was Judea; Philip and Nathanael he found in Galilee. The Lord's going forth from Judea into Galilee signifies, in reference to the regenerate, his going forth from the internal into the external man. Philip and Nathanael, therefore, signify principles of goodness and truth, or charity and faith in the natural mind, corresponding to principles of charity and faith in the internal, represented by Andrew and Simon. This appears not only from the general rule, that when two are mentioned together, one has reference to the will and the other to the understanding, but also from what is further said respecting them in the present instance. The account of the Lord's calling Philip begins with the statement that he would go into Galilee on the day following that on which Peter was brought to him. The following day is a state following in series that represented by the day on which Andrew and Peter were with Jesus, a state of the conjunction of charity and faith in the natural mind, corresponding to a state of the conjunction of the same principles in the spiritual mind. It is thus that regeneration proceeds, sometimes inwards or upwards to the interior affections and thoughts of the mind, and sometimes outwards and downwards towards the words and actions of the life. In the Lord's journey into Galilee, which represented this outward progression, the Lord finds Philip, whom he commands to follow him.

44. What Philip specially represented is brought out more distinctly in the statement which the evangelist now makes, that

Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter,


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 41 which indicates that the principle he represents has a common connection or affinity with those represented by his two fellow citizens; and that his character, like theirs, had reference to faith, and to their future function of gathering the faithful into the church, is further evinced by the meaning of Bethsaida, which is a fishing town. All that is known of Philip from the gospels indicates that he has relation to faith, but that the faith which he represents is not free from obscurity and doubt, and is therefore comparatively external or natural. A memorable instance of this was his asking Jesus to show them the Father; which drew forth from the Lord the gentle reproof, "Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip?" (xiv. 9). Yet where there is sincerity there is a true, however imperfect disciple, one who is honored with the direct call to follow the Lord.

45. Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him of whom Moses in the law and the prophets did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of Joseph.

It is a spiritual law, which is a law of life originating in him who is Life itself, that truth desires good and good desires truth. This spiritual law lies at the foundation of our desire that others should think and feel as we do, that there may be unity of mind and action. This is the case, indeed, with those who are in evil and falsity, as well as with those who are in goodness and truth; and, as a consequence, men and spirits actuated by those principles desire to make others like themselves. But abuse does not take away use, and this use we see operating in the present case. Philip tells Nathanael, We have found him of whom Moses in the law and the prophets did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of Joseph. The acceptance of Jesus as the Messiah, whose coming had been foretold by Moses and the prophets, was in itself a great act of faith; yet Philip's language respecting Jesus does not indicate a clear perception of his character. He does not, like Andrew, speak of Jesus as the Christ, but as the Nazarene; nor does he, like Nathanael, speak of him as the Son of God, but as the son of Joseph, the only instance in which a disciple so calls him. Jesus as the Nazarene is the Lord as to his natural humanity, or the divine truth accommodated to the natural apprehension of man. This principle of the Lord's humanity glorified, is indeed that by which he has access to the natural minds of men, so as to bring his love and wisdom down to their lowest state of reception, and save men unto the uttermost; but Philip had not yet acquired a just apprehension of the divinity of the Lord's humanity.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 42 This is not indeed to be wondered at in Philip, or in any one who has but newly learnt the truth of the Lord's being the Messiah; but it expresses and represents a condition of mind and state of intelligence as yet far from those which are characteristic of a spiritual disciple. The true disciple of the Lord sees that Jesus was not merely spoken of by the law and the prophets, but that he was himself the Law and the Prophet; by fulfilling the law of the prophets, he became the truth and the good which the law and the prophets taught. In his life he experienced and acted all that the written Word contains, so that he is that Word in person.

46. Nathanael but expressed the repugnance of the natural mind to divine truth when he answered Philip's announcement, that they had found the Messiah, with the question,

Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?

Goodness, unless it comes in the form of greatness, seldom finds a ready acceptance amongst men, who are so accustomed to judge by appearances. The assumption of humanity by Jehovah, as a remedy for human disorder and misery, is the great stumbling-block to the natural man, as the prophet declared it would be to both houses of Israel. For, however much we may be sensible of that want which can only be supplied by the Saviour, we are all naturally disinclined to accept the Saviour in the lowly character in which he presented himself to the Jewish people. Philip answered Nathanael's question, by asking him to do what Jesus had requested Andrew to do, Come and see. As if he had said, Approach Jesus yourself, and use that faculty which God has given you for discerning the truth, and you will see it to your spiritual benefit and eternal salvation. Nathanael took this wise counsel, as every one should who desires to see the truth as it is in Jesus.

47. Nathanael's doubt was at once shaken, but not at once removed.

Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile.

Although these words were spoken respecting Nathanael, they were heard by him. The first evidence of Jesus' Messiahship which this doubting and cautious visitor received was a revelation of his own character. It might have been regarded as a flattering compliment, but that the person of whom it was spoken must have heard it as a voluntary test of the speaker's claim to being what Philip had represented him to be. Nathanael felt it to be an evidence of supernatural knowledge, and therefore of Jesus as a supernatural Being. He perceived that Jesus knew him. The description which Jesus gives of Nathanael's interior character is expressive also of the character of those persons and of that Christian grace which he represented. A true Israelite is one who is in the spiritual love of truth.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 43 Of this love of truth the Lord says, that in it there is no guile. The love of truth implies the absence of insincerity. Singleness of mind is one of its essential characteristics; and the promise of the Lord is, If thine eye be single thy whole body shall be full of light. Nathanael soon experienced and declared the truth of this promise; and all who are single-minded will have the same experience when they come to Jesus and see him for themselves.

48. Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me?

The love of truth is ever accompanied with the fear of error; and one of the signs by which it is indicated is this, that the mind does not at once accept and confirm the offered truth. Hasty and unquestioning reception and confession of the truth is likely to result in persuasive rather than in rational faith; and, however sincere such a faith may be, it is liable to be shaken like a reed with the ever-varying breath of human opinion. There is a healthy as well as a diseased scepticism; a state of doubt that leads to faith as well as a state of doubt that ends in infidelity. An affirmative principle underlies the doubt that is felt by the true Israelite. He is willing to be convinced, but is aware of the danger of being deceived; and the doubts through which he makes his way to faith only tend to enlarge and confirm it. Such was the process through which Nathanael entered into faith. He was disposed to believe, but did not at once yield to the evidence of the truth. He was convinced that Jesus knew him; he now desired to learn how the Lord possessed that knowledge. Jesus answered Nathanael, by giving him a still more convincing evidence of his supernatural knowledge. He said unto him,

'Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee.'

This disclosure of some circumstance of his private life, which he was sure Jesus could only have known by omniscience, drew from him the full and free confession,

'Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the king of Israel.'

The connection between the Lord's declaration and Nathanael's acknowledgment is not without a spiritual lesson for us. The fig tree is symbolical of the principle of natural goodness, by which we mean, not the goodness which is natural in its origin, but spiritual goodness, as it enters into and influences our natural thoughts and affections; and which may be called natural goodness from a spiritual origin. The divine promises of the peaceful times, when they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree, and none shall make them afraid, (Micah iv. 4), and when they shall call every man his neighbour under the vine and under the fig tree (Zech. iii. 10), are promises to the faithful, that when the warfare of their spiritual life is accomplished, and all their evil passions and habits are subdued, they shall dwell tranquilly under the shadow and in the enjoyment of all the spiritual and natural goodness they have acquired.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 44 Nathanael had as yet, indeed, realized only a part of this promise. His warfare was not yet accomplished; it had not even properly begun. He had conquered his doubts, and had acquired a true faith in Jesus as his Saviour. He had, therefore, entered into intellectual peace on the highest of all subjects, that which relates to the Lord Jesus as the Saviour of men. Although Nathanael had yet a warfare before him, he had become possessed of that power which was sufficient to make him more than conquerer, for as it is the Lord himself that overcomes our evils and errors, faith in him is that through which his power operates in supporting us in our labors, and bringing us into that peace of heart which passeth all understanding.

50, 51. Promises of a still more perfect manifestation of the Lord whom he had acknowledged were given to Nathanael.

Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? Thou shalt see greater things than these. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man. Nathanael had confessed Jesus to be the Son of God; the promise now given relates to the Son of Man.

There is no record of this having received a literal fulfilment, unless we regard as such, the angels ministering unto the Lord after his temptation in the wilderness (Matt. iv. 11), and the angel strengthening him during his agony in the garden (Luke xxii. 43). In these cases the angels and their ministry were representative of a higher agency and work. They were merely passive instruments like those angels of the Old Testament dispensation, in whom God appeared and through whom he spoke. Jesus needed not the aid of angels. The ministering of these angels was the outward representative appearance of an inward divine operation. It was the Lord's own Divinity that sustained him in his temptations; and that ministered unto him after the conflict was past. The promise to Nathanael is a promise to the Christian disciple, that he shall be privileged to comprehend something of the nature of that divine work, by which the humanity of the Lord was glorified, that his children might be regenerated. The opening of heaven is the opening of the internal man; and the ascending and descending of the angels, through the open heaven, upon the Son of Man, is the reciprocal communication between the divine and the human nature of the Lord; the ascending angels indicating that the human nature was made divine, and the descending angels indicating that the divine was made human.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 45 His humanity was made divine by every thought and affection of his human nature being exalted into union with his divinity; and his divinity was made human by infinite love and wisdom being brought down into his humanity. Such, at least, is the manner in which we may attempt to express our human ideas on this divine subject, of which the highest angelic conception is faint and limited. One particular of the Lord's statement we must, however, remember. Angels ascended as well as descended upon the Son of Man. The angels that ascended had first descended: for no one hath ascended up into heaven, but he that came down from heaven. And as the angels were "angels of God," and represented the divinity, whose messengers they were, we learn that the very human thoughts of Jesus were divine in their origin. Divine wisdom put on in the mind of Jesus the form of human thought, divine love put on the form of human affection, and then ascended with them through heaven to the eternal divinity from whom they came. And when all that was human was thus made divine, and all that was divine was thus made human, then was fulfilled the Lord's divine prayer, "Father, glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee" (chap. xvii. 1). In regard to man and his regeneration, the Son of Man is the Lord's divine truth in the natural mind, and God is his divine truth in the spiritual mind; and the ascending and descending angels are the heavenly principles of truth and goodness that serve to bring them into connection and conjunction. Regeneration, considered as a completed work, is the conjunction of the inner and outer man; and this is effected by the opening of the inner man, and by the reciprocal and mutual operation of heavenly principles within. The angels ascend and descend. Regeneration begins at the lowest point and ascends upwards till it reaches the highest, and then descends. Man ascends from knowledge to faith and from faith to love, and from love descends through faith and knowledge into good words and works. This is the circle of regeneration. This upward and downward progress is constantly going on, the angels are ascending and descending at the same time; for the Lord operates with his Spirit from within, and with his Word from without. Ascent and descent are reciprocal and correspondent; and when these two divine agencies meet and unite, regeneration and heaven are the results.




1. The miracle which the Lord performed at the marriage of Cana in Galilee is, like all his other works, pregnant with divine instruction. This, the first manifestation of the Lord's miraculous power, representatively shows forth the purpose of his coming; which was to enter into a new and everlasting covenant with his people. The covenant between the Lord and his church is a marriage covenant, the Lord himself being the bridegroom and husband, and the church the bride and wife. It was, therefore, suitable that the first of the Lord's miracles should be performed at a marriage. Like every other covenant, marriage is entered into by mutual consent, and is established on certain conditions; the conditions of marriage being mutual love and mutual service. The Lord has engaged to love and cherish his church, and he requires to be loved and served in return. The conditions can never be less than fulfilled on his part. His nature is sufficient to assure us of this. But his promise has been given. To his church he has said, "I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in loving kindness, and in mercies" (Hos ii. 19). How could it be otherwise, when he has declared, "I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee" (Jer. xxxi. 3). And the Lord's love, which has been ever of old, will ever continue. "Can a mother forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee" (Isa. xlix. 15). Whenever the covenant has been broken, it has been through the conditions having been violated by the church. And many and grievous are the lamentations of the Holy One over the defections and backsliding of his corrupt and unfaithful spouse. All, therefore, that is required to form and preserve the marriage covenant between the Lord and the church is the faithful and loving fulfilment of the laws of the covenant by the church herself. But the marriage of the Lord and the church implies and rests upon another marriage, of which the members of the church individually are the subjects. The church as a body, as it is in the Lord's sight, consists of those, and of those only, who have the principles of the church in their hearts and manifest them in their lives. Those only are the children of the marriage who have the marriage in themselves. The union of love and faith is the heavenly marriage. This is the marriage into which we should desire to enter.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 47 Without it, we are guests without the wedding-garment; and will be cast out into outer darkness. The true marriage to us individually is, therefore, the conjunction of goodness and truth, or of love and faith; this alone making us children of the marriage.

The marriage which the Lord blessed with his presence was in Cana of Galilee, to represent that he was about to raise up a spiritual church among the Gentiles, in place of the representative church, which had been established among the Jews, which was now passing away. It is true that this was a Jewish wedding; the people themselves were Jews, and their surroundings and customs were Jewish. All this was necessary and suitable. Although the church was to he established among the Gentiles, it had to be commenced among the Jews. The rudiment of every new church is formed out of the remnant of the old. The first disciples and the twelve apostles were Jews. But the election of a particular people to form a visible church, does not imply any partiality in him who elects them; much less does it imply, that the benefits conferred are designed for those who directly receive them, to the exclusion of all others. On the contrary, though established visibly in one nation, the church exists for the benefit of all nations, the visible church being, for the time, the centre from which light is diffused in all directions outwards.

The narrative states that the marriage was on the third day. This is mentioned for a more important reason than to inform us, that this event followed a certain time after that recorded at the close of the previous chapter. Three is a number expressive of completeness. It here signifies that now, in the fulness of time, and when all necessary means were divinely provided, the Lord was about to commence the church of his first advent. The resuscitation of the church, like the resurrection of the Lord, took place on the third day; for in the divine economy, death is ever followed by newness of life, and every end by a new beginning.

Regarding the marriage itself, the evangelist informs us that the mother of Jesus was there. (Mary was there in her dual character, as the mother of Jesus and as the representative of the church. The church which Mary represented was that spiritual principle which is embodied more or less perfectly in every dispensation; and which is providentially preserved through all ages, so that when one dispensation expires, the church may rise again in another; though only in the case of the Christian Church has it ever risen in a more perfect and beautiful form than its predecessor.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 48 It is not, therefore, said of Mary, as it is of Jesus and his disciples, that she was bidden, but simply that she was there. The vital principle of the church, which Mary represented, was already amongst the Gentiles, and had been, though less visibly than amongst the Jews; and it now served as a medium of communication between Jesus, as the author of saving truth, and the new dispensation, as its recipient, that the new wine of his kingdom might be given to supply the new wants of the human race.

2. And both Jesus was called and his disciples to the marriage.

Jesus is the divine good and truth from which the church exists, and his disciples are types of the love of good and the faith of truth, which constitute the church or kingdom of the Lord, whether existing among the many or in the mind of one. Their being called to the marriage is expressive of the circumstance, that amongst the Gentiles there was an active desire to receive the Lord and the principles of his kingdom. This implies both a knowledge and an appreciation of divine and spiritual truth. Of the partial existence of these amongst the Gentiles, we have an evidence in the journey of the wise men from the East, in search of Jesus, as the king of the Jews. The invitation to Jesus and his disciples may be considered to have been, like the miracle itself, owing to the mother of Jesus being there. When the affection for truth, which constitutes the vital principle of the church, is present in the mind, the truth itself must be desired and sought, for good ever desires truth. There are several instances recorded in the gospels of Jesus being invited to partake of his people's hospitality; and no instance is to be found of his refusing to become the guest even of the most humble or the most unworthy of his creatures. How beautiful an example of humility and love! His object, of course, was not merely to please but to profit those who bade him. Any one influenced by the same benevolent motive would be secured against contamination; and would be able to turn the entertainment into a feast of love. The Lord's acceptance of these invitations teaches us this other and still higher lesson: that no one who earnestly invites Jesus into his heart will ever ask in vain; and no one who entertains him will ever fail to receive his blessing in return. And that blessing, in the present instance, was both an increase and exaltation of the truth which the church possessed.

3. The first incident connected with the celebration of the marriage is the failing of the wine. There was no need of mentioning any other, since the object of introducing the account of the marriage was to record the miracle of which it was the scene; and the failing of the wine was the occasion of its performance.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 49 But the incident and the marriage are intimately connected with each other. The failing of the wine symbolized the defect or extinction of spiritual truth in the church. It was the mother of Jesus that intimated to him the failing of the wine.

And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine.

Mary, as representing the living principle of the church, through whose influence the Lord as the truth was present, was the one to perceive the want of spiritual truth in the church, and to express that want to him who alone had the power to supply it.

4. The answer of Jesus to this implied appeal for aid is singular. The Lord addresses Mary, as he always did, by the name of Woman. This is not to be judged of by our usage, as implying on the Lord's part any want either of respect or affection. In those days woman was a title of respect, if not of honor. There were two reasons for the Lord's never addressing Mary by the name of mother, but always by the name of woman. First, Jesus avoided calling Mary his mother for the same reason that he refused to acknowledge David as his father. If he was Mary's Lord, how was he then her son? He was, indeed, the Son of Mary by natural birth, as he was the Son of David by natural descent. But just as his humanity had been conceived by the power of the highest overshadowing the virgin; so his human thoughts were conceived by the power of his indwelling divinity overshadowing his maternal humanity; and so he spake as the Son of God and the Son of Man, and not as the Son of Mary. For although, in a certain respect, he was the Son of Man as to his maternal humanity, yet, strictly speaking, this is a name which is expressive of his character as the Word, as accommodated to the apprehensions of men. Before the marriage in Cana, the glorification of the Lord's humanity had so far advanced, that he could not regard and speak of himself as the Son of Mary, but as the Son of God. He was born of God by glorification, as we are born of God by regeneration, and that work was completed at the Lord's resurrection, when he was declared to be the Son of God with power, by the resurrection from the dead (Rom. i. 4). In the second place, the Lord called Mary woman, because this is a symbolic designation of the church, which Mary represented. When the Lord addressed her by the name of woman, it was to say to her,

What have I to do with thee?

This, however, is an unfortunate rendering of the Lord's words; their true meaning,

What is that to me and to thee?

has nothing of the severity, if not harshness, which our version expresses. Even in their true sense, his words might be understood to mean, that the want of wine did not concern either Mary or himself.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 50 But it is evident from the effect they had upon her, that this was not the Lord's meaning. As in some other instances of answering interrogatively, he meant rather to excite reflection than to administer reproof; and Mary herself seems to have understood it to mean rather a promise than a refusal, since she desired the servants to do whatever Jesus should say to them. Mary's part in this transaction has been considered somewhat inexplicable, for as this was the first of the Lord's miracles, how should Mary expect him to perform one? And yet if she knew he possessed the power, there is nothing inconsistent in her asking him to exert it, although there may be some degree of improbability in her expecting it to operate in such a way. Does not the narrative itself suggest that it contains a deeper meaning than that which lies upon its surface? We have spoken of the Lord's answer to Mary as not necessarily expressing refusal. This appears also from his concluding remark, Mine hour is not yet come, which seems to postpone, rather than to refuse, his interference. But what was this hour of his? Was it his own time for showing his miraculous power? It was a still more momentous period. The Lord's time that lay within and beyond all these particular times, was the time of his glorification. This was the state to which the Lord ever looked forward as that of his power to do all for his church that he had come on earth to do - to multiply to her the means of spiritual and eternal life. Yet if that was the time which Jesus meant, why did he then perform the work, which his remark seemed to speak of as untimely? He performed it as a type of the greater, because spiritual and saving work, which was to be a perpetual operation, when his humanity was fully glorified; just as he promised that his disciples should do greater works than those which he himself performed, because he went to the Father. The miracle, like the marriage at which it was performed, was but the shadow of good things to come - of the fulness and excellence of the provision which his divine mercy was about to make for those who should enter into the heavenly marriage. It was, besides, the beginning of his miracles, the initiament of the first state of his regenerating work.

5. His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.

We have already spoken of Mary as representing the church. We may now remark, that when the church is spoken of as a mother, which expresses the relation she bears to her children, and only to Jesus so far as he was her Son, made under the law, she has a different yet kindred meaning to that which she has when spoken of as a wife, which expresses her relation to the Lord as a husband.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 51 A mother's love for her children is the reflex of her love for her husband; so the love of the church for her members is the reflex of her love to the Lord; she sees and loves the Lord's image in them. The church, too, pleads for her children, as Mary pleaded for the children of the marriage; yet she pleads with one who, she knows, loves the children with a love still deeper and stronger than her own. And not only does the mother plead with the father for the children, but she exhorts the children to obey the father, as Mary told the servants to do whatsoever Jesus said unto them. And who are those servants? The servants at the marriage, religiously considered, are not to be regarded as necessarily inferior to the ordinary guests. The ministers of the church are servants of the church. The angels are servants to their lower brethren of the human race; for are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation? The Lord himself acted as the servant of his humble disciples; and he taught them the sublime lesson which he exemplified - "he that would be greatest among you let him be your servant." The servants of the marriage are such as we frequently find in the Lord's parables, those who carry out the will of the Lord as their master. In the present case the servants are not told to do the will of the governor of the feast, but the will of Jesus, whose servants, in this matter, they are. Such are the ministers of the church, such are the angels; such, abstractly, are the principles of holy truth, which serve the ends and aims of holy love; and such, finally, are the ultimate truths of the Lord's Word, the Lord being, in respect to them, the Word itself in its life and light.

6. And there were set there six water pots of stone after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins a-piece.

These vessels represent the precepts and statutes of the Jewish Church; in a larger sense, the law as acknowledged by the Jews; in the largest sense, the Word in its literal form. The water, which these vessels contained, represented the truth which God gave the Jews, in and through their law, for purification and regeneration. The water-pots were six in number, because six is expressive of a preparatory state, attended with trial and temptation, as the six days of labour are preparatory to the sabbath of rest. The Jewish dispensation was preparatory to the Christian, the law to the gospel, and the letter to the spirit; as the secular week was preparatory to the holy Sabbath: eminently, the Lord's life of labour and travail was preparatory to the divine state of rest, into which he entered by the union of his Humanity with his Divinity: hence our Lord on the Sabbath day performed so many of his beneficent works, which, however, were not works of conflict, but of mercy.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 52 The vessels contained, or rather were capable of containing, two or three firkins apiece. Two is a number that has relation to good and three to truth. When our Lord said, "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them," he meant to teach us that wherever good and truth, and thence the good and the faithful, are together and united, he is present as their central life. Of the laws of the Word some are more for the purification of the heart; some more for the purification of the understanding. In the decalogue we have examples of both kinds: "thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not bear false witness." Every divine law, however, includes both, with this difference, that in some the good is primary, while in others it is secondary. One cannot exist in the law or in the mind without the other. Pure affections cannot exist without pure thoughts, nor pure thoughts without pure affections. They are distinct but not separate.

7. These pots our Lord desired them to fill with water, and they

filled them up to the brim.

The Jews had emptied the law of its meaning and deprived it of its power. The Lord filled it again, even to the brim, both by his teaching and his life. The law is filled in two ways, by restoring its true sense, and by fulfilling its requirements. The law is filled by being fulfilled, a meaning which belongs to the English as well as to the Greek word; for the father of English poetry speaks of this "gentil May, fulfilled of pity." The Lord's restoring and fulfilling the law, as to the letter, was represented by his commanding the, water-pots to be filled with water, and by their filling them up to the brim, water being the type of natural truth, which constitutes the true sense of the letter of the Word. The Lord filled up the law in his teaching, and fulfilled it in his life. He restored the true sense and meaning of the Word, and he fulfilled all its requirements in his self-denying and beneficent life. But he taught that others were to do this also. It is the duty of the church and of its members, in obedience to his divine command, thus to fill and fulfil the law, both by filling up the measure of its true meaning, and teaching and doing what it truly requires.

8. When the servants had filled the water-pots with water,

Jesus saith unto them, Draw out now and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it.

It has been a question, whether the whole of the large quantity of water which the vessels now contained was turned into wine, a question which would hardly deserve consideration, but for its relation to a spiritual meaning and practical use.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 53 The water, there is good reason to believe, was turned into wine in the act of drawing it out, so that only that which was to be used was changed. Analogous cases sanction this view. When the prophet Elijah cheered the widow's heart by the promise of sustaining her in the famine, it was not by telling her that her handful of meal and cruse of oil would at once be largely increased, but by assuring her, that the meal should not waste nor the oil fail, until the day that the Lord sent rain upon the earth (1 Kings xvii. 14). And when Elisha delivered the poor widow from her merciless creditor, by enabling her to discharge her debt, it was by causing her oil to multiply while she poured it from the cruse into the vessels she had borrowed to receive it (2 Kings iv. 5). The same law of increase was exemplified by a greater than these. When Jesus fed many thousands with a few loaves and fishes, he did not first produce the whole quantity required to satisfy their hunger, but multiplied the food while he dispensed it. And thus it was in the present case. When, in obedience to his command, the servants drew out, that which flowed from the pots as water was received into their vessels as wine. And this feature in all these miracles teaches us this divine lesson, that the gifts of heaven, however precious in themselves, are blest to us only in the using.

The servants, when they had drawn the wine, were desired to bear it to the governor of the feast. The marriage feast in those times was presided over by one, whose office it was to see to the proper entertainment of the guests, to preserve order and temperance, and promote happiness. The marriage feast presents a faithful representation of the spiritual feast in which it originated; for the festivals of our social life are the outbirths and images of our spiritual states. Marriage is the most important, and, when it is a true union, is the happiest event of our natural life; and calls forth the warmest sympathy and joy in others. The heavenly marriage of goodness and truth is the great event of our spiritual life, and draws around it all our best affections. But when the natural affections are excited and inspired with delight, they are liable, like the guests at the marriage feast, to run into some degree of disorder and excess; and require a ruler to direct and govern them. Reason is the legitimate ruler of our feasts, not natural reason, but reason which acts under the influence of religious principle. To this power the natural affections and thoughts, passions and appetites, should ever be subject. Therefore, to the governor of the feast was the wine directed to be taken, before the guests were supplied.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 54 The Lord and the servants representing divine truth in the first and last degrees of successive order, the governor and the guests represent truths of the degrees which are intermediate. And it is a law of order, according to which the Lord operates in all his works, both of creation and salvation, that power is exercised by what is first acting by what is last, whilst by their combined action intermediate principles are perfected. We see this law exemplified in man as a created being. He comes into existence possessed of a soul and a body, which are the first and the last constituents of his human nature; and by the action of the soul upon the body, and the reaction of the body upon the soul, the mind, which is intermediate, is developed and perfected. So in the regeneration of man, which is his spiritual creation; love, which is highest, by obedience, which is lowest, introduces, arranges, and perfects all intermediate principles. By the Lord's command the servants still draw out from the holy Word the means of salvation. The vital principle comes from the Lord through the inmost of the soul, and obedience is the means by which it supplies us with heavenly truth and life.

9. When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew:) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom.

The ruler knew that what he tasted was superior wine, but he knew not whence it was. To know the truth and to know whence it is are two distinct things. The first comes by revelation, the second by illustration; the first by the knowledge, the second by the light, of truth. But although the ruler knew not whence the good wine was, the servants that drew the water knew; for they represent those truths that act immediately from the Lord, by which we have a perception of the origin of spiritual truth. But when it is said that the ruler knew not whence it was, the narrative shows that he supposed it had been provided by the bridegroom. And so human reason, before it is enlightened by the Lord's Spirit, imagines the truth to have a human and not a divine origin; or at least regards it as less than divine, and traces it to a cause lower than the Infinite or Eternal. We see, however, in this relation, that the perception of divine truth and of its origin, in the process of regeneration, ascends; first the servants, then the ruler, and lastly the bridegroom, became acquainted with the fact that Jesus was the author and giver of the wine. For although it is not related, there is a certainty that both the ruler and the bridegroom were thus led to the knowledge of the truth, that Jesus had performed this great miracle.



10. When the ruler had called the bridegroom, he saith unto him,

Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse; but thou has kept the good wine until now.

Every church commences with truth derived from good, which is the good wine, and declines into truth without good, which is the wine that is worse. This, at least, has been the case with all churches which have hitherto existed in the world. All have degenerated. When men had well drunk - or had drunk to excess - the wine has become "worse." Intellectual and spiritual intoxication arises from finding pleasure in truth without goodness, or faith without works. All excess of truth over goodness is, to the extent of that excess, a degree of spiritual or rather intellectual intoxication, and is meant by drunkenness in the Word. Natural intemperance is no doubt traceable to this spiritual cause. The ruler of the feast expressed his surprise and approbation that the bridegroom had kept the good wine till the last. Every church previously existing had passed through these descending stages, and had landed in a state of hypocrisy at last, a state which is implied in the very circumstance of giving the guests inferior wine, when they had become incompetent to judge of its quality. But here was an exception to the general rule. The church which the Lord was about to establish was to receive a higher degree of truth than the members of the Jewish Church had ever possessed. The spiritual truth of the Christian Church was more spiritual than that of the Jewish Church, even in its best and palmiest days. The revelation which is made at the commencement of any church, is made at the end of the old, and to those belonging to it who are capable of receiving the truth of the new dispensation. The inhabitants of Galilee were of this description. They were nominally Jews, but essentially Gentiles. They were less deeply sunk in the Pharisaism and Sadducism of the age. It is not those who are deeply versed in, and strongly attached to, the doctrines of a consummated church that hail the advent of a new dispensation, and become the earliest recipients of its principles; it is those who are in a state of simplicity, whose hearts crave after some better things than elaborate and exclusive human creeds can supply. In this respect the Lord ever acts differently from men. As a church degenerates, her truths degenerate also; and thus does the silver of the church become dross, and her wine mixed with water. Nay, it is permitted by a wise and merciful Providence, that when the church declines into evil, she should fall into error, that the truth may be saved from profanation, and that her condemnation may be less severe than it would be by sinning against the light.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 56 A new and higher dispensation can only originate in a new revelation, or, what is the same, in a new and higher development of that which already exists; and even when this takes place, the things of the kingdom are hid from the wise and prudent, and are revealed unto babes.

11. The turning of water into wine at the marriage in Cana of Galilee is called

the beginning of the Lord's miracles.

And how worthy of being recorded, and how deserving of admiration, is the first in that series of beneficent works, by which the Saviour manifested his eternal power and Godhead, and dispensed his mercy to the suffering and afflicted; at the same time representatively exhibiting those greater because spiritual and eternal works, by which humanity, suffering from the effects of sin, is to be raised into higher states of truth and righteousness. In the spiritual meaning of Scripture, the first of a series always gives the key to the character of the whole; so that the first means, not only the first in the other of time, but the first in the order of rank. Among all the similitudes of the kingdom of heaven, marriage is the most exalted. It is the origin and end of all things. The union of love and wisdom in God is the divine marriage, from which creation had its birth, and from which, through its effects and images in created objects, it has its continuance. The same divine marriage of infinite love and wisdom is in all the other divine works, of providence, revelation, redemption, and salvation. The union of love and wisdom in the human mind is the spiritual marriage, which forms the kingdom of God within us. This is, in the particular sense, the marriage to which the kingdom of heaven is compared, and from this result all other unions, the marriage of the Lord and his church, and the marriage of human pairs both on earth and in heaven. This being the case, we can see the reason why the Lord performed his first miracle at a marriage; and how it is that this first miracle enters into all the other miracles of our Lord. The turning of water into wine was a sign (which the word for miracle here signifies) of the character of all the works of goodness and wisdom characteristic of the Christian dispensation. Of the several dispensations that preceded the Christian Church, each was less perfect than that which it followed. But the Christian Church was the beginning of an ascending series. The church had descended from celestial to spiritual, from spiritual to natural; when the Lord came, it began to ascend from natural to spiritual, and from spiritual to celestial. Man had, so to speak, turned the wine into water; the Lord turned the water into wine.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 57 The immediate effect of the Lord's miracle at Cana, was that it

'manifested forth his glory, and his disciples believed on him.'

The first effect is agreeable to the meaning and purpose of the miracle; for glory, in reference to the Lord, is the effulgence of divine light, which is divine truth, by which his character and perfections are more clearly revealed. And the result of this is, as stated in the narrative, that his disciples believe on him. Not that this is the beginning of belief, but that a purer and more spiritual faith is now begotten in them. The disciples, it is evident, had believed in him before this miracle; it did not produce faith but exalted it. As the miracle itself represented the changing of natural truth into spiritual; the result of it was that it changed their natural into a spiritual faith. This miracle is still performed in the minds of the regenerate. Our knowledge and belief still begin in the letter. We know of the Lord first as the Nazarene, we think of him first as the son of Joseph (chap. i. 45); and our first faith in the Lord is as low and poor as our first conceptions of him. But when we have accompanied the Lord to the marriage, and seen the water turned into wine, and in that miracle of divine power have beheld his glory, our belief in the Lord begins to be spiritual and heavenly.

12. After this he went down to Capernaum, he, and his mother, and his brethren, and his disciples.

When the Scriptures speak of going down, they speak of descent from a higher to a lower state. This does not necessarily mean exchanging a superior for an inferior state; it generally means, as it does here, carrying out the principles of an inward faith into the actions of a holy life, descending from the mount, where we receive the law, into the camp, where it is to be carried into effect. Such was the Lord's going down to Capernaum, which was upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Naphtali (Matt. iv. 13); Capernaum thus signifying a state of the external life of man, where there is the practical conjunction of goodness and truth. As a city, Capernaum signifies doctrine. From its being the Lord's own city it represents the doctrine of the Lord; and from its situation the doctrine of life. The Lord's going down to Capernaum, with his mother and his brethren and his disciples, teaches us that the Lord leads his church, represented by his mother, and her children, consisting of those who are in charity and faith, represented by his brethren and his disciples, into the doctrine of the Lord and the doctrine of life. Yet why should they, who had already entered into the marriage of truth and good, be led thence into the doctrine of truth and good? For the same reason that an apostle exhorts the faithful to add to their faith virtue, and to virtue knowledge (2 Peter i. 5). Faith is enriched, virtue is exalted by knowledge.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 58 It is also to be remembered that the event celebrated is but the beginning of marriage. The union of minds and souls, which constitutes true marriage, is effected gradually, in the course of the married life, by a growing assimilation of character, produced by an increasing knowledge and love of each other, and of what is good and true. Indeed, marriage advances with regeneration; and this, we know, is the work of a lifetime; and not till regeneration is completed is marriage perfected, if that can be said to be ever perfected which goes on increasing in perfection to eternity. Thus the marriage of husband and wife, and the marriage of truth and goodness, go hand in hand. And as the Lord is the Author of both, he leads his people through the necessary stages of their spiritual journey, from their introduction into the marriage state till their entrance into the heavenly marriage above. In Capernaum the Lord and his mother and disciples

'continued not many days.'

As periods of time mean states of life, these natural days mean states of spiritual life. Numbers, in the spiritual sense, do not mean quantity but quality, and every particular number is expressive of a certain quality. Here, however, no specific number is mentioned. When many and few are spoken of, as they frequently are in Scripture, many has relation to truth and few to goodness; as where it is said that many are called but few chosen, which does not necessarily mean that few are saved out of the many that are called, but that it is the true who are called, the good who are chosen. The Lord, and those who are with him, continuing in Capernaum not many days, means, therefore, that the state into which the children of the marriage are led, as here represented, is a state rather of the good than of the truth of doctrine.

13. The Jews' passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

During his life on earth the Lord went up three times to Jerusalem, to the feast of the passover. As the law required that every male should appear three times a year at Jerusalem, we may regard the Lord's three visits as intended to fulfil this requirement, and as having the same representative character. The passover, at which the paschal lamb was eaten, as a memorial of that night when the first-born of Egypt were slain, and when Israel obtained deliverance from Egyptian bondage, typified the glorification of the Lord's humanity, as the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world, and by the power of which human redemption was effected. The Lord also glorified his humanity by three distinct acts, or rather stages of progression; for his glorification, like man's regeneration, ascended from natural to spiritual, and from spiritual to celestial; but in him these states were divine, while in all others they are human and finite; his states were divine-natural, divine-spiritual, divine-celestial.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 59 And thus his humanity, being divine, is equally, and indeed more present with us now than when he lived on earth; and he still goes up to the passover, when we are spiritually in that state which the paschal feast represented; when, like the children of Israel, we have made every preparation to go out from the midst of our enemies, with our staff in our hand and our sandals on our feet, to set out on our journey to the heavenly Canaan.

14. The glorification of the Lord's humanity being represented by the passover, therefore when he went up to Jerusalem to attend the feast, he, as here recorded, proceeded to purify the temple, which was the symbol of the temple of his body.

He found in the temple those that sold oxen, and sheep, and doves, and the changers of money sitting.

It may seem inconsistent with the Lord's perfect innocence to suppose, that his humanity had any qualities in it, which could be re-presented by these mercenary dealers in the temple. We are, however, carefully to distinguish between hereditary and actual evil. The Lord inherited from his human mother all the hereditary imperfections of our common nature, without which he could not have been a Saviour from sin. The grand difference between the Lord and every other man was, that while he inherited all men's evils, he committed, none of their sins. Not in his birth, but in his life, he was wholly undefiled and separate from sinners. He took our corrupt nature upon him for the very purpose of removing its corruptions. He did not find it, but he made it, without spot and blemish. Our Lord's temptations and great trials consisted in his conflicts with the inherited corruptions of his human nature, or rather with the powers of darkness, which assailed him through those corruptions; and his triumphs, by which he attained perfection, consisted in his at once overcoming the powers of darkness who assailed him, and purifying his humanity from the hereditary evils through which their assaults had come. The oxen and sheep and doves are the merely human affections and thoughts which belonged to the Lord's maternal nature, and the money which was changed is the knowledge connected with them. The oxen and sheep and doves and money were not indeed in themselves evil, but only became so by being introduced into the temple. The selling and buying and money-changing were necessary for the temple service, but the traffic should have been carried on beyond the precincts of the building; by being intruded into the sacred edifice, that which had ministered to holiness became profane.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 60 In the Lord's case, the intrusion of these unhallowed things does not represent an act of his own, but an inherited condition. His act consisted, not in introducing them, but in driving them out. While, in its highest sense, this relates to the Lord, in its lower meanings it applies also to the church and to the human mind. In their case, such evils obtain admission, not only by inheritance but by choice; but they, unlike the Lord, cannot themselves drive them out; the Lord alone can do this for them, by their consent and during their co-operation: and he can do this work in them, because he had done it in himself; for their regeneration is the effect of his glorification.

15. When he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables.

The small cords of which he made the scourge are the truths of his holy word, which become a scourge when they are employed in the way of judgment, to chastise and expel evils and intentional errors. His pouring out the money is the dissipation or dispersion of all falsities, and his overturning the tables is the overthrowing of the evils in which false principles are grounded. In regard to the church and to man, the Lord's judgments, it is to be remarked, are not upon persons but upon principles. Divine truth, by which judgment is effected, is directed against the evils and errors which are opposed to it; and the only difference between judgment on the righteous and on the wicked is this, that the righteous yield to the judgment, and willingly forsake the evils and errors which the truth condemns, while the wicked resist the truth which judges their evils and errors, and are therefore cast out from the Lord's presence with the evils which they love and cherish. So far as regards the Lord, his judgments are the same upon all; the same in their character, the same in their purpose; ever in his judgments the Lord remembers mercy, that is to say, all his judgments are full of mercy, and only those who refuse mercy in judgment are judged without mercy.

16. He said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence.

It was natural that these dealers should be required to remove their doves from the temple, for they could not like the sheep and oxen be driven out. But there is an analogy in this to a spiritual truth. Doves, we have said, signify thoughts; these belong to the understanding or the rational faculty; they must be removed, not by pressure, but by persuasion; not by an act of the will, but by an act of the reason. To all the mercenary dealers, as well as to those who sold doves; the Lord said,

'Make not my Father's house an house of merchandise.'



The Lord, it will be observed, calls the temple a house and his Father's house. Of the two names applied to the sacred edifice, one has relation to truth and the other to good. The Lord's humanity, the church, and the regenerate man are called a temple, when regarded as to the principle of truth, and a house when regarded as to the principle of good. Man is a temple of God when he receives the Lord in faith, and a house of God when he receives the Lord in love; or, as the regenerate man is both a temple and a house of God, his regenerated understanding is the Lord's temple and his re-generated will is the Lord's house. The Lord also calls the temple his Father's house, for his Father is the divine love itself. To make his Father's house a house of merchandise, is to profane the good that comes from God, by turning it into a means of selfish gain. This can only be done by frail and finite man. In our Lord's case no shadow of this occurred in actual life. What all other men do, he was indeed tempted to do; but with the tempter he drove every hereditary imperfection out of the temple of his humanity, until he made it the very house of God, his Father's house, the eternal habitation of his essential Divinity.

17. When the disciples saw this exhibition of the Lord's zeal for the honour of the temple,

they remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.

In the Old Testament the zeal of the Lord is often spoken of, though it sometimes appears in our version under the name of jealousy. In regard to the feeling itself, zeal is the ardour of love, and is more especially manifested in vindicating and protecting the innocent from injury or evil. Zeal, as a spiritual feeling, is analogous to anger as a natural feeling. They differ little in their outward appearance, but are essentially unlike in their inward character. Both are the warmth of love, but one is the warmth of heavenly love, and the other is the warmth of infernal love. Zeal desires only to vindicate those it loves, anger desires to punish those it hates. From the apparent similarity between zeal and anger, God himself is often spoken of as being angry. In him, however, there is no shadow of anger. The only instance in which anger is attributed to Jesus is that recorded in Mark (iii. 5), where it is said that he looked round about on the persecuting Jews in anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts. This is the character of divine anger, or that which is so called in the letter of Scripture; it is the warmth of love and mercy, for mercy is love grieving; and that anger which originates in grief is in reality zeal, and only appears as anger to the evil.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 62 The Scripture, which the disciples remembered, occurs in the 69th Psalm, which treats of the Lord's severest temptations, even to the passion of the cross. And what was that zeal for his Father's house, which had consumed the Lord the Saviour, but the love which he had for the church, and indeed for the whole human race? Zeal for the salvation of mankind, including love for heaven and the church, as his temple and house, was that by which the Lord was actuated in his redeeming work, and from which he fought against the powers of darkness, as well as against the principalities and powers of the world. This zeal was his very life, his love; it absorbed his whole being, and even the acts of judgment in which it came forth were in their essence acts of mercy. "Unto thee, O Lord, belongeth mercy, for thou Tenderest to every man according to his work" (Psa. lxii. 12).

18. But there was another class that were spectators of this manifestation of holy zeal and superhuman power.

The Jews answered and said unto him, What sign showest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things.

Those who are in a negative state want not reasons but signs. It is not enough for them to have the evidences which the truth gives of itself, they demand evidences which they themselves think necessary; they do not wish to be convinced by the power of truth, but induced to believe by the evidence of the senses; they, in effect, want a sign which will induce them to believe that which they regard as in itself incredible, or unworthy of belief. The Lord is indeed the Author as well as the Object of faith; but he does not compel assent through appeals to the senses, but produces belief through truths addressed to the mind.

19. Jesus, therefore, answered the demand of the unbelieving Jews by saying,

Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.

This was indeed a sign, but it was one which the Jews at that time understood not; and when the sign itself was afterwards given them, they refused to believe it. How then could they believe that which it signified? They destroyed the temple when they crucified the Lord. Three days afterwards the Lord restored the temple which they had destroyed, in rising from the dead in his glorified humanity; in which also was fulfilled the prediction of one of their own prophets, "The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the Lord of Hosts, and in this place will I give peace, saith the Lord of Hosts" (Hag. ii. 9). This raising of the temple, or the glorification of the Lord's humanity, is the sign of signs. It is not an outward but an inward sign; and not merely the highest evidence of truth, but the deepest ground of faith. But the power of this sign comes to us through another.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 63 The Lord's glorification, completed in his resurrection, is the origin of man's regeneration. Regeneration is the Lord's resurrection in us, and therefore is the inward and practical evidence to us that the Lord is our Redeemer and Saviour. There can be no true faith where this evidence is wholly wanting. An old nature and a new faith is a contradiction. A new faith and a new heart must come together; a broken heart and a contrite spirit, humility of heart and of understanding, are both necessary for preparing the mind to receive faith. We must come to the cross, and there lay down our life, for it is only by dying with the Lord that we can rise with him, and that we can know him and the power of his resurrection.

20. But the Jews answered,

Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days?

This was not the temple of Solomon, but that which was rebuilt at the return from Babylon, and afterwards renewed by Herod the Great. The forty and six years which the Jews say were occupied in building this temple, are expressive of the quality of the church which it represented. Forty is a number which, like the forty years' journey and the forty days' temptation in the wilderness signifies temptation, and six has a similar meaning, which is derived from the six days of labour that precede the sabbath of rest. The temple which then existed, like the church which it represented, was entirely different and far less magnificent than at its first establishment. The first temple, the building of which had been expressly reserved for the prosperous and peaceful reign of Solomon, was rebuilt in adverse and troublous times, and was the sign of a troubled and greatly depreciated state of religion. The Lord did not come to destroy that temple, for he never comes to destroy but to save. The Jews themselves destroyed it, by destroying every principle of the church in themselves, the destruction of the temple of the Lord's body being at once the effect and the sign of the extinction of religion in their hearts and understanding. The church which the Lord was to raise up on the ruins of that which they had destroyed, was a new and glorious church, a temple that not simply foreshadowed, but was the image of his own glorious body; the three days in which it was to be built up being expressive of its quality, as derived from, and a likeness of the Lord's glorified humanity, the effect and the form of his goodness and truth.

21. But he spake of the temple of his body.

This was not a mere comparison but a correspondence, for the temple represented his humanity, as it also represented the church; for the church is his mystical body, as his humanity is his own glorious body.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 64 The Jews understood him as alluding to the temple at Jerusalem. This is an illustration of a difference which exists between the Lord's truth and man's apprehension of it. The words of the Lord, as they proceed from his lips, or are revealed in the Scriptures, have a meaning of their own, very different from that which they have in the natural mind of man. As they proceed from the Lord they are divine; as they enter the mind of the natural man they are merely natural, and are too often turned into what is opposite to their original meaning and intention.

22. The disciples themselves had either like the Jews misunderstood or had afterwards forgotten the deep significance of the Lord's words.

It was only when he was risen from the dead that his disciples remembered he had said this unto them;

and it was only then that

they believed the Scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.

We know it was hid from them that the Lord was to be crucified and was to rise the third day. There is a meaning as well as a mystery in the circumstance of the disciples remaining in ignorance or passing into forgetfulness of facts so remarkable, repeatedly and solemnly declared unto them. It was to hold up to the Lord's disciples in all future ages an image of that which takes place in themselves. The Lord's disciples cannot truly know that death and resurrection of the Lord till they take place in their own experience; they cannot understand the great mystery of the Lord's death and resurrection in relation to themselves till their understandings are opened by the risen Lord breathing upon them the Holy Spirit of his glorified humanity. It is not till after he is risen in our own hearts, that we savingly remember the words which he has uttered in our ears. The remembrance of these things does not consist in their being in the outward memory; they must be inscribed on the inward memory, before we can truly possess them, or spiritually call them to remembrance. It is on the inner memory, which is that of the spirit, that spiritual and eternal truths are inscribed, and they can only come into living remembrance, when the Lord's resurrection is realized in our regeneration. Then it is that we '

'believe the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said.'

The written and the incarnate Word bear the same testimony, but the one speaks to us through the ear, and the other reveals himself to us through the heart; nor is the outward testimony of the one ever truly understood or believed, till the inward witness of the other enters into it with its spirit and its life.

23. When he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did.



The passover was the time when the Jews from all parts of Palestine went up to keep the feast. The Lord's purpose in going up to Jerusalem at this time was no doubt not only that he might celebrate the passover, but that he might preach the gospel of the kingdom to the people there assembled, and also that his life might be the complete representative of his living operation in the church and in the minds of men. For when we consider Jerusalem as representing the church, the great festivals, such as the passover, represent those states and times when her children are gathered together, not necessarily in one place, but in one state, and when the Lord is more immediately and sensibly present among them. But when Jerusalem is regarded as a type of the church as it exists in one individual mind, those who go up to Jerusalem represent the affections and thoughts which are drawn together and united in one common object. When the thoughts and affections are concentrated upon some religious subject or holy observance, the Lord is present and acts upon them, for the purpose of inspiring purer feelings and a holier faith. The Lord's miraculous works, while they gave health and strength to the body, symbolized corresponding saving effects wrought in the soul. Miracles themselves, wonderful and beneficent as were those which our Lord performed, have exercised but little power or influence of a spiritual kind on the minds of men, in producing faith in him who performed them. A miracle may, however, confirm or strengthen a faith already existing, as the miracle at the marriage in Cana did with the disciples, who had already acknowledged Jesus. Many, it is true, believed in the name of Jesus when they saw the miracles he did at the feast; but this fact seems to be told for the very purpose of showing that such belief was extremely superficial, and produced no spiritual change in the minds of those who acquired it. This appears from what is recorded in the next verse.

24, 25. But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.

We might, therefore, say that many believed in him, but did not believe from him. He was not in their belief as its Author and Object, in any saving sense. Belief means trust, and none truly believe in the Lord, but those who trustingly rely on him as their Saviour. It is said that Jesus did not commit himself unto them, more correctly, he did not trust himself to them. And his want of trust in them shows and expresses, in the spiritual sense, their want of trust in him. He did not trust himself to them, because he knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man, for he knew what was in man.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 66 What more could be said to teach us that the Lord was omniscient? Who can know the hearts of men but the Searcher of hearts? Jesus knows our faith, whether it be produced from without or generated from within. How impressive is the fact, that the Lord does not entrust himself to those who have no inward spiritual faith. And why is this, but because they have no real trust in him. Trust in him does not arise from truth but from goodness; not from faith in the understanding, but from faith in the heart. Those only pit their trust in the Lord who love him. Trust is the submission of our own will to his will; and none can have this trust but those whose faith is the faith of love.


It is remarkable that some of our Lord's most important lessons of doctrine and practice were drawn from him by persons who sought his advice or instruction, and even by some who endeavoured to entangle him in his talk; so that it seems as if many of the precious truths of the gospel owed their existence to the accidental circumstance of some human inquiry. But things accidental are not fortuitous. What natural men call chance, spiritual men call Providence. All things that happen are divinely ordered or permitted, and for some wise and benevolent purpose. Besides, the sense of need, and the desire for light, which drew Nicodemus, as well as others, to Christ, were inspired by him who could bestow the blessing. This shows that divine instruction is adapted to human want. And when we reflect that every sincere desire to receive the Lord's light is inspired by his love, since no one can come to the Son except the Father draw him, we can see, that while the occasion of these lessons is human, the cause of them is divine; and that providence and revelation are coincident as well as concordant. But all who, like Nicodemus, come to Jesus, to learn the truth relating to eternal life, are directed to the Lord by his works, especially those miracles of grace that act upon the will, and incline the mind to listen to the truth.

1. There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.

Such is the description of him through whom our Lord delivered to his church his divine lesson on the subject of the new or heavenly birth. The darkest times sometimes produce the greatest lights, and the most corrupt the brightest examples.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 67 The Pharisees produced a Nicodemus and a Paul. The characters of these men, both eminent, are yet strongly contrasted. Nicodemus was timid, Paul was bold; Nicodemus was fitted to be a disciple, Paul to be an apostle. The different characteristics of these men are determined by constitution rather than by state. They may be equally sincere, and both eminently useful. The one forms a link of connection between the new and the old during a period of transition, the other supports the new against the old in a time of separation; the one is a man of peace, the other is a man of war. Yet Nicodemus was a ruler, which bespeaks and represents that human quality which we call intellectual, but he was a ruler of the Jews, which marks the character of his intellect as being of the celestial class, a Jew being expressive, in the genuine sense, of what has relation to the will and to goodness. Such being the character of those represented by Nicodemus, we may more readily understand what is related of him, and what Jesus said to him respecting the regeneration, or the new birth.

2. The same came to Jesus by night.

Privacy, and perhaps fear of the Jews, were the motives which actuated the Jewish ruler in making this visit by night. Yet he who so unsparingly censured hypocrisy did not reprove this privacy. Night has, however, another use than that of sheltering darkness; it is the sign of mental obscurity. And as John appeared in the wilderness of Judea, preaching the gospel, to represent the desert state of the church; so Nicodemus came in the night, to represent the state of darkness into which it had sunk, respecting everything relating to spiritual and eternal life. The religious Nicodemus comes also in the night of his own spiritual darkness, to seek and to see Jesus as the Light. And this is the language in which he addresses him: Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God. To salute Jesus as Rabbi is to acknowledge him as Master, the supreme authority in matters of faith and life. "Be not called masters, for one is your Master, even Christ" (Matt. xxiii. 10). He who is the truth itself is the only authority in matters of faith. But Nicodemus not only addressed the Lord as a teacher, but as a teacher come from God; not only as divine truth, but as divine truth coming forth from divine love. This Jesus was. Nicodemus had been led to believe Jesus to be a divinely commissioned teacher, because of the miracles he performed:

'for,' said he, 'no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.'

The Jewish ruler took, so far, the right view of these supernatural works, in regarding them as evidences of the character of him who performed them, and of his being sent from God; and he came to him as a teacher, to learn the message, of which he believed him to be the bearer.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 68 This inquirer, as it is natural to suppose, had but imperfect notions of the true character of Jesus: and who can know the Lord truly but from his own teaching? To know that God is with Jesus is, however, a step towards knowing that God is in him, and that he himself is God.

3. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

This is one of the primary truths of the gospel, the meaning of which is better expressed in the original, which speaks not of being born again, but of being born from above. Of the nature of this divine work, which alone can prepare the mind for heaven, it is most important that we should have some definite and clear ideas. The second and heavenly birth, which our Lord teaches, is not a mere figure but a great reality. It is a birth as real and actual as that which ushers us into existence in this world. There is a constant correspondence between natural operations and spiritual, or between what is done in the body and what is done in the spirit. From this correspondence, the stages of spiritual regeneration answer to those of natural conception, gestation, birth, and education. It is on this ground that, whenever mention is made in the Word of natural births, they signify spiritual births, or the birth of goodness and truth in the mind. It is from this ground too that the Lord is called Father, and that the church is called mother, and that those who have received the principles of goodness and truth from the Lord are said to be born of God, and to be his children, and in relation to each other are called brethren. As there is a correspondence in all things that relate to the body and all that relate to the soul, we may see the nature of the second birth from that of the first. As the life of the body is dependent on the motion of the heart and the lungs, the life of the soul depends on that of the will and the understanding. By birth the will and the understanding are natural, being devoted exclusively to the things of this life. Regeneration consists in the beginning, formation, and birth of a new will and a new understanding, which, as they come from heaven, are devoted to heavenly things. The Word, treating of the soul by images and language relating to the body, calls regeneration the creation of a new heart and a new spirit; as in the Psalms, "Create in me a clean heart, 0 God, and renew a right spirit within me" (li. 10). In accordance with the same imagery, the old will, or the natural heart of man, is called a heart of stone, and the new will is called a heart of flesh (Ezek. xxxvi. 26).


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 69 To receive a new heart and a new spirit is to receive a new will and a new understanding, and as a consequence, new affections and thoughts, a new life and conversation, and thus in reality to become a new man. This is to be born from above, a child of God, and an heir of his kingdom.

4. But Nicodemus failed to see the truth which the Lord declared to him. He answered,

How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb and be born?

This expresses at once ignorance and concern; ignorance of the birth of which the Lord spake, and concern for his own salvation, which seemed to him to rest on so impossible a condition. Yet the second birth, as Nicodemus had first conceived of it, had such a birth been possible, would not have been a birth from heaven, but from the world, and at best but a repetition of that which he had already experienced. There is perhaps something of the spirit and notion of Nicodemus, in the desire which natural men often have, of returning again into the innocence and happiness of their childhood. And yet in this sighing for the purity of early life, there is the germ of a yearning for the new life, which combines the innocence of infancy with the wisdom of manhood. We may see, therefore, in this turn in the thought of Nicodemus, the influence of those remains of the innocence and ignorance of childhood, in turning the mind with a tender longing for what the new birth can alone supply. All, at first, form natural conceptions of spiritual things, earthly ideas of heavenly states. Where, however, there is a spiritual desire, there is the ground for receiving the seeds of spiritual truth.

5. Having excited in the mind of the Jewish ruler a desire for spiritual knowledge, and a fear of exclusion from the kingdom of God, Jesus proceeds to instruct him respecting the nature of that birth which qualifies the soul for heaven:

Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

John's baptism is distinguished from the Lord's by this: John baptized with water; Jesus baptized with the Holy Spirit and with fire. The Lord here combines the two baptisms, and calls them the baptism of water and the Spirit. John's baptism was a type of that preparatory part of the new birth which is called reformation; the Lord's baptism consists of that part which is properly called regeneration. The first consists in the removal of what is old and dead, the second consists in the communication of what is new and living. Water is the truth by which the life is purified; the Spirit is the truth by which the mind is enlightened and inspired.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 70 The Lord, therefore, speaks of the whole process of man's renewal; the reformation of the outward life by the truth of the literal sense of the Word, and the regeneration of the internal by the truths of the spiritual sense of the Word, meant by the Spirit. To be born of water and the Spirit is, therefore, to be born from above, for the Word, or the truth which it reveals, is from heaven, and is above all the natural and moral truth which man derives from the light of this world, which relates to this natural and temporal life.

But what are we to understand by being born of water and the Spirit? Are we to suppose that to be baptized is to be born of water; and that the water washes away original sin? This, by some, is called baptismal regeneration. Water baptism has an immediate and important use. It is a sign of introduction into the church. As, at our Lord's baptism, heaven was opened unto him, and the Spirit descended and abode upon him; so, there is every reason to believe, baptism has still the effect of opening heaven, and surrounding the person baptized with a sphere of heavenly influences, to preserve him in a state favourable to the reception of that divine truth of which the water of baptism is the symbol, and to the accomplishment of that purification which the washing of baptism represents.

6. The Lord further teaches the nature of the second birth, by showing wherein it differs from the first.

That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

Nothing could be more plain and decided than this. That which we derive from our earthly parents is natural; that which we derive from our heavenly Father is spiritual. There is, however, something more contained in the meaning of the word flesh than may at first sight appear. Flesh, as a term expressive of the nature of man, is not confined to what is generally called its physical part, but means his whole nature, both mortal and immortal, which he inherits by birth, with all he acquires to himself while he continues in his natural or unregenerate state; it means his entire selfhood. And as man, when he becomes spiritual by being re-born, has a new will and a new understanding, therefore the natural will and the natural understanding constitute the flesh, as distinguished from, and opposed to, the spirit. In a special sense the flesh means the evil of self-love, which constitutes the very essence or deepest ground of man's selfhood, and which is the root of all others. In relation, however, to those who are well disposed, and who may be called good natural men, the flesh is expressive of natural goodness; and our Lord's words teach us that even natural goodness, undirected by spiritual truth, and uninfluenced by spiritual goodness, does not prepare the soul for entering into the kingdom of heaven; being of the earth, it is earthly, and therefore transitory.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 71 "All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as a flower of the field: the grass withereth, the flower fadeth; because the Spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it" (Isa. xl. 6). But contrasted with the withering grass and the fading flower is the Word of God which stands forever (ver. 8). As the Word itself, so whatever is born of the Word, endures; because, having come from heaven, it returns to heaven again. And the Lord places this in contrast with our fleshly nature, by calling it regenerating: that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.' The Spirit of which the Lord here speaks is that which proceeds from his humanity; the saving operation of which makes us new, in a sense analogous to that in which his own humanity was made new.

7,8. Our Lord having stated this important doctrine, addresses the astonished Nicodemus thus,

Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

The Jewish ruler had already expressed his astonishment at the mere idea of a new birth; how then must he have marvelled when the Lord explained to him, that the birth of which he spake was spiritual and from heaven. Although he now heard that this change was purely spiritual in its nature, he seems to have supposed that it was to be effected by some outward visible agency; Jesus, therefore, points out to him that it was to be effected by an unseen, and even unperceived, operation of the Spirit.

'The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh or whither it goeth; so is every one that is born of the Spirit.'

We are not to understand this to mean, that man's regeneration is effected by the Lord without his knowledge, and even without his consent. It no doubt teaches us that regeneration is a divine work, effected by an inward operation in itself incomprehensible to the human mind, but it does not teach that it is done independently of the choice and co-operation of those who are the subjects of it. It is similar to the description of another part of the same process, in which the Lord compares the kingdom of heaven to a man that cast seed into the earth, and who rose night and day, but the seed grew up he knew not how (Mark iv. 26). These two statements of our Lord, taken together, describe regeneration as an inward and an outwork work; the blowing of the wind describing the inward operation of the Spirit, and the growing of the seed describing the outward operation of the Word. In both cases the idea presented to us, and intended to be impressed upon our minds, is this; that regeneration, both as an inward and an outward work, is of the will and power of God, and not of man. Human power cannot produce a blade of grass.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 72 Growth is the effect of life, and life is an attribute of God. Yet man not only can, but must, become a worker together with God, before any beneficial change can be wrought in him. He must cultivate the ground and sow the seed and water the plants; and this forms his part of the work. But here his power and agency end. He may bestow all the care and labour required of him, rising night and day, but in the process of growth he can do nothing; the corn grows up he knoweth not how. This truth, laid down by divine wisdom, is of the utmost importance, and therefore it is most desirable that it should be understood. It shows us what we can do and what we cannot do; it tells us where human agency ends and where the divine agency begins. It teaches us that we owe the whole of our regeneration to the Lord's power, though it requires us to co-operate with him in the great work. All that is required of us is to do what we are commanded to do, to learn the truth and to obey it, by resisting evil and doing good; since without these outward uses, it is as impossible for us to be regenerated as it is for the soil to produce its harvest without the labour of the husbandman, in tilling and sowing, and all the other labours that devolve upon him. Thus, therefore, man sows the seed; God gives the harvest. So, also, every one who is born of the Spirit must co-operate with the Spirit. The inward operation of the Spirit is like the blowing of the wind. We hear its sound, but we see it not. It affects the will, but is not perceived by the understanding. Influx is into the will, and through the will into the understanding. The saving operation of the Spirit comes to us as something that is heartfelt, as heartfelt peace, a peace which passeth all understanding because it comes into the understanding as thoughts of peace and goodwill, divinely breathed into the mind, without our knowing whence they come or whither they go. It is enough for us to learn and do our duty to God and to man; and if we faithfully do the outward work, the Lord will conduct and perform the inward operation. These outward duties are all that are required of us. Our agency extends no further. But if we perform the outward duties, the Lord accomplishes the inward work. It is remarkable, therefore, that in describing the inward operation of the Spirit, by which the regeneration of the heart is expressed, there is nothing said of man's agency; but in describing the regeneration of the life, human agency is introduced: man has nothing to do with the blowing of the wind, but he has arduous and anxious duties to perform with respect to the growing of the seed. That is wisely and mercifully concealed from us. If we knew all the mysteries, and were conscious of the process, of our own regeneration, we should interfere with the order and tenor of its progression, and so defeat the Lord's purpose to make us new creatures.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 73 So it is with every one who is born of the Spirit.

This work of spiritual life in the soul, as carried on by the Lord alone during our co-operation, may be compared to the operation of natural life in the body, as carried on by a similar economy. The heart and the other internal organs do their work spontaneously, in obedience to the will or laws of the Creator, independently of our will, and even without our consciousness. Yet we must needs co-operate, in order that their action, especially their healthy action, may be kept up. We must, by labour, provide ourselves with food and clothing and shelter, and attend to the other conditions of life and health, or the motion of the vital organs will languish and finally cease. So is it with the soul. God is the Author of spiritual life and of all that belongs to it, all its vital operations; we have to use the means which he has appointed for its preservation, and these are the conditions on which we enjoy the blessing of spiritual and eternal life.

9, 10. Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be?

It is not surprising that one who heard those things for the first time should be at some loss to comprehend them. But this mixture of wonder and unbelief is characteristic of the natural man, even when he is in an affirmative state of mind, on his first learning the nature and necessity of regeneration. A stupendous work is regeneration, and to man a marvellous one. In that sublime Psalm (cxxxix.), where the second birth is treated of under the figure of the first, the impression it has on the devout mind is stated in strong terms - "I will praise thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works, and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, being yet unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them." True as this is in the natural sense, it is not the less true in the spiritual; for the re-creation of the soul for heaven is at least as great and marvellous a work as the creation of the body for the world. Nicodemus ought to have known something of the nature of this work. Therefore,

'Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?'

Some suppose that our Lord here alluded to the then prevailing mode of calling initiation into the mysteries of a science, or inauguration into an office, a new birth.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 74 It is more reasonable to believe that the Lord alluded to the idea as taught, not only in the Psalm already quoted, but throughout the Old Testament generally. Thus in Isaiah, "Zion travailed, she brought forth her children. Rejoice with Jerusalem, that ye may suck and be satisfied with the breasts of her consolations; that ye may milk out, and be delighted with the abundance of her glory" (lxvi. 8). In such language as this, had the Lord instructed his people in the knowledge of regeneration. But the Jews had little apprehension of anything spiritual. And even a master in Israel, who showed an earnest desire to be introduced into the knowledge of Christ's kingdom, knew, it would appear, nothing of the things that Jesus taught respecting one of its most essential truths.

11. The Lord further says to him,

We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness.

Jesus knew and saw all things; and so far as his speech and testimony were concerned, his teaching should be received as indisputable truth. The Lord speaks as if he were not the only one who possessed the knowledge which he was willing to, communicate to Nicodemus; he says, we speak. In the spiritual sense, this has relation to the twofold testimony of his love and wisdom. But what the Lord says of himself, he says also of his Word, and the Word speaks to us both in the spirit and in the letter, both in truths of love and truths of wisdom, designed to beget in us both charity and faith. This duality runs through the Lord's declaration; he speaks and testifies, he knows and sees; for to speak what he knows has relation to his love, and to testify what he has seen has relation to his wisdom. And those who do not receive the witness of these, are such as have as yet no real spiritual affection for the good or love which the Word teaches, and no internal perception of its truth, in relation to the work of regeneration.

12. Nicodemus being still in amazement and doubt, the Lord addresses him in these words:

If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe if I tell you of heavenly things.

The Lord had told him heavenly things after an earthly manner, teaching him spiritual truths by natural images. If he believed not the teaching of heavenly truth, when accommodated to his natural apprehension, by being clothed in natural images; how would he have believed, if it had been addressed to him unclothed and unaccommodated? If heavenly beings cannot be seen by the natural eye, neither can heavenly things be perceived by the natural understanding. Our first conceptions are natural, therefore unless spiritual truth came to us clothed in a natural vesture, it would come to us, and be regarded by us, as a phantom: and instead of administering comfort, it would create alarm;


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 75 as the Lord's presence did to the disciples, even when they stood most in need of his aid, when they thought they saw a spirit.

13. The Lord now imparts the secret of all reception and rejection of the truth, in these mysterious words,

And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.

This declaration has no very obvious connection with the Lord's previous teaching, if understood in the ordinary meaning of human language. But it will be seen to have an intimate connection with the subject, if we regard it in its spiritual sense. In the first place, it teaches us, that the Son of man, as a title of Jesus, is not limited to his natural humanity. This did not come down from heaven, and was not then in heaven. If we could suppose that the Lord spoke of himself personally, without any reference to the distinction between the divine and human nature, his words would present no difficulty, since he, as God manifest in the flesh, was in heaven, and far above all heavens, at the same time that he was upon earth. But this is not the case. An accurate distinction is always made between the Son of God and the Son of Man. The Lord calls himself the Son of God when he speaks of his divine humanity, and he calls himself the Son of Man as divine truth or the Word. No one ascends up to heaven but by means of divine truth, and all divine truth comes from heaven, and is in heaven. We have nothing in ourselves that can raise us up into heaven. There is nothing we can acquire from the world that can raise us up into heaven. Whatever is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth. Nothing can ascend up into heaven but what has first come down from heaven. This was true of the Lord especially by virtue of the Incarnation. As the Son of man he was in heaven; for the divine truth in heaven was his humanity before he came into the world by incarnation. Divine truth in heaven came down to earth, that it might raise men from earth to heaven. And this it provided for by ascending where it was before. Of this our Lord speaks in what now follows.

14, 15. As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up; that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

Most commentators are of opinion, that, not the serpent itself, but only the lifting of it up, was typical. Why, in the case of rebellious Israel, did God command that the serpent should be the instrument both of their punishment and their cure? No doubt because the serpent was emblematical, in the one case, of the means of destruction, and the other, of the means of salvation. The brazen serpent was a type of Jesus, as the Saviour of those whose fall had been effected by the serpent;


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 76 and the lifting up of the serpent is intended to describe the elevation of that principle of human nature, represented by the serpent, which had become degraded by man's fall. The curse pronounced upon the serpent for deceiving Eve was, that it should walk on its belly and eat dust. It is almost self-evident that this has another than a natural meaning. Did the serpent, before the fall, walk erect? after the fall did it eat dust? Inapplicable to the animal, the "curse" is exceedingly appropriate when understood to refer to the sensuous part of man's nature, of which the serpent is the emblem. The sensuous principle is cognizant of, and affected by, earthly things, and, in itself, has a downward tendency. It is the design of the Creator in regard to man, that reason should control sense, and elevate it above the love of earthly things. Such was man's original state, when God gave him dominion over the whole animal creation, that is, over his whole animal nature; and when he, and all creatures under his dominion, the serpent included, were pronounced "very good," and were "blessed." All in man is good and blessed, when the rational rules the sensual, or the spiritual the natural; all in man is cursed, when the sensual rules the rational, or the natural the spiritual. When, instead of the rational elevating the sensual, the sensual draws down the rational, man falls from his high estate. Instead of sense being subservient to reason, reason becomes subservient to sense; the animal obtains dominion over the man; and he who bore the image of God becomes "earthly, sensual, devilish." If man's fall consisted in his sensual nature obtaining dominion over the rational, his restoration must consist in his rational nature obtaining dominion over the sensual. The promise given to Eve was, that her seed should bruise the serpent's head, a promise that the Lord would deprive the sensual nature of man of the dominion it had acquired by the fall over the rational. The Lord first accomplished this great work in himself. The humanity he assumed from Mary, which was literally the seed of the woman, had in it every principle of human nature; and, in its hereditary state, all existed in it in that state of inverted order which was characteristic of fallen man. Among those principles of humanity there was the sensual principle, prone to the earth, as it had become through the fall. It was a part of the Lord's divine work to raise that principle of human nature from the state of degradation into which it had fallen, and to glorify it, and thus elevate it into union with his all-conquering divinity. As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so was the Son of man lifted up; and for the same beneficent purpose, that those who have been bitten by the fiery flying serpent of the lusts of the flesh and the pride of life, may, by looking in faith to him, be delivered from the deadly effects of the poison which has entered into their soul; that they may not perish, but have everlasting life.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 77 The sensuous principle glorified, or the divine natural, is that by which the Lord has immediate connection and communication with, and influx into, the sensual principle of man, so as to deliver it from death, and raise it into conjunction with the rational. This principle in the Lord is also that by which he exercises divine circumspection over heaven and the church, and over every individual of the human race. For in him exists, in its infinite perfection, that union of the spiritual and the natural, which he enjoined on his disciples, when he said, on sending them forth into the world as his ambassadors, "Be ye therefore wise as serpents and harmless as doves" (Matt. x. 16). The serpent in him is the divine natural, and the dove is the divine spiritual, like the dove that descended upon him at his baptism.

The object of the Lord's being lifted up was, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. The Lord expresses this same truth on another occasion by saying, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me" (chap. xii. 32). The Lord, having lifted up his own humanity by glorification, has the power of elevating men, and drawing them to himself. Men derive from the Lord's elevation the power of being elevated. This elevation is effected through faith. Belief in the Lord as our Saviour is not so much a condition, as a means, through which his saving power acts upon us. We are not saved on account of our belief, but through it. Salvation is not the reward, but the result, of faith. And this salvation is freely offered to all. Whosoever believeth shall have everlasting life. This is a blessed truth. It would be a terrible thought, that God is able, but not willing, to save all men. This would be to vindicate his power at the expense of his goodness. If all are not saved, it is because men will not come unto him that they might have life.

16. The reason of the freeness of the gospel is given in the clearest language.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

A blessed truth is this, and precious the gift which it declares. God's love is the origin of man's redemption. To the love of God the world owes all that forms the foundation of its hopes for the progressive advancement of the race in true virtue and happiness on earth, and of salvation as the means of felicity in heaven. And yet how could it be otherwise? God is love; and his tender mercies are over all his works. And what God is, and what he feels, he is and feels invariably and eternally.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 78 He is the same yesterday, to-day, and forever. He changes not, therefore we are not consumed; he marks not iniquity, else who could stand? his compassions fail not, else how could we hope? But the truth, that the world owes its redemption to God's love, if it need not excite our astonishment, has everything in it to call forth our gratitude. For the world, which God so loved that he gave his only begotten to redeem and save it, was in a state of enmity and rebellion against him, as every one is that comes into the world. "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins" (1 John iv. 10). "But God commendeth his love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us" (Rom. v. 8). In the means by which the purposes of love were to be wrought out there was nothing inconsistent with the pure wisdom of God. On the contrary, infinite love ever works out its purposes by infinite wisdom; and a true knowledge of the nature of redemption only tends to exalt our ideas of the perfection both of the wisdom and the love of God. The freeness of the salvation offered to us by this manifestation of the Lord's love is given in the assurance, that whosoever believeth on the Son should not perish but have everlasting life. The Son is the divine humanity; and God in his humanity is the Object of Christian faith, and the Author of eternal life. It is said by an apostle that he that hath the Son hath life (1 John v. 12). Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, as the Son in whom is the Father, as the Divine Wisdom in whom is the Divine Love, as the Humanity in which is the Divinity, is the means of salvation; hence belief in him leads to conjunction with him, and in this conjunction we have eternal life.

17. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved.

The Word, or the divine truth, may be said to exercise the two distinct functions of a judge and of a Saviour. Divine truth judges, because it lays open the states of all, being sharper than a two-edged sword, and is the two-edged sword that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Son of Man (Rev. i. 16). But as a judge, or an instrument of judgment, truth condemns those only who resist it. It is truth separate from love that pronounces the judgment of condemnation. But this separation is not effected by the Lord, but by man. It is only those who "hold the truth in unrighteousness" who are judged by it. But it is not the will of God that his divine truth should in any case judge men to condemnation. God's truth, as it proceeds from him, is united with his love; and it ever comes from him on a mission of love, for the purpose of delivering men from sin and death.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 79 Therefore, God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world. Redemption was eminently a work of love. When God sent forth his truth, as the Word made flesh, his divine purpose was, that the world through his eternal truth, thus manifested, might be saved. Divine truth effected redemption by one great act of judgment; but this was an act by which the prince of this world was judged. The powers of darkness were overcome by the power of divine truth. But even in their case, the Lord did not deviate from his own laws of order, or from his own beneficent purpose. It is because the spirits of darkness have shut the divine love out from their hearts, and rebel against the laws of truth, that the truth becomes to them an instrument of judgment and condemnation.

18. But although it is the Lord's purpose to save, this does not prevent man from bringing condemnation on himself.

He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

We learn from this that condemnation is not a divine act, but a human state. He that believeth not is in a state of condemnation. On the same principle, he that believes is in a state of justification and salvation. We are so accustomed to think unreflectingly of the justice and judgment of God from those of men, that we represent to ourselves the divine Being as making and administering laws to impose his own will on his creatures, and to vindicate his own authority. But the divine justice is but another expression for immutable divine order; and God's law is but another expression for the law of divine order. These are, indeed, of the divine will and wisdom; but the divine will and wisdom can have no view in anything they do or require, but the welfare and happiness of mankind. The condemnation, therefore, that results from unbelief or disobedience, is simply and purely the state which man acquires by opposing those laws which were given for his happiness.

19. The ground of this condemnation our Lord explains.

And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

Light condemns those who have the light, and yet love the darkness rather than the light. It is a truth plainly revealed in Scripture, that where there is no law there is no transgression; and that the degree of guilt is exactly proportionate to the degrees of light which we possess. Light is given, not to condemn, but to guide and direct us. But that which is given for use is always liable to abuse. Did not this possibility exist, there would be no choice, and therefore no virtue.



Ignorance implies the absence of responsibility, but it implies also the absence of improvement. Light is necessary for our advancement, and if we faithfully use it, it will enable us to progress in virtue and happiness. Light is therefore an inestimable blessing. But it may also become a great curse, as every blessing becomes when it is abused and perverted, or even when it is neglected or contemned. That very light, therefore, which came into the world in the person of him who was the Light itself, while it is the means of our highest improvement, may become also the means of our deepest condemnation. Not indeed that light condemns, but that those who love the darkness and hate the light, form and confirm in themselves a state of evil, more malignant in proportion to the clearness of the light against which they have sinned.

20. The reason of this state of condemnation is given.

For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.

Evil and truth are incompatible with each other; no one can be in love with both at the same time. It is possible, indeed, for men to know the truth, and yet to be in evil; but to know the truth and to love it are two distinct things. Men may even make a profession of faith in the truth, and at the same time hate and despise it in their hearts; and if they had no object in making a profession of faith, they would despise and contemn it openly. And if evil men do not act thus in the natural world, they do so when they come into the spiritual world, where there is no concealment, and therefore no motive for hypocritical belief. John here says that the evil come not to the light, lest their deeds should be reproved. Literally men hate the light when it condemns their conduct. But, in the spiritual sense, we are instructed that the evil do not come to the light, because they have no desire that their evils may be laid open, or made manifest to themselves in order that they may he removed. The Lord reproves that he may convince, and by convincing, lead men to amendment of life. The evil refuse reproof, because they have no desire of amendment.

21. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

The natural sense of this is easily understood. He who acts uprightly acts openly, that the character of his deeds may testify of their origin. The spiritual sense teaches a still more specific lesson. Truth is one thing, the light of truth is another. Truth comes from without, light comes from within; truth comes from the Holy Word, light comes from the Holy Spirit.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 81 Obedience to the truth, as taught in the Scriptures, opens the mind to the reception of the light of truth, which is, indeed, present in every mind, but which enlightens none but those who learn and obey the truth as they possess it in the Word. This same important lesson is taught in other parts of Scripture. "A good understanding have all they that do his commandments" (Psa. cxi. 10). "He that doeth the will of the Father, shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God" (John vii. 17). In a certain sense knowledge is light, but it is only the light of the natural understanding. Spiritual light, which is the light of spiritual discernment, comes only through goodness, and this is only acquired by knowledge applied to the uses of life. Not truth alone, but the good of truth, is that which forms the channel through which the light of life is received. Another point may be mentioned in connection with this subject. Those who do good froth obedience without intelligence, do it without discrimination; and good done without discrimination is natural, not spiritual, charity. It is most desirable that we seek to come to the light, for it is the light that makes manifest that our works are wrought in God.

22. After these things came Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judea; and there he tarried with them, and baptized.

Jesus having purified the temple, as the symbol of his coming glorification, and instructed Nicodemus as to the necessity and nature of regeneration, as its effect and image, he now comes into Judea to dispense baptism, as the sign and the means of his saving work. This is the first time we read of the baptism of Jesus and of its distinction from that of John. It is called the baptism of Jesus, not because the rite was performed by him personally (for Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples), but because it represented a more interior and complete work than the baptism of John. John's baptism represented the purification of the outward man, the Lord's baptism represented the purification of the inward man. Baptism, as now administered in the church, is a symbol both of inward and outward purification, and thus combines the meaning and the use both of the baptism of John and of Jesus. It is reasonable to suppose, that as John's baptism was intended to prepare men for receiving the Lord as the Messiah, it would represent a work preparatory to that which the Messiah himself should perform. A clear distinction was made by the apostles, after the Lord's ascension, between these two baptisms, insomuch that persons who received John's baptism were rebaptized in the name of Jesus Christ, by which they acquired the full benefits of discipleship, in the reception of the Holy Spirit (Acts xix. 3-5).


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 82 In accordance with the different uses and meanings of these two baptisms, John first baptized out of the land of Palestine, on the other side Jordan, while the baptism of Jesus, so far as the Word informs us, was commenced in Judea, in order that they might represent respectively outward and inward purification.

23. But John was also baptizing in AEnon, near to Salim, because there was much water there; and they came, and were baptized.

These two places are intended to describe something connected with the nature of John's baptism, as distinguished from that of Jesus. AEnon, which literally means eyes, is the figurative name for springs or fountains of water and Salim literally signifies peace. The name of the spring is derived from the resemblance there is between waters bursting and flowing from the ground, and tears gushing forth from the eyes. And what can be more expressive of the baptism of repentance, which John administered? Penitential tears are the waters that spring from the fountain of a broken and contrite heart, and are signs of the inner working of the Spirit of truth that convinces the conscience of sin. This is a hopeful state. It is not itself a state of peace, but it is near to it, as AEnon was to Salim. A night of weeping is followed by a morning of joy. John baptized in AEnon, because there was much water there, literally many waters. Many truths, meant by the many waters, are necessary for the work of purification. The more numerous the truths possessed by the church, the more ample may be her instruction, the more complete may be the purification of her members. AEnon and its waters would seem to indicate an advance, even an advance in the baptism of John. AEnon was on the west of Jordan, and thus within the land of Canaan; and the waters were not those of the Jordan, but of springs. The waters of a spring or fountain are what are called in scripture living waters, which are emblematical of truths in a state of active operation, as they come from the thoughts, and are applied to the uses of life. It appears that John attracted many to his baptism in AEnon: they came and were baptized. The more abundant and active the truths of the church are, the more may she attract the earnest and truth-seeking, by her teaching, to enter into her communion, and make them worthy members of her body, and fit subjects of the Lord's kingdom.

24. There is a season when this drawing of the mind to the Word, and to the reception of its purifying truths, can be better effected, and that is,

when John is not yet cast into prison.

The casting of John into prison represents a state in the regenerating life common to all the true members of the church. It is a time and state of temptation, which follows the sincere reception of heavenly truth.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 83 The first introduction of truth into the mind is attended with a state of delight, for it imparts a sense of freedom, especially of intellectual freedom from unbelief and doubt; but a state succeeds this, when the new truth becomes itself a subject of doubt, suggestions of error and evil rising up against its authority. This is the transition period, between the first and second baptism, when John is cast into prison. It is the evil in our nature that lies at the foundation of this tribulation. One of the trials of the faithful is thus described in the Revelation - "Behold the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life" (Rev. ii. 10). Imprisonment and death were the fate of John; and his faithfulness secured for him a crown of life. But that which John literally underwent is what every true disciple spiritually endures; and what, abstractly considered, the literal truth experiences in the mind of every true disciple, who passes from the letter to the spirit of the law. But before John is cast into prison is the time to come to him to be baptized. We have said that baptism signifies repentance and also temptation. Truth lays us open to temptation, and truth defends us in it. Truth brings our evils to light, and truth is the instrument by which we conquer them. The Lord provides that we shall be armed against the day of conflict, by giving us truth suited to our state and necessities.

25. While John was yet at liberty,

there arose a question between some of John's disciples and the Jews about purifying.

This indicates the beginning of that state of temptation, represented by John's imprisonment. Intellectual debate and disputation are the beginning of sorrows, and generally lead to deeper evils and severer trials, both in the church and in the individual mind. The question that arose was about purifying. The next verse reveals the nature of this controversy; the present informs us that the question was between some of John's disciples and a Jew (as the text should read). This is the first recorded dispute between Judaism and Christianity. As we are all under the law before we are under the gospel, such a dispute takes place in every regenerate mind. The Jew is but the type of the Jewish element or principle in our own minds, while the disciples of John are the first principles of our early Christianity; and the first conflict between these is on the subject of purifying, for actual purification forms the boundary line between the old and the new, and that through which we pass from the one to the other.

26. This question leads to another.

And they came unto John, and said unto him, Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to him.



The question about purifying resulted in one respecting the authority of Jesus to baptize, and the comparative importance of his baptism and that of John. The disciples of John seem to have felt some jealousy when they saw Jesus, by his disciples, assuming the functions of their master. Its spiritual meaning is that which most concerns us; and this discloses the origin and nature of the implied complaint against Jesus for baptizing. In all minds there is a time when the testimony of the letter of the Word conflicts with the teaching of its spirit, in regard to the higher baptism of Jesus, which consists of the purification of the motives of the heart. The purification of the motives is a higher baptism than the purification of the actions. The lower necessarily comes before the higher, and prepares the way for it. A child must be taught to act rightly before he can be taught to think wisely. So with the child of God. He must cease to do evil before he can cease to intend and love evil. The first is the water baptism of John, the second is the water baptism of Jesus. The Lord's baptism with the Holy Spirit and with fire is a higher baptism still; and consists in giving new thoughts and new motives, after the old have been put away. Yet, although it is according to the law of order and progress, that the higher should succeed the lower, there is always some conflict in passing from the one to the other, because there is always some degree of repugnance felt by the less in yielding submission to the greater. This repugnance is countenanced and supported by mistaken views on the subject of order, and the purpose of that purification of which we have been the subjects or the instruments. But when we go to the Word itself; as these dissatisfied disciples went to John, by whom the revealed Word was represented, the truth will be brought to our understandings, and will teach us how we ought to think and act.

27. John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven. Every good and every perfect gift cometh from the Father of Lights.

God is the author of every blessing we enjoy, whether for the body or the soul. Life is his gift, therefore all that pertains to life, the faculties of the will and understanding, and all their affections and thoughts, with every good which is the object of affection, and every truth which is the object of thought; all are given us from heaven. There is none good but one, that is God; and he alone filleth the hungry soul with good. Such is the truth uttered by the Baptist. But what was its application in reference to the question of his disciples?


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 85 It was, that the baptism of Jesus, and his authority to baptize, were from heaven; and that, therefore, his baptism was a divine institution.

28. But John not only established the heavenly origin of the Lord's baptism, and his divine authority to perform it, but he placed it above his own, as he placed the Messiah above himself.

Ye yourselves bear me witness that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him.

We are all like the disciples of John, liable to take the means for the end, and to regard that as final, which is only introductory. "Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth" (Rom. x. 4). All rites and ceremonies, all prophets and priests, yea, all revelation point to him as that One in whom they received their fulfilment, and in whom all things are perfected. John comes to prepare the way of the Lord; and this is still the testimony and function of the written Word, in respect to him who is the Word itself, the light and life of men.

29 John further says respecting Jesus,

He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice. This my joy therefore is fulfilled. He who is the bridegroom and husband of the church stands in the highest possible relation to the whole body of the faithful.

In the Old Testament these titles are claimed by Jehovah as his own; and it is only because Jesus was the manifested Jehovah that the title of bridegroom could be justly applied to him. The bridegroom is he that hath the bride; the church, therefore, is the Lord's church, and she can acknowledge none but him. John, the greatest of prophets, claimed no higher rank than that of being the friend of the bridegroom. He rejoiced greatly because of the bridegroom's voice, and considered the public manifestation of Jesus as the fulfilment of his joy. In this he also described the relation which the written Word bears to the Lord as the Word incarnate. Eminently, the revealed Word was and is the bridegroom, for it is through the Word that we hear him, and it is by the heartfelt reception of its truths that we rejoice greatly because of his voice, which is expressive of the affection in which his truth is received. John's joy was fulfilled in the Lord's marriage with his church, for this marriage is the very end for which revelation exists. This is the fulfilment of spiritual joy, for truth is full of joy when it is full of goodness. It is hardly necessary to say that in speaking of the Lord's marriage with the church, the union of love and truth in the mind is included in its signification; for here only, indeed, does the heavenly marriage exist.



30. John representing the revealed Word, and Jesus being the manifested Word, John represents the truths which we derive from the written Word by an external way, while Jesus is the truth we receive from him by an internal way. John therefore says of Jesus,

He must increase, but I must decrease.

We are not to understand from this, that the inward testimony of the Spirit will ever supersede the outward testimony of the Word; or that the authority of the written Word will decrease, as the influence of the eternal Word increases. It describes a change of state that takes place in the regenerate mind, and which belongs to all spiritual progression. It is otherwise expressed by the Lord, when he says, the first shall he last, and the last first. In the first stage of the regenerate life, called reformation, which John's teaching and baptism represented, truth is in the first place, and good is in the second; thus external things are first, and internal things are last. In the second stage of the new life, called regeneration, which the Lord's work especially represented, good is in the first place, and truth is in the second, internal things are first, and external things are last. Thus, as regeneration advances, the influence and authority of good increase, and those of truth decrease; external things that ruled give way to the government of internal things, and become more and more subservient to those higher ends, which the Lord inspires into the mind. This inversion of state, which might seem to involve the degradation of those external truths which were once primary, is in reality their true honour and exaltation. For divine order, which has made ministry and service the true state of the external man, has also made them his true joy.

31. John further says of the Lord and of himself,

He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all.

Again the Baptist bears testimony to the Lord's supremacy. He who is above all, above angels and men, is God. There is no degree of existence or being between the infinite and the finite, the uncreated and the created. He who is above all, is himself all in all. But to come to its more specific meaning, in relation to the subject of comparison between the Lord and John. Whether we regard John's statement relating to the Word as it is in itself, or as it is in us, it is equally expressive. Internally and essentially, the truth of the Word is the Lord from heaven, and is above all human truth; externally, it is of the earth, earthly, and speaketh of the earth. In descending from heaven, divine truth clothed itself with an earthly garment; the wisdom of God, as revealed in the Scriptures, is not only expressed in the language of men, but it treats, to a considerable extent, of earthly things.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 87 The letter of the Word, which is thus of the earth, speaketh of the earth; and this is more especially true of the Old Testament, the only part of the written Word which actually existed in the time of John. Much of it consists of the temporal history of a carnally-minded people, and it treats much of their temporal concerns. But the internal of the Word is from heaven, and treats of heavenly things. The Lord is the divine truth itself, and is above all truth which comes to the apprehension either of angels or men. And as in the language of revelation, "above" spiritually means "within;" that which is highest is inmost; and he who is above all is within all. In the practical application of the Baptist's words, heaven and earth are the spiritual and natural degrees of the mind. Truth from the Word is first received into the natural mind, where, however spiritual in itself, it is naturally apprehended and loved; and, therefore, so far as regards us, it is of the earth, earthly, and speaketh of the earth. But when truth has once been raised into the spiritual mind, and descends again into the natural, it is heavenly, and indeed is the Lord from heaven, making even our natural thoughts and our whole natural life spiritual.

32. And what he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth; and no man receiveth his testimony.

Jesus is here said to testify what he had seen and heard. We cannot consistently think of one divine person seeing what another does, and hearing what he says, and then revealing it to others. The general idea intended to be conveyed by such language is this, that Jesus, unlike all other beings, angelic and human, was in immediate and intimate relation with God; which is the same thing as saying, that God was in Jesus, and spoke by him. No one hath seen God at any time, nor heard his voice; the Son only hath had this privilege. It is only therefore by and in the Son that we can see and hear the Father - it is only infinite wisdom that can comprehend and reveal infinite love; only a divine Humanity that can receive and manifest essential Divinity. There is, however, a special meaning in the Baptist's language. Jesus is said both to see and to hear the things of God. To see is to understand, to hear is to will. But, in reference to the Lord, seeing and hearing have a still higher meaning. The divine understanding being infinite wisdom, and the divine will being infinite love, the Lord seeing and hearing the Father means that his humanity receives into itself the love and wisdom of his indwelling divinity, and communicates them to men, accommodated to their feeble apprehensions. But this testification of the divine humanity no one receiveth. This does not mean that his testimony was absolutely and universally rejected; but that the church, as a church, rejected the testimony of the truth against herself.



33. Yet not the whole church rejects the truth. However corrupt a church may become, however completely devastated it may be, a germ is preserved, to form the beginning of a new dispensation. Therefore John speaks of some who had received.

And he that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true.

Those who receive his testimony are the remnant, out of which the New Church and the new man are formed. And he who receives, sets to his seal that God is true. Sealing is confirming. He who receives the testimony of Jesus hath the witness in himself (1 John v. 10); he who truly receives Christ, receives God in Christ. Jesus is said to be the faithful and true witness (Rev. iii. 14). The truth bears witness to itself; it has the inherent power of bringing conviction to the mind; for it carries its own evidence within it. Jesus, as the light, is the only witness to the light, and the highest and only real testimony of the light, is the illumination which it gives to the mind that receives it.

34. This is further taught in the declaration,

For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God : for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him.

Jesus is said to be sent of God, but not in the sense of being divinely commissioned, as John the Baptist was. He is sent of God, as having, according to his own testimony, proceeded forth and come from God. Yet proceeding cannot be understood in the sense of departing, which is inconsistent with the nature of an omnipresent being. Jesus proceeded from God, as infinite wisdom proceeds from infinite love. As love and wisdom in God are inseparable, the coming forth of wisdom from love is the manifestation and revelation of love by wisdom. Such being the true idea of Jesus being sent of God, he could not but speak the words of God. Nor are the Lord's words the expressions of wisdom alone, but of love and goodness. - Jesus speaks the words of God, because God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him. Without measure is infinite. True, it is said, that the Spirit was given unto him infinitely. Here, again, we must not be misled by the forms of human language, in which divine truths are expressed. The giving of the Spirit, like the sending of the Son, must be understood consistently with the nature of the being of whom it is spoken. The Spirit of love is given to wisdom, as the Spirit of human affection is given to human thought. But it is also and more especially to be understood of the communication of all the Lord's divinity to his humanity.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 89 And this may be illustrated by the circumstance, that all the life and powers of the human soul are given to the body; since the soul animates the body and acts and speaks by it as its own organic form. The soul does not divest itself of the life and power which it imparts to the body. It is rather enriched than impoverished by what it gives, since its power and influence are rather extended than limited by its connection with the body. So far as the infinite can be explained by the finite, these human similitudes enable us to see the corresponding truths that relate to the divine nature.

35. The words that now address themselves to us are entirely consistent with the truth we have been considering.

The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand.

Here once more we have a divine truth expressed in accordance with human ideas. Can we suppose that the Son was an object of the Father's love, as a human son is of a human father's. Such an idea is quite inconsistent with every sound notion we can form of divinity. The Son was the subject, not merely the object, of the Father's love; the divine love was in him, and not merely directed to him. So the Father was in the Son, the divinity was in the humanity. In agreement with this, we read, in continuation, that the Father hath given all things into the Son's hand. The Father gave all things into the hand of the Son, as love gives its power, authority, glory to wisdom; and as the essential divinity gives all these, and even itself, to the divine humanity. In the Lord's humanity all the divine attributes are brought into nearer relationship with created man. All things are said to be given into the hand of the Son, for the hand of the divine being is his omnipotence, in which all the divine attributes become operative for human redemption and salvation. The hand of the Son is also the divine power as it operates by the humanity; and also the humanity itself, as that by which the power of the divinity is manifested among angels and men.

36. In accordance with what the Baptist had stated concerning the Son, he says, in conclusion,

He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

God had sent his Son into the world, had filled him infinitely with his Spirit, and had invested him with all his authority and power; and now he demands for his Son the same allegiance and homage which his people had been required to render to himself. This is the human idea which the words present. A just interpretation teaches us, that the Eternal and Infinite, whom men had obscurely known and imperfectly worshipped, had now manifested himself in the person of Jesus Christ, who was henceforth to be known and worshipped as God.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 90 Belief in the Son comprehends in it a belief in all that Jesus Christ is, as well as in all that he did. In regard to the belief of which Jesus Christ is the object, true faith is that which makes us partakers of the divine nature; restoring us to the image and likeness of our Saviour; a faith that has its roots in the heart, and bears its fruits in the life. This is the faith that saves, that hath everlasting life inscribed upon it. He who has not this living faith shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. What, however, is here rendered unbelief, means also, and is sometimes translated, disobedience: so that practical unbelief is that which is here declared to be the cause of our coming under the wrath of God. In God there is, indeed, no wrath. He is pure love and mercy. But this does not prevent us from being the children of wrath. In the hearts of the unbelieving and disobedient the love of God is turned into its opposite, thus into wrath. And as the love of God in the heart is a fountain of blessedness, that which is called the wrath of God is a fountain of sorrow and suffering; for out of the heart are the issues of life, both good and evil, both happy and miserable. Let us beware of that state of obstinate unbelief, which has its root in the corruptions of an unconverted heart; and of that condition which is expressed by the wrath of God abiding on us. Let us come to the Lord our Saviour in true, confiding, loving faith, that we may escape the wrath to come, and secure everlasting life.


The Lord's conversation with the woman of Samaria, the history of which occupies the early part of this chapter, is one of the most beautiful incidents in his life of beneficence. Humility, tenderness, wisdom, are all displayed in that perfection, which we behold only in the Son of Man, the impersonation of sympathetic love for frail humanity. As in the case of Nicodemus, we seem to owe the important lessons which this incident teaches us, to the accidental circumstance of the woman coming to the well, while Jesus, wearied with the journey, sat upon it. Is it not easy to see that all these circumstances were divinely foreseen, and, therefore, so ordered as to bring about the happy result which the Lord's conversation with the woman produced?



1-3. When the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized, more disciples than John (though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples), he left Judea, and departed main into Galilee.       

There had been a dispute between some of John's disciples and a Jew about purifying, of which the baptism of Jesus formed a part. If John's baptism was offensive to the Jews, that of Jesus must have been still more offensive to the Pharisees, as it must be to the Pharisaic principle in the human mind. The baptism of Jesus represented a more inward purification than that of John. And the more inward the purification is, it brings to light deeper evils of the heart, and excites them into more deadly hostility to the power that would remove, and the good which would supplant them. The Pharisees, whom the Lord so often charged with hypocrisy, represented self-love united with deceit, the form in which the evil enters most deeply into the human heart.

It is said that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John; but it is added that Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples. We have (iii. 26) spoken of three kinds of baptism, the water-baptism of John, the water-baptism of Jesus, and the Lord's baptism with the Holy Spirit and with first; the two first representing purification from outward and inward evils, the last communicating the living principles of truth and love to the purified will and understanding. This last baptism is peculiarly the Lord's. His disciples, as ministers of his Word, can communicate the knowledge of religion and dispense the outward means of salvation; but the Lord alone can give illumination and life. The means of removing evils can therefore be supplied and applied by the Lord's disciples, but the Lord alone can implant good. Therefore, in water-baptism, the Lord himself baptized not, but his disciples.

The result of the Lord's knowing what the Pharisees had heard respecting him, was his leaving Judea, and departing again into Galilee. This may seem to indicate the mere humanity of Jesus. He may seem to act with human precaution, and with a desire for self-preservation. As there are instances of his acting otherwise, this is but an appearance, presented for a wise purpose. In the spiritual sense, these circumstances disclose the mode of the Lord's dealings, as providentially adapted to the states of men. However hostile men may be to him, he is never hostile to them; and he removes as far as possible all cause of offence, all occasion of conflict. He therefore, as it were, departs from where the conflict arises, or moderates the influx of his truth, so that the temptation to which it gives rise may be tempered and moderated.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 92 To see this subject practically, we must consider the Lord as within us, operating, through the truths which we have acquired, against our evils. When our selfhood is excited into severe opposition to the Lord's truth and love, he acts less directly and powerfully upon our hereditary and acquired evils, that they may not overcome and destroy the new principles of life which he has inspired. His apparent desire for self-preservation is, therefore, a desire for the preservation in us of the principles of love and truth, which we derive from him, and in which he is present with us. The Lord's present journey, like all his others, represents progression, both in the process of his own glorification and in that of man's regeneration. His purpose in leaving Judea was to go into Galilee, where he had been before. This descent represented and describes the progress of the Lord's truth from the interiors of the mind, where it has been implanted, into the affections and thoughts of the natural mind, that the graces of the heart may be embodied in corresponding virtues in the life.

3. But in going from Judea to Galilee,

Jesus must needs go through Samaria.

The divine truth, in progressing from the spiritual into the natural mind must needs pass through the rational, which is intermediate. At the time of our Lord's pilgrimage on earth, Canaan was divided into three regions, Judea, Samaria, Galilee, which represented three regions or degrees of the mind. Yet Samaria was different from what it had been. The kingdom of Israel, which possessed it, had been overturned, and the inhabitants of the country had been carried away into captivity, and replaced by a strange people from the land of their conquerors. The Assyrians, who took Samaria and peopled it, represented the rational principle, but, as the opponents of Israel, they represented that principle perverted and opposed to the spiritual. At the time of the present history the Samaritans were half Jew, half Gentile. They had, indeed, adopted some of the religion of the Israelites; for soon after the deportation of the ten tribes, the King of Assyria sent back one of the captive priests to teach the people in Samaria the manner of the God of the land. The Samaritans were, therefore, not entirely out of the pale of the church, and yet were not, strictly speaking, within it. It was among this people, therefore, that the Lord had now come.

5. Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.

The city of Sychar was the same as that known to the patriarchs under the name of Shechem.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 93 The parcel of ground near which Sychar stood is mentioned in Genesis (xxxiii), where it is recorded that "Jacob came to Shalem, a city of Shechem, and he bought a parcel of a field for an hundred pieces of money. And he erected there an altar, and called it El-elope-Israel." The manner in which this parcel of ground became the property of Joseph, or of the tribes descended from him, is related in the book of Joshua (chap. xxiv.). Before his death Jacob bequeathed it to Joseph, predicting that God would bring him again into the land of his fathers. This prediction was literally fulfilled in the case of Joseph. When the children of Israel left Egypt, they, as Joseph had commanded them, carried up his bones. And when they had obtained possession of the land, and Joshua had died, "the bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel brought up out of Egypt, buried they in Shechem, in a parcel of ground which Jacob bought of the sons of Hamor" (Josh. xxiv. 32). Joseph was a type of the Lord; and as burial signifies resurrection, the burial of Joseph's bones in the parcel of ground in Shechem was representative of the resuscitation of the Lord's truth and love in the church. Here, then, nearly two thousand years after the transaction, the Lord himself, of whom Joseph was a type, appeared for the purpose of bringing into actual existence that spiritual state which had been shadowed forth in the literal history of a people, who had been chosen, not to be, but to represent a church. He came to awaken into new life the principles of the church, which, like the dry bones of Joseph, lay buried amongst them. But what is signified by this ground being the gift of Jacob to his son Joseph? Jacob represented the natural principle in man, and Joseph the spiritual. The ground while it was Jacob's, is the good of the natural mind, and its transfer to Joseph is the elevation of this good out of the natural mind into the spiritual. This parcel of ground thus signifies natural good made spiritual by regeneration. And this good exists when good natural dispositions are brought under the influence of spiritual principles. Sychar was not on, but near to, this parcel of ground, to teach us that the Samaritans were not in, but were near to, this condition of mind. The Lord's coming to this Samaritan city, spiritually means the influx of his divine truth into doctrines having an affinity with the good of which we have spoken; thus bringing himself near to men, by giving them a clearer intellectual perception of him as the Truth itself.

6. Now Jacob's well was there.

Jacob's well is the Word of God. More expressive is it when read "Jacob's fountain;" for the Word is a fountain, a well of water springing up unto eternal life. Jesus, therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well.        

He had seen of the travail of his soul; and now he was to be satisfied.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 94 Although the Lord was susceptible of bodily fatigue, his weariness, like his hunger and thirst, was symbolical. His weariness was that of which we read, where the Lord says, "Thou hast made me to serve with thy sins; thou hast wearied me with thine iniquities" (Isa. xliii. 24). "Ye have wearied the Lord with your words; yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied him? When ye say, Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and he delighteth in them; or, Where is the God of judgment" (Mal. ii. 17). The Lord's weariness, even in the days of his flesh, was the expression of the weariness of his Spirit, resulting from the iniquities and perversions of mankind. And not only from the iniquities of the world without, but from those which he inherited and bore in his own body. His humanity bore the burden of all human frailty, as it existed in the world, subjecting him to trial and temptation, to suffering and death. The Lord's weariness arose also from his temptations and sufferings, and this state is further indicated by the time of the day, when Jesus thus sat on the well, which was about the sixth hour. It was in prophetic reference to these states of labour through which the Lord passed in his works of glorification and redemption, that he, as the Creator, is said to have created the world in six days, and to have rested on the seventh. And it is because regeneration is an image of the Lord's glorification that in the representative church men were commanded to labour, and do all their work during six days, and to rest on the seventh, the Sabbath being the symbol both of completed glorification and regeneration. Jacob's well being a type of the Lord's Word, the Lord seated upon the well represents to us the divine truth itself above or within it. The Lord is not only the subject of the Word, the testimony of the Lord being the Spirit of prophecy; he is the Word itself, it being not only a revelation of him but a revelation from him. Considered without relation to him, the Word is not living but dead, not spiritual but natural, not divine but human. Regarded in its individual application, in which Jesus and the well of Jacob are the eternal and the revealed Word, as they are in the minds of those who are passing through the regenerate life; Jesus is wearied with his journey, when, through labour and trial, our faith in his truth and our love of his goodness become weak. Then it is that Jesus sits on Jacob's well. For where can the Lord rest in us but on his own blessed Word? Its truths refresh and restore the soul. The inward graces of the mind find repose in the outward duties of the life. When we are wearied with our journey, as we often must be during our pilgrimage on earth, let us go to that Word where so many encouraging promises are given, and where we will ever find abundance of those living waters that refresh them that are weary.



7. While Jesus sat thus on the well,

there cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water.

Samaria representing the semi-Gentile church, the woman of Samaria represented the affection by which that church was influenced in favour of the truth, and by which it was drawn to the Word of God, to draw water from it as the well of salvation. Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. This request the Lord still makes to his creatures, and especially to those who possess his Word and seek instruction from it. The Lord's thirst is his ardent desire for the salvation of his people. It was this desire for the salvation of mankind that gave utterance upon the cross to his dying exclamation, "I thirst," and which stands as a perpetual appeal to his creatures to give him to drink. But how can we give him to drink? We give to the Lord when we gratefully return to him what we have received from him, and especially when we give to each other. In the Jewish church, the meat and drink offerings, when laid upon the altar, were considered to be offered to the Lord, to satisfy his hunger and thirst. And this was a type of true worship, in which we present to the Lord the offerings of our best thoughts and affections, of thanksgiving and praise; for we can offer to the Lord only that which we have received from him, and it is by laying these gifts upon his altar that they become sanctified to our use. But our truest worship is that of the life, in ministering to others, as the Lord has ministered to us; for in giving to them we give to the Lord. So he himself has assured us: "I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink." And when the righteous say, "Lord, when saw we thee an hungered and fed thee, or thirsty and gave thee drink?" this is the Lord's answer: "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." How, in thus ministering to others, do we minister to the Lord? Every sincere desire to be fed with good and truth is from the Lord, and is the Lord in us. It is he who hungers and thirsts in us, for we have no inherent desire for spiritual and heavenly things. As he is in himself, the Lord can receive nothing from us; but as he is in the penitent and humble mind, we can give him to drink, by endeavouring to satisfy the soul's desire for his saving truth.

8. At this part of the narrative it is mentioned, to account for the Lord's being alone and conversing with the woman, that his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat. While the disciples were seeking to procure meat in the city, Jesus was asking drink from the woman at the well.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 96 Thus our attention is drawn to the two elements of spiritual life, the principles of goodness and truth which are brought out so clearly, as the soul's meat and drink, in the Lord's subsequent conversation with the woman and his disciples. In their representative character, the disciples are the affections and perceptions of goodness and truth derived from the Lord; and as a city, spiritually understood, is the doctrine of the church, or the church with respect to its doctrine, the disciples going into the city to buy meat describes how the Lord, by means of the good and truth proceeding from him, entered into and explored the doctrine of the Samaritan church, to find if it possessed any true goodness, as the means of his communion and conjunction with it. Buying implies, however, something of self-interest in those who sell. The Lord gives to his creatures of his free grace, of his unbought mercy. They are invited to come, and buy wine and milk, without money and without price. But while he giveth to all liberally and upbraideth not, he rewards those who minister to him. He gives his labourers their hire, and even buys from them those things which he has bestowed upon them as a gift. And this giving them money for their bread teaches us, that for every good that men do they are enriched with knowledge in return. In spiritual life there is, properly speaking, no buying and selling, but only giving and receiving. The only things which our Lord exhorts his disciples to sell are those of their corrupt selfhood; all else, even the produce of their richest possessions, they are to give away, as the means of having treasure in heaven.

9. When the Lord, in the absence of his disciples, asked the Samaritan woman to give him to drink, she answered,

How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria ? (for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans).

The hatred which existed between the Jews and the Samaritans, and which was most bitter on the Jewish side, too plainly indicated the existence of what it also represented the separation of faith and charity. When the minds of men, especially of those professing the same faith, are turned away from each other, it is a sign that they have no real belief in the truth, which teaches them that they should love the Lord above all things and their neighbour as themselves. The woman was surprised, but it does not seem she was displeased, at being asked to perform an act of kindness to one who was a Jew. It may rather be inferred that the Lord's unexpected expressions of friendly feeling, uttered, as they must have been, in tones of the deepest tenderness, awakened in her heart some degree of a corresponding affection, and made her feel like the good Samaritan, whose compassionate nature led him to succour the man, his Jewish despiser, who had fallen among thieves, when the priest and the Levite passed by on the other side.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 97 So much may true kindness do to remove sectarian animosity, and make its way to the hidden affections of love, never entirely extinct in any human breast. The woman addressed her words to Jesus as a Jew. But Jesus was the pattern of what a Jew should be, of one who is not a Jew outwardly, but who is a Jew inwardly, whose circumcision is not of the flesh, but of the Spirit whose praise is not of men, but of God. He was goodness itself, manifested in human nature; and he desired truth, not to be enriched thereby, but to be the object of its human operation and perception. How is it that Jesus, being a Jew, asks drink of a Samaritan woman? To teach us, in the first place, that he had come to remove enmities between brethren, and break down the middle wall of partition between Jew and Gentile. And to instruct us, in the second place, that the Lord from his divine love ever appeals to the affection of truth, in his church and in the minds of his creatures, to reciprocate his love, by giving him the truth which his love desires for the sake of conjunction. The Lord by love joins himself to us, and we by truth join ourselves to him. We acquire truth from the Word, and the Lord by the affection of truth in us joins that truth to his love, and so joins us to himself. It is, indeed, a matter of surprise and astonishment, that he by whom we live should ask from us, as if he lived by us. Our Lord himself explains this, as we find from his words to the woman in the next verse.

10. Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink, thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.

The Lord asks not that he may receive, but that he may give that what we offer to him may be returned with his divine blessing. The truth we derive from the Word by instruction is at first but knowledge; it has no life. But when from affection we, by humble and grateful acknowledgment, connect it with the Lord as its life and eternal source, then does it descend to us again as living truth. To realize this great blessing we must know the gift of God, and who it is that asks of us "Give me to drink." The gift of God is Jesus Christ as eternal, saving truth in the inner man, which ever craves the truth which has been received from the Word in the outer man, that the dead may be exalted into union with the living, and, when sanctified and vivified by it, may flow down again as a living stream, carrying life and health wherever it goes.



11. The woman did not understand the language and the lesson of Jesus. Not more dull of apprehension was she than those whom she spiritually represented. In our early states of religious intelligence, we as little see the connection and correspondence between the letter and the spirit, as she saw between the water of Jacob's well and the Lord's divine truth, of which it was the symbol.

'Thou hast nothing (no vessel) to draw with, and the well is deep'.

So long as we know and believe in the existence of the letter only, it seems to us as if there could be nothing deeper in the Word, and no means of reaching even these without the ordinary vessel. Vessels symbolize the receptacles of truth and goodness, which are not only the faculties of the mind, in which these principles are received, but the knowledges which are the means of receiving and containing them. Spiritual truths are not learned scientifically, but are discerned spiritually. They are not those which are drawn by laborious study from the letter of the Word, and then laid up in the memory, but spiritual truths are within those natural truths, and are seen by the light of a purer reason, which is perception. When the woman said that the well was deep, she did not mean that the water was deep, but that it was too far below the surface to be reached without a vessel. She knew that Jesus could not obtain it, and she asked him, Whence then hast thou that living water? Those who know and believe in no sense but that of the letter, can conceive of no higher truth than that which the letter makes known. They suppose that there is nothing beyond the reach of their own doctrinal deductions. They think that they have all that the Word can yield. Whence can there be anything greater or better?

12. The woman, supposing Jesus alluded to the water of some other spring asked him,

'Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? '

Jacob, as the father of the Israelitish people, represented that church and everything that belonged to it. Jacob gave us the well for the Word was revealed to the Israelitish church, and came through it to the people. And he drank thereof, and his children, and his cattle; for the Word was the religious drink of the whole Israelitish church and people, with all their internal and external affections. But the Israelitish people knew, and desired to know, only the literal sense of the Word. And those who know and believe in the letter only, suppose that there can be nothing greater. And as these have no experience but that of the natural mind, to which the letter applies, and in which it resides; they further suppose that if the natural mind, with its internal and external affections find their satisfaction in its simple truths, there can be no greater satisfaction possible or desirable.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 99 "Art thou greater than our father Jacob?" is the demand of the natural man to every direction of his mind to a higher kind or degree of truth. Hear the answer.

13, 14. 'Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.'

In its simple natural meaning this is beautifully true; the natural is exhaustible, the spiritual is inexhaustible. Yet it is not true in the sense in which it is sometimes understood. The spiritual nature of man requires, and will require through eternity, fresh supplies of truth, as, in this world, the body requires fresh supplies of water. The soul has desires, as the body has thirst. We are rather, therefore, to consider the Lord's words in a figurative and in a spiritual sense. Natural and earthly truths afford no permanent satisfaction and happiness: those only which are spiritual can give enduring peace and pleasures for evermore. And so is it relatively with the Word. The letter gives not full and perennial delight: but the spirit is, in every one who receives it, a well of water springing up into everlasting life. They that enter into its spirit shall hunger no more neither thirst any more; for the Lamb shall lead them to living fountains of water. In his address to the woman the Lord distinguishes between the water of Jacob's well and the water which he should give, as a supply coming from without and one coming from within; one coming from the memory and the other from the heart. This is the water which the Lord gives, as distinguished from that which we procure ourselves, even when the supply is derived from revelation. Such is the difference between the truth we acquire by our own spirit, and that which we acquire by the Spirit of the Lord.

15. Still thinking naturally,

'The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.'       

Both the worldly and the naturally minded are willing to think of a happiness greater than that which they possess. Many, indeed, desire heaven as a place of happiness, who have hardly any of the elements of happiness in them, and have no disposition to acquire theirs. Where there is but little of the principles of true happiness, there may be a disposition to acquire more. There may, consequently, be a disposition in favour of the spiritual sense of the Holy Word, where there is as yet no knowledge of its nature or even of its existence.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 100 As every good natural affection is intended to be the receptacle of a spiritual one, there is in every such affection, not only the capacity but the desire for the higher, which constitutes its true spirit and life.

16. When the Lord has excited this desire for spiritual truth in the human heart and mind, he then begins to teach the qualifications and conditions for its reception.

'Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither.'

Naturally, this was no doubt intended as the means of revealing to the woman the Lord's Messiahship through his super-natural knowledge of her history. Literally understood, it has no immediate connection with the subject, or the giving of the living water. Spiritually, it has. Marriage is the symbol and the outbirth of the heavenly marriage of goodness and truth, or love and faith. The spiritual mind cannot be opened to the perception of spiritual truth, until truth has been united to good in the natural mind. This union of truth with good is effected by doing the truth, or living according to the laws of divine order. The woman was therefore desired to go and call her husband, to teach us, that the reception of heavenly truth in the inner man requires the union of good and truth, or of the will and understanding, in the outward man. Another reason, under this, for the Lord desiring the woman to call her husband was, that not only will but understanding is necessary for the perception and reception of divine truth. In the heavenly marriage the will is represented by the wife and the understanding by the husband. Hence our Lord, when the woman expressed her desire to receive, said, "Go, call thy husband." To go at the Lord's command means to live in accordance with his teaching; and to call her husband signifies to draw the under-standing into closer connection with the will, so that both will and under, standing may come to the Lord, to receive the gift of his grace and truth.

17. 'The woman answered, I have no husband.'

It is remarkable that the Lord should ask the woman to call her husband, when he yet knew she had no husband. It was no doubt to bring her sin to her remembrance, and induce in her a state of humility and repentance. There was a mixture of criminality and candour in the woman's conduct. Living with a man to whom she was not married, she was so far truthful as not to put him forward in a false character, though she at the same time showed the desire to conceal her connection with him. She was perhaps a fair specimen of the half Jew half Gentile character of the Samaritan people, and a true representative of the Samaritan church, Jewish in sin, Gentile in simplicity. "I have no husband" is expressive of the state of those who are spiritually like them. The spiritual Samaritan is one who has an affection for truth, but possesses no genuine but only spurious truth, between which and the affection of truth there is and can be no true marriage, but only an illicit connection.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 101 But when the truth possessed is spurious, the affection of which it is the object is impure. Truth purifies good, and good exalts truth. Affection, without truth to purify and guide it, is not spiritual but natural. Affection without truth is blind; and blind affection is mere impulse, which acts for no end and is directed to no object. The character or quality of affection is such as that of the truth by which it is guided. If the truth is spurious-apparent and not real-affection is so far impure. Hence the value of genuine truth. Its teachings may not be always faithfully followed; but when it is possessed, there are at least the means of advancement. In the heavenly marriage, truth is the husband, and affection is the wife; and from their union good motives and useful actions are produced. But the Samaritan church and people had no genuine truth. "I have no husband" was the acknowledgment of the woman who represented them. They had an affection for truth, which affection the woman herself represented, but they had only a spurious kind of truth, between which and the affection of truth there could be no real marriage, but only an illegitimate conjunction. In the church itself there was some perception of this. So the Lord's words imply. Thou hast well said, I have no husband. And such a confession by any one in corresponding spiritual circumstances is a preparation for a better state.

18. The acknowledgment that the woman made opened the way for a further disclosure of her private history, and evidence of the Lord's superhuman character. Having first simply confirmed her testimony respecting herself, "I have no husband," he proceeded to show her that he knew more of her history than this, and of a fact that she had not revealed.

'For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly.'

In those times of easy divorce, and for any cause, it might not be a very extraordinary thing for a woman to have had five husbands. The spiritual lesson is that which chiefly concerns us. And what amount of union was there here? Marriage signifies the union of good and truth. It may be concluded that the greater the number of husbands the woman had, the slighter the bond that existed between her and any of them. Marriage, in any of these instances, must have been but a very superficial union. This is indicated by her five husbands; for numbers, as we have had occasion to remark, do not in spiritual language express the quantity but quality; and five signifies that which is comparatively imperfect. Five signifies remains, but in a small degree.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 102 Among these Gentiles there had been the remains of truth conjoined to good; there had existed amongst them some of the true elements of the church, similar in kind, but less perfect in degree, than those which existed amongst the Jews: but this state had passed away, and in its place had arisen one in which nothing of the union of goodness and truth existed in the mind, but only a spurious and worldly connection. And thus it is with the individual members of the church itself in a worldly age. Although some remains of good and truth in a united state may be implanted in their minds during early life, these may pass away, and the truth, which in this case is only knowledge, may be held by the affections in a loose and even sinful connection, because only for the sake of the world and its pleasures.

19. When Jesus had declared her history,

'the woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet.'

The Lord's knowledge of her history revealed to her his prophetic character; and this discovery of her guilt, in her present condition of life, no doubt humbled her, and opened the way in her mind for the reception of his truth. She perceived that he was a prophet. This was part of the truth; she did not yet know the whole. A prophet represented heavenly truth, which a prophet was the instrument of revealing; but the Lord as the Christ was more than all prophets, the Divine Truth in person. To receive truth from the Lord is one thing, to receive the Lord as the Truth is another: so is it one thing to see him as a prophet, and another to receive him as the Christ. Yet the Lord must be seen in one character before he can be received in the other. We have seen the means by which the first was brought about: we have now to consider the second.

20. The woman, understanding Jesus to be a Jewish prophet, addresses him as we might expect a Samaritan to do.

'Our fathers worshipped in this mountain.'

This was mount Gerizim, on which Israel stood to bless, when the law was rehearsed in their ears, after entering into the land of Canaan. After the separation of the ten tribes in the reign of Rehoboam, and their forming themselves into a separate kingdom in Samaria, they built a temple for their own worship on this mountain" of Gerizim, near which the Saviour and the woman now were. This was the chief ground of the Jews' hatred of the Samaritans. We can hardly suppose that the woman wished to provoke a dispute on this point: she rather wished, it would seem, to hear the opinion of one whom she regarded as a prophet on so momentous a subject. Our fathers worshipped in this mountain, but ye say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. It is supposed that by their fathers, she meant the patriarchs, and appealed to Jacob and his sons worshipping on Gerizim, while they dwelt in Shechem, as an evidence of "this mountain" having been the place of divine worship long before men worshipped at Jerusalem.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 103 The erection of a temple on mount Gerizim was, however, a violation of the principle on which the temple of Jerusalem was built, that there might be one place for all the tribes to assemble. Considered as a permission, worship in Gerizim could only represent external worship without internal, while that in Jerusalem represented external worship in which there was internal. Yet all sacrificial worship was shadowy, and was to pass away when the substance it represented, which Christ was, had come and instituted spiritual and internal worship. Hence the Lord's answer in the next verse.

21. 'Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.'

The Jewish and the Samaritan worship were both local. Both peoples regarded the place where they worshipped as being holy, and they considered the worship performed there to be sanctified by the holy place. True worship is that which is performed in a holy state; and when the state of the worshipper is holy, every place where he worships God is holy ground. In the Jewish church place represented state; and the place appointed for worship was called holy, only because it was the grand symbol of the holy state of love and faith, from which all true worship proceeds. When the Lord came into the world, mere representative worship ceased, and with it all local sanctity. When the Lord addressed the Samaritan woman, the hour was rapidly approaching, when neither on mount Gerizim, nor yet on mount Zion, in the city of Jerusalem, should men worship the Father. This impending change in the outward condition of the church represented a coming change in the inward state of the worshipper. A change from place to state, from the letter to the spirit, was to be effected by the coming of the Lord as the Holy One, the antitype of the temple made with hands. A corresponding change takes place in every regenerate person. Representative worship was about to cease. But this is true with respect to a regenerate individual, as well as a regenerate church. The worship of every one is representative and shadowy before he is made spiritual, even when his worship, though simple, is sincere. The hour cometh, the state arrives, with every one who suffers himself to be regenerated, when neither in the mountain of natural love, nor yet in the city of doctrinal intelligence, will man expect to find or worship the Father. When the Lord makes his advent into the mind and life, the regenerate man worships the Father from higher and purer principles.



22. Yet there is an important difference between the two rudimentary and preparatory states. Those who are in good without truth, or in natural love alone,

'worship they know not what;'

but those who are in doctrinal intelligence know what they worship; for salvation is of the Jews. The Jews occupied a higher position than the Samaritans. The Jews had this advantage indeed over all classes of Gentiles To them pertained the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; whose were the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever" (Rom. ix. 4, 5). Therefore, as our Lord said, "salvation is of the Jews." As the Word revealed to them formed the connecting link between heaven and earth, the church instituted amongst them formed the centre from which light was diffused to the surrounding nations; and as they supplied the root of Jesse, out of which the Branch sprung, salvation, both for their own and for all time, came of the Jews. But there is a more spiritual lesson in the Lord's words than this. The Jews, as the descendants of the patriarch, and the remnant of the kingdom, of Judah, represented the principle of love or goodness, of which salvation essentially comes. Yet the Jewish was only a representative church; so that all that is said of the Jews is to be spiritually understood. As that which the Lord here speaks of is the symbol of the state which precedes redemption and regeneration, salvation is not actually in it, but comes through it. As Jesus the Saviour came of the Jews, so does salvation come of that state which the Jews represented.

23. Worship of the Father from natural affection and doctrinal knowledge is followed by the worship of him from the spirit of love and in the light of truth.

'The hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father seeketh such to worship him.'

The spirit and truth in which the Lord is to be worshipped are graces and states in the mind of the worshipper; but in relation to the historical period to which our Lord refers, the spirit and the truth, in which the Father was then about to be worshipped, came by Jesus himself, from whom every human worshipper receives them. Spirit is the life or affection which enters into and animates worship, and truth is the intelligence which enlightens and directs it. The Lord himself is the life and light, as well as the Object of all true worship. He was the light in which the life was manifested; and in him we are enabled to worship the Father. "The Father seeketh such to worship him." The divine love of the Lord, or the Lord from his divine love, seeks true and spiritual worship for the worshipper's sake.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 105 Worship by the blood of bulls and goats was only a temporary institution, in accommodation to the sensual states of men; but it had always been the desire of the divine mind that worship should be spiritual, and such it was made when our Lord came into the world, and he himself became the great and living sacrifice. The Lord is to us all that the sacrifice, and the priest who offered it, were to the Jews.

24. 'God is a Spirit.'

And here the name God is used instead of Father; for God is more expressive of the Divine Wisdom, as Father is of the Divine Love. But when it is said that God is a Spirit, we are not to understand it to mean that God is a mere essence. God is Man - the perfect Man of whom created man is but the imperfect image. He is the only being, substance, form; all others are his created images, whose existence and subsistence are from him. God is called Spirit specifically with reference to the Spirit which proceeds from him, and which, when received in the minds of angels and men, makes them spiritual, and enables them to worship him in spirit and in truth. This was especially the case with the Spirit of Christ, the Holy Spirit; and therefore the spiritual and true worship of God is the worship of him in the person and in the spirit of Jesus Christ. This is the worship of which our blessed Lord speaks, as that which was about to succeed and supersede the worship which had been practised during the Israelitish dispensation. The hour that was coming was that in which the work of redemption was finished; which finished the ceremonial law with its sacrificial worship, and introduced a worship that was spiritual and living, because offered to a Being who is Spirit and Life, by spiritual and living worshippers.

25. 'I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ. When he is come he will tell us all things.'

We need not dwell on this declaration in regard to the speaker, but consider its inspired meaning. The affection of truth has in it the faith of truth, and man, when partially enlightened, looks forward with confidence to receiving a full measure of intelligence. "I know that Messias cometh." Such is the language of the loving heart. It is like the exclamation of Job - "I know that my Redeemer liveth." I know that my present state of obscurity and uncertainty will pass away, and be followed by light and certainty. The Messias, the Anointed, the Truth itself from Love, when he comes, will tell my understanding all things that my heart desires to know.

26. When the woman had thus expressed her faith in the coming Saviour,

'Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.'

In spiritual things, as in the spiritual world, there is no time: state is every thing. When the mind comes into the state of reception the truth is revealed.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 106 Jesus is with us even when he is yet unknown to us, and he reveals himself whenever the heart is prepared to accept him. Here he is called Jesus, which is expressive of his divine love, and what he "speaketh" is truth from love.

27. While Jesus yet spake,

'his disciples came.'

At the time that the Samaritan woman came out of the city to Jacob's well to draw water, the disciples of Jesus had gone into the city to buy meat. This represented a search into the state of the church of the Samaritan Gentiles, to see and to draw out whatever of good it contained, to bring it to, and connect it with, the Lord. The disciples procured meat - the church yielded good, and it is now brought to Jesus that he may partake of it. But the disciples marvelled that he talked with the woman. This arose from the Jewish prejudice against the Samaritans, and from the opinion of the Jews, that women were not worthy of receiving religious instruction. The state of the disciples represents that state of the regenerating mind, when faith regards charity with something of contempt, and is unwilling to think that it should be the immediate object and receptacle of heavenly truth. Yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why talkest thou with her? how strikingly does this show the superiority of Jesus as felt by his disciples. So a sincere but mistaken faith feels the power and virtue of the Lord's operation into charity, even while it marvels at the Lord's communion with it. Many of the Lord's doings are marvellous in our eyes, while our eyes are but partially opened to see his wise and just economy: and when will they be able to behold him as he is? What the Lord either seeks from or imparts to those who are in charity, is unknown to those who are only in faith.

28, 29. 'The woman then left her water-pot, and went her way into the city.'

When those who are in charity are instructed by the Lord in the nature of spiritual truth, they leave the scientifics of natural truth, meant by the water-pot, and enter into doctrine, meant by the city. And the object of thus entering into doctrine, is to instruct by means of it, and bring those who are in the truths of doctrine of the church into the acknowledgment of the supreme Truth, and into conjunction with the supreme Good. These truths of doctrine are the men of the city, and the effort to draw them out and elevate them, is implied in the invitation of the woman, Come, see a man which told me all things that ever I did. All her deeds were told her. How impressive. The Lord searches the heart and the reins: his truth reveals the secret thoughts and intents of the heart. He indeed knows every one of us, and all of us alike; but it is his knowledge revealed within us, and bringing our doings home to our own conscience, that makes us true penitents, and zealous workers in his cause, both inwardly in ourselves, and outwardly among others.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 107 This inward practical revelation is the test of truth. Is not this the Christ? He only can convince of sin who can forgive sin. The truest witness of the truth is the inward witness of our deeds as unrolled by it before us.

30. 'Then they went out of the city, and came unto him.'

The truths were elevated out of doctrine, or, to express it otherwise, the intellectual perceptions were raised out of a doctrinal to a spiritual view of Divine truth.

31. 'In the mean while his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat.'

The Lord partook of human food, and those who thus ministered unto him, did to Jesus an act similar to that which the Jews did to Jehovah, when they laid their sacrifices as food for him upon the altar. We spiritually ask our Lord to eat when we ask his acceptance of the good which we have acquired.

32. 'But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of.'

The Lord here began to teach his disciples, who had brought him meat, a lesson similar to that which he taught the woman who had come to draw water. As his object was to teach the woman that he had in himself a fountain of living water, so was his object to teach his disciples that he had in himself an inexhaustible supply of living bread. They knew not yet of the true nature of this bread of life; he had not yet delivered his discourse on that great subject, in which he declared himself to be the living bread that came down from heaven. As the water which the woman came to draw was the type of natural truth, so the meat which the disciples craved the Lord to eat was the type of natural goodness. Our Lord did not, therefore, eat it, but began to tell those who pressed the meat upon him that he had meat to eat that they knew not of; intimating that they knew not of the nature, or even the existence, of the good which constituted his true meat.

33. The disciples show their ignorance of what our Lord meant. Therefore said they one to another,

'Hath any man brought him ought to eat?'

They knew not yet of any good but human good, nor had they any clear apprehension that the Lord's good was other than human and finite. Such is the state and case of every early disciple. He thinks of the Lord as some philosophers think of the sun, as fed by surrounding matters that in reality depend upon him for their existence.

34. Jesus proceeds to teach them what food he had to eat.

'He saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.'

How sublime a truth! and how divinely instructive! It is no metaphor, but a great reality. The Lord's work was to do his Father's will.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 108 No doubt he partook of natural food, but supposing that he who multiplied the loaves and fishes needed this for the support of his natural body, that was not the meat by which he lived. That which constituted his meat, which nourished the body which men saw not with their natural eyes - the humanity that was a form of goodness and truth - was the doing of the will of him that sent him. For what is the will of God but divine good; and doing this will made the humanity divine good also. And when the Lord had finished the work which the Father gave him to do, then was he the Father himself in a divine humanity - that which rose in power and glory. As it was with the Lord, so is it in like measure with his disciples. Their meat is to do their Father's will and to finish his work. It is this which feeds the immortal soul as truly as material substances feed the body.

35. After teaching his disciples respecting his own food, the Lord draws their attention to the harvest which is to provide food for his church.

'Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? Behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are, white already to harvest.'

The harvest signifies the church itself, or those who were to be gathered into it; but it signifies also the principles by the reception of which men become members of the church; and these principles are the soul's spiritual food. This provision was the immediate result of the Lord's redeeming work. The abundant provision which his redemption and glorification made for the salvation of mankind was the harvest, which his disciples had said was yet four months distant. Harvest is the in-gathering of goodness and truth, of the conjunction of which four, like two, is expressive. And this harvest was already come, but the disciples saw it not. To see it, the Lord desired them to lift up their eyes and look upon the fields that is, to elevate their understandings, and regard that which was present, though unseen; for the fields were white already unto harvest. Standing corn signifies truth in the mind's conception, and white is expressive of its maturity in the understanding, the reaping of the harvest having relation to the ingathering of the fruits of faith into the life.

36-38. Of this reaping our Lord proceeds to speak.

'He says, And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together. And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth.'

He evidently speaks of the continued labours of the divinely commisioned teachers of all times.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 109 Those that sow are the prophets of the Old Testament, and those who reap are the apostles of the New. The Lord, therefore, says, I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours. Other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours. The labours of other men and other dispensations had prepared the way for the Christian dispensations and its ministers they had sown the seeds, and their successors were about to reap the harvest. But we may more profitably view this subject in its purely spiritual sense, abstractly from times and persons, and of the applicable to the regenerate mind. Sowing and reaping are two different acts of the regenerating man, in Sowing is the insemination of truths of the Word into the mind, and reaping is the ingathering of the fruits of a holy life. Truths are sown in the mind during the age of childhood and youth; and he in whose mind they have been sown must himself reap the harvest. But one inseminates truths in his own mind when he arrives at mature years, and reaps the harvest when he is regenerated. Seeds are the truths of the understanding, and their fruits are the goods of life. The affections of truth are the sowers, and the affections of good are the reapers. In other words, the intellectual affections sow the seeds of truth in the mind, and the voluntary affections reap the fruits of truth in the life. While, therefor , one sows and another reaps, the end of this economy is, that he who sews and he who reaps may rejoice together. And rejoicing takes place when the affections of truth and of good, or when the understanding and the will, are united in the final end, which is use and the ultimate state, which is salvation and happiness.

39. The evangelist now returns to the Samaritans, who went out of the city and came to him (ver. 30); and he tells us that many

'of the Samaritans of that city believed on him, for the saying of the woman.'

The woman signifies affection, the men thoughts. The influence which the affections have upon the thoughts is well brought out in this and in another scripture narrative. The women, it will be remembered, were the first to convey to the disciples the glad tidings of the Lord's resurrection. Reception of the truth by the thoughts through the affection is meant by this acknowledgment of Jesus by men of Sychar, who believed on him for the saying of the woman. Yet this influence its own testimony with it the inward and practical testimony, that the truth of God reveals the thoughts and intents of the heart he told me all things that ever I did."       

40. 'So when the Samaritans were come unto him, they besought him that he would, tarry with them: and he abode (or tarried) there two days.'

The Samaritans did not come to satisfy themselves of the truth of what the woman had told them of Jesus, but to ask him to tarry with them.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 110 When the mind is convinced of the truth, it desires that the Truth itself may remain with it. The Lord's compliance with the men's request teaches us that he is ever willing and ready to enter into the sincere heart, and to enter into conjunction of life with those who are prepared to receive him, which conjunction is here expressed by the Lord remaining with them two days. In the Word a distinction is made between tarrying and abiding, or sojourning and dwelling. Tarrying is predicated of the life of truth with good, and abiding, of the life of good with truth. This distinction is not, however, made here. States of life being meant by days, tarrying certain days involves the idea of successive states - two days, successive states of truth with good, of faith with charity, and the conjunction of truth with good, and of man with the Lord, as the result. Whether we speak of the conjunction of good and truth in man, or the conjunction of man with the Lord, it amounts to the same; the conjunction of these principles in man gives him conjunction with the Lord, for the Lord dwells with man in the heavenly marriage of goodness and truth.

41, 42. 'Many more believed because of his own Word.'       

There is mediate and there is immediate teaching from the Lord's Word, as there are mediate and immediate influx from the Lord himself. We all receive the truth in the first instance from others; but instruction is not complete till we are taught immediately by the Lord himself. These two classes of persons and states of life are spoken of by the prophet, as those who are taught of the neighbour and those who are taught of God. And the promise is given that a time will come, when the people shall be all taught of God, when they shall teach no more every man his neighbour and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord for they shall all know him from the least of them unto the greatest of them (Jer. xxxi. 34). We are not indeed to understand this promise to men, that the time will ever arrive when human teaching will be unnecessary; but a time will come, in the history of the church when human authority in matters of faith shall cease, when God will be his own teacher as well as his own interpreter, when men will believe what they know, not merely what they learn, and will know what they believe as well as believe what they know. This change of state received the truth on human authority, we reach the more perfect state of accepting it on its own testimony, which is to make the Lord our teacher. This did the Samaritan, who said unto the woman, Now we believe not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 111 Immediate teaching and influx confirm and illustrate those which are mediate. Therefore, the men said in conclusion, we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world. Mediate teaching and influx act principally on the external of the mind, immediate teaching and influx enter into the internal, giving spiritual light and vitality to what had been externally received, and changing an historical into a having faith.

43. When the Lord left Judea it was to go into Galilee, Samaria being taken in the way.

'Now, after two days he departed thence, and went into Galilee.'

While these journeyings describe, in the supreme sense, the progressive glorification of the Lord's humanity, and, historically, raising up of his church among all classes of those in whom there was any remnant of spiritual affection for goodness and truth; they showed forth the advancement of his kingdom in the individual mind. In reference to the regeneration of man, we have seen (ver. 3) that the Lord's journey from Judea through Samaria into Galilee, represented the progression of his divine truth from the internal, through the rational, into the natural degree of the mind; which may, in a general way, be called its progression from the will through the understanding into act; for in proceeding from the will into act, the divine truth must needs pass through the understanding. The two days he abode in Sychar are again mentioned, intimating the conjunction of truth with good in the rational principle; after which it was to be manifested in its power in the natural mind and outward life.

44, 45. A reason is assigned for the Lord's going into Galilee, where he was brought up, which would seem, according to our human notions, more likely to repel than to attract him.

'For Jesus himself testified, that a prophet hath no honour in his own country.'

This has been felt to be a difficulty. Without enlarging on it, we may remark, that this can hardly refer to what was future, since in entering their country the Galileans received him," but would seem rather to refer to the past, Jesus having previously testified this to the Galileans themselves (Luke iv. 24): and to that John would seem in the present instance to refer. Some of the Galileans, who went up to the passover, had seen all the things that he did at Jerusalem at the feast. There is a beautiful and instructive truth in the Lord's going down into Galilee, where he was brought up. The Lord's early life, as he now lives it, is his life in us during the early period of our existence. He is brought up in all minds, especially in the minds of those whose parents bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Our infantile and childish conceptions of Jesus are the periods of his infancy and childhood in us.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 112 As our conceptions of him, or of his truth, improve, he increases in wisdom and stature. In brief, the Lord's outward life in the world has its image in his inward life in the minds of those, who pass through the stages of the regenerate life, corresponding to those of his own glorification. Jesus leaves Galilee, when he has implanted in the young mind the remains of goodness and truth; but he returns to it again, when, in manhood, regeneration actually commences. This is the time and state which are now spoken of. The difference in the conduct of the Galileans, before and after this visit to Jerusalem, is explicable on another ground. When the truth manifests itself where it has been brought up or taught, and has become familiar from childhood, it is at first without honour; for the first dawn of manhood, even in those who have been religiously educated, is not unfrequently marked, for a time, by scepticism or indifference, or even by hostility. But when the Lord's truth has been elevated into the spiritual mind, and has come down through the rational into the natural mind again, having there done and spoken miraculous things, it is then received and honoured. It is received and honoured by and through those natural thoughts and affections that have themselves been elevated towards the interiors, and have there experienced purification from falses, which is signified by the feast of the passover, or of unleavened bread, to which the Galileans also went up.

46, 47. 'So Jesus came again into Cana of Galilee, where he made the water wine.'

Cana is the church among the Gentiles; and the making the water wine represented the bringing of spiritual out of natural truth. This miracle was performed to confirm the belief of his disciples; the Lord's second visit to Cana resulted in the confirmation of the faith of an eminent Gentile, by a miracle of another kind. This Gentile was a nobleman, whose son was sick at Capernaum. This man affords a pleasing instance of faith in Jesus, first in his coming to implore his help, and secondly in placing entire reliance on his simple word. The nobleman, as the original expresses, was an officer of the king, or one near his person. The very court of Herod Antipas furnishes an eminent instance of belief in the meek and humble Saviour. But as the king is not named, we are to understand, as in many other cases in the Word, the regal office abstractly; and as this is symbolical of the government of truth, the nobleman is one who loves and obeys the truth as he knows it. The affection of truth is meant by his son; for affection is an offshoot from love, as a child is from a parent. But the son was sick. The soul sickens when its desires remain unsatisfied; for love unsatisfied, like hope deferred, maketh the heart sick.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 113 Sickness also corresponds to temptation; for evil spirits infuse their evil influences into the mind which feels its lack of heavenly truth and goodness, and causes anxiety even to despair. This is like the state of the nobleman, whose son was at the point of death; for despair is the extinction of hope. But he saw that there was still one, and only one, ground of hope remaining - hope in Jesus. It is to bring the mind to rely on this hope alone that temptation is permitted; and it is only when every other hope is broken down, that hope in the all-sufficiency of the Saviour prevails and succeeds.

48. It is remarkable that on this, as on some other occasions, the Lord does not immediately satisfy the desires, and answer the prayers of the supplicant, urgent as the need seems, earnest as the prayer is. To the beseeching of the afflicted parent the Lord answers,

'Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.'

The Lord's answer was addressed to others as well as to him; for the Galileans had refused to believe till they saw the miracles which he did. Belief had led the nobleman to Jesus, and belief was the result of the miracle, the effect of which was that the father "himself believed and his whole house" (ver. 53). His first belief in Jesus must have been belief in him as a prophet; his final belief in him must have been a belief in him as the Messiah. And in this the man represented one whose first faith is natural, intellectual, and historical. Saving faith is spiritual, of the heart and mind; and this faith, confirmed by temptation, gives health and newness of life.

49. The only answer of the father to this seeming reproof is,

'Sir, come down ere my child die.'

The son was sick at Capernaum. This place represented an external state relatively to that meant by Cana. In a previous chapter (ii. 12, 13), we read that after the marriage in Cana, Jesus went down to Capernaum, and went up from thence to Jerusalem. When he returned from Jerusalem he went direct to Cana, and the nobleman came up from Capernaum to Cana to implore his help. The nobleman represented those who, while they have a sincere and ardent affection for truth, are held in external things, as the fallacies of sense and science, but who come to elevate their minds to the Lord, as revealed in his Word.

50. The Lord did not comply with the man's entreaty to come down," but only said unto him,

'Go thy way, thy son liveth.'

The Lord performed this miracle at the very moment he gave the assurance that the child lived; illustrating the truth he had declared reprovingly to the Jews, "Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off ?" (Isa. xxxiii. 33). The man believed the word that Jesus had spoken with him, and he went his way.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 114 Here again is faith. He had believed that he only needed the Lord's presence to have his child cured; he now believes that the Lord has already cured him. His word is sufficient. This is a new and higher phase of faith. The command, Go thy way, is not without its practical significance. To go is to live, and the law of truth is the way in which the disciple is to walk. The man obeys the Lord's command; he goes by the, word of the Lord, and in his strength.

51. 'And as he was going down, his servants met him, and told him, saying, Thy son liveth.'

Any principle that is subordinate and subservient to another, is, spiritually, its servant: as truth to good, natural things to spiritual. The servants going out to meet their Lord and convey the glad tidings to him, describes the co-operation of the natural mind with the spiritual, and of truth with good; and meeting him is expressive of their reciprocation and conjunction. The servants convey to their master the joyful tidings, Thy son liveth. Spiritually understood, truth enables good to perceive the new life, which the Lord has imparted to the distressed and languishing affections. When good and truth thus meet together, the word of the Lord, already believed, is realized - his truth is confirmed, and his goodness is experienced. In reference to this same circumstance, the Word speaks of mercy and truth meeting together, righteousness and peace kissing each other.

52. 'Then inquired he of them the hour when he began to amend.'

The father no doubt wished to know if there was an exact coincidence between the time of the Lord's word and his son's recovery, the more certainly to connect them as cause and effect. Time is state; and the desire to know the hour when his son began to amend, is expressive of a desire to know - the precise nature of the new life in its beginning. The servants answered, Yesterday about the seventh hour, the fever left him. The seventh hour is a holy state; and is especially a state of rest and peace, after states of labour and temptation. These states of temptation are the fever of the soul, when the thoughts rush tumultuously through the troubled mind, and the feelings are wrought up to the highest pitch of painful excitement. The power of the Lord is more conspicuous, as its result is more blessed, in removing the fever of the soul than in removing the fever of the body, wonderful as this was in the present case. This miracle of the Lord showed his omniscience and omnipotence, and therefore his divinity. He is entreated to come and cure a child. He sends his word and heals him. He wills, and the raging fever, like the tempestuous sea, is in a moment calmed, and the blood flows gently on.



53. 'The father knew that it was at the same hour in the which Jesus said unto him, Thy son liveth: and himself believed, and his whole house.'

It is only necessary to remark on the results of this fact - the recognition of the child's restoration as the work of Jesus. We find that it led to the whole house receiving the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ. The whole house spiritually means the whole mind, that is, the whole of the affections and thoughts. When all these are brought under the influence of a spiritual and saving faith, then is man regenerate or born again. New life is imparted to the soul, and the man becomes a new creature.

54. 'This is again the second miracle that Jesus did, when he was come out of Judea into Galilee.'

The question for us is, what spiritual relation has this second miracle in Galilee to the first? It is deserving of remark that these two miracles produced the same effect, but upon different persons. The effect of the first was, that "his disciples believed on him;" the result of the second was, that the father of the child "himself believed, and his whole house." The miracles, the persons, and the places, all point to the fact, that they were both wrought for producing or confirming faith in the Lord, first in the interiors, and next in the exteriors, of the mind; thus tending to make the man of God perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. There are works of the mind and works of the life, although it is only when they unite that they make man perfect.


This chapter contains the account of another and interesting miracle, and the record of a most important discourse of our Lord, which arose out of it. Interesting and important as these are in their literal sense, they are much more so in their spiritual meaning, for this reveals divine truths immediately applicable to our regeneration, which is the work and state of salvation.

1. When Jesus performed the miracle of curing the nobleman's son, he had just come from Jerusalem to Galilee; and the present chapter begins with saying, that

'after this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.'

It is not known how long this second journey was after the first, nor what feast was there celebrated. Spiritually considered, it is enough to know the sequence of the events, and there being a feast at the centre of the Jewish worship.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 116 "After this" is expressive of a new state, succeeding and connected with the former, and a further manifestation of the divine love and wisdom in the cure of spiritual disease, and in the communication of spiritual truth; while "a feast of the Jews" is expressive of the worship of the Lord from love and faith, and the sanctification of the heart and mind by its means. In the supreme sense, the Jewish feasts, like all other acts of ceremonial or sacrificial worship, represented the Lord's sacrifice, that is, his glorification; and, in a secondary sense, man's regeneration. Hence the reason of Jesus attending these feasts. His going up to them is expressive of an elevation of state, or, what is the same, an entering more interiorly into the mind of the regenerate man, that he may keep with him the feast of love and wisdom. These feasts, in relation to the church and men, are the spiritual states of love and faith, into which the Lord enters, that he may sup with us, and we with him.

2. It was when the Lord was in Jerusalem at the feast that he performed one of those miraculous cures which symbolized the healing of the spiritual maladies of the soul.

'Now there is at Jerusalem, by the sheep-market, a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue, Bethesda, having five porches.'

This pool represented the Word of God. Bethesda, which means the "house of mercy," is eminently expressive of the Divine Word, as a revelation of God's will, and an offer of his mercy to afflicted and perishing sinners. The pool was at Jerusalem, by the sheep-market, to signify that the Holy Word, while committed to the care of the church, which is Jerusalem, is practically with those who are principled in spiritual love or charity, these being spiritually meant by sheep. But the pool of Bethesda is a symbol of the Word, not only as it exists as a book, but as it exists by the knowledge of its truths in our minds. It is especially a pool when its truths are in the memory, for there they are collected together, and there they lie motionless, unable to effect a cure.

3. As the pool is in the mind itself, so are the

'multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water.'

These sick persons are the multitude of disordered affections and thoughts, that are in every yet unregenerated, or partially regenerated, mind. In the blind, we may see the ignorance that hinders and the errors that pervert our intellectual perception of truth and goodness; in the halt we may see the unequal manifestation of these principles in our life and conversation; and in the withered, the enfeeblement of some or all the powers of active life in the will, which produces incapacity for moral action. Every one of us is thus infirm by nature, and more or less by practice.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 117 But the scene at the sheep-market represents the condition of one who has discovered his spiritual infirmities, and, earnestly desiring to have them removed, has entered the porch of introductory knowledge, and waits patiently and prayer-fully for deliverance, which comes by the moving of the waters, the means and meaning of which are next to be considered.

4. 'For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first, after the troubling of the water, stepped in, was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.'

As the waters of the pool are the truths which have been acquired from the Word, and laid up as knowledge in the memory, the angel is the Spirit of truth which descends from heaven, and enters the mind, quickening the truths that had lain dead and inactive there. The angel went down only at a certain season. The reason of this is to be sought, not in God or his angels, but in ourselves. The Lord has no times or seasons for descending with his blessings to mankind. His time is always ready. With him this is the day of salvation. While we seem to wait for grace, he is waiting to be gracious. Our state to receive is his time to give. The season in which the angel descends is determined by us; the gift comes when we are prepared to receive it. Even after we have discovered our infirmities, and have become earnestly desirous of having them removed, we often have to wait, and sometimes long, before the desired deliverance comes. Many prayers and many efforts are needed to effect their removal. The reason of this is not difficult to discover. The desire is a newly-conceived affection, the infirmity is an ingenerate lust or confirmed habit. The period of our waiting and the season of our deliverance are determined by the relative strength of our desire and of our infirmity. But another singular circumstance in the case was, that when the angel had moved the waters, the first only that stepped in was made whole. Why was there such a seeming parsimony in dispensing so great a gift? Might not the whole multitude have plunged into the pool, and risen from its waters restored to the blessing of health? The greater miracle would have been as easy to omnipotence as the less. But divine wisdom designed the circumstance to convey a spiritual lesson. Our spiritual infirmities are not removed at once, but by degrees. The whole multitude of our evils are not wiped away in a moment, by a single act of grace through a single act of faith. Our evils are removed, as the infirm persons at the pool of Bethesda were cured, one by one. The cure was experienced by the first that stepped in after the troubling of the waters. First as to time, spiritually means first as to state, or that which is the principal object of our thoughts and desires.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 118 The first that steps in is the infirmity that has been brought most under our notice and control, and is therefore most ready to yield to the influence that is brought to act upon the mind.

5. But amongst the great multitude lying waiting at the pool of Bethesda, there was a

'certain man which had an infirmity thirty and eight years.'

If the multitude of impotent folk are types of our numerous infirmities, what infirmity does this man represent? He represents that infirmity which is the greatest of all our infirmities, our ruling love, our dominant evil, the sin that doth so easily beset us. This love, as the thirty-eight years' duration of the poor man's malady implies, contains in itself the conjunction of what is evil and false, and has its root both in the will and understanding. It forms our very self, that which forms the root of our unregenerate nature. And long and painful is the struggle before it is remove.       

6. But deliverance from this evil comes at length to those who patiently strive and wait.

'When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole?'

When the Scripture speaks of the Lord seeing and knowing what is in or of us, the spiritual meaning is, that we see and know from the Lord what is in or of ourselves. This is the highest kind or degree of knowledge, and is inward perception. The voice of the Lord speaks inwardly in the heart, saying, Wilt thou be made whole?

7. To the Lord's question, the man gives not a direct answer, but says,

'Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me.'

The predominant feeling and idea in the mind, which has a perception of its own sinful state, is that of its own inability and helplessness, and even of its being left unaided. He had no man to put him into the pool. He knew not as yet that in Jesus he at last had found the Man for whom he had so long waited and so often sighed - the Divine Man, in whom is all help. But this sense of his own helplessness and destitution prepared the way for his deliverance. He had often, unaided, attempted to reach the pool; but while he was coming, another stepped down before him. Feeble and without help, he would, but for the Lord's coming to his relief, have remained uncured. We can hardly fail to notice in this miracle a feature which is common to many, and is perhaps to be understood of all, that the Lord performed cures which others had been unable to effect. He came to do for mankind what they had been unable to do for themselves or for each other. He came to do for them, as their Redeemer, even what he had been unable to do for them as their Creator.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 119 He came to bring down to their necessities that power and those virtues which would find no adequate channel but in a human nature like their own. This new manifestation of the divine power and virtue was especially needed, to enable men to conquer and remove their deeper evils, as maladies beyond the reach of all human physicians. And such was the malady with which this man was afflicted.

8. 'Jesus saith unto him, rise, take up thy bed, and walk.'                     
A deep sense of our own helplessness is the very means of opening the heart for the reception of help from the Lord - help that comes to us rather in deed than in word, for it comes to our experience. This manner of showing his power is not uncommon, but most interesting. Understood of the soul instead of the body, to rise is to rise above earthly into heavenly states of thought and affection; to take up the bed, is to raise doctrine and faith from a persuasion to a principle; and to walk, is to live according to the divine commandments from charity and faith united.

9. 'And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked.'

The performance of the acts commanded signify effect, which makes the command a deed, and thus a blessing; but it adds, that on the same day was the Sabbath. The Sabbath was a day on which Jesus performed many beneficent works, because it represented a state of spiritual rest after states of conflict and labour, peace after warfare, joy after suffering. It was the type of salvation and heaven. The Lord's performing so many of His works of mercy on the Sabbath, is an evidence that even the Jewish Sabbath was never intended as a day of absolute inactivity, but was rather a day in which cessation from servile and interested labour should give time and opportunity for free and disinterested work, or works of love and mercy. More important still is it as a testimony to the truth, that the Christian Sabbath is a day for works of spiritual love and mercy; and that the Sabbath of eternal rest which remains for the people of God, is not a monotonous life of vocal praise and thanksgiving, but is a life of the most active love to one another, and to all the children of God, as they exist in the unnumbered worlds which the Lord created and has redeemed.

10. The other and negative side of the subject now presents itself. The Jews made the carrying of the bed, and the performance of this cure on the Sabbath, a ground of persecution. To the man they objected,

'It is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed.'

This act would seem, indeed, to have been inconsistent with the Jewish law, which prohibited the carrying of a burden on the Sabbath day (Jer. xvii. 21). As Lord of the Sabbath, and on the principle that the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath, Jesus had told the man to carry his bed.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 120 We see the difference here between acts that proceed from the newness of the Spirit, and acts that proceed from the oldness of the letter; and the truth of the declaration, that the letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life. Not only does this contrariety exist in the church in an imperfect or degenerate state, but in ourselves as imperfect and degenerate beings. Our own natural minds are opposed to the principles of heaven, even after those principles have obtained the consent of the inner man. It may, however, be useful to look at the subject, in what now follows, as it relates to individuals rather than to principles. The Jews had come to regard the letter of the law, not only without, but in opposition to, its spirit. Zealous for the outward observance of the Sabbath, they violated the sanctity of which the Sabbath was instituted to be the means and the type. The Sabbath is most honoured when it is employed in works of mercy, especially when done in the highest interests of humanity. This did our Lord. This should the disciple do. We have seen there is a spiritual meaning in the act which the Jews condemned. To take up the bed and walk, means to elevate doctrine out of the understanding into the will, and live according to it. This is the same as raising it out of the letter into the spirit. The doctrine respecting the Sabbath, for example, is a bed on which we lie, while that day is considered to be holy in itself, and to be sanctified by our outward observance. But this doctrine is elevated into the will - the bed is taken up - when the Sabbath is regarded and used for exercising the graces of mercy and charity for the elevation of the prostrate faculties of ourselves and others; when, in fact, worship becomes an act of life and not merely of devotion. To carry the bed on the Sabbath, in the Christian and spiritual sense, is lawful, and is in fact involved in the command to keep it holy, because there is still more sanctity in mercy than in piety. "I will have mercy, and not sacrifice." "To obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams." If we view this subject still more interiorly, and take the antitype - the holy state which the Sabbath typifies - then we may see still more clearly that taking up and carrying that whereon we previously lay, bearing that which had borne us, is one of the deeds and signs of our having entered on the higher and better state.

11, 12. The all-sufficient reason for this, and answer to all objections and suggestions against it are contained in the man's answer to his Jewish objectors:

'He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk.'

He who gives health and strength must be best able to direct us how to use them.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 121 The ability to do the greater implies the right to do the less. He who restores my soul, shall he not direct my steps? Those who have received inward grace look at the law from within; and act according to it as interpreted by the spirit; but those who are under the law look at it from without, and act according to the dead letter. The Jews who did not enter into the spirit of the law, demanded of the restored invalid, What man is he that said unto thee, Take up thy bed and walk? This expresses the condition of the natural man: not principle but authority is his guide. How much are all under this servitude to personalities and names. But the Jews did not accept the authority of Jesus, and wished to know who had done the miracle, only that they might accuse and condemn Him. They made no account of the beneficent work which the Lord had performed; all its worth was lost to them by the circumstance, that it was done on the Sabbath-day, "Is it not lawful to do well on the Sabbath-days?" This is a question which Christians as well as Jews should be prepared to answer. The Sabbath, under the Jewish economy, was more typical than real. We observe it most worthily when we use it, as our Lord did, in works of mercy to the bodies, and especially to the souls of men.

13. 'And he that was healed wist not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in that place.'

This circumstance, which is not the only one of the kind in the gospel, has several important points. How beautiful are the facts and the lesson, in Jesus bestowing his blessings, as it were, with an unseen hand, withdrawing himself from the multitude of spectators, and leaving even the object of his mercy without the knowledge of his benefactor! How great a lesson is this, to do good for its own sake. But the manner of his leaving the scene of his great miracle is deserving of attention. The difference in the manner of his withdrawing himself from the sensible presence of men, before and after his resurrection, is very striking. The relation gives us the idea of his removal being, before his glorification, natural; of being, after his glorification, supernatural. After his resurrection he appears in an instant in the midst of his disciples, the doors being shut; and in breaking bread with his disciples at Emmaus, he vanishes out of their sight, or ceases in a moment to be seen of them. These simple relations show how different was his humanity, before and after he had passed through death, His resurrection body being no longer material, but Divine. But to return to the spiritual lesson which the present circumstance teaches. The man knew not that it was Jesus who had healed him, Jesus having conveyed himself away through the multitude.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 122 The state here represented is that of one who has received new health, but whose natural thoughts and feelings are not yet in harmony with his spiritual affections and perceptions. Those are the multitude; and like the multitude they are disposed to tumult and opposition. There is a law in the members warring against the law of the mind. The Lord therefore conveys himself away: he retires from the crowd of dissentient and turbulent feelings into the interiors of the mind, till he can manifest himself to the restored faculties of the regenerated man.

14. The opportunity of doing this in due time comes.

'Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple.'

The object and the Author of the miracle meet in the temple; a holy state of worship opens the mind for the manifestation of the Divine Restorer of our mercies, and enables us to connect the gift with the Giver. Jesus revealed himself in delivering to the man a great lesson: Thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee. Any one who returns to sins, after having been delivered from them, profanes the holy gifts he has received, and falls into a deeper state of evil and guilt than before. This does not arise from the fact, important as it is, that we sin presumptuously against the great and good Being who delivered us, but because, by returning to a sin which had been forsaken, we wilfully destroy the good that had taken its place, and cause the evil to take deeper root than it previously had in the mind. This, indeed, is the sin of profanation, which, in its worst form, cannot be forgiven, not because the Lord is unwilling to forgive, but because he is unable to remove it. The Lord removes evil in us by means of good - good which he himself has implanted in our hearts; but if we destroy that good, nothing remains by which his saving power can work salvation in us. We may think that free grace and omnipotence can do any thing. They can do anything that is consistent with divine order, but nothing that is inconsistent with the eternal laws that govern and uphold the worlds of mind and matter. In saying there are some things God cannot do, it may seem that we deny his omnipotence. If we say that he can and does not, do we not impeach his goodness?

15. 'The man departed and told the Jews that it was Jesus which had made him whole.'

We cannot suppose that the man told the Jews for the purpose of enabling them to direct their enmity against Jesus, but rather to proclaim his power, and advance his glory. But the natural mind and the natural man are ever disposed and ready to pervert knowledge and influx into compliance with its own ends.



16. 'Therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to kill him, because he had done these things on the Sabbath-day.'

On another similar occasion Jesus appealed to their own practice, in justification of his doing such deeds of mercy and goodness on the Sabbath-day. If a sheep fell into a pit they would pull him out on the Sabbath? How much is a man better than a sheep? They were like natural zealots in all ages, whose practice it has ever been to persecute for non-conformity to their own dogmas and superstitions, good being no protection to him who does it out of the dogmatic way, but rather the ground of greater hatred and opposition. The opposition here represented is that of evil against good: for the "Jews" are the types of evil, and Jesus is a name for the Divine Good. The opposition here described proceeds both from evil and its falsity, and is directed against both good and its truth, for falsehood persecutes truth, and evil seeks to slay goodness.

17. The Lord's answer to these enemies of him and his works leads us into some of the highest truths that the gospel contains, which teach the relation of Jesus to the Father. The Lord meets their opposition to him as the worker of this miracle on the Sabbath, by saying,

'My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.'

The great truth which the Lord here delivered demands our serious attention. The nature of the distinction which exists between the Father and the Son, and the work in which they, first the Father and then the Son, had engaged, it is most important we should understand. The truth may best be conveyed by a simple statement. The Father and the Son are the divine and the human natures in the person of the Lord. This is the simplest idea of the subject. It involves another - that the Father is the principle of divine love, and the Son is the principle of divine wisdom. When the Lord said "The Father worketh hitherto," he asserts that God had hitherto operated in his divine character of Creator and Preserver, but that now he operated in his human character of Redeemer and Saviour. The language of the Lord is very striking in one respect. He speaks of his own and his Father's work as being on a perfect equality; of the one as being a continuation of the other. This teaches us that the Lord's work in the flesh was a divine work, and that it was necessary, in order to complete the circle of divine operations required for the eternal welfare of the human race. And, indeed, the incarnation was simply a means for God doing for his creatures what he could no longer do without it.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 124 They forsook him, and he followed them. They became captives, and he came to deliver them. "He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head; and he put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloak" (Isa. lix. 17). Jehovah put on all these when he put on humanity, and when he thus became the Divine Truth in ultimates, to redeem men from the powers of hell, and from the powers of evil. There is another sphere of this divine operation. The Father is the divine love, and the Son is the divine wisdom. In the work of human regeneration, which is the epitome and the realization of all the other divine works, the divine love performs the early part, and the divine wisdom performs the later part. The remains of love are first implanted in the mind; and these remains or germs of love are derived from, and implanted by, the divine love, through the agency of angels, who are distinguished forms of love. This is the work of the Father. And when the mind becomes fit for the reception of wisdom, the Son takes up the work, and communicates the germs of wisdom. And these two operations, which are first successive, become eventually simultaneous, and love and wisdom become united in good works. Love and wisdom thus become one, even as the Father and the Son are one.

18. The Lord's declaration still further exasperated the Jews.

'They sought the more to kill him, because he had not only broken the Sabbath, but said that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.'

Spiritually, in saying that God was his Father, the Lord asserted the divinity of his humanity: for the human became fully the Son of the divine by glorification. This truth is opposed to every thought and feeling of the natural man, because it is itself the opposite of all naturalism. It was to make man spiritual that the Lord made his humanity divine; and they who are opposed to spirituality in themselves, must be still more opposed to divinity in Jesus. The deadly enmity of the Jews against Jesus, is that which every natural man has against the Lord, as the supreme good as well as the supreme truth. Even in the minds of the faithful this enmity of the Jews is realized during the progress of regeneration. The reception of the Lord's goodness in his truth, which is the practical acknowledgment of the Father in the Son, is most opposed to the evil of our nature, and cannot be effected without temptation, by which these evils are removed.

19. The Lord proceeds to show the necessity of acknowledging the Father in the Son.

Verily, I say unto you, the Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever the Father doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.'


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 125 This language clearly evinces, that the Father and the Son are not two persons, equal in power and authority. Indeed, the language seems designed to prevent such an idea being entertained. How can we understand the Son doing what he sees the Father do; and the Father showing the Son all things that he does, that the Son may do likewise? These words must express another and a higher sense than that of the letter, except as explained by true doctrine. When we understand the Lord's human nature to be the Son, which it really was, having been begotten of God, we can see it to be certainly and necessarily true, that the Son could do nothing of himself, just as the body can do nothing without the soul. Or, when we understand the Son to mean the divine truth, we can see it to be certainly and necessarily true, that this can do nothing of itself, for truth derives all its power from goodness, or, what is the same, wisdom derives all its power from love, just as the understanding derives all its power from the will, and light all its power, and indeed its very existence, from heat. But the Lord speaks of the Son seeing what the Father does, and then doing like him. Seeing signifies perception. The Lord's human perceptions were derived from his indwelling divinity, and were the divine perceptions in the humanity, just as the body sees, and hears, and feels, from the soul, or the soul by the body. On the same principle the perceptions of truth are from goodness, as those of wisdom are from love: indeed wisdom is love seeing; divine wisdom is the all-seeing power of divine love. It appears further, from the Lord's words, that the Son does only what he sees the Father do; his works are a repetition of the Father's works. Beautifully and edifyingly true is this. The human nature of the Lord did nothing but what was first done in his divine nature; just as the human body does nothing but what is first done in the mind; for the acts of the body are a copy, a repetition, in a lower sphere, of the acts of the mind. They are different, it is true, in their form: the acts of the mind are volitions and thoughts, the acts of the body are deeds and words; yet these are nothing but the acts of the mind re-produced. It is the same with the understanding and the will. The understanding does nothing but what it sees the will do. Every act of thought is but the perception and repetition in the intellect of some act of affection which has been done in the will. Such, both in God and in his image, man, are the powers from which, and the order according to which, all action proceeds.

20. Having spoken of the Son seeing what the Father does, the Lord now speaks of the Father, from his love for the Son, showing him whatever things he does.



'The Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater things than these, that ye may marvel.'

The Father is the divine love itself, and the divine wisdom is the object of that love. Wisdom is the offspring of love, as thought is of affection, and light of heat. But when divine inspiration says that the Father loves the Son, it not only means that wisdom is the object, but that it is the subject, of love; that the divine love dwells in the divine wisdom, and is the very love and life of that wisdom. For love is wisdom's and wisdom is love's. In the language of the Word, the Son is in the Father and the Father in the Son. And as the Father loves the Son, he shews him all that he himself doeth. Love communicates to wisdom the perception of all its ends and purposes, that wisdom may work them out. For God's love does nothing but by his wisdom, as his wisdom does nothing but from his love. Love and wisdom are distinct in God, but they cannot be separated, either in essence or in act. The Lord proceeds to say to the Jews that, besides sheaving the Son the works which they saw him do, the Father would show him still greater works, that they might marvel. The Lord did afterwards perform greater works than these, including that of his own resurrection; but the greater works which he promised were the divine and spiritual works, of which these were the types or the signs; first, the stupendous work of his own glorification, as completed in his resurrection, and, secondly, the re-generation or spiritual resurrection of man.

21. The works of which the Lord spoke he proceeds to mention.

'For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will.'

It is hardly necessary to say that our Lord speaks of the resurrection of souls, not of bodies, of souls dead in trespasses and sins. Two distinct acts are mentioned; and of these, the first is, drawing men away from evil, which is spiritually to raise them from the dead; the second is, to lead them into good, which is to quicken them, or make them alive; for evil is spiritual death, and good is spiritual life. There is another truth contained in this declaration. In the supreme sense, the Father raised up the dead, when the divinity raised up the humanity from the dead, at the Lord's resurrection; and by this finished work, the Son can now quicken whom he will. In this quickening work both Father and Son are still engaged; for divine love works in the heart, which is the will, giving life to the affections, and divine wisdom works in the understanding, giving life to the thoughts; thus bestowing the new life of charity and faith.

22. Although the Father as well as the Son raiseth up the dead



'the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son.'

Another proof have we here that the Father and Son are not separate persons, but distinct essentials of the divine nature. We cannot, consistently with the unity of God, think of one divine person judging, while another has no share in the work. His judging makes it evident, indeed, that Jesus is divine; for who but the omniscient can judge mankind? But it equally shews, that judgment is the function of a peculiar essential of the deity, of which the Son is the name. All judgment is performed by divine truth or wisdom, not by divine good or love. Love judges no man. Love is never absent from divine judgment, for all judgment is tempered with mercy; but truth is that which judges; truth it is which discerns the thoughts and intents of the heart, and is sharper than a two-edged sword, to separate even to the dividing asunder of the joints and marrows. But the Lord's work of judgment includes the whole work of redemption. It relates especially to the separation of the good and the evil, and the adjustment of the balance between heaven and hell, and the consequent restoration of freedom to the human will, so as to enable man to choose between them. It is only necessary to add that judgment is a work effected in every regenerate mind, and consists in discerning and separating evil from good, and falsehood from truth. This act is not done by the judge alone. He judges us when we, by his truth, judge ourselves. Thus judgment is not a sentence pronounced upon us, but a work of decision and separation effected in us, a separation between good and evil, truth and error.

23. And now comes the purpose of this judgment, which is,

'That all men should honour the Son even as they honour the Father.'

Equal honour implies equal dignity, and equal dignity implies equal divinity. Supposing the Father and the Son to be two distinct persons, but equal as to divinity, how would it be possible to honour one more or less than another? In honouring one, we would honour the other, for the honour we render to God, if it be true honour, is not, properly speaking, rendered to his person, but to his nature, thus to his attributes and character. But when we understand the Father and the Son to be the Lord's Divinity and Humanity, and his Love and Wisdom, we can see how it is possible to honour one more and another less, and how necessary it is to honour the Son as we honour the Father. The Lord's humanity is to be honoured with the honour due to his divinity. Jesus is to be honoured as Jehovah; God is to be worshipped in Jesus Christ; the Creator in the Redeemer. It is only in his humanity that God can be worshipped and honoured.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 128 There is no God out of Christ. "I am in the Father and the Father in me." By glorification the divine became human, and the human divine. All judgment is exercised by the humanity the Word made flesh, and divine honour is to be rendered to him. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him. The human came forth from the Divine, and is the Divine made accessible to man. Those who approach and worship the Divine out of or without the Human, are they who climb up another than the true way to God and heaven.

24. The Lord still further presses this great truth on the attention of his hearers.

'Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.'

To hear the word of Jesus is to receive his truth into the heart; thence comes true and living faith; for belief in the Father is belief in which the Father is - faith grounded in love. This is the faith that saves, for it has everlasting life or heavenly goodness in it, and is opposed to evil as the cause of condemnation. This state of goodness has been acquired by overcoming and renouncing evil, and such a one has passed from death unto life.

25. The blessed effect of the Lord's redemption in giving life is now described.

'Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear, shall live.'

The spiritually dead are here evidently meant, and spiritual life is that which they were about to receive. It does not relate to a universal resurrection, for not all, but they only that hear the Lord's voice shall live, that is, those who receive the Lord's truth in love and faith shall have eternal life. This raising of the dead was, in the historical sense, the general revival which was to be the result of the Lord's work of redemption. Humanity was, by the power of the Lord's resurrection, to rise from the state of spiritual death in which it had for long ages been lying. But this is only part of a restoration which is spoken of further on, where it will be more fully considered.

26, 27. And here again a reason, but a different one from the former, is given.

'For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself.'

This is a remarkable declaration. Life in himself is underived and independent life. But how could such life be given and received? Not certainly by one person and to another. Nor could it be given by an infinite to a finite nature. Had the humanity of Jesus been the same as that of another man, he could not have received, because he could not have contained, infinite life.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 129 The infinite capacity of the humanity was a consequence of its having been begotten by the infinite. The human body can fully receive the life of the human soul, because both are finite. The Humanity of the Lord could fully receive the life of his Divinity, because by birth it was inwardly, and by glorification it was made fully, divine. And when the Father gave his life to the Son, he gave himself also. The divine essence is indivisible. It could only have been given in such a way as to preserve its unity. The divine life could only be given by the Father to the Son, and received by the Son from the Father, as the soul communicates its life to the body, and as the body receives life from the soul. Life is not transferred from the one to the other. It is as much the property of the soul, after the body is quickened by it, as it was before; the body lives by virtue of its connection with the soul. In man's case the life both of soul and body is finite. With the Lord, life was infinite. When this life was communicated to the humanity, in the humanity it was infinite also. "God gave not the Spirit by measure unto him." There can be no clearer evidence of the divinity of the Lord's humanity than this. Nor is there any difficulty in understanding so high a subject with sufficient clearness to form the ground of a reasonable faith, for we have its finite image in ourselves. The power to execute judgment is derived from this life. In bringing them together the Lord shows their connection; for life is of love, and judgment is of truth. When Jesus declares that the Father had given him life and power to execute judgment also, he teaches us that his humanity received from his divinity both infinite love and infinite wisdom, and thus the power of giving both life to the human will and faith to the human understanding.

28, 29. A further effect of his redeeming work is described.

'Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in their graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of damnation.'

This does not refer to a resurrection of the material bodies of mankind at the end of the world, but to a resurrection of the spiritual bodies of men at the end of the Church. In the internal historical sense, these words, and those in the twenty-fifth verse, relate to the general judgment in the spiritual world, which the Lord performed after his resurrection. This judgment was performed on all who had died during the dispensation which preceded the Lord's Advent, and who were reserved in the world of spirits, or intermediate state, till the time of decision.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 130 These are meant by the dead and by those in the graves to whom the Lord's voice was to be addressed. These could hear the voice of the Lord, and rise up and come forth; but can the same be said of the scattered dust of earthly tabernacles? Those who were to come forth from their graves, as mentioned here, are the same as the saints that slept, who arose and came out of their opened graves after the Lord's resurrection (Matt. xxvii.). That was a transaction which took place in the spiritual world, where all the dead are, and where all judgment takes place. It is true that not only the dead, but the buried are spoken of. But why should this distinction be made? It is considered by some that the dead spoken of at verse 25 mean the spiritually dead, while those here mentioned as being in their graves mean the naturally dead. This is hardly consistent. The dead and the buried are but two classes of the same persons, in the same place; the persons being those who had died on earth, and the place being the spiritual world, where all the dead are raised, and where all assemble for judgment. The grave is frequently mentioned in Scripture in a figurative sense, to describe the state of those who are in bondage and wait for deliverance. Such are the dead and the buried of whom the Lord speaks in the present instance. The dead are those who were of a more spiritual character, while those in the grave are as men in a more natural or sensual state. Both classes consisted of good and bad; for the salvation of both is spoken of as partial; but a larger proportion was saved of the first than the second. That the first were of a more spiritual character than the second, appears also from the circumstance that the Lord, when he speaks of addressing the first, calls himself the Son of God, but in respect to the last he calls himself the Son of Man. And these names are expressive of the Lord's spiritual and natural truth, the voice of the Son of God being the utterance and operation of truth, such as it is in the spiritual sense of the word, and the voice of the Son of Man being the utterance and operation of truth, such as it is in the literal sense. These two statements respecting those who are dead and those who are in their graves have also reference, like every part of the Word, to the regeneration of man, and to the regeneration of every man in particular. The first relates to the regeneration of the internal, the second to that of the external. In this application, those to whom the voice is addressed are not persons but principles, the thoughts and affections of the mind. The thoughts and affections of the internal man, which receive the Lord's truth and love, are those who hear the voice of the Son of God and live;


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 131 and those of the external man which receive His truth and bring it forth into act, are they who hear the voice of the Son of Man and come forth unto the resurrection of life; while those who do not bring forth the Lord's truth into act are they who come forth unto the resurrection of condemnation. More interiorly and strictly understood, those to whom the Lord's voice is addressed are the truths that have been received by men from the written Word. When man is about to be regenerated, the Lord calls forth these truths, in order to inspire them with the life of love. Such as admit love are made alive, and are raised up; but such as do not admit love remain dead, and are cast out. But truths are not only vivified, they are arranged, and brought into a harmonious relation to each other, so as to be in heavenly order. This arrangement of truths is included in judgment. There is thus a double gift and a double work of which the Lord speaks, both with reference to himself and his Church - the gift of life and the gift of judgment which he had received from the Father, his work of vivifying and judging the people.

30. The distinction which the Lord makes in the words we have just considered, he now states in another way.

'I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.'

What the Lord here says again, can only be understood when the Father and Son are seen to be the human and the divine nature, the divine truth, and the divine good. The human could do nothing of itself without the divine, as the body can do nothing of itself without the soul; truth can do nothing of itself without good, as the understanding can do nothing of itself without the will. When Jesus says, "As I hear, I judge," can we understand him to speak of hearing and judging in the ordinary sense? There is a difference between this and a former declaration, which deserves our attention. At verse 19, Jesus says, "The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do:" here he says that he judges as he hears. Seeing has more relation to the understanding, hearing to the will; in respect to the Lord, seeing relates to his wisdom, hearing to his love. Now, doing is an act of the will, judging is an act of the understanding. But that the will may act rightly, it must he guided by the understanding, or, that love may act rightly, it must be guided by wisdom; therefore Jesus acts as he sees the Father act. On the other hand, that wisdom may judge justly, it must be influenced by love; therefore the Lord Jesus judges as he hears, that is, hears the Father. The Lord, for this reason, proceeds to say, "My judgment is just, because I seek not mine own will, but the will of him that sent me."


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 132 The divine will is the divine love; and wisdom judges justly, because it judges from love. Truth or intellect is indeed that which judges, but truth or intellect alone is the unjust judge. Justice belongs to love and goodness; and unless this enters into and presides over judgment, there can be no just decision. The Lord several times speaks of his own will as distinct from, and even opposed to, the Father's will. So far as his human nature was unglorified, its will was opposed to the will of his divine nature. But, even during this state, the human will always submitted itself to the divine. "Not my will but thine be done," was the language of the Saviour. But this was the case also with the Lord, considered as divine Truth. He carne not to do as Truth willed, but as Good willed. Truth, too, can do nothing without Good; nor judge justly alone. Truth condemns all men to hell, good raises all men to heaven. It is on this ground that the Lord came not to do his own will, but the will of hint that sent him. He came not to condemn, but to save, not to judge, but to have mercy. He came not to do his own will, but the will of the Father. The hereditary will of his maternal humanity was of the same nature as the natural will of another man; and this will must have submitted itself to the will of the Father, since without this there could be no salvation.

31, 32. Not only is truth alone incapable of judging justly, but it is incapable of testifying truly. It cannot by itself witness of itself; which our Lord declared when be said,

'If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true.'

We have had occasion to speak of this subject, and have remarked, that truth is its own witness, and carries its own testimony with it. There are, however, two witnesses to all truth, the intellectual and the moral. Intellectual testimony is that which the truth bears to itself, moral testimony is that which good bears to the truth. Intellectual testimony appeals to the understanding, moral testimony appeals to the heart. The first is the witness of the Son, the second is the witness of the Father; the first is the witness of truth, the second is the witness of love. Therefore, said our Lord, There is another that beareth witness of me; and I know that the witness which he witnesseth of me is true.

33-35. The Lord says to the Jews,

'Ye sent unto John, and he bare witness unto the truth. But I receive not testimony from man: but these things I say, that ye might be saved. He was a burning and a shining light: and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light.'

John testified of Jesus, that being from above, he was above all. Eminent as John was, Jesus did not rest his claim upon John's testimony.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 133 But how is this to be understood with respect to the Word, which John represented? The Word, like the Lord, is sometimes spoken of not as it is in itself, but as it is, and is understood, in the minds of men. Not the Word, but the human conception of what it reveals and testifies, is that which the Lord here speaks of. Therefore, he says, "I receive not testimony from man." What is of man, or what is derived from man's own intelligence, contributes nothing to the testimony of the truth. Only that which is divine can testify of the Divine. What is merely human, in our conception of Truth divine, lends no support to the Lord's kingdom within us. The Lord does not therefore mean that all human testimony respecting him is to be rejected; he means that what is divine carries its own testimony with it, and that man, from himself, can add nothing to its fulness and perfection. This may be said of the letter of the Word, which John specifically represented. Not the letter, but the spirit in the letter, is the living and convincing witness of the truth. And as the Lord himself is that spirit, he is the living and true witness. The written word teaches the truth, the incarnate word convinces of the truth. Knowledge comes by an external way, conviction by an internal. "It is the Spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing." The Jews themselves were witnesses to the truth of this. They sent unto John, and he bare witness unto the truth; yet these very persons were now seeking to kill Jesus, because he had healed a man on the Sabbath day, and now said that God was his Father. While the Lord reproved the Jews because they thus rejected the testimony of John, he told them these things respecting himself, that they might believe. None can be forced to believe, but the means of belief, both by the teaching of the Word and the influence of the Spirit, are mercifully provided. The Word is ever teaching, the Spirit is ever striving; but where the heart is hardened by hypocrisy or sin, even these may fail to convince. Early and partial impressions may be made, only to be followed by a more complete rejection and bitter hatred of the truth. So the Lord says to the Jews, "John was a burning and a shining light;" for both the love and the truth of God are revealed in the Word, and were shown by John -- although we are here reminded that, compared with him who is the light of the world, John was but a lamp, not the author of light, but the instrument, by whom it was revealed. The Jews were willing for a season to rejoice in his light. But as the seed sown in stony ground, where there is not much deepness of earth, suddenly springs up and as suddenly dies away; even so, many who rejoiced in John's light, were now desirous to quench the Light itself, as manifested in the person of Jesus.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 134 And thus it is spiritually with those who, like them, love themselves and the world as the supreme and only good of life.

36. But the Lord said,

'I have greater witness than that of John : for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me that the Father hath sent me.'

The Lord justly appealed to his works, in evidence of his having proceeded from the Father, and of being himself the Father; clothed in human nature; for, as he declared, "the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the Works." The mighty works which the Lord performed were the manifestations, and therefore the evidences, of his eternal power and Godhead. But there are works of which these were but the symbols, works of which the soul is the subject, and salvation the fruit. And these are evidences of the power of the Father in the Son, or of divine love being manifested and operative in divine truth. And these works, by producing new life in the soul, carry their own internal evidence with them; for new life is the ground of new and saving faith.

37. Besides the evidence of the works performed from the Father, the

'Father himself hath borne witness of Jesus.'

This is supposed to refer to the Father's testimony at the Lord's baptism. If so, it is singular that the Lord should add; Ye have neither heard his voice at any time nor seen his shape. This has been felt to be a difficult passage. It has been supposed to mean that the Jews had not hearkened to and obeyed the voice of God, as uttered in the Scriptures. But this is inconsistent with the next part of the statement, that they had not seen his shape. The voice and the shape are connected as of like nature. The Lord's words are no doubt to be understood like similar records in the Old Testament. There we read of their seeing God face to face, and yet are told that no one can see God and live. Israel saw God, but they saw him, not as he is in himself, but as he made himself visible to them in the presence of an angel, who is hence called the angel of his presence. So with the voice of God; it came, and must have come, to men, through a finite medium. The grand medium through which the Father was seen and heard was the Son - the humanity he assumed. Those who saw and heard him saw and heard the Father. "No man hath seen God at any time: the only begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him." Spiritually understood the Lord's words contain a spiritual lesson. The divine love never comes or can come directly to the perceptions of the human mind; it can only reach our faculties in and through the divine truth; this alone gives it the voice and shape that make it visible to men.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 135 Jesus is at once the form and the voice of God. The Lord speaks of his works being those which the Father had given him to finish. When Jesus said, "The Father worketh hitherto and I work," he intimated that the Incarnation was for the purpose of finishing divine works, which had been begun before the manifestation of God in the flesh. The Lord can never have been but a Saviour and Redeemer, as he is frequently called in the Old Testament, in reference to the people, then and previously existing. The works which the Lord performed in the flesh, were the completion of works, which had been in progress since the fall of man. The Word which was then made flesh had been not only the creative, but the enlightening power of the Deity. Many, who had died in the faith, were in the world of spirits, as prisoners of hope, waiting for the finishing of that work by which they had been saved, that they might obtain deliverance, through the power of the Lord's resurrection, and ascend with him, at his ascension into heaven.

38. The Lord states to the Jews the real cause of their conduct towards him -

'Ye have not his word abiding in you.'

They had not the inward witness, therefore whom he hath sent, him ye believe not. How necessary to have the word of the Father abiding in us, the living word dwelling in our hearts! Without this there can be no living faith in the truth which is ever proceeding from his love to bring us to himself. "No man can come to me except the Father which hath sent me draw him:" no one comes believingly to the truth of God, unless he is drawn to it by the love of God.

39-42. How is this love to be obtained? how is the word of the Father to be acquired? We cannot answer these questions till we know the meaning of the words which the Lord now addresses to the Jews. We are accustomed to understand the Lord's words as a command when he says,

'Search the Scriptures'.

This is not considered by the best critics as the necessary or proper meaning. It is understood to be a statement that the Jews did search the Scriptures, and yet could not or would not see the testimony of Jesus in them. It is considered that the passage should be read thus:

Ye search the Scriptures, and in them ye think ye have eternal life; and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life. I receive not honour from men. But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you. This want of the love of God in their hearts was the cause of their rejection of Jesus as the Messiah, the Truth of Love. So it is with others who search the Scriptures, and do not find a Saviour in them. Although they think they have in the sacred writings eternal life, yet unless they bring a loving heart to the investigation, their minds will receive no light on the subject which concerns their salvation and eternal life.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 136 The Scriptures testify of Jesus. The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy; and in the large sense all Scripture is prophetic of him, for he is the subject of its inmost sense. But we do not here speak so much of the mere knowledge of the Lord. Christians who have found the personal Christ, may yet search and yet not find the living and saving Christ. It is indeed most necessary and useful to search the Scriptures, for what can we know of the Lord without them? But we may search with no more real success than the Jews, if we are liable to the same terrible accusation. "But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you." This is the cause of our "ever searching and never coming to the saving knowledge of the truth."

43. When such is the state of the heart, it rejects the true Christ and accepts the false.

'I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive.'

It is evident from this that "name" has a larger and deeper signification than we are accustomed to give it. The name of a person in authority is often, indeed, used to express the authority which belongs to his office; and one who comes and speaks in his name, is one who, for the time, is invested with his authority. Viewed in this light, Jesus may be considered as having come invested with the authority of his Father. The prophets thus came in the name of God. Was Jesus only a prophet? He was the Son of God. As such he was God. And being God, he was God alone; for God is one. But there is a more certain way to this conclusion, than through the forms of school logic. Truth is light, and enables the mind to see; and love is heat, and gives the heart to feel. The Father and the Son are the divine love and the divine wisdom. In Jesus, divine wisdom came with the authority and power of divine love. But men did not receive him. Why? Because they had in them and among them none of that love which disposes the mind to receive wisdom. In Scripture, a name means more than the authority of the person to whom it belongs; it means his spirit and power, his nature and character. Jesus came in his Father's name, because he came as the divine wisdom of divine love. He came to exhibit the divine character before men. His words of wisdom were filled with the spirit of love; his works of power with the spirit of benevolence. His Father's name, the spirit of love, was manifest in all his teaching, and in his whole life. His life was evidently one of pure disinterestedness.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 137 The men of that age no doubt praised such qualities. Why then did they not gather around one who exhibited them in such perfection? Because they had an abstract admiration for such qualities, but had no practical sympathy with them. There was no similarity of mind, no conformity of character, between them and Jesus. His Father was not their Father. Coming in his Father's name, they did not receive him. If another shall come in his own name, him will they receive. One comes in his own name, who comes not in the love of God, but in the love of himself. As those receive the teaching of divine love who are influenced by that love, those receive the teaching of human love, which is self-love, who are influenced by it. These come in a character with which they can sympathize, and whose objects they can approve. So has it ever been with fallen man, and so will it be while men are corrupt." All people will walk every one in the name of his god" (Micah iv. 4). Whatever men worship they will follow. If the object of their idolatry be self, the world, or the flesh, they will listen, as to an oracle, to whoever will preach their gospel. Nor is it necessary that these gods should be preached openly. Among nominal Christians, as among the Jews, teachers may come in their own name, even when they claim to come in the name of Christ. But doctrines are teachers, as well as men; and these may indirectly inculcate the spirit of earthly instead of heavenly love and goodness.

44. The Lord comes to the root of their rejection of him.

'How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?'

Here the moral ground of unbelief is said to be self-exaltation. Self-exaltation is the opposite of humility; and humility is the soil in which every Christian grace, and therefore the grace of faith, is implanted and grows. Men are not blamed for receiving honour one of another, but for receiving it to the exclusion of that which comes from God only. Religion requires that we render honour to whom honour is due. Wise men render and receive honour as a means to a useful end; unwise men, as an end, and one which resides in themselves. God is the author of all true honour. The honour that comes from God is the honour of virtue and sincerity, received through the approval of a good conscience. This is the only honour that is to be desired here, or that will avail us hereafter. And the only true honour that we can render to, or receive from each other, is honour for what is of God in us; so that the Lord is in truth the object as well as the author of all true honour.

45, 46. Severe as are the Lord's judgments on the Jewish persecutors, yet the tenderness of his love is not less than the severity of his truth.



'Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father'.

O divine forbearance and forgiveness! How true the inspired words: "If thou shouldest mark iniquity, who, O Lord, should stand?" Yet it does not follow, that the wicked can altogether escape. When the Lord proclaimed himself merciful and gracious, long-suffering and abundant in goodness and truth, he yet declared that he would by no means clear the guilty. Guilt cannot escape all penalty; even infinite mercy can not separate guilt and punishment. Although the Lord would not accuse his enemies, but would pray for them, as he did upon the cross, still he gave them the solemn warning, There is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust. The Lord gives them the reason for this: Had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. They professed to be the disciples of Moses, and trusted in him, yet did not believe the greatest message he had delivered to them the coming of a prophet like unto himself, whom they were to hear. Moses, therefore, would be their accuser. Here we learn a law of judgment, which includes all. We are judged by what we know, and especially by what we believe. Our condemnation arises from not believing what we know, or not doing what we believe. Our witness is within us, either for justification or condemnation. Moses is a witness for Christ, and his testimony will be against the Jew who refuses to acknowledge the Saviour. It is, therefore, because the Jews do not believe Moses, that they do not believe Christ.

47. The Lord ends his discourse to the Jews with this decisive conclusion;

'But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?'

How indeed? If they believed not the prediction, how could they believe its fulfilment? And here we find what belief really is. The Jews believed in Moses as their prophet, their lawgiver; but they believed in him after their own fashion. They really believed not in the writings of Moses, but in their own interpretations of them. And they so construed them, that they made the very commandments, which those writings contained, of none effect by their traditions. And, as a consequence, they rejected him who was the Divine Love itself in person. As every truth is in harmony with every other, so, eminently, must the truths of the Old and New Testaments - the writings of Moses and the words of Christ - harmonize together. He, therefore, who believes or denies the one, cannot but believe or deny the other. "If ye believe not his writings, how can ye believe my words?"




This chapter contains a remarkable discourse of our Lord's, which has not found a place in any of the other gospels. He had fed a multitude of people, by miraculously multiplying a few loaves and fishes. And he now turns the attention of the multitude from the perishable food, with which he had fed their bodies, to himself as the living bread, with which he desired to feed their souls. The miracle of the loaves and fishes is recorded in the fourteenth chapter of Matthew; where we have also a record of the miracle that followed, when Jesus walked on the sea. Both having been already explained, it may suffice to give a brief outline of their meaning, except in the case of the particulars in which the two accounts differ.

1. 'After these things, Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias.'

The Lord was now passing from the western to the eastern side of the lake, leaving Canaan for the country on the other side Jordan, to carry the blessings of his gospel to a more purely Gentile population. The sea over which he passed was representative of the Word, the truths of which are meant by its waters. When called the Sea of Galilee, from the region which it skirts, it means the Word with respect to the good which it teaches; and when called the Sea of Tiberias, from the town on its shore, it means the Word with respect to its doctrine; and when both these names are applied both meanings are involved. The Lord passes over to the people who are out of the church by the good of simple truth, as revealed in the letter of his Word. And if we consider this progression as it respects the individual, the Lord's descent into the very lowest degree of the mind being represented by his passing over from Galilee to the other side of Jordan, then by his passing across the Galilean sea is signified his entrance through the good and truth of his Word, as these exist in the natural mind.

2. When on the other side,

'a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased.'

The healing of the diseases of the soul, indicated by these miracles, draws to the Lord the numerous natural affections and thoughts of the mind; and these follow him, by striving to follow his example.

4. Separating himself from the multitude,

'Jesus went up into a mountain, and there he sat with his disciples.'

The disciples, as distinguished from the multitude, are the affections and perceptions of the spiritual mind, as distinguished from those of the natural mind.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 140 The Lord's retiring, on this and other occasions, with his disciples, presents a symbol of that state of common experience, when the thoughts and affections are withdrawn from the world, to commune with the Lord on the things of spiritual and eternal life. Our sphere of active Christian usefulness is the world. But there are times and seasons when we desire and need to retire into the chamber or ascend into the mount, away from the busy crowd of worldly thoughts and feelings, to seek new strength for the spiritual affections and perceptions, by a nearer intercourse with the Lord of life.

5. It is here mentioned that the passover,

'a feast of the Jews, was nigh.'

There is not perhaps any obvious connection between the Jewish feast and the circumstances related in this chapter. There is, however, a relation of the feast of the passover to the feeding of the multitude, and more especially to the eating of the flesh of the Son of Man, of which the Lord afterwards treats so largely. Jesus was our passover; and his completed work of redemption and glorification, in which the feast was to receive its fulfilment, was nigh.

5, 6. The Lord, with his disciples, having retired, the multitude followed him.

'When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread that these may eat?'

By retiring into the mountain, and drawing the multitude after him, we learn, that when the Lord raises the higher affections of the mind to himself and heaven, the lower are elevated also. Jesus, who knew of the movements of the multitude, is spoken of as lifting up his eyes and seeing them coming. The lifting up of the eyes, so often recorded in the Word, means, in relation to man, the elevation of the understanding; the consequent sight of the object being expressive of perception. In reference to the Lord this means the application and operation of his wisdom. His eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men" (Ps. xi. 4). But the true lifting up of the Lord's eyes takes place in the minds of those in whom he dwells. He sees when he gives them to see; for all spiritual sight is the perception which his truth imparts to the intellect. The question which the Lord, on seeing the great company come unto him, proposed to Philip, is interesting, more especially as we are informed that he himself knew what he would do. Such questions are intended to prove the faithful. Yet the proof is intended, not for the Lord's satisfaction, but for the disciples' improvement. The Lord proves us, not to see what is in us, but to enable us to see what is in ourselves, and to prepare us for recognising his divine goodness and wisdom in the removal of the difficulty to which our reflection leads us.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 141 But this circumstance teaches us, that the mind itself has a kind of double consciousness, and even that faith, like the moon, has its light and dark sides, its believing and its unbelieving phase, like the man who exclaimed, "Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief" (Mark ix. 24).

6. Philip answered the Lord's question by saying,

'Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little.'

The Lord had inquired, "Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?" Our first and natural idea is to rely upon meritorious goodness, or that which we purchase for ourselves. Yet, with the sincere disciple, there is a sense of the inadequacy of the supply which even our utmost means and powers can procure. Two hundred pence was probably all the money which the bag contained, yet, though a considerable sum, it was not enough for the occasion. When we think of feeding the mind with purchased bread, and yet see that our knowledge, however large, is insufficient to procure enough to satisfy our hunger, or even to provide that every one of our affections may take a little, we are in some measure prepared to accept the good that the Lord alone can give, and which is more than sufficient to supply every want.

8, 9. The conviction and acknowledgment, that the utmost extent to which self-righteousness goes does not suffice to satisfy the cravings of the soul, is followed by another and higher state of mind, which brings us a step nearer the solution of the difficulty, and the discovery of the real answer to the divine question, "Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?"

'One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, saith unto him, There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes; but what are they among so many?'

Andrew evidently stands higher in the scale of discipleship than Philip. We have already (i. 43) spoken of Philip as representing a more obscure perception of truth, and a lower degree of faith, than those of which Andrew is the type. While Philip thinks only of purchasing bread for the multitude, Andrew discovers a supply among themselves. Spiritually understood, the lad, or youth, is the good affection of early life, in which the remains or germs of heavenly goodness and truth have been implanted by the Lord, and have been preserved, so that, the time and state having arrived, they can he brought forth to form the beginning of the new man. These remains are meant by the loaves and the fishes. Five, like ten, denotes remains, but in less abundance; the quality of these remains of natural goodness being indicated by the loaves being of barley. The fact of the loaves being few and of barley, and the fishes still fewer and small, expresses, representatively, how scanty and poor were the remains of what was good and true in the church at the time of our Lord's Advent.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 142 Yet little as there was, and little as there may be, of such remains in the mind of any one, and inadequate as these may themselves be in relation to the newly created desires of the mind, yet, in the Divine hand, they grow into such abundance as to be more than enough to satisfy the present cravings and pressing wants of the soul.

10. Thus scantily provided, Jesus said,

'Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down. in number about five thousand.'

The arranging or disposing the affections in the order of heaven, represented by the people sitting down, is one of the means by which the Lord prepares them for the reception and appropriation of the principles of goodness and truth; the abundant grass on which they sat signifying abundance of natural truth, such as the letter of the Word contains, and on which the ordinated affections rest.

11-13. 'Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would. When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten.'

In the Lord's miracles of feeding the multitudes, there is this one particular to be observed. He does not immediately create the necessary quantity of food, which would seemingly be a greater exhibition of power; but he takes a small quantity, which some one present supplies, and makes that the seed, so to speak, from which, under his beneficent hand, the abundant harvest springs. Can we suppose this is done without a purpose and a moral? Does it not teach us that even in the spiritual concerns of the soul nothing is brought out of nothing? There must be a nucleus, a rudiment, a germ, as a beginning, without which even Omnipotence does not create for us the means of spiritual life. That very germ, it is true, is the gift of God, for we have nothing of ourselves; but it is a gift he bestows on every soul, by the operation of his Spirit, with the co-operation of angels and parents, during the early period of life, while the soul is yet in the Eden of infantile innocence. Through this supply, however small, the divine power can produce such abundance, that not only all the wants of the mind shall be satisfied, and the powers strengthened for the immediate uses of life, but that the twelve baskets shall be filled with the fragments that remain, that nothing that comes from God out of heaven may be lost.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 143 The fragments of the loaves and fishes, like the pot of manna, is laid up in the sanctuary, which is the inmost affection of the soul, there to be preserved as a memorial of the Divine mercy, in giving us, during our pilgrimage, bread from heaven to eat.

14, 15. This miracle produced two effects. The people acknowledged Jesus as the Messiah, and determined to make him a king. These are two particulars not mentioned in the other gospels.

'Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that Prophet that should come into the world.'

The conviction, as we find, was, in this case, as in many others produced by miracles, in some of the multitude at least, superficial and transitory. The attempt they made to bring their faith to a practical result, in a way congenial to the national passion, shows how natural as well as shallow their faith was. When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone. There was nothing more natural than that a multitude of Jews, suddenly convinced that Jesus was the promised Messiah, should be inspired with the desire to make him a king, that he might conquer for them deliverance from the hated Roman yoke. They had not learnt, and had no desire to learn, that, though the Lord was a king, his kingdom was not of this world. This ignorance and this error are still those of every early Christian disciple. He regards the Lord's regal character and his kingdom rather as earthly than heavenly. He is willing that the Lord should be his king, but only that his power may be exalted in his natural affections, for natural ends. But in this state of the mind, the Lord withdraws himself into the good affection of the inner man, as he retired into the mountain, to maintain his hold on the inner life, till he can again descend with advantage into the thoughts and affections of the natural mind.

16-21. The storm which the disciples encountered while on their passage across the lake, and the two miracles of Jesus, his coming to them walking on the sea, and his stilling the tempest, are to be considered as having a connection with the feeding of the multitude with the loaves and fishes. Goodness and truth are not confirmed but by means of temptation. The reception of these spiritual principles is described by the feeding of the five thousand, and the temptation which follows their reception, and is the necessary means of their confirmation, is meant by the storm.



In the early part of the chapter we find the Lord, his disciples, and the multitude together; at the beginning of this portion of the record we find them apart, the Lord gone up into a mountain alone, his disciples gone into a ship, and the people remaining on the other side, and standing on the sea-shore. These are representative of different but alternate states. The disciples represent the spiritual thoughts and affections of the inner man, and the people, the natural thoughts and affections of the outer man, while the Lord is the truth and life that enlighten and sustain both. These sometimes act unitedly, sometimes distinctly - unitedly when man looks to the Lord and heaven; distinctly, and it may be separately, when he looks to himself and the world. In this state it is that he is exposed to temptation. This is the state which is described, in the present relation, by the experience both of the disciples on the sea and the multitude on the shore. These we now briefly consider.

16-18. 'And when even was now come, his disciples went down unto the sea, and entered into a ship, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And the sea arose, by reason of a great wind that blew.'

All this is descriptive of a state of trial and temptation. It was now even, and soon it becomes dark, and a great wind raises the sea into a storm. This historical symbolism it is not difficult to interpret. Darkness and tempest in this outer world are obvious images of the mental and spiritual obscurity and tribulation, which form part of the common experience of all Christian disciples in passing through the religious life, of which going over the sea to Capernaum is but one of the stages. The sea to which they go down is the letter of the Word; the Lord's own city, Capernaum, is the doctrine of the Lord, as God in his humanity; the one ship into which they enter is the knowledge of that one Lord and Saviour. But while they go down to, and pass over the sea, Jesus is not come to them; he is away in the mountain alone, above the region of their active thoughts and feelings, leaving them for a while to themselves, but ready to descend to succour them when the time of deliverance comes. But it may be useful to consider how and whence these states of obscurity and tribulation arise. Alternations of state arise from the alternate activity of our spiritual and natural thoughts and affections. These alternations are unavoidable and useful. In their orderly succession they are like the regular vicissitudes of day and night. The mind is no more able to maintain a state of constant wakefulness and activity than the body. The angels themselves have their alternations of state. They rise into activity and sink into repose; and these changes both improve their state and exalt their happiness.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 145 They lay them down in peace and sleep, for the Lord sustains them. During these passive states, not only does the Lord keep their city, but he builds up their house as a habitation for himself; for so he giveth to his beloved in sleep. This sleep is sweet, and when they awake they awake in his likeness. But to those who are yet on earth, these vicissitudes are not always of this orderly and peaceful kind. "In the world ye shall have tribulation." Here we have not only our twilight but our darkness, not only our gentle breezes to carry our bark along, but our great wind, that raises the sea into a storm, which threatens to make shipwreck of our souls. In these storms, "they who go down to the sea in ships, mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths, their soul is melted because of trouble." It is thus that, outwardly or inwardly, "they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses" (Ps. cvii. 23-28). This is the extremity in which the disciples are when, having

'rowed about five-and-twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the ship.'

Severe as was the storm, they continued to row; they did not lay down their oars and give themselves up for lost, but rather, we may suppose, exerted themselves the more as the storm increased. And they made progress. They had rowed about five-and-twenty or thirty furlongs when the Lord appeared to them. Twenty-five and thirty, like the simple numbers five and six, of which they are the product, indicate not so much the amount of spiritual progress as the quality of their spiritual state, as being one in which the remains of love and truth are brought out by the labours of temptation. Their striving had not indeed brought them to the other side, and would in all probability have failed even to save them. But it brought them so far on their way, and even towards him who came to them walking on the water. They were now far from the land, in the midst of the sea, with the raging tempest threatening their destruction. In such perilous circumstances, how welcome the prospect of deliverance. With what wonder and gratitude must they have been filled when they recognised Jesus coming towards them, walking securely upon those troubled waves, that threatened every moment to engulph them. Yet not hope, but fear, was their first emotion. They were afraid. According to Matthew, they supposed they saw a spirit, and, perhaps looking upon it as a messenger of death, they cried out for fear. Our states give a shape and complexion to the objects that come upon us suddenly. In spiritual experience and in the spiritual world this is invariably the case. And more is it so with divine than even with spiritual things; they are more remote from our conceptions.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 146 The fear with which the Lord's presence inspired the disciples is the experience of all other disciples. Fear precedes love, that in love there may be holy fear. That which the divine presence first inspires is slavish fear, the fear which arises from a consciousness of our sinfulness. The fear of the disciples was from their not knowing that it was Jesus that appeared to them. And so with all slavish fear. So long as we regard the Lord as an object of dread, we do not know him; we may indeed know his name, but we are ignorant of his character. When he reveals himself to us, as he did to the disciples, not merely by the hearing of the ear, but through the affections of the heart, our fear is changed into love, or rather our love casts out fear, for he himself has said unto us, It is I, be not afraid. And as the disciples willingly received him into the ship, those to whom he reveals himself joyfully receive him into their hearts and minds, as the very object and life of the knowledge by which they sought to come to him. Thus does he bring them to their desired haven, or, as the evangelist records, immediately the ship was at the land whither they went. This marvellous, if not miraculous speed, was the result of the Lord's presence. The spiritual idea of speed is certainty, for there is no time in the spiritual world. But speed means joy as well as certainty; for spiritual distances are the measures of state; joyful states are short, sorrowful states are long. All spiritual trials and temptations which bring us to the Lord, and bring and reveal the Lord to us, are such as bring us with certainty and joy to the land whither all true disciples are going, and finally to the land of Canaan above, our desired haven of eternal security and rest.

22-24. The evangelist, having recorded the arrival of the ship with its precious freight at Capernaum, now returns to the multitude who had been left on the other side of the lake.

'The day following, when the people, which stood on the other side of the sea, saw that there was none other boat there, save that one whereinto his disciples were entered, and that Jesus went not with his disciples into the boat, but that his disciples were gone away alone; (howbeit there came other boats from Tiberias, nigh unto, the place where they did eat bread, after that the Lord had given thanks:) when the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, neither his disciples, they also took shipping, and came to Capertnaum, seeking for Jesus.'

The day following is a new state, the quality of which is indicated by the transactions that belong to it. The first state of the people, as representatively described in the narrative, is an external one: they stood on the side of the sea opposite to that on which the disciples were, and out of the land of Canaan.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 147 They saw that there was no other boat there, save that one into which his disciples were entered. This one boat into which the disciples had entered, is, we have seen, the knowledge of the one great truth, that Jesus is the Author and Object of all true faith, the Giver of all good; a truth into which none but the disciples of the Lord can enter. They saw also that Jesus went not with the disciples into the boat, but that the disciples were gone away alone. They had a perception that this knowledge of Jesus was not filled with the fulness of his love and goodness. Temptation, like the storm, had yet to be endured before the saving presence of the Lord, as the Saviour, could be given. Knowing that Jesus went not with his disciples, the people supposed that he had remained behind. Not finding him in that place, they determined to cross the lake in search of him. They found some ships from Tiberias, nigh unto the place where they had eaten bread. These ships had either arrived after the disciples had left, or were found at another place, near to Bethsaida. The knowledge of the one truth that Jesus is the Christ is that one which leads directly to him. Howbeit there are other knowledges of truth which lead to him, though less directly; but these must come from Tiberias in the land of Canaan; for all true knowledge that leads to the Lord must come from the church where the Word is. The people who took shipping and came to Capernaum seeking for Jesus, had a desire of a certain kind, to find him and profit by him; but it appears from the sequel that theirs was not a very noble object. Like that of some others, their attachment to the Lord was not founded on the pure and disinterested love of his goodness and truth.

25. 'When they had found him on the other side of the sea, they said unto him, Rabbi, when earnest thou hither?'

This title, by which the people address the Lord, is in accordance with their professed object in seeking for him; for a Rabbi, or teacher, signifies the truth, which he is supposed to teach. The Lord, as Rabbi, is the Truth itself. But the people who now addressed him, did not, it will appear, regard him in this exalted character. Nor did they seek him as a teacher, that he might lead them, by the knowledge of truth, to the possession of goodness, unless to that which was perhaps to them the highest good, the loaves and fishes, with which they had been and might again be filled. The question, spiritually considered, indicates that such inquirers after Jesus have only an intellectual, not a moral purpose in their search after him as the teacher. They ask him, When camest thou hither? Time means state, but state in relation to truth, as place means state in relation to goodness.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 148 They had, it is true, no intention of embodying any such idea in the terms of their question. But there is a profound depth of causation in the expressions we use, and divine inspiration fills them with a corresponding spiritual meaning.

26. Instead of replying to their question,

'Jesus answered them, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.'

The miracles to which the Lord referred were those he had performed on the diseased. The healing of diseases represented the removing of evils. To seek the Lord for the meat he gives, but not because of the miraculous cures he performs, is to seek to be filled with good, without being delivered from evil. Those who are of this character desire to eat of the fruit of the tree of life, which is for food, without first submitting to be healed with its leaves, which are for medicine. The good we desire to possess or to do, without hating and ceasing to do evil, is not spiritual but natural, not heavenly but earthly. This, it is evident from what now follows, was the kind of good for which the people sought Jesus; and is that kind of good which is desired by those who follow him, not because they see his miracles of curing the diseases of the mind and life, but because they have eaten and been filled with the natural good and truth which even natural men are willing to receive.

27. The first words of exhortation which the Lord addresses to them show his knowledge of their character.

'Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.'

But the lesson which was thus delivered to them is of universal application, and is designed for the use of all disciples, and of all others who seek the Lord. How much is expressed in this one word, labour! Labour is the heritage of man. God, in his wisdom, and not only in his wisdom, but in his goodness, has so constituted us, that labour is a necessity of our nature. We cannot rise above the condition of the animal without it. But labour was not intended by the Divine Being to be employed only to supply our animal or other temporal wants. God had an eternal end in view in the appointment of human labour. And if our end in life were in harmony with God's, our labour, even for the requirements of the body, would, at the same time, discipline and enrich the mind, and thus equally advance our temporal and eternal welfare. God is in all his laws, both of creation and providence, working out by them his eternal ends: and we need only to become workers together with him, that his will and pleasure may be realized in our happiness.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 149 But by sin we have separated what God had joined together. And now we labour only for the meat which perishes, without any desire for that which endures. We spend our money for that which is not bread, and our labour for that which satisfieth not. Such being our natural state, the Lord came down from heaven to direct our labour to an eternal instead of a temporal end; to provide us with that spiritual meat which is required for the soul, and which endures unto everlasting life. The meat which endures, as that which nourishes the soul, is the good which is received by the inner man. And this meat is that which the Son of Man gives unto us. This name is expressive, not only of the Lord's human nature, but of his divine truth, both as manifested in his own person and as revealed in his Word. He gives, both from himself and through his Word, the spiritual and eternal goodness which alone is imperishable, and which therefore is alone deserving of our labour. And this the Son of Man gives; for him hath God the Father sealed. God has impressed the seal of his eternal divinity on his humanity. The Son is the express image, the stamped impression of the Father's substance. The Son of Man was sealed by the Father when the humanity of the Lord was glorified by his divinity; as the faithful are said to be sealed by being regenerated. The Lord, as Divine Truth, is sealed by Divine Love; and thus he gives us enduring goodness, he being eternal goodness itself, given as we are able to receive it.

28, 29. 'Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.'

Still thinking naturally of the meat which the Lord declared himself able to give, the people ask what they should do to work the works of God, by which that meat was to be obtained. The Lord's answer is a striking one. The work of God is to believe on him whom he hath sent. To the Jews, who rested their hopes on the works of the Mosaic law, this must have seemed to remove the foundations of their religion. For their elaborate system of observances was to be substituted belief in One whom they could, at best, regard and recognise as a Rabbi. But faith in Jesus, in whom all the Mosaic law was fulfilled, and who was its substance, was an essential condition of the salvation and eternal life he came to bestow. Perhaps Christians are too much inclined to take the Jewish view of this subject. They are liable to commit the error of supposing that the faith of Jesus Christ is a substitute, not only for Jewish but for Christian works, and that it is the only condition of salvation: that faith, in fact, includes works, and that the whole work of God consists in believing on him whom he hath sent.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 150 Belief in Jesus, as the manifested God, is indeed essential to the very existence of Christianity and the Christian life. Christian faith is not a substitute for works, but a power of working. Faith in Jesus is Jesus dwelling in us by faith. And when the Lord dwells in us, he it is who doeth the works. He who inspires us with the love, and bestows on us the wisdom, and gives us the power, is himself the author of the good we are enabled to do. The faith which saves is not alone. There is no true faith without love, and neither faith nor love without works.

30. When the Lord had instructed them that the work of God was to believe in him,

'They said unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? What dost thou work?'

They had seen the Lord perform miracles, and they themselves had been fed by one of the greatest of them, and still they demanded a sign. A sign differs from a miracle. A miracle is a work that affects the will, and inclines it to listen to him who performs it; but a sign acts upon the understanding, and forces its consent. The understanding is not convinced by signs, but by reasons. No work, however marvellous, can convince, which does not enlighten. And to compel belief without rational conviction, does not produce, but destroys, true faith. It induces a faith in which there is no truth; and faith without truth is blind faith, which is not conviction but persuasion. It was for this reason that the Lord refused a sign to those who demanded that evidence of his truthfulness. An evil generation seeks after a sign, and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonah, which pointed to the Lord's own resurrection, and unto his glorification, which is the only and convincing sign to those disinclined to, believe in his teaching.

31. But the people not only demand a sign, but they indicate the nature of the sign which they desired.

'Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'

These very persons who appealed to this miracle, had just been fed in the desert with bread from heaven, provided for them by as great a miracle as that by which their fathers had been sustained. Yet they appeal to the manna, and ask Jesus for an equally convincing proof of his power. And such is ever the demand of the unbelieving. Yet no work, but one which would effect a moral change in themselves, can convince them; and without this change of heart signs may be multiplied to infinity only to make them more negative than before.



32. Our Lord calls their attention, therefore, away from the outward miracle and sustenance, to the inward work and life. He says to them,

'Moses gave you not that bread from heaven.'       

The literal meaning of this requires attention. Some understand it to mean that the bread of the Israelites, though produced by a miracle, did not come from heaven; others, that the manna, though from heaven, was not the true bread. The passage literally is, "Moses gave you not the bread from heaven." That which Moses gave you was not the true bread - the bread of life. My Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. The contrast here is most important. The Lord teaches that the bread which their fathers had received under Moses was for the body, while that which was now provided for and offered to them by Jesus, was for the soul. He thus endeavours to lead their thoughts from the natural to the spiritual, from the type to the antitype.

33. The Lord, as is his wont, sheds his light upon them gradually. He now brings it to bear a little more directly upon them.

'The bread of God is he which cometh, down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.'

To us this language is plain enough; but the Jews did not yet understand its true meaning or full force; they did not yet see that the Lord meant that he himself was the true bread which nourishes the soul, but that he had bread, and would give it to support human life, by which they understood the life of the body. Their notions exactly correspond with those of the woman of Samaria. When Jesus spoke of his being able to give her living water, she understood him to speak of some natural spring which was inexhaustible. The present case is an exact counterpart of this, though the result seems much less favourable. There, the subject is the water of life, here, it is the bread of life: there, it is the living and life-giving truth, here, it is the living and life-giving goodness. Both are equally necessary for spiritual life, but both are not equally easy to receive.

34. The answer of the Jews is the same as that of the Samaritan woman:

'Lord, evermore give us this bread.'

How ready we are to accept from the Lord what is agreeable to ourselves. How glad should we be to have our bodies, and even our minds supplied, without stint or interruption, with the things which they are willing to recognise as good, and which is their bread of life. Yet, as not all who uttered this desire were natural men, since they were not all offended with the plain truth, when it came to be declared to them, the prayer is in itself an expressive one. The true desire, evermore to be fed with the true bread that came down from heaven in the person of the Lord, containing in himself all that the soul can need or receive, to fill it with goodness and truth, as the very principles of spiritual and eternal life, is the hunger and thirst after righteousness, which Jesus has promised to satisfy.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 152 Evermore give us this bread" is, therefore, a petition which the true as well as the nominal follower of the Lord will offer, when the light first breaks in upon his mind, that the bread of God is he who cometh clown from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. The same in form with all, but different in essence in the real and the nominal believer.

35. Jesus answers their petition, by still more plainly revealing the truth in relation to himself.

'I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.'

It will be seen that, as in the case of the Samaritan woman, the Lord builds his doctrine on the foundation his inquirers had laid. They supply a material basis, and he builds upon it a spiritual super-structure. The history of the Israelites was a representative history of human redemption and salvation. The work of redemption was represented by the deliverance of Israel from the bondage of Egypt, and the work of salvation, by their journey through the wilderness and their settlement in Canaan. The bread that came down from heaven to feed them, and the water that was given, even out of the rock, to quench their thirst, were types of the good and truth with which the Lord feeds the soul, and gives it spiritual life. The whole experience of the Israelites was typical. "All were baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and did all eat the same spiritual meat; and did all drink the same spiritual drink: (for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them; and that Rock was Christ). Now these things were our ensamples" (1 Cor. x. 2). Although the Lord speaks only of the bread as being typical of him, as the living bread, yet he includes the water as typical of him, as the living water; for he says that they who come to him shall never hunger, and they that believe on him shall never thirst. All who come to the Lord with their will, and believe in him with their understanding, will have the deepest cravings of their immortal nature satisfied. They shall never hunger any more, neither thirst any more. They will have no unsatisfied desires. They will not lust after what is evil and false, but only desire what is good and true. These are the meat and drink of angels, and must be the food of those who desire to become angels. The Lord, as the supreme Good and Truth, is the very bread and water of life; and all who truly come to him, and believe on him, shall receive of his fulness.

36. Although the multitude that Jesus addressed had seen him, and beheld his wonderful works, and been fed by a miracle, they yet remained unbelieving.



But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not.

The Jews were those of whom it is said, that seeing, they see not, or, seeing, see and do not perceive. "For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed: lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them" (Matt. xiii. 15). To see without believing is to have a merely intellectual apprehension of the truth, without any inward consent grounded in affection. This our Lord reveals in what he now says, as recorded in the next verse.

37.'All that the Father giveth me shall come to me.'

It has been inferred from this and some similar statements, that God had elected a certain number, on whom he was pleased to bestow his grace and confer the gift of salvation; and that these he would bring to Christ, none others having the power to come. The present statement affords, even in the literal sense, no ground for such an opinion. In the original "all" is neuter, and does not mean persons but things. The proper rendering would be, Everything that the Father giveth me will come to me. By everything that the Father gives is meant every affection and thought, inclination and motive, in the mind or heart of man, in which there is anything of heavenly goodness. When, therefore, the Lord says that every such thing will come to him, he means that wherever there is anything truly good in the interiors of the human mind, there is in that good an acknowledgment of the Lord and his truth, and a disposition to obey him. And as every such good comes from God, and indeed from his love, by its very nature, it returns to him again, and receives the truth, which raises it up into actual life by regeneration. But within the literal sense of the Lord's words, there is a spiritual sense, which accounts for the form of the declaration. The Father is the Lord's divine love, and the Son is his divine wisdom. The profound and instructive meaning of the Lord's words is, that all who suffer themselves to be drawn by the Lord's love will come to and accept his truth. None else can or will come. A divine influence, acting upon the heart, turns the understanding believingly to the Lord. The human soul is under the influence of the Lord's love from the first moment of its existence; and love is acting within the heart long before the understanding is capable of receiving the knowledge of the truth. That the work of the Lord's love precedes that of his truth, the Lord himself declares in the words already considered, "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work." This is the order of the divine operation, in the individual as well as in the world.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 154 Were not this the case, the human mind would neither have the capacity nor the desire for truth. This love does not force, it only draws; nor is there any idea of compulsory drawing, or of necessary yielding, expressed in the original, which the "shall" of our version conveys. The Lord, as a Father, draws us by his love, and we, as beings he has created free, must freely yield to his attractive influence, otherwise we cannot be saved. If we yield to the ever-constraining influence of love, the blessed promise is, and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. The Lord casts out none. Those who are cast out are such as have been drawn to him, as the truth, not by the love of God, but by the love of self. All whom the Father gives to the Son find in him security and happiness.

38. Our hope of acceptance by the Lord rests on this,

'For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.'

The will of the Father and the will of the Son are spoken of as distinct, and in some instances as at variance. Considered as divine persons, this were impossible. As the divine and the human natures in the person of the Lord, this distinction and variance is easily understood. The human will could be inimical to the divine. It must have been so. But the Lord's human will always yielded submission to his divine will; and by this means his human will became divine, that is, divine-human. There is, however, another and more abstract meaning than this in the Lord's words. He speaks of having come down from heaven to do the Father's will, and not his own. He, as we have had occasion to remark, came down from heaven as Divine Truth, to do the will of Divine Love. We have also remarked that Divine Truth condemns all, and that Divine Love saves all. This truth no doubt lies at the foundation of the theological notion, that divine mercy and divine justice are opposed to each other. There is this wide difference, however, between the true and the mistaken view. The mistaken view is, that mercy and justice are opposed in the mind of God; the true view is, that they are opposed in the mind of man. The Lord, by incarnation, took upon himself the human mind, in which the opposition between mercy and justice, or love and truth, existed; and his work in the flesh consisted essentially in his reconciling them. Had the Lord come into the world as the Truth only, none could have been saved, for his work would only have been a work of judgment. All would have been cast out, for none could have endured the operation of that which judges. But the Lord, as the Truth, came not to do his own will, but the will of him that sent him, the will of his divine love, which is the source of all good, and consequently of all blessedness.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 155 Divine truth came to do the will of divine love; not to be author of condemnation, but the instrument of salvation. Yet let us reflect that we are saved, not by divine love willing and working for us, but by divine love working in us, to will and to do of its good pleasure. This is our Father's will.

39. Having declared that he came to do his Father's will, the Lord tells the people what that will is.

'This is the Father's will, that of all which he hath given, me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day.'

Here, again, the "all" is neuter, and means everything, which is indeed expressed by "it," which is to be raised up at the last. All that the Father gives the Son is, as already remarked, all in us that is willing to be drawn to the knowledge and obedience of the truth. Love cannot save us but by bringing us under the teaching and government of truth. If love could save by itself, all would be saved; for God wills that all men should be saved, but he wills that all should be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. It is because love can only save by truth, that divine truth, or the Word, "came down from heaven," and was manifested on earth in the person of Jesus Christ. The object of this manifestation was to make divine truth the perfect instrument or medium, even on earth, of divine love in heaven, that whatever could be drawn away from evil to good by the influence of love might be shielded and preserved, purified and enlightened, by the power of truth, so that the Lord's will might be done on earth as it is in heaven. Every good affection which God's love produces in the heart requires a corresponding perception in the understanding for its development and preservation, and every such perception comes from God's truth. Every human affection is given to the Son when it is brought into the light of truth, and the end in view is, that of all which the Son thus receives, he should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. In reference to the regeneration of man, the last day is the last or the completed state of the new life. Resurrection is rising into newness of life. It is not the raising of what is dead into life, but the raising of what is living out of what is dead. There must be a germ that is capable of being called into life when the seed falls into the ground and dies. The good which the love of God implants in the human heart is only potential, and only becomes actual by the agency of truth. It is truth that raises it up and gives it consciousness and sight, directing it in the performance of use, and giving a sense of delight. It is the divine will, then, that of all the good instructions which Love has given, Truth should lose none, but should raise them up as living and active principles at last, which is not only the completed state of regeneration, but the last or ultimate degree of the regenerate life, that the first things should become also the last, and all scattered things be gathered into one.



40. The Lord further reveals the Father's will.

'And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.'

A distinction is made between seeing the Son and believing on him. With respect to us, to see is to know, which is intellectual sight; but belief must be added to knowledge, that we may have everlasting life. But everlasting life is a state, and not merely a condition. It is the Father's will that this state should succeed belief. Eternal life is a state of heavenly goodness. Goodness is the first state, and it is the last. The first is the good of ignorance, the second is the good of wisdom. The first is good which draws us to truth, the second is good which is purified and enriched by truth. Good is not genuine till it is united to truth, love is not true love till it is united to wisdom. Love is life, but love united to wisdom is eternal life. It is the Lord's will, therefore, that every one who has any good should receive truth, and it is his will that every one who receives truth should acquire by it that good in which there is everlasting life. These are they whom the Lord promises to raise up at the last day. This cannot mean a resurrection of the dead at the last day of the world's existence - supposing that such a day is to come. The raising up here promised, is one which is to be enjoyed by believers, and can mean nothing else than that which believers only can experience, resurrection from the death of sin to the life of righteousness. This is the resurrection which the Lord promises. There is another resurrection for the righteous: it is their resurrection into heaven, which takes place at the last day of their earthly existence.

41. When Jesus had ended this brief but pregnant address,

'the Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread that came down from heaven.'

Hard, no doubt, it was for men, who beheld a human being, to admit his descent as bread from heaven. Yet, they had seen his mighty works, and had eaten of the bread that his power had produced to satisfy the cravings of their hunger. Was not his claim, to be the giver of the bread which satisfies the hunger of the soul, deserving of their serious regard? But they were types of the natural man, and of the natural mind of man, in all times. These murmur at the things of the spirit, and most of all at the highest spiritual things, those which relate to the Lord as the Supreme Good, from whom all that can be called good is derived, both among angels in heaven and among men on earth.



42. Appearances favour this objection to the Lord being the source of all heavenly goodness. To the claim which he made, the Jews answered,

'Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven?'

The reputed son of Joseph, the Lord could not be supposed by the multitude to have come down from heaven. Jesus had claimed to be the Son of God, but for this they sought to kill him; they had seen his mighty works, but these they ascribed to an evil power. When men are natural, all their conceptions, even of divine things, are natural. The same objection which the Jews made against the incarnate Word is made by natural men against the written Word. Because the Word, like the Lord, is clothed in a human form, those who judge from appearance regard it as merely human. The estimate we form of the Word is necessarily similar to that which we form of the Lord, who is the Divine Truth itself, which the Word reveals, and which, in its inmost sense, it is.

43. The dissent and reasoning of the Jews appear to have been secretly expressed.

'Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves.'

This exhortation, both in itself and in reference to the declaration which follows, is a most necessary one. Not only among us, but within us, should all murmuring cease. When the thoughts and affections unite in complainings against the teachings of Divine Truth, it is because they are unwilling to become subject to its laws, unless its rule is to be rewarded by temporal benefits. Jesus does not enter into conflict with them on the subject of his divinity and descent from heaven, but seeks to allay their irritation and still their murmurings, that their minds may be prepared to hear the words of eternal truth. These murmurings, like those of the children of Israel in the wilderness, are the temptations which, with the faithful, end in the confirmation of truth and good, with the unfaithful, in their rejection.

44. The Lord now reveals to those who had murmured against him the secret ground of their unbelief, and at the same time the origin of true faith.

'No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him.'

The remarks we have made on similar declarations, especially that contained in verse 37, render it unnecessary to say much in the way of exposition on the present statement. The Father, we have seen, is the essential divinity, and the Son is the divine humanity; the Father is the divine Love, and the Son is the divine Wisdom. The great truth which the Lord teaches is this: that no one can come to him as the incarnate God, unless he be drawn to him by the power of his indwelling divinity; no one can come to him as the divine Wisdom except he be drawn to him by his divine Love.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 158 Religion is not of the head only, but also and essentially of the heart. The will is the moving power in every intellectual act, and there originates every act of faith. Every one is drawn to Jesus Christ by some motive; and the Lord here tells us what the only true motive is, which can bring us to him as our Saviour. Some are drawn to him by self-love; some by self-interest. These are the cardinal motives by which natural men are induced to make a profession of religion. They follow Jesus, not because they have seen or experienced his works of goodness and wisdom, healing diseases and casting out devils, opening the blind eyes and unstopping the deaf ears; but because they have eaten of the loaves and fishes, and have thus been filled with the only good which their heart desires. Such motives can never bring us to the Lord as our Saviour. Only his love can draw us savingly to him, and enable us to receive him as the Word made flesh. There can be no faith in the understanding where there is no love in the heart. Nor is love the result of faith, but faith is the result of love. There must be love in the heart before there can be faith in the understanding. Christianity may be accepted from a logical conviction of its truth; but no one can be drawn to Christ himself as "the power of God and the wisdom of God," but by the attractive power of his love, as a grace of the heart. But how is this love to be acquired? The love that draws us to the Lord is not of ourselves; it is the gift of God. Nor is it forced upon us. Like all other divine gifts it is free; and, freely offered, it must be freely received. The Lord's love is the all pervading, all animating heat of that Sun, which he causes to rise on the evil and on the good. There is nothing hid from the heat thereof. It is the life of all that live, naturally, morally, or spiritually. It is ever with us, ready to enter the heart, whenever the heart is disposed and prepared to receive it. Rather, we should say, it is ever in the heart, dwelling in the natural and moral affections which it has inspired or implanted, and ready to unfold itself as spiritual love, when the heart is willing to yield to its expansive and elevating power. The heart is not opened to receive the Lord's love by simply desiring it, but by removing the evils that oppose its entrance. Self-indulgence shuts the door of the heart, self-denial opens it. We have only, then, to deny ourselves the gratifications of self-love, that the love of God may take its place, and this love will draw us to that wisdom which will make us wise unto salvation. One word on the dogmatic sense of the Lord's words.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 159 That the Lord does not speak of the Father as one divine person, and of himself as another, is evident from his own words on another occasion. Here he declares that no one can come to him except the Father draw him: on another occasion he says, "and I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me" (chap. xii. 32). Whatever we understand the Lord to mean by the Father, it is clear that he and the Father are one. One and yet distinct; one Person, but distinct Essentials. One and yet distinct, like soul and body, will and understanding, in man. So, in the Lord, are Divinity and Humanity, Love and Wisdom. The Lord himself draws men to him; yet his love is that which draws them, and his wisdom is that to which they are drawn. As love draws to wisdom, wisdom leads to love. But this we will consider when we come to the Lord's discourse with Philip (chap. xiv. 6).

45. Jesus further says,

It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every one therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.

The Lord does not here speak of those who are taught of God, as distinguished from those who are instructed of men, but as opposed to those who are taught of self. In the matter of salvation, we are either taught of God or ourselves. If taught of God, we see the truth from the love of God, if taught of ourselves, we see it from the love of self. As the Lord, as the eternal Wisdom, came forth from the eternal love, so must our acknowledgment of his wisdom come forth from his love. This is to hear and learn of the Father. And every one that hath heard, and bath learned of the Father, cometh to the Son. That which enters by the hearing enters through the affection, to which the hearing corresponds: and every affection, which receives the Lord's love, comes to his truth. To be more specific, the affections turn the thoughts; for it is affection that hears, and thought that learns.

46. The divine teacher continues:

Not that any man hall seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father.

According to the teaching of the Old Testament, no one can see God and live; according to the teaching of the Son, no one can see the Father but in the Son. Eternal wisdom alone can comprehend eternal love, and enable us in our degree to comprehend it. Therefore the Lord elsewhere says, "No man knoweth the Father save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him" (Matt. xi. 27). The Father draws us to the Son, and when we yield to his attractive love, the Son, as wisdom, leads us to the Father. But while the Lord's words remind us, that it is necessary for us to hear and learn of the Father, we are not to understand that we can hear or learn of him directly.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 160 "Ye have neither heard the voice of the Father at any time, nor seen his shape." The Lord's divinity can only be seen and heard in his humanity, his love in his wisdom. As the Lord, as the eternal wisdom came forth from the eternal love, so must our acknowledgment of his wisdom come forth from his love.

47. The impossibility of our seeing the Father is compensated by our being able to see the Son; for he who seeth the Son seeth the Father also. Love, which cannot be seen, or known, such as it is in itself, can be seen, so far as it can come to human apprehension, as it manifests itself in wisdom. So the Divinity can be seen in the Humanity. Jesus, as the manifested Jehovah, is therefore the only object of faith and worship. Hence our Lord's words,

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath, everlasting life.

If he who sees the Son, sees the Father also, he who believes on the Son believes on the Father also.

48-50. Alluding to his former declaration, that he was the true bread, Jesus says,

I am that bread of life.

And he proceeds to point out the difference between that which had been given to the Jews, and that which. was now offered to the whole human race.

Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which came down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.

The Jews who had eaten of the manna, died naturally; those who eat of the true bread, die not spiritually. In the literal sense the cases are not parallel. But the Lord spake according to the correspondence between natural and spiritual things. The manna of the Israelites fed the body, the true bread, which Christ is, feeds the soul; the manna did not prevent natural death, but the bread of life saves from spiritual death. But there is a deeper view than this. As the manna was the type of the Lord as the true bread, it expressed and represented the whole means of maintaining the religious life under the Israelitish dispensation; and as the Israelitish was but the shadow of a true church, nothing that belonged to it was, in itself, living or life-giving. As the blood of bulls and goats could not cleanse from sin, neither could the bread of their meat-offerings give or support the life of righteousness. Death was written on every thing that constituted the Israelitish church; and so far as that church was concerned, death was the portion of those who lived under it. Not that there was no spiritual life or salvation to those who formed it; but life and salvation were received by them through Him to whom all their symbolic worship pointed.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 161 Those of them who did eat of the manna in faith and obedience, ate by anticipation of the true bread, which was to come down from heaven, and was given for the life of the world, the only bread of which a man may eat, and not die.

51. The Lord further pursues this subject, for the purpose of introducing a more perfect and comprehensive analogy of his life-giving power.

I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If a man eat of this bread he shall live for ever; and the bread which I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

The Lord had called himself the bread of life; he now calls himself the living bread: he had declared that the eating of this bread gave immunity from death; he now declares that it secures eternal life. It is true that whatever gives life must itself be living, but it is only by receiving life from the Lord that we come to see that the Lord is life. It is true also that deliverance or immunity from death is the preservation and possession of life; yet to be saved from death and to receive life are two distinct things, one being the removal of evil, and the other the reception of good; and one precedes the other, for evil must be removed before good can be received. Another distinction our Lord now introduces. He had spoken of himself as bread; he now speaks of himself as flesh. Taken from the Jewish economy, these analogies are found in the manna, with which the people were fed, and in the flesh of the sacrifices which they offered. These were laid upon the altar, as food which the Lord was pleased to accept at their hands, and were called the bread of God. But in the offerings which are called sacrifices, as distinguished from burnt-offerings, certain parts were burnt upon the altar, and the remaining parts were eaten by the priests, and, in some cases, by the people. In offering the sacrifice, the priest, besides being a type of Jesus, represented the persons who offered, as Jesus himself stood in the place of the people, he having come to do for them what they were no longer able or willing to do for themselves. When, therefore, Jesus declared that he was the living bread, and that the bread he would give was his flesh, he claimed to be to his people what the flesh of the sacrifice and the manna had been to their fathers. In him mankind have the divine and spiritual principles, by which they have eternal life, that were foreshadowed in the means by which the representative people had temporal life. The bread of which he had been speaking was his flesh, his very body, as he afterwards expresses it. And this must be regarded as more than a figure; for if the Lord gives from himself that which nourishes the soul, he must give of his own substance; nor can we live by any other.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 162 But we need not enter further into the consideration of this declaration till we come to one still more minute.

52. We need hardly wonder that

the Jews strove among themselves, saying; How can this man give us his flesh to eat?

How gross their conception, when, after all the Divine Teacher had said about himself, as the bread that came down from heaven to give eternal life, they should be utterly unable to rise above the merest natural idea of his flesh, by which the world was to be fed. Yet, why should we severely blame them? Do not even some Christians believe, that the flesh of which the Lord spake was that of the material body he then inhabited, such. Christians differing from the Jews only in supposing that they now eat of the Lord's body by a figure? They receive by faith the merit of the Lord's life and sufferings in the flesh, elevating their thoughts little above those of the Jews. But the Jews differed in this respect, that they considered it impossible for the Lord to give them his flesh to eat. They are the true types of the natural man, who apprehends all spiritual truth naturally, and then objects to it because it is natural.

53. This doubting question brought out the Lord's doctrine on the subject in all its plainness and fulness.

Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.

When we are doubting or disputing about a truth, or even when we are hesitating whether, we shall admit it, how necessary is it sometimes to be reminded that life and death depend upon the decision and choice we make. If there is no life in us, except we eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of man, it is of the very first importance that we understand clearly what is meant by this singular and startling declaration. What are the flesh and blood of the Son of man? Flesh and blood constitute the all of the body, and in this instance of the Lord's body. The Lord, as he afterwards explained, did not speak literally but spiritually; he did not speak of his material, but of his glorified and divine body. This body, in which he rose from the dead, and in which he now is, consists of two divine Essentials, which are Goodness and Truth. For the Lord's body is his Divine Humanity, or his divinity made human, and thus brought down to the capacities and necessities of fallen man. His divine goodness and truth, or love and wisdom, which constitute the very body in which the divinity now dwells, are the life of angels and men; they are the food of their souls, without receiving which they can have no life in them. So true is it, therefore, that except we eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of man, we have no spiritual life.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 163 This only living and life-giving food comes to us both directly from the Lord and through his Word. The name Son of man means the Lord as Divine Truth, and thus as the Word, whose goods and truths are the Lord's flesh and blood. Eating and drinking are expressive and important in their symbolism. These physical acts express the corresponding mental acts of receiving, digesting, and assimilating the spiritual elements of life, which acts may be expressed by the single word appropriation, in the sense of making a thing our own, by its actually being made a part of our spiritual bodies, as the food we eat becomes a part of our natural bodies. This doctrine is thus grounded in analogy; so that every time we eat or drink, for the nourishment of our perishable bodies, we have a living and instructive image, that will teach us, if we are disposed to learn, how the immortal soul must be nourished, if we would have eternal life. But the most perfect image of this is presented in the Holy Supper, instituted to be a perpetual representation of the Divine principles of Goodness and Truth, which constitute the Lord's glorified Body, on which our souls are to feed, and by which they are to be nourished unto eternal life.

54. The Lord continues to set forth and enforce this divine lesson.

Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.

He thus gives the affirmative, as he had just before given the negative, side of this momentous truth, renewing the promise of resurrection unto life, when the day of our regeneration is ended. And as no one has life except by eating his flesh and drinking his blood; so, whoso eateth and drinketh bath eternal life. The language implies the freeness of the offered mercy. Any one and every one may come to the Saviour, that he may be filled with his love and truth, which, while they are freely offered, may be freely received.

55. The reason why those who eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of man have eternal life, the Lord declares.

For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.

Flesh and blood are essential goodness and truth, which are meat and drink indeed, compared, not only with the food of the body, but with all other food of the mind. The mind requires moral and intellectual food, besides that which is strictly religious and spiritual; but, compared with all such food, that which the Lord gives is meat indeed. All others are accessories, this is essential; all others are temporal, this is eternal.

56. The Lord says still further,

He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood dwelleth in me, and I in him.

The appropriation of the Lord's goodness and truth makes us, as it were, parts of himself, not indeed parts of his divine body, but members of his mystical body, living members of the Church on earth, and afterwards of the Church in heaven.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 164 The conjunction with the Lord, which the reception of his love and truth secures, is most intimate; and it is important to observe that it is reciprocal we dwell in him and he dwells in us. This mutual life, if we may so express it, gives us a finite participation in all the Lord's attributes, in his mercy, truth, holiness; and in all the blessedness which belongs to them. This mutual indwelling of the Lord and man, is produced and continued by man's constantly returning, in life and worship, the divine operation of which every one is the subject. The Lord dwells in us by action, we in him by reaction. The life which the believer thus receives from the Lord is the divine life accommodated to his reception-the life of the divine in the human. This statement of our Lord is a most edifying one. We are saved, not merely by the Lord living in us, but by our living in him. He is in every one, but every one is not in him. He is in us by his omnipresence; and where he is, there are his goodness and truth; all that is required, therefore, for our salvation and happiness, is that we be in him. If we loved him as he loves us, we should be in him, as he is in us.

57. The Lord further says,

As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.

This reveals the purpose and use of the Lord's incarnation. The Father sent the Son. We must not think of this sending and coming as having anything to do with space. God, who is omnipresent, cannot come personally nearer to us by any new means. Sending and coming, in the Divine sense, can mean only a way of making his presence obvious or felt-bringing himself nearer to our apprehensions and feelings. This the Eternal did by assuming human nature, the effect of which was to bring his divine love, wisdom, and power, thus himself, nearer to our human thoughts and affections: not merely nearer to the senses, as was the case with those who saw and heard the Lord in the days of his personal manifestation, but nearer to our conceptions, by a mental realization of the power and actions of Jesus while he sojourned on earth, and nearer especially to our human faculties of understanding and will. By incarnation, he who dwelt in the inmost of the soul, as the secret place of the Most High, and in the heaven of angels as his habitation, came down into the outermost region of human thought and feeling, and thus into the Church on earth as the court of his temple, and so brought himself forth to view. The human nature which the Lord glorified is therefore a living power, that can transform ours into the image of his own.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 165 This humanity of the Lord has all the life and power of his divinity. When the Lord says, "I live by the Father," he teaches us that the human lives by the divine, that the life of the Human is the Divine life brought down to man. But the sublime practical truth which the Lord here teaches, is that with which he concludes, when, he says, "as I live by the Father; so HE THAT EATETH ME SHALL LIVE BY ME." This clearly shows that in order to feed the souls of men, the Almighty brought himself down to them. If we may so express it, the Divine feeds the human, and the human feeds us. In other words, the Lord's humanity prepares, by accommodation, the divine gifts and graces for human reception. Very obvious is it then, that but for the medium of the Lord's humanity, no saving grace and truth could reach and nourish the mind of man. Thus it is that the Lord lives by the Father, and we live by him.

58. Truly

this is the bread that came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna and are dead. He that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.

We may here speak of this subject in its particular and practical meaning. The manna, as distinguished from the true bread, is the good which man receives from heaven during childhood and youth, before he has come to the age of rationality and liberty, and before regeneration has commenced actually. The true bread, which the Lord the Saviour came down from heaven to give, is the good which man receives from the Lord out of heaven during the regenerate life. The good of childhood is not truly good, because not spiritual and saving. That which man receives from the Lord by regeneration is truly good, because it is chosen as necessary for salvation. The first state passes away, and if it is the only state, the soul dies spiritually and eternally; but the second state does not, and he who enters upon and perseveres in it lives for ever. This state is often called a resurrection, for it is a raising up of the good of early life into a new and higher condition, making it truly spiritual and living.

59. These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum.

A synagogue, we have seen, signifies doctrine, and Capernaum an external condition of the church. To say in the synagogue, while teaching in Capernaum, is to bring forth internal truths out of the external truths of the church.

60. Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?

The great doctrine which the Lord had now delivered to his hearers offended, not only the Jews, but even many who had become his disciples.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 166 The truths of the gospel are hard to the natural mind, and those who are not yet freed from its dominion, are easily turned aside by their practical application. These nominal disciples considered this saying, about the necessity of eating the flesh and drinking the blood of the Son of man, as too hard for any one to hear; too much opposed both to the intellect and the will to be accepted as a matter of faith and life.

61. When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you?

Another instance we have here of the Lord's omniscience. It would appear that the disciples murmured among themselves privately, and in themselves secretly. It may seem surprising that they should not have known the power of Jesus to perceive their murmurings, after the evidence he had given of his divinity. But are we not all liable to think and act as they did? We confess that the Lord is omniscient, and yet we often think and act as if he neither saw nor heard us. There is another lesson to us in this and similar intimations of the Lord's perception of our thoughts and acts. When the letter tells us, that Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at his doctrine, the spirit teaches us, that our murmurings penetrate into the interior life of the truth, as it is present in our minds; and react against it, so as to weaken or even destroy its power in and over us. The subject of the present murmuring was the Lord's requiring his hearers to eat his flesh and drink his blood. And he demands of them, Doth this offend you? Startling it may have been, when first put forth; but the language and imagery of their own Scriptures might have led them to divine its meaning. They had been accustomed to eat the flesh of their own sacrifice as a holy thing. There was, therefore, nothing incomprehensible or inconsistent in the idea of eating the flesh of him who was to become the great sacrifice. The whole of their sacrificial worship pointed to this great fact. Why then should this be to the Jew a stumbling-stone and rock of offence? Because they were carnally minded. And the same cause lies at the foundation of all stumbling at this grand doctrine of the gospel. We would rather eat, "every man the flesh of his own arm," or appropriate and trust to the power of our own natural goodness, than draw our soul's support from the goodness of the Lord, the Saviour, who came down from heaven to feed us with his own flesh.

62. Even in enunciating this requirement, the Lord had made but a moderate demand on their faith and practice, but now he directs their minds to something more marvellous.

What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 167 That the Lord had come down from heaven, his disciples, we may conclude, had been able to comprehend; but none of them, even the greatest, had yet, nor did they have at any subsequent period of his life on earth, any just conception of what he meant by ascending up where he was before. But how few of the Lord's disciples, at the present day, are able to receive this saying? Many are still offended at it. All Christians admit that the Lord made a sensible ascent into heaven; but few conceive, or will be disposed to believe, what that ascent involved. The Lord's coming down from heaven involves the making his divinity human, and his ascending up into heaven involves the making his humanity divine. Many disciples acknowledge that the Lord's divinity put on humanity; few acknowledge that his humanity put on divinity. So hard is it to hear this essential and necessary truth of the gospel, that hardly any one in the professing Christian church at this day admits it. Those who would be disciples of the Lord indeed, must receive this precious truth, and must strive to realize it, by ascending with the Lord into the heavens of a new and beatified life.

63. To encourage his disciples to leave the carnal notions and inclinations that caused them to stumble, the Lord tells them,

It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.

When the Lord spoke of his flesh, he meant not the flesh of his material body, but of his divine body. The soul is quickened by the operation of the spirit, by its receiving living principles from the living body of a glorified Saviour; by its partaking of the virtues of a divine, not of a finite humanity. The sayings of the Lord are to be spiritually understood. They are spirit and life; they inspire the understanding and animate the heart. We may understand these words of our Lord to have a wider application than the immediate subject of his address. All his words were spiritual and living. Uttered by his human lips, they came from the infinite depths of his divine mind, and were, like himself, divine wisdom clothed in a finite human form. So far as they relate to the present subject, they contain a very important truth. We are all, like his early disciples, disposed to judge by appearances. There is no danger of our following them, in supposing that the Lord requires his disciples literally to eat his material flesh and drink his material blood. But the result shews that we are liable to take the Lord's words in a figurative rather than a spiritual sense. Many believe that the Lord's flesh and blood did, and do yet, profit. The flesh which suffered, and the blood which was shed, are believed to have had a vicarious value in the Father's estimation; and the disciple is supposed to receive them, through faith in their efficacy, in receiving the pardon and sanctification which the Saviour has purchased for his people.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 168 The Lord spake in the language, not of metaphor, but of analogy. By his flesh and blood, he meant the flesh and blood of his divine, not of his material body. He meant the divine principles of his glorified humanity, which are analogous to the flesh and blood of the body in which his disciples beheld him. Unless understood as referring to the Lord's humanity, we entirely miss the meaning of his words, and their important signification in relation to ourselves. It was because his Divine love and wisdom had ceased to be received by mankind, in such a measure and manner as to be sufficient for their salvation, that the Lord became man, by which his love and wisdom were brought into a new relation to them, so as that they might be accommodated to their altered state and condition, as fallen and degenerate creatures, all whose faculties and powers had become enfeebled.

64. Notwithstanding this encouraging explanation, all could not receive the Lord's saying. The Lord told them so.

But there are some of you that believe not.

This evidently means that they were possessed by the spirit of unbelief, which was proof against the clearest evidence. Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and even who should betray him. Again the omniscience of the Saviour is set before us. Foreknowledge does not interfere with human freedom. It may be said that the fate of all men is already decided. Yes; but by what they will choose for themselves. God does not decide for them; he only knows how they will decide. His knowledge, so far from doing them injury, does them good; for his foreknowledge enables him to apply his Providence so as to moderate evils which it cannot prevent.

65. Again the Lord repeats his saying,

No man can come unto me, except it were given him of my Father,

and tells them that it was because he knew their unbelief that he said this unto them. This teaches, we have seen, that men must be drawn to belief by love. Divine Love is ever present and pressing upon the hearts of all men; and if they harden their hearts against it, that cannot be the result of the will of God, but of man. We may remark here that this often repeated declaration is but another and higher form of the doctrine, that charity is the first-born grace of the soul, and the first principle of the church. Where there is no charity in the heart, there can be no faith in the understanding. Charity consists in doing the will of God; for "he that doeth my commandments, he it is that loveth me;" and he that doeth the will of God shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God. All these are but different modes of stating the same fact, that true faith, though it belongs to the intellect, has its seat in the heart.



66. From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.

The first great exposition of his principles, or of the principles of eternal life, scattered his disciples. How expressive the language, how melancholy the fact! They turned their backs upon the Author of eternal life, and their feet from the path that would have led them to heaven. How should we be warned of the danger, of the folly and ingratitude, of turning our minds away from the lessons of eternal truth, and our lives from the example of eternal goodness. How fearful the state-"they went back, and walked no more with him I"

67. There were others left after this defection, but only, it would appear, those who were called apostles.

Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?

How affecting this appeal; not for his own sake, but for the sake of those to whom it was addressed. The apostles were, no doubt, compared with the disciples at this period, spiritual men, and represent spiritual principles. Like some other questions of our Lord, this is intended for the hearers' reflection, not for the speaker's information. It is designed to lead to self-examination, that the disciples may discover the ground of their belief in the Lord, and of their adherence to his cause. Considered in reference to the individual believer, it teaches the necessity, when any backsliding or disobedience arises out of the corruptions and reasonings of the natural mind, of looking into the inner life, to see whether this is also inclined to yield.

68. Happy will it be for us if there be found in the midst of our affections a faith like that of Peter among the twelve, ready to exclaim,

Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.

Among the many memorable sayings that occur in the Scriptures, this is one of the most instructive and precious. When temptations or allurements, acting upon our perverse hearts and frail nature, would turn us away from Him who has fed and helped us hitherto, how desirable and necessary the confiding question, Lord, to whom shall we go? Peter's noble exclamation is but another form of the Psalmist's-"Whom have I in heaven but thee, and there is none on earth I desire besides thee." (Ps. lxxiii. 25.) And whom shall the faithful desire, and to whom shall they go, since the Lord, and he alone, has the words of eternal life? Only the eternal Word has the words of eternal life. The apostle's declaration of confidence in the Lord forms a noble contrast to the weak and faithless conduct of those disciples who found the grand doctrine of Jesus, respecting himself as the giver of life, an hard saying, and who went back and walked no more with him. An example like that which these miserable disciples gave, while it has a great influence over the weak and vacillating, tends only to strengthen the strong and confirm the steadfast.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 170 Crucial times and states are good for the church and for the individual Christian. They remove the branches that bear no fruit, and purge and strengthen the others, that they may produce the more. Nor is this a trial only among the disciples; it is also within them. It separates between the true and the false, the genuine and the spurious, in their own minds, and raises the true and genuine into a closer connection and more intimate relation with the supreme good which the Lord is. It brings out more fully that loving and living faith, of which Peter was so worthy a representative.

69. And what a noble testimony does this bold and devoted disciple bear to the character of him whom he and his fellow apostles were resolved to follow.

And we believe, and are sure, that thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

This is the famous confession which procured for him, who pronounced it, the name of Peter, or a Rock, on which the Lord builds his church, and against which the gates of hell shall not prevail. The acknowledgment of Jesus as the Christ, or, according to some copies, the Holy One, is in unison with Peter's previous declaration; for Christ, and also the Holy One, are names applied to the Lord as the Divine Truth, the Fountain of truth and holiness to men, and to the church as formed of the faithful. The confidence with which the apostle speaks is deserving of our admiration. "We believe, and are sure." The belief of the apostles, in whose name Peter spoke, had no background of uncertainty. They did not, like some disciples, consider it presumptuous to be confident; much less did they regard faith the more worthy, the less clear the evidence on which it rests. True, however, it is, that the faith and certainty of the true disciple do not rest entirely upon outward, but chiefly and essentially upon inward evidence. His is a faith that rests upon knowledge, a certainty that has grown out of experience, that the Lord is the author of immutable and saving truth, and of spiritual and eternal life. He, who uttered the impassioned words we are now considering, knew from conviction and experience that Jesus was the infinite Wisdom of infinite Love. As if he had said, Our understandings tell us, our hearts assure us, that thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God; the Truth that came forth from Love. We have seen and have felt that thou art all that feeble and sinful man needs or can desire.

70. To this fervid declaration and confession of Peter, the Lord answers,

Have not I chosen you twelve? and one of you is a devil?



This would seem intended to intimate, that although the apostles as a body remained faithful, when many of the disciples proved faithless, yet there was even among their chosen number a root of bitterness, and an element of something still worse than defection. The apostles represent all the principles which constitute the church in the human mind. But where they are called the twelve, they signify all things pertaining to faith, by which man is initiated into celestial and spiritual states during regeneration; for whilst man is being regenerated, thus whilst from being dead he is made alive, or from being earthly he is made heavenly, he is led by the Lord through various states; the general states through which he is led being meant by the Lord's successively choosing the twelve apostles, as, in the Old Testament, they had been represented by the successive birth of the twelve patriarchs. One of the apostles was a devil, to represent the corrupt selfhood of man, which enters more or less into all his activities, especially during the early stages of the regenerate life. This element in human nature was represented by the serpent, which originally deceived man, which reigned from Adam to Christ, which tempted and betrayed the Lord, and was only finally overcome and east down by his completed work of redemption.

71. The one to whom the Lord referred

was Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve.

Judas, the son of Simon, is the symbol of evil derived from falsity. Each of us, even in our partially regenerate state, has a Judas in his own heart; for Satan still comes among the sons of God, even when they assemble in the divine presence. Nay, Judas is chosen among the twelve, not because he is approved by the Being who chooses him, but because he is the only one that is there to choose for the place and office. By this the Lord would teach us that, even when we are able from a sincere faith to acknowledge him as the Christ, the Son of the living God, we have lurking in our hearts one that may even betray him whom we rejoice to confess; but who will himself be crushed under the weight of his own transgression. In the regenerate man, however, the Judas of his heart is not permitted to commit the crime of the actual betrayal of the Lord. The temptation to betray the Lord who bought him may come from hell, and act upon the evil of his corrupt nature, but the deed remains undone; the temptation ends in the rejection of the evil through which the temptation comes, and the Lord triumphs over all the power of the enemy.




1. This chapter begins by informing us that,

After these things Jesus walked in Galilee: for he would not walk in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill him.

It is almost needless to say that the Lord, whose moral power, as exemplified in the preceding chapter, was itself a protection to him, and who had all power at his command, could not be in fear of the wrath or machination of the Jews. He walked in Galilee, and not in Jewry, to represent as well as to exemplify, that his truth and love find acceptance with the simple-minded out of the church, when they are hated and refused by the wise and prudent within it; and that these principles have their active presence where there is goodness, even when accompanied with comparative ignorance, and not where there is knowledge without it. This is especially meant by his "walking" in Galilee, and not in Jewry; to walk meaning; to live. The Lord walks among those who live according to his precepts.

2. Now the Jews' feast of tabernacles was at hand.

This was the greatest of the three annual festivals of the Jewish Church. It was instituted in memory of the most holy worship of the Lord in tabernacles by the most ancient people, and of their conjunction with him by love. As typical of the last stage of the regenerate life, it signified the implantation of good, and thus fill deliverance from evil. These feasts describe the regeneration of man, and the glorification of the Lord. The attendance of Jesus at these feasts involves both these meanings. The feast of tabernacles is said to have been nigh at hand, to signify the approach of the state it represented, and the certainty of its accomplishment in the completion of the Lord's glorifying and saving work; for nearness, in the spiritual sense, signifies certainty and proximity of state.

3. His brethren therefore said unto him, Depart hence, and go into Judea, that thy disciples may see the works that thou doest.

As this feast represents the highest state, it is connected with a circumstance that represents the Lord's being tempted to enter it from the lowest motives. The Lord's brethren, according to the flesh, represented the principle of the flesh itself, as it existed in the Lord's maternal humanity. His brethren, it is observable, demanded what he himself intended to do in going up to the feast; but their demand differed from the Lord's intention as to the time, manner, and purpose. Their demand represented a temptation of the Lord to do from natural love and according to natural prudence, what should be done from Divine love according to Divine wisdom.



4. The ground on which they urged Jesus to go to Judea, was that no man doeth any thing in secret, and he himself seeketh to be known openly.

But Jesus did not seek notoriety. The works that he did made his name widely known; yet not only did he never seek publicity, but often enjoined silence respecting him on others, and frequently sought retirement. The reason that he had never acted on the principles of his brethren, as expressed in their saying,

If thou doest these things, shew thyself to the world,

no doubt was, because the desire to be known, or, as the word means, talked of, is a natural and selfish desire. A good man may have to submit to publicity, but that is not his object in doing good. Besides, "the world," as it is in itself, and as mentioned in Scripture, is opposite to heaven; and on this account, the Lord never sought to be the object of its observation or its praise.

5. That this demand did not originate in any true perception of the Lord's purpose, or any real conviction of the efficacy of the course they recommended, appears from the fact that neither did his brethren believe in him. The Lord was the very Divine Truth, and to this the maternal element in his humanity was in its very nature opposed in all its ends, and in the means of their accomplishment. So, in those who are following the Lord in the regeneration, the natural man is opposed to the spiritual.

6. This is further declared by the Lord himself:

My time is not yet come: but your time is always ready.

The spiritual man goes on unto perfection, but the natural man knows no change for the better. Even in the Lord, the Son of man had a progression in which the son of Mary had no share. The proper state of the Son of man was future, that of the son of Mary was present. The Lord's time was his state of glorification, which had not yet arrived; his brethren's time was their state of confirmed natural-mindedness, which was present. Time means state. The state of the Lord's glorification was not yet fulfilled; the state of his natural-minded brethren was already confirmed. The worship of the spiritual man is from spiritual love, and is therefore in correspondence with it; the worship of the natural man is from natural love, which has no harmony with his act, and is not changed by it.

7. Our Lord reveals the ground of this difference.

The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the deeds thereof are evil.

In the mind of the natural man there is no conflict with the world; thus no temptation. In the mind of the spiritual man there is; as in the mind of the Lord, far more than in all mere men, there was.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 174 But a time of temptation is a time of fasting, for fasting corresponds to self-denial. In such a state, the spiritual man cannot go up unto the feast, cannot relish and appropriate good and truth, which feasts and festivals signify. The natural man has no such temptations; his fasts and his feasts are both equally formal, and may, therefore, be entered on at any time; his state is always ready. The declaration of Jesus to his brethren, that the world hated him because he testified of it that its works are evil, reveals the true ground of all the hatred and opposition which Jesus ever has received, and which he ever will receive, from the world. Truth is hated by the natural man and by the natural mind, because it testifies of their inherent corruption and evil deeds. Yet this is one of the great uses, and is indeed the ultimate use of Divine Truth, both as revealed and manifested. So that the function of the Truth, for which the natural man hates it, is that for which the spiritual man most prizes it. He desires to know the truth, because he knows that the truth will make him free from bondage and sin.

8. The Lord therefore said,

Go ye up unto this feast: I go not up yet unto this feast; for my time is not yet full come.

The Lord's counselling his brethren to go up unto the feast indicates that even natural men learn from the Word to engage in some kind of religious worship. Besides, as it was the duty of every Israelite to attend the feast instituted by Moses, the Lord only counselled his brethren to render obedience to the law. He himself attended them in order to fulfil the law, but he had a much higher purpose than the Jews who went up to Jerusalem. He had a work to accomplish in connection with them as their antitype, which others knew not of. His time for going up was not yet come.

9. When he had said these things unto them, he abode still in Galilee.

The Lord abides with those who are in receptive states, especially is he present with those who are in good, even when they may have less of the intelligence of truth than others.

10. But when his brethren were gone up, then scent he also up unto the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret.

The Lord's going up as it were in secret describes that state of the regenerate mind in which there is a hidden operation and an imperceptible progress of divine and heavenly truth. What is present or takes place in the internal man is unperceived; it is only when it conies into the external that it becomes manifest. This imperceptible presence and operation of the Lord in the internal is meant by his going up as if in secret. It is not indeed absolutely unknown, for it is revealed to faith, but it is unknown to consciousness; therefore it is said that Jesus went up as it were in secret.



11. The reason that this presence and operation are as it were secret or hidden is, lest divine truth should be so opposed by the evils of the external man as to destroy it. These evils are

the Jews who sought Jesus at the feast, and said, Where is he?

12. The natural mind is not however wholly possessed by those evils.

There was much murmuring among the people concerning him: for some said, He is a good man: others said, Nay; but he deceiveth the people.

This conflict of opinion is not only in the world but in the mind itself, and is between the good and the evil, the true and the false, that have place in every one during his progress in the spiritual life. And such a conflict is the experience even of the best, for man is permitted to come into a state of doubt before he affirms, that his reception of the truth may be more interior, and, by triumphing over doubt, may afterwards be undisturbed by it.

13. These conflicting states of doubt are not, however, always outward and open, but are often the internal workings of the yet divided mind. And this is meant by the record that

no man spake openly of him for fear of the Jews.

The fear of the Jews implies that there is in such cases a fear of the opposing evil; and as this fear must have been felt by those who spoke well of him, it implies a fear lest the truth should suffer through the influence and opposition of evil and falsity. One class of the people favoured Jesus because he was a good man, while another concluded that he deceived the people. Yet goodness is the best test of truth. What is the practical tendency of a doctrine? This ought to be a primary question in deciding on its merits. We are all too ready to raise the cry against any new development of religious truth, He deceiveth the people. Let us never forget that every doctrine has a moral as well as an intellectual side, and that this is the golden side of the shield.

14. Jesus, who was the subject of those disputations,

about the midst of the feast, went up into the temple, and taught.

The midst of the feast is spiritually the inmost of the good which it represented, and the temple is the divine truth, which is the temple of the Lord's Body and of his Word. This signifies that the Lord from the inmost of his love, by means of his truth, teaches the way of eternal life. This appearance of the Lord in the midst of his avowed enemies and secret friends is remarkable in itself, but still more so in its spiritual signification. For when the mind is agitated by conflicting views of the truth, the Lord appears, and finds his opportunity of strengthening the good and overcoming the evil, by manifesting the beauty and power of truth.



15. The Jews wondered, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?

Well might they wonder that he, not one of the doctors of the law, yet enunciated wisdom, which even his opponents felt to be marvellous, and far beyond the lifeless and trifling speculations of the schools. Useful as human knowledge is, there is a learning that goes beyond it all, and is as much superior to it as the wisdom of angels is to the intelligence of men, and as Divine wisdom is to human truth.

16. Our Lord himself teaches this.

My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.

His doctrine was not human but divine in its origin; spiritually understood, his doctrine was not the doctrine of truth alone, but of love and goodness; not of the Son only but of the Father. This was the secret of his wisdom, and of his influence and power with the good.

17. As the Lord's doctrine originated in his love, so it can only be appreciated and even apprehended by love.

If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.

He who does the will of the Lord, he it is that loves him (xiv. 21). All divine doctrine has good as its first and last end; and cannot be known without regard to it. Truth indeed is an instrument by which infinite goodness in God takes hold of finite goodness in man. True it is that goodness in man comes from God; but something of goodness from the Lord is insinuated into the mind of every human being, and the Lord's truth is designed to call it out and perfect it. Although the Lord's doctrine is truth, still more is it good; it is truth in its form, but it is good in its essence.

18, 19. As a proof that the Lord did not speak of himself, he tells us,

He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: but he that seeketh the glory of him that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him.

Spiritually understood, this teaches us that if the Lord's doctrine were of truth alone, it would find its result in intellectual glory: it would teach men to exalt God on account of his wisdom rather than of his goodness, and would lead man to glory in himself on account of his own intelligence. But truth does not seek its own glory, but the glory of love, and goodness. That which does so is alone true, and no unrighteousness is in it. For what is righteousness but the good which truth teaches, and to which it leads? Men practically regard God's truth as seeking its own glory, when they hate or persecute one another for the sake of what they call the truth;


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 177 for in doing so, they place truth above goodness, and employ it, not to glorify goodness, but to debase it. Those also who maintain that God condemns human beings for ignorance or error, however righteous their lives may be, seek the glory of truth, and not of the love which sends it. What would truth among men be if it were not the messenger and the medium of goodness? Does not moral and political and scientific truth find its glory in its useful application and results-that is, in the good to which it may be applied? What is physiology without regard to health? What is civil law without regard to order and security? Therefore our Lord says to the Jews,

Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law? Why go ye about to kill me.

The Jews professed great veneration for the truth, and they sought its glory; but they sought not the glory of the goodness which sent it, and which it enjoined. They gloried in the law, but none of them obeyed the law. They therefore in reality sought to destroy the law, which they indeed did in seeking to kill Jesus, who was the law personified.

20. But so far were the Jews from acknowledging him as the law, and thus the divine good in which the law originated, that they said unto him,

Thou host a devil.

They thus accused him of being the opposite of good, or the very evil in which falsity has its origin, and which justifies the evil that produces it. They also demanded,

Who goeth about to kill thee?

thus denying the truth which he uttered, because it was against themselves, and so perverting both his goodness and his truth. Those who are evil never think or admit, even where divine truth accuses them, that they are, either in intention or in act, the destroyers of goodness or truth; for a man calls that good which he loves, and that true which he believes.

21. Jesus answers, as he always does, without returning the railing accusation of his enemies:

I have done one work, and ye all marvel.

He alludes to the cure (v. 8) of the man at the pool of Bethesda. This work itself produced wonder; but its performance on the Sabbath excited wrath. This shows how little effect miracles have on negative minds. Miracles are not indeed intended to convince, but only to impress the mind with a certain sense of awe and reverence, that may influence the moral nature, and through it, the intellectual. In those, however, who are morally and thence intellectually opposed, the effect of miracles is to harden and exasperate, rather than to soften and conciliate.



22, 23. Jesus, while he appeals to the miracle as causing them all to marvel, adduces a reason which ought to have had great weight with his Jewish audience, why its being performed on the Sabbath-day should have been to them no cause of offence.

Moses gave unto you circumcision; (not because it is of Moses, but of the fathers;) and ye on the sabbath-day circumcise a man. If a man on the Sabbath-day receive circumcision, that the law of Moses should not be broken; are ye angry at me because I have made a man every whit whole on the Sabbath-day?

Circumcision was commanded by God to Abraham, and was the seal of the covenant he made with him (Gen. xvii. 10). It signified the purification of the mind from impure loves, or fleshly lusts, and represented introduction into the Church and newness of life through that purification. Circumcision is said to be from the fathers, who spiritually mean the ancient Church, in which, not the rite but the doctrine of purification had its origin. A similar purificartion is represented by baptism, which is the sign of introduction into the Christian church, and signifies purification of the heart and life, by which man becomes a new creature. The Lord's miraculous healings had a similar spiritual meaning, for removal of diseases signified the removal of sins and introduction into a life of righteousness. The Jews circumcised on the Sabbath-day without breaking the law of Moses; but although they would not neglect a ceremonial on the Sabbath, they were mad against the Lord for doing on that day a great work of benevolence. Yet while these works of mercy were suitable to the holy day on which they were performed, it was a part of their holy and blessed significance, that they should be done on the day which was a type of the holy state which was to be introduced by the Lord's coming. The Sabbath is said to have been instituted to commemorate the Lord's rest after the six days' work in creation. But the creation there means spiritual creation, which is the Lord's glorification and man's regeneration. And these being life and health, are rest and peace. In fact, the union of the divine and the human in the Lord is a perpetual and eternal Sabbath; and salvation, which is the union of the good and the true in man, is the rest which remaineth for the people of God, of which heaven is the crowning condition.

24. After having reasoned them into silence, Jesus concluded his address to them on this subject by this exhortation,

Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.

This was most necessary and wholesome advice to those external people, and is useful to all. It is another way of saying, Judge not by the letter but by the spirit of the law. Slaves to the letter of the law, the Jews neglected and violated its spirit, and most of all in condemning the beneficent works of Jesus, in that they were done on the Sabbath-day.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 179 The letter contains little more than appearances of truth; righteousness or justice, even in judging, can only be found in the spirit of the divine Word. But even this will not ensure our judging justly, unless our own spirit is conformed to the spirit of the Word. To judge righteous judgment we must ourselves be righteous. To be righteous we must have both good and truth, or both charity and faith, and to judge righteously we must judge from both. Judgment from truths alone is judgment from appearances, but judgment from good and truth united is righteous judgment.

25. The overawing and convicting effect of the Lord's words drew from them of Jerusalem the inquiry,

Is not this he whom they seek to kill?

Well might they express astonishment at the circumstance of men seeking to kill one from whose lips proceeded such words of wisdom. But why should this be said by them of Jerusalem? Because Jerusalem represented the church, especially the doctrine of the church; and true doctrine recognises the Lord's good and truth, and the unreasonableness of the deadly hatred of falsity and evil against them.

26. They remark further,

Lo, he speaketh boldly, and they say nothing against him.

The Lord's speaking boldly or freely, unmolested by those who were seeking for him to kill him, shows the mysterious power which his presence and address sometimes exercised over minds which yet resisted conversion and even conviction. The charm of his speech was like the fabled music of Orpheus, which for the moment tamed the listening beasts, without changing their savage nature. Thus does the divine power and influence still prevent many acts of evil, that would otherwise destroy order, and take peace from the earth, and happiness from heaven.

Do the rulers know indeed that this is the very Christ?

This question appears to have originated half in doubt of Jesus being the Christ; yet spiritually it signifies an inquiry excited in the mind, as to whether its ruling thoughts and affections have yet become subject to the truths of love, which make the Lord the supreme Governor of the soul. The Christ, or the anointed, is the divine truth in which is divine love; and to know this indeed is to know practically that the Lord is our Saviour.

27. Now comes the doubt of which we have spoken:

Howbeit we know this man whence he is: but when Christ cometh, no man knoweth whence he is.

This expresses the perplexity of the natural man respecting the humanity of Jesus. How many continue to think of Jesus as a mere man, because, in their own opinion, they know whence he is.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 180 They think of him as the son of Mary, and some even as the son of Joseph, and so, thinking they know whence he is, they conclude that he cannot be what the Christ truly implies-man in whom is God, the human in which is the divine, the light in which is the life. As to the Jews themselves, there may seem some inconsistency between their statement that, when Christ should come, no one would know from whence, and the declaration of the chief priests and scribes to Herod, that Christ would be born in Bethlehem. But it seems that there was a theory among the Jews that Christ, after he was born, would disappear, as Moses did when he fled from Egypt, and would afterwards reappear among his people, no one knowing whence. Jesus, indeed, after the sensation caused by his birth, had disappeared from public notice, but when he came before the world again, at the end of about thirty years, it was well known whence he came.

28, 29. Then cried Jesus in the temple, as he taught, saying, Ye both know me, and ye know whence I am: and I am not come of myself, but he that sent me is true, whom ye know not.

In this the Lord admits that they know both whence he was and who he was, but intimates that they knew neither in the true sense. They knew he had come out of Nazareth, but they knew not that he had come down from heaven; they knew his human mother, but they knew not his divine Father, nor his descent from him. This is the knowledge of Christ-of the human as coming forth from the divine, and therefore as being itself divine; for the human from the mother was but the material covering of the humanity from the Father, as the body of man is a covering for his soul, which is the real man. The Lord again tells them that he came not of himself, but that he that is true, whom they knew not, sent him. Spiritually, he that is true is the true Good, as distinguished from every false good. It is indeed the same whether we say the true Good or the true God; for as God is Goodness itself, he who knows God as Goodness knows him as the true God, or as the Truth itself. All essential opposition to the truth respecting God is opposition to the Goodness of God, which his truth teaches. Hence our Lord so often declared that the reason men did not come to him was because they were not drawn by the Father. Men know not Christ, or the divine Truth, because they know not the Father or the divine Good. But the Lord knew him, because he was from him, and was sent by him. It is a great truth that "no one knoweth the Son but the Father, and no one knoweth the Father but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him." Love only knows wisdom, and wisdom only knows love; the Divine only knows the Human, the Human only knows the Divine.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 181 And so is it in us. The Lord's love in us is that from which we know his wisdom; his wisdom in us is that by which we know his love. But still further, according to the Lord's words, wisdom knows love because it is from it, and is sent by it. The Lord had said before that he came not of himself, but was sent. The ardency of divine love, as fire, sends out divine wisdom, as light. Wisdom does not cone of itself nor by itself. It is the Sent, and the revealer of the Sender. So in us. God's love in the heart, as fire, sends out his wisdom, as light, into the understanding. We may learn many things about love and wisdom, and lay them up in our memory, but living light comes only from living love. And so also we may learn from the case of the Jews, that if we know not the true love we cannot and will not know the true wisdom.

30, 31. The truth of what we have now said is practically shown both negatively and affirmatively, by the result of the Lord's address.

Then they sought to take him: but no man laid hands on him, because his hour was not yet come.

The truth produces opposite effects on the evil and on the good. With the evil, in this instance, the opposition was in will, but did not proceed to act. This was entirely owing to that extraordinary moral influence which the divine Saviour exercised over the minds even of his enemies. This influence was but a restraining power. And we here see what is but too true, that even divine power cannot change the will, although, it lays restraint upon the actions of the wicked, not only in this world but in the other also. Even this is not absolute, for the will, being free, in some instances breaks all bonds, and rushes into actual evil. The reason they did not lay hands on Jesus was, that his hour was not yet cone. When the time did cone, the Lord said to his enemies, "This is your hour and the power of darkness." One cause of the present restraint and of the subsequent licence, was the less and greater putting forth of power by the kingdom of evil, and the different degrees of co-operation with it by man. This also depended upon and corresponded to the state of the Lord's humanity. His own temptations were as yet comparatively internal; but when his hour' was come, these temptations came into their fullest condition, acting at once upon the inmost and the outermost of the Lord's hereditary life, resulting in the death and putting off of all that was imperfect and finite, and ending in the temporary triumph, but in the eternal conquest, of the kingdom of darkness. The hands signify the ultimate of power; and the opposing Jews did not "lay hands upon him," because the power of evil and temptation had not yet developed itself into its last degree of activity and power.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 182 While the Lord's words thus provoked the wrath of the wicked among the Jews, they produced belief among those who were open to conviction. And many of the people believed on him, and said, When Christ cornea, will he do more miracles than these which this man doeth? They accepted these marvellous works as proof of his Messiahship. They accepted the Lord's miracles as signs, which the word for miracles here means. A miracle becomes a sign, when it acts upon the understanding through the will.

32. The Pharisees heard that the people murmured such things concerning him; and the Pharisees and the chief priests sent officers to take him.

The murmurs that arise from the multitude of the natural thoughts and feelings call the higher powers of the mind into action, and the understanding and will unite in aiming to accomplish what the crowd of principles in the natural mind dares not attempt to effect. The Pharisees and chief priests sent officers to take him. When evil seeks to injure or destroy good, it does so by the instrumentality of something that has the appearance of truth or of goodness. When the evil attempt to invalidate the genuine truths of the Word, they do so by means of its apparent truths, as the devil attempted to draw Jesus under his power by means of his own Word. The reason of this is, that mere falsity, having not even a seeming affinity with truth, has nothing by which it can lay hold of it and bring it under its power. In the other life, when the evil infest the good, they can only do it by means of those who are in simple good. The evil use the apparent truths of the Word against its genuine truths, as the Jewish sanhedrim employed its officers against Jesus to take him. And we shall see in the conduct of these officers a singularly exact representation of the different character and conduct of apparent truth, when it acts under the influence of evil and under the influence of good. The officers went out from the Pharisees with the purpose of taking Jesus, and went out from the presence of Jesus without either the power or the disposition to take him.

33, 34. When these messengers arrived, they found Jesus teaching, and were constrained to listen.

Then said Jesus unto them, Yet a little while am I with you, and then I go unto him that sent me.

The Lord here speaks of his visible presence with the Jews, and the near approach of his death and resurrection. But the Lord spoke for us as well as for the Jews. He spoke in these same terms to his disciples, with this momentous difference, that to them he was to cone again and abide with them for ever. The Lord is with the evil and the good during this life, for here his Word is present with all.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 183 The good strive to understand and do its truth, and the evil labour to pervert it. When this short life is gone, the evil who have lived within the church will still desire and seek the truth, but as they seek it only to pervert it, it is in mercy hid from them, while on the other hand it is manifested to the true disciple in greater fulness and perfection. Indeed, the evil cannot then find the Lord as the truth; for in the other life truth dwells only with love, and cannot be found by any but by those who seek it and are desirous to receive it in love. It was in reference to this that the Lord said, I go to him that sent me. In this world truth has a seeming existence separate from love; but at death it goes to him that sent it; it returns into the bosons of love. And although, in the other life, the evil still seek and knock, they cannot find. Where the truth then is the evil cannot come, because they will not come to the love in which it dwells. What in the particular sense applies to individuals, in the general sense applies to dispensations. That which was addressed to the Jewish people applies to the Jewish Church. The Lord was about to depart from that church; it died when he died; his rising was into a new church, which was established among those who had received him as the Truth of Love.

35, 36. The Jews themselves expressed what was really about to take place in regard to the Lord. Then said the Jews among themselves,

Whither will he go, that we shall not find him? will he go unto the dispersed among the Gentiles, and teach the Gentiles?

The Jews meant by the dispersed the ten tribes which had been carried into captivity, and the children of Judah who had not returned from Babylon. The church of the Lord was about to be transferred to the Gentiles, both Greeks and barbarians, while the children were to be left. The dispersed among the Gentiles also were to be gathered in, according to the often repeated promise in the Old Testament. For the dispersed among the Gentiles were spiritually the receivers of truth and goodness preserved among the Gentiles, and which they, unlike the Jews, through whom they received them, had not perverted and profaned. And so is it with individuals. The Gentile principle is that in us which is receptive of the Lord, who is first accepted by the truths and goods which have been dispersed in it, and exist there as remains. These are they of whom Isaiah speaks, when he says, "In that day there shall be a root of Jesse: and he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth" (xi. 10, 12). The Jews who suggested this meaning of our Lord's words were not, indeed, aware that they were uttering a truth, but Providence bends the ideas and the words of the natural to a use which they themselves intend not.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 184 The Jews were in gross darkness as to the Lord's future operations; and they understood nothing of the meaning of his words, which they continued to repeat-

What manner of saying is this that he said, Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, thither ye cannot come?

To the natural man these things are utter darkness. What can he know of the Lord's glorification, when he knows nothing of regeneration, which is the only sign that can be given of its truth?

37. In the last great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any mama thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.

It has, not unreasonably, been supposed that the form of the Lord's address had reference to an act which the priest performed on this, as on other days of the feast-pouring upon the altar, from a golden vessel, water drawn from the stream of Shiloah, which flowed under the temple mountain, when the prophetic words of Isaiah were sung: "With joy shall ye draw water out of the wells or fountains of salvation" (xii. 3). To himself, as the Fountain of living water, he now invited all who desired to receive it. Desire for truth is the soul's thirst. And expressive and instructive the analogy is. Thirst is a natural craving caused by a demand of the system for that which it needs. It is entirely different from artificial or morbid craving for drinks which nature neither asks nor supplies. So is the real desire for truth expressive of a want of the soul-a craving for what it feels to be necessary for its spiritual and eternal life. To Jesus we must go for the supply of this want. He only can give us to drink of the water of life. His invitation to come to him is worthy of the last day of the feast; and its reception is the crowning gift of his finished work of redemption, which the last day of the feast expressed.

38. But how are we to come to him and receive and use this gift? We are to come to the Lord by faith.

He that believeth on me, as the Scriptures have said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.

Faith, in its scriptural sense, is a living confidence and trust in the Lord, as the Author of salvation, that is, of regeneration. Belief is that state in the disciple which brings him, as the receiver, into connection with the Lord, as the giver of the graces of the Christian life; and which makes him not only their recipient, but the channel through which they flow to others. Truth, in the believer, is not only a fountain but a stream. In the unbeliever the truth is a standing pool. which may be stirred into artificial motion by vanity or contention, but can never gush forth spontaneously in a living stream from the heart.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 185 In the believer truth is living water, and it flows out living, as intelligence, which is a river, and through the thought, which is here meant by the belly.

39. All this is shewn in the words that follow.

This he spoke of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.

The impassable line between the real and formal believer is this: the believer receives the Spirit of the Lord as well as his truth; the non-believer receives the truth but not the Spirit. Truth is learnt through the senses from the Scriptures, either directly or indirectly, but the Spirit comes through the soul, and, entering into the truths learnt from the Scriptures, converts the truths of a dead into those of a living faith. This is done by the Spirit of Jesus. The Spirit of Jesus, spoken of in the New Testament, is not the Spirit of Jehovah mentioned in the Old. The Spirit of Jesus, or the Holy Spirit, is the divine influence that proceeds from the Lord's glorified Humanity, conveying to believers all the virtues of the Lord's work in the flesh, the righteousness and merit of the Lord's redemption and salvation, acquired by the subjugation of the powers of darkness and the glorification of his human nature. To mark the difference of the spirit of regeneration from that of preservation, it is said that the Holy Spirit was not yet (the word "given" being an interpolation), because that Jesus was not yet glorified; teaching us that the Holy Spirit which the believers in Jesus receive, is the Spirit of his Divine Humanity, the Spirit of the second Adam, which alone is able to quicken those who have become dead through the first.

40, 41. The enunciation of this truth seems to have wrought its promised effect.

Many of the people, when they heard this saying, said, Of a truth this is the Prophet. Others said, This is the Christ.

The prophet meant was the one who was expected as the forerunner of Christ, or him promised by Moses; some, therefore, considered the Lord as that messenger, others that he was the Messiah himself. A prophet signifies the doctrine of truth, Christ the truth itself. The Lord is the prophet to us when we receive him in doctrine; he is the Christ whom we receive as the Truth. The Lord is doctrine itself as well as truth itself; for all doctrine proceeds from him and treats of him. He is doctrine in the rational mind, and truth in the spiritual mind; he is doctrine in us when his Word is understood, he is truth in us when it is perceived. Doctrine is therefore the forerunner of truth; it prepares the way for its acknowledgment.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 186 There will, therefore, always be, even in the church, those who spiritually receive the Lord as a Prophet, and those who receive him as the Christ; for every regenerating man receives him in the one character before he receives him in the other. But there is a third class, who are in doubt as to whether the Lord is either the Prophet or the Christ. As the human mind, especially on the greatest of truths, is subject to doubts, there are always doubters. Doubt precedes acknowledgment; and we may read the nature of our doubts in those, which some of the people, who heard Jesus, entertained respecting him as the Messiah. To those who said, This is the Christ, some said, Shall Christ come out of Galilee? Yet the doubt or objection in this case, as in the case of all other doubts or objections against the truth, is grounded in error.

42-44. The people who objected to Jesus being the Christ, objected because he came out of Galilee; and they said,

Hath, not the Scriptures said, That Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was?

But the Lord did come of the seed of David, according to the flesh, and was born in Bethlehem. The real and the seeming origin of Christ have for us a deep spiritual meaning, and convey a great spiritual lesson. Truth in man, like the Incarnate Word in the world, has an apparent origin or beginning different from its real one. Truth is really born, not in the senses, but in the soul, although it first makes its appearance in and to the senses; as the Lord was born in Bethlehem, but was first known as coming out of Galilee. Religion has its first beginning in the inner man, not only in the remains of good and truth which are there stored up by the Lord's mercy in early life, but in the first moving of the Spirit upon these, when regeneration commences in mature life. This is, indeed, unknown to the regenerate themselves, because it does not reveal itself to their consciousness. The beginning seems to be in the truths we learn, the lessons and the warnings we hear. These are no doubt the first religious impressions that come to our knowledge, and produce sensible effects; but if it were not for the inner life, that stirs the affections of the heart, these outward agencies Would have no effect upon us. Were it not for the inward Christ, who is born in the Bethlehem within us, the outward Christ, who comes out of Galilee, could neither move nor convince us. Hence there are two kinds of these doubters or objectors; those who doubt before they believe, and those who doubt before they deny. Those with whom belief follows doubt, are they who have the Saviour born in them; those who doubt and deny, are they who have not. We see this exemplified, or at least represented, in that there was a division among the people because of him. And the objectors carried their opposition so far, that some of them would have taken him; but no man laid hands on him.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 187 How many in the world, like these Jews, deny in their hearts, but fear to put forth their hands. They are also restrained, though less directly, by the same power; what men fear to do because of their reputation, or some other similar motive, they fear to do because of the truth, lest they suffer for it in the estimation of those who profess the truth; the truth, therefore, restrains them. And so much, even in this way, does society gain by the power and influence of the truth.

45. We come now to another class. There are elements in human nature, as there are human acquisitions, which are neither good nor evil in themselves, but become good or evil in the using. They never act a principal but only an instrumental part, and take their character from the power which governs their action. Such are the appetites and the senses, or what may be called the sensual principle, as that which feels and thinks from sensation. These are the officers sent out by the chief priests and Pharisees, which are ready to do their will while under their immediate influence, but are turned from their purpose when brought under an influence of an opposite kind. They had been sent out to take Jesus; but they now return without him to those who sent them. And on its being demanded of them,

Why have ye not brought him? The officers answer, Never man spake like this man.

In itself what a testimony is this to the power which the words of Jesus exercised over minds not entirely poisoned by the serpent of an obdurate heart and perverse understanding! True it is, in many respects, that never man spake like this man; never so wisely, never so lovingly. How powerful must his words have been, when eternal love was their origin, and eternal life their end. This was no doubt the secret of the Lord's persuasive and overawing power. The wisdom that flows from love is true eloquence. Other eloquence may dazzle and inflame, this only can carry conviction and life to the mind.

47, 48. When the officers made this remarkable declaration,

Then answered them the Pharisees, Are ye also deceived?

Strange perversion, that the truth itself should be considered to be falsehood, and belief in it an evidence of deception. But evil inverts order, putting light for darkness, and darkness for light. Do not many seriously believe that all religion is deception, and that nothing is real but the world's honour and wealth, and nothing true but the science of acquiring greatness and riches? Those men who, like the Pharisees, make religion a stepping stone to these as their supreme good, are in their hearts as much enemies to the truth as avowed and shameless unbelievers.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 188 And have we not all something of the Pharisee within us, that prompts, if it does not produce, enmity to the eternal truth, and contempt for the weakness that yields to it? What the Christian sees to be the practice in the world without, he sometimes feels as a temptation in his own heart within. Much as the Pharisees must have felt the defection of their officers, there was one that they dreaded still more, as betrayed by their inquiry,

Have any of the rulers, or of the Pharisees, believed on him?

While the rulers were steadfast, their cause might be doubtful, but could not be hopeless. And so spiritually with ourselves, while the ruling principles remain firm, we do not greatly fear the result of the failing of inferior elements, although this is not so insignificant as we sometimes suppose. The Christian sometimes thinks there is not much danger to be apprehended from a little indulgence of the natural man beyond what conscience sanctions; yet this may be the letting in of water, that may increase till it ultimately becomes a flood, that rises till it covers the tops of the highest mountains; for in all men there is a natural proneness to evil.

49. The Pharisees seemed little disposed to yield to the influence which prevailed, not only with their own officers, but with many of the people. They despised the defection of numbers of the people, so long as the rulers remained unbelieving. They declared that

this people (or rather multitude), who knoweth not the law, are cursed.

The knowledge of the law, with these speakers, was the professional knowledge which was cultivated by them as religious teachers. We are all too like the Pharisees, in placing much reliance on this theological knowledge, and thinking that a religious teacher must be a better man, because he devotes much time and labour to the study of the Scriptures. If a man is really spiritual and good, this will help to exalt his spirituality and goodness; but this professional knowledge is entirely distinct from saving knowledge. Professional knowledge may lead to self-exaltation, but saving knowledge ever produces self-abasement. He who understands all mysteries and all knowledge, and has not charity, is nothing; while any one of the multitude, who is distinguished by nothing but poverty of spirit, is akin to the angels, and in the way to become one. Lazarus, starving and full of sores at the gate, was greater than the rich man. who inhabited. the mansion, and was clothed in purple, and fared sumptuously every clay. Not he who knows the law, but he who does it, is blessed.

50, 51. Amidst this general condemnation one solitary voice was raised in behalf of truth and virtue.

Nicodemus saith unto them, (he that came to Jesus by night, being one of them,) doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth?



As there was a Judas among the Lord's friends, there was a Nicodemus among his enemies; a secret foe in the council of his followers, and a secret friend in the council of his persecutors. This holds good in regard to other times and to all persons. The good are not all clean, the wicked are not wholly corrupt. Some secret evil lurks in every human heart; some fugitive good is preserved in every human conscience. The Lord has a witness in every land, in every religion, in every sect, and in every individual mind. "Except the Lord of hosts had left in each of us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah." Nicodemus, though secretly a disciple, does not directly or openly vindicate the character end claims of Jesus, but only urges the employment of the proper manner of deciding on their merits. "Doth our law judge ally man before it hear him, and know what he doeth?" The laws of justice are universal laws, being founded upon the great law of equity, that we should do to others as we would that others should do to us. Every one can recognise the rectitude of this law, and one must be utterly depraved before he can entirely efface it from his conscience. Every one knows how to measure out justice to another, by what he insists upon as due to himself. There is ever, therefore, a monitor, like the good Nicodemus, to call the mind, even in its violent moods, not to decide by passion, but by reason, and so make knowledge the basis, and law the rule, of judgment. And this monitor tells us that we should hear before we judge, and know before we condemn.

52. How did the Jewish conclave receive this wise admonition of Nicodemus? They did not dispute the propriety of the course suggested, but declared the case, of Jesus as prejudged by the circumstance of his origin.

They answered him, Art thou also of Galilee? Search, and look: for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet.

Their argument was that, being a Galilean, Jesus could not be a prophet; and not being a prophet, his claim was not entitled to be heard. The assumed fact was not indeed true. Jonah and Elijah were Galileans but, even had it been true, it had nothing to do with the question. Such, however, is human blindness and inconsistency. When we have no reasons, we assume facts, and make them the bases of our judgments. "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?" "No prophet arises in Galilee!" These are sectarian cries, by which truth is denied, and condemned without a hearing. We are all inclined to believe that nothing can be either true in itself, or in favour of the truth, which dues not originate with, or belong to, ourselves.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 190 Such was the ground on which the Truth himself was rejected and condemned. But the secret of their conduct is, that men hate the light, because it testifies against them that their deeds are evil.

53. After the conclusion of the consultation,

Every man went unto his own house.

They separated, after the testimony of the officers and the counsel of Nicodemus, unmoved in favour of the holy Saviour. This teaches us how important it is that the end by which we are actuated be a good one. We are what our ends are. We think and judge and act from them. Our ends are the roots from which our thoughts and affections, words and actions, spring. When our ends are evil all these are evil; when our ends are good all are good.


The first eleven verses of this chapter, with the last verse of the preceding one, are considered by the most eminent critics as forming no part of this gospel, as it came from the hand of the evangelist. As this is a point of great importance, we have thought it the proper course to state the grounds on which this conclusion rests. For these we are indebted to a friend, who is an authority in all questions of textual criticism.

The question as to the genuineness of this whole passage, when estimated by mere documentary evidence, is of such importance in the criticism of the New Testament, that it demands some notice here. The weight of external evidence is decidedly unfavourable to its genuineness; and these are briefly the main arguments on which that decision rests. First, this passage is omitted in the great majority, both of the MSS. of the first-class, and of the most ancient versions, and is ignored by the chief ancient Greek Fathers, and even by the Latin ones up to the time of St. Ambrose (A.D. 370). Secondly, its phraseology is unlike that of John, and exhibits several words not elsewhere occurring in his gospel (as, for instance, the Scribes, the Mount of Olives, &c.); whereas it strongly resembles the style of the Synoptical Gospels. Some HISS. even place it after Luke xxi. 38; while others remove it to the end of John's gospel. Thirdly, the MSS. which do contain this passage exhibit a greater diversity of reading than is found in any other passage of the same length in the entire New Testament. Fourthly, it seems to interrupt the coherence of the text where it stands; hence most MSS. that have this passage also modify the last clause of the preceding chapter, to make an easy transition.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 191 Fifthly, almost all critics agree in rejecting its claims to stand where it does, as an integral part of John's Gospel. For all this, the passage may belong to the authentic Word, and be merely misplaced. There may also be other intrinsic signs of genuineness than those dreamt of by mere verbal critics.

While we are bound to pay due regard to the weight of external evidence, we are not to overlook that true internal evidence which comes through a perception of the internal sense. Swedenborg seems to have entertained no suspicion of the spuriousness of the passage. True, his attention may never have been directed to the question of its genuineness. On the other hand, he has not overlooked the passage, and does not appear to have perceived any want of the characteristics of inspiration, either in the narrative itself, or in the place it occupies. Moreover, he has explained it, so far as to show that he regarded it as having a regular spiritual sense, which distinguishes inspired from uninspired compositions. We will follow his example, and endeavour to embody his views in our explanation.

1, 2. After the circumstances recorded in the last chapter,

Jesus went unto the mount of Olives; and early in the morning he came again into the temple.

The mount of Olives and the temple are the Lord's divine love and his divine wisdom. His retiring into that holy mount means his entering into the sanctuary of his own pure love; and his coming thence into the temple to teach, represented his love teaching by wisdom. He came into the temple early in the morning. Jeremiah (vii. 13) speaks of the Lord rising up early to teach his people. His coming into the world is called both evening and morning, because then was the end of the old dispensation, and the beginning of the new. The Lord's coming is called a morning without clouds; and himself is called the bright and morning star, as ushering in by his advent the day of salvation. His humanity is indeed both the morning and the morning star, for the glory of the indwelling divinity shone and still shines in it, to give light and life to the world. The Lord's coming early in the morning into the temple, symbolized his coming in the dawn of the day of salvation to the temple of his body, to manifest his glory, unfold the mysteries of his kingdom, and display the splendour of his wisdom, of which the morning is also eminently significative. When in the temple, all the people came unto him-all who were in the love of truth, which "people" in the favourable sense signifies. As on some other occasions, Jesus sat down, and taught them, representing again that he taught them truth from love; sitting being expressive of a state of repose, indicative of a state of love.



3, 4. While seated in the temple,

the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery: and when they had set her in the midst, they say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.

The principal lesson we are to draw from the historical sense of this circumstance is the tenderness with which the Lord deals with the guilty woman; and the means which her case becomes in his hand of convicting her accusers. Without undervaluing the moral instruction it contains, we will attend to the spiritual meaning, which is at the same time the most highly moral; for spiritual is the soul of moral wisdom. In the spiritual sense, the woman's sin represented the profaning of the principle of good in the church, so frequently described by the same sin charged against the church, as figured by the daughter of Jerusalem and Zion. Marriage is the union of goodness and truth, the wife being the type of the principle of goodness and the husband of truth. In the true order and the spiritual sense, marriage constitutes the church and heaven; and adultery constitutes the world and hell. In the highest sense, a chaste wife is a type of the church, as the pure and faithful wife of the Lord, and an unchaste wife is an emblem of the church corrupted by the love of the world and of the flesh. In the lower analogous sense, a chaste wife represents the principle of goodness united to the principle of truth, or the grace of love united to that of faith. But an unchaste wife, who admits another man than her own husband, represents the principle of goodness united to and corrupted by falsehood, and the grace of love corrupted by union with falsehood and unbelief, or, what is the same thing, the union of a corrupt will with a corrupt understanding. The woman taken in adultery represents the Jewish church, as devoted to and corrupted by the world; and, individually applied, represents the good of the principles of the church perverted by false doctrines. In the internal historical sense, the woman represents the Gentile church, and those who accused her represented the Jewish church. It is not to be supposed that she was accused falsely; for both Jews and Gentiles were included under sin. Yet the sins of the Gentiles, though in some respects more outwardly glaring than those of the Jews, were less heinous, because committed in comparative ignorance, and not, as were those of the Jews, against light. On this principle the Lord said to the self-righteous Jews, that the publicans went into the kingdom of heaven before them. By possessing the Word, which contains in fulness the knowledge of sin, the Jews were able to discern the sins of the Gentiles, and they indeed called them sinners, as compared with themselves, because of their being without the law.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 193 The scribes and Pharisees bringing the woman to Jesus and accusing her of adultery, is descriptive of their readiness to detect sin in others, especially the Gentiles, and their disposition to punish it. It is indeed remarkable that the evil are more keen in detecting, and more severe in punishing, acts of wickedness than the righteous, except, of course, when their interest or inclination blinds or softens them.

5-9. When they submitted the woman's case to Jesus, the scribes and Pharisees said,

Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such, should be stoned. Jesus answered them not, but stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground. When they continued asking him, he lifted himself up, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest even unto the last.

In this we see the wisdom of Jesus displayed in defeating the machinations of his enemies. But the circumstances themselves command our attention. Every act which Jesus did, every word he spoke, is significant. His writing on the ground reminds us of the words of Jeremiah: "They that depart from me shall be written in the earth" (xvii. 13). The Lord's act, which was a symbolical answer to the accusation and appeal of the Jews, told them that they were written in the earth. And when an act or a speech is repeated, it is always, in the Word, expressive of a double application-to the intellectual and moral nature, or the inner and outer man; the repetition of the act in this instance signifying, that the Jews were both malevolent and deceitful, both morally and intellectually debased, and thus wholly of the earth, earthly. They did not accuse the woman from any hatred of the sin she had committed, nor bring her to Jesus to have her case righteously judged. It was not with the view of the Lord's condemning the woman, but of his condemning himself, that they brought her to him. Instead of this, they were made to pronounce their own condemnation. Little conscience as these hypocrites had, they had sufficient discernment to drive them from the presence of him who so unexpectedly and so completely discomfited them. No doubt the holy influence of Jesus had a considerable share in the effect which his words produced upon them. It was like that judgment of which the evil are the subjects in the other world. It is a law of that world, that no one shall be cast into hell, until he is convicted in his own conscience, that he is so great a sinner, as to be unworthy and unfit for a place in the kingdom of heaven. Conscience among the wicked acts but negatively; it convicts them of evil, but does not prevent them from committing it.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 194 With the good, conscience is a safeguard against sin, and a prompting cause of goodness.

10, 11. When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, 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 Lord's conduct on this occasion is not to be understood as affording any countenance to the notion, that he acquits the guilty. He acted in conformity with his own merciful declaration, that he came, not to condemn the world, but to save the world, and in conformity with his answer to the young man who wished him to make his brother divide the inheritance with him, "Who made me a judge and a divider over you?" But there is a still more comprehensive principle on which the Lord's conduct is to be explained. This he stated, when he said, "I judge no man: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him at the last day." Besides, the Lord himself never accuses any. And where there are no accusers, there can be no condemnation. The Lord desires to condemn none, but to save and bless all. Where there are none to condemn, it is the blessed prerogative of his divine mercy to say, "Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more." This the Lord desires every one should do. He wishes every sinner to forsake sin. And if any commit sin, the Lord does not condemn, so as to close against them the door of repentance and forgiveness, but, so long as they are in this world, preserves them in the capacity of forsaking sin and learning righteousness. There is one other consideration on this subject, which it is important should be attended to. It is a law of sacred ethics, that blame is proportionate to knowledge. He that knew his Lord's will, and did it not, shall be beaten with many stripes; but he who knew not his Lord's will, and did things worthy of stripes, shad be beaten with few. This does not arise from any arbitrary appointment, but from the circumstance, that sin against light deeply corrupts the soul, while sin without light leaves the soul comparatively free from confirmed evil. The evil of the natural will is not sin till it has obtained the consent of the understanding. Now, if we consider the woman as the type of the Gentile will among the Gentiles, either within or out of the church, her having no accusers is expressive of this state; that evil exists, indeed, in the will and comes into act, but is without an accuser in the understanding. When this is the ease, evil has no moral quality; for inclinations and acts derive their moral quality from their being done with knowledge of the moral law. No one of a sound mind and of a sufficient age can love or commit evil without some degree of blame, because none are utterly ignorant of the distinction between good and evil.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 195 We only speak of Gentile minds being sinless or blameless comparatively. Very young children who are entirely ignorant, are indeed entirely sinless; and only so far as adults are near their intellectual condition, are they near their sinless state. Such in the days of our Lord were the Gentiles in comparison with the Jews; and such are all who are in a Gentile state, compared with those who have been instructed in the nature of sin, and especially of those who think themselves righteous and despise others, and still more of those who accuse them. "If ye were blind, ye would have no sin, but now ye say ye see, therefore your sin remaineth."

12. In accordance with the view we have presented of the meaning of the woman, as representing those who sin through ignorance, the Lord no sooner dismisses her, uncondemned but not unnamed, than he addresses himself to the people, saying unto them,

I am the light of the world; he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

The Light is the Truth. The Lord is the light of the world, as the truth by which the world is enlightened and directed in the way of eternal life. He existed indeed in the beginning-from eternity-as the Light, the divine wisdom; but he is especially the light of the world, the divine wisdom in its adaptation to erring and sinful men, as God manifest in the flesh, that is, God made man, and through his manhood brought near to men, in a way that makes him a lamp unto their feet, and a light unto their path. The Lord, as thus manifested, is the light of the world. For the world means not only the men of the world, but that part of the human mind which is analogous to the world, its external or natural degree. This was that part of man, for the illumination of which the Lord assumed human nature. The Lord was Man from eternity, the Archetype of finite man, who was created in his image and likeness. And during the first church he was the One into whose image man was regenerated. It was man's fall, which eventually closed up the higher degrees of his mind, through which he had been regenerated, and left open only the natural degree, which the Eternal Word could not savingly affect, that rendered Incarnation a necessity; since by no other medium than the Lord's humanity could man be reached, so as to be enlightened by the divine light. Thus did the Lord become the light of the world. And thus the Saviour could say, "he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness." He who follows the light, which the Lord has shed on the path of life by his teaching and example, follows the Lord. But to follow the Lord is to follow him in the regeneration, by doing as he has done, and being what he is, so far as the saved can be as the Saviour.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 196 Those who walk thus shall not walk in darkness-neither in the darkness of ignorance, of error, nor of unbelief. Those who follow the Lord shall have the Light of life, light in the intellect guiding the will to the attainment of love which is life.

13. When they heard the Lord utter this saying,

The Pharisees said unto him, Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true.

The Jews, like all external people, wanted external evidence of the truth; they were not disposed to accept truth on its own testimony; they could not admit that the record which truth bears of itself is true.

14. The Lord, however, answered,

Though I bear record of myself, yet my record is true.

The ground of the truths of his testimony of himself, and of their denial of it was this:

for I know whence I come, and whither I go; but ye cannot tell whence I come and whither I go.

Truth is the form and the revealer of goodness. Without relation to goodness truth is nothing; it is a form without an essence, a means without an end. Truth knows whence it is, and this is the cause of its testimony being true. Those who know truth, but do not receive the good from which it proceeds, and to which it points and leads, know not whence it is. Truth comes to us as the messenger of goodness, as the offspring of love; and the purpose of its coming is to lead us with it to that love and goodness whence it came and whither it goes.

15, 16. One cause that the Jews knew not the Lord's record to be true was that stated by Jesus:

Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man.

Those who judge not spiritually, nor even rationally, can have no true knowledge of the Lord, or of his word, or even of themselves. They judge according to the appearance. Yet such persons are the readiest to judge, and the most confident in the soundness of their judgments. But judgment is here used in the sense of condemnation. And those who judge according to the flesh condemn everything relating to the spirit, and sometimes even deny the existence of the spirit itself. The Lord "judges no man." This is a declaration that the Lord makes more than once. It does not mean that he absolutely does not judge. He said that the Father had committed all judgment unto the Son. The Lord does not judge in the sense of condemning. Man is judged to condemnation by the truth itself which he has received, but from which he has separated goodness. Every one is judged either to heaven or to hell by that which is in him. Truth without good is that which condemns, and truth with geed is that which justifies. This is easily seen. Why are the evil condemned? Because they know their duty and do it not.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 197 They have the truth, but they have not the good which it teaches. This is their condemnation. Why are the righteous justified? Because they not only know their duty, but do it. They have the truth and the good which it teaches. Now when the Lord says "I judge no man," he means that he judges no one from truth alone; therefore he condemns no one, for he "came not into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved." The truth condemns those who know it, and violate it; "the word which I have spoken the same shall judge you in the last day." But when the Lord says,

Yet if I judge, my judgment is true; because I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me;

he means that when he does judge, it is not by truth alone, but by truth in union with goodness, or by wisdom in union with love. For the Son is Truth or Wisdom, and the Father is Goodness or Love.

17, 18. The Lord appeals for a confirmation and illustration of the rectitude of his judgments to the law which the Pharisees recognised.

It is also written in your law, the testimony of two men is true. I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me.

The two witnesses are the principles of goodness and truth on the one hand, and of evil and falsity on the other. The Father and the Son are these two witnesses in the divine sense, the "two men" are the same witness. The testimony of these two witnesses is analogous to that of the Son, because they are types of the same principles; the Father and the Son being the principles of Good and Truth in the Lord, and the two men the principles of goodness and truth in man. The law itself, as it stands in the Mosaic code, has reference to the testimony which proves guilt as well as innocence; for as goodness and truth are both required to justify, evil and falsity are both required to condemn. As neither good nor truth alone justifies, so neither evil alone nor falsity alone condemns. One witness establishes nothing: "at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses every matter shall be established" (Deut. xix. 15). We have said indeed that truth alone condemns. But he who has the truth which condemns him, is himself an enemy to the truth; and if not openly, yet in his heart, he believes what is opposite to the truth. Truth condemns, not actively but passively, not because it acts against the sinner, but because the sinner acts against it. If he would only be loyal to the truth, the truth would make him free: his disloyalty to the truth is the cause of his being the bondman of Satan. Evil which hates truth loves falsity, and is united to it, even while an evil man makes profession of the truth.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 198 It is this union of the evil and the false which constitutes the infernal marriage, which is hell, considered as a state, as the union of the good and the true constitutes the heavenly marriage, which is the state of heaven.

19. When the Lord had appealed to the testimony of the Father as uniting with his own, to show that his word was true, the Jews demanded,

Where is thy father?

The question is similar to the demand of Philip, "Lord, shew us the Father?" And it might receive the same answer, "Have I been so long time with you, and yet Last thou not known me, Philip? He that hath seen me, Lath seen the Father. How sayest thou then skew us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me?" The demand was made by a believer, and therefore received an answer. This question was asked by unbelievers, and therefore remained unanswered. He who knows what is in man saw, no doubt, that the answer would have produced no conviction, and only added to condemnation. We learn from it, that not the formal demand, but the rooted inclination, is that which secures or prevents an answer to our religious inquiries. We learn further that the knowledge of the humanity includes the knowledge of the divinity, for the Lord says to his interrogators,

If ye had known me, you should have known my Father also.

This shows that they who judge according to the flesh, know not the Lord even as to his humanity, and they who know not the origin and nature of his humanity, cannot know, and do not acknowledge, his divinity. They are like the Jews to whom the Lord also said, "Ye neither know me nor my Father." This accusation may therefore be made as truly now as it was then. And as the Lord's humanity is the very Divine Truth, and his divinity is the very Divine Good, we learn that unless we know the truth as the power and manifestation of goodness, we are ignorant of both.

20. These words spake Jesus in the treasury, as he taught in the temple.

The words he uttered came forth from the treasury of his wisdom, the temple being the symbol of his humanity. In relation to us, the treasury is our human understanding, spiritual knowledge being symbolized by the money which the coffers in the temple contained. Notwithstanding the enmity of the Jews,

no man laid hands on him, for his hour was not yet come.

This wonderful circumstance shows the extraordinary influence which the Lord exercised over men. But there is something more wonderful still. It teaches us what enables the evil spiritually to lay hands on the good. The evil can only lay hands on the good, or, to view the subject abstractly, evil can only lay hands on good by means of some perversion of good; and so also falsity can only lay hands on truth by means of some perversion of truth.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 199 Pure truth and good and mere falsity and evil do not touch; there is a great gulf between them; They require some intermediate to bring them into any connection. Evil desires to come into contact with good, and falsity with truth, only to destroy them; and therefore they ardently desire to have truth and good that they may pervert them, this being the only way to effect their destruction. This desire is expressed spiritually in the entreaty of the rich man in hell to Abraham in heaven, that he would send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water, to cool his tongue and allay his torment. The evil, even in hell, desire truth to falsify it; and for this reason only is it denied them. It is because the evil desire truth to pervert it, that the Lord did not comply with the request of the Pharisees, to tell them where his Father was. It was because truth and good cannot be brought under the power of falsity and evil without being first perverted, and because this perversion of good and truth must take place with, or by means of, those who know them, that the Jews could not take Jesus till they got one of his own disciples to betray him. This perversion existed in, and was represented by Judas. It did not exist to such a degree, as to enable the enemies of Jesus to take him, at the time he spake these words in the treasury; his hour was not yet come, therefore no man laid hands on him.

21. Jesus again addresses himself to the people. There was some interval between the preceding and the present address, indicating a distinction in the truths uttered, and a change of state in those addressed. In the preceding part of his address, the Lord tells the Jews that they knew not whence he came or whither he went; here he speaks of his approaching departure.

I go my way, and ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins: whither I go, ye cannot come.

The Lord alludes to his death, which was his going away from the Jewish church, and from those who were of its character. The Lord of himself never leaves any church, or any sinner, however depraved. So long as the Lord had anything of the "flesh" or the infirm humanity derived from Mary, he was with the Jewish church, but when this was put off, there was no longer any element of sympathy between him and that carnal dispensation, and all connection between them was severed. But why then did the Lord say, "Ye shall seek me?" Did not this indicate a desire on their part to find him whom they had despised, after they had lost him? It certainly does. But what was their object in seeking him? The Lord cannot deny himself to any who seek him sincerely; he cannot refuse life to any who desire and ask it.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 200 Of the Jews he said they should seek him, and yet die in their sins. This could only be because they sought him for an end different from that for which he came and died. They sought a Messiah who would restore again the temporal kingdom to Israel. If they sought the Lord, it was only to kill him. Therefore it may truly be said of the church, which so sought the Messiah, and of those who so seek Christ, Ye shall die in your sins. The dispensation perished in its own iniquity, the measure of which it filled by crucifying the Lord. To have continued to exist, the church must have not only acknowledged the Lord as the Messiah, but have followed him whither he was going, and confessed him as the glorified Saviour. "But whither I go, ye cannot come," said the Lord. When, after he had died in the flesh, he arose and ascended in a deified humanity, the Jewish church and people could not come to him.

22. Then said the Jews, Will he kill himself? because he saith, Whither I go, ye cannot come.

As suicide was considered by the Jews a crime which sent the soul to perdition, it has been supposed that these unprincipled men meant to insinuate, that Jesus meditated an act which would send him to a place where no son of Abraham would follow him. This, or even a simple imputation of a probable intention of self-murder, was inferring from the words of Jesus the very opposite of their true meaning. To kill himself would indeed have been to contradict all he had said and done, and destroy the whole work of human redemption. The insinuation was therefore a diabolical perversion of his love and truth, and was in reality a killing in themselves of every vestige of these saving principles.

23. Well, therefore, might the Lord say,

Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world, I am not of this world.

Their sentiments and his were diametrically opposite in their origin, and so were those who uttered there. He and his words were divine and heavenly, they and theirs were infernal and worldly.

24. I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.

Belief in the Lord is the means of righteousness, and thence of life. The Lord being Righteousness itself and Life itself, he is the author of them to men; and unless we come to him in faith, we cannot receive them. That of which the Lord as our Saviour is the author is what is called eternal life, not life as existence, for this every soul has, but life as love and blessedness. Existence without these is death; and those who die in their sins have only a living death. We must die to sin if we would escape dying in sin.



25. When the Lord declared belief in him to be necessary to save from death, it was natural they should ask him,

Who art thou?

This question does not express desire but contempt. The Lord is made to answer,

The same that I said unto you from the beginning.

The true sense of this passage is much debated. Clowes, after Augustine, gives, "The Beginning, which thing I also said unto you," making the Lord tell the Jews that he was the Beginning or Origin of all things. There are objections to both renderings. In the first, the case of the answer is different from that of the question, instead of being, as they should be, the same; in both, the verb is in the past tense, "I said," whereas in the original it is in the present, "I say." Olshausen takes the word arche adverbially, and reads the passage thus,

First, I tell you, I have many things to say and to judge of you: but he that sent me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of him.

The many things which the Lord had to say and to judge of the Jews were the evils and falsities which the divine truth was about to lay open in the Jewish church; for to say has relation to the exposing of evil, and to judge has relation to the opposing of falsity. But the Lord's saying and judging were unerringly just, for "he that sent me is true." If he that sent Jesus was true, Jesus himself must have been true also; therefore there could be no escape from his pronounced decision. Spiritually, there is a much more impressive lesson. The Father who sent Jesus is always sending him; the divine Love is always sending forth the divine Wisdom. Whatever wisdom or truth says and judges, it says and judges from love. Therefore the Lord, as an assurance that what he says is true, tells us that he always speaks to the world those things which he heard from the Father that sent him. We cannot, of course, understand what the Lord says about the Father speaking and the Son hearing, in the simplest literal sense. The Lord, as to his humanity, heard the spirit of the divinity within him as internal revelation-the divine flowing down into the human, the divine love in the Lord's interior will becoming divine truth in his interior understanding, and thence coming forth in words of wisdom, and deeds of beneficence.

27. When the Lord had said these things respecting him that sent him,

They understood not that he stake to them of the Father.

The knowledge of the Father being the knowledge of the Lord's divinity and of the divine love, as manifested in the person of the Lord, and displayed in his works of redemption and salvation, none can understand the language in which he describes the Fatherly principle in himself, but those in whom the divine humanity or the divine truth obtains an elevation into the thought and affection of the inner man, and who are treated of in the words that now follow.



28. Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself: but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.

Literally, this lifting up of the Son of Man is his crucifixion, and those who lifted him up were those who crucified him. But the Lord's crucifixion was also his glorification; and this is the event of which, in the spiritual sense, the Lord speaks. It was to this the Lord referred when he said, "And I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me." His divine humanity is the centre of spiritual attraction, to which willing souls are drawn. In the individual application of the subject, the lifting up of the Son of man is the elevation of the Lord's holy truth into the interior thoughts and affections. Only this lifting up of the Lord can give us experimentally to know that he is the Saviour, and that his humanity does nothing of itself but from the indwelling divinity, or that his truth does nothing of itself, but acts entirely and constantly from love. And it mast act from love in us before we can know its saving power. Thus it is that truth is taught of love, and speaks the language of love.

29. The divine and the human, love and truth, cannot be separated, either in the Lord as he is in himself,-or in the Lord as he is in us.

He that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.

Plainly and strikingly does this teach the oneness of the Father and the Son. They are indeed the Sender and the Sent, yet they are not separate. To be sent is to proceed. But to proceed, spiritually, is not to depart, or to advance through space; it is to proceed as thought proceeds from love, or speech from thought, or as light proceeds from the sun. In all these cases the sender and the sent are connected; their separation would be extinction. "He that sent me is with me; the Father hath not left me alone." This is a momentous truth, practically as well as doctrinally. The Father and the Son cannot be separated in us any more than in the Godhead. If we have not both we have neither. Love without. wisdom is not love, and wisdom without love is not wisdom. It may seem as if we could have wisdom without love, or truth without goodness, but it is not so. Knowledge is sometimes alone; truth never. How may we distinguish between them? Knowledge is the science of goodness, truth is the form of goodness. Love is not in theory, but in practice; not in truth, but in the good of truth. The Lord said, The Father hath not left me alone, "for I do always those things that please him."


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 203 Truth is known by this,-that it always does those things that are in agreement with love. This is the reason it is not left alone. Practice unites love and truth, or charity and faith.

30. As he spake these words, many believed on him.

The truth which the Lord's words to the Jews involve comes now to be exemplified. His wisdom and love exercise a power over the minds of some. They believe on him. But there are as many grounds of belief as there are of soil on which the seeds of the sower fell. Belief, in its first moments, may be fervid as well as intellectual, but its final state depends on the quality of the ground on winch it falls. Practice is the test by which its sincerity is tried, and its endurance or dissipation is determined. Let us see how this operates here.

31. Jesus said to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed.

In chap. ii. 23, we read of some who believed in the Lord's name because they saw the miracles he did, but to whom he did not commit himself because he knew them. So in this case, the Lord evidently regards these as nominal disciples, and therefore tells them how they may become disciples indeed-by continuing in his word. Continuance in the Lord's word is not possible without doing what his word teaches and requires-it implies perseverance in opposing evil and in doing good. Continuance or perseverance in faith and holiness is one of the most necessary conditions of success in religion, as in everything else. Numerous are the exhortations, solemn are the warnings, given in the Scriptures on this subject. The fact of their abundance is proof of their necessity, arising from the tendency, which exists in all, to fall away, or to become lukewarm.

32. The Lord gives this encouraging promise to those who continue:

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

The knowledge of the truth of which Jesus here speaks is practical knowledge, that which is acquired by continuing in his word. The freedom which the truth conquers for us is, as the Lord's subsequent teaching shows, freedom from sin. This includes every other kind of freedom-freedom from ignorance, from error, from doubt; and the still more precious freedom which succeeds it; freedom from the thraldom of our appetites and passions, and from distrust in the providence of God.

33. Yet some of those who had "believed" could not endure this doctrine. They considered themselves already free, and would not hear of a doctrine that implied they were in bondage. They understood not the nature of the bondage and freedom of which Jesus spake.



They answered him, We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?

These Jews were at that very time in bondage to the Romans, and yet were indignant at the idea of their being made free. In this they well represented the natural man, who, while the slave of his passions, boasts of his freedom, because he is uncontrolled by the restraints of religion. The Jews grounded their claim of being free on their being the children of Abraham. Had they been spiritually the children of Abraham, they might have claimed the possession of spiritual freedom. But to be sons of Abraham according to the flesh gave no true liberty. We are all the children of God by creation, or according to the flesh, but to be free, we must he his children by regeneration; by being born from above.

34. Our Lord proceeds to explain the true nature of bondage and of freedom.

Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.

This is bondage, and that only which is deserving of the name. It is the parent of all other bondage. Sin first makes us slaves to avarice or ambition, and then prompts us to reduce others to the bondage of subserviency to ourselves. There is this difference between spiritual and natural bondage; spiritual bondage is voluntary, natural bondage is sometimes involuntary. Yet sin is the great slave master. Self-love, which is the master sin, is the great enemy of freedom, both of soul and body. But whatever be men's outward condition, whether it be that of the oppressed or the oppressor, this condition is common to them all-"he that committeth sin is the servant of sin." This is the bondage from which the truth of Christ will make us free.

35. The results of servitude and freedom are, that

the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abiders ever.

The house is heaven, which is the Lord's dwelling-place, and also the principle of goodness, which is his habitation in the human mind. The servant of sin does not enter there; but he that is horn again, and is a child of God, abideth there for ever. Abstractly, a servant of sin is the falsity of evil, and a son is the truth of good; in the supreme sense the Son is Divine Truth, and thus the Lord himself as the Truth. He it is eminently who abideth in the house for ever. By the Lord's incarnation and glorification that sublime declaration of the Psalmst has received its verification and confirmation: "For ever, O Lord, thy Word is settled in heaven." The divine Truth is there eternally fixed as in its own tabernacle, descending thence into the church on earth and into the hearts of men.

36. And it abides there, and descends thence, that it may make angels and men truly free.



If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye, shall be free indeed.

Freedom consists in being led of God, servitude consists in being led of oneself. The natural man's notion of freedom is the very opposite of this. He supposes it to be freedom from all restraint. There is no such state as this. We must either be led of heaven or hell, be the servants of God or the servants of sin. Which is the best guide? The one leads us by virtue to happiness, the other leads us by vice to misery. There is another lesson which the Lord teaches us here. He no doubt drew his imagery from the Old Testament economy, with which his auditors were familiar. The Hebrew servant was not always the property of his master, but served him for a term of years, after which he was discharged. But the son who was always free, was the heir, and abode in the house.

37. The Lord reverts to what the Jews had said about being the children of Abraham.

I know that ye are Abraham's seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you.

They were Abraham's seed only according to the flesh. Spiritually, they were the seed of Abraham in possessing the Word: for Abraham was a type of the Lord, and his seed are the truths of his Word. These the Jews possessed, though they perverted them, as they themselves were the perverted children of their temporal father. As they perverted the truths of the Word which they had received from the Lord, they desired to destroy the Word, and therefore the Lord, from whom these truths proceeded, and of whom they treat in their highest sense. Ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you." True is this still. The mind in which the Lord's Word has no place, is at enmity against him, and is ever seeking to kill hint, or what is the same, is ever seeking to destroy, in itself and in others, every thing good and true, which is seeking to kill the Lord, who is Good itself and Truth itself.

38. The tendency of opposites is to destroy each other. The truth of good and the falsity of evil are such opposites. Their opposition was exemplified in the case of the Lord and the Jews.

I speak that which I have seen with may Father; and ye do that which ye have seen with your father.

Truth is the offspring of goodness; falsity of evil. Truth speaks what it sees-what it perceives from goodness, for truth is the expression of goodness; and falsity does what it sees front evil, for falsity is the expression of evil. This was exemplified as well as represented by the Lord and the Jews. He was the Truth of Goodness, they were forms of falsity from evil.

39. The Jews

answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 206 Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham.

The Jews spoke of Abraham as the father of their race, Jesus spoke of him as the father of the faithful. They were Abraham's children according to the flesh, but were not according to the spirit. Abraham was a type of the Lord as to his love, and the children of Abraham are those who are regenerated or born of God. But in the abstract sense, Abraham is the principle of love from the Lord in the heart, and his children are the truths that proceed from that love in the understanding, When there is love in the heart and truth in the understanding, good works will follow: these are the works of Abraham, because they are works of love, for love wolketh by truth. The Jews were not the children of the faithful Abraham; nor are any others spiritually so who act like them.

40. While claiming to be the children of Abraham, the Lord said

Ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham.

Good loves truth. Desire for truth and readiness to receive it are the prevailing signs of the existence of good in the heart. But where men seek to destroy truth, they give unmistakable evidence of their want of goodness. The Lord's teaching was the truth of love, and all who had any similar state in themselves-all who were really the children of Abraham, must have heard him gladly, and have found a witness in themselves that his words were true. Abraham, as a principle in us, is the good of early life, which is intended by Providence to dispose and prepare the mind for the reception of the higher good of mature life. The simple truths of this good are intended to enable the mind to apprehend the higher truths of the Christian life. When however men have destroyed these states in themselves, they will ever seek to destroy the higher one offered to them, as beings created for heaven. This is seeking to kill Jesus. This do not the children of Abraham.

41. Deeds indicate their origin. Our motives are the parents of our works.

Ye do the deeds of your father.

And what the Lord said to his hitter enemies, he says still to all who are actuated by the same diabolical motives. Our deeds are indeed our own, and they ever proceed from the springs of action, that are seated deep in the ends of our inner life. We ought, therefore, to examine ourselves, that we may trace our deeds to the motive, secret and remote it may be, from which they spring. To the Lord's declaration, that the Jews did the deeds of their father, they answered, We be not born of fornication; we have one rather, even God. The Jews used this language figuratively. By fornication they meant idolatry; they asserted that they were not idolators, but worshippers of Jehovah; children of God, not of idols.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 207 Spiritually, fornication is the falsification of truth, and to be born of fornication is to be confirmed in such falsification, and to live and act from it. To have God for our Father is to be confirmed in pure divine truth, and to live and act from it. This is the opposite to being born of spiritual fornication.

42. The Lord gives a test which will always enable us to determine whether we are in the one state or the other.

Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither come I of myself, but he sent me.

Those who are born of God love whatever comes from God. This is self-evident. To have God for our Father is to have his love abiding in us; and if we have God's love in us, we cannot but love the Truth that proceeds from him. The truth is that which make love manifest. The Lord was the Divine Truth that manifested the Divine Love. In the Lord's concluding words, "neither came I of myself, but he sent me," must be some deep and instructive meaning. If the Lord was truly God, even supposing there were another equal with him, this could not have been literally the case. By the Lord's statement we are instructed, that love in the Deity was the moving cause of the Incarnation and of human redemption. The Word, the Eternal Truth, came not of itself, it was sent by Eternal Love, to accomplish the purposes of saving mercy. And so it is still. Truth is still sent by love; it comes neither of itself nor by itself. It comes not of itself, it seeks not its own; it seeks to lead men up into the heaven of unchangeable love. Truth, we have had occasion to remark, is that which judges. Had the Lord come of himself, or as truth alone, he would have come as a judge; and if he had cone as a judge, his coming would have involved sinners, and thus the human race, in universal condemnation. But the Lord came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He came, not solely to manifest himself in the majesty and power of truth, but in the benignity and tenderness of love. "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life." And thus "in his love and in his pity he redeemed" mankind. In his often repeated declaration, that he was sent by the Father, that he came not to do his own will, but the will of him that sent him-that of himself he did and said nothing, there is thus a profound significance, expressing the blessed assurance that the great work of redemption, which the Lord came on the earth to accomplish, had its origin in infinite love, and that this love was the moving cause in all the redeeming operations of the Lord's eternal truth.



43. The Lord asks,

Why do ye not understand my speech? and he answers, Even because ye cannot hear my word.

To understand, in Scripture, does not mean to understand with the intellect only, but to understand with the heart: that is, to receive truth into the understanding under the influence of love. We believe from the heart by the understanding. This our Lord teaches when he says to the Jews that they did not understand his speech, because they could not hear his Word. Hearing is a sense which has more immediate connection with the will, as seeing has with the understanding. When the Scriptures speak of hearing, they mean perception from the will. The reason, therefore, why we do not understand is because we do not hear. There is a difference also between speech and word, or between the utterance of a thing and the thing uttered, which is as the difference between the form and the essence. We do not understand the divine speech, which comes by an external way, because we do not hear the divine word, which comes by an internal way. We do not understand external truth because we do not love internal truth.

44. And what is the reason we do not?

Because Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do.

Jesus had already told them they did the deeds of their father; he now tells them who their father is. The devil signifies the principle of evil, as Satan signifies the principle of what is false. The devil and Satan are not indeed abstractions. Personally, they are the powers of darkness, consisting of innumerable evil spirits. And these act upon the human mind; but they act through the evils and falsities which a man loves and believes; therefore the evils and falsities themselves are signified by them. Evil in the heart is the devil; and when the ruling love is evil, the affections are lusts; and these lusts are what the children of the devil do. In all evil there is the lust of destroying good. This is spiritual murder. And of evil it may be said, "He was a murderer from the beginning." A murderer is literally a manslayer, and as a man signifies the principle of charity, the extinction of that heavenly principle is meant by the devil being a homicide. This, indeed, was an act that was committed at the beginning or in primeval times, being described by Cain slaying Abel. In itself evil is murder, both spiritual and natural: this is its character, its inmost nature, its beginning, which it is ever in the intention, often in the effort, to make its ending. But evil effects its purposes by means of falsehood, which it often frames by the perversion of truth, and is therefore called the father of lies. Its enmity against truth arises from the circumstance that truth exposes and condemns evil. "He abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him."


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 209 This does not mean, even in the literal sense, that the devil was once in the truth and fell from it; but that he never had the truth, but was always its enemy. This is true of evil: it stood not at any time in the truth, because there is no truth in it. Good has truth in it, and evil has falsehood in it. When evil "speaketh a lie, he speaketh his own; for he is a liar, and the father of it." How true, yet fearful, a description of evil! It is a murderer and a liar-a destroyer of all that is good, a falsifier of all that is true. Evil is the great antagonist of God himself; for God in his essence is Goodness, to whom evil is diametrically opposed in its nature and in its operations. What is called here "his own" is in the plural, and means his own things -that is, the loves of self and the world, which are the roots of evil deeds and falsehoods, which are spiritual murders and lies, or destructions of charity and faith.

45. Such being the nature of evil, it follows, as our Lord says,

And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not.

That which in its nature speaketh a lie cannot believe the truth. And for this reason it rejects Jesus, because he is the truth itself.

46. The great cause of men rejecting the truth is, that it convicts them of sin. Our Lord challenged even his enemies to convince or convict him of sin.

Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me?

What an appeal was this to those who were seeking his destruction, and watching for anything in his words or conduct that might be construed into a ground of accusation! He did not, as in the case of the adulterous woman, seek a tender judgment, by appealing to their own consciousness of sin; but he placed himself before them, in the plenitude of their malignity and falsehood, as his judges, to condemn him if they could. O immaculate Son of man! Inheritor of our frail, fallen nature; yet so entirely sinless, that even thine enemies were struck dumb when asked to convince thee of sin! So are evil men, or the evil that is in them, unable to trace sin to Righteousness or falsehood to Truth. Can we trace darkness to light, or cold to heat? If, then, he who is good, without any mixture of evil, "speaks the truth, why do ye not believe him?" The reason is given in what now follows.

47. He that is of God heaveth God's words.

The truth here enunciated is evident and is most momentous. He who is influenced by the Spirit of God listens to the truth of God. Spiritual truth is unlike natural truth; science, or the knowledge of nature, may be as grateful, and therefore as perceptible, to an evil as to a good man. Spiritual truth is grateful only to one who is good, or has so much good as to desire to have still more.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 210 Indeed, good loves truth; evil hates it. He that is of God heareth God's words. To others it must be said, as Jesus said to the Jews,

Ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.

That which makes us the people of God is goodness and love; those who are destitute of this have no sympathy with the truth; they hear it not because they love it not.

48. The truth, to such as are opposed to it, is only the more hated the more it testifies against them that they are evil.

Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil.

Arch-heresy and wickedness are included in this accusation; and it spiritually implies the imputation of falsity and evil to Truth itself, and Goodness itself. This is putting evil for good and darkness for light. Although the Jews could not convince the Lord of sin, they accuse him of being a Samaritan and of having a devil. And they even justify themselves in doing so: "Say we not well?" Their conduct was inconsistent, but not unaccountable. Some, when they cannot condemn acts, impute motives. There are some religions and religious persons who impute even to God himself motives and acts which are unworthy of his character; but they do not impute them to him as evil, but attribute them to him as good. But however much men may, either by mistake or from inclination, impute wrong motives or acts to the Lord or to his Word, none can convince or convict either of sin.

49. To the Jews who made these wicked charges against him, Jesus answered,

I have not a devil: but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me.

Truth has but one answer to such a charge, the meek answer which Jesus gave, whether he speaks now in his Word, or in the conscience. But the truth not only repudiates the charge of proceeding from evil, but it claims the merit of teaching and leading to goodness. "I honour my Father." Truth honours goodness by doing its will. This Jesus did. And men should honour him as the Truth, by following his teaching and obeying his commands. The Lord prayed that his Father and he and his disciples might all be one, "thou in me and I in them." We must honour the Father in the Son. When the Son is dishonoured the Father is dishonoured, for the Father is in the Son. It is, therefore, a double dishonour to dishonour the Son. We do not know the truth, if we do not see that it honours goodness. For this it deserves our honour. The truth ever shows us that it pays homage to goodness; and it claims our homage for goodness' sake.

50. Our Lord therefore says,

I seek not mine own glory.

Truth seeks not its own glory.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 211 Truth is not the end but the means; it seeks not its own glory, by drawing men's attention to itself; it points perpetually to that higher principle, in the bosom of which it dwells, and into which it seeks to bring every human soul. There is one that seeketh and judgeth. The Father seeks that glory of the Son and judgeth by him. To seek is predicated of love, and to judge of wisdom. Love seeks, wisdom judges. His Divine glory is manifested in the salvation of men, and his judgment in vindicating them from the power of their enemies.

51. Although the Son does not seek his own glory, yet his Word has life-giving power.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my sayings, he shall never see death.

The Lord's sayings are his precepts, and it is the keeping of these that saves from death. Spiritual life is a state of heavenly love and faith; the extinction of these is death; and such a state is condemnation. In one sense all are dead, for all by nature are destitute of goodness and truth, and inclined to what is evil and false; but death, which brings condemnation, is a state of confirmed evil and falsity. This is the death that the righteous never see; they never come into condemnation; they are passed from death unto life.

52. The Jews did not understand this death or immunity from it. They said,

Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death.

How natural was this remark by those who understood the Lord's words naturally! But although the result of pure misapprehension in them, it is spiritually expressive of a particular state in those whom they represented. These Jews represent those in whom Abraham and the prophets are spiritually dead; those in whom the love of goodness and the perception of truth, signified by Abraham and the prophets, are extinct. These truly must regard such a teacher and such teaching as demoniacal and false.

53. The Jews further said,

Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself?

The Jews naturally thought it presumptuous and false to promise immunity from a fate which these holy men had not escaped. To pass to the spiritual meaning: it is just those in whom Abraham and the prophets are dead, that are disposed to reject the Lord and his Word, and to think that any assertion they make of their own greatness and importance is an assumption of superiority that belongs not to them. Many think of the Word as a dead letter, and regard Jesus as nothing more than a man, and his gospel as having no claim to more than human excellence and authority.



54. But the Lord does not claim human faith on his own word only. He answered the Jews,

If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God.

The Jews claimed to be the worshippers of God, and yet refused to believe him of whom God had testified that he was his Son. What is here rendered honour is more properly glory; and is used here because honour, already spoken of (v. 49), has relation to good, while glory, here mentioned, has relation to truth. In the former case, Jesus speaks of honouring his Father, here he speaks of his Father glorifying him. Wisdom honours love, and love glorifies wisdom. Without wisdom love would have no honour, without love wisdom would have no glory. These essential attributes, even in the Deity, receive, as it were, their qualities from each other. Love is love by virtue of its union with wisdom, and wisdom is wisdom by virtue of its union with love. Neither could be anything without the other. This is equally true of love and wisdom in the human as in the Divine mind. We have no true love but that which is united with wisdom, and no true wisdom but that which is united with love. These are each other's mutually and reciprocally. This mysterious but beautiful relation of love and wisdom, and the reflection of their qualities back upon each otherperhaps we should say their mutual interpenetrationis involved in the relationship of the Father and the Son, and is revealed in what is taught in the New Testament respecting them. When the Lord here says, "If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing," he instructs us, that wisdom derives not its glory from itself; and when he says further, "it is my Father that glorifieth me," he instructs us, that it is love that imparts to wisdom all the glory it possesses. This is true of those principles in us; and we can see it more clearly in ourselves, because we can, as it were, separate in ourselves attributes which are inseparable in God. If wisdom or truth alone in the mind glorify itself, its glory is nothing. If wisdom could only speak of, or exalt, or glorify itself, its glory would be nothing. If wisdom had no end or object higher than itself, it would be worthless. It is because the end of wisdom is love, or because the end of truth is goodness, that it is precious and glorious. It is the end which is in it from love that gives it all its lustre, that sheds around it true glory. Great talents undirected by noble ends have no true glory. If they only glorify themselves, their glory is nothing; love and goodness alone can glorify them. Such is the order of life in God and man.



55. While the Jews said that he by whom Jesus was glorified was their God, the Lord said unto them,

Yet ye have not known him; 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 sayings.

The Jews knew the name of God, but were ignorant of his true nature, and ascribed to him a character opposite to the truth, making him altogether such a one as themselves. They thus falsified or perverted the truths of the Word respecting God, which made them spiritually liars, for to lie is to falsify the truth. On the other hand, if Jesus, knowing God, had said he did not know him, he would have been a liar like unto them. But in the spiritual view, what the Lord says respecting himself is to be understood respecting Truth, or the Word, of which he was the impersonation. If the Word, which is the revelation of God, is so interpreted, or its truths are so perverted, as to be made to destroy the true knowledge of God, it is made to declare a lie, or to teach what is false instead of what is true. The Lord not only taught the truth respecting God, but he did the truth. So is truth ever distinguished, by not only knowing but doing the divine will.

56. Although those who claimed to be the children of Abraham refused Jesus as their Messiah, Yet the Lords tells them,

Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day; and he saw it, and was glad.

It may be useful to consider these words and those which immediately follow according to their literal sense. Thus regarded, they teach us some important truths, relating to the Lord as the Saviour. They toll us that the Lord had been the desire and the hope of ages, the holy one to whom the faithful in all ages had looked forward as the Redeemer of a captive race, the Saviour of a lost world. Abraham is called the father of the faithful; and he may justly be regarded as standing here as the representative of those who "died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth" (Heb. xi. 13). This faith sustained them, and secured for them, when the Lord came, the benefits of his redemption. The patriarchs were not, however, left to rest on the promise of a coming Saviour: it was given them to see him with their eyes, as he manifested himself to them in the person of an angel, whom he filled with his spirit. "The angel of his presence" saved them in their troubles; and was a temporary humanity, in and through which he visited men, for the support of their faith, till the fulness of times for his incarnation. Spiritually, Abraham represents those who are in the love of truth, and who already receive and perceive it in the inner man, and to whom this reception is a source of joy.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 214 There are two expressions: "Abraham rejoiced to see my day; and be saw it, and was glad." This expresses reception both in the will and in the understanding. Gladness and rejoicing should here be reversed, as the original requires, for gladness is expressive of an affection of the will and joy of an affection of the understanding.

57. To the Lord's declaration the Jews answered,

Thou art not yet fifty years old: and hast thou seen Abraham?

A very natural question, as they understood the words of Jesus. Surprise has been expressed why the Jews should have named fifty years. The words of even his enemies are overruled or recorded for the sake of a higher meaning than their own. Fifty signifies a state in which truths are filled with. goodness. This is a state which the Lord had not yet perfected in himself by glorification; but has not commenced in those whom the Jews represented. They represent those who possess the Word, and know the truths relating to the Lord, but who have no good in their truths, and therefore have neither the faith nor the joy of Abraham, and regard all such faith and joy as fabulous.

58. Jesus answered them,

Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.

This great truth has unhappily acquired a controversial importance, from the pre-existence of Jesus being denied by some professing Christians, as well as by the Jews, to whom these words were addressed. Perhaps they were providentially drawn from the Lord by the denial of his divinity and pre-existence, for the purpose of establishing the faithful in the belief of the eternity and divinity of their Saviour. They will ever remain as a divine enunciation of this great truth. They evince not only that the Lord existed before Abraham, but that he existed as the I AM, the self-existent and self-essent; He who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty. But when all controversy shall have for ever ceased on this point, the declaration will still remain to teach a great spiritual truth, in which all have an eternal interest. Jesus is before Abraham, as well as after him, in the experience of the individual mind, as he was in the history of the world, and in the progress of the church. Jesus is the First and the Last. He is the inmost life in every soul, and the moving cause in every spiritual activity of the mind, and he is the ultimate good in which life is embodied and activity is fixed in use. He is both the Archetype and the Antitype of all the principles and states of our spiritual life. Things truly human in us shadow and foreshadow things divine. The humanity of the Lord is the origin and the perfection of humanity, as it exists finitely on earth and in heaven.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 215 Man was created in the image of the perfect God, and God appeared in the likeness of sinful man. So is it in the order of spiritual creation, which is regeneration. The rational principle in us, that lies between the spirit and the flesh, is that which the spiritual produces, and that by which it unfolds itself in the natural, that the spiritual may be all in allthe I AM in the whole man.

59. This is a truth, both doctrinally and practically considered, which none but the spiritual can truly receive. In the natural man it will ever find determined opposition. When the Jews heard the Lord's declaration,

Then took they up stones to cast at him.

So will the natural man ever take up false reasonings and false principles, to cast them against the great truth, that the Son of man is the Infinite and Eternal clothed in Humanity; for the natural man is inherently disposed to assail this most essential principle of the church, in order to destroy it.

But Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.

There is evidently something miraculous in this, as in some other instances of the Lord's disappearing from the midst of his enemies. They represent the providential removal or withdrawal of his divine truth from the sight and power of those who, being in the opposite false persuasion, desire and even attempt to do violence to it, and so do the most serious spiritual and eternal injury to themselves. In the internal historical sense, they represent the Lord's departure from the Jewish church, which is especially meant by his going out of the temple, and going, as he is represented coming, as a thief in the night, unperceived because unacknowledged. So does he pass away from the minds of those who believe and live contrary to his holy teaching; and especially is this the case when the time of decision conies, when the false principles come forth in their malignity, and when the soul is left without the living presence of the blessed Saviour.


1. We have remarked in speaking of the last verse of the preceding chapter, that, in the internal historical sense, the Lord's going out of the temple through the multitude, represents his departure from the Jewish church. His coming to the Gentiles, and his reception by them when rejected by the Jews, are described representatively by what is now related of his connection with the man, the history of whose case occupies the whole of this chapter. The narrative reads as if the Lord's coming upon this man had been accidental.



Passing by he saw a blind man, which had been blind from his birth.

Passing by means presence and influx. The Lord's seeing this man does not mean that he perceived for the first time the presence, in that place, of this distressed object; for he who knew all things, knew who was there before he came to him. When it is said that the Lord sees any one, the spiritual meaning is, that the person sees him, that is, that the influx of the Lord's truth into the mind is so far received into the understanding as to make man, not the object but the subject of the Lord's truth. The Lord sees men spiritually, especially savingly, through his light shining in them. The man whom the Lord then saw had been blind from his birth. This is exceedingly expressive when understood in reference to the Gentiles. They had never seen the truth, not having possessed the Word, as an immediate revelation from God; though they possessed some knowledge of divine things by tradition, and by indirect information from Scripture through the Jews. Blindness in the simplest sense is the symbol of ignorance, and this is especially meant by blindness from birth. This was the blindness of the Gentiles. They were in the blindness of ignorance. This is their condition, so often spoken of in the prophets; and the Lord's communicating to them, at his coming, the light of his truth, and opening their understandings to receive it, are described prophetically by his opening the blind eyes, and giving light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death. This blessed work of mercy was not, indeed, confined to the people who received sight and light at his coming. It is applicable to all men individually who are in similar states. Therefore, the present relation is descriptive of the state of all who are in ignorance of the truth, and who are in the way of the Lord's providence, and ready to accept his saving grace.

2. When, we may suppose, the Lord stopped to regard this object, the disciples inquired of him,

Who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?

We need not dwell on the well-known opinion then prevalent among the Jews, that pre-existent souls were incarcerated in diseased bodies, as a punishment for sin. We may consider the question as expressive of a doubt or difficulty that is often felt, and sometimes expressed, about the Gentiles and those in Gentile states. For what fault of theirs, of their parents and progenitors, are nations and individuals born under such circumstances, that they live in ignorance of the truth? The Bible is known but to a comparatively small portion of the inhabitants of the globe; and many who live where it is recognised as the teacher of truth, know little of its teaching.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 217 These are solemn questions which have disturbed the minds of conscientious "disciples," and may be reverently proposed to him whom they are taught to acknowledge as Rabbi, as a teacher come from God. Let us, as humble disciples, listen to the answer of him who spake as never man spake.

3. Jesus answered,

Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.

The Lord did not teach that the man or his parents were sinless, or that disease did not owe its origin to sin; but that the man's particular affliction was not the effect of his own or his parents' particular sinfulness. The Lord had taught the same thing regarding the Jews and the Gentiles. Not for their worth were the Israelites chosen as the visible church; not for their unworthiness were the Gentiles excluded, for the Israelites were a stiff-necked people, and were no better than the nations around them. The Lord's providence is regulated by the principle of final results. Nations are born blind that the work of God may be made manifest in them. The darkness in which the nations are allowed to remain is a wise permission for a wise and beneficent end. The light of the gospel has been withheld, because they were not in a condition to profit by it. But the time will come when the work of God shall be made manifest in them; and very probably those nations that have so long sat in darkness, will become more eminent subjects of the Lord's saving operations than the visible church, through whose instrumentality the knowledge of the Scriptures has been propagated through all regions. To consider this subject individually, every one is now born in ignorance, which is mental blindness. And every one remains blind, however much he knows even of spiritual things, till Jesus opens the eyes of his understanding, that he may understand the Scriptures. It is not knowledge but faith that opens the spiritual understanding, and gives us to see light in the Lord's light.

4. The works of God, which were to be made manifest in restoring the blind man to sight, must be wrought in the day.

I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day; the night cometh, when no man can work.

The general meaning of this, in reference to the Lord, is no doubt similar to that of the Lord's exhortation to men: "work while it is day." Probationary work can only be done during the probationary day. The Lord had a work to perform, not for his own salvation, but for that of his creatures. But the day of which our Lord spoke had a more extensive meaning. It had also reference to that day which was then rapidly passing away, the day of the Jewish church, which, had it been allowed to close in night before the Lord's advent, could never have been restored.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 218 It was not necessary that while this day lasted the Lord should work the works of him that sent him; nor had the Lord more than "finished" his divine work before "there was darkness over all the land;" and only with his resurrection was there the dawn of a new day of hope and light for the human race.

5. When the Lord added,

As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world,

he could not mean that his departure, as to the body, would leave the world in darkness; for the light of his Spirit and of his truth shone after his ascension with greater effulgence than before it. The Lord is in the world when he is acknowledged in it. In the purely spiritual sense, his presence in the rational mind, by the practice of his truth, makes him its guide and instructor. And it is this which prepares the way for the opening of the understanding, which now comes to be treated of.

6. When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay.

Why did he, who so often performed such wonderful cures with a word, now proceed so indirectly, and with such simple means, to restore this man to sight I Could there be any other reason than that all his acts were symbolized? It is because this blindness was peculiar that he used peculiar means. This man represents, we have said, those who have never been instructed in the truth, such as the Gentiles. They are, therefore, such as have never had their rational faculty cultivated by instruction in the doctrines of the church; and being in an external or sensual state, they require the truth brought down to their sensual apprehension. This bringing down of the Lord's truth to the level of their senses, or their merely sensual apprehension, is signified by the Lord spitting on the ground, the ground signifying the natural mind itself, as to its faculty of reception; and the union of the Lord's truth with natural or sensuous good there, is meant by his making clay of the spittle. This was spread upon the eyes of the blind man, to represent further, that simple truth united to simple good becomes instrumental in opening the understanding, being applied during the exercise of faith, by the Lord, as the author of faith.

7. A further means is, however, required, which is now described. The Lord

said to him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing.

The pool of Siloam was a type of the Word, and especially the Word as to its literal sense; and washing in its waters signifies purification by its truths. The name of the pool signifies Sent, a name applied to the Lord himself.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 219 Sent is expressive of truth as an emanation from goodness, and therefore of truth in which there is goodness, for sender and sent are one, like a fountain and its stream. The man was therefore commanded to go, because going signifies progression in holiness, or living in obedience to the Lord's commands. Having gone and washed, he came seeing. His eyes were opened to "see the light of this world." What a blessed change. Not less blessed is that change which the willing and obedient experience when they have come under the influence of the blessed Saviour, and have submitted to his wonder-working power, and followed his divine directions, going and washing in the pool of Siloam. Those who go blind come seeing.

8. In this and the following verses to the twelfth, we have an account of the impression which this miracle had upon the man's neighbours. When the man is considered as representing the church among the Gentiles, his neighbours denote those who are in a semi-Gentile state, and who are connected with the Gentiles on the one hand, and with the professing church on the other. Considered as representing those who are in a state of ignorance of the truth, and whose minds are little elevated above the senses, his neighbours denote those who are in natural good, for good is the neighbour of truth. We read, however,

of his neighbours and they who beforetime had seen him that he was blind,

by which two classes of persons are described, those who regard the "blind" from the will and from the understanding. They said,

Is not this he that sat and begged?

This condition, like the man's blindness, is peculiarly expressive of the condition of the Gentiles, in relation to those who form the church. A beggar is one who craves from others what he is unable to provide for himself. So the Gentiles were represented by the beggar who was laid at the rich man's gate, desiring to be fed with the crumbs that fell from his table; and the elevation of the Gentiles to the privileges of church membership is described by the Lord lifting up the beggar from the dunghill to set him among princes (1 Sam. ii. 8). Begging is expressive at once of destitution and a desire to be relieved, the desire to receive of the truths of the church being one of the qualities which prepared the Gentiles for being the recipients of the principles of the gospel dispensation, when the Lord came. So is their state described by sitting and begging: just as it is by sitting in darkness, which is another way of expressing blindness, for though the cause is different, the effect is the same. Sitting relates to the state of the will, and begging to the state of the understanding. But there is a change of which we may not only be the witnesses but the subjects. We are all born blind.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 220 Ignorance is our hereditary state. This is our case both naturally and spiritually. Nor does spiritual sight come by simple knowledge, but by faith in what it teaches, especially by faith in him who is its highest object. He it is who, while we are in our earthly and sensual state, makes and applies that eye salve which, though it does not open our understanding, gives it the means and prepares it for being opened. This the Lord does, especially during early life, when we are in a great measure passive. When we become active, and co-operate with him, by obeying his commands, and go to the Word as to the fountain of living waters, and apply its truths for the purposes of regulating our life, then do we acquire sight, that is, an enlightened. faith in the truths of his Word. This new state differs much from the old. It opens in us a new sense, and reveals to us a new world.

9. His neighbours and they who had seen the man blind having asked if this were not he that begged,

Some said, This is he: others said, He is like him: but he said, I am he.

The question here is between identity and likeness. Those who recognised in the man restored to sight the same man they had known as a blind beggar, are they who can trace the progress of reformation from its beginning, and see the difference of the two states and the identity of the subject of them; while those who could only recognise a likeness, are they who cannot trace the progress of reformation, nor see through the two states the same groundwork that divine mercy has operated upon. But the man himself knew what others regarded with doubt, which was rather the doubt of wonder than of scepticism. The knowledge of what we have been and what we are, impresses the mind with a sense of the divine goodness and power, in having brought us out of darkness into light. "I who now see am he that was blind" is an acknowledgment that comprehends in it many holy and happy sentiments.

10. Therefore said they unto him, How were thine eyes opened?

It is remarkable that we seldom see or hear of any striking phenomenon without desiring to know its cause; even the common accidents of life almost always suggest the inquiry, How did it happen? It is because God has implanted in our nature a rational faculty, which is intended to lead us to trace everything through its proximate to its first cause. The present inquiry is, How were thine eyes opened? And this is capable of more than one answer. In his case there were both the proximate and the first cause. The proximate cause was the water of Siloam: the first cause was the Lord Jesus. So is there in every event of life, rational and spiritual.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 221 And the inquiry is always a necessary and may be made a useful one, How were thine eyes opened? whence this great mercy?

11. The man enumerated the secondary causes but did not forget the first.

A man named Jesus made clay, and anointed mine eyes, and said unto me, Go to the pool of Siloam, and wash and I went and washed, and I received sight.

He regarded Jesus only as a man; but this spiritually is not inconsistent with the acknowledgment of Jesus as a Divine Man. And indeed this is a form of expression admitted into the Word, because it can be filled with the true idea respecting the Lord, that he is Man in the supreme sense and in a super-eminent degree, he being the Divine Man, the Author and the Pattern of all that makes us truly human. The other particulars have already teen considered. It is only requisite to state, that when a thing is repeated, as having been done as directed, it is expressive of effect and confirmation.

12. The man having answered the question, Who opened thine eyes? is now asked,

Where is he?

The question Who? is an inquiry respecting one's nature, and the question Where? is an inquiry respecting one's state.

13. They brought to the Pharisees him that aforetime was blind.

We here enter on a new phase of the history of this case, and one that extends to nearly the end of the chapter. The Pharisees constituted that extreme Jewish element in the church, which was concentrated in the person of Judas. It was the opposite of Jesusthe evil united with cunning and deceit, which is the opposite of the good united with wisdom and sincerity. The man whom Jesus had cured they brought to the Pharisees. Do not our own faculties sometimes lead us into the presence of the enemies of our Saviour and benefactor, to try us and to tempt us, and see whether we will not prove faithless to him, by denying him the merit that belongs to him, as the opener of our understandings to behold the light of truth? We may read, therefore, in this part of the narrative an account of what has been or will be our own experience.

14. And it was the Sabbath-day when Jesus made the clay, and opened his eyes.

This forms the ground of the accusation against Jesus. It is remarkable that our Lord, knowing the prejudice of the Jews in general, and of the Pharisees in particular in favour of a rigid ceremonial observance of the Sabbath, should yet perform so many of his miracles on that day. Our Lord's conduct spews this remarkable fact, that he was tender to such of their prejudices as leaned to virtue's side, but showed no respect for those that were opposed to righteousness and mercy.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 222 The conflict here, as in some other cases, is between the essential and the formal in religion. In a true church these make one. In a corrupt church they often come into conflict. The church is corrupt, and even consummated, when it has a holy external without a corresponding internal, when it has the form of godliness without the power. When the church is in this state, its holy external is opposed to true inward holiness; for the holy outside covers and conceals an internal full of all uncleanness. If anything of true essential holiness be introduced into the church when in this state, it is sure to meet with determined opposition, just as the Lord's works of holiness and mercy performed on the Sabbath, were met with hatred by those who held that day in outward veneration. The very sanctity in which they held it became an obstruction to its being sanctified by works of divine mercy. This opposition and conflict takes place in our own minds, when divine mercy has introduced by regeneration a principle of vital holiness into the outward sanctity of our formal religion. Then it is that the Pharisee in our heart rises up against Jesus and his divine work, even when he has opened the eyes of our understanding. This introduction of a new and vital principle of holiness into the mind is the Lord's curing the blind on the Sabbath-day.

15. The Pharisaic principle in the heart creates doubts in the understanding.

Then again the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight.

The mind is appealed to from the negative side, to question the truth of the divine origin of its enlightenment. But this temptation is met with the testimony of experience: He put clay upon mine eyes, and I washed, and do see. Are not the facts sufficient to set the question at rest?

16. But if the fact cannot be denied, the character of him who performed the work may be called in question.

Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the Sabbath-day. Others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles?

And there was a division among them. Singularly clear is the distinction between the true and the formal member of the church. The formalist entirely overlooks the beneficence of the miracle, and condemns it as sinful because performed on the Sabbath clay; the true man justly regards the miracle itself as a convincing proof that he who performed it could not be a sinner. This division among the Pharisees suggests a practical reflection. So far as we regard the Lord and his works from the apparent truths of the Word, we have an unworthy view of both; it is only as we regard them from its genuine truths that we see them in their true character.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 223 There is often a division in our own minds even on the greatest questions. When by the grace of God there is a division in the council of our own mind, the false and the evil of the self-hood do not hold undisputed way, but are counterbalanced and held in check by something of the good and true.

17, 18. Divided among themselves respecting the character of Jesus, the Pharisees appeal to the man himself,

What sayest thou of him, that he hath opened thine eyes?

Possibly those on the negative side only wished to see whether he would confess Jesus to be the Christ or not, that they might retain or excommunicate him. And this was perhaps the reason that the man did not express his belief in Jesus as the Messiah, but only as a prophet. But the spiritual sense teaches another lesson. The Pharisees are those whom unbelief has blinded, the man represents those who through faith have come to see. The Lord is the author and the supreme Object of faith. Being so, he is the Rock on which the faithful build, and on which the unfaithful fall and are broken. The treatment which Jesus received at the hands of men was an exhibition of the treatment of his divine truth in all ages. Unbelievers try to extinguish faith in others. They neither believe in the Lord nor believe those who do. We see this manifested throughout in the conduct of the unbelieving Jews. The present is an instance. When the man declared that he regarded Jesus as a prophet, which means the acknowledgment of his divine truth in doctrine, the Jews not only denied the truth of his opinion, but denied the fact of his having ever been blind. They

did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind, and had received his sight.

Does not the natural man still act in this way? He does not believe that man is naturally blind, and remains so till the Lord opens his eyes, but that he is naturally as able to understand spiritual as natural truth. The only reason, as he thinks, that he does not understand or believe them, is that they are neither deserving of study nor worthy of credit. It is but another phase of this negative state that some regard truth, not as an object of intelligent belief but of blind faith,a faith that looks backwards to tradition and authority, not forward to reason and experience. The Jews would not believe that the man was born blind until they called his parents. The parents of the blind are the man's hereditary nature, which in itself is in darkness respecting the things of heaven and eternal life.

19. The Jews asked his parents,

Is this your son, who ye say was born blind? how then doth he now see?



This questioning of the parents by the Jews is interrogating nature to testify respecting spiritasking the natural man to explain how the spiritual man has become spiritual. Let us hear the reply.

20, 21. His parents answered them, and said, We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind: but by what means he now seeth, we know not; or who hath opened his eyes, we know not; he is of age, ask him; he shall speak for himself.

The natural man knows his own offspring, and can testify to its hereditary condition; but the means and power of its restoration he knows not. He knows, however, that the rational, when it has attained maturity and become independent of the natural, can testify of itself.

22, 23. These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue. Therefore said his parents, He is of age, ask him.

Thus the natural principle is prevented from uniting its testimony with that of the rational by evils that obtrude themselves into the natural mind, and threaten to separate acknowledged divine truth from the doctrine of the churchmeant by the Jews putting out of the synagogue all who confessed Jesus to be the Christ.

24. These opposing evils in the natural mind apply themselves directly to the rational, with a view of falsifying its testimony,

Then again called they the man that was blind, and said unto him, Give God the praise: we know that this man is a sinner

They did not ask him to give praise or glory to God for his restoration to sight, for they did not believe that he had been blind and been cured; they administered this form of words as a solemn injunction to him to confess that Jesus was, what they believed or affected to believe him to be, a sinner. They knew "this man to be a sinner," and they wanted to extort from the beggar a confession that would confirm this point, which they had settled in their own minds.

25. The man, in answer to this demand, placed his knowledge by the side of their assertion, leaving them to draw the conclusion.

Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that whereas I was blind, now I see.

This was an excellent answer, and it teaches an excellent lesson. The experimental knowledge, that we have been brought out of darkness into marvellous light, is an unanswerable refutation of all objections against the power of working the miracle, or the reality of the miracle itself, of opening our eyes. Let my soul know this, and all the cavils of unbelievers are, so far as respects me practically, at an end; and this argument is equally efficacious against all such suggestions arising from unbelief in my own naturally depraved heart.



26. But there is still another ground of outward or inward assault against the truth. The previous objection related to the power, there is another which relates to the means. They demand again,

What did he to thee? How opened he thine eyes?

This in itself was a natural inquiry. As already remarked, our rational nature prompts us to inquire into the causes of things. We are not content to know that a thing has been done or has happened; we wish to know how, and often ask the question at strangely unseasonable times, and when the information can be of no practical avail. But the Jews, besides having a sinister object in view, had asked the question before. They, like many other negative men, return to the attack on the very ground they had taken before, and lost. So, evil in our own hearts recurs again and again to the same point, in the hope of ultimate success.

27. The man answered their question,

I have told you already, and ye did not hear.

The former answer produced no conviction. Wherefore, would ye hear it again? And as if they could only be expected to ask an already answered question, that they might reconsider their decision, he asks them in return, Will ye also be his disciples? "Ye did not hear." How can those hear who have not ears to hear? This is the ground of just accusation. Evil has no ears for truth; and when it demands the explanation or reason again, the true answer is, Wherefore? what is your purpose in asking? Would you be his disciple? But the Jews here do not represent the openly wicked and unbelieving, for these have no concern about such questions; they represent those unrighteous and narrow-minded professors, who see no further than their creed, and who would sacrifice truth and virtue at the shrine of sectarianism. Christ, as the truth, must conform to their notions and ends, not they to his principles and practice.

28. How ready are these blind worshippers of use and wont to fall back upon established forms and authority, and to banter those who adopt and adhere to anything that seems to encroach upon what has the mould of antiquity upon it.

Then they reviled him, and said, Thou art his disciple; but we are Moses' disciples.

We know that they could not be disciples of Moses and enemies of him of whom Moses wrote. But we may he disciples of the letter of the Word, which is Moses, and yet be at enmity with its spirit, which is Christ. The letter killeth, unless held in connection with the spirit, which giveth life. "Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth" (Rom. x. 4).


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 226 How can any one be a lover of the law who hates and denies the righteous one, who is the end of the law, and reviles those who believe in him? To revile is to be in an affection opposed to whatever does not favour oneself. Under this vilifying of the truth in its disciple lurks the love of self, which is the enemy of love to him who is love itself.

29. The Jews give, it is true, a reason for their belief in Moses, and their unbelief in Jesus.

We know that God spoke unto Moses: as for this man, we know not from whence he is.

They knew that God spake unto Moses, because many generations of their fathers had shown them the example. It is easy to believe in what others have believed, and what it has become the custom and an honour and advantage to believe. The case greatly changes when anything demands our faith that has none of these recommendations. But after all, it is a question how far disbelievers in the new truth are believers in the old. In this case, the new had always been contained in the old, and was now brought forth from it. "For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me" (John v. 46). Besides, the Jews might have known that God had spoken to Jesus as well as to Moses. But the real test is internal. God must speak with Moses and with Christ in our own hearts and minds. And in us he may speak with Moses and not with Christ. For Moses, as natural truth, dwells in the natural mind, and Christ, as spiritual truth, dwells in the spiritual mind. And God, as the living and the true, can only speak to that which we possess and acknowledge. And how many acknowledge natural truth outwardly, who know not whence spiritual truth is?

30. Yet how inconsistent is this conduct.

Herein is a marvellous thing, that ye know not whence he is, and yet he hath opened mine eyes.

If the tree is known by its fruit, Jesus may be known by his works; and their origin may be known by their nature. The "whence" is expressive of good as the origin of truth. That truth is derived from good we know by the beneficent results of its operation. Among these is the opening of the understanding. Christianity has opened the eyes of many nations; it has brought them out of spiritual and natural ignorance into the knowledge of heaven and the world, for religion and science go hand in hand. And yet some, like the Jews, refuse to acknowledge whence it is.

31. The poor beggar seems to have known no better than that Jesus was a holy man, who had done this miracle by a divine power imparted to him. And on this simple ground he reasons justly.

We know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth.



On the teaching of their own law, Jesus was a righteous man. "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me: but verily God hath heard me" (Ps. lxvi. 18). The work of Jesus declared that this was his case. God had heard him. But the Jews would not hear. How strikingly does this show that belief and unbelief have their root in the heart. Here is a case where the understanding had all the evidence required to convince it, and yet the obdurate heart resisted faith in Jesus as the Saviour, or even as a man of God.

32. The work which the Lord had wrought was no ordinary one.

Since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind.

Great as this truth is literally, it is still more so spiritually. Man's being born mentally and spiritually blind is a consequence of the fall. Had man remained in his integrity, he would, like the inferior creatures, have been born into all knowledge which his nature and necessity required. Being now born blind, no one since the world began has ever been spiritually delivered from his blindness. The Lord Jesus was the first, and the only one, who opened the eyes of any of the sons of Adam who were born blind; as he was the only one who raised the spiritually dead to life. This poor man was typically the first-fruits of the Lord's work of restoring sight to the spiritually blind. No power but his could do this great miracle.

33. The beggar continued,

If this man were not of God, he could do nothing.

A greater truth than this speaker understood lies concealed in his words. Unless Jesus had been divine as well as human, he could have done no work of restoration such as that symbolized by the work he performed on the blind man. He could have done nothing for the salvation of the human race, who sat in darkness and in the shadow of death.

34. To the unanswerable argument of the poor man, the Pharisees gave the reply of men who are unable to deny the truth, and yet are determined not to believe it.

Thou wast altogether born in sins: and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out.

The accusation may be supposed to express the prevailing opinion, which even the disciples themselves as yet held, that the man's blindness had been the result of the special sins of his parents, or of his own. The Pharisees judged of truth by the authority of the teacher. How much in all ages has this same spirit prevailed, and this same rule been followed by the timeserving in the church. And how much influence do the same spirit and rule exert over all of us. Passion, prejudice, and self-interest, more or less, warp our judgment. And too often do we resist the fact, the thought, the testimony, that comes against what we ourselves profess.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 228 The synagogue of our traditional faith and sectarian charity is often found too narrow for containing a new truth, even when it has shown its efficacy by opening the eyes of the blind.

35. Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God?

When we read of Jesus hearing what, by his omniscience he previously knew, we are to understand it in reference to the Lord in us, indicating a perception from him in the mind which is in connection with him and subject to him. This perception is in the interior of the mind, and conies through the will, into which what is heard more directly enters. The Lord afterwards found the man he had cured, which implies that this perception found its object, and operated upon it so as to produce in it a corresponding perception and reciprocal action. The Lord asks of the man, Dost thou believe on the Son 'of God? Important question. The Lord is called the Son of man as to the Word, the Son of God as to the Divine Humanity. To acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God is to acknowledge the Lord's humanity to be divine. Through belief in him as the Son of man, the Lord produces belief in him as the Son of man. This higher belief is the fruit of the regeneration which all lower means conspire to begin and carry forward. Belief in the Son of God is the rock on which the Lord builds his church, against which no power can prevail; for a living faith in the Lord's glorified humanity implies that humanity has been glorified in us.

36. To the Lord's question, "Dost thou believe in the Son of God?" the man answered

Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him?

The man had not before seen, and therefore did not know, his Benefactor. He had heard him by the hearing of the ear, but now his eyes saw him. In this we see the distinction between hearing and sight exemplified. Hearing, we have remarked, is a sense that communicates more directly with the will; sight with the understanding. Sight gives completeness and distinction to perception. A truth may be felt to be true, but it needs also to be seen to be true, before it conies under the full intuition or perception of the mind. So is it in respect to the Lord as an object of perception. We must not only hear his voice but see his shape. The beggar knew that a man called Jesus had opened his eyes; but he knew him not as the Son of God. That higher truth he was now prepared to accept, and only required to be directed to the Lord, to whom the title belonged. The principle of faith already existed in his mind, and was ready to be fixed on its true object, when declared and manifested to him.



37. Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee.

Hearing and sight, which had succeeded each other, now met together. He who had said "Go wash in the pool of Siloam," now stood before him as the Son of Godas Jehovah manifested in human nature, claiming belief as his Saviour.

38. How ready and earnest was his response.

He said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him.

But here we have to consider the spiritual origin of this acknowledgment. It is the offspring of experience. The soul knows its own plague and sorrow; and deliverance from its evils and its ignorance open the mind to the perception and the acknowledgment of its Deliverer and Saviour. And this leads to worship. The reverence paid on this occasion may not have had much of the character of spiritual worship: but it was enough to represent it. Those who receive from the Lord that much greater blessing, the opening the eyes of the spirit, and the ability to see the light of heavenly truth, are able and should be willing to offer a correspondingly higher worship, the worship of love and faith, addressed to the Lord as God over all, and also to render him the worship of a loving heart in an obedient life.

39. The lesson which the Lord deduced from the two opposite manifestations of human character, in the relation which occupies the greater part of this chapter, is solemn and instructive.

For judgment I am come into this world; that they which see not might see, and that they which see might be made blind.

It is very evident that the Lord here refers solely to intellectual blindness and sight, showing that in his divine thought the blind man was a representative of the intellectually blind, and that the persecuting Jews were representatives of those who have intellectual sight, but abuse that divine gift. The Lord's coming had both the purpose and the effect of leading the simple-minded into the truth, and hiding it from the wise and prudent. Those who see only from themselves see only for themselves; and the more they see, the more they pervert the truth to their own aggrandisement and exaltation. Those, on the other hand, who see not, but desire to see, that they may do, are led of the Lord, and follow him. Judgment is one of the divine works connected with every coming of the Lord. The separation of the evil and the good in the spiritual world has its corresponding effects in the church, and in the minds of the regenerate individually. Discrimination and separation between evil and good, falsehood and truth, is the work of judgment. We shall see the beneficent purpose of this in the Lord's concluding words to the Pharisees.



40. Some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also?

These men understood the nature of the blindness of which the Lord spice. But they seem to have taken offence at the supposed implication that they were among the blind, who needed to have their eyes opened. The "blind Pharisee" supposes himself to be the most clear-sighted. Cunning always imagines itself to be wisdom; falsehood claims to be truth.

41. Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.

Sin is the transgression of the law. "Where no law is, there is no transgression." What amounts to the same, where there is no knowledge of law there is no transgression. And this is indeed the true state of the case with regard to the divine law. That law, though eternal and immutable, exists to us only when we know it. Ignorance, which exists in its absolute state only in infancy, is sinless. Comparative ignorance gives comparative immunity from blame. True and consolatory it is, that "if ye were blind ye would have no sin." The blind know something of their want of sight, and do not boast of seeing. Those who say they see are not less blind, but theirs is the guilty blindness of self-conceit. They, seeing, see not, neither understand. They have science, but no wisdom. They see the faults of others, but are blind to their own. They have the knowledge that would enable them to see their own sins if they were willing to see them. And having this knowledge of sin, their sin remaineth, for they make no effort to remove it by repentance and self-denial.


This is not a new discourse, but a continuation of that recorded in the last chapter. The connection is evident in the literal sense. The Lord contrasts himself, as the Good Shepherd, with the Jewish teachers, as evil shepherds. No more beautiful description of the true and the false pastor could be given than that presented in the parable of the good shepherd. Still more intimate the connection, still more beautiful the description, in the internal sense, where its truths are seen in their universal application.

1, 2. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.



The church on earth and in heaven is the Lord's sheepfold. The aspect in which the church is presented is different under this figure from what it is when called by other names, as for instance a vineyard. A vineyard is the spiritual church, a sheepfold is the celestial. But the point here to be considered is the door of the fold through which the true shepherd enters, whose conduct is contrasted with that of thieves and robbers, who climb up some other way. As the Lord afterwards explains, a door is an evident symbol of that which introduces into the church; and lets in, either to truth, or to good, or to the Lord. Hence a door signifies truth itself, good itself, and the Lord himself; for truth leads to good, and good leads to the Lord. The doors and veils of the tabernacle and temple represented these. To enter the sheepfold by the Lord is to acknowledge, believe in, and love him, as he frequently taught. He who entereth not by the door, but climbs up another way, is one who attempts to climb up to heaven by his own strength, and to gain admission in his own name. He who takes from the Lord what is his, and claims it for himself, is a thief and a robber. He robs the Lord of his merit and righteousness, of his redemption and salvation. Robbing the Lord, he robs himself, and indeed he robs the Lord in himself, and thus robs himself of the Lord, or of his love and truth. In his mind Jesus is but a name, emptied of all significance and power. In a mere abstract sense, false and evil principles in the mind are the thief and the robber, for these steal away all good out of the heart and all truth out of the understanding.

2. But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.

In the supreme sense the shepherd is the Lord. In the secondary sense he is the faithful pastor. In the spiritual sense he is the faithful Christian. Sheep, in the abstract sense, are the graces of love and charity; and every one is a spiritual shepherd who cherishes these graces in his heart and cultivates them in his life. He, in imitation of his Lord, carries the lambs in his bosom, and gently leads those who are with young, or give suck. The fold itself is in his own warm heart, fenced about with truths in a careful and enlightened understanding. The door by which he enters is his rational faculty, and is the acknowledgment, in the understanding from the heart, that the Lord is his shepherd, and that through him and in him there is life and safety.

3. To him the porter openeth.

This is not to be considered merely as a figure introduced to complete or adorn the parable. In the Word every thing is significant and significative. Who then, and what, is this porter? The shepherd and the porter are distinguished from each other as love and wisdom. Wisdom is the guardian of what love cherishes as a treasure.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 232 Wisdom or intelligence is the watchman on the wall, the porter at the gate. It gives warning of the approach of the enemy or of the friend, and shuts the door to exclude the one, or opens it to admit the other. It is the same if we say that charity is the shepherd and faith the porter, for faith keeps the door of the heart where charity dwells. Therefore to Peter, who represented faith, were given the keys of the kingdom; and they were given: to him when he had acknowledged. Jesus to be "the Son of the living God," (Matt. xvi. 16, john vi. 69). The porter opens the door to the shepherd of the sheep. Wisdom opens the way for the entrance of love. No one reaches the primary principle of love but through the secondary principle of wisdom; no one comes to genuine charity but through faith. There may be natural charity before there is faith, but faith is necessary to make charity spiritual, which is the same as saying that truth is required to make good genuine, and wisdom is needed to make love pure and useful. Of the shepherd it is said, And the sheep hear his voice. In speech, sound expresses affection, and articulation thought. The sheep hearing the shepherd's voice means that those who are in charity to their neighbour are receptive of the Lord's love. They perceive his truths, indeed, and even with greater perfection than others, but his love is that which primarily affects them. Their every thought is affection thinking. The Lord addresses himself to their thought as well as to their affection. He calleth his own sheep by name. A name is expressive of quality or character. The Lord knows the quality of every one, and adapts his teaching, as he adapts all the operations of his providence, to their character and state. His calling them by name implies also that he gives them to know their own character, and to know him through this knowledge of themselves, for when the Lord speaks, he speaks not only to us but in us. Thus he knows his own sheep by name; and knowing their quality, he leads them out. To lead the sheep out means, to draw forth the affections of charity from the inner man to the performance of works of charity in the outer life. It is thus that the Lord affects, instructs, and leads us.

4. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them.

The ancient custom of shepherds leading their flocks, not driving them, affords a beautiful symbol of the conduct of the Divine, and of every spiritual shepherd. The faithful pastor reproves as well as instructs, but in both he goes before his flock, leading them by his example. The shepherd's going before his sheep implies also their intelligence to follow him, as it is said they do; and the reason is given, that they know his voice.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 233 In the previous verse it is said that the shepherd "leads" his sheep; here it is said that "he putteth them forth." When man is under the instruction of truth he is being led to good, and when he has attained a state of good, he goes forth to the discharge of all the duties which truth teaches and which good delights in performing.

5. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him; for they know not the voice of strangers.

As the shepherd is one who appeals to his flock by truths grounded in good, the stranger is one who appeals to them by falsity grounded in evil. The sheep, therefore, will not follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they know not the voice of strangers.

6. This parable spake Jesus unto them; but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them.

The Lord's parables were framed for the use of those who were without, and were commonly understood, as they were intended to be understood, by those to whom they were addressed. The Jews in general, and the Pharisees in particular, who heard this parable, did not understand it to represent that the faculty of perceiving truth was now so far destroyed in the Jewish church, that it was incapable of seeing the things that belonged to its peace. The Jews saw not the application of this parable to themselves. They knew the subject described, but they understood not the things as having reference to them or their teachers, or to Jesus himself.

7. The Lord, therefore, proceeds, contrary to his usual custom, to explain to them the meaning of the parable in its immediate reference to himself and them.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep.

Did they understand this explanation? The question for us is, Do we understand it? The Lord is the door as to his Divine Humanity. This is the great medium, brought in to unite in one all things that had been divided and rent asunder by evil introduced through the fall. Thus had been broken off the communication between heaven and the world, and between God and man. The Lord's divine humanity became the door, through which God had access to man and man to God; and as a consequence, all the channels of life and blessing were opened up through it anew. The Lord is thus the door of the sheep. Through him there is admission into the church, on earth and in heaven, and security against evil.

8. All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers.

This statement has been felt hard to be understood. It cannot mean that all pastors that preceded him were wicked, nor is it considered to relate to false Christs, none claiming that character having appeared before the Lord's advent.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 234 If the natural reference is obscure the spiritual meaning is clear. All who ever came before Jesus are all who ever claimed pre-eminence for themselves, by teaching in their own spirit, and with a view to their own glory; who have thus preferred themselves before him. These were thieves and robbers, as arrogating to themselves what belongs to the Lord. But, abstractly, those who came before the Lord are the principles of evil and falsity, which are directly opposed to his goodness and truth, which they even seek to steal out of the human heart and understanding. But the sheep did not hear them. The sheep are the affections of good and truth, or of charity and faith in the heart. Something of these had been preserved in the minds of men; and some persons in whom these affections had been active, had, in all ages, been a remnant saved from the general corruption and decay. These did not hear the evil shepherdsthey did not suffer themselves to be seduced by evil and false principles.

9. The Lord again declares, I am the door; but he repeats this truth to teach the use and benefit which we may derive from him as a medium.

By me, if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.

Salvation is through the Divine Humanity of the Lord. And he is the Saviour, because, having glorified himself; he is able to regenerate us. To enter through him is to pass through all states corresponding to those which he passed through. We can only 'be saved by being regenerated, and we can only be regenerated-as the Lord was glorified. Those who are saved shall go in and out. To go in is to enter into states of love and charity, and to go out is to proceed from those inward states to outward acts of holiness and piety, The pastures which such find are the good and truth which recreate and sustain the soul, and which are received by those who acknowledge the Lord.

10. A contrast is now drawn between the true and the false shepherd.

The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

The evil of merit is specifically meant by the thief. But evil and falsity of every kind are of the same character; they come not, but for to steal, and kill, and destroy, that is, to alienate from the mind all good and truth, and to kill with evil and destroy with falsity. But the Lord, with his good and truth, comes to the soul, to give it life, that is, the life of love and faith, and to give it abundantly. Specifically, love is life, and the life of love in the will reproduces itself by truths in the understanding, which is meant by life abounding.



11. The Lord had spoken of himself as the door, through which the shepherd enters; he now calls himself the shepherd, and not only the shepherd, but the good shepherd. The character here assumed by the Lord is one of the most prominent of those applied to Jehovah in the Old Testament; and, like many other titles and names, shows the identity of Jehovah and Jesus. Spiritually, the Lord is our shepherd as to his divine love, as he is the door as to his divine truth; or, what amounts to the same, he is the shepherd as to his divinity and the door as to his humanity. His Divinity enters into our minds through his humanity; his love enters through his truth.

The good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.

What is called life is more properly soul. In a more external sense, the soul which the Lord laid down was that which in Gethsemane was exceedingly sorrowful even unto death, and which died upon the cross. Of the two terms which are translated life in the New Testament, one signifies the life of the internal man and the other the life of the external, or, what is the same, one the life of love and the other the life of truth. The Lord was tempted, and suffered, and died as to his external man, the life of which he laid down; the life of his internal man was above temptation and all its concomitants. The external man is the seat of hereditary evil, and the truth which is first therein is obscured by appearances and fallacies. These the Lord laid down. But he laid down his life (his soul) that he might take it again. And when, by temptation, the last of which was the passion of the cross, the Lord put off all hereditary evil and all appearances of truth, through which he had been tempted, he took up the life of the external man and the life of truth in their perfection and power. And this new soul, which in the Lord is a quickening spirit, he gives to man; that as he lives they may live also.

12. But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth; and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep.

A hireling is not one who receives hire for his work, but who works for the sake of hire, and whose only interest in his labour is its profit. A hireling is one whose own the sheep are not. Spiritually, he is one who has no charity and faith of his own. He has them, but does not possess them. One of the characteristics of the real shepherd is, that he defends the sheep, even at the expense of his own life. The hireling does not lay down his life for the sheep. His love for charity and faith are not strong enough to make him give up self and the world for their sake. He flees at the very approach of danger. He offers no resistance to evil. When "he seeth the wolf coming, he leaveth the sheep, and fleeth."


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 236 The wolf is in our own hearts; but when our fear of the wolf is greater than our love of the sheep, or when our fear of death is stronger than the love of life, the sheep will be given up to their enemy, who will seize and scatter them. And here we see the complete dissipation of everything good and true in the mind, when good and truth are unresistingly yielded up to the power of evil and falsity; for evil seizes the sheep and falsehood scatters them, and thus they unitedly destroy everything heavenly, both in the will and in the understanding.

13. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.

It is of the very nature of a hireling to flee from danger. Those who place merit in righteousness have neither the motive nor the power to stand against temptation. When the lusts of evil and falsity break forth like the evening wolf, seeking to devour, and there is no real affection for goodness, no real resistance will be offered.

14. The Lord again says of himself,

I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.

This reciprocal knowledge of the Lord and his people had been alluded to in the sheep knowing the shepherd's voice; here their knowledge of him is more complete; and such reciprocation produces that completeness of conjunction which is expressed by the Lord being in his disciples and his disciples in him.

15. This conjunction between the Lord and man is the effect and the pattern of union between the Lord and the Father.

As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.

From the reciprocal knowledge of him and of his people, the Lord turns to the reciprocal knowledge of himself and the Father. The cases are more than analogous, they are related to each other as cause and effect. The Lord asserts his perfect equality with the Father, which he so often and emphatically teaches. In the present instance, equal knowledge of each other is the mode of expressing equal infinity, for such knowledge must be infinite. And this infinite knowledge implies infinite union and oneness. The union of the divine and the human in the person of the Lord is the origin and exemplar of union between him and his children. And this union of the divine and the human was effected by the human laying down its life for the sheep. The Lord's love for the human race, his desire for their salvation, was that from which he fought against all the powers of evil and darkness, and which made him lay down the life of his hereditary or maternal humanity. In this the good shepherd is distinguished from the hireling; the hireling does not lay down his life for the sheep.

16. But the Lord laid down his life for others besides those he calls his own.



And other sheep have I, which are not of this fold: them also must I bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.

In the proximate sense, the sheep whom the Lord calls his own, are the good who belong to his visible church, where the Word is; and the other sheep, which are not of this fold, are those scattered throughout the world, who live in mutual charity according to the religious light they possess. These are also the Lord's sheep, whom he shall bring into his sheepfold, and take under his pastoral care. In a more interior sense, or higher application, the two flocks are those who constitute the two kingdoms of the Lord, the celestial and the spiritual; and the ingathering of the other sheep, which were not of the celestial fold, relates to the salvation of the spiritual, which was especially effected by the coming of the Lord. And not only does the Lord's declaration point to a prospective result of his Incarnation in the natural world, but to an immediate effect which was to flow from it in the spiritual world. As this is a subject of great interest and importance, as exhibiting the grandeur and beneficence of the work of Redemption, in its immediate though unseen results in the eternal world, it may be well to consider it with some degree of minuteness.

The whole heaven is distinguished into three heavens, and into two kingdoms. This distinction did not exist actually, though it existed potentially, before the coming of the Lord. "At that time the spiritual kingdom was not distinct from the celestial kingdom, as after the Lord's coming, but was one with the celestial, though only its external." Heaven, as it then existed, necessarily resembled the man of the most ancient church, from which it had been essentially derived. In the men of that church the understanding was not distinct from the will, as in the men of the succeeding church, but was one with the will, through its external. The celestial and spiritual kingdoms, which are the will and the understanding of the grand man, were thus circumstanced as they had been in individual or least man.

When the Adamic or most ancient church was consummated, and the Noetic or ancient church commenced, a miraculous change was effected in the condition of the human mind. The understanding was so far separated or discriminated from the will as to be able to act distinctly, and no longer as the unresisting instrument and echo of the voluntary faculty. No corresponding change was, however, then effected in the condition or form of heaven. The reason of this was, that no separate heaven or distinct kingdom could be formed of those who belonged to the spiritual church, till after the Lord had come into the world, and accomplished the works of redemption and glorification.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 238 The Lord, by his divine work in the flesh, redeemed angels as well as men, and ordinated heaven as well as subjugated hell. As part of the more perfect order which the Lord's divine works introduced into the spiritual world, heaven was formed into two distinct kingdoms. The spiritual kingdom, which had formed the external of the celestial kingdom, acquired a distinct individuality, and became the nucleus of the new heaven and new kingdom formed of those who had remained in the world of spirits from the time of Noah (1 Pet. iii. 20), whom the Lord released after his resurrection, and raised into heaven at his ascension. This was that great deliverance and beatification which had been foreshadowed in the emancipation of Israel from Egyptian bondage, their journey through the desert, and their entrance into Canaan. The Lord's divine work had the effect of making the two kingdoms at once more distinct and more united. One part of that work consisted in the Lord's effecting an absolutely perfect distinction and union between the principles of goodness and truth in his own person, by the glorification of his humanity. That distinction and that union in him, are the origin and the archetype of their distinction and union in heaven and the church, and in the human mind. We therefore find in the Word predictions both. of a distinction and a union of these two kingdoms at the time of the first advent. The separation of the spiritual kingdom from the celestial is described representatively by the division of the kingdom of Israel into two kingdoms, after the time of Solomon (1 Kings xii.), and prophetically by the cleaving of the mount of Olives in the midst when the feet of the Messiah rested upon it (Zech. xiv. 4); and the union of the two kingdoms is described in the numerous predictions of Judah and Israel being again united into one glorious and enduring kingdom, under the endless reign of one kingthe Messiah.

Those whom the Lord raised up and formed into the new spiritual kingdom, were the other sheep the Lord had, which he was to bring, which should hear his voice, and should combine with his own sheep to form one fold, under one Shepherd.

17. The Lord now speaks of the means by which his flock were to be gathered into one.

Therefore doth my Rather love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it up again.

We are not to look at this from a natural point of view. A human father may love his son more or less as he is more or less obedient. The Divine Father does not love thus. He loves more or less as his love is more or less received. The Father's love in the Son could be increased, but the Father's love for the Son could not.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 239 And here we observe that the Father loved the Son, not only because he laid down his life, but because he laid it down that he might take it again. The divinity entered into and filled the humanity so far as the hereditary life of the humanity was laid down; the divine love was united with the divine wisdom iii the Lord's humanity, so far as the appearances of truth, which adhered to it in the Lord's early life, were removed. This removal was effected by means of temptations, the last of which was the passion of the cross. And when the merely human life and light were thus extinguished, and there was no longer any ground of temptation, the Lord took his life again, the life of his humanity now glorified by union with his essential divinity.

18. Of his life the Lord says,

No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.

His was a voluntary sacrifice, a free-will offering. He gave himself for us. What love does this bespeak on his part! What gratitude does it demand on ours! Do we sufficiently reflect on the great truth which the Lord declares in these divine words? Of the extent and intensity of his sufferings we can form no adequate conception. He had to contend for our redemption against the whole powers of darkness in the other world, and of evil in this. And yet, while he suffered as never man suffered, he possessed the power by which he could have destroyed his enemies. These words express another truth, relating to the Lord's redemption. He carried on the conflict of temptation by his own inherent power. He was, so to speak, left to carry on this conflict alone. He was not indeed alone, for the Father was with him. But his human consciousness was alone in his states of humiliation. He then felt as a man and acted as a man. So distinct and separate was his human consciousness, that, in the hour of his greatest trial, it appeared to him as if the divinity were absent, and had forsaken him. All this was necessary. Redemption, and the union of his divinity and humanity, could not have been accomplished, unless the Lord had acted of himself from the depths of his human consciousness. The Lord as a man was in absolute freedom; he was free to lay down his life; and he laid it down of himself. Yet the divinity was not excluded from the Lord's human freedom. In laying down his life, he obeyed a commandment he received from his Father. The humanity submitted to the will and complied with the requirements of the divinity. Not that Jesus acted in obedience to a formal command, but in agreement with a dictate of his indwelling divinity.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 240 In this as in all other cases he, as the Divine Truth, complied with promptings of his own Divine Love. The commandment which he obeyed was the law of infinite and unchangeable love. This was the commandment he received of his Father.

19-21. When the Lord had spoken these divine words, full of mercy as of wisdom,

There was a division therefore again among the Jews for these sayings. And many of them said, He hath a devil, and is mad; why hear ye him? Others said, These are not the words of him that hath a devil: can a devil open the eyes of the blind?

The people had been divided on account of his doings in respect to the blind man; and now they are divided on account of his sayings in regard to himself. The words as well as the works of the Lord tend to division. He came not to send peace on earth, but a sword, the sword of the Spirit, which divides between the evil and the good, the faithful and the unfaithful in the church, and between evil and good, and truth and error, in the individual mind. For this kind of judgment the Lord came into the world. Only by the separation of opposites can the church he restored and man be regenerated. This separation is the introduction of order. When things opposite in character range themselves on opposite sides, the principles of goodness and truth are brought into a heavenly form, as the means by which the opposite principles of evil and falsity are resisted and overcome. Those which range themselves on the evil side are they which say, "He hath a devil, and is mad; why hear ye him?" They invert divine order, calling goodness demoniacal, and wisdom madness. And this they do that they may close the will against the admission of the Lord's love. On the other hand, those which range themselves on the side of goodness, have a perception that truth cannot proceed from evil; and that evil cannot open the understanding to perceive the truth. Can a devil open the eyes of the blind? There is a wisdom which comes from the tree of knowledge, as well as a wisdom that comes from the tree of life. But how different are they in their character and results. One is sensual, the other is spiritual. By their fruits ye shall know them.

22. And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter.

This feast commemorated the purification and consecration of the temple by costly sacrifices, after it had been profaned by Antiochus Epiphanes. The date of that event prevents its being mentioned in any of the canonical books of the Old Testament; but the introduction of it by inspired writers into the New, gives the present reference to the commemorative feast a divine significance. The Lord himself was now about to complete the purification of the temple of his body by the grand sacrifice of himself, and to consecrate it, glorified to the service of the indwelling Deity.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 241 Hence he was about also to purify and sanctify to himself his mystical body the church; and those who now acknowledged him were among its first-fruits. But while it was the dedication with him and with those who confessed and favoured him, it was winter with the Jewish church in general, and with those in particular who decried and contemned him.

23. And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon's porch.

Those who look no deeper than the letter tell us that Jesus walked in the porch of the temple to seek shelter from the inclemency of the weather. He had a higher purpose, and his act has a deeper meaning. This act had symbolic reference to the temple of his body, personal and mystical. The Lord stood, as it were, on the threshold of his glorification. He walked in the porch of that magnificent temple in which the divinity was to dwell, and according to the pattern of which his temple, the church, was to be sanctified, so that he might dwell with men, and be their God, and they his people. Solomon was an eminent representative of the Lord in his glory, that is, in his glorified humanity; and this porch, named from him, is expressive of the Lord's state, and the state of those with whom he there conversed.

24, 25. Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly. Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness of me.

It is remarkable that those who are little disposed to believe ask for some positive assurancesome one thing that shall convince them of some other and entirely different thing. The teaching and works of Jesus were much better testimony than his solemn asseveration. So he refuses to yield to their demand, and appeals to the works that he did in his Father's name, as bearing witness of him. He had indeed told them before, and they believed not. Although this telling is not recorded, they must have received the information. But if they knew that he professed or claimed to be the Christ, why should they ask for a formal assurance that he was? If they believed not his works, would they have believed his word? He did his works in the Father's name; that is, in the spirit and power of the divine nature. His were the works of omnipotence and love, showing forth the attributes of the divinity that dwelt within him. What better evidence could men receive that he was indeed the Messiah?

26. Their unbelief had another cause. It did not arise from want of evidence, but from want of the disposition to admit it.



Ye believe not; because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.

We have seen that the Lord's sheep are they who are in love and charity. Not any chosen number are meant, to whom is given the gift of faith, but all who have the will to believe. This will is not indeed of man, but of the Lord, and he gives it to all who do not refuse it. Those who receive it are his sheep. The love of truth, which forms the foundation of faith, is from him. The cause of reception and rejection lies deeply seated in man's free will, beyond another's ken, as beyond his control.

27, 28. The Lord repeats his words,

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:

and then proceeds,

And I give them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

Here we see that men may be his sheep, and yet require eternal life through the Lord's work of salvation. Those who are in the good of charity are the Lord's sheep, but good without truth is natural; truth makes it spiritual, for truth directs it to a Divine object and to eternal ends, and thus gives to it eternal life. And when the good in man is thus enriched and confirmed by truth, it shall never perish, neither shall any pluck it out of the Lord's hand. Those whose charity is united to faith, or whose good is united to truth, are safe in the Lord's divine hand, which is his omnipotence. And that which is specifically meant is the omnipotence of his divine humanity, or of his divine truth. Those who are sincere in their charity, however simple and unenlightened they may be, are received into heaven, as the Lord's sheepfold, when they enter the eternal world. They cannot, indeed, pass into heaven as angels, until their charity has been united to faith; but as all who are in good eagerly receive truth in the other life, they only remain in the middle state till they have entered into the marriage of charity and faith, when they enter, as a natural result, into heaven.

29. And not only are they in and under the protection of his divine Truth, but also of his divinity or Love.

My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no one is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.

In the "all" the Lord includes himself, for he had said, "The Father is greater than I." How greater, if both are divine? Divine is greater than human, love is greater than wisdom, good is greater than truth, because one is the essence and the other the form; one is the producer, the other the produced. In this sense it is the Father is greater than the Sonthan. all. For this reason none is able to pluck them out of his Father's hand. But this does not arise from the Father being greater or more powerful than the Son, as they are in themselves, but as they are in us.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 243 The Father is the Divine love; and when the love of God is in our hearts, the Father dwells in us, and we are in his hand; and the Son is the Divine wisdom; and when the Lord's wisdom or truth is in our understanding, the Son dwells in us, and we are in his hand. Our Lord speaks of his sheep being both in his hand and in his Father's hand, to teach us that those who are truly his people are both in faith and in love to him; and, although these two essential Christian graces are under the double protection of the omnipotence of his truth and love; yet, as love or charity is the greatest of Christian graces, it secures for the Christian the greatest protection, since it produces the closest union with the Lord. There is certainly something remarkable in the Lord's declaration respecting his Father and himself. He first speaks of his own power as being such that none can pluck his sheep out of his hand, and then speaks of his Father's power as being still greater than his own, and of those who are in his hand as being still more secure than in his own. Yet the Lord tells us that the Father hath given all power into the hand of the Son; and we know that the Divinity exercises all its power by the Humanity, that divine Love exercises all its power by divine Truth. The practical meaning is the real one. The Lord does not speak of the power of the Father and the power of the Son in the absolute but in the relative sense; not as they are in themselves, but as they are in us. Our love to the Lord is the Lord's love in us; our faith in the Lord is his truth in us. The Father's power in us is the power of his love in our hearts, the Son's power in us is the power of his truth in our understandings. As love is the greatest of Christian graces, it enters most deeply into the affections of the heart, and most fully into the actions of the life. The Lord's love in the heart is that which forms our best, and indeed, our only ground of security; and this our Lord teaches when he says, "the Father gave them to me," intimating that it is only those whose faith has its origin in love who can enjoy the security of his divine protectionthe double protection of his truth and of his love. These are the hand of the Son and the hand of the Father, from which no power can pluck us.

30. But although the attributes, or rather essentials, of love and wisdom in the Lord are distinct, they are yet one and inseparable.

I and the Father are one.

Whether we speak of divinity and humanity, or of love and wisdom, in the Lord, unity is equally to be understood as necessarily belonging to them. We need not enter into the doctrinal idea, so as to present it under a controversial aspect. The unity of the Godhead must be a real unity. Two persons and one God present indeed the real idea of two, but not the real idea of one.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 244 But a real distinction and an equally real union are presented to the mind, when divinity and humanity are the two, and the person of the Lord Jesus Christ is the one. For the distinction and union are then seen to be as perfect as those of soul and body in man. And if we look at the subject under another aspect, it is the same. Love and wisdom in the Lord are like will and understanding in man, or, what amounts to the same, like charity and faith, or good and truth, in the mind. And here we may remark that the Lord's words, "I and the Father are one," are equally true, whether we consider it applicable to the Lord himself, or to the Lord in the minds of the regenerate. The two essential principles are one in their divine sense, and in their sincere human recipient.

31. Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him.

We find in a future verse the reason of this meditated violence. We only remark here on its spiritual sense. The more exalted a truth is, and the more plainly it is declared to those who are in a negative spirit, the more violent is their hatred and opposition to it. This taking up stones to stone Jesus, symbolized an act of those who are spiritually opposed to the Lord's truth. Stones signify falsities; and their taking them up signifies the raising of falsities out of the memory into the intellect, and thence holding them in readiness to destroy with them, if possible, the hated truth. It is remarkable that the infuriated Jews never actually stoned Jesus, even when they seized the stones with the intention of doing so. They were overawed by his calm and commanding presence, and restrained by his divine influence. We can hardly imagine more power than that exercised by the Lord over the Jews on these occasions. There is no intimation and no indication of fear, no shrinking in the presence of an infuriated people, burning with intense religious zeal to avenge what they regarded as an outrage on their faith. This power over his enemies must have been greatly increased by the words he addressed to them, and his manner in doing so.

32. Jesus answered them,

Many good works have I showed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me?

he Lord had done many good works; and even his enemies could not convict him of having done an evil one. For which of those beneficent works did they intend to stone him? This question may still be asked of those who take up the weapons of falsehood to destroy the truth, which they hate but cannot gainsay. The Lord appeals to the good he had done from his Father, the very character of which evinced that they were done by divine power, and beneficent as well as divine. They were done from infinite love, this being indicated by the Lord's declaration that they originated with his Father.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 245 If divine Truth acts from divine Love, and therefore does nothing but good, against which particular good is the opposition directed? To demand of man what particular good they oppose, is similar to demanding of them from what particular evil their opposition to good proceeds; thus it is the same as to ask them to examine themselves, in order to discover their particular sins.

33. The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not, but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.

It has been often and well remarked, that these Jewish students of the Old Testament understood the Lord's claim of unity with the Father to have been equivalent to his claiming to be God. It shows, however, that while they understood him as claiming to be God, they believed him to be no more than man. Neither his works nor his teaching had impressed them with the idea that he had any claim to divinity. They considered him guilty of blasphemy in speaking of oneness with God. Yet they themselves were guilty of this sin, for they blasphemed the truth in turning the words of Jesus into falsehood. And this is still the cause of offence to the natural man, that "thou, being a man, makest thyself God." Not simply the divinity of the Lord, but the divinity of his humanity, which the Lord's claim implies, is the great stumbling stone and rock of offence to the natural mind. This is the truth that the natural man denies and falsifies, and would willingly extinguish. It is, in his estimation, blasphemy for the Lord to say he is the Son of God. To say this is the same as to assert that his humanity is divine. For the Lord was the Son of God as to his humanity; and he was the Son of God, not only as born of Mary, when he came into the world, but especially as born of God, when he went out of the world. This birth was glorification, and to glorify is to make divine.

34-36. To the accusation that, in claiming to be the Son of God, the Lord made himself God, he

answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; say ye of him, whom the rather hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?

The Lord condemns them by their own law. If those to whom the word of God came were thence called gods, Jesus, whom God had sanctified and sent into the world, could not blaspheme in calling himself the Son of God. The passage in the "law" referred to is in the 82d Psalm, "I have said, Ye are gods." The reason of this application of the Divine name to men is to be found in its spiritual meaning.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 246 It is known that the name itself is in the plural form, and, when applied to the Divine Being, is considered to express excellence. But the spiritual ground of that form is, that the name is expressive of the divine nature as to truth, while Jehovah is expressive of the divine nature as to good: and Truth is manifold, but Good is one. God (Elohim) is therefore expressive of the Divine Truth in heaven and in the church; and therefore is applied both to angels and men, as in Psalms viii. 5; lxxxii. 1, 6; who are called gods from their reception of divine truths from the Lord. But if they are called gods to whom the word of God came, how much more entitled to the name of God must he be who is the Word of God itself; who was "in the beginning with God, and was God," and who came to enlighten angels and men? Those, spiritually understood, to whom the word of God comes, are the regenerate; who, as such, are, "partakers of the Divine nature" (2 Pet. i. 4). But he whom the Father sanctified and sent into world, is the Eternal Word, the Holy One, begotten of the Father, and, as such, is not simply a partaker, but the possessor of the Divine nature, all the fulness of the Godhead dwelling bodily in him (Col. ii. 9). The name Son of God, we have seen, denotes especially the humanity glorified, this being truly the Son, by actual birth of the Father. Jesus by glorification is the Son in the divine sense, as we by regeneration are sons in the spiritual sense. The Lord speaks of being sanctified before being sent into the world. To be sanctified is the same as to be anointed. As the anointed, Jesus is the Christ. The holy- oil was a symbol of the divine Love; and Jesus is the anointed as divine Wisdom filled with divine Love. Such was the Lord when he came into the world, as the Holy thing. In reference to the regenerate, the Son is sanctified, and sent into the world by the Father, when the Lord's truth in them is receptive of his love, and, thus sanctified, is sent or comes forth from the heaven of the internal man into the world of the external, to redeem and save him.

37. If the Jews would not believe the word of Jesus, they might have believed his works.

If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not.

Without entering into the dogmatic view, we may observe that, spiritually, there is a difference between the works of the Father and those of the Son. Those which are called his Father's works are works in which the Divine love and mercy are more especially manifested; those which are called the Son's works, are works in which the divine wisdom and truth are more especially manifested. In one sense all the Lord's works are works of the Father, because, as he explains, the Father that dwelt in him did the works.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 247 But in this instance the Lord points out the only just ground on which they could reject his claim. "If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not." How were they to know whether the works of Jesus were the works of his Father? By not only knowing that his works were evidences of divine power, but that they bore the marks of divine love. But there are internal evidences of the divinity of the Lord's works, which never fail to convince. The Lord does the works of the Father in his children, when he does the works of love in their hearts. And unless we suffer these works to be done in us, we cannot believe in the Son. And this is in agreement with the Lord's words, "No one can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him."

38. But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works; that ye may know, and believe that the Father is in me, and I in him.

Every one knows with certainty a good work, but every one does not with equal certainty know a true word. The heart is a still better judge than the understanding; and the Lord appeals from the intellect to the heart. "If ye believe not me, believe the works." Those which the Lord did spoke for themselves. "No man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him." But the Lord appealed to his works, as evidences that the Father was in him, and also that he was in the Father. How could any one behold the stupendous and beneficent works which Jesus performed, and yet refuse to believe that they proceeded from an indwelling divinity? But there are other works besides those outward works. Those which carry conviction with them, are the works which are done in the heart itself: The works that change the heart are the Father's works, and they produce belief in the Son, and in the union of the Divine and Human, and of Divine good and Divine truth in the Lord the Saviour.

39. Therefore they sought again to take him: but he escaped out of their hand.

Those who are not the subjects of the works of love, so far are they from being converted to belief in the words of truth, that they are exasperated against them, and seek even to destroy them. The unbelieving still seek to lay hold on Jesus. The evil are desirous to subject truth to their own power. But the Lord provides against this, by removing the truth from their presence, and thus from their power; it escapes out of their hand. This is another of his miraculous escapes. There could have been, in the ease of Jesus, none of those stratagems or disguises by which, under similar circumstances, mere men escape from the power of numerous, exasperated, and eager enemies.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 248 These did not properly constitute a mob, the confusion of which might give the Lord an opportunity to escape. They were around him as hearers, disputing with him and with each other, and a part of them were sufficiently united in design and action to have effected their purpose, had there been nothing in the character and power of Jesus to render their attempt abortive.

40. When Jesus escaped out of their hand,

he went away again beyond Jordan into the place where John at first baptized; and there he abode.

Jesus may be said to have sowed in the ground which John prepared. As john represented the letter of the Word, and Jesus was the Word itself, the Lord completed and perfected in himself and in his church all the states that had their beginning in John and in his work. Jesus goes away again beyond Jordan, to those without the church, and into the extremes, where the sphere of Divine Truth terminates, as it flows into the humanity and into the human mind, and thence begins to reascend to glorification and regeneration. "Beyond Jordan," is out of the holy land, but where there is entrance into it. "The place where John at first baptized," is the state in which the first purifying effect of repentance is experienced. But when Jesus comes and abides there, the baptism of the Holy Spirit and of fire succeeds to that of water. The outward man has been purified by self-denial; the inward man is now imbued with the spirit of truth and love. The higher gift comes when the lower duty is faithfully performed. Jesus cometh after John.

41. And many resorted unto him, and said, John did no miracle: but all things that John spake of this man were true.

The people resorting to Jesus shows reciprocation. Reciprocation is salvation. It is not the Lord's coming to us that actually saves us; it is our coming to him. He is always coming to us, and is always drawing us, that we may come to him. Our being drawn, attracted, our comingthis is actual life. Those who thus came to him said, "John did no miracle." This absence of all miraculous testimony on the part of John has often been remarked. It shows that miracles are not the necessary credentials of a divine messenger. Rational evidence is that which belongs to a spiritual dispensation. Here is the true witness, the real test"all things that John spake of this man were true." To see the truth of all that the Scripture saith respecting Jesus as our Saviour is the grand point. To find him to be in us and to us all that the Scriptures have taught and promised, is more than all miracles and signs.

42. And many believed on him there.

Belief was the result of finding in Jesus all that John had said respecting him.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 249 Happy are they whose faith in the Lord revives and vivifies in them the testimony of the Word, and whose experience seals their intellectual convictions; who moreover find in Jesus the truth that makes them free. There, where John baptized, is the state in which the baptism of repentance brings forth fruits meet for repentance. There Jesus in due time conies, and produces that living faith, which makes those who receive it the true disciples of Jesus, the children of their Father in heaven.


This chapter teaches some of the sublimest lessons contained in the gospel of our Lord and Saviour. It teaches, representatively as well as actually, that life and immortality were brought to light by the gospel. The resurrection of Lazarus from the dead represented the raising up of a church among the Gentiles; for all the miracles wrought by the Lord, as being divine, involved spiritual states of the church. But Lazarus may be considered as representing the Gentiles within the church; for Bethany was in Judea, and, as the home of the loving family of which Lazarus was a member, was a spiritual oasis in the desert of the Jewish church. In its personal application, it teaches the nature of the death in which all men are included, all being included under sin, and the means and the power of their resurrection.

1. The evangelist begins his narrative by saying,

'Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha.'

The brother of Martha and Mary bears a name which means "whom God helps." The spiritual significance of the name may be inferred from the Lord's having used it in his beautiful parable of the rich man and the beggar. Dives there signifying the Jews, rich in possessing the revealed Word as the treasury of saving knowledge, and Lazarus signifying the Gentiles, poor in being destitute of that source of the true riches. The Gentile state of those, among whom the Lord was now about to establish his church, is further indicated by Lazarus being of the town of Bethany. The palm tree, which gave its name to this village, afterwards rendered so illustrious by the Lord's ascension from it into heaven, is the emblem of spiritual goodness. But Bethany was a village, and as such signifies the external things of faith and consequently of the church, cities signifying the internal things of the church, which are eminently meant by Jerusalem, not very remote from which Bethany was situated.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 250 This suburban village of the holy city is called the town, not of Lazarus, but of Mary and her sister Martha. Both Lazarus and his sisters represented the Gentile church; but he represented its intellectual, they, its voluntary principle. More specifically, Lazarus was a type of the understanding of truth, Mary and Martha were types of the internal and external, or spiritual and natural affections of which truth is the object. Lazarus may be considered as the Jacob, and Martha and Mary the Leah and Rachel, of the New Testament - with the difference between the Jews and the Gentiles. Lazarus only was sick, intimating that among the Gentiles the intellectual life was that which was ill and ready to die, the affections being in a condition of healthy activity - not absolutely but relatively. Among the Gentiles the affections were essentially sound; it was the thought that fell under disease, not having certain truth to inform and guide it. The healthy affections of the mind were the good ground in which the seed of the kingdom could be sown, the medium through which the diseased and the dead intellect could be restored to life and health, as Mary and Martha were the means of bringing divine help to their brother. Lazarus and Mary and Martha were brother and sisters. The relation of sisters and brother is expressive of a less internal spiritual relationship than that of husband and wife; it implies affinity but not conjunction, at least not that intimate conjunction which constitutes oneness. These three, therefore, represent the three principles of spiritual life, love, charity, and faith, harmonious but not united - three, not one. Of these three loving ones Lazarus was sick. The sickness, ending in death, is the subject of the whole of this interesting history, which serves as the vehicle of so much spiritual instruction. The soul sickens as well as the body. Spiritual sickness arises from evil or error counteracting the operation of goodness and truth - from the activity, in fact, of principles opposite to, and destructive of, true life. Such is the sickness represented by that of Lazarus; and as evils era excited into activity by evil spirits, infestatation from such enemies is also included in the meaning of sickness. But although Lazarus was sick even unto death, there was one especially who was near and dear to him, through whom he had connection with the Author of health and life.

2. 'It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with, her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.'

This act of devotion to Jesus was not performed till after Lazarus was raised from the dead, and the pure love and profound humiliation which it signifies were the effect of this restoration to life.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 251 We shall speak of this when we come to the next chapter. Mary is here mentioned alone as the loving one whose brother was sick. And for the purpose of intimating that it was the intellectual life, considered in its relation to the spiritual affection of the mind, which was diseased and threatened with death, she is called that Mary who anointed the Lord's feet with ointment, to distinguish her from another Mary who followed the Lord, and to intimate that the affection she represented was that which afterwards made to the Saviour an offering of profound love and gratitude. The present state of Mary and of her sister Martha was one of affliction for the sickness of their brother.

3. The sisters in their affliction sent to Jesus, who was not then in Bethany. In tribulation the Lord appears absent, away from the soul, and distant in proportion to the severity of the trial. But the affliction which produces an appearance of the Lord's absence, causes the suffering soul to seek his presence. Therefore Mary and Martha sent unto Jesus, saying,

'Lord, he whom thou lovest is sick.'

A sense of the Lord's love in states of tribulation is the foundation of hope and the spirit of prayer. Precious is this sense of love in times of trial. But to have a sense of his love towards us his love must have a place in us. It is his love in our hearts that turns our affections and thoughts to him, to seek the salvation which he only possesses. We have an instance of this described in the first chapter of Revelation, in the beautiful language of correspondence. John heard a voice behind him, saying, I am Alpha and Omega; and when he turned to see the voice that spake with him, he saw the Son of man in the midst of seven golden candlesticks. The Lord's love flows into the will, and the influence of love on the will turns the understanding to him, to receive his wisdom.

4. It is almost unnecessary to say that Jesus knew of this sickness before he heard the message of Martha and Mary. Spiritually, the Lord hears our prayers, when our expressed desires are in accordance with his will. There is no direct petition in the sisters' message, but one is implied; for their object in sending to Jesus was to receive his aid:

'When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.'

The Lord expresses himself in language similar to that which he used relative to the man who was born blind. The sickness, he says, is not unto death, yet Lazarus died. He meant that it was not unto permanent death. It was only unto a death that should result in life. The death of Lazarus was analogous to the death which the righteous die. They die to sin, but by so doing they live to righteousness.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 252 They lay down their own life that they may receive life from the Lord. The righteous die daily, yet they never die. Every death unto sin is a resurrection unto the life of righteousness; and even death to the body is resurrection to the spirit. The sickness of Lazarus was also for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby. Whatever furnished the occasion for the Lord's divinity acting through his humanity was a means of his glorification. The glory of his divinity shone forth in the act, and the glorification of his humanity was advanced by means of it. But not only was the Lord's humanity glorified in itself; it was glorified also in those who were the subjects of his operations, for the Lord is also glorified in the salvation of his creatures.

5-7. The evangelist tells us that

'Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was. When after that saith he to his disciples, Let us go into Judea again.'

Delay may seem inconsistent with his love. It is one of the silent rebukes of his love. "Whom the Lord loves he rebukes and chastens." His love exposes us to rebuke and chastening. It is the Lord's love in us that rebukes our self-love, and the chastisement that we undergo is the result of the conflict between them. Those who have not the love of God in their hearts have nothing that rebukes or resists their evils. They have consequently no spiritual temptations (Ps. lxxiii. 5). But neither have they any spiritual triumphs. Although the Lord is a very present help in time of trouble, the tempted soul has no sense of his presence. Temptation is a time of tribulation and darkness, during which the Lord seems far away from the desolate heart. But he is there, though unfelt, and is active, though he seems to withhold his aid. Present in and acting through the hidden springs of spiritual love in the soul, he controls and overrules the conflict so as to make it end in the greatest possible good. The grand end of temptation is the conjunction of goodness and truth, first in the mind, then and thence in the life. This conjunction is signified by the number two. The Lord abode two days where he was, to represent that in states of temptation he abides, though remote from man's consciousness, in the interior of the mind, till he has effected the conjunction of good and truth there, that he may come and complete it in the exterior of the mind also. The Lord as the supreme good and truth, effects his entrance into the inferior region of the mind through the goods and truths of the Word. These are meant by his disciples, to whom he now proposes "to go into Judea again." He had left Judea on account of the violence of its people, and had gone to the place on the other side Jordan, where John at first baptized.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 253 The other side Jordan was principally the region of the Gentiles, the place where John baptized denoting where there is entrance into the church through the baptism of repentance. From this place the Lord now proposes to depart to go into Judea. This going is called again; because spiritual life is a successive ascending and descending from the external to the internal, and from the internal to the external, that by reciprocal and mutual action both may be perfected, and finally conjoined.

8. 'His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again?'

This describes an inquiry suggested by the truths of the Word, which the disciples represent, whether falsities originating in evils, meant by the stones of the Jews, which had opposed the divine truth in the interior of the mind, were not still in hostile opposition to them, and whether the holy truth of the Lord would not be in danger of suffering violence.

9, 10. 'Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world.'

The answer which the Lord now gives does not, in the literal sense, afford any clear meaning in relation to what goes before. Spiritually understood, the connection is clear. When the true church apprehends danger to the truth of good from the falses of evil, as the disciples apprehended danger to Jesus from the disposition of the Jews to stone him, then is the church instructed, that no danger is to be feared while men live according to the truth, meant by walking in the light. Independently of its connection, the Lord here teaches an instructive lesson by beautiful and expressive imagery. The day and the night, the light and the darkness, are, as every one can see, expressive of the two opposite states of knowledge and ignorance, and of truth and error. Every one can see also that ignorance and error cause us to stumble, and that knowledge and truth enable us to walk securely. One of the great uses of truth is that it enables us to know and see the way that leads to goodness and heaven, and to walk with certainty and safety in it. The Lord asks, "Are there not twelve hours in the day?" The day of probation is long enough to enable us to prepare for heaven. Yet the regenerate life is not attained by one act or in a moment of time, but is perfected by successive states, attained by means of truth. The successive states do not consist in advancing degrees of the knowledge of truth, although these are necessary degrees of the life of truth. We must not only have the light, but must walk in it. And the light that guides us must be in us; for if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 254 In the midst of light, we may be in darkness. It is the light that shines, not around us but within us, not in our memories and words but in our hearts and works, that enables us to glorify God in doing good to men, and that thus saves our own souls. The Lord calls this light the light of this world, because though divine in its origin and spiritual in its nature, it enters into and enlightens the natural mind, leading the natural thoughts, and through them the natural affections, in the paths of truth and righteousness.

11. 'These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.'

In the literal sense death is here called sleep, but in the spiritual sense there is a distinction between them. As sleep is the suspension, and death is the extinction, of sensible life, sleep represents a natural state of the intellect, and death a natural state of the will; for when naturalism invades the understanding, the functions of spiritual life are suspended, but when it invades the will, they perish. This distinction is seen in death itself, in which respiration of the lungs ceases before the pulsation of the heart; and the respiration of the lungs corresponds to the life of the understanding, and the pulsation of the heart to the life of the will. Spiritual death proceeds in the same order as natural death; first the life of the intellect ceases, then the life of the will. When intellectual life, or the life of truth ceases, man sleeps; when voluntary life, or the life of good ceases, he dies. This is the distinction meant by sleep and death in the Lord's words respecting Lazarus. And the same distinction is meant by the Lord's going to awaken Lazarus out of sleep, and raising him from the dead. The act indeed was one, but the life which he imparted was twofold, intellectual and voluntary, the life of good and of truth, of faith and of love.

12. When the Lord said Lazarus was asleep, the disciples answered,

'If he sleep, he shall do well.'

They thought not of the sleep of death, but of that which ministers to life and health, of that sleep which the Lord gives, and of which the living say, "I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety" (Ps. iv. 8); the sleep into which unfallen Adam was cast, during which the hard intellectual selfhood was taken out of him, and built up into a living form of life and beauty. This recreative sleep existed on earth when as yet there was no death, as it exists in heaven, where they know not what death is. Spiritual like natural sleep is a state in which man is passive and God alone is active, in which the Divine life supplies the waste which human energy has expended, and restores the equilibrium which it has disturbed.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 255 Had such been the sleep of Lazarus, he would have done well; but his sleep was something more than this.

13. 'Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking rest in sleep.'

To those who die while they live, death is the extinction of their carnal life. The disciple of the Lord dies daily. Every act of self-denial is a dying to sin, and these daily acts lead to a full and final laying down of the life of the corrupt self-hood. Yet on the part of the self-hood this is not a voluntary act. Our Lord's own case affords the highest example of this. He laid down his life, no one took it from him; yet even he shrank from the last agony, and prayed that the cup might pass from him; his life also was taken by his enemies, and in them it was a wicked deed. The death of the selfhood is an agony, and is effected by the agency of evil spirits, who excite it into activity. Their purpose is the destruction of the whole man; but when the conflict is over, they find themselves only in possession of the body of sin; the soul of righteousness, which had lived in it, is safe in the hand of the Lord, who is the Conqueror of hell and of death.

14. 'Then Jesus said unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.'

He announced the end of the conflict, even to the giving up of the life of the old man, though not yet to the taking up the life of the new. This is another act.

15. It is because even this kind of death is the gate of life, that the Lord said to his disciples,

'And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe.'

The Lord is intimately present with the Christian in states of temptation, without whose power he would utterly fail; but he is present in the final ends and tranquil affections of the inner life, not in the tumult of conflicting passions in the outer man. We are ruled by our ends, and on these the result of temptation depends. If the Lord is in our ends of life, he is then in all the conflicts of life, working out a happy issue; but his presence is not perceived; he even seems to be far away. If his presence were perceived in times of tribulation, the temptation would be arrested, and the evil in which it originated would remain unsubdued. If the Lord's presence be perceived, there can be none of the tribulation of temptation. The presence of the one implies the absence of the other. The Lord is not in the wind, the earthquake, or the fire, but in the still small voice which is heard when all the noise and tumult of temptation is past (1 Kings xix. 11, 12). The children of the bridechamber cannot fast so long as the bridegroom is with them.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 256 Jesus was glad that he was not there when Lazarus was sick; and he was glad for the sake of his disciples, that they might believe. Temptation is permitted, and is allowed to go on to its end, for the purpose of confirming our faith, for that which removes evil removes obstructions to faith and to every other grace. In the historical sense, the death of one is here permitted for the benefit of others; and no doubt every such dispensation is for use to the living as well as to the dead, but in the spiritual sense all the persons concerned are members of one body, who suffer and rejoice together - principles in one person, which, however distinct, participate in the common good or ill. The disciples represent all the principles of goodness and truth which constitute the church or the kingdom of the Lord in the human mind. How then could they require to be confirmed in faith? These principles are confirmed in faith when they are confirmed in the human mind. They believe when they are believed. Truth itself cannot doubt or disbelieve, yet there can be no doubt or disbelief without it. What is doubt or disbelief, but doubt or disbelief of the truth? Doubt comes between a state of knowledge and a state of faith. As perfect love casteth out fear, so perfect faith casteth out doubt; and doubt and disbelief must pass through a death, that faith may experience a resurrection. A new faith was to be begotten in the disciples at the tomb of Lazarus. Therefore said our Lord, Let us go unto him.

16. 'Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellow-disciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him.'

Literally, this refers to the death of Jesus, which the disciples apprehended from the violence of the Jews (v. 8). Spiritually, willingness to die with Jesus is willingness to die his death, that we may obtain his resurrection. The apostle Paul speaks of us dying with Christ, that we may rise with him. This dying is proposed by Thomas. That apostle, who refused to believe in the Lord's resurrection till he had put his fingers into the prints of the nails, and thrust his hand into his side, represented sensuous faith, or, in reference to that which is believed, the truth which addresses, itself to the senses. What then do we learn from this proposal coming from Thomas? We learn that even the most external truths of the Word teach the necessity of following the Lord unto death; and that the most external faith necessarily includes it. And that which is included in the lowest truth is contained in and is the concurrent testimony of all truth, meant by Thomas saying unto his fellow-disciples, "Let us also go, that we may die with him."

17. 'Then, when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already.'



Four, like two, signifies conjunction. Death, in regard to the evil, is the conjunction of evil and falsity, as life is of goodness and truth; but in respect to the regenerating man, it signifies the laying down of the life of the selfhood, as to everything evil and false. But Lazarus had not only been dead, but had lain in the grave four days. There is a difference between death and burial, between being dead and in the grave. Death is the extinction of life, burial the rejection of that which is dead. The grave therefore signifies a state of deeper temptation than death itself; so that to bring one up from the grave, is expressive of deliverance from a deeper state of spiritual death, or spiritual temptation, than simply restoration to life. In the Word we find death and the grave mentioned together; and one of the most impassioned predictions of the Lord's coming represents him as exclaiming, "I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction (Hosea xiii. 14). Death and the grave, or death and hell, are the two evils opposed to life and heaven, which the Lord came to conquer.

18. 'Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off.'

The history now turns from the dead to the living, and first to the place where they reside. Bethany already mentioned as the place of Martha and Mary, is now spoken of as to its distance from Jerusalem. Bethany being nigh to Jerusalem teaches us that the state of the Gentiles within the church was but little removed from that of the church itself. The relative state is more exactly described by the measured distance of the village from the city - about fifteen furlongs. Furlongs, like the ways measured by them, signify progression by successive stages from one state to another. The number fifteen derives its signification from its components, ten and five. Ten signifies remains, and five a little. Thus understood, the distance of Bethany from Jerusalem tells us that, even with those within the church who were in a Gentile or simple state, the "remains" of truth were so few that hardly anything of intellectual spiritual life existed. The spirit indeed was willing, but the flesh was weak, and even dead. Affection for good and truth remained in the inward man, but there was no corresponding living truth and good in the outward man. And when this is the case, man is practically dead; for spiritual life consists in the united and harmonious action of affection and thought, and of charity and faith. There is this, however, to be observed, that where there is inward affection, there is not only the capacity but the desire for new life; which is not the case when affection itself is dead.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 258 The sisters to of Lazarus survived him, and through them the dead was restored to life.

19. Before Jesus arrived,

'many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother.'

The Jews are those who belong to the church; abstractly, they are the principles of the church. The principles of the church, even when the church is in a perverted state, afford comfort and support to the affections in states of desolation. And even when the truths of the Word are perverted, the single-minded can see and receive them without the perversion. For truths are not perverted in themselves, but in human minds, and in their explanation and application of them; and in the simple who receive them without the subtle reasoning which falsifies them, find many that comfort them in their affliction, and that comfort them as the Jews comforted Martha and Mary, "concerning their brother." The brother of the affections of charity, which belong to the inner man, is the good of faith and charity in the outer man; and even in regard to this, the loving always find many truths which administer comfort and inspire hope.

20. But another and higher comforter was now approaching.

'Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house.'

Hearing of the Lord's approach, Martha did not take time to inform her sister, but went at once to meet him. Comparatively external, the natural affection of truth receives the first notice of the Lord's approach, and first goes forth to meet him; the spiritual affection, which is more interior, remaining for a time unconscious and inactive in the will, which is its house, except that its influence extends to the lower faculty, which it aids in its perceptions and determinations.

21. 'Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.'

Whether we regard the death of Lazarus as representing the end of the church or the crisis of individual temptation, the presence of Jesus would prevent that death; but Jesus withheld his presence, because in each case there must be death that there may be life, an end that there may be a beginning.

22. 'But (continues Martha) I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.'

Martha evidently desired and looked to the restoration of her brother. Martha, it may be supposed, had at this time no very just idea of the divinity of the Lord, but she evidently thought him endowed with more than human power, or had power with God, otherwise she could not have thought that whatever he asked of God, even to the revival of her brother to life, would be granted to his prayers.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 259 But whatever may have been her own ideas, she speaks the spiritual faith of those who are being regenerated, when they approach the Lord's divinity through his humanity, and feel entirely satisfied that whatsoever the Lord's divine truth approves, his divine love will bestow; for when God is mentioned in relation to Jesus, the Lord's divinity or his divine love is meant.

23. In answer to this expression of Martha's confidence in the Lord's ability to procure whatever he saw good to ask,

'Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again.'

Spiritually understood, this is significative of a hope and belief, inspired by the Lord into the minds of the faithful after temptation, that its result will be the restoration to life of that which has died in the conflict, and that, according to the Lord's own promise, the life that is laid down shall be received again, so that every trial in which one is faithful unto death shall receive a crown of life.

24. On receiving this assurance,

'Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.'

Naturally considered, this affords an instructive instance of the form which divine truth takes in the minds of men, according to the particular notion they happen to entertain on any subject of religious belief. When the Lord spoke of the resurrection, Martha understood his words in her own way, different from the meaning of him who uttered them. And so it is still in this and many other subjects of doctrine. God's truth is often very different in the human mind from what it is in the divine mind, and declared in the divine Word. When it enters the understanding, it is moulded by the preconceived notion or belief. On the subject of the resurrection, how much do the words of Scripture assume, in the minds of men, the form that the Lord's words took in the mind of Martha. The men of the church, when the rising from the dead is mentioned, very generally think as Martha spoke, that the dead will rise again in the resurrection at the last day. On the contrary, if the language of inspiration be allowed to express its own divine meaning, it will be found to teach, what our Lord intended to teach Martha, that the resurrection takes place now - immediately after the death of the body. In the present instance, indeed, the resurrection of Lazarus was but a natural and temporary restoration; but it was the symbol of the true resurrection, both from the death of sin unto the life of righteousness, and from the dead body into the eternal world.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 260 Spiritually, the words of Martha express the first impressions that the words of promise make upon the mind after temptation, that renewal is only to be expected when all the states of life have run their course and come to their final conclusion; and that faith, or rather the good of faith, which is the brother, shall only be restored to the affections of truth and good, which are the sisters, when the last state of the life of reformation has come.

25, 26. 'Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life.'

One of the greatest and most blessed of the truths revealed in the gospel is that which our Lord now announces, that he is the resurrection and the life. He is the resurrection, as the first begotten from the dead. To understand and see the force of this divine attribution, we must divest our minds of the idea that the Lord's was the first of a universal resurrection of bodies "at the last day of this world." Jesus, it is true, rose with his body; but his resurrection was identical with his glorification; and his glorification answers to our regeneration. That from which the Lord came to deliver us was spiritual death. He took upon himself human nature as it was degenerate and even dead; and he made it not only living but Life, not only perfect but Perfection. Natural death was not the fruit of sin. The Creator never intended to bestow natural immortality upon man. Man was made for another and higher state of existence. To this, natural death and the grave were the necessary passage. The body, once removed, can never be resumed; it can never rise from the dead. Far more stupendous was the Lord's resurrection, and far more beneficent its design, than to be the first-fruits of a resurrection of dead material bodies. By his divine work the Lord became the resurrection and the life, as the author of our resurrection from the death of sin to the life of righteousness. He indeed, raised up the body of Lazarus, but this was only a temporary, and a type of the true, resurrection. This is evident from the Lord's own words on this occasion. For when calling himself the resurrection and the life, he adds, he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live, and whosoever liveth, and believeth in me, shall never die. Only of the spiritually dead could this be said. They only, being dead, can believe, and being alive, can never die. And well may the Lord demand of us, as he did of Martha, Believest thou this? This belief brings salvation, for it brings us into living connection with him who is to us the resurrection and the life; but what spiritual profit could there be in believing that, because Jesus rose from the grave, we shall rise likewise? No; it was to give life to our souls, not to our bodies, that the Lord became the first-begotten from the dead, the first-fruits of them that slept.

The subject requires little difference of treatment or application.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 261 As the Lord himself passed this death to become the resurrection, so must his disciples: he by his own power, they by his power in them. Dying to sin is the death of the righteous; living to Christ is their resurrection. And when the Lord's resurrection life is wrought into the affections, then it is that, through them, life is communicated to the natural or external thoughts, and that the believer is raised into newness of life. His demand to Martha is therefore an appeal to all the spiritually dead. It is obvious that the dead who can hear the voice of the Son of man, and can believe in him, must have the faculty of hearing and believing. However dead in sin a man may be, the faculty of believing and loving never dies; and in all minds something of affection for goodness and truth, insinuated into every mind in early life, is providentially preserved. Thus then the Lord addresses us; through these he raises us up. These are the Martha and Mary, through whose belief and love the dead soul is raised to life.

27. To the question of the Saviour, Believest thou this? Martha answers,

'Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.'

Whatever phases her faith had passed through respecting her brother's death and the Lord's power to restore him, her belief had now reached its culminating point, or at least it came out in all its fulness, as if she felt that everything that Jesus could be to her and her sister, or could demand of them, was included in this, that he was the Christ, the Son of God, that should come into the world. It has been remarked on this part of the narrative, that Martha shows some degree of vacillation, as if she hardly knew what to believe or hope. After temptation there is fluctuation, as, in ordinary circumstances, after a storm at sea, there is an agitation of the waters before they subside into repose. This state of fluctuation takes place between death and resurrection, and is the state here described. In this state there is an alternate looking backwards and forwards, as Martha looked back to her brother's death, as a catastrophe which might have been prevented, and then forward to, something that Jesus might still do for the sisters in their calamity, even to the restoring of Lazarus. There is also a fluctuation in the state of one's faith; but this is substantially at an end when the soul is able to end all reasonings and doubts, in the full assurance that he on whom we have to lean is the Christ, the Son of God, that should come into the world. The Lord is to us the Christ, when he is the divine Truth, that enlightens our darkness and dissipates our unbelief; he is the Son of God to us, when we not only see that he is the omnipotent Truth, but when we know that, as the eternal Truth, he proceeds from infinite Love, and that both are embodied in his divine humanity.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 262 And he comes into the world practically to us, when the power of his truth and the influence of his love are manifested in our experience, in ruling and sanctifying the affections and thoughts of our natural mind.

28. When the faith of Martha is thus called into action and fixed by confession, she goes away and calls

'Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee.'

The good natural affection excites the spiritual affection. Martha is said to tell her sister secretly or privately, to express the spiritual idea that our affections act upon each other imperceptibly; and that spiritual affections themselves are to receive these impressions and communications apart from all other extraneous affections, such as were represented by those who came to comfort the sisters concerning their brother. The joyful announcement is made, "The Master is come." The Comforter, the Restorer, is here. He who in the dark hours of tribulation had been absent; who was sent for and longed for, but had never appeared, he is now come. What joy to the tempted soul, sitting in desolation, to be made sensible of the presence of him who himself has known all our tribulations, though he seemed willing to leave us in our affliction. But he has not only come, but "calleth for thee." There is still greater cause to rejoice. The Lord's call is general and particular. The general call is given to every human being. Spiritually, his general call is to those who know him, his particular call is to those who love him. These are they whom he calls by name, whose character is in harmony with his own, and whose affections and thoughts are admissive of his love and truth. In this simple relation we see the nature and purpose of the Divine operation upon our souls. The Lord comes to us by influx into our affections, and his purpose is to draw those affections to himself, and by their means to turn our thoughts to him as their life and light.

29. Mary, who rejoiced in her Saviour's presence, was not slow to answer his call.

'As soon as she heard, she arose quickly, and came unto him.'

To hear is to perceive from affection, as to see is to perceive from thought. A sense of the Divine presence produces elevation of heart, which is spiritually to rise; and when the affection is ardent, this is done quickly, for ardency of feeling produces celerity of motion, and is therefore represented by it. When quickness is predicated of the divine Being, as when the Lord promises to come quickly, it means certainly; but this can be only conditionally promised as the result of human action. Mary, when she had risen up, came to Jesus: and the practical way of coming to the Lord is to do his will. All elevation is of the will, all progression is of the life.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 263 These are real changes of state, which bring us nearer to Jesus, because they make us more like him.

30. 'Now Jesus was not yet come into the town, but was in that place where Martha met him.'

Martha, as representing the natural affection, went out to meet Jesus before he entered the town, while Mary sat still in the house. A house in a town is comparatively as the will in the understanding, the will being the home of those principles which are the objects of our life's love, and the understanding being the dwelling-place of those principles which are the objects of our general affections and perceptions. Jesus had not entered into the town, much less into the house, but was without. In our states of spiritual affliction, Jesus, to our own consciousness at least, is out of our hearts and even of our understandings. Our love for him has not indeed died out, but he seems not to be there; we have a sense of want and desolation. The signs of renewing life are manifested in our going out to meet him, when we become aware of his approach. He comes to us; and we should go out to meet him; and if we do so, he will return with us into the heart and mind, where he desires to be with us as our Saviour and friend. The state of those who are being regenerated, when the Lord has visited them in their temptations, but has not yet entered, as the Healer and Restorer, as their Saviour and Comforter, into their understandings and hearts, is representatively described in Jesus, who had come to the aid of the sisters, not yet having come into the town, but being in the place where Martha met him.

31. 'The Jews then which were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up hastily and went out, followed her, saying, She goeth unto the grave to weep there.'

In the Word the Jews have the same signification as Judah, from whom they were descended, and denote principles of good, or, in the opposite sense, of evil. It is no doubt on account of their representative character that the people are generally called Jews in the gospel of John, where the name occurs much more frequently than in all the other gospels together. John is eminently the evangelist, as well as the apostle, of love and goodness. In the internal historical sense, these Jews were those of the old who had attached themselves to the new Church which was about to be raised up by the Lord, or had come under the influence of the affection by which it was distinguished. Their following Mary further expresses the willingness of such adherents to act and live under the influence of the spiritual affection of good and truth.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 264 In the internal sense, they represent good principles existing in the mind as knowledges, that trial and temptation have called into action and brought into sympathetic connection with the spiritual affection of good and truth in the heart, and which follow where it leads. These Jews were, however, under the impression that Mary was going to the grave to weep there, being yet unaware that she was going, not merely to lament for the dead, but to meet him that liveth and giveth life. This they had yet to learn.

32. 'Then when Mary had come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.'

Mary expresses the same regretful sentiment that had been uttered by Martha; but in Mary it is accompanied with a more profound humiliation: she falls down at the Lord's feet and worships him. The sight of Jesus was sufficient to produce this prostration. And this sight was evidently, in her case, an act of true faith, which it also represented, faith looking upon its supreme and beloved Object through the eye of sense as well as through the eye of the mind. Mary came, and saw, and worshipped. This was to be expected of her who sat at Jesus' feet and heard his word. The higher the love, the deeper the humiliation. And when Mary had thrown herself at her Saviour's feet, she uttered the lamentation, which spoke of her confidence in the divine power of Jesus, "Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died." It is much to know that Jesus can preserve from death, it is more to know that he can restore to life. This Mary and Martha were about to see with their eyes; as all may with the eye of faith, if they will but rely on the Lord for new and eternal life.

33. And now we come to one of the most touching manifestations which the gospel records of the human character of our blessed Lord.

'When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled.'

The scene on which we now enter exhibits the great, instructive, and consolatory truth, that the Lord and Saviour has a fellow-feeling with the sufferings and sorrows of objects of his saving mercy. This truth is well expressed in the epistle to the Hebrews. "For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with a feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin" (iv. 15). The Lord knew the infirmities of our nature, and commiserated our condition, and was as willing to relieve and help us before, as he was after, his incarnation. It may be said that before his incarnation he felt for us, that since his incarnation he feels with us.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 265 The advantage, in this respect, that we derive from the Lord's manifestation in the flesh is, that having, as a man, passed through all human sorrow, suffering, and temptation, he can now, through his humanity, enter into all these states in our human experience, with the power to support us under them, and bring us through them, into states of spiritual and heavenly life, in which all sorrow and suffering shall cease. The Lord having been in all points tempted as we are, but without sin, he entered into all the feelings of humanity apart from their impurity, and consecrated all human affections to the service of his Divinity. The Lord's Humanity pervades all humanity as a quickening spirit, ready to spiritualize and sanctify all human sorrows. We have a manifestation of the sympathy or fellow-feeling of the Lord with men in the circumstance, which is here recorded, of Jesus, when he saw Mary weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, "groaning in the spirit, and being troubled." Weeping is the effect of love and sorrow. Sorrow is bereaved affection; we only grieve where we love. But in death there is joy as well as sorrow - joy that a man is born into the eternal world. Weeping for the dead is expressive of sorrow, not exclusive of the second; the Christian does not sorrow as those who have no hope. Spiritually, that now treated is the state which intervenes between death and resurrection, when the old man has died, and the new man does not yet live, when the soul has a returning sense of the divine presence, though not yet of the divine power. It is then that Mary weeps, and the Jews that are with her; that spiritual affection, bereaved of the truth which had been the object of its attachment, and on which it leaned for support and protection, has sorrow, which, for the moment, is increased by a sense of the divine presence, as our great sorrows are by the sight of a beloved friend, which calls up the remembrance of our calamity, and most when that friend most deeply sympathizes with us. And not only is the ruling affection thus moved, the attendant affections are moved with it, as Mary's Jewish friends wept with her. But the most striking and important circumstance in this part of the narrative is the influence which the sorrow of the sister of Lazarus and those who followed her had upon Jesus. When he saw Mary weeping, and the Jews that were with her weeping, he groaned in the spirit and was troubled. In regard to the Lord when on earth, his indwelling Divinity produced in his frail humanity the same feelings and the same modes of giving vent to them that he now does in us. The human feelings of Jesus might be partly emotional, but essentially they were the outbirth of his divine love, as tender mercy and compassion, clothed in the susceptibilities of the human nature, in which his divinity, with all its attributes, dwelt.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 266 Even in the literal sense of the present passage this idea is expressed, for it reads, not that he was troubled, but that he troubled himself. This finiteness of these human feelings was, however, removed when the Lord glorified his humanity. Yet those Scriptures which ascribe these merely human feelings to the Lord are still true. They cannot be true absolutely, but they are true, and will ever remain true, relatively. According to the letter of Scripture, the Lord is moved by the tears and prayers of his creatures. This is an appearance, the real truth being, that the Lord's love is moved in us, when our hearts are touched by its divine influence. The Lord never groans in spirit or is troubled in himself, but he groans and is troubled in us, when in spirit we groan and are troubled on account of our sinfulness, and pray to him for deliverance. The Lord's groaning and tribulation of spirit at the grave of Lazarus were, as we afterwards learn, inward prayers, which he addressed to the Father. Such human prayers were offered by him in his states of humiliation; now, he only prays in us, or enables us to pray, in our states of humiliation. The same truth is expressed, though not by the same word, by the apostle, where he says, that "the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered" (Rom. viii. 26). It may be evident to every one that the Spirit of the Lord can neither intercede nor groan, except in and through the human mind. The idea of personal intercession by a divine Spirit, agitated by human emotions, is inconsistent with every just conception of the nature of an infinite and unchangeable Being. Only in the finite mind can the infinite Spirit assume finite human feelings, and express itself by them; and only through the finite mind can there be intercession with God. So with the groaning of Jesus. The Lord still groans in spirit and is troubled, when he inspires the loving and devout mind with a deep sense of its infirmities and unworthiness, and with an earnest desire to receive from him the blessing of eternal life.

34. The Lord now asks,

'Where have ye laid him?'

Here again is an apparent truth. Jesus, who at a distance knew when Lazarus died, could not but know where he was buried. Yet he asks, as if he needed to be informed; but he asks for our sake. The question Where? has an important meaning for us. We may call to remembrance the mournful complaint of Mary. "They have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him." In the present case, Jesus himself is the speaker. As place is the symbol of state, the Lord's question, Where have they laid him? is designed to lead us to reflect on the state of deadness which exists in our own minds, and as we ourselves have left it.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 267 But the Lord asks that we may answer him. What we seem to reveal to the Lord, is in truth a revelation from the Lord to us. So with the answer of those to whom he addressed his inquiry, Lord, come and see. The Lord comes and sees, when he enables us to come and see. All progression and perception which the Word predicates of the Lord is to be understood of the Lord in us. When his love is increased in our hearts, he comes; when his wisdom is increased in our understanding, he sees. To ask the Lord to come and see where Lazarus was laid, is to desire that the influence of the Lord's love and the light of his truth may be brought to bear upon the natural mind, and upon the principle of faith which lies buried in it, having died because of the absence of him who is both its life and light, for Martha herself testified, "If thou hadst been here, my brother had not died."

35. 'Jesus wept.'

How solemn, impressive, and significant! Jesus weeping was Divine love grieving. When the Son of man wept, it was not for Lazarus alone, who had fallen asleep that he might be awakened again, who had died that he might be restored to the temporary enjoyment of natural life. The Lord wept over the spiritual condition of those whom Lazarus represented. In the largest sense, he was a type of the human race. Death had seized upon them, the grave had swallowed them up. Such was the state of mankind at the time of the Lord's coming, as described by prophets and apostles. It is evident from his words to Martha, that Jesus then looked through the scene presented at the grave of Lazarus, to one of immeasurably greater importance. He looked through the temporary death and resurrection of Lazarus to the spiritual death and resurrection of mankind - to the death in which he found them at his coming, to the resurrection which he came to provide for them. Such a view of the subject makes the occasion worthy of the tears of him who came to save his people from their sins. And when thus contemplated, how significant and precious do the tears of Jesus become! Most real and expressive are they when known to have been shed over the spiritual condition of the human race. Had Jesus been nothing more than man, his tears might have been an appropriate tribute of natural affection for the death of a friend. But regarded as God-Man, whose love embraced the whole human race, whom he had come to seek and to save, we can hardly conceive it possible that the case of Lazarus could demand or deserve such a manifestation of feeling. When the whole race of sinful men in their lost condition was before the mind of the Saviour, we can see that his tears were not the effect of mere human feeling for the transient death, or suspended animation, of a single human being, but the effect and expression of infinite love for the spiritual death and eternal ruin of the whole human family.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 268 More eloquently than words do the Lord's tears tell of his tender mercies towards the race of fallen men, dead in trespasses and sins. If the woman who washed the feet of Jesus with her tears received for her much love forgiveness of her many sins (Luke vii. 47), how much more must human sinfulness have been washed away by the tears of Jesus himself, which flowed from the fountain of his tender and unchangeable love. But Jesus wept over us that he might weep in us. His tears of sorrow for sinners were designed to become in sinners tears of sorrow for sin. Thus only can his tears blot out their transgressions, and prepare the mind for the reception of new life.

36. When they saw Jesus weeping,

'Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!'

Much more may we say, behold how he loved mankind, then sitting in darkness and the shadow of death! But the Lord's love for Lazarus was not for his person. The Lord loves, as he respects, not the persons of men, but that in them which is lovable, by a Being who is himself pure love. It is true that, while his love is infinite and impartial, he is yet said to love some more than others. He loved John more than the other disciples. He loves those more who have more of his love in them. This is the only kind of partiality of which divine love is capable. The Lord loves the good qualities of men, and the men on account of them. We utter the exclamation of the Jews, but from a higher view of the subject, when we have some perception of the nature of the Lord's love, which was manifested in the redemption of the human race, and which is still manifested in the salvation of all who come to him that they may have life.

37. Some of the Jews said,

'Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died.'

The Lord once said, Whether is easier to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee, or to say, Arise and walk? Both are alike easy to him who is the bestower of natural and spiritual life. He who opened the eyes of the blind could have prevented the death of Lazarus, but it was not the Lord's purpose to prevent his death, but to restore him to life. Considering Lazarus as a type of humanity, the question of the Jews is sometimes asked by others: could not the Lord have caused that mankind should not have died spiritually? If this could have been done, consistently with the nature of God and of man, it would not have been left undone. The Lord did not interpose to save Lazarus from natural death; he had not interposed to prevent man from spiritually dying.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 269 Human freedom stood in the way of compulsory sinlessness. God cannot forcibly prevent sin nor secure righteousness. He who bestowed free-will, cannot forcibly oppose it. To do so would be to contradict himself, which is impossible. When sin had entered into the world, and death by sin, they were permitted to reign till the fulness of time, when God came into the world to redeem men from death, and to provide for their salvation in a way consistent with the freedom he had bestowed upon them as an inalienable gift. Indeed, redemption consisted in the restoration of human freedom, which the preponderance of the power of hell over that of heaven, and the power of evil over that of good, had partially destroyed.

38. After recording what the Jews said on seeing Jesus weep, the evangelist proceeds:

'Jesus therefore again groaning in himself, cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. '

The ardency of the Lord's love thus again expresses itself, when brought, by the medium of the humanity, into immediate connection with the spiritual state of man, as represented by the natural condition of Lazarus. As the grave is the house of the dead, it denotes the mind itself, especially the natural, sensual, and corporeal degree of the mind, in which every thing spiritual lies as it were dead and buried, till awakened into life by the Lord's regenerating power. In this case, we may justly say that the man himself is dead and buried. Not the sensual but the rational nature is the man; and where the rational is immersed in the sensual, the man is, in the Scripture sense, dead and buried. The grave in which Lazarus was laid was a cave; and this expresses obscurity of the mind in respect to spiritual things. A cave is frequently mentioned in the Word, and signifies obscurity of mind in regard to truth; as the cave in which Elijah hid himself when he fled from Jezebel, representing that the Word itself, which the prophet represented, was hid from the church during the evil reign of Ahab. On the cave, in which Lazarus was laid, was a stone. In a good sense, a stone is the symbol of truth, such as it is in the letter of the Word, and therefore also of the appearances of truth, of which the literal sense for the most part consists. The dead in a cave, with a stone upon it, presents a type of one who is in a natural state, and whose understanding is obscured and confined by the appearances of truth, the fallacies of the senses, and the false persuasions drawn from them.

39. To deliver the soul from death, at least from that which may be called intellectual death, the first thing to be done is to remove the appearances of truth, which have given rise to false persuasions, and have been used to favour the evils of the will and obscure the perceptions of the understanding.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 270 Therefore Jesus said, Take away the stone. But natural affection, or the affection of the natural mind, offers obstruction to the divine operation for removing the appearances of truth; for to this affection it seems that restoration to life is hopeless, seeing that the object of its attachment, faith, with the good which proceeds from it, has not only ceased to live, but has gone to corruption. Martha, the sister of him that was dead,

'saith, unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.'

The objection to the removal of the stone by Martha, did not, however, arise from a negative spirit, but from a conviction that the case of Lazarus was a hopeless one. Not doubt, but despair, is expressed by the sister of Lazarus, when she said, By this time he stinketh. Sweet smells correspond to perceptions of goodness and truth, and unpleasant smells, to perceptions of evil and falsity. This is the source of spiritual corruption. Evil and falsity do not, however, produce offensive odours, or, to use Martha's term, do not stink, to those who are in the love of them, but to those who are in the affection of goodness and truth, for the quality of evil and falsity is perceived from their opposites: therefore this remark is made by Martha, who represents a good affection, and those who possess it. But although this just remark of Martha's expresses the truth according to the ordinary law, it does not follow that the body of Lazarus was in the state of decay which her words express. Lazarus had been dead four days, but his body may not have seen corruption. The separation of the soul from the body does not take place generally till the third day after death; and it is not unreasonable to suppose that in the case of Lazarus this separation had been prevented, so that, although in the ordinary sense of the term dead, he was really, as our Lord expressed it, in sleep - a sleep, however, from which he never could have awakened but for the exercise of the Lord's power. This does not lessen but rather increases the magnitude of the miracle. It implies two miracles instead of one - the miracle of preserving him from corruption, and the miracle of raising him again from the dead. This view corresponds better, too, with the state of the Gentiles, and of those who are in the extremity of temptation, whom Lazarus represented. And here we may say that corruption represents, not the extinction, but the profanation of goodness and truth; for the greatest corruption and most offensive of all spiritual odours arise from the profane mixing of good and evil. Now the Gentiles, though they were in evil and falsity, were not in profanation; for those who do not know things holy, cannot profane them. Those who undergo temptation may indeed profane these holy principles;


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 271 but profanation in their case is the result of falling in temptation; and those who grievously fall in temptation, are seldom the subjects of spiritual resurrection. Those who obtain the resurrection, may have been in that state which was represented in Lazarus being dead four days; but they are not in that state of corruption which implies the complete separation of soul and body - they are dead, but they still have within them that which can be recalled to life. There may be a conjunction of evil and falsity; but this state may not have been confirmed, much less may, profanation have ensued: the affection, which is the soul of truth, may still be there; and divine power can enable it to reanimate the body, and make the soul spiritually live again.

40. To Martha's conviction of corruption, Jesus presented the alternative of belief as the hope of glory.

'Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?'

But why should the resurrection of Lazarus be dependent on another's faith? This is an interesting question, and it is one that relates, not to the case of Lazarus only, but to that of others, many of the Lord's cures having been performed through the faith, not of the persons cured, but of their relations. It teaches us that, spiritually, faith is an act of the living, not of the dead, and that its saving results reach the dead through the living. The living principle within us is that through which, by faith in the Lord, his life is communicated to whatever is dead. The affection is that living principle through whose faith life can be communicated to our thoughts and acts. The dead can indeed hear the voice of the Son of God, and hearing can live, as the Lord declared in a previous discourse (chap. v. 25), and as was exemplified in the case of the son of the widow, and in that of Lazarus but it is not that which is dead that hears, but that which retains some degree of life. Spiritual death is not the extinction of all life; it is the extinction of spiritual love and faith, which constitute spiritual and eternal life. But however dead in this respect a soul may be, the faculty of receiving new life remains, and through that faculty new life can be communicated. This is the faculty to which the Lord calls; this is the door at which he knocks; and every one is able to hear the call and obey it; to hear the knock and open the door.

41, 42. 'Then took they away the stone from the place where the dead was laid.'

The removal, by the command of Jesus, of the stone where the dead was laid, is the actual removal of the appearances of truth, which conceal the truth itself from the mind. When the stone was removed, Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. The prayers of the Lord are expressive of the inmost communion of the human nature with the Divine, of wisdom with love in the Lord;


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 272 and this union in the Lord is the origin of the conjunction of charity and faith in us, through which his power saves us. But Jesus does not now pray, but gives thanks that his prayer had been heard. All true prayer, whatever its immediate object, has for its ultimate end the union of love and wisdom, and all true thanksgiving is for that union effected. The eyes of the Lord, which he lifted up in giving thanks, are his Divine wisdom, and also his omniscience and providence. "The eyes of the Lord are upon us, his ear is open to our cry." His wisdom and his will are constantly over us for our eternal good. In respect to the Lord himself, the eyes of the Son were ever towards the Father, the ear of the Father was ever open unto the cry of the Son. Divine wisdom ever sees Divine love. Divine love ever hears Divine wisdom. Thus is described, in divine language, the reciprocal union of love and wisdom in the Lord, as the origin of the power of salvation, the raising into life of whatever in us is dead. Jesus, therefore, continues, And I knew that thou hearest me always. Jesus was always heard, on the same ground that he hears his creatures, because he asked nothing amiss, but asked for things that were agreeable to the divine will, or never desired anything but what was agreeable to the nature of divine love. It appears from our Lord's words that his prayer on this occasion was not so much on his own account as for the sake of those that stood by, that they might believe that the Father had sent him. The Lord's prayers must be designed to be of use, in this respect, to us also; they teach us that the Father sent him, that he was divine in his origin, and therefore in his nature. He who comes from God is God. Whatever proceeds from the Divine is divine; and as the Divine is indivisible, the divinity of the Son and the divinity of the Father are one. The Father and the Son are indeed distinct, but only as soul and body, will and understanding; distinct as essentials, but one in person and in operation. But there is a spiritual view of this subject. To believe that the Lord was sent by the Father is to believe that the divine Truth that came to redeem and save mankind proceeded from the divine Goodness, and was therefore filled with it and acted from it; and we truly believe this when our faith is the faith of truth, grounded in love.

43. 'When he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.'

What a voice was that which called Lazarus from the tomb, a voice at once powerful and prophetic! Calling the dead to life is an act not only God-like but Divine. No one can impart life but him who is Life.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 273 Others besides Jesus have performed this great miracle, but none others by their own power. For although Jesus looked up to the Father as the source of his power, it was but the human looking to the divine which was one with it. But great as this miracle was, what is calling the perishable body into life, to calling into life the immortal soul? This is the great truth, of which the miracle was but the outward symbol. Resurrection from the death of sin unto the life of righteousness is that which the raising of Lazarus represented. This is the peculiar function of him who is the Resurrection and the Life. The divine voice is still uttered, and those who hear, it still live, and come forth from the living tomb to which their sins have consigned them. As all human speech expresses both thought and affection - thought by the words, affection by the tone; so does divine speech; but in divine speech the thought is infinite wisdom, and the affection is infinite love. The words which Jesus uttered were the expression of his wisdom, the loud or great voice that with which he uttered them was expressive of his love. This is called a loud or great voice, not simply to express the intensity or ardency of the divine love which is manifested in the salvation of men, but also to indicate that the voice of Jesus, which he uttered at the tomb of Lazarus, was the voice of divine love and wisdom, as manifested in human nature. By the incarnation the Divine Truth was brought down into ultimates, and Divine Truth in ultimates is in its fulness and its power.

44. 'And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with grave-clothes; and his face was bound about with a napkin.'

The grave-clothes were to Lazarus what the stone was to the sepulchre; they enclosed and confined him. What garments are to the body, truths are to the mind; they invest it, so as to preserve the warmth of its love and give it a certain kind of adornment. More specifically, truths are to good what garments are to the body; for good is the body of religion, and truth is the raiment which it puts on. And as truths are the laws of right, garments are the symbols of righteousness, which is the beautiful garment that serves to invest and adorn the graces of the mind: and so white linen is the righteousness of saints. But the garments of the dead are like the truths that cover the body of religion from which life has departed, and which has the form of godliness without the power. Considered as a representative of the church, which Lazarus was, the grave-clothes are the appearances of truth and the ceremonials of religion, which, in the time of the end, take the place of genuine truths and works of righteousness. These formed into narrow creeds and a rigid ecclesiasticism, may serve as a suitable vesture for the dead, but they are entirely unfit to be a garment for the living.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 274 Brought up from the grave by the power of the Saviour, the living church comes forth bound hand and foot, the powers both of the inward and outward man restrained, and the perceptive faculty of the mind covered, like the face of Lazarus bound about with a napkin. Such also is the condition of him who is newly restored to spiritual life. The bonds of the world are still around him, restraining his powers and obstructing his vision. Loose him, and let him go, is therefore the divine command in respect to every one whom the Lord raises from the dead. First life, then liberty; these are gifts bestowed upon all who hear his voice, and come forth unto the resurrection of eternal life. They are not freed from all bonds; but they exchange the external bonds of the world for the internal bonds of him whose yoke is easy and his burden light.

45, 46. The effect of this miracle was,

'that many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him. But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done.'

The unavoidable but beneficial effect of all divine operations is, that they act in the way of tests and judgments; they try the states of men, and separate the good and the evil, drawing the good into connection with the supreme Good, and leaving the evil to fall away into the prevailing evil. The same takes place when a new church is being raised up in the world; some of the former church believe in the new principles, others become more confirmed in the old. Like the comforters of Martha and Mary, some can lament over the dead who cannot rejoice over the living. The truth, which is a rock of confidence to some, is a rock of offence to others. The divine operations serve also to separate good and evil in the minds of those who are favourably affected by them; and thus serve to draw forth the good, and bring it into conjunction with the Lord.

47, 48. Informed, by those who believed not, of this wonderful work of Jesus,

'then gathered the chief priests and Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles.'

The fears of the Sanhedrin seem now to have reached a crisis that required more than an attempt to entangle him in his speech. The raising of Lazarus was a miracle that might well fill them with alarm, and lead them to exclaim, If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him; and the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation. The Pharisees were like those of their creed and class in every church and in every age. The selfish and the formal would fain arrest the progress of goodness and truth, with their life and light. Spiritually, in this we see the opposition which the natural man ever offers to the spiritual, when the Lord imparts new life to the soul.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 275 Every advance which the new man makes in the life of heaven excites the old man into greater hostility. Evil and falsity combine, and take counsel against goodness and truth, and do so in order to maintain their power, willing rather to be slaves to the ruling authority of the world than to be made free by the power of truth from heaven.

49-53. 'And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; and not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad.'

There can be no reasonable doubt that John understood this remarkable utterance of the high priest to be an inspired prediction. But how could one so wicked possess so great a gift? In the representative church of the Jews, a profane person could exercise a sacred function, because it was the function and not the man which represented. Besides, prophesying is a miraculous gift, which may be bestowed on a person in virtue of his office, independently of his moral character, as in the case of Balaam. The prophecy of Caiaphas, as high priest, was the very truth. He was divinely inspired to predict an event which was divinely appointed. It was expedient that one should die for the people, and that he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad. The Lord delivered the same truth respecting himself, as the good shepherd, gathering the scattered sheep, and uniting his two flocks into one fold. But the remarkable circumstance connected with the prophecy of the high priest is, that it should have been uttered at a meeting of the Sanhedrin, called for the purpose of devising some plan for arresting the progress of the Lord's cause. Were it not for other testimony to the contrary, we might suppose that Caiaphas wished to restrain rather than excite the wrath of the council against Jesus. It is evident that his object was to induce them no longer to trifle with the growing evil, but to arrest it at once, by the destruction of its author. It had the desired effect. It led them to the determination to effect the fulfilment of what may be regarded as their own prediction. Then, from that day forth, they took counsel together to put him to death. Their understanding of the prophecy, compared with its true meaning, affords a striking illustration of the difference between the letter which killeth and the spirit which giveth life. They understood the people of the prophecy to be the Jews, and the scattered abroad to be the dispersed of Israel.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 276 How they expected their putting Jesus to death would secure the fulfilment of the prediction, and of the latter part in particular, is not very apparent. But they certainly did become the instruments of fulfilling the prophecy in its true sense. Their purpose was defeated by the success of their own plans. Thus the Lord, in his overruling providence, makes even the wrath of man to praise him, by turning the evil which the wicked intend into good. Eminently was this the case with the evil which the whole powers of wickedness directed against the Lord. Their power had a limit, beyond which it could not extend, and a result which they could not contemplate. They were only able to kill the body; and when they had done this, there was no more that they could do. They performed the vile use of exciting, by their temptations, the hereditary evils of our nature, which Jesus bare in his own body to the tree (1 Pet. ii. 24); but here their use ended. The heathen raged, the people were tumultuous; the kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers took counsel together, against the Lord and against his anointed. When they had compassed his death, and had seen him laid in the tomb, where the earth with her bars was about him (Jonah ii. 6), they triumphed in their own success. But "the triumphing of the wicked is short." On the morning of the resurrection, when he loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that he should be holden of it (Acts ii. 24), and burst the gates of the sepulchre, he became the conqueror. He not only brake the bands of his enemies asunder and cast their cords from him; but he reduced them to subjection, and set bounds to their aggressive power against the kingdom of righteousness, which he had now established for ever.

54. In consequence of the conduct of the Pharisees and chief priests, and their efforts to stir up enmity against him among the people,

'Jesus walked no more openly among the Jews; but went thence unto a country near to the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim, and there continued with his disciples.'

For the third time in this gospel we are told that Jesus retired on account of the opposition of the Jews. In the two previous cases he left Judea and went into Galilee; in the present instance, he retires to the town of Ephraim, in or near the wilderness of Judea. According to the literal sense, he retires for safety, although he possessed the power to resist or disarm all opposition. Spiritually, the Lord walks no more openly where he is openly assailed, but withdraws into some remote or secret part of the mind, that his divine truth may be preserved from violence, and the soul saved from destruction.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 277 The country where he retired was near the wilderness of Judea, a type of the desolate state of the church, but also expressive of a state of obscurity and temptation. Ephraim, the city into which he went, signifies the intellectual principle of the church, or the intellect as the receptacle of the truths of the church. Ephraim and Manasseh were the two sons of Joseph, and represented the new understanding and the new will, or the intellectual and voluntary principles of the spiritual church, which Joseph represented. The city of Ephraim was a symbol of the doctrinal form of the principle which was typified by Ephraim himself. Jesus there continued with his disciples, to represent that the Lord's presence is preserved in the truths of his Word, in the interior of the intellectual principle, when he can no longer continue in the corrupt will, where his love is changed into hatred.

55-57. 'The Jews' passover was nigh at hand.'

This passover was the last which our Lord celebrated, and signified his glorification, the redemption of mankind, and the establishment of his church. This was the passover at which the Holy Supper was instituted, when the Lord entered into an everlasting covenant with the church, which his disciples represented, and in connection with which the redemption of the world and the glorification of his humanity were accomplished. The completion of his great work now drew nigh: it was certain as well as near at hand. Everything was preparing, both on the good and the evil side, for the great event. Many went out of the country up to Jerusalem before the passover to purify themselves. Then sought they for Jesus, and spake among themselves, as they stood in the temple, What think ye, that he will not come to the feast? Now both the chief priests and the Pharisees had given a commandment, that, if any man knew where he were, he should shew it that they might take him. That purification, though ceremonial, represented the spiritual purification which the penitent seek, and who seek it from good by truth; for to go out of the country up to Jerusalem is to proceed from a state of good to a state of truth; and all purification is effected by truth, but only in those whose desire for it proceeds from a principle of good. Transferring this subject to our own minds, we here see what we too often feel, that when we would do good, evil is present with us. The Pharisaic principles either without or within us take occasion of the holiest times for the unholiest purposes. The very sphere of holiness excites their enmity and opposition. Among the multitude there were bands who doubted among themselves the Lord's appearing at the feast, and who discussed the question of his coming.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 278 Thus there are some who inquire about the Lord as Truth, and who, as the terms of the question imply, believe that he will come. Many of these, as appears from the next chapter (v. 12), were waiting for him as the Saviour, and for his salvation. And thus were the people divided, as the mind itself is, when the state is not yet full. But while the people questioned among themselves, some of them at least from proper motives, whether Jesus would come to the feast, the chief priests and Pharisees had given a commandment, that any who knew where he was should spew it, that they might take him. This was the mind of the ruling men in the church respecting the Holy One. Their purpose was accomplished, though not by the means they intended. But how should we be humbled by the reflection, that evil rulers present but too faithful an image of the enmity of the human heart and of the human race, which the Lord suffered to remove. While we were yet enemies Christ died for us. The treatment which Jesus received at the hands of those whom he came to seek and to save, is a standing evidence, a perpetual memorial, of the degradation from which the Lord, in his infinite loving-kindness, came to deliver those whom he had created in his image, but who had so sinfully departed from the integrity of their original condition.


The resurrection of Lazarus representing the raising up of a church among the Gentiles, the beautiful narrative with which this chapter commences represents the Lord's entering into a covenant of life with his church. Individually, it represents the reciprocal conjunction of the Lord and man after regeneration, which is spiritual resurrection, by the appropriation of good, which is represented by a supper.

1. 'Then Jesus, six days before the passover, came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead.'

As this was the passover in connection with which the Lord was crucified, these six days represent states of trial, ending in his last temptation, the passion of the cross, followed by his resurrection, which was his entrance into rest - rest from the labour of his combat with the powers of darkness - rest which was eminently represented by the Sabbath which follows the six days of labour; for the Lord's state of glorification is Rest itself, and the origin of spiritual rest to man. But every state of tribulation has rest for its beginning as well as for its end.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 279 The state itself implies this. We would not know tribulation but for the rest which precedes it, nor would we know rest but for tribulation which has gone before it. In this respect spiritual is like natural life. Life begins with the peace of infancy, and ends with the peace of old age; between them there is a state of labour and trial, which changes the peace of slumbering, into the peace of conquered passions. But tribulation itself has its intervals of repose, like the resting-places of Israel in the desert, to give us a foretaste of the promised rest, and to refresh us in our laborious journey, of which it is to be the happy termination and exceeding great reward. There are some indications of this in the life of the Lord himself, who in all things was our great example. In the bosom of the loving family of Bethany, Jesus seems, humanly speaking, to have found occasionally a peaceful retreat from the persecuting hatred of his Jewish enemies. He had blessed and brightened the home of Martha and Mary, by restoring to them their beloved brother, who had been dead and was now alive again. Here, during an interval of rest, did the Lord representatively bind to himself the church, which was to be raised up among the Gentiles through the power of his own resurrection. And here did he, in being a guest in the house of Martha and Mary, give an expressive symbol of his presence in the mind where love reigns, and has been rendered more loving by the restoration to it and union with it of a true and living faith.

2. 'There they made him a supper: and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him.'

The supper made, for Jesus may be considered to have some analogy to the sacrificial feast of the Israelitish church. These were regarded in the light of food partly offered to God, and partly consumed by man. The offering was considered as an outward expression of an inward feeling, either of contrition or of thanksgiving, and was nothing without it. The various offerings were representatives of human affections, devoted to God, the acceptance of which brings the worshipper into a spiritual and saving relation with the Object of his love and worship. And as all our offerings to God are but the return to Him of the gifts He has bestowed upon us, our feasts and sacrifices become the means of conjunction with Him; they are covenants between God and our own souls. When we take an interior view of the subject of the present narrative, we must regard the Lord as the guest of those who are members of the household of faith. Every humble mind is a house where the Lord may be entertained as a guest; for he who dwells in the high and holy place does not disdain to dwell with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit (Is. lvii. 15).


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 280 He is present with such a one in his glorified humanity, as he was with Lazarus and his sisters in his yet frail human nature. He dwells in our hearts by his love, and in our understandings by his wisdom. It is here, in our humbled and purified minds, that the Lord sups with us and we with him. There are various feasts at which the Lord may be present, but they all resolve themselves into this. For whether we offer him the homage of our love and faith, in the services of the church, or in the business of the world, there is no real offering but that of the heart and life. The evangelist is particular in stating that Martha served, but that Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him. Martha, we have seen, is the natural affection, or love, of goodness and truth, by which we mean love that is spiritual in its essence, but natural in its form and manifestation - spiritual love in the natural mind. The proper function of this love is to serve. In serving the spiritual love, and through it the divine love, natural love is in its true place and in the performance of its right use. The recorded circumstance that Martha served, is therefore expressive of a state of spiritual order existing in the mind, in which the Lord can be present with his love and truth. While Martha serves, she utters no complaint at serving alone, nor asks the Lord to bid Mary that she help her, as she had done on a previous occasion (Luke x. 40). This now willing acquiescence in the condition assigned her, and joyful performance of its duties, are expressive of the voluntary submission of natural to spiritual love, and through it to the divine love itself. While Martha served, Lazarus was one of them that sat at meat with Jesus, for whom the supper was made. Thus, at the same table sat Jesus, the Resurrection, and Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead, the Giver and the receiver of life. Lazarus being one of those who sat at meat is expressive of the circumstance, that faith, which had died out of the mind, as a natural principle, was now restored to it as a spiritual principle, and brought into communion with the Lord, and into conjunction with the spiritual and natural affections from which it had been separated. In this singular and blessed meeting we may see an image and a foretaste of the state described and promise given by the Lord himself. "Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come into him; and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne" (Rev. iii. 20). Lazarus had overcome death itself. He had been called up from the dead by the voice of Jesus; but so is every child of the resurrection.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 281 Divine power is the only power that can raise us from death unto life; nevertheless, we are not passive during the work of resurrection. We must hear the Lord's voice, and we must obey it. And that which was the act of a moment in the case of Lazarus, is the work of a lifetime with the regenerate.

3. The principal incident, for the sake of which the others are introduced, is that which comes now to be noticed.

'Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.'

In this beautiful act Mary expressed her gratitude for her brother's restoration to temporal life. What must be the gratitude which one feels for the restoration of a soul to spiritual life; and what the joy of angels over one sinner that repenteth! This being the restoration represented by the resurrection of Lazarus, we are to consider Mary's act as having the same representative character. And having to consider the resurrection of Lazarus as representing the resurrection to life of the spiritual principle of faith in ourselves, we have to regard Mary's offering as one arising out of the new life, bestowed by him who is the life itself. We have already seen that Mary is a type of spiritual love, the sister to the natural love represented by Martha, Lazarus representing the intellectual principle of the church, raised up to a perception of the Lord's truth, and to the reception of a living faith, of which he is the Author and the Object. Thus restored, the mind, from its inmost affection, pours out its offering of love and gratitude to the Lord, as the merciful giver of eternal life. This offering is the ointment which Mary poured upon the feet of Jesus. Ointment is emblematical of love. This offering is precious, and therefore costly. It is precious, because love is the most excellent of all graces, and costly, because it cannot be purchased but at the expense of all that we have. Little is said in the Word respecting the particular ointment used by Mary, nothing that can lead us to a better knowledge of its quality than its costliness and its fragrance. With this ointment Mary anointed the feet of Jesus. According to Matthew (xxvi. 7) and Mark (xiv. 3), Mary anointed his head. It is reasonably conjectured that Mary anointed both the head and the feet of Jesus; and many think that the evangelists recorded the circumstance as they observed it, or as it impressed them. Believing that they wrote from divine inspiration, the difference is not the result of human but of divine choice, for the purpose of teaching the same truth as seen by persons in different states of perception.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 282 The gospels describe events with reference to the different and advancing states of the Lord's glorification, and of man's regeneration. In the progress of both these works, the internal is first made new and the external afterwards, according to the Lord's words, "Cleanse first that which is within, that the outside may be clean also" (Matt. xxiii. 26). In agreement with this, the first two gospels record the anointing of the Lord's head, and the last the anointing of his feet, which describes the glorification, first of the internal, and afterwards of the external, of his humanity. And we shall see that the Lord regarded this anointing as having reference to his glorification, since Mary, he said, had done it to his burying. There is a peculiar significance in Mary anointing the feet of the Lord, as may be learned from what the Lord himself said when he washed his disciples feet, "he that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit." When the internal has been purified, nothing remains but to purify the external, and then the regenerate person is wholly clean. John describes the anointing of the Lord's feet, because his gospel has more especial relation to the Lord's glorification as a completed work, and because the Lord's final and complete glorification was, as he himself said, now at hand. The Lord's head had already been anointed. His humanity had already been glorified internally; its glorification to the very ultimate degree was about to be completed by the passion of the cross; and this, as seen by the more fully regenerate, was now foreshadowed by Mary anointing his feet with the precious ointment. It is well known that the Christ and Messiah mean anointed. The Lord was the anointed of Jehovah. The holy oil with which he was anointed was the divine love. But the Lord was not only the anointed of Jehovah, he was also the anointed of the church; and this anointing was represented by that of Mary. By receiving the divine love, Jesus became one with Jehovah; by receiving human love, he becomes one with the church. And when we speak of the church, we speak of one as well as of many. Where love and faith are, there is the church. When Mary anointed the feet of Jesus, if her precious ointment was a true expression of the precious grace of love dwelling in and coming from her heart, hers was an actual as well as a representative anointing of the Lord with love, and an actual union with him by love. After anointing the feet of Jesus with the precious ointment, Mary wiped them with her hair. Much is said in Scripture respecting the human hair. The most striking instances of its evidently symbolical character are those of the Nazarites, and of the Lord himself, whom the Nazarites represented.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 283 As a Nazarite, Samson's superhuman strength was in his hair, which can only be understood in any consistently religious sense, when that judge of Israel is considered to be a type of the Lord as the Redeemer. The hair of Samson was a symbol of the natural humanity which the Lord assumed, as the medium by which his divine power was brought down into the natural world, for the deliverance of mankind. This may be expressed in another form. The Lord came into the world as the Word, or divine Truth itself; but in order to redeem man, he who from eternity had been the Word or divine Truth in first principles, became the Word or divine Truth in ultimates; for in ultimates divine Truth is in its fulness and its power. Divine Truth in ultimates, as assumed by the Lord in the world for the purpose of redeeming mankind, was typified by the hair of the Nazarites, especially by that of Samson. It is in consequence of this sacred meaning of the hair, that when the person of the Lord was represented to John in Patmos, his head and his hair were white like wool, as white as snow. Such being the meaning of the hair in reference to the Lord, it has a similar signification in regard to man. Of the numerous instances in which it is spoken of, there is one singularly apt in relation to the present subject. The strange compound creature which John saw ascend out of the bottomless pit, and which was the emblem of a religious principle that unites the most destructive qualities with the fairest appearances, is described as having the tail of a scorpion and the teeth of a lion, with the face of a man and the hair of a woman (Rev. ix.). The teeth of the lion and the tail of the scorpion were ready to destroy those who might be seduced by the appearance of the intelligence of a man and the affection of a woman. How different the purpose and the use of Mary's hair! She wiped with her hair the feet of her Saviour, which she had bathed with the precious ointment of her purest and tenderest love. As the Lord's hair is his wisdom in ultimates, Mary's hair is her love in ultimates - love in its power and in its beauty and glory. And as true love is never without its wisdom, this also is included in the meaning of her hair. The evangelist concludes his account of the anointing by saying, "that the house was filled with the odour of the ointment." The oil used among the Jews for anointing was generally mixed with aromatics, and this was required in many cases by the law of Moses. Oil being emblematical of love, the aromatics which were mixed with it to give it a grateful odour, meant the wisdom which, combined with love, makes love delightful, the odour itself being expressive of the perception of love by wisdom. The perception of good by the will and the perception of truth by the understanding are as odours which affect the sense of smell and colours which affect the sense of sight; hence the combined influence upon us of the varied fragrance and endless hues of the flowers of the field.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 284 So abundant as well as rich were the aromatics in Mary's ointment, that when she poured it upon the feet of Jesus, the whole house was filled with its odour. The whole mind is filled with the odour of love, when it comes from a pure heart, and is enriched with a grateful sense of the Divine mercy and goodness in restoring the soul.

4-6. When Mary had anointed the feet of Jesus with her precious ointment,

'Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, which should betray him, Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.'

The character of Judas, as it here manifests itself, presents a remarkable contrast to that of Mary. Not only does Judas remain unmoved by the mingled love and humility of Mary, which her precious ointment and loosened tresses but poorly express, but he sees nothing in her offering but wasteful extravagance. His complaint shows how mean are the ideas of degraded minds on the purest and worthiest acts of devoted affection. Judas, as a man, seems designed to exhibit that state of mind which regards everything as wasted which cannot be turned into the channel of self-interest. He seems a personification of avarice, which is the root of all evil. But he is designed to hold up to our view the image of something more appalling than even this. He is the type of the lowest and grossest part of our fallen nature, that corporeal principle which forms the deepest ground of our selfhood, and which ever opposes itself to the higher ends and activities of the renewed inner man, and whose opposition is the more obstinate the higher and purer the internal affection. The twofold nature of this part of man's degraded selfhood is indicated in the two names, Judas Iscariot, which are expressive of its quality, as being evil and false. When it is added that it was he who should betray the Lord, we are instructed further that it is the lowest principle of human nature which is the means of delivering the Lord into the hands of his enemies. Judas is also called one of his disciples. The twelve represented all the principles of human nature, as well as all the principles of the church, but Judas represented one of those principles perverted. A little child is corporeal in all his apprehensions of truth, but his innocence gives him a certain faith in it and affection for it. But when, instead of innocence, there is guilt, and when besides guilt there is guile, these two produce a character which is described as that of the traitor. But in censuring the waste Judas seems as if he were actuated by motives of charity.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 285 He asks why the ointment was not sold for three hundred pence and given to the poor. Money is symbolical of knowledge. Money is not wealth, and knowledge is not wisdom, but its representative and means of obtaining it. To have sold the ointment, even for three hundred Roman pence, would have been to exchange wisdom, and even goodness, for knowledge. To give to the poor was indeed in itself a good work, and it appears that the contents of the bag which Judas bare were often employed in ministering to the necessities of the indigent. But we learn that in making this proposal Judas had no more affection for the poor than he had for his Master. "This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein." Spiritual theft consists in claiming to self what belongs to the Lord. This was eminently represented by the theft of Judas. And this theft of Judas was aggravated by his hyprocrisy. He desired to deprive the Lord of what was due to him, but he did it under the pretence of concern for the poor. He had no regard for either, but only for his own aggrandizement. And such is the spiritual character which Judas represented. The spiritual Judas is one who uses religion as a means for his own aggrandizement, all that he possesses of it or cares for are its knowledges, which he carries in his memory, as Judas carried his Lord's money in the bag, and uses it, like a thief, for selfish interest and his own glory, instead of his Master's. It has often been remarked as something surprising, that Judas, whom his Lord knew to be dishonest, should have been entrusted with the bag. Does the circumstance not show that there was a spiritual reason for it, he being one of the twelve who was entrusted with it?

7. Even supposing Judas had been sincere in his plea for selling the ointment, the Lord did not admit the propriety or justice of his remark.

'Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this.'

The Lord's burying spiritually means his glorification, for when the maternal humanity was buried, and thus entirely put off, the Paternal humanity was fully put on, and became the Lord's resurrection body. The Lord's glorification was his complete anointing. The Divine love had been poured out upon him from his being conceived in the womb, but he was anointed in fulness when the humanity became the Divine Love itself, in form as well as in essence. The present anointing was, as we have said, performed by a human agent. But Mary representing the church, her anointing the body of Jesus is expressive of the church acknowledging the divinity of the Lord's humanity; doing from without what the Father was doing from within, and thus reciprocating the inward divine operation;


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 286 recognising the Divine Humanity as the Medium between God and man, and through it attaining conjunction with the Lord as the Supreme Good, Divine Love and Wisdom.

8. The Lord justifies Mary's act on another ground.

'The poor always ye have with you: but me ye have not always.'

Who are spiritually meant by the poor? As spiritual riches are the knowledges of goodness and truth, those who possess little of these are the spiritually poor. As all are born, and many grow up, in ignorance of the truth, the disciples of Christ have these poor always with them, and when they will they can do them good. But there are poor which we have still nearer to us and more constantly with us than these. Our faculties, so far as they are deficient in the knowledge or possession of spiritual things, are poor; and these we have always with us, and when we will we can do them good by ministering to their wants. And then there are, in spiritual as in temporal wealth, the poor rich as well as the rich poor. The rich poor are those of whom it is said, "I know thy works, and thy tribulation, and poverty, but thou art rich" (Rev. ii. 9). The poor rich are those who are rich in religious knowledge, but poor in religious virtue, who think themselves rich and increased with goods, and have need of nothing, and know not that they are poor, and miserable, and blind and naked (Rev. iii. 17). All of us are more or less in all these conditions of poverty, and may always do something to mitigate or remove them. But none of us have the Lord thus constantly with us. In declaring this, he alluded more especially to his departure from his disciples by death, when they would have sorrow, a state which is incident to all Christian disciples, who, as children of the bride-chamber, mourn when the bridegroom is taken away. True, he departs but to return as the Comforter, but these states of trial show, that him we have not always; and that it is the more desirable and dutiful, so long as he is with us, to give him the costly offering of our best affections, that our souls may be brought into such internal conjunction with him, as may preserve us faithful to the day of his coming.

9. We read in the previous chapter (v. 19) that many of the Jews came to comfort Martha and Mary concerning their brother, and that many of them became believers in Jesus through his miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead, some, however, informed the Pharisees of what Jesus had done (49). Here again, we find,

'Much people of the Jews therefore knew that he was there: and they came not for Jesus' sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead.'


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 287 The people of the Jews are those, who from a good disposition, desire to know the truth, not only respecting the Lord himself as the Author of spiritual life, but respecting the life which he imparts to those who have been spiritually dead. To see one who has been raised from death unto life must have been even a wonder indeed. Yet of every converted sinner may it be truly said, that he has been raised from the dead. Could we see the soul as we see the body, how striking and instructive would it be to behold it in these two states of death and life. We may, however, see this realized in ourselves, if we have been the subjects of the saving operation, which that of Jesus upon Lazarus represented.

10, 11. But here again we have the repetition of a circumstance which so often occurs in the previous history of the Lord's life. Evil rises up to oppose the good.

'But the chief priests consulted that they might also put Lazarus to death: because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus.'

They who had endeavoured to destroy Jesus as the truth and the life, now take counsel to kill Lazarus, on whom the gift of life had been bestowed. When evil men cannot destroy the principles that are opposed to their own, they often endeavour to do it indirectly, by assailing them in their practical results, either by denying them, which is spiritually to kill, or by perverting them, by imputing them to an evil origin, which the Jews did when they accused the Lord of casting out devils by the prince of the devils. Those, on the contrary, who are well disposed judge favourably of truth from its good results, for good leads to the acknowledgment of truth, and thence of its Author, as many of the Jews believed on Jesus because of Lazarus. The offence of these in the eyes of the priests was that they went away and believed on Jesus; they were alienated from the priestly rule to which they had submitted, and were brought under the dominion of the Son of man; they had forsaken error for truth, and evil for good.

12, 13. The fame of the miracle of raising Lazarus overbore, for the time, the influence of the priests; for

'on the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm-trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord.'

The Lord's entry into Jerusalem is recorded in all the four gospels, though in each with some difference. John relates that it took place the next day after the supper in the house of Lazarus. A new state, but one following and connected with the former, is described.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 288 The Lord's own death and resurrection were now about to follow those of Lazarus; and a feast more holy than that at which Jesus sat with Lazarus, was about to be provided for the faithful, who were to be fed with the flesh and blood of the Son of man. The feast of the passover was to be celebrated in Jerusalem, and thither the Lord was now on his way to finish his course and complete his grand design. His entry into Jerusalem symbolized his entry into the church, not the church as it then existed among the Jews, but as described by the prophet in the prediction which now received its literal fulfilment. This was the church which our Lord himself established, the true Zion, of which that in Jerusalem had never been more than the type. The much people who went forth to meet him were the representatives, rather than the real members, of that church by which the Lord is received as the king of Israel, and which acknowledges him in his divine humanity, and submits to the spiritual government of his divine truth. The branches of palm-trees, which the people took, were emblems of the spiritual truths themselves, by the love and perception of which the spiritual church is distinguished. The palm-tree itself is emblematical of the good of spiritual truth; and as the love of good and truth is the source of joy and delight, this was expressed by the rejoicings of the people and by the hosannas which they sung. The hosanna with which the multitude saluted Jesus, is expressive of the acknowledgment of the Lord by faith, jubilant on his entry into the church, which, in relation to its individual members, is his entrance into their hearts and understandings, from which all true acknowledgment and joy spring. The people cried, "Blessed be the king of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord." The king of Israel is the Lord as divine truth, and divine truth proceeds from divine love, which is meant by Jesus coming in the name of the Lord. The people who thus saluted the Lord knew not indeed the full import of the words they uttered. They were but repeating words which they were accustomed to sing when they celebrated the feast of tabernacles, when they carried palms and sung from holy writ, "Save now, I beseech thee, O Lord: O Lord, I beseech thee, send now prosperity. Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord" (Psalm cxviii. 25). Hosanna is the first word in this portion of the Psalm, and is expressive of the Lord's salvation.

14, 15. The manner in which the Lord made his entry into Jerusalem had been the subject of a divine prediction.

'And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written, Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass's colt.'


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 289 The Lord's entry into Jerusalem is generally considered to indicate humility; but it is rather expressive of regal authority, for kings were accustomed to ride upon asses. But there was a deeper reason than even this for the Lord making his entry into Jerusalem in the manner predicted and described. In riding upon a young ass the Lord intended to express symbolically, that he had now brought all the principles of his natural humanity into subordination to his divine love and wisdom, and that those inferior principles were henceforth to become the means by which he should convey the power of his salvation to the minds and hearts of men, and thus to his church particular and universal.

16. 'These things understood not his disciples at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things unto him.'

The singular circumstance of the disciples being ignorant of the significant character of the things that were done by them, and that happened to Jesus, shows how little they knew of his true character and work. But this state represented one that is common to all true disciples. Not till he is glorified in them can the disciples of any time see the true meaning of the things that have been spoken of him, and which they themselves have done unto him. It is not necessary, nor is it possible, that we should see at the time the meaning and the reason of every religious act we do. Obedience must spring from duty first, and from reason afterwards. And what is recorded of the disciples may teach us some useful lesson respecting our children. It is most important that the young should be early instructed in the simple truths of religion, and initiated into habits of virtue and piety. That children understand little of many things they learn and are required to do, is no good reason for leaving them uninstructed and untrained in religion. Like the disciples, they may not understand these things at the first, but when Jesus is glorified in their more matured intellects and purified hearts, then will they remember that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things unto him.

17, 18. John states, what the other evangelists have passed over in silence, that

'the people therefore that was with him when he called Lazarus out of his grave, and raised him from the dead, bare record. For this cause the people also met him, for that they heard that he had done this miracle.'

It was the miracle of raising the dead that obtained for Jesus this attention and homage of the multitude. The people consisted of two classes, those who saw the miracle and those who heard of it. Those see the Lord's miracle who perceive it intellectually; those hear of it who perceive it morally, sight being predicated of the understanding and hearing of the will.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 290 Therefore, those who saw the miracle bare record, and those who heard of it came to meet Jesus. It is the intellectual faculty that bears record of the Saviour's work, it is the moral faculty that runs to meet him, as the Author of eternal life. Considered in reference to one person, these are two acts of the mind, and have a connection with each other. It does not follow that those who actually witnessed the resurrection of Lazarus were not morally as well as intellectually convinced; it is only when spiritually considered, that it is to be regarded as pointing out a distinction which is seen and realized in our individual experience - that our understanding bears record of the Lord's works, and that our will is brought to the practical acknowledgment of them by means of its testimony.

19. This enthusiasm of the people in favour of Jesus was a cause of mortification to their religious leaders.

'The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? behold, the world is gone after him.'

There is in this expression a consciousness that their effort to restrain the popular movement was unavailing, and that there was no way of arresting the progress of the innovation but by destroying the Innovator. The feeling and conviction expressed by the Pharisees are like those which sometimes force themselves on the natural man, of the useless and unavailing nature of his efforts to oppose the progress of the cause of right, to which he is averse, and which he almost confesses to himself is true and good. "The world is gone after him" must be the regretful admission of those who strive, especially when by dishonourable means and for selfish ends, to stem the tide of true human progress. In this instance the Pharisees uttered a truth that had even then begun to work, and which will be eventually realized to its fullest extent. The realization of this in the world at large will be hastened by those who espouse the cause of Jesus, allowing their natural affections and thoughts to go after him, by following his teaching and example.

20, 21. Besides the Jews who followed the Lord in his progress to and entry into Jerusalem,

'there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast: the same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus. Philip cometh and telleth Andrew: and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus.'

The Greeks were Gentiles; but the isles of Greece were among the most eminent of those of which it is said, "The isles shall wait for my law" (Isa. xlii. 4); "the isles shall wait upon me, and on mine arm shall they trust" (li. 5); and because the Greeks were amongst the most eminent of the Gentiles, the new revelation was given to John in Patmos, which was one of the isles of the Grecian Archipelago;


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 291 thus signifying that the things relating to the end of the church, and its restoration in a new and more glorious state, shall be given to those who wait for the Lord and his kingdom. The Greeks, though Gentiles, were among them that came to worship at the feast. They do not come directly to the Lord, but seek access to him through one of his disciples; for those who are in a Gentile state come to the Lord through those who belong to the church; or what is the same, those who are in Gentile goodness, must acquire the truth of the church, as the means of communion with the Lord. The disciple whose good offices they desired is Philip. From all that is recorded of Philip in the gospel, it would appear that he represented those who know Jesus and desire to know him better. Philip is here said to be of Bethsaida, which, in the first chapter, is said to be the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip was also called to the apostleship soon after Peter. He it was who said to Nathanael, We have found him of whom Moses in the law and the prophets did write, Jesus of Nazareth; and who, when Nathanael demanded of him if any good thing could come out of Nazareth, answered by saying, Come and see. Indeed, all that we know of Philip is in immediate connection with Jesus, and always in reference to the knowledge of him as the Christ. Philip, therefore, represents an intellectual apprehension of the truth relating to the Lord. We have seen when treating, in Matthew (chap. x.), of the enumerations of the twelve, as they occur in the gospels, that of the three groups of four in which they are arranged, Peter is always the first of the first group, and Philip is always the first of the second. Philip may thus be considered as a second Peter; the leading intelligence of a lower class of minds, and the intellectual element among a lower degree of principles. This may make Philip appropriately the principal link of connection between the Greek Gentiles and the Lord. Those in their condition, who would see Jesus, must come to him, or seek access to him, through that intelligence which Philip represented. It is, as we shall see in a future chapter, an intelligence which sees Jesus, not as one with the Father, but which is capable of admitting that truth when presented in its true light.

22. But there is another who must be associated with Philip before introduction to the Lord can be obtained. When the Greeks apply to Philip,

'Philip cometh and telleth Andrew: and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus.'

Philip and Andrew, like Peter and Andrew, are, with a difference in degree, types of faith in the understanding and faith in the will, or, of truth and the good which are acquired by means of it.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 292 To seek access to Jesus through Philip is to seek to come to him by intellectual faith, or through truth only; but to teach us that not only intellectual but voluntary faith, not truth only but the good of truth, is required for this, Philip comes and tells Andrew; and to instruct us further that faith both in the will and in the understanding is necessary to give us a true and saving connection with the Lord, Andrew and Philip come and tell Jesus - Andrew being now placed first to show that the good of faith is in the first place and the truth of faith in the second.

23. Introduced as the pious Greeks were into his presence,

'Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified.'

Regarded in the literal or historical sense, it seems singular that the Lord should address those strangers and Gentiles in a discourse on his passion and glorification. But these Greek strangers were of, and represented, those among whom the new or Christian church was about to be raised up; and this raising up of the church was consequent on the Lord's glorification; for his mystical body is fashioned after the pattern of his glorious body. The phrase, "the hour is come," or "is coming," is used by our Lord on several occasions. It is expressive of the near approach of the time, and the certainty of the event, of which the Lord speaks. The hour of the Lord's glorification being come, tells us that the great work, for which the Lord had come into the world, was on the eve of its completion. The humanity which the Lord, in his marvellous and merciful condescension, had assumed for the redemption of his creatures, was now about to pass out of its state of humility into a state of transcendent glory.

24. The necessity for the glorification of the Son of man, its nature, and its blessed results, our Lord proceeds to declare.

'Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.'

This divine declaration is explained in the Writings in a passage so lucid, so beautiful, and at the same time so practical, that, departing from our usual practice, we give it in the author's own words. He is treating of the glorification of the Lord's rational principle, in the inmost of which humanity, or the conscious life of man, begins, and which, in the Lord, was immediately below the soul, or the divine humanity, which he derived from the Father. The part of the Word, in connection with which the explanation is given, is that which contains the history of Ishmael and Isaac; Ishmael, the son of Hagar the Egyptian, representing the natural rational, which every natural man of sound mind acquires, and Isaac representing the spiritual rational, which the regenerate only receive.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 293 He is explaining the words, Cast out this handmaid and her son. After stating that the casting out the handmaid and her son, signified the extermination of the things pertaining to the rational principle merely human, he proceeds: "How the first rational principle was exterminated, and was succeeded by the Divine, shall be briefly explained. Every one who is regenerated has two rational principles, one before, the other after regeneration. The first, which is before regeneration, is acquired by experiences of the senses, by reflections on things in civil and moral life, by the sciences, and by reasonings drawn from and directed by them, as well as by the knowledges of things spiritual from the doctrine of faith or from the Word; but these extend little beyond the ideas of the corporeal memory, which are comparatively very material. Whatever therefore he then thinks is from such things, or, that they may be taken in at one view by the interior or intellectual sight, semblances of them are produced by comparison or analogy. Such is the nature of the first rational principle, or of that which exists before regeneration. But the rational principle after regeneration is formed of the Lord by means of the affections of spiritual truth and good, which affections are marvellously implanted by the Lord in the truths of the first rational principle, and thus the things therein which agree with and favour those affections are vivified, whilst other things are separated as useless, till at length spiritual goodnesses and truths are bound together as it were into bundles; things incongruous, which cannot be vivified, being rejected as it were to the circumference, and this successively, as spiritual goodnesses and truths increase together with the life of their affections. Hence it is evident what is the nature of the second rational principle. This subject may be illustrated by comparison with the fruit of trees. The first rational principle, in the beginning, is like unripe fruit, which gradually ripens till the seeds are deposited within it; and when it is of such an age as to begin to separate itself from the tree, its state is full. But the second rational principle, which is given by the Lord when man is being regenerated, is like the same fruit in good ground, in which the parts that surround the seeds decay, and the seeds themselves shoot forth from their inmost parts, and throw out a root, and send up a stem, which grows into a new tree, and unfolds itself, at last into new fruits, and afterwards into gardens and paradises, according to the affections of good and of truth which it has received; as may be seen, John xii. 24. But as examples are most convincing, let us take one.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 294 The first rational principle in the beginning knows no other love than the love of self and the love of the world; and though instructed that heavenly love is entirely different from these, yet it does not comprehend it; and afterwards, when it does any good, it perceives no other delight from it, than that of meriting favour, or of being reputed a Christian, or of obtaining the joy of eternal life. But the other rational principle, with which man is gifted of the Lord by means of regeneration, begins to have some delight in goodness and truth themselves, and to be affected with this delight, not for the sake of self, but of goodness and truth; and being led to act from this delight, it rejects merit, and at length renounces it as enormous. In the new rational principle this delight successively increases and becomes blessed, and in the other life it becomes happiness, and its very heaven. Hence, then, it may appear how the case is in regard to each rational principle with one who is regenerated. But it is to be observed, that although a man is regenerated, still all things general and particular, which are of the first rational principle, remain with him, and are only separated from the other rational principle, and this miraculously by the Lord. But the Lord utterly exterminated the first rational principle, so that no trace of it remained, for the merely human and the Divine cannot be together. Hence he was no longer the son of Mary, but was Jehovah as to each essence.

The similitude which the Lord employed to describe his glorification is equally descriptive of his resurrection. And as all the similitudes which the Lord employed were correspondences, the present comparison is an exact illustration of both. It is not our intention to enter largely or minutely on this branch of the subject; but we may remark that the same law of order presided over the glorification of the natural principle as over that of the rational. Glorification, in all its degrees, was effected by a process of putting off and of putting on. And if we may follow the analogy of the death and resurrection of the seed, we may venture to say, that, while the Lord rose with his whole body complete, it does not follow that the body which rose from the sepulchre was the identical body that was laid in it - identical, we mean, in substance. It was sown a natural body; it was raised a Divine Body: or, as the original may be better expressed, a natural body was sown, a Divine Body was raised. By what particular mode of operation this was effected it is not our purpose here to inquire. From the lucid exposition of the present passage we learn, that the divine seed, which the Lord inherited from the Father, became a Divine Humanity by "unfolding itself," the material humanity serving, like the fruit in which the seed is deposited, as a body in which it might be manifested, and in which it might unfold itself.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 295 Yet there is one necessary condition of its development and perfection: the material body must die, that the Divine seed may live. Whatever was the final act which completed the Lord's glorification, the process was gradual and successive, from the Lord's birth to his death. And the humanity in which now dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, is a Divine Humanity, the Source and the Pattern of all human perfection.

25. Having instructed his hearers in the nature and manner of his glorification, the Lord proceeds to teach them the nature and manner of their regeneration, as the image of his divine work.

'He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.'

This expresses in another form what the Lord had just said respecting himself. That which is to be hated is natural life, as opposed to spiritual life - the earthly as opposed to the heavenly. The word translated life is that which in some other places is rendered soul, and means the hereditary life, as opposed to the spiritual life which we receive by regeneration. We cannot understand the Lord to speak of life in the sense of existence; for this no one is required to hate, nor would the hatred of temporal existence secure eternal life. Immortality is unconditional. The life of man is his ruling love, which enters as a living soul into all the thoughts and intents of the heart, and into all the words and actions of the life. The love of self is the life which belongs to all men by nature, and this life they must hate in the world, if they would keep it unto life eternal. That life which is lost is not the same life that is saved. But as a man can have at one time but one ruling love which is his life, and his very self, when he hates his corrupt life, the Lord imparts to him a new life, a ruling love whose nature is heavenly. But the condition is, that he who hates life "in this world" shall keep it unto life eternal. No doubt the lesson teaches that the work is in this world, the reward is in the next. But there is a temporal and eternal in ourselves, which are found in our natural and our spiritual minds. To hate the evil life in this world, is to hate or shun it, as it exists in the natural mind, to overcome it in thought and act, which is to hate it practically. And when the love of evil is put to death in the flesh, the love of good obtains life in the spirit.

26. The Lord follows up his teaching respecting the duty of self-sacrifice by saying,

'If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.'


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 296 To serve is rather to minister. A minister is one who acts from good; a servant one who acts from truth - one serves from love, the other from duty. In doing good to our neighbour we minister to the Lord; for good from the Lord in men is the neighbour to whom we are to minister. We never do real good to our neighbour, except when we contribute to his real good; and we never contribute to his real good, except when we contribute to the strengthening of his good principles. These good principles are the Lord in man; and in ministering to them we minister to the Lord. But those who minister to the Lord are to follow him; this is, to follow his example, and to let their good be guided by his truth. We must not only do good, we must do it intelligently; we must not only love, but love wisely. Then "where I am there will my minister be." Truth spiritualizes good. The first good principle with every one is natural. Divine truth directs it to spiritual objects and eternal ends; and when it follows where truth leads, it becomes united to truth, and dwells with it in the heaven of the inner man. Then also is the divine promise realized, "If any man will minister unto me, him will my Father honour." The Father is the Divine love, as the Son is the Divine truth. When natural good is purified and sanctified by truth, it then, if it continues constant in ministering to the Lord, becomes receptive of the Divine love, and filled thereby with higher delights and purer joys.

27. The Lord, from speaking of his glorification to those around him, turns inwards into himself, where the last dread trial had already begun.

'Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour.'

The temptation that culminated in the passion of the cross had already commenced. Anguish of soul preceded agony of body. The powers of darkness invaded his inner man and pressed upon his inner life, before they assailed his outer man and acted upon his outer life. The Lord's soul which was troubled was not the divine soul which he inherited from the Father, for this was incapable of suffering; it was the human soul which he inherited from the mother, understanding by this the Lord's human nature, everything in the Lord's humanity which was beneath the divine, even the rational principle, in the inmost of which the human principle begins. But this human principle considered as it is in men, was not capable of being troubled with that trouble which the Son of man endured. The human must have been receptive of the Divine, before it could be subject to such sorrows of temptation.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 297 Neither the purely divine nor the merely human were susceptible of such a feeling, as that which our Lord expressed. Only humanity inhabited by Divinity could be the subject of temptations such as the Lord experienced. In his tribulation Jesus exclaims, "What shall I say?" The sayings of our Lord were revelations of what passed in his own mind and occurred in his own experience, and thence of what pertains to the corresponding states of those who follow him. He therefore says what he felt, both from his maternal and paternal humanity; first from the maternal: "Save me from this hour;" and then from the Paternal: "but for this cause came I unto this hour." There is ever in trial this conflict between the flesh and the spirit. The flesh shrinks from and deprecates the hour, the state and experience in which its life is to be laid down. But with those who are in the true order of the heavenly life, the corrective will ever be at hand. The alternative presents itself, "For this cause came I unto this hour." Even in the midst of trial, when the natural shows its inclination and its weakness, the spiritual perceives that the very thing which the natural dreads is that for which the trial is permitted. No trial, no triumph; no suffering, no glory; no death, no life.

28. In the power of this conviction the Lord now prays,

'Father, glorify thy name.'

Taken in the ordinary sense, which it contains, the Son is willing to endure for the sake of advancing the Father's glory; just as man's highest motive to suffer and obey is the glory of God. But the Son is himself the name of the Father, for the glorification of which he prays. The Son is the Father's name, because the Divine wisdom is the expression of the Divine love - the Divine Humanity is the express image of the Essential Divinity. A name expresses the quality or character of him who bears it, and the humanity expresses the quality of the divinity. The Son manifests the Father, and brings him forth to view. When therefore the Lord prayed the Father to glorify his name, he prayed the divinity to glorify the humanity, or to make the humanity divine and one with itself. When Jesus had uttered this prayer, then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again. We need not dwell here on the prayer and answer, as presenting the appearance of a personal distinction between the Father and the Son. These are appearances that can only be presented in the domain of nature, or, at least in the sphere of finite existence, where divine things are seen under appearances, that accommodate them to human apprehension. Infinite things can only be seen by finite minds when they fall into corresponding finite ideas. In this way, what is only a distinction in the divine nature assumes the appearance of separate personality.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 298 But reason is able to correct these appearances. Every one of any reflection knows that there can be no such difference between the essential principles or attributes of the Deity, as that which was presented by the Lord when upon the earth. One cannot address the other. To suppose this, we must suppose the Father and the Son to have each a distinct consciousness, which entirely destroys all idea of divine unity. There was indeed a distinction of this kind between the Father and the Son before the Lord's glorification; for the humanity had then a consciousness distinct from that of the divinity, which was manifested in it. And this human consciousness was that from which the Lord prayed to the Father, and which gave the Father the power of answering the Son's petitions. But one primary object here is to attend to this answer to the Lord's prayer. The Father answers this petition by saying, "I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again." The glorification of the humanity, like every other divine work, was effected by distinct acts, or by discrete degrees, each of which was continuous in itself. There are three degrees in all such processes - natural, spiritual, celestial. Every man who is fully regenerated, passes through all these degrees; and therefore the Lord, whose glorification answered to man's regeneration, passed through them all. It is in reference to these that the Father says, "I have both glorified it and will glorify it again." Among the signs by which this trinal glorification is represented or expressed, the three times which the Father thus openly addressed and acknowledged the Son is conspicuous.

29, 30. It is remarkable that the voice which gave so clear an utterance to the Lord, conveyed no distinct meaning to the multitude.

'The people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spoke to him. Jesus answered and said, This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes.'

It would appear from this that Jesus did not require this voice from heaven for his own comfort and encouragement; and that the voice was capable of strengthening the faith of the people, though it conveyed to them no intelligible sense. Faith cannot exist without knowledge. The knowledge of the truth precedes faith in the truth. That which enables us to know the truth is entirely different from that which enables us to believe it. That which gives faith is a state, not of the intellect only, but also and primarily of the heart. On the present occasion, the Lord had instructed the people in the truth relating to his own glorification, and to their regeneration as its fruit and its image. The voice from heaven was given to influence their hearts, that they might receive in faith what they had heard in intelligence.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 299 When this subject is considered as it relates to us individually, the lesson it teaches is more clearly and profitably perceived. Divine truth, as it comes from God out of heaven, becomes more sonorous as it descends; but as the sound increases the sense becomes more indistinct. In heaven among the angels, divine truth is tacit but clear; on earth among men, it is loud but obscure. The divine law, which in heaven was light and peace, was uttered to the Israelites amidst the thunders of Sinai. Divine truth is soft and gentle but clear, when it is in the internal man, but when it descends into the external, it is loud but obscure. The people that stood by when the Lord uttered his prayer represented the affections and thoughts of the external man, while the Lord himself was the internal; and therefore the voice was clear and its words were intelligible to him, but were as the mutterings of thunder to the multitude. The sound was different to different hearers, for, while some said it thundered, some said an angel spake to him. In Scripture, thunder signifies divine truth as it affects the will, as lightning signifies divine truth as it affects the understanding. Here we have what seemed to the multitude as the sound of thunder and an angel's voice; the first being expressive of the impression which divine truth makes upon the will, and the second, of divine truth as it affects the understanding. But divine truth that comes to men as the sound of thunder, indicates a particular condition in regard to those who thus hear it. The sound of thunder in the spiritual world is the sound of approaching judgment. Thunder is the result of an atmosphere overcharged with electricity; and the explosion dissipates the fluid and clears the atmosphere, rendering it fresh and exhilarating. Such is the use of judgment. It removes the accumulated evil and false influences, and purifies the moral and spiritual atmosphere.

31. Our Lord therefore addresses himself to the people in these words:

'Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.'

This is expressed still more strongly in Luke (x. 18), "I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven;" where the judgment is presented under the figure we are now considering. The thunder cloud had burst upon the heads of the wicked. "He sent forth lightning and scattered them" (Ps. cxliv. 6). Our Lord said, "For judgment am I come into this world;" and he adds, as the purpose of the judgment, "that they which see not might see, and that those which see might be made blind" (chap. ix. 39). The end of all judgment is adjustment - that things wrong may be righted; that the good may be restored to the power of using their faculties, and the evil deprived of the power of abusing them. How is this to be effected, and how, in particular, was it effected by the Lord when he was manifest in the flesh?


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 300 It was effected by the performance of a judgment in the spiritual world. When evil increases and prevails in the natural world, evil spirits increase and prevail in the spiritual world; so that the equilibrium between heaven and hell is disturbed, and with it the equilibrium between good and evil upon earth. To remove the preponderance of the power of hell over that of heaven in the spiritual world, and thence the preponderance of the power of evil over the power of good in the natural world, is the purpose of judgment. A general judgment of this kind takes place at the end of every dispensation. The judgment which took place at the end of the Israelitish dispensation is that of which our Lord speaks. The subjugation of the powers of darkness and the glorification of the Lord's humanity were concurrent operations, and therefore the Lord connects them together. And when he speaks of this world and the prince of this world, he does not mean the world as a place, but the world as a state; for only in respect to its moral and spiritual state is the world judged, and only in this respect is Satan its prince and ruler. Satan rules the world when evil rules in the hearts of men, and, as a consequence, in the church and in the world. The world was judged when the Lord established the principles of justice and judgment among men; and the prince of this world was judged, when the powers of darkness were brought under subjection, by the completion of human redemption, and of the Lord's glorification.

32, 33. After judgment comes a new power of elevation and new life.

'And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.'

This lifting up, naturally understood, was the Lord's crucifixion: this he said, signifying what death he should die. But the Lord's crucifixion was a means of his glorification. This glorification was the true lifting up of the Son of man, which gave him the power of drawing all men unto him. When his humanity was raised by glorification above all human frailty, and above all trial and temptation, and exalted into union with his divinity, then was he able to draw all men unto him. This is a most important doctrine, and teaches one of the greatest and most blessed truths that the Lord revealed, or the gospel contains. The power to draw men unto him was the very object and use of the Lord's coming. This was provided for by removing obstacles that stood in the way, and prevented man's return to God, and by exercising a power of drawing men unto him. Obstructions were removed by the work of redemption, attraction was exercised by the work of glorification.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 301 By subjugating the powers of darkness, the Lord deprived them of the power of preventing men from coming to him, that is, he restored to man the complete possession of spiritual liberty: by glorifying his humanity, the Lord acquired a power, and provided a medium, through which he could exercise an attraction upon human beings; for his humanity brought God relatively nearer to men, and established a sympathy between himself and them, by which his power of drawing them nearer to him and into conjunction with him was increased. It is therefore because the humanity he assumed was lifted up, that he is able to draw all men unto him. There is an application of this to individuals. The earth being an emblem of the natural mind, the lifting up of the Son of man is the elevation of the Lord's divine truth out of the natural into the spiritual mind. When it is thus lifted up from the earthly to the heavenly region of the mind, it draws unto itself all the natural affections and thoughts - all that are included under the name of men, or such as are truly human.

34. When the Lord had uttered these remarkable and memorable words,

'The people answered him, We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever: and how sayest thou, The Son of man must he lifted up? who is this Son of man?'

How characteristic of natural men are these words! They had rightly learnt that Christ abideth for ever - "that of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever" (Isa. ix. 7). But they expected that both the king and the kingdom were to be of this world. They could not, therefore, understand what this lifting up could mean. Nor could they understand who this Son of man could be of whom the Lord spake. They knew nothing of the nature of the kingdom which the Lord came on earth to establish, nor of the means by which its establishment was to be effected. The disciples themselves, and even the twelve, who had followed him and listened to his teaching, remained as dark on this subject as the multitude, till the Lord's resurrection had revealed it to them. Their notions concerning Christ are the natural offspring of the condition of mind which is incident to every disciple in the early stage of his religious life. And even now, when the truth is known, and is taught to every Christian child, the early perception is the same in all, and is only changed from natural to spiritual by progressing in the regenerate life. Every one who receives Christ thinks Christ will abide for ever as he is received. But as every one receives the Lord according to his state, change of state produces change of reception.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 302 The Lord does not abide with us for ever as we first receive him. He must die and depart from us after the flesh and according to the letter, that he may come to us in the power and glory of the spirit.

35. The Lord does not directly or formally correct the false notions of the people, but gives them such instruction as will lead them into the state of mind that is receptive of him at his coming.

'Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you: walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth.'

The people had concluded their remarks by asking, "Who is this Son of man?" The Lord's words contain the answer to this question. He speaks of himself as the Light. The Son of man is the name expressive of the Lord as divine Truth, or of the Word made flesh, the eternal and immutable Truth clothed in the vesture of humanity. This was the light that the people had with them in the person of Christ; this was the Son of man that was to be lifted up. But the condition of the Son of man's being lifted up in our hearts is, that we walk in the light while it is with us - rather among us or in us. We cannot come to the spirit of the Word, unless we walk according to the teaching of the letter. The letter cannot be our guide always; but while it is, we must be faithful to its teaching. If, while we have the light, we walk in the light, it will, after a brief eclipse, such as that which hid the Lord from the disciples after the crucifixion, shine forth in greater splendour; but if we walk not according to the light while we have it, darkness will come upon us; for when the veil of the letter is rent asunder, those only who can see in the spiritual light of truth shall see the Lord. And he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. The use of light is to lighten our path; but where there is no light, we wander and go we know not whither. Truth in religion is of the utmost importance; ignorance and error are both to be deplored, for their tendency is to keep the mind in darkness, and cause the feet to wander and stumble in the path of life.

36. Our Lord further says,

'While ye have the light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light.'

In the previous verse the people are exhorted to walk while they have the light; here they are exhorted to believe in it. True faith is built upon obedience as well as manifested in good works. By walking in the light we come to believe in the light, and by believing and walking in the light we become the children of light. To be the children of light is to be regenerated by means of divine truth, which is, to become spiritual.


COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN p. 303 The distinction here made between having the light, believing in the light, and being the children of light, is of great importance to be attended to; for to have the light is to possess truth in the memory, to believe in the light is to have it in the understanding, and to be children or sons of the light is to be born again of truth by its full incorporation into the love and life.

These things spoke Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them. The Lord departs from those who depart from him, and hides himself from those with whom he can have no communion. He departs from the evil will, and hides himself from the false understanding. To express it otherwise, evil in the will separates between man and his God, and falsity in the understanding hides the Divine face from him. Jesus literally departed and hid himself from the people, but his acts were representative of what he does spiritually with regard to those who, like the people he addressed, refused either to obey or believe in the offered light.

37. 'But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him'

Miracles done before men seem to have little effect in producing belief. To believe, their understandings must be enlightened, their hearts must be changed, their eyes and their ears must be opened. This is the miracle which gives true and living faith. Creation is full of miracles, but these fail to convince men of the existence and presence of the Creator.

38. This unbelief had been foreseen and therefore foretold.

'They believed not on him, that the sayings of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?'

This occurs in Isaiah liii., where the deepest states of our Lord's humiliation, his trials and temptations, are treated of; and the chapter begins with these words, for human unbelief lay at the foundation of all the Lord's temptations. "Who hath believed our report?" is equivalent to the Lord's own question, in relation to his second coming, "When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith in the earth?" (Luke xviii. 8). The answer implied in the prophet's question is, No one. No one hath believed our report, to none hath the arm of the Lord been revealed. There was no reception either of the divine truth or of the divine love among men, even when they appeared in the person, in the teaching, and in the works of the Son of man. Many believed not his report, although his doctrine dropped as the rain, and distilled as the dew, his speech as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass; nor did they yield to his beneficent acts, though the arm of his omnipotence had been put forth to perform them.