William Guthrie -
"But I said unto you
that ye also have seen me, and believe not. All that the Father giveth me shall
come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast
- John vi. 36, 37.
ALL these things that we preach seem to show you whether
ye be in Christ or not. Now, all this is to clear it up whether ye believe or
not. It is needful, especially at such a time as this, to know who is the
believer and who is not.
Now these words speak somewhat unto believers or
unbelievers. There was a great number of people that followed Christ in the
days of His flesh; they were still proposing questions to Him, and running here
and there after Him, and yet were strangers unto God, and knew nothing of Him,
On this account Christ tells them that their god was their belly. They gave
royal titles to Christ, and called him "Rabbi." When they heard of heaven, they
were bent on performing works to attain it, They sought great things from
Christ. When He was speaking of the bread of life, they said, "Lord, evermore
give us this bread." And yet they knew no more what this bread signified than a
child did. Now Christ brings the charge home to their own bosoms, saying,
"Although ye have run after Me, and have heard and seen Me do miracles, yet ye
are as far from Me as ever ye were. Ye do not believe. But if ye were included
in the covenant of redemption, ye would come: For all that the Father
hath given unto me, shall come to me." He knew His people would say, "It does
not belong to us to know whether we be thus given or not," But at leisure, says
Christ, "I hold you upon this ground: He that cometh unto me, I will in
no wise cast out."
Now in the words there is a challenge given them that
followed Him. In the text says He, "Ye also have seen me, and believe not." The
reason is, "Because ye were not given me of the Father ;" for, "All that the
Father giveth me, shall come unto me." They did not understand how this could
be the reason of their unbelief. He expresses Himself somewhat darkly, yet His
own people are satisfied; besides, He hath sent forth His ministers to clear up
such things further unto the people.
Again, here is a large promise to
support His people, and to direct their attention to the revealed word of God:
"And he that cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out." There is a word of
election, "They that are given me;" and then the effects of it, "They shall
come." Then there is a word to believers, a large promise for a ground of faith
"He that cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out." He said unto them, "Ye
also have seen me, and have not believed." Now consider the persons He is
speaking to; they were such as ran up and down the country and professed much
religion, and yet He says unto them, "Ye have seen me, and believe not."
D0CT. 1. - There are many that I run here and there after the Son of
God, to see what He doth, and yet have nothing of God in them. And no doubt
there are many of this sort of folk come unto this feast today. Now for proof
of this doctrine we think that all will grant that many do so that know nothing
of God. And,
1. One sort is of those that professedly follow Him,
though they believe nothing, and know nothing of God. These are they that
follow Him with the half of the law in their hand. They will pray a while; they
think that they may serve God well enough, and yet ban, curse, or swear twice
as long for it. They will pray half an hour in their families, and then they
will drink till it be day again. These strangers to God are spoken of: "They
profess that they know God, but in works they deny him, being abominable, and
disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate." They will profess and say
that they have been serving God ever since they were born; but they cannot do
any good thing, but are reprobate to every good work.
2. A second
sort that run after Christ, and yet know nothing of God, are those that come to
Him with the second table of the law in their hand, as that young man in the
gospel did, saying, "Master, what shall I do to be saved? " Do not
commit adultery; do not steal; bear not false witness. "Oh," says he, "All
these have I kept from my youth." Then, says Christ, I will try you with
one, and the flint one: "Sell all that you have," says Christ. But the
young man understood not what that command signified - " Thou shalt have no
other God but me." He loved the world better than .Christ. Take heed to
yourselves. Are there any that come with tke second table of the law in their
hands They defy their neighbours to say an ill word of them, to lay any fault
to their charge; and yet they know not where their thoughts are when they go
a-whoring after the world. To such I say, You know not the first command, and
therefore go home again and touch not these holy things.
3. A third
sort that know nothing of God will, one while, seem to run with Christ, and
then will run with His enemies another while. These are known enemies to Him.
When they meet with the people of God, they will speak ill of the atheist: and
when they meet with the atheist, they will speak ill of the people of God. They
will go as the bush goes. Some of them will come into the company of the people
of God, to see what liberty the people of God take, that they may laugh at them
afterward. Go ye home, and touch ye not these holy things.
fourth sort run with their head, but not with their heart. They gather
something that is spoken in a preaching, and get it exactly in their heads, but
they take it not borne into their hearts, in order to make use of it. They are
like seed sown by the way side, which the fowls come and pick up. Satan is like
these fowls. Such persons sit, and hear the preaching with their ears; but
their heart is never moved with it. They keep not His commandments. Now we wish
that these would go home again, and not approach the table of the Lord.
5. A fifth sort are they that run after Christ, to see what He can
do; but they run with their idols in their hands - their idols which they would
not have mortified. Their heart is on these idols. These are they of whom it is
said, "The word was to them as seed sown among thorns." There are some when
they begin to speak; that cannot speak three sentences, but their kine or their
corn is in the hinder-end of them.
6. A sixth sort run, and have not
any ground on which they run. Many come here to the communion, yet to this day
they could never produce any ground wherefore they run. Some, never had their
heart humbled before God under the sense of guilt. They will be content to
hear, and yet as soon as they are out of the church, other vain thoughts get
their heart. Such hear the word with joy for a season, and are compared to the
seed sown on rocky ground. As soon as the storm blows in their faces, then
their religion is delivered to the wind. Now there are many folk here that run
as the tide runs; and think they are in no esteem, now-a-days, that profess
nothing of God. Therefore they will go as the most part go; and yet they have
no ground whereupon they were ever caused to come to the church; they were
never made to believe.
7. A seventh sort that run, and know nothing
of God, are such as have a ground; but it is a false ground. They make common
providence a ground. "I think," says one of them, "to get good of Christ ;" and
why I "Because He has fed and clad me all my days." But stay, friend, He has
given that to His enemies, and to reprobates. I say, He will give all that to
heathens that He gave to you. If ye have not another ground, take heed to that
word, "Friend, how comest thou thither, wanting the wedding-garment.?"
8. An eighth sort come, too, and come not aright, who are ever sticking
about the door; but they never come in. Come to them now, and come to them
three years afterwards, you will never know them an inch farther advanced in
the knowledge of God. They never grow more clear in anything. God is not in
such. For where God is, there is light. "Strive to enter in at the strait
gate." Thus there are a great many that run to and fro after Christ, and
yet are still taken up with this and that earthly thing; but they abide still
in the Law, and they-know not what it is to be justified by faith in Christ. We
say, such as never have light in this point have no faith in Christ.
all these sorts we have spoken of know nothing of God. Therefore we wish that
ye would try yourselves. Provided ye have made no progress in anything that we
have spoken of, hold off your hand. And yet if ye will come now and submit and
yield yourselves to Christ, and fall down at His feet this day, and lay claim
to Him, and believe in Him, we call upon you to come forward.
1st, With regard to them that seek Him, there are many that seek the
kingdom of heaven, but not the righteousness thereof "Seek ye this kingdom
of heaven, and the righteousness thereof also," says Christ.
2ndly, There are many that seek the kingdom of heaven and the
righteousness thereof; but they do not seek it principally and chiefly.
3rdly, There are many that seem to seek the kingdom, and the
righteousness thereof principally and chiefly, but they seek it not constantly.
They seemingly begin to seek it chiefly at such times as this; before, or at
communions, when they hear of damnation and salvation. At such times they make
a kind of stirring; but it falls away again, and they forget all when they go
4thly, Others would seek the kingdom of heaven, and the
righteousness thereof; and that chiefly and contentedly; but they do not seek
it satisfactorily. Some appear contented with their condition, but yet they
never seek so much of God as to satisfy them; they do not seek to get
satisfaction in the ways of God.
5thly, There are some that appear
to seek the kingdom of heaven and the righteousness thereof, first,
principally, contentedly, and satisfyingly; but yet they do not seek it upon a
6thly, There are some that appear to seek the kingdom
of heaven and the righteousness thereof, first, chiefly, principally,
contentedly, and satisfyingly, and do it on some ground - I mean, they will
give you a ground for their doing so, - yet they know nothing of God savingly.
They will give you a ground out of the Scripture that will satisfy you well
enough; but yet there is no real change in them at all. You know nothing truly
of God, if there be not any change nor growth in you. You have not grace; hold
off your hand. "But," say ye, "Who will come, then, if all these must keep
away? " I answer, All that the Father has given to Christ, in the covenant of
redemption, shall come. In regard that atheists are never satisfied - in regard
they say that, if they be elected, they will get to heaven whether they do good
or not, we must now speak a word about the covenant of redemption and election
from the next verse of our present reading.
The Lord purposing to set forth
the glory of His justice, and the glory of His mercy, creates angels and men.
He lets men fall; and when they are fallen, Christ purchases some of them
again. And these purchased ones are they that are given to the Son. Now, here
stands election. The Lord speaks to two pieces of clay. To the one He says,
"Thou shalt be with me in glory hereafter;" and to the other He says, "Thou
shalt be a spectacle of my justice for ever."
Now, He does this as the
absolute Lord God Omnipotent, having His being of Himself. "I will shew mercy
on whom I will shew mercy," says He. He renders to no man a reason of His ways.
He acts even as if one should take two stones out of a quarry, and say to the
one, "Thou shalt have a conspicuous place in my window," and should take the
other and place it as a stepping-stone in the mire. If we may exercise our
freedom in this manner, far more He, who is the great Creator, do so. The Lord,
as He is absolute, says to one, "Thou shalL be employed in an honourable piece
of service to me," and to the other, "Thou shalt be a reprobate, a
stepping-stone to me." Upon the foreknowledge of man's folly, the Father
bargained with the Son. Now, this bargain should be seriously thought on at
this time, for now is the proclamation of it made to you. it is certain the
elect were given. "Whether or not," say ye, "were they given freely?" No; they
were not given freely; the Son paid for them. The truth is, the Father and the
Son bargained for them; but, being fallen, they are not able to answer the law.
Poor man can do nothing for himself. He cannot get a penny of the debt off his
head; but in everything he does he still runs more and more into debt. Now the
Father bargains with the Son, and He offers so many to Him if He would pay Him
for them; and, says He, "These shall set forth the riches of the glory of my
grace." Says Christ, "I will do it; I am well content. Behold, I come to do
thy will; in the volume of thy book it is written of me." Then says the
Father, "I will bear thee through, and defray thy expenses: wrath will enter
upon you." Says the Son, "I am well content. Give me a body that I may be such
a one as wrath may get hold of." And when He has got one, He says, "Behold I
come to do thy will, as it is written; whatsoever they owe, I am content to
pay; they shall be freed from death for ever; they shall be my children." And
then He and the Father bargain when He has taken on their flesh and bone, and
stands in their room. Then says Christ, "Let all their guilt fall on me." It
falls on Him. Then says God, "Awake, 0 sword, against my shepherd, and against
the man that is my fellow, saith the Lord; smite the shepherd, and the sheep
shall be scattered." Stir up thyself, 0 wrath; thou shalt get one that will
bear all thy wrestling. Now, the wrath of God never got full wrestling with any
till it got it. with the Son of God. And so, for the price of our redemption,
He quitted all His movables in the world, so to speak, and laid down His life.
He had not one drink of water; He gave up even that for us. And when He had
given up all His movables, He said, "Take the rest out of my body ;" and then
they plucked the hair from off His face. "He gave his back to the smiters,
and his cheeks to them that plucked off the hair." And then they got a
stone, and put it upon Him when He was dead, to hold Him in the grave. But when
the time came that He should rise, He said, "0 death, I will be thy death;
where is thy sting? 0 grave, where is thy victory?"
Now comes the
intimation of this to a lost world. It is declared to the disciples on the
Mount of Transfiguration, where the Father says, "This is my beloved Son, in
whom I am well pleased; hear ye him." This day there are messengers sent to
declare that there are so many given to the Son. This verse shows us that all
whom He has covenanted for will believe; and this may satisfy the minds of the
people of God. We have been proving that the Son has bought them, and they are
Notwithstanding all that the Son has given for them, yet He counts
them a gift, and this testifies that Christ is well pleased with the bargain.
Yes, He is well-pleased with it, notwithstanding all the evil treatment that we
gave Him; and He sets down this in Scripture, to let us see that He counts all
His people a gift, notwithstanding all the price He has paid for them.
"Thine they were, and thou gavest them to me."
This He does, that He
may put jealousy out of the breasts of His people. Look to His carriage towards
His spouse, when she refused to lend Him a lift in His greatest need. He never
says an ill word to her. This is a token that He loved them well. When He was
in His greatest need, He says, "Shall ye be offended this night because of me."
Says He, "I know that ye will be offended, and take ill with it. Ye will not
lend me a lift. But when the deed is done, I shall remember you." This tells us
He was well-pleased with the bargain. When an ill-natured woman would not give
Him a drink of water, yet He gives her not an ill word, but says that it was
His meat and His drink to do that same ill-natured woman's soul good. And even
to this day He is sending out His messengers to tryst His bride and spouse He
is so well pleased that He says, "Those who convert many shall shine as the
stars in the firmament." Now look on His carriage, and ye will see His
willlngness. He says, "If ye will but grant that I have died for you, and
honour me by believing." But His bride will not do that. She will not believe,
though He pursues her in the time of her backsliding, and says, "I shall never
leave thee nor forsake thee." Still she will not grant that He has bought her.
But yet He will not teli all the house what is between thee and Him. And
ís not that a token that He loves thee? For the Father He is very well
1st, He sets the business on foot, and furnishes the
Son for it.
2ndly, He gives the Son, that is His dearly beloved, and
is content to want His company a while to send Him to you.
There is none that comes to the Son, but those whom the Father draws.
clear that the Father is content with the bargain. "Ask of me," says He, "and I
will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance." Come then, be content to
take Him, and believe in Him. Whatever ye have been, He will regard you as a
gift. "But," say ye, "how shall we know whether we be one of these that are
given or not? " The text answers, "All that are given shall come." If ye come
and lay hold on the refuge set before you, then ye are given. "But whether or
not is my name in the decree?" say you. We say, ye must first read your name in
the promise, before ye read it in the decree. Inquire, then, whether or not are
ye poor, and feel yourselves to have nothing? Then, "Blessed are the poor in
spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of .heaven." Or are you one that is
hungering for righteousness? Then, "Blessed are they that hunger for
righteousness, for they shall be filled." If these be your names, then they
are written in the promises. Or is your name Sin-abounding? Then, "Grace
doth much more abound." Or if you be one that wants repentance, and your
name is a Wanter of repentance: then He is exalted to give repentance to IsraeL
"But that is still my question, What if I be not elected?" The Lord says to
thee, "Come down; ye are too high when you would pry into the decree of God."
He will have you go upon the ground of His revealed will. Try, in the first
place, if ye be coming, or have come, and so ye shall know that ye are elected.
But say ye, "Alas! I am in as great doubt as I was. I see some making a fashion
of coming; but what wot I what is right coming?" "He that cometh to me, I will
in no wise cast out." By "coming" here is meant believing, according to the
35th verse of this chapter. "He that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he
that believeth on me shall never thirst." This is a promise to them that
believe. Now we will lay down some reasons.
Coming imports a removal from
one thing to another. Now,
1. If we would know who they are that come
rightly; let us examine from whence, and to what place, and by what way they
come. We are to enquire from whence, that is, whether or not he comes to
Christ; and by what way, that is, whether or not he comes by the new covenant
exhibited in the gospel. Now there are many that come wrong, that seem to come
for a little, but stop short of Christ.
(1.) There are some that come from
themselves in part, and come to Jesus in part. They come to Him in the matters
of righteousness, but not wholly. They stick to some righteousness of their
own. Ask them what will they do to win to heaven? They say they can do no good.
All that they do is wrong. And yet in their hearts they are saying, "I thank
God that there is so much right in my doings." That is just to take a piece of
new cloth, and put it upon an old garment; or to take a piece of Christ's
righteousness, and set it on your own righteousness. "Good prayers will do no
harm; they will help something," say most. I take Christ's righteousness for
everything. "That is wrong," say they. But, I say, Thou must take Christ for
everything thou dost - whether it be right or wrong. Ye must either take none
of Him, or else ye must take Him wholly.
(2.) A second sort seem to come
wholly from themselves in the matters of righteousness, and to venture
themselves on the goodness of God. When they are challenged, they still say,
"We are great sinners, but God's mercy is greater, and that will help us to
heaven." But then they do not come wholly from themselves in the matter of
wickedness; they love their sins as well as ever they did. such may not touch
(3.) A third sort seem to come from themselves in the matters
of righteousness and justification; and from themselves in the matters of
wickedness, in part, but not wholly. Such a one was Herod. Herod would take
Christ's righteousness to save him; he would seem to flee from himself wholly
in justification, but not wholly from himself in the matters of wickedness. He
refuses to let go some sin that was beloved of him. "Oh," say some folk, "such
a sin sticks to me by nature." I say that and that nature shall go to hell
together, except ye say with delight, "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the
Lord will not hear my prayer." Hold off your hands, except ye resolve wholly to
quit your iniquity and to regard none of it.
(4.) A fourth sort seemingly
come from themselves wholly in wickedness, but not one bit from themselves in
the matter of righteousness. Such were the Jews: they fled from themselves in
the matter of wickedness; but they would abide by their own righteousness. Let
not such approach the Lord's Table.
(5.) A fifth sort seem to flee from
themselves wholly in the matters of righteousness and justification, and also
in the matters of wickedness, as far as they can, yet their foot slips by many
a tune, and they continue not their course. When they commit any sin, then they
resolve they shall never do the like again. And yet, perhaps, on the Monday
evening, they slide again into the same sin. But such know no exercise of
spirit, nor grief for sin. Hold ye off your hands here.
(6.) A sixth sort
are such as flee wholly from themselves in the matters of righteousness and
justification, and in the matters of wickedness; but they close not with
Christ. They think it an impossibility that the like of them can ever be saved
by Christ's righteousness, and so they lose hope. They are convinced that they
have nothing in them that is good, or can ever do good, and yet when they see
this they are not stirred up to flee to Christ to get help and relief.
Now there are some that come aright, and can produce their grounds. Now for
satisfaction to the minds of Christians, we shall speak something of the
various degrees of them.
(I.) There is a sort, or rather a degree, that
come in a confident manner. And then presently the Lord lays out large
allowance to them and enables them to lay hold of it. When they are convinced
of their iniquity and of their inability to be saved by their own
righteousness, then they flee to Christ, and He so lets out of Himself to them
that they are satisfied.
(2.) A second degree is, of those that come out of
themselves wholly in the matters of righteousness and in the matters of
wickedness; but for their life they dare not close with, the offered relief,
but stand and tremble. I vow there is one word unto you. "Who is amongst you
that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in
darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay
upon his God." This man feareth the Lord, and obeyeth the voice of His
servant; he has fled from himself in the matters of righteousness, and the
matters of wickedness; he is sitting in darkness, and he thinks he has no
light. But the man we spoke of before, that comes from himself in the matters
of righteousness and of wickedness, would not grant a possibility of his help.
But this man is persuaded there is a possibility of his being helped. Let such
a man trust in "the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God "; a man
that has fled out of himself and is saying, "What shall I do to be
(3.) A third degree, is of those that come out of themselves in
the matters of righteousness and the matters of wickedness, and yet they dare
not boldly lay hold of Christ, because they see the iniquities of their
practices. They dare not say they regard not iniquity in their heart, and yet
they are content to yield to Him. They dare not say that they are come, but
they are coming unto Him. All these we have spoken of are coming; and there is
strong consolation allowed them that flee to the refuge set before them, as
well as to them that are fled already. These folk are fleeing to lay hold of
(4.) A fourth degree of those that have fled from themselves in
the matters of righteousness and in the matters of wickedness, are such as have
come and laid hold of the hope set before them, and yet they are fallen from
close walking with Christ. Therefore, He says to such, "Strengthen the
things that remain." They are prisoners that are recovering their liberty.
It is not their purpose to remain in that condition. They had stepped aside
into the mire; but that is not their path-way, for the law of God is their
pathway. Any good that a wicked man does is extraordinary; it is not his
path-way, which is iniquity. But thou mayst come boldly to Christ, to get that
strengthened that remains, when thou art put to exercise about the course of
thy life, and when thou seest much iniquity in it, and art afraid to go to God.
"But if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the
(5.) A fifth degree, is of those that when they have fled from
themselves in the matters of righteousness, and the matters of wickedness, and
have closed with Christ, grow careless and inactive. As soon as they have
gotten security of their salvation, down they sit and rest themselves there.
There are many of the people of God in this case now-a-days. These are fallen
from their first love. But ye must set to again and get God s loving
countenance. You must work, and work over again; and fight, and fight over
again, till ye be made to rejoice in His love. If ye do not this, ye shall want
the fruit of this feast.
(6.) A sixth degree of those that come from
themselves in the matters of self-righteousness, and the matters of wickedness,
and close with Christ, are such as hold not on constantly in their motion. When
they are convinced of this wrong, they do not renew the acts of their faith.
They think shame, as it were, to trouble God so often with their sins and with
their evil heart. O fool that thou art, He that bids us forgive our brother
seventy times seven times in a day allows none to forgive so often or so much
as He Himself will forgive.
(7.) A seventh sort or degree of those that are
wholly come out of themselves in the matters of self-righteousness, and out of
themselves in respect of wickedness, are such as continue their motion. As sin
prevails, they renew their songs of faith and abide in Him. All these are real
and true comers.
Now a word to clear a doubt in the way. How do they come
to Him? There are sundry ways of the Lord's calling folks, and drawing them to
come. But we shall speak of the ordinary way that He takes to bring in His
people. When all the people are going one way, and everyone is thinking with
himself, he is like neighbours and others, some day something comes into his
mind, and he thinks there is a possibility that he is wrong. Now this is the
first stoop or goal he turns. And then he begins to think, "I trow I need
something." Then says God, "Come, buy of me fine gold, tried in the fire,
that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that ye may be clothed; and
eye-salve, that ye may see."
Now, when all this is done, the soul is
but on the way to grace. The next stoop that be comes to he says, "Verily I
think I shall be damned". This is according to that condition of Isaih before
cited "He that feareth the Lord, and obeyeth the voice of his servant, that
walketh in darkness, and hath no light, let him trust in the name of the Lord,
and stay upon his God." He fears the Lord, and he has no comfort, he has no
hope in himself, and he is crying, "What shall I do to be saved?" And if one
would ask him, "What think ye of your ways?" "Verily," says he, "I think they
are most abominable. I will not be proud of my poverty; but I will flee to
another, to get gold, that I may be rich." For now ye must understand, that
folks that see themselves poor are not blessed folk; for there are some that
see their poverty even on this side of time, that are proud of it, and they
will despair. But blessed is the man who is not proud of his poverty; who ends
his prayer with this, "Who knows but God will have mercy;" who thanks God that
he is kept out of hell so long. But still he knows not whether to give God
thanks for his creation, or not. He sees not as yet whether it had not been
better for him to have been a beast than a man. At the next stoop he turns, he
says, "I must have it from God; I wait and long for it ;" then, "Blessed are
they that hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled." He
sees that he wants much; but yet he sees not that the goodness of God can
supply his needs. He next comes to this stoop, "I daresay," says he, "I am lost
for all that myself can do; but He knows that the desire of my soul is, that He
may reign in me, and that He may deliver my feet from falling." But what have
ye resolved, friend, in the meantime? I have resolved to lie at his door, and
die at it, for I know that there is help at Christ's door only, and nowhere
else. I am not only content to live with Him hereafter, hut I am also content
to have Christ for my King. So the soul advances step by step till it close
Now, I say, this is a way of coming that is approved of God.
There are many other ways of coming. According as our wise Lord thinks fit, so
He will give them so many stoops or marks to run about. Any other way of coming
that ye see in the scripture, if your way has been like it, will prepare you
for coming to this feast, and ye shall not be cast out. Now, when times of
trial are coming on, ye have need to make sure work of your coming. Amen.
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