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For when they had seen the miracles that Jesus did, they said, " This is of a truth that Prophet that should come into the world.” They even sought to take him by force and make him a king; thinking, no doubt, that he, whose bands held such astonishing resources for the supply of their bodily wants, was able also to bestow upon them more illustrious temporal benefits; to rescue them and their nation from the yoke of Roman servitude ; to make the Jewish people rich, powerful, and happy ; and to wield, as their mighty and magnificent Prince, the sceptre of universal empire. For that they had no thoughts of bowing to him as the Deliverer of their souls from the dominion of sin, and as the Head of that spiritual kingdom of God," which is not meat and drink, but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost,” their subsequent conduct fully testified. Jesus secretly withdrew from their unhallowed importunity, and soon after, with his disciples, crossed the sea of Galilee, and entered into Capernaum. Thither, on the succeeding day, the multitude followed him: and when they had found him, they said unto him, “ Rabbi, when camest thou hither 2" Their address was respectful, and their conduct denoted a certain kind of attachment to Christ. But he, who knew the hearts of all men, 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." Then ensued a conversation between them, which, on the part of the Jews, was full of disrespect and
distrust, of captiousness and doubt, of murmuring and unbelief; and, on the part of our Saviour, of condescending instruction, sober reasoning, and mild reproof. His discourse, of which our text forms a part, seems to have had no salutary effect upon the multitude. Indeed, even many of his professed followers from that time went back and walked no more with him. Good reason,
therefore, had our Saviour to say, “ No man can come to me, except the Father, which hath sent me, draw him.”
“ No man can come to me.” For," as in water face answereth to face," so did the hearts of those Jews to the hearts of sinners of whatever
age or nation,-to our hearts, my brethren, if we are not reconciled to God through Jesus Christ. In that case, let us turn our censure of these faithless and ungrateful people upon ourselves. Let us consider how we also, most of us in times past, and perhaps some of us at the present time, have rejected, or continue to reject, the only Saviour of our souls.. And this, too, in spite of the most abundant and satisfactory proofs of his being sent from God, and in opposition to the most powerful motives which either the joys of heaven, or the pains of hell, can place before us. So deep is this depravity of our hearts, and so perverse this inclination of our wills, that we also cannot go to Jesus Christ for salvation, unless we are drawn to him by the influence of God.
I propose, my brethren, to direct your thoughts to the farther contemplation of these truths, by
considering—First, What is meant by the drawing spoken of in our text : “ No man can come unto me, except the Father, which hath sent, me, draw him ;"-and, secondly, Why this drawing is necessary.
1. What is meant by drawing spoken of in our text.--Its Author is the Holy Spirit, procured by the sufferings and intercession of Christ, and sent by God the Father into our miserable world, to accomplish the benevolent purposes of Redeeming Love. This mighty and mysterious Agent is every where spoken of in Scripture as the proper efficient cause of faith in Christ. It is He who rouses the .conscience of the sinner to discern the enormity of his guilt, the spirituality and extent of that law which he has broken, the holiness and justice of that Being against whom he has sinned, the dreadful doom to which he stands exposed, and from which nothing can save him but the mercy of God through Jesus Christ. It is this Spirit, who, having thus convinced of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment, discloses to the guilty soul its forlorn and wretched state, guides it to the foot of the Cross, destroys all its proud reluctance to receive the pardon of God as a free and unmerited gift, and disposes it to rely on Jesus Christ as its only Saviour.
Such is the effect of the drawing spoken of in our text, and such its Divine original. And is it not the part of true humility, my brethren, to rest satis
fied with this concise and scriptural account of our subject ? Shall we venture to explore its profound and mysterious abyssés ? Shall we measure the thoughts of the infinite and incomprehensible Mind, by our own ? Shall we, to whom every thing that surrounds us is a mystery; who are bewildered and lost in the contemplation of the meanest reptile that crawls beneath our feet ;-shall we dare to scan the mode in which the holy Spirit of God has access to our minds ; how he enlightens our understandings, controls our wills, regulates our affections, subdues our sins, renovates our hearts, and draws us to Jesus Christ ? Shall we attempt to reconcile the absolute necessity of this agency with man's entire responsibility and guilt; or its certain and uncontrollable effect with his character of moral freedom ? Shall we do this in the hope of getting rid of difficulties, which, it must be confessed, attend the consideration of this subject ? Or, shall we not rather acknowledge, that we find no greater perplexities here, than in a thousand other topics connected with man's existence as an accountable or even intellectual being ? Shall we not, as becomes us, believe what Christ hath spoken, although to us mysterious and incomprehensible" No man can come to me, except the Father, which hath sent me, draw him ?” But, my brethren, such is not the humility of man. He pries, with eager and even audacious curiosity, into the secret things of God. Hence it is, that so much has been written on the subject of Divine influence, with the design of rendering it plain and
intelligible to the human capacity. And hence the necessity which is laid upon the ministers of God's word, sometimes to discuss this important topic, according to the measure of their feeble abilities, in order to guard it against misapprehension and mistake. Suffer me, then, to lay before you a few thoughts, which may possibly serve to throw some light upon the meaning of our text.
1. This drawing is not physical, nor mechanical, nor compulsory, and yet it is certain in its effect. It is not physical. By this I mean that it is not like that agency which God exercises over the material world, and which we term, in its various developements and operations, “ the Laws of Nature.” The vast lights of heaven perform their accustomed rounds. Day and night, summer and winter, seed time and harvest, successively return. The vegetable and animal race spring into life, flourish, fade, and decay. Our own bodies carry on their * silent and hidden processes. All this is done by the physical agency of God. The subject of it is matter; a substance, inert, senseless, and involuntary in all its motions. It cannot even wish to resist the hand of God; and it is only by a bold figure of rhetoric, that it is ever spoken of as yielding obedience to his command. Such is not the spirit of man. To say that his moral character is affected by a physical agency of God, is to confound the use of language, to destroy the distinction between mind and matter, to reduce the human soul to a level with the clod of the valley.* Nor is it any objection to what has just