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A GODLY DISPOSITION NECESSARY TO THE
HEARING OF THE WORD.
JOHN VIII. 47.
He that is of God, heareth God's words; ye therefore
hear them not, because ye are not of God.
The words of God, here spoken of by our Saviour, are his message of pardon and reconciliation, conveyed to mankind in the Gospel. To hear them, is not merely to receive their sound with the outward ears; but to listen to them with respect; to receive them with meekness; and to embrace them with cordial affection: and to do this, our blessed Lord declares, is the characteristic and privilege of those who are of God; whereas not to hear them, is the mark and misery of those who are not of God.
If there be any words which pretend to be God's words, two duties, of infinite importance to us all, arise out of that fact; first, to hear, that is, to believe and embrace them, upon sufficient evidence of their authenticity; and, secondly, to submit ourselves implicitly to their authority and direction, as to our sentiments, our practice, and our hopes. With respect to the first of these duties, it is evident, that if the words, which we are called upon to hear, be in truth the words of God, it is a question of life and death eternal, whether we hear them or not. God speaks not in vain : the very circumstance of his speaking obliges us to pay attention to what he says; and the not attending to it is a sin, as well as the rejecting, or disobeying of his commands, when they have been heard and understood. It becomes, therefore, a point of the greatest interest and importance to us, to have a right understanding of our Saviour's declaration, He that is of God, heareth God's words.
Now it is plain, that the expression, to be of God, means, to be of the children of God: not indeed as having received Jesus Christ, and believed on his name, and having so been adopted into all the privileges of sonship; but his children in disposition; endued by his Spirit with a certain