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CHAPTER IV.


BEHOLDING AND SHARING CHRIST'S GLORY.


"Father, that which thou hast given me, I will that, where I am, they also may be with me; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world" (John xvii. 24 R.V.)

MY hearers may have become weary of their pastor's reiterated admiration of the Gospel of John, its fathomless depths, its lofty heights, its precious recorded utterances of his Master, as refreshing as cooling waters to a thirsty soul. To convince you that I am not allowing my sensibilities to overshadow my intellect and warp my judgment into an exaggerated appreciation of that which is only ordinary in its quality, I quote the words of that great American statesman and jurist, Daniel Webster, before whose eloquence senates bowed, judges wept and juries were swayed, a man who was not accused of that excessive religious enthusiasm which men call fanaticism. Near the beginning of his seventieth year, writing to a young friend who had expressed admiration for the poetry of the Holy Scriptures, he said: "Ah, my friend, the poetry of Isaiah, Job and Habakkuk is beautiful indeed; but when you have lived as I have, sixty-nine years, you will give more for the fourteenth and seventeenth chapters of John's Gospel, or for one of the epistles, than for all the poetry of the Bible. I have read it through many times. I now make a practice of going through it once a year. It is a book of all others for lawyers as well as divines; and I pity the man who cannot find in it a rich supply of thought and rules of conduct."

I have quoted these words not because their author had perfectly enthroned the law of Christ over his heart and life, but because he of all Americans must be acknowledged an expert in literature, capable of appreciating moral sublimity. This quotation should also convince our young people of the literary value of the Bible in a liberal education fitting for the highest usefulness of the present life as well as being an infallible directory to life everlasting. Moreover, it should have great weight in determining the Johannean authorship of the Fourth Gospel. It is as great a natural and psychological impossibility for one who was not a companion of Jesus Christ and not a listener to his words to invent those extended addresses of Christ to his disciples and to his Father found in this Gospel as it would for a stone mason to construct the Milky Way, because we find in them those deeper spiritual verities relating to the divine person and mission of the Logos, the Son of God, which neither men nor angels could invent, much less an impostor in the second century writing in the name of the beloved disciple. John's Gospel is unassailable and the Bible as a whole is an impregnable rock. The Book of books has not been outgrown by the astonishing strides of human progress. It will never belong to the world's antiquarian libraries, those cemeteries of myriads of dead books whose authors, once ambitious for immortal fame, have passed into eternal oblivion.

Our text is a part of the high-priestly prayer of Jesus. It is its tenderest strain, revealing the human heart of the Son of God which he has carried with him "into the heavens," a heart magnetic with human sympathy and love. It always touches my heart; it dips a bucket into the deep fountain of my tears. Whenever I read this text it raises in me a flood of mingled emotions — astonishment at the condescending love of Christ for me, then love responsive to his self-sacrificing love, followed by an adoring gratitude to my divine benefactor. It answers the question: What are the feelings of the Son of God crowned King of kings, sitting on his Father's throne and swaying his scepter of universal empire? Have I, an atom in the vast whole of the universe, escaped his special notice? Have I faded from his recognition, forgotten by him who is surrounded by "the helmed cherubim, the sworded seraphim," thrones, dominions, angels and archangels? In his exaltation has he dropped me out of his regard, me so distant while he is surrounded by majestic orders of spiritual intelligences so near, me so low in the scale of moral being in contrast with those who stand so high? What chance has one marred by depravity from his very birth and disfigured by sins whose scars are indelible blemishes, even after forgiveness, rendering him repulsive to the love of the sinless one who hateth iniquity? The text assures me of his continual regard for me, despite the hideous traces of my past sins. They are my card of invitation to be present at his public coronation and to share the glory of that hour which will stretch away into the countless ages of eternity. Be it ever borne in mind that this prayer is only a specimen of that intercession which our High Priest above is ever silently presenting to his Father. That we might know the contents of that supplication which is poured out behind the drapery of the skies and beyond the hearing of ears of clay, Jesus rehearsed in the presence of his disciples that prayer which is to be the burden of his desire from the day of his ascension to the day of his descent to judge the quick and the dead. In this prayer Jesus remembers me. How do I know? In two ways: He prayed not only for those who had believed his words, but for many others then unborn. Hear him: "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word." Including as he does believers in all future ages "he counts me in the whosoever." But perhaps I am not one of those given by the Father to the Son as intimated in the text. I know that he prays for me and invites me to share his glory if I can convince myself that I am of the number of those who have been given by the Father to the Son. Who are they? There are two answers: first, that of the predestinarian, that a definite number — which cannot be increased nor diminished have been unconditionally elected to eternal life and their names are written in the secret will of God which he keeps locked up in his own bosom, a register on which no other eye can look till the day of judgment. But since the God whom we Arminians worship is no respecter of persons we cannot accept this exposition. Our second and better answer is that God has though the atonement bestowed upon all men the gracious ability to repent and perseveringly believe on his Son. As many as use this gracious ability and freely come to Christ by repentance and faith are said to he given to him by the Father. The first answer magnifies God's sovereignty, assuming that he can do so irrational an act as to. make a choice without any reason. We are told that there is no arbitrary sovereignty in a choice which is dictated by reason. If we accept this doctrine, we must accept a limited atonement, irresistible grace, bound will, and the doctrine once in grace always in grace, or the final perseverance of the saints. These five points of Calvinism I can find neither in my reason, my conscience nor my Bible. It turns man into a machine and God into a despot. The practical effect of this doctrine is distressing to contemplate. It leaves the believer in suspense respecting the gravest question, "Am I saved?" He can never consistently say, "Yes," since he is uncertain whether his name is on the secret register of the elect. Hence this doctrine hinders saving faith, obstructs the knowledge of the forgiveness of sins and a clear assurance of acceptance with God. But I find from the time of Pentecost all along through the New Testament that Christians are brimful and running over with joy, conscious of pardon, regeneration and sanctification. They have not only knowledge of forgiveness and knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ, but they use a stronger word and speak of a full, certain, thorough, exact and perfect knowledge of spiritual realities. This experimental knowledge is in the Greek word
πίγνωσις (epignosis) frequently used by Paul and Peter after Pentecost, that great spiritual eye-opener. It is the office of the Holy Spirit to cry in the believer's heart, "Abba, Father!" inspiring an assurance of adoption. The first means by which the Father gives men to the Son is the law which is our schoolmaster, or rather the child leader, to bring us to Christ. In patrician families among the Romans a trusty slave was charged with the duties of a παιδαγωγός (paidagogos), who took the child by the hand and led him to school and placed him in the care of the teacher. From this custom Paul borrows the metaphor, "The law is our child-leader." The second agency by which a soul is given to Christ is "the convicting Spirit, who applies the law and awakens a sense of guilt and the wrath of God. He then reveals the mercy of God as administered through the atoning death of his Son. This heavenly monitor points the sinner first to mount Sinai to awaken a sense of need, and then to mount Calvary for the supply of that need. All whose wills assume the attitude of obedience toward God and trust in his Son as both Saviour and Lord are given to Christ by the Father, who does not drag them but rather draws them with an attraction persuasive, but not by an irresistible and necessitating power overriding free agency. Hence the provision for the conditional salvation of all men having been made, the question who will make their election sure by repentance toward God and faith in his Son is determined by each individual will, says the Arminian interpreter of the Bible. The Calvinist declares that God determines who shall be saved. This doctrine necessarily implies that God also determines who shall be damned. Every coin has two faces, the obverse and the reverse. The reverse face of election is reprobation. The same misinterpreted scripture texts alleged in proof of the unconditional election of some prove the unconditional reprobation of the rest of mankind. This impeaches the moral attributes of God.

Those who freely receive Christ receive from him the privilege of becoming sons of God. These are led by the Spirit of God as his gift to the Son.

It is important to note that this high-priestly prayer was made only a few days before Jesus would ascend from the sepulcher to the throne of the universe. In his forecast of that hour he saw there would be one drawback to his supreme happiness, one void which all the hosts of heaven casting their crowns at his feet could not fill. The angels and archangels, the seraphim and cherubim cannot on that coronation day compensate for the absence of his human spiritual kindred who have suffered with him on the earth. They must be glorified with him. The redeemed ones, formerly the objects of his compassion, but now the objects of his complacent love and delight, must be near him, not on distant thrones made vacant by the fall of Lucifer and his rebellious host, but close to his side. "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne." This tallest promise in God's book is a monument to the love of Christ to believers too high for my poor intellect to climb. The very thought makes my head swim. Whenever I read this promise I am inclined to say "O blessed Master, this honor is too great for me." It is indeed a "weight of glory" so heavy as almost to stagger my faith. Is there not some various reading of the manuscripts or some error in the English version? Are not these words a gloss, a marginal penciling of some enthusiastic monk of the Middle Ages, which has accidentally been copied by some honest transcriber? Did not the correct reading omit the words "he shall sit on my throne" and have instead "he shall kiss my feet"? I ransack my library and search all the critical editions of the Greek testament and the Variorum Bible and find no various reading or rendering. I will no longer doubt, but will accept with tears of joy this greatest promise ever sounded in the ears of mortals, or ever written in human language. There is no hint in the Bible that any other order of spiritual intelligences are invited to share the throne of universal empire. This honor is reserved for the royal family, his human disciples, alone. Nevertheless there is a wonderful fitness and congruity in this consummation of their honor and happiness. It is appropriate that the blood relatives should share the dignity and glory when one of the family is inaugurated as a supreme ruler. The mothers of two at least of our recent Presidents, Garfield and McKinley, were with them when their sons were inducted into the highest office on the earth. Brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, cousins and more distant kindred, fellow soldiers and schoolmates are not out of place as favored spectators in such a scene. Jesus Christ is a real man, not a semblance, a phantom, but a perfect man having a human soul and a material body. He is my brother, bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh. His glorification has refined and sublimated his body, not destroyed it. Son of man he was born; son of man he died; son of man he arose and ascended; son of man he will come in his glory to raise the dead, both the just and the unjust. Paul is careful to state to the astonished Athenians on Mars Hill that God will judge the world by a man, "that man whom he hath ordained." A man will forever sway the scepter of universal dominion.

Thus far I have alleged that this amazing exaltation of Christ's disciples was to perfect the bliss of our adorable Redeemer. But there is another reason. It is congruous with normal humanity, which has an original susceptibility to partake of the divine nature. This capacity, lost by sin, and restored by appropriating the benefits of the redemption, is now to reach the climax for which it was originally designed. Man is a photograph of God. He has faculties responsive to those in his Creator, personality implying reason, freedom, a moral sense and spirituality fitting him to be a habitation of God through the Holy Spirit. Hugh Miller, after tracing the successive eras of animal life through the geological periods up to the creation — not evolution — of man, raises the question whether after another geological convulsion the Creator will not introduce an order of beings superior to man, like man, a spirit acting through a material organism. The great scientist answers his own question negatively, because this would introduce an order of beings superior to the Son of man, the God-man, which would he derogatory to his dignity.

There is still another reason why Christ on the throne desires his earthly disciples to be in the innermost circle of all the various orders of being who worship the Lamb. He wishes to exhibit them as the fruit of his redemptive work, the purchase of his agonies, the specimens of the transforming and purifying efficacy of his blood and samples of the beautifying and adorning work of his agent, the Holy Spirit. The absence from heaven of the personal presence of the Son of God during his more than thirty years' residence on earth may have been to the angels a mystery impenetrable though they desired to look into it. Hence saved souls washed in the blood of the Lamb, the fruit of his mysterious mission to the earth, become a conspicuous object lesson in the wisdom and love of God. Paul intimates that the church of' God on the earth, composed of men and women regenerated and sanctified, are silently proclaiming to "the principalities and powers in heavenly places the manifold wisdom of God." According to the Revision this divine attribute is made known through the church to these heavenly intelligences. (Eph. iii, 10, R.V.) If this is true while the church is still on the earth, how much more will the presence of the blood-washed and white-robed saints in heaven, so near as to be capable of a close inspection, have an educational influence on all who gaze upon them and hear them sing the new song, "Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof; for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us unto God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation." Well does John say, "We know not what we shall be." We know not what an enlarged capacity for receiving God shall be unfolded within us; what a receptivity of love; what a faculty of spiritual knowledge; what an intimacy with him' who is altogether lovely. We know not what-illustrations of the moral attributes of God we shall be to all the angelic hosts; what new revelations of his wisdom, love and mercy, we who have come up out of appalling defilements, will be to those who have not been polluted by sin. Seraphs will gaze upon us with wonder. Possibly we shall be the only redeemed sinners with whom they will ever come in contact, the only choir singing the new song, "Unto him who hath washed us in his blood and made us kings and priests." As scientists cross oceans and traverse continents to find out new species of plants and animals, so may inquiring intelligences gather from distant worlds to study the unique phenomenon of saved sinners, a great company in white robes surrounding the throne of the Lamb.

But we shall be more than spectators of his glory. This open vision will change us into his perfect likeness.

"Soul and body shall his glorious Image wear."


To behold is to be transformed. We shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. To behold is to partake. "But we all, with unveiled face reflecting as a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory." Even in this life he who most steadily contemplates the character of the sinless Christ is the most perfectly delivered from sinful propensities. We become assimilated to the objects of our steadfast. thought. As a man thinketh in his heart so is he. He cannot steadily think of Jesus and of impurity at the same time. Hence looking unto Jesus is the conquering attitude of the soul. This is the reason why faith in Christ is victory over the -world. Faith is the sixth sense which makes the invisible more real and more influential than the world of shadows in which we are moving. A practical inference is this: that whatever increases faith increases holiness, and whatever obscures the soul's vision of Christ weakens the motive of sanctification. "And every one that hath this hope set on him purifieth himself, even as he is pure."

We now come to a part of our text which shows a peculiarity of style found in the language of Jesus and strongly reflected in the writings of his most intimate disciple, from whose Gospel our text is taken. In John especially there is very little orderly and explicit unfolding of one proposition from another. Frequently there is a premise omitted in his haste to reach his conclusion. The intelligent reader will observe that this is what in logic is called an enthymeme, the suppressed proposition being carried along in the mind. Let us supply this unexpressed proposition. We get our clew to it in the last clause of the text, "for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world." The missing link which connects this love with the glory of the Son is this, "To be loved from eternity by my Father is the greatest glory." This is the major premise. The minor premise is, "I have had my Father's love from eternity." Then follows the conclusion, "Therefore he glorified me before the world was." This glory he wishes his disciples to see and to share. Here is a man who recollects what existed in his own experience before the corner-stone of the universe was laid. The great fact which this pre-mundane memory discloses in proof that the highest glory has been bestowed on him is the fact of God's love. Here is the true glory of men, of angels, of the highest created being, even of' the Son of God himself, to be the object of God's complacent love and delight. It is because of a wrong conception of what true glory is that sin came into the world. Sin is missing the mark. The aim at anything different from the divine approval and love is that radical mistake which the Greeks called
μαρτία (hamartia), sin. That there is something better than God's love, or superior to that holy character which he delights in, is the ever-recurring mistake in this fallen world, whether it be human applause, greed of money, gratification of bodily appetites and lusts, or any other form of selfishness. All these apples of Sodom, however beautiful to the eye, will invariably be found to be ashes to the taste. The natural man lives, moves and has his being in illusions. He is chasing a mirage to slake his parched lips at its mocking fountains; he is hastening to the end of the rainbow to find a pot of gold. The end always has been and always will be bitter disappointment. The human soul is so constructed that no creature of God, nothing but the love of God can satisfy its cravings. It has one infinite dimension -- its desires -- and the shoreless, fathomless love of the Infinite Creator alone can fill it. To be the object of his love is the highest glory of men and of archangels. To believe this with such a faith as sways the conduct and brings the will into obedience to God's commands is to be a Christian indeed. To disbelieve this, which is the sum and substance of God's revelation of himself in the face of Jesus Christ, is to make God a liar. This is the compendium and seed of all sins. The discredited testimony is the declaration of 'God that eternal well-being is in his Son. He who has formed a vital union with him by obedient faith has this true happiness. He who has not the Son of God as the object of his supreme love, and is trying to slake his thirst at other fountains, has not the real life, genuine and eternal blessedness, "but the wrath of God abideth on him." The full meaning of these words no one will know until he hears the dreadful words of the final Judge, "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire." This is the end of every substitute for God's love. This is what Paul calls coming short of His glory and approving love. This failure is not a pardonable defect. It is a positive rejection of God's love and must incur his wrath. Why does Jesus desire the society of his disciples in heaven? I fear that you may have received the impression that it is solely for the completion of his bliss. It is more for our sake than his own gratification. The ruling passion of Jesus was always to be ministering to the happiness of others. At Jacob's well he forgot his own weariness and hunger in pointing a sinful, thirsty soul to the well of water springing up unto everlasting life. On the last day of his life, when the shadows of death were gathering around him and he foresaw the morrow's bloody cross confronting him, he offers a long prayer in which the petition for himself is very brief; the great burden of intercession is for others. On the cross he prays for his enemies. After his resurrection the well-being of this fallen world was uppermost in his mind. "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature, beginning at Jerusalem." Give my murderers the first chance. Our text being a prelude to his intercession at the right hand of the Father, is a rift in the clouds through which we can see Jesus not sitting idly down amid the hallelujahs of the angelic hosts, contemplating his own glory. He is looking down to this world, to the fields where his saints toil, to the factories where they labor, to the mines where they delve, to the marts where they trade, to the kitchens where they swelter, to the ships in which they plow the seas, to the sick-beds where they languish, to the closets where they pray, to the churches where they worship, to the senates where they strive for righteous legislation, to the Sunday schools where they patiently sow the gospel seed, to the mission fields where they plant the cross and chase away superstition. For all these friends and co-laborers he pours out his ceaseless prayer, whether they dwell in Europe, Asia, Africa or the islands of the sea, that they may be victorious over sin and at last be with him that they may behold his glory. He remembers that they chose him when others despised and rejected him, that they saw his divine beauty when the world saw no comeliness in him. To the Father he says, "The glory which thou gayest me I have given them." "In these are the object of my mission and the purpose of my death accomplished. I have through my mediation and self-sacrifice lifted up these willing souls from the low plane where thy complacent love could not rest upon them to share with me thy wondrous and unfathomable love. Thou, O Father, wilt forever love them for my sake."

"Let it in our souls be seen,
Thy unbounded love to men.
Show in us how good Thou art,
Stamp Thy image on our heart.
Call us out Thy witnesses,
Bid us all Thy life express,
All the happiness above,
All the height of Christian love."


True love is honored and gratified in seeing its object honored. The true mother's happiness culminates when she sees the highest honors bestowed upon her son. We live in the objects of our love.

The longer I live in the experience of the blessedness of the Christian life the more I am convinced of the naturalness of the bliss of heaven. By this I mean that it is not adventitious, the result of any artificial process, or of any change in place, or new environment, or of the arbitrary will of God, but the outgrowth of causes within our own hearts purified and indwelt by the Holy Spirit The essential element of heaven must be in the spirit when it quits its house of clay. It must carry its fountain with it, an artesian well of love to our adorable Lord Jesus, undying and inexhaustible. Therefore how vain are the dreams of myriads of nominal Christians that they are on the way to' heaven, although the old life of self is in full vigor, never having consented to be nailed to the cross. They imagine that they are candidates for everlasting joy above, while they are here below refusing to open the door of their hearts to the author of all spiritual joy, the Holy Spirit, and are indulging in pleasures which repel the blessed Comforter. Good opinions about Christ will never inspire love. The will must bow to his authority as Lord, and the reason must submit to him as an infallible teacher of truth, yea, the truth itself, and faith must cast away every other reliance and trust in him alone. Men may admire the character of Christ esthetically as they do a picture in watercolors or a statue in marble. But there is no love and no salvation in æsthetics. Writs it down in your diary, your daybook, your ledger, on the walls of your shop and house, write it everywhere in indelible ink, that love to Jesus Christ cannot exist severed from obedience. There can be no substitute for love in heaven any more than there can be in wedlock. Suppose some unfaithful multi-millionaire should say to his wife, "Take this check for a million dollars in gold and be happy without my love — another woman has my heart." Could that wife be happy? If you are curious to see a hell above ground go to that palatial mansion where lives, or rather stays, a marriage of convenience, an American pocketbook wedded to a European title. Heaven never dwells beneath that roof. If there can be on earth no felicity without love, be sure there can be none in heaven. I once asked a young woman whether she loved Jesus Christ who died for her. She hesitatingly answered "Y-e-s; that is, I love all noble and beautiful qualities, all the moralities, purity, justice, truthfulness, benevolence, temperance; is not this just the same as loving Christ? My answer was this, "Go home and tell your mother when she asks for your love, 'Mother, I can't say that I love you, but I love all the good things I see in you, industry, economy, honesty, self-sacrifice. Is not that just the same as loving you?'" Would not such an answer break your mother's heart? Jesus Christ is not a personified abstraction, a mere bundle of qualities. He is a divine person with human affections, with all their hungerings for the grateful, responsive love of those for whom he has poured out a wealth of love and sacrifice. He cannot be satisfied without our hearts. We may devise ornate forms of worship in costly temples, but if our hearts are not throbbing with love to Christ our worship will be a gilded abomination. All true worship must be the- spontaneous out-gushing of grateful love. Listen to that "Gloria" which floats down from the skies: "Unto him who loveth us and loosed us from our sins by his blood, to him be the glory and the dominion forever" (Rev. i. 5, R. V.). Only those who are delivered from bondage to sin can unite in that hymn. That deliverance must take place in this life. The new song must be learned here. Jesus said to the Jews, "Ye shall seek me and shall die in your sins; whither I go, ye cannot come." This plainly declares that there is no loosing from sins after we pass out of the present life. The distinction between believers and unbelievers extends beyond the grave into eternal ages. Believers will be eternally with Christ as invited friends. Unbelievers will be eternally separated from him by a self-imposed disqualification to enjoy his holy presence.

While Jesus longs for the coming of his brethren, they are longing to depart, as did Paul, "and to be with Christ; which' is very far better" (R. V.), or "far, far better" (President Timothy Dwight). The magnet is in heaven, but its drawing is felt wherever there is a heart touched by that lodestone of love divine. The favorite song of that heart is this:

"My soul's full of glory inspiring my tongue:
Could I meet with the angels, I'd sing them a song;
I'd sing of my Jesus and tell of his charms,
And beg them to bear me to his loving arms."


It was of such a soul that Robert Hall once said, "If there should not be room enough in heaven, God would turn an archangel out."