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“ HIS OWN.”—John xiii. 1.
“ His own;" what own? Are not all things God's own, in all the departments of nature, providence, grace and glory? Is not “ the earth the Lord's, and the fulness thereof; the world and they that dwell therein?” Ps. xxiv. Yes! the Lord himself answereth the question; “ all those things hath my hand made !" Isa. lxvi. 2. Yet, nevertheless, the same divine authority hath drawn a line of everlasting distinction between his works in nature and his choice in grace.
“ Behold, the heaven of heavens is the Lord thy God's; the earth also with all that is therein. Only the Lord had a delight in thy fathers to love them, and he chose their seed after them, even you above all people, as it is this day,” Deut. x. 14, 15. Hence, therefore, it will undeniably follow, that when the Lord in any part of his sacred word speaks of his own, the very term carries with it the clearest idea of a certain special, personal, and peculiar right, of a very near and endearing connexion. As the Lord elsewhere expresses it, so the sense as plainly follows, “ this people have I formed for myself, they shall shew forth my praise,” Isa. xliii. 21. Moreover, it should be observed, by way of further confirmation, that God the Holy Ghost, as if to determine the express application of his own, in direct reference to the people of God, hath marked it in this place, where it is made use of concerning them, in different words in the original, from what the same words in our English translation have rendered it, when not speaking of them.
In this place, where it is said, “ Jesus having loved his own, loveth them unto the end,” John xiii. 1. the Greek words (as those who know the language well know) are tous idious ; whereas in the passage, John i. 11. the words are ta idia, and which mean no more concerning his own, but that the Jews to whom Christ came, and who received him not, were his countrymen, and of the nation to which he belonged. The same words therefore might be used when a person would describe his townsmen, or his neighbours, or his goods, or any other indifferent thing. But in the place where the words tous idious are used, here“ his own” implies a nearness and dearness of affinity and love, and regard as well as right; such as a man hath for his own spouse, or his own children, yea, the members of his own body, his flesh and his bones. Oh! sweet and precious words of our lovely and all-loving Jesus. Jesus from everlasting having loved his own, and in loving them loved himself, “ he loveth them unto the end !"
Further. By his own, as part of himself, is intended to express at the same time how they are his own, and in consequence thereof, how very dear they are to him. They were chosen of the Father, and given to him as for ever distinguished from the world, and betrothed by Christ himself for his spouse; anointed with him their glorious head by the Holy Ghost before the foundation of the world ; redeemed by him himself, during the time-state of the church, from all the evil of the Adam-fall transgression : and being both the objects and the subjects of Jehovah's everlasting love, have been, and as they come forward in due time will be regenerated by God the Holy Ghost, and “ made willing in the day of his power.” Hence they are his
own, by every tie that can make them his own; by choice, by gift, by union, by marriage, by purchase, by blood, by conquest, and by power; and thus for ever made his own, in an everlasting covenant which cannot be broken. Very sweetly doth our Jesus testify to this close and intimate oneness and union, when he saith to the Father, “ I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them as thou hast loved me,” John xvii. 23.
But we must not stop here. His own are known also by certain marks and features distinguishable in their character. They are made“ partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust ; and there are given unto them all things that pertaineth to life and godliness.” So saith the Holy Ghost by Peter, second epistle i. 3, 4. Hence, a certain sanctity, a certain dignity belonging to Jesus's own. Moreover, they are called-God's people, his jewels, his treasure, his inheritance, his flock, his diadem, his crown of rejoicing. So that they are peculiarly marked throughout the whole word of God, for their nobility, royalty, yea, infinitely beyond all these in their oneness and relationship with Christ. One calls them“ a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people.” And another styles them, kings and priests unto God and the Father,” 1 Pet. ii. 9.--Rev. i. 6.
And all these distinctions of character, whereby Christ's own are marked in the scriptures of eternal truth, are rendered incalculably more blessed, from the special and particular love-tokens with which they are
There are no such things said of the holy angels; for though they are elect angels, and as such God our Saviour hath kept them in the holiness in which they were first created; yet this preservation is not from union with him, but from dominion by him. The
highest angel in heaven cannot say what the lowest sinner upon earth can say, when renewed by sovereign grace, Christ is my brother! Angels love Christ, adore Christ, praise Christ, (and I love angels for loving him) but there is no relationship between Christ and them, but as creatures to the Creator. Oh ! the preciousness of that scripture. “ For verily he took not on him the nature of angels, but he took on him the seed of Abraham. For both he that sanctifieth, and they who are sanctified, are all of one. For which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren," Heb. ii. 10, 11. Shall we go further ? Yes! One of the sweetest thoughts to crown the whole remains to be noticed. And what is that? Truly, that when God chose the church, gave the church to Christ for his own; and when the Holy Ghost quickens the church to the knowledge and everlasting enjoyment of it, the whole Godhead in the Three holy Persons constituting Jehovah, needed not the church to add to his glory. There could be nothing in the creature to induce such acts of grace; for all creatures in themselves are alike unprofitable to God. No motive but in the divine mind could operate to those acts of divine favour. That question meets us every where," how can man be profitable to God?" Oh! who that properly contemplates these things under divine teaching, but must fall down before this great God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, in that he hath from his own sovereign mind and will, thus called into being the church to make “ his own," when in himself he needed nothing, and when nothing can add to his essential glory, by all the praises of the whole creation of God.
Reader! what say you to these things ? pause and ponder well the whole. Then look up to God the Holy Ghost and say, is there not an indescribable sweetness and preciousness in this scripture morsel,“ his own ?” Sure I am the reader will say so, if so be “ he hath
tasted that the Lord is gracious!” None of those happy souls who have been taught who Christ is, and who have felt the plague of their own hearts, but must feel also the blessedness of the Lord's acknowledgment of his own.
My brother, can you say with the church, “ I am my beloved's, and his desire is towards me ?” Song vii. 10. Have you a well-grounded hope, from divine teaching, that God the Father hath chosen you in Christ to be “ holy and without blame before him in love :" hath adopted you by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will; hath accepted you in Christ to the praise of the glory of his grace ? That Christ hath taken you for his own, betrothed you to himself for ever, and redeemed you according to the riches of his grace? That God the Holy Ghost hath anointed you together with Christ, from everlasting, and regenerated you in time, from the death of trespasses and sins in the Adam-fall transgression ? Oh! the unspeakable felicity of such unalterable testimonies in the heart of every child of being of " his own" concerning whom such things are said !
So then Jesus's own are God the Father's own, for he it is who first gave them to Jesus. And God our Father doth not alienate his right in them whom he thus gives. For while God our Father gives all things to Christ, and all thing are our's, because we are Christ's ; yet Christ himself is God's, and all his people with him. Sweetly to this glorious truth, bears God the Holy Ghost testimony. “ For all things are your's, whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come, all are your's, and ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's," 1 Cor. iii. 21-23. And no less are we God's the Holy Ghost, “ for he which establisheth us in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; who also hath sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts,"