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gloom that now broods upon the benighted mind of man, the rays of divine light from the Sun of heaven can still break through and illuminate all who are sincerely seeking after, and are receptive of, true and spiritual wisdom.
Upon the bare supposition that there is a spiritual and eternal world,- that men are to live for ever,—and that happiness or the contrary, in that world, according to the choice they make in their life here, is set before you ;—I say, admitting this to be a possible supposition, the grand question for every one is, are you desirous to know these things with certainty,—whether they do exist, and are really so ? If you have this desire, the words of our text will shew the way to obtain this knowledge. “Judas saith unto him, (not Iscariot,) Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself to us, and not unto the world? Jesus answered and said unto him, 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.” Jesus had just before promised his disciples to come again to them as the Spirit of Truth, and had said, “ Yet a little while and the world seeth me no more : but ye see me,” that is, “ shall see me.” To see the Lord does not so much mean to see Him in person, as to have perception of the reality of His existence, and of the things of His kingdom. Judas, though not the traitor, does not comprehend, in the obscure state of apprehension in which all the disciples at this time were, how such knowledge could be imparted to him and his brethren without its being equally obvious to the world at large. He concluded that there must be some reason for this, but did not himself see what it was. He therefore begged of his Lord to inform him. And the reply he received will for ever stand as a full and perfect answer to the question.
It is a fact at this day, as it was then, that to some few, the Lord, his Word, and the truth and reality of spiritual subjects, are made manifest, so as to preclude all possibility of retaining any doubt respecting them ; whilst to the world in general they are not known, but are matters of dispute and denial. There are a few, who not only believe in the Lord, but know the Lord ;—who not only believe the truth, but know the truth ;—who not only believe there is a spiritual and eternal world, but know that there is such a world, and what is its nature, with many important particulars respecting it, with as much certainty as they know the nature and objects of the world now around them.
Do any of us, then, ask, with Judas, “Why doth not the Lord manifest himself to us all, as well as to here and there a few indivi
disciples his brethren with othere must be some hegged of his
duals ?” The reason, brethren is this (and it applies to all who are not already spiritually wise),—it is because they do not love the Lord, nor keep his words. This is the reason why the Lord does not manifest divine things to men. And if they are not known to any now present, this is the reason of it. Such things are amply revealed in His Holy Word : and if what is there revealed is not understood, it is because men do not love the Lord nor keep His words. But the Holy Word itself has been opened, its spiritual contents, and the most important truths relating to the eternal world, made manifest, by divine means,— this being the manner in which the Lord has fulfilled the predictions relating to His Second Advent, which is a coming, not, as erroneously expected, in person, but in the power and glory of His Word of Divine Truth: and if, as thus revealed and manifested, Himself and the truths belonging to His kingdom are rejected and denied; or if, on being read or listened to, they do not carry conviction, and do not open on the mind as a manifestation of and from the Lord Himself ;-the reason still is that which the Lord here assigns,—because such manifestation can only be truly given to those who love the Lord and keep His words.
But what is specifically meant by loving the Lord ? He informs us Himself, in the 21st verse just preceding, where he says,—“He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me.” By the Lord's commandments are signified all the precepts, doctrines, and truths of His Holy Word. To have these commandments means to be acquainted with them, to possess a knowledge of them in the understanding; and to keep them is to cherish them in the heart, to do them, to obey them, and to bring them into the life. The man who thus has the Lord's commandments, and keeps them ;-or, as repeated in our text, thus keeps His Word, is the man who loves the Lord. To this man it is that the Lord will manifest Himself, and open spiritual subjects, illuminating his mind when he reads the Holy Word, and, when he reads or hears any exposition of it which unfolds its genuine and spiritual contents, opening his mind to receive it with a confirming wat mense dictate, and giving him to see, by an interior perception, that it is the
het wooncom truth indeed. For when man thus keeps the Lord's Word and Commandments, and in this practical manner loves the Lord Jesus Christ, He declares, “My Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him." It is not to be supposed, from this mode of expression, that Jesus is one Person and his Father another, and that, as two distinct persons they will come and make abode with the man who thus loves the Lord Jesus Christ. By his Father the Lord
means his own Divine Love, and by himself as the Son his Divine Truth ; when, therefore, He says of the man who loves His Word or Truth by keeping or doing it, “My Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him,” He teaches, that such a faithful disciple shall enjoy conjunction with Himself, both as to His Divine Love and His Divine Truth; or, what amounts to the same, both as to His Essential Divinity and His Divine Humanity. By His Divine Truth, which, as proceeding from Him and received in man, is called the Holy Spirit, the Lord immediately dwells with him who obeys it. But the Holy Spirit is not Divine Truth alone, but Divine Truth in indissoluble union with Divine Good or Love, which dwells in Divine Truth as the soul in its body. He therefore who receives the Lord by keeping His Word, or obeying His Truth, has communication with His Divine Good also; and thus the whole Divine Nature, both as to the Divine Love or Good and the Divine Wisdom or Truth, comes unto such a person as the Holy Spirit, and makes abode with him. What a blessed result of keeping the Lord's Word or Commandments by obeying them, or keeping the truth in love! And where the Lord, both as to His Divine Truth and His Divine Love, thus has an abode with any individual, that individual cannot but have clear illumination in regard to the truths and doctrines of the Holy Word, both those which relate to the Lord's Nature and Person, to the life of faith and charity, and to the realities of the eternal world, and it is for this reason that the Lord is said to manifest Himself to such a person, but not unto the world; it being abundantly certain that the world at large is not thus receptive of the Lord's love and truth.
Do we, then, brethren, wish to be thus acquainted with divine and spiritual things,—those things upon which the eternal well-being of our souls depends? Do we wish to be enabled to discern them clearly when perusing the Holy Word, to distinguish them when presented in writings or other modes of instruction professing to deliver the truths of that Word ? Do we desire to perceive them with such clearness and certainty as to deserve to be regarded as a manifestation of the Lord Himself? Then the way is very plainly set before us in the text. Having the Lord's Word and Commandments, do we keep and do them? The book called the Bible contains the Lord's Holy Word, which is the store house of all divine and spiritual wisdom. Whatever divine truths are found in other writings are only developments from this inexhaustible treasury: the grand fountain of all is here. Do we diligently and frequently read and study that Word? If we do not, we do not wish to possess the knowledge of spiritual things. We may think we do ; but
we deceive ourselves. And this is a reason why the Lord does not manifest Himself to the world. The world, or the mere people of it, do not, will not, read and study His Word and will ; but, as already noticed, great numbers treat it with absolute contempt. And though many belonging to what is called the religious world do treat it with more apparent respect, and read it diligently, still they read it so much under the influence of previously received opinions, only seeking to find in it confirmations of the doctrine of their sect, that few read it in a state to see the Lord in it, manifesting Himself to their mental eye in His true person and character. Never can any truly know the Lord, themselves, the world to come, nor the things that belong to their peace, so long as they do not read and study the Book of God in a teachable frame of mind, and, with a sincere desire to know the Lord's will in order that they may unreservedly do it. How lamentable it is to behold the blessed volume of truth so neglected and despised, on the one hand, and so falsified and perverted, on the other! How must those who neglect or despise the Holy Volume feel and look when they appear for judgment in the other world, which judgment will be pronounced by that Word ; according to the Lord's saying, “The word that I have spoken, the same shall judge them in the last day!”—How will they feel when, haply, these words from it are produced or read before them :“As thou hast cast my word behind thy back, and wouldest none of my reproof, I will mock when thy fear cometh, and laugh at thy calamity”? This does not mean that the Lord really mocks at the terrors and laughs at the calamities of His perishing creatures; but that their state is so opposite to His love, so incapable of being savingly benefitted by His exhaustless pity and compassion, that they regard Him as their enemy, and view Him through the mists of their own perverse state of mind, as if He took pleasure in their misery.
They who have the Lord's commandments and keep them, are they who love the Lord; and they who love the Lord and keep His Word, are they to whom He promises to manifest Himself. We all, it is to be presumed, “have" the Lord's Word as a book in our houses : have we it also in our minds? Do we treasure up its commandments in our affections? Do we look to the Lord Jesus Christ to enlighten our understandings with the knowledge of His will, and with a just apprehension of the genuine truths of His Word ? Do we keep His Word by obeying it? Do we keep His commandments by making them the regulators of our life? Do we thus, in the way that He directs, and according to His own explanation of the phrase, love Him?. If so, He will assuredly manifest Himself unto us. We shall have a perception
of His nature and Person, and of the genuine truths of His Word and kingdom, amounting to actual mental sight. Or do our consciences tell us, that though we have His commandments in a book, and some of them perhaps in our memory, we do not keep them ? If so, the Lord cannot manifest Himself to our souls. He cannot communicate to us, in a way to satisfy and convince us, the knowledge of those spiritnal and divine subjects which would make us wise and happy for ever. For we have not a will and understanding prepared to receive such things : we do not love them.
But why should any abide in so lost, so disgraceful a state? Are we only animals ? or are we human beings? Have we the rationality proper to human beings ? Are we only capable of natural knowledge, and natural enjoyments ? Or are we capable of spiritual knowledge and spiritual enjoyments? If we are human beings, we are capable of these. Shall we then rise no higher than nature, the body, and time can carry us ? Shall we confine our attachments, our knowledge, and our pleasures, to what will last but a few days or years, and then is lost for ever? And this, notwithstanding our beneficent Creator, our Divine Father, is ready to open to us the eternal subjects of the world to come, to manifest Himself to our souls in His love and goodness, in His faithfulness and truth ; to make us wise with spiritual and divine science, to elevate our affections to the heaven of heavens, and to qualify us for all the felicities and honours of His eternal and ever happy kingdom!
We have observed before, that the grand cause why men are not wise and good, or that the Lord does not manifest Himself unto them, is that they do not love the Lord. And why do they not love Him? Because they do not truly know Him. And why do they not truly know Him ? Because they will not turn their minds to the unbiassed study of His Word, and especially to the keeping of His commandments. Yet the generality profess to be Christians : they believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Lord and Saviour, and that He came into the world to die for them and redeem them. We believe this, and more, namely, that He is the Only God of heaven and earth in His Divine Humanity; or that he is God and Man in one truly Divine Person, the Only Source of all wisdom, goodness, and felicity; that His Word is Divine Truth itself; and that the Lord will manifest Himself, the glories of His heavenly kingdom, and all spiritual subjects, to that man who loves Him and keeps His commandments; but that He cannot manifest Himself to any other persons ;-consequently, none others can obtain the blessings of His kingdom.
I think, brethren, we now cannot but admit, that the question why