A Basket of
John 15.16. "Ye have not chosen me,
but I have chosen you, and ordained you that ye should go and
bring forth fruit and that your fruit should remain."
This is a very
humbling, and at the same time, a very blessed word to the true
disciple. It was very humbling to the disciples to be told that
they had not chosen Christ. Your wants were so many, your hearts
were so hard, that ye have not chosen me. And yet it was exceedingly
comforting to the disciples to be told that he had chosen them:
"Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you." This
showed them that his love was first with them — that he had
a love for them when they were dead. And then he showed them
that it was love that would make them holy: "Ye have; not
chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye
should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should
Let us take up the truths in this verse as
I. Men naturally do not choose Christ,
"Ye have not chosen me." This was true of the apostles;
this is true of all that will ever believe to the end of the
world. "Ye have not chosen me." The natural ear is
so deaf that it cannot hear; the natural eye is so blind that
it cannot see Christ. It is true in one sense that every disciple
chooses Christ; but it is when God opens the eye to see him
— it is when God gives strength to the withered arm to embrace
him. But Christ's meaning is, You would never have chosen me,
if I had not chosen you. It is quite true that when God opens
a sinner's heart, he chooses Christ and none but Christ. It
is quite true that a heart that is quickened by the Spirit,
ever chooses Christ and none but Christ, and will forego all
the world for Christ. But, brethren, the truth here taught us
is this that every awakened sinner is willing to embrace Christ,
but not till made willing. Those of you who have been awakened,
you did not choose Christ. If a physician were to come into
your house, and say he had come to cure you of your disease,
if you felt that you were not diseased, you would say, I have
no need of you, go to my neighbour. This is the way you do with
Christ; he offers to cure you, but you say you are not diseased;
he offers to cover your naked soul with his obedience, you say
I have no need of that covering.
reason why you do not choose Christ is, you see no beauty
in him. He is a root out of a dry ground, in which there
is no beauty nor comeliness. You see no beauty in his person,
no beauty in his obedience, no glory in his cross. You see him
not, and, therefore, you do not choose him.
reason why you do not choose Christ is, you do not want to
be made holy by him: "He shall be called Jesus, for
he shall save his people from their sins." But you love
your sin, you love your pleasure, therefore when the Son of
God comes and says, he will save you from your sin, you say,
I love my sin, I love my pleasure. So you can never come to
terms with Christ: "ye have not chosen me"; although
I died, yet you have not chosen me. I have spoken to you many
years, and yet you have not chosen me. I have sent you my Bible
to instruct you, and yet you have not chosen me. Brethren, this
accusation will meet you in the judgment — I would have covered
you with my obedience, but ye would not have me.
II. Christ chooses his own disciples:
"I have chosen you." Christ: looked upon them with
a look of divine benignity, and said, "I have chosen you."
Every one whom he brings to glory, he chooses.
The time when he chooses them. I observe that it was before
they believed: "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen
you," as much as to say, I began with you, you did not
begin with me. You will notice this in Acts 18.9, 10, "Then
spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid,
but speak, and hold not thy peace: for I am with thee, and no
man shall set on thee to hurt thee; for I have much people in
this city." Paul was at this time at Corinth, the most
lascivious and wicked city in the ancient world; they were given
over to banqueting and grievous idolatry, and yet Christ said
to Paul, "I have much people in this city." They had
not chosen Christ, but he had chosen them; they had not repented,
yet Christ fixed his eye on them. This plainly shows you that
Christ chooses his own before they seek him.
But further, Christ chooses his own from the beginning;
2 Thess. 2.13: "But we are bound to give thanks alway to
God for you, brethren, beloved of the Lord, because God hath
from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification
of the Spirit, and belief of the truth," Eph. 1.4, "According
as he had chosen us in him before the foundation of the world,
that we should be holy and without blame before him in love."
So, brethren, it was before the foundation of the world that
Christ chose his own; when there was neither sun not moon; when
there was neither sea nor land — it was from the beginning.
Ah, he might well say, you have not chosen me. It was before
man loved man, or angel loved angel, that Christ chose his own.
Now, I know the meaning of Paul when he says, That you may be
able to know the length and breadth, the height and the depth
of the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge. Now, I am not
surprised at the death of Christ! It was a love so great that
it broke over the banks that held it in; a love that broke over
a Calvary and a Gethsemane. O brethren! do you know this love?
But I come now to the reason
of his love — "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen
you." Now, it is a very natural question, Why did he choose
me? I answer, that the reason why he choose you was, the good
pleasure of his will. You will see this illustrated in Mark
3.13: "And he goeth up into a mountain, and calleth unto
him whom he would: and they came unto him." There was a
great crowd round about him; he called some, he did not call
all. The reason here given why he did it is, "He called
whom he would." There is no reason in the creature; the
reason is in him who chooses. You will see this in Malachi 1.2:
"I have loved you, saith the Lord; yet ye say, Wherein
hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob's brother? saith the
Lord: yet I loved Jacob, and I hated Esau." Were they not
of the same mother? yet I loved Jacob, and I hated Esau. The
only reason given, you see, is, "I will have mercy on whom
I will have mercy." You will see this also in Rom. 9.15,16.
The only reason given in the Bible why Christ loved us — and
if you study till you die you will not find another — is, "I
will have mercy on whom I will have mercy." This is evident
from all those that Christ chooses. We read of two great apostacies
— one on earth, the other in heaven. First of all, one in heaven;
Lucifer, the son of the morning, through pride, sinned, and
God cast him, and those that sinned with him, into hell. The
second was on earth; Adam sinned, and was driven out of paradise.
They were both deserving of punishment. God had a purpose of
love; which is it for? Perhaps angels pleaded for their fellow-angels;
yet Christ passed them by, and died for man. Why did he die
for man? The answer is, "I will have mercy on whom I will
have mercy." The same thing is evident in the individuals
Christ chooses. You would think Christ would choose the rich,
and yet what says James? "Hath not God chosen the poor
of this world, rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom, which
he hath promised to them that love him?"
you would think Christ would choose the noble; they have not
the prejudices that the poor have; but what says the Scripture,
"Not many rich, not many noble are called."
you would think he would choose those that are learned. The
Bible is written in difficult language; its doctrines are hard
to be understood; yet what says Christ? "I thank thee,
O Father, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and
prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes."
you would think he would have chosen the virtuous. Though there
are none righteous, yet there are some more virtuous than others;
yet what says Christ? The publicans and the harlots enter the
kingdom of heaven while the Pharisee is shut out. "O the
depth both of the riches and knowledge of God! how unsearchable
are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!" Why
did he take the most vile? Here is the only reason I have been
able to find ever since I read my Bible — "I will have
mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion
on whom I will have compassion."
chooses some that seek him, and not others. There was a
young ruler came to Christ, and said, "Good Master, what
good thing shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?"
He was in earnest, yet something came in the way, and he went
back. A woman that was a sinner came behind Christ weeping,
she also was in earnest, Christ said unto her, "Thy sins
which are many are forgiven thee." What made the difference?
— "I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy." "He
called unto him whom he would." O my brethren, be humbled
under the sovereignty of God! If he will have compassion, then
he will have compassion.
III. But I hasten to the third and
last point: "I have ordained you that ye should go and
bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain."
Christ not only chooses who are to be saved, but he chooses
the way; and he not only chooses the beginning and the end,
he chooses the middle also. "God hath from the beginning
chosen you to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit
and belief of the truth." "According as he hath chosen
us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should
be holy and without blame before him in love," Eph. 1.4.
And in the eighth chapter of Romans it is said, "Whom he
did predestinate, them he also called; and whom he called them
he also justified: and whom he justified, them he glorified."
Salvation is like a golden chain let down from heaven to earth;
two links are in the hand of God — election and final salvation;
but some of the links are on earth — conversion, adoption, etc.
Brethren, Christ never chooses a man to believe, and then leap
into glory. Ah, my brethren, how this takes away the feet from
all objections raised against this holy doctrine of election.
Some here perhaps say, If I am elected, I will be saved, live
as I like. No; if you live an unholy life, you will not be saved.
Some may say, If I am not elected, I will not be saved, do as
I like. Whether you are elected or not, I know not, but this
I know — if you believe on Christ you will be saved.
me ask you, Have you believed on Christ? Let me ask you another
question, Do you bear his whole image? Then you are elected,
and will be saved. But if there are any here who have not believed
on Christ, and who do not live a holy life, then, whatever you
think now, you will find it true that you were among those who
were passed by.
Ah! my brethren,
those who deny election, deny that God can have mercy. O it
is a sweet truth that God can have mercy! There is nothing in
the hardness of your hearts that will keep God from having mercy
on you. Go away home with this truth, that God can have mercy.
"Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you," etc.
Robert Murray M'Cheyne
(1813-1843), the pastor of St Peter's, Dundee, died in his thirtieth
year, and in the seventh of his ministry. His epitaph describes
him as a man who "walked with God," and who was "honoured
by his Lord to draw many wanderers out of darkness into the
path of life".
A Basket of
Fragments is a selection
of sermons first published five years after M'Cheyne's death.
The sermons were put together from the notes taken down
by hearers during his ministry "without the least view
to publication." One advantage of this is that, as
the editor of the first edition wrote, "they bring
before us those extemporaneous pleadings with sinner in
which few so greatly excelled." The sermons are indeed
stamped with eternity; they are the expression of one upon
whose heart the weight of perishing sinners pressed; they
are the yearnings of one who was "deein" to the
Taken from the 1975
edition of A Basket of Fragments, published by Christian Focus Publications, 118 Academy
Street, Inverness, Scotland.
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