365 days with Newton


All of grace

‘And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart.’ Matthew 17:1

The persons: Peter, James and John. It does not become us to enquire too curiously why he admitted only three of his disciples to be witnesses of his glory, or why these three rather than any of the rest. Yet since we are told it was his pleasure so to do, it may be proper to draw an observation or two from this circumstance.
I do not lay any stress upon the number three. It is plain that on several occasions these three were distinguished from the others. Some think because they were more eminent for grace—if they were so, I should judge this was the effect rather than the cause of the preference the Lord gave them. They who are most with him, will be most like him. It is true that humble, diligent waiting is the way to enjoy peculiar nearness, but we can render nothing to him, but what we first receive from him. It is sufficient to say he has a right to do what he will with his own. He admitted these three to a nearer intimacy and John was favoured beyond them all (John 13:23). He is called, by way of eminence, the disciple whom Jesus loved, though he loved them all. So he loves all his people, yet makes a difference between some and others in providence, in grace, in comforts. Some have two talents, some five, some of the good ground bears thirtyfold, other sixty, other one hundred—all according to his wise appointment, and yet so as that there is encouragement for everyone in the use of means to open their mouths wide and desire the best things: an abundance of grace and peace, and the fruits of holiness. They who seek shall surely find. However, these apostles were not without their faults. Peter was often wrong, and afterwards denied him. James and John would have called fire from heaven. His favours are all of grace.
FOR MEDITATION: [to precede the New Year’s Day sermon]
Now, gracious LORD, thine arm reveal,
Help us to venture near thy throne,
And make thy glory known;
And plead a Saviour’s name;
Now let us all thy presence feel,
For all that we can call our own,
And soften hearts of stone!
Is vanity and shame.


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